Sometimes, the Universe throws you a curveball. Sometimes, your curveball comes in the form of a 250 pound man who steals your things and punches you in the face. Maybe, this man is also from America and crosses your path in a tapas bar in Kuala Lumpur. That’s the biggest piece of irony I’ve taken away from this entire situation, that I can travel 30,000 miles from home and have no more than an unwarranted selfie or uncomfortable staring thrown my way. The only physical harm to come to me this entire sabbatical was at the hands of a man from Chicago, Illinois. I feel safer on the road than I do here. The biggest blessing to come from being overseas is at least homeboy wasn’t allowed to tote a gun.
“What did you do to provoke this man?” has been the question in all of this that has made my blood boil. There is never anything that a 5’4, 125 pound woman could ever do to be attacked out of anger by a man twice her size. I don't think there's anything any woman could do. I don't think words are fuel enough for any person, regardless of sex. But, to answer the question, the word “bitch” was enough of an enticer to make this man snap on me. I find this interesting because I only used this word after it was used on me at least a hand full of times. I also find it comical that a man could so effortlessly use this word to invoke anger in a woman and irrationally snap when it backfires.
And let me quote the exact phrase: “you are a black bitch.” This man, was also black. He was a very visual, afrocentric type of black man. Which, I learned later in the night, he was no actual representation of at all. My father grew up in the pre civil rights East Palo Alto. My father held the safety of his mother and his sisters above all. My father would never raise his fists to a black woman or any woman, for that matter. I was raised by a strong black man. I am the auntie helping to raise a strong black man. I will go home tonight, wipe off my makeup, and show my nephew exactly what happened to my eye. I will teach him that if he ever raises his hands to a woman, his face will look like mine. We will discuss the word bitch and how men really only use it when women stand up for themselves and have vocal opinions. I have so many black men in my life that I love. I know that this man, while brown in color, is not a depiction of the black man that I know and love. This man hates his blackness. This man hopped two continents to get away from the self hatred that he has fostered in himself, partially from being raised in this country. This man now uses his blackness for “cool points”. This man, lives in a place where people save his number with the word “black” next to his name. He is angry to be black and I feel so bad for him. We are the culture everyone appropriates and he is included in that everyone. It is an honor to be black and to know that we are descended from kingdom’s far beyond our imagination. I was sure to let him know that he was the only black bitch in the room, for I am a black queen.
I have chosen not to share the name, video, or details of this incident because this man doesn’t deserve that level of glorification from me. And as far as I’m concerned, he is only a man by way of his biological functions. I am a firm believer that everything in this Universe happens with purpose and intent, even the bad. I know God & Goddess were only testing my faith and my strength; I am so proud of the level of balance I was able to maintain through this fiasco. That is the best depiction of how much growth I’ve gained during this time away. I have the best support system in my family and friends. Kudos to my mom and my sister for cancelling all of my cards and making sure I got home. Kudos to my TT for having a warm bed and wine on deck in Dallas when I flew in. Kudos to Milan for literally having my back that night and for creating SO many beautiful memories with me in the last three months. This experience has broadened my love for the people in my life who care about me and has shown me who will truly be there when shit goes awry.
I know, truly, that the Universe called me back stateside a month earlier because I’m the only suitable candidate to take my neice Nahla to see The Lion King. I encourage you all to make every experience in your life a part of your journey. You tell your story and you define your truth. And if ever an experience comes to you in the way that it did me, be a BITCH..
Love, light, and lion vibes,
Right now, it's dusk on Koh Phangan in Thailand. I'm sitting on the porch of my cozy island bungalow. The sun is setting on the ocean and I'm listening to the most soul stimulating playlist made by my newest friend, sister, and travel partner, Milan. Isn't it funny that I left Milan to go to India and now I've brought Milan with me on the leg of this journey? I've learned it's never simply funny or interesting, but more as Dante said "a divine comedy". The Universe always knows what she's doing and she's never wrong.
I met Milan in India at yoga school, which I haven't had much time to reflect on because it was such an intense experience. I did enjoy my time in India, but it honestly was very overwhelming both inside and outside of the ashram. It was a solid month of culture shock and I am throughly grateful for this transition to Thailand. Each day since I've been in Thailand, I take a moment to write or reflect at dusk or dawn. An elder in India told me it is the most powerful time of day to meditate as ether is most accessible during this time. It's apparent in nature too, with the Rooster's cackling at dawn and the Cicada's chirping at dusk. I have a constant melody here to remind me to practice intention everyday. And today I am reflecting on ego.
