Motherhood

Birthday letter to my brown son.

Happy Birthday sweet 16th Lee!

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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!

 

What’s in a name?

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 

 

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What I Want

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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!

Year Three: HONESTY

It’s been a little over two years since my stroke.

POST STROKE YEAR ONE: Total denial

I wanted my story to be: Yes, I had a stroke at age 39, but it didn’t effect me. I’m still strong and can do even more than before. 🤯

Total denial.

 

YEAR TWO: Facing my external reality.

MY family and friend’s PTSD. I had to acknowledge the fear my family faces anytime I don’t feel well, have a headache or I over exhaust myself. The fear my family faces everytime I travel alone. The fear of another stroke.

 

YEAR THREE

I have figured out that this will be the year of honesty. Honesty about the situation. Honesty that if I don’t set my GPS when traveling to my destination, even a familiar distination in the city I was born, I can get lost or forget where I was suppose to be. Yes it happens all the time. I have been lost one mile from my house. The houses and streets look familiar but I can’t figure out where I am.

Honesty to my co-workers that I can’t remember how to work the heat in the yoga studios even though they have shown it to me MANY TIMES. (Thanks Meghan Velotta and Scott Supler 😘). My children have worked for the last two years to help me hide what I can’t remember. I don’t remember their friend’s name or teachers names. They even know that they have to remember where I parked, because we have walked around cold parking lots for quite a while to find the car. My oldest will whisper names to me because he knows I have no idea.

Here’s the best part.... I have learned no one thinks I’m stupid and have only been so loving and comforting. My co-workers treat me like everyone else. I might just have to more set alarms to remind me. Thanks mom for the echo dots all over my house! 😘And lastly Ive learned it takes strength to ask for help when you need it and so I’m WAY stronger then I ever thought. ✨😘

#playingsmallisnolongeranoption #awaketomysoul #survivingastroke #lazyeye

True Story

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TRUE STORY

We met in middle school when our community started to integrate. There were many families in the community that were unhappy about how the neighborhood was “starting to change.”

I was told by another student that she heard Candy call me the “N word”. At the time, that word was the worst thing someone could call me. It meant complete disrespect and at age 12... well...THOSE WERE FIGHTING WORDS!

So I cornered Candy in the middle school bathroom and literally scared the living daylights out her, when a mutual friend came in and stopped me. From that moment on Candy was the enemy!

I found out later that the story was completely made up! It wasn’t true. She never said those words.(Sigh...middle school girls 🤨)

Years went by and we never spoke. I watched her as she made friends with everyone but I was to embarrassed and I’m sure, my pride was to big to just apologize. We graduated high school and went off to college and years later I found her on Facebook and sent her a private message explaining my behavior. She of course accepted my apology and invited me over to her home for lunch and a play date with our kids (who were the same age) AND we were BOTH YOGA TEACHERS!!! 😱We have been inseparable ever since. Our kids love each other and i am left with one of the BEST women on the planet, who always has my back (even when I act like a complete nut case). Candy Koslen : you are the greatest. I’m grateful for you! So grateful. Love always, Ylonda

I’m not fearless.

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Yesterday my daughter told me that she thought I was cool because I was fearless.

I told her the truth... I am not fearless. In fact since my stroke I feel urgency to find and live my purpose.

That my “someday” has to be today because so

many dreams and aspirations get pushed off until a “someday.” But someday is never guaranteed to us. I told her it is okay to be scared and overwhelmed before jumping into the unknown. That is what keeps us trusting. The important thing is to not let the fear be bigger than your faith. You can acknowledge the fear exists but you do not need to answer to it. •


I stressed not to let the fear of what could happen make nothing happen. Make your someday today. Trust you already have everything you need within you to take the first step. Your future self is relying on you.


She looked at me and said “Mom, you’re even cooler than I thought.”

❤️😭 #awaketomysoul #hopethathelps #parentingishard #playingsmallisnolongeranoption #liveBIG #FAITH

Your message is powerful

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I have this belief that one article, one social media post, one video or blog can change the direction of someone’s life.

