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Andrea and dog Porter about to marry their partner, Devin in Montana (photo credit: Becca Zabawa)


My self-love journey, like yours, is a tumultuous one. Every few years as a child, I would stand in front of my bedroom mirror, usually naked, and give myself a pep talk.

When I was 9, it went something like this:


“You’re going to feel like you fit in and are doing things right when you’re 15.”


At age 15:


“By 19, you’re going to be so cool. You’ll feel like you’re at the top of the world.”


At age 19:


“When you’re 27, you’ll have found the love of your life, and have a child you love in your arms. It will feel so good to be settled.”

I'm 39, and the past 7 years have been the most massive learning download of my life!

Andrea, now Group Facilitator, Community Yoga Guide, and Wellness Coach, as a senior in high school

Andrea, age 18

At each of these mirror moments I was hoping to feel something more, something that informed me I was on the right track, I was doing something good or right, and it would pay off.  I was simultaneously envisioning a future self I believed in and waiting for her to appear, as if out of thin air. I prayed I would reap the rewards of feeling awkward, and trying my best to be loved by all.

When I was 9, I was the tallest person I knew my age. We had to write our height and weight on a piece of paper and set it in a bin one day in class. I remember strategizing how to make sure my crush, who to this day I still think is quite cute, would not see it. I felt humiliated for being who I was in my own skin. I was nicknamed Jolly Green Giant by some boys in my class, and while green was my favorite color,  I felt anything but jolly being called a giant.

When I was 15, I started dating. It nearly cost me a friendship with one who was crushing on the same boy. I felt good, strong, and lovable to that one person, yet still awkward and curious how I was screwing up around many others. My mom and I had a cat fight of an argument quite often. I felt I wasn’t living up to her expectations. Her vision for self-care was much different than mine -- putting on lipstick before going into the mall had nothing to do with it for me, and wearing sweatpants to school felt just fine. At the same time, I hated the tension my choices seemed to cause us.

At 19, I began making my own big decisions. I chose to work at a camp 12 hours south of my home for which I had to raise my salary. The place was beautiful, but the work grueling. The camp director implied that my particular staff had sticks up our asses and let me tell you that did not leave me feeling like I was on top of the world. I gained weight, was exhausted and my face broke out so bad make-up couldn’t hide it. Loved ones told me I seemed to prioritize my emotional and spiritual well-being over my physical well-being. Perhaps they couldn’t tell I felt pretty full of self-doubt, let down by who I thought were my spiritual leaders and downright ugly all on my own.


At 39, I now adore my height, and have found healthy ways to maintain a weight that feels good on my bones. I’ve lost and gained several lovers and friends, and my relationship with my mother is better than it has ever been. When my separation and divorce process began with my former husband, there were many days it felt difficult to walk, let alone dream of the future I’d imagined. With the support of many dear friends, family and teachers, I soon recognized that my dream of motherhood and lifelong partnership may not be realized, that life is a grand adventure and my joy is in being along for the ride, wherever it takes me. I began placing value on who I am now, not only on what I longed for from the past or future.

In the past few years, I've been able to confidently come out as a gender queer bisexual person. As someone who passes as a woman and heterosexual, I could get by expressing a part of myself without having to "come out." I realized I was denying a part of myself AND that sharing this part of myself mattered both to myself and to the many young queer people I have had the privilege of knowing. My hope is that through my own opening up and continuing to step into my full self, others will feel confident to step more fully into themselves as well!

I haven’t given myself a mirror pep talk in a while, but I do have some particular dreams and visions for age 43. They are not so riddled with the expectation that I will have achieved particular social or familial milestones, whatever that means. I know now that I will not necessarily be settled with the love of my life, or have little ones to nourish in my home.  Although it sounds lovely and deeply rewarding to have a lasting partnership and a family of my own, what matters to me now is a different kind of togetherness.

What matters to me now is being together with myself, playing for my own team, showing up for myself, advocating for my own successes and believing in the woman I have been created to be.

