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Q and A

When did you first recognize how fractured life in a female body can be?

I was in Politics and Prose, a bookstore in Washington, D.C., thumbing through an art book when I stumbled on a print of Picasso’s painting, Weeping Woman. The image, painted in 1937, depicts his vision of a woman’s response to the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. Her fragmented face, eyes shattered with grief, large tears dripping, and the disparate pieces of her thrown together like unmatched puzzle pieces stopped me cold, 


“It’s me,” I thought to myself, staring at the fractured woman, feeling the despair she telegraphed about our broken human bodies in our disjointed and dysfunctional world. 


Twenty years later, the trauma of watching my friends shot and killed split my life and self into even more shards but weeping would not fix me. I began patching back together my mind, body, heart, soul and spirt as one.   


What experience in your corporate background drove home your need to claim voice and soul?


I earned a six-figure salary as director of the Washington, D.C. office of the Times Mirror Corporation, which owned the Los Angeles Times, and a range of other media. My corner office on the 11th floor was hung with modern art and offered a view of the Washington Cathedral.  The perks were great but I was denied the VP title and salary held by my two male predecessors. I argued my case with my boss, a senior VP based in Los Angeles. He said, and I quote: “If we promote you to vice president, there are three other women we would have to also promote.” Lawsuit fodder, beyond a doubt, but I kept silent. 


The uber-masculinity of corporate America and Washington, D.C. exhausted me but also forced me to forge my place among many of the brightest people in our country. Several male mentors supported and urged me on, acting as diamond cutters who inspired me to hone my female voice and vision.  

Why did you move from Washington, D.C. to Tucson, Arizona?

My husband and I moved to the Sonoran Desert in 2003. Peter was a writer/producer for NBC radio and television in New York and Washington, D.C. and executive producer of National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation. We both quit our big jobs in Washington, D.C., sold our house and moved to Tucson where we knew no one. 


We hungered for a calmer life that came with the stark beauty of desert, the Catalina Mountains, coyotes, javalina, quail and Saguaro cactus. 


The heat began to burn out of me what no longer worked: false ways of being, attention to my outsides, and my fears of claiming my dreams, spirit and soul. My desert transformation was not immediate. More slow-bake than fast fry, but hardy and consistent, the landscape enfolds me in its quiet beauty. 


How did working for Gabby influence you?

My husband and I needed jobs when we moved to Tucson, and the position that best fit my background landed me in the center of state legislative politics. I was hired as vice president of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, a group of business leaders, and my boss introduced me to then-State Senator Gabrielle Giffords at her office in Phoenix.


My respect for her was instantaneous. Her smile, direct gaze, the strength of her handshake and genuine interest were as real as the Tucson landscape. She asked how I was adjusting. I told her it was a new world but I was learning. “Take this,” she offered and handed me her staff directory. “It’s got contact information for all the members of the House and Senate and their staff. It will be helpful.” 


Her kindness touched me, and I was honored four years later to be hired as her director of community outreach. I had the privilege of writing a number of her speeches for community events in Southern Arizona, and the sound of my words coming out of her mouth never failed to thrill. She has dedicated her life to public service. She is my hero.

Why is Yoga such an important part of your life? 

Yoga and breathwork saved my life after the shooting and my brother’s death. I was saturated with grief and anxiety that I could not talk my way out of. Yoga introduced me to the wonders of my body, and required all of me to show up, every day. 

I had practiced yoga for years but needed to go deeper so I enrolled in yoga teacher training in 2012 and immersed in anatomy and physiology. Thousands of downward dogs, side twists and inversion postures released anxiety and grief from my body. My core strengthened; my brain relaxed and my muscles released. Yoga spun its magic in my body. 


My greatest joy today is sharing yoga with others so they fall in love with their own bodies. My love affair with yoga is passionate. Commit and it will support you for life.

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