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self love.

December 12, 2019

We can tuck and hide so much to make ourselves “more lovable” until we confine the parts of us that need the most light, the most real love, the most nourishment to a dark corner of our being. ⁠

This year, I’ve been a devoted student of self love. Studying self love and coming into intimate relationship with myself brought me right up to the place that I’ve learned to ignore and resent within me.⁠

I started this self love journey and thought it would be writing poems, candlelit baths, and going on day dates with myself.⁠

Some of that happened.⁠

I wrote far less “love” poems, yet have journals full of untangled lies where I allowed myself to be completely truthful with myself.⁠

I laid down in many yoga nidra nests and waited on the Goddess of Grace to break my heart open so that I could see what’s been hiding in there. ⁠

I had to come into full contact with that place within that is marred, dark, and so incredibly flawed that I’ve been terrified to touch or look at it in order to love my whole self.⁠

A tangible and tactile way I practiced self love this season is abhyanga (Ayurveda self massage with warm oil) before my yoga nidra or meditation practice.⁠

One day while breathing, massaging, And repeating “I can. I will. I must love and nourish myself deeply” A little voice of wisdom says “self love is this.”⁠

My hand is literally at my underbelly, the place that has morphed into discolored, loose, scarred skin since giving birth. The place that already had so many war markings before that.⁠

This? I silently ask. “Not this, no one loves this.”⁠

Voice of wisdom. “Yes, this. Absolutely this. This is your way to self love.”⁠

Self love is seeing fully, with tenderness and compassion, that part of ourselves that we have learned to believe is most unworthy of being seen, unlovable or flawed.⁠

It is accepting, touching, feeling, tending to, singing to, gazing completely at the place that others have turned their eyes away from.⁠

It is wanting what has been unwanted within us.⁠

It is holding our underbelly, or wherever that place is that we’ve experienced “no one loves this.”⁠

It is loving that part of ourselves.⁠

The path.

December 9, 2019

As a teacher and mentor I know that I can’t responsibly lead anyone further/deeper than I’ve gone. In order to stay within integrity and alignment, I have to be honest when I’ve walked with a student or mentee as far as I can go with them.⁠

As a student I have come to many dark edges and had Teachers who reminded me where I hid my light as they walked with me beyond that part of the way.⁠

I’ve also come to wild and strange places. Just as I was about to enter the darkest part I’ve received the message “that path ahead is for you to go without me.”⁠

“Without me” doesn’t mean no presence. ⁠

Some people/ teachers know they can’t go with us. Those teachers hold vigil. The stay at base camp and tend to the fire we’ll need when we make it home. They pray for us on our journeys and they release us to our destinies. ⁠

Sometimes the teacher is a singular person. Sometimes the teacher is our mama or papa. Sometimes the teacher is our partner or even our child. Sometimes the teacher is a whole community holding space for us, even as they let us go to become who we were born to be.⁠

The map for our most sacred expedition is often only revealed when we are brave enough to step into the unknown, be guided by the light in our heart, the rhythm of our own feet, and the compass of our breath.⁠

At the darkest turn, we may think we are alone. Remember.⁠

Remember someone’s tending the fire and trusting you’ll make it through. ⁠

Broken. Undone. Shifted. Transformed. Yet through.⁠

It is dark in some patches of the journey. Keep going.⁠

You are healing.⁠
You will return.⁠

Soft and strong

November 19, 2019

In the past three-ish years I have experienced many new beginnings and starts:

Becoming a mama

Opening a yoga studio

Buying a new home

Co-Designing and writing a Yoga Teacher Training

Leading a first Yoga Teacher Training

Launched Starshine & Clay Yoga Retreats for Women of Color

Led six sold out yoga retreats

Launched Held Mentor Program

Cultivated a continuing education program at SCW

I have experienced endings and losses:

The death of my father

The loss of my brother and friend Richard

Walking with a loved one through an aggressive cancer

A business breakup and leadership restructuring at Sacred Chill

Selling my first home

Rookie business mistakes that costs thousands that I didn’t have at the time

And there’s more.

