The Tug

As a Black woman this Civil Rights Movement, and all of its micro traumas, has become a tug of war on my soul.

People wonder why George Floyd? Why this time? Why this moment? When the truth is, it was simply the final straw. I don’t know of a Black person who is surprised by what some are so shocked by. I think people see the black and white images of our former Civil Rights Movement and convince themselves that it’s from a time long ago. It wasn’t. I’ll be 40 this August. Those are images of my uncles and aunts and cousins and as I watch the images in the news today it feels like tiny cuts each time a man is murdered who too closely resembles my own blood line.

I watch our White allies fight alongside, and for, my Black community and my heart soars! Hundreds of thousands of us marching in the pursuit of righteousness and I can almost see roads being paved for future generations who will never again have to walk this struggle. 

And then John and I pull into Morris Illinois, and I watch 2 pick up trucks box us in. I watch 2 cop cars pull up and talk to them first. And I see a white woman, emboldened by her own ignorant righteousness, and with her teenage daughter in the truck, point to our bus. My home. With 3 cops at my door, and Mrs. Pick Up recording on her phone, I was told that our bus had been reported as looking aggressive. I was told that we were reported as looking menacing. And I was asked when we were planning on leaving. 45 minutes later, the cops pulled off with our promise to pull out of our public parking spot in the morning. And then the pick up trucks peeled off one after the other honking their horn, yelling words I chose not to listen to. And in that moment, I’m reminded that everybody aint happy that Blacks are being heard.

With my ancestors stirring and dancing in my bones, I sign petition after petition and I can almost turn cartwheels when Tamla Hosford’s case is re-opened and Rayshard Brook’s killer is charged. And then I talk to my family and we can’t help but think back to the decades of cases where charges are lessened or dropped entirely and while officers collect pensions our community is left to mourn a lie. And we all mumur something like, “We’ll see…” and go about our day.

After Morris, John and I pulled into Paw Paw Michigan. Just days afterwards. We parked, I walked the dog, and the 3 white people watching me from their front porch started taking pictures. Not 5 minutes later, 4 white teenagers pulled along side us taking pictures of our bus. And right behind them 2 cop cars flashing lights and sirens. This time, the deputy wanted my first and last name. When I told him that I didn’t find it necessary to give my full name to a police officer for sitting outside of a public park at 2:00 in the afternoon (in my nicest “please don’t kill me” white girl voice) he called me Miss and told me to calm down. He wanted to know why I was there and this time, he didn’t give us until morning. He told me that “racial tensions are high here” and he told us to go. And we did. And those 3 white people kept watching and those 4 white teenagers laughed and took pictures of us driving away. 

A day later, I sobbed on a work call. I knew this country was racist. I’ve been dealing with some version of it as far back as my memory allows. But I had underestimated just how angry some become when we ask to live free. When we dare to demand equal treatment. I had underestimated how threatened they become by the sight of my skin. I sobbed and I told my team that I didn’t think I could do this anymore. Within 10 minutes, my boss and one of the founders of The Dinner Party, had texted me an address of a safe house. It was 20 minutes down the road from the rest stop we’d slept in. Within a half hour I was being hugged by 2 white women I’ve never met and told we were welcome to stay as long as we needed. We’ve shared meals and wine and gardening tips. We’ve shared stories and laughs and for the first time in weeks John and I slept without fear. We’ve been here for over a week and will be here until July. Mantra Magazine, having read my last post, and without being prompted sent cash via Venmo just in case we needed it and a promise to bail us out of jail in case my cop ass kissing ever fails.

The ACTION of my colleagues. The ACTION of a brand. The ACTION of these women here in these Michigan woods is what allows me to sit here and again feel my soul being tugged towards joy.

They understood, and understand, that this moment requires a sense of urgency. We didn’t need a text, or a phone call or a fist emoji. We needed help. And we needed it immediately. There is immense happiness to be felt when we see progress being made but don’t let it distract you from the fact that our happiness incites a level of hatred many of us can’t fathom. 

This fight is exhausting. Each day is begging something new out of all of us. If you’re like me and feeling the tug? Let go… let it pull you… There is a place for our anger and our sadness and our fear. But there is also enormous room for gratitude and hope. And there is a brief moment in the middle where someone will spring into ACTION and remind you that there is such beauty in our collective humanity when we try. And you’ll be ready to pick up the rope and begin again…

Just keep going.

