Feb 25



I lay in bed with Zelda: same. I wondered about her earlier cheerful complaint about the 5:2 ratio that is so damn firm in our society. We are chased, it is true. I feel the slam of the next day coming quickly to catch the tail of this one, to keep the mouse from ever running free. I lament it for myself and more so, but quietly, tightly, regretfully, for them. I seek to name it the season – the lagging end of the coldest curve, short days, so little news from the earth. I look ahead at how long still to the equinox. And them, I feel the possibility of letting the narrative go. My breath eases the release; Z eases along with me. We are changing. Many ways, many days. Many moments, many chances to open.

This weekend was walking on Tabor, wet with Jeff after a surprise snack in the van, chatting. Jazz and wine and snacks with Kris and Aubrey. Collapse with Jeff, sex in the morning with his face in my breasts, jacking himself off into my bright, undone rose, petals spread. A quick and marvelous market. A failed meeting with Margaret, a long, meandering meeting with Wendy, a tea, really – letting it be soft: no one in charge, peers, with different skill sets. Holly. Dora. A little cooking: broth on, tortilla, dinner for Cynthia. Lumpy pool mission of willingness, acquiescence: I never take Zelda and a friend somewhere when they ask anymore. Dinner of white bean, celery, celery root soup, kielbasa. Gratefully to bed with children tucked in theirs. Then morning: bran muffins, peach butter, purple kraut. Cleaning. Chatter, play. A chapter snatched of this or that. Sorting and sifting piles, bleeding the heartache of the world out between my legs. Too many checkings of email and instagram. A shower with Clara, washing and braiding her silky, impossibly bright hair. Off to Wendy’s for the second time, to roll in the ocean with four women on the floor: growing our own forms out of the mystery of sound, impulse, joining, invocation, replication, invagination… primitive streak, nodochord, mesenchyme, ectoderm, endoderm, neural tube, yolk sac. Out the door in a daze with Suniti, talking, sandwiches and drinks, Melange. And all, all through: race. Intimacy, white supremacy, self-awareness, gender, tenderness, boundary, transparency. The vibration between the story the nervous system tells when it finally finds out … and the return to what was true before there was a need for a story – and back again. 

I woke in pain from the feeling of missing my children already. I made space for my resistance to the system we play our parts in. I made space for my regret at not knowing how to connect to them in small pieces, or not knowing how to let it be enough, or not knowing how to be present to the enough that there is, instead of being sucked away into phone-land, where the bytes are smaller and more bite-sized. And then I allowed for the feeling itself, of just wanting to touch, to turn toward, to nuzzle and pause.

Today, I worked with Riley, André, Kirsten, Emalee. I talked implicit, explicit, evidence, America, contrast, summary. How do you know? What makes you think that? I talked with Madison: my truth is to seek integration. Admin and teachers don’t get enough opportunities to be real together about shared and contrasting goals. What one small thing can we do, to begin, to create opportunities to vision together?


Feb 6


I wish I could write better about school. J whispering in my ear: “I am feeling really emotional right now and I could cry. I feel like I could cry but I don’t want anyone to know. But I want to tell you. It’s intense. I’m sweating.” He’s wide eyed, on edge, attuned – because of a poem he wrote. Then, minutes later, I, writing down her email, talking with me about her poetry, food, a project. “I appreciate you, Devon.” Then, DA. Working gradually through his essay, bit by bit, diligently bringing his thoughts to light and pinning them bloodily to the page. Yawning, yawning. Throughout, D, talking to me all day long, interrupting with her random thoughts. Where did her finished product go? Where will I hang it? 

When Gay keeps approaching me, while the kids are right there and she could just join them, and asking: “So, what else can I do?” Is it that I should give her the chores of soup making? So that I can sit down? Is she genuinely asking me because she doesn’t know how to join? Or is she asking me to give her jobs so that she doesn’t have to join? Let’s assume the former? Why is it hard for me to see that in the moment?

