Monday, December 29, 2014

Silence Supports a System That is Not Designed to Protect All

What do we tell our youth about their safety?

I'm sitting across from this family on the train. A young, probably 30something couple with their young son. He's clearly a young, sweet, well-mannered kid. He's wearing a baseball cap and athletic wear-the same things that Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin wore. I couldn't help but to feel a pang of deep hurt watching him sit between his parents. How are they beginning to train him to take care of himself? If the people/systems set in place to protect him are continuously showing themselves to not care about his safety, how will that affect his psyche and attitude about the value of his own life? What do you say as a parent to make him feel safe when the reality is, he isn't? I think of my nephew. What are my brother and my mother telling him? It's such a sorrowful, real thing. We have to train our children to code switch to the next level now. It's beyond having a "phone voice" or being taught-as I was-how to deal with police/authority figures. We have to train our children to appear to be different. Dress a certain way and speak a certain way , or you'll be viewed as a threat and very likely killed for walking down the street. Reality. Not exaggeration.

I'm outraged and I don't know where to direct it. Why are the lives of my people not worth anything? Why do our children have to grow up looking over their shoulders at every corner, distrusting those put in place to protect them? Why do our children have to grow up being told on a deep, intrinsic level that who they are is not ok?

This affects us all. It's not ok to rest behind apathy or privilege. We all need to be thinking about the messages we're sending to the next generation by our silence/tolerance/outrage or however we decide to proceed. Staying silent is the equivalent of telling a black child that it's not ok to be who they are in America. That's the real. Silence supports a system that is not designed to protect all.

What's the next step? I'm not sure. I think it has to start with us all being disgusted and outraged. It starts by checking in whatever privilege we can hide behind to have honest, courageous, and sometimes scary conversations about why this shit is happening. It has to go beyond facebook. It has to permeate into our living rooms...into our chats over lattes...into our consciousness overall. The cost of staying apathetic is way too high now.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Channeling the Fire: Healing in the Wake of Ferguson

What’s next? Join me in this 4 part series to unpack and dissect what to do now in the wake of all that’s happened in Ferguson/the Eric Garner decision/Tamir Rice/far too many others to name.

We’re at a crucial convergence of tipping points in this country. Now more than ever we are seeing and feeling the need to think critically about race relations, our failing justice system, and our roles in allowing oppressive systems to exist. Furthermore, we’re all in mourning. We’re all hurting and wondering what to do to heal. So What’s next? Join me in this 4 part series-beginning THIS SUNDAY DEC 14th-to unpack and dissect what we're feeling and how to move forward in the wake of all that’s happened. 

My goals in this series are to find healing, to find solutions, to build community, and to whoop racisms ass.

Topics being covered include:
1.) Dealing with and Expressing Grief (12/14)
2.) How to be an Ally: creating coalitions across color lines (12/21)
3.) Dealing with Distrust: Us and the police 12/28)
4.) Turning Rage into Action (1/4)

Donations will be accepted. A portion of the proceeds collected will go to funding Ferguson businesses seeking help in rebuilding.

Have questions? Want to secure your spot? Register at with your name, e-mail address, and what sessions you’re interested in attending.

Who?: Life coach/educator Diana Noriega and Eric Fleming (
What?:Channeling The Fire:Healing In the Wake of Ferguson
When?: Sundays starting 12/14. 4pm-6:30pm.
Where?: Shambhala Yoga and Dance Center. 1000 Dean. Suite 311

Friday, December 5, 2014

Screaming Inside: Showing Compassion in Moments of Grief

I’m in a terrible place right now guys. Just sayin'.  I’m a big ole' convoluted mess of anger, profound hurt, and despondence-so much so that I’m even having difficulty putting thoughts into words right now. The recent-and all too frequent-murders and non indictments happening in the world has left me feeling like absolute shit. I wrote this in my journal last night:

My chest is constricted.
It feels like a tear-a rip with each breath
Inhalations exacerbating the “I can’t do this” of the moment
Screams being contained by the most fragile of cages
Ready to fight at the blow of the wind
I will really fuck somebody up right now
Don’t look at me the wrong way-hell, don’t even look at me. How ‘bout that?
So hard to put on a happy face and tap dance around the rage behind the mask.
It’s seething
A slow burn ready to blow at any moment
I just need a break
I need a shift
Something’s gotta happen
It’s GOT to!
I’m on that fucking edge and a muthafucka betta not push me

We’re in a collective period of mourning right now. We’re in grief. People say “You never know what someone else has on their plate/is going through.” In this case, yes we do because we’re feeling the same thing. We’re all walking around with this anger and sadness and confusion with no where to necessarily direct it. We’re either turning it inward in a harmful way, stewing in it or projecting onto someone else. Being cognizant of that, my immediate thought/question is how are we taking care of ourselves? How are we taking care of each other?

