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Birthday Reflections

October 22, 2018
She was moving a refrigerator when she went in labor with me.
(Moving a refrigerator after coming from out my Aunt Gloria’s house getting her hair touched up, cause she had to be fly for birth- that’s my mama!)

 

I didn’t come out until mama, deep in labor called on her mama, Annie Mae Williams who’d been gone from this earth nine years, one month, and four days before I was born. When my mama called on her mama, as her story goes, I came on through.

 

And the way my daddy told it. He held me, his first one to make it out alive, on his right side. He held his best cuban cigar (he’d been saving a decade) in his left hand.
An old ritual.  Calling mama’s mama. Pushing a fridge- My welcome to this world.

 

This week I saw another birthday; and I turned a corner.

 

Mama told our birth story again and I tried to remember it.
In dad’s physical absence two hawks followed me all day.
Jemar held complete space for me to simply do me and not the 1,000 other things I usually do in a day. And I felt deeply seen and understood in that space.
Oye “baked” me a cake out of play dough, pine needles, and red clay. And I remembered the beauty, mess, and sweetness of my Gainesville, Georgia childhood.

 

I cried, laughed,smiled, and remembered a lot on my birthday. Mostly laughed and smiled.

 

I got a facial for the first time in 5 years. Katie took me to another planet with massage + reiki. I ate icecream for lunch. I met up with my life/business coach who  helped me recount another birth story of sorts, how I got from the mud of last October to the lotus of this October. That night, I stayed up way too late and read a book from cover to cover, Kiese Laymon’s memoir- Heavy…A love letter to his mama (y’all read it-it’s brilliant).

 

Retracing steps, I turned a corner and ran into my whole self. We stood for a moment staring at one another full of shy admiration of who we have become. Who we love. How we love. How we are loved. How we’ve pushed all manner of “bigger than us things” out of the way when necessary. How we’ve inherently known when to call Annie Mae and nem (our Ancestors) when we couldn’t push anymore. How we’ve known to tuck our best away for our very best ,even at our worst like my dad did with that one cuban cigar.

 

I come from real, loving, and imperfect people. From a real, loving, and imperfect place.

That has always been true.

I turned a corner and ran into an acceptance of my past and present that I didn’t know I needed in order to access the infinite potential of my future..

This year is a rebirth.

The cost of dreams

September 25, 2018

Your dream will cost you. You are worth it.

I paid attention.  I realized how much work the work would take.

Was this my work? Could I do this work? What did that really mean? What would that require of me?  11 or so years ago, these were the questions I asked myself.

I didn’t dream of being a yoga teacher.

I dreamed of music that me and my sister Ebony spent countless hours fighting over when deciding what to listen to: Lauryn Hill, Outkast, Sade… I dreamed in mama’s Saturday night records- Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle, and Aretha. I dreamed in the Gospel: God Specializes.  Lashun Pace’s, I know I been changed.

I dreamed the way my childhood smelled: Whiffs of cocoa butter, mama’s hot comb, and Ora Faith’s fried apple pie. Gainesville, Georgia. Wet red clay. Hints of incense bought at the corner store-sacred.

I dreamed the sound of laughter that I’d sipped and guzzled around a table of sisters  in Accra, Ghana.

I dreamed the way sweat fell on those Boston living room floors, at that house party me, Ibi, Avril, and Karima had in 2003.

I dreamed in the texture of  tears Alesha, Noro and I shed at  Ki’s funeral in that small chapel on the southside of Chicago.

I dreamed of a place that held the healing tones that me, Tiffany, and Jami shared at our Sunday Soul Suppers in a little ranch house in the Arizona desert.

I dreamed the feeling of being held, fed, and loved in the midst of it all.

I dreamed of holding. Feeding. Loving.

I dreamed circles made of Starshine & Clay.

A place that gathered all of what makes me whole-my pieces- and affirmed it.

I didn’t dream of being a yoga teacher.

My practice revealed dimensions of bonds, locks, and chains.

My practice also showed me how discipline, alignment, and awareness were essential keys.

And so, I dreamed of being free.

 

And I knew, because I’d sat at the feet of masterful teachers and paid attention,  that it would cost me. And it did.

 

It cost me my addiction to grasping, lack, and limiting beliefs.

It cost me comfortable, yet tired relationships and the capacity to maintain fake friends for status and social “mobility”. It cost me dinners out and many lazy nights in. It required me to pay in thousands of hours of teaching, studying, and learning totaling years and years BEFORE I left my day job. It cost me the familiarity of a time clock and the ability to delay responses like I did when I didn’t work for myself. I paid with misunderstandings and silent tears in rooms, as the only one.

It has afforded me  a sense of deep trust that it’s my birth rite and responsibility to create and design a life that reflects the prayers of my mama and grandmama ‘nem.

It has netted me the capacity to discern the taste of an organic relationship in the making vs. a modified one long before I fill my plate with someone else’s stuff.

It has granted me a level of integrity in my response and communication (time) with others that honor our potential or real life relationship.

It has repaid me in understanding, smiles of soul recognition, and cries of release with yogis like and unlike me all over Atlanta, Georgia, and the southeast.

Here I am free-er to be myself- to live, love, mother, create, and work on terms that my great great grandmama might not have been able to imagine.