Please feel free to comment below. I welcome all good energy!

WICKED

Up until a VERY embarrassing, but hilarious, audition for The Lion King in my 20’s I was convinced I was going to be a Broadway star. I started singing in Church around 5 years old, and spent most of my life in performing arts schools around NYC. I’ve long given up that dream, and I only sing at home now,  but to this day WICKED is one of my favorite musicals.

“Wicked” was translated from page to stage through Gregory Maguire’s novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West”, and takes place some years before that tornado brought Dorothy from Kansas to the great Land of Oz.

Doctor Dillamond is an animal professor who tragically faces discrimination at the school. He finds friendship in Elphaba, who wants to help him fight against those trying to oppress him. 

Doctor Dillamond, Elphaba and Galinda go to visit the almighty Wizard of Oz, with the hopes he’ll put a stop to the intolerance. After a tragic mishap and a spell gone wrong, the Wizard frames Elphaba as a ‘wicked’ witch, and Galinda is cast as the epitome of goodness.

WICKED is about a lot but it’s also the backstory of how we come to believe Glinda to be the good witch and her sister to be wicked and deserving of her fate. The backstory to why there was so much rage that a town was ravaged. It’s the explanation as to how the wizard allowed his lies to turn the world on Elphaba so he would never have to be held responsible for his mistakes.

2020 is the year of pulling back the curtain. Some of you are very sad about what’s happening in our own version of Oz but I’m wondering why some of you aren’t ANGRIER  that the wizards thought you cruel enough to never question their motives? Why aren’t you irate that they took bets that you would be too busy profiting from your privledge to wonder why it existed in the first place? They assume that your drive to be seen as the symbol of goodness will  prevent you from ever truly defending your sisters.

Be sad but get angry! Use it to fuel your fight. Prove to them that you are on to them and MAKE THEM HEAR YOU!

I love men but it’s women who bring about change! It has always taken the bravery and courage of a woman to make a man listen. 

10 years from now, we will still be talking about this. People will ask you what you did and where you stood. Decide now if you want to tell them you were busy being Glinda. Or do you want to hear your future self proclaim that she stood up for her sisters and helped to dismantle OZ? What version of you do you want to face?

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. Maya Angelou

Dear White People

I’ve sat down at my keyboard a hundred times by now. I’ve sat, staring at my phone, wondering if I should post about life these days in St Louis and then feeling frozen because my heart was too heavy to be trivial. I’ve thought about my white friends, and my white clients and hesitated because this moment feels like a line in the sand and I don’t know yet whose gonna wind up with me on the other side. I’ve thought about being quiet, but then I remembered the words I wrote in another post about no longer playing small. I considered keeping my head down, and then I thought about my mother having to keep her head up when she rushed past boys and girls and parents yelling Nigger at her as she desegregated her Queens. NY school. I thought about that and I said Nahhhhh. I, WE, need to be heard.

2 weeks ago, John and I spent time in Moab, Utah. On a rainy Saturday, and in need of WIFI, we pulled into an open parking lot, with no No Parking signs, and parked for the evening. Around 11:00pm police lights surrounded our bus and we heard them knocking on our door. Ana- Mae, our dog, was barking and getting anxious so I took her in the back and asked John to go outside. I saw a look cross his face, and it was too late before I realized what it was. It was fear. 

I listened to their questions. I heard their tone. I felt their ignorance. And then they requested an ID. And I knew in that moment, that I had made a mistake. I had forgotten what country I was in. I had forgotten for a brief moment that we are black and as black people we are not afforded the same rights. There was no reason to ask for an ID. To tell John that the sheriff had been watching us. To ask if we “had the means” to drive out of town. I had forgotten, and we are never allowed to forget what color we are in America.

Realizing that things were going left, I called outside and asked for John to watch the dog. I yelled out to the cops that he would be switching places with me. (Lest he move too quickly and they get “nervous”)  And I walked outside barefoot and prepared. I had flashed on a conversation a black cop in Chappaqua NY told me once. We were, safe to say, the ONLY black people in that town and in high school I was good for winding up at whatever party was getting busted. One night, he pulled me to the side and told me to “cut it the fuck out”. That I was not my white friends and that it would serve me to be clear on that. “You can’t do what they do and you’re gonna get yourself killed thinking you can. These white cops don’t care about your black life.”  

