What a shame that we somehow transition from tiny, beautiful, free beings to bigger, older, wiser beautiful beings who somehow hate what they see when they look in the mirror.. I have committed to freeing myself, to whatever degree I can, of the story that I am not enough, that my body is not ok or not beautiful or not capable. I am attempting to emulate my daughter, and be FREE.Read More
About five weeks ago, while I was in Italy studying with my yoga teacher, I got a phone call from my brother. My biological father, who I hadn’t spoken to in three years, was dying of cancer. He had never met my daughter, his only grandchild, and I had not seen him in about ten years. I did not meet him or know where he was until I was 10 years old. There is, as you can imagine, much more to this story.
I hung up with my brother and wept.
Two days later, Peter, my father, heard the voice of my daughter, his granddaughter, for the very first time. I asked him if he wanted to meet her. Through tears, over the phone, he expressed how wonderful that could be.
I have decided to start being more honest about my life in writing. Before I was a mother and a wife, I was fairly open about the challenges I faced, and wrote about much of it freely. Since moving to Switzerland, which places quite a premium on privacy and silence, my writing and public sharing has become increasingly scarce and hushed. Certainly, that has been affected also by the privacy I wish for my daughter and family, as well as the very real strains on time that I have found in motherhood. However, as I review the past three years, it is clear that my silence has been largely dominated by my immigration to a place that has, despite my best efforts, never felt like home.
Maybe it is because I turn 40 this week. Maybe it is because I am faced with the mortality of my own father, and have come face to face once again with the fleeting, wondrous and unapologetic nature of life. Maybe it is because I have finally simultaneously accepted and reached my limit in the struggles I have borne quietly here in beautiful, idyllic Switzerland. Or that I have both accepted and reached my limit on the abuses I bear from certain family members or colleagues. For all of these reasons, I feel called to share; as a purge, as a potential connection to others who might read, as a basic trait of my own humanity… and most importantly for me at this time, as a clear mark of my process of acceptance and forgiveness.
These two active states of being, acceptance and forgiveness, go hand in hand, as they are deeply connected with the process of loosening our grip on what we want now and what we wanted in the past. They radically alter our need to be right or to be safe. They shift our perception from dream-state to pure presence. Acceptance moves us from fear and clinging. Forgiveness places us in the seat of our heart and out of our stranglehold on the past.
Within two weeks of my brother’s phone call, I was sitting at my father’s bedside, holding his hand and tenderly laying aside years of my own suffering to share in what has always amounted to a profound connection. It was maybe the most intense and radical process of acceptance and forgiveness I have ever encountered. He met my my daughter, his granddaughter. We wept and laughed and shared our hearts.
This process continues to tenderize my heart and break me wide open. It has proven to me how strong and resilient I am, as much as it has brought me to my knees.
My old anger sifts through my heart like sand in a sieve, and I am left with the shells and beach glass of grief and sadness… but also those of joy and wonder and connection.
I wade in the tides and collect the beauties, only to set them free to the ocean again.
