Happy Birthday sweet 16th Lee!
I am so proud of you. You have accomplished so much in your short 16 years on this Earth.
I hope I have not failed you by teaching you skin color doesn’t matter. I fear I’ve been naive and I haven’t prepared you for this current racial chaos. Skin color does matter, and I struggle with feeding you the narrative that it doesn’t.
Who would’ve ever predicted 16 years ago that today we’d still be living in a racially charged climate ? I’m sorry you’ll have to work so hard to prove your intelligence and worth–perhaps even your humanity– because of the brown skin that houses your intellect and heart. We’ve tried to equip you with tools for success, regardless of race. But we’ve also coached you on society’s unwritten rules for black men. What you should and shouldn’t wear, how to show respect, how to conduct yourselves with dignity, and how to speak properly and confidently.
People will judge you based on these elements, and it could mean the difference between life and death for you.
I’ve never pretended that racism doesn’t exist. I’ve felt its sting. I know humiliation. We all have prejudices. It’s part of our humanness. But know this: You can’t allow the actions of a few to color your view of the whole world.
You’ve faced discrimination in your own family so you know you’re not immune to it. The devastating stories we’ve seen in the media could’ve just as easily been about you, and your name could have become a hashtag to remind us of some horrible incident.
As your mother, I’m compelled to help you make sense of this craziness.In spite of what you see or hear, all white people aren’t “the enemy.” Don’t let anyone convince you they are. It’s simply not true. Know history, but don’t let it cripple you. A victim mentality will limit you economically and emotionally.
I wish I could return you to the womb, to warmth and safety. But I can’t. This has to be your experience. Your story to tell. Make no mistake about where I stand. First, you’re responsible for yourselves, your family. Second, you’re bound by the rules of society and law. I know you’ll respect that. I’ve raised you to be a man of character and integrity.
Most police officers want to help you. Be wise and remember what we’ve taught you. If the police pull you over, respect them. They deserve it. Comply with their wishes and pray it will be ok. If it doesn’t, I hope I’ve armed you with the tools to fight ignorance with grace.
Live without fear, but be aware of your surroundings.Even though you’ve heard this all before, I can’t risk leaving a stone unturned. You are too precious to me.
This is a low period in our country. This is not America at its best. But we still believe this is the best place in the world for you. As you transition become an adult, be beacons of hope & examples of what is best about America by treating everyone–regardless of race, social stature, or religious affiliation–with respect, compassion, and dignity.
I believe you will benefit by choosing content over skin color and love over hate. I couldn’t be prouder of the man you’re becoming. Allow others to see the fullness of America by being the best you can be.
Live strong, be safe.
Love you forever and always!
Everything in life is a choice, whether we are conscious of it or not. We are constantly & indefinitely being presented, with choices. The next step we take, is a choice. The next friend that we make & the next friend we betray, is a choice. The next words we speak, is a choice. The next person we tell that we love & the next person we tell who we hate, is a choice. A question is presented & ultimately we are the ones that choose in which direction our lives will lead from making, these choices.
Many of us act as though we were never given free will. Succumbing to being just a bunch of hurt people, hurting hurt people. When I put it in this perspective, make myself conscious of the simplicity of it all, it puts the bigger picture back into view. What type of person do I want to be. When I lift my veil of skin, what do I want my soul to look like. These, conscious choices are so important to our development. And really, it's that simple.
We must want to beautify ourselves, not in the physical but in the spiritual. We must feel the thirst to expand ourselves. Be pushed so far into the ground, that it makes us strive to dig ourselves back up only to blossom.
It has taken me years of tears, laughter, pain, of love to finally be able to see the way I do now. I had to first be so honest with myself, in order to be honest with everyone. To become aware, that my decisions will be the only reason I hold myself back or reach my divine purpose. We have to remind humans how to be humane again. But to be this, we first have to make the conscious choice.
#powerchoices #carolinemyss #forgiveness #awaketomysoul #playingsmallisnolongeranoption
📸 the talented Nick Brilla
Forgiveness is hard. Forgiving someone for actions done to hurt you and forgiving yourself for watching and allowing another to hurt you and people that you love.
I have to admit... I haven’t been able to even touch the tip of forgiveness yet. I’m not even close.
I do not wish this person good will. I have no wishes for them GOOD OR BAD.
This is where I am.
It is my truth.
I will not be ashamed.
I will not hide it.
I can say I DO wish for myself that ONE DAY to get there. To find forgiveness and send well wishes.
