Monday, November 7, 2016

The Necessity of Unity and the Appropriateness of Cultural Appropriation

Disclaimer: you may be offended by this post. You may write this post off as irrelevant, insincere, and ignorant because of the color of my skin. You may have many words, moods, and judgments about what I have to say. What I have to say is why I have been postponing this article for many weeks. Rather, correction: fear of what other people might think, or how they might feel about what I have to say is what has halted my words. With that being said, I know myself, and I know that I am coming from my heart and my heart is something that I trust.

I am in positions to empower people everyday to speak their truth, to act from a place of authenticity, to bust through societal norms, to take their own ruled and radical road. In order to tell people this and not feel like a complete fraud, I have to live this. So I definitely do. And if you are one of my friends (or my mother) who hears about my off-the-wall stories---you know this is true! But I also have to start speaking which I am working on. Hiding is easy. Comfortable. Quite blissful even. Passivity, which I will come to discuss again later---is an easy land to live in, but it is the speaking that gets things burning, flowing, and sometimes breaking (which society is slowly but surely doing anyways). Speaking out, speaking up, and speaking through is what can make the most change, which is so desperately needed in our divided,split, modern-day society of dichotomy.

Up until a few weeks ago, I was cognizant, yet in disbelief (and denial), that racism was all over the country. Just because I was cognizant and aware of this, does not mean whatsoever that I ever felt, saw, or had any of my own embodied experiences of this and I never truly will--really. I can have moments of empathetic understanding, but they are just moments, not centuries, lifetimes, and lineages of cultural oppression. Situations in my life have been begging, pleading, and shaking me to wake up and realize what has been happening all around me all along. A few of these moments that have asked me to wake up, re-frame, re-picture, and re-evaluate were when I saw a white man violently yelling, body fuming, and soul snaring at a black police man, when I was hissed at by a black woman to get up and give her my seat on the bus (quite ironic and amazing--really), and the twenty something conversations I had with black people that were curious or very upset about my faux dreadlocks I had in my hair for the month of September.

I got my hair braided for Burning Man, a festival in the Nevada desert encouraging radical self expression, self reliance, community building,stepping out of comfort zones, and a culture of trying new things--basically the most extravagant playground suited for adults. (Also, the demographics at Burning Man is majority all white folks.)

Getting my hair braided (called Hair Falls) was not a simple endeavor. For three days, it was my part time job. I'm talking an 18 hour faux-dreadlock, entire head woven of yarn, string, fabric. A fantasy of fuchsias, blues, neon sunsets, bamboo, ribbon, sparkles, glitter. To me, my hair screamed Burning Man, but I didn't realize that it was screaming other things to other people too.

I never thought that this decision to braid my hair could be seen as cultural appropriation or cultural affiliation, mimicking another ethnicity, race, religion, or any other kind of preference--but this lack of awareness also showed me a few things. Yes, choices can be innocent, but also the lack of awareness in the privilege of not having or needing to ask for permission--ever. Ever, ever. EVER. This has been a wake up to awareness: the decision to braid my hair, to do anything to change my appearance, or just about anything at all for that matter, has always been a freedom of mine, my parents (though they never would make such loud appearance choices),my grandparents, and great grandparents too.

The lack of questioning or needing permission runs in my ancestory, my DNA, and my lineage. White privilege--yes. Recognizing white privilege, probably not--which can perhaps start to make a lot of difference with what is really going on below the surface of things. Perhaps this awareness can help to move and transform entitlement into graciousness.

More graciousness, more awareness. 
More awareness, more understanding. 
More understanding, more thoughtful choices. 

My colorful braids definitely drew some attention and illicited a lot of response. The first two weeks I had my braids, the only comments I got (aside from people who already knew me) were from black people. Black men were very complimentary and respectful for the most part. About a dozen black men while commuting on the subway or walking down 6th Ave. mentioned that my hair was "beautiful" and that I "looked beautiful". There were a few whistles that I could have lived without, but that's just my preference for kind words over whistles.  I had one man ask me if my hair was a part of my religion. If he would have asked me post-Burning Man and all the magic I experienced and changed the word "religion" to "personal spirituality"---I would have said YES. 

Now for black women: I got two extremely different responses.
Extreme Curiosity and Extreme Aversion. 

Most black women that approached and talked to me wanted to know how many hours my braids took. If I saw that they had any form of braids too, I wanted to know how they managed to deal with the excess weight sitting on top of their head and if their neck ever hurt (like I was experiencing). Usually, but not always within this conversation,the women would go on to say that they liked my hair, were impressed with the craftsmanship of it (HAIL QUEEN/ARTIST/MASTERMIND GODDESS ERIKA BROWN), or mentioned that it was "very unique and different". Within these conversations, we proceeded to talk about hairstyles, braids, preferences,hair extensions,and hair maintenance. These women were easy to talk to and I walked away learning something or having a new awareness of black women's hair and beauty secrets. These encounters, and I 
had many of them for the month I had my hair wrapped and braided, brought a lot of happiness to my life. It was nice to have so many spontaneous conversations with people in such a busy and lacking-in-connection city like New York. 

