Interview with Melanie
What makes you feel empowered as a woman?
When I remember that I have the power to release from my life what does not serve me, and only I have the power to do this.
If you could share one thing with other women that has helped you become the woman you are today what would it be?
There are ways to question yourself without putting yourself down. A gentle and inquisitive self-awareness relates strongly to how you treat other people and also how you are taking care of yourself & your potential.
What is your story? How did you get there?
At this place in my story, I know I am right where I am supposed to be, but I feel like I have not even begun.
I am a yoga instructor and I have just begun a business for trauma-informed private yoga lessons, Yoga is Home. I recently came back from teaching yoga at the Elliniko refugee camp in Athens, Greece. I am proud of this business because it contains a great deal of processing my own trauma and coming into yoga, and now being able to connect to and help other women and men come into this practice.
I am the founder of a non-profit for human rights and education, Nosapo, Inc. We research, compose and provide culturally sensitive and demographic specific human rights, health and education resources. We recently published our first major project: a 200 page Human Rights Curriculum, and the team of volunteers and I are now focusing on facilitation guidance manuals, publishing critical information for refugee and asylum seekers arriving in European countries, children’s materials, publishing research on current human rights violations, as well as updating and re-writing all of our ESL materials and creating new language lessons and materials.
I am also an assistant to a pediatrician and a nursing student. Underlying the current work that I do and treasure, I ache to be able to fundamentally help people, and when I work internationally again I will be able to do so medically.
I think what has gotten me to where I am is a force that comes from the people in my life that I miss-the people that I could not help and those that I feel were taken from me.
What were some struggles you have faced and how did you overcome them?
One struggle is forgiving myself for the mistakes that I have made; the only way I can process that struggle is through not total forgiveness but total understanding and compassion for who I have been and also for what I hold against others for their actions.
In my hardest struggles I have been hurt by people I love, felt abandoned, I feel that I have had people taken from my life, and I have been physically and sexually abused. I can’t say I forgive every person, so maybe I have not “overcome” all of these experiences, but for those I have in my past that I know I have not forgiven I can vow that I do try through processing understanding and compassion for their actions.
I try to hold authentic confrontations of problems and struggles with honesty to overcome them. I meditate, I make space for my own yoga practice, I run, I ask for help and nurture connections with people that fill me with laughter, warmth and gratitude.
Most importantly: when I look back on when I have been challenged, I overcame the hardest times in my life by receiving help. I have developed tactics to process emotions and difficult experiences, but it is not doing it on my own that has been the profound accomplishment-I’m most proud that I have people to thank.
What music and or artists get you pumped up and shake up your soul?
From my recently played lists: M.I.A, Amalia Rodrigues, SZA, I listened to Arum Rae’s song “I love love” 4 times today and I play it in my yoga room where it is empty and my voice echoes (hides) behind hers. I am also now listening to mantras because at this time I feel that I need to be grounding rather than shaking it up any more than it already is!