With all that anger that I felt yesterday when I wrote that, I wonder how it would’ve been different had there been someone there with me to bounce my feelings off of, or to just offer a hug. I think in such a huge period of mourning, it’s important that we step up and take care of one another. Just as much as you’re going through, acknowledge that people sitting next to you on the train or that you see at work everyday are going through too. Think about what you need in moments like this. I guarantee that someone around you needs the same or something similar. Be kind to one another.  Maybe send a nice text to one person during the day letting them know that you’re there for them. Maybe give out a few more hugs than you normally would. Check in with roommates and loved ones. Ask them how they’re doing. We need it now! How are you taking care of the people around you?

How are you taking care of yourself? Are you journaling? Are you sitting in nature? Are you listening to show tunes and singing in the kitchen? (Shout out to my roommate) As important as it is to invest energy into creating change-and protesting if you decide to do so-it’s just as important to be aware of all that you’re feeling and to give yourself kindness and love. We’re going through a lot right now. Show yourself some compassion. Find those things or people that soothe your spirit and allow it to breathe.

So what are you going to do? I challenge you to do one thing differently today for yourself or for aloved one. What's one thing you can do to offer the compassion you deserve?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Dear White People: Part 2- Preference or Just Racist?

"Black guys are for fucking. Not dating."

In the age of apps like grindr, scruff, and tindr, it's so much easier for us to tailor make our "dating" experiences. People are more upfront and direct about what it is that they're seeking out in potential mates. This specificity has extended itself to issues of race. Is it racist to filter out people of color on your searches? Or is that just expressing a preference? Is having a preference based on race, really just racism masquerading as something else? Listen below as we unpack race relations in the world of modern dating.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dear White People: Part 1- Appropriation vs. Appreciation

I saw the movie Dear White People recently-as should you-and let me tell you, it brought up SOOOOO many emotions for me. When the movie finished, I was stuck. I couldn't get out of my seat for trying to process what the hell just happened. This movie spoke thoughts and feelings that I had never voiced in a public space. It was a mirror that made me really question why I do a lot of the things I do, why I date the men I date, and why I hold the attitudes/beliefs that I hold. It's a powerful film. I appreciate the dialogue that it will spark. I appreciate that it made me feel uncomfortable and a bit exposed.

Along the lines of the film Dear White People, a while back I hosted an episode for my podcast about cultural appropriation vs. cultural appreciation. The topic was sparked by an article written by Sierra Mannie "Dear White Gays Stop Stealing Black Female Culture." Mannie took to the internet to express her frustration at being minimized to a caricature by many gay white men on her campus. The article caught on like a wildfire causing many of us readers to think deeply about what the differences are between appropriation and appreciation. In a culture where everyone is borrowing from everyone, how can we distinguish who the culture "belongs to?" How can we potentially be making our loved ones feel by perpetuating insensitive cultural stereotypes? There are no easy answers. These are not easy conversations to have. That being said, these conversations do need to be had. Listen below as my panel and I begin to unpack this topic.

A few things to note here:
  1. The audio is unmastered so not the greatest quality. 
  2. I said the woman's name wrong, Jesus! Her name is Sierra Mannie. I called her Sierra Massey several times. Sorry girl. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Connecting the Dots: Piecing Together the Magic of Who You Are

A lot of you know I spent some time in Thailand earlier this year. It was a dope trip. It was weird. It was beautiful. Had amazing food! I sweat through every shirt I brought with me. Saw some stunningly beautiful temples. Hung out with monks and ladyboys.  I met some beautiful, amazing people. I shared meals, drinks, and hugs with strangers. It was a phenomenal time.

One of the people that I met that had the most impact on me was a gentleman named Andy that was the epitome of lovely. Just an overall warm, charming, intelligent, generous guy. Andy was traveling for business and little bit of pleasure. He’s a 40-something entrepreneur living one of the most fabulous lives of anyone I know. Andy and I talked for hours about traveling, life, similar experiences, our varied experiences-everything. Meeting him was a highlight of my trip. He dropped gem after gem on me. That’s the thing that I love about talking with people with more life experience than me. There’s always that sense of ease, and wisdom, and trust. They trust in themselves and they trust that things will ultimately work out. The conversation naturally turned to “what do you do?” so we talked about my service industry experience and my starting a coaching business. This guy has done everything. I mean it-he came from humble, working class beginnings. He’s been a cook, ultimately becoming a chef, he was into visual art at some point, he was a restaurant manager, he studied international business and hospitality. The dude has done everything. NOW he gets paid to travel and help airlines and restaurants design their ideal hospitality experiences for their guests.

