Radical expression

I love my regular asana practice. Asana are the physical poses of yoga.

Many people don’t realize that yoga is much more than the physical practice. There are, depending on the practice 7 to 9 limbs of yoga which includes how we treat other people and much more.

I also love freestyle conscious dance. I use conscious dance as a tool in my work as a movement based theater actor.

People often ask me if I teach yoga or if I make the fan veils I dance with.

Why can’t I just be a person who loves yoga? And with years of practice some poses I am in this moment able to execute skillfully.

Why can’t I be a person who just loves to dance and uses dance as a vehicle to bring people together?

Our culture trains us to expect to be sold to. To expect to be able to consume to buy to take to own.

This week thousands of people will come together for a festival in the desert of Reno Nevada called Burning man. A festival where once you get in there is no exchange of western money for anything. People have to bring everything and it’s a gifting society. Sharing gifts.

It’s radical beautiful annoying and freeing.

I’ve been to the Burning Amanda festival twice 8 years ago. It shifted my perspective.

I love consuming as any average American does and at the Alsace time I appreciate the power of gifting…sharing beyond currency.

I can’t tell you how many people ask me if I teach yoga or if I make the fan veils I dance with.

What if more of us could let go of the idea that we have to sell what we love to do?

What if we did physical practices just because they made us feel…good?

Now I am extremely lucky because right now I am getting paid to do one of the things I love to do for a living. And as I am able to take care of myself….I’m doing my yoga and other hobbies and with time comes skill. As I become more skilled the pressure of should arises from well meaning people who see and love what I’m doing.

Some say they live vicariously through the photos they see of me online. Sometimes they send unsolicited advice.

They “should” on me.

“You should teach yoga”

“You should sell those flags”

10 years ago I would listen to this unsolicited advice and the venture would fail.

I’ve finally learned to JSU’s smile and nod beyond the you shoulds and ground into my freedom.

I know what I should be doing and I’m doing it. And I’m so busy doing what I gotta do I don’t even think to give unsolicited advice to others.

I’m too busy taking care of me.

Liberated. Joyous and…free.

Ase

J9

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I am not your social justice Mammy.

E4B4A83E-D64B-49C3-97B7-3352AA3AE1C6

 

About 4 years ago, after an experience at a training I was assisting a former liberal white female friend who was leading a training (where I was one of perhaps 3 Black Women out of the hundreds of women who were actually in the yoga retreat center that weekend), where, after I shared some racially insensitive moments I endured with her in an attempt to just release tension…she said to me… “Yes. I know. I know because, you know I have had past lives and in one of them I know, I mean I really know that I was a black woman enslaved on a slave ship in one of my past lives.” And then she proceeded to tell me some long drawn out story about herself and the challenges she faces as a woman in America based on that alleged past life experience. It was late at night. I was beyond uncomfortable and so I excused myself and went to bed.

At the time, I had known this woman for several years and had let several small racially insensitive interactions with her go without ever even mentioning them. When I’d try to call her out on her liberal racism, she would just discount what I was saying and use some spiritual mumbo-jumbo to justify her bad actions. I’ve grown up around white people and have been the one black person in the room for most of my life so I became accustomed to letting a lot of shit go and just working on the friendship beyond race.

I didn’t know it then, but I realize now… I…was…a social justice Mammy!

I would be the one black friend in a group of white friends at a dinner party who would be the impromptu “race educator”during the Obama Administration.  Defending whatever was going on politically while explaining the plight of African Americans for my liberal white feminist friends.  Even though race wasn’t the focus of the gatherings… I was there and I was black and I, was one of the good ones.  So if a liberal white female friend was having a challenge with a black woman at work or had a question about anything to do with race… they felt comfortable talking to me about it.  I saw myself as someone who could bring the races together so I would have the difficult conversations. (Ha ha)  I mean I was a corporate diversity awareness trainer in the early 00’s!

What I didn’t realize was that I was being in service as the liberal white woman’s emotional Mammy, but really…that’s what was happening.

That “past live slave ship conversation” was my Ah-Ha moment. I had to stop being the one Black woman in the room and I had to stop taking emotional care of liberal white women.

I completed the assisting the workshop, and removed myself from that woman’s trainings and that entire majority white, liberal, feminist, yoga/dance community.

