Wonderwoman

Today I did something I have not done in over two years; I went to see a movie by myself.

The last time I saw a movie by myself was when I was pregnant. I just love going to matinees alone. It’s such a treat! I can totally immerse myself within the movie and experience it fully. (Twizzlers and soda included.) As a movie-lover it’s one of my greatest escapes.

Today I had a babysitter for three hours and thought about what I should do. My first thought was go to Whole Foods, run some errands. Honestly that sounded pretty shitty to me.

So, on a whim I checked the showings for the movie theater around the corner and guess what? WONDERWOMAN was playing in 3D during the exact hours I had a sitter. DING DING DING! Winner winner chicken dinner. Whole Foods can wait!

I watched Wonderwoman today. I cried, I laughed, my whole body tingled. It was AMAZING. It was something I’ve never seen before. It was beautiful. It was fierce. It was a powerhouse of a movie.

And I thought… my daughter is growing up during a time when a bad ass woman is the hero, where a bad ass woman saves the world. Hell yes!

The first photo is my brother Chris and me on Halloween maybe 1988? As you can see, I’m Wonderwoman. And amazingly my mom saved that outfit. Emmy wears it now.

That little girl in the first picture could never have known that one day she’d have a daughter who grew up in a time where a woman saved the world; a world where a mama could take time for herself to watch it happen.

Story Time Yoga

Last week the first official class of my new company JEM YOGA NYC began. I was nervous at first, bur once I got into the flow of leading the class it felt like I was soaring. I was back at it and had that feeling of “this is what I’m meant to do.” And the best part? Em was right there with me.

Em is used to going to classes and is also used to doing yoga with me at home. I think in her mind it was just a normal day! She went with the flow, did some poses, joined me for savasana and proudly said, “Bye Bye Yoga!” as I put away the little yoga mat I had brought.

I felt so much emotion when I got home last week after class, but the biggest one of all was pride for my baby. I put my passion for teaching on hold for a while when she came into this world, and to come back now feeling like my heart is more full than ever? I just feel so blessed!

Story Time Yoga Class 1Story TIme Yoga Class 2

 

 

Mom Yoga, Toddler Yoga

Today I got in a yoga practice and it felt so good. I was able to do this because of Emily’s fascination with shoes. You see, she spent most of this time off to the side trying to get on her sneaker!

She wasn’t the least bit frustrated or annoyed as she did this over and over again, even though she never actually got her sneaker on. She was just content to be in the moment practicing something.  Isn’t it amazing how focused a child can be when exploring something they are interested in?

Emily reminded me of one of the Niyamas or observances in yoga called Santosha. Santosha means finding satisfaction in exactly who we are and where we are without wanting to change anything.

I am grateful that today we both got in a yoga practice. I got in my yoga through the poses (asana) and Emily got in her yoga by practicing her one-pointed focus (dharana) during her shoe-putting-on investigation!

Anyone But Me (A tale of middle school)

When I was in the 6th grade I would pass notes back and forth with a good friend. We drew funny scenes with imaginary characters and then wrote a little story about the character.  I don’t remember the particulars of the scenes, but I do remember laughing a lot.

One particular day the scene I drew was not funny. I drew an unflattering picture of a mutual friend. I made her look fatter than she was, made fun of her clothes, and drew arrows at her hair mocking her ponytail. I don’t remember the description I wrote, but it was probably equally mean-spirited.

I remember erasing the first drawing I made to make her look thinner because something inside of me was telling me to stop. I also remember getting a feeling in my gut to NOT pass the note. I wasn’t yet familiar with that intuitive voice inside, so I passed it along anyway.

Passing that note happened to coincide with the holiday season, and my group of friends were doing a Secret Santa. We would leave clues and presents in the locker of the person we had drawn to be our gift recipient. On the last day before holiday break, I opened my locker excited to find out who my Secret Santa had been.

What I saw inside was the note I had written hanging and surrounded by festive holiday streamers. Below it was a sign that read, “Next time you write something mean you should be careful.” Turns out, my Secret Santa was the friend I had made fun of.

My heart completely sank and I felt instant shame.