The second response I got from black women (though not as frequent as friendly inquisitiveness) were non-verbal scoffing, rolling eyes, and one woman even said to me as she was getting off the subway, "Yeah, if I was a rich white girl, I could have gone to Mexico on vacation and had my hair braided too." I think it was that comment that made me deeply realize the poison of ignorance, quick judgment calls, incorrect associations,and our sad split within humanity. That, and maybe I should charge a trip on credit, go to Mexico, and enjoy a vacation away from the brutality of New York. 

Firstly, these braids were not done in Mexico, they were braided,deliberately chosen, and hand crafted pieces of art from ERIKA BROWN,an amazing, beautiful, and inspiring woman that has been creating these braids and hair fallsfor 20 years. She happens to live an 8 minute walk away from my apartment in Brooklyn, not in Mexico.
Secondly, it is this divide and seeing each other as the "other" or "enemy" instead of another human in our ecosystem that deeply 
connects to our sameness. We forget in so many moments our sameness. Sameness. I'll say it again-- same-ness. The same-ness of emotion that feels rejection, insecurity, and sadness when spoken to in a manner that diminishes our choices, our pride, and our very being--the thing that keeps us in relationship--in related-ness. Related to and by our sameness. 

Thirdly, isn't it more useful and helpful to accelerate evolution, evolvement, INVOLVEMENT, and expand consciousness by TEACHING and EDUCATING than by HATING and giving  SALTY SNARKS? 

If the woman that made the Mexico/rich white girl comment would have told me her feelings instead, educated me on cultural appropriation, and asked me to consider a different perspective---I would have melted, probably cried in guilt and heartbreak of my lack of awareness, and would have FOREVER been changed. 

 I could go on to rant to say,"I have every right to wear my hair however I like!" and stomp and parade around fighting for freedom of speech, Constitutional rights, and living the American dream, but I think that is the very attitude that is so upsetting and infuriating to those making a point and a stance on defending cultural appropriation. It is the ENTITLEMENT and the lack of awareness that can be so infuriating. Take this into another context of life and remember the last time someone came at you or a situation with ENTITLEMENT or telling you something when really it should be offered as a question, or at least an open two-way dialogue. It's really fucking annoying. So I do not want to take the stance of freedom of speech or choice here--I could--but I don't want to--I would rather yield, learn, and try to appreciate and understand something in a different and deeper way. 

In fact, right around the time I took out my braids, fashion week in NYC was just ending and the controversy over the  Marc Jacobs white models wearing the exact kind (actually no--they were 100% without a doubt subpar) of faux dreadlocks I was wearing had made news and blasts on social media and Twitter. Marc Jacobs had a somewhat insensitive response and claimed the whole uproar to be "narrow mindedness and eroding freedom of speech". To him, and to me, and to every other white person--that is the first natural thought flow because we don't know a reality without freedom of speech, freedom of choice, freedom of absolute-from-the-beginning-of-America privilege. We plain and simple do not know what life is like without these rights. They have never been taken away, they have never been "given back" and they certainly have never been contingent for discussion, therefore; , we do not realize them: WE DO NOT SEE OUR PRIVILEGE. It's not in our psyches, not in our parents'  psyches, and definitely not in our ancestors psyches--but what is living in our psyches, if we want to believe it or not is the thread of thinking from however many generations back that division, separateness, defining and discriminating, was/is  OK, tolerable, ignorable, "just how it is", and if it's the law, then it must be "correct". 


This is the light bulb for white people to turn on. 

There is a thread of your ancestors past choices, values, beliefs, passivity,  awareness (or lack there of), LIVING INSIDE OF YOU. In your body. Right now. There have been studies on epigenetic inheritance of trauma found in children with ancestors who survived the Holocaust. "One persons life experience can affect subsequent generations". 

HELLO!!! We all have traumas, samskaras, broken connections---AND the most loving, intelligent, and compassionate thing to do about it is to figure out what your ancestral broken-ness is---and work HARD and compassionately to try to heal it. We aren't doing healing work just for ourselves or the people around us, but this goes far into the future---at least three generations down. I know---it's a lot of responsibility. 

Whether we swear we have no ounce of racism in our blood, family line, or family tree--the thread of passivity is there. The non-action. The non-questioning. The too-afraid to question, too-lazy to question. Sitting back, enjoying freedom, not realizing the privilege. No one gets a choice of the soul or body they come into the world in, but if there is privilege, that realization needs to be woken up. Mine is just starting to wake up, and it has awakened deeper feelings of guilt and shame. Maybe these feelings are ancestral. 

I wish I could say that passivity to separateness is the only thread on this account that runs in my blood, family, teeth, and bone--but it's not. Racism does run deep in my family, unfortunately. Fortunately, I can see shifts and changes with every generation,but the truth is is that my great grandfather, who I think I only met when I was an infant, was actively in the KKK. Yes, its true and it embarrasses me. I don't know any other specific details and it's something that no one really likes to talk about in my family.I think I remember an older cousin of mine saying that he saw the uniform when we were playing as kids. Whether this is true or not, doesn't really matter. 

 What does matter is the mentality of being associated in a hate group as extreme as the KKK. The energy associated with a hate group is dense, thick, brainwashing, anti-individualistic, blinded by groupthink, ignorant, and so deeply sad--everything that I stand against and cannot stand. Everything that I feel I am not, everything that I do not want to be. In fact, I probably love too deeply. I feel everything around me and can sense others emotions before they even have words for their feelings. I feel other people from across the world. I feel. 

To feel is to heal. 

Feeling. It's the only true, without a medical prescription, without dogma of religion, medicine I have ever found. Not avoiding feeling and embracing it has taught me the most and has given me an indestructible inner strength.    

I could make a blanket statement that we all can choose how to live our lives, how to wear our clothes and our hair, and living in America we all mostly do---but there is so much to be questioned and inquired about on a deeper level.  

It has only been 60 years that segregation on public busses became illegal. SIXTY!  That is also only saying its illegal, and as we all know just because something is "illegal" does not stop people from doing it. Making something illegal does not fix, cure, ensure safety,or unify the harsh split and dichotomy in mind, heart, and spirit from ourselves and another (whoever and whatever the "other" may be). Changing the law  doesn't change or take away any of the segregated, deeply embedded in our psyches tones of division. 

My whole lineage has known freedom. More so the men than the women in my family---but overall, it is not about the freedom of choice as it is the divide between people and cultures that I find most disconcerting, it is the lack of unity. The lack of UNITY-CONSCIOUSNESS.

Things ARE changing. 
People ARE waking up. 

The ones who have been awake are now taking action. 
The ones who have been asleep are rubbing the illusion and crust of unconsciousness from their eyes. 
The oppressed are gaining power in their voice. 
The ones that believe in empowerment are holding their arms open, standing aside, holding space and grace, and letting their sisters and brothers rage, rant, and make change. 

I do see this too. 

But I am also in openminded and ruthless, tough loving New York and not some lame state in the middle of the coasts. :) 

The month that I had these braids in, my neck without a doubt became much stronger. Stronger physically but also in a metaphysical way too. The neck is one of the most vulnerable places in the body, especially if you throw your head back, expose your throat, trachea, and the pathway to ones lungs, ones ability to breathe--to live. The neck is the bridge that alchemizes heart/feelings with mind/thinking. The neck and throat (Visuddha Chakra) can create exquisite balance of speaking ones truth with both head and heart, and courage in expressing ones ideas creatively. Without this expression, we stop the energy flow, the evolution, our power to reach, to rise, to inspire, and to help others become fully self expressed. I have found in my own life, that it is usually my own self that gets in the way of fully expressing myself, not other people. As terrible as the lynching of the past, the lynching and constriction of self is also terrible. The fear of expression of myself cuts me off from connection to unity, oneness, self/other, sameness.

I vow to unravel the noose around my neck so my great granddaughter can express herself perfectly and articulately at a young age, grow up knowing what harmony, love, and beauty look and feel like, express herself however she wants, and be whomever she wants. 

I vow to unravel so we all can. So we all can be free. And actually BE. If one is restricted or confined, WE ALL ARE. So I am sorry---but I still would choose to appropriate if it meant liberating myself and helping others. No, I'm not black, but I am still a woman which is its own mixed bag of privilege, non-privilege, ease, and challenge.

 There is nothing enlightened about staying restricted. This restriction is how physical illnesses are manifested. And, no thank you to that. 

By having my Hair Falls, I felt like my outer image matched my inner feelings. Creative. Colorful. Bold. Powerful. Empowered. Fully expressed. Able to carry myself, the weight of my head, all my ideas, all of my plans, all of my future endeavors, all of my Self. My whole being. Wholeness, oneness-- which is the only thing this entire writing is about. Unity.

The Necessity of UNITY.

In conclusion, I do think that my faux dreads were absolutely appropriate, even if they were seen as cultural appropriation. Having them, the first hand experiences that they provoked and taught me, all the people that I met because of them, and the curiosity they fired in me to learn more and think more deeply about such matters has ONLY been a positive thing. I have grown, awakened new parts of myself, and have started a new path of healing for myself, my future daughters, and my future granddaughters. I have had a new and refined sense of compassion and understanding to where people who get upset about cultural appropriation are coming from. 

But I know where I am coming from too---which is unity---and this is what is right for me. 

