We all have something to teach, and we all have something to learn.
I treasure the teachers in my life – those professors who knew how to both challenge and encourage me, those athletic coaches who push me beyond what I thought I was capable of, and dance instructors who made me feel graceful even when I wasn’t. My teachers have included my parents, mentors, and friends. A teacher may be someone you have known forever or a stranger who you only met once, but what they said or did had lasting impact. There is always an exchange – one of give and take.
As a speech coach, when helping a client develop their story-telling ability, I always encourage them to think about their teachers because without fail, there’s a story within that relationship. A discovery, a decision, or a turning point.
One such teacher I wanted to learn more about was Regina Wiedlin, a wonderful yoga instructor, who has been an important presence in my life and within the Chicago yoga scene for many years…until…about 5 months ago, in the middle of the pandemic, she uprooted herself from Chicago and moved with her partner, John, to Connemara in Ireland. While she continues to teach yoga virtually from Ireland, she is missed by all of us who grew to appreciate her presence in the yoga studio.
When she announced during one class that she was moving to Ireland – I heard “Iowa” and I thought, what the heck?? Not that there is anything wrong with Iowa, of course, but I better understand the allure of the rocky, rural, seaside of Connemara, a cultural region in County Galway, in the west of Ireland. With a population of about 32,000, about 75% of the population are native Irish speakers making it the largest Irish-speaking Gaeltacht community. And, it happens to be the seaweed capital of the world! I had to find out how and why she made this seismic shift in her life.
During a recent Zoom call, Regina graciously shared that while it was challenging to leave her three daughters, now all in their twenties, she felt a few things made the change easier to do. During here frequent trips to Ireland with John prior to the move she reconnected with an innate desire to live simply in the country. She joked and said it was possibly because she had read so many Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a kid that she couldn’t resist the image of baking a pie and leaving it on her windowsill to cool. So, when John sold his pub in Chicago, she talked it over with her family (she is the youngest of nine!), and with everyone supporting her desire, she said YES and joined John in the place where he grew up.
Despite the fact that she is now living in a new country, away from family, and in a community where most speak a different language than she does, she is thriving amidst the fresh air, quiet, beauty and feels quite content. This change has also prompted a renewal of her love of photography – clearly evident from some of her exquisite Connemara photos featured in this post.
Yes, she misses Chicago and the community she built there but is comforted knowing it’s only a plane flight away. She also acknowledges that the pandemic, interestingly enough, gave her more courage to make this change. The studios where she was teaching were shutting down and she knew she could teach virtually from anywhere. So, why not now?
I asked her what advice she would give to anyone standing on the precipice of this kind of change. She said simply, “Wherever you go in the world, you will find kind people who are willing to reach out a hand and help you if you need it. Trust in humanity – yes, even now – and it will all work out. I knew this change was the right thing for me to do for my heart, soul, and spirit. If it feels that way for you, do it.”
As with any change, Regina knows she will run into speed bumps along the way, and she accepts that as part of the experience. She knows this was an instance of readiness and preparation = opportunity.
Thank you, Regina, for letting me peek under the hood of this life change for you. You have inspired me with your courage and optimism.
Looking for inspiration for an upcoming speech or presentation? Think about your teachers – past and present – and what you learned from them. Reach out and ask them something you’ve always wanted to know more about. If they inspired you, you can be sure their story will inspire others.