Sea Us Now & Black Beach Culture

Photo from Sea Us Now

As a Virgo Sun and Taurus Rising, my astrology is deep into the earth. That may explain why I love my plant babies so much!

But some of the best times in my life take place near water. Not long ago, I learned that I’m a Scorpio Moon, which adds some water to my chart. Growing up on the East Coast may have a lot to do with it too. Living in Quincy, Massachusetts, I’m just a couple of miles from the beach. When I open the windows in the summer and the wind blows just right, I can smell the salty air — one of my favorite scents.

There was a pool in the apartment complex where I grew up, so I swam a lot. I loved doing handstands under water and playing Marco Polo. I lounged by the pool almost everyday during the summers and played ping-pong in the cabana. As children, my brother and I took swimming lessons at the local college. Our parents brought us to the beach for picnics and lots of swim time on the Cape. As a young teenager, I even went to marine science camp.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized many considered it unusual for African Americans to swim. When you think about movies showing beach culture, often focused on surfing, someone like me usually isn’t there. But things are changing.

On Instagram, I found a group of Black women surfers calling themselves Textured Waves. Their website describes who they are and their goal.

Textured Waves [w]as created to propagate the culture and sport of women[‘]s surfing towards women of color and underrepresented demographics through representation, community and sisterly camaraderie. We value integrity, inclusion and advocating diversity in the water.

In the early summer, Textured Waves premiered a short film called Sea Us Now, which was created in collaboration with Seea, a progressive women’s surf brand. The film itself is extremely short, but the conversation around it is fascinating and worth watching.

It reminded me of the importance of creating something for the future. Documenting that yes, Black women surfers are out there enjoying life right now. Their existence shows a roadmap for the next generation. The conversation alludes to the precarious history of African Americans and water. Our African ancestors were brought to this country in ships. Many suffered horrifying deaths at sea and those who lived witnessed it. There is also a strong history of racial discrimination at public swimming pools in this country. If we look at the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, even our drinking water is harmful. African Americans have ancestral and current trauma involving water that needs healing.

The joy of Sea Us Now starts that aquatic healing. It feels like a daydream. The women of Textured Waves in colorful bathing suits catching the waves. The sound of moving water, peaceful music and driving in a vintage car by the seashore. Carrying their surfboards. Palm trees and ice cream. Short vignettes of style, beauty and warm weather. Flowering trees blowing in the breeze along with their natural hair. Sisterhood. A carefree afternoon. Time for reflection and dreaming. The gift of exercise on the beach. Black health and wellness.

They describe the film as “a re-imagining of our history with the coastline and the sea” and “a love letter to our past and our future.”

If you want to skip right to the film, it starts a little after 25 minutes and goes until almost 30 minutes. But I do hope you watch the conversation.

It’s quite striking that the timing of the film’s release was in the midst of the protests after George Floyd’s death. Watching the video of his murder made me physically hurt. This film is like a balm for the body and soul. In the midst of everything, we can still find happiness and peace. We always have. That’s how we’ve survived.

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Screenshot: YouTube

Free Yoga Boston (October 2020 – May 2021)

home yoga practice

We made it through the winter and are quickly heading into spring! For now, virtual classes are still the norm, so it’s still a good time to continue working on a home yoga practice and include meditation.

So let’s light some candles and roll out our mats. Classes listed are free or donation based. Please donate if you can! Also, since people can take online classes from anywhere, the times listed here are Eastern Time.

Make sure to check the Free Yoga Boston Facebook Group in addition to the Free Yoga Boston Facebook page. The group is private, but you can request to join. Members share information and there are additional classes and events listed.

Some classes here are found on Eventbrite and Meetup, so you can look for classes there as well. As always, this list is a work in progress and will be updated. From what I can tell, the classes listed below are ongoing for the time being.

Classes for Boston Community Yoga (BCY) are included and may vary somewhat week to week. DM them on Instagram to sign up and look at their weekly schedule.

If you know of other classes that are missing or have corrections, let me know!

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MONDAY

BCY – Monday Motivational Flow (Ongoing) Virtual
5:30pm – 6:30pm (Time may vary. Check weekly schedule and DM to sign up.)