Once I cut that chord I felt an overwhelming freedom.   Once I cut that chord there were no more white women calling me to mine me of my wisdom, my joy, to appropriate my ideas without wanting to pay me my worth. Once I cut that chord, phenomenal African American Women started appearing in my life.   Once I cut that chord Awesome White women who were clued in started coming into my life.   I call all these women my Abolitionists.

The African American  Abolitionists who appeared in my life valued me and without hesitation, paid me well for my services and…were authentic friends unconditionally.  The White liberal Abolitionists were there for me without needing me to be their emotional crutch or their “one black friend to help them believe that they were not racist.”

And… the drama, the feelings of discomfort, the trying to fit and not fitting in, the feeling that I wasn’t being understood, respected or heard that had been a part of my friendships and relationships in NYC were gone.

Once I realized I was being a social Justice Mammy and stopped taking emotional care of white women and my heart started to heal, my mind became clear and I could more easily connect to my authentic joy.

Then, we got a new president.

And Charlottesville happened and systemic racism and blatant bigotry are now front and center in our culture and liberal white folks are freaking the fuck out.

I’ve been getting texts or even live phone messages from many of the former white friends I stopped initiating connections with.

The calls or messages start with “you’ve been on my mind”.

By the way…
America was built by white people forcing Black People to take care of them and pretending that black people love to nurture.  This country is designed to  pound white supremacy into it’s white children so that the expectation of, particularly white women, to be automatically nurtured by black women, particularly dark skinned black women, is just how the  white world works.

9A71A0CF-8455-4553-9D6C-34C16CF26145

Okay back to my point…

As these former friends call to reconnect and seek some sort of comfort from their one legitimate like black, black former friend, and when they speak with me, and when they say the stupid subtle racist shit they have always said to me, and I call them out directly on the stupid subtle racist shit, they have a rude awakening and are shocked! They call me angry and rude. They wonder what happened to their friend who was so nurturing?

And when I speak with them, I feel not the anger they immediately push on me when I’m direct, I feel that mix of discomfort, that dealing with having to do the mental gymnastics it takes to care for the fragile white Liberal female ego. Because, you see, these types of personalities always find ways to make every conversation about their experience and their “trauma”.

That mix of discomfort that comes from having to care for the fragile white ego is what is distracting Black people from taking care of ourselves.  That weight of having to be extra whatever in order for the white person to feel comfortable around a black person is, I strongly believe, the seed of many illnesses that are killing African Americans young.

I was having a good old time today at Sweetgreen eating my favorite salad sitting on a bench outside in the sunshine when I got a message from a former liberal white female feminist friend I’ve not called saying I was on her mind.

As our conversation escalated I took a breath and did an emotional mind body scan.

As she was talking I thought… does this situation feel good? Am I feeling nurtured? Is this a relationship that will make me a better person? What do I feel in my body?

I noticed I felt all tingly around my sinuses and there was a pounding in the base of my skull where my skull balances on my spine.  My heart was pounding, I was clutching my hands and my brow was furrowing.  And when I spoke back to her I was really loud.

In the middle her doing the white girl thing she (and other) white liberal female friends have done to me dozens of times before in our friendship, attempting to justify the micro aggression I had called her out on, I decided to interrupt her and opt out of the relationship.  I thanked her for her help and friendship in the past.  Said I loved her, because I do love everyone, and said the friendship was over.  We hung up and I deleted and blocked her number. (This action is more for my own sake because I’m a wussy and often time second guess myself and call people and apologize.  Blocking the number and deleting the interaction forces me to stand with my decision)

Once I took those actions, I immediately felt a wave of calm wash over my mind body and I felt at peace. I felt light.  I went back to enjoying the sunshine…and my salad.

If my friends of any race, can’t take me as I am,  they aren’t really friends and we can  move on without wasting any more time.

This call today hasn’t been the first time a former white liberal friend from my past has reached out to get their old social justice Mammy to soothe their discomfort. I’m grateful she called me today because this call inspired me to just go public and announce to the world that social justice Mammy has been working out.  She’s lost all that fat and is now fit and focused on nurturing herself first, then her immediate family then the black women and girls in her community.