Driving to school this morning I was listening to the Aires EA astrocast. What was it that she was saying? It all felt very connected to whiteness. I felt the alignment of the work we are being encouraged to do by Rebecca: set down the shield of whiteness and just say how you feel, as though your feelings are the same size as everyone else’s and your irritation and disappointment are just the same as anyone’s… 

Attending to my own nervous system in this way: how am I being tricked? What feeling motivates the grasping? Why? This is yoga…

Noticed my desire to be busy, judgmental, invasive around Z and Ab’s convo about friends with Holly. I could hear Z’s voice so well, taking over, rising, reclaiming the space. I could feel the hitch in me, the catch. Learning from her is the same as learning from Gay. They are to point me back to me. They are not for me to try to change. I am blessed to have these wonderful mirrors, and these wonderful, beloved bodies who stand behind the mirrors, waiting for me to stop seeing myself and just love them. 

I saw Destiney today sharing, being open with her process. I want to emulate that. 


Feb 3


06Reading The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton. Learning (for the first time!?) about Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck. Learning the New Biology. A fantasy ticking along in the background: being a doctor of the kind I’ve always relied upon. Collecting understanding. Studying bodies. Contributing in my way to the communal, collective, cooperative, aware understanding of life. 

Stock burbling and popping on the stove. Oranges in an orange bowl. Rita Dove, a book called Aware by Dan Siegel, and LaRose by beloved Louise E. Empty coffee cup. Wet road. 

Jeff sick upstairs. Girls still asleep. Why am I not fevered? The puzzle of biology, immunity, each cause arising and falling away, each “effect” equally complex, transitory, shimmering with variables. 

There is something spoiled about a bucket list, but dreams tell so much…

  • Studying BMC in Lorane with Amy
  • Being with children, supporting parents
  • Cadaver dissection
  • Living walking distance to a wild place
  • Growing more and more of my own food, space for a real compost pile, flowers
  • Knitting myself a sweater
  • Improving my spanish and using it
  • Caring for my mother in her old age
  • Ever deepening embodied presence with life
  • A longer stretch at Great Vow
  • Supportive movement practices
  • Women who inspire me and love me
  • A medium format camera, a flash automatic camera
  • Activism around seed, water and land sovereignty
  • A vision of equity that begins with me, is deeply spiritual, informs everything and is ever evolving

Oct 29, 2018


After writing to Holly, and feeling my own sick, puzzled spirit turning, crumpling the covers of my hiding … I went to bed last night to read. In Refuge, Terry Tempest’s family is preparing for her mother’s death. The lake is over the bird refuge, and Christmas has just past. 

“We each spoke of our love for Mother, and she gently said, ‘I am sorry I cannot be with your feelings. It is different for me.’ She did not elaborate”

I quickly folded the upper corner, then read the words over until I was deeply sure of their phrasing. Then I closed my eyes and rested the book on my chest. 

I am sorry I cannot be with your feelings. It is different for me. I am sorry I cannot be with your feelings. It is different for me. I am sorry I cannot be with your feelings. It is different for me. 

Reading to Clara with Zelda by my side, squirming for scratches. In My New Blanket, a refugee girl is viscerally shocked by the foreignness of her new world. She says that the cold waterfall of strange sounds makes her feel like she is not herself. 

Which is a way to name the murk of what I feel within: a rearranging, an awkward formality, a steady state of threat. 

I long for my outside clothes. To be dirty. 

And yet, I do not long for other things I knew I had to step away from: the reply-all emails about ginger cookies for the kindergarten classroom; the meaningless naming of yoga classes; the laundry cycle. 

I grieved the books that I stacked by the door to return: 60 books or so that represent just the very most recent turning of the wheel – wonderful worlds brought home, discovered, tested, integrated, released or cherished … It doesn’t make sense, to do a bad job of something that used to integrate so fluidly into my weeks and days. And yet, as Clara and Z and I read … I grieve. Not for the concept, but for the experience. Their limbic systems ringing with the same tone as mine; our minds working on the same story, each in her own layer. Our ears open to the same sounds … together. 

I question: do other people want this version of togetherness, that I love? Is this what Natasha means about my expectations staying the same regardless of the environment? That I still want this, or seem to ask for it – when it is not possible. When it is not appropriate. 

This is part of what I was writing to Holly: no one is with me there, so I am constantly reminded to be with myself. A boundary I might never have noticed in my old work, where people are working and willing to be with. But. The height of a good yoga class, or afternoon in Nature with the kids, or marching chat with a friend, or meditation, or a good book, or even the grind of trying to make these fleshy feelings find their place on the page – is FLOW. Growth toward being in the correspondence between intention and communication, awareness and action. 

