The End of 2018
My gaze was loosely fixed on the ceiling as purple tinted string lights flickered softly on the floor beneath me. The light’s speed synced with the melodic tunes; songs expected of what one relates to a 2018 yoga studio. The heat of the room bounced off the four walls - giving participants a reprieve from the chill that eagerly waited beyond the buildings entrance. The heat was loud and very much present as droplets of sweat began to ooze from my pores. Diaphragms expanded, balloon like, and exhales expelled hallowing echoes that were in unison with the meditative beats. Tendons spread and muscles stretched, as the instructor greeted the packed class. “If you are not already on your back, please take position and gently close your eyes.” Our breaths linked as the instructor became a composer of the rhythm of our lungs. He conjured a living and breathing organism.
The instructor began. “Forget about any frustrations from the week and allow yourself to just be here, in this room, in this space. Present. Exhale any fear that may have come from the last year and any hatred that you may have felt victim of. Leave behind any insecurities that has become a part of your internal dialogue. And allow your body to relax in the skin you have been given.” He continued and created a comfortable space for us. The last words left the edge of his lips - just before our first stretch. The anticipation of his encouragement only italicized his closing thoughts - as if the words were standing at the edge of a cliff, eager and harnessed in to jump. “Let go of any pain you are are holding on to.”
I had been in pain. The end of 2018 felt as though it was just pain. And yet, it was the lack of pain, the lack of excitement, the lack of emotion. I had felt apathetic and outside of my own thoughts. I was like dehydrated fruit - sucked dry of what had made me me. Still in my form, still able to be seen, still able to hold a conversation but unable to truly take in what was going on around me.I didn’t know how to navigate my pain. My personal problems seemed too small. The ongoing political conversations left me green and blue, stomach rot, upside down, and right side up - how could I process the ending of a relationship when there are people out there with real problems? How can my late 20’s crisis be measured to the families at the borders, to my trans brothers and sisters who are losing rights, to the fight for Palestine, to the reality that Trump is still in office?
Yet here I was, at Queer Anga, a monthly yoga, food, and discussion series that created space for queers to just be fuckin queers. And not in some dark corner of a city or rural neighborhood, not in a space where one must be inebriated to connect, not in a dingy bar that may incite shame, for it was meant to bring us together - to make a stronger me and a stronger you - to make a stronger us. My eyes filled with tears throughout the class because I had been feeling so alone and suddenly I was reminded that I wasn’t. That, although I didn’t know everyone, I had a community that wanted the best for me. I knew that by being there I was trying to pull myself out of a space I was worried I wouldn’t get out of. The end of 2018 was the first time I had thought, “what if this is the time that things actually don’t get better. What if I have lived the best years of my life and what comes next will only feel mediocre?” It was the first time I felt I was no longer an optimist and that scared me. But being in that studio, around people I hardly knew, I felt the power of enriching the self to enrich the community. I felt the love and motivation to practice wellness within ourselves to make a stronger collective. And yes, my friends had been amazing throughout my growing process, but there was something magical about being around a group that supported me without knowing me.
The class wrapped up and food was served. I walked around the event, where 60 fellow community members connected with one another, and I thought of the magic that was the dining room table - how it extended beyond our apartments’ communal spaces. It was reassuring that we can create powerful people in everything we do.I’ve always seen my kitchen as a place of connection. It is where I nurture. It is where I am present in every motion I make. This class had too been a place I felt empowered. I had been feeling so heavy in my seat. Between the news and my own personal battles, I had forgotten the importance of lifting myself up. I forgot that when I take care of myself, I am taking care of everyone else too. Because if my foundation is weak, how can I help hold up those around me? How can I help fight this fight if I am not willing to help myself first?
Whether it be at Queer Anga, our dining room table, or a coffee house meetup, when we sit together, we grow together, we fight together, we win together.
2 cans of 15 oz chickpeas
3 tbs chickpea juice
4 or 5 handfuls of spinach
1 tbs coconut oil to cook, 1/2 tbs to mash
1/2 large white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, chopped
1 tbs cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp coriander
Salt and pepper
Juice of a lime
1/2 tbs miso paste
Cook your chickpeas and once they are soft, drain - do not rinse, and reserve your chickpea juice.
In a medium size bowl pour in your hot drained cooked chickpeas, cumin, cayenne, paprika, coriander, chickpea juice, and salt and pepper. Mix and cover with a lid to allow the chickpeas to steam. Allow them to steam for about ten minutes.
In a pan over medium high heat, add a tablespoon of coconut oil and was the skillet is hot add in onion.
Allow your chopped onion to cook for about two to four minutes and then add garlic and jalapeño, cooking for a few minutes.
Throw in your spinach and allow it to wilt, loosing all of its volume.
While your spinach is shrinking down, mash your chickpeas and add in a half a tablespoon of coconut oil. This may seem like a lot of oil to some but it is going to add some much needed fattiness.
Once your spinach is wilted, turn your heat down to low and add in chickpea mash and miso paste (make sure your miso paste is well incorporated. You can also mix it with a little water to thin it out if needed).
Allow to cook for about five minutes and squeeze in lime juice.
Sprinkle with some cilantro and chili flakes and enjoy!