Dan Rodman Meditation and Spirituality (Ongoing) Virtual
6:30pm – 7:30pm

Online Zoom Yoga (Ongoing) Virtual
8pm – 9:15pm

Meditation Group (Ongoing) Virtual
9pm – 9:30pm

TUESDAY

BCY – All Levels Flow (Ongoing) Virtual
6pm – 7pm (Time may vary. Check weekly schedule and DM to sign up.)

BCY – Beginner Vinyasa Flow (Ongoing) Virtual
7pm – 8pm (Time may vary. Check weekly schedule and DM to sign up.)

 

WEDNESDAY

BCY – Morning Flow (Ongoing) Virtual
7am – 8am (Time may vary. Check weekly schedule and DM to sign up.)

Yoga for Busy Legal Professionals (Ongoing) Virtual
2pm – 2:20pm

BCY – Vinyasa Flow (Ongoing) Virtual
6pm – 7pm (Time may vary. Check weekly schedule and DM to sign up.)

Laughter Yoga on Zoom (Ongoing) Virtual
7:30pm – 8:10pm

Zoom Yoga, Wednesday Release! (Ongoing) Virtual
8pm – 9:15pm

THURSDAY

Chair Yoga with Ivor (Weekly through 4/29/21) Virtual
11am – 12pm

Older Adults’ Chair Yoga (4/22/21, 6/24/21) Virtual
2pm – 3pm

BCY – Vinyasa Flow (Ongoing) Virtual
5:30pm – 6:30pm (Time may vary. Check weekly schedule and DM to sign up.)

FRIDAY

Yogi Dimps Flow (Ongoing) Virtual
12pm – 12:30pm (DM for IG Live classes)

BCY – Friday Morning Flow (Ongoing) Virtual
6:30am – 7:30am (Time may vary. Check weekly schedule and DM to sign up.)

Friday Unwind: Gentle Yoga (Ongoing) Virtual
4pm – 5pm

SATURDAY

BCY – Power Vinyasa (Ongoing) Virtual
8am – 9am (Time may vary. Check weekly schedule and DM to sign up.)

Self Care Saturday All Levels Yoga (Ongoing) Virtual
9am – 10am

Online Guided Meditation (Ongoing) Virtual
9:45pm – 11pm

BCY – Weekend Warrior Flow (Ongoing) Virtual
11am – 12pm (Time may vary. Check weekly schedule and DM to sign up.)

SUNDAY

Online Guided Meditation (Ongoing) Virtual
9:45am – 11am

Afro Flow Yoga (Ongoing) Virtual
1:30pm – 2:30pm

Yoga and Mindfulness (Ongoing) Virtual
2pm – 3pm

BCY – Yoga for the Sunday Scaries (Ongoing) Virtual
6:30pm – 7:30pm (Time may vary. Check weekly schedule and DM to sign up.)

BCY – Restorative Flow (Ongoing) Virtual
7:30pm – 8:30pm (Time may vary. Check weekly schedule and DM to sign up.)

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Free Yoga Boston: Summer 2020

free yoga

This summer is like no other. So this 8th Annual listing of free yoga classes is unique for sure. Updates may occur more often than usual, because none of us really has any idea how different things will be a month from now. The pandemic continues and the virus makes the rules.

Right now, classes are a mix of virtual and outdoor classes. In person classes have size limits, social distancing, and may require face masks. Whether virtual or outdoors, both types of yoga classes usually require registration in advance.

Click the links to confirm dates, requirements and check for weather cancellations. Most instructors accept donations, so please donate if you can.

Make sure to check the Free Yoga Boston Facebook Group in addition to the Free Yoga Boston Facebook page. The group is private, but you can request to join. Members share information and there are additional classes and events listed.

Many of the free classes that I find are on Eventbrite and Eventful, so give them a look. There are classes on Meetup that I generally do not include in my listings, but NamaStay Sober has many free online classes that are open to everyone. Also check out Third Space Chi Yoga, Home Yoga for Beginners and donation based classes in Dedham, Yoga for the Spine.

If you know other classes that are missing, let me know!

