This week I had the opportunity to take my staff out for pedicures and then we went to dinner to celebrate our 5th anniversary at Barefoot Yoga Shala! It was surreal being surrounded by some of my favorite women who have been with me for some or all of this journey in entrepreneurship via my brick and mortar yoga studio. In truth, I’ve been working for myself for almost eight years on and off. It has been the most incredibly challenging & beautiful time and I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.
For the last few weeks in class, I have been announcing our upcoming round robin anniversary class. It’s free and an annual offering we give every year as a gift to our students. ALL my teachers and I lead a flow and we end class with cake! When I announce class I waver between joy and tears streaming down my face.
Many of you know me well and know that the last five years have been full of the highest highs and the deepest lows one could ever fathom. When I opened my studio, I was 28 years old and married to the love of my life. As we approach our fifth anniversary, I am now 33 and a single mom to the world’s best little boy. I am no longer married and in fact, that same person is no longer in either myself or my son’s life. I have fought like hell to keep us safe, to keep my business afloat and to continue pursuing this work and career that light me up from the inside out.
I couldn’t have done it without you.
Without the students who attend classes daily.
Without friends and family reading and sharing my facebook & instagram posts.
Without strangers sharing my poems on the internet.
Without a world behind me that believes in this mission.
I started my yoga studio with one intention: build a community.
I have seen that come to fruition over and over again.
Community Saves Lives + Brings Joy
The time Joyce Landry sprained her ankle on our yoga retreat when I was 7 months pregnant and Kendra Raymond, Sam Bishop, ALL the Smiths & Matt Wengratis carried her out of the woods like a wheelbarrow.
The first reiki circle held by Jacalynn and I where we could feel the power of everyone’s breath and collective love. Every new moon circle, solstice or equinox when we share our dreams and intentions.
The day Hannah called to remind me of how worthy I am and then hired herself to be my manager because she couldn’t imagine me ever failing.
Mary’s first class when I forced her to audition and then officially start the day prior when I was out of substitute options.
Carolyn saying YES to being by my side as I opened my doors, mere months before her 200 hour YTT graduation and a minute before she walked down the aisle with her high school sweetheart, both whom I’ve known for years.
Painting the studio. Every time. The first time with my cousins, friends & a bottle of wine. The time I got divorced and decided to celebrate by painting our lobby turquoise blue to match my newfound “Vissudha” voice alongside Amy, Libby & a bottle of something to keep us awake while we danced to music and colored outside the lines. The moments of stencils with our new intern, Melissa, Mary & an incredible funky flow playlist, while Bob Murphy dropped off waters to keep us hydrated.
Watching you dance in Funky Flow beside Mary or I.
Watching you cry. Ever. Always.
The moment Liz fell apart and Faby ran to her side to hold her. Afterwards, Liz looked at me and said “who was that wonderful soul who caught me?” She didn’t even know her name.
Julie Macneil walking in to make cookies and say hello to everyone. Karen Nathanson as our constant greeter. The Smith family who we love and miss deeply.
Cheryl, Sheryl, Steve & Sue who are the most loyal students in the world and whom I couldn’t have opened my studio to begin with. Mary Jane (who we also miss deeply) and Diana who may be my mama’s friends, but they are also mine.
Bridget and Becky believing in my writing again.
Graduating teacher trainees, creating Yoga for Families of Addiction, crying in savasana, watching couples hold hands.
Anyone who ever walked through our front door and said hello.
Gratitude isn’t a big enough word to encompass how I feel today.
I can’t speak these words out loud because I will cry. But you helped me build my dreams. You made everything I have ever wished for come true: a place where people feel loved and supported. A place where people can come to BE.
Growing up I lived in a world where I never felt “enough.” Not good enough to play sports or dance. Not good enough to be a journalist. Not good enough to fit into a particular model I wanted so deeply to belong in.
In the middle of my college years, I had no friends. (Save for one). A rumor had spread and I was alone. I had no one to hold me. No one to make sure I was okay. No one to save me from the voices inside my head reminding me that because I had no friends, I really WAS NOT good enough.
And then I started to meet them: Leisl, Richie, Ashley. Without these friends, without this tribe, I wouldn’t have remembered I mattered. When I did remember, I made it my mission to ensure I never forgot and to NEVER let anyone feel the way I did those years I was alone.
Barefoot is my home, my sanctuary, my place of refuge. Barefoot is a place you can come to practice, to rest, to dream, to soar, to learn, to play, to connect, to meet others, to find your tribe.
Barefoot is community.
This has easily been the fastest, hardest, slowest, most incredible five years of my life. I wouldn’t be here without the friends and family I have behind the scenes who support and push me daily. I wouldn’t be here without my students and readers reminding me it’s okay to believe in myself.
And for that, I am beyond grateful.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
P.s. After writing this article, I saw the most incredible display of kindness and love in our studio as we surrounded Barbara Shea with loving light during an injury. I couldn’t love this community more and am so blessed you’re a part of our lives.