October 10, 2020

Dear Teachers,

I know this letter is long overdue and most likely a little too late, but I had to send it anyway.

I am writing to tell you that I am sorry. I am sorry for not protecting you. I am sorry for not marching for you. I am sorry for not showing you how much you mean to me. I am sorry that I continuously put you in danger.

I could make excuses and say that things have been rough for me as well, but I know that it would be just excuse. You deserve better. You deserve to feel special and valued.

I want to tell you that I will change and do better, but I don't know if I know how. Maybe I don't know how to love. Maybe I don't know how to take care of you. Maybe you're right, and I will never change. But I hope you're wrong. I hope that I can show you that I am worthy of your trust. I hope that by watching you, I can learn how to be better for both of us.

I hope that you will stick it out with me. There is no me without you. But I will understand if you need to walk away. No one would blame you. You have to take care of yourself first.

Thank you for having faith in me for this long. I'm sorry that I let you down.


United States of America


July 18, 2020

"Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America."

Rep. John Lewis
February 21, 1940 - July 17, 2020

It was January 21, 2017. The weekend of the inauguration of Donald Trump. The weekend where millions of outraged citizens took to the streets for the Women’s March.

I wasn’t planning to go. In Atlanta it was pouring rain, but my friend convinced me that I needed to be there. So I dragged myself out of bed and headed downtown. As the speeches began, I felt myself getting antsy. I’m not a big fan of crowds, and the constant rain didn’t help. But then, Rep. John Lewis came to the stage. Trump had just made racist remarks about Lewis and District 5 a few days before, so to see him there was heartwarming and empowering. I had never heard him speak in person, and I couldn’t believe that I was getting the opportunity to experience a legend of the civil rights movement with my own eyes and ears. I didn’t take any photos while he was speaking because I wanted to feel his words in my heart. He didn’t speak for very long, but it was enough.

See, I live in Atlanta. I have lived in Atlanta at 3 separate times in my life. Atlanta is my home. On top of that, I live in District 5. I have lived in District 5 for the past 13 years. John Lewis is my congressman. He represents me.

At the most recent primary election, I stood in line for 4 hours to make sure that I cast my vote for John Lewis. He represents me. I need you to understand that.

This photo is the one I took that day. It is him leaving the podium to head to the front of the march. To lead us. He was a man of the people. His people. Always. The world will miss him. Atlanta will miss him dearly. District 5, my district, will miss him most of all.

Rest well, sir. We will take it from here.


June 10, 2020

Please be advised that this video contains explicit language.

If you haven't seen the video above with the powerful words of Kimberly Jones, I don't know where you have been. This viral video has been all over social media and even made it onto Oprah's Where Do We Go From Here and John Oliver's Last Week Tonight. I've watched it over and over again, and I am inspired and touched every time.

As I watched it again today, I realized that not only is Ms. Jones speaking to our hearts, but she is also educating us about the experiences and history of Black folks in America. So I thought I would take a stab at providing resources for those interested in digging deeper into some of the points she made.

01:42 - Let's ask ourselves why in this country in 2020 the financial gap between poor Blacks and the rest of the world is at such a distance that people feel like their only hope and only opportunity to get some of the things that we flaunt and flash in front of them all the time is to walk through a broken glass window and get it.

  • State Poverty Rates by Race/Ethnicity

  • Feeding America - "African American households have significantly lower household incomes than white, non-Hispanic households. African Americans are also more than twice as likely to face hunger. "

  • Worlds Apart: Inequality between America’s Most and Least Affluent Neighborhoods - "From 1990 to 2010, inequality in the United States increased in many ways. This report shows that the income, wealth, and educational attainment of residents in the most privileged neighborhoods in the United States escalated rapidly over these two decades. Meanwhile, residents of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods gained little; many of these neighborhoods grew poorer. "

  • Reconstruction in America: Racial Violence after the Civil War, 1865-1876 - "EJI presents this report to provide context and analysis of what happened during this tragic period of American history and to describe its implications for the issues we face today. We believe our nation has failed to adequately address or acknowledge our history of racial injustice and that we must commit to a new era of truth-telling followed by meaningful efforts to repair and remedy the continuing legacy of racial oppression."

02:45 - And I'm so glad that I got an opportunity as a child to spend time at PUSH where they taught me this.

  • Rainbow PUSH Coalition - "RPC was formed in December 1996 by Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through the merging of two organizations he founded earlier, People United to Serve Humanity (PUSH, 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Oakland, we work to make the American Dream a reality for all our citizens and advocate for peace and justice around the world. We are dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless."

