What Are You?

As an interracial woman, I have often been asked the question, “What are you?” A running joke between me and my mixed comrades. I remember telling a social media friend once that I’m going to respond “an alien” the next time I get that question. I am not offended by people asking. I am often curious about people’s backgrounds myself. But the joke is in the “what,” as though I am not human. That is what I am. A human. A woman who is very much still trying to find her place in this world. 

At 37 years-old, I continue to grapple with the question of not what am I, but who am I? This year of 2015 has been a very defining one for me. The biggest thing that happened occurred when I decided to take a leap of faith and leave my corporate job after 15 years of being in the professional workforce. I am focusing more on teaching Yoga and aligning myself with my purpose, which I know, above all things, is based in service to humanity. Leaving a corporate job, especially with not a lot of money saved nor a real plan outside of honoring an internal calling, is quite scary. More than anything else, it will show a person how they have defined themselves within a box. What’s scary is learning to think and live outside of that box. 

In many ways, I have pushed past boundaries that were either self-defined or created by others. This mainly relates to my spiritual journey, where I was raised as a Baptist but explored Islam in my 20s, ultimately deciding to convert and be a practicing Muslim for two years. From there it was Yoga and a completely new spiritual path opened up for me. I pull Angel cards and believe in Angel therapy. I consult with spirit guides, although I don’t know exactly who my guides are outside of some who have transitioned from this life and who I feel are with me. I light Palo Santo sticks and sit in front of my meditation altar when I write in my journal. I believe in Universal law. My present spiritual station is not one that is defined by religion, but after years of continuos seeking, I feel closer in my relationship with God than I have ever felt. It is not easy embracing such a path when you’re the only one in your Christian family who is doing so, but I am proud of myself for honoring the course that continues to be laid in front of me. Through all my years of constant seeking and asking questions, I was looking for a space where I fit. And when I sit cross-legged in front of my altar with my incense burning, I realize I have found that space. But the question of “who am I?” still remains. The following is what comes to mind.

I am a hippie girl and a Black revolutionary. I love people. I love my people. My vibe tribe scattered throughout the world, sharing their love and light and gifts with others. Helping to create a better, more humanistic global society. I am my maternal family. My mother. My grandmother. My aunts. My brothers, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins. All shades of brown. Rooted with history in Texas, with an extension in New York and New Jersey by way of my mother. I am proud of my mother’s heritage. My Black heritage. 

I honor my father. His family with European roots and scattered throughout New York, the Midwest, Pennsylvania, California and now Tennessee. I have less of a connection to these roots, but an unbreakable bond with my father and the stepmother and stepbrother he brought into my life. It was in this world where I learned of Bob Marley, The Beatles, The Eagles, Bluegrass music, Classical music. Woodstock. Politics. Peace. Hope. Yoga. This world shaped my ideals and some of the core principles of who I am. 

Combined together, the love my mother and father once shared resulted in my existence. And with it came the elements that would open me to my world vibe tribe. It is all Love. It is all connection. It is all me. Who I am. A balance I am learning to embrace. An awakening and understanding that makes me feel a most subtle sense of peace and happiness

I have often tried to define myself as one of these things. A conditioned way of thinking that comes from living inside the box. But as I continue to grow and make choices that are more authentic and based in how I emotionally, physically and spiritually respond to things, I learn that I don’t have to be just one of these things. I am the sum of all my parts. Parts that I am learning are wild and beautiful. I am feeling myself living more and more on purpose. 

I am finding the one thing I have been always searching for. I am finding me. 

That is what I am. Human Me. Feeling and being free to be exactly who I am. 

Namaste. 

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Untitled

“Sometimes, the greatest battle to win is the battle over ourselves.”

In my last post, I shared a poem that was written by one of my beloved Godmother’s former students. The line quoted above is from that poem and it resonated so strongly with me when I first read it. I ended up quoting it on my social media pages and even use it in the biography section of my Instagram page. Since the beginning of my process of awakening, which I say began in the summer of 2012 after a bad car accident I was in, I have continuously learned and developed a better understanding of the notion that is so simply stated in this one line. Life in and of itself can be challenging, but it is true…the greatest battle we will experience in life is the battle over ourselves.

We are the masters of our thoughts, the captains of our emotions and the vehicles through which our individual “stuff” that we carry around interacts with others. I had often heard similar musings before that 2012 summer, but it finally began to sink in afterwards. Just before the car accident, I was on an emotional brink. I was very stressed out with work, reeling from a painful breakup and was generally not happy overall. I had heavily contemplated quitting my job, although I had nothing else lined up and a 5 year-old son to take care of. I firmly believe the accident was the Creator’s way of slowing me down to a literal halt. Instead of quitting my job and jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, I was given a 6-week reprieve from my job. To this day, I am still so thankful to the doctor who took one look at me sitting in his office, banged up emotionally and physically, and said, “I am taking you out of work until mid-August” and scribbled those same words on his notepad. It was early June when this occurred and I wanted to drop to my knees right there in his office in gratitude.

