More about Sid
To understand my story and to know me, I have to say it really comes from a simple question who or what has been the greatest influence on my life. It wasn’t the ones who made it easy, it wasn’t the sweetness. It was the moments and people where I met challenges and had to step up beyond where I was. It was the tougher moments that caused me to lift up!
I was born in Baton Rouge Louisiana, where it seems that to be beautiful is part of being from mixed races. I recall having mirrors all around the walls of my baby crib. I can remember loving playing with the toys and seeing myself in the mirrors. My mom always says I just wanted to be able to play alone and enjoyed being by myself. I was an easy baby. Then came life, moments that came along that caused me to question my love for being myself. My life seemed to be lessons of learning self-love. My first moment of questioning myself, showed up in the community that I was not white enough and to others not black enough. My best friends were twins who at first looked like me. The big shift as we got older was our hair. My curls tightened more than theirs. I recall people saying to them you have such good hair. I began questioning whether or not my hair was good enough.
I was also the middle child, it always seems to me that after my brother was born. In my mind I became a secondary thought, I wanted to prove myself by winning at everything I could. I would look around and see that there were more pictures of my older sister and younger brother than I. Looking back, I recognize how much my parents took time to make sure I was cared for, but because I was the middle child, I felt lost much of the time. I just couldn't see it because I had already begun to live in a place of feeling alone searching for me.
I also spent a lot of time as a kid doing things alone. My parents had made sure we were all four and a half years apart, so that they could pay for for all of us to go through college, which we did, free of loans. This also meant that we would all go to school alone, and in many ways fend for ourselves. I went to a preschool that was run by nuns. It was old school and when someone got in trouble, they were spank with a ruler by the nuns. I was pretty good at school because I was so scared. When my dad would come to pick me up he would wonder why I was crying so much and why I always wanted to play alone. Well I knew why, who wanted to be spanked? When we would all take naps, I would grab one little girl and hide with her under the cots as soon as another boy “Pee Cat Charlie’ would wet his bed and get taken in to be spanked. I would later learn that I had this calling to protect anyone in need, even if it meant sacrificing myself.
The journey of moving north began. After looking around, my Dad moved our family to California, back to Baton Rouge and then to Washington, DC. I went to school and I wanted to fit in. I got in with the cool guys because I could play sports. Yeah kids are kids, funny, while hateful, I would get picked early to join teams. Some kids would make fun of my voice as my southern draw was mimicked and shown as lack, and maybe even dumb. I encountered a teacher who told my parents I needed to learn how to read better and and suggested I needed to be held back. My parents would not accept that, because they knew their son was really smart.
Looking back on it, it may have helped me evolve socially because I always looked younger than my peers, and often felt alone. I even had to face the kids who were jealous of my athletic ability and deal with racism because of it. Being called a nigger when I would take their position on the team or show I was better than them in school. Then we moved up and went to junior high or middle school as they say today. Oh boy here come the kids from the other school. My mom was stylish and always bought us name brand clothing. We got known as the Huckstables and I was called the “rich black kid that didn’t fit in.” So I tried to dress down to look more like my friends, while my white friends wanted to borrow my clothes and the black kids said they were what the white kids wore.
This caused me to get many fights, in order to show I was strong enough to be in with everyone. There was one fight with this really big redheaded kid. The crazy thing was I got in trouble because the kids nose was so shattered after our fight that his parents pressed charges against my family. I recall not wanting to fight him because I knew I would hurt him, but our gym teacher set up a fight at the power lines behind the school. I stayed late after school not wanting to go. When I came out everyone had skipped the buses and we're waiting for me to walk over to the power lines. Back then it was fun to watch fights. You were either tough enough or you got beat up. No one worried about guns so here we were going to the power lines. I remember saying I don't want to fight you, but if you swing first, then I'm going to finish it. It was a rule in my house not to start a fight and never to lose. Especially if they make fun of your mom or you get called a nigger. He swung, I ducked and punched him in his face several times. The first punch hit him in his nose and it shattered, blood went everywhere. I knew that I was going to get in trouble for having his blood on my new shirt. So then I beat him up even more.
His mom called my mom once I got home and my mom explained that they were going to sue my family. Because in his mom’s mind I must have been a savage to have beat him so. The next day I went to school and I saw a lady getting his books out of his locker. I thought this must have been his mom, so I went up to her and apologized because I did not want to fight her son. He had picked on me and everyone wanted me to go fight him. I cried because it wasn’t how I wanted to be, yet I did not know another way to be. Love to me often looked like hurt. I was told you know I only do this because I love you when I got spanked as a kid. Looking back that made no damn sense. Thank God I broke that pattern with my kids. She hugged me and apologize for her son. Later that day she called my mom to explain what I had done. She explained that no one that nice could have ever started it and that her son was the problem.
So here I was feeling hurt because I hurt somebody else. I was sad that I couldn't just be nice because people would take advantage of me. Because I was smaller, I would get in a lot of fights because people would always try to see if I would be tough. My anger grew so much that it took a long time to recognize that I have a very intimidating demeanor. I discarded my heart for many years as I continued to fight in and out of the ring even in college, and eventually fighting with my words when I wasn't sure how to protect my heart. I once had a conversation with my son who was a grown man and he told me he was scared of me. That was a major turning point, I had gotten clear enough that he was comfortable enough to tell me the truth. I already knew all to well that most people lie only because they feel a need to protect themselves.