It makes me think about what I choose to post.

I ask myself:

Is what I am sharing adding more love or more division?

If it was cool to read your mother’s feed-Is this something I would feel proud if my children saw or read?

If you are on social media it doesn’t matter if you have 1 follower or 1 million, you still have a platform that can help influence this world.

The words you chose today {or spoke} were heard by someone.

Someone scrolling through their feed saw what you had to say and it was implanted in their consciousness.

So if you ever for a hot second think your message doesn’t have power, there is at least 1 person who read and thought about what you said today.

Your words. Your posts. Are powerful. Your message (whatever it is: positive or negative) is powerful. We each can change the trajectory of someone’s life. HOW INCREDIBLE IS THAT? Your message is powerful.

Letter to the baby brown bear

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I always knew this boy with his long dark lashes and tender heart would undo me.

 

Every day for the past 12 years, he has touched my soul in some way. He is the first to ask “How was your day ?” and “Did you you sleep good?” or say “Momma, you look so pretty today.” He can also burp my name. So, there’s that.

 

Patrick,

Happy Birthday to my precious baby boy!! It is hard to believe you are turning 12 years old today!

 

I thank God for you each and everyday and I will be forever grateful that you chose me to be your mom.

Please know that you make me proud. If you didn’t do another thing, win another award, get another A, I want you to know I’m proud of the young man you’ve become. I love the way you love your siblings (most days). I love the way you are a good friend and listener to others. I love the way you give generously.

You are loved. No matter how long those legs grow or how high I have to look up to you, you will always be my baby boy. I can still wipe your tears and listen to your heart. If you never hear another word I say or choose not to listen, you must believe that you are loved deeply.  Don’t ever doubt it. Believe it. This life might bring great joy or sorrow, great wealth or loss, but you can make it because you have love. Make sure you remember to give it away. It’s the best way to receive it.

 

Baby Brown Bear I love you. I hope you have the happiest day!

The Story

I have mentioned in my writings and in my classes that I suffered a life changing event 18 months ago that changed my whole life.

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Last night in my YINyasa class was the first time that I shared publicly what actually happened that day. It was the first time in a long time that my voice shook, my hands sweat and I held back tears because I had to acknowledge that I was helpless in those moments.

To tell the story, I had to relive that day . I had to admit that the life I was living was literally sucking the life out of me. My job was disempowering and stressful. The friendships I was involved in was stealing my spirit. That I had no sense of who I was or sense of boundaries.

I had to remember the panic in my husband's face as he called 911 crying while explaining to our 3 children not to panic. He explained to them that the paramedics would arrive with sirens and enter our house to help me. And I had to remember how still they stood so brave as help arrived.

 

I described the panic I felt when I knew something was wrong and could not speak and finally when I woke up 24 hours later in the ICU and was told at the age of 39 I suffered a stroke, that I was "lucky".

My point: Don't wait to live out your dream. Don't wait until you have achieved that "perfect" life to start living what you KNOW is your purpose. Don't wait to be told you are "lucky" to start. Don't wait until you have a certain amount of money in your account or lose a certain amount of weight.

The prayer: Now is the time.

I've used this prayer many times but this time everyone knew where it came from and why. That I didn't just hear it from someone and repeat it. That I live that prayer EVERY damn day.

 

Thank you to Tami Schneider and Cleveland Yoga who provided a sacred place for me to teach and create. I'm grateful.

I'm not that kind of mom.

I’m not that kind of mom……

I am not the kind of mom that hovers over her kids. 

I am not the kind of mom that knows every name of her kid’s friends and their parent’s names.

I am not the kind of mom that joins the PTA or volunteers to be the field trip chaperone. 

I am not the kind of mom that cries on their first day of school.

And sometimes, I feel bad that I’m not that kind of mom. 

The truth is..

I’m the kind of mom that loves to spend time with my kids but I also celebrate and dance when they leave for 6 six weeks of sleep away camp. 

