It changes. It used to be Warrior II, something about being absolutely rooted. Then it was fish, I think at that time I was opening. I was cracked and I felt the light seeping out and fish was what made me feel closer to source. Now, however, it’s Dancer’s Pose. What’s funny about it is that I cannot do it unless my breath is right. That should be how it always is, right?

You know when you stand on the beach and each time the water crashes into you, if you just stand your ground you sink further and further into the earth? That is how I feel. I am sunken into the sand and really, sunken into myself. And as I sit down and look around the corridors of me, I wonder where to even begin? Some corners get good light, some walls have beautiful artwork though they lurk in shadows and are covered in cobwebs. There is the faint smell of old, and what I really want to do is throw open the curtains and let all the light in.

My body has been the source of much contention for me. Though it is tricky because as much as it sometimes feels like a prison, it is also where so much of my safety is. I know things here first. Similarly, if it does not make sense in here, then it is not right for me. I quite literally dwell here. Yoga, running, dance…they have been the forms of movement that I have always been drawn to, regardless of my practice (or lack there of). In these forms I realized that in doing them much of the “doing” is reliant on breath FIRST. If you do not breathe, you cannot move in yoga. If you do not focus your breathing in running, you cannot get very far, and in dance…well…
I suppose in m(any) forms of exercise it begins and ends with breath; but I know that with these three in particular it beckons an almost meditative state of breathing and it is like something else takes over all together.

It just clicked…maybe these things are the alignment of all the elements. It is when you are most vulnerable yet it is also when you are most powerful. Air in your lungs, fire in your heart, water on your skin and earth at your feet. It IS the avatar state.

imageSo I did some yoga today. Then I looked around on tumblr for cool poses to try. I got some pictures of myself 1–stretching 2–tree 3–dancer. I looked at them, how I moved. How I breathed…and of course I saw my body. Some (increasingly decreasing) part of me saw big legs and an unflattering midsection, but most of me saw how when I let all that go what I was able to accomplish.

If you have never recorded yourself doing something you love, do. It is amazing what you see. It is amazing because in those moments you do not see the negative. Sure you are aware of it, but it is not what catches your eye, it is not what feeds you.

I heard said today, “I wonder what you have to be thinking in order not to be so dire, so hungry for things from other people because you have fed yourself before you met them.” That was Bishop T.D. Jakes. I thought, wow…what do I need to tell myself? He continued, “You fall in love with them over something they gave you that you ought to be giving yourself.” Ooooooh that hit home. When people tell you you’re pretty, talented, creative, whatever. And you eat it up to the point where you’re licking the bowl and Please, sir, can I have some more-Oliver Twisting. You strain to see what it is in you that they see that you do not. But what I have learned is that I can see it best when I breathe. When I sit in the quiet corridor of me and turn inwards.

It is the runner’s high. It is the the perfectly danced swan lake. It is everything. And I am glad I got a little bit of it today. My prayer is that I get just one breath more of it tomorrow.

Jess’ Jamaican Diary Entry #2: Honesty

“Miss, how come you so big? Do you eat too much food?” What do you say to a fourteen year old who asks you this? A fourteen year old who is living in a group home run by the state government for other girls who have experienced sever trauma, abuse, and or neglect. A fourteen year old girl whose dorm mate sneaks out to see boys and takes 300 JA (about $2.75USD) for sex with them? A fourteen year old girl whose best friend is pregnant for the second time but is afraid to tell anyone for fear that she will be kicked out of their makeshift home. I answered, “Yeah..I guess so.”

Being at a Place of Safety has been hard for me. I’m supposed to be one of the instructors and yet I feel so much a novice in this environment. Managing my own emotional boundaries has been the largest battle for me. On the first day, as an angry fifteen year old climbed across tables, thew chairs, and ripped the television wires out of the wall all before she tore the clothes off of another girl, made me cry. “Miss, you sad?” One little girl, Miranda, asked me. I told her yes, because I can’t imagine what this angry girl has seen in her life to make her act out in such a way. Bubbling to her brim with fiery anger and malice for any and everyone around her, I cried because I wondered when was the last time she felt love?

Aside from acknowledging my extreme fortune at having lived the life I have lived, and the circumstances in which I was born into, I have been reflecting on the differences or similarities in me and the Jamaican people. The merchants at the farmers market call me “Sister” but only because they want me to buy things from them. “Come, let me show you something my Black sister,” they say to me with my Americanism reeking out of my pores they tell me prices in dollars. I always ask for the JA price. They suck their teeth a bit before telling me.

I didn’t expect to fit in, and honestly I am so used to standing out it doesn’t bother me that even in an island nation of people with kinky hair and sun charred skin, I feel different. Mostly, I felt different because in American we live beneath the curtain of courtesy and “things you don’t say to perfect strangers,” whereas in Jamaica it is all out there. “Hey white girl!” they say to my students. “Hey Fluffy!” they call to me. Perhaps a year ago, I would have been butt hurt over the comments, but now I wonder less about the so-called social niceties and more about where a “me” would fit in, could fit in to this culture, if at all?