02:57 - We came to do the agricultural work in the South and the textile work in the North.

  • Slavery in New York - "For most of its history, New York has been the largest, most diverse, and most economically ambitious city in the nation. No place on earth has welcomed human enterprise more warmly. New York was also, paradoxically, the capital of American slavery for more than two centuries."

  • How Slavery Became the Economic Engine of the South: "With cash crops of tobacco, cotton and sugar cane, America’s southern states became the economic engine of the burgeoning nation. Their fuel of choice? Human slavery."

03:11 - If I right now decided that I wanted to play Monopoly with you and for 400 rounds of playing Monopoly I didn't allow you to have any money. I didn't allow you to have anything on the board. I didn't allow you to have anything.

03:28 - And then we played another 50 rounds of Monopoly and everything that you gained and you earned while you were playing that round of Monopoly was taken from you. That was Tulsa. That was Rosewood.

  • Black Wall Street and the Destruction of an Institution: "Black Wall Street was in Greenwood, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa, was the type of community that African Americans are still, today, attempting to reclaim and rebuild. Black Wall Street was modern, majestic, sophisticated and unapologetically Black. Tragically, it was also the site of one of the bloodiest and most horrendous race riots (and acts of terrorism) that the United States has ever experienced."

  • 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre - "The 1921 Attack on Greenwood was one of the most significant events in Tulsa’s history. Following World War I, Tulsa was recognized nationally for its affluent African American community known as the Greenwood District. This thriving business district and surrounding residential area was referred to as Black Wall Street. In June 1921, a series of events nearly destroyed the entire Greenwood area."

  • Rosewood massacre a harrowing tale of racism and the road toward reparations - "On New Year’s Day 1923 a white woman was beaten and residents of Sumner, Florida, claimed her assailant was black – which sparked race riots where the casualties were mostly black and hate wiped out a prosperous town."

  • Rosewood Heritage and VR Project: "This website showcases ongoing research into the community of Rosewood, Florida – a majority African American town destroyed during a 1923 race riot. This project draws on archaeology, documentary research, oral history, and interactive media (VR) to investigate the history of Rosewood and share it with as wide an audience as possible."

  • Books:

03:55 - Not only do you not get to play. You have to play on behalf of the person you're playing against. You have to play and make money and earn wealth for them, and then you have to turn it over to them.

  • The Clear Connection Between Slavery and Capitalism - "The slave economy of the southern states had ripple effects throughout the entire U.S. economy, with plenty of merchants in New York City, Boston, and elsewhere helping to organize the trade of slave-grown agricultural commodities—and enjoying plenty of riches as a result."

  • How Slavery Became America’s First Big Business - "Of the many myths told about American slavery, one of the biggest is that it was an archaic practice that only enriched a small number of men. "

04:33 - Now at this point the only way you're gonna catch up in the game is if the person shares the wealth, correct? But what if every time you shared the wealth then there's psychological warfare against you to say, "Oh, you're an equal opportunity hire."

05:08 - So when they say, "Why do you burn down the community? Why do you burn down your own neighborhood?" It's not ours. We don't own anything. We don't own anything.

  • The Segregation Myth: Richard Rothstein Debunks an American Lie: video

  • Kicked off the Land - "Between 1910 and 1997, African-Americans lost about ninety per cent of their farmland. This problem is a major contributor to America’s racial wealth gap; the median wealth among black families is about a tenth that of white families."

  • The Truth Behind ’40 Acres and a Mule’ - "After all, one of the principal promises of America was the possibility of average people being able to own land, and all that such ownership entailed. As we know all too well, this promise was not to be realized for the overwhelming majority of the nation’s former slaves, who numbered about 3.9 million."

  • Systemic Inequality: Displacement, Exclusion, and Segregation - "Homeownership and high-quality affordable rental housing are critical tools for wealth building and financial well-being in the United States. Knowing this, American lawmakers have long sought to secure land for, reduce barriers to, and expand the wealth-building capacity of property ownership and affordable rental housing. But these efforts have almost exclusively benefited white households; often, they have removed people of color from their homes, denied them access to wealth-building opportunities, and relocated them to isolated communities."

  • Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America - "Mapping Inequality brings one of the country's most important archives to the public. HOLC's documents contain a wealth of information about how government officials, lenders, and real estate interests surveyed and ensured the economic health of American cities. And with the help of ongoing research, we continue to learn at what cost such measures were realized."