I’m trying and that is all I can lovingly ask of myself. ❤️ #keepworkinghard
#forgiveyourself #forgive #awaketomysoul #playingsmallisnolongeranoption
This journey, this thing we call life-was not meant to be easy. Nothing beautiful comes without a fight.
We will have to conform our bodies,
bend ourselves backwards,
rewire what we thought to be real,
feel the pain of life-
to figure out what it takes to grow a backbone.
To learn that being honest with ourselves, will be the hardest thing we’ll have to learn to do. Seeing our experiences as not only chapters, but lessons. Whether we know it now or not, they serve a high purpose. What is painful now, is just leading us to growth, to love and ultimately, happiness.
Trust, your process of becoming and it will lead you to exactly where you are meant to be.
Photo credit: The talented Nick Brilla
When to speak.
When NOT to speak.
I was talking to my BFF a few weeks back. We have been BEST friends since the second grade. She is Korean American and has always been honest with me. I have always been an EMOTIONAL decision maker and she always a practical factual decision maker. We balance each other out for sure. She said to me: “I’ve been looking at your social media and I think you should be very careful with your race posts. You have three posts in a row that deal with race. You should think about spacing them out otherwise people (white) might start thinking of you as an “angry” black woman. 😬 We both laughed but we both knew it was true.
I heard her.
At the time, I thought she was right. Most of my friends and co-workers are white. I don’t want them to think I am ‘off the wall’. So I started silencing myself. Trying my hardest to be real about my life as a black woman in NorthEast Ohio, with MANY white friends, married to a white man, three beautiful biracial (brown) children, working in a profession where you can count on your fingers how many black yoga teachers you know.
I began trying to S P R E A D out my posts regarding race.
THEN this morning as I was speaking to my father. He was raised during segregation and the civil rights movement.
He said to me. “I closed my mouth a lot of times because of my safety. Many times if I spoke to loud there was a chance that I could be beaten or Tied up and drug behind a car and white people would have no fear of consequence back then.
I worked hard so that my children CAN speak. So you speak. We are in a time in this country that is very close to that terrible time. You speak as loud and as often as you need to, until people start to hear.” So.. I will not be silenced. I will not worry about spreading my messages out so that it is “MORE digestible” for some. I will not stand by and watch others be mistreated or disrespected.
Will I lose followers/readers/students?
I can make one promise...
I will do my BEST to speak with love and compassion to all. Because in the end, LOVE AND COMPASSION WILL PREVAIL.
#weareNOTallthesamebutweAREallequal and THAT is beautiful.
When you feel unheard.
When you see someone disrespected or bullied.
When you see someone making you or anyone else feel small to make them feel bigger.
When you see someone shaming another. -
Pull out that folding chair.
Shirley Chrisholm, the trailblazing congress woman who was the FIRST African American woman in 1968 elected to the US House of Representatives when segregation had only ended four years earlier. The legalization of interracial marriage had JUST PASSED. She could have cowered away. She could bit her tongue.
But instead she had the courage to stand up for what she believed in her heart was right.
We each have to ask ourselves...
Are we willing?
We WILL repeat what we don’t acknowledge.
Are you willing to bring out your folding chair even if it means you may make someone angry or feel uncomfortable?
That is the beautiful thing about this nation and what my husband and many of my friends risk their lives for as a part of the US military. The right to peacefully pull out our folding chair.
As many of you know 2.5 years ago at the age of 39 i suffered a stroke.
I have never told this story publicly as I get emotional every time my mind relives these series of events.
When I woke up in the ICU at the Cleveland Clinic I was very confused about where I was. The first day I was in and out of consciousness, but by day two I was fully alert and speaking. My words were slow and i stuttered alot, but i was completely aware.
I asked my nurse if she could help me to the restroom. She told me that there were no restrooms in the unit. Most, if not all the patients in that unit could not get up so there were no patient bathrooms. She then told me just how lucky I was to be alive.
My room had sliding glass panels for walls and one curtain to give me some privacy but i could hear what was happening in the bed/area next to me. In that area was a woman. I didn’t know why she was there but it was clear that she was in serious condition from all of the machines and tubes attached to her. I could hear her family come in and out of her area, talking to her and crying. Later in the middle of the night I woke up to the sound of beeping and alarms from her machines. The doctors rushed in to work on her. I could hear the desperation in their voices. On the other side of this curtain they worked frantically for almost an hour. They finally had to let her go. I remember praying for her and hoping that she was unaware and that she passed peacefully. It was one of the scariest moment of my life. Her life was just as valuable as mine but for some reason it was her time and not mine.
I hoped that she got the chance to say what she needed to to her family before whatever happened to her, happened.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. 🦋
Everyday I try to say what I need with love and compassion to all that know me. I hug my children and encourage them to live their wildest dreams.