🌻 🌻 🌻

MONDAY

#YogaLemonade (Ongoing) Virtual
5:15pm – 6:15pm

Seaport Sweat – Flow (July 13 – September 28) Virtual
6:30pm – 7:30pm

TUESDAY

Yoga In The Park (July 7 – August 27)
(Cushman Park, Green Street, Fairhaven, MA)
8:30am – 9:30am

Yoga and Mindfulness (July 7 – July 28)  Mixed Virtual & Outdoors
(Newburyport Public Library, 94 State Street, Newburyport, MA )
2pm – 3pm

Weekly Meditation (July 14 – August 25) Virtual
7pm – 8pm

WEDNESDAY

Mindful Minis – For children ages 6-12 (July 22, July 29, August 5) Virtual
2pm – 3pm

Complimentary Yoga (Ongoing) – Virtual & Possibly Live
(The Yoga Room at SP, 12 Salem Street, Lynnfield, MA)
6pm – 7pm

Seaport Sweat – Vinyasa Yoga (July 15 – September 30) Virtual
6:30pm – 7:30pm

THURSDAY

Boston Parks Fitness Chair Yoga (July 16 – October 1) Virtual
11am – 12pm

Lunchtime Flow (July 16 – July 30)
(The Rose Kennedy Greenway, Wharf District Park, Boston, MA)
1pm – 2pm

FRIDAY

Seaport Sweat – Align n’ Flow (July 10 – October 2) Virtual
12pm – 1pm

Friday Unwind: Gentle Yoga (July 10 – August 28) Virtual
4pm – 5pm

SATURDAY

Yoga In The Park (July 11 – August 29)
(Schoolmaster Hill (Franklin Park), 1 Circuit Drive, Boston, MA)
9am – 10:15pm

SUNDAY

Yoga At Jamaica Pond (July 19 – September 6)
(Pinebank Promontory, Perkins Street and Jamaicaway, Boston, MA)
11am – 12pm

Boston Parks Fitness Restorative Yoga (July 12 – September 27)
(Marcella Playground, 260 Highland Street, Roxbury, MA)
1pm – 2pm

Afro Flow Yoga (July 12 – August 30) Virtual
1:30pm – 2:30pm

Boston Parks Fitness Live Yoga (July 12 – September 27) Virtual
6pm – 7pm

Indoor Garden: Growing Celery

celery growing in small jar of water

My relationship with celery varies over time. When I’m going through a soup making phase, I tend to buy more. Then I usually never make enough soup and some (or most!) of it goes to waste.

After that, I stop buying celery. Then a year later, I read a random article about the million health benefits of celery and wonder why I never have it in the house. So I buy some, cut up some sticks and remember how I hate that it’s so stringy. I plan to use it in some tuna or something and two months later I have to throw it all away, because it’s gone bad. This is the celery story of my life.

In other words, I need to keep just a small amount of celery at home and not much more. Over the past few months, during quarantine, I’ve been eating more celery — chopping it up and putting it into green salads. It’s so strange how when I eat it plain or even with something on it, it tastes bland and the stringy nature of it annoys me. But eating it as part of a salad adds a lot of flavor and a wonderful crunch. I love it!

During this time, I saw a blog post on making kitchen scrap gardens and how easily I could grow celery indoors in a small jar. So about five days ago, I cut the stalks off and put the root in some water. Look at all the growth in the picture above! In two weeks or so, I will probably have a small harvest. Yay!

Most likely the harvest update won’t be on this blog. So follow me on Instagram, where I document my plant parent adventures, and see how my garden continues to grow.

*Updated 8/13/2020* I harvested and it was delicious!

Black Wellness Matters

The casual way George Floyd was murdered adds to the horror of it. The rawness of it. It was pure bloodlust. The police officer extinguished Floyd’s last breath in a way that seemed so mundane to him. As if he were wringing out a sponge after doing dishes. That’s the coldness of a serial killer. That’s the end result of systemic racism — going back to when Black people were enslaved in this country.

We were considered property, not human beings, so the owners could do whatever they wanted to a Black person’s body with no consequences. Think about all the permutations of what that meant over generations. Our bodies were not our own.

Seeing the video of Floyd’s murder on repeat is such a painful blow to our collective and individual spirits. For Black people especially, it’s been a tough few weeks. It’s been a tough year. It’s been a tough few hundred years.

I’ve felt hurt. Angry. Sad. And have been meditating more than ever, as a way to stop thinking about the current reality for a bit and gather myself.

Recently, I heard the word remember broken down —  “re” and “member.” Meaning to put oneself together again. I found meditation through taking yoga classes and find both perfect ways to center myself and gather strength. To remember myself.

