I connected with Lauren in a local yoga studio lobby in Humboldt County, and immediately knew she belonged in the Badass Women series here on Alive in the Fire. Lauren is a visionary artist, yoga teacher and creator of Breathing Bridges, a unique theater project that features an outdoor performance adventure in northern California.
Thank you, Lauren, for sharing your fearlessness and your empowering story.
What sorts of things do you do to connect in with your inner goddess / warrior woman badass energy?
To connect with my inner goddess, warrior woman badass energy, I dance, anywhere. In a studio, on the beach, by the river, in a club, in my car. I practice and teach yoga, and acro yoga. I meditate. I do hand mudras. I write, a lot. Poems, journaling, short stories. I kayak, I rig myself from bridges. I camp, I cook, listen to music. I swim naked as much as possible. I perform. Dance, stand up, physical theater. Anything that demands my honesty, presence, and creativity really.
What has shaped your journey to this point in your life?
My journey has been shaped mostly by the beautiful natural world I got to grow up in. The wild coastlines, redwoods, and especially the Smith River continually to call me home and draw some sort of inner truth out of me. And "failed relationships," head trauma, depression, self doubt, a decision to stop "shoulding on myslef" and follow my curiosities and passions.
At the age of eighteen, I declined my acceptance to UC Berkeley, where I had dreamed of studying my entire high school career, and followed my high school boyfriend to UC Davis. Not only did I give up Berkeley for this boy, I also continued to fulfill the stories I had been told my whole life about who I was and what my family, job, etc "should" look like. I let my self-doubt lead me to study exercise biology, instead of focusing on my true passion, performance and adventure.
Then I got engaged and hit by a car my freshman year. The mild brain damage, combined with a stifling relationship, self doubt, fear and isolation sent me into a pretty deep two-year depression. It wasn't until I let go of a bit of pride and revealed what I thought was too shameful, that I was depressed and needed to make some changes. I started dancing and performing again, and met some awesome , strong, sweet, kind, honest, creative, compassionate people and began trying to be more honest myself, even though it was scary.
I eventually got out of the relationship, and went on what has now been a three year solo journey to cultivate Creative Wellness in my life. I taught dance at a Waldorf school, substitute taught, moved to Colorado and raft guided, went on a three week boating trip down the grand canyon, fucked up my knee jumping off a cliff, moved home, taught movement in the schools, tried my best to listen to the voices inside while family and friends pressured me to make some sort of career moves, moved to Hood River with 200 dollars, a truck and a kayak, met a friend, stayed behind her couch, started finding friends to boat with. I left after about nine months to head back to the Bay area where my creative supporters lived and started this Creative Wellness Collective I've been directing for the last few months called Breathing Bridges.
What practices help you stay grounded and help you rejuvenate?
What would you tell a woman who needs help tapping in to her inner strength?
I would tell a woman that needs help tapping into her inner strength, 'Go do something you have always wanted to do, and even better, to do it by yourself.'
Try something new. Whether that be a two-mile hike alone, a three-month journey abroad, an art class, a surf lesson, tickets to the opera, or a strip club. Whatever it is.
I think finding things that make us happy even if we don't have someone to share them with build self trust and respect. To share vulnerabilities, to find and create communities where you can be honest and ask for help. To get curious, becoming engaged in your own experience, letting go of "should's."
Where will you go from here? Any badass plans for this new year?
The Creative Wellness Collective I have found myself directing called Breathing Bridges is gaining momentum. We are putting on our first Outdoor Performance Adventure along the Smith River this Aug. 19th and 20th, more information and tickets are available at www.breathingbridges.com.
After that I am hoping to travel to another river and community and get funding to direct another Breathing Bridges Project, finding ways to cultivate Creative Wellness in our lives, communities, and in the bodies of water that connect us all through creativity, adventure, classes, workshops, and community outreach.
PS Meet three other badass yoginis who love being out on the water: