Meet Melanie Klein
MEET THE MUSE: Melanie Klein ~ author, professor, yogi, activist.
Tell us about yourself:
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A sense of inner calm, balance, and joy. And that is cultivated through presence and awareness. And, ideally, that feeling permeates my being and my experience. This sense of happiness can be characterized by the day at the beach I had with my family a few weeks ago when my son and I kayaked with my father, step-mother and sister. We all paddled over the waves together soaking up the thrill of floating on the ocean as a unit. Later, my father pushed my son into the waves on his boogie board and my son and my uncle rode into shore together as my father, sister, step-mother and I cheered on at the shore. My heart was full, my mind was calm, I was present and filled to the brim with boundless happiness.
What is the trait you are most grateful for in yourself?
Fortitude. It’s been this sense of courage and resilience in the face of adversity, pain and sorrow that I appreciate so dearly about my younger self. At a time that I felt most broken, incapable, and unlovable that a well of inner strength pushed me forward and allowed me to become the person I am now and build my current life. And I am grateful for that. I want all girls to feel courageous, brave and capable no matter what hardships they encounter. It is necessary for emotional, spiritual and physical survival and rejuvenation. I strive to model that for my students by standing in my own truth and presenting myself and my past transparently.
What is the trait you most cherish in others?
Openness – a desire and willingness to be open and receptive to learning, seeking truth, compassion, honesty and living authentically.
What is your most treasured possession?
I treasure experiences, not possessions. My most cherished memories are of early childhood in the forests of Germany with my family and experiencing the world with my son.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Not only surviving adolescence but thriving in spite of it.
Tell us about your work:
I am currently working on the second volume of Yoga and Body Image, developing several media projects for the Yoga and Body Image Coalition, planning events for the Los Angeles chapter of Women, Action + the Media that I facilitate and working on the 3rd Annual Global Ecofeminism Conference.
What is your “why” behind it?
All my projects attempt to create connection, create a platform for our untold stories and cultivate community. In order to recognize our own internalized oppression and rise above, we need to develop our voice and proclaim our truth. I am compelled to provide the space and platform so that I and others may do that. Not only does our voice and our story help heal ourselves, it has the power to educate, heal and inspire others. It’s a win-win! And we need others in order to create social and political change. To commune, collaborate and support one another as a community is integral in social and personal transformation.
How can we support you and your work?
People can pick up a copy of Yoga and Body Image and help spread the stories far and wide. One way to do that is facilitate a book discussion group. Dr. Beth Berila and Elen Bahr created a free book discussion guide that can be downloaded at the Yoga and Body Image book website. Book discussion groups have popped up in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York, Alabama and California to name just a few paces in the United States. These book discussion groups are a great way to connect, come together, and help the experiences and insight shared in the book’s individual stories to reach more people.
When Anna and I started on this book project that was our intention. We brought together 25 different voices in order to highlight the complex and interwoven issues that intersect with yoga and body image as separate topics as well how they intersect with yoga and body image jointly. We hoped that by bringing forward a diverse array of voices and experiences, we could connect with a wider audience in order to inspire, heal and promote dialogue on the issues contained therein. With the emergence of book clubs examining the stories in Yoga and Body Image and sharing their own experiences on these topics, we feel our intentions in collaborating are being realized.
People can also follow the Yoga and Body Image Coalition on Facebook. Instagram and Twitter to stay-up-to-date on our latest actions, events and campaigns. I’m excited about our Instagram context on modifications that we’re doing with Yoga International and another that we’re doing in partnership with Proud2Bme.org, the National Eating Disorders Association’s teen body image website.
Sharing content and spreading the word are wonderful ways to support. But we also want to highlight and support our wonderful community allies and others doing important work in their local communities. We’ve been featuring Podcasts and blog interviews on the all fabulously committed and inspired people making good things happen all over the world. We invite people to contact us so we can share their stories, their work and/or help them turn their ideas into supported communal action.
Share your inspiration with us:
I am most inspired when I am on the trail hiking in solitude. Nature has always been my touch stone providing grounding, insight and quiet. When my mind gets quiet and my body moves, the excess noise is filtered out and I can get to the juicy goodness deep inside.
If you could inspire one change in yourself, what would it be?
To develop patience.
If you could inspire one change in the world, what would it be?
The cultivation of empathy and sacred community.
Where do you look for inspiration in your daily life?
The talented, brilliant and passionate individuals dedicated to raising awareness, building community and the development of self in my various communities inspire me endlessly, every moment of every day.
Which historical figures have inspired you?
All my feminist foremothers across the centuries and throughout the world. Their selfless sacrifice and commitment to fighting sexism, misogyny and patriarchal oppression energize and nudge me forward. It also instills a deep sense of pride in me. I think it is crucial that girls and women have an understanding of the global struggles women have overcome (and continue to face) and the contributions women have made on society and how that impacts our choices and opportunities, many of which are taken-for-granted.
Learning the names and experiences of girls and women through history gave me new role models to emulate and admire. As a Gender and Women’s professor, it is my hope that all my students, not just the young women in my classes, will share the same sense of empowerment and liberation from learning the stories of these remarkable women and connect those stories of adversity, triumph and the creation of social change to their own lives.
Who are your living muses?
All the remarkable people standing on the front line of change, those who strive to push forward change in order to create a more equitable, peaceful and just world for all.
Want to share a quote or a poem or a song lyric that inspires you?
I include the first 4 lines of this poem at the top of every syllabus I write for my classes.
Good Mirrors Are Not Cheap by Audre Lorde
“It is a waste of time hating a mirror
or its reflection
instead of stopping the hand
that makes glass with distortions
slight enough to pass
until one day you peer
into your face
under a merciless white light
and the fault in a mirror slaps back
what you think
is the shape of your error
and if I am beside that self
you destroy me
or if you can see
the mirror is lying
you shatter the glass
choosing another blindness
and slashed helpless hands.
Because at the same time
down the street
a glassmaker is grinning
turning out new mirrors that lie
at cut rate”
Thank you for the inspiration. xo, muse.
Photo credit: Sarit Z. Rogers// Sarit Photography
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