Posts In: truth tellin'

“Faith without works is dead.” James 2:26

Reflecting back over the past few years of my life, I clearly see my two hands do work, align, gather, and reach. I clearly see my two feet grounded, walk, run, and when I’ve fallen down, my two knees bend, kneel, crawl — onward.

I am one with two hands, feet, knees. 10,000 always roll with me.

Looking back I also see the imprint of 20,000 hands working within mine. 20,000 feet running inside my shoes. 20,000 bending with me. God and Ancestors are my 10,000. My 20,000 hands, feet, knees.

And they ain’t never failed me.
They school me tho. When I want something and am not willing to engage the process or put forth deep honest effort, God and nem have called me out and said to me “beloved, my child, you take two steps, I’ll step with you. You lift two hands, I’ll reach you.”

My faith requires me to both trust and engage process. Requires me to plan, prepare, pray, and participate- not one over the other.

Requires committed effort and that has looked like working two {almost} full times jobs to prepare to leave them both and do what I felt called to, teaching classes, times, places, and a frequency that challenged me (this was finite tho and a route to now), laboring long and over days and nights (to bring my son earthside), paying myself less than $500 a month the first 14 months of owning a studio (to set us up for sustainability, growth, and any sort of chance in this unequally stacked “market”) – the list goes on.

 

For all of that, for every ounce of sweat, tears, and blood I have put in, I’ve tasted God’s nectar poured into me at least 10,000 fold. And I know. I know a single drop is not wasted.

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.

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?

Giving birth

April 7, 2016

He’s here! Me and Jemar’s son, Oyetunde Nasir Raheem arrived Saturday April 2, 2016 at 5:37am.

Our birthing time/labor was yoga in the most profound sense. Lots of yin and yang. Lots of fire and water. Sound and silence. Some CHILL. Plenty FIERCE.

Clearly every birth experience is different. For me, the newness that is my son’s life, that is my life, that is NOW, would not emerge until I went all the way IN.

I had to go IN to doors, crawl through barred windows, and scrape against deep caverned walls within my body, mind, heart, and soul to bring NOW about.

I had to go IN
dark crevices (contract /down)
expansive light (open/up)

For me to get to NOW and rest in it, I had to go through.

Going in, I came out with a tangible being, my son, Oye.

AND with this truth sewn into the red clay fabric of my cells:
No matter what task is before you. No matter what course – murky or luminous- must be traversed. no matter what valley must be staggered under. no matter what mountaintop stares you down. no matter the power of the wind battering against your face. the messy kiss of sun against your head. Or the howl of trees bending against your back. No matter if you are barefoot or well heeled on your path,

Own it. Walk it. It belongs to you. You belong to it.
No matter how dusky the morning or bright the night, no matter how strange the landscape becomes as you travel
You cannot just quit. You cannot just leave.

The only exit is to fully enter the passageway of NOW, be with one small contraction/expansion- one wild, feeble, loud, or silent step at a time.

Because THE ONLY WAY OUT IS THROUGH.

Nothing is something

March 20, 2016

I have a space on my retreat registration form where those registering can write additional comments, thoughts, or things they want me to know.

One of the registrants wrote this:
“I’m so glad you listened to your calling and bless others every day with what you do! You have no idea how much your classes have helped me through one of the most difficult and transitional times in my life! I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve prayed. But most of all, I’ve changed in your classes. For that, I am truly grateful.”

I deeply appreciate this student’s message and her acknowledgement of my work as “listening to the call.”

Listening is challenging. The longer I listen, the more subtle nuisances I discern in the call. Listening to “the call” continually asks me to go against the grain, to measure the grain, to soften the grain, to refine. Refinement is not big. It’s attuning. It’s inner alignment.

It’s not something I can whip out and show you on here. It’s not “insta”, though it is happening now. Sometimes, it even looks like nothing.

Like in restorative yoga… I look like I am doing nothing, but I am tuning in. I am listening. Is that something?

I don’t practice asana every day any more.
Lately meditation has been me staring at the dark brown lines that have traced their way across my belly to my heart over the last 9.5 months.
I lost my mala beads a long time ago.
I chant and I cuss. (Sometimes at the same time) I am not vegan. I haven’t attempted headstand in two years, though I practice tadasana, standing firmly on my own two feet everyday.

Right now, my personal practice is holding space for myself to be broken and whole, raw and undone, to feel the constraints and expansiveness of my being human in the most simple shapes and ways- on and off the mat. Sometimes my practice is to do nothing but notice.

Since that is my personal practice, this has shown up powerfully in my teaching over the past year.

I’ve been known to say less than 100 words… almost nothing in a yin or restorative class. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I am listening and hear that my students’ voices, experiences, and truths are rising up in the form of laughter, tears, and prayers. I trust that their listening into those moments communicates beyond anything I might say.

This student’s message affirmed what I’ve been hearing on this side of the call these days:

I do not have to fill up every single space and gap for myself or students with words, philosophy, music, “challenging” poses etc (I love all that for sure, sometimes I know it’s just filler though)

Holding space can be plenty.

AND a quiet seat in the class is an asana that I MUST practice as a teacher, because what seems like nothing can lead to so much of something.

the look

March 11, 2016

Being with child I have become ACUTELY aware of how often people comment on my looks and women’s looks/bodies in general. I even had to ask my husband do people comment on his looks/body multiple times a day. He said “uh, no, hardly ever.”

Being a yoga teacher and engaging with people’s bodies as my own body has been rapidly growing is interesting to say the least. (more on that later later)

My new look has been described as huge, fluffy, “wowzers”, “increasingly heavy”, and some other funny- side ways- “are you really talking to me right now” type things.

It has also been described as Glowing. Radiant. Pretty. Beautiful.
Beautiful.
Beautiful.
Beautiful.
Beautiful is so beautiful, right?

Just now, I came across these words that moved close to my heart and captures some of what I think “gets” me with the constant commentary on my\women’s looks/bodies even when it’s something as beautiful as beautiful:

“i want to apologize to all the women i have called beautiful
before i’ve called them intelligent or brave
i am sorry i made it sound as though
something as simple as what you’re born with
is all you have to be proud of
when you have broken mountains with your wit
from now on i will say things like
you are resilient, or you are extraordinary
not because i don’t think you’re beautiful
but because i need you to know
you are more than that” – rupi kaur

Being with child is beautiful. the kind deeper than looks. true.

It is also courageous. powerful. untaming. soulful.transforming.liberating.

a ritual.a passage.

It is REAL.

Womenfolk- mamas-to-be and such.

we don’t need anyone’s commentary on our bodies (not even our own)
but if one must go there and say anything.

Real.

REAL. is the word.
It’s the look.

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