What I have wondered is, where is the wealth? Where do the affluent Jamaicans live and what do they do? Or even the upwardly mobile, is there such a thing? Do they have access to the exclusive private beaches? Do they wake up with floor to ceiling window views of the Caribbean Sea? Or is everyone working to break even?? I go on, What brings them their greatest joy? Do they have national pride? Are they pouring resources back into the economy? It is something that I realize has become important to me…remembering my beginnings. To reach down while I am climbing up. I wonder who would be my tribe in this nation?

In the moments in between the things, I find my mind wandering off to this idea of body between air and earth. That somehow as we exist in human form head to heaven and feet to earth we are liminal and have access to both spaces. It is why we can dream and put things into fruition. It is why we can imagine, and then build and engineer. We are able to envision the impossible, improbable, and make it so. Well…through us God works. So I wonder, how my Jamaican dreams will manifest? how the things I see here in my minds eye, I can begin to engineer and construct. I wonder the same for the girls.

And perhaps amend the answer to my question more honestly, “Miss, why you so big? Do you eat too much food?” And I would say, “Maybe…or maybe because I haven’t imagined anything else.” Thoughts become things. Perhaps she would have looked at me funny, but surely no funnier than she already was. Surely not. And who knows, maybe that was the answer she was looking for. I’ve seen angles among us in stranger places. And then I think, maybe the angry girl made me cry because I saw something in her I lacked, the audacity to demand a different reality. Though the case extreme and still not entirely appropriate, the basic root of her episode was a large loud bid for her dream manifested. When was the last time I demanded something so boldly?

I suppose the spectrum on which “honesty” lies can span from beautiful and safe to hard and emotive. From my pondering how to address questions of my body, however uncomfortable it was to answer, to the throwing of furniture it was an exposure, an openness, a susceptibility to extreme hurt be it emotional or physical. And I wondered whether its always like that? Is truth a knife that pierces our shell, slicing us open? And dare we let it remain open? Patient and withstanding for natures own healing or are we always in search of band aids? No imagination. No faith in the unseen. Scared, open, and pissed as hell at the gall of honesty.

Depart to Arrive–A letter to Zachary

Lost in what could certainly be described as a quarter life crisis, I sent my work wife, Annie, a message and asked her if she had time to talk; “I need to think out loud,” she called and this was the result of our conversation.
I explained to her how nothing has ‘stuck’ when it comes to work surrounding my dissertation and I felt as though I was missing something. There must be a thread between each of my abandoned topics, but I cannot figure out what the commonality is, so I’ve begun to think about what I know for certain.
1. I know for certain that I want to look at the leader, in this case my leader will be a higher education professional who is <3 out of a college student personnel/higher education program and working in student affairs.
2. I know for certain that I want to look at decision making processes of these leaders.
Annie asks why, through a series of thorough questions, and I discern that the process of these SA Pros likely affects how they advise their students in their decision making. How can you teach intentional decision making if you are not able to model it or make sense of it? Annie asks what types of decisions…I am stumped because Cheryl has been asking me this question for a year.
I resolve the following: I know I don’t want to look at high-stakes decisions because I think that is a different sort of process, but I want to look at meaningful decisions or rather significant decisions.  She asks for an example, and I tell her about my own decision to drop a class last semester in favor of teaching a class.  Brilliantly she deduces, “So you want to look at decisions with long term implications.”  Yes! That it is exactly.
3. Innocently enough, Annie asks me in a sidebar what my hope was in this program in regards to my own decision making. I told her that my greatest wish was to be able to hear and appreciate others’ decision making processes but be able to remain true to what is right for me. Relating back to my SA Pros I said, “…because when you have what your boss thinks you should do, what your peers think you should do, what your students want you to do, its hard to remember what is right for you and what works for you.” I gasped. Here enters my Adult Development final exam in full blazing glory: Winnecott. True and False self. I wrote this down, “Authenticity…how do you make decisions anchored to true self (vulnerable, innovative) vs. false self (pleasing, anxiety reducing)…” Annie added, “…and how do you recognize [the true self] in your decisions?”
And this is my thread. This is what ties together everything I’ve considered to date. Spirituality and feeling “at peace” with decision making=decision making from the true self. Looking at multiple identities and their salience in decision making=which self (true or false) is more salient when considering a decision. It fits, and who knew that I would have to fall apart, quite literally, for this to fall together?
So now, it is with renewed energy that I prepare to dive back into the adult development literature and consider this and other theories from a new space. A space of presence, and a space of my own truth. When I was working solely to dissipate the anxiety over my future I relied on what worked for others and lost sight of what works for me, my slow methodical somatic and intuitive knowing. I had to depart to arrive. And I knew this photo was meant for you when I saw it.  Hindsight is always 20/20. I cannot wait for this summer.
Renewed.   Image


