Thursday, April 12, 2018

A white woman walks into a black church. A social experiment.

The precursor to this experiment is that I am a white woman, a single mom of three white children and my home church is predominantly white. Most of my closest friends are white and the community I live in is largely white. I live in a middle class lifestyle and live in the absolute abundance of white privilege. If you want to know personal view of white privilege, it is that I despise it. I am, inherently, part of the problem because I am white. Though I do however, challenge my belief system, vocally stand up for racial justice and do not personally carry with me a taught racist belief system, I am systematically a part of what divides us.

A few years ago I read an article that spoke about the actions we can take to make change. Surround yourself with people who look, think and act differently then you.  To create open and non judgmental or prejudice dialog about what it is to be a person of color. Show up without the defense system that I am personally not racist and listen to the truth of what it is to be on the receiving end of the atrocity that is our judicial system, our school system, our health system, are segregation of society and judgment on those who start out life without privilege of any kind. I can tell you this, being white means you are a part of this problem. There is no defense card here for you. You live, breathe, eat, drive and walk this Earth with ease. You do not live in fear, the kind of fear that people with dark skin are born into. 

I decided that in order for me to gain further perspective I did need to make myself uncomfortable. How I chose to do that was to go to a church in a different community than mine, a community where the demographic is that of low income and much poverty. A town with section 8 housing and that people belittle. I chose a Baptist church that is roughly 98% black. I needed to enter with a sense of curiosity and be receptive to the possibility I am simply not welcome. I felt nervous, excited, anxious and beyond willing to show up. If I can't walk into a church with people who look differently than me than how could I really show up in a community that looks differently than me. 

The first night I entered the church I received smiles. I was openly embraced with hugs and was told how happy they were I was there. I sat down in the middle of the pews and listened in awe to the most beautiful gospel music I had ever heard. My soul immediately felt overjoyed. The sermon spoke so much truth that I left an overwhelming sense of belonging. 

I decided I should return. I went a few times and each time was greeted in the same way and was welcomed to become a member of the church. I recall an older woman holding my hand and we walked together talking about how wonderful it was to be so tall as woman and how much we enjoyed one another. 

The next experiment was bringing my children. I wondered how they would feel being the only white children in Sunday school. What I noticed was that they did not notice. It did not occur to them there was any difference, nothing to note whatsoever. This made me immensely happy. My youngest son was having a tough time in Sunday school one morning, so a sweet man decided to take on the task of keeping him happy and entertained instead of disrupting my time receiving the word. He was so kind and understanding and my son just adored him. 

In the times I went to that particular church I never, not for one second, felt out of place. In fact I have not been to a church where the members so openly embraced me and wanted to know me. I even ran into a member while I was shopping one day and he came over, introduced himself and his mother and told me how the church had taken him in while he was homeless and helped give him the strength to believe in himself. He now owns his own business. I could have cried. What love, what motivation and what a strong community I had entered.

Months later I decided to embrace yet another social experiment. This one was very different from the first. I went to a predominantly black night club in Oakland. Now listen, I can only imagine what it looks like to see a tall drink of water like me, white as snow, walk into a room with drinking and dancing and all the sexual energy of a club. I wondered if they would eyeball the hell out of me until I was so uncomfortable that I left. 

In the three times I went there, one of which I went alone, I was so loved on by both men and woman. It was another breakthrough in the divide for me personally. 

I was left to wonder this: how would that experience have looked if I was black and I walked into a white church. If I was black and walked into a white club. My thoughts are, it would not have been so loving, caring, nurturing or embracing. Though I will never have that opportunity in my life to experience that, I know this country is not in favor of that.

In conclusion of my social experiments, I feel a sense of love and sadness. Sadness this experiment needs to even exist. Sadness that I know it does not work the same the other way around. Frustration that our communities are divided and I am well aware I am living a very white life. 

I am open to discussions on this. Please reach out if you have comments regardless if its love or hate or something in between. The dialog is open and the more I can learn, the more objective and unbiased I can be. I promise you, I get it wrong a lot.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Whole Hearted

The gift of age is my soul reminding me gently I have a limited amount of time here. I have been trusted with the task to again tackle the deep seeded roots of pain that this life has chosen for me. My task is to love. To be of service to others.

Through deep healing and peeling away each layer I am scratching the surface of the magnitude of power we each have winthin.

