that endless skyway...that golden valley

remember,

a country is only a country

because a person said so.


i do not put it past us

we stole this land from Native Americans

for that is who we are;

we see it

we like it

we have to have it.

we do not apologize well

and humility takes a backseat to pride

all the time.

it is silly, stressful and dangerous to put

one person in charge of a people

and God does not bless America any more than he blesses the U.K. or China

because God doesn’t know what a country is

because he is bigger and wiser and more mysterious than having our back on gun violence.


there has been legal slavery

now we have illegal slavery.


we do not harvest

we do not conserve.

we do not care about the earth

and we want our white women to have more babies.


we set white rapists free

and lock up black men for weed.


we pledge allegiance to our country

before we even know what Allegiance means

and we stop pledging just in time for puberty 

where we learn all kinds of ways to live apart from each other.


we have duct taped the mouths of our most intelligent brothers and sisters

and slipped under many a radar.


we have crashed and burned

and deflected the pain of our own doing

by blaming a God of our own understanding.

we are addicts

we are bullies

we are insatiable.


and...


i still believe this land was made

for you and me,

because, well,

you and me are here.


i believe amendments

commandments

pledges

declarations

and proclamations

were written when we were in our right mind, that one time;

when we were certain there is enough love to go around,

when we could taste each other's residency in the same Kingdom and we never wanted to live apart. 


This has to be true;

i know that it's true

because...

you gather a diverse room of 55

people and start singing “this land is your land”

everyone will sing with you.

(it happened yesterday when i taught yoga).

and that Pledge of Allegiance,

it’s a really beautiful pledge—

one i may start saying each day

because I have tasted the consequences of not.


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dear yogi: a letter from your teacher

Dear Yogi,

Here are some things I’d like you to know…

Your presence in my class means everything to me, because i know how hard it can be to get out of bed.

 I know the risk you take in getting into your car to come here.

 I know how testing it can be, to sweat and breathe in such close proximity to people who are different than you. You are a brave example of the Universe only knowing how to move in one direction...forward.

 These last 1,000 yoga classes have stretched, tested and expanded me in ways only silence, a wink and maybe a slight nod in your direction could explain. 

None of it is perfect and I’ve stumbled through seasons of wondering if it’s even worth it, if my efforts have been futile, if it’s time to roll up my mat and move on. Though I am grateful not to be in such a season today, 1,000 classes rendered feels like a great time for me to re-articulate my love for you, re-dedicate myself to this craft, and reclaim promises I never made but should have…

  •   I re-commit to my role as a Yoga Teacher and facilitator; a “professional friend” who exercises safety and practicality before creativity. I promise to sequence intelligently and stay open to change.

  •  I will hold fast to the truth that Yoga was invented by people of a different skin color, life experience and view of the world than me. This ancient and sacred practice was never intended to be presented in physical form, shown off for the internet or profited from for personal gain. There will always be a dark side to the ways in which we put food on our table, but I will honor this practice for what it is and where it came from to the best of my ability. 

Further, I will be mindful of cultural appropriation and continue t be a student and advocate of diversity on and off my mat and ESPECIALLY in my classroom.

  •  I will see myself in you, especially when I feel annoyed, frustrated or angry. I will be patient and kind and promptly make amends if I demonstrate anything on the contrary. 

  •  Lastly, I will love you. I will love you as I love myself, as I am loved by God.

 Each time I step into the yoga room, I have a new opportunity to create a habitat for acceptance and a terrain for taking healthy risks. I know what I have, and I am grateful and damn proud. 

 

Andrea Gibson wrote,

“...i intend to leave this place so shattered, there will have to be a thousand heavens for all my flying parts”.

Every yoga class I teach is one of those heavens—

YOU, are one of a thousand heavens for my flying parts. 

 Friend, no matter what, remember that I want to be here. I want to teach you yoga. I want to do this work; for this work is simply my love, made visible. 

 May grace and peace be with you and me and everyone else for the next thousand classes!

 

Love, 

Erica 

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Someone Saved My Life Tonight

Someone Saved my Life Tonight

a letter from my Dad to me...

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…hypnotized, sweet freedom whispered in my ear, ‘you’re a butterfly’… -Elton John

It reminded me of that episode of Seinfeld, the way the sheets and the quilt were tucked so tightly under the mattress, I wondered if they were painted on. I thought about calling you back to laugh about it, but I wasn’t certain you’d find it funny since we hadn’t laughed much together in a long time. Also, I figured you were already asleep; asleep in the twin-size bed you’d had since you were three. The bed I wanted to keep you in, because in some way, that small mattress promised you’d never be old enough to leave me.