  • Infographic: Fifty years after Fair Housing Act, segregation persists: "Formal segregation, including the practice of redlining entire neighborhoods with large nonwhite populations as too 'risky' for the approval of housing loans, may be illegal, but more subtle barriers to integration remain."

05:21 - Trevor Noah said it so beautifully last night. There's a social contract that we all have. That if you steal or if I steal then the person who is the authority comes in and they fix the situation. But the person who fixes the situation is killing us. So the social contract is broken.

06:24 - And they are lucky that what Black people are looking for is equality and not revenge.

  • Black Lives Matter - #BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.

  • Color of Change - Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by 1.7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.

  • Books

*Please feel free to contact me if you would like to see additions made to any resource list, you think something is incorrect, or you have a better citation.


June 2, 2020

Every Black person I know has a story. That means whether you know it or not, every Black person you know has a story.

This is mine.

The summer after my freshman year in college I interned at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. Part of the reason I took that position was because I was a NASA scholar, which required that I conduct research every summer. The other, and if I'm being honest more pressing reason, was for my boyfriend who would also be out on Long Island that summer. He was a student at Morehouse. I was a student at Spelman.

One evening he was driving me home. We stopped at a convenience store to grab a soda. It had been a fun night. As we got in the car, we saw 5 police cars speeding into the parking lot. We looked around but didn’t really pay it much attention…until we realized that they were surrounding our car.

They were there for us.

They yelled at us to get out of the car. They separated us. As they questioned my boyfriend, they sat me on the sidewalk. They asked me how well I knew him. They asked me if I trusted him. They spoke to me as though they were the ones I should be trusting. They searched the car. They searched him. I sat there helpless. In shock. They thought we had robbed the fast food restaurant next door. He “fit the description”. After an hour of humiliation they let us go. As we gathered ourselves and prepared to drive away, one of the officers pulled up beside us and said to my boyfriend, “You owe her a nice dinner for this.”

That was in 1993. I was 18 years old. I was lucky…in a lot of ways. I was lucky that I made it to 18 without having experienced racial profiling by the police. I was lucky that on that night in Long Island a cop wasn’t scared by a movement made by my boyfriend. I was lucky that he and I didn’t end up in jail.

I was lucky that we didn’t end up dead.

I think about that night often. It has forever changed me. Every time I hear the story of a Black person being killed as they try to live their lives, I think about that night. I pray, and then I grieve. This weekend, when I saw the video of the Spelman and Morehouse students being dragged from their cars, tazed and arrested, it all came flooding back. The tears of 27 years of pain came pouring out. The reminder that my life is not valued.

I don’t tell you this story for you to ask me if I’m ok. I’m not. I don’t tell you this story for you to ask me if I want to talk about it. I don’t. Your sympathy is not what I seek. I tell you this story so that you can never say that you don’t know anyone impacted by this disease we call racism. This disease we call police brutality.

To the white folks our there I say to you, this is not a black problem. This is a white problem that is killing black people.

Say something.
Do something.



May 27, 2020

love is an action, not a feeling

bell hooks
all about love

It's so interesting that when you speak an intention out into the universe, the universe sends you all of these signs confirming that you are focusing on the right things. I decided on Monday that I was going to focus on love this week. Tuesday, the world came crashing down...again. The news of Christian Cooper and George Floyd reinforce that we are in times of true hatred, and I know that only love brings light at the end of the tunnel.

love is an action, not a feeling

We always talk about love in terms of who or what we love and how we feel about that person or thing. But this reminded me that love, actual, real love, is the action that caused that feeling. As educators, we know this. When we use "positive reinforcement" with our students, we often use the language of love. We say, "I love that you are..." If we're trying to get our class settled down, we might call out a student by saying, "Stacy, I love that you have your books out and are ready to work." We are showing that we understand that love is an action. We don't just say, "Stacy, I love you." We show our appreciation by stating what we love about the actions that Stacy is taking.

love is an action, not a feeling

As a Black woman living in the United States, I ask myself, "What action has this country taken to make me believe that it loves me?" I draw a blank. There is much evidence of the contrary, so what am I left to think. There is no love without action. But I also must turn that same spotlight on myself. Am I showing love for myself? What action am I really taking that shows the love I have for myself?

love is an action, not a feeling

So take a moment here. Place your dominant hand on your heart center in the middle of your chest. In yoga the heart center, anahata, represents the seat of the soul. It's where all that we know to be truly lives. Press your hand into your heart to truly connect with the core of who you are.