I have prayed for healing. I have prayed for release of pain. I have fantasized about a strong goddess, unapologetic person who is capable of every dream....lead with deep purpose that is truly meaningful. I have dreamt of what it is like to matter greatly, to effect positive change and hold the hands of those who want to see a better us. A safe space to lay our truth out and sift through the confusion until we can see, was always love all along. I am love. And then I realized, I am that woman.

To live with our whole heart.  This takes massive courage. I have learned that my biggest challenge is fear and holding myself back from living from a place of joy. I have come from a place rooted in pain, a place where my roots became rotten and no matter the spiritual growth I experienced, I was still coming from a shallow base that couldn't connect to the abundance awaiting me.

I grew new roots. I found my roots in my friends, my spiritual leaders, my mentor, my teachers, my children, the teachers of the past and present. The seekers who look for a deeper truth, a deeper meaning in life. A sense of purpose and an understanding we are spiritual beings who posses a body but we are not this body. I found abundance in the source, the soul feeding waters we can replenish ourselves in. The kind of love and support that gives me the power to see my potential, to take the leap of believing in myself. To see myself as others see me. I have been guided by angels, living in the form of people, of animals, of rich culture, of fresh air and the natural beauty of the forest. The ever reliable movement of the waves and the gentle hug of the breeze.

My vibration is strong and it use to attract wanted and unwanted energy. It was a magnet to all things. It was not until I realized my value, the respect I deserve...that if you want my time you must value me, be a trustworthy person, a person of integrity...and I will be that in return. If these basic agreements cannot be made, then I will not give you the gift of my time. From making these agreements within myself I have watched people fall away and new ones arrive. The intention has been made.

My daughter was born suffering. Her eyes revealed it all. I saw her pain and felt I had failed her. I saw so many tears and from birth she would look at me screaming and hurting. I wondered why God would give me, a broken woman at the time, a child who so badly needed her own spiritual healing. How would I ever be enough to help her rise up above this place. No one could touch her, or look at her besides me. She would burst out screaming if her Dad tried to hold her to give me a rest. She couldn't sleep...this went on past a year. She is now 7 and has made leaps into divinity of her power. She is my living angel. It occurred to me today that her witnessing my deep healing is a part the story of her life. From my own healing I am able to support her from a new place of compassion and strength. She is the most powerful being I have ever met and perhaps my deepest purpose in my lifetime is to help her see her own magnitude. Rise up my child, my sister, my teacher my goddess, my mother....for you are all things.

The piece of advice I will leave you with today is show your children your growth. As I was packing them up to leave for school and hustle into our van, my daughter was moving slowly and I ended up screaming at her to hurry up. I am not, I repeat...NOT a morning person. Once we were on the drive I deeply apologized. I told them that my response to them in a negative way has nothing to do with them, that is me struggling. I tell them how amazing and perfectly THEM, they are. When people respond to them with anger in any way, it is that person struggling with them selves and to never take it personally. Do not take on the burden of others. I am far from perfect, I make mistakes all the time but I own them, explain them....teachable moments all day. Give them the gift of seeing we are always growing, always trying and we want to help them even while we battle our own demons.



Monday, November 14, 2016

Take hold of grace by faith

It is with an open heart and love I am taking a big time out to speak about the turmoil in our world today. We are seeing racism thriving out of its hidden darkness, hate cast upon religion, an outpouring  of dehumanization to immigrants or people viewed as not belonging here, relentless rage towards the LBGT community and so much more. I have witnessed through the lens of social media a rift between families and friends. The response to all this negativity is being met with hurt, sadness, hopelessness, anger. But on the other side a beautiful coming together of like minded people who see through the fog of fear and are rising  up for what they believe in. 

What I am about to share comes from my beliefs and faith in Jesus my personal savior. I would ask that those of you, who immediately wanted to close the browser and keep it moving, take  a few minutes to perhaps gain your own version on the perspective I have. My motivation is to find strength and togetherness while also being a faithful servant of God. If God is for us, who can be against us. 

I maintain  my position of peace and contentment by my faith. What is faith to me? Hebrews 11:1 ~Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things no seen. ~ I believe air exists, I cannot see it but the evidence is my ability to breath. I have 100% faith that air exists. Gravity exists, I cannot see gravity but I have faith when I jump off a step I will land on my feet. 

