about my work
As a home organizer, part of my work is volunteering with the Refugee Women’s Alliance, collecting donations of housewares, clothing, linens, and furniture to give directly to refugee families living in Seattle.
As a yoga teacher, I’ve taught more than 4,000 classes for adults since 1993. My specialty is adapting yoga for different populations.
And I loved teaching trauma-sensitive classes for Veterans with PTSD at Seattle’s V.A. Medical Center. What a wonderful group of men and women.
about my family
My husband David Hlavsa and I have been sweethearts for thirty years. Our beautiful son Benjamin is in high school.
David wrote a memoir about our hard road to parenthood, Walking Distance: Pilgrimage, Parenthood, Grief, and Home Repairs (Michigan State University Press). It was the Gold Winner in the 2015 Foreword INDIES Book Awards in Family and Relationships. The book was also a Finalist in the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
We’ve been interviewed for the New York Times’ “Making It Last” series about marriage, and for “Modern Love: The Podcast.” In that episode, Emmy-winning actor Sterling K. Brown reads David’s NYT “Modern Love” essay.
David and I renovated our 1946 house mostly by ourselves, and our sweat-equity garden was on the 2011 West Seattle Garden Tour.
Most of all, we love being home. Ben calls us ‘The Cozy Family.’
Watch “The Sock Puppet Peregrinos” video from David’s reading at Orca Books in Olympia, Washington, October 17 2015
From David’s book Walking Distance, this is about the beginning of our 400-mile walk across northern Spain along the centuries-old pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago, in the spring of 2000:
“We begin walking on Lisa’s thirty-fifth birthday, part of a small flock of peregrinos released at dawn, as if from a pigeon coop, onto the country road that passes through Roncesvalles. We’re a little giddy, lightheaded, and light on our feet. Our backpacks feel fine. Lisa loves her boots. We breakfast on a large Hershey bar with almonds (brought from home), my birthday present to Lisa.
“Most of the pilgrims around us look a little less shiny than we do, having begun the trip a couple of days ago on the French side of the border, at the base rather than the top of the mountain pass. Hanging on the backpacks of these relative veterans, the most common adornment is not the scallop shell but the true sign of the peregrino: the previous day’s pair of damp socks.
“The first day’s walk is relatively undemanding. It is literally all downhill and, for now, not at the kind of punishing angle that leads to shin splints. So, we are relieved to find that it’s not at all hard to follow the yellow arrows marking the way: they’re painted at regular intervals, often within sight of each other, on trees, rocks, sidewalks, fences, the sides of buildings.
“For the next month of walking we will rarely be even slightly confused about the route, let alone lost. Upon encountering anyone wearing a backpack and a quizzical expression, the local population cheerfully and forcefully directs that peregrino along the path toward the next refugio. Indeed, the difficulty is not staying on the path; it’s convincing people that you’re looking for anything that’s off the path.
“On our way to Zubiri, our first destination, we pass through tidy Basque villages with narrow streets and Alpine-style houses, copses of trees, and pastures with ancient rusting tractors, flocks of sheep, and cows with mournful bells. In a few places we sink up to our boot tops in rich mud, the last we’ll see in four hundred miles of dry weather. By this time, we’re largely past the temporary disorientation of jet lag. Instead, we are well into the more durable perplexity of culture shock. We still have a couple of days before the pain starts. So it’s an easy time. We love being peregrinos.
“…Lisa does love her backpack, though. It serves as a kind of mini-household for her to tidy. It has lots of pockets, you see. And she knows exactly what is in each pocket, large and small. In one pocket, in a little bag with a drawstring, she keeps her chapstick, handiwipes, and lotions. Another contains her water bottle and emergency reserve chocolate bars. In another, a little red notebook and pen are ready to record her observations and impressions. One tiny pocket is devoted to sugar cubes she has collected from bars and restaurants along the way, in case she should meet a friendly horse.
“On pilgrimage, there is a constant sense of the body in motion, therefore in space, and of the space above and below. For those of us accustomed to spending most of our day indoors, earth and sky regain their significance. We float free between them. Books, possessions of all kinds, are leaden things, distractions, anchors. Fields of spring wildflowers drift by. Poppies by the side of the path. Huge purple thistles, sunflowers. Gnarled grapevines, olive trees, cow pastures. Ruined castles on the hills. Medieval towns rise in the distance, islands from a sea of cropland.
“As we approach a town, there is none of the ill-defined transition from country to exurb to suburb to city that has become the norm in the States. The town looms larger, larger. Then we simply arrive, step from fields to town, as we might from a boat to a dock. We come upon, in media res, the life of an insular community.”