Since November contains both the Marine Corps Birthday and Veteran’s Day, I thought the first day of the month was as good as any to share a boiled down version of my story with you + announce my new website release (and ask you to give it a good perusing whilst you’re here, of course!).
I also wanted to take the opportunity to address one of the most common questions I get: People often ask me how it was that I left the Marine Corps to become a resilience trainer, mental health counselor, and yoga teacher. Marine and yogi don’t always go together in peoples’ minds (understandably)!
My answer is this: the shift in life trajectory came down to a split-second decision I made years ago one morning in the Middle East.
The Iraqi morning dawned and I woke slowly, painfully. Existing was excruciating. The first thing I saw was my pistol. Just a simple, black, standard Marine Corps issue M9 pistol. My eyes drifted next to my $20 yoga mat – beige – the same color of the sand that surrounded me. It was rolled up near the foot of my bed. I blinked.
I knew I had a choice.
The pistol or the yoga mat.
Life or death.
I stood up, slowly rolled out my mat, and began perhaps the most important yoga practice of my life.
As a Marine officer who had deployed to Iraq a couple of times, sustained multiple traumatic brain injuries, and run my mind and body into the ground, I wasn’t used to listening to my intuitive self.
The concept of being kind to my body was foreign.
But that morning on the yoga mat taught me that when everything else felt out of control, I could at least control my breath. And that was something.
Over the next few weeks I began to regain a sense of agency, and with agency – hope.
I learned that pain is not the enemy. Instead, it is a teacher, and we each have a choice to respond or react to our teaching.
So, who the heck was I (before that life or death lesson)? Born in Japan to a career Air Force family, I moved 7 times before graduating high school. This exposure to so many different cultures and places resulted in a keen interest in both people and adventure. I studied sociology in college before joining the Marine Corps, and once I began training for my role as a military intelligence officer, was privileged to observe the depths of strength revealed as I and fellow Marines were pressed through the mesh of discipline required by the Corps.
What I didn’t see was how my determination to push myself to the brink, particularly in the wake of a sexual assault and multiple deployments, eroded my physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional self. I, along with many other veterans, wrongly believed that pain is weakness leaving the body.
And I celebrated that idea until it broke me.
That morning on the yoga mat marked a shift in the direction of my personal and professional journey.
I began to see that pain is a universal experience, and that we intuitively hold the answers for responding to it well. Sometimes we just need a little help.
I left the Marine Corps with an abiding love of mentorship, and have channeled that love into helping clients around the world find clarity and discover how to build happier, healthier lives.
I’ve done that through resilience workshops, wellness retreats, one-on-one and group resilience training and counseling, and keynote speaking engagements. I’ve been fortunate to make appearances on primetime television and have had my work featured in health and wellness publications throughout the country.
Here’s what I’ve discovered along the way: in most cases people really aren’t as far off as they think they are. Based on this learning, I begin every collaboration by focusing on what is going right and what my clients already know. I teach simple, evidence-based principles to help people tune into their intuition and refocus their energy.
Nothing makes me happier (except for my husband and two dogs) than helping other people discover simple strategies to revive, recover, and restore. This passion has driven me to study yoga, nutrition, neuroscience, the social sciences, behavioral health, and more. It’s what gets me out of bed every morning, and inspires me to keep writing, speaking, training, and mentoring. It’s why I can’t wait to work with you, your organization, or someone you love who may be at a crossroads, in the midst of a struggle, recovering after something difficult, or just looking to refine their path to go from good to great with a little bit of grace, grit, and support!
Thank you, sincerely, for reading my story. And please share some of yours with me, too.
Namaste, Semper Fi, and well wishes to you and yours on this forthcoming Veteran’s Day.
P.S. I understand that reading isn’t everyone’s jam. If you’d prefer to watch a 3 minute VIDEO, I recommend checking out this compilation made for me by vetrepreneur, Jenn Calaway, of Enhancer Creatives, right HERE.