It doesn’t have to be…

November morning at Kripalu

I begin my day
before dawn
in the Shadowbrook Room
at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Healing.

A room full of soon-to-be
Let Your Yoga Dance instructors
stands on the mats
in front of me.

I guide them in a series of warming, and then strengthening, poses
before inviting these warriors onto their backs,
into the 4th chakra,
the sweet pause,
the heart–of a Let Your Yoga Dance class.

They bring their knees to chest,
roll to the side,
and breathe deeply, in and out,
In and out.

When I look out over the room,
I tell them that I see in them a sea
of babies–
Let Your Yoga Dance babies–
Readying to be born,” I say.

Someone giggles,
and then another,
and another
until the laughter
rolls across the belly
of this room
and swells
in a joyous chorus
of Release.

We lift our legs into the air,
Happy Baby,
just as the sun lifts over the mountain
birthing a new day;
and later, Pam tells me
what she now knows
(and what we each long to remember):

“It doesn’t have to be so hard.”

(Kelly is a certified Let Your Yoga Dance instructor, and has served on staff with founder Megha Nancy Buttenheim; she also serves on staff at Solar Hill Yoga Center in Brattleboro, Vermont, with founder/director Scott Willis, of Hits the Spot Yoga.)

I have a dream too…

Artist: Jen Norton

I have a dream

That no woman would choose abortion

Out of fear

Or shame

Or finances.

I have a dream

That each baby born would be celebrated.

Provided for.



I have a dream

That girls would grow up to love their bodies.

Their minds.

Their strength.

Their ability.

I have a dream

That each woman would

Claim her sexuality.

Share her body, only
by invitation.

Welcome a child, knowing
that her community
Would always support
the gift of life.

I have a dream

That every father would teach his daughter self-love.

His son, self-respect.

His family self-knowing.

I have  a dream

That every mother would teach her son self-disclosure.

Her daughter, self-care.

Her family, self-restraint.

I have a dream

That we would recognize the fabric of our connection

With each life.

With every family.

With all of the earth.

Tooth Telling

Goya y Lucientes,

I’ve spent this past week steeped in dental drama with an infection that wouldn’t quit; but as I resigned myself  to the dentist’s chair, with a rubber dam prying open my mouth, and highly trained hands stuffed inside, it wasn’t just my own agony that preoccupied me, but that of those without dental care. Without insurance. Without access to a specialist and two assistants to provide the best outcome money can buy.

How long do they have to endure pain? What are their options? What must they give up in order to pay for it?

My husband is a teacher, but even with his benefits, my out of pocket expenses were estimated to be around $700.

What kind of coverage is that? Where do others find that kind of “co-pay”? How do they pay the rent after that?

As much as I didn’t want to be in that chair, I knew that I was a lucky one. I thought of all the people around the world whose pain is unattended.

I left with a heavy heart, a swollen mouth and a tighter wallet.

While I rested on the couch, one of my old students put this plea on Facebook:

Does anyone know where I can get a tooth pulled for cheap or free? I can’t fall asleep at night.

I felt his pain. I lived through it. But he couldn’t make a simple phone call and immediately get scheduled for a filling or a crown or an emergency root canal–like mine.

Stories like his were everywhere when I Googled options for treating my infection that didn’t involve any more procedures.

When I opened Yes! magazine, there were profiles of working people, living in poverty, whose minimum-wage-raise aspirations included the dentist.

Of those, the most heart rendering was this:

I might be able to get my teeth fixed. My three front teeth are broken. There’s a program with the VA that, for $50 a month, they’ll take care of everything. I just can’t afford that with what I’m making now. I still love America and the freedom that we have here.

I know there are dentists who volunteer their time for free at walk-in clinics and in their offices, but something isn’t right.

How do you live with the inequity? Do you comfort yourself by saying that these uninsured folks should get a better job? Go to college? Earn more money?

I can’t hide there. I live in a country with so much wealth, so much opportunity, and the inequities break my heart.


Tales from the Diner

Kelly Salasin:

Women & voice. Begin HERE. And don’t stop…

Originally posted on Adventures of a World-Traveling Waitress:

I have a secret. I have kept it for years. It is the kind of secret that you don’t dare tell, if not for fear of the possible consequences, for fear that no one will listen. Both outcomes are unwelcome and damaging in their own right.

My friends and I have shared this secret and all its grisly details over eager sips of coffee after long overnight shifts, our voices heightened in our rage and our exhaustion. I had hurriedly whispered conversations with my coworkers during hasty smoke breaks and bathroom trips. These were girls with whom I had nothing in common – save our employment and our secret. Sometimes we exploded. Sometimes we wept.

It is not that I am weary from this business of silence; I have not broken. But I realize now that I have no reason to let my anger lie dormant. The injustice has become unpalatable.


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answers to the: 11 questions to ask while shaping a memoir

Holly Sierra
Holly Sierra
  1. Why am I writing this story?

    Because it asked to be written.

  2. Why am I compelled to share it?

    Because I saw a gold-leafed binding.
    Because I like to be helpful.
    Because I want to alleviate suffering, mine and others.

  3. What is the message in the telling?

    Life transcends story. Life is steeped in story.
    The story is both personal and divine play.

  4. What shapes the story?

    My personal loss. Our common heart.

  5. Who are the readers?

    Those interested in the story and the transcendence of it.

  6. How does this work align with my life purpose?

    To explore, speak, shape & celebrate the truth in the story and beyond it.

  7. How does this work transcend any measure of outer success?

    Damn it. I don’t like this question.
    Truth serves truth, I suppose.

  8. What is rare about this offering?

    It is my singular dance with all that is.

  9. What justifies the amount of time I have devoted to the work?

    I don’t like this question either.
    Truth, art, expression–the dance.

  10. Who am I in this story?

    A seeker. A child of God. A motherless child. A princess. A queen. A woman.
    Myself. In communion with the Divine Feminine.

  11.  Where will you begin and end?

    With the Divine Feminine:
    At the moment of my deepest loss (at 14);
    and in the moment of sweet self-compassion/revelation (on the eve of my 50th birthday.)

~The Yoga of Lila