Yoga is not a practice of navigating the light. It is a practice of life, which means that it cocoons us in as much presence as we can handle, whether we are soaring in the skies or are so wrought with sorrow that we cannot move off of the floor. It gives us tools, should we choose to use them, to look directly at our joy and suffering, and to attempt to make choices that give us the opportunity to let go and let in whatever it is we are experiencing. Yoga and movement and breath and meditation have, throughout these last years, given me the space to see myself clearly, even when that vision was painful to witness. And in the depths of the dark waters in which I often found myself, that space and insight ultimately gave me permission to keep moving forward and to do what was necessary to take care of my self, my spirit, and therefore my family and all that I love.Read More
All any of us can do is stay true to our convictions and pair those convictions with a willingness to stay curious and open hearted. Certainly there are times when we need to shift directions or accept defeat or decide that another way is a better way, but there are many other times when we must continue to face our fears and challenges and disappointments head-on. In those moments we must remind ourselves of our highest aspirations, lest disheartenment get the best of us and the world sadly miss out on our greatest gifts.Read More
When I was living in New York, I marched in the streets for Black Lives Matter. Several times, marches would happen while I was working so I could not attend, but I had the sharply poignant experience of teaching yoga as crowds of thousands marched past our class on Broadway. I remember the roar of the protestors drowning out my own voice as they passed and I stopped class on more than one occasion so that we could listen and offer our silent support, sometimes for many minutes. It was a humbling and important metaphor for how big the movement was and what must take precedence in times like these.Read More
It's true, I'm pregnant, due in about six weeks. I made a special effort not to post anything about my pregnancy on my FB page for nearly the entire term. I made a few hints a month or so ago and then decided to just come out and say the words "maternity leave" fairly inconspicuously in a recent post and another little mention of "after the baby" in another. It's interesting what sparks people's interests and what makes them comment out loud. I knew that an announcement of pregnancy would get a ton of likes, but I also knew I didn't really want that for myself, my baby or my growing family. And yet, this is a huge part of my life. It affects my work (which I do post about regularly) and more importantly my personal life (which I tend to not post about as much). I haven't wanted to make an ordeal, but I also realize that this reality needs to be communicated in some way. So here I am.
Someone asked on instagram the other day about my experiences in pregnancy with practice. I may write more on this at some point, but for now let me say that the most important thing for me has been to have a lot of space. Space to feel, space to connect with my husband and my baby, space to practice in a way that has soothed both me and the growing life inside of me. I have had zero interest in making a production of my process, but I suppose I understand why some other women may.
For now I will say that pregnancy has changed me like nothing else. It has humbled me and amazed me and I have had moments where I felt more scared and more exhausted than ever in my life before (I know this is just the beginning). I also feel more connected to my physical body, the sacredness of life, and to the ways in which practice should subtly and gently underline that sacredness... not ignore, or worse, glamourize it. And for the first time since I can remember, my work does not dominate my life any longer. I had a full page feature in Yoga Journal this month, which is an amazing accomplishment for a teacher, especially one without an agent. But I have to say I feel fairly ambivalent about it (and not just because I'm pregnant, this goes back to all of my frustrations about the perceived flashy trendy quality of Breakti and how I feel totally pigeon-holed by this perception) and it just doesn't matter on the same level that it did four or five years ago the first time my name made it to YJ. This has been eye-opening for me because my career has been priority one for so very long... so. very. long... and I feel that priority diminishing and YET!!! (and YET!!) my work feels more fulfilling and more interesting than ever, especially as I figure out how to connect the dots and teach good work to my students in a new body with new limitations and less ability to practice what I teach.
Finally, I feel connected to women. Everywhere. I feel strongly drawn to support and offer and share with them. My discoveries in pregnancy have pointed again and again to the wisdom of my own body over the direction or advice of any book or "professional". I feel inspired to help and support women and their fertility and pregnancy. Perhaps I will write a lot more one day about this and perhaps my work will shift in that direction. I simply don't know.
But for now... I prefer the space. I have a lot of it, and it sometimes feels a bit lonely but mostly it feels amazing to have the opportunity to connect to myself and my baby so deeply. I feel that we are on this journey together, and all of the practices and knowledge I have acquired as a mover, a teacher, and someone who has investigated healing on so many levels - all of this comes together right now and supports me in this very. sacred. space.
I only have a few weeks to go before I step out of the studio and have a baby. We don't know what it is, it's a surprise. We are so very excited! It is beyond words! It has been awesome being a teacher and practitioner through this process and I am confident it will be awesome on a whole new level once baby arrives.
I am going to be a mom... and as I enter these last moments before the final "push" I return again to space. To sacred space. I can't believe it took me this long to figure out how to give myself that deep and open space. I guess I have someone to thank once I meet him or her.
Contained in over a hundred files were many messages of my dearest lifelong friend Zoe that I had saved in the last two years of her bright and inspired life. Yesterday was my birthday and I spent an hour going through those voicemails on my computer, searching for one she left me on my birthday two years ago. Today I finally found it.Read More