I earned a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. In my nearly 40 years of professional experience, I have taught thousands of classes at schools, hospitals, churches, and community groups.
I serve as a leadership coach for the University of Tennessee’s Professional MBA Program and I teach part-time at the University of Tennessee in the Conferences and Non-Credit Program.
I completed over 2,000 hours of training to earn teaching certification with Alexander Technique International. I have over 14 years experience teaching the technique.
I began studying the Alexander Technique before we even had the internet! One of my early teachers was Marj Barstow, the first person who F.M. Alexander approved to teach his method. She was a pioneer in applying Alexander's principles directly to everyday life. My favorite of her many aphorisms is, Learn to laugh at yourselves. You always move better with a smile.
I started lessons in 1989 to resolve long-standing problems with my voice. I found relief from chronic laryngitis and soon discovered other benefits--freedom and ease in breathing, a more comfortable and supportive posture, less performance anxiety, more patience, and increased confidence.
In 2002 a drunk driver sped through a red light and hit my car, giving me a whiplash injury. I went through months of pain and restricted mobility with limited or no relief from the numerous sessions with various professionals that I visited.
There were no Alexander teachers in my area, so, after eight months of worsening pain, I travelled for lessons and finally found the help I needed. I remember standing by my teacher and smiling as my whole body spontaneously unwound. It was the first time since the wreck that I could fully turn my head. It was this dramatic turning point in my healing that spurred my decision to become a teacher.
I began studying and practicing mindfulness before I had a name for it. The Alexander Technique doesn't use the term mindfulness, but nevertheless it teaches mindfulness of the body, non-judgment, beginner’s mind, and attending to the present moment as fundamental skills.
I also practice Insight Meditation, a gentle approach that emphasizes the mind-body connection and focuses on attending to sensory experience. One of my favorite teachers, Jack Kornfield, says that kind attention is a synonym for mindfulness. I am also fond of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk, peace activist, and author. He said, To meditate means to go home to yourself. Both of these teachers inspire me with their attitude of service, compassion, and humility.
I am certified to teach mindfulness as a volunteer at the Morgan County Correctional State Prison.
Due to intense performance anxiety, I used to dread my music gigs, but now I love performing! The Alexander Technique and mindfulness have helped me be less self-conscious and more present. Now I can thoroughly enjoy being seen by and connecting with the audience.
This is a photo from my first ticketed concert at the Knoxville Museum of Art.
This photo is on the back cover of my CD. My friend Karen Krough cracked me up and quickly snapped this picture. For many years, I had tried to write songs and it was when I delved more deeply into the Alexander Technique that I could finally complete a song. Something about the improved physical flexibility and freedom also loosened a creative block.
My CD is available on Amazon:
I grew up on a small farm in rural East Tennessee. I'm proud that our end of the state was with the Union side of the Civil War and that my home county, Cocke County, is in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. (It’s also right next to Sevier County, where Dolly Parton was born and raised.)
I took this photo in the woods behind our house. As I child, I loved to play in the woods and I still do.
That's 10-year-old me and my brother David at my first 4-H cattle show. We grew a big garden and raised our own food. I got tired of having chores every day, but now I miss being at the barn with the cows and the chickens and the smell of hay.
Those who know me now are surprised to hear that I struggled with food and weight, but it used to be a major preoccupation for me. As a chubby child, I was mercilessly ridiculed and didn't yet have the skills to defend myself.
I've come a long way since then! I gave up dieting in my early 20's, when I read Geneen Roth's book, Overcoming Emotional Eating. Her work is about mindful eating, listening to your body, tuning in to what you need, and discovering what you're really hunger for.
I admired my father's spirit of service. He loved to help people. If you asked him for help, he wouldn't give up until he found a resource for you.This is a picture of him receiving the Lion of the Year Award. His club provided free eyeglasses to those who couldn't afford them.
One of my favorite memories is riding through our cow pasture in his old pick-up truck to find me a Christmas tree.
Here's a picture of my mother at Tennessee Wesleyan University. Both of my parents finished college at a time when many didn't complete high school.
Mother taught the 3rd grade and would spend her evenings grading papers and writing lesson plans. She put her heart into her work and even baked heart-shaped cookies for her students on Valentine's Day.
One of my favorite memories is sitting in her lap as we sang the alphabet song.