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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I am not your fat yoga teacher

I'm not your fat yoga teacher
I'm not your curvy
plus size
body-positive
Instagram-envelope-pushing
guru.
I don't want to be
your daughter's
niece's
sister's
or
your
role model.
I am not your fat yoga teacher
no matter how much better
you feel on your mat
because of my size.
We're not playing that game.
I'm not playing this game.
The game where
you look at me
and you think,
I'll give her a complement
I'll tell her how much better I feel
on my mat
because she's not
like
your typical "anorexic" yoga teacher.
That is NOT a complement.
That is NOT love.
That is NOT yoga.
Suppose
my body changes
like all bodies do
and suddenly I no longer
look the way you need me to look
in order to feel like you belong
on your mat.
You're playing with fire.
You're only hurting yourself.
See
this is the damage we cause
ourselves
each other
ourselves
each other
me
you
me.
I am not
your fat yoga teacher.
I am
Erica Jacobs.

3 Things I Ask of You, God, Now That I'm 30

Lord, God, Shiva, Yaweh, whomever is in the office today-

Hustle my shizzle and deliver me to where it's best. K?

Bring me to where I am of the most use.

Yes'm Jesus, life, cosmic intelligence, Milky Way Magic Unicorn energy,

take the wheel.

Steer me, on purpose, and ask me -

ask me what I want.

Say, 'what are 3 things you ask of me, Erica'

Go on. Do it. Please.

I want

you to let me:

LOVE

I want

You to let me

SERVE

I want

You to let me

REMEMBER...

Let me LOVE - 

I want to be specific and thoughtful with my love, God. Real, true, sincere, inconvenient-at-times love for myself and my brothers and my sisters.

Pure love. I ask that my love be pure. I want my love to be so pure and unadulterated that I have an easy, maybe even joyful, time letting things and people, go. I want the way I love to be easily recognizable - a landmark for people. A place they can call home.

God, I want to want love. I want to want love so bad that I can convincingly act like I need it. Because I do. I want to be loved, and I know I'm powerful and I don't want to hurt anybody. Okay?

God, I basically want to marry Pure Love. I want to fuck Pure Love. I want Pure Love to fuck me, back.

And I want to come.

more than once.

every day.

Let me SERVE -

Allah, Almighty, Sister...

Just let me serve the people. I want to do that thing YOU do, where I can be of service without feeling as though my well is running dry. How do I do that?

And I want to keep rubbing oils on all the people, God. I want to remind them, with my hands, that there is such a thing as good touching. Appropriate touching. That it is not taboo. That we all need it.

Unicorn Spirit, I ask that you let me serve with

strong boundaries,

a firm spine,

a discerning heart.

I have a hunch, that over-generosity is a reflection of lack of self-worth. I ask that you show me whether or not there is truth in that.

Let Me REMEMBER -

Sparkly Absolute Being, Your Holiness, Bro...

I ask you to let me remember. Remembering is very different than not forgetting. Remembering is a verb. I want to verb the crap out of that bitch.

When I feel hungry, I want to remember all the times I have been fed.

When I feel abandoned, I want to remember all the times I have not, in fact, been abandoned.

When I feel really, really lost, let me remember that time my friend saw me in a crowded place and said, "Thank God I found you." Yeah, don't forget to let me remember that one, God.

3 Things I Ask of You, God, Now that I'm 30 -

Let me Love.

Let me Serve.

Let me Remember.

Amen. Om shanti. Shalom. Thanks. Bye Felicia!

Custody of the Heart: A Letter To the Parent Really Missing Their Children on Thanksgiving

photo by Daiga Ellaby

photo by Daiga Ellaby

Dear Mommy or Daddy, 

I could see how painful it was for you to say goodbye to me today, knowing we will not be spending Thanksgiving together this year. I know how much you each care about me, and there are some things I'd like you to know...

I want you to know it's hard for me, too. No matter how old I get, I will always long for my family to be together for the holidays. I will always wish away the separateness. And the anxiety. And the tension.

The hardest part, for me, is knowing how lonely and sad you might feel without me. I don't like when you are sad. Please don't be sad. Promise me that you will call your friends and not spend Thanksgiving alone. I don't want you to be alone.

Maybe I'm too young to know this, but there is a fine line between what will damage you and what will heal you. Please let your Thanksgiving without me be something that will heal you- heal you from the loss of how our Thanksgivings used to be, as a family. Let this Thanksgiving be joyful, one that you can't wait to tell me about, the next time I see you!

Since I will be with my "other side" of the family, and because divorce is so tricky and complicated, I know I might overhear some things about you that aren't nice. But I want you to know that I know the truth. I know the truth about who you are and where I come from. I am so grateful for you.

I know you want me to have a good time and not feel bad, so I'll do just that. I will eat and play and giggle and get into trouble with my cousins. I will look at the finished turkey and remember how you like to take polaroids of your finished, cooked-to-perfection turkeys, because you feel so proud when its done. I will remember how you write the year on the polaroid: "Thanksgiving Turkey, '92". It'll be a little secret I can have a laugh about. Thank you for doing things that make me think if you when I'm not with you. 

I really, REALLY want you to know that while you may not have custody of my physical company today, you have custody of my heart. I mean, you helped to create it. And it's so strong, strong enough to know that there are many kinds of families. Unique in their own way. BOY! Are we unique! (And a little whacky.)

We will get through this, because Thanksgiving is both just another day AND everyday. And this is what our family is meant to look like. I mean, after all, birds have to fly, fish have to swim, Cookie Monster's gotta eat whatever the hell he eats and you have to share your time with me. It's really that simple. 

Most importantly, I want you to remember that, deep down, we're still a family. I am deeply loved and wanted and looked after. This, I know for sure. 

Happy Thanksgiving, I love you!

 

A note from Erica:

I do remember. I remember the look on each of my parents' face when it was time for one to take custody of me over a long weekend or a holiday. My heart ached for the parent that would be without me and I wanted to always make sure they would be okay. 

ivorced or separated parents, my heart goes out to you, this holiday season, as many of you share custody, where a piece of paper determines where your child will spend their time. 

Please know two things:

1. You are the EXACT parent you are meant to be today

2. Your children are okay. And if they're not, they will be...

May Grace & Peace be with you and your unique & dynamic family <3