Leggo My Ego

In our yoga practice, we are always talking about letting things go. With each exhale we release things that don’t serve us, things that don’t align with our lives’ intentions. We try to let go of anger, and let go of fear. We let go of judgment. We let go of shame. We begin to let go of ego, and the idea that we are separate, all in an effort to move to that ultimate place of peace and contentment with what is. Acceptance of what is.

All the talk of letting go allows us to shed light on the things, people, and ideas to which we so desperately cling. Some of the things seem bigger and more important than others; our ideologies, opinions, allegiances. We cling to them and defend them. And some of them seem minor, our preferences, our daily choices. We hold these smaller things, perhaps more loosely.

But no matter how big or small they seem, they can all be released, and in the releasing we will learn something new and move closer to ease.

Over the past few years I have released so many things; ideas, beliefs, relationships, habits, addictions. I continue to release things on a daily basis, and with each breath. The most recent thing is my dark brown hair. All of my life I have been a brown haired girl, certainly not a gray haired one! But apparently that is no longer true. Not without a box of Nice ‘n’ Easy every five to six weeks.

I’ve been clinging to my denial long enough, and I’ve decided to let it go.

Currently there is a very obvious patch of silver on the top of my head. When I tie it back for a yoga class, it becomes even more pronounced. When I look in the mirror now I can see a future glimpse of what I will look like with a full head of salt and pepper.

I’m not scared! I can do this! I’ve already tackled wrinkles, and reading glasses. It’s actually much easier to let go than to hang on for dear life…

…though, for some reason, I find myself working it into conversations.

I will say something like: “I think I’m letting my hair go gray”, so that people will know that this is a conscious decision on my part, and so they won’t think that I’m just letting myself go.

Several times I found myself saying things like “I don’t want to use those chemicals any more” and “I’m not letting myself go, I’m actually taking better care of myself and practicing self acceptance.”

I’ve tried to convince people (without their provocation) that I’ve made a decision to gracefully go with the flow of age.

Which is exactly what I had decided to do. I let go of the dark haired girl that I was holding onto and I prepared myself for the natural evolution of things.

Why then did I feel the need to justify my decision? Why did I feel the need to explain myself to people? Is it important for me to have their approval? Am I afraid of the imaginary conversations happening behind my back?

”Have you seen Kim? First, she’s walking around town in her yoga clothes with no makeup on her face, and now this? With the gray hair? Wow, she’s really letting herself go!”

No, I’m not letting myself go. I am letting go of my ‘self”.

I’m letting go of the attachment that I have to my self as a brown haired person. I’m letting go of the need to justify my choices to other people.  I’m letting go of whatever society, my mother, my daughters might think about gray haired women and the definition of beauty. I’m letting go of my concern for how people will judge me as I move through this life. I’m letting go of my past insecurities and my fear of the future.  I’m letting go of the ego that gets in the way of ease and peace.

Maybe it’s not such a small thing after all. Maybe it’s not just the hair.  Every day, with every glance in the mirror and with every breath, I release a little bit more of my false sense of self. As I let my self go, I move closer to the real Self.

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Leggo my Ego by The Dead Milkmen

A Touch of Gray by the Dead

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The Moth and the Spider: A modern day fable

Last night I sat out on my deck and watched a big black spider weave a beautiful web. It was a 4’x5’, perfectly symmetrical work of art.

I sat and stared at the threads of crystal as they waved in the breeze and flickered in the dim light of the crescent moon. I watched the spider as she worked tirelessly, moving back and forth with focus, in a pattern that was fixed before it even began.

I marveled at the beauty of this creation.

This morning when I walked past the web some movement caught my eye. There, in the very center of the giant web was a large speckled moth. Struggling. Stuck. Caught.

He tried to get himself free, but with each flap of his wings he grew more and more tangled. His movements became slow and labored.

I stood and watched and wondered. What should I do? Should I save this beautiful creature and rob the spider of her meal, while rendering all of last night’s efforts useless? Should I allow her the rewards of her labor? Or should I spare this poor struggling moth his life?

I reached in with both hands for threads of the web on either side of the moth. I grabbed them to pull them apart, surprised by their strength and resistance. It took both hands for me to tear just one thread. And as I did the moth began to flap more feverishly, and one of his wings became completely covered in silk.

I began to doubt my decision as he hung from a tangle of thread, flapping one wing slowly. With a bit of a struggle I broke the other threads around him, and I lowered him to the ground. The weight of the silk on his wings kept him down, as he flapped and flipped around on the deck, moving in circles, unable to lift off.

Was he going to die there, on the ground?  Had I robbed the spider of her meal only to have the moth die anyway? And die in vain? Had I robbed him of his dharma? Was this his purpose?  Should I have left him there and merely observed the course of nature?

After a few minutes there on the deck his wings became visibly lighter, and his movements quicker. Soon he was slowly lifting off of the ground.  He flew out into the yard, slightly worse for the wear, and perhaps with a cautionary tale to tell.

Still torn by my decision, I am relieved for the moth.
But tonight, I will apologize to the spider.

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I Need a Hero

So, Caitlyn Jenner received an ESPY award for courage. Of course, some people are disappointed with this decision. There are memes all over the internet comparing her to war veterans, police, firefighters. They are saying that she didn’t deserve the award because she isn’t courageous. She is not a hero.

A hero is a person who exhibits qualities that we admire, qualities like courage. A hero has the courage to carry on in the face of adversity, to stand up for what is right, to overcome social or physical obstacles, to lay down their lives for others.

But not all courage is that dramatic.

I have known some heroes. My dad was my hero, for most of my life. And now that he is gone, my mom is the courageous one; coming face to face with the other side of grief, moving through the world on her own, stepping out of her comfort zone a bit more each year. Heroic.

