"I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of opportunities that come my way and I work really really hard. Don't call me lucky. Call me a badass."
THIS PROJECT IS MY ATTEMPT TO CAPTURE A GLIMPSE INTO THE LIVES OF THE BEAUTIFUL, TALENTED, AND ENDLESSLY UNIQUE WOMEN IN MY COMMUNITY.
I recently took a solo long weekend trip to visit my sister in Lake Tahoe. Since I was traveling sans children it was the perfect opportunity to reach out and take some pictures. I asked my sister if she knew of anyone who would be a good fit for my Badass Women project. She instantly recommended a friend named Taylor. Her quick bio, via Kendall, was something about pilates, helping people with spinal injuries walk again, and that she was insanely beautiful.
So after our brief meeting I would have to second that. She is in fact insanely beautiful, but so much more than her physical appearance. She is warm, gracious, and inviting. I witnessed her inner beauty emerge as she spoke of using her resources as a pilates instructor in partnership with the High Fives organization. She is passionate, determined, and I have the sneaking suspicion that when she sets her mind on something WATCH OUT!
There are so many wonderful women who are following their own unique paths and doing amazing things. I am so grateful that Taylor made time for me and was willing to share a bit of her story. I am also thrilled to share more about High Fives and the amazing work that they are doing. Truly inspirational. Do take a moment to watch one of their videos.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Incline Village, Lake Tahoe, Nevada
ROLES IN LIFE: Wife, Pilates Instructor, Former Ballet Dancer
FAVORITE NEIGHBORHOOD GO TO: A lounge chair on Incline Beach or enjoying the view and a Golden Eagle drink on the dock at Lone Eagle
FAVORITE QUOTE OR MANTRA: "May you be well, happy, and peaceful." Bhante Sujatha, my Buddhist Monk
WHAT IS HIGH FIVES AND HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED?
High Fives is a Non-Profit foundation, based in Truckee, CA. It was founded by Roy Tuscany. The Tahoe-based foundation supports the dreams of mountain action sports athletes by raising injury prevention awareness while providing resources and inspiration to those who suffer life altering injuries.
My introduction personally (in addition to knowing about them through local Tahoe life) to the High Fives Foundation was after my husband suffered a snow boarding accident in March 2015. Michael hit a tree while snowboarding at Mount Rose and sustained a pubic symphysis diastasis, broken tibia, fractured L3, and dislocated his shoulder. The accident left Michael with some broken bones, a pelvic surgery and ankle surgery, and as a result he spent 3 months in a wheel chair. We were so grateful that the accident did not leave him with a life altering injury or a spinal cord injury as many others have not been so lucky.
The amazing people of the High Fives Foundation reached out to us to see how they could help us. After having an informational meeting about what they provide we decided not to apply for a grant because Michael's injuries were going to heal with time. He would be okay. We also didn't want to take any resources away from anyone who needed them more. High Fives was gracious enough to offer their facilities for rehabilitation and we were introduced to their amazing healing practitioners who had offices in the center. We thank their acupuncturist- Barbara Ferrero- in helping Michael heal so fast, she does incredible work.
It was in this meeting that the fire was ignited within me. I was feeling stuck within my career and needed more (even thought I would be going to helicopter school to change it up). This was my answer but it was so more than that, it was more than feeding my selfish unhappiness. I wanted to help this demographic because on a small level I could relate with a glimpse of how quickly life as you know it can change. Everyone with a spinal cord injury is different and how it effected their body is different. Some people will walk again and some will not. To lose any sense of mobility changes everything you know about basic daily tasks we take for granted. Dreams and goals for what you wanted your life to be change as well. If I could help someone gain any ounce of mobility back then I was apart of positive change and apart of creating normalcy in their life.
This, this is what fuels me. I never want anyone to feel less than.
WHEN YOU WERE SPEAKING YOU WERE VERY PASSIONATE AND ENERGIZED ABOUT YOUR WORK. WHAT IS IT THAT YOU DO AND ARE WORKING ON?
I am always working on something, I have a hard time sitting still. I have a short time here and want to do so much.
I am currently a Pilates instructor, working mostly with privates and a few occasional group classes at Purely Pilates in Reno, NV. I am also a faculty member for Balanced Body where I teach their Pilates teacher training program at Purely Pilates and as an on-site trainer- traveling to studios and gyms around the west coast.
Working with clients with spinal cord injuries has now become a new passion for me and I am a newbie in the game but have the fire to help as much as I can. I am currently working at Purely Pilates and at the High Fives Foundation with my clients who have spinal cord injuries. I hope to transition to working with this demographic more and possibly exclusively. Time will tell.
I have seen some amazing things happen in the short time I have been working with SCI clients. I know that Pilates is helping people reconnect neuropathways.
WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO ACCOMPLISH?
A lot. I would first like more education in how I can use Pilates to be the modality onto which I help my clients with SCI. We can always be learning more. There is so much to learn, even just about spinal cod injuries but feeling a little "stuck" with my educational options at the moment.
I am also wanting to join forces with a some amazing individuals I have met who can help provide personal experience. To help develop better programs people need shortly after injury and on. And one day I hope a program to educate Pilates instructors on how to work with this demographic will be developed. We need to be working on a larger scale with more people who want to help.
