Monthly Archives: November 2015

meet natalie and andrea: practicing yoga and building community in chicago

Natalie and Andrea Pavela, People with Panache

Natalie (left); Andrea (right). The idea for Yoga+ really began in January 2014. Andrea had moved back to Chicago from NYC and was looking for a new yoga studio to call home. It was more challenging than she expected! So she and Natalie began organizing and hosting free classes every other week in their friends’ apartments. One night, over dinner at Pequod’s, the two girls realized what they could turn these free classes into—and Yoga+ was born.

Calling all yogis!

Yoga has become a big part of my life in the past year or so. Not only have I been taking more classes and learning about new types, I have two close friends who are now certified yoga instructors. I commend them—I haven’t yet honed the patience or meditative skills to go through those lengthy certifications. But I love practicing with them and getting tips on my techniques. (Although I’m not sure if I’ll ever master Crow pose.)

Recently, I discovered a business that blends two of my favorite things: yoga and learning. Sisters Natalie and Andrea Pavela created Yoga+ in Chicago, and they pair interactive educational workshops with meditative and restorative yoga practice. Andrea calls it the perfect friend date. Launched in May 2014 with their first event the next month, each Yoga+ session consists of a short Vinyasa yoga practice (taught by Andrea) followed by a workshop led by a local maker, company or small business. They’ve taught Chicagoans everything from mixology to watercolor painting, pasta to juice making, essential oil demonstrations and even classes on crafting French macarons with a certain je ne sais quoi. Each event is one-of-a-kind and sounds like so much fun that I can’t wait for Alysse and I to attend soon. I really can’t think of a better reason to stretch, center and eat sweet French cookies in yoga pants. Continue reading

meet meiko: food justice “guerrilla” in detroit


Meiko Krishok, People with Panache

Meiko uses commercial kitchen space behind the yoga studio where she also works. “I’m a person who likes to have multiple things going on at once,” she says. “At first it took me a minute to settle in and be comfortable here, but I actually appreciate that between classes I take and teach I can take inventory, mop, eat lunch.”

By the end of this weekend, I was feeling both weighed down and floating on some dreamy little love cloud. It was the end of the Food Leader Certificate Program retreat No. 1 at Wellspring in West Bend, Wis. Twenty food system warriors both new and experienced joined together to dream up world-changing visions, learn about the food system, and start laying plans for the future—and it was beautiful.

But it’s still hard not to feel powerless amid the daunting problems in our food system and ecosystem and the grief traversing what seems like our entire planet this month—and really any given month. If we were truly able to process and experience the despair and sadness that comes with each tragedy—the bloody attacks in Paris, the landslide that wiped an entire town from the map in Brazil, the harrowing journey of refugees across oceans and continents, and obviously more—I can’t imagine any of us would be able to move on with our lives.

So instead, Kate and I believe that we each must make as positive a mark as we individually can on our loved ones and our communities—and thus the world. (Remember what Grace Lee Boggs said about changing yourself to change the world?)

Who’s with us?

In Detroit, I met Meiko Krishok, 29. Of mixed Korean and Italian-Polish descent, Meiko has been exposed to different cultures her whole life. She has passions for languages and traveling—and food is often her method of exploration. She’s using it to help heal a city in need.

Hailing from Milwaukee, Meiko’s world travels eventually brought her to Detroit to put down roots. Food is still her passion. And it has become her profession, too, through Guerrilla Food.
Continue reading

meet reeanna: daughter, cousin, friend

A few Christmases ago, my mom planned the first-ever Ramazini Run. She rented a van for us to cram into, and we pretty much ate and went shopping all day with the aunts, cousins, and sisters—all the girls in the family! My dad and uncle were the chauffeurs.

A few Christmases ago, my mom planned the first-ever “Ramazini Run.” She rented a van for us to cram into, and we pretty much ate and went shopping all day with the aunts, cousins and sisters—all 11 girls in the family! My dad and uncle were our chauffeurs, and that’s ReeAnna in the middle front.

Each week, Kate and I are proud and grateful to share the stories of inspiring, empowering, kind and encouraging women across the Midwest. They’re building businesses, catalyzing change, and paving their paths through the world. But as we prepared for this week, my family suffered a massive loss of one very special woman. Last Thursday night, November 5, my big cousin ReeAnna Ramazini was taken from this world too soon. My funny, hard-working, generous 35-year-old cousin was killed by a hit-and-run driver, and my family is reeling. Personally, I’m still about 20 percent sure this can’t be real. But I don’t think a bad dream would last this long.

As the only other only child in my family, my super-cool cousin Ree (who had the CUTEST friends my 9-year-old self could imagine) told me when I was little that she did not like me and that I should talk to her when I’m older. I think I got a little taste of my own version of a big sister from ReeAnna. Feisty, straightforward and fun, she was nine years older and definitely one of those cousins that was so cool to imitate when I was growing up—so I’m positive I earned that comment. Continue reading

these are the times to grow our souls.

[credit: Kindred_Post]

[credit: Kindred_Post]

I didn’t ever get a chance to meet Grace Lee Boggs. But she taught me. 

Grace—revolutionary, teacher, activist, leader—taught me:

The power of rooting in one location to make a difference.
The choice to change yourself to change the world.
The opportunity that comes with each conversation.
The encouragement to never get stuck in old ideas.

And apparently, that the best gin and tonic is made with Hendrick’s. I look forward to testing this in her memory.

(Check the #GraceLeeTaughtMe hashtag for other lessons that have spread from her beloved Detroit across the world.)

After 100 years and 100 days on this earth, Grace is still teaching me, and I know she is still teaching hundreds, thousands, most likely millions. Continue reading