No one waiting for it to be over. 

Renee says now is a time to open the doors to the little room where I have planned my future, and air out the dusty assumptions that I learned to breathe when I was small. Imagine the world from here – from where you are now and what you know – what your children know – about what is possible. That means imagine from the center of a growing city. And I am resisting that with every breath. 

Where else could I be more radical? Why must everything get thrown to the wind at once? I still feel that resistant, resilient duality. And yet even as I try to name it, I undercut my thoughts. Privilege is blind by its nature. Is it true that I only perceive my choices?

I ask myself to be brave, and am ashamed by the idea of not being brave enough. Of course these go hand in hand.


Jan 26, 2019

12I went on Zen meditation retreat for four days of silence the second weekend of January. Silence, in this context, is protected by not speaking, but also by avoiding communication through gesture or eye contact. The Zen form is firm but not punishing. We join our voices in chanting and support each other physically by sharing food, chores, and meditation. Breaking silence does happen, sometimes necessarily and sometimes accidentally. There are no punishments. There is just a return to the form.

During this seshin, I noticed that each time I was tempted to break silence it came from a idea that I could help someone else. Maybe another guest didn’t know where a pan went in the kitchen during clean up, or I noticed someone was breaking another aspect of the form unintentionally. Maybe they had mud on their shoes and were making marks on the floor. Maybe the coffee ran out and they didn’t know how to get more. In the shelter of a vow of silence, I allowed these impulses to pile up. I had the time to notice myself wanting to become involved in someone else’s practice, wanting to alter it. I could relax with the instruction that I be responsible only for my own actions. Underneath impulses not indulged, emotions and body sensations revealed themselves in patterns: tissue rhythms of energetic involvement that I projected on other people in the present but, with time to unfurl, revealed themselves as recitations or reverberations from deep in my identity. Why did I want to get involved with other people when I had come explicitly to care for myself? What is this urge to help that arises stubbornly within me? What is the pattern revealing?

At the end of the retreat, we shared in a circle about our experiences. I wanted to speak about whiteness because the retreat attendees were overwhelmingly white, the ordained and residents were all white but for one young woman of Japanese descent, and I recognize whiteness operating in the – in this case, I believe, condoned and respectful – borrowing and adaptation of another, dominated, culture’s spiritual and ritualistic heritage. 

I wanted to speak about whiteness because it is my spiritual obligation. And I wanted to because it is so tempting not to. 

As each person shared, though, I came to be aware of a pattern of not being able to focus fully on what they were saying because of how I was internally adapting what I was going to say about whiteness. In a sense, I was learning about the people in the circle with me for the first time, and as I did so, I was, almost unconsciously, adjusting my pitch to the audience. I was looking to “help” them. 

Sanzen is the name for one on one conference during retreat with the head teacher, in which the vow of silence is lifted. On the third day, I was called for Sanzen with Chozen Bays, one of the heads of the monastery, a white woman, a mother, and pediatrician who, before retirement, worked primarily with children with developmental trauma due to abuse and neglect. Although I had shared practice with Chozen before, we had never spoken. In her company in the little Sanzen hut, I was immediately washed in compassion and patience. I told this Dharma-grandmother about how actively my mind was revisiting and elaborating on the brokenness of the world; the pain produced by racist systems and institutions: our educational and justice systems especially, and how they shape the experiences and self-stories of our youth… and how I might interrupt or alter conditions at the school where I work, in my childrens’ schools, in the district. As I spoke, I felt how this doomsday-ing and strategizing was progressively hardening my identity and my habitual reactivity. Sitting on my cushion, I was not participating in change. I was reinforcing my image of the world as a place that needed Me, needed My Help. I was staying safe. I couldn’t rest into myself in tenderness, or even spend time with my grief or fear or confusion because my mental activity was to separate myself from the suffering I was trying to “solve.”

I think the urge to try to help is a natural human one. And, in me, I can feel how it has been fed by karma, gender conditioning, small town life, my mom – all imbued with, all supporting, white dominance. I believe we as humans can help each other as equals. But. I learned and adapted to perceive needs in others while ignoring those needs in myself so that I could be necessary to others – and also so I could be superior to them. 