Now take your other hand and lay it across that dominant hand.


As you continue to breathe, ask yourself, "What do I love about myself?" Then listen.


What came up for you? Not trying to force an answer, just being honest about what came up for you. Now ask yourself, "What is the action that shows that love?" Continue to listen.


It's perfectly alright if you don't have an answer to that second question. It's alright if you don't have an answer to the first question. The simple act of asking the questions moves you a little bit closer to the answers. Sometimes we can answer the first question. We know what we love about ourselves. But we're not sure how we're showing it. What can be helpful is thinking about the action you would show to another person. How do you show someone that you love them? What are the actions that you take to show them all of the things that you love about them? Those are the actions that you must show yourself. We often give out more love to others than we give to ourselves. But we know that if we are only giving and not allowing ourselves to receive from others and ourselves, we will eventually run empty and not have anymore love to give.

love is an action, not a feeling

So when the actions of the world continuously make you question it's love for you, remind yourself of all of the things you love about yourself. And not just with words and feelings, but with actions.

*Thanking to India Arie, Sonya Renee Taylor and Anasa Troutman for the wonderful Wellness of We webinar that brought this definition of love to my attention.


May 13, 2020

the distance between
the past and the future
is the present

I decided for this week that we should continue our intention of distance. I felt like last week was just the beginning of exploring this big idea. It's such a prevalent part of our lives right now that I thought it deserved a little bit more time.

As I transitioned into how I wanted to think about distance this week, I really thought about the physical distance we're all experiencing. I live alone, so I'm spending a lot more time alone than I normally do, and I find that I go through phases. I don't know if you've experienced this as well, but in the beginning I felt relief. I loved that I finally had some alone time...time to just be with myself. The next phase was feeling despair and anxiety, not knowing how long self-quarantine would last. Wondering when I would get to see my family and friends.

Now I've settled in to this evenness and calm.

It's not excitement about being in the house or panicking about it either. It's this in between of acceptance of where we are and knowing that we're here for a reason. Of course I know that the distance we're experiencing and have created serves an obvious purpose. Social distancing serves an obvious purpose in terms of protecting our health, but it also serves a deeper purpose of reminding us of the value of relationships. We can sometimes take the people in our lives for granted. Especially those that live close to us that we can see on a regular basis. But when you are really somebody, but can not be in their physical presence it brings a very different appreciation.

For example, I live about 4 miles from my parents. I've lived in other cities far from them, and I definitely missed them when I was away, but it's different when you know that there are hundreds of miles between you. What I've noticed over these weeks is that there's a different missing when my parents are right down the street, and I cannot be in their physical presence. So that's the distance that I've been sitting with this week. How do I find calm and acceptance? How do I find stillness when there are people in my proximity that I love that I cannot be around.

That's where meditation is useful. When I find myself going into those moments of panic, I try to catch myself and breathe. Because if I'm able to take a few breaths and find stillness, then I can notice that as with everything this too shall pass. This will not last forever. This moment will be in the past at some point. If I can find stillness it brings me out of my anxiety and into my body. Then I'm able to move and work that anxiety out through my yoga. And then I can make it through to the next moment. It's all about progressing from one moment to the next moment.

the distance between
the past and the future
is the present

This is the only thing that we have control over. So I have found that having strategies for bringing myself back into the moment and back into my body is critical to my mental health.


May 6, 2020

the distance between
the past and the future
is the present

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! I posted an article on my twitter that talks about how we've been giving all of this credit (rightfully so) to people in the medical field such as first responders, but teachers are first responders as well so we need to appreciate and love on them as much as we do our medical professionals. So even though you're not here with me, I am sending love to you, and I hope you can feel it.

Our intention this week is distance. As always, I think about where we are, what I'm experiencing and what comes up for me when I'm still. I realized we haven't talked about distance, a word that's being spoken every day. Whether you call it social distancing or physical distancing, we are all being asked to distance ourselves from one another and that can be challenging for lots of different reasons. Whether you are in a household full of people or a household alone, there are challenges to both. One of the things I've been thinking about a lot lately is that my parents live here in Atlanta, and this is the longest I've ever gone without seeing my parents while living so close to them. It's a very different feeling when you're so close to someone, yet can't go to see them than when you live far away. We have FaceTime and all of the other methods for video chatting, but there's something different, a different energy, that comes from being in the physical presence of a loved one. So there's all of those types of distancing that we're experiencing.

