Personal

Farewell, 2012!

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I took this picture at  Chapman’s Peak, just a few days before watching one of my closest friends get married.  The fog rolled in so quickly we could barely see our hands in front of us. Then, just as quickly as it had appeared, it dissipated, burned away under the sun’s waning rays.  It was March, the end of summer in South Africa, and the air on my skin felt like a warm hug.  I lagged behind the rest of the group, staring off into the horizon, and I felt deeply then:  if I wanted a different kind of life, I would have to change.

I could write a long list of things I’ve learned this year, but it would be tedious and unnecessary.  I’ve spent most of 2012 becoming the person I know I am supposed to be. I suspect 2013 will be more of the same.

 

 

 

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Personal, Poetry, travel

Excuses For Why We Failed At Love

More from Warsan Shire.

This video makes me want to go to France. My parents took me to Paris when I was two and a half.  My father likes to tell the story about how, in the crowded Eiffel Tower elevator, I looked over his shoulder at the city below us and said, “Uh oh.”  My mother likes to remind me that I made friends with the German girl whose family stayed in the room next to us. And Japanese tourists at Versailles wanted to take pictures of me.  “Maybe they’d never seen such a cute Black baby before, I don’t know.”  I haven’t been back to Paris since. I know I’ll make it there some day.

My excuse?  Oh, there are many.  Too many to bore you with right now…

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Music

Merry Christmas!

So, a video of DMX gleefully singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has been making the rounds for a few weeks now. But I happened to find this gem, created by Andrew Spena, which just takes Earl’s delightful version of Rudolph to a whole new, hilarious level.  As a long-time fan of DMX (I played It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot ad nauseam during the summer of 1998, and the Ruff Ryders Anthem remains on my running playlist to this day), I’m glad to see him getting a little bit of shine that has nothing to do with his drug use or multiple arrests.

Hope you enjoy your day!  I have to work, but I’ll be  home in time for dinner with my family.

Love Always.

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Books, Goals, Personal, Yoga

Notes on YTT

Today,  I’m celebrating the slow return of longer days simply by resting.

This week has been interesting.  It was fairly slow at work, which gave me a lot of time to think about my yoga teacher training.

I realized:

the first three months have flown by. and I’m nowhere near close to finishing my requirements.

I freaked out and bought a 2013 planner, then color-coordinated my class schedule from this week until March 17, which is the day of our final practicum.  Purple indicates a Vinyasa Flow class with Laurie.  Green indicates a Vinyasa Flow class with one of Laurie’s Prana Shakti Flow  trained teachers. Blue indicates a Vinyasa Flow class observation.  My planner is a flurry of all my favorite colors.

Between now and March 17, 2013, I must complete 8 more classes with Laurie. I must also take 8 classes with PSF teachers– I’ve decided that Lauren’s Friday open level Vinyasa and Jennie’s Saturday level 1/2  Warm Vinyasa best fit my schedule.  And after I finish up my classes with Laurie, I can begin my observations of her classes.  I’ll also observe some prenatal classes, since I am definitely interested in teaching prenatal yoga. I need to complete 14 more observations; at least five of them will be prenatal.  I’ll probably change that to include more prenatal classes, but for now,  I’m tired of fiddling with my planner.

I went to Laurie’s Vinyasa and Meditation classes last night, as has become my Thursday after-work ritual.  And after we meditated, she reassured me that I’m on the right track; she’s noticed that I’ve been in her classes consistently over the last few months.  She overhead me telling a classmate how tired I’ve been lately, and said, “Keisha. You are much too hard on yourself.  You need to get some rest. Stop thinking. Just rest.”

I took her advice. I’ve been in bed all day, snuggled up with cup after cup of green tea, the latest issue of Poets & Writers, and a few good books, including “nomad of salt and hard water” by fellow VONA alum, Cynthia Dewi Oka.  I probably won’t leave the house at all today or tomorrow.

I’m okay with that.

Have a beautiful weekend, my loves.

 

 

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religion, Yoga

Signs

Two days ago, I left work with only one desire:

I needed a slice of Margherita pizza.

