The Formal Introduction
Prior to my coaching practice, I was a SNAP nutrition educator, office manager at a booming wellness center, culinary instructor focused on wild & ancestral foods, and inspired leadership facilitator on issues ranging from gender justice to climate change.
While I loved this work deeply, I desperately craved being with people in the tender and cracked open moments of life. The moments that were too easy to pass over when going to care for another person first or looking at the bigger goal.
In addition, I had a profound personal shift when I discovered the work of Dr. Elaine Aron, specifically her book The Highly Sensitive Person. So many of the painful discrepancies between my inner and outer world were reconciled by her stories and research. I was able to accept who I am in ways I didn’t ever imagine were possible. As a practitioner, if I can be this doorway for others to receive a similar gift, I will do so with joy and great humility.
The Casual Cup of Tea: A Tapestry of Stories
I was raised by the sound of the ocean. Literally. Always collecting feathers on our family beach walks. Mussel shells, too, who were once stuck to something so much greater than the cup of my small pink hand. The power of the natural forces taught me early on about respect and humility. I was a human and just a human.
In elementary school, an adult grey whale beached on the shore just a mile from my home. Barnacles and soft, warming skin, the whale’s stench was atrocious. The marine services tied a rope to its tail and did their best to pull the magnificent being back into the depths. It rolled back to shore in the tides. Things do die. Death guides our experience of life if we let death in.
My paternal Grandmother got her wings on when she was 102 years old. I held her soft hands with large blue veins one of those last visits. Grandma, I asked. Are you afraid of death? Oh no, child, she said. The angels have always told me they will take me gently home. This faith of hers pulses in my blood and is woven in my spirit.
Moving to rural Alaska changed everything about my life. I flew in with my fresh-out-of-college optimism, a Feminist Studies degree (with honors), and years of global travel under my feet. Then my world turned upside-down. An elder I met my first month there told me that he had never left the State. I watched my judgment and curiosity arise. My inner question was something like, What are you doing with your life? The question back to me was, Where do you belong? Was there any place on earth that I knew the river channels and sandbars like the back of my hand over each turn of season? Did I know the language of my ancestors? Where did I know I belonged? I stepped back from my assumptions of my own sense of self. I sat down in that community for six years and observed. I offered the gifts that were asked of me. And everyone was my teacher.
Do you remember your proclaimed childhood profession? One day I’m gonna be… For me, it was often a veterinarian or wildlife photographer. I didn’t realize being a creative entrepreneur or Embodiment Coach was an option at the time. An artist whose name I don’t recall has a song lyric that says, The further you look, the further you see.
I’ve been afraid of my gender identity most of my life. It feels strange to admit this, but it is true. I grew up with three brothers and wasn’t so excited about the idea of being a girl. At this crisis moment, I repainted my Sweet Pea pink room a Fern green. A midwife once showed me pictures of a woman giving birth. I was so afraid of my body after that. In high school, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). The elevated testosterone in my system perhaps was the answer to my wish to not become a woman. A huge piece of my healing story has meant welcoming back my cisgender identity. Learning to sway my hips with joy and trust the incredible power of my feminine energy. I’ve been moving back into my womb space for years…the healing taking time. Each time I say my she/her pronouns is a reminder of this healing. This inner story cracked open my hunger to work with women and our journey of full embodiment. Some people may never see this part of my story. They may never know. I needed you to know.
My favorite kitchen get-funky song as a child was Montell Jordan’s This Is How We Do It. Oh, how my feet would move. My work now is to bring that bad-ass child I knew myself to be onto the dance floor of my adult life and let her do her thing. Full on.
I had a heart crisis when I was in 3rd grade. Somehow I believed that I was different from other real children because I had a machine heart. We were taking each other’s pulses after exercise class one day. I was mortified my partner would find out. Perhaps my work has always been to find the real heart of my humanity, in our humanity.
It was a season of depression. Luckily I was stewarding my family’s 5-acre home. This made it easy to discover that removing invasive plants, mulching fruit trees, and collecting acorns was the best broken heart medicine for me. I had recently read that soaproot (Chlorogalum grandiflorum) bloomed at night. Perhaps I too could bloom in this dark time? I held to the threads of hope I could find. At sunset one night I squatted next to a community of soaproot. The light dimmed with her usual grace. 10. 20. 30 minutes. Sure enough, one by one, the tension of the white tepals grew to my wit’s end and then- pop- all at once the flower opened. Hope, I thought. I too will be pollinated in the night.
Two weeks ago I found a free rocking chair on the side of the dusky curb just a block from my house. A no-brainer, it now sits on our back deck. I will read several books in that chair this summer. Soft worn cushion. Rocking away.
– – –
Leah’s calming energy creates a safe space for everyone. She is an adept listener, incredibly encouraging and has an uncanny knack for uncovering hidden issues. More importantly, she can help others navigate to a better place.
— Kerri Nelson, Professional Colleague
– – –
I want you to know the line of teachings I bring with me to this work. Rachael Jayne Groover, Brené Brown, Laurie Wagner, Bari Tessler, Center for Sacred Studies, Rita Blumenstein, Marie Meade, Indigenous Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, my mother & father and their family lineages, White Raven Center, Schumacher Center for New Economics, the spirit of the Oak Tree (Quercus spp.), the community of Bethel, Alaska, the Christian faith, my beautiful web of friends and family, the spirits of the land, the song of the waters, my well ancestors, personal angels, animal guides, and spiritual counsel.
Honoring Indigenous Peoples
In honoring the indigenous peoples and ancestral lineages that were the first stewards and rightful caretakers of all the lands that I have lived upon, I want to list those tribal communities here. I honor these ancestors and pray for and with all living descendants of these resilient lineages.
Montara, California: Muwekma-Ohlone, Costanoans. Santa Cruz, California: Amah-Mutsun, Muwekma-Ohlone, Costanoans, Ohlone-Rumsen, Ohlone-Costanoan-Esselen Nation. Bethel, Alaska: Yup’ik. Nevada County, California: Nisenan. Portland, Oregon: Chinook Nation.
**Check out Native-Lands.com to learn more about the native communities that are the original stewards and inhabitants of the lands you now call home.**