HI! I'm Stephannie
I'm a yoga therapist, reluctant writer and speaker, recovering stress case, unavoidable artist, mama, intuitive entrepreneur, lover of adventure, compassionate truth-teller, and getting stronger and more confident every day.
Right now, my journey feels like learning to flourish.
I've experienced this in 3 stages.
Stage 1. I changed my relationship with stress.
This is fundamental to personal growth. Chronic stress keeps us in survival mode, damages our well-being, and is the key to understanding what we need. I've learned to use a few simple tools to regulate my nervous system which has expanded my capacity to grow from life's challenges. Learning to use my stress response as a support system was a turning point in my life and the reason I do what I do!
Stage 2. I'm learning to work with my brain and heart.
Our brains are prone to being unsettled, restless, and confused which drowns out the wisdom of our hearts. Changing our minds and tuning to the heart is the key to mental/emotional balance. I'm using my brain to automate habits that help me flourish and pursuing positive psychology to train my brain and heart to work together and cultivate the thoughts and feelings I want to experience in my life.
Stage 3. I surrender to a divine transformation.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience. And we're here to discover how to connect with and continually align with our spirit. This is an ongoing path of transformation as our lives unfold and the key to spiritual awakening. I'm learning to see every circumstance on my journey as purposeful, to trust my path, and to approach my life with ever-deepening wholehearted authenticity.
Here's what I know for sure.
YOU are all right. (All of you.) YOU are the most important person in your life. YOU have everything you need inside. YOU are the one to listen to and make choices for you. YOU are what you've been searching and waiting for.
My job is to help you learn how to trust yourself and rely on your inner wisdom so that you can love yourself and your journey.
The start of my personal development journey.
There was a time in my life when my stress and self-doubt were so intense they initiated a body-focused repetitive behavior. I pulled on my eyebrows and eyelashes. And eventually pulled them all out.
One day I saw—really saw—myself in the bathroom mirror.
I saw that I was on a hamster wheel of overwhelm and self-doubt, perpetually struggling but desperately wanting to feel better.
Seeing myself with no eyebrows or eyelashes was a low point and at that moment, something inside of me knew I had a choice to make:
I could stay stuck in the patterns running my life or take ownership of my experience.
A simple choice led to a big breakthrough.
I resolved to do everything I could to take charge of this one stress-fueled behavior. So, when I caught myself feeling for eyebrows and eyelashes to pull on (that weren't even there), I’d bend over and take a few deep breaths, and repeat to myself, you can stop.
And I felt better right away!
At first, I only felt better for a few minutes at a time, but the experience showed me something that changed my life, and that I still use today.
Stress is your body and mind's way of asking for a change.
During the next year, I kept forward bending when I felt stressed. I’d breathe slowly and focus my attention on what I actually wanted to feel at that moment—and it worked every time. Just a little at first, but more and more with practice.
My eyebrows and eyelashes slowly, slowly started to grow back, but more importantly, this simple practice was becoming a force for small, but potent shifts that were making a big difference in my life.
Then I found yoga.
I discovered that my forward bending, slow breathing, and focusing my attention, were part of this ancient, healing system. So I started practicing and studying it and quickly realized I was meant to learn and experience and share all of it.
In 2004, I became a Certified Yoga Therapist and for the next decade taught yoga therapy for stress in yoga studios, hospitals, businesses, and to students 1:1 in my private studio.
Throughout this decade of teaching hundreds of stressed-out students, it became clear—the insights and practices that helped me change my relationship with stress facilitate breakthrough personal growth for everyone who made it a part of their life.
So in 2014, I created Make Peace with Stress to offer these insights and practices as a structured curriculum.
I've been honored to guide and support many amazing humans like you through the Make Peace with Stress group program and at these prestigious institutions:
My brain and heart's extraordinary adventure.
In my early 40s, I started having some unfamiliar and confusing feelings: an attraction to women. I was married to a man and we had 2 kids. To say the least, this sent me into a state of inner turmoil for several years. I coped by gaslighting myself, withdrawing emotionally, smoking pot at night to numb my feelings, and overdrinking in social situations in an attempt to be more comfortable around others while my inner voice was screaming out in agony.
Despite my best efforts, and without comprehending why or how it was true, I finally admitted to myself: I'm gay.
It was the end of 2017 and I decided I was going to live with this secret forever. I was terrified and there was too much at stake: my marriage, family, sense of security, and life-long identity. And then I told one person.
The heart knows things that the mind can't explain.
Coming out to someone I trusted quite literally sent my heart soaring. My fear was still predominant but there was also a glimmer of feeling liberated. And deep down I knew I had to follow that feeling.
The first thing I did was get sober. I wanted to be clear-headed, to be able to trust myself and articulate what was happening.
In January 2019, I came out to my husband. It was one of the hardest, most vulnerable, and honest things I've ever done. But my heart and mind finally felt in sync.
I broke open a million times during the next couple of years.
Navigating a separation during a global pandemic, falling in love again, moving out of the home I loved and raised my kids in, being on my own for the first time in 20+ years, and otherwise changing nearly everything about my life was an epic adventure.
And each time the pendulum swung from fear and shame and worry to hope and faith and love, I paused at the center to feel and be. I knew this ability to hold my awareness in my heart would keep me connected to the inner guidance I've come to trust over everything else.
Now I'm learning how to flourish.
I honestly didn't think turning 50 was that big of a deal. Sure I celebrated, but I didn't have a sense that (another) turning point was on the horizon.
Maybe it was the combination of a few epic adventures, sending my oldest off to college, experiencing heartbreak and being single for the first time in 25 years, feeling deeply dissatisfied with my work, and entering perimenopause that the first year of my 50s asked me to level up in a big way. Brené Brown nails it:
Midlife is when the universe places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I'm not screwing around. All of this pretending and performing—these coping mechanisms that you've developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt—has to go.
So I'm learning and growing and committed to trusting my journey to the best of my ability. I (mostly) embrace the ebb and flow and allow myself to feel the pull of my next awakening as it unfolds each moment.
My approach to life is with ever-deepening wholehearted authenticity.
As a result, my work is more powerful than ever. I offer what feels most present for me at any time and therefore most potent, meaningful, and valuable.
I aim to unapologetically be who I am and to share my journey to inspire and empower you. To show you that you are not alone. I see you. I love you. And if you want my guidance and support on your journey, I'm here.