I would like to see hospitals utilize other modalities, such as Pilates, to help the rehab process while patients are still in the hospital system. I have seen so many amazing things continue to develop after insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, and traditional forms of rehab have given up on patients. They say time is of the essence, so think of what we can reconnect if we get moving sooner.
I would also like to make Pilates a viable form of therapy that insurance companies will recognize for coverage. I know, I have enough to start with right there.
WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE AND HOW CAN PEOPLE HELP?
The foreseen challenges I face will be with medical/ insurance world. In trying to provide therapy for all and for insurance companies to consider Pilates as a covered form of therapy we will have to do a clinical study to show data backing Pilates as progressive work in their pursuits of more mobility/ less pain. I don't feel I have the knowledge of how to run a study, so teaming up with someone, or a team of people, who is willing to take on the study is what I need to become apart of. I have some thoughts and ideas towards this. We just have to connect the "people dots" and get the right people in place.
In the meantime, I have been looking into grant opportunities for all because funding for an individuals therapy is an on going issue. High Fives Foundation is amazing but can only provide help for a limited amount of people. So, for those who do not qualify to receive a grant we have to look elsewhere. I am continuing to do my research of organizations that can help us but I haven't come upon much.
Also, I have been researching other workshops and educational programs I can attend to help my knowledge of spinal cord injuries, neurological issues, and therapies to help both. Education is going to really help me become a critical thinking teacher and a quicker problem solver, as no one injury or body is the same as the next.
How one can help is to donate to the Fives Foundation to help them continue on with the amazing work they are doing for so many deserving people.
If someone is wanting to help on a personal level, I do work with two clients who are paying out of pocket for their therapy sessions with me and do need financial assistance. To help fund them, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT DOES BALANCE MEAN TO YOU?
Balance is everything for me. It is my secret to my sanity and to my happiness. It is my yin and my yang. It is the way in which I am able to accomplish my goals yet not get to obsessed or entangled in them. It is the way I balance happiness in my inner and outer self- what I give to myself and what I give to my world. When my balance is off I can't keep my plates spinning and they come crashing down to the ground. Thus, it is important for me to listen to it, to observe it and nurture all sides.
TIME TO BRAG...WHAT DO YOU KICK BUTT AT:
I kick butt at pointing my toes and freaking people out with my foot mobility. My feet are now starting to age from the years of dancing but I think I like it. It shows they have done a lot and have been a lot of places. I used to hide them but now I don't.
I think I'm pretty good at connecting with people that I'm interested in. I really like people- learning about/from them, observing their behaviors, and of course watching how they move (that's what I've picked for a career). People are truly fascinating and when you have have a personal connection with them it makes you feel like you are apart of something bigger. Community is everything to me. I also believe we have many "soul mates". They are the people that I feel instantly and strongly connected to, the ones I learn the most from and the ones wouldn't trade for anything in this world.
WHAT CHALLENGES YOU?
Time management. I feel there is so much to do but we have so little time. And when you are here on this planet to move mountains, timing is everything.
WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS?
I would like people to understand that they need to put their oxygen mask on before they can help others. Your life/ happiness is dependent on it. It can be that simple yet that hard.
But with that being said, we are also here to serve each other. To connect and help one another survive and succeed in whatever our dreams lead us to. I do believe that there is this circular energetic wheel that we spin on- that if we take care of each other the universe will take care of us. That is, if you give you will receive. Call it karma or whatever you'd like but it does provide peace in those moments when I fear I have less than- money, love, confidence, happiness, or whatever.
Another message is to never to stop learning and continue to seek knowledge in all things that interest you. We do not stop learning and we should never stop learning. Knowledge can create such change for the better. Change can be scary for some but is progressive and needed. Knowledge can also lead to you new passions or interests you did not see coming.
The one who thinks they know it all has the most learning to do.
WHAT DO YOU MAKE SPACE FOR ON A REGULAR BASIS? AS IN WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAY TO DAY OR WEEKLY BASIS THAT HELPS EVERYTHING ELSE RUN SMOOTHLY?
1. I make space for moving my body. If it is going to a yoga class, getting on the Pilates equipment to move for 5 minutes, or just stretching after I have been sitting or stagnant for a while. It's a way for me to connect within- what do I feel, what areas needs attention and why. Not to mention, releasing tension in my body helps me to continue to give to others in the vehicles of my body and mind.
Studies show our emotions effect our fascial system (our connective tissues that lies everywhere within our body). I believe we store emotions in our bodies and we feel it physically, you know what I am talking about, I know you have felt it before. So, we need to move for processing life's twists and turns, so we are not "trapped by fear".
2. Reflection, giving gratitude, and having quiet time. I like to stop and learn from what is going on. Not saying that I am perfect with it but when I do, I feel the lessons are right there in front of us. That the answers lie within us, we just have to listen. Saying thank you goes a long way. Giving your thanks for all you have and all you are shows you are present and that you care. I don't have a normal mediation practice going on at the moment ( I go in and out of my Loving Kindness mediation practice, that I learned from my dear friend and Buddhist monk, Bhante Sujatha) but I do participate in my own form of mediation on the days I do not get to practice. It is my time I sit quiet and observe my thoughts. During this time I find my answers. Most of the time it is when I am driving either to or from work or even when I am in the shower. My favorite place to sit quiet is at the beach, staring into the beautiful waters of Lake Tahoe.