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Anti-Discrimination, Equity & Justice

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

There has never been a moment in my life where I can't remember being the one to watch out for others. This doesn't make me better; it's just who I am and how I was made. My therapist was certain I was a people-pleaser when I came to her for utter burn out because I was martyring myself for everyone else. I really resisted that label though.


I am an #advocate, an #empath, an #Enneagram 8 - the Challenger. I am a #Sagittarius, the friend and free spirit. Watching out for others and giving where you can just makes the most sense to me. It's not an effort to gain approval; it's the right thing to do. And most times it didn't earn me any praise; rather, it invites great criticism or casts me out of the inner circle. This was my narrative as a #nurse and a #midwife as well. I was motivated to protect those whose voice was not honored and in doing so, I was ostracized by the profession.



When I was in the fourth grade, I remember waiting in line for the water fountain and a girl from the special education class was among us. She was wearing a wig, for reasons we didn't understand. The kids in front of us started making fun of her. They were cruel and I was angry, but besides giving her warm and encouraging eyes, I didn't know how else to help her. I suppose I hope that my support was more evident than I now remember, because as she left the line, those boys began picking on me, flipping my bra strap and such. Maybe they were just cruel and I was the next available target.


The next day, the gal with the wig died. She had cancer. It made my regret of just standing there and not protecting her from those bullies even more profound. I was really devastated; the news knocked the wind out of me, but her death really shook our entire classroom, even the bullies. I remember our class combined efforts to raise money to help her family burry her in their hometown down south. I've never forgot this moment. It changed me.


Today I have scars from being stabbed by a mean gal on the back of the bus, because I let "the big girl" out of her seat before letting the kids behind me pass us. I also befriended a gal accused of making friends with her privates. No, not just accused, she was tormented. I was punished by my circle of friends for associating with her and so sat alone at the lunch table after she was finally ran out of our school. Later, in high school, I became the coach of the Special Olympics and suffered significant teasing as they all wanted to hang out with me in the lunch room, or yelled my name as we walked through the hallways. Never do I remember being praised. I often wore targets I could have easily avoided.


The kids who were gay though, I don't remember. I don't even remember any kids of color. We had some brown skinned friends, but I didn't even recognize it at the time. I was color-blind. I was blind to it all, which isn't good even if my intentions were because these kids were present and unrecognized. My cousin missed a lot of school around middle-early high school, but we were never told why. The cousins all knew she was more like a boy than a girl, and that she would never have a boyfriend, but we didn't know that was gay or that it may impact her growth and development, her mental health. I didn't recognize her need for support, for love and acceptance.


I remember being young and having crushes on girls - they're cuter and prettier, and sexier. I still didn't know that was considered gay though. I mean who could take their eyes off of Angelina Jolie in her prime, right? I didn't know what queer was and certainly had never been educated on transgender. I grew up in a small town of mostly white folk who worried what the neighbors thought more than they worried about the health of their own family relationships, but I also knew, it just didn't matter to me to label others in those ways. I didn't care to be labeled. I really enjoyed the unique nature of people and was drawn to the more peculiar individuals. They were more authentic. They had more substance, and were certainly more kind and interesting in my mind. Now grown and able to look back, many of my childhood friends eventually did identify as gay or queer and I hope, found solace in our friendship.


What I am recognizing though, is that it is important to notice. It's important to recognize differences so you can be a true advocate, so you can acknowledge and validate people in their own authenticity. It's important to feel noticed, to be heard and seen, to be accepted.


Having identified as a Christian for most of my adult life, my circles and clientele are largely Christian and because of this, I haven't been more forward about my faith and beliefs today. I don't want to offend or be misunderstood, but I also don't want to be rejected. I live in the Bible belt and anything not labeled as Christian is of the occult, of Satan, and is evil. They are among the lost; they are the scattered sheep.


Even as a newer #Christian in my twenties, on fire for the Lord, I spoke up when various so-called sins were outcast or criticized as worse than the others. There were those that were spoke of as mere missteps or unfortunate character flaws that we simply didn't speak of but then there were those that were clear atrocities that separated believers from God. Poking at the logic of this and advocating for those who were singled out became a regular event in my Christian circles. I loved the Lord, loved Jesus's teachings, and loved to play in the worship band, and attend every Bible study that fit my schedule, but I didn't find a great deal of synchronicity in what I understood to be true in the #Word and what was being lived out in the church and when I spoke to this, my words were't well received, although couldn't be argued.