I’m grateful but sad when I think about that conversation. These are the lessons our elders are forced to teach us.

When I walked out of the bus, to see two cop cars and 3 cops and flashing lights, I heard that cop’s words and so I smiled and tap danced and shucked and jived to make them feel comfortable so that they wouldn’t kill us in the middle of that Utah desert. I preened and rambled and kissed their ass until I could see that I had convinced them that we were an acceptable fit for their empty parking lot and they finally left us alone. It took an hour. We were making no noise and breaking no law. We were just black, after dark, in their town.

Afterwards John took a shot of tequila to calm his nerves and I sat and cried. I cried because I saw in that moment that I was no longer that high school girl. I wasn’t rolling with rich white girls whose very presence prevented me from winding up in a jail cell. I am black and 40 years old and rolling with a KING whose very color makes lesser men nervous and trigger happy. I cried because I recognized my new role as his shield and that’s really scary. But necessary.

I’ve cried every day this week. I cry for my black women who are also acutely aware that on top of life  and it’s heaviness they must also be their man’s protection. I cry for my black men who have to wake up every day to be told they don’t matter here. I cry for my community who are scared to run, walk, drive, or sit at home on the fucking couch for fear of being murdered. And I cry for YOU white people, because you still haven’t figured out how valuable you are to the discussion. 

Let’s be real REAL for a minute. This country is racist as hell. Our government is racist as hell. There aren’t enough fireworks on the planet to ring in Independence for people of color in America. WE are not heard. WE are not considered. YOU are. So help. 

Help by asking us if we are okay. Have the conversation. Be uncomfortable. If you are my friend, and we aren’t talking about this then we are acquaintances. If you’re not able to have an honest conversation about what’s happening right now then why are you friends with black people in the first place? It’s a lie that you don’t see color. Stop saying that to yourself and to us. You do. You ignore color when it gets uncomfortable. 

Your silence in your home says that this is okay. Imagine, if when growing up, Black cops were killing Jews? And getting away with it. What if Black men, in charge of their neighborhood task forces, were shooting little white kids in hoodies? Now, what if my mother didn’t talk to me about it? What if my father never said a word? When I become the 40 year old woman I am now, what do I think about the value of Jews in this world if I’m never taught how wrong those cops were and what racism really is?

Start stepping into your privilege. As a woman don’t we know ours? I know I’m a beautiful woman. I know I have big boobs and a cute butt and that I can get away with a lot when necessary. And when necessary, I’ve used it all to my advantage. White folks? Use your skin color to your advantage. 

It was a white teacher who walked my mother into that school in Queens that day and yelled back at those heathens who threw things. It took the courage of white people, who sat next to us at Jim Crow counters, and protested with us on the front lines, to propel the Civil Rights Movement forward. And it’s taken the actions of our white comrades today to have these cops arrested, let along tried and sentenced. 

I am asking you…Stand with us. Speak up for us. SEE US. Or miss us with the bullshit. I hope as the black community, we all draw a line in the sand. I hope all of us require that our friends and tribes have our back. I hope that we didn’t just come together to sing and pray when Covid hit. That we weren’t just seen as part of your community because people are sick and maybe your people die too and now you too are scared. I hope that if nothing else, you’ve read this and sat back to wonder where you fall in all of this. THIS requires work. Self work and that sucks but you are a mandatory ingredient in our survival. 

Black people… You are so beautiful. So magical. And so valuable.  I love you. I love you. I love you. Hold yourself tight and your families tight. We always rise.

Life These Days

I’m not calling this thing the CoronaVirus or the Pandemic. Those words carry fear and it’s not going to help me by continuing to repeat them. I’m calling it the Reset. The planet clearly needed one, Mother Nature is on a serious glow-up! But I think we all needed one too. That being said, this Reset is a mother fucker huh?!? I know that coal produces diamonds when put under pressure but I would have settled for a Topaz honestly. 

