I'm generally uncomfortable with labels but I'm not sure how else to tell you about myself in this little white box, so here goes: I'm a writer, a yoga teacher, an untrained cook, a plant lover...okay, that's enough! 

I travel, a lot, and call many places home. This means I don't own any furniture, but I do have two pairs of Birkenstocks, much to my 16-year-old self's chagrin. She wallpapered her bedroom with Absolut vodka ads and wore Abercrombie & Fitch cologne, though, so who was she, supposed arbiter of taste? By living and traveling light I hope to stay connected to the things that most inspire me, none of which, it turns out, are material. I love beautiful material things but experiences last longer. They are more filling, yet they don't take up space. I can move them for free. 

Traveling is how I get to know myself, and the more I know about me the more I learn about us (as in you, the person next to you, and that guy over there). A really good yoga teacher called this "broadening our web of compassion," and I think that totally nails it. Being with people and places outside of my immediate understanding reshapes my perception of this whole universe / life thing. It's like polishing the lens of a camera and realizing the edges were so dirty I'd only been getting a fraction of the picture.  

One of the places I feel most at home is sitting in intentional circles with women. I am lucky to have a plethora of them in my life, women who are constant sources of inspiration and, when occasion calls, prolific users of Kleenex. Men are great, don't get me wrong, but there's a subtle and powerful alchemy at work when women get together to laugh, eat, dance, sweat, cry, and pray. More and more I am convinced of the necessity of these circles. All women (and men!) need time and places to come together and share their stories without fear of being judged or ignored. In my work as a storyteller, a teacher of bodies and breath, and as a listener, I hope to create spaces like this — in the world and online  where we can make our compassion quilts together. Frame by frame, we can take broader pictures. 

I am always looking for people to collaborate with and learn from. If you're interested in cooking together, practicing yoga, writing a story, or creating a project from scratch, I'd love to hear from you. I'm at alison.baenen@gmail.com