I see life as one beautiful, long, healing adventure.
Always easy? No. But always rewarding, enriching, filled with grace and beauty—and endless opportunities to heal and grow.
I was born and raised in Lawrence, KS—a university town with lots of exposure to different ideas, the arts, and intellectual stimulation. My dad instilled in me from a young age a sense of adventure, taking our family on vacations on the blue highway backroads, making certain to never take the same road twice. My mom exemplified kindness and service and passed those values on to all of us. Her example continues to inspire me daily.
My parents took me and my four siblings to every musical and classical concert that came to town, gifting me with a deep love of the arts—and music in particular. My brother and sisters and I all began the study of piano at a very young age and all the girls began ballet at age 6. Then we were introduced to a second instrument of our choice when the public school instrument programs began in 5th grade. And so, I grew up on the stage, dancing and performing in a variety of ensembles and settings, whenever and wherever the opportunities arose.
I always knew I wanted to study abroad and so, at 19, I moved to France to study French, international politics and viola performance. I left initially for an academic year, but just wasn’t ready to return when that year finished, so remained for an additional year of study on my own at the Institute of Political Studies at the University of Bordeaux.
A deep love of foreign lands and cultures had taken hold and I went on to live for almost 20 years overseas in three different countries—France, Costa Rica and Belize. In each one, I immersed myself in the local culture—as a student living with two different French families in France, performing with the National Symphony and teaching English as a Second Language in Costa Rica, and marrying into a family of Mayan-Hispanic descent in Belize. There I lived on a little island right off the reef and owned a boutique and gift shop—and raised two beautiful Belizean-American daughters.
I don’t remember exactly when I began to see life as healing... but it was sometime during my final two years of college, upon my return to the U.S. from France, as I faced the challenges that are a part of re-entry to one's home culture upon return from living abroad. The idea that this was life's primary purpose—to take each of our experiences in life and allow them to teach us that we might grow emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually—took root.
It was during my time as a student in France—way back in 1978—that I was first introduced to yoga. Having been raised as a musician, dancer and athlete, and with a blossoming interest in contemplative practices, I loved the meditative movement that yoga offered. I began to seek yoga out wherever I found myself, and in the mid 1990s, I began practicing daily in the mornings on the pier in front of my Belizean island home, looking out over the ocean, welcoming in each day. It was an utterly sublime experience and continues to inspire me to practice yoga outside each morning when I rise almost every single day—no matter where I am—rain or shine.
Upon return from Belize after a difficult divorce—and after an extended hiatus from music—I rededicated myself to musical expression, in search of the healing I knew it offered. I turned my musical focus from classical to folk, studying guitar and exploring songwriting. And I began singing—where I truly found my voice—both metaphorically and literally. I infused my musical expression—both instrumentally and lyrically—with whatever I could that would move the soul, tapping into the depths of my own, hoping the lessons I had learned might translate into something that would benefit others as well.
This journey led me to an unexpected career as a singer/songwriter and folk artist. I released my first CD in 2009 - and was soon performing and speaking across the United States and beyond.
I have always been a spiritual seeker and have been influenced by a multitude of traditions. I was raised in the Christian tradition (Episcopal), attended a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship as a teen, and as an adult found myself drawn to the mystery and connection of Native American spirituality; the focus on mindfulness, compassion, peace, and the intrinsic respect for life of Buddhism; the emphasis on love for all of humanity of mystical Christianity and the wisdom teachings of Jesus; and eventually found a deeply resonant home in both yoga philosophy and Buddhist insight meditation.
Yoga philosophy in particular presented me with the idea that as we practice, learn and grow, the veils that keep us from seeing our deep connection to each other and all of life can be lifted. As our vision clears, we come to see the natural brilliance of our own souls—and that of others as well. Yoga offers a completely holistic approach to healing and living—body, mind and soul—I had not found elsewhere and it became and remains a foundational part of my spiritual practice and perspective.
As is true for us all, my life has been filled with joys and sorrows, trials and celebrations, challenges and inspirations. But through it all, one thing has always rung true—life is filled with grace and beauty, if only we open our eyes to see. This is the message I strive to deliver with my music, my teaching, and my coaching. In everything I do.
The challenges I have faced—including divorce, single parenthood, sudden job loss, and a journey through ovarian cancer—have taught me to mine the endless beauty that springs from perceived darkness—and have inspired me to help others find a healthier way to live—for body, mind and soul—and to awaken to the grace, beauty and magic in their own lives.
Cover photograph by Cindy Novelo (The Flint Hills, Kansas)