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In the early days of my yoga practice, shavasana was the most painful pose of all. Corpse pose, the final relaxation pose, it was always announced at the end of class like it was dessert. You burned all those calories in Warrior II; now you can have some shavasana. I dreaded the final relaxation. Lying face up staring at the ceiling, I carried so much tension, it seemed like only my heels and the back of my head made contact with the floor. My entire body was a fist.

The years released their grip on me. The tension of striving…


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  • Learn to fall down and bounce right back up, like basketball players do.
  • Respond to “So, what do you write about?” without “… umm … uh ….”
  • Deliver a concise, inarguable rebuttal to the next white person who declares “I don’t see color.”
  • Stand on my head.
  • Live in Chicago for a year, all expenses paid, gorging on art and black box theatre.
  • Learn to swim in the ocean.
  • Give $50.00 to a panhandler.
  • Hike alone in the woods, without assuming the trees are stalking me.
  • Keep a snake plant alive for six months.
  • Feel (something vaguely close to) joy…


Author, Essayist, Disruptor

I write essays about love and pain.

Writing is the perfect job for me, a woman buffeted between existential doubt and the cosmic laugh. Existential doubt says, “You don’t know how to write.”

The cosmic laugh says, “You can’t make the writing stop.”

I start each day in my home in Kansas City MO at 5:00 AM, with a bowl of granola, a handful of vitamins, and a dose of caffeine. 6:00 yoga. 7:30 meditate online. 8:30 shower — make mental note to clean bathroom. 9:00 set a timer in the kitchen downstairs, then report to my writing room upstairs…


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When the news anchor reported the police had killed Casey Goodson, Jr., I gagged and then bolted up the stairs to the safety of my closet.

What was I doing watching the damn news, anyway? It was bad for me. I had vowed to abstain and hadn’t watched for months. And then, like an addict, I slipped. What were the odds I’d get bad drugs the one time I slipped?

I moaned. I rocked myself for comfort that could not be found. Another one gone. Another one lost. Another future stolen.

No more. No more.

Casey Goodson, Jr. was transformed…


Many of my readers who are BIPOC report similar second-guessing, like mine. I feel validated. So I'm beginning to trust my perception of reality, as far as racism goes. The second-guessing adds an additional heavy burden to the experience.


Me too. The Twilight Zone always gets me. And if I think about Rod Serling's voice near bedtime, it's sure to give me nightmares.


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When Mother died a million years ago, I claimed a basket of hers as my inheritance. Round, shallow, lidded, its handle a tall arc. The basket was filled with potpourri. When ruffled, it released the scent of cedar. Ruffle again, cypress. Ruffle again, rose. I didn’t actually see her buy it or watch her lift the lid to enjoy the fragrance. I had no idea of its provenance. As I staggered through high school and college — forays into the world and back to the parental home — Mother’s basket sat on the bookshelf near Wuthering Heights. In 1994, I…


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A DOZEN REASONS TO PUT OFF
GOING TO THE DOCTOR

  1. The pain will go away on its own; it’s only been ten months.
  2. It only hurts when I get dressed. I don’t need to get dressed.
  3. As long as it hurts, I don’t have to mop the kitchen floor.
  4. The office schedules only by phone. The phone triggers memories of collection agencies calling to threaten me about my student loan.
  5. The scheduling assistant will ask how I injured myself. She’ll judge when I say yoga.
  6. If I wait two more weeks I’ll be able to say, “Yes. …

Dawn Downey

Dawn Downey writes about love and pain. Her latest book is Blindsided: Essays from the Only Black Woman in the Room. DawnDowneyBlog.com.

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