There are many threads at work here that I can’t fully lay out, even for myself. The risk of spiritual bypassing rubs shoulders with the urge to white saviorism. They reach toward each other from the poles and threaten to bury the shimmering possibility of authentic, heart-centered involvement. 

This covering happens so easily. I can give so many examples. Specific stories from my childhood and youth: times where the only way to make a bridge to a community that was marginalized seemed to be to ‘help.’ This was also true in spaces where I was managing my own feelings of inferiority: in a community based around serving wealth, my people were always ‘the help.’ And if I wasn’t – I was ashamed not to be. These days, I recognize this pattern in myself as strongly aligned with what it is to be a certain kind of white woman, a first daughter, a child of the rising middle class. Does this mean I am not inherently helpful? Everyone is inherently helpful. 

So here is where I out myself in this thread: even here, as I read others’ questions about weaponizing whiteness, I felt activated. I must help! Which meant I was feeling tempted to urgently try to alleviate the discomfort of my fellow white women with my individual prowess with the written word. From this place, as a helper, I get to distance myself, to feel safe and superior, while also being a good white woman doing her race work. 

In this activation, though, I can no longer feel safe or superior. I feel aware of a trigger. Puzzled. I seek to pause.

So, for a while, days, I just hung out with that. I admit, it does slow things down. I hung out with feelings of being threatened, of being the only one, of not doing enough. No one else needs to hang out with these feelings for me. They are mine to hold. 

And then, from a place of sharing where I am in my process, I wrote this:

On the deepest level, we all seek safety. It is our biological imperative. As infants and small children, we seek safety through belonging in our families and communities. As we grow, we must balance self-definition, agency, and safety. Usually, this involves adapting our primal safety strategies into integrated, externalized habits – pieces of identity. This happens on all kinds of levels. Centering race, I want to say that we have all sought ways to stay safe in the secretive, savage culture that supports and perpetuates white dominance. It is savage because of all the lives it is willing to sacrifice; it is secretive because it thrives through lies, projection, and obfuscation. As white people, we actually have a shot at being physically safe in this system. But as humans, we can feel the humming danger of a culture that systematically excludes, abuses, suppresses, and mocks the other cultures it comes into contact with. As animals, we unconsciously know that our fundamental biological vulnerabilities – sex, love, death – are sources of shame in the dominant paradigm of whiteness. To stay safe – both in an external sense, by fitting in, and in an internal sense, by protecting ourselves from painful awareness – we shape our identities to ignore the savagery by keeping the secrets, even from ourselves.

If modern, Northern, liberal whiteness is largely about dominating without acknowledging our dominance, then maintaining the sacrament of secrecy is essential. As white people, our safety strategies get triggered when there is a risk of the secret being exposed – in any way, by anyone. This is how I feel weaponizing happen: when a threat to white culture activates body systems that make me feel personally threatened. Unconsciously, I respond to the threat by employing safety strategies that I developed to tolerate and manage my own dominance by the same culture of whiteness that I am co-opted to uphold. It doesn’t matter to my unconscious if I am seeking to interrupt the system, as when Rebecca sought to protect her Black sons from racist interventions at school, or when Angeline felt the impulse to somehow alter the conversation around a girl’s hair in the school office. As a white person, when I act from a place of feeling threatened, whether I know it or not, I act in collusion with a culture of white dominance. 

This is why it makes so much sense to me when Rebecca talks about doing everything we can to avoid running this neurological pattern again and again once we begin to realize all it is tied to. 

In Sanzen, Chozen told me she was glad that I wished to help. She said she hoped I never lose that wish. And, she said, “we have to allow ourselves to see why. So that we aren’t motivated unconsciously. So that we’re not out of control. We have to bring the feelings up to consciousness. That doesn’t mean we stop helping. It means we don’t help others to try to save ourselves.”

For me, this is the spiritual work that I get to access because of allowing the dark secrets of whiteness into my conscious mind. I get to be more compassionate to my small self, by seeing how she learned to help from a place of fragility instead of from a place of strength. And I get to untie my experience of other people – and other cultures – from my need for my identity to be secure.

I did share about race in the closing circle on retreat. I said that I am becoming more present to the ways that I hide in helping behaviors, and how I am encouraged to do so by the white people around me. I said that I am beginning to feel how helping people from a place of superiority or distance is harmful and erasive. In the Zen tradition, we chant the Bodhisattva vow, which begins: “Beings are numberless, I vow to free them.” I learned from one of my teachers to add “From Myself” to the end of this vow. For me, unlearning white dominance through self-compassion and accountability is an essential aspect of upholding this promise.


