Like everyone else, I never thought that I would be spending the past 8 months in the surreal existence that is the by-product of COVID-19. This includes social distancing, virtual learning, and working from home. As soon as threats of the pandemic hit our region, I immediately converted all of my classes and private lessons from in-person to online via Zoom. And while there have been many blessings to being able to stay connected to Community through this magical portal what we call the internet, the journey has been a challenge to my spirit.
Dealing with Death
Since March, I have lost 3 friends and my neighbor's dog. One was directly related to COVID-19, and the others were for various reasons that may, or may not be, related to side effects of the pandemic. Through these deaths, I have continued to hold space for my students. I still have to be a mom and a wife. Life marches on. But the loss is real.
Hugs are one of my favorite thing in the whole wide world. When I welcome someone into my home or classroom, I greet them with a hug. When I see my nieces and nephews, we run toward one another shouting, and then we hug. Hello and goodbye...hugs. Now, if I do get to see people, in person, there is an awkward pause. We have had to learn how to show our love for one another in new ways. The foot tap, or occasional air hug from across the room. When we see one another, there's that moment when we forget. How many times have you forgotten that you were supposed to stay 6 feet apart?
Time Doesn't Exist
Time flies and moves slowly at the same time. There are days where I am so busy with work that the day will be over before I know it. There are other days that seem to go on forever..."What day is it again?" When we started with the quarantine, I found myself sleeping in. I knew I could not be the only one, so I came up with "Sunrise Yoga." It is a way to create new habits, and be motivated to get up and moving, while being social with others. It has been great. We even have conversations about everything under the sun, afterwards.
I Needed Something Just For Me
I have taught all sorts of movement classes: TRX, Weight Lifting, Belly Dance, Barre, Kenisis, Core, Stability Ball, Water Aerobics, Land Aerobics, Feldenkrais, and Yoga, of course. I am guilty of learning something amazing, and then wanting to share it with the world. When I make it a part of what I share with the world, there is a part of me that is always thinking about doing it for "work" and "Community."
Cycling is the one thing that I can honestly say that I have practiced, but have never shared with anyone else as in instructor. And BOY AM I GLAD! Because it is MINE! It is my time to just be myself, for myself, and no one else!!!
I Used to Ride As A Kid
Growing up in Baltimore city, we were always looking for things to do that were cheap and fun. We played outside for hours, no matter how hot or cold it was. Snow meant snowball fights and sledding, and the rain meant umbrellas and puddle jumping.
Of course, when we got our bikes, it meant adventure! We would ride through alleyways and pop wheelies off of curbs. We walked our bikes up the highest hills and flew all the way down to the bottom, over and over again. We did not care about it being a form of exercise. We just wanted to have a good time. We rode because we could, and we did!
Black People Ride Bikes
"Black People Ride Bikes (BPRB) is a Baltimore-based cycling and advocacy organization of black cyclists in every age bracket, from children to adults. Our organization is made up of both casual riders and avid cyclists, who regularly participate in cycling events throughout the country. This organization was founded by two avid cyclists, Shaka Pitts and Nia Reed-Jones, as a way to introduce people of black diaspora to the many benefits of cycling they experienced first-hand. Their experiences taught them cycling can be a useful form of self-care, healthcare and exploration. Both, Nia and Shaka, are advocates for improving cycling conditions in the Greater Baltimore Region and beyond. BPRB's main goal is to make cycling more accessible regardless of socioeconomic background, ethnicity, or experience level."
Before the pandemic, a pair of my yoga students who had just started a new organization called "Black People Ride Bikes" invited me to come for a bike ride through the city. We started at St. Mary's Park in Mt. Vernon, go down through the Inner Harbor, end at the Under Armour Headquarters, and come back again. It was a challenge, but it felt amazing! Afterwards, I led a yoga practice in the back yard of Terra Cafe, and then we all had lunch together. There were about 20 of us. I felt so free and empowered. Just like a kid again.
There is a meditation that comes with a repetitive rhythmic movement, like cycling. Things like anxiety and stress seem to fall by the wayside. And for a moment, nothing matters. I feel totally present and connected to the world around me.
I can see the world in a whole new way when I am riding my bike. You have to be completely alert and aware, so that you can respond quickly to your surroundings. There is also a vulnerability and trust that goes along with the practice. You have to believe in your ability to be resilient and take action. As Shaka Pitts would say, "You Gotta Ride That Thang!"
Photo Credit: Schaun Champion