Our Children, Our Future
“I believe the children are our future
I have a very vivid memory of me singing along to the lyrics to Whitney Houston’s 1985 hit, “The Greatest Love of All”. In all the times I sang this song, never did I imagine what it would be like to be an adult with a child – a mother holding the future in my hands. But as much as I am her teacher, she is truly mine. With each new day, she shows me what it is like to see, hear and taste something for the first time, to gaze at black and white outlines as though they are as valuable as Van Gough’s, to smile for seemingly no reason at all, and to sleep despite the chaos in a room.
Most importantly, she has shown me that no child is born with the ability to hate or discriminate another human being based on their religion or the color of their skin. She can only be taught racism, xenophobia, and misogyny. It is our (me and my husband) responsibility to teach her to love and respect herself first, so that she may do the same for others.
They can’t take away my dignity
We love her more than we could possibly imagine and know that our love for her will only continue to grow each and every day. But my husband and I are only one part of her village – you are such a significant part of her village – whether you’ve met her or not.
We ALL owe it to ALL our children, our future, to teach and model dignity, decency and respect; to teach and share equality, love, and kindness; and to stand up, speak up, and march and resist peacefully and thoughtfully. They are our future and their future is in our hands.
“The only thing constant is change”…we’ve all heard the cliche. And while I know that change is inevitable, it is often quite irresistible to fear it, enticing to resist it and tempting to control it.
My husband and I have now lived in Northern California for 6 years. Those that know us know that every year we discuss moving back East to be closer to family. We also discuss committing to staying in California and buying a home. Yet, year after year, I become overwhelmed by the fear of change, resist it and choose to stay put, resigning our rental lease and keep doing what what we’ve done before.
Of course, I am excited to meet my baby girl, but with meeting her comes a whole new world and a really, really big change! One that I can not resist and have absolutely no control over! She is coming whether I am ready or not. I can prepare and plan, rest and clean…or not…either way she is coming on her own time and in her own way. She is in charge, not me.
In a way, this is actually a huge relief. I don’t have decide anything. I have even found myself less and less attached to my due date – she will come when she’s ready, all I need to do is keep breathing and enjoy the precious moments left during my first pregnancy. I choose to let go into the unexpected journey ahead and embrace the change.
Something tells me this might be a very, very helpful lesson in motherhood…
Where does resistance to change show up in your life? When do you feel tempted to control change? How have you embraced change? I would love to hear from you.
You’re so tiny!
You aren’t even showing!
You’re all baby!
Do you even have to wear maternity clothes yet?
You don’t even look pregnant from behind!
Never has my body felt so on display and such a topic of public discussion as when I announced that I am pregnant. (Oh and if you haven’t heard the news…I am pregnant!)
From announcing my pregnancy at 14 weeks until today at 27 weeks, my body – more specifically my belly – has been evaluated, scrutinized, complimented, questioned and of course – touched.
While the comments above are certainly well-meaning and friendly, their focus solely on my size. Each one prompting the thought: Is my baby growing okay? Is something wrong if I’m not showing by now? Now that I’m showing, am I too big? Do my clothes fit okay? And WHAT WHAT THE HECK IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO MY BEHIND??
Though there have certainly been some rough days in the last 7 months, overall I am really enjoying being pregnant. The truth is, I feel beautiful, comfortable in my body, and even sexy (at times). Growing a baby inside of my body is truly miraculous and I do not take it for granted. I cherish each day, love feeling the kicks of my baby, and take on the challenge of finding new ways into a yoga pose. But when someone comments on the size or shape of my body, it’s like the essence of this miracle inside of me is reduced to my weight, when it is so much more than that.
Perhaps, rather than commenting specifically on a pregnant woman’s body and her belly, you might notice what YOU FEEL when you see her. Longing? Love? Resentment? Noticing what you feel, may help direct your comments in a way that feels genuine, authentic and vulnerable and may fill up mama-to-be with gratitude and appreciation.
Comments that I’ve received that have put me at ease and captured the essence of my pregnancy:
You are beautiful!
You are so adorable/cute!
You look really comfortable in your growing body!
You’re carrying your baby beautifully!
You’re so full of energy!
You look happy and relaxed being pregnant!
You are going to be a great mom!
It is my passion to be the voice of positive body-image and to lead the way toward body-acceptance. Let us witness the miracle of pregnancy, moving beyond evaluation of size, shape and weight to express our wonder, excitement and joy for the life that grows within.
If you have ever been to one of my yoga classes, you have probably heard me repeat the phrase, “Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, Om Peace, Peace, Peace“. I must admit, there are days when I repeat these words and it feels like rhetoric, like something that I say out of habit. But, then, there are other days, like the morning after the horrific shooting in Orlando, when I repeat these words at the end of my yoga class, and something deep within me feels their power. The words themselves seem to hold their own vibration, their own energy. When I repeat these words, I am not speaking directly to you or the class in front of me, but to all beings. For a brief, still second, it feels as if these words may touch each individual on this earth.
I am not naïve, I do not believe prayer or meditation, or chanting alone will bring about peace, but I do know that for me, my yoga practice is always a support and beacon of hope in even the darkest times. What I love so dearly about my yoga practice is that it is always in flux, always in transformation to meet me exactly where I am each day. Some days my practice is quiet and still, other days it is energetic and quick. Some days, I love listening to Motown while I rock my downward dog, while other days it is the haunting Kirtan chanting of Deva Premal. What matters most to me, is that I do not judge my practice or myself – instead I practice acceptance and santosha (contentment).
