I AM a Saint.

“The history of saints is mainly the history of insane people.” 
 - Benito Mussolini { #todaysmantra }

Hi friends and happy (late) hump day! 

Let me lift you up a bit and put you into bed snoring before you hit the bottom of this note! 

On my flight back from Italy via Morocco right now (started this earlier!), I finished a book that accompanied me on my entire trip through Italy. Although I have a ton of books to get through (always!), I like picking up a book at the airport for my travel. I like the spontaneity of that rushed purchase before boarding - scanning whatever the terminal choices I have at the airport. And I grabbed Colson Whitehead’s, “The Underground Railroad” making a clear understanding for myself that this might not be an easy read.

I opened the book on my flight to Italy with slight apprehension. Not sure how far deep the talk of slavery would land on a free-wheeling (first-time) trip through Italy. But the contrast of the two, although stark, was a welcome.

Now a fan of Colson Whitehead, I was drawn in by his writing style. His sentences so dense - it lands with ease you almost have to go back and re-read that you did indeed understand it as swiftly but also re-read because it was that beautifully written. Even when the words make the ugliest of images come to mind.

I got about 20 pages in on my flight before I fell asleep but was excited to come back at any time I boarded train or flight on my tour around the country.

My first night in Italy was in Rome where I had 24 hours and had booked some tickets for two separate tours: one of the Vatican in the early morning and the other in the afternoon at the Colosseum on the day after my arrival. Both amazing. The Vatican in particular because I wasn’t expecting myself to really do anything in Rome until I realized it was ROME I was visiting!

I spent a long while staring up in the Sistine Chapel at the famous Michelangelopaintings in particular where they nearly meet fingers (The Creation of Adam) - mesmerized. That room just sort of got me in a way I was not expecting. I guess I don’t think about life and death the way I should or ought to - as the paintings exhibit. Or I was just dumbfounded that I was actually in that room standing under it - in that moment - after it being something that was just out there in the world.

Then back on the train with book open to meet friends to drive to Tuscany. Jumping in and out of the stories of Cora, Bessie, Caesar and stories of plantation life and lynchings in America all while I watched the Roman world go by. I think it is important to hold space for things that are sad or sorrowful when you feel in a good space. The energy somehow comes back to you when you need it. And it’s important to remember.

The bedtime coziness of reading was/is always a favorite of mine. And was especially so in Tuscany where we had time to settle in at the end of our exciting days. And this is where the characters in Colson's came to life for me and I became more involved - anticipating what would happen next and grateful that we had no real wake-up time - that I could read for hours if I wanted to! I grew a loving envy for Colson’s ability and style of writing - imagining myself one day being even slightly as talented.

In Tuscany it was also so special because my dear friends named me “Jessichina Santa” (pronounced Jessi-KEENA) which I LOVED! Adding the “KEENA” to my first name is like calling me “Little Jessica” and they then added in the "Santa" for "Saint". So, “Little Holy Jessica” I was!

I got halfway through the book before I was on a flight down to meet my friend Sara in Sicily. There I had to pause on reading while with my very excited friend. Some people call me the energizer bunny but Sara could easily do rounds around me.

We had a rigorous travel schedule from then on that inhibited me reading too much (although I snuck a few pages on one night!)

Sara is fire-cracker, a fire-starter, just someone who creates very good energy wherever she goes. Also an Ashtangi, we practiced yoga together while she showed me Sicily and the Baroque towns, Naples where we met an old dear friend of hers who brought us to one of the best pizza places in town, and then to another friend in Sorrento who just had a baby and who is a film maker currently on her third film.

Everyone at some sort of major crossroads in their life whether it be personal, professional or career (or in some cases all and intense right now).

It was a special time to be able to hold space and time for others. Deep conversations in long car rides, hours of coffee drinking and eating and sometimes drinking wine. Time to explore new and old relationships. To have space between exciting events or time to create something new with new people. Unexpected history lessons, recipe sharing, stories of shame and transition, heartbreak and new-found love. The stories of life.

And that is what Colson’s book brought for me - a book about rebirth. The story of our very own lives retold from the plantation and the survival after it - over and over again. Our very own phoenix has a chance to revive from the ashes of this very day. We get to reset. It might not be as pretty and we never know how much time we have here so we should go for it. If we are afraid. AND especially if we ARE afraid!

I finished the book on this flight because it was THAT  good and I also wanted to have this book be with me on this entire journey. And I am grateful that it was.

As I watch Washington, D.C. get closer and closer below me, I am grateful that I can come back with a feeling of renewal and the ability to rise out of my own ashes in each and every moment. Using my own healing and wisdom to teach and learn from others. I hope we cross paths soon! 



Upcoming offerings:

Appalachian Mountain Yoga Camp (HALF SOLD OUT!)
September 20 - 23
Go here to see details!

Refine Your Asana: 4-Weeks of Focused Study
4 Saturday's in June: 2, 9, 16, & 23
1:30 - 3:30 PM
 The Yoga Shala
 $85 for entire series or $25/session

Yoga + Acupuncture Workshops (2 Upcoming!)
Sunday May 20th
Sunday June 3rd
The Yoga Shala   $45

Jessica Sandhu