Teacher of the Year 2009
By: Debbie Rosas | December 21, 2009
Years ago, futurist and author of the book Age Wave, Ken Dychtwald, claimed the future would be driven by “the most amazing women our country has ever seen.” He claimed these women would hold the most complex of lives – managing households and jobs, dealing with children and husbands – and that we have not come close to understanding the complexity of the mind, heart, and soul of these women, who he added, “…are going to become the power group in our country!” This is you. This is me. This is every Nia Teacher. I include the Nia men in this statement, as I view them as having amazing feminine sides. The Nia men compliment the women of Nia.
This leads me to New York Nia Blue Belt, Joanne Edgar. Joanne is a shining example of the kind of women Ken Dychtwald speaks of. She does not teach Nia classes, but she teaches living and being who she is. Joanne is a woman who surrounds herself with powerful, inspiring women such as Gloria Steinem. She lives her life with passion and confidence, guided by sacred intelligence, a term I use to refer to “going beyond just being conscious.” Committed to living her purpose, to living into her greatness, she is a sacred activist, someone who does what needs to be done to make herself and the world a better place.
Joanne is a woman who has Created a Sacred Livelihood for herself. She exudes an air of confidence, elegance, grace, ease, and youthfulness and lives life as a Sacred Athlete. I have never used the title Sacred Athlete in describing someone before, so you can bet Joanne’s list of accomplishments is such that it makes her the perfect recipient to receive this title (see below for a taste!)
One of Joanne’s many accomplishments is living fully, mastering what Carlos Castaneda calls “conquering old age.” Joanne is now 66 and last year, she trained and completed in her second triathlon. A writer, storyteller and activist, Joanne has had the privilege of working with many amazing people on important social and political projects for change. After meeting Joanne, we discovered she had worked on the very first Nia article to appear in Ms. Magazine in May 1986, called “Soft Aerobics: Gain Without Pain.” This article by Katherine Martin features Nia and includes some of the first published photos of Carlos and I!
Joanne is all about love and community. From the very beginning, when Nia came to New York, Joanne was there, helping and supporting the Teachers and the New York Nia community. Dedicated to living into her greatness, her vacations center around traveling to remote places with Earthwatch, where she learns by helping research scientists, doing everything from picking up Cheetah poop to hunting snakes in Hong Kong. Joanne is healthy, fit, and most of all: she loves her body, her family, her friends, her work, and her life.
Joanne is a role model for every woman on the journey of living in a women’s body. The female body is designed to birth, and whether or not we have children, we are therefore destined to hold the space for transformation and change. Being female is co-creating with what I describe as “an incredible body of work” – the journey in a women's body is one of constant changes in shape, texture, and dynamic. Joanne truly embodies Nia and consciously practices Nia White Belt Principles 1, 2, 5, and 6 each day, keeping her body moving in Joy, Pleasure, in Natural Time, and as free from the aches and pains of aging as possible.
I can count on Joanne. Her family can count on her, as can her friends. I know Joanne will be there if I call. If I need a place to crash, a hand to hold, arms to hold me, an ear to listen, or wisdom and advice, she will be there. If you are new to Nia and walk into a New York Nia class, Joanne will greet you with authentic excitement, genuinely happy to see you. If you are an old student, Joanne will remember to invite you to the many community events she and Caroline Kohles and the New York community host.
To you Joanne, from Debbie, Jeff, Carlos, the Nia Trainers and Teachers: Thank you for modeling a glimmer of our vision and an idea for what is now described as Principle 11: Creating A Sacred Livelihood. Thank you for living into your greatness and modeling what it means to be a Sacred Athlete. Thank you for loving your body and loving your life. Thank you for living as a Sacred Activist, functioning with Sacred Intelligence, modeling for all women and men how to be in a body and take care of it the Nia Way, so your body is healthy and available to bring the social change and justice you want to see in the world to fruition. Joanne, thank you for being YOU.
Top five things (in no particular order) Joanne has done in her life:
- Was one of the co-founders of Ms. Magazine, where she learned to write and edit, took part in some landmark feminist victories…and also learned that defeat was never permanent
- Discovered Nia and integrated movement and joy into her everyday life
- Turned storytelling into paid work at nonprofits and foundations
- Volunteered on multiple Earthwatch expeditions, among them working to support wild cheetahs in Namibia, documenting Aboriginal rock art in Australia, and studying dung beetles in Kenya, to name just a few of what she calls her “weird and wonderful” vacations
- And, most important of all to her… found a community of energetic friends and extended family members who nourish and support her and allow her to do the same for them
Okay, this makes seven but we can’t resist:
- Studying fish fly larvae
- Village health questionnaire in Nepal