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.
I have been in a place these past few days. More like these past few weeks. Tomorrow (July 4) will mark exactly five months from the day I took a leap of faith and submitted my resignation to my corporate job. I was making almost $90,000 per year with excellent benefits for myself and my son. And I decided to walk away from it without a clear plan of where I was going and a savings account that could be laughable. I just knew after ten years with the same company, doing work I was unfulfilled by and feeling a calling in my heart for a more purpose-filled life, that it was time to go. My soul had to find what it was looking for. I was teaching Yoga part-time and I knew if I had nothing else, I had that. Within three months of resigning I landed two teaching jobs, in addition to the classes I was already teaching part-time. I am now up to teaching six classes per week and take on substitute opportunities when they are available.
In the beginning of June, I signed on for a one-time weeklong teaching gig which, for some reason, left me exhausted and energetically depleted. It was my first lesson in the business of Yoga. Learning that I didn’t have to take every offer just because it seemed glamorous or would connect me with a certain level of clients. I have found it difficult to fully pull myself out of the space I felt I was left in after that gig was done. I have been questioning my decisions and my choices, more concerned about my finances and experiencing bouts of Yoga burnout. I know I am not alone in this and I find relief in this knowledge. I also know it takes every day work to keep a positive mindset and not give in to the feelings of worry and anxiety that can lurk in our hearts and minds.
Struggling with this feeling as I woke up this morning, my eyes landed on a book I purchased months ago but have not yet read. “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers,” by Debbie Ford. I picked it up and within the first few pages, I came across these words from the I Ching:
“It is only when we have the courage
to face things exactly as they are,
without any self-deception or illusion,
that a light will develop out of events,
by which the path to success
may be recognized.”
Once I read this, I knew Spirit led me to finally picking up the book. Instead of being hard on myself for what I am feeling, I am going to honor myself for having the courage to see and feel things exactly as they are. The road to peace comes with having honest conversations with yourself. I know I still want to serve. I still believe in my Light. But to be able to truly assist others with their healing process, which is the work I want to do, I have to know what my own dark sides are. I have to embrace my shadows. And right now, I am dealing with the shadow of questioning everything and feeling somewhat unsure. I know the answers will come as long as I keep moving forward with an open heart and a commitment to serve.
These are the spaces in which we are challenged to follow our own intuition. As the words from the I Ching remind us, when we accept things as they are, we learn and recognize the direction in which we need to go. This is when we truly begin to live an authentic life. That is my ultimate goal. And inner peace. Always inner peace.
Have faith that all will be will. This is a reminder to others as much as it is to myself.
Love and Light. Namaste. And Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.