"I always felt that I was living my personal purpose being a schoolteacher, but I
discovered I wasn’t fully. I had a bigger message to share...I think when you’re not fully aligned with your best gifts, it drains your energy and adds to that exhaustion you feel."
Hey there! Thanks for popping in to my 5 Freedoms Life. I’m your host, Suzanne Klein, an educator-turned-entrepreneur with a 5 Freedoms life, teaching you how to have one, too! Before we get started, I want you to take a deep breath. Open your mind, and set your intention for the transformation to begin.
My next guest is all about creating a sacred space for women to heal their bodies,
minds, and souls, so that they can continue to heal the planet. She’s a sacred business mentor, and the founder of Divine Feminine Yoga. She has directed seven online conferences highlighting women’s empowerment through yoga, where she offers coaching, retreats, online courses, and leadership training for women worldwide. It brings her great joy to help other women find their soul’s purpose. An Om welcome to a fellow meditator, Laura Cornell. Thank you, Laura, for being here!
Hi Suzanne! Thank you for inviting me to this summit for educators. Teachers wanting to be entrepreneurs—it’s great!
Laura, you were a teacher in California some years ago, but we both know that a
lot—and very little at the same time—has changed in education. What was it back
then that led you to step away from the classroom?
That’s a great question. I was a teacher for almost 20 years, in both private and public schools. Some of it full-time, some part-time; I stepped away in stages rather than all at once. I didn’t go cold turkey; I think that’s hard.
You know, the same thing that brought me in to teaching may be what made me step
away. I originally became a teacher because I wanted to contribute to the evolution of consciousness at this time on our planet. I was a physics major in college, if you can believe it! And by the end of college I was really tired of math—it was not how I wanted to spend my life.
So I’m like, “What am I going to do with the physics degree?” I knew I didn’t want to do graduate school. By the time I got to my senior year with no preparation for any career, I decided to be a teacher. I have always loved kids, and I thought that teaching would be a way I could contribute to making our world a better place. I taught high school science, then I taught middle school, and then got an elementary
credential. I was a Spanish bilingual teacher for several years; I still have that credential. And I was exhausted. Teaching can be so physically draining. Long hours and...really, it was yoga that helped me. Before I discovered yoga, about six years into teaching, I was sick all the time—chronic fatigue. And yoga is what started to make me stronger.
I had a friend who was leaving to travel for a year, going to yoga ashrams, and I
thought, “That’s what I’m going to do.” So I took a year off from teaching—a sabbatical, which meant I’d still have a job when I came home.
Now, sometimes you can’t just drop a full-time teaching career, simply from a financial standpoint. I did it in steps: I took a year off, became a trained yoga teacher, and then I taught one more full-time year—fourth grade—while also teaching three yoga classes. And that was amazing! My best year ever, I think; the yoga really helped me.
Then I went to part-time, and started studying yoga in graduate school. I knew I wanted to write, and do more. I started a nonprofit. Gradually the elementary teaching went much more part-time. I was a Conflict Resolution teacher for a while, and a homeschooling teacher—I did all kinds of things.
Eventually yoga became the biggest part of my life. I did several online conferences. I
worked with other yoga entrepreneurs. Simply because I wanted to do that more, the
teaching became smaller and smaller.
Thank you for sharing that story. I’m sure it’s inspirational for our viewers—especially your suggestion about doing it in stages.
So even when you were a full-time teacher, you were teaching conflict resolution—you must have a gift for healing through communication. I read that you owned an
education training company called Peaceful Schools Project (what a beautiful name!)
from 2000-2005, offering training for children, parents, and teachers in inner-city schools.
Could you share what you noticed when educators weren’t working in their
purpose—because we’re talking about purpose freedom—and why you believe it’s so
important for people to work in their purpose?
That’s an interesting question. Teaching is such an important profession; in being a
parent, in being a teacher, you’re bringing up the next generation. And I always loved
the relationships with the students the best. I wasn’t a bad teacher, but all the
organization was hard for me. Keeping the classroom clean...finishing all the grading...it was a lot. I did fine at that, but it was not my strength.
I really excelled in the relationships with the kids. I did learn a lot of conflict resolution methods—classroom meetings, community boards, peer mediators, parent-child communication—and I loved all of that. I did conflict resolution in one school, and then a principal who was visiting laughed and was like, “Come to my school!” So I ended up doing it as a consultant, and that’s what started the Peaceful Schools Project.