I say no if I need to.
I say yes when my heart jumps.
I say I love you as much as I can.
Not a day goes by that I take this life for granted.
📸:the brilliant Nick Brilla
Every once in a while it's nice to just take a step back from the serious stuff and get to know each other a bit, so here are 5 random things you probably don't know about me:
1) I love hostess cupcakes. (I could eat a whole box of cupcakes while binge watching Netflix)
2) Car dancing is a thing and I'm pretty good at it (but I'm really afraid that one day I'll be pulled over for speeding because my music was cranked up way too loud and I didn't pay attention to my speedometer)
3)I HATE country music with a purple passion. It actually makes me angry.
4) I hate wearing shoes. Especially ones I have to lace. I almost always just force my foot into the shoe without untying them.
5) I can't swim and I am deathly afraid of water.
Thanks for reading!
“there's a big, wonderful world out there for you. it belongs to you. it's exciting and stimulating and rewarding. don't cheat yourselves out of this promise.“ -Nancy Regan
Last night a friend and I were chatting about speaking things into the universe. i can tell you first hand that it has worked for me. three years ago i was in a completely different place in my life fighting a struggle to get out of a deep dark hole. somewhere out there, God or earth or whatever you believe in, is LISTENING. it wants to grant you the goods (happier people = happier lives = happier planet). do not be afraid to say what you want aloud. by this, i don’t mean you need to go around telling everyone your deepest darkest desires. instead write it down on a piece of paper in one sentence. whisper it into the wind. don’t hold onto your wishes - release them to something greater. you’ll be surprised to find that more times than not, it gets picked up and put into motion. No more playing small. ✨✨✨✨🦋✨✨✨✨
📸 the beautiful @brittanygrahamphotography
#awaketomysoul #playingsmallisnolongeranoption #awaketomysoulsoundsession #awaketomysoulytts #courage #speakit #release #wishes #hopesanddreams
Wow! Today was just one of those sensitive days —being filled with massive joy to all of a sudden feeling sensitive and wanting to slow down and journal ❤️ It’s just one of those let’s feel ALL the emotions day and frankly I’m loving it ❤️ It’s a sign to slow down and get the next assignment. In the past I’ve really felt embarrassment over how emotional I was —feeling so deep that I’d joke and say it’s too much for my human body to compute. Do you ever feel that way sometimes? If so I want to give you full permission to own your power.
That’s your power moving around inside you like a great wave. And it can feel overwhelming at times because society promotes packaged, pretty, and polite. Society promotes reserving, holding back, and keeping it in.
But God made you to be bold. Your innate nature is raw, wild, real, and relevant. If you’re having a sensitive, emotional, or intense day —it’s your inner power doing work in your life.
Stand in your power. Feel all of it.
#awaketomysoul #playingsmallisnolongeranoption #feelitall
When people of color tell you something is racist, believe them. Don’t make an excuse. Don’t tell them they are hypersensitive. Don’t try to make them question what they feel in their heart or make them feel like it’s no big deal or not important. Because it is. Instead LISTEN and acknowledge.•••
#comeon #enoughisenough #getwoke #staywoke
I almost didn't choose this photo from my photoshoot
It was soft, quiet, and didn't have a power pose or large smile--anything that would shout: "I'm a confident cellist!"
But it's my absolute favorite photo from the shoot. Because it's the most vulnerable and real. It shows my love for this instrument.
The power of vulnerability and speaking my truth has been the only healing tool that has CONSISTENTLY moved me through moments that hurt my heart into moments that strengthen me. Vulnerability is that powerful
It's okay to be frustrated
It's okay to feel ticked off and annoyed
It's okay to not immediately go into fix it mode
It's okay to feel sad
It's okay. It's okay. IT'S OKAY
You don't have to immediately make lemonade from the fruit that this season bore for you--sometimes the bravest thing you can do is just feel it and witness it
A season of okay is not enough to disrupt seasons of good and a lifetime of great for you --it'll pass ⚡️
Believe me, it'll pass
“It’s your turn. You can change people’s lives Ylonda.” said my friend, Annie Hartnett
“I’m not ready,” I responded.
“What are you waiting for?” she said.
Grateful is the word I think of each and every time I see her.
Because she was right.
Because she believed in me.🦋
Once a month I get to teach people how to be yoga teachers and take the lead in their own lives. It fills my soul with so much joy. AND she is not the only one supporting me and helping my dream come true.
Jessica (JP)-Thank you for sharing your beautiful space with us and for your unwavering friendship.
