love yo’self

February 15, 2016

remembering the moment I owned that I ain’t got to beg for love. or lie for love. or pretend for love. or lighten my eyes or skin for love. smooth out my hair for love. flatten my belly for love. get a Phat-er booty for love. stop choppin’ the ends off words for love.
Remembering the last night I ever waited for Love to call or come through, cause then I realized Love didn’t need me to hold my tongue, hide my Womanist/ Crunk Feminist ways, say yes all the time, act docile, or even to get dressed and go “out” looking for…it.

remembering that moment, where I felt split from the inside and torn.
yet the raw openness there is where “i found god in myself & i loved her/ i loved her fiercely”- (N. Shange)

black.mama.yogi.

January 18, 2016

The day I found out that I am having a baby boy, I cried.

I turned away from the ultrasound screen and a solid streams of tears flowed.
The tech said, “Sweetie, you don’t want to see?”
I couldn’t speak. It wasn’t that. I absolutely did want to see.
But I turned my back to the image on the screen and wondered when.

When would my Black baby stop being a baby to the world?
When would my Black boy child stop being a child in the face of institutions?
When did Tamir stop being a child to the officer who killed him?
When did Trayvon stop being a youth to the brute who killed him?
When did their lives stop mattering to folk?

I cried because we live in a world where Black men are filmed being shot in the back and choked to death by folk who are supposed to “serve and protect” and my time line and real life lines of conscious yogis and liberals remains silent.

I cried because I’ve been a public and private school teacher and seen how office referrals for little Black boys read like criminal reports even when it’s behavior that for other boys gets deemed “he’s just being a kid.”

I cried because I’m sick of the propaganda stations called “news” that just can’t get enough of “documenting” “black on black” crime when we know “white collar crime is destroying our world…. and often just considered business as usual.
Does any one else not see the connection between the images we are “fed” about groups of people and how it shapes and forms our ideas about who we assume people are… but I digress?

I wondered when will someone follow him through a store, hug their purse closer to them when he walks by, skip the elevator he is on, or call a cop because he “looks suspicious”. (Note, these are every day experiences for my husband)

I cried because I don’t know the answer. I cried because I know someone will “misread” this; convinced that because this experience I speak of doesn’t mirror theirs… it can’t possibly be true.

Then I exhaled and smiled. Because even in all of that crying and wondering
I felt an overwhelming sense of protection for and from my boy, like I do in his daddy’s arms and presence.

My baby boy will be Black and wild haired like Jemar and me.
He will probably always be a little bit taller for his age.
Cause I’m a Georgia woman, he’ll probably say “ye, ma’am” and hold doors for ladies. He will be seen and held with lots of love in our family. He will be a baby, a child, grow in to a man. He will be a Black man and human. He will be country and probably citified like his Boston folk.

He will be raised to challenge your perception of who he is and ought to be. He will be raised to walk through the world and see from all sides at all times just like his daddy tells me he learned to do by the time he was four in order to protect his Black body.

With each day and this growing belly I am profoundly aware of the charge and path in front us:
To raise a child who knows that Dr. King wasn’t simply an “I have a dreamer”, but a radical and ACTivist. Despite how we are taught to remember him in a way that makes the masses comfortable, Dr.King was a WOKE revolutionary and dissident.

I turned my gaze back to where my baby boy was wiggling and stretching and I promised him that I would raise him to see true compassion as King did. As
“ More than flinging a coin to a beggar; (but) to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

To not be lulled into a status quo slumber, but to understand as King did that “The problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.”

And this. If he must measure himself against anything. to let it be this wisdom by Dr. King: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Walking by Faith

May 28, 2015

Today marks two years since I left my 10-year career and stepped out of that beautiful and safe, yet often suffocating space.

It is true, it took incredible courage for me to make the first step. What is also true is that it has taken more than courage to take the second… and the 1,0000000000th step.

It has taken radical trust to keep walking as my path narrows.
to sit down when I am tired.
to change course after the 1,000000000th step.

In the last two years, there have been a few days where it all has been crystal clear.

Truth is though, most days and moments I am literally “walking by faith, not by sight.”
I am on a faith walk.

To be and stay on this course is to be both battered and kissed by wind, worn and cleansed by rain, burned and warmed by sun light. To trip and fall down over smooth trails.

It is to be picked up and carried over the roughest of terrain.

Gentle is strong.