Word, Andy? You get paid to ask companies how they want their guests to feel when they’re greeted? But that’s exactly what he does. Restaurants and airlines all over Asia and Europe hire Andy to coach them on how to create an ideal experience for their guests, generally making the ship look good and run smoothly. There were a lot of take-aways from my conversation with Andy but the biggest one is this-who/what we are and all of the experiences that we’ve had are valuable. If we can connect the dots and see how our experiences fit together, we can create something meaningful, exciting, and useful from it. There’s value in all of our experience(s) no matter how much you think, or somebody else thinks, it’s bullshit. I could easily bitch about being in the restaurant industry for 4 years now, or I could shift that perspective to realize that there are companies abroad that find my experience valuable and are actively seeking it out. It’s up to me to give meaning and value to my experiences. Looking at Andy, because he’s been a chef and a manager and has a background in art, he’s able to tell you what works for food pairings, how to run a tight ship, and what looks good aesthetically. He’s using everything that he’s done.

Second major take-away from our chat, It’s ok to switch tracks. Andy told himself that it’s ok to follow his passions. He developed himself. He never stopped seeking knowledge. He never stopped being curious. He took risks. Clearly, risk yielded great reward as he is now running a business and using every bit of those varied experiences to help his clients.
The third take-away is to listen. Listen to yourself, primarily. Get into a still space and listen to that inner voice and what’s calling you. Not what your mama wants to you to do or what your cousin is doing-tap into what’s most important for you. Additionally, listen to people that have done what you want to do, and that have been where you want to go. They know how to do it. So quite simply, shut up. Sometimes you have to shut up, put that ego to the side, stop acting like you have it all figured out, and listen to the experiences of someone that’s doing it. By all means, there’s a flip side to that coin and people can be discouraging, but that’s when you get to tell them to shut up. ;-)

With that being said, I leave you with this final word: Don’t forsake your journey. All that you are and all that you’ve done is valuable. My challenge to you is to think about how you can connect those dots together and create something that highlights the best of you and the best of what you’ve done. And if you’re struggling with that, hire me so I can do it for you ;-)   

Hopefully you found this useful. If you want to hear more from me, become a follower on my facebook page “coach eric nyc.” You can subscribe to my blog at and you can check out my website at Happy monday y’all!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Feel good Jam of the Day

This is my jam of all jams at the moment. It's been getting my days started off in the best, most feel good, dancy, i love my life way possible so I felt compelled to share. There's a little gem of a mantra in here that these two sing that's been rocking my world, "So I just wanna say...thank you for this day. 'Cause it is SO GOOD!" Cheers to feeling so good you can't do anything else but say thank you! Happy Friday y'all!

Monday, March 31, 2014

A Case of "The Mondays": What are you focusing on?

You get them. You probably have them right now. You know them. You hate them. It's the Mondays. 
I just got back from a beautiful vacation-completely unintentional brag-so days still don't mean anything to me right now. I've been on a kick of waking up and doing whatever I've felt like for weeks-even if that meant doing nothing but laying in a hammock for hours-that's the place I've been in. I woke up today back in New York City, in an apartment-not on a beach in Thailand, on a Monday. For the first time in a long time, I felt this need of having to get to work or having to do something. It drove me a little crazy in my waking moments. In the spirit of solidarity for all my people struggling with the Monday's out there, this brief entry from my journal gave me a little breather. It made me stop and ask myself, "what's absolutely perfect about this moment right now?" Feels way better than "'s Monday." What are you focusing on? What have you been potentially missing out on because of how narrow your focus may be? Think about it. Share. Let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Because I'm happpyyyyyy!!!!

Grateful people are happy people. Love the simplicity present in this thought. This guy radiates so much joy. It's contagious. I feel like I want to immediately know him...hug him...share some snacks. :-) He's absolutely right though-the more grateful I am, the more I'm taking time to acknowledge the gifts that are present around me.

Steindl-Rast speaks to what I call "gratitude practices." You can even think of them as active meditations, but these practices are things/structures/ideas set in place that keep us grounded, thankful, and open.

I challenged myself some months back to start some kind of morning ritual to get my days started off in a much better feeling way. Typically I would just roll over and grab my phone, get on facebook, ingesting other peoples bullshit status updates and energy that ultimately started my day in a haze of "meh" and "grrrr." That shit wasn't working! My challenge to myself was to do anything but reach for that phone!

The first installment of this challenge was to not leave my bed-not even put one foot on the floor-until I had spoken aloud 5 things that I'm grateful for in that moment. What began to happen was pretty damn amazing. I was leaving the bed so aware and appreciative of the people in my life, the things that I have, and the opportunities that are presented to me. Even small things like a bangin' box of cereal that I know is waiting for me in the kitchen-I left my bed SO excited about my life.

This "challenge" became a mainstay in my life. I've now extended it to a bedtime ritual as well. To quiet myself and the dumbness of the day, I don't close my eyes until I've spoken aloud 5 things that I'm grateful for. I go to sleep with gratitude and I wake up with gratitude. Feels way better than "meh" and "grrrr."  :-)

My biggest takeaway from this establishing of rituals is that our internal space is sacred. We should honor it and treat it as such. We're worth waking up and feeling great. We're worth gliding through the day joyfully, smiling from ear to ear. Why not?

What's your practice? What's worked for you? Leave a comment and let me know what your gratitude practice is. I'm curious. Maybe I can add on to mine :-)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Recent write up about my practice here in the city!! Thanks to Charles D. Springfield for the love. Stay tuned for follow up posts with tips about how to navigate dating with a bit more meaning in the city.

Friday, February 14, 2014

What are you exchanging?

I've been having a problem with stank face as of late.  Stank face, also known to some as resting bitch face, is a problem for many. Most people know me as a super smiley, joyful kind of guy but lately that has not been the case. I've just not been feeling people, my job- kind of life in general- and it's been manifesting in every interaction I have. I've been getting into squabbles with damn near everybody, and even had a sit down with a manager about my attitude sucking. Things just haven’t been the cutest.
In a recent what I like to call "sit yo' ass down" moment, I had to do some internal inventory and check myself. What emerged in this stillness was a deep focus on what I was doing to contribute to all of this madness. What’s my role? What am I offering? Then I had my Oprah “Aha” moment: every interaction that we have is an exchange of spirit, of energy, of life. Every single interaction. Whether it be person-to-person, getting on a crowded subway car, or sitting in stillness at the park, some part of us is moving with, moving next to, or exchanging with a part of another being; it's a handoff of energy. This image of two massive, vibrating, energetic fields came to me. They were all pixels-no defined images-with a really warm, glowing, pink hue. They were happy fields. They met, vibrated with each other, hi-fived, and each of them removed a piece of themselves and offered it up to the energy force in front of them, adding to and changing the components of their fields, respectively. Maybe that’s exactly what happens with us. We meet another person, and whether it’s anger or joy or heaviness, we remove a bit of those “pixels” and offer that up as our contribution. The other takes it in.
It seems obvious, but just stick with me here: no one wants to feel shitty. No one wants to have aggressive, exhausting, draining interactions with the world around them. We fall short because we’re not always consciously aware of what we’re offering. If I’m presenting my anger to someone, like it’s a gift, why would they want to give me their best, most “feel good” parts? I wouldn’t want to. What would happen if your contribution or offering was one of love and light? What do you think people would offer you in return?
I conducted an experiment last night at work to be conscious of my contribution in every exchange. I set an intention to actively give joy, love, and light.  I did that and boy was it returned! Just a little backstory and contextual information about my job here- I work at one of the busiest, craziest restaurants in New York City. I bartend. People are reckless. People want what they want and they want it now- not in two seconds- NOW. Think of a bar, three rows deep, and everyone is Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. That’s my job; it’s fast, physically demanding, emotionally draining, and it goes hard nonstop. Don’t get me wrong, we have our fair share of awesome people, but they sometimes get lost in the sea of scalliwags and ragamuffins.
Now, back to my experiment. I set the intention to give joy, love, and light. Literally every guest in my section was awesome and if they weren't, they moved to a table after about 20 minutes. It was great. I had a section full of sweethearts all night. I felt like I was BFFs with most of my guests. We were chummy, they were chummy with each other, they were patient and having fun, we were talking about music and life- just rad people. I was even invited out to two vineyards in Napa because of these great exchanges. Despite being swarmed with guests, sweating, and having no break from the chaos, I had amazingly beautiful interactions all night.
So what am I saying? Is the secret to smiling from ear-to-ear just saying to yourself, I’m going to give joy and love tonight? No. I don’t think it’s that easy. Setting an intention was great for me, but I also had to remind myself of that intention several times. The night was one big active meditation. There was focus on my breathing; I recited my intention like a mantra a few times; I would sometimes just ask myself before I spoke to someone, “what are you exchanging here, Eric?” It was a bit more involved than just stating an intention at the beginning of the day.
To bring it all home, I just want to revisit my learnings from all of this: no one wants to feel badly. I also want to add that I don’t think anyone actively wants to cause other people distress. I’m choosing to give people a bit more credit and to lean into the inherent awesomeness that I believe we all have. Perhaps for some, it’s a bit more protected and not exchanged as freely, but I believe it’s possible to access that awesomeness if my “come from place” or vibration/intention/inner dialogue-whatever you choose to call it-is that of love and light.
What are you allowing to be exchanged? What’s the cost of not being aware of it? I challenge you to be conscious of who you want to be and how you want to be in your dealings with life around you. I guarantee that you will see a difference that feels much better. The only thing you have to lose is feeling shitty. If it doesn't work for you, shoot me a message and tell me what your experience was. I’d love to hear about it. Mine was rather profound, so I'm fairly confident that yours will be as well.