An Integrated Approach


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a new venture

Today marks my first official day of partnering with Yoga for Recovery.
The ladies of YFR are quite fantastic; a group of committed, loving women who teach every Friday as part of the Prostitution and Drug Rehabilitation Program for Women at the Cook County Jail.

Many of you know that I have had a long-standing interest in and a passion for those who participate in our nation’s correction programs, but historically I feel like I’ve done a lot of talking and not a lot of acting in accordance with my opinions and beliefs. In fact, I pretty much turned my back on my prison studies to pursue yoga.

That is, until a few months ago when my very good friend Lara put out an all-call for teachers to volunteer with a program she was a part of.
Needless to say, I jumped right in, went to the information meet-and-greet, got my background check/prison pass, and then I got scared.

I used my changing job situation as an excuse not to go to orientation, because, simply, I was scared. Not physically mind you, but of how I would be percieved by these women, would they believe that I cared? Would they think I was a silly little white girl who really knew nothing about life? Would they think my story or what I had to teach was invalid?

And then I remebered what my wise roommate has said many times in many ways. That kind of thinking is the pernicious and little named sin of self-centricness. I am not the center of this dialogue. My opinion/presence does not hold nearly as much weight as I give it. The fact is, I am here to provide a space for these women. I don’t know their stories, I most likely will never know them. But I can provide a space for them to lay on their mats with their eyes closed. I can show them a new way to stand firmly on the earth and I can say something about the value of being still.

Besides the guard standing outside and the matching uniforms of my students, it wasn’t much different from teaching any other class.

Teaching is teaching is teaching.

 

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a running explanation

I’ve started running recently. Not for weight-loss, not because I like it, not because I want to run a marathon (though maybe one day I will).

For some reason, my friend from work thought it would be fun to do The Shamrock Shuffle—the unofficial inauguration of Chicago running season. 40,000 crazy people run every year, looking forward to the booze-fest that awaits them at the finish line. You can’t really call yourself a Chicagoan with out having run it at least once. Well, maybe you can, but having done it, I now hold a completely different appreciation and sense of solidarity with my city and its people.

Anyway, about 2 months ago, we started running once a week. It was bad. I mean, I hated it. I was proud of us for getting out there, we at least were running every Thursday while our co-workers went out drinking. So two points to my sense of moral superiority, but still, I hated it. I have never liked running. Although every few years I get back on a treadmill, hoping that as I’ve matured I’ve also developed a hereto unknown passion and love for running. This has never been the case, until now.

Fast forward to the end of March. We ran the Shuffle. I walked over every bridge, I nearly cried from the pain of my body processing the gatorade I so desperately needed to keep going. But I did finish; with a pretty respectable time, considering I’d never run that far, nor had I trained more than three or four times for this thing.

All of the sudden, I was a runner. This was something I did, it was a part of me. I ran a major race, I couldn’t dis-acknowledge that fact. I cared about this thing much more than I admitted, even to myself.  Somewhere, between the hundreds of people in start group B and the finish line, I became like the thousands around me hurling themselves down the streets of Chicago. I felt legitimate. I felt powerful. Like I had weight in the world because no one could tell me that I didn’t finished in 48:31. That’s what the clock said. I had done this thing. There were thousands watching that day that did not do it. But I did.

That feeling was exhilarating, I had actualized in a way I didn’t expect. And now every time I run there is an after taste of that first race. I exist. My body does this crazy thing. I will move myself through space and prove to you and myself that I am alive.

And as of today I am officially registered for the Chicago Women’s Half Marathon at the end of June. Last weekend I ran six miles, on Sunday I will run seven. I will continue to delight in my existence, in the ways I am fiercely, fearfully, and wonderfully made.