For a few days after I was written out of work, I sat in total silence in my house and allowed myself to feel EVERYTHING that was running through my veins at the time. Hurt. Anger. Fear. Sadness. Mortality. Once I had gotten to a place where I felt it all, I started to do the work of putting myself back together again. I remained committed to my work in therapy. I threw myself more deeply into my Yoga practice. I bought and avidly read on a daily basis Mark Nepo’s “The Book of Awakening.” I started having conversations with other people on the path. Most of my growth is detailed in blogs I posted during that time in my life. And while my life has been far from perfect since that summer, I have definitely gained a better understanding of my greatest battle in life (besides being a parent) being the battle over self.

On this very morning, I have been dealing with a gamut of feelings and emotions. Rushing my son and myself as we get ready for school and work. Beating myself up for not getting up earlier, so I wouldn’t have to rush and more so, snap at my son. Seeing things on social media that I want to react to, but am trying hard to not let get to me. As these things began to swirl around in my head, somewhere deep down, I heard the line from the poem and I knew I had to blog. Sometimes when I post my writings, it’s the title that comes to me first and then I build the content. Sometimes it’s the content from which I build a title. Today, I couldn’t think of a title that would match the quote and so, I thought to myself, “let’s just leave it untitled”…and that’s what I decided to name this particular blog.

In the song, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” it is said that life is but a dream. And this can be true. But I like to think of it more along the lines of life is but a journey. A confluence of experiences, emotions, thoughts, choices and fate. I used to think it was about attaining those things – a good job, a nice home, stellar wardrobe, etc. – that would make me happy. But I realize now that true happiness comes from deep within and our very thoughts – those things we only tell ourselves – are the foundation upon which to build that happiness. And you are blessed if you have had an awakening. I now better understand that it’s our desires and our attachment to those desires that can cause a feeling of suffering. I am knee-deep in my own awakening experience and my goal…my hope…is to emerge more detached, truly enlightened and most importantly, as the victor in the battle over my self.

When life proves to be a bit more challenging than you feel you can handle, remember the words of the Serenity Prayer:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Here’s to wisdom and all things good. Love and Light, dear readers. Namaste.


The Click Moments

I have an extremely busy work day and week ahead of me. But my spirit felt compelled to write and share an “aha” moment I had while driving into work this morning.

If you know me personally, at some point in time you’ve had the “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life!” conversation with me. If you don’t know me, but you’ve kept up with my blog posts, then you’ve probably had this conversation with me via the words I share. It’s no question…and I am not ashamed to admit…that I have been trying to define and re-define my purpose for quite some time now. The truth of the matter is that I am going on 36 years-old in a few short months. Outside of not knowing how I got here so quickly, I also have a pretty strong fear about my life continuously passing without me being fully aware of my soul’s mission and purpose and more so, without me maximizing and fulfilling that purpose. I know 36 is young in the grand scheme of things, and I believe it myself when I tell other people that you’re never too old or it’s never too late to pursue your dreams. But the fear still remains and is sometimes exacerbated by my desire to leave behind a legacy for my son. I don’t need my name on a hospital or to win some national award, but I do want to live a life that my son can look up to and be inspired from. Both of my parents, while well-educated and successful in their own career paths, weren’t rocket scientists nor did they come up with some great invention. But they were public servants who each dedicated over 35 years to the public agencies they worked for. My mother was a social worker who retired as a Deputy Director of a unit that dealt with sexually abused children and my father retired as a Public Defender. Both worked for the City of New York, so you can imagine what came along with their respective career choices. We weren’t millionaires by any means, but they were certainly proud of the work they chose and as a little girl, I was more than proud to listen to their stories about the lives they impacted or literally helped to save in some instances. For many years, I thought I was going to be a lawyer just like my dad and I even did a brief stint in law school at the University of Maryland (UMD) while I was pregnant with my son. I quickly learned that practicing law was not my purpose, which is why my time at UMD only lasted 6 weeks. What I have always known for sure though, is that I was put on this earth to help other people. I’ve always felt this deep in my soul, but I have not been able to figure out how to translate this into a viable career path.