Katie Hollo- for holding me together and reminding me of who I am.
Candy Koslen -my partner in crime. Always willing and ready to back me up and hold me up.
Debi Darnell, Deanna Black, Shaun Sterling and Atmarupa (my yoga mom) for going along with what ever I ask. But mostly for being a part of my dream. I am a lucky woman to have each of you.
Diana Vitantonio -For your heart that loves me even when I call you a complete mess. For your words and unconditional love that helps me put myself back together and ALWAYS REMINDS ME THAT I AM WORTHY. You are my mentor and one of my best friends in the world.
Lastly, thank you Tribe 1 & 2 for your trust!
I leave each of our weekends stronger and so grateful that I get to do what I love.
Words can never EVER express my gratitude. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Photo credit- Kelly Suvak (tribe 2)
Ylonda Navade Rosenthal-Greene
One of my best friends in college used to call me the "multi-cultural experience" because my name was culturally of all over the place.
From an EARLY AGE as a person of color raised in a predominately white neighborhood the greatest fascination was with my maiden name of Rosenthal. "How did your family get that name?" I would be asked at the beginning of the school year.
I could never answer that question. I had no idea that Rosenthal was a "Jewish" last name. To me, it was just my name.
As the years went by and I married my Irish husband (Greene with an "E" at the end) I could not bring myself to drop Rosenthal. Each time I tried to research on Ancestry I could only go back a few generations. This is common for many people of color. Because of slavery many had only first names and families were routinely separated.
Finally a few years ago a yoga student (Ted) overheard another student ask me where Rosenthal came from. Ted said, "Ylonda I would love to research your family and find out for you".
So the long pain staking process of research, DNA matching began. He slowly put together an amazing picture.
Here it is: My father's side (The Rosenthals) were "ACQUIRED" as property (slaves) on a plantation in Alexandria LA. We were listed on the same list as furniture, cattle and acres!
The plantation was bought by a Jewish man named Jonah Rosenthal in 1860. Soon after buying the property, Jonah gave us a large amount of acres of this property, AND gave us his last name. In 1865 slavery was abolished. Although slavery was against the law, many had no where to go and no education. If they did leave the plantation and were lucky enough to get a job they could not get loans to buy property. So the Rosenthal were very lucky to own land free and clear. We still have and live on this land.
I know we were very lucky. I will carry this name with pride. I understand and appreciate the sacrifice Jonah made. My children have begged me to hyphenate their name too. I have promised if they feel the same way at 18 years old we would agree. This picture is the first two black Rosenthal on record.
William & Ettie Rosenthal
This journal entry means a lot to me. I saw this quote somewhere last year and wanted to remember it. The difference between this time and last time is that I’ve seen the product. I re-read this journal entry as a challenge or “words to live by” for myself over that last year. Soon after I wrote this in my journal, i started seeing my life, my teaching, my confidence, and my relationships shift.So i’ll ask you... how different would your life be if you actually went after what you wanted? God is good, y’all. happy monday!
Racism runs much deeper than name calling. It is the mistreatment of or making assumptions of others based on a person's ethnic background or skin color. Its's sneaky
Yes, it happens everyday in YOUR neighborhood and families.
And Yes... it even exists in MY family.
When I began dating my white husband in 1999, we both knew that our union would be difficult for his parents. But we were willing to work through it. One of our first conversations with his parents was about calling African Americans "COLORED". When we became engaged his parents told us that they would not attend the wedding. The positive side of me felt that we just needed to educate his parents and things would change.
When I found out I was pregnant with our first child, I really thought everything would change. But it didn't. After four years of marriage and 3 children, I told my husband that I was done trying to establish a relationship with them. BUT i would not interfere with him having a relationship with them. I also told him that if he wanted them to see our children that he would have to facilitate it. I hoped they could somehow have a positive influence. So my in-laws would only see my children 1-2 times per year. As my children became older they knew that their grandparents treated them differently than their cousins, but they could never give a clear example-it was more of a feeling, until recently.
It was a normal visit where the conversation didn't go any deeper than the weather. My husband’s brother was also there with his two children. After the visit my husband received a call from his mother.She informed my husband that she had cash sitting on her dining room table and now $10 of it was missing, that he needed to "check those kids". My husband became infuriated. She didn't call his brother an accuse his kids of taking the money. She insisted that her grandkids would never steal her money.
In other words...My bi-racial children were not REALLY her grandchildren, but her other son's blue eyed blond haired children were.
Later my father- in law called and said they found the $10. They had forgotten they had moved it. But the damage was already done. That was the LAST time they would ever see my children. While my in-laws never used the "N" in front of my children, their actions said EVERYTHING.