I’m the kind of mom that every friday eats pizza (sometime McDonalds) with the kids while we watch our favorite show Black-ish together.

But today everything shifted.

I got this letter from my youngest at my last Muffins with Moms Day.

It told me that it was ok to be the mom I am, and not the mom I thought I SHOULD be.

That I’m doing ok.

Thank you Patrick. 

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Choose you FIRST.

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Ever feel like you're quick to fill others first, but when it comes to really bathing and filling up yourself, you turn it into a cold shower? Why is that? What is so dangerous, daring, provocative and unacceptable about choosing you?

Sometimes I have to really pause and ask myself this question too, because it's so easy to choose our businesses, family, friends, obligations over ourselves.

What's helping me in this journey of loving myself, is excepting that if I really want to help others, I have to help myself first.

I had to recognize this: You're NOT choosing yourself and saying the hell with others.  You're really choosing yourself first that's the important part {FIRST}. Choosing you first can help you be a better friend, partner, and leader. Choose you FIRST, so that you have enough to give others.

 

I N S P I R A T I O N

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You know who inspires me? People who stretch themselves beyond the limits of their fears and show up anyways. People who are open, vulnerable and know that sharing the truth is going to help others become more comfortable with sharing their's. Those are the people who touch my soul and they help me in so many ways because of their humanity.

 

Thank you to the people who inspire me everyday to get up and NOT sit, walk or run toward my dream but to FLY toward my dreams.

 


Superhero

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THROWBACK THURSDAY 

My daughter Evelyn is an introvert. In fact she would be horrified if she saw this post about her. (Shhhh.... we won't tell her. 😜) She is soft spoken, shy, gentle and so sweet. She rarely gets her picture taken. Instead she is the photographer for MOST of my pics. But when she was younger, she use to put on her Super Hero costume and become SUPER E. As Super E she could be anything she wanted to be. Sometimes she had "Super Sonic" hearing or the ability to run at the speed of light. This apparently holds true for Rosey (the beagle) too.

Years later, the costume is retired. But she tells me that she still believes she can be anything she wants. I guess the Super hero will always live inside of her. BRAVO EVELYN! You don't need that costume to be anything you want!

 

BROWN SKIN

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This morning after dropping my kids off at school, I stopped at a gas station to put air in my tire.  As I pulled into the gas station parking lot I noticed that there were lines of cars waiting at each gas pump. To my excitement there was an open space right in front air pump.  GREAT! I pulled in.  As I got out of my car to start the air pump, a white man pulled up next to me and told me that he was there first and was waiting for that spot.  I immediately apologized and explained that I thought he was waiting for gas.  He then yelled out “ You F*CKING ELITIST N#GGER. YOU THINK YOU CAN TAKE WHATEVER YOU WANT?” I was stunned and frozen for a second and then just calmly walked to my car, backed out and drove away.

As I drove away I saw another white man yelling at him that he should be ashamed of himself.

I had a few thoughts as I drove away. The first one was that I was disappointed with myself. I just drove away.  I let him intimidate me.

Secondly I felt sadness that I now need to prepare my children to see these types of things.

Lastly I felt gratitude.  Gratitude for the white gentleman that stuck up for me.

I still believe in this country.  I won’t let a few angry people change my mind.


Thank you Halloween

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Dear Halloween,

I just want to say thank you.

The brown bears 🐻🐻🐻went Trick or Treating for the first time all by themselves to celebrate you. I'm not gonna lie. Usually I'm annoyed at you. Its a hassle to celebrate you with all the costumes, cold weather and candy. It takes me months to sneak handfuls of candy out of the bears collection to the trash so I don't have to pay more money in dental fees. But this year... decided to try something new!

I decided while the bears were enjoying themselves...I would too!! I took the longest UNINTERRUPTED bath in history and even had time to blow dry my hair. My cup is now full. Thank you 👻 Halloween! I will celebrate you with glee from now on.