Because my parents instilled in me the values of education and hard work, I did not find it challenging to obtain my undergraduate degree and ultimately, my Master’s degree in Public Administration (no surprise I selected this program, since that was the chosen work of my parents). I moved to the Washington, DC metro area to pursue my Master’s, but also with the goal of working in lower-income/underserved communities. My life had been personally impacted by the loss of my nephew to gun violence, and I wanted to do something…anything…to have not had him die in vain. I was able to land a “good” job upon completing my graduate studies and from that good job, I was able to secure others and ended up in the position I currently hold. It’s far from community work and not something I ever grew up thinking I would do, but I am paid well, I can provide insurance and other necessities for my son and I’ve learned things that I know will benefit me in the long run. But the one thing I am not, is fulfilled. There are days when I am able to just roll out of bed and make the most of what’s ahead of me, and then there are days where I feel like the lack of fulfillment is eating away at my spirit. Those days can be tough and I do what I can to try to find a place of peace. Today is a sort of combination between the two. I woke up wanting to be motivated to tackle the week ahead, but deep down, there’s the “thing” that is nagging at me. The thing I feel when I make a 90-minute commute (each way) for a job that’s 20 miles away. The thing that eats at me when I have to leave my son for yet another business trip and he is asking me why he can’t come. The thing that just sits there when I don’t get home until after 7 and still have to cook, tend to my son’s needs, try to have him in the bed by 9:30 and then have some kind of time for myself while also striving to get in the bed by Midnight. I know this cycle overall is something a majority of us struggle with, but more and more, I am having a hard time accepting that this is the way it has to be. In my heart, I believe there is so much more.

Last week, I spoke with a friend about my Yoga practice and teacher training program. I talked about how great it is to be in such a zone during the training weekends, but how I’m also challenged to stay in the zone once training ends and outside life resumes. I mentioned that I am waiting for this “click” moment where all the zen comes together and is my daily way of living and being. Where I am not just making an effort to practice my asanas (poses) every day, but where I am also making a daily effort to meditate, write in my journal and pretty much spend the time that is necessary with my mind, heart and spirit. I know I am much further along in my journey than I ever was before, but when you engage in something like a Yoga Teacher Training program, you begin to feel this sense of responsibility and accountability for really walking the walk that you are learning about. At least, I do. Yoga is all about balance, so I have to remember not to be hard on myself, but I do want to live, breathe and be the Yoga life…whatever that means for me.

A few days after the conversation with my friend, I was practicing Bakasana (crow pose) which is my physical challenge pose right now (hand/head stands are my fear-based challenge poses). Although I’d get “right” there with getting into it, I’d start thinking too hard about my hand and arm placement and I’d fall completely out of it. After a few attempts, I got frustrated, stood up and said to myself: “You’re not trusting yourself, Rachel!” And then I felt a click. I realized in that moment that not only am I not trusting my body, but I also struggle with trusting my “self.” The Rachel deep down who knows exactly what she wants for herself. I stopped practicing for a few moments to write that realization down and sit with it. I believe this was a huge moment of understanding for me.

That realization came back around today by way of the thoughts that were swimming around my head during my drive into work this morning. The thoughts ranged from matters of the heart to finding the time to start preparing for my Yoga teaching finals that are coming up in 3 short weeks, and everything else in between. I am still learning about the world of angels and spirit guides, but I believe in them, and so I spoke out loud to them, asking them to guide my heart, guide my spirit, guide my words, guide my path. But the key here is not just to ask, but to also be attuned to the responses and one came to me not too long after. I dropped off my son at school, got back in the car and as I resumed driving, I felt something in my spirit say, “You are meant to be doing the work of an energy healer.” Nothing more, nothing less. Just those words. Another click moment that helped me to better understand why I struggle with finding a good fit when I apply for new jobs. For years, I’ve looked for new opportunities up and down the East Coast between New York City and DC and nothing has panned out. For a while, I thought it was my cover letter and/or resume, but lately I’ve been wondering if it’s because I am not meant to be in a 9-5 role. I’ve heard this before from friends and my therapist, but it’s an understanding I’ve had to come to on my own. Now it’s just a matter of what I do with these revelations…

For now, the goal for me is to remain aware but also not be hard on myself for not making certain transitions overnight. The human in me wants immediate answers, but only because I’ve been searching for them for quite some time. The Yogi in me knows it’s important to reflect on how far I have come, and how each and every experience has led me to the present moment I am in now…and more so, to just stay in this moment.

In developing my understanding about spirit guides, I’ve learned about angel numbers and what they can mean for our lives. Without going into too much detail, 95 is a number that’s stood out to me lately and when I noticed it on a license plate this morning, I decided to look it up. The message is quite timely in that it deals with trusting your intuition and remaining steadfast on your path, as it will soon lead to fulfilling the mission of your soul. Check out this link for more: http://sacredscribesangelnumbers.blogspot.com/2011/07/angel-number-95.html .

My awakening is something that’s always been taking place, but I only recently started to become aware of. There is still so much more out there for me. I just have to remember to believe in Spirit, trust myself and always ask for…and be aware of…the click moments. Thank you for letting me share this one with you.

Namaste.