Growing up a gay kid in a fundamentalist Christian church in rural Arkansas, I was terrified of being discovered, punished, ostracized. My mindset had a narrow focus: survival.
I managed to get out of small-town Arkansas. But the limiting mindset that I had developed growing up, as well as the anxiety and depression, followed me.
Survival became figuring out how to look at things from a perspective that wasn’t dominated by fear and staying small. There came a day when survival was no longer enough for me. I wanted to thrive.
I had a choice: lean into life or check out. I decided to lean in. I developed an insatiable appetite to learn more about myself, other people, and how we connect.
Years of hard work enabled me to break the cycle, to replace old mindsets with new ones. I learned a new way to see myself. The world around me was made new, in turn. This process became my obsession.
Now my life is focused on sharing what I’ve learned. I hope the materials you find here help you take another step on your journey toward living the life you want and deserve.
HOW MY WORK WILL HELP YOU
Maybe it’s my southern upbringing, but I like to keep things simple. I like people to be plainspoken and direct. I respect someone who can say, “I don’t know.” I value hard work and people who do their part and hold up their end of a bargain.
I hope you find that approach in my work. The topics I like to tackle are often anything but simple or straightforward. Nonetheless, it’s important to address those topics, be courageous, and take action when we have an insight.
I study, teach, and write about issues that create our lives. Things that give us meaning, purpose, freedom. Big questions. Grappling with those issues may not bring all the answers, but it does bring growth and a sense of being more, and fully ourselves.
I hope you’ll find something helpful as I share my journey of working on things like:
- Getting your life unstuck
- Getting you feeling “alive”
- Depression and anxiety
- Navigating the difficulty of family
- Expressing myself
- Overcoming my internalized homophobia
- Moving from surviving to thriving
- Finding meaning and purpose
I’ll never claim to have all the answers, so please don’t take any of my advice without doing your own research, thinking for yourself, and ultimately doing what’s right for you. But I will share what works and doesn’t for me. If nothing else, I hope that by sharing my journey with you, you’ll feel less lonely as you make your way through.
This is my third business
I taught marching band in Arkansas for a short while before I moved to Texas for graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin. I graduated with a Masters in Music and Human Learning. Teaching band was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
My first business was in marketing. I owned the in-house marketing agency for the world’s largest real estate office.
My second business was an online training company. I helped new real estate agents around the world get their businesses launched.
I’ve started two non-profits
I am the founder of the Austin Pride Foundation, which organizes the annual parade and festival. The Foundation was born out of The Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, for which I served as president.
My husband and I started the PS Foundation for the Arts to create opportunities for young artists in Central Texas. The PS Foundation hosts many educational and performance events, including our annual strings festival which enrolls more than 100 students.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to be a founding board member for the International Pride Orchestra.
I am a former Trustee for the Austin Symphony.
If I could do just one thing for the rest of my life
it would be to teach through writing, speaking, and powerful conversations.
My husband, Pasha Sabouri, and I have been together since 2010. We met online (before that was the norm) and have been inseparable ever since. We got married in 2015 when it became legal in the US. Pasha is a professional violinist who mostly teaches high-performing young artists. You can learn more about him on his website.
Standards are the best dogs –don’t even argue with me about it. When she was just 6-weeks old, Bailey came home to live with me and Pasha. I never imagined it possible to love our furry friend as much as we do.
I love to read and I read a lot! I’ll read any book that makes me think about life from another perspective, or help me understand myself better. You can see what I’ve got in my library by visiting this page.
Marching Band Nerd
I geek out over marching bands. I played euphonium when I had to and was drum major in season. I’m a big advocate of band because of the community it created for me growing up.
It doesn’t take much to convince me to get on a plane and go! I love the opportunity to see the world and see how other people are experiencing this human life.
Meditation has become part of my daily routine. I think about meditation like I think about the light switch–I don’t know why it works or how–but it works. When I started I could only go for 3 minutes, but over the years I’ve worked up to at least 20 minutes. Now I like to get super nerdy and use a Muse device to scan my brain while I do it.