Other ways I appropriate with awareness: 
1. I teach yoga which is an Indian tradition.
2. I practice tantra which is an Indian tradition.
3. I have a statue of Buddha in my room and I am not a proper or formal Buddhist. 
4. I have a photo of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of Abundance and Prosperity and I pray to her. (and she listens!)
5. I burn sage which is Native American (Celtic too). I burn Palo Santo which is Amazonian and Mexican. 
7. I appropriate and celebrate from Pagan holidays that I like.  
8. I like fasting on Yom Kippur because I think Judaism is one of the most lovely religions. 
9. I leave milk and cookies for Santa because I think it's kind and I believe in magic. 
10. I celebrate Christmas because I like gift giving, but I don't consider myself a "proper Christian". 
11. I recycled my Burning Man cultural appropriated braids and used them to make a dreamcatcher which I appropriated from because I am 1/8th Comanche Indian and not Ojibwe Indian which initially started the Dreamcatcher fad that is still popular today. 

And those were just the quick 10 right off my head. I'm sure I will discover more. 

In love, respect, and ever evolving humility and JOY and playfulness--


Some materials to check out: 

Articles on Epigenetic Inheritance:

An AMAZING P.H.d. dissertation written TEN years ago called: A Psychology of Unlearning Racism: A Case Study Of A Buddhist Unlearning Racism Course For White People

Articles on Cultural Appropriation (including Marc Jacobs issue):

Okay--I am officially OVER this topic and will resume living my life.  

Friday, March 11, 2016

Happy 10 Year Anniversary to my Beloved

Dear Yoga Practice, 

Today is a special day for you and I. 
Today marks our 10 year anniversary of finding one another (in this lifetime). 
I cannot Thank You enough, my beloved. 

We found each other a few months after one of the biggest moves of my life (and most important) when I was 17 years old. My first lesson in the magical rewards of leaving a life familiar with many comfort zones. I am not sure what road I would be on right now if we wouldn't have found each other: probably something easier, a lot less honest, and a lot less real. 
Thank you for catching 10 years of tears, laughs, and sweat pools. 

Thank you for watching my fears and giving me bravery to overcome them too. Thank you for being so near when everything else seemed so far. Thank you for greeting me every time I came to visit not with flowers and hugs (which you do that too somedays!) but with reality and humility (most days). 

We met in a Bikram Yoga studio, somewhere you would never, ever find me these days. But that is where we met, so I will always have appreciation. 
Thank you for showing me what commitment and love actually look like---and it is harder and less glamorous than what I thought it would be---but it is always worth it. 

Thank you for being one of the true friendships that watched and aided from above when the relationships that were expiring and needing to melt away gently left my life...including the old versions of myself. 
Thank you for teaching me that pride isn't as important as forgiveness and kindness. And that it isn't what you do, but its how you do it, and who you are while you are doing it.  
Sweet beloved, we soon discovered Vinyasa yoga together and that is the path you have taught me the most on. Oh my, and then Ashtanga. The years of waking up at 4am, to drive 75 minutes one way, just to kiss you and honor you? Those were my favorite years.  
Thank you for the many boons and blessings and opportunities that I have had to show and share with others the kind of love we have---which has only made me love you and Us even more. 
Thank you for so many days of health and happiness. 
Thank you for the acceptance. 

Thank you for showing me the depths of my feelings in Yin Yoga. Vinyasa has taught me to burn, transpire, transform, and reawaken to the endless ups and downs of life, but Yin, you have brought me to my knees, to the ocean floor, of complete and utter...healing. 

Thank you for showing me that all such paths always lead back to you. Back to me. Thank you for showing me that what I think of you and how I treat you, is actually how I have been thinking and treating myself.

Thank you Texas. Thank you Dharma Yoga. Thank you to the Two Rivers where I found a place to voice my love and passion. Thank you forever and ever Sara who made me take a teacher training. And then MADE me start teaching right away. So often we are crippled by what we love and hold dearest and forget to just BEGIN. 
Yoga love, thank you for teaching me that perfection is an illusion and the only thing that matters is how you feel. Thank you for the reminder that feelings do pass. And change of hearts happen. And what comes easy one day---is a complete shit storm the next. ***Garbha Pindasana***

Thank you New York for teaching me to always stay persistent. And for your tough, tough love. And that as much as I would like yoga to live in my perfect ideal dreamworld of love and sharing---it too must be a business and a hustle.

Thank you Yoga Practice for welcoming me back after I have abandoned you. Thank you for forgiving me when I thought I didn't need you---only to return in tears to tell you how much I have missed you. 

Thank you for lessons in envy and jealousy, love bug. When I have envied others, it is only my own self limiting doubts holding me back from having and achieving the life I want. When I have felt envied by others, I have learned that even though it is more comfortable to dim my light-- it is more empowering to stay in my ray of sun, light, and truth. What they have yet to learn is that they too have the handle to the sun. Thank you for teaching me to have compassion and a genuine hope for their own discovery. 
Thank you for the strong body we sculpted together from the inside out. We both know that this body was not created to look well, but to feel well. And sugar, I think we now have both. Love you!!!

Thank you for the lessons in Anger. It is you that I have realized the Power of Anger and what remarkable transformations that can happen because of it. Thank you for teaching me that Anger lives between my lungs, in my solar plexus, and has a heart beat too. I have seen it! And that by working with my anger and letting it have a life too, my core became stronger (literally and spiritually).
Thank you for watching me grow. And grow up. And fall down. And try to grow again. 
Thank you for letting me expand and stretch and try new things. And learn the lessons I needed to because you offered me the space and freedom to. 

