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.?"

The Myth of Emotional Eating

I'll be brief and I'm not gonna sugarcoat this, because I love you. And I love me. And I've already spend years and years perfecting eating in shame, chronically dieting, binge eating and listening to everyone else, except me, when it came to my relationship with food. I've done all this, so you don't have to. You're welcome :)

If we ever hope to break free of food rules, diet culture and body image issues, we need to be willing to redirect and see things differently. Amen? 

I'm assuming (sorry) that somewhere, somehow, you learned from someone's Great Aunt Beverly that Emotional Eating is something to be avoided, ashamed of and even punished for. 

The act of putting a Milky Way or a Ding Dong (does anyone eat those anymore?)  in your face because you're stressed is somehow a reflection of who you are and how you have no discipline and you're ruining your life. 

First of all, it's not true. It's not true. Again, it's NOT true. 

The problem is not that we are emotional eaters; the problem is us confusing 'emotional eating' with 'shameful eating'. 

Let's explore the difference...

 

I AM AN EMOTIONAL EATER WHEN I...

* eat when I'm bored

* eat past the point of fullness because the meal taste so good

* eat when I'm not hungry, so that I don't miss out on family dinners or outings, where everyone else is eating

* think about food/plan my next meal while I'm eating a current meal or have just eaten

 

Now, watch for the subtle but distinct difference between

Emotional Eating and Shameful Eating:

 

I AM A SHAMEFUL EATER WHEN I...

* eat when I'm bored...and consider myself to be "bad" for it. 

* I eat past the point of fullness because the meal taste so good...and I feel compelled to exercise and burn off what I ate or I promise myself somewhere deep inside that I will never do this again. 

* I eat when I'm not hungry, so that I don't miss out on family dinners or outings, where everyone else is eating...and I end up bingeing because of my belief that if I eat when I'm not hungry I have failed intuitive eating/willpower/listening to my body perfectly. 

* I think about food/plan my next meal while I'm eating a current meal or have just eaten...and I am unable to find pleasure in my present meal. In fact, I feel distracted, displeased, anxious or irritable until my next meal. 

Friends. Not only is Emotional Eating not the enemy, it is NECESSARY, because food is love. It is comfort. It is meant to be pleasurable and deeply enjoyed- why else do we have taste buds?? It's like, why would we thousands have nerve endings on our genitalia if sex was ONLY meant for procreation?? It's the same. And also I wanted an excuse to mention sex stuff. 

Our relationship with food is complex and fascinating and infuriating and dazzling. Take my advice, just for today: (Did you even ask for my advice?) Be proud, so utterly proud, of your ability and your desire to eat with your emotions. To be connected to the earth, its bounty and the people who inhabit it, in such a special way. That's all you need to do today. 

You with me? Yikes? Hallelujah? Meh?

With love,

Erica 

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!