I had a lot of yogis reach out to me after my last post. I’m completely blown away. I knew that people read this blog (thanks to a handy thing called Google Analytics) but I didn’t realize how much of a community this little web presence was making up, and for that, I’m honored and thankful and encouraged. Thank you for reaching out and for your resounding “me, too’s”.
This past month has been a beating, for almost everyone I know. It seems things turned for the worse in many ways, and I’m hopeful that they will begin to look up. Through all of this, all the sadness and all the joy, I’m focusing on the middle road. The place in between, where I can sit back and notice the things that are great, and notice the things that are sad, and try not to be affected by them one way or another. To take time to process, and then to react. The taking time to process is not an easy task for me, but I’m working on it.
Awareness is my goal with everything in life: my relationships, my teachings, my work. Sometimes it’s best to separate ourselves in order to become aware.
The middle road is hard to find everywhere these days, especially in politics, and for me, especially in the yoga world. We tend to grasp onto the things that we’re familiar with in life, and because of that, we often don’t step back to look at what’s happening. We go with the job that’s familiar or the routine that’s familiar or the surroundings that are familiar, trying not to rock the boat or say something offensive or heaven forbid, do anything offensive. We stand by the person we voted for because he must be right and he must be helping us, and not noticing the horror and destruction and pain in so many eyes, not noticing how helping everyone is so, so much stronger than helping a select few.
Because of the familiarity, we’re one or the other: republican or democrat, black or white, rich or poor, Christian or Muslim, etc, etc, etc. But it’s the middle road where the real work happens, where the true awakenings happen. That’s where you go to begin to question your upbringing or what you heard in church or what your neighbor told you, or maybe to process what’s going on in our government that might not be settling too well for you. That’s where you go when things don’t make sense.
In New Orleans, they call this space the Neutral Ground. I love that saying, although it doesn’t necessarily apply to this. What I remember it from is the churches on Sunday mornings, and the concerts on Saturday nights. The streets in the Garden District would fill up and the parking spots would fill up to capacity, so neighbors and friends and strangers would begin to park their car in the median, as we call it in Texas – the place in between each direction of traffic. In New Orleans, this place is appropriately called Neutral Ground.
The Neutral Ground is where you go when there’s no where else to go. When the place you thought you were going has no more room. Or maybe where it simply doesn’t feel right at that moment. It’s where you go to reflect, to (literally) park, to rest, to stop.
I’ve found myself in the Neutral Ground for months now. I’ve been here before, and I’m starting to get comfortable here, not really wanting to leave. I’ve never grasped onto rules. In fact, if someone gives me a rule, I will find any possible way to get around that rule. Not to break it, necessarily, just to bend it, to get around it, to find my own rule.
This is why I haven’t done well in the past. At least, on the outside, I’ve done well – if you look at resumes and LinkedIns and words we use to describe our paths, I’ve done well. But on the inside, the part that actually matters, I’ve often wanted to run.
I know that I’m here again, but what is weird is this place I’m in is because of my passion, and not my work. For the first time ever (ever, ever), I LOVE my work. I’ve never really said those words before. I have clients that I love, and I get to work in senior living, which I love, and I am around people who respect me and I respect them, and I cannot believe that is happening, that we were able to create a company and I am able to run that company, and we are doing good work, and that everything is working out.
It’s the other part of life, the part that’s my passion, the part that helped me to get to where I am today, that I’m having problems with. In the yoga world, we’re black or white or republican or democrat or rich or poor. We don’t bend too much. We cater to people who want a work out, or we cater to people who want their minds to open, and from what I have seen, we don’t mix in the middle too much.
And you see, I’m in the middle. And based on the response to what I wrote last month from the teachers and practitioners who reached out to me, a hella lot of us are in the middle. It’s not a bad place to be.
And yet, a lot of the time, we’re not catering to that place. We’re not catering to the people who want both. We’re sticking with black or white or republican or democrat and we’re not seeing all the beauty in between. Maybe this type of thinking worked well in the past. And maybe it’ll continue to. But here on the Neutral Ground, we have some work to do: in yoga, in America, in our world, in working with children and the drug policies and the jails and prisons and the politicians. We have work to do, on a large scale and a small scale – on the things that really matter to make this world a better place, and here at home too, in small ways.
So. I’m processing that. And I hope you yogis reading this are, too. In fact, I know you are. It’s all about the Neutral Ground, this is where it all begins.
I always feel silly posting a salad recipe, because these aren’t really recipes, but I haven’t been cooking (truthfully, I’ve been Door Dash-ing and frozen veggie burger-ing and taco-ing for months now) and it’s time to get my health back on track and eat better. So I’ll be sharing some salad recipes this summer. This one is perfect with your favorite dressing, or you can top it with my Vegan Agave Mustard Dressing.
Neutral Ground Spring Salad
- 3 c. mixed spring lettuce
- 1 c. broccoli, chopped
- 3/4 c. cucumbers, chopped
- 1/2 c. celery, chopped
- 1/2 c. cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
- 1/2 c. bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
- Mix all the veggies together in a large bowl for serving. My favorite toppings include: Roasted potatoes (olive oil, salt, pepper and mix - roast at 425 for 35 minutes, turning once) Roasted asparagus (olive oil, salt, pepper and mix - roast at 425 for 25 minutes, turning once) Fried Tofu (press out as much water as you can, slice and put on a frying pan coated with olive oil. Top with more olive oil, salt, and pepper and cook each side for 4-5 minutes over medium heat)