Thank you for being my special sparkle under the scenes. No one knows how much we whisper in secret, when it appears that I am just doing the dishes, shopping for groceries, or commuting on the train. You my love have kept me connected. To myself. To source. To the stars. To fate. To magic. 

We are lucky to have found each other. Some people walk around their entire lives with no one to whisper to. 
We do. And it is real. 
 Today I recommit to you 10 more years---I understand it will look very different from the last 10---but I am excited and curious to see how we keep evolving this Love. 
Ten years ago I never would have thought I would be in Germany writing you this thank you and anniversary letter before I go practice at Ashtanga Yoga Berlin. 

Maybe we can travel more together over the next decade. Create more. Inspire more. Love more. Invite more humans, aliens, and mermaids into our mix. Show them how much we can love them by how much we love each other.
Cheers to you my beloved and most important relationship. 
I promise to keep putting in the effort. 
You have always been worth it. 

Yours forever and ever, 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Barcelona and Awakened Men

I just got back a few days ago from spending 5 days and 4 nights in Barcelona. I stayed right in the central area of Born, near El Gotic district.

It was comforting to hear Spanish being spoken. I am not fluent in Spanish but I know a lot more Spanish than I do German and I felt as if I was closer to home.

I got lucky with the warm weather there and spent all afternoon this past Saturday on the beach. Wearing a dress. In February! Magical Meditteranean Sea bliss.

I felt even more at home next to the ocean.

I spent my days walking, watching, eating amazing Tapas, taking pictures of the Cathedral and Segrada Familia. I went to one of the most famous night clubs in Barcelona, the Razzmattazz. It was a 5 room club with each room playing different music. It was certainly an interesting experience. I even joined a Cannabis Club which is a popular subculture there. It was very interesting meeting people there and talking to the owners about the culture and legalization laws.

My favorite experience of the whole trip was an amazing holisitic/reiki/sensual massage I received. It felt like a gift from another dimension. I booked a massage with what I thought was a female massage therapist one morning.

I arrived at the center to be let inside by a very...VERY...attractive man. With an Australian accent. He asked me to choose a body oil that I would like. I chose a peppermint blend since it was a 9:30am massage. Tea and water were also offered. (And chocolate after the massage!)

We went into the beautifully candlelit room and he left the room so I could unrobe and get ready. I am writing about this massage because it was the best I've ever had in my life. It reminded me a lot of the work I do and expereinces that I have facilitated for others.

So this massage. There was a sense of connection. Of deeply being seen, deeper then my skin of course. It was energetically healing and aligning. He held my hand and we breathed together many times throughout the bodywork. (Again, this is nothing out of the ordinary for me to do with people that I work with, but I am never on the receiving end of this kind of experience).

It was incredible. This massage made me feel beautiful. This massage made me remember how I like to be treated, touched, and of the marvels that I deserve. It made me so grateful that awakened men in this universe exist. Ladies: there are men that are radically awakened. Aligned. Know how to touch and treat a woman. And will make you feel beautiful without saying a word, without touching you sexually. This exists. I had forgotten for a little while, but yes--this exists. It also reminded me of the universal language of Reiki and energy/body healing work. The work itself is the language--no need for words. Therefore, this work can be taken anywhere and applied to anyone who is open to the experience. 

I have had an ongoing conversation with my best friend for a few months about dating, relationships, sex, beauty, love, life, creativity. She is a pillar in a my life and talking with her is always healing and fun. We both have encountered relationships along the way with men who do not have a desire to please women. Let me clarify: do not have a desire to please a woman they are with intimately and sexually--however, this ripples into every other category where a woman can be pleased. Ugh, yes unfortunately...this kind of man exists too. Unforunately, these are the men that have not awakened to the power and bliss of the Goddess Woman. But what this really is, is egocentric behavior. Ego that is unawakened. Ego that wants, takes, and has selfish desires. AWAKENED ego receives AND gives.

Taking is not a part of the Awakened ego, RECEIVING is. There is a difference. You can feel it with your own energy too. When someone receives your touch, you feel more alive and excited to give! When someone takes your energy, you may feel depleted, or a desire to create distance from this person. Giving to them is not enjoyable; it feels draining instead of invigorating. There is also a lack of appreciation of what you are giving.

So I choose to tap more into MY own awakened feminine, which helps me to increase my perceptions, trust my intuitions, and have more awareness of my feelings in order for my life to be awakened. Illuminated. For the path to become more clear. To steer me in the direction of Giving and Receiving...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Burning Man Changed My Life This Year...And I Didn't Even Have to Go

Yes, the title is correct. 1000% correct.

I have heard countless life changing Burning Man stories---epiphanies, divine synchronicities, love stories, and let-go stories that have all happened on The Playa.