But there's another kind of distance that I want us to explore, which is the distance of time. The phrase that came to me as I was reflecting on this topic was:

the distance between
the past and the future
is the present

We're always saying to ourselves, "What can I learn from the past to inform my future?" But the only thing that we actually have control of is the present moment. We have to make sure that we are acknowledging and embodying ourselves in every single moment. Because the only way to get from the past to the future is through this moment right here.

I know that in Georgia we're starting to wrap up the school year. We're starting to turn our eyes toward the future. We're starting to focus our attention on what will happen when we return in the fall. All of that is really important. Planning and being prepared are really important. At the same time, we still have this moment. Our kids are still in this moment. So we have to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves and our students in THIS moment so that we are all prepared for the next moment.

I always try to remind myself that every little thing that I do, every degree of movement that I make in this moment, is what propels me forward to the future that I'm trying to get to. So I encourage you to, as much as you can, stay in this moment. During meditation, the breath helps us to stay in this moment. As we focus on the breath, it keeps us inside of our bodies and in this moment. Helping us to acknowledge and appreciate the moment that we are in. The same thing happens when we move into our vinyasa flow. We connect our breath to our movement, which helps us to stay connected to the moment that we're in. It takes a lot of concentration to move with the breath as opposed to the breath doing one things and the body another. When the breath and the body are not in sync, that's when the mind starts to go in all different directions.

So as you move through your practice and into your life, remind yourself that this moment is what truly matters. The actions of this moment bridge the distance (that can often feel huge) of space and time that carry us to the future we so desperately seek.


April 29, 2020

without mud
there is no lotus

Thich Nhat Hanh

The intention that we're focusing this week is allow. As I do with all of our intentions, I thought a lot about what would follow last week's intention of surrender. Last week was all about looking inward. In our yoga classes we did a lot of work with our heart chakra and listening to our inner selves. Listening to what our inner selves were telling us that we need to let go of. So it came to me that I've made all of this space. I've let go of all of these things that no longer serve me.

What do I now want to allow to come into that space?

Whether it's that I let go of expectations for what I supposedly was going to accomplish during self-quarantine, or if I let go of the expectation that I have to do certain things every day or be productive every day. What can I now allow into that space? That could be rest. Maybe I need to allow more rest into my life. Maybe I need to allow more meditation into my life. Maybe I need to allow more time for contemplation in my life. Whatever that thing is, that's what we focus on this week. So Thich Nhat Hanh's quote about the lotus speaks to the intention of allow for me.

without mud
there is no lotus

You have to go through the dirtiness. You have to go through the grief. You have to go through all of the pain in order to see the beauty. We've done that. We've done that in our practice over the last few weeks.

We had an intention of grief where we sat with and acknowledged the grief that we may be experiencing at this time in our lives. We allowed ourselves to feel that grief so that we could surrender to it and let go of it so that we are no longer prisoners of that grief. Unfortunately, what often happens is that people end up in a cycle of grief and surrender. I'm upset about something and then I let it go. Then I'm upset about something else, and I let it go. But there's a key component, which is the lotus that he speaks about. The lotus, this beautiful flower, is the reward for going through the grief. It's the reward for acknowledging and feeling all of those things and letting go of them. That's what I think of as the allow. We've made space for something beautiful to come into our lives. We have to actually allow that to happen. We have to be open to receiving.

So last week was all about closing in. In our yoga practice we did a lot of bowing in. This week is all about opening out. How do we open ourselves out so that we can receive what we really want and allow that to come into our lives? So often we think that we are open and asking the universe for beautiful things, but if you are constantly experiencing pain and suffering it may be that you've gotten into a cycle of expecting that.

If you expect it, you will receive it.

Good or bad. If you expect greatness, if you expect beauty, and allow yourself to be open to the possibility that those things can happen in your life, then the universe will send those things to you. So our meditation helps us to recenter ourselves. It gives us the opportunity to be still and quiet, so that we can really know what it is that we want to receive. I've made space by letting go of things that no longer serve me. What do I want to replace that pain? What is my lotus? What is my beauty? What is my joy?


April 22, 2020

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day!! Normally it's a day where people are out celebrating this earth that we stand upon...reconnecting ourselves to the earth. Unfortunately, we're in self-quarantine, but I think there's a lot of connection between us being in self quarantine and Earth Day.