I get asked a lot how all of this is affecting life in the bus, and nomadic living so I thought I’d do a breakdown

  1. We were seconds away from tiling our bathroom floor and building a door to separate the front of the bus from the back. I’m only strapping on that crazy mask once and it’s for groceries so for now Mama still poops with no privacy. 
  2. We didn’t know this was coming but Eula- Mae is designed for social distancing. We carry a 65 gallon water tank, plus 5 extra gallons, a full apartment sized fridge for storing food, an oven, an outside grill and have 6 panels of solar and 8 AGM batteries from GoPower Solar! We are completely comfortable off grid and it takes about 4 weeks before we need to hit up civilization again.
  3. Part of this tour was my leading a workshop in each city. Guiding women through Yoga Nidra is one of my favorite things. I teach what I need and I heal a little bit with each session. I’m really sad that this is no longer an option. 
  4. Both of our primary sources of income were already online. Before we moved from Miami, I had moved my private yoga clients online. I was already leading Death Doula workshops on Zoom and my work with the non-profit grief org The Dinner Party is a remote job. John is a graphic designer and so nothing changed for him at all. We are grateful every damn day for this.
  5. Both of us are homebodies by nature but I still want to be out IN nature. We are BUMMED that National Parks and State Parks are closed. That being said I am not bummed about no longer having to fake like I’m enjoying those long ass sweaty hikes. Now we take short walks around nearby trees and this one returns to her home for a glass of wine within the hour. Like a lady should. 💁🏾‍♀️
  6. Yes, we’re still traveling! If we still lived in Miami, we would need to ride our elevator 3 times a day to walk our dog. We would pass dozens of people in the mailrooms and parking garages. Not to mention trips to the store. Right now, outside of John, I walk past people 1 time per month when we run errands. Outside of that there are always other busses and RVs parked in the same campgrounds as us. We wave and are grateful to see a smiling face but that’s as close as we get. I feel safer in the bus than I would have in my condo. The fact that the view changes is what I believe is keeping us sane.
  7. This is seriously testing my spiritual practice. I speak often, in my classes, about Yoga off the mat. The poses are just a vehicle for you to sit in mediation. The practice is about cultivating kindness, patience, humility and recognizing the divinity in yourself and others. When it’s hot in the bus and I’m tired of working and John leaves a dish in the sink it takes a lot of Om’s to find kindness and patience. I am quickly pushed to be more humble when I dare to complain about my situation and I remember how many are without jobs and are stuck with people they don’t like in homes they don’t love. And damn if I don’t struggle seeing anything Divine in my husband, or myself, when he asks me for something that I know he could find if he bothered to use his peripheral vision. 🥴 But I keep coming back to the practice. Some days I fail, badly. Some days I’m like Mother Theresa in this bitch! Some days I just drink wine and decide that adulting is for the birds. It’s a reminder that I am forever a student of this Universe and that it’s during times like this that you see the true Yogi in you. Not when you squeeze into Lululemon. 

Watch the words you say this week. Let this be a “virus” outside of your home if you must. But inside your walls, inside your mind, let it be your Reset. Let it be where you finally give yourself permission to be Mother Theresa or Cardi B and you don’t give yourself shit if Cardi B is more fun right now. Let this be where you find patience for yourself and however long it’s taking you to get to where you want to be. Let it be the space where you practice kindness by talking kinder to yourself. And PLEASE let the Reset allow you to start to see and act on your own Divinity. You. Are. Special. 

It’s 12:00pm here and we’re in Needles CA waiting on a solar shower from Amazon. Mondays are my ME days so I think it’s time for a glass of wine and Netflix! Who else is watching #BlackAF?!? I’ve brushed my teeth and written this. That’s enough adulting for right now.

Pay attention to your own bandwidth today and sign off when necessary!

RESET


					

Through The Lips of Women

Throughout life there have been a number of things I’ve been self conscious about. My weight has never been one of them. My mother never talked about hers. Diets weren’t something that was discussed in our home. She was gorgeous, and she knew its though was never egotistical about it. She always made me feel pretty, no matter what weird adolescent stage I was going through at the time. And when I did come into my own, she was quick to tell me when my inside was shining uglier than my outside. She would also let me know when I was looking fly and who doesn’t appreciate that 🙂 My nickname was Moosie in my home, as a nod to my thick thighs, and it was ALWAYS said with love. 

Nickname aside, I was tiny most of my life. And didn’t care. I gained the normal amount in college. And didn’t care. As my mom got sicker, and died, I began to cook like a chef (and eat like one) and 5 years ago weighed 190lbs at 5 foot 8. Thicker than a snicker. And didn’t care. Weight looked good on me.

