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.