I know that I am the one that experienced all of these beginnings and endings, and yet- in the mothering and creating, I hadn’t fully registered the ALLness of it.

In my mind I was like… whew… yeah. It’s been a lot. It’s real life and adulting though? Right?

And then a friend said to me “Octavia—it hasn’t been one ending or one new beginning in a short amount of time— it’s been SEVERAL. You have the physical rest thing down. You rest your body. And now, what about your heart and emotions?”

My inner response- “ What about my heart and emotions? Girl, we good.”

I literally come from a woman, my mama, who could be in the darkest moments of her life and still be walking, working, creating, singing, praising God, and making a way for all of us.

And she’d often do ALL of that without mumbling a word to anyone about any of it.

I Inherited that capacity to keep on keepin’ on. To not skip a beat, even when the music takes a drastic turn.

What did that capacity cost my mama in her own humanity? And what does it cost me?

Yet and still, could I exist in my wholeness right now, if she’d been broken under the lash of poverty, patriarchy, and racism? Would I exist right now, without that inheritance?

I don’t know that anyone ever asked my mama, “What about your heart and emotions?”

To the warrior woman I come from. To the priestess within her that refused to die. To the survivor, I kneel at a new altar. 

At this altar, it is her strength that allows me the reckoning with my own softness. Now.

It is the memory of her daily grand rise up and grit that affords me the possibility of laying down and listening to amazing grace slowly, now.

I kneel in front of a new altar in honor of my heart, emotions, and my mamas and her mamas.

In that place I lay down, and I don’t sleep. I awaken. I  lay there and listen to the river of all time running through me. I listen to tears. Ancient mourning songs. I pray. I feel.  I open to another possibility. One that allows me and her to be hurricane strong and soft like june rain at the same time.

I can be soft and strong at the same time.

Mama, you can too.

Mothering my way.

October 20, 2019

I love being a mama. Being a mama woke me all the way the EFF up to my power as a woman in so many surprising ways.⁠

I didn’t expect this awakening. I didn’t expect this level of fierceness and empowerment to be born within me as I crossed the threshold into motherhood 3.5 years ago. I didn’t expect it because I’ve seen both women and motherhood dismissed and devalued. ⁠

For me, my inner work and mothering are deeply intertwined.⁠
Doing my inner work supports me in being my most honest, compassionate, and free self with my son. ⁠
It allows me to release patterns, conditioning, learned ways of being that I don’t want to perpetuate. It allows me to honor that within my personal and our collective lineage I want to bring forward and continue.⁠

I also know this:⁠
My son is learning so much about what to expect from women. ⁠
What equity looks like or doesn’t. ⁠
What harmonious partnership looks like or doesn’t. The creative capacity of women. What self respect in a woman looks like. What self love can look like— he’s learning so much about women from me and how I move through our home and community as one. ⁠

I am not trying to be perfect. I don’t know what that is anyway. ⁠

Context matters, and my context is that I am partnered with my son’s father.⁠

I am deliberate. My husband and I are both deliberate in what we model to our son. In who cooks. In who cleans. In who tends to him. In whose work is prioritized and when. We both know how powerful our model is— even in this wild and often misguided/misogynistic world.⁠

We ain’t tryna to raise a man who thinks that women have a place and he gets to define or coerce her into it. ⁠

This is intimate work and also requires potent awareness of how our daily actions affirm or disrupt the status quo + narrative about what being a woman, mothering/parenting – is supposed to look like.⁠

If I am always the sacrifice, what will my son think equitable accountability and responsibility look like in partnership? or even beyond that?⁠

How will he trust he can become his fullest self and the range of his humanity, if I am not boldly living into my own wholeness and activating mine?⁠

Beloved,

If you do not love yourself, flaws and all, it doesn’t matter who else says they love you. You will not believe them. You will pull them into your irreverence for yourself. They will see how you treat you.  They will take notes.

The best of them will simply walk away and remember how beautiful, smart, and fierce they thought you could be. The worst of them will break your heart and teach you new ways to do the same. You accept the love you believe that you deserve.

