Of Grief

March 20, 2017

Of Grief

Isn’t it an ocean?
Full. Expansive. Mysterious. Breathing.

This feeling.

Rushing and slow

Older and longer than
all of our lives linked
and added together.

I sit at its edge. It swells and I can’t move.
How it drags me under. There is no fighting back,
It’s hands are relentless and reach far.

I am pushed from old shores to new land searching for who I lost.

(Have they become sea grass, shells, salt, sand
The blanket of sky that covers me?
The ants marching along? The silent crab eyeing me?
The light against my skin?)

Have they found the other side of home?

Isn’t this an ocean, friends?
How it crashes into everything we trust and “know”.
How it overflows and proves that our hearts don’t know boundaries of body, space, and time.

How it reminds us of how big and small we each are.

In a single day I may wade through, surf, tread, swim, float.
In a minute, I may drown.
The next, I may be lifted up.

Isn’t it an ocean?
How it engulfs us, pulls us under, and at the same time through.

How we are carried back from the edge, layed out on the ground, and washed.

Covered in scrapes and grit. And washed over.

How we are pulled through the cycles of Life again and again?

 

“extra” weight

September 13, 2016

page-header_almost-flying

I didn’t start where I am in that picture above. And I’m not there now.

That picture was 4 years ago. I gave birth to my son 5 months ago.

I am beginning again.

I went to my 2nd nonrestorative or yin class in almost 7 months yesterday.

My intention for the practice was this: to love up on all my “extra.”

In yesterday’s class I put my knees down for every plank.
Rested in child’s pose 5 times in one hour, and made room for my “extra” : skin, scars, pounds, and props.

Some days it’s easy. Some days it’s not. But I have to fight to love my “extra” and guard my eyes and mind against all the “21 day yoga shred plans and meditate your way toward a mini dress (and away from biscuits) madness” because I need my practice to be a safe and exploratory place as I feel my way through this new place called mother –hood- land.

And I’m fighting and working, y’all.
Not to get “back” in that pose or body.

But to move from feeling “extra” to this:

This is not extra.

This is me, whole.

Mamas, I’m sorry

September 6, 2016

I owe some mamas an apology.
To that one mama:
who returned my text every three months
who called all the time cause she needed to hear real words
who suddenly couldn’t make a lunch date, ever
who brought her kids everywhere
who took her kid nowhere
who left her fancy gig to stay at home
who started a business the year her daughter was born
who left my yoga class before the final mmm of OM every other time
who bought the 10 class card and only used like 1.5 of the sessions
who only talked about baby body functions, nap schedules, and milk production every time I saw her
who didn’t want to mention “kid” or “baby” when she was away from hers
who didn’t want anyone to hold her baby
who wanted everyone to hold her baby
who had on the same pants every time I saw her
who stayed with her because she was afraid to face it alone.
who had a 2nd one coming… 3 months after her first was born
who left him as soon as she could walk straight, after her 2nd was born
who had all the successes, yet said she her life had no purpose until she held her baby in her arms.


Mama hood is a rare open field and wilderness all the same: Uncontrollable, exposed, and exposing.
It is at once a shared and sacred journey. At the same time a lone and mundane one.
The walk is a weighted one. We carry generations on our hips and often times, the future on our backs. While holding close, the present: tiny and growing hands.
The weight is constantly being added to. When you’ve shifted enough to have a handle on it, it changes. Just when your skin toughens from trooping, uncovered through flat plains, the terrain changes.
It gets wild and muddy again. your skin starts to peel, maybe it sheds, now you hella exposed, again.
and see, before I set a foot on this path, I thought I knew something about how your way was going and why it looked a lil cray from my pretty sitting place.


Sounds silly.
But It’s true.


I didn’t have a pedicured toe on the ground you’d been stomping through, yet I thought I knew something of your walk.


I’m finally crawling along now, and big enough to say.
Mama(s) I’m sorry.

No shortcut.

July 26, 2016

Those of you who live in Atlanta know that highway 285 allows us to bypass traveling through the center of our city to get just about anywhere we want to go.
You also know that there are times when 285 is painfully congested. The other option takes us straight into the heart of our city.

Transformation and change require us to get right into the center. To bypass the challenges is to skip over the rich experience derived from the feeling of every single track we lay down as we tread our path to a new ground.

As a new mother, I could not bypass the critical and profoundly demanding first two weeks of me and Oye’s life together. There was no way around the sleepless nights, cluster feedings, and painfully tender wrists from holding, lifting, and carrying him.

Returning to the work I passionately love, there is no way for me to bypass feeling both the fulfillment of being exactly where I am when I am teaching a class, private session, or CHILLshop AND the intense longing to return to my son.
The access I gain when I take a route directly into the truth of my experience drops me at the front door of humanity. There is so much strength and softness, pain and healing, misunderstanding and knowing there. I do not want to pass over any of it.

