March 2, 2020

How a little white girl from Texas made Fear her Greatest Coach.

I am a full-time teacher.

I teach many things: yoga, mindfulness, self-defense, women’s empowerment, first aid, emotional resiliency, and stress management.

I am also a full-time student. Not in a university, but a dedicated student of “what makes me uncomfortable.” Like it or not, fear is my greatest coach.

I believe wholeheartedly that “Perfection is the enemy of greatness.” So the days I feel immobilized and question, “Who am I to lead? Who am I to teach?”—I just show up. As is. Beautifully broken. I trust something greater is moving. I am just a conduit.

Yesterday, I had an emotionally tough morning. I had doubts I’d be able to pull it together. So, I trusted the practice of “just showing up.”

A kickboxing student of mine had ordered an Uber for me to visit a Maryland hospital where she works as a trauma surgeon.

She asked if I’d come teach martial arts and mindfulness to a group of men who were fresh out of surgery—one with 17 gunshot wounds, and one who said he had only been “sliced.” The others introduced themselves nonchalantly as “being shot,” like someone in D.C. might mention where they work.

These men were all lucky to be alive.

How was I, a little white girl from Texas with no real street cred, going to teach them anything?

I walked into the old auditorium and saw seven men slumped into seats—some couldn’t walk. F*ck. What was I going to do?

I took my backpack off, with boxing gloves attached, and decided to transform.

I did a power squat, closed my eyes, and felt fire. Our collective fire.

I was here. They were here. We were here. Why not create magic?

I unarmed my imaginary gun and shot from the hip of intuition. I led them through a guided meditation, and then talked about trauma, the body, grounding, breath, and other disarming questions like:

“I know what you may be thinking: who is this little white girl, running her mouth?”

That’s a good question. Some days I don’t know, either. If I don’t teach you mindfulness and martial arts, perhaps I can just be comic relief. I’m not really funny, but I’m silly, and I know laughter is healing medicine.

I have learned realness and vulnerability are the shortest bridges to connection.

So instead of asking, “Who am I to teach?” I ask myself, “Who am I not to?”

That question changed everything. I entered a flow state—no, we entered a flow. There was spontaneity, laughter, imperfection, and trust.

And at the end of a 45-minute “mindful boxing” session, I felt connected to these men. I felt love, gratitude, and mutual respect.

I will be going back regularly and will always lead with the question, “Who am I not to?”

I invite you to join me. Because life is too short to do anything less than simply show up.


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?“

~ Marianne Williamson

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