Here's a brief history of how I got here, and what my credentials are. The poppy field in this photo is a tribute to my homeland of so-called California.
ONE VERSION OF MY STORY
Because there are infinite ways to narrate your life.
I grew up in an isolated suburb of Los Angeles. My brother is eight years older than me, my two half-sisters are 20 years old than me, and all my cousins lived in Texas, so I was starved for beloved community. By the time I was a teenager, I recognized that my pain was not just my own. Why was feeling a secure sense of belonging to a community where we could truly be ourselves so rare?
So in college I pursued a self-designed Bachelor's Degree in Cooperative Economics, blending psychology, sociology, and economics. My dream was to help develop life-sustaining, relationship-building economic systems for people to exchange within that rewarded activity that enhanced, rather than exploited, people and planet. On the ground I joined consumer co-ops, co-directed a sustainable living demonstration home, helped start a co-operatively owned food truck, and lived in co-operative housing. If it had "co-" in the name, I was in!
My trajectory changed course after my heart was broken open during a Theatre of the Oppressed class, a form of community-based education that uses theater as a tool for social change.
We were doing an exercise called "Victory and Defeat." Arranged in two concentric circles facing each other, the inner circle held poses that embodied the experience of defeat and the outer circle, which I was a part of, held poses of victory. For a whole minute we looked into each other's eyes, holding our poses, before moving to the next person. It. felt. like. e. tern. i. ty.
My whole body was flooded with emotion. Sorrow, compassion, anger, fear, guilt, regret. I connected with the suffering of the being kneeling before me so whole-heartedly, and emotionally connected with my ability to do harm like never before.
I suddenly understood, with my whole being, that systems of domination and violence aren't just out there — they are also within. Well-intentioned people, like you and me, create systems of power, privilege, and oppression, starting with ourselves and our closest relationships. I realized that lasting social change wasn't possible without radical personal change.
So instead of helping develop life-sustaining economic systems for people to exchange within, I was called to help people develop life-affirming internal systems to operate from.
I dove heart-first into experiential practices for self and community healing and development. I fell in love with modalities like Mindfulness Meditation, Non-Violent Communication, the Work that Reconnects, Psychodrama, Playback Theater, and Dances of Universal Peace.
In the midst of my graduate training in Drama Therapy at the California Institute of Integral Studies, I withdrew to move to Kansas to pursue a love. The plan was to move back to California after a major transition was over for my then-partner, but after we broke up and I finished my Master's Degree in Drama Therapy at Kansas State University, I realized that I had found beloved community in Lawrence, Kansas.
I also found the love of my life in a small-town Kansas man and birthed a baby with him. We live with our dog and cat in a co-housing community of 20-ish units in East Lawrence. Our family loves singing, dancing, and snuggling with our Universal Sufi friends; taking walks, riding bikes, and chatting with our neighbors; and joining potlucks, playing outside, and getting into shenanigans with our community of young families. We'll see what more fun our child brings as she grows (born February, 2018!)
Some highlights of my relevant experience
MA IN DRAMA THERAPY
I completed my Masters in Drama Therapy at Kansas State University, though I began it at the California Institute of Integral Studies. The curriculum included various creative and expressive art therapies and applications for special populations.
March 2014 - Present
EXPRESSIVE ARTS GROUP FACILITATOR
Some groups I've offered include public workshops for emotional resilience in the face of global crisis, community-building sessions for members of a housing cooperative, therapeutic groups for troubled teens, and a support group for white-identified anti-racist radicals.
November 2014 - July 2019
DIRECTOR OF TRANSFORMATIVE LANGUAGE ARTS NETWORK
The TLA Network supports people in using the power of words — written, spoken, and sung — to elicit personal and communal transformation. I had the great privilege to work with incredible writers, poets, storytellers, therapists, educators, and more.
June 2012 - Present
NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION PRACTITIONER
Living in the Bay Area of California gave me extraordinary access to trainings and group practices of Non-Violent Communication. This style of communication embodies empathy and healthy boundaries with such clarity that I've never turned back.
January 2007 - Present
I first encountered mindfulness in a yoga class, bringing non-judgmental observation of my felt experience to my moving practice. Since then I've expanded my meditation practice to include Buddhist Vipasana, Taoist Tai Chi Chuan, and Sufi Dances and Walks.
CERTIFIED DUP LEADER
The Dances of Universal Peace (DUP) are a body of songs and circle dances inspired and influenced by the world's spiritual traditions. Certified dance leaders demonstrate a proficiency in leading the dances as well a commitment to spiritual practice and mastery.
It is important to note that I am not a licensed mental health clinician, and thus my services are not a substitute for medical care. If you want a diagnosis or treatment for a mental health disorder, please seek a licensed mental health clinician. I am happy to provide referrals!