In fact, I had been craving pizza all day. As I ate my oatmeal with walnuts and ground flaxseed in the morning, I thought: what I really want is some pizza.

Same thing when I ate my lunch– blackened salmon with spinach and tostones.  It tasted good, but it wasn’t what I was craving.

So I wrapped things up at work and set off to the pizza place two blocks away.  The fact that I did this astounds me. Seriously. After work, I always scurry to my car and race my way back to Queens as fast as I can. Food can wait until I get home, and there usually isn’t anything that I want to eat near my job, anyway.

But I wanted pizza so much that I marched to the pizzeria and ordered 2 slices. Then I sat down and ate them slowly.  The cashier, who had hazel eyes and a hint of an Italian accent, said, “You look like you’re enjoying that.”

I smiled and told him, “You have no idea.”

I ate my last bite of crust reluctantly.  It was delicious. It was everything I wanted. I was satisfied.  It was late. I needed to get home.

With my belly full, I headed back down the hill toward my car. And I stumbled upon this:

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This-baptism
Save-us
Saint Matthew
Luke 3:11
11:913
NOT RELIGION

I’m not entirely sure what the person who painted this message on a South Bronx sidewalk intended it to mean.  But I was struck by it. So I snapped the picture and thought about the words the whole way home.

From the Gospel According to Luke:

Chapter 3, Verse 11

In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”

Chapter 11, Verses 9 through 13 (there is no verse 913 in this chapter, so I’m assuming the writer just forgot the dash.)

So I say to you, Ask and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Prior to searching for these verses, I hadn’t  looked at my Bible in years.  I had to  blow a thin layer of dust from its cover when I finally found it.  But just a week before seeing this message, I had wondered where my Bible was.

I’m not religious at all.  I was raised Catholic, but I really don’t remember the last time I went to church– maybe sometime last fall?  I ordered my Catholic Women’s Devotional Bible  from Amazon about six years ago when I suddenly decided I wanted to practice Catholicism again.  I was going to read  the Bible every day and go to Mass every Sunday and actually join a church and tithe every week.  I don’t know what happened, but my Bible ended up packed away in a box in the basement, not to resurface until two nights ago.  For most of 2010, I attended Mass quite regularly, but once I started working on Sundays, that fell to the wayside.  I tried going to Saturday Mass, but it’s not the same.  There’s no pianist or choir, and the entire congregation consists of the truly devout elderly who attend Mass every day. The energy isn’t the same. So I stopped going.

And then I found yoga.

This isn’t to say that yoga is a religion, because it isn’t. But I do agree with Brooke Boon, founder of Holy Yoga, when she says:

I believe that we were created in the image of God, for the glory of God, for the worship of God. And all of the things that we’re talking about in terms of Western yoga that we practice in gyms and in studios-the pranayama, the meditation, and the asana—all three of those things are addressed in the Bible.  I believe that yoga is a spiritual discipline that draws you closer to God. And so, if that is true, then the intention of my heart trumps the posture of my body.

At the beginning of every class, Rei asks us to set an intention, and to dedicate our practice to someone, or something.  When I first began taking classes at Living Yoga, I found that my practice seemed to flow a little bit more smoothly whenever I dedicated it to God. Thus, using my body to create these beautiful postures became my way of praising Him.  I pray more now than I ever did before I began my yoga practice. And I don’t necessarily feel the need to become the model Catholic– especially since I have my issues with the Church anyway.

That being said, I’d been feeling like I needed to read the Bible; I just hadn’t gotten around to it.  So I believe that my strangely irrepressible craving for pizza  was a sign. I was supposed to go get those Margherita slices so that I could walk down from the Concourse and see this message. I was supposed to take a picture of it and go digging through my many boxes of books  to find my Bible.

I was supposed to read these words. To write this post.

I see the signs.

I know what I am to do.

I have written about how selfish I am.  So I know that I must cultivate generosity.

And I must continue to pray, to trust that God (or the Universe, if you prefer it that way) will supply what I truly need and desire.