So many single parents I know are courageous; living from check to check,
struggling to take care of their kids, not knowing if they can put food on the table or pay the rent. Heroic.

Friends I know who battle depression are courageous. For them, just getting out of bed and getting dressed are acts of bravery some days. Heroic.

All of the teachers that I know are courageous; quietly huddled in corners during lockdowns, ready to do anything they have to in order to keep our children safe. Heroic.

Recovering addicts are courageous. Going out into the real world, and coping without slipping takes great courage and determination. One day at a time. Heroic.

Every single gay kid and trans kid who comes out is courageous; living their true authentic life, regardless of what society, or their churches, or even their own families believe. Heroic.

The world has room for all sorts of courage, all sorts of heroes. And it needs more and more.

Yes, of course, people who put on uniforms and prepare themselves to serve, protect and defend others are courageous. They know that at any moment they could lose their lives in the line of duty, yet they continue to do what they do, bravely. They are truly heroic.
But sometimes it’s not about having the courage to die.

Sometimes it’s about having the courage to live.

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The Real True Actual Secret Way to Get a Yoga Body for Free (in 5 easy steps*)

Everyone on the Internet is talking about their ‘Yoga Body”.

This is my yoga body! This is me in tree pose!  Look at me in my headstand on the beach! Here I am in crow on a mountain! And how about my pigeon pose in the park?

Yogis, yogis everywhere!

Personally, I’ve been pleased to see a number of round bodied, curvy yogis and so called “fat femmes” making their way onto more and more yoga web pages lately.

Some of my chubby sisters may be on the magazine pages too now, but I don’t know because I’ve cancelled all of my subscriptions. I cancelled them because they were perpetuating the promise of long and lean in order to make money.

Now, perhaps they’ll try to back peddle (pun intended). Once they realize that it is more profitable to preach that yoga is for every kind of body, we may start to see other sizes and shapes on their pages.

Oh, I’m sure they will continue to publish weight loss ads and they won’t stop endorsing clothing companies that only cut cloth up to a size 12. Because, let’s face it, if we start to actually believe that we are good enough, right now, just the way we are, we won’t have to buy anything.

They don’t want you to know the secret. The real true actual secret way to get a yoga body… for free!

And just to spite all of those magazines, I am going to tell you how to get a yoga body in 5 easy steps*.

Are you ready? Pay close attention.

1. Roll out a yoga mat
2. Lie down on the mat, flat on your back with your eyes closed.
3. Take 5 long, deep, slow breaths.
4. Relax everything and just breathe.
5. You now have a yoga body.

*Steps 1-4 are optional.

Namaste.

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Pits of Despair

Look at her!
Who told her she could wear that?
Oh my god.
What was she thinking?
Who lets her go out of the house like that?

Doesn’t she feel uncomfortable?
Doesn’t she have a mirror? 

(Yes, she does. She has the best mirror of all
It’s not made of glass
It is unbreakable
It’s not the mirror of a lover that showers her with compliments
It is a mirror made of her own I-don’t-give-a-shitness.
She owns it
She carries it with her
No one forced her to cover it up with cloth
No one told her to keep it to herself
No one shushed it out of her
Shamed it out of her
Embarrassed it out of her
Brainwashed it out of her
Blamed it out of her
Ridiculed it out of her
Objectified it out of her
Oppressed it out of her
Abused it out of her
Beat it out of her.
Or maybe they did.

Maybe someone did.
And she had to fight to get it back
She had to kick and scream and scratch and scrape
And claw herself back up
out of the depths of that darkness
out of that place of blame and shame
up to the light.

And wearing those shoes
those shorts
that dress
that bikini
and bleaching her hair
painting her face
shaving her head
tattooing her body
not shaving her armpits
maybe that is her reminder
every day
her constant reminder
that she is in control now
that she is self assured
she is independent
she is worthy
she is
powerful
she is proud.
and she is free to choose.

Who told her she could wear that?
She did.  
So please
shut your mouth
and move along).

Look at her.

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Brick City Birthright

If I stand right here and close my eyes I can see my Father’s face.
Seventeen, sullen, pasty and pock marked.
His malnourished body bobbing and weaving,
long lanky legs moving through the thick humid air
propelled across the smoky slate sidewalks
by his poorly soled shoes.

Cold hard metal strapped around his ankles.
The demons in hot pursuit on his heels.

He is moving further and further from the heart
of darkness to the light at the edge of the city.
Passing through the places where even demons don’t dare to dwell.
Moving purposefully forward,
fighting hard against the force of gravity.
Rounding the corner with all the courage and speed that he can summon,

he leaps across that line
removes the shackles from his ankles
and fastens them

securely

around my unborn arms.

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 Dirty Old Town 
In the Summer, In the City

 

 

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Learning to Fly

The other day
a bird fell from the sky
and landed on the ground right in front of me.
I screamed
Oh no! We have to save him!
And Shannon said
No Mom, just leave him alone.
You have to let nature take its course.

I watched his delicate chest heaving.
I stood transfixed on his tiny heart pulsing out a frantic beat,
until I was startled
by screeching sounds above me.
I looked up to see his mother, hopping on branches, screaming.
I wondered if he heard her
calling out for him
as he breathed his last sweet breath.

Today
I was walking Shannon to the corner.
I stopped for just a moment to say good morning
to the crossing guard.
I heard Shannon say good morning too,
but when I turned toward her a second later, she was gone.

I called her name,
and then called again louder, my arms in the air, waving frantically.
But I’m sure she couldn’t hear me
over the pulsing beat in her headphones.
I watched her for a moment
as she flew up the hill, never looking back.
And I turned to walk downhill, alone,
in silence.

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Goodbye, little bird.

Pink Floyd, Learning to Fly

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