When Will Black Lives Truly Matter?


I am angered and heartbroken by the recent news. We no longer lynch and hang black people, we just shoot them. We no longer enslave black people, we just toss them in prison. It’s all the same thing. As a white female I was born with a privilege I did not earn…the privilege of being white. And while this does not make me better than any of my black friends, it does, in this country, afford me a level of safety and security those with darker skin do not have. So, I am left with the question, what do we, privileged white people who care, do?

I have listened to all of my black friends and black students share stories of being discriminated against, unfairly treated, or, perhaps worse, ignored because of the color of their skin. Stories of racism and discrimination ranging from minor offences that are brushed off with a shrug to experiences that have left deep, permanent scars told over coffees and salads and cocktails, and in yoga sessions. I can’t put into words the anger, sadness, and helplessness that wells up in me simply thinking about some of the experiences that have been shared with me. It seems inconceivable that people I value so much could be so devalued by others simply because of skin color. And, I realize, that is part of the problem. So many of us chose not to acknowledge these things happen – yes, even in 2016. While I, and so many others, may not consciously treat non-whites as less than it does not mean that it does not happen on a daily basis. Perhaps simply listening to the stories people have to tell and acknowledging that there is indeed a problem is the first step (it doesn’t seem like enough at this point in time, though).

Innocent human beings have been killed. Whether they were sinners or saints is of no matter here. Whether they were innocent or guilty is of no matter here. Their lives were taken inhumanely and unjustly. Their lives mattered. How, as a society, can we expect black people to be anything but the stereotypical “angry black woman” or “angry black man”? How can we cease to be scared by the anger, squashing the power and silencing the voices of those with darker skin? To those who wave banners proclaiming, “all lives matter,” you are part of the problem. We cannot proclaim that all lives matter until we treat all lives with equal respect and dignity.

And so, I ask in all earnestness, what can be done? How do we stop pretending we have progressed and moved forward as a society and truly do so?

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

California Sabbatical

IMG_3059

Today marks the start of my 3 month sabbatical in California. The decision to leave my home in New York City was made rapidly, but the lead up was months in the making. No one has directly asked me, “Why?” Instead, there has been a lot of tiptoeing around the question everyone has wanted to ask but didn’t dare. Lots of probing, “What will you do?” And lots of people have projected their fantasies onto my three months away. My favorite being, “A three month vacation? How nice!”

First, the why. Well, because I can. I am able to work remotely. I am not in a relationship that would require taking into account how this might affect someone else and potential compromises. My only dependent is a cat, who came with me. This very well might be the last time in my life I can freely do something of this nature. So…I did. I do not for one second take for granted how truly fortunate I am to be able to do this.

The last year has been one of seismic shifts, both good and bad. I was left heartbroken, ungrounded, surrounded by vast amounts of love and support that I had either taken for granted or not seen clearly, and I finally rediscovered my voice. I discovered the blessing and curse of having too much work doing what I love. I wasn’t engaging in my own creative interests, which left me feeling bitter and angry. My schedule felt unmanageable, and yet, I had no idea what to do about it. Leaving things exactly as they were felt harder and more uncomfortable than taking a leap and stepping away from everything for a little while.

Second, what am I going to do? I am going to write (stay tuned for regular blog posts). I am going to take yoga classes with new teachers. I am going to Skype and FaceTime several of my private students in NYC. I am going to teach a few classes at studios here. I am going to record weekly audio classes to post on: Audible Yoga (teacher code: 14124) and On Our Mats I am going to prepare for and lead my first retreat in Costa Rica at the end of August. I am going to plan and set up future retreats, including long weekend getaways to vineyards for yoga, wine tasting, and cooking classes. I am going to go for long walks on the beach. I am going to spend time with family and friends in California. I am going to relax and simply be.

The next three months will be about slowing down and reconnecting with myself and my authentic voice. A part of me already misses NYC. A part of me is releasing a great big sigh to be out of the hustle and bustle of the city for a little while. I’m excited to see what is unveiled over the coming months.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica

This announcement seems very fitting seeing as it is International Yoga Day. I am excited to announce that I will be hosting my first yoga retreat! Join me August 20-26th at the beautiful Samasati Retreat and Rainforest Sanctuary in Limon, Costa Rica. It will be a week of yoga, meditation, intention setting, beach and rainforest adventures, and quiet reflection surrounded by nature.