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News, Personal

Prayers

I had my day all planned out.  I was going to:

  • wake up early.
  • detangle/shampoo/deep condition my hair.
  • work on my homework for yoga teacher training.
  • cook a white bean and kale stew.
  • write a post here, about last night’s meditation class. Laurie read our energy again. This time my energy presented itself to her as a tiny, trickling waterfall. She surmised that it meant my mantra work is beginning to take effect.  That little cascade is divine love,  making its way into my life.
  • take Lauren’s Vinyasa class tonight.

Instead, I woke up late, at 9:45.  I suppose my body needed the rest.

I languished in bed, reading The Path to Love and scrolling through my twitter timeline intermittently. I got out of bed around 10:15,  parted my hair into eight sections to begin the process of detangling.  Checked the mail, made myself some lime-flavored water with my Citrus Zinger. Then I returned to my room to see a breaking news bulletin interrupting a daytime talk show. Shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, CT.

At first it seemed that the situation was under control, that most of the children were lead from the school unscathed.

Now we know better.  Twenty-seven people are dead. Most of them were students.  Babies.

And now all I can do is pray.

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Career, Goals, Personal, Writing, Yoga

This Can’t Be Life

I had a really difficult time dragging myself out of bed today.

It’s been like this for weeks now. It’s not that I wake up late, because I don’t. I’m awake at 6 am every day,  before my second alarm goes off at 6:15.  I stare into the dark and listen to the muffled sound of my television. I sleep with it on because I am afraid of the dark; I am not ashamed to admit this.  The noise of it disturbs my sleep, however, so I lower the volume to just a hair above a whisper.  Then in the morning, I strain to hear the news from underneath my comforter.  I do some pranayama.  If I fall asleep with the phone next to me, I check my e-mail.  I think about what I’ll wear.  I stay in bed until 6:30, when I have to leave at 7, and it takes me at least 45 minutes to shower and get dressed.  Then I rush to get out of the house by 7:05 so I won’t be late to work. Some days, I don’t care if I’m late, and I take my time. Other days, I don’t even want to imagine staying in that building a minute past the end of my shift, so I haul ass to get ready in 25 minutes.  Those are the days like today, when I walk out of my house with my sweater on inside out, or an earring missing, with no snacks and no water.

I’m tired.

A little while ago, I  came across this letter that author Charles Bukowksi wrote to his publisher, John Martin, in which he discusses the idea of a “9 to 5”:

You know the places where I came from. Even the people who try to write about that or make films about it, they don’t get it right. They call it “9 to 5.” It’s never 9 to 5, there’s no free lunch break at those places, in fact, at many of them in order to keep your job you don’t take lunch. Then there’s OVERTIME and the books never seem to get the overtime right and if you complain about that, there’s another sucker to take your place.

You know my old saying, “Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors.”

And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don’t want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.

He goes on:

I remember once, working as a packer in this lighting fixture company, one of the packers suddenly said: “I’ll never be free!”

One of the bosses was walking by (his name was Morrie) and he let out this delicious cackle of a laugh, enjoying the fact that this fellow was trapped for life.

I recently shared this letter with a co-worker (who has become a good friend).  She believes that she is trapped. She has a 3-year-old daughter to support on her own after the untimely death of her partner.  She has a small business selling homemade baked goods with her two best friends, but it doesn’t net her enough money to leave this job. And she’s been here forever; she has a fully vested pension and a 401k.  “Where am I going?” she asked.  The answer was clear: nowhere.

I said: “When you were 11 and you came here for the first time, is this what you imagined your life as an adult would be?  Because I can tell you for sure, this was a life I never wanted.”

We went to dinner and discussed the possibilities.  Her business will take off and she’ll open a bakery.  I’ll move somewhere warm, finally get my MFA and my book will be published.  I’ll travel around writing and teaching writing and yoga and I’ll be able to speak Spanish instead of just understand it sometimes and I’ll be able to do a perfect Scorpion handstand.

Sounds good, right?

I just know that something has to change.  This can’t be life.  I don’t want to be ugly. I want to be free.

P.S. Since today is Jay-Z’s 43rd birthday, I find it wholly appropriate that the title of this post bears the same name as a song from his fifth album, The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, released in 2000. You can listen to a snippet of it here.

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