Posts In: community

No shortcut.

July 26, 2016

Those of you who live in Atlanta know that highway 285 allows us to bypass traveling through the center of our city to get just about anywhere we want to go.
You also know that there are times when 285 is painfully congested. The other option takes us straight into the heart of our city.

Transformation and change require us to get right into the center. To bypass the challenges is to skip over the rich experience derived from the feeling of every single track we lay down as we tread our path to a new ground.

As a new mother, I could not bypass the critical and profoundly demanding first two weeks of me and Oye’s life together. There was no way around the sleepless nights, cluster feedings, and painfully tender wrists from holding, lifting, and carrying him.

Returning to the work I passionately love, there is no way for me to bypass feeling both the fulfillment of being exactly where I am when I am teaching a class, private session, or CHILLshop AND the intense longing to return to my son.
The access I gain when I take a route directly into the truth of my experience drops me at the front door of humanity. There is so much strength and softness, pain and healing, misunderstanding and knowing there. I do not want to pass over any of it.

And it is intense.

The world right now is intense for many of us.
We cannot bypass this moment of feeling all of the potholes, ditches, obstructions, and debris spread out in all directions around us.

We must not take our eyes off of the road as we make our way forward.

Let us not use our yoga to bypass hard realities being re-exposed from the well-worn highways of our history, no-not this time.

What road will you take? Will you take the path that will not allow you to miss the pulsing, churning truth of the diversity of our oneness?

Is it education? Is it reading books that challenge your view about an “other”? Is it listening and feeling someone share his or her experience of being Black, Woman, Muslim, Gay, or any “other” beyond your own experience without guilt or the need to interrupt? Is admitting that you don’t know how it is for her, him, them, or even simply me? Is it signaling, like a flashing red light, to a family member, friend, or co-worker who keeps telling that same “joke” about those people? Is it investigating how and where systemic and institutional privilege exists for you more than others? It it then using that very privilege to hold our institutions more accountable to our most marginalized citizens? Is it praying for your heart to be cracked open so that you might have space for “the other” without judgment, fear, or condemnation?

As yogis, we cannot bypass our reality by simplifying oneness to a singular experience.

We can no longer stay in our prescribed and “safe” lanes based off party lines, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. Not challenging injustice, bigotry, hate, and untruths- even if it does not affect people “like” us will wreck us all.

In all of this though, we must pull over and rest before we get weary.

We need our energy to stay “woke “and present within the vessel of life- as we ride toward tomorrow, together.

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.

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.

Meditate.

September 30, 2014

Asana is like a house protecting one from the heat of the sun. – Peg Mulqueen

That’s all asana is – a house protecting you from pain, suffering, and from contrary forces. It’s like the supporting tortoise for those who are constantly devoted to the practice of yoga.  Asana is not yoga. –David Garrigues   From Conference notes with DG.

I’d practiced asana (poses) five years before I began to meditate. I am grateful to asana. For me, it was a doorway to the transformative, healing, and real practice that is yoga. I reached a point where I knew there was something else to the practice other than asana, yet,  I didn’t know what it was.

Once I discovered meditation, I realized we move the body  through asana to prepare it for the stillness of meditation.

Though asana felt good to my physical body, it was when I began a regular sitting meditation practice that I sensed a deeper sense of harmony from within.

For me, 10-20 minutes of meditation a day created  more peace, calm, and space in my mind and body than a 90 minute asana yoga practice did.

Meditation is  THAT powerful.

It’s essential to the yogic practice and path.

Don’t know where to start? Here’s an article that I wrote that outlines a simple way to begin meditating now.

Want the guidance of a teacher? I’m super excited that Meryl Arnett will be teaching and leading meditation every Tuesday at 6:30pm at Atlanta Hot Yoga.

warrior at school

After 10 years of working in the field of education as a public school teacher or nonprofit director I am walking away from my desk and board.

But this is not a diatribe about the shortcomings or benefits of standardized testing, nor a monologue about the value or devaluation of teachers in our society, or about how I have seen some of the brightest lights in the classroom burn out or blaze so intensely that we all were struck by lightning when they exploded and burst into falling flames.

This is not a story about leaving.

It’s a about showing up. It’s about heeding a call even when there’s static around the edges. It’s about praying for freedom and being brought to my knees when it arrives raw, unwashed, and unkempt.  I thought it would be sexier. It’s about stepping out of the blinding trenches of “can’t” with muddy feet and clear eyes. It’s about coming home to find an old dream crumpled in the corner, ink fading, unfolding it, and pressing it to my heart.

This is about my heart.

Two years ago my mama survived a heart attack. A miracle. But I think her heart got so heavy from stories untold, tangled up love, and longings too wide to hold on to. So her heart attacked her. Thank God for second chances to live from the heart.

Last fall a friend of mine- young, beautiful, so much promise- made her heart stop.

The days before it happened she took to carrying big bulky yellow bags full of things that she didn’t know where else to put or didn’t trust anyone else to hold on to. Maybe she was hoping for a way to press pause, to put the bags down and sort them out. She ended up hitting “delete all.” Her heart stopped.

This is about starting. Starting a letter of resignation and it turning into a poem:

I will write. I will teach yoga. I will live. I will press my forehead to the ground so that I can see my way. I will lie out all of my journals and read them for clues. I will make a map and follow it sometimes. I will sweat. I will cry. I will laugh. I will remember who I was before fear convinced me that I had to “pick” a name and definition. But this is not about fear.

This is about knowing that “fear and faith cannot exist in the same place.”

It’s about planning for what you can…and praying for the strength, integrity, wisdom, and courage to navigate through what you can’t plan for. It’s about knowing my inner strength.

With this strength I have climbed mountains in literal and figurative deserts. Moved away from home as a teenager. Traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to West Africa and back. Fought my way out of the heavy clutches of strangers and “loved ones”. I have always found a way or made one.  This is about my inner strength, but it is also about my willingness to surrender to this process of starting, remembering, becoming, and birthing dreams to vision. Every birth requires the support of community.

This is about community. This is about Jemar staying up late nights to listen to me swear, cry, and laugh my way in to the courage it took to leave the classroom once I realized it was time to go. It’s about watching my mama wake up from surgery singing  “you’re the God of a second chance.” It’s about my sister saying she’s proud of me, even though I haven’t technically done anything-super fly yet. It’s about Meryl blazing a trail and stepping off the worn path a year and a half before. My yoga students telling me they can’t wait to see more of me.

It’s about Neda, Jocelyn, Rachel, and Julie asking with profound sincerity how they can support my process. About Chelsea counting on me. Bex telling me about the time she moved to the other side of the world so her soul could breath…and she only had $40 left in her account afterward. It’s about Isabelle’s  “Hell yeah!” Tabby’s, “Girl just wait…see what opens for you.” And Todd’s “sooo much fun to be had!” It’s about Debra reminding me of the virtues of patience in word and action. It’s about Jason’s “baby girl that took guts…it’s on now!” About Jesse and Stephanie talking goals and visions with me in the lulu store, on the sidewalk, or after a sweat.

It’s about telling Leah that I am “leaping and the net will appear”…and her saying “screw a net, you got wings baby.”

It’s about shaking myself awake one particularly rough evening and finding this message from Kira: “Yes, it gets very real when changing your life so dramatically. What’s helping me, when it- the shaking, the panic, the worry happens -is really slowing down and breathing through it. Also closing my eyes, and remembering all the reasons I walked away from security into the unknown. 
I have a quote by Alan Cohen that is posted to my home office wall. I read it several times a day.  It says ‘It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.’ ”

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