And it is intense.

The world right now is intense for many of us.
We cannot bypass this moment of feeling all of the potholes, ditches, obstructions, and debris spread out in all directions around us.

We must not take our eyes off of the road as we make our way forward.

Let us not use our yoga to bypass hard realities being re-exposed from the well-worn highways of our history, no-not this time.

What road will you take? Will you take the path that will not allow you to miss the pulsing, churning truth of the diversity of our oneness?

Is it education? Is it reading books that challenge your view about an “other”? Is it listening and feeling someone share his or her experience of being Black, Woman, Muslim, Gay, or any “other” beyond your own experience without guilt or the need to interrupt? Is admitting that you don’t know how it is for her, him, them, or even simply me? Is it signaling, like a flashing red light, to a family member, friend, or co-worker who keeps telling that same “joke” about those people? Is it investigating how and where systemic and institutional privilege exists for you more than others? It it then using that very privilege to hold our institutions more accountable to our most marginalized citizens? Is it praying for your heart to be cracked open so that you might have space for “the other” without judgment, fear, or condemnation?

As yogis, we cannot bypass our reality by simplifying oneness to a singular experience.

We can no longer stay in our prescribed and “safe” lanes based off party lines, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. Not challenging injustice, bigotry, hate, and untruths- even if it does not affect people “like” us will wreck us all.

In all of this though, we must pull over and rest before we get weary.

We need our energy to stay “woke “and present within the vessel of life- as we ride toward tomorrow, together.

Beginning again

June 6, 2016

Yesterday I taught my first CHILLshop yoga session since Oye’s birth.

A month ago I believed no one would come to yesterday’s session because no one would be interested, because who wants to rest and be still, because I needed to work on my visibility and messaging, because I’d been gone on maternity leave—-because because (I was on a maddening hamster wheel)

Two weeks ago I was anxious and convinced that I should forget the whole CHILL thing. It can’t be photographed, ain’t fancy, and will not get my or your abs together.

One week ago I didn’t know if I could show up and hold space for others because generally my heart, head, and hands are over flowing with baby rolls, spit, and mini human stuff these days.

The Saturday before I reviewed the plans and sequences I’d created and felt surprisingly unprepared.

The morning of I felt sick.

The hour before, I was sweating in an air-conditioned room as me, Jemar, and Oye set up the practice space at evolation yoga atlanta.

15 minutes before I lost my voice and started silently praying.

10 minutes before I sat outside staring at my notes and plans.

5 minutes before I carefully tucked my notes away and continued to pray.

1 minute before I scrapped my well-made plans and pushed my notes aside. They were a distraction.

And so I began. I opened my mouth and really, nothing came out.

I paused. Inhaled. the room exhaled.
Grace.

Grace tiptoed in and sat herself right up on my mat . She held me+my doubt. She brought with her a humble knowing- all of that became my voice.

so I began again with the next breath.

13 years into practicing yoga, 9 years into teaching and— 3 months away from all of that.

I am not who I was. She cannot return. So I begin, again. building- from the mud up again.

Thank you. to every single person who showed up yesterday.
As I held space for you, you held space for me to be muddy and sit with doubt, knowing, reverence and humility for this- a new beginning.

Yesterday, your presence whispered Amazing Grace to me.

Warrior’s welcome

May 20, 2016

A while back I read something regarding postpartum women in another culture from a by gone time.

The article noted that for weeks after giving birth, the mother was mothered and her primary role was to connect to and nurture her baby. The women of the village tended to her so that her and baby could begin and thrive (not simply survive) through the 4th trimester or time immediately following giving birth.

Once that time ended, the new mama and her baby would go back to the village. When they re-entered society they were given a warrior’s welcome.

This struck me: a warrior’s welcome.

I think a warrior’s welcome acknowledges that even in the most peaceful pregnancies and birthing times there is a fight.

Every woman slays her own inner and outer beasts, dips into her own valley, climbs her own rugged or smooth mountain, faces her own Goliath with the dual sling shot of both her strength and surrender in order to bring forth new life.

Her body expands and is broken open so that the circle of humanity and her linage is not broken. In labor she pours her heart over an altar lined with trillions of raw threads- spools of hope, anticipation, defeat, and triumph.
The welcome acknowledges that she is a new being, not simply the same one, returning.

Here and now- we usually simply return. We return to expectations about how we ought to look, keep company, keep house, keep it together, sleep, work, dress, feed, love —it goes on and on.

And so, many many of us forget that indeed we are immeasurably powerful, even as we enter the most vulnerable, humbling, and softening times of our lives.

Besides let’s be real, who can peel her whole self back, reach through walls and generations of muscle, bone, and blood to retrieve another’s body, bringing life earth side?

Who but a warrior can do all that and live to tell about it?

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