What I DO care about is my health. From fibroids to vertigo, excema and vitiligo, my body was screaming at me to get my shit together by the time I was 32 and at 35 I almost landed in the hospital. Again. Who cared what I looked like!? I didn’t FEEL good. I was working in Wellness, but I had never paid special attention to what certain foods were doing to my body and it showed.

And so I’ve been working at it! It takes time but I now know juicing celery is the ONE thing that keeps me on track. All of my symptoms go away. I’ve figured out that dairy and meat make my skin and digestion crazy and that if I don’t eat a ton of fruit I have weird periods. Deciding to give up my amateur butter laden chef habit meant that I lost weight. Moving on to a School bus and traveling full time takes adjusting to and my eating habits fluctuate. I’m 131lbs right now. I FEEL amazing. I don’t care about my weight. But everyone else seems to!

Recent comments said right to my face??
I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this skinny. / Oh My God!? / Are you eating/ John looks wonderful but you look so frail honey.

And the KICKER! That’s not how your man met you, you better be careful.

WOW! And what’s worse is that these all came from women.

How very lucky that my mama raised the woman she did… That I don’t have an issue with my weight. That my health is more important than my bra size. That I LOVE my man and his opinions but I also LOVE myself. Because HOLY HELL women can be really mean to each other.

Do not ever comment on someone’s weight unless they’ve asked your opinion. Can you imagine what one of those comments could do to someone whose weight was connected to something emotional or distructive?
Can you imagine if this skinny person saw YOU and said I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this fat! Or You’re looking so old these days!

It’s mean. And unnecessary. And none of my business. 

Your job as a woman should be to make the women around you feel like Queens. Be aware of how your words land. We are all here to raise each other up and make each other feel beautiful. Your lips are a doorway to feeding that or robbing from it…

The truth is these women love me. These comments were careless, not intentional. But maybe we should all work to be a bit more intentional. Become intentional about the energy a woman takes when she leaves your company. Women are the world’s Caregivers. Imagine if everyone taking care of someone else felt as worthy as they should? Imagine the impact she would leave behind. We are all responsible for that.

Namaste Y’all. Take care of your women.

There’s Layers To This Thing

I’m in Arizona, at Skooliepalooza, re-reading How To Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. I’ve read this book a thousand times but each time I come back to it, it’s a little different because I’m a little different… And every time, it helps me shed a layer that brings me a little closer to me.

They say that we earn those layers, or how to be adults, by the reactions that we received as children. And that part of our “work” here is unlearning the lessons taught to us by people who hadn’t yet healed themselves.


My mother was an amazing woman. She was so smart and so funny and she instilled in me a want to always be growing, which is my favorite part about who I am. She was also the daughter to parents who were immigrants, (one of them), alcoholics (maybe both of them) and not so forthcoming on the whole “I love you” thing. It’s not surprising that she didn’t like saying it to me. I can see now that it was her own childhood that would tell me I was “too sensitive” when she thought I was being “too nice” to people. But damn if being pushed away when you reach for a hug doesn’t shape a girl.


Now while she might not have been the softest of matriarchs, I can never take away how supportive she was. From the time I was little, she told me I could do anything and that I SHOULD try everything. She never let me believe I wasn’t talented or intelligent or that I wasn’t completely capable of whatever I set my mind to. It was the,  “She thinks she’s cute.”  and the “Who does she think she is?” , that I would hear from classmates as a child, that even now at 39 years old still rings in my head when I achieve something and don’t share it with my friends. Or when I think about reaching for a goal but then sit my “too cute” ass back down and talk myself out of it.


Layers. 


I have an ex that reads this blog. He sends me condescending messages on here, marked anonymous, and I’ll give it to him that the last one stumped me for a minute. In it, he wished me “well” on whatever I was constantly searching for in my life. His hope for me was that I finally find peace at the end of it.  His words made me sad… What a sad belief he holds, not just for me but for himself. And it made me wonder how many other people drink that Kool-Aid?  Because here is my truth. “Not all those who wander are lost” –J. R. R. Tolkien. To believe that you have nothing to heal, that will aid in the evolution of your own life, is absurd. To think that by looking for ways to grow you are also admitting that there is something wrong with you now is ridiculous. You can be standing in peace and enjoying it so fully that you feverishly crave more. When you start to find your own lane becoming more authentic becomes a passion. Those of us who yearn for more wander not because we’re lost. We wander because new roads shed old layers honey and we like what’s waiting underneath.