My Burning Man story this year was a bit different...and it is still unfolding…still burning…

I got my SCORE of a ticket for Burning Man in May. Very affordable, considering. I was accepted into an amazing camp with about 8 of my closest girlfriends. I was even approved and put on the schedule to teach a nude yoga class with one of my best friend's, DJ Miss Jade, that would be spinning some hot deep house electronica. New experiences, yes! Pushed out of the comfort zone, absolutely. I was ready and so excited!

Life switched gears and tempo about a month after making plans...not a whole lot, but enough to throw my Burning Man plan off-key. Now this next section could become a whole other blog, or even book...but in the very shortest...I walked back into a relationship that had a hold on all of my heart strings. Every single one of them. Heart strings, ego strings, past life strings, some of my soul chords too. A relationship so deep and a love so old---ancient, timeless, that I forgot about myself, yet at some points all I could see was myself. The mirrored match. The selfish-selfless dance. A trance.  The "You will see, learn, hate, appreciate, love, detest, lust, disgust more than you ever want to see mirrored back to you" kind of duo. In two words---heavy healing.

I found myself being given an ultimatum: to choose Burning Man or the relationship. With trying to keep my judgments low and fair, I see both sides. Burning Man and the ideology is not for everyone. Some people would be terrified to have their partner go to Burning Man without them, some would be totally turned on, some may find a way to make it their destiny too, some may be enthusiastically supportive, some may be neutral or ambivalent. I understand all sides. Some more than others, but I get it. I hear it.

I hear and see "Choose Love" all over the place. Tee shirts, memes, themes for yoga classes. Sometimes this path is clear and easy, but sometimes "Choosing Love" is actually really hard to follow. Wait, am I choosing Self-Love or the love of someone else? I am choosing what I really want or am I choosing what someone that I love really wants...

With the tools, emotions, hope, and faith that I had at that time: I chose the route of union. The route of two, of relationship. I chose to stay in the relationship, and not go to Burning Man.

I now see things more clearly:

1. Either route would have been the path of Love whether it was self-exploration, travel, and GOING to Burning Man, or the route of "The Lovers".

2. I now realize more of what I need from a partner and a love relationship: F-R-E-E-D-O-M. No choices. It's not one over the other, but it is both. There must be a way to find both, to support both. There must be a way to be committed, yet be free. Free singing songbirds.

3. Moving forward, I do not subscribe to an enclosed love anymore. I wish I could. It would make things a lot easier, and I think my seeking would have been quenched a long time ago. Instead, I choose a path of radical self-honesty, of radical freedom. The unknown and unexplored holds more lessons and value to me than the route of safety, of security. Because all of that is fleeting anyways. I’d rather live without the mask. So moving forward, this is no longer a part of my definition of love. Sacrifice travel, adventure, and freedom for another's comfort and lessening of pain: this is not my truth anymore. It’s an unwise compromise.

My heart and love have outgrown these patriarchal confines and limitations. Ego is small, but love is large.

Love is infinite. It doesn’t begin nor end in this lifetime.

Love is incredibly vast and expansive. There are no limits. And in some cases, no boundaries.

Love is harmonic.

So moving this short story of events forward, my counter offer to NOT going to Burning Man, was a European trip together. I had never been to Europe--we had never traveled together—a fair and everyone wins compromise.  

Plane tickets purchased. Planning in progress...

Two weeks before the up.
Breakthrough, rather. Well, a breakdown, then a breakthrough, and lastly a breakaway.

The next piece of wisdom I have learned:

Wisdom #1. Nothing is for certain. No person is for no more sacrificing. That is not the REAL path of love, anyways. Love doesn’t ask you to give up what you yearn and must seek in order to grow. Love lets. Love trusts. Love knows and believes in its strength. Deeply.

Wisdom #2. I am so fucking fierce. I have been told this…but now I believe this. Especially now. Choosing power and liberation over victimhood cultivates razor sharp fierceness. And that shit burns hot.

Wisdom #3. Burn the Man, Burn the Plan. When plans change, see the wild opportunity that awaits. You fly and you go, even if that means flying alone. Eagles never fly in groups…that is buzzard bullshit.

Our European trip has now taken on a whole new meaning: my solo traveling, my solo exploring, my solo adventure. Independent staccato. It could not have been any more divine, purposeful, beautiful, synchronistic, and meaningful. Most of my favorite parts would not have happened if I hadn't been alone. In fact, I needed to be alone in order for ALL of them to happen.

I met a girl in Amsterdam who was uncannily in the same flow as me. Both “supposed” to be in Europe with someone but ended up going solo. So what did we do? We went out of course! Some “only in Amsterdam” stories were created (and I may see her in Spain next month!) I definitely had some strange and unique encounters in Cologne, but the real magic was revealed in Berlin. Art, music, disco naps, meeting fellow liebekind wizard fish that only breathe and release love through their gills. (Liebe=love kind=child in Deutsch).

Every moment felt fated. Of the whole trip, that is where my song found it’s stream. Life strangely flowed. Life always flows, but this was a different kind of current. I found my frequency. Progressive and funky. Textured, deep, dark, yet polyphonic and playful.

