Hi there, I'm Jen. A life-long reader and writer, I love sharing the results of my research as well as the fruits of my own mindfulness journey. Here at Modern Maenads, I've made it my mission to serve others as they cultivate authenticity and joy, crafting a life well lived and attempting to find that sweet spot between fulfilling responsibilities and finding personal fulfillment.
#1: I'm a certified wellness educator and recovering high school English teacher
I study and read. A lot. I love finding patterns and connections. I love studying health and wellness, getting into the nitty gritty of neuroscience, stress, and hormone health, and I love comparative mythology, mapping out hero's journeys and sharing the thrills of storytelling. If I can find an analogy or story to explain a complex biological process, that's a great day!
#2: I'm a yoga lover in CA, originally from the East Coast
I wear a caftan and a Red Sox cap. Eat kale and love Dunkin' Donuts. I walked into my first yoga class in 1992, and asana and meditation have been toolsl I rely on ever since. I've completed over 500 hours of Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). I get on my mat most days, but the last few years I've become more interested in the other limbs of yoga, repatterining my nervous system, and taking my practice into my day to day life as a wife, mother, and caregiver.
#3: Teaching is my service
Teaching is one of my favorite ways to be of service. I've studied and taught glassblowing, trained foster parents, taught art history and studio art, developed literacy programs, taught film analysis, co-wrote a Biology textbook, and routinely take groups of Cub Scouts into the woods. If I discover something new to learn, I want to study it in depth and share it.
#4: Laundry is my nemesis
My parents divorced when I was young and I became the "adult" in the house at 8 years old, taking care of my sister and trying to make meals and clean laundry happen. Somehow I'm still trying to get the laundry done almost 40 years later. It's easy to feel like Sisyphus rolling that rock up the hill day in and day out. Caregiver fatigue is real, and I've taken that route down into the Underworld a few times. My practice is my personal flotation device when life asks me to jump into the deep end of the caregiving pool.
#5: Baby steps for the win
Even with all that studying and practice, life is still imperfect. But I love this wild ride and try to show up with as much love and awareness as I can muster. Some days that's easier than others. I'm a big believer in small changes, subtle shifts, and doing the best we can with what we're given each day.
In many traditions it is customary to acknowledge the lineage of your teachers and I have been incredibly lucky to benefit from the wisdom of numerous guides. I spent 5 years studying comparative mythology with the incomparable Dr. Harvey Birenbaum, author of Myth and Mind, who taught me about how the symbols of mythology can transform us and who inspired me as a teacher, writer, and human being. He oversaw my research on Dionysis and Shiva, introduced me to Mwindo and Inanna, and motivated me to develop a growth mindset.
I studied glassblowing with Mary White, who taught me the alchemy of turning liquid into solid, and idea into object. I had the pleasure of spending a semester studying creative writing with the brilliant Ursula LeGuin when she taught at SJSU as the 2000 Lurie author-in-residence.
I've practiced yoga since 1992, taking my first class with Lars Caughlan, who also introduced me to meditation and mountaineering. I became certified to teach yoga in 2017 with Jenn Prugh, an inspirational creator, generous teacher, and masterful guide on the journey toward joy. I continued to study under her guidance, earning my 500 hour certification, focusing my studies on meditation. My feng shui certification was with Erica Sofrina, who introduced me to the five elements and the impact of our physical surroundings on our well being.
I studied wellness, functional nutrition, and brain chemistry with the gracious Lisa Grace Byrne from Well Grounded Life, learning how make lasting, subtle and powerful shifts in my health and habits. I'm also grateful to Ayurvedic practitioner Jana Kilgore, who introduced me to Para Vak, taught me about the healing power of real food, and gave me a foundational understanding of Ayurveda, and to Yoga Therapist and author Dr. Timothy McCall for recognizing my power, giving me the opportunity to tell my story, and encouraging me to commit to the practices that freed my voice.