2020 for me is about shedding. Being more sensitive, or “too nice” makes me a better wife, friend, teacher… It means my internal voice is kinder and my soul feels good. What if I am “too cute”?! I want to stop playing small and wondering if my peers will say to each other “Who does she think she is?”  In 2020 I’m answering!!l Let me introduce myself to you! My name is Iana Sundari Leufray. (Did I mention I got married last weekend?!) I want to see exactly who I am and what I can do! Imagine what I could create with a little less fear?


What’s 2020 for you? What are the reactions of your past that are shaping your future? What can YOU shed?


Keep Wandering Y’all. Keep searching. New roads baby. There’s layers to this thing…
Namaste

Things I’m Learning On The Road

  • I haven’t had a mirror in the bus for 4 months. I broke the last one and we’ve just been too lazy to replace it. I wake up every morning, I brush my teeth and wash my face and I even manage to guess where my eyelid is as I apply eyeliner. I don’t usually get to a mirror until sometime after lunch. Turns out the world still turns and my face doesn’t change that much when I’m not checking on it every 20 seconds. Who knew?!?
  • We’ve been living in Yogaville for the last month or so and they should stop telling people that Verizon works here because that is a damn lie. The bus is a total dead zone and my cell really only works in the areas where talking on them isn’t allowed. I spent the first week running around like a crazed hamster looking for just ONE bar so that I could chat and gossip my free time away and then alas…. Ashram life won. Aside from work, I’ve done no gossiping and very little chatting and I have to say it’s been AMAZING! Half the time I don’t even know where my phone is. I’ve spent the last few years attached to it, waiting on a mama to go into labor so that I could jump into action as her Doula. The years before that I was attached to it waiting on news about my mother or father as they died. My nervous system welcomes the shift and I’m kinda dreading returning to four bar status 🙂
  • Builder burnout and crappy weather have given me the time to A) actually finish a book! Read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. It’s perfect. B) It’s allowed me hours of classes with new teachers here and my upcoming workshops are better for it. C) A vegan diet means my tits have said “sayonara” (for NOW) BUT it helped me figure out what foods were making me sick and itchy and I feel healthier than I have in a decade. D) It also meant that when my world was turned upside with news of a new brother, I had the space to process it and manage it. I waited a bit… he didn’t deserve the anger that I was holding. He didn’t need to be hit with alllll of the family nonsense at once. But eventually I called. He sounds just like my or I guess our father… (not sure how to say that yet) He laughs like him and he called me his little sister and even as I write this I cry because well damn it’s a lot… I told him about all of the good things… we talked about how he liked to make eggs and play chess and how he sang like Luther and spent his Sundays dunking on dudes on the court in Harlem. We laughed about the ugly sneakers he wore and the good way he hugged and we danced around the lies he told because maybe that’s best for another time but damn. I have a brother and our talk forced me to talk about the pros of life with my father which I haven’t thought about in years. I’m not sure who needed the conversation more but it felt good and I’m looking forward to our next one…

I knew that slow living would mean a lot of things. I anticipated becoming less vain. No one needs a face full of makeup living in the woods. I could have guessed that I would freak out about access to Internet and that eventually I would realize it was a first world problem and calm the fuck down. What I didn’t see coming was how perfectly it would “feed” my Yoga practice. We don’t practice being peaceful so that we can walk around levitating. We “practice” peace so that peace becomes an automatic response when life hits us with otherwise. Slow living gives me the time and space to dedicate to my practice which helps me respond better to my life. It’s not always easy on the road but I’ve found that my life has always expanded when I figured out how to peacefully manage what was hard….

Welp! It’s raining again… and I have a new book! Healing Herbal Infusions to get into. I hope you take some time to do a little slow living yourself this week. Cut something out to make space for something better. Feed what helps you cope. You deserve it.

Namaste Y’all

My New Brother

I’m not sure where to begin, with Grief Camp or with finding out that my dead father gave up a son in 1978 and my family knew?! I’m not sure why I haven’t made my life into a book by now, or at the very least a pamphlet, because you can’t make this shit up!

