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.

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.

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.

All We Need Are Wheels

Want to know the quickest way to ramp up your stress level???

Sell everything you own and keep only the things that mean the most to you.

Decide to convert a school bus into a tiny home to hold above said things plus all of your dreams.

Make sure it’s 2 weeks before you leave on a 2 year road trip and DEFINITELY just after you lay down beautiful bamboo floors.

NOW?!? Watch a hurricane decimate an island. Be thankful as it misses your old home and your Florida family. Question the absurdity of it heading right towards the home that you’ve been pouring love and sweat in to. Slowly realize that Dorian is an asshole and is landing a little too close for comfort. Be smarter than you were when you got stuck in Irma and decide that being stranded in said home-bus for 2 days with no working toilet, a dog and 2 humans sounds like a nightmare and evacuate while crying. (I told you there would be tears)

Here’s what I realized when I got 2 hours away, checked into a beautiful hotel and post long bath with bubbles:

  1. I was 2 hours away from danger with that dog and my other human and we were safe.
  2. 1 of us (after the tears subsided) was enjoying a delicious bottle of wine in the air conditioning and a marathon on BravoTV while the other human slept. ( I’ll let you guess which one I was lol)
  3. When we thought the bus, and our storage unit, could be flooded we took only what we decided would warrant a LEVEL 10 freakout if we lost it to water. I took pictures of my parents and my parent’s old records. That was it… some photos and Bob Marley. Well DAMN! The girl who took 3 months to clean out her closet just grabbed some vinyl and a picture and hightailed it out of town?!! (insert rapid clapping) “I’m proud of you Queen!” That’s what the old me said to the present me as I sipped my Cab. 6 months of stepping out on faith will do that to you…

Eula Mae is fine by the way. Not a scratch, no water damage and we just spent the day wallpapering her ceiling so the build is BACK ON and fingers crossed we’re on schedule!

Evacuating wound up being a gift. I didn’t realize how hard we had been working until we stopped. I didn’t realize how much we needed to just sit and talk and laugh about other shit until we had no option. The last 6 months have stretched us in ways I didn’t know possible (and I’ll talk about that on another day when I’m not so sleepy…) but Dorian reminded us how much we love us and our tiny family and this big life we’re creating.

It was also a nice reminder that all we will ever need is our dog and Bob and wheels and we’re good.

Photo by takenbytablo on Pexels.com

Namaste

Sundari

3 Weeks And Counting!

We’ve seen 4 deadlines come and go so I don’t know if we’ll hit this one, but it’s good to have goals right?!? When we arrived in Elizabeth City, NC on April 1 the plan was to convert our school bus in 9 weeks. AHAHAHAHAH! I don’t know what the hell we were thinking. But I am SO grateful for that blissful ignorance! Had I known it would take 6 months, and the hottest July on record, I might have kept my ass in Miami and rethought my joining this building venture. J/k kind of

The truth is, this has been the best 6 months of my life. The hardest, sweatiest, most challenging 6 months I’ve lived through in a while but DAMN if I’m not leaving here proud of myself and BLOWN AWAY by this man I’m spending my life with.

He doesn’t actually know about this blog. So Sshhhhh 🙂 But in 350 square feet a girl needs space to clear her head and writing has always been that place for me.

You’re coming with me on this ride. Together we’ll see if John and I make this 3 week deadline. You’ll probably witness me cry here a couple of times, because what else is a looming deadline but fodder for dramatic tears?? And at some point I’m gonna turn the key on Eula Mae and drive off on this 2 year voyage around the US and Canada!

I’ll be documenting the road trip, the workshops, the food, the people, and everything that this Tiny Home adventure is about to teach me here on the Blog every Sunday!

Stay tuned and NAMASTE YALL! Mama has a kitchen to finish building today.

SUNDARI