I played three sports, playing soccer in England at 14 years old, and won four state championships in high school. I wasn't sure which way to go. When I went to Purdue University my intention was to play football. When I got there, many things took place and I realized I would go back to the game I played the most, soccer. Little did I know this choice would later perplex me, my mind would run in circles like I had a bad program, almost like a glitch in the “matrix.” I then transitioned to being a football coach. In the world of football, I felt times not accepted, looking back it was all in my own mind. Again now my trust for others would waiver, I believed in no one except me. It didn’t matter how great my players were, how many wins I would help achieve, how many NFL players I helped produce. I would build more walls because of the pains of my past that would destroy the momentum I would build because I couldn't stop the chatter in my mind.
Throughout my career as a football coach the battles in my mind grew. They grew so much I made decisions against my heart. I jumped in relationships that deep down I knew would only go so far. I was married twice in football and had a long relationship when I moved into the yoga world. My major wake up call came when I was coaching at Northern Illinois University. Typically coaches celebrated after scrimmages and I came home one day a little tipsy. I came in sat for a minute and gazed up at the wall. I could see pictures of my family on the wall. My memories could be dated by football games and records. Yet in the moment I knew I was not clear in my mind, I was in the pictures and not present to the moments. This was a huge shift for me because I realized I was not moving in the direction of the man I wanted to be. I was not happy with what people in my life needed me to be in a relationship with me. I had hit spiritual bankruptcy and needed to shift.
I found that the most impactful moments came after a big hit came. I would have to recognize that I was the common denominator in my life. I was the one always there good or bad. I was the one who would set my life in a direction and I was the one who would have to pull my life out.
When I began to practice yoga, I had asthma and suffered from a fused right ankle. I dug into my yoga practice to find an escape from my physical pains and dis-eases. I would eventually get to a place for 11 years that I practiced almost every single day and for the days I did not practice, I would do two or three practices to make up for it. Yoga began to bring peace into me and eventually allowed me to dig in deeper to my meditation practice. What I began to notice when I would come off the mat was I could truly see when something outside of me was causing me to give up my power. I wanted it back and that realization began a journey of healing me.
I wanted to bring the the mental state I could find in sports into my life. I wanted to capture a calm mind that would help me find flow. A calm mind that would allow me to get in the zone and move my life forward to the greatness of all. I knew I knew how to win at sports and now it was time to win at life. When anyone hits that depth inside I know we can all win at life. Now I know all I do is win.
I classified myself as a serial monogamous because there was something I was looking for that can only be found inside of me. So I would put people in my life that I knew I would eventually walk away from. I dealt with racism from my in-laws, I also dealt with ageism all before anyone even got to know me. So when they would finally get to know me and decide I was good enough I was already creating a way out. My relationships were are built on a weak foundation at best. I would then start to look outside of my relationships in order to find what I was looking for, because it was already lost.
I remember in one of my relationships being told that she would break my heart before I ever even knew if we would continue dating. I remember seeing my thoughts run around, all to protect my heart. My mind’s chatter was saying, no my heart won't be broken that just doesn't happen. I will break her heart first. Everything seemed like a challenge, a challenge that people really didn't want to have happen, no one including myself wanted to take ownership of how things got to where they were. I found that even after I took responsibility for my life and what I brought to the table, few wanted to look at themselves and see their contribution. That is a major part of the journey to win at life. Clean up your side of the street and let others do theirs. Just maybe if we all look deep enough and take ownership of our part in the story things could've been different. After several relationships I realized one profound thing. I was the only one who was always in my relationships, so if they weren't working it was up to me to do the work. Even when others may have said it was all me, I knew that if I pointed one finger at them there were three more pointing back at me.
In Native American terms, lessons come in four seasons. Much like we have four seasons in a year. When we recognize the pattern and learn the lessons we are able to move forward. My lessons are different, and we were all moving through the seasons of our life. We are all seeing the world through our own eyes as a reflection of our own mind. The transformations that took place within me have allowed me to win in the game of life.
After three strikes and I was ready for my own rebirth.
Finally I had to get to know me and what held me back from being the man I was meant to be. I resisted hearing others brag about me. I struggled with hearing my Dad say I was great, especially to others. I didn’t realize his confidence is what allowed my father to reach his greatness to step into someone known as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. He was confident enough to speak up because he walked the walk.
So many moments I would put myself in situation that would stretch my limits. At 24 years old, I welcomed Sidney A. McNairy IV into the world. I knew how to be a great dad and now I was going to have to put that to the test. How do you do something well? It is simple, really you just do it. At least for me that is what it meant. Do my best and do it well. No excuses, get it done! At 24 years old I had many edges to clear to be the man I would want him to reach his potential greatness. I looked around at the male leaders in my life, from head coaches I did not always respect and yogi’s living less than I wanted of me, and yet, I still fell into some of the same traps. I had to learn in every way to walk how I wanted and pave new ways that had not been walked by most men I had seen. My final shift was to step forward and be the person I want to see in the world.
This is where I am now.
I am a great son from the greatness of my parents.
I am a great father to three amazing kids. I have two outstanding young men and a powerful young woman.
I am a great yoga teacher and passed on my studio legacy to my 23 year old son who is lighting the path for many to come.
I am a great man because I am a husband to the most amazing woman as a wife.
I am a great leader, that is why you are here. So let’s go!
All I do is win, let’s win at this game called life.
No matter who you are there is a moment that comes and you have to step up to the plate. A moment where you take everything you have and go for it. There was that moment and for me it was when everything was gone. Lights off in the stadium and no one cheering, yoga studio gone, kids gone, money gone, that is when it all truly began. I had to dig in to find my drive and tap into the discipline I knew in sports and go after it. I have never believed in plan B because I have plan A. I have the greatest teammate in God and plan A is where I am headed.
So when the teacher is ready the students will come. I am ready, so let’s get to executing your plan A!