 This interconnectedness makes me certain that there is no doubt a higher dance, a higher calling, a higher meaning to every---single---thing. Nothing is mistaken; nothing is forgotten; everyone's heartstrings and soul chords are heard. Everything works out; everything is orchestrated. It’s just a matter of time before the beats align.

So the result of all this...I bought a one-way ticket to Berlin. I leave in less than a month! A week at Burning Man was replaced with an unknown return date to Berlin.

Berlin sang my new song to me and hasn't stopped singing since I came back to Brooklyn. I don't know how long the song is, but I know I must play it. For the first leap of faith has no one else involved. Just me. Just my own music, my own rhythm, my own jazzy, house nasty, melodic, yet technotic drum beat disco bass. I need to dance!

 I'm not going on a hike to hike someone else's dream; I am not moving across the country for love; I am not saying I will stay to spare someone discomfort, because I have done all of these things before—and they were all beautiful albums and tracks in my life, but they were not my song. My song is sharp and it’s about time I listen to it loud.

I am going to Berlin as an independent, whole, and still healing individual. Who is responsible for this? Me! Who is making this decision? Ahh, yes, me too. No more consulting the choir.

It has been such a trip to realize how responsible for my own life, happiness, desires, and values I am. My heart beats in my own chest, in my own body. There is a reason you cannot hear or feel the bass from where you aren't supposed to. And I'm not supposed to hear or feel your bass from where I am. Our hearts may be similar, but you don't have the key. Only I do. It’s my love note, my love song.

What a silly and irresponsible notion of someone else having a key to your heart. No they don't. You do. Start unlocking it, morning bird. You have the key and there is only a cage if you choose it. And if you lost your key, you are responsible for seeking and finding it now. We all are. We are all responsible for finding our own music, our own song. Then we must sing it and we must share it.

So, Burning Man: thank you. You played your role perfectly and have been quite the catalyst for many unknown and unexplored adventures…

Me NOT going to Burning Man was a huge Burner Awakening. Lots of epiphanies, divine synchronicities, love stories, and let-go stories for this this years burn...

Monday, April 13, 2015

Universe Whispers

I taught a yoga class today revolving around one of my favorite themes: trust, surrender, the Niyama of Isvara Pranidhana--surrendering to something greater than ourselves, the universe, God, for some.

This theme of surrender and trust has been my backbone for the past many weeks. I don't live my life with too much of a plan, but I know when the cosmos, the world, something higher is pulling or pushing me to rearrange my furniture. The challenge I have been finding myself not quite seeing where I am being moved, how, why, and with what purpose.

Then the universe whispers, "Everything is working out in your favor. Trust me."

And she is always right...

Tripping Over Joy

What is the difference
Between your experience of existence
And that of a saint?

The Saint Knows
That the spiritual path 
Is a sublime chess game with God

And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move 

That the Saint is now continually 
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter 
And saying "I surrender!"

Whereas, my dear, 
I am afraid you still think 
You have a thousand serious moves


Monday, November 3, 2014

Pithy Pithy Platforms

Nothing can be taken away if I have the mind-set of "Nothing is Mine".

Nothing is mine in a sense of no ownership. Not my house, my belongings, my shoes, my relationships, my jobs.

When I begin to identify "mine" with things--nouns and proper nouns--that is when things begin to go a bit awry. I become attached and trapped. And as soon as attachment and entrapment happen, it is as if the world goes on to show me the false belief of "owning".

I can enjoy and embrace, but never, ever own. Sigh.

The physical world, in my perspective, is as fleeing as the wind. And just as unpredictable. Everything here has an expiration date. My almond milk, my lease, my debit cards,  my body. Nothing will be allowed to come with me to the grave, so why hold on so tight? Why can it be so hard to let go?

The past few months have been challenging, with a lot of big decisions to make, and sometimes with not much time to decide. I feel as if I have been on a long quest to finding a home in NYC. From living with my boyfriend, to moving out to live with friends, to getting evacuated from a landlord with intentions on renovations and $$$, to storage unit 1, to storage unit 2, to the next decision on where to go.

It feels as if every place I have been has been a landing pad. A place to sit, find rest, settle, but not to get comfortable enough to stay. The ground evaporates. Even my shoes on Halloween melted off my feet.

As I left the dance floor, the venue, and found myself on the raining and chilled city streets, my left shoe breaks. I take a few more steps and it breaks again in a different place. It's raining and it's cold and I scurry to find shelter under the scaffolding on 11th Ave. and W 56th St. In my scuffling, my right shoe breaks too. In all the same places as the left did. Both shoes completely busted.

This seemed like a perfect metaphor for exactly what I am learning in my life. Support from the external world has a shelf life. The safety pods hold me just as long as I need to be held, and when it's time to jump, it's time to take off the old carcass, the broken platforms, and jump with a whole lot of trust, love, and maybe some luck.

Have you ever ran as fast as you can in a forest?

