My name is Sydney and I use she/her pronouns. I am a middle aged, white bodied, cisgender woman whose career has centered around reclaiming sensory awareness and a love of the body. I come from a family whose path has been shaped by many generations of white privilege in America, as well as mental illness, alcoholism, trauma and suicide.
My life has been marked by contradictions. I got my undergraduate degree in Women’s Studies at Appalachian State, a very white environment, where I was fortunate to be assigned readings from radical black womanist writers. When I read Audre Lordes’ words, “As women, we have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and non-rational knowledge,” I knew that I wanted to find out what it means to live from my deepest knowings, rather than my conditioning.
I enjoy outdoor adventures with my husband and son, as well as meditating in nature and watching birds. I live in a rural community where I am nested in an extended family on land that has been in my husband’s family for many generations. This land rightfully belongs to the Cheraw people and is full of their arrowheads and pottery shards.
In my career as a bodyworker and yoga teacher in Winston-Salem I work with the grief people feel about our culture’s loss of belonging to body, nature and community. 18 Springs arose out of a desire to create a center for healers whose work was about mending our relationships with these things that really matter.
In my early 50s, two things happened that rocked my world. I began a mentorship with Reverend Willard Bass, and I participated in a workshop led by Angel Kyodo Williams called, “Race, Trauma and Wellbeing”, Through both of these experiences I was asked to talk and feel about race in a way that was personal and outside my comfort zone. I began to recognize that I was wrapped in an energetic layer of protection provided by my whiteness. I learned how our nation's racist history is held in our bodies and that white dissociation from feelings about this history functions to keep racism and other social injustices in place. I began to make space for my grief about race and to allow it to begin to unwind my defenses.
I continually feel challenged and expanded by conversations with friends, coworkers and teachers around 18 Springs. My hope is that we can become a community with a strong practice of sitting with discomfort and hanging in there with one another as we grow in our capacity for building a culture of love and accountability.
“When a system is far from equilibrium, small islands of coherence have the capacity to shift the entire system.” – Ilya Prigogine