I am sharing this story to anyone willing to read it. I share in hopes of presenting myself authentically and setting the stage for openness and vulnerability as I continue my life journey.
I moved around my whole life. I was never in one school for more than a year because my mom moved us, my sister and I, around so much due to her failed marriage after failed marriage. Some days we would come home from school and hand us a trash bag and tell us to fit whatever we could because we were leaving. I wouldn’t even get to say goodbye to my friends. When I was 16, she told my sister and I we would need to figure out somewhere to live because she was going on the truck with her abusive, alcoholic husband. This was husband number 9. I share this only because it is a deep part of who I am, and not in a bad way. I appreciate my Mother for being the best she knew how to be. I don’t hold any resentment about my life. I am full-blown grateful for my life experience. It shaped me into the adaptive, non-judgmental, open-hearted person I am and I wouldn’t trade it for everything. I hope for anyone reading this to find growth from their own past experiences, whatever they may be. For the rest of High school and all through college, I worked 2-3 jobs, barely slept and paid bills (that were in my teacher’s names) sometimes by the skin of my teeth. I remember scrounging all the change from under the couch cushions in attempts to pay the electric bill, and crying because I didn’t have enough. I worked more and studied harder because it was the only thing I had control over in my life.
I completed my associates degree in Psychology and then moved to Tulsa to attend Northeastern State University. I landed a job teaching swimming lessons to children. My heart felt so unbelievably FULL and I knew without a doubt that I was supposed to be a teacher. I graduated in 2011 with a degree in Science in Education.
I felt so proud of myself for accomplishing school, but I still felt stressed and overwhelmed. I was constantly battling depression. Having never really had time to LIVE, to explore, to find out who I am, I decided to get outside of my comfort zone and put everything in storage and travel. I went all over the U.S. and lived out of my truck. I gained the experience of freedom and flexibility, the feeling of being in the flow of life. I was living moment to moment, no longer trapped by my past or worried about the future.
Traveling widened my perspective in ways too big to even begin to explain in words. It changed. I discovered the free-spirited side of myself. I wasn’t worried about how to pay the electric bill or what paper was due, or whether I was going to have Ramen or spaghetti o's for dinner. I felt full of life. I was having new experiences, and enjoying each and every moment as it unfolded. I had this knowing that everything was and always would be okay. I realized that every challenge I had ever faced, every experience I ever had played a role in who I was and who I would become. I found the center of who I was and became open to my path. I realized that I was HAPPY.
I wondered, what is this? How do I maintain this? How can I teach this!? Through my curiosity and research I discovered mindfulness, which is, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, observing the present moment without judgement.
When I returned to home, I began my research in my quest to develop a curriculum to teach attention and awareness to the present, emotional well-being, and life-skills for children. I wanted something that was secular, non-religious, scientific, and research-based. I discovered that there is mounting scientific evidence from hundreds of Universities providing the research that shows the benefits of
practicing mindfulness. I discovered programs such as Mindful Schools and Goulide
Hawn’s MindUp. I completed an online course through Mindful Schools that teaches
the fundamentals of Mindfulness, as well as the curriculum training. I spent 2 years doing private, in-home lessons while concurrently developing the 24-week program for children I call MindMasters.
I have been teaching mindfulness to Children since 2014, and have had many
requests from parents of students, fellow teachers, and friends to teach mindfulness to for adults. While continuing my education through courses in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, provided by the University of Massachusetts Medical School. I spent the year of 2018 developing a 7 week intensive course, for adults.
After years of study and practice, I recognize now that it is easy to be present when we have new experiences or experiences that we enjoy; The hard part is maintaining when life gets rough, when we are experiencing the stressors that we have no control over. I have personally experienced transformation through my mindfulness practice. I have greatly reduced stress, conquered depression and addiction to sugar, alcohol and cigarettes. I have gained the ability to express my emotions, remain calm in times of crises, and experience true bliss and joy and it is my passion to share it with the world.