White people need to stop looking to Black Women to nurture, lead and educate them.  Our resources are depleted we need to revitalize. Please, don’t waste our time with your white guilt.  Get on google and find the resources you need to learn whatever you need to learn about your whiteness and systemic racism. Once you do your work and evolve to the level of Abolitionist…then we can start having some conversations.

Social Justice Mammy is dead.

And the Black Woman who has replaced her is laser  focused, particularly now, on nurturing Black Women and Girls and our communities.

Ase

J9

P.S.

These are just two of the many situations where white folks I used to know have “reached out” to me to soothe their white guilt.

The liberal white former friend who I assisted did a reach out via email to me earlier this summer to find out why our relationship ended.  When I was direct with her about her “past life experience as an enslaved African woman”,  comments, she tried to do some “whitesplaning” and fell in line with the behavior I mentioned above, so I clearly cut the chord and ended the friendship for good.

Our lifetimes are short.  African Americans are dying at the average age of 65.  We need to care for ourselves better, we can’t always be doing the heavy lifting for the benefit of other groups.

Resources/ Workshops & Courses for White Women who want to educate themselves on systemic racism:

Off the Mat and into the world

CTZN Well

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in #blackgirlhealing, community, gender & race, intraracial, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

;

Be the friend who is actually there.

Suicide is grounded in a feeling of isolation.

We live in a society where the cowardice of social grace is the norm.

Our culture celebrates the illusion of happiness and avoids reality by any means necessary.

Youth, beauty and wealth are considered to be the highest form of success in our culture.

Suicide happens because we ignore people.

When we are so wrapped up in our individual families that we don’t check up on our friends… we are contributors.

It’s so sad to me to think that our culture has gotten to a place where if someone is feeling like they must end their lives they only have a suicide hotline to call.

Where are their friends who will later say…she died so young

Or

He was troubled

Or

They seemed so happy.

If you are the friend who is present and if you are the friend who will do whatever you can to help and a suicide still happens then yes you can validly say it’s a shame.

If you didn’t step up then deal with your guilt and be a better friend in the future.

When I considered suicide in 2014 none of my “friends” were around. Why? Because the friends I attracted were nice people but they weren’t my people.

And….

Because I wasn’t able to be there for any of them, because I was so focused on trying to save my personal relationship with my ex and I had nothing left to give to anyone else.

I didn’t work to be there for my friends at that time so how could I possibly expect them to be there…for me.

The thing I feared most was being single middle aged and broke in NYC and I settled for someone who did not love me in fear and when he rejected me I broke down.

I’m sure my friends saw this…perhaps they didn’t because they were engrossed in their own lives…but either way neither of us invested in our relationship to be there for one another when a real crisis happened.

We must do the work of investing in our friendships even when people are a total fucking pain in the ass.

And people are a fucking pain in the ass.

We need to be the friend who sends a random text to say hi

Checks in unconditionally

The friend who listens

Be the friend who listens without having an answer.

And give hugs. Go for a walk. Yes we are always busy and yes there is always time.

That first Christmas after my breakup with my ex I was lying on my floor crying an infinite river of tears…I had the oven open with towels under all of the vents and doors in my studio apartment.

For whatever reason I googled a suicide hotline because I had tried calling several friends and none of them answered

The hotline picked up and I poured out my story…the breakup the financial fear my biological clock it all came out in this wave of guilt and shame.

It all came out and I was silent. There was a pause…then the guy on the phone he sounded like a brother, the brother s said” damn! umm yo like that’s deep but ummm you know uh it’s my first day…I gotta put you on hold and get my supervisor ”

First I was stunned. Then I started laughing. It was hilarious! I laughed so hard my cheeks hurt my belly aches and I remembered my joy. I remembered my live on this planet does have a purpose.

I decided to not end this sentence and continue my story.

New friendships blossomed where the others had disappeared and I’m finding my people.

And we live

Ase

J9

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Don’t Follow Black Women…Nourish Us. Please.

unnamed

The phrase “follow Black Women” should be modified to “Nourish Black Women”.  Women of African descent were brought to this country to work alongside our men, doing the work of men.

The tradition of African American Women has not been self care…it’s been forced nurturing of others in order to strive to just get the basic needs for our families. Our value, was defined by how well we produced while we were in forced servitude.