What matters to me is utilizing the security and love I build for myself to show up with integrity in my work, relationships and in order to build a more equitable, sustainable and connected world.

I often imagine an older version of myself, closer to age 70, silvered long thick wavy hair and kind eyes, holding a space for me. The first time I imagined her it was in a guided meditation in which we were asked to imagine a beloved mentor walking toward us in a place that brought us peace. I saw myself in the clearing at the edge of the woods by my then home. This radiant, strong and graceful woman emerged and sat down on the bench near the path. I join her and rested my head on her shoulder as she held me close. I see her often now. She is wise in a care-free way, both grounded and at ease.  She is not attached to other people or things, though she is very much aware and connected. She is stable and curious. Her movements are gentle, yet clear. And she truly appears at home in herself, wherever she is.

She became an anchor or future potential, and simultaneously present and supportive. I won’t forget the day I walked by the bench with shoulders heavy and chest sunk-in, weary from crying and not eating enough, that I heard in my mind:


“Your life is going to be even better than you could ever imagine.”

With this notion and this hope for myself, in the past few years, I have upped the ante in my journey of self-love. In 2016, I joined the Yoga Health Coaching community and invested in the success of my business: supporting highly responsible, overwhelmed folks boost energy, sleep better, and fearlessly love their bodies. I shared my next step of the Montana mountains with friends and made connections in a place I’d only imagined existed. After purchasing a reliable car, moving across the country, getting lost regularly on dirt roads with my dog as my co-pilot, I decided to stay a while. I tattooed the mountains on my arm as a reminder that I can show up for myself.

In the past several years, I connected with hundreds of others across the country who remind me of my worth by showing up for themselves, by inviting me to write a blog or host a podcast, by challenging me not to play small -- to show up unafraid of who I am and what I have to offer. Compassionate accountability is essential for my growth, and is embedded in the fabric of my work.

The Grounded Here community has grown and shifted, as I have. I shifted from primarily offering one- on-one Yoga and Ayurvedic Health Counseling, to cultivating communities of fearless self-love. I've shifted from seeing health as an individual pursuit, to a collective one. I've shifted in a way that invites any group I facilitate to acknowledge the relationship between their identities, privilege and wellness. Are you ready to dive in?


The primary ways you can join this community are by attending group Yoga classes, workshops, and on social media.


As a community, we:

  • Connect with joy, not taking ourselves too seriously all of the time

  • Are self-love motivated, yearning to thrive and see each other thrive

  • Show up, aware of how we’d like to grow and what we have to offer

  • Trustingly accept the individual identities (of race, ability, gender, sexual orientation, wealth, religion, education, etc.) and histories of others

This journey of being at home in yourself.  No two of us have an identical story, yet we all can empathize with the fear that has kept us from believing in our dreams, sharing our voice, and prioritizing self-care in a way that is truly self-loving.

The quickest ways to tap in are on Instagram or through a strategy session​

These days, I no longer need to stand naked in the mirror to tell myself I will have it together by a certain age. When I do pause to look deeply at the woman I am today, I remind myself that I don’t have to wait any longer to show up for myself. I am able to notice things about myself I would like to be different without shaming myself that they are not already how I wish they were. There is more often than not a smile, a wink, a word of compassion I receive like a gift from a beloved. In these moments of clarity, I remind myself I don’t have to wait to let go of my attachments. I don’t have to wait to feel at home in myself.

If you’d like to know what it feels like to stand naked in front of your mirror and love yourself exactly as you are, let’s connect. I’d love to offer you a listening ear and offer ways I may be able to support you on your journey to self-love, or connect you with someone who can. It’s free to story share, and sharing your story alone may help you show up for yourself in ways you previously couldn’t imagine.

Ready to share your story? Connect with me in a one-on-one strategy session.


I truly can’t wait to be join you on this path to self-love.

Peace to you,


Andrea and their dog Porter alongside the Flathead River in Montana. Photo Credit: Devin Schmit, Solar Eye Media
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