As a child, I wanted to grow up to be a writer and teacher. I started by reading books to my stuffed animals, taking special care that each animal could hear me and see all the pictures.
I earned my bachelor’s degree in comparative arts at Washington University in St. Louis, and during the summer months and one fall semester I worked for Globe Education at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.
After receiving an interdisciplinary master’s degree at NYU in humanities and social thought, I returned to my alma mater, Wash U, and worked on a PhD in comparative literature with an emphasis in drama. I took all the necessary courses, taught and mentored undergraduates, passed the comprehensive exams, and left before writing the dissertation.
I left because I had become unwell and started to understand that something wasn’t right for me on that path. My main symptoms stumped the doctors, and some of what I experienced was called abdominal migraine.
It became clear that I needed to put my whole life on hold and figure out how to get well. No medicine would stop the pain, however a little yoga routine I practiced each day did, temporarily. (Thank you, Rodney Yee's videos!)
Because yoga soothed the pain, I knew there must be something more to it than the movements. I had a sense the wisdom went far, wide, and deep. And, I was about to find that to be true.
I left the PhD—in pain and not very hopeful—and through a series of events, ended up being able to volunteer at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. I became hopeful and amazed by the opportunity. I immersed myself in the experience of yoga, Ayurveda, and meditation, and I stopped eating gluten, dairy, and sugar because I had heard that might help.
Within a month or two, my migraine was gone. My mood improved, my physical body became stronger and more flexible, and my capacity for love increased.
Soon, I was back to teaching and writing. I am completely honored and so grateful that I was a regular teacher at Kripalu (and still teach there once each year), authored three books, developed a CD, studied with expert teachers, and made incredible friends.
After several years at Kripalu—through work with Kripalu teachers, visiting teachers, and on my own—I realized I was ready to work in additional venues where I could give back. The tools I learned, and still use, are life-giving in so many ways, providing us with practices to: resolve or manage health issues in ways that complement western medicine; develop self-trust, compassion, and creativity; and explore who we truly are and how we can contribute to the world in ways that are win-wins.
In addition to teaching at Kripalu, I started to work at The UltraWellness Center founded by Dr. Mark Hyman and directed by Dr. Elizabeth Boham. I became the relaxation specialist, working with patients and staff to coach them in mindful meditation practices as foundations for stress-relief and countless benefits. Dr. Boham and I created a DVD and we present our workshop Journey to Wholeness at Kripalu annually.
After 3 years with the UWC, I felt called to take a leap. I wasn’t sure where I would land, but I knew it was time to figure it out. I hit the road.
During my cross-country road trip, I remembered a vision I had when I was in the depths of being unwell. Once I figured out how to get well, I would move to California and use my skills and passion to work for a place that would offer the life-skills that many of us weren’t taught in school, for making daily choices that would support our well-being, our relationships to each other and the world we live in, and our path to the unique life each of us wants to be living.
It’s been a long and winding tale, and now I have made it to the chapter of the story that takes place in California, at 1440 Multiversity, as a writer and teacher.
I wonder if this kind of journey resonates with you. I wonder how many of us have similar experiences in our search for wellness and right livelihood.
What I know now is there are so many resources to support our well-being, and we are not alone in our quest.