This week I selected for our intention surrender. That's a big idea. It hits people very close to their hearts. As I was thinking what I wanted to say about surrender, I allowed myself to be still so that the message could be released out of me as opposed to me trying to pick and choose and figure out exactly what are the right words to say to help people understand the importance of letting go and surrendering into a moment. Out of that stillness the haiku at the top of the post came into my life.

we really don't know
how deep and wise the
heart's well
flows until we do

You've probably noticed that there are several times throughout a yoga practice where you are asked to bring your hands to your heart or bow towards your heart. That's because the heart chakra is the connection between the physical body (the lower chakras) and the spiritual body (the upper chakras). It's the seat of our soul. It's where the little i...the physical i who walks around on this earth every single day...meets the big I, whether that's the universe, God, your inner voice...whatever you consider that big I, that voice that guides you. All of that lives within our hearts. Everything that we know to be true in this world lives inside of our hearts. Everything that we know about what we should and should not be doing lives inside of our hearts.

we really don't know
deep and wise the heart's well
flows until we do

This is where surrender comes in. Are we able to take a moment to let go, find stillness, and dive deep into our hearts? My yoga teacher often asks us: How is your heart doing today? We know that if you ask the traditional question, "How are you doing today?" people move to the analytical and try to process and decode how they are feeling, or they move down to the physical and think about any aches or pains they may be feeling. But when we ask about your heart it takes you to a deeper place within yourself. It's asking you to listen to your inner voice and believe what it is telling you about what you are feeling. When we surrender to that voice by letting go of the mental and physical, we can hear whatever the universe is trying to say to us. We can flow with the message that the universe is trying to send us.

we really don't know
how deep and wise the heart's well
flows until we do

As educators, there's so much pressure on you to keep the teaching going. I've been talking to my educator friends, and I've been asking them what it means to be an educator right now. It has to mean so much more than the core content. It has to mean so much more than the standards. We have to let go of trying to replicate what used to happen in the school building. By holding on to the past, we are causing more pain and suffering in all of our lives. We continue to feel as though we're not doing enough. But we are enough. If we surrender into this moment. If we let go of all of the expectations of what should be and surrender into what is, then we can flow with the universe.

What does it mean to flow? It means to go with, not against, the stream. The universe is taking us somewhere. We don't yet know where that is. We don't yet know what the reason is. But if we surrender and let go of holding on and of hoping we'll get back to whatever normal is. If we flow with the moment, it will take us to right where we need to be.

So my hope for you is that through your meditation practice you will hear a message. You'll open up a little bit more to let go of whatever it is that is no longer serving you. You will hear the voice...your inner voice...tell you what you really need. Meditation gives us the opportunity to be still long enough to hear that voice. To learn just how deep and wise our hearts are. Then the physical asana practice of yoga...the flow...allows us to connect and understand how to take what we learn in stillness and hold onto it. So we can continue to listen to our hearts, even as we move off the mat.


April 15, 2020

Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen
to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,

how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer. She took
questions on how not to feel lost in the dark

After lunch she distributed worksheets
that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s

voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep
without feeling you had forgotten to do something else—

something important—and how to believe
the house you wake in is your home. This prompted

Mrs. Nelson to draw a chalkboard diagram detailing
how to chant the Psalms during cigarette breaks,

and how not to squirm for sound when your own thoughts
are all you hear; also, that you have enough.

The English lesson was that I am
is a complete sentence.

And just before the afternoon bell, she made the math equation
look easy. The one that proves that hundreds of questions,

and feeling cold, and all those nights spent looking
for whatever it was you lost, and one person

add up to something.

Brad Aaron Modlin
What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade

This week's intention is manifest. Last week was grieve, so we were focused on feeling all the feelings of anything we were dealing with. Whether it had to do with the Coronavirus or not. And this week is about how do we harness those feelings and manifest what we want for our lives. I'm a big nerd, so of course I looked up the meaning of manifest. There are several meanings depending on the context in which you're using the word, but there were two I thought would be interesting for this post.

manifest (/ˈmanəˌfest/)

(1) Display or show by one's acts or appearance; demonstrate.
(2) Be evidence of; prove.

These two definitions together were really interesting because the first is focused on you doing something, and then the other almost feels as though, although it's still a verb, like the result of manifesting.

So many of us focus on that second definition...the evidence or proof. I was on a call and I said, "I manifested this for myself." I was saying that what I was experiencing in that moment was the result or evidence that what I was displays...this moment is evidence of that. So we often focus on what comes at the end. We wanted something. We spoke it into the universe, and then we say we manifested that in our lives. But this definition reminds me that the manifestation starts at the very beginning.