Nevertheless, I was so happy to hear your voice an hour ago.

After using all my strength to loosen the hotel sheets, I slipped into bed, out of breath and feeling…different, gone; as though, I wasn’t going to be coming home from my work trip tomorrow; as though I’d never hug you again.

I’d heard about this, mostly from movies and a Simon & Garfunkel song or two, how your life will flash before your eyes the moment before you die; like everything suddenly makes sense and, miraculously, you don’t feel any regrets.

But no, my life did not suddenly make sense, nor did it flash before my eyes;

yours did.

Come, my beautiful Erica, let me show you what I saw…

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First, I saw those full cheeks, that soft, chubby little arm and those big sparkling brown eyes reaching for my tie, then my face, then my hair. Your tiny fingernails nearly scratched my eyeballs out and I loved every minute of it.

I saw your strawberry blonde curls bouncing in the wind when I took you to that park on top of that hill when you were four, and how much joy it brought me to comb and blow-dry your hair at night; de-tangling every section, brushing every strand, so careful not to hurt you.

I saw how hard you worked to make me happy; your smiles and giggles just glittery pleas for my patience and my unconditional love; please let this moment be enough for you, Daddy. I can be enough for you. I will love you enough for everyone else.

I saw it - the sheer pain and utter heartbreak in your eyes when I did that heartless thing when you were seven and made that huge mistake when you were eleven, and angrily humiliated you when you were thirteen, shamed you at fourteen, said that horrible thing when you were fifteen, and that other, equally as horrible thing to you when you were eighteen.

I saw that the things I didn’t want for you, were the very things I needed from you;

I needed you to feel small and afraid to leave me.

I needed you to depend on me.

I needed you to feel you earned my love when you made decisions in my favor

and feel you lost my love when you didn’t.

You were my whole world, my everything, and it was suffocating you.

I saw all of this in those last seconds and it made me so sad, until light came pouring into the corner of my eyes- I saw your life without me and oh, that life, sweet Erica, I knew you had to have that one…

Yes, I saw how empty you’d feel without me for a time, only to discover that you were now more free than ever.

I saw how eventually this pain would transform and morph into your most prized, generous, over the top gift to the world.

I heard pings bouncing off cell towers, electrifying your phone, voices on the other end that “just called to say I love you. I’m thinking of you. I’m so sorry for your loss. You don’t have to call back, but just know I am here”.

I heard your unstoppable laughter at dinner with your cousins after my funeral. Like all the certainty of who you are, your trapped magic came bursting out for the first time, shaking windows and rattling walls. That laugh was only the beginning.

In my vision, there were friends who’d dance with you, and sit with you, even lay on top of you like a shield in those extraordinarily dark times when you were certain you’d never stop crying.

I saw that in years to come, you’d be willing to hold fast to what you know about my soul, and soften your fist around what you knew about me, not because I needed a second chance, but because you needed a first one; you’d one day understand, this was all for you.

Erica, I saw a life for you that provided deep oceans of support and expansive skies of opportunity.

I saw a life for you, filled with blessings that were not based on merit or what you could give others in exchange for their love.

I saw a life for you that was so much bigger than the favors you could do for someone, bigger than the fear of not doing honorable work, bigger than what keeps you up at night, bigger than any doubt you could have, any insecurity you could ever struggle with, and yes, bigger than your relationship with food.

I could hear chimes of freedom for you, Erica. The kind of freedom I could never grant you because my own enslavement spilled too far out of my own cup. I was in too much pain.

So, yes, your life- your sweet, courageous and most excellent life flashed before my eyes as my heart pedaled and pounded faster, and faster, racing to the finish line and if there was one thing I needed you to know from me, it is this: while I do not own you, you will always belong to me, and to your mother, and to God, and to the benevolence of this world.

And you know something, my most treasured, loved and reverent daughter…

you were worth dying for.

All my love,

Daddy

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the Loius C.K. predicament

"...but what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn't a question, it's a predicament for them."  - Louis C.K.

I didn't realize I had been searching for the word - the word for those times I wouldn't call rape and that were not exactly molestation. I'm a writer and I still couldn't find the word. But then, Luis C.K. (or someone on the committee who writes things like this) issued an apology and I found it; predicament.