I’m up late. Or early I suppose, depending on how you look at it. I just finished rereading The Perks of Being a Wallflower and I’m feeling some wordless emotion. There is this one part where Sam and Charlie are talking and she says to him:

“It’s just that I don’t want to be somebody’s crush. If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am. And I don’t want them to carry it around inside. I want them to show me, so I can feel it, too. I want them to be able to do whatever they want around me. And if they do something I don’t like, I’ll tell them.” She was starting to cry a little. But she wasn’t sad. “You know I blamed Craig for not letting me do things? You know how stupid I feel about that now? Maybe he didn’t really encourage me to do things, but he didn’t prevent me from doing them either. But after a while, I didn’t do things because I didn’t want him to think different about me. But the thing is, I wasn’t being honest. So, why would I care whether or not he loved me when he didn’t really even know me?”

Excerpt From: Chbosky, Stephen. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”

And I thought, yes, that is exactly it.

I googled ‘Carrie Bradshaw pearls’ because I am looking for inspiration for my birthday outfit. I ran across a fashion website counting down Carrie’s worst fashion mistakes. Her visible bra, her short shorts (which they called ghetto–which made me cringe), her hats…and I thought “they missed the point of her.”  Carrie, and really every woman, is beautiful because of her so-called mistakes. They make up a significant portion of who we are, I think. And for someone to want to clean Carrie up…means they don’t know her. Like Sam and Charlie.

Then, I thought of how many people know me. A handful maybe. I used to be a lot more self righteous. I thought I knew better. It took my friend and a suicide scare for me to realize how wrong I was. I have another friend who’s pregnant right now and lies a lot. To everyone, but mainly herself. We all know she does it but its not hurtful so we never say anything about it. But I wonder if she thinks we want to clean her up. I wonder if she thinks we don’t really get her. Maybe we don’t.

I guess sometimes in our heads we have reasons as to why we hide parts. Reasons we tell lies or stay quiet or omit. Sometimes its easier. You feel like people don’t really want to know how you are. They are just being polite. But what if they do?

I think people get uncomfortable when they can’t help. Like when you tell them a story and they start giving you advice or feedback you didn’t really want. My married friends do that. So do mom friends. And it always cycles back around to them and how you don’t understand because you’re not a wife, or a mom. But that’s an excuse too.

I’ve been an insatiable sleeper lately, very quiet and very contemplative. Also, selective of how I expend energy. I don’t feel melancholy, exactly, but I do not feel as exuberant as usual. That never felt like a lie. I guess the best thing is that people are letting me be. Maybe that speaks to the quality of relationships here. My classmates are the best people on earth. People who can love your sunshine and your rain. Those are good people.

I had a friend who’s husband was unfaithful. I was one of the few people who knew and when they stayed together she stopped talking to me. Because I knew, I think. I told her that I don’t think she’s a bad or stupid person and we started talking again. Sometimes people can’t look at you because they see too many things they’re trying not to see. And sometimes its because they think you see something they don’t want you to. I try very hard to “zoom out” and see the person. Not the stuff. Because we’re not our stuff. Truth or lies.

I got my fill of holding my tongue when I took Terri’s class. But when I spoke, my voice had too much magnetism and it kept bringing people to me that I didn’t want. I didn’t really get it then. I think I get it better now. My honesty, truthfully my vulnerability, sounded a lot like permission. Which is what a lot of people are waiting on. That its safe to come out.

I’m like Sam now. I don’t want to be a crush or some eloquent being you’ve deified in your head. I’d much rather be me; the mess. Not in a self depreciating way. But in a way where you know you don’t have to be anything other than you. Because I’m nothing more than me. The god in all of us makes us all equal, I think. She just wanted to be seen clearly. Honestly.


I’d like to do that. Be more honest. Not worry about people thinking of me differently and just being. I’d like to give myself permission to do that. Because I thought Carrie looked great no matter the outfit. Bra showing or not. There’s a lot that’s beautiful about loving yourself past other peoples insecurities. They try to give them to you, you know. I loved that she never accepted them. I think Carrie is a lot like Sam.

Tales, Lies, and other such fibbery

I learned a long time ago the difference between someone lying to me and someone lying in general. I was discussing the movie The Notebook with my friend LK today…and she was saying that Allie was a liar because she was lying to Lon the whole time they were together knowing that she loved Noah.  I told her that I don’t think Allie was a liar, per say, I think Allie was lying to herself-not just to Lon. She was discrediting her feelings for Noah trying to trivialize them and make them seem like they weren’t as real as they were. Not to mention you know, inside, when someone doesn’t love you the way that you love them.  You can feel when your partner is unfulfilled or searching for something that you can’t seem to offer them.  You feel that. Lon ignored the signs just like Allie did. And some will argue that Lon didn’t know. When he asked “is everything ok” before she left, when he blew up her phone and then left to go find her…he knew. We always know.