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Zoe's Story

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- Musician-educator turned facilitator of compassionate self-inquiry

 

- White, cis, queer woman committed to the lifelong work of divesting from whiteness

 

- Creator of words, sounds, relationships, & spaces

 

- Believer in the beauty of individuals & the capacity for systems to be either cruel or life-affirming

 

- Dreamer of a more beautiful world

 

- Lover of animals, gardens, coffee, & naps

 

- Deeply invested in my current community of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a home I recognize as the occupied & unceded land of the Osage & Shawnee people (learn whose land you are on)

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I’m a big fan of the Marvel comic universe and, if I had my own superhero origin story, it would be a movie about a curious and loud human who spent her formative years making music, traveling, and imagining new worlds. My superpower would be questioning the way things have “always been done” and then inviting others into that process of discernment. The villains would be a terrible threesome of capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy and all of their oppressive, violent, and dehumanizing children.

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In real life, I’m more likely to be spotted in a jumpsuit or an oversized sweater than in spandex or capes. Rather than fighting "bad guys", I spend my time shaping the minds and hearts of young people through my positions as piano teacher at the Winchester Thurston K12 school and flute faculty at Chatham University. I've also had the privilege of teaching courses and workshops in music appreciation, ethnomusicology, musical storytelling, and professional development. My lessons and classes are framed through lenses of bias, context, and lived experience and I find so much joy in supporting educators in crafting more transparent, adaptable, and radical curricula. I also tend to my human heart through reading, dancing, gardening, and spending lots of time with my dog and two cats.

I hold a great deal of love for many of my own teachers, both those I encountered during my formal education (Oberlin Conservatory, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Kentucky) and those I engage with informally within my communities. One such teacher of my soul is Felicia Savage Friedman of YogaRoots On Location, through whose program I became a certified raja yoga teacher, a proponent of embodied learning, and a more discerning and loving human. Her work and humanhood, as well as that of my other soul teachers, greatly informs the work that I do today.

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Through my blog, yoga classes, and individual and group coaching, I help members of the artist and educator communities explore how their values can support and inform their professional lives. Here are some of the values that inform my work:

I BELIEVE IN:

  • holding multiple, often contradictory, truths. I’m not interested in picking sides or creating viral hot takes. I encourage myself and my clients to embrace complexity and nuance and to explore the multitudinous nature of human life.
     

  • honoring individuals while condemning systems. At the center of my belief system is the knowledge that the actions and beliefs of individuals, even those that cause great harm, are the results of systems that seek to oppress and dehumanize us all. This is not a reason to let people off the hook for harm but rather my motivation to see the humanity in everyone and to engage in systems of accountability and restorative justice, even and especially where harm occurs.

 

  • not being good. The good/bad binary is false and cannot hold the complexity of humanity. I refuse to engage in language or behavior that seeks to claim goodness or reject badness and I encourage my clients to move beyond the desire to prove or perform their own goodness.

 

  • existing in a body. Western culture too often separates the body from the mind and encourages us to engage in intellectual work from a disembodied place. I aspire to bring my whole body into the classroom and the office and I incorporate embodiment into all of my coaching. This might look like taking a few breaths together, incorporating small movements, or even simply turning off our Zoom cameras so we can be untethered from our screens.

 

  • processes of accountability that begin, not end, with apologies. Too often, our society treats “I’m sorry” as the end place of harm. I believe that accountability begins with an acknowledgment of harm and an apology. What accountability looks like after that depends on the needs of the harmed, the ability of the harmer, and the nature of the harm that has taken place. As a facilitator of spaces, I recognize that I am not divorced from these processes and that I will most likely both be harmed and cause harm within the context of this work.

 

  • a more beautiful world. I believe that a more beautiful world, one in which we are all seen and loved, in which we belong to one another, is possible. I believe that, through self-inquiry and community, imagination and love, we can build this world together.