Have you ever experienced a want for something in life that you know your heart doesn't really need? This thing won't even serve you at your highest level, you simply want it because you need the gratification of possessing said thing. It could be a job, a material item, or a relationship. I'm going through this now and all signs point to pure ego. What I've learned so far from my time in Asia is that we must listen to our heart through ignoring the mind and dissolving the deceptive parts of our ego. Ego is important in a positive way too, because we need pieces of it for our worldly well being, self value, and confidence. But where we don't need it, is in matters of the heart and soul. I've been struggling with this concept my whole life and when I ask for answers it always comes down to releasing my ego in situations that are heart centered. You may find that it's the same for you. One thing I have challenged myself to do is listen to the voice behind my thoughts. This voice is intuition. Intuition always trumps ego and it's a voice that we can always hear. Many times though, we choose not to listen because we think we know best. Things in this life can sometimes be hard, but only because we make them that way.
It's been beautiful being here in Asia and focusing on holistic, soulful healing. I've been able to see immense changes in myself that I didn't notice as they were happening. I'm much calmer and understanding of both how in and out of control I am in this galaxy of opportunity. I breathe in gratitude, abundance, and love while relinquishing control to the Divine. Koh with the flow is my Thai theme and as legend has it that this island formed atop a bed of natural quartz, these feelings of growth and healing will surely be amplified. Wherever your island is ( and it's all a mirror of your reality) I hope you reign in your ego and tap into your soul.
Love, light, and lion vibes,
As I write this, it's raining in Bergamo. I'm sitting in a café listening to the song Drama by Roy Woods & Drake drinking a glass of Sangiovese with an ironical smile on my face. Drake's opening line in this song says "every lost girl I know is over 26", and as I approach my 27th birthday that very line sits with me a bit differently.
I'm on a journey around the world to find balance and deepen my spiritual resonance. In a sense that eludes to a certain air of lostness. I have lost my sense of familiarity and normality being here, but am gaining a fierce understanding of solitude and independence. I think the area of my life that I've felt most lost and taken the most losses is in love. At this age my parents were married and I was nearing two years old. Not that love or marriage needs to be defined by an age, but in 2019 any glimmer of love in my life starts out as fireworks display and ends as an atomic bomb. My love life has been a series of unfortunate let downs and hopeless escapades that I repetitively try to force into being my ideal situation, no matter how wrong I know they might be for me. I know it's because I'm scared that I won't find my person, but this toxic cycle I've created of falling for the potential I can foster in people has now lead to me writing off any man who comes within arms reach of being interested in me. I can flirt all day. I can show someone my mind with sincere ease. But unmasking myself and showing the bits of me that are tattered and torn is something that I truly struggle with. I live on the surface level with relationships...until last week.
One of my best friend's and I went to Barcelona together. Our love lives often parallel each other and she was telling me the story of a man she's seeing while siting how she feels the need to hold back her joy about the situation. I said to her "I know we're used to being let down, but it's okay to be excited, sis." As soon as the words slipped out of my mouth, BOOM, they hit me in the heart space. "I need to take my own damn advice." I immediately started telling her about a man I met in Milan a couple weeks ago. I'm smiling, laughing, recanting stories and she says "look at your face!" We keep talking for another thirty minutes about this man and I tell her a story about a conversation we had on material items vs. experiences. During which I jokingly said, "don't buy me a Celine bag when I can have an African safari" and at that very moment, we look up and we're standing in front of the Celine store on the Passeig de Gràcia. I took that as my sign from the Universe to drop everything and OPEN THE FUCK UP. I couldn't even realize my feelings on my own because I've spent so much time trying to only reveal an inch of myself at a time, masking those feelings with jokes, batting off his compliments with "you're so silly's", while simultaneously finding obscure reasons to cut all of the other men I've been entertaining out of my life. I might actually be smitten and it might actually be scary, but it's okay to be excited, sis.
For those of you that feel like me, my realization comes back around to the art of vulnerability. It's so incredibly scary, but how do we expect to find love if we can't be truly vulnerable? I don't want to be so worried about disappointment that I become jaded and miss out on the chance for true love because I've turned my back on it. Even if this time isn't "it", I feel something that I have neglected myself from feeling for so long. I feel something that I've forced myself to pretend that I feel for so long. I know I'm capable of something more than I've been allowing myself to experience. So, now that it's really here I'm gonna soak it in and let myself fall, because as my "quote of the day" app says, "even if you fall on your face, you're still moving forward."