Jan 23, 2019

32Today, working with Tatianna on her poetry project. I say, “What do you want to do?” She says, “Should we do this?” 

I feel: enjoyment working with her; satisfaction that she is able to maintain focus and exert creativity over several hours; growth in myself around this assignment; alertness to her particular communication style and mine, whether I am giving her enough space to have opinions without putting her on the spot. This is our first concerted effort together. Gradually I become aware of the difference in how we are expressing around the project. I have a sudden sense that I should be making the project more hers, less ours. Whatever that means. They are her words, in her handwriting, about a song she chose, in a font she chose. And yet, there is the feeling: that if another teacher were watching me (if the system knew!), they would see that I am supporting, encouraging, offering ideas. They would see that we are doing it together. That to make it feel safe for her, I am stepping in. The feeling is: I should make her prove that she can do it alone! Right after that feeling, I think of the word Collaboration. 

Collaboration is what I believe in. White dominance tells me that it is messy, hard to measure, not valid. I let Tatianna know that working with her was satisfying for me, and I appreciate her listening to my ideas and being willing to try new things. I validate her self-proclaimed perfectionism (grateful to have a piece of the puzzle – she is quiet, often very reserved, and does little work despite obvious attentiveness), and also let her know that I am glad she stretched by making something that isn’t perfect but lets other people know her better.

I think of other ways to include and facilitate Collaboration for these students. I think of how hard it can be for them to support and listen to each other unless they are already close. I think of how much fun they have together, as long as it’s not on topic. I think of the individuality of so much written work: how to show that more than one person put effort into an essay or a poem?

I think of Teaching While White – the episode with Peggy McIntosh and Debby Irving. 

I think of how much more, really, I care about these youths’ ability to attend to each other, make relationships, self-regulate, respect each others’ time, navigate boundary setting, etc etc – than whether they can write an essay! But I am the English teacher because that is what Whiteness values. Already established. But how to include spoken language, sharing the work, reflecting each other, noticing and giving language to the other’s skills.



Nov 18, 2018

16A small window opens: in the library glancing at the Leslie Odom Junior book, on youtube scanning Rob Plevin videos out of nowhere, while reading an article in my email from Mindful magazine. I glimpse the quickly moving figure of … me? Learning? Coming out enough from my hunched posture of deficit and embarrassment … I can’t be both the watcher and the figure. What is it that I see? Oh anything. I see out the damn window for a second, gasp, and then it’s gone.

Focus on their strengths.

Clara: detailed, delighted, go with the flow

Zelda: aware, supportive, direct

Jeff: funny, playful, hardworking

Quin: polite, earnest, honest

Shawna: honest, energetic, generous

Me: responsive, warm, mostly conscious


Oct 24, 2018


Sunday night I dreamed the feeling of being hooked.

Ribcage up and forward, inner body pressed like a frightened animal to the back of my sternum, trying to get into my throat – but for the curve, the narrowing. Or trying to get out, as though my chest had doors and my heart could leap free from this messiness, limitation, earthy complicity. A similar feeling to the bladder-driven nightmares of my childhood, in which I pressed along the walls of strange, senseless rooms frantically seeking the door that would release me to the bathroom. Whatever I am holding in my heart, it might leak out while still inside?

In the dream, though, I felt it: how my kidneys were choking, my upper psoas tight. The high pitched ache of too much lumbar curvature on the right side. Shoulders thrown back, hollow at the front edges of the sockets, fear across the collarbones. And I felt

Something else: the bed maybe. The possibility of weight. Dreaming, the liquid luminescence of my inner body turned like a sleeping animal seeking warmth instinctively; like a toddler’s head nodding in the gradual drift to sleep. Down and back. A slow swoop of acquiescence; a come-down-off-the-ledge gesture, but no collapse. Like filling the container fully, at last. 

I melted thus into the dark room, the gathered quilts and my hair on the pillow. Feeling the gesture through all the layers as a small miracle: this is possible. And the miracle of course included: the deep knowing of the hook, the firm and sudden swing of the pendulum.


