We went to the park on a beautiful morning.
My husband watched the kids play football. I practiced handstands in the soccer fields next to my two and five-year-old daughters, who were quietly playing together on the little jungle gym.
As I’m momentarily upside down I hear it.
I hear it all.
A young girl says, “Awe, look at those cute little girls.”
Her friend responds, “They’re adorable.”
My heart smiles knowing they’re talking about my babies. I love the love I’m feeling from them.
But then I hear the rest.
A young boy adds, “Too bad they’re ugly b*tches just like you two.”
My heart stops. My breath quickens. I can feel it. I can feel his hatred inside of me for a moment. My hearts pumping faster than usual, I want to react. My mama bear claws have popped out and I want to scratch someone.
I want to protect the two young women sitting on the swings. I want to protect my two little girls from this hatred. But how can I, if it already infiltrated my soul?
I’m learning, that we may not be immune to hatred, but if we are aware of it, we are powerful enough to overcome it.
When we recognize hatred and consciously choose love, we have become the change we hope to see in the world. This is my opportunity to be that living love.
Right now, in this moment, I’m unsure how to love this little boy, so, I choose to do nothing. Well, what may look like nothing. I choose to sit, close my eyes and breathe.
I choose to continue breathing, knowing that love has no choice but to follow my slow, steady breath. I open my eyes and continue to practice my handstands, I don’t know what else to do.
I’m up. I’m down. I fall. I stand tall. I keep on breathing.
I keep willing the love to come back into my heart.
Slowly, I feel my mama bear claws retract and my heart begin to take over. I realize that there is no coincidence this happened while I was upside down. Being upside down gives us new perspective, both literally and figuratively.
I allow my breath to help me find my slow steady heartbeat again.
My mind has no choice now but to follow my body. Finally, minutes later, I know that I have returned to that sacred place. The connection between my body and my breath has taken me back to a place of love.
I immediately thank the universe for this superpower. I know this love is nothing short of magic.
Now that I feel love again, I decide to approach these young people. The girls are still sitting on the swings and the boys are attempting headstands close by.
I smile as I walk up. I ask, “Which one of you boys did I hear calling these beautiful ladies and my daughters ugly b*tches earlier?”
Everyone stops what they’re doing. For a few seconds there’s complete silence. The boys look at me with fear in their eyes.
The girls on the swings respond and point in unison, “That one.”
I calmly ask, “Is that how you were taught to speak to women? You do know it was a woman who brought you into this world right?”
He bows his head in shame “No, I know. I’m sorry but I wasn’t talking about your kids. I was talking to those girls.” He points to the gorgeous goddesses on the swings.
I laugh. “I don’t care who you were talking to. I’m more concerned with how you were talking to them.”
Unsure what to do next, I listen to my gut and I challenge him to a headstand competition.
“Let’s make a deal, if you can stay upside down longer than me, you can call all these girls whatever you want. If you can’t, you apologize to them and you promise me not to speak that way, at least not here, at the park around these kids.”
He smiles, “You’re on.”
We both place our heads on the ground in unison. We are both upside down, me and this little boy that I just met minutes ago. Here we are, moving magically as one.
Ten seconds later, he falls flat on his face.
“Damn that sh*t hurt,” he says.
I remind him, “You’re going to fall down a lot. All that matters is that you’re willing to get back up and try again.”
The girls laugh at him and cheer me on as I stay there, perfectly still, steady as a rock, showing him where true strength comes from. Reminding him of just a small piece of the power women posses.
He starts to walks away with his head down, immediately apologizes to his “friends” on the swings, grabs his bag and starts to leave with shame written all over his body language.
I call him back. “Come on, I’ll show you how to stay up longer. You just have to change how you place your arms.”
His eyes light up, “For real, you’ll show me?”
I smile, “Of course, what are friends for?”
He’s upside down again, this time I pull on his toes and remind him to engage his core.
He thinks I’m helping him with headstands, but, in my heart I know I’m teaching him much more.
This is a monumental life lesson for each of us. A lesson on forgiveness, balance and the power of unconditional love to change the world around us.
I know if I get him to practice these magic moves with his body, his mind will eventually have to follow. He has no choice but to feel my love right now. He falls again. He apologizes again. I smile. He smiles.
Everything is as it’s meant to be. Everything is okay. It’s all love.
The girls on the swings start playing with my daughters, one even lifts my two-year-old onto the swings. They tell me they just started eighth grade and that most of the boys talk to them that way.
My heart momentarily breaks, again. I’m compelled to remind them just how beautiful they are. They blush. I tell them I mean it.
My husband starts to walk back over. They tell me how handsome he is. I tell them that I turned down plenty of handsome disrespectful boys when I was in school because I knew I was worth more. I knew I would find my prince if I treated myself like a princess.
My youngest daughter giggles, “My mama a princess like Rapunzel!” They giggled, I giggled back. It’s all love.
I leave our new friends to join my husband on the grass and watch everyone play together.
For a few moments in time, we are all sitting there, all together. We are all feeling the love that was brought back to the park through breath. It feels surreal watching the once disrespectful boy continue to practice his headstands a few feet away. I feel tingly inside watching the beautiful young women that were once called “ugly b*tches” laugh and play with our daughters. I have no choice but to accept the magic in this moment.
Thank you life.
I’m truly in love with you.
Thank you breath.
For being my tool.
Thank you awareness for helping me see clearly.
Thank you heart for allowing me to love, even when I’m not sure where to start.
Today was a beautiful reminder that standing up for ourselves doesn’t mean repaying hate with hate. It means being unafraid to speak from our heart and demand the respect we know we deserve through slow, steady love.
We are going to change the world through magic moves.
With love, amazing things are going to happen, every d*mn time.
Author: Jennifer Martin
Assistant Editor: Elizabeth Brumfield, Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Sarah Joy/ Flickr