THE PISTOL OR THE YOGA MAT
People often ask me how it was that I left the Marine Corps to become a resilience counselor.
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 multiple times, sustained 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.
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. 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 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 daughter, husband, and two dogs) than helping other people discover simple strategies to revive, recover, and restore. This passion has driven me to study neuroscience, the social sciences, yoga, nutrition, 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!
Thanks for reading my story.