Confessions from a Retired Yogi

 "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  When the student is really ready, the teacher will disappear." - Tao Te Ching For over 11 years, I had an almost daily yoga practice. It started in February 2008 when a housemate and dear friend of mine all but forced me to join her for a class.  She'd selected the studio and told me what time to be ready and because I'm a good wingman, I went along with it -- just for her.  I am  certain  I told the desk staff that I would never return. Famous last words. Not only did I return a week later, I returned the week after that and the week after that until I found a teacher or two I really enjoyed and the next thing you know, I was hooked. Before long, I was enrolled in a monthly membership and prioritizing time on my mat over afterwork drinks. Sometimes I'd compromise and go to class  and then  show up to drinks, normalizing the "wear your yoga gear in public" long before it became the now-standard fashi

Peer and Supervisor Feedback

Those of us who have taken on leadership positions should receive consistent feedback from our peers, our supervisors, and clients/students/consumers that our organization serves.  Recently, I had the opportunity to collect such feedback and it truly stopped me in my tracks -- in an anonymous-response ESCI (emotional social competency inventory) assessment, I got an insight into how my past and present colleagues view me as a leader.   After what has been a difficult year-plus professionally -- seeing 100% turnover twice in two years in our small nonprofit staff, including an abrupt departure by our Executive Director, going through an over 10-month span without permanent organizational leadership, and now adapting to new permanent leadership -- reading what these colleagues of mine think about me brought me to tears.  Genuine, happy tears.  I am so thankful for these incredible mentors, coworkers, volunteers, and community leaders who see so much value in me.  We are always stronger t

Make It Make Sense

It is doing that March-weather thing outside today: big, fat snowflakes that dissolve as soon as they hit the pavement.  I gotta admit: there's something sort of joy-inducing about the beauty of these fluffy white blobs descending from the heavens while knowing full well nary a shovel will need to be employed.  Certainly, we're nowhere near the point where we're ready to bust out the beach balls and the swimsuits but we're creeping ever closer to the in-between where those kinds of daydreams drift closer to upcoming reality. Spring in Ohio, folks.  This is it. I enjoyed this day from the comfort of my work-from-home setup, a glorious space that I have grown to adore.  It's this funny flip of the script in my life, this capacity to be able to do my job in the same place where I live.  For so much of my adult life, I lived in apartments with one to three other people (and their cats -- their many, many cats) and the thought of  work from home  not only seemed foreign,

I'm Listening

I am a social worker but not the kind that you think.  Raise your hand if what you think a social worker does is take kids out of homes.  Keep 'em up if you think that's   all  a social worker does.  Yeah, that's what I thought.  Just today, my new boss at the community nonprofit where I work asked me why I went and got a Master's in Social Work and then chose not to become a social worker. Boy oh boy, we all have a lot to learn. I am a community-based social worker.  I work in advocacy, connection, policy, strategy, and more.  I am a teacher -- and I am a student.  I collaborate with residents, with elected officials, with city officials, with other organizations.   I am a listener. I pull this one out of the lineup and spotlight it because what I'm also is a  talker .  I'm a Gemini, so that means I have the gift of gab.  I can write it or I can speak it and I am quite comfortable in the art of verbal expression.  But listen?  That's a special skill, an und

Self-Care Makes Me Cringe

  I have a social work confession to make:  I   cringe  at the term "self-care."  There is almost nothing that makes my entire body clench than when I see some social media post with a soft-focus photo of an extremely thin woman (probably a white woman, let's be extra-real) doing a yoga pose by a waterfall accompanied by a flowery caption about loving who you are on the inside and taking the time to uplift your inner queenhood or whatever nonsense.  My face, you should see my face. I'm making such a   face.   Even the thought of this makes my entire being cringe. White women can honestly be so embarrassing. There are a host of reasons why these kinds of social media posts bug the hell out of me -- they're likely obvious, but I'll outline a couple just so we're all on the same page.  First of all, these posts almost always feature a body-type that isn't anything close to the "average" body-type.  The person depicted almost always exceeds Weste

The Tell

As a Social Work Master’s student, I did an internship at an organization called Community Innovation Network, run by one of my professors, Dr. Mark Chupp.  One of the projects I did involved doing extensive literature reviews on a variety of topics related to Anti-Black Racism and how to build democratic relationships between community members and institutions (specifically, residents and universities).  Doing this research made me rethink what social equity looks like, how race and racism so grossly tip scales, and what the reality of truly democratic relationships between “town and gown” forces might look like.   Along the way, I had the opportunity to present my research both to the two professors who’d be utilizing my research for a journal article they were co-writing and also a student group that was actively working to improve the relationship between Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland neighborhoods that surround campus.  While both audiences had interesting feed

An October to Remember: GuardiacKids Edition (2022)

When the then-Cleveland Indians carved their way through the 2016 postseason, I had no idea that they would make it all the way to Game 7 of the World Series, but they did.  And I used my daily writing practice to capture what it felt like to be a fan during those games, what happened on the field, and what all of it was doing to my ever-loving soul.   At the end of it, I'd written a short book capturing that experience, something I put into paperback and gifted to my nephews as mementos of that historic run, pitting against each other the two teams with the longest World Series title droughts -- our opponents being the Chicago Cubs.   Spoiler alert (spoiler alert?): Cleveland ultimately lost that Game 7. Two days after that loss, I wrote: People will oversimplify this World Series as yet another time a Cleveland team choked blowing a 3-1 lead and failing to come up with that fourth win.  People talk a little louder and laugh a little more cruelly when they speak with great vagar