Can I tell you, sweetheart, you deserve so much devotion, compassion, fierce deep love. Someone who will not leave you even when the night is long and the valley is deep. That someone is you. You deserve yourself.

Your life is worth fighting for.  I am glad you decided to keep on. I am glad you remembered to pray. I am glad that somehow, some way in your darkest moment,  grace showed up. I am so glad that grace whispered, “you can release the pain from your body without ending it.” I bow deeply to the part of you/me that choose the light of yoga from that abysmal place we crouched in. Thank you for deciding that if you could just make it to one class, then the next, then the next, you could keep living. 

Babygirl, please pay your bills on time. That includes student loans.

Your words are your weapon. They are also sacred balm. Be deliberate in how you use them.

In the words of 3000, “Don’t pull your thangs out, unless you plan to bang.”

You were so brave to move across the country to live and teach Middle School Language Arts in Phoenix, Arizona. To stay, even when you were lonely, scared, and just wanted to go back home or go do work that wasn’t as soul shifting and demanding as teaching. Thank you for being open to learning as much as you thought you were there to teach. For allowing the children of South Phoenix in particular, to expand your heart in all directions.  They were the first ti fully affrim to you that to teach is to learn.

In the words of  Rayya Elias. “The truth has legs; it always stands. When everything else in the room has blown up or dissolved away, the only thing left standing will always be the truth. Since that’s where you’re gonna end up anyway, you might as well just start there.” 

You don’t have to play nice. You only have to be real

Be courageous enough to hold your father’s hands, look him in the eye, and say “these hands broke my heart and somehow I still love you more than I ought to. We can’t begin again. We can’t even wash these hands clean. We can be honest, now. Can we?” Be wise enough to express the love through the pain with him. You don’t have as much time as you think.

Thank you for loving yourself enough, to know when transformative love arrived. Thank you for allowing Jemar to love and merge destinies with you. 

You will learn what it means to deeply love someone you never held, yet who deeply touched you. You will learn how to bury a bodiless being. There will only be two people at the memorial. You and him. You will grieve what people treat invisible. You will recover from that miscarriage. It will take you a while. You won’t forget it though.  

Forgive yourself, first.

So much Love,

O

Lineage & Legacy

October 11, 2019

we can love our families of origin and also name the ways that we’ve been hurt within them. ( Whew…That line was not easy for me to write .)⁠

My mama. Black. Woman. My daddy Black. Man. Both had so much pressure and stress. So much unsolved trauma and pain- personal, familial and systemic.⁠

I now deeply understand that in raising me- they did the best that they could do, from moment to moment.⁠

And that from moment to moment, it varied greatly.⁠

I also understand that some times their best was muted and messy. tangled up with fear, shame, rage, and too much pain.⁠

My awareness of all of their struggles (and more than I can type here) makes me extremely protective of my parents. That need to hold them safe in my heart, memory, and any re-tellings of my own life- even at my own expense makes the inner work I am currently engaging in: the digging in- ⁠
the excavating-the seeking to understand the roots of the roots of the root of so much of my “stuff”—That work is challenged by my protecting of them within me.⁠


where I come from, we don’t air our dirty laundry. We scrub up real nice before anything is revealed.⁠
Where I come from we are misunderstood and misrepresented so often that we are careful not to add to it by talking too loud or too long about our dysfunction, pain, hurt- no matter where the infliction comes from.⁠


I understand it and perhaps you do as well.⁠

and… I can’t honor that code anymore. At least, not within myself. I can no longer leave things un-examined within me in order to “protect” someone else.⁠


I won’t be standing on a soap box talking about what my folks did or didn’t do. I don’t need the public to “consume” that. me or us.⁠


I do have to look and feel- for myself -the impact and experience of “their best” even when it was mangled and a misstep.⁠


It’s an act of deeper love for self, my parents, and family. It’s a deeper devotion to examine and name our collective darkness . I know that all of those ways were learned, internalized, and passed on. ⁠

Which means they can be unlearned, released, and stopped.⁠


As I heal, I transform my lineage and legacy.⁠

Ase.⁠

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