A forest with uncertain and unpredictable terrain? Stones, moss, broken branches, logs, stumps, holes. The only way to choose your steps is to just GO. To begin with some momentum, awareness, clarity, and faith. Keep your eyes open and start leaping. A rhythm begins to show itself and there is a balance between movement and choice that becomes much like a meditation. The stones, moss, and broken branches support you for just a moment---and it is enough. It's all you need.

NYC has become my forest. I run as fast as I can, working diligently to stay as clear and true to myself as possible, hoping and trusting the next stone or shoe will support me just as long as I need it to.

I think the bigger lesson here is realizing the inner stones, pillars, platforms, and support systems that are truly strengthened when the outer ones start to disintegrate. My bones and German gusto! But that too will melt in time.

My inner love and bravery. My passions and my dreams.

Remembering that everything I truly, truly need has already been build and secured inside me.

Happy (Late) Anniversary New York!

Last month marked the 1 year anniversary that I re-moved back to NYC. I have never been happier with my choice to come back. In the last year, I have learned quite a bit about the city, people, and myself. I have learned to think smarter and quicker, love wiser, and have as much fun as possible.

A Few Things I have Learned From Living in NYC the Past Year...

1. Auditions and Interviews:
  • The first 3-10 interviews or auditions are for practice (and have served their importance!) After 10, you are a pro. Some interviews and auditions are great experiences and something positive will happen from them. And then some interviews are just buns...
  • When I get nervous for an interview...very good sign...when I am milk-toast about an interview...I know I need to reflect on what I REALLY, REALLY want out of jobs and life
  • Negative people will have negative feedback and essentially will probably be a negative place to work...
  • Can't take things too personally...listen to feedback...take the bits to improve on and trash what you know isn't true.
  • Re-build self confidence from the inside out.

2. Packing and Moving:
  • Buy boxes from Amazon and have them shipped to current residence. They even have boxes that come with packing tape for $15-$20. Super easy. 
  • U-Haul is the way to go. Never pay for movers, unless you have TONS of stuff. $19.99 and $13 for 80K insurance. So worth it.
  • Storage units in NYC are the way to go, if you are gonna dip out and travel. Most places have super cheap 1st months with no hidden fees either! 
  • Storage Units that have free first months rent and free movers are GOLD
  • Everything is fleeting. Nothing is permanent. And that is a very, very good thing.

3. Transportation:
  • I have about 10 different walking speeds. A good 7.5 is a nice stride. I get shin splints if I'm on speed 10 for too long and am basically sleepwalking if I am anywhere under a 5. 
  • Uber and Lyft and all of these new car services are amazing! Most come with coupons and free first rides too! 
  • I have learned to love the subways. They no longer feel too fact, sometimes I put the train ride in the category of "alone time". 
  • My bike is the best purchase I have ever made here. Helmet, 2nd best purchase. Lights, 3rd.

5. Efficiency:
  • I pre-type texts & e-mails on the subway and send them when I get off the train.
  • I try to live in the present but have the next 24 hours very closeby.
  • I try to have at least 3-4 different functional outfits on my person at all times. To teach, to practice, to go out, and to be comfortable. And have it all fit inside a small bag...SKILLS!

6. Pedestrians:
  • It is absolutely not okay to stop in the middle of the sidewalk to look at your phone. You are a pedestrian and your body is your vehicle. PULL OVER to the side. 
  • May the slow walkers be blessed! 
  • When biking, pedestrians can actually be more dangerous than cars...most of them are looking down at their phones unfortunately...stopping, yielding, and slowing down for them has to be considered (even though it makes much more sense to just stop walking their legs!)

7. Intuition:
  • More so than ever, I have learned to trust my instinct about people, places, and situations. If someone is approaching me, I try to read their energy while they are still 10 steps away and decide if I want to be approached or walk away. 
  •  I trust my gut so much more. I try to never question or doubt that feeling. My body tells me more these days too...or maybe I pay more attention to it. If something is not right, my stomach will actually start to ache.
8. Friends:
  • People are busy and have mad lives, compassion works...expectations don't.
  • Friendliness!
  • It takes quite a bit of effort to connect together and make plans...but it's important to stay connected, even if it means going out of my way sometimes. 
  • Kismet and kindred spirits are my favorite surprises. 
9. Self-Care:
  • I work hard, so I need to love hard. And loving myself and treating myself well is super duper important. Getting a massage is one of my favorite things now. Groupon is amazing. 
  • Yoga, gym, and walking are absolute necessities 
  • Ordering in. 
  • Doin' nothin'. 
  • Dancin'
 10. Dating the City:
  • To maintain my love, inspiration, enchantment, and respect for NYC, I gotta make dates with it. Once a week is good. Or every other week.
  • I gotta try something new often. Shake up patterns and routines and take advantage of what is here!! Museums, parks, shows, the food!

    It's been a challenging yet rewarding and incredibly interesting year. So grateful for all the experiences I have had, friends I have met, decisions I have had to make, and for the many, many learning curves. Thank you, City. Until we toast again next year!