What we are doing in every single moment is the manifestation.

It's not just at the end if you get the job or you get the partner or you win the money or whatever it is. That's just the end result of the manifestation. The manifestation was happening all along. With every single thing you were doing, you were manifesting whatever it was that was coming into your life: good or bad. The universe cannot differentiate within your thoughts what you want and what you don't want. All it knows is what you are constantly thinking about. What you are constantly putting out into the universe. If you are constantly thinking:

Please don't hurt me
Please don't hurt me
Please don't hurt me
Please don't hurt me

All the universe is hearing is hurt, hurt, hurt, hurt. This person is constantly focusing on hurt. The universe brings hurt into your life. You're manifesting that into your life.

So what does that have to do with being a teacher? The poem at the beginning of this post, is from a wonderful podcast Poetry Unbound. Of course, it's a poem about educators and the value of educators, but it's about so much more. It's about the things we teach that are behind what we are teaching. He talks about English class. He talks about math class. He's not talking about the core content. He's talking about all of those lessons we teach our students that are behind the math class and the English class. All of that stuff that's not in the standards. All of that stuff that you as your human selves are bringing to the classroom. And those are the things that you can continue to do whether you're on Zoom or face to face with your kids. When he writes:

and how not to squirm for sound when your own thoughts
are all you hear; also, that you have enough.

It reminds us that we are not only responsible for our own manifestations, but we also must help our students to understand and appreciate stillness and listening to the voice inside. The voice that speaks truth to them and helps them to differentiate between want and need. No matter their circumstance or situation...especially in this difficult moment, they are enough...they have enough. He goes on to write:

The English lesson was that I am
is a complete sentence.

How many of us need that constant reminder? You may be asking yourself, "What does it mean to say I am a teacher when class is not happening right now?" This poem reminds us that what we do for a living does not define who we are. We are because we are here. We are because we rise every day and face the challenges that life presents. Our students need that reminder as well.

As we continue to adjust to this new "normal," what are you manifesting for yourself? Where do you see your life and your teaching going? How does every moment show the evidence or proof of the life you want for yourself coming into focus?


April 8, 2020

you are living
you are breathing
perhaps a bit hurt
perhaps a bit pained
you are breathing
you are breathing
and that is enough to wake
the angels still living in your chest

Ijeoma Umebinyuo
from Questions for Ada

I thought a lot about what I wanted this week's intention to be. I try to think about what I'm going through. I try to think about what the educators in my circle are dealing with. I also try to think about what society is struggling with in general. What came to me over the weekend was the intention of grieve...mourning.

Many of us are struggling right now, and I don't mean struggling in the sense of physical or financial struggle, I mean emotional struggle. I saw a great post on Twitter that said:

We are not we not working from home.
We are in a crisis at home
trying to work.

For me those words captured what I have been feeling these last three weeks that I've been at home. We are expected to pretend as though we are fine, while secretly grieving for what we feel we lost. Whether it's that we feel as though we lost the opportunity to say goodbye to our students. There's a very special connection that teachers have with their students. You normally have a specific timeline for when that connection is going to come to an end. You have a way of processing that. You have a way of closing that connection at the end of the school year. You weren't able to do that this year. Many of you were not given any time to say a proper goodbye.

You also may be grieving your 2020 in general. You may be grieving all of those exciting plans you had for 2020. Many of you are on Spring Break right now and you may be grieving that vacation you were planning to take during Spring Break, or that New Year's resolution you made and now don't know how to keep.

You may be dealing with even more serious grieving. There are thousands of people in this country and around the world that have lost their lives to this virus. And one of those people may be somebody that you know and love, or maybe somebody that you know through somebody else, and you may be grieving the loss of that person.

It's important that we take a moment to actually grieve.

To actually acknowledge that there is loss in this moment that we are living. To not pretend that everything is as it normally (whatever that means) would be. To take a moment and feel, within our bodies, within our hearts and our spirits, the pain, the hurt, the anger, whatever it is that comes with grief for you. Because the only way we can move past grief...the only way we can begin to heal ourselves is to go through it.

You can't go around grief
You can only go through it.
And trying to go around it
Trying to pretend as though we're fine
Only prolongs it.