On October 26th I watched as people, in their 20’s and 30’s, flew in from as far as Dubai and as near as Chicago. I was there because I work as a Community Manager for The Dinner Party. But I was also there because I lost both of my parents a few years apart to different forms of Cancer.

Before camp, TDP staff got together for a night of preparing and pizza and talking about our own goals as grievers for the weekend. I wanted to leave having let go of anger towards my father. The morning camp started I made a list of the 4 biggest things I’ve been carrying around.

  • When I was 10 my father’s mistress called our house, on Thanksgiving, and told me details about their relationship. I didn’t see my father again for 4 years. He lived 20 minutes away.
  • I called my father once from outside my mother’s hospital room and begged him to help me. He told me she deserved it and hung up. He then showed up at her funeral, late, sat in the front row and 2 days later asked me to borrow money. Which I gave to him. I wouldn’t hear from him again.
  • A year or so later, I was walking to Union Square to meet a friend for drinks at Blue Water Grill. I see my father, and a woman walking towards me. And as the Universe would have it we are the ONLY people on the street. I stopped and waited for him to stop. She was blissfully chatting away and he mouthed for me not to say anything, shook his head and walked past me.
  • The next time I saw him, he was in a coma. The same woman was sitting bedside. And still. I stayed. And held his hand. And told him I loved him. The weeks and months to follow until his death uncovered more lies and more secrets from the lives he had invented with so many different people. But he was my father. And my first love and so I stayed.

After he died, I did what I do. I wrote. I cried. I meditated. I traveled and drank too much. I burned candles and sage and I came out years later feeling like I was GOOD! And then I had a Reiki session. I was fresh off of casually dating a man I knew damn well I shouldn’t have and laid on this woman’s table at The Turnberry Resort in Miami, FL. After the 1 hour silent session, and my being STUNNED by her mastery of the skills, she turned to me and said “You need to heal your relationship with your father or you’ll always have difficult relationships with men.” Ummmm. “You got all that from waiving your hands above my liver?!? ” But I never forgot what she said.

Well now it’s 2019 and I’ve realized months before camp that I was still fucking pissed. Falling in love will do that to you. I pride myself in being able to recognize my own shit. No one deserves your pain. After I threw the 2nd fan in his direction I realized it was time to take a step back lol

So AGAIN I did the work. I realized that half the time, I wasn’t arguing with John. John had simply triggered a memory and my response was to that emotion that was never healed. John is the only man, I’ve ever really loved, and the little girl who wasn’t loved right is a wee bit bananas when she gets mad. And here’s the thing. Other dudes might have deserved my crazy. He doesn’t.

So I made that list. And I burned it at camp. And I cried and hugged and did all the things. I also watched as all of these other beautiful people moved through their own pain and I was reminded that my pain was not specific to me. There were people sitting in that room who I wouldn’t trade my story with. There is always someone who is dealing with more than you. I left feeling lighter and I came back to John feeling proud of what I had released.

And then this shit. I’ve always known my father had had children before I was born. Unfortunately, we didn’t grow up together. I’ve never known the full story but from what I gathered, he had “chosen” to be a dad to only 1 of us and I’ve spent most of my life avoiding them because I’ve felt guilty. We’re in contact on social media but that’s about it and after my dad died I think it almost got weirder for me to begin a relationship. They are older and more mature than I, and have never stopped reaching out. One of them reached out this morning to tell me we have a brother. Thanks to ancestry.com he took a DNA test and found her. He had been given up in a closed adoption in 1978. I was born in 1980. He’s lived in NJ. I grew up in NY. I don’t know the chain of events yet, but my uncle has known. At least 1 aunt has known and so had my grandmother.

My world has been rocked before. And when it has I call on everything my mother and Yoga have taught me. As a teacher myself, I know and believe that there is a lesson here. I think about what I would tell my students and I remind myself to BREATHE. I am good at stepping back and trying to determine what future me needs, because present me is down the rabbit hole. And so I tell myself that there is a blessing here and to not be guided by anger.

But. I’m also a 39 year old woman who deserved the truth. I also don’t believe that family secrets should prevent you from having a moral compass. I am steadfast in knowing that I could have used a brother when I found myself with no one at 31. And that toxic is toxic. Family or not. When I think about what future me needs? I think about a healthy marriage. She needs to be in a loving partnership. She no longer passes down what has been YEARSSS of generational disfunction. She trusts whose around her and love is poured honestly at the table where she sits.