The African American community is having a 21st century online renaissance. Black women are at the forefront. For some white liberals, the phrase “Follow Black Women” has become a kind of anthem.

At the same time, Black women are dying young and more often from ailments grounded in constant stress. Now more than ever Black Women need nourishment.  We are not superhuman to be put on pedastals we are not magical. We break. We cry. We die.  (134 Black Women die EVERY DAY of heart disease. Every. Damn. Day.)

We African American women need to choose authentic joy.  Remember your joy, and those of you who are not African American woman also need you to choose authentic joy and focus on not following or depleting us, you need to PLEASE focus on unconditionally nurturing Black Women and Girls.

It can be as easy as saying “hello” in passing.  Saying “Thank you” and “Please”. Even simple actions like making kind eye contact and smiling are actions of unconditional nurturing.

It’s spring and the chakra of the season is called Manipura aka the Solar Plexus Chakra.  I imagine the sun activating the radiance of the Solar Plexus Chakra awakening during spring and growing during summer. What I love about the Sacral Chakra is the warrior energy.  Warm weather encourages vitality and a yearning to achieve and attract.  The other side of spring and summer energy is the servant energy.  Being constantly busy doing wears us out. Folks can possibly deplete themselves attempting to please other people in person AND on social media just for affirmations that we just sometimes can’t seem to give ourselves.

As spring rises on 2018 join the community of sustaining members of VisableBlackwoman productions and welcome art, music, creative writing and theater into your life as a daily personal practice of self-care.   I share recipes, Rhythm Therapy Rooftop video immersion mini sessions and more.  Your support enables me to create productions that make Black Women’s stories visible to preserve our legacies.  Because nobody can tell our stories like we can.

Every month I host a writing for self care 5 day online experience… RT Journal 2.

The focus in May is Joy.
It’s $8.00 for one course which lasts 5 days or you can enjoy once a month if you become a sustaining member of VisABleblackwoman productions.

CLICK HERE for RT Journal 2 Joy

CLICK HERE to join our community and support VisAbleblackwoman Productions.

Ashe.

J9

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Black Women in Service? Well first…

Since the election results in the Alabama race, these mantras are repeated among liberal progressives…”Let Black Women Lead” or “Follow Black Women”

The world of politics is the world of service.

Black Women in Amerikkka are always expected to serve.

Black women make 65 cents to every dollar that white men make. Even with that of that 65 cent to a dollar ratio, Black Women are continually expected by other groups and in our own communities to give money to help others.

I am a single child free single woman, I live in NY city and there are days where the only men who speak to me…are asking me for money.

From the homeless man on the street, to the clean air guy to the guy trying to get me to get my eyebrows threaded… I am seen as a resource.

Well, I am not a work horse to be used up until the stress of a life of services pushes me into an early grave. Hell no.

The way to our black Women first? Support our businesses. Invest in us. If you know a Black Woman who is fabulous; and know she is looking to be in a relationship; and you know eligible single men; don’t assume she isn’t dating; talk to her and see if she’d be interested in a blind date.

Allow Black Women opportunities to practice self care. Acknowledge our presence. Be kind. If a Black Woman is the only Black Women man in a room full of white people and you are white… say hello. Smile.

Wealth is created with community support. Think of ways you can personally support a Black Woman. And don’t ask her how to “support” her. Figure it out by being a friend.

When we invest in women globally, we see how communities thrive. Why not invest in Black Women Locally… and work with us to live the change we wanna se in this country.

Ashe

J9

Posted in #blackgirlhealing, community, gender & race, Year of Yes | Leave a comment

When You Believe in the Power of Imagination

1476a16e2cc399a0b1524a6004808317

Once a month on Sundays when I’m in NYC, I try to make it to meditation class.   One of my favorite meditation teachers is Kadam Morten Clausen.  Kadam Morten is the  Resident Teacher at KMC-NYC, Eastern US National Spiritual Director for the New Kadampa Tradition.

The current meditation series Kadam Morten is leading is an introduction to Tantra.  Everything begins in the imagination.  Tantra in simple terms uses meditation to imagine the possible.  I’m really super simplyfiying here.