I always just assumed that even outside of a consensual sexual encounter, when a man shows you his penis, you're supposed to do something with it; look at it, touch it, admire it... I believed this, I learned this, with my whole heart, so much so that I made it my love language. I don't remember how, but I remember where and I remember who.

I was fourteen when a family member put me in this predicament for the first time. And other men, including my boss, the husband of a family I worked for, and even a boyfriend, followed along over the years. Each time wondering if other people were seeing the things I was seeing. I wondered if it was normal to feel nauseous while watching someone masturbate. I wondered if it was normal to cry while giving head. (I still wonder that.)

How did you end up in those situations?

Did you secretly want this to happen?

Are you talking about this because everyone else is?

Are you overreacting just a bit?

Is everyone?

I know. I ask the same questions. It's okay.

It's just that that word predicament jumped out at me today. It's a word that describes all those really difficult, unpleasant and embarrassing situations many of us have found ourselves in, but it seemed silly, and even benign, to report. That thing that happened that was probably nothing to write home about, literally. Nothing to share with anyone who could and would have loved to help you. Those moments you knew, your whole body knew, that this can't be right;

this can't be the way I become more of myself; This can't be the way men show me love; This can't be the reason I question my own actions: did I lead him on? Did my eyes somehow say, 'show me your dick. You can jack off at me, on me.' What did I do? 

I'm not angry. This post isn't even about Louis C.K., or any of the other men, er- boys whom have suddenly - and quite publicly - learned a valuable lesson on how it's not okay to dehumanize people. I'm a little more relieved to have a word, because, words are powerful.

The truth is, these men have been exposing us to them in ways that were seemingly innocent are or at least really hard to prosecute. But now, women (and men!) are finding their voice, finding words to expose these men, to feel a little more human, to move from, "what are you gonna do with this dick?" to, "what are we gonna do with this preDICKament.?"

...and the fat closed in around the sword

"Okay. There is no right way to say this..."

I stayed on the surface of my best friend's opening words just long enough to contemplate darting out of the ocean-front restaurant, jumping into the water and dying. But that would have been too easy, and I don't do easy things. Plus, I hate the sand. So instead, I stared into Laura's eyes as she continued on, bracing myself, hoping and praying she wouldn't say the thing...

"I love you and I can tell that you are miserable. I'm so sorry."

I've been here before - that sinking, paralyzing, infuriating stab to the gut when someone spells out our demons. It's the one that makes us feel seen, too seen. Found out. Held tighter than we're comfortable with. And even though it was said with such love, my body reacted the same way it does when I've heard things like:

 "No, actually, you're failing Pre-Algebra.",  "Your checking account balance is minus one hundred forty-five dollars" "I don't have feelings for you anymore", "We've offered the position to someone else..."

I sank into the padded chair, and I felt a nudge from deep in my bones that said, stay. It'll all be okay. Just listen...

I haven't known how to tell you, and I'm so sorry if this is hurtful. Even your breathing is different, I can hear the heaviness. I love you at ANY size, and yet I can see you're in a lot of pain in your body. I can see it in your eyes.
And I don't think you're in recovery from your eating disorder, I think you're in the thick of your eating disorder."

I could feel my face run white. My finger tips, numb. And my heart, already so heavy, heavier. I heard the planet crack, or maybe it was just my knuckles as I yanked them, looking for some relief while my spirit suddenly felt so small and my body felt so big, too big. And yet, I sat. And listened deeply. It doesn't take much for me to cry, so I went ahead and did that.

The thing is, when something, especially words, pierces the body, all of its resources rush to the wound like a pack of detectives. Blood and fat cells gather round, collecting information on mini notepads, asking things like, what do we got? How long has she been like this? Someone grab a blanket to keep her warm. It's like a committee - the committee dedicated to the healing and restoration of my body and my soul. Each of us as one, and sometimes is takes a friend to call them in from eating donuts in the 7-Eleven parking lot. (Thank you, Laura). 

So my friends and readers and students and someone who knows someone who knows someone who stumbled upon this blog, I am Erica Jacobs; a Yoga Teacher, Essential Oil Educator, Eating Psychology Counselor and freakishly funny woman, struggling with an eating disorder. I don't want to be alone in this, so as long as my publishing my recovery doesn't hinder my healing, I have chosen to share my journey on the interwebs.

I thank you for being a part of this committee who closes in tight to help set me free.

Grace and Peace,

Erica