As far as purpose—you know, I always felt that I was living my personal purpose being a schoolteacher, but I discovered I wasn’t fully. I had a bigger message to share, which is what I’m doing now through Divine Feminine Yoga. I love supporting teachers; even after I left teaching, I continued doing yoga classes for teachers, in schools, after school. So as far as living our purpose...I think when you’re not fully aligned with your. best gifts, it drains your energy and adds to that exhaustion you feel.
I want to thank you for admitting that you know your strong suit—your zone of
genius—was not the organization, because that’s a vulnerability and I’m sure many
teachers can relate. When they look at Pinterest, or teachers’ Instagram boards...it can affect their self-worth, and I think just you admitting that helps. We all need to find our zone of genius, our strengths and our talents, and I love what you said about it: if you don’t know your zone of genius, it saps your energy. I think that’s so important to mention.
I want to make sure we mention that you have a freebie you want to offer our
educators. So I want to urge our viewers to stay tuned, as Laura will be sharing that with us at the end of the interview.
So, speaking of healing through communication, I believe you’re close to finishing up
your next book. Your assistant, Wendy, said one of the chapters is “The Heroine’s
Journey.” Can you speak about that?
Yes. So, many people are familiar with Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, which is the
journey of a new individuation: you go on an adventure, you fight demons, you
discover who you are, and then you come home as a more evolved person.
The heroine’s journey is the journey that women go through. Any time women dip into the darkness, it’s like the cycle the moon goes through in getting dark and becoming light again. It’s the archetypal journey of going into the underworld, returning with more nourishment from the earth, and then bringing that back into the wholeness of our soul.
Now, men can go through a heroine’s journey as well. But a good percentage of
teachers are women and that’s really where I have spent most of my career—working on women’s healing, starting first and foremost with my own.
I want to ask you about this journey that women take. What is the journey
educators—our viewers—might be thinking about taking, in terms of being unhappy or not fulfilling their purpose? I know the journey you’re talking about is physical, mental, spiritual, all of that. But can we talk about how some teachers have this feeling of guilt:
“If I leave the classroom, I’m failing.” Could you talk to us about that? Because that is a form of Journey, is it not?
Absolutely! And when you have this inkling that you’re not really living your purpose, I believe it can lead to a low-grade depression—in some cases, a high-grade depression—and it can lead to anxiety. When you know that something’s off and you
need to rebalance, you can have panic attacks.
And then just contemplating, “How am I going to make the life changes I need to
realign with my purpose? How am I going to make the changes I need to enjoy my life? Because right now I’m not happy.”
Those are hard changes, and that is a dark side of the soul. But in facing our dark side— being honest with ourselves in a way we may not want to—it’s facing what we may have in shadow, what we may have ignored, and absolutely that is a form of the
I really believe in facing the shadow parts of ourselves, like, “Wow, I’m not living my
purpose. Maybe I became a teacher because nobody helped me think about what I
really wanted to do instead. Maybe I became a teacher fulfill someone else’s
expectations. Maybe I needed to earn money and didn’t know what else to do.”
When we face the ways we’ve disappointed ourselves, or are not living to really make
our heart sing, that’s hard. But by doing that, we become more whole. And we can heal that depression, as you move outside the anxiety that’s a part of it, as you move
into more integration and wholeness.
I love that you’re sharing about purpose, how if you’re not working your purpose it can actually be detrimental to your health—depression, anxiety.
A very wise friend of mine said: “If you have one foot in the past, you can become
depressed; if you have one foot in the future, you can become anxious; and what you
end up doing is peeing on the present.” I love the thought that depression is our thinking on the past, and anxiety is our thinking on the future, and we’re not actually staying in the moment of the present.
Let’s talk about coaching for a minute. I know we both believe in coaching—me being
a business coach and you being a mentor. What do you believe is important about
coaching? Have you had business coaches, and if so, how have they helped? Did they
help with the various businesses you’ve started, and are you an advocate?
I have had several business coaches over the last 7 or 8 years. I think they’re invaluable.
I would not be doing the work that I’m doing without coaches. I had a writing coach
who helped me with my book, Moon Salutations, which I’m so excited about.
The business coaching I’ve had has propelled me to a new level of success, of doing
the things I want to be doing, and a new level of freedom. I take everything I learned,
my husband and I share it, and then he implements it. And now we’re helping him
retire, which means we’re basically financially free.
And no way would that have happened without all the coaching we’ve received. So I
absolutely believe in coaching; it can take you to a whole new level of where you want to be. And for me, it’s really brought about my breakthroughs.
Nice. You say both you and your husband are entrepreneurs. So how is that, being in a household of two entrepreneurs?