Grace was given to us and we tap into grace by using our faith. Our grace exists but without faith we cannot receive it. Imagine it as PG&E. The power company supplies the energy but it's up to you to turn on the switch. The energy exists but without you using it, it has no ability. So we use our authority from faith to tap into our healing, our prosperity and our ability to manifest what it is we want to achieve. Now, God is love, so any choices we make with positivity is giving power to love. When we respond with fear to a situation we are giving that power to negativity. So when we choose to respond in life, are we responding with faith or fear?  If you respond to sickness with faith you have a positive response which allows for healing. Under grace you have the authority to heal but you need faith, unwavering faith. If you have a problem with your faith, then you will have a problem with your manifestation. Some of us experience bursts of faith, but perhaps only in church or only when you see things going your way. When real life hits you start to waver. When you waver you are taking yourself out of faith and responding with negativity and therefore losing your power. If you are sick and you have the faith to believe in your healing and the power given to you by grace...but pain comes it is your response. Respond by faith, the fight comes...the good fight...and we have to choose accordingly in the midst of controversy. If we throw our hands up and say God has abandoned us, you have lost your fight, your faith and your authority under grace.

Life is a fight of faith. Satan or negativity suggest to us ideas of hopelessness, fear, hate and it is up to us to choose to entertain his suggestions or respond with faith, love, positivity and any other word you want to use. 

Things in the natural world will fail, the evidence is before us. We who are for hope and believe in hope when hope seems unimaginable are going to persevere. If you BELIEVE then your belief with birth action and action will create change. Whatever you consider the most you will be willing to do and believe in, therefore having faith in your belief and at that point use graces's authority to create it, your works will come to fruition. 

When you are highly developed to fear or you consider fear often, the things you fear will come to pass. When you become highly developed to faith and belief, those  things you consider most will have power. It's what we set our minds to, it's a practice of controlling our thoughts and be aware of what we are thinking that will create the response we desire. Remain constant, have patience, do not fall into the trap of despair or hopelessness. Do not allow sadness or defeat into your hearts because they will consume you as they are being fed the power of negativity.

Our greatest tool of worldly things is our mind. 

Have faith. Have hope. Thank you Jesus.

Love Katie

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I loved you too hard

A thought passed my mind as I peruse a very confusing and interesting time in my life. Can you love too much? I know, your immediate reaction is NO. Of course not! But hear me out. What if the direction of your love is to someone or something that cannot accept the bountifulness of your love light. What happens then? What do you do when you love so deeply but cannot fully share it, or even receive it to the extent you give. Is that ok? Is that wrong? I am at odds in my life battling over the idea of no expectations. To give love and pour it out into the world, with no expectation of it in return...but do I not deserve it all as well? And how do you suggest I not smother the ones I love. You see, not everyone I know loves the way I love. Its like their love cup fills all the way to the top when mine is a quarter way full. Do we have different capacities of love, or are we fighting the belief we deserve the love? And honestly, what is love?  

I asked my children last year what love meant to them. They were 6, 4 and 2 at the time, so you can imagine the 1 year old wasn't participating. My other two had really wonderful answers. To them love was food, laughs, tickles, jokes, baking, kisses etc. It was all the things that give them that wonderful feeling. So in each of our lives we have formed this idea of what love is and it comes from this accumulation of experiences that make us feel good. So when I bake someone I love cookies and they don't like cookies, they don't understand I made it for them from a place of love. They might consider I was just making cookies and offered them some. To me I made them cookies to show them I loved them.

As an adult have you stopped and taken the time to write down what love means to you? To really look at it in its entirety for your experience. So when times aren't as pretty and perfect as you hope, that you know what love really looks like. To me love is a feeling, absolutely a strong beautiful feeling that gravitates me to people and experiences based on a glowing and lifting sensation. Love is something that makes me smile and energizes me. Love is caring, love is thoughtfulness, love is sacred, love is for sharing, love is respect, love is unconditional, love is powerful and engaging. And even as I write this down I can see clearly how this is not the same love other people might experience. I am sure most of you are familiar with love languages and other ways of connecting based on how we express ourselves. There are so many tools to connect us, but here we are again at the question...can you love too much?

I suppose it comes down to the one receiving the love. If said receiver has hit their capacity of love and now they are receiving so much and cannot reflect the same abundance, it could be really difficult to know that amount of love exists but they cannot feel it. And how do you make sense of that? Really. 

I love to love. 

Love, Katie. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How to be a model

Have you ever wanted to be a model? And I want to move past the idea of someone who wears high end clothing and has their picture taken. That is a super cool job, in my opinion, however my desire to model has nothing to do with clothing.