So, I AM pissed. But I’m also done doing the work for now. Sometimes anger aint so bad. I’m deciding, (for my own health) “not my circus, not my monkeys.” sometimes family are the people you choose rather than your blood. I’ve got some AMAZING blood ones (that sounds gross lol) and they know who they are but my chosen ones deserve only the best of me. And sometimes walking away is the best “work” you can ever do.

Home

Blogging on Sunday nights is working out well for me huh? lol

I’m sitting in one of the classrooms, here at Yogaville, writing this post. This room is beautifully lit, carpeted, and has an altar at the front. I can hear the birds outside, people blissfully walking from Meditation to Sivananda Hall for breakfast…I can smell incense and the smoke from candles nearby. It’s a peaceful morning and quite the difference from the Planet Fitness I posted from last Monday.

Yogaville brings up a lot for me. My mother had been a Kitchen Mother when the ashram was in Connecticut in the 70’s. At the time, she was on the path to becoming a Swami. When her mother was diagnosed with ALS, she left and went home to NYC to take care of her as she died. She met my father not long before she passed and soon after I was born. Imagine… if my grandmother hadn’t gotten sick, my mother would have been a Swami and I would never have been born!

I’ve spent my entire life traveling here. Living here for brief stints as a child, running here when life became too much as an adult. Grieving here when my mother died and then my father. I’ve spent most of each year, since then, trying to make it back here. Because here is home. The only place I’ve ever called home. I love New York but it was hard and it was hard on my family.

Yogaville is where my mother was happiest. It’s the place where all of my best memories live and the “why” behind the life and career I’ve created. Yogaville taught me everything. And now, Eula Mae is parked outside my friend’s dad’s house. Ana- Mae is playing on the fields where I went to Summer Camp, and John and I took a walk down to the lake I never learned how to swim in as a child lol My worlds are colliding in the best ways… My memories and my future running along side of each other in the Virginia sun.

If you’re anything like me, then you spend a lot of time second guessing yourself. It’s hard not to question your choices in life. But then there are moments, like this one, where you know without a doubt that you’ve made the best decision for yourself.

Next week I’ll tell you the story about the drive here because HOLY HELL it wasn’t exactly seamless. Today I just want to walk outside and eat good food. I want to laugh and nap and watch my family play where I once played. I want to hear stories about my mother and just feel really fucking grateful that we did it!

Till next week y’all. Take care of yourselves. You deserve it all.

Stop and Breathe

I’m writing this post from a massage chair at Planet Fitness, because I fell asleep yesterday at 7:30pm watching that episode of Friends where Joey and Chandler leave the baby on a bus. 🙂 Oooooppsss! Your girl is exhausted. (and that show never gets old)

There are SO many things to do in Eula Mae! Everywhere I look there’s something that needs to be painted or nailed down or sanded. But how many fucks do I give on this Monday morning?!? ZERO

Our Solar panels get delivered tomorrow from Go Power!, and on Friday we head to Yogaville for 3 weeks. I refuse to stress out any more. We did as much as we can do and we’ll finish in VA after a few days of vegan eating, temple dwelling and some REST.

This project has taught me a lot. Or at the very least, it reminds me of what I teach my students:

  • Stop and breathe. You’re just frustrated, put it in perspective.
  • With each decision, is this bringing ME joy or am I trying to impress someone else?
  • This isn’t a race. Am I taking care of myself in the meantime?

My answer to that last question is why I’m going to spend this week slowly getting road ready, having my hair washed and FINALLY getting a manicure and pedicure. I’m taking myself out to lunch and I’m going to take time to say goodbye to the sweet people in this town that made the last 6 months more seamless and laughter- filled than I could have imagined. John and I are going to drive to the beach and eat too many donuts and MAYBE I’ll paint something but maybe I’ll just put it in our “garage” and take the dog to the park.

They say you teach what you need to learn right? This isn’t a race. The build, the trip, life… none of it. We aren’t here to check boxes and be unhappy. We are here to ENJOY. To live abundantly and happily and to do what makes our soul scream with JOY. We’re here to love and to be loved and to find the adventure in every day.

The build will wait. We ARE leaving this week! But the adventure is NOW and John and I have an ocean to visit with 🙂 Happy Monday y’all. Fuck checking the boxes. Make your soul scream this week.