Reality is and always will be challenging.  Yes, we gotta face reality and at the same time allow ourselves time to create the future in our imagination.

For me, theater, dance meditation and music are vehicles I use for transformation on literally, a personal daily basis.

This week has been relentless and I’ve really had to work hard to remember to believe.  Just when my mind was just pounding me with fear, doubt and shame,  Lena Horne popped into my head.  I remembered Lena Horne as Glinda the good in the Wiz, singing to Dorothy…”If you believe”  with all those little babies dangling uncomfortably around her.

562705f05989fac5d62c575e43ba5db5

The Wiz is spiritual.  Seriously!!!  Think about it.  Dorthy always looked outside herself to get home when in reality, she had the power all along, it took her friends, her community to help her find her way back to believing in the power of her own imagination.  The world she believed in was the world she was able to create.

It seems really simple, it’s not.  Transformation never is.  A belief can transform a fact into a different reality.  We see this happening every day…why not use that simple logic to create good in our lives.

Bohemoth corporations and systems all began as thoughts in someone’s mind.  Remember the superhero that lives in your imagination who believes.   If you need a little inspiration…. Click Here and experience Miss Diana Ross from the 1978 movie version of The Wiz…sharing the power of belief.

visAbleblackwoman productions officially launches Friday December 1, 2017…BELIEVE!!!

Ashe

J9

 

Posted in community, Year of Yes | Leave a comment

The power of Active Silence and Embracing that the Problem…is always Me.

 

343985244e279fc387e0830a77130cb5.jpg

I was a runner.  My Mom has always been a spanker.  Because of my inability to be silent in the face of perceived injustice…as a kid, I got spankings several times a week.  My older brother would come home from high school track practice when I was in elementary school and greet me with, “Hey Jeanine! How many beatin’s did you get today?”   I shared a room with my sister, who was also in high school when I was in elementary school, and she would regularly tell my mother whatever “bad” thing I had done and get her justice immediately.

My Mom would make me go pick a switch from a tree..or fetch my Dad’s thick leather belt and expected me to lay across this round white hassock to receive my spankings.

But I would not stay still and accept my punishment. I was a runner. My mom would chase me…and the rest of my family would laugh, and I’ve always remembered this injustice and a bit of me has always held anger in my heart toward my family for those experiences.

My parents 60’th anniversary was last Saturday. All they asked of me was to come to dinner with my siblings, sister in law and nephews.  the last time we were all together in one roof was about 4 years ago

My family is loud. Particularly the men.  In a world where the voices of black men are silenced, at home…they shout. Usually I debate the men in my family, I challenge them… and my black female voice creates chaos in the entire family system.  A woman with a voice in a conservative Christian family is a dangerous entity.  When I speak up, even defending the women in my family…the women in my family usually side with the men and everyone thinks the problem…is me.

This is an example of how religion provides the perfect platform for the patriarchy to thrive.  Women nurturing, listening,  cooking and cleaning, agreeing, while the menfolk pontificate loudly on the events of the world.

To avoid all of this I usually spend time away from my family of origin.  I go to Friendsgivings where  I go where I feel free.  But in my world, the imprint of my family is strong.  I pontificate passionately, I am loud, can be melodramatic, selfrighteous and in many circumstances have become the one who people run away from.

As I grow older, I see the value of time more clearly.  Each moment on this planet is limited. I’m at the age where my peers are going through their parents dying. I see the years on my parents bodies and I can no longer run.  I’ve lived long enough to be broken down by bad relationships, and when I lost everything, my Mother, Sister and Father were there to help me rebuild.  Now, my father did what men do, when I was at my lowest point, but my Mother and my Sister didn’t kick me when I was down, they raised me up. The women who are closest to me, never said “I told you so.”  During my low time, most of friends I chose in NYC were absent. It was my Mom, Sister, Dad and my mentor in NYC who is also a black woman who I could turn to for help. Black women, did not run when I needed a hand and I will always remember this.

This  non-Thanksgiving, I showed up away from my beloved NYC at my favorite time of year,  to be with my family of origin.  I made a promise to myself to practice mini vippasana meditations (vippasana meditation is a practice of seeing things as they realy are) when conversations occur that will turn into an argument if I choose to use my voice.  I decided to check my right to free speech at the door and find the times to be…quiet.