Love, light, and lion vibes,
I wasn't setting out to write a blog post today. I'm not even sure what the topic of this post is yet. What I do know is, it's raining in Bergamo and today is a hard day. Sometimes, being the one giving the advice to clients, to friends, to myself even, gets to be hard. I'm extra grateful today for my friend Daz, whose currently in Australia and a little closer to my time zone. He let me call and just sob on the phone today. I haven't cried since I've gotten here. I think today is a three part series; one part I miss my support system, one part I think some people suck, one part it's Mercury Retrograde. I'm a huge advocate of solo travel, but I have always affirmed that sometimes it can get lonely.
You know when things happen in your past and you skimp by not knowing about them? Well, today a big pile of shit from the end of 2018 got tossed in my lap. When you move on from something, the goal of moving on should be to just leave it all where you left it. There should be an unspoken rule that says "if you don't tell someone about the shitty thing that you did to them after that relationship is dissolved, than don't say anything at all." This revelation has given me a thought about how we unleash our crap on people only for the sake of not feeling guilty ourselves. I've done it countless times myself, most often in relationships with men. I don't know if I agree that honesty is the best policy in all situations. I think that if you do something with intent to hurt someone or even by mistake but know it will hurt someone, you should probably swallow it and live with the guilt that will inevitably follow. Wallow in the pain so that the other person doesn't have to. Unleashing the guilt so that you can feel better, definitely deserves its own special type of karmic repercussion. Maybe this is my karmic repercussion. I feel like R.Kelly totally playing the victim in his interview with Gayle, "I need help! I need someone to help me to not have such a big heart!"
I do this thing here sometimes where I make an "I miss..." list. Today the thing I miss the most is the dance studio. Dance has always been my therapy. If I'm hurting or angry or feeling sexy or happy, I know I can always go dance about it. I have tried three times today to dance about it. I tried renting a studio space, I tried dancing on the roof, I tried dancing in the backyard....NONE OF IT WORKED. So, now I'm writing to you guys. If I have another glass of wine, maybe I'll go dance at the bus stop on my way home. But for now, I'm going to share with you the top 10 contents of my "I miss..." list:
1. I miss ConfiDance Fitness. I miss the lighting in the open Main Studio. I miss my students. I miss the juju.
2. I miss Carne Asada burritos. I solemnly swear to never take El Farolito for granted again.
3. I miss the ocean. I need to book a flight to somewhere near the water, STAT.
4. I miss my friends. If I were there, we would all share a really long embrace and Carne Asada burritos on me.
5. I miss aggressive men. The men here are so shy, I haven't been on a single date here in Italy.
6. I miss my family. Even though they live in OKC, I felt like I was only ever 3 hours away.
7. I miss driving. My favorite thing is a good, loud car jam sesh during NON TRAFFIC hours.
8. I miss my dog Piper. She also lives in OKC, but I'm getting her back as soon as I get home.
9. I miss weed. I smoke before I meditate. I haven't smoked a single time since being here.
10. I miss my apartment. I loved my Zen Den and all of it's tiny 400 sq. ft glory.
Now because I believe in duality, I'm going to also make an "I love..." list:
1. I love the air here. It is crisp and fresh and makes me feel happy to have lungs and not gills.
2. I love how much I walk here. I'm outside all the time and sis can in return, eat ALL the pasta.
3. I love how I'm forced to speak Italian sometimes. "Un caffé per fevere" is my fave phrase.
4. I love the amount of time I spend alone. It makes me really think & appreciate my time with others more.
5. I love Art Daily Specialty Caffé and their cute ass outdoor patio.
6. I love being 9 hours ahead of California. It gives me a real balance.
7. I love my host family and how kind they are. I also love my home here, it's exquisite.
8. I love Italian love. I want a man to be as affectionate to me as the men are here. I want a public booty rub kinda love.
9. I love dogs. Bergamo is so dog friendly and I love seeing all the pups around.
10. I love Italian fashion. It's effortless chic, and I love that we use the word chic here.
I feel a lot better after doing those lists and I'm glad I decided to write this random entry today. It's funny because I am so blessed, grateful, and excited to be here but some days I really do miss home. I'm on this journey to become a better version of myself, to heal from the hurt that we all have, to put a pause on burn out because I'm undeniably a workaholic, but also from using work as a distraction from dealing with my shit. This journey is meant to have pain, loneliness, fear, and sadness as much as it's meant to have joy, adventure, expression, and fun. We can't live a perfect life everyday and pretending that we do won't make it better.
