The World Changing Magic of Speaking Up

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Speak Up 1

When I was in college I put a little Jesus fish on my car. Just peeled the wax paper off the back and slapped that baby to the bumper of my Geo Metro.

Shocked? Well, let me tell you the best thing about this little fish. He had legs. And instead of the name, JESUS, in the center of his body, it read: DARWIN. Clever, right?

Listen, I have never had anything against Jesus. In fact, I think he’s pretty groovy. I mean, his teachings were directly inspired by the super-groovy Jewish sages who came before him. Still, I have a great deal of respect for science. And I like a good joke.

It was funny!

You know what wasn’t funny? Coming back to my parked car and finding a hand-written threat stuffed under my windshield wiper from someone offended by my little fishy friend. The note said something about slashing tires if a security guard wasn’t within eyeshot. I was horrible human. Blah, blah, blah. I deserved to die.

Some time after college, I wore my favorite jeans and my favorite black t-shirt to Target. As you do. But this was no ordinary black shirt. Right over my breasts it read: NO WAR ON IRAQ. As I left the store with my bags of toilet paper and awesomeness, an irate woman hollered behind me. Something about freedom and you ignorant bitch. She was furious and she was barreling toward me with her cart.

I could go on.

After a while, I got tired of arguing. When I’m angry—like really fired up—I cry. And that’s embarrassing. Putting my liberal beliefs out there for all to hear left me feeling exposed. So, I toned it down. I replaced Darwin with a sticker that read, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Ambiguous. And safe.

I toned it way down. So far down, my voice could hardly be heard. I convinced myself that voting, donating, and volunteering was enough. It wasn’t.

In spite of all the ways my identity and beliefs leave me vulnerable to hate, I blend in pretty easily. That’s called privilege. And I started hiding behind it. I was afraid to be seen as a flaming liberal by anyone who didn’t identify as a flaming liberal. I just shut up. And life got a whole lot more peaceful.

I thought living a peaceful life was enough. It wasn’t.

In the yoga world we like to talk about union. Yoga means union. It’s all about coming together—mind, body, and spirit. And while I agree with this on the mat, a problem arises when we isolate our practice to the mat: my mind, my body, my spirit. Union extends far beyond the mat. We are so very connected, when even a single soul among us is oppressed, we are all affected.

My social media feeds are flooded with quotes about love and kindness and living with compassion. Oh, yogis.

Let me be clear: I am all for love, kindness, and compassion. It’s kind of all I would talk about when I was teaching yoga regularly. And it’s important. But I think a lot of yogis are afraid to get angry because it’s not very yogi-like. Or peaceful. Or pretty.

So, Namaste.

Folks, we can’t Namaste this away. Some big freaking problems are about to come our way. And—dare I say it—if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. If channeled in the right way, your anger can become your power. Funnel it into something that means something to you. When we suppress our anger it turns into apathy. And that is something we cannot afford.

Here is what I’ve realized: when I am open about my identity and my beliefs, I give others permission to do the same. Maybe a bumper sticker or a t-shirt can’t change the world. But speaking up can. It’s about being vocal (and staying vocal) about what you believe in. It’s about taking all that love talk off the mat and turning it into action.

I’m not shouting. But I won’t stop talking. And I encourage you to do the same. If we don’t have our voices, we have nothing.

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Feminism: Why it’s Not a Dirty Word and Why You Should Be Using it

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Feminist

What comes to mind when you hear the word, feminist? Gloria Steinem in her oversized glasses? Women burning bras or screaming into bullhorns? Or maybe you think back to that brief chapter in high school history when you learned about the suffragettes, and you picture Victorian ladies marching in fancy hats and sashes.

What I really want to know is: do you picture you?

When I was very young I wondered why democratic politicians didn’t win every election. If roughly fifty percent of the American population is female, I reasoned, and all women are democrats, then the collective democratic vote would tip the scales every time. Right?

Obviously, I was wrong on a few points.

I went off to college and learned how nuanced women are, how complicated political issues can be, and how multifaceted the word feminism is. Feminism gave me a frame for understanding what I was witnessing in school, at family gatherings, and out in the world. It put my thoughts into context and helped me feel connected to something important. My degree was more than just a privilege; it was my duty. I proudly pursued a minor in Women’s Studies and carried my feminism around in my pocket like a secret handshake to be pulled out at dinner parties—“Yes, I’m with you!” Or like a badge to be flashed at… um, other dinner parties—“That’s bullshit!”

All those classes still didn’t help me understand why a woman could ever be a republican. It wasn’t until I began listening to republican women explain their views that I came to understand—it is possible to be both. A woman could unroll her beliefs about a whole mess of topics, and I may disagree with her on every point, yet still embrace her as a sister in a common struggle.

Until now.

In recent conversations I’ve had with women, I’ve noticed a funny thing happen when I use the word feminism. Whether I’m identifying as a feminist or talking about feminist thought, I see women get uncomfortable. Some don’t like the word and don’t identify with it. Others never tried the word on for size because they never had to. These are women I would call compassionate and forward thinking. But feminism feels too abrasive and dated. They like calling themselves, humanists or something more… I don’t know… soft and pretty. Because all humans matter.