Yoga is such a powerful tool for wellness. The term wellness gets thrown around a lot and seems to have different meanings to some. The World Health Organization glossary defines it as follows.

Wellness is the optimal state of health of individuals and groups. There are two focal concerns: the realisation of the fullest potential of an individual physically, psychologically, socially, spiritually and economically, and the fulfilment of one’s role expectations in the family, community, place of worship, workplace and other settings.

Wellness moves beyond physical health to become more holistic and include every aspect of being human. In order to achieve wellness, especially as Black people, we also must heal the wounds of racism. Not just current racism, but intergenerational racism that traumatized our ancestors.

Our ancestors found ways to cope within a racist society and passed down those coping mechanisms to their children. Their children did the same and the cycle repeats. Those of us on journeys of healing are becoming more conscious of the ways that racism has caused us harm.

Meditation allows us to go deep and start reckoning with how to move forward and deal with things differently. Like most Black people, I have dealt with racism in the past and obviously continue dealing with it now.

At the end of last year, I reached a tipping point. I only have so much time and energy and dealing with racism is exhausting. It wears you down. As a Black woman, dealing with sexism on top of it is even more exhausting. In the past, I have let a lot of things go. One particular incident in the past, I regret not having addressed head on.

During law school, I had a co-op at a law firm here in Boston. I loved the work I was doing — ironically enough, researching property and land use. My supervisors were happy with my work too and wanted me to interview for an associate position. I had never intended to take the traditional law firm route, but I was interested.

Very soon after hearing this news, one of the white male attorneys at the firm, not anyone that I had worked with directly, made an off-hand comment to me about how affirmative action hires aren’t qualified. I would have only been the second Black woman attorney at the firm.

I was so shocked – like a deer in headlights. I don’t remember if I said anything back to him. I ended up not working at the firm, which no longer exists, but I didn’t tell any of my supervisors about what happened. Nor did I mention it to anyone in the school administration until much later.

Another incident happened on a different co-op that I also never mentioned to anyone. I was treated to a nice lunch celebrating the end of my co-op. I was the only woman and the only Black person in our small group. One of the men was talking about working in Africa, then casually mentioned all the sex he had while there. They all laughed. I was so uncomfortable. I don’t know that any of them noticed or cared about how the statement might have impacted me. These incidents were back in the mid-90s, but I still remember how I felt.

Late last summer, I was at a small public lecture. During the talk, I was rather dramatically singled out for being the only Black person there. I couldn’t believe it. I was like a deer in headlights — again. I didn’t say anything to anyone while I was there, but kept thinking about it. I only told a few people afterwards and was still upset.

A few months later, I was working on a new project and there was an incident where training for new employees went awry with a racist statement during the presentation. I wasn’t there, but learned of it after an email went out apologizing to everyone for the incident and strongly denouncing it. It was addressed right away and the way things played out, it made me wonder if I should say something about what happened to me at the lecture. Maybe I needed to give them a chance to do better.

I decided to say something. Maybe the organization would make some changes and nothing like this would happen to anyone else. At the very least, I wouldn’t have the ongoing regret that I didn’t say anything.

On a Friday night, I sent a very detailed email to the organization and heard back by early the next  morning. They apologized profusely and I later spoke with leadership about my experience. Training was going to be implemented along with other changes in their organization.

These experiences I’m sharing here are just the tiniest amounts of racism that I’ve dealt with in my life. I’ve been spit on and called the N word. If I reacted to everything all the time, it would take up too much of my life. That’s the same for most Black people. We just want to live our lives like anyone else. We want to rest like Breonna Taylor. We want to go jogging like Ahmaud Arbery. We just want to live and enjoy wellness.

Hopefully, sharing my experiences here might help someone see things from a new perspective. Even if it’s only one person, that’s enough. Black lives matter and I’ve been sharing mine by blogging since 2006. Being a blogger has coincided with finding yoga and meditation. I’ve learned to focus on my breath and how it’s something I can always depend on.

Back in 2009, I first learned about free yoga classes being offered in Boston and wanted to make sure others knew about these wonderful resources. So I founded Free Yoga Boston, where I share information about free yoga classes and more. It’s all a continuing journey for me toward wellness. And Black wellness matters.