Oct 18, 2018


A vagueness takes over in the evenings. I know it, and yet I keep expecting, believing that I will prepare somehow to be better at this tomorrow than I was today. 

Waking, I am direct from some vision of unwilled vulnerability: naked; with thinning gums and loose front teeth (the right one, especially); wandering an expensive hotel looking for my lost cell phone, constantly being pressured to leave a tip; showing up at Kristen Barr’s New York door unexpected, jobless.

The alarm pulls me out to a dark world and I taste scarcity and the vast expanse at once. Nothing I do with this time will be enough – my only time of smooth brain function, my only time alone, my only time to plan, to sit, to write, to drink coffee, to shit, to shower, to do whatever magic thing will serve best, make me the woman I believe I need to be … my only time to begin.

To my left: a folder of ideas. To my right, a cup of tea. Around me, the humming isolation tank of the room where I have spent most of these last ten years. The fridge, the stove, the dishwasher. The windows reflect the room back to itself, and I seem as I move to be haunting my own home: a blur of movement, perceived from the corner of my eye, that makes me feel watched. 

Holly said, as we hugged goodbye last night: “You stayed long enough to look like yourself.” Hesitated. I asked, “How did I look before that?” She said, with weight, acceptance, confession: “Guarded.”

I keep thinking that the most relaxing thing would be to just listen to them, my scholars. To stop trying to get them to listen to me, and just listen to them, be present with them and their concerns. But I struggle.

Carter, trying to fit page 2 between page 1 and 3: “Don’t tell me I did it wrong cuz then I’ll feel stupid. I’m not sure I’m doin it right, so I can’t do it. I don’t wanna feel stupid.”

Me too, Carter. Me too. 


Standing Practice


For years I scratched at the tag on my metaphorical yoga teacher shirt. Why did it still say Hatha? 

Truthfully, there are so many ways I have tried (and failed) to tackle this question: historical, commercial, etymological.

When students come to class, what are they looking for? What cues let them know what they might find? How better to communicate what we are up to? Was Hatha Yoga ever a definable thing? Was Yoga? Since we cannot truly separate the way we currently relate to anything from the capitalist and patriarchal conditioning of our mind/bodies, and since this question is being asked (here) in the context of the title of a $12 drop-in class at a neighborhood studio … Does it matter?

With deep gratitude to researchers like Mark Singleton and reporters like Matthew Remski for their vigorous, heart-centered, deeply critical work, I chose to cut the tag from the shirt. I just didn’t want to be bothered by it anymore. At this point, my methods of clothing the wordless privacy of my own spiritual embodiment practice in order to make it tangible in the provisional and public sphere of Yogaland are both very political and very practical.

Standing Practice means Practice for Standing. In relation to my Sunday night class, Grounding Practice, which is a rolling-around-on-the-floor class, these classes are primarily upright and focus on enabling balanced support and spontaneity through the web of connective tissue that forms developmentally through our efforts to come to stand and continues to evolve to facilitate all the things we do on our feet.

Standing Practice is practice knowing ourselves – embodied, upright humans pinned to the Earth our mother through the springing soles of our feet. Practice standing and walking on both legs, with both arms swinging: experiencing preference, avoidance, habit and fear in real time through connection to and compassion for me-as-tissue: fascia, fluid, brain, bone. Practice standing in relation to the world, wearing the skin and flesh and hair that bear all of history into the present and onto which others place their meanings. Practice getting support from the ground. Practice sharing support through effort, growth, and rest. Practice being in, staying in, breathing in the home that we can neither leave nor keep and that we wear ourselves out struggling against. Practice noticing, keeping eyes bright on the space between here and way out there, opening the present, choosing a path, tending the cycle, meeting the fresh moment as it glides through and becomes the past.

What does this look like? Oh, just a regular yoga class. Strength, stretch, breath, energy, awareness. Finding the midline, finding depth, finding the plumbline, finding breadth, finding safety and trust. Breaking the binary, feeling the spectrum. Experiential anatomical and physiological education. Calf stretches, foot workouts, clam shells, experiments with both form and spaciousness. Gentle reminders to get support, to invite tenderness, to stop fixing and start feeling. Strong encouragement to notice socialization, emotion, habit. Delicate, tentative invitations toward unconditional belonging in this brutal, broken world. Practice isolating joint movements; practice moving as a whole, hopeful being.