May 16, 2013

Why I Write for elephant. ~ Michelle Marchildon

Whenever I travel or teach in foreign places, like Canada, or Boulder, people want to know the same thing: Why do I write for elephant journal?

When I published “Finding More,” I thought the public may want to know if it was true (yes).

And when I published “Theme Weaver,” I thought they may want to know how to theme a yoga class.

I also thought people may want to know how I stay so gorgeous (I’ll never tell because it involves some unyogic things injected in my third eye), or how I manage to stay slim (it’s the typewriter, really).

I thought they may want to know the secret to staying married (Hell if I know) or how to raise teenagers (ditto).

But no. What people ask me all the time is, “why do I write for elephant journal?”

I am asked this because while elephant does tremendous good with shining a light on issues including the environment, gun control, pharmaceuticals, politics and yoga, it also invites a conversation from our readers.

And, sometimes, that conversation turns crazy. My friends ask me how I cope and I usually say, with Xanax and vodka—although never at the same time.

The conversation went crazy after the Queen Bee story, where I wrote that women are sometimes not kind to each other in business and in yoga. Right? Because if this is news to you then you are either not female, or have not been working for very long, or have never been to high school.

According to the Harvard Business Journal, the ‘Queen Bee Syndrome’ can happen when women work together – except in Denver, where people said I am just a “caddy” bitch (sic). Can you pass that bottle of Grey Goose, please?

That really hurt me because I don’t even play golf. As a result, I lost all kinds of jobs, writing gigs, teaching opportunities and support in the community. Then, even my husband said, “Why do you write those blogs?”

Because clearly I can do other things, like make dinner. Or write another really good book. Or wash my hair.

The answer is simple. I write for the elephant journal because it represents all voices—even the ones I disagree with. As a working journalist, I believe in the freedom of the press. I believe in the right to free speech. I believe in the First Amendment. I believe in the power of humor to get us past the sad events of life. I’d rather laugh and be unyogic than be self-righteous any day.

The elephant journal might just be the bravest, realest, truest source of news in my field, which is yoga and general rabble rousing. It was one of the few sources that covered the scandal in Anusara with any kind of dignity. In fact, one other yoga source recently sent an email praising John Friend and Anusara a year after he resigned! That does not happen at elephant. The editors are current, awake and informed.

And finally, I even believe in the goodness of the uber-yogic people who make the anonymous internet comments. They think they are helping by educating the rest of us poor stupid sinners. So you see, if you read your Bible, really nothing has changed in the past 2,000 years.

Recently a colleague wrote a critical blog about a Facebook page that compares yoga to porn, and she was harassed so much she decided to leave these pages. This saddens me. I could have told you, even when you think you are doing something good, it may not turn out that way (see the Queen Bee story, or basically, everything I’ve ever written). I have also learned things from the conversation that I hadn’t considered.

Are there too many stories about sex, and yoga and kittens?

Probably. But this comes with the territory of free speech. If you don’t want to read about how yoga improves anal sex, then don’t read it. If people didn’t read this stuff, then it wouldn’t exist on the front pages. Read about how the demand for palm oil is killing our rain forests and gorillas instead.

I defend the right to free speech, even occasionally messy or even stupid free speech. Free speech is better than a media that produces “yoga voice” articles on being yogic, fluffy, sweet, organic, kind and loving all the time. If these were the only voices in yoga, then I might not be a yogi today. Or at least I wouldn’t be a real one and I would have never found my inner “caddy bitch.”

So why do I write for the elephant journal? Because it supports me and a thousand other voices who sometimes disagree with me.

And that’s okay.


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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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