Love. Same Sex Marriage. Equality.

Celebrating love & equality at SF Pride Parade

Celebrating love & equality at SF Pride Parade

On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court voted in a historic ruling in favor of same sex marriage nationwide. I happened to be in San Francisco (my favorite city) at the American Library Association Conference to celebrate my friend’s book recognition at the The International Latino Book Awards.  My friend’s book, Birth of a New J: A Cathartic Memoir, by Julie Guardado, was honored first place for best Ebook. As we walked and celebrated the many wins that took place on this special weekend, I was filled with so much emotion at being present at one of our countries greatest moves towards justice and equality.

I am a big advocate for multicultural and diverse picture books because they give children opportunities to learn about people, cultures, customs and religions that are different from their own. Multicultural picture books open worlds, and begin necessary conversations about tolerance, respect, equality and justice. As a child, I never read multicultural picture books, but I had two parents who spoke to me often about the unfair treatment of others because of race, gender, religion, culture, language, sexual orientation, skin color and education. My parents spoke to me often that through my education I would be able to speak up for individuals who didn’t have a voice.  My parents spoke to me often about the cruel and unfair injustices they faced for being negatively perceived as “poor, lazy, stupid, uneducated immigrants”. My parents spoke to me often that we must always be an example of love, respect, kindness – as this is the way of God.

SF Pride Parade: 5th & Market

SF Pride Parade: 5th & Market

Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

-Romans 13:10

It takes no compromise to give people their rights…it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.

-Harvey Milk

This is my doctrine: Give every other human being every right you claim for yourself.

-Robert G. Ingersoll 

Here are the values that I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.

–Ellen DeGeneres

Equality is the soul of liberty; there is, in fact, no liberty without it.

-Frances Wright

From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests: you cannot subvert your neighbor’s rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own.

-Carl Schurz

In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.

-Rumi

Handstand Party! AHA moments at a handstand yoga workshop

handstand wrkshop

I showed up to this handstand workshop at one of my favorite places to practice, Yoga World Studios. I was nervous because I don’t know how to do a handstand, and when I challenge myself to not use the wall, I get butterflies in my stomach. I was also looking forward to learning about the techniques involved with mastering a handstand. I know many yogis who have no interest in learning how to do a handstand, but I do. I remember going to my first intermediate yoga class and being in awe when some yogis went into a handstand in the middle of the yoga sequence. For whatever reason, I was hooked and have been trying for the past three years to master a handstand. And even though I still don’t know how to do a handstand, I am totally enjoying the journey of going upside down. Wayne Dyer says, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” 

The workshop was led by a super fit, knowledgable and supportive yoga instructor named Erika Gasztonyi. I learned about hand placement, exercising my wrists, finger exercises and the importance of having a strong core. Who knew there was so much to it? Erika also referenced Dylan Werner, an inversion and arm balance master, whom she says taught her a lot about the art of balancing. I naturally came home and looked him up, and again was impressed. It is amazing how with continued practice, perserverence, and dedication, our bodies, mind and spirit can soar to new heights.

norris taking flightDuring the workshop some were able to find some hang time. I wasn’t able to, but I was super excited that they were making huge progress in their handstand journey. Seeing others succeed encourages me to keep trying.

Susie handstand

These past two weeks I have been going upside down sans the wall. Most times I fall on my bum, but I’ve learned how to fall out of it. Once in blue moon I even get some hang time. I’m so close I can feel it! However, during these few and rare moments that I am in a handstand, the feeling of being strong, light and perfectly balanced, is worth all the falls that I have taken. Whether I learn how to do a handstand this year or in the next ten years or never, going upside down has been quite a journey because I’ve had the courage to try.

Erika – great workshop! Your dedication inspires me.

(Instagram @erikatyoga)