WIth almost 40 years of professional experience, I have helped thousands of clients in individual sessions and I have taught thousands of classes at schools, hospitals, churches, and community groups.
I earned a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. In the past, I was licensed to practice psychology and marriage and family therapy and I have also been a licensed massage therapist. I retired my licenses when I began teaching the Alexander Technique and other mind-body practices. (My licenses to practice are now on inactive status, and I function as a teacher and coach.)
I have served as a leadership coach for the University of Tennessee’s Professional MBA Program and I also 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.
One of my earliest 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--a more comfortable and supportive posture, freedom and ease in breathing, 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. My local teacher had moved away, and there were no Alexander teachers in my area. I went through months of pain and restricted mobility with limited or no relief from the numerous sessions with various professionals that I visited.
After eight months of worsening pain, I travelled for Alexander lessons and finally found the help I needed. I remember standing beside 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. This dramatic turning point in my healing is what spurred my decision to become a teacher.
I began 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 mindfulness of the body and 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 attitudes of service, compassion, and humility.
I am certified to teach mindfulness as a volunteer at the Morgan County Correctional State Prison.
I studied Guided Meditation with Belleruth Naparstek, Founder of Health Journeys, and I have also learned a great deal through self-study and decades of experience.
In addition to my work with clients, I regularly practice self-hypnosis and guided meditation for myself. I am astounded by how it helps me to gain fresh insights and opens my eyes to solutions that were there all along.
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 connecting with my audience.
This is a photo from my first concert at the Knoxville Museum of Art.
This is the back cover photo on my CD. My friend Karen Krough cracked me up and then quickly snapped this picture. For many years, I had tried unsuccessfully to write songs. 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 my creative flexibility.
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. I still love the outdoors, hiking, walking and working in the yard as often as I can.
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 have struggled with food and weight, but it used to be a major preoccupation for me. As a chubby child, I was often 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 and 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 it was not the norm.
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.