Kate is a member of the Just Be Yoga community that I’ve felt connected to from the moment I met her. She radiates joy and gratitude in everything that she does, and she has inspired me over the past few years with the tenacity she’s carried into each new adventure. Although I’ve always felt some form of connection to Kate, I didn’t fully know her story before I asked her to share it here as an Everyday Goddess. Her words have inspired me, and I know that they will spark something similar in many others as well.
“My full story is not as easy to tell as the edited version.”
Who are you? What is “your story?”
I am an activist, traveler, artist, poet, psychology nerd, outcast at times, yogi and yet undefined by all these titles.
I am a human that is constantly moving, constantly changing. I am passionate above anything else.
I am a work in progress.
My full story is not as easy to tell as the edited version, and even now I struggle to find the words. I am going to keep this real. I have written this and deleted this now multiple times.
I’ll start in reverse. I currently work for a global traveling non-profit. My job is to inspire hope in communities around the world and find community service projects in every new place I land in. I live out of a suitcase and travel to a new country or destination about every seven weeks, staying with a local family everywhere I go. I have no routine other than that on my mat, a self-practice I flow to everyday. I live an abundant life, my life is filled with inspiring people, insane nature and beauty, rich in culture and people; I have family all over the world, and teach yoga at least a couple of times in every new destination. Last year I travelled through 9 countries and lived in Indonesia, falling madly in love with the country and culture. My life is beautiful, still with it’s own challenges, but the past couple of years have been a serious dream. I am living in a reality I manifested for myself two years ago in the Santa Cruz mountains with my Just Be tribe on my last day of yoga teacher training. “And so it is, and so it is, and so it is…” My life was very different before then.
I struggled with an eating disorder starting when I was in first grade. This was prompted by a stomach condition I was born with, and while I didn’t fully understand it, I was so ashamed of my body. This shame led me to eat in the bathroom and hide my food starting at the age of seven years old. For medical reasons, I had stomach surgery by the time I reached second grade. By 2016 I had made huge progress over the years in nourishing my body and had obtained my B.A. in Psychology, and certifications in Personal Training and Health Coaching. I had completed years of eating disorder therapy and group therapy. I had put in my time with a nutritionist. I was now working as a Behavioral Therapist specializing in Applied Behavioral Analysis. I thought that I was, “over it.”
The truth was, I was just better as masking my disorder with certifications and a lifestyle and, “work ethic” of pushing myself. This lifestyle is pretty mainstream. I was pretty normal and I am you. We all mask something and give ourselves very good reasons to make it acceptable. And I slipped; the truth creeped up behind me and grabbed me when I was least expecting it. All it took was one day of not eating to feel dizzy and have an incredibly awful fall. I continued to workout and push my body with a torn meniscus. My exercising actually increased after my initial injury, until later that week I fell again, and this time I couldn’t get up or stand. I literally broke my body. I was broken; or at least that is what it felt like.
I was told I may never be able to walk normally again.
I underwent knee surgery and several months in a wheelchair. Complications left me without feeling in my left leg, feeling I am still trying to come back to.
“When everything was taken away from me, I was forced to love myself there.”
How did yoga fall into your life?
Once I regained some stability, I moved to a leg brace and crutches and began showing up to yoga. I couldn’t even hold a warrior pose but I showed up to class, even if it meant just learning how to be still and breathe. I remember just laying in the back of the room through classes, listening to the teachers cues and even staying in Shavasana, “sleeping pose” the entire time. I cried, a lot. I gained weight, a lot.
At a point after my surgery, I had had everything taken away from me; my apartment, control of my own food and nutrition, the ability to drive, the ability to go to the bathroom alone, to wash myself alone, my boyfriend that lived six hours away, my community, my job and the children I worked with, my ability to move…and this is what changed my life and what yoga is to me today. When everything was taken away from me, I was forced to love myself there. Even just a sitting, breathing being, I had to learn how to be enough for myself and then impact others from there.
Yoga didn’t fall into my life; yoga was a 6,000 pound pick up truck that ran me over, after I had already fallen down. Yoga was the family and support system I needed at the hardest point in my life. I began yoga teacher training at Just Be while I was still in recovery; teacher training beat me up in ways I hadn’t yet already discovered to do to my crippled, “healing” body. The spiritual side of yoga made me look in the mirror, find the ugliest bits of myself, my deepest fears, the parts of me that I never wanted anyone else to ever see, and I was forced to find compassion there. I fell into a romance with myself. I left a relationship that was no longer healthy because I was now whole. I left me apartment because I had found home in myself and wanted to keep exploring the inner workings of my mind, as well as the world. I left my job because…I was no longer scared of living and I realized I was capable of anything. I left everything behind, the self limiting beliefs and a world where I controlled everything, to a world where I controlled nothing but how I felt about myself and how much beauty I saw in other people; my life shifted from counting calories to counting countries and the number of people I was impacting through service projects. My reality changed to what it is today.
Yoga did not fall into my life; it was a 6,000 pound pick up truck that ran me over; it ruined my life as I knew it and gave me the opportunity to start over and begin to live.
“This body allows for me to make mistakes and it still provides a home for me to come back to.”
How has your relationship with your body changed over time?
My relationship with my body changes every 10 seconds because…I am human…and sometimes I bloat, or eat too much of something I love…but that is exactly what it is, a relationship. A relationship that is meant to be constantly changing, with good and bad times.
I love my body, not only for what it looks like but for what it allows me to do. This body allows me to walk, it is so incredible. My body gives me the ability to move, to make love, to dance, to run, to kneel down to meet the gaze of a baby. This body allows me to travel the world, these hands to touch shovels in planting a tree, adjust a yoga pose or touch a heart. This body allows for me to make mistakes and it still provides a home for me to come back to. I would love one day for others to feel the type of love for their body that I feel for my own because it is a love so deep that is doesn’t allow room for others to not love it in the same way.
What does it mean to you to be “strong?”
To be strong means to find what scares me shitless and go straight towards that (teaching yoga, traveling and living out of a suitcase, writing about my story, falling in love.) To be strong means to be vulnerable, to admit to my mistakes; be the first to say, “I am sorry.” To be strong means to nurture my body and know I am always enough. To be strong means to create healthy boundaries, to not overwork, over text, under eat, overeat, oversleep, or all of the other ways us humans choose to numb out at times. To be strong means to never again settle for a relationship, career or lifestyle just because it is “comfortable.” I want my life to light me up so much that I can light up the lives of other people. I want to feel it all, the deepest lows and the highest highs; to me there is nothing stronger than that.
“I want my life to light me up so much that I can light up the lives of other people.”
Describe the fearlessly authentic you.
The fearlessly authentic me reads poetry at open mics. She volunteers around the world. She allows herself to fall in love. She writes words that are hard to piece together into sentences and she shares these words, despite how terrifying they may be. She eats chocolate cake without feeling guilty, and even says, “ l love you,” after to the belly bloat; she teaches yoga as much as she can to whoever will listen, creates art regularly and cries unapologetically. She allows herself to be seen.