When I was 15 years old I was strong, happy, mature for my age and also in the midst of watching my family fall apart. I was driven to be incredible, but hit with devastating bipolar issues. So in the blink of an eye I became the perfect victim. I was desperate for attention and understanding, I looked 25...I was 6' tall and unstable. I would do anything to escape what was happening to me and no doctor could help. It was then that the predators found me and took advantage of me. It wasn't the first time in my life...and certainly not the last. So 17 years later I am still in my mind making excuses for other peoples choices. I am still bottling up and justifying other peoples actions. I am still blaming myself. But it's a lie. Bad people did bad things to me because they saw my weakness and vulnerability.

And here we are in present day. My goal this year is to say FUCK to FEAR because fear has gripped me for so long and controlled so many parts of my life. It has caused me to feel insecure, overreact, judgmental, depressed, angry and so much more. I can see how it has effected most situations I walk into. I have a fear of being vulnerable. I have a need to help other people feel ok about making bad decisions because I would rather take the blame, as I have for so long, to make them more at ease. It's not intentional, it's just that I am finally seeing it for what it is. This time I am standing up for myself and owning my own choices and not taking on others choices.

After I completed yoga teacher training I grew much more whole as a person. I can reflect and respond with confidence. And seeing how I respond recently to being physically violated by a 'friend' and wanting to immediately justify their actions as caused me to back the fuck right out of my life again. Suddenly all I wanted to do was hide in my room, eat chocolate chips and binge watch shows about strong independent woman. 

I got to chatting with my husband and came to really see what was happening. We discussed my life's purpose which is to give love and make those around me feel lighter and joyful. How can I maneuver in this way when I am being treated in a negative way? How can I truly be my joyful carefree being, open and vulnerable to life's experiences...and also deflect the negativity that comes about. Well that is an entire other lesson and protecting my energy and owning my space which I have spoken about it previous posts. 

So how can I be a role model? I want to uplift people, I want to encourage people to be strong and confident in who they are. I think that's why I needed to write this post. I am writing it because I certainly will make people uncomfortable but I can't waste my life tiptoeing around others who don't like what I think and do. Thats for them to figure out. I will undoubtedly offend people no matter what I say or what I do, because that is how life works. But I can do it unapologetically knowing that I am speaking and living my truth. A great example would be, if you are a Christian, you will inherently piss someone off who does not believe in god. If you are a yogi you will inherently piss someone off who thinks its just a fad. There will always be haters. I just choose not to be one and rather response with compassion. I choose to exactly who you are and live it to the fullest. Even if others cannot choke it down. I am not saying I do so without thoughtfulness. I prefer to move in none-violence and though I sometimes fail, it is a work and a practice. That is the yoga. The asana is just a small limb to the real discovery. And I am headed to New York to do major major asana and delve into the pit of my stomach that is screaming at me to let go. That is the role model I want to be. Right there. Inspiring others to give themselves the freedom to live the most uplifted authentic lives they can. And you will lose some people, because not everyone is ready for the real you, but they will make space for the right people who will help this incredible journey of life we are on.

I refuse to be the victim and I refuse to use weapons in response to the war. I believe that if we can all find ways to find our own peace with our journey, our own truce in the war within, that peace will take over the world. We can respond with love, there is always space to be kind. Always.

Instagram: theopenheartyogi

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Chocolate Brownie-Cake Caramel Almond Crunch

This week I am enjoying a ridiculously busy but truly satisfying holiday break with my three children. They are 7, 5 and 2 years old. We are practicing giving without receiving for the pure purpose of giving love. Yesterday we spent the day baking away and dropping off Stealthy Elves gifts. To see my kids taking turn in the rain sprinting to doorsteps to leave packages as little surprises for unsuspecting friends (of their choosing) filled my heart. They were so very excited and hoped they made everyone happy. There was little handwritten notes in each one my two older kids wrote "Love, Vaino Elves". 

Today these little munchkins took on a new task. I asked them to create a recipe. Whatever they wanted, but together. Of course immediately they all agreed it had to be chocolate! And the creation continued evolving as I asked them what else a good recipe has in it. Of course I offered guidance on quantities of each item but I asked them first if they thought we needed lots or a little. I can honestly say, these kids know how to bake! Mad skillz. So here for your enjoyment is an incredibly decadent dessert. Only eat this on a day when you refuse to allow guilt into your eating choices. Or you just want some hella good comfort food;)

Chocolate Brownie-Cake Caramel Almond Crunch

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. 


