Why I Write for elephant. ~ Michelle Marchildon

Via Michelle Marchildon
on May 16, 2013
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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


About Michelle Marchildon

Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She’s an award-winning journalist, and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga. Her second book, Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga, is for yoga teachers who want to inspire their students. Michelle is a columnist for elephant journal and Origin Magazine and a contributor to Teachasana, My Yoga Online and Yoga Journal. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches in Denver, Co where she is busy raising two boys, two dogs and one husband. You can follow her on Facebook at Michelle Marchildon, The Yogi Muse. You can find her blog and website at www.YogiMuse.com. And you can take her classes on www.yogadownload.com.


7 Responses to “Why I Write for elephant. ~ Michelle Marchildon”

  1. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Because getting crucified on a cross is so yesterday. The anonymous internet commenters keep it real and current.

  2. Love this, Michelle!

  3. Lynn Bonelli says:

    I was also saddened when I read on FB about that author having all of her writings removed. I understand though…as I still have not harnessed my inner “caddy bitch” (yet). I have 2 pieces publishedhere on ej and both times I was terrified of negative comments since it seems so many will either disagree or at least point out grammatical errors. I don’t know why they feel compelled but it has at least made me step outside of my comfort zone and stay to hell with it…just stay true to yourself. Thank you so much for this piece. I have been working on new submissions but balked a little when I saw the”attacks” on you and the other writer mentioned. This has helped me rethink things…I am dusting off the typewriter. Thank you a thousand times.

  4. Michelle Marchildon says:

    It's so much easier to be authentic than to be popular.

  5. paul says:

    Yay to open forums! I see the most blowback when authors are negative themselves, be it philosophical (ala 'this whatever is wrong'), stylistic (sarcasm, righteous cynicism), or everyday brutality (name calling, presumptive disparagement (ala, 'all festival-goers have a crap homelife') , and other bullying). Not that there's anything wrong with it, it's often necessarily to get a point across, and of course being all-positivity has itself many detractors, but it's a natural consequence of like increasing like for cruelty to inspire the cruel. Though I don't know why her fiance removed his articles, she-who-shall-not-be-named did herself a favor by removing her five (last one was particularly brutish, and their pattern of negativity would likely have congealed detractors). Authors don't need to respond to critics, doing implies worth of response and credibility, and doing so poorly or dismissively can lessen the author's own credibility.

    (and btw, this whole article is absurd, you do not have to play golf to be a caddy)

  6. Judy says:

    Perhaps your friend will write again, after the sting wears off. I can see from reading some of the comments that it would be difficult–however, if you have written what you truly believe as carefully as you can, I do think it's really good to learn to live with it. It would be a good test to yourself that you are really writing what you are willing to stand for. I admire you for doing so! I'm not sure I'd have the stomach for it, but I do agree that most commentators are just expressing their own passionate opinion, and usually there's a good motivation in there somewhere. Even in the short time I've been reading the elephant, I've seen readers' change tunes in the middle of a thread, and that is very rare in other formats. I will look for your other pieces– and Lynn's as well. Thank you for writing!

  7. Judy says:

    I clicked on your name because of this comment, Lynn, and saw your blog. Your first piece there was so very meaningful and touching. I like your voice very much and am glad I will get to read more of your writing, and learn from you.