I'm going let go of gravity for a minute and rock where this retrograde takes me. Maybe, on the other side of that black hole is planet of paradise and peace.
Love, light, and lion vibes...
I’m one week in to my Italian adventure and I’m learning so much about myself already. When I embarked on this adventure, I knew I loved Italy but I didn’t know the answer to the question “why here” and I still don’t. What I do know is, I’m not here for the love of pasta or as inspired by Aziz Ansari to live out my sabbatical days making tortellini. It’s a lot deeper that I ever thought it was going to be.
The first thing is my host family. I didn’t go to college, so I never had the traditional “study abroad” experience. Before I got here, I had about 10 friends warn me that I could be getting set up to be trafficked. That’s ten too many friends who have let their Liam Neeson fantasy get the best of them. I found my host family on a cultural exchange website and we Skyped several times before I got here. I was nervous, but I knew it was divine intervention when the only legitimate reply on this website I got came from a family in the first Italian town I ever visited, on a 10 hour layover. I believe that I was sincerely called back to Bergamo and I’m slowly putting together the puzzle pieces about why. Now back to my host family. To keep it sweet, they are simply wonderful. My host mom is a bold, stylish, independent woman who teaches high school English. My host dad is a kind hearted executive who travels a lot for work, but still makes time to snuggle his boys. And the boys are my favorite part. The oldest is a hip, music and theatre loving teenager who joins me in my yoga practice from time to time. The youngest a sweet faced kiddo who competes with me nightly in bouts of Just Dance and is always asking how I am. Both are so well mannered and mature for their ages, which speaks to the wonder of their parents. Each nightly dinner forces me to listen to Italian and I am slowly (“piano” in Italian...but like I mean turtle speed) starting to decipher words and phrases. I’ve been told by my family that I will get to see Italy as a traveller, not a tourist and that experience is priceless. I find myself almost daily imagining May when I leave for my next adventure. I think I will cry, for their hospitality and generosity, but also for the friendship that I know will grow from here. I wonder what our relationship looks like after I leave and I truly hope that they stay in my life forever.
Then, there’s the dancing. I found a studio here in Bergamo before I even left SF. Ah, the wonders of Instagram. As a studio owner, I pride myself on having built a genuine and safe space for all people to dance. Coming from a professional dance background, I know that often times isn’t the case. Needless to say I was nervous about where I would take class. I walked into B.Music School a new dancer & resident of Bergamo. I left my first class having been told that I was welcome and that this was my new family. They clap and yell for each other while learning and while performing. They film at the end, but it’s not excessive. All I could think was that I felt like I was staring at a mirrored image of what I had worked so hard to give SF in a space that is 6,000 miles a way. I didn’t know that I came to Bergamo to fall back in love with training and dancing. Hell, I didn’t know that I had fallen out of love with dancing at all. But, when your passion becomes your work it is easy for you to lose the spark that drove you to that passion in the first place. I’ve treated myself to a new pair of heels and I can’t wait to break them in. My soul is a glow thinking about dancing and that to me is worth this journey in and of itself.
The last thing is my independence. Do you know how much we take our ease of communication for granted? I rode around on the bus, lost, for an hour the other night because I can’t roll my R’s and asking the driver “does this bus go to Monterosso” was going to sound so bad I just turned on my GPS and wished for the best. It didn’t go well and I still had to ask anyway. Italy is forcing me outside of my comfort zone. Most people here only speak Italian, which is in essence is English to Americans - only so much more beautiful. I walk around here by myself and I smile at the locals and I try my best. If I get lost, I plug in how to ask for help. If I want a coffee, I plug that in too. The people here are so patient and understanding. But, I’m giving myself credit for being brave enough to say it out loud. This trip is forcing me to humble myself and to let go of the comforts being at home has brought me for so long. It’s challenging me to figure it out and bump my head along the way. To Italy I will forever be grateful for that.
All in all, I’m only 7 days in. I’m sure so much more will come to light about why else I’m here. But in 7 days I’ve gotten three distinct answers: friendship, love, and freedom. For now, I’m okay with that.
Love, light, and lion vibes,
Hey, again. It's Shonna.
I'm one part dance diva, one part sunbeam, and one part lioness. This blog is a highlight reel of my favorite moments, my travels, my dance classes, and my spiritual journey. It is a place for me to express, share, and heal. Through my journey, I hope to inspire, create, and spread happiness. I truly enjoy making others feel good - about themselves, about their circumstances, about life in general. With any dash of hope, maybe you can feel that way too.