Where did you serve and what did you do?
Worldwide, Electronic Warfare
How are you #StillServing?
I joined the Air Force in 1991 and planned on retiring after twenty years but unfortunately I was medically discharged in 1999. I was suffering from migraines, pain in my legs and a few other issues but those two prohibited me from serving our Country. I eventually began to have battles with PTS that affected my home and work life. Although I might appear happy and healthy on the outside, on the inside I was truly struggling. I was struggling to find a purpose, an opportunity to serve. I was angry and bitter because I spent the next twenty years trying to find out what was the cause of my health symptoms and the VA Hospital was not very helpful. All this frustration and anger was taken out on my family, friends, and colleagues. My eldest daughter had been suggesting yoga because she thought it would help my symptoms.
I started my yoga journey with a practice of mindfulness and meditation and what I discovered was that for the first time in a long time I felt calm and relaxed. I would pause any time during the day when a trigger or any type of anxiety occurred and perform a meditation practice. I had this practice for four months before I even stepped into a yoga studio. The true foundation of yoga is our breath and I have realized through this journey, that yoga is not just the hour on the mat, but the twenty-three hours off the mat. The mat sets the foundation for the rest of the day. Yoga does two things for us each and every day. First, it allows us to realize the things in our life that we are doing well and secondly, those things in our life that need work. Yoga is truly for everyone and it transforms our life from the inside out.
I am a Gulf War Veteran who spent eight years in the Air Force. I have a BS in Business Management, a 500hr Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with Yoga Alliance and have been retired since 2014. Suffering from chronic pain and PTSD since my time in the military, I understand first-hand the numerous benefits of yoga and meditation for pain reduction and mental clarity. I am a yoga instructor that recognizes and believes that yoga can cause both physical and mental transformations that result in less pain, reduced PTSD symptoms and a reduction in stress. I provide a variety of classes that serve those looking for a physical challenge as well as a complete mindfulness/meditation practice. I realize that people come to the mat at all different levels with different intentions and I welcome everyone to come and make the class their unique yoga experience.
Moderation and balance are truly two of the greatest aspects of being mindful. Providing a variety of yoga including talks to the community through different facets allows me to connect with the community. I have to make sure to not overextend myself mentally, physically or spiritually, otherwise, I will not be able to provide the type of positive energy to my family or the community.
I have been blessed to work with Warriors’ Ascent which provides a week-long opportunity to transform the participants’ life at no cost.
Through Warriors’ Ascent, I have learned a variety of concepts that provide an overall opportunity for participants to find unconditional love, acceptance and the ability to be present. Warrior’s Ascent has evolved over the past few years and this program works as demonstrated by the hundreds of lives saved and impacted. A four-year study performed by The KU Cofrin-Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment confirms the Warriors’ Ascent program has been proven to reduce the emotional and psychological suffering of our participants and improve their sense of well-being as evidenced by statistically significant outcomes.
I created MYKC a nonprofit a few years ago to allow myself and others to extend our reach within the community. MYKC is able to provide yoga, mindfulness, meditation and a variety of speaking engagements to organizations like Warriors’ Ascent or even corporate events. We are also able to provide a Warriors Essential Yoga Kit to the participants for Warriors’ Ascent that provides a solid foundation for their yoga journey.
My latest opportunity to connect with the community has been through my youtube channel. This has been another huge blessing because I can connect virtually with people from all over the world and provide yoga or interviews from personal requests.
Why do you do it?
Yoga has allowed me to feel loved and accepted, to be okay with the pain from my past, to find the opportunity to be positive, to be real, authentic, find forgiveness and hope for my future. It allows me to look at my overall health and wellness with an optimistic view. This journey has provided the transformation of changing my perspective from a victim to a hero. I still struggle each and every day with pain, PTS and a variety of other medical issues but the various facets of yoga have helped me through this journey. It has given me a purpose to live, to give back to my family and community when possible and provide a path of hope for all mankind.