April 23, 2015

The gentle overcomes the strong.

I am looking at a river flow; a steady, slow, stream. There are heavy rocks anchored beneath the pulsing  river. I lean forward to sense the depth and touch the movement of this moment. Up close, I see the rocks worn, clearly effected, transformed even– by the ambling unhurried dance of water passing eternity after eternity over them.
In this instance I am reminded of the Tao Ching:
“Тhe gentle overcomes the rigid. The slow overcomes the fast. Everyone knows that the yielding overcomes the stiff,
and the soft overcomes the hard. Yet few apply this knowledge.”

I look to the river for the wisdom and courage to apply this knowledge.
River speaks to me in whispers and slow rhymes. River says, “Watch me. I am unhurried, and I have been for millions of years. I know my rhythm and the very drum beat of life.  I am soft and fluid, yet I change every thing I touch. I am changed by every thing that touches me. I resist nothing. Most years, I am gentle.”

childs bow

Photo by: Thu Tran

Here I am. By my river. Being changed. Effecting change. When I left my previous career to teach yoga full time and “see” what else I’m here to see I was literally known as the “power sweat hard core yoga teacher lady” in my town. Acknowledging a series of personal and relentless truths and real deep healing experiences via yin, restorative, and alignment based yoga with one of my teachers in Atlanta- Gina Minyard–my flow changed. The course of my river is following a new bend. As I’ve become a different yoga student, I’ve become a different yoga teacher.

The shift has resonated with some. Others have scratched their heads.  Some days I want to pretend that nothing is changing or has changed about my practice, teaching, learning: me.

I have gained and lost both teachers and students.

I offer my past to the river.

I stand here in the present being washed over, yet fully participating in the shift.  As I am cleansed. I am worn.

For tomorrow, I carry both the wisdom of the river and the soul of the rock in my heart.
Honestly, I am afraid.
Truthfully, I am still brave.
There ain’t no turnin’ round.

Lazy Yoga?

January 25, 2015

I once had a student refer to yin as “lazy” yoga. Then when I explained the difference between yin and restorative yoga he said, “Oh, so it’s even lazier than yin.” I have to admit, I laughed!
My response was two words- intentional- commitment.
I appreciate my student’s perspective. It invited me to think even more about what is often a misperception of the restorative yogic arts- that it’s a whole lot of nothing and just kind of idling around.

Ultimately cultivating awareness and presence takes great discipline and commitment. And most of us work so dang on hard that we don’t know how to rest. In order to learn or remember how, then, would mean we need to practice, show up, and decide to actually stay present.
That’s the opposite of lazy.

What we do at a CHILLshop®yoga session, a practice grounded in both yin and restorative yoga is best summed up by Danna Faulds:

“Go in and in. Be the space between two cells, the vast, resounding
Silence in which spirit dwells. Dive in and in, as deep as you can dive.
Be infinite, ecstatic truth.
Be exactly what you seek.”

‪#‎bestillandknow‬

Chillin’ with my mama!

January 11, 2015

I think my southern yogi folk can relate:

My mama is a super church going lady, reads The Bible for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And I told y’all she keeps “Jesus on the main line.”

My sister and I lovingly call my mama “our holy high roller” when we think she can’t hear us. When I started practicing yoga in 2003 she had lots of questions about whether or not it was a religious thing, was I chanting, if so, to whom, what did the poses mean, etc?
My feisty 20 something self gave flippant responses or just disengaged.
Over the years that transformed into actual dialogue and communication about my experiences with yoga and her spiritual practices. That gave way to more conversations about faith, grace, healing, and the place of practice, ritual, and community in it all.
That transformed into understanding each others paths and deep reverence and appreciation on both of our sides. Not to mention the relational/ancestral/generational healing {I reckon that’s another post}

20150110_203130

Our blurry “we-fie” or whatever you call more than one person in a selfie. Post CHILLin’!

That is just to say that my mama’s attendance at yesterday’s CHILLshop®yoga session was at least a decade in the making.

She said this about her experience yesterday:
“I felt the kind of peace I only feel in the presence of The Holy.
I also realized it’s really really okay, to sit down and rest for a while on the journey. If you are really on YOUR path, then resting ain’t time lost. It’s time to strengthen yo feet, clear yo eyes, and connect with yo heart for the joys and turns in the road ahead.”

Y’all that’s the best endorsement ever and
Yes, God is real, real in my soul.

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