Brownie-Cake portion
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14oz) coconut cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 eggs
2 tbsp butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Almond Topping
1 cup almonds
1 cup white chocolate chips

Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup half and half
2 tbsp butter
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Begin with a saucepan heated to low-medium heat. Melt your semisweet chocolate chips and coconut cream until blended completely. Add your butter and stir until dissolved. Add in brown sugar and vanilla. Take off heat and allow to cool. In a kitchen machine whisk your 5 eggs until slightly frothy. In a separate bowl sift your flour, salt and baking powder. Once the chocolate sauce mix is cool enough to not cook the eggs add in the sauce with eggs, stir until combined, slowly add in your dry mixture and blend until smooth. It should be right between the thickness of a cake and a brownie batter. 
In a food processor add your almonds and white chocolate chips and blend until desired size. Ours was not as fine as almond meal, we wanted a bit of chunkiness. Sprinkle this all over the top of your brownie-cake.
Butter a 9x13 glass pan, pour in batter and cook on your low rack at 350 F for 25-30 minutes. Take it out when your knife test shows just a little bit of batter on it. You want it nice and moist but not undercooked. 
Once your brownie-cake is finished allow it to cool while you prepare your caramel sauce.
 In a sauce pan add in butter, brown sugar and half and half. Cook on medium to low heat until dissolved, whisking the entire time. It will start to get a little bubbly around 5 minutes then add in your vanilla extract and salt. I keep whisking until it thickens up, just a few more minutes then remove from heat and drizzle over top of your brown-cake and serve right away while warm or even add some vanilla ice-cream if you so choose. Enjoy and Happy Holidays from my kickass baking geniuses!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

To my burnt out Mama friends and those who love them.

It is extremely difficult to remove the guise that we can do it all. Even if we sometimes express how tired we are or unappreciated, we just keep going. But then one day we don't. We burn out. However it manifests itself...through mood fluctuations, exhaustion, depression, anxiety, overeating, under eating, all of the above. Or sometimes it's simple that you can no longer smile a real smile. 

How often I see posts (or post something myself) about how I can not do this anymore. I am waving the white flag. I am done. DONE. And the responses are kind...."I hear you", "I'm having a hard time too", "It get's better, hang in there." and let me add, these are wonderful things to say. I am not considering this wrong. It's just all we really know. Unless its your closest friend and they know exactly what you need, most people just do not know how to help someone.

I have been experiencing one of my worst bipolar fluctuations since being post-partum years ago. So I have felt like a failure as a mother. I have had days I couldn't even pretend to like my children's drawings they so eagerly wanted to share. I couldn't go to the store because I would have to interact with someone even for a minute. I yell, I cry...and I cry some more. I feel such embarrassment and I just wish someone, anyone could help. But you know what, I don't want to ask you. I am past that point. And even if someone says, "Hey let me know if you ever need some help" well where do I begin. First off can you talk to my children, maybe give them some positive energy because I am out. Can you bring me dinner because making kraft dinner is beyond exhausting. Can you not call me to 'talk' so I have to make you feel better that I am sad? Again, this isn't saying that offering help is wrong, its just that it's so hard to ask, really.

So here are things I wish people would do for me when I need help but can't find the courage to ask:

Text and ask what time dinner is and that you will bring something by. Don't knock, just drop it off. 

Text what time they can come grab a kid, or two, or three. 

Offer that you can chat but if a bottle of wine is better, it will be waiting at their doorstep. If they say they are too tired to chat and don't worry about the wine, bring the wine anyways.

See what time school is out, just pick up and drop off a kid. 

Tell them you love them.

Text them you can come by and give a back massage. 

Tell them you are at the store and what do they need.

Leave a flower, or note, or cookies at the door. 

Send a note you love them.

Offer them a girls getaway, even for a night, or afternoon, or a pretend one once kids go to bed.

Offer to whisk them off to yoga (totally impartial here).

Bring them to bootcamp. Sometimes we need a kick out the door!

Check in on them, just a note you are thinking about them.

Do you see what I am saying. Its the proactive approach. Because when you are so exhausted and without joy it can be painful to have to face someone...because they might see your pain. And some people want to talk while others don't. What I need is not what others need, but this is food for thought. In the society we live in, we are left so alone in a sea of people. But once you begin to accept the help, and offer it in return, the more supported you are. And when you feel supported and have the tools to maneuver this daunting task of motherhood, the more likely you can move away from burn outs. We all need so much love.

I am thankful to say that recently I have found more and more support through my willingness to open up even during the darkness. But when you feel good you forget how hard it all can be sometimes. So today as I enjoy the hours of happiness and relief, I wanted to help others understand maybe just a little. 

I am leaving space here. To the mothers, or struggling souls who have other suggestions I will add anything you like. Say what you need. It will come to you when you need it.

Space for you.