I don’t remember how everything else unfolded. I don’t remember if I apologized or if I just hid from the friend I had written the note about (probably the latter).  What I do remember was from that from that point on I was an outcast in my group of “friends.”

Around that same time, I had to miss a sleepover party because I had a dance show. When I came into school that Monday morning a friend came rushing towards me. “Everyone was talking about us the party”, she told me. When I asked her what she meant she went on to tell me a number of cruel things the girls had apparently said about me. The one thing that stood out and still hurts to this day is how they said I tried to be funny but wasn’t. They said they had to fake laugh at my “jokes.”

In addition to the note and sleepover drama, during this time I also really pissed off a friend (the same one who I had passed that note to by the way). She and I had a big crush on a boy named Steve (yes, he’s now my husband). Without telling me she asked him out, and they began “dating.” At the time I think that meant they would occasionally hold hands in public. Anyway, when someone asked what I thought about her asking out Steve I said, “No comment.” My lack of a comment got back to her and she was MAD. She didn’t want to speak to me anymore either. With that, I lost another friend.

From that day on, I wasn’t allowed to sit at the table with that group of girls anymore. I would sit at a different table feeling totally excluded and completely worthless.

In the midst of all this, I remember being in dance class and watching an older dancer perform. I thought, “I wish I was her.” I was hit with the absolute sinking feeling of TRULY wishing I was anyone else but me. To be her, I thought, would be so much easier. She was pretty and talented. I bet she had friends at school who let her sit with them. I bet she didn’t have problems like awkward, unfunny, ugly me.

Looking back, I know why I wrote that terrible note. It was because I felt terrible about myself. It felt good to project that feeling onto another person and get momentary relief. Many years later I was able to apologize to that friend for writing the note. I told her it was cruel and I should have never done it. She accepted my apology and laughed it off. She seemed a little uncomfortable with how serious I was about saying I was sorry.

Looking back, I’m happy I missed that sleepover. Instead of gossiping about other girls (which I most likely would have done), I was performing on stage.

Looking back, I’m not sorry I said “no comment” about my friend dating Steve. I really liked him. I married the guy for Christ’s sake! And I could have said something so much worse.

Anyway, I was wondering why I’ve been thinking about all this stuff lately, and maybe it’s because of the state of our world. There is so much animosity and hatred. There is a fighting and cruelty and misunderstanding. And it makes me wonder- where does that come from? If a person feels worthless, if they wish they were anyone else but them- how do you think they treat others?

I’m totally serious when I say- maybe how middle school girls treat each other is a microcosm of the darkness of the human condition. There was fear of anyone or anything different. There was projecting worthless feelings onto each other.  There was creating an “us” and “them.” At any moment everyone could turn their back on you. Middle school was rough!

My story is such a small one. It can by no means be compared to the serious horrors happening in our world right now. It does remind me though to stop and ask, “If that person is treating others like that, how must they feel?”

 

 

 

 

 

Always Stretching

Over the weekend a friend of mine and I were talking about yoga. He told me how he and his wife joke around and say, “Why is Jessica always stretching?”

I thought about it and they’re right. I am always stretching!

If I’m hanging out with friends or family in my home I’m most likely sitting on the floor doing some forward bends. If I’m sitting on the couch at a friend’s house I’m probably sitting cross-legged and doing some twists. I don’t really think about it. I just do it. It’s second nature.

Ever since I was tiny I’ve always been a mover. First a jazz, ballet and tap dancer. Then a modern dancer. Then a yogi. Almost every job I’ve ever had has involved moving my body. I tried a job sitting at a desk once. I lasted one month.

This past weekend I began filming a video for my childhood dance studio. It’s the 30th anniversary of the studio’s opening and I’m honored to be creating a tribute video for the occasion. I was deeply moved by the teachers’ performances of heartfelt solos. Something inside of me stirred as I watched them, and it continues to stir.

I’ve since began editing the footage and it bring tears to my eyes every time. The purity of it all. The movement. The music. The beauty. The passion. And it’s all there because of the amazing success of my childhood dance studio. And guess what? That’s the place where I learned how to stretch.

I can’t help but cry as I think. Yes, I am always stretching. And it’s because of where I came from.