It’s wonderful, and I say sometimes that nobody can understand my husband as well as a business coach, because he has two businesses. He’s about to close one of them; that’s what he’s retiring from.
He comes with me when I lead retreats—I lead retreats for women, yoga retreats, but also business retreats and empowerment retreats. He comes around at meals and meets the women, and maybe shows up a little bit during the classes, and my ladies love him, because they know a lot of women entrepreneurs don’t feel supported by their spouse.
It’s very common for women to have men, or female partners, who are not supportive of their vision, who are afraid. You know when you want to make a change from being a teacher to being an entrepreneur...my previous partner actually said to me, “I liked it better when you were a teacher.” Not everybody is supportive of the transition to entrepreneurship, so having a person who is sympathetic and understanding and vibes with that, I think it’s important.
Your partner does not need to be an entrepreneur. But this has been really interesting for me as a business coach, to see what happens in the marriages of my clients. Yeah, some of them, a few of them have gotten divorced while they were coaching with me because they’re sort of living more like they wanted to be. Others, their marriages have improved. Some of them, when they started coaching with me, didn’t tell their spouse.
They kept it a secret. And then later they would tell. And there was this coming in truthfulness about money that was surprising to me; I did not realize that was going to be a major area for women’s lives that needed cleaning up. But I see it in my clients.
That’s so amazing that you can be there for them. A guide on their side. And that’s
really what a coach is. I’m really glad for what you said, that a spouse is not always
supportive, because I think it’s really important that we all live in our purpose and I’m
glad that you shared that, because it’s true. People change, things change, and that’s
what we’re here standing for—freedom for educators.
So you just finished writing a book, Moon Salutations: On Women’s Healing and
Empowerment Through Yoga. Congratulations, by the way. That’s amazing. Where can people find this book?
It’s available almost everywhere; you can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple. It’s available through Smashwords, it’s available through IngramSpark, and anywhere you would normally get books or ebooks. It’s available for yoga studios and retreats and libraries.
Amazing, so important. I’m a big believer in yoga; I’ve been a meditator with Isha
Foundation since 2008, so it’s a big powerhouse in my life.
So let me ask my last question. It’s the same question that I ask all my guests, Laura, and that is: Educators who know that they want to make a change want to work in their purpose. As we all do. This is all about change and our purpose, and maybe they feel they’re no longer meant to be a teacher.
What advice would you give those educators who feel stuck in fear, and just feel
immobilized, and maybe they don’t have a supportive partner, but they just are kind of getting sick, knowing they’re not working on their purpose?
Well, pray. And if you’re getting sick, I would listen to that, because the body doesn’t
lie. So if your body is telling you that this is no longer working for you, you need to listen to that.
I’m a big advocate of journaling, meditating and writing down the answers that you
get. Meditate, and then write, and just ask spirit, “What would you have me do?”
Maybe it’s go take an adventure for one month every summer. Maybe it’s go down to
part-time teaching and do something else. Maybe take a year’s sabbatical, a leave of
absence from your teaching job, and do something completely different for a year. But you know you have the security of going back if you need it.
Sometimes you can build up a little savings fund, to calm the spouse down, and start
doing something. I know the last year I was full-time as a teacher, I also taught three
yoga classes. And that was my best year. So it didn’t matter that I had this little side gig going—teaching yoga actually supported my happiness as a schoolteacher. So you could teach part-time and go to school part-time. There are other options, but I would always tune in with your inner guides through meditation.
Yes. I love that your message, your big message, is that there are choices, because
sometimes we feel trapped and stuck, and I think a lot of educators out there might
feel that way. All right. We have come to the end of our time. Laura, please share with our viewers what your freebie gift is.
I’d love to introduce you to moon salutations, which you can practice before school,
after school, with the kids, before you go to bed, or with a friend.
Moon salutations are amazing. They’ll build your health as a complement to the sun
salutation, which is much more well known. But this is more cooling, energetically; it’s
healthy for women, even during your menstrual cycle or through menopause, or even if you’re pregnant. But you cannot do sun salutations when you’re pregnant. Please don’t do that.
And so, if you go to www.MoonSalutations.com/gifts, I have a handout for you that will immediately get you started—with a gentle beginning variation or a more advanced variation—and you can try it for yourself, as a way of practicing self-care and honoring your feminine self, and honoring the moon’s guidance for your purpose.
Amazing. Laura, it’s been a real pleasure, and thank you so much for sharing your
wisdom. Namaste to you. Until next time, remember: you can do this.
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