During this difficult and tumultuous time in our country, it is often tempting to turn our backs (however consciously or unconsciously) on that which brings light into our lives. But it is vital, now more than ever, that we move toward the light, toward hope and support.
What prevents you from reaching out for hope and support?
What keeps you stuck in negativity and pain?
What can you do today to restore your faith in Peace?
This past month, I have been repeatedly faced with situations that required me to fully trust myself. While being able to trust myself seems like something I should have mastered long ago, I do still struggle, particular in certain situations.
As I have navigated these situations this past month, I realized that my hesitation to trust myself came down to a fear of not being perfect, of getting it all wrong. Instead of trusting myself, I sought out validation from others because I didn’t trust that what I had was enough or that what I said or did was okay. I agonized and obsessed over decisions, turning to the internet for the answers that only I had within.
As I was about to send an important email, I froze, wanting desperately for someone to read the email first before I hit the dreaded send button. Did I make any typos? Did I even make sense? Was I getting my point across? I recalled being a young girl and wanting my mom to always review my essays and homework. What if I made a mistake? What if it wasn’t perfect? What if I wasn’t perfect?
When do you find it hardest to trust yourself? For some it’s around food, for others around sex or alcohol.
I am learning to trust myself by accepting that I am not perfect. Accepting this tender, vulnerable part of myself somehow makes trusting myself a little easier. Progress not Perfection. I am taking risks when I can – like hitting post on blog – unedited and imperfect.
This month, I continue to find myself repeating, discussing and reviewing two words: Restoration and Vulnerability.
Restoration – the act or process of returning something to its original or improved condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc.
As we begin to transition from winter to spring, I find that I am in need of restoration before I can March forward. You, too, may feel expected to March On and Spring Forward without attuning to your needs, without sweeping out the inner cobwebs. Giving yourself permission to restore might feel too luxurious, when in fact, it is necessary for endurance and fortitude.
Restoration might look like:
- Taking a Restorative Yoga Class at your local studio, or listening to a yoga podcast or DVD at home.
- Meditating (even just 2 minutes)
- Mindfulness – paying attention on purpose without judgment.
- Taking a relaxing shower or bath
- Receiving a massage or facial.
- Diffusing Essential Oils
What are ways that you restore your body, mind and spirit?
When I review all the ways that I can restore myself, I notice that these same acts of restoration also help me practice vulnerability. When I am feeling restored, I am better able to be compassionate, empathetic, kind, loving, honest and authentic. When I am restored and vulnerable, I can connect and share with others on a deeper more, intimate level. Over the last few months, I’ve been more honest and forthcoming with others. I tell people how I’m really doing, and guess what? When I am vulnerable, it allows others to become more vulnerable, honest and authentic. When I tell the truth about how I am really doing (not just what I think they want to hear) they tend to do the same…and I don’t feel so alone.
You may have been taught that vulnerability is weakness, but in recent years, researcher Brene Brown is showing us that vulnerability is courage and that being vulnerable actually brings us more joy.
“Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Check out her amazing TEDTalks for more insight on vulnerability. https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability/transcript?language=en
Let’s take a risk together this month and March toward Restoring Vulnerability. You might even find you become restored to an improved condition!
P.S. Join me April 2nd for Strength and Grace Yoga Workshop at Downtown Yoga. Register at www.pleasantonyoga.com
Ah, February, the month of Love.
I must admit, I am quite partial to celebrating love this month. My husband proposed to me on the beach in Kauai on February 14th, at sunrise three years ago. We were married the following year on February 23. For me, February has become a month of celebrating and honoring our relationship.
For some, February can be a difficult, disappointing and even depressing month.
But what if this month, you decided to LOVE yourself – no matter what??
I don’t mean waiting to love yourself when you lose weight or choosing to love yourself when you feel worthy of it.
YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE RIGHT NOW!
This month, take time to slow down and honor and celebrate your relationship with yourself and your body.
Here are some helpful tips for loving yourself and your body on and off your yoga mat.
On the Mat:
- Experience what your body is doing and how your body is feeling in each pose.
- Explore the purpose and action of each region of your body.
- Notice where you feel strength, flexibility, challenge and ease.
- Honor when your body needs to become more active and when can your body can become more relaxed.
- Notice the flow of energy(prana) in your body.
- Offer yourself empowering or soothing mantras through your practice.
Ex. “My legs are strong and powerful and keep me grounded.”
“My heart is open, my breath easy.”
“My arms open wide to let in love.”
Off the Mat:
- Feel the love you have in your heart for others, and offer a gesture of love to yourself.
- Practice loving yourself – give yourself a hug, an embrace, a self-massage(foot massages are great for this!)
- Give yourself permission to receive love – remember you are worthy of love right now!
- Accept any difficulties or challenges that come with offering self-love – it may feel uncomfortable or new.
- Try repeating a loving mantra through out the day.
Ex. “I am worthy of giving and receiving love.”
“I am lovable just the way I am.”
“I am enough!”
We could all take a lesson from the Beatles…
…All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need…
There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown
There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be
All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need…
LENNON, JOHN / MCCARTNEY, PAUL
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC