I was born in Buffalo, NY. My family, typical working class Buffalo Bills fans, loved and adored me, but I felt like I was different. I still love football to this day but I have spent a lot of time, money and energy searching for a more authentic version of myself. One who is aware of my American middle class cultural privilege. One who is aware of how little education we have about how to have fulfilling relationships. One is aware of the fact that there is a life force in us that asks us to sense deeper than what we see and experience around us.
My first experience of a deeper than surface reality was a Grateful Dead show in 1989. I took hallucinogenic drugs and really tuned into an energy that connected the whole audience to each other. It felt like the crowd was an ocean and we were all moving in different waves and rhythms but part of the same whole. It also felt like I was connected to the music. Hearing it with my heart, not just my ears. Feeling it in my arms and moving as if my arms were painting the sounds I heard on an imaginary canvas of the atmosphere. Although this experience was drug induced, the sense of that deeper awareness stayed with me.
This experience led me to explore yoga as a way to more naturally explore my consciousness. In 1993, I did my first yoga teaching training with my local teacher in Buffalo, Siri Narayan Kaur. Unfortunately, yoga seemed, at that time, like a slow and gradual way to expand my mind compared to using drugs.
In 1994, unable to integrate the experiences I had as a teenager in my current environment, and mourning the sudden death of my 18 year old brother, I became addicted to drugs. I spent 2 years running from the awarenesses I had cultivated and felt that my values were not reflected in the culture I lived in. As an anthropology major in college I learned that our American way of life lacked a value in community over the individual. It lacked rituals to mark our passage into different phases of life. I sincerely felt like I didn’t belong and experienced the alienation and loneliness of not having the shared values of the community I lived in.
I met Tah weh dah qui in 1996 when I was getting clean from drugs and alcohol. He was a Tuscarora Indian, who ran a healing education center on his land at the reservation. I lived on the reservation with his family for a whole summer. I attribute my sustained drug free lifestyle to being part of his community. Sweat lodges were used for purification. We had spiritual events to develop community. There were water ceremonies in Niagra Falls used to keep us focused on our connection with our environment. I learned so much in this period and felt connected to life once again. I still remain friends with this family and with many of the friends I made in this period of my life.
With a renewed vigor towards my own healing and a desire to help others, I went to massage school in Ithaca in 1998. Soon after I traveled to New Mexico to do another yoga teacher training with Yogi Bhajan, the man who brought Kundalini Yoga to the West. Older, more connected to myself, and wiser, I was able to add yoga teaching to my career and live in Ithaca.
Ithaca remains my home to this day and I feel grateful to live in such a beautiful place. My spirit is full of wanderlust, though, and my passion for seeking different perspectives has always pulled me to travel. In 2002 I took my first trip to India. I was visiting the Osho Meditation Center because I found Osho’s teachings to give an enlightened perspective to our culture’s obsession with individuality. Over the next 3 years, I spent part of every winter in India meditating, traveling, and learning. I valued the adventure of being “out of my comfort zone” and feeling that humans are all longing for connection which expanded my sense of being human.
In 2003 I attended the IM School of Healing Arts. Levent, the main teacher, was a healer from Turkey, who taught me energy work. My class of 22 people spent 4 years together engaging in group process work, community building, and healing. Our curriculum culminated in 2007 with a month long trip to Turkey.
In the excitement to expand my massage practice, I studied Maya Abdominal Healing with Rosita Arvigo in Belize in 2008. Rosita brought a modern perspective to ancient techniques developed by the Mayan people. I met mayan healers and midwives as part of the curriculum and learned the importance of invoking spirit in healing work.
I spent the next 10 years as a householder. Married in 2007 and birthing my daughter at home in 2012, after a 3 year journey with infertility. Pregnancy brought me a sense of wanting to be more grounded. Less travel, less meditation, less burning for knowledge and more desire for mundane experience. This period had me exploring other forms of yoga, hiking, dancing. I finally got a television after not having one for 10 years. It was a coming back to my working class roots and seeing what I wanted to bring forward from my upbringing into my family.
In 2018, with the realization that my marriage wasn’t working, I hired many therapists, energy healers, and life coaches. I didn’t take lightly breaking up my family for my own individual growth and was committed to exploring every angle where I may find clarity and a perspective shift. I wanted to leave no stone unturned as a way to keep my family together. The result was a divorce in 2019 AND the introduction to Coactive Coaching, which has become my preferred method for healing and awareness until today. I started the Core Coactive Curriculum (125 hrs) in November of 2018 and completed it in September 2019. I traveled from Ithaca to Toronto in order to attend the classes in person, finishing just months before the pandemic. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a Life Coach but I loved what I was learning about myself. This approach to healing is the most affirming and strength based approach I have come across. Starting a new phase of life as a single mom was a very exciting experience having had the perspective of Coactive living.
I give so much gratitude and love to my late boyfriend from this time, Damien Petry (Peach). It was our connection and his subsequent unexpected death in 2020 that led me to do the 6 month Coactive Coaching Certification in 2021. The pain I experienced from suddenly losing new love was a portal to my full fledged desire to do heart centered and empowering work with people. Awareness raising through relationship and expressing ourselves in the world in our authentic power. Bringing our individual strengths to our communities so that we serve naturally and enjoy being individuals within the context of our larger groups and communities.