Many have a idea of what racism looks like- the "N" word, denying employment or services to people that don't look the same. Not always. Racism is sneaky. It appears with making assumptions. Like:
Two black people in the same shopping line must mean they are related.
Or telling a black person in line at Starbucks that they speak "eloquently" when you hear them order a white chocolate mocha.
Or putting your hands in a black person's hair and saying in a surprised voice "OMG! Your hair is so soft!"
Yes all of these things have happened to me.
When I have told other white people, some were horrified and others have told me I was being "OVERSENSITIVE".
No.. I am not be oversensitive. Denying it happens and blaming the person of color does no good.
So I share these stories to ask you to REALLY look. Look at yourself. Look at your families. Look at your children. Ignoring or making excuses is BULLSHIT. It is just a way for you to ignore an uncomfortable conversation. Nothing will change unless we are willing to take action. To speak up and say: THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.
As Dr. Phil says, "You can't change what you don’t acknowledge."
Let it start today. Let it start with you.
I am prone to picking myself apart in photos. It is a bad habit I learned at a very early age that I will vulnerably admit is still a lingering issue. I find every flaw and insecurity and turn something beautiful that was meant to preserve a moment in time into my personal dart board.
But today I present to you the photo that has become the exception.
When I first saw this photo, all I could think about was the day I took it.
The promise fulfilling life I lived.
The mental peace I felt.
The spontaneous adventures I took.
The memories I made.
The future that was being created.
The person I had the privilege to share it all with.
My eyes did not go outward to my “flaws” but inward to my heart. Designed by love. Handcrafted and built from hope.
I look at this photo and I see joy. And joy has no imperfections. 🦋
Last year I met a man, Peter Horn who was a violin maker. My children's school rents all their string instruments from him. I made the call to rent instruments for the kids. The first time we met, Peter told me that he lost his wife-the love of his life suddenly only six months prior. He showed me her picture and a picture of their two 16 yr. old twin boys. He also spoke about his daughter who has stepped into the family business to help since her mother's death and become a second mother to her brothers. He spoke of his entire family each time I saw him and how they were grieving deeply.
It was clear to me that his family was full of love.
Sunday a student, introduced herself after class. She looked so familiar to me but I wasn't sure where I knew her. She told me that we had someone in common. Peter Horn was her father. I quickly realized her face was familiar because she looked EXACTLY like her mother from the pictures I saw. She told me that she followed me on IG, and knew I was a cellist and that I had a stroke two years ago.
THEN she shared with me that her mother, Tracey was also a cellist and died suddenly of a stroke. We exchanged emails and phone numbers and continued to talk when she sent me these text messages in the pics below.
I have cried all week as I celebrated my 42nd birthday. Grateful to still be alive knowing that my life could have ended just as suddenly and tragically as Tracey's. I was lucky to still have the ability to tell my husband and children that I love them. •
I once asked someone the key to healing.
“You live,” this person said.
And that was it. No elaboration. No explanation of why. No telling me what that meant.
I didn’t understand it. I didn’t question it. I simply tucked it away. UNTIL NOW...I was walking out their meaning. I was becoming their definition. If I wanted the explanation, all I needed to do in that moment was look in the mirror.
So I will play Tracey Rieman-Horn's cello and live for the both of us. I hope to help keep her love and memory alive.
So much love to her family for trusting me with this beautiful gift.
SELF DOUBT:the enemy, has been on a war path-out to destroy, kill, and steal all that has been creating and healing in me. It wants me defeated. Submissive. Afraid. Broken. Timid. Hidden. It wants me silenced. ✨But what it wants is in reference to a Ylonda of the past. It seems to be in denial she no longer exists. Because when faced with the battle, THIS Ylonda does not back down.
I trust deeper.
I dream bolder.
I love bigger.
I fight fiercer.
I stand taller.
I fly higher.
I live my life out loud. It’s lies and futile attempts at robbing me are drowned out by the voice of love, by the power of hope and faith, by the strength of grace and gratitude, by the beauty of joy. I will fight until the very end. I know the victory waiting for me will be worth it all. I can say with absolute certainty, nothing will ever make me sacrifice these wings again. 🦋 ✨ #awaketomysoul #selfdoubts #dontquityourdaydream #playingsmallisnolongeranoption #healing #clevelandyogateacher #yogateachercleveland
#meditation #selfdiscovery #freeyourmind
#innerpeace #meditate #mindfulness
#wellness #awareness #mindset #spirituality #zen #perspective #beherenow #yogaeverydamnday #yogainspiration ✨