My role as a midwife became the talk, the gossip, the criticism and maybe their only way to retaliate to my authenticity. My divorce abolished much of my practice. Families who I had attended a multitude of births for, even at no cost due to their trying circumstances, who I even considered friends, shamed me and cast me out of their circle. Ironically, some of them have ended with the same fate as myself.


After a few years, I distanced myself from the church. I couldn't justify the lies, the deceit, the betrayals, the injustice, the social control, the money laundering, the sexual crimes, the adultery that is fine as long as it's kept a secret, the ignorance, the self-righteousness or the lack of compassion. I was transparent about my life, my journey, my struggles and didn't hide what was hard to accept. This challenged people, as do all of us who live authentically.


When I did attend church, I'd hide in the larger churches within the pews, taking in the sermon and basking in the joy of #worship. I truly loved every minute of that, but that's because I felt loved by God and what I desperately need was to feel loved. I believed the Lord was my friend, my father, my savior. The older I got though, the more I began to see Christianity from the perspectives of the oppressed. I began to better understand the history of the Christian church and from one generation to the next, groups of people having always been targets, ostracized and tortured, even murdered.


More and more often I have had to apologize for Christians. I've had to say, "I am sorry. Jesus wasn't like that though, and every church has wolves in sheep's clothing." Excuses. Excuses. I grew increasingly ashamed as the years passed, having to clarify my association, but ultimately, I couldn't deny that Christians have become known as a group of hypocrites and haters. They have become the high school bullies and I was never one to hang with the bullies. I am not one to write false narratives. I choose love. I will never turn away from the intense pressure of haters and will always give shelter to those in need. We are interconnected, despite it all.


Hate Will Not Reside in My House


Hate and oppression will not reside in my circle of friends. Sexual assault will never be the secret we hide in our family, in our congregation, in my church. My heart will never isolate anyone for living their own most authentic life, because I appreciate we all walk our life paths very differently and evolve on that path in ways that are unique and necessary to each of us - to all of us. I will meet you where you are at on that path.


I stand for inclusion, for diversity, for equity and belonging. I am committed to interrupting racism, ableism, agism, fatphobia, homophobia, queerphobia, anti-LGBTQIA, transphobia, classism, anti-blackness, caste oppression, colonialism, misogyny and other oppressions that may show up in our space.


Eden is a practice for connection. I don't believe there is separation between us and anything else. What I do impacts you and everything about you, impacts me. There is a need and purpose for us all. It's funny when one thinks about going back in time and how any little thing they do or say could create a ripple in time and change it all, but we don't have this same appreciation for what we do and say today and how that might impact the future.


As a #yoggini, the foundation of yoga philosophy is first, Ahimsa, which interrupts harm. This is true to who I am as a healer, an advocate, an empath, and a challenger. We can interrupt this harm for ourselves, for our families, for our communities and more globally. We teach about harms done in linages, in our cell memory, and how this impacts our health and happiness today. Our educational, even detoxification programs teach to this, and are grounded in science.


My purpose, or my dharma, is to help others identify with their own worth, their value, and to see that they are loved, as well as to teach this to myself. This means that I must show up for all of us, for each of you. I need to stand up and speak up for you, for #justice and interrupt harm everywhere we find it. Social justice is part of that effort. Everyone has the right to samadhi, or freedom and liberation. For me, even though I may tremble to tell my truth at times, particularly here, truth is this tremendous vehicle that frees us.


Much of what we teach in our practice is how to create love and peace in your own life, to find your authenticity, to feel as if you belong, to navigate your challenges, to heal your story, and to develop trust in the knowledge that by loving yourself and caring for yourself everyone is better. There is no shame in prioritizing your needs, to speaking your voice, to being present in your own unique way. We can each practice this in a variety of ways, for ourselves and for others, while also interrupting harm, and creating peace in our circle. We are a practice who is holding light up for each of us.

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