Yes. It has cost me more than I have space to write here.
Yet I owe no one more than I owe the girl I was, the woman I am, and the woman I am destined to be.

Who or what do you Envy?

September 12, 2018

Something made you roll your eyes, hiss a little, and think “they are so extra- ugh?” as you scrolled through the feeds.

 

Is there someone you feel like you are silently  in competition with?

 

Is there someone you watch and might even take notes from, but you don’t “follow”,  “like” or <3 them.

 

We know that social media has created means to constantly compare that never existed before. And we know that comparing ourselves to someone else’s parts will always insure we (feel like) we are coming up short and can never be enough.

 

Yet.  Still.

Can we learn something from compassionately examining who and what we envy ?

 

I’ll share a personal experience that I’ve tucked away and carried around for a while.

 

Before I became a mama, I’d suck my teeth when people talked about, posted about, wrote about, or shared pictures of their kids. Or I’d pretend to be overly interested. Once, while on a retreat, a sister kept talking about her children . At first I was “so” into it. But it seemed to go on too long. My fake interest turned to pure irritation. I literally said to her
“Girl… I thought you came here to rest and be free of them and all that. Don’t you have something else in your life to talk about” (Yes y’all, I said that to someone). I was so annoyed at her. But was it annoyance? Was it “at” her? I went and sat with my feelings and examined my response.  Annoyance gave way to the feeling of a sharp rock in my belly. My heart felt punctured open, 1,000mph wind howled through.

 

My sitting turned to laying down. I held myself and wrapped deep breaths around my spirit. Then it happened. This feeling was a tunnel to crawl and peer through. A way to both see and humbly touch what I wanted. I wanted children that I would miss on a retreat. I let myself feel all of the inner questioning that I’d “put it off”  and then it seemed to be eluding me.  I wanted to unroll my yoga mat and have little socks that had been left behind fall out. I wanted to feel and give the depth of love present in that sister’s (and so many mamas) eyes, words, and the way she carried her body and even her purse around.

 

For many layered reasons, I couldn’t/ wouldn’t admit that longing any other way. And so that thing dressed up like annoyance and strolled in as envy.  Only once fully investigated did it reveal a desire that I’d meticulously hidden and covered up beneath other emotions, interests, and even ambitions.

 

Envy does not feel good and is not “nice”. And yet, it is often a determined and nuisanced teacher. You may be more evolved, and so, you won’t have or need the lessons to come through envy.

 

but y’all… that was how I realized one of my deepest desires. Through a messy inquiry into who and what I envied & exactly why.

 

Who do you envy? Are you jealous of someone else’s work? Relationship(s)? Family? Vacation? Why? What does envy feel like in your body? Where do you feel it? What longing or desire might be asking you to take notice through this fiery emotion?

 

Danielle Laporte says this of jealousy/envy:

“It asks us to give ourselves permission to want what we want… and get our ass in gear.

Envy is often a call to action.”

 

Inhale*exhale.

 

love+ honor you as much as you can. Then look your envy in the eye. Look at and beneath it. Ask it what it really wants. Be honest.

Ask you what you really want. And

Take your next bold step.

Guide my feet

May 7, 2018

“Guide my feet, while I run this race.” The first year of mothering and studio ownership revealed my dark- deeper. My underbelly. My fears. My messiness. My grit. My shame. My pride. My place of grace. My resilience. My strength. My softness. My naivete. My wisdom.

I wouldn’t trade nothing for year one right now, and I ain’t turning around either- though.

I have to do this work. This work has to work.
I want to do this work. I feel called, inspired, loved, challenged, and sometimes on edge with this work. It is, in fact, actually, work.
.
I share the “full” studio pictures, and there are still days where there’s one, two, three students in class. Real life is this AND that. Not this or that. .
I share from an open hand often, and there are moments when I am gripping, tightened fist, closed.

Some days feel like walking through thick and unrelenting bush. Some days I am dancing in an open field, twirling forward.

All of the while, I sense my feet are being guide.

Sometimes it’s a fire walk to get to stream. Sometimes we crawl to what we think is the finish line, only to realize it’s the start. Sometimes the directions are wrong, and we get lost in order to find our way home. Many times we are standing, in front of the sign we are praying for, but can’t see it because the message isn’t often packaged or in shiny papers.

My feet have been guided to this place of knowing: It ain’t “this or that”. It’s this AND that.

Who Carries Mamas?

May 6, 2018

Who carries mamas?

Mamas carry people. Our bones expand. Our organs move. From the inside, and in the most intimate places, we make room for others to grow. We share blood, breath, and pulse. Create cords, new ecosystems called placentas.
We carry people in our bodies, completely.We take people in.

We pick people up and literally carry them across rooms, scary places, and real or make believe rivers. We carry lives. Whole lives on our hips and often walk long distances without pausing. There is no short cut to here. There is no break. No matter where we are in the room or world, we are listening for our child’s breath.

I looked at my mama yesterday, and I wondered. Who, who has carried this mama. Ever?
My God.

Restorative yoga is a practice of being held…
{Perhaps I’ll write about that in the context of mothering —soon} For today, mamas, who or what has carried you from the start of your mama-ing journey to now?

“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.

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