Grace and Possibility
Updated: Mar 4, 2019
I did not write anything in 2018. Since closing the blog I kept for three years, I turned inward to evolve. Last year I co-organized two peace rallies and moved across Brooklyn. Though most of my evolution has been internal. I began to heal myself and to recognize myself as a healer. This new insight has impacted deeply the way I invite words, names, and meaning.
In November I attended a spiritual healing and meditation training at Kripalu. On my last day, I took a yoga-dance class that I had been looking forward to all week. I walked in half an hour late, connected with some of the most beautiful souls I have ever met and had a blast. After our workshop, a woman I had partnered with approached me with a beaming smile and said, “Hi, I don’t know what your name is, but the way you move, your energy — you are Grace!”
Her chosen name was Emma, I learned. She was born “Paula,” and wanted a name that reflected her connection to the Infinite.
I told her a story.
Before I was born, my parents contemplated several names for me.
Rae (and Ray) are family names from my mom’s side, and like Taylor, were gender-neutral. The first name that my dad liked for a girl — Grace — remained in the margin of probability space.
For most of my life I rarely, if ever, thought about having a different name. I seldom imagined the potentiality of Grace personified, beyond the wisp of an instant. When I was a young girl I learned about my dad’s name idea, and I briefly envisioned Grace as a twin companion who had long hair and felt calm. She didn’t feel like me at all. For a long time, neither did Taylor. I changed my name back then, too, requesting that everyone call me “Taylie.” (I wanted a name that ended in a long “e” sound like “Ashley” and “Angie” and a number of my other female peers.)
For a long time, blending with my environment — including people’s perceptions and expectations — felt like an agonizing requirement that required constant vigilance. Embodied as a highly-sensitive neurodiverse woman of color, I felt I could not rest for fear of observation, criticism, and shame.
Gradually, as I began my healing journey, I traced history backward towards my birth and before. I am learning that healing is like unpacking a bag for a journey on which we bring only the most compassionate essentials. Grace has been knocking at the door of my personhood, awakening me to deeper awareness and gratitude.
I am building resourcefulness and determination through my faith, leaving behind the doubt, judgment and hiding that I employed as defenses for decades.
I am shifting the way I communicate with language, rediscovering my passion for meaning and connection without the vanity or anger that once fueled my activism and art.
I am beholding, accepting and extending love to all the lived memory — including trauma — that I have carried somatically or collected through myself or from others, in this lifetime and others.
With meditation and movement — yoga, dance and running — I am freeing myself to joyful whole-embodiment, healing my energetic centers and locating consciousness in my heart. In the stillness of Spirit, I am finding the most graceful movements, in each moment. I am discovering more ways to humble myself, practice compassion and allow God to align my work in service of love.
In 2019 Grace allows me the faith to shift careers.
For two years I have worked with social media management and content creation. I have carved for myself a niche that allowed me to create a flexible schedule and work remotely, avoiding the energetic noise of New York City. While this internality has been deeply important throughout my individual healing, it is time for me to offer my truer, deeper, more conscious soul gifts to the world.
I am increasingly called to work with my hands and with people — especially with the loving inclusion of new life. This was confirmed for me during the training I attended at Kripalu, where I met several doulas and birth workers who encouraged me on this path that I have been considering (and putting off) for quite some time. This summer I will be certified as a postpartum doula.
My mother is a doula, childbirth educator and an advocate for women of color, who experience disproportionately high rates of maternal and infant mortality. As much as I can relate without having been a mother myself, I share her passion to shift culture around birth — to normalize, de-medicalize and decolonize what is a natural human process, and to celebrate what is a divine miracle.
Our own birth story was traumatic. My body remembers being delivered by vacuum extractor. My mother, like many women in labor, was convinced to be sedated to avoid pain, which also caused her to lose her own power of physical sensations.
Throughout my entire life I have felt tormented by time, paralysis of momentum, the threat of extractive violence, need for rescue, groundlessness, desperation, anxiety, entrapment, and anticipation of an impending shock. Now, with Grace, I am releasing fear, and claiming my space. Now, I no longer consent to be rushed by anyone, nor to be collapsed by the density and gravity of the material and digital dimensions. I am a spiritual being having a human experience. I am learning to trust Goddess to carry me, and to trust my pace.
Grace can move. Grace is abundant.
Recently I learned that some consider the biblical origin of the name Taylor (from the Hebrew Talor) to mean “wisdom of clothing” and “clothed with salvation.” For years I have had plenty of clothing, but not much wisdom about it. Through high school, college and beyond I struggled with shopping and collecting addiction. Now, minimalism and modesty are central rudders of my wardrobe, aesthetic and values. I am also emerging as a home organizational consultant, with a focus on decluttering, simplifying and “clothing” space with wise, loving intentionality — especially for expecting families! I believe that spatial harmony, joy, and peace are intimately related to my work as a postpartum doula.
I give thanks.
Emma caught up to me again outside the spacious Kripalu classroom, as I was climbing into a dress and boots, deciding to prioritize lunch before a shower.
“I have a something for you,” she said, draping a beautiful purple-blue scarf over my shoulders. “I didn’t know why I had two of these and now I know — one is a gift for you!”
I am continually in awe of how the Universe speaks with such elegance. I am learning to trust my movements and look beyond the form of phenomena to sense the essential. I am emerging as a healer, an artist and a doula with three first names — Grace Taylor Rae. It’s 2019, and anything is possible.