I did it. I did it, and it sucked for me.  There were times where I literally got out of my seat and left the room.

No one noticed, they all had a great time.

I returned to the room, stayed silent, helped with the cooking, accepted the compliments, cleared the table and washed the dishes while the men talked at each other and over the women.  I listened as they interrupted, laughed at the expense of others, cut off, shouted at the football game.  And as my siblings and their families were leaving, they all commented how great the day was…no arguements.

This was my gift to my family…my silence.    This one day of peace was a good one.

The next morning….

My brother, who is 10 years older than me, stopped by to pick up some left overs his family had left behind.  He works a night shift so my mom made him breakfast and as I was getting dressed I heard them talking.

I said good morning and got ready for the gym.  I procrastinated getting my things together slowly just taking my time.

When my brother was leaving, as he said goodbye  he joked…” I can’t leave without a good arguement with Jeanine!”  and he started to “tease ” me.  I don’t eat before I workout.  And I haddn’t eaten or even brushed my teeth yet, and here my brother was… “teasing” me, poking the tender protected parts that only family can agitate.  I responded and eventually we ended up in a literal yelling match.  All the work I had done to prepare for this trip, to make it through the day with family without a fight evaporated in this moment of anger.  My brother doesn’t fight fair and he said mean things that I will never be able to unhear and I sunk down to his level and did the same.  My mother of course tried to silence me and I heard my father from his easy chair chime in…. “Jeanine’s right!”  I out shouted my brother and this time, he was the one who ran.  COWARD!! I know you hear me COWARD  go ahead…run!!  I shouted at the empty space my brother had just occupied.  I looked at my elderly mother with anger as she looked back at me with disappointment and I thought “this is why I never wanted to have children”

In this house, with this family, I will always be the youngest daughter expected to be cute and quiet while the men are allowed to lead to be big, be bold be charasmatic. Yes, we love each other, but I not longer expect my family to ever understand or know the person I am. In this man run society where the value of a person is judged by how much money they make, until they may not see me excelling at my field in the way they view success…I may never be “big” in their eyes.

Untile I learn co-exist with the patriarcy in my family, anger will make me weak and destroy my relationship with them.  I have to get to the point where I authentically don’t have to prove anything to my family or seek their admiration.

I have to accept that the problem is never them.  The problem is ALWAYS me.

The simple act of my Mom Sister and Dad helping me when I was really down, forced me to appreciate that I have a solid family. No family is ever perfect.  A facet of maturity is knowing the impact of ones actions before reacting and allowing oneself to step back and be mindful, to think before speaking, instead of pushing forward to prove a point.

In hindsight I look back at the situation and say…okay the problem is me… I can see what I could have done instead of grounding in to my anger, taking the bait and getting into a fight.

My plan was to have gone to the 8:30am class at the gym.  If I had gotten my ass up and out the door and been at the gym… instead of procrastinating…you get the idea?  Instead I shot verbal daggers at my brother’s heart and sucuessfully deflated his male ego.

The words I allowed into the world that day,  will leave a lasting negative impact on my entire family of orgin.  I can’t take any of it back.

We live in a time where mean words and bombastic egos are splattered on our consicousness like rotten tomatoes on a clean wall.  Left unchecked it all stinks and rots.

As I work daily to resist this corrupt political system of things, I realize it all starts at home.  The first work to be done for me, is to be able to get along with my family of orgin without running.

I love and respect my family deeply and at the same time disagree with them on many things greatly.  My  ability to control my own mind and my reactions to ideas that piss me off will make me stronger.

What are my tools to live peacefully with my family of origin?
Meditation
Daily Exercise
Mindful Silence
Embracing that the problem is always gonna be me.i

I lay here in bed at 6:00 pm exhausted.  I reflect on what went wrong and think about how I can be better in the future. I celebrate the fact that for one day, my parents were able to see their children, grandchildren, and the spouses of their children, under the same roof sharing a meal in peace.  My silence contributed to the happiness of the moment.  If I can practice patience with myself when dealing with my family… I can practice active mindfulness with my family, I can do it everywhere in my life.

And for better or worse…I did not run.

Ashe

J9

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment