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I am held.

August 16, 2019

She is not smiling. Her arms are down and her hands face me, palms wide open. I see all of her deep openings and the rivers that have woven through each wound and cracked place within her. Where the rivers merge, a pool of light radiates from within her.⁠

We face each other.⁠

But why won’t she smile at me? Am I not welcome? Does she not want to see me in this space? Am I taking too long to become. Is she impatient with my “hanging back” at the threshold? Are her palms open to push me across? ⁠

I want her to welcome me. To approve of my presence. To tell me I am good. That I made the right choices. To congratulate me on my ambition and drive. I am waiting for her to smile at me. Her smile will tell me all of those things.⁠

She looks at me. ⁠

I am skin. bone. vessels. and a fabric of sheer tissues in her presence. Her gaze goes clear through my body to soul. She moves in closer to me. I see her eyes open into mirrors. She exhales. I soften. I feel her breath in my mouth. ⁠

And I realize, she is me.⁠

She is me, in our future. She is not smiling because she is waiting for me to honor all of my wisdom, to defy every condition and bond that no longer serves her, me, us. She is waiting for me to fully recognize the light that I see in her, is my own.⁠

She is my future and reflection.⁠

I can stay hidden, small and stuck. I can stand here and hold on to all of my stuff. It’s heavy, yet so comfortable and known. ⁠

There is no way forward unless I put this shit down.⁠

It takes a while. One by one I let the things go. Her light allows me to see in the dark as I fumble through all of the things. To surrender the conditions I’ve been clinging to so long that I’ve mistaken them for identity. To let go of ambition and ideas about “success.” Who am I without this armor? Those definitions? That mask? That costume? That belief? ⁠

This is not easy. Weightlessness is uncomfortable when you’ve carried yours and everybody else’s stuff so long. ⁠

I lift my feet to cross the threshold. She offers her hand as compass and guide. Then, she smiles.⁠

The way forward is boundless, when I let go.⁠

I am held.⁠

-Empowered Wisdom Yoga Nidra Reflections⁠

In exactly a month (September 13) Yoga and Meditation Teacher Training at Sacred Chill {West} will begin. Stepping back into the cycle of teaching and training teachers, I reflect on the graduation of our first group of teachers  and the prayer I offered at graduation.

⁠⁠It’s really a prayer for all of us- yoga teachers.⁠⁠

The prayer.⁠⁠

Beloved, our divine- Thank you. Thank you for bringing this group of brave, authentic, truth seeking, and powerful individuals together in this place and time to do this work.⁠⁠As they cross the threshold may they know that to teach is a high honor, a calling.

It requires devotion. Devotion to truth. To learning. To a sense of service (not servitude), Devotion to The Oneness that contains multitudes.⁠⁠⁠

To teach is both to show up and get out of our own way.⁠⁠⁠It is to practice and stay curious.⁠It means that we refuse to hide.⁠

It is to see and allow ourselves to be seen.⁠Teaching is an invitation to be with yourself, flaws, imperfections, and all.⁠

To be with others and theirs.⁠ It requires skill, discipline, courage, and strong strong love.⁠⁠

New Yoga Teacher:⁠

As you step on to the other side of this deep and long path may you know this:⁠

If you walk long enough, you will fall. You will learn how to rise. When you can’t pick yourself up, you will be lifted. You will learn how to surrender and trust.

⁠⁠Know that no one can do your work or take your journey for you, and you also don’t have to do it alone.⁠⁠

When you teach. We teach. When you learn. We learn. When you grow. We grow.⁠⁠

Ase. Amen.⁠

Am I doing this right? What is the measure of doing it right?⁠
If my kid eats all of his greens, am I doing it right?⁠
If he says yes ma’am to his Mimi , Memaaw, and Maya- is that right?⁠
When his play date takes all of the play dough and my kid punches him to get it back?⁠
When I have that moment of pride that … yes… that’s my boy. He’’s a fighter seeking to redistribute resources more equitably😂. Now, is that right?⁠

Lately, Oye is really into who Harriet Tubman was. He knows that she found a way to freedom and led others as well. His larger question is “how mama?” The answer I give him right now- Imagination. She imagined a better world than the one she was born into and she did something about it. Did Harriet have models? How did she know that freedom was her birthright when she’d been surrounded by the opposite? ⁠

I believe that Harriet’s imagination stretched across time. It walked across water backwards. It jumped at the sun forward. It’s how she remembered and visioned freedom.⁠

Another world is possible, and it will be born- first in our imagination. ⁠

It has to be. What we have seen represented and presented as “the way” continues to turn up as a dead end.⁠

And so, I mother and I ponder “Am I doing this right?” Oye sits next to me and says “Mama, I am a lion, a dragon, and a butterfly.” ⁠

I say “yes” to all of those things, hopefully forever.⁠

Aloud, I wonder what wild and free creature he thinks I am. He says “you are a bird and you made the clouds.”⁠

That means something.⁠

Oye’s presence in my life demands that I reconvene with my own imagination as a requisite to accessing more freedom. How else will I recognize the world that he shows me is possible if I am not a student of the imaginary?⁠

Imagination is not a pretend place. It is the place where creativity, possibility, and infinity live. My son calls on me to love, nourish, protect, honor, and engage his imagination as a measure of “doing it right.” In doing so, I must practice perceiving beyond my five senses. He implores me to be a student of what I cannot see, what is boundless, and beyond real.⁠

Our survival depends on it.

She loved us.

August 7, 2019

The next time we sing and call in Ancestors-
The next time we pour libations, we will call her name.
And she will come. Wearing new robes, held together with words written by Audre, June, Lucille, Maya, and Ntozake to welcome her into the next world

And she will say something like —the best way to fight their lies is to write and give voice to our stories.
And she will stand at the edge of our circle and call us into the center one by one. She will listen deeply as we excavate our stories from our souls. There will be wailing and laughter. There will be cussing and prayers. There will be slurs and exquisite enunciation. There will be silence and shouting in our testimonies and telling.

She will gather all of it at the helm of her majestic robe and spread them across the sky when she flies back.

She is free-er now. We’ve inherited her relentlessness, love, and devotion to the humanity of Blackness. I’ve inherited a deeper sense of responsibility to tell my story.

She went to rest, yes. And in a little while, she will come when we call.

In our memory, in our hearts, our words yet to be written, Great Mother, Writer, Warrior, Truth Teller Toni Morrison lives.

To be whole

August 5, 2019

My cousin Carlos is one of my youngest Ancestors. He was an artist. A visionary. A musician. And someone who danced, lived, and colored outside of others’ comfortable boundaries. He was a truth teller and rebel. He passed away on August 2, 2003 from injuries sustained from gun wounds. The last conversation I had with him was in June 2003. “He said to me, you sound so happy and free.” My reply was “I am.”

The men in my blood line have been asking to be heard.

I finally have both the softness, strength, capacity to listen.

For years and every time I lead a retreat, training, immersion, or teach at a festival I create an altar.

I usually bring images of the women, my grandmamas and their mamas. I place them on an altar. I say their names. I remember them and ask them to be with me.

A few days before leaving to teach at Asheville Yoga Festival and while practicing Empowered Wisdom Yoga Nidra I heard a clear message.

“remember the men. you don’t need to carry them. you DO need to remember and take them with you. They want to be with you on this journey to.”

And so, I took the men. My ancestors who I have the most complex, layered, and textured relationships with. The ones who are artists, musicians, lovers, devoted fathers, and deeply spiritual. The ones who are not. The ones who seemed to be trapped in the wrong place and time their whole lives and could not come to terms with the way the world dehumanized them. The one that turned on themselves and sometimes their family.

The poet in my blood is my maternal granddaddy, Nathaniel Norman. If I don’t remember him, I miss half of my words. I forget the songs and hymns that will soothe our souls. I forget laughter, sweetness, and charm. The wise economist in my bones is my paternal grandpapa, Big Charles. When I invite him into the space, he takes whatever resources available and multiplies them. He also guards energy and is a master of boundaries. The artist, rebel, and truth teller in my heart is my cousin Carlos. If I leave him out, I lack fierceness and the capacity to show up as my whole self no matter who it makes uncomfortable. And then there’s my daddy, Big Ram. He’s the philosopher and magician. The trickster and hustler. The preacher/sinner man. The fighting mystic in me. He is the container of multitudes, just like I am. When he’s in the room I know how to be with all that I am and love the unanswerable contradictions in my spirit. I can hold space for others to do the same for themselves with so much grace.

The Divine Feminine within me has awakened in profound ways. And in rousing that deep essence, the men call out for healing to.

I listen.

I gather our pieces, to be whole.

not bypassing

August 4, 2019

Someone who teaches, lives, and works in El Paso asked the question: “As a yoga teacher how do I continue to remain positive in the face of this.”

My response:
You don’t need to be positive. You only need to be real. The way I see the most powerful function of “the light” we cultivate in our yoga practice is to shine that light on our personal and collective darkness so that we can finally see what and where it is we have neglected, hidden, not tended to, pretended , or even “thought and prayed” it way back into the corners of our being.

We need places of refuge and healing- yes. And part of healing is turning our light to look deeply and closely at the wound.

We have so many personal and collective wounds. Ones rooted in systems and culture and those same ones defining our actions and interactions.

We need your light to illuminate this darkness. I am willing to look directly at this mangled bloody tragedy in El Paso through the lens of your light which is closer to it than mine is over here in Atlanta.

I say all of this to say… feel all of your feelings and express them however you need to. This is terror. This is tragedy. This is happening too often in our beloved country. A wall will not protect us, because the enemy is within, emboldened, and overly armed. I will not turn my face away from what ever you or the people of El Paso show me.

My response ends there yet my reflection didn’t. Sara Clark said it best “To see how police can gently escort yet another mass-murderer to safety when black and brown folk are gunned downed simply for existing is nauseating.”

We have at least two deep profound terrorizing wounds ripped/ splayed open here:

People in El Paso living daily life doing normal every day type things gunned down. Gone.
The white mass murderer apprehended alive. Unarmed Trayvon Martin was gunned down and killed. Sandra Bland was to. Tamir Rice. Gone. So many Black lives gone at the hands of those supposed to protect and serve.
Yet a mass murderer was apprehended without hurting him.

Are we paying attention to all of this?

We can’t skip this. This is what the light is for. To see our way in this collective darkness.

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