And then it begins to show up in other ways. As educators, we don't have the luxury to take the risk of it showing up in inappropriate ways. In showing up in anger or frustration with our students. So it's important we take the time to process that grief. To feel that grief. So that we can help our students through any grief they are feeling. We can create a container of safety for students to be able to process it in whatever way they process it. As a former teacher I know that children don't always process grief in the most appropriate ways. They lash out many times, and they often lash out at the people they feel most safe with, which is often their teachers. So they will get angry with you for the smallest things, but that's just grief and hurt showing up. And the only way we can know that is if we have already processed our own grief.

So how do we get through grief? One breath at a time. The poem at the top of this post is continually reminding me of that and reminding me of the power of meditation. It breathes us. It allows us to connect, once again, with our breath. That eternal breath that continues whether we try or not, and gives us a way to see the light at the end of this tunnel.


April 1, 2020

It's something you cultivate.
It's something you continue to work on.
It's something that gets tested.
It's something that some days it is harder than other days.

The intention that I'm focusing on this week is freedom. I thought it was really important because the name of my organization is the Practice Freedom Project, and I wanted to talk a little bit about why I chose that as the name and what freedom means to me.

I used to be a middle school math teacher. That's why teachers are so important to me because I've been there. I was also a middle school technology teacher. My heart is always in K-12 education, that's what I do. When I decided that I wanted to get my yoga teacher certification, I was really racking my brain.

What do you want to do with this?
Why is yoga so important?

And I reflected back on what yoga has done for me.

I was a teacher in NYC. My heart goes out to everyone in NYC right now. I was dealing with a lot of stress. Living in NYC is really stressful. It's wonderful, but it's also really stressful. I found that I was experiencing really bad vertigo. I tried a lot of things. I went to an ENT because often vertigo has to do with your inner ears. Long story short, a friend of mine at work introduced me to yoga. I had done yoga before, years prior, on videos, but I had never gone to an actual yoga class at a yoga studio. I fell in love as soon as I took that first class because it helped me to feel the power that is in my body, and how that translates into power in my life.

So what does that have to do with freedom? The motto that I chose for my organization is:

Freedom is a practice of which all are capable.

I chose that because it's really similar to yoga. Yoga is a practice. When you go to a yoga class, you say you're practicing yoga. It's something that you continue to cultivate inside of you. Meditation is the same thing. Meditation is a practice that you cultivate inside of you. I feel the exact same way about freedom. Freedom is a practice. It's not like you can just wake up one day and say, "Today I'm gonna be free."

It's something you cultivate.
It's something you continue to work on.
It's something that gets tested.
It's something that some days it is harder than other days.

So that's why I chose to name my organization the Practice Freedom Project, and why I want us to focus on freedom this week. The quote that I am reflecting on is from the physicist Richard Feynman (above). He actually posted it on his twitter, last week, and it has sat with my spirit ever since I saw it. To me, that quote exemplifies what it means to be free. Every day, you wake up, and you say:

Who do I want to be today?
Do I want to continue to be the same person I was yesterday?
Or do I want to take a tiny step in a new direction?

Think about it as if you're standing on a point on a circle. And you're looking out at your life. You can stay right on that point and continue to move forward in your life, or you can move one degree to the right. A little bit of freedom. And it might seem like the smallest thing. It might be that today I'm going to get up and do yoga. That's how I'm going to begin to exercise my freedom. For teachers, I know you are all teaching online. Your freedom could be that today you're gonna teach the curriculum for 45 minutes and then take the last 15 minutes and just talk to your kids and see how they are. Just exercise a little bit of freedom. Even though that might not be what you're supposed to be doing, it's what your kids need. That's what you need. A little bit of freedom. That's a degree move. But over time, where you will end up is going to be in a completely different place than where you were. So all it takes every day, every year, every hour is you deciding that you're going to be somebody different.

We are in a moment, especially in the field of education, where we can take the opportunity to transform transform this system that we all knew was pretty broken and try something new. Free ourselves from all of the restrictions that we have put on ourselves because we said, "What's happening in your building is different than what's happening in my building." The building is now gone. The universe has taken the building away. It has freed us of that. So what will we do with that freedom? For me meditation helps me to get in touch with all of that. When I sit and I'm still, I'm able to differentiate between the noise that I hear everyday. The noise that says continue doing what you're doing...follow the rules, and what my heart is really telling me to do. Then I move into my yoga practice, my physical practice, and that's where the spiritual and the heart connects with the physical. So if I had any doubt, I feel that strength that's in my body, and I know that I can move forth in my day.