Sound familiar?

Feminism has become a dirty word to those too afraid to align themselves with something radical. And this is a problem.

While I was in middle school, my young and cool aunt went off to college and came home telling me about this women studies class she was taking. She pumped her fist in the air and chanted, “Hate men! Hate men!” She was joking. Still, her chant reflected a common misconception about a movement, even if it sparked a curiosity in me that later became my identity.

Feminism is not about taking power out of the hands of men. Rather, it is about opening space for all voices to be heard. Feminism is about removing obstacles to growth and advancement that are based solely on gender, orientation, race, class, or creed. (Yes, feminism includes all these things.) It is about equality and sharing power. No one is elevated through oppression.

That’s it. Who can’t get on board with that? Well, quite a few, as the results of this past election have taught us.

The beautiful thing about feminism is it's a banner big enough for all of us to stand under. Click To Tweet

Maybe you don’t want to call yourself a feminist because you’re not willing to give up your mani-pedis, or maybe you aspire to be a stay-at-home mom and so feminist doesn’t feel quite right, or shouting into a bullhorn isn’t your jam. Or maybe it just feels dated.

It’s not. Feminism is alive and kicking. It’s the reason we just witnessed a woman get further politically than any woman ever has. Yeah, I’m still mourning Clinton’s loss, but I’ll not forget that THAT is something worth celebrating.

The beautiful thing about feminism is this: it is a banner big enough for all of us to stand under. It is not a dirty word. It is a necessary word. Because if there is anything this election has taught me, it’s that we’re not there yet. And we still have A LOT of work to do.

You can be a feminist whether you shave your armpits or not. You can be a feminist whether you are pro-life or pro-choice. You can disagree with Hillary Clinton and still be a feminist. You can be a feminist if you don’t even know who Gloria Steinem is. (Although, you should. Google her now!) And you can be a feminist if you are a man.

Whoa. What?!

Mmmmm, hmm. One of the sexiest things about my husband is how swift he is to declare he is a feminist too.

Feminism isn’t scary or dated. And it’s not going anywhere until men and women have achieved equality in every way. Try it on for size. Walk around your house calling yourself a feminist for an afternoon. The most revolutionary act you ever make may be aligning yourself with those you oppose in the name of a greater good.

For the record, my cool aunt who introduced me to feminism is busy earning a Ph.D. while working full time and raising a confident and compassionate daughter and son. And she’s a single mother. I don’t know whom she voted for. I don’t know if she still calls herself a feminist. (I hope so, because she is.) Regardless, I owe her thanks for showing me it was okay to call myself one.

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Saying Goodbye – An Ode to Los Angeles

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Saying Goodbye to LA

 

You know that older woman who wears chunky bracelets and fuchsia lipstick? She seems to wink at you constantly like you share a secret but you have no idea what it is. You want to turn away but you can’t. Something about her draws you in. You know that lady? She’s quick to tell the waiter he has it all wrong and just as quick to call him darling. She’s got the best stories. You want to drift to sleep cradled in her scandal, mystery, and romance. Then, with a swish of the wrist, she tells you none of it matters after all. You know that woman?

That woman is Los Angeles. Bold, brazen, and big-hearted LA. And right there in between her wink and her laugh is where I feel most at home.

In case you haven’t heard, I’m leaving Los Angeles. I’m packing up my small family and (more…)

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My Secret & Not-That-Strange Stress Survival Technique

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My Secret & Not-That-Strange Stress Survival Technique

 

“I can’t cry anymore.”

I confessed this to a friend during a hike one morning. We were somewhere in Griffith Park climbing in rhythm with our breaths. She is also a yogi, so she knew the significance of what I had just said. With concern between her brow, she pressed me for more details.

Generally speaking, I’m not really a big crier. Sometimes everyone around me is crying and I’m just standing there trying to figure out what to do with my face. (more…)

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The Magic of Life Outside of the Box

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Living Outside of the Box

 

When I was a little girl, my mother told me I was ugly.

Before you get the wrong idea, let me say for the record that my mom is amazing; she is compassionate, creative, silly, and I think she did a phenomenal job raising me and my sister. She was in no way abusive.

She saw a little girl who was about to be handed her worth in the form of compliments. She knew the world would tell this little girl they loved her dress, her hair, and her shoes. So she did the only thing she could think to do – she did the opposite in hopes her little girl would learn not to measure her worth in such limited confines.

According to my mom, every time she told me I was ugly, (more…)

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The Monumental Gift of Doing Nothing

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The Powerful Gift of Doing Nothing

Make it happen!

Stop waiting!

She who dares, wins!

These are just a few of the posts I’ve scrolled across on Instagram. I love me a good, positive vibes account. And if that account is also turning out some quality photography… well, swoon. They got me. I’ll double tap the crap out of it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about (more…)

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