My current project is Terrible Beautiful, a memoir that explores the contradictions of suffering and love in my marriage to my junior high school sweetheart. Orlando and I became best friends when we were twelve and were married for ten years. Since childhood we carried our love like a talisman. But our marriage ended when Orlando’s alcohol-fueled behavior crossed the line from emotional to physical abuse.
During the final year of our marriage I leaned on my belief in my yoga practice. For decades I had trusted that yoga was teaching me a better way to live. The last year of our marriage would test my belief in yoga and challenge everything I thought I knew about love.
To understand our love story it is necessary to examine the fundamental nature of love itself. The story is told in a braid; chapters of the love story alternate with time I spent at an ashram. The ritualized pace of the ashram helps the turbulent story of the relationship to find proper proportion. The daily ashram routines are like a kaleidoscope; rotating my beliefs and fears into view until I am forced to reconcile the fallibility of my limited mind as it tries to understand the larger question of the true nature of love.
I used to assume that classical clarinet performance would be my life’s work. But after years of training at top conservatories I felt my sense of personal expression eroding under the strict guidelines of symphonic performance. I began writing music; but soon the flow of melody turned into sentences and paragraphs. Essays began to emerge and as I found my artistic footing I began to work on a memoir. Since my childhood on the shores of Lake Michigan I’ve watched my artistic life grow from the unadorned joy of my first squeaks on the clarinet to the burning need I now feel to write. My evolution as an artist meant stepping into the combination of insecurity and drive that is necessary for nonfiction writers. To write unflinchingly about myself, to challenge the stories I tell myself, means turning inward and taking personal responsibility.
In my work as a clarinet and yoga instructor I see how the divisiveness of our current social and political climate creates fear and anxiety. Entrenched viewpoints on all sides of the political spectrum have made conversations difficult even at the neighborly level. At the heart of this divide is a fundamental disconnection between ourselves, the natural world, and our souls. My essays and memoir project are attempts to look deeply at the disconnections I’ve experienced and been responsible for making. By constructing art out of my most challenging moments—divorce, deaths, illness, envy—I push myself to write towards peace and equanimity. Modeling this level of deep examination and personal inquiry is one of the best ways I can use my art to help cultivate peace within myself and the world.
Gita Brown has personal essays published in the Boston Globe Magazine, Ruminate Magazine, and a micro-essay in Creative Nonfiction #70. Her essay, They’ll Never Call Me Mom, was a 2019 finalist for the VanderMey Nonfiction Prize. In addition, her writing about teaching yoga to children with special needs has been featured in The Hingham Journal and The Cohasset Mariner. In 2017 she graduated from the GrubStreet Memoir Incubator program. During this year-long program she worked with teacher and award winning author Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich to shape her memoir-in-progress. She is actively involved with her writing group, all graduates of the Memoir Incubator, and alumni group devoted to developing a reading series and workshops that foster the writing and publication process of memoir and non-fiction essays. Mrs. Brown is a passionate educator with over thirty years of teaching experience.
Mrs. Brown is a teaching artist at South Shore Conservatory (SSC) where she teaches clarinet to children and adults. She is also the founder of Musician’s Way Yoga, a comprehensive lifestyle system that uses the classical teachings of yoga to enhance the creative life. In addition, she is a Senior Licensed Practitioner in Yoga for the Special Child®, offering yoga teachings to individuals with all levels of ability