IMG_4220

The retreat is through Trip Tribe, and the package includes:

  • Daily morning yoga (all levels welcomed), intention setting journaling and discussion (optional), evening restorative yoga and meditation, all with yours truly
  • 2 meals per day – breakfast and dinner (all dietary requests will be honored)
  • Lodging in Caribbean style casitas built with precious native woods nestled within lovely tropical gardens and the lush forest or semi-private bungalows with large outdoor verandas and hammocks overlooking the rainforest.
  • Daily shuttle buses to the beach
  • A variety of adventures and services are also available to you:
  • Samasati Biological Reserve Tour with Scott Mckenzie – $25
  • Vegetarian Caribbean Cooking Class – $45
  • Thai Yoga Massage – $130
  • Heaven and Earth – Craniosacral & Reflexology – $120
  • Rainforest Massage – $95
  • Chocolate – Coffee Body Treatment – $130
  • Rainforest Renewal – $120
  • Sunburn Therapy – $110
  • Tortuguero One Day – $99
  • Gandoca- Manzanillo Rainforest Hike – $70
  • Bird Watching Tour – $65
  • Surf Lesson – $70
  • Indian Reserve, Chocolate Process and Waterfall – $50
  • White Water Rafting at the Pacuare River – $99
  • Punta Uva Sea Kayak and Rainforest Hike – $70
  • Horseback Riding at the Beach – $75
  • The Jungle Adventure – Zipline, Waterfalls, Swings – $95
  • Kekoldi Indian Reserve – $49
  • Hiking in Cahuita National Park – $45

Reserve your spot here:

https://triptribe.com/trips/rest-reflect-renew

I would love for you to join me on this incredible adventure.

Posted in Yoga | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Life Lessons (Again)


There are two things I am really good at, planning and doing way too much until I finally run myself into the ground. I got walloped by lessons reminding me that neither of these things work in my favor. As a prone to anxiety Virgo, I like to have all my ducks in a row, then freak out if anyone tries to shift one of my ducks even half an inch, then rearrange my ducks, then line them all up again, and so on and so forth. Yes, it exhausts and annoys most people, but those closest to me tolerate it for the most part. Last minute schedule changes or cancellations send me into a tizzy. What can I say? I’m a work in progress. Then there is the go, go, go, go, go until I literally run myself into the ground issue. I have been doing it basically all my life, according to my parents (I have steadfastly refused to admit I do this until just a few years ago).

Last week, I woke up with what I thought was a mild cold. As the day progressed, I realized I had far more than a slightly runny nose. I have been really sick, as in, try to do more than one thing and my body revolts by breaking out in cold sweats and developing a fever again sick for the last eight days. For the past two months I have been juggling a schedule that I knew was too much, but I kept telling myself there was an end in sight so it was okay. I neglected myself too much and my body let me know it. Being sick has been exacerbated by the fact that in a week I leave New York City to spend three months in California. I had stuff I wanted to do. I had people I wanted to see. I missed teaching my final classes at one yoga studio. I missed my final sessions with some of my private students. I missed lunches and dinners and drinks with friends I will not see for three months. I had plans. Those plans did not include laying in bed kvetching and sweating out a fever for my last two weeks in the city.

So, on this first day of summer/full moon night (the first on decades), instead of engaging in any of my full moon or equinox rituals, I am grumpily laying in bed with my laptop propped up on a pillow. My patience with myself, being sick, the healing process, letting go in general has been worn to a single, ready to pull apart, thread. Clearly, I still have some lessons to be learned here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Enough is Enough


Yesterday, I did not go into a rant about gun control in this country. Today, after the shock of the Orlando nightclub mass shooting has worn off, reality has paved a path of extreme sadness and anger. What happened is unacceptable on so many levels. My heart goes out to the LGBT community, you are all invaluable members of this society and deserve to be treated as such. I am outraged that any civilian in this country is still able to obtain and possess an automatic assault weapon. How many more innocent people have to be senselessly killed? When do we finally say enough is enough?

When the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place I was running an after school program for children in Pre-K, kindergarten, and 1st grade. I heard about the tragedy just before picking the kids up from school. The relief I felt upon seeing each child, safe, at the end of the school day, laughing, running, and playing on the playground overwhelmed me. I remember thinking, “This! This is going to change gun control laws in this country forever!” I was wrong. Congress and the senate have declared that the money they receive from the NRA is more valuable than the lives of innocent Americans, as demonstrated by the lack of gun control policy change after every mass shooting in this country over the last decade. This is America, where the freedom to receive an education, worship as you please, go to the movies, go to nightclubs, and love whomever you choose can all be taken from you by someone firing an automatic weapon in the places we have been taught are safe.

I am not anti-gun. I know many people who grew up with guns, who hunt, who enjoy going to firing ranges in their spare time. While I do not care to ever own or fire a gun, I do not believe they should be banned. I do not agree that those with mental illnesses should be banned from obtaining fire arms if they so choose. I have worked in the mental health field and we cannot take away the rights of a large portion of our population because of a few very sick individuals. I do believe that the current laws in place do not keep the citizens of this country safe. And more guns is not the answer because no armed civilian has stopped or prevented a mass shooting thus far.

Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. Candlelight vigils are not enough. I do not say this to be crass. I lit a candle last night and am holding all those affected by the tragedy in my thoughts and prayers, but that is not enough. As one of my friend’s eloquently posted on Facebook, this is a, Jesus take the wheel time. Jesus is whatever you believe in, it is not limited to the Christian interpretation of Jesus. Jesus is not, however, judgmental or bigoted. Nor does Jesus believe fallible humans have a right to impose their beliefs on others. Jesus is love and compassionate social action to ensure that all humans are safely protected. Jesus is opening our hearts and our minds to stretch beyond what is comfortable…to include everyone.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

We Need More Love


This morning I woke up to the devastating news of the largest mass shooting in the U.S., to date. I don’t want to go into a rant about my beliefs on guns in this country. When we, as a country, fail to take drastic action when small children are killed at school, I hold no hope that this event will turn the tides. I would love to be proven wrong, though. I also don’t want to singularly address any specific communities or religious sects, the mass media is doing enough of that. Something much larger surfaced for me upon hearing the tragic news of the shooting at the Orlando nightclub.

How do we come together as a society? How do we peacefully coexist as humans with different beliefs, religions, political viewpoints, etc.? Have we become too entitled and self-righteous about our own stances to keep humanity at the forefront of all we do? Has violence become the norm that we are now numb to it and able to simply shrug it off as one more tragedy?

Who we love, the ways we choose to worship, who we vote for, the colors of our skin, the languages we speak do not make us good or bad people. Using any of those things to justify actions of cruelty is inhumane. What is ultimately important is how we treat others, especially those we do not agree with. What is important is that we love people for who they are and allow their authentic voices to be heard, because that is when the best in people comes out, which is ultimately what is best for our individual communities, and our society as a whole. Taking away people’s rights and silencing their voices only breeds hate, fear, and anger. We have got to do better as a society.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monday Morning Commute (Or Things I Will Not Miss While Away)

One of the only good things about the G train is that it has one of the lowest annoying tourist populations in comparison to other subway lines (at least in June). One of the bad things about the G train is that it is packed with overly tired and stressed out New Yorkers who will push past a 5 year old on the way to school just to get a coveted seat. We New Yorkers really are kind people at heart; just don’t mess with us during morning rush hour, especially not after we’ve been waiting for the notoriously unreliable G train.

As I settle into my spot holding a pole toward the middle of the car I find myself next to a normal enough looking guy in jeans and a T-shirt who pulls out the latest New Yorker. Then he yawns…his halitosis is so bad I gag. Then I catch a whiff of his under arm odor. Seriously?!? If you can afford a New Yorker subscription (Or did you just steal that out of your neighbor’s mailbox?) you can certainly afford a toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant.

A few stops later a large, squat Caribbean woman wielding a prayer book settles in on my other side. She looks unassuming enough until she opens her mouth to say, “excuse me,” to someone she bumped with her bag. The overpowering smell of garlic coming from her mouth could only be accomplished by gnawing on a whole, raw head of garlic prior to boarding the train. It’s only 8:30am. How is that smell possible at any hour, let alone now?

Just when I think it can’t get any worse, a very large man pushes through the crowd of people to sit in the seat attached to the pole I am holding and pulls out a bag of Doritos. The smell of Doritos makes me want to vomit. I cannot explain it, but the extreme need to throw up upon smelling Doritos is what I like to believe is a trait of evolutionary superiority. Seriously, those things are toxic – no one should be eating them. I unintentionally give him a look, because at this pint my olfactory system has been pushed to the limit. Now I am the skinny, white woman silently judging the overweight minority for his poor diet choices. Great.

As the train starts to pull into the last stop I begin to sigh out of relief. Sure, there will be a mob of people to shuffle through as I climb the steps and walk to my connecting train, but at least I am free from the chamber of torturous scents. Oh right, I forgot, summer internship season has begun. There is a large number of young men and women dressed in their finest suits, which they will soon discover in this city of extreme wealth and poverty, while perfectly acceptable in their Midwestern towns are paltry when toe to toe with the custom-made suits and shoes their supervisors will be donning. I appreciate their bright-eyed and bushy-tailed energy, so lacking from everyone else on the train, but I wish they would look up from their phones as they attempt to exit the train. And I really wish that when they do look up and realize they have no idea what direction to keep walking in they would step aside instead of stopping dead in their tracks at the top of the stairs like deer in headlights.

Alas, it is Monday.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment