Updated: Feb 21
Abby is one of those rare people who can make you feel special simply for existing. She has a singular ability to make you feel safe, enough, and celebrated. As a member of the Self Portrait Studio we've always admired her vibrant warmth and ability to light up any space. We praised her for it and rewarded her with love for how she made us feel...until we began to question why. That was the challenge round when we explored a photo prompt called Masculine Edge. The parameters for that self-portrait session were: take up space in the frame, resist the urge to smile, to put on a facade or be pleasing. Simply claim space and let the camera do the rest. It was challenging for everyone who had previously relied on a megawatt smile to light up the frame and on their ability to make other feel good. It asked the members to think of themselves first. Abby rose to the occasion, moving through the discomfort into new territory and explored a new side of herself. Here is Abby's journey, in her own words.
Welcome to the blog, Abby, I'm so happy to spend this time with you. Tell us about yourself.
Hi, I’m Abby. Human, obviously. A tad cheeky. A LOT curious.
Creator. Mama. Holistic well-being mentor. Vibrancy advocate. Energy alchemist. Salad muse.
Everything I do is rooted in my passion for living a vibrant and nourished life. In my day to day, I love to experiment and create and to share what energizes and delights me, not as an influencer but as a possibilitarian. My wider vision is all about supporting other women, and especially mamas, in accessing their vibrancy and vitality through alchemizing energy, connecting to inner wisdom, and fully resourcing well-being.
Okay, a couple of quirks, and interesting tidbits. I read the ingredients on everything except wine. I smell any new food before I taste it. I temporarily lost my hearing at age 21 in a Swiss discotheque. I had an en caul homebirth. I used to host a salad club. I never did understand physics in school but am now riveted by quantum physics. And I love to roller skate.
Where do you live? Who do you live with?
My family lives right on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay in California. My husband and I met in college. He’s a middle school science teacher & coach. And we are parents of two amazing kids - our son is 12 and our daughter is 9. Before we were married, we bought the house next door to my in-laws, so our kiddos have spent their whole lives with four generations of family. Our home is in one of the many first housing tracts built right after WWII, not fancy or elegant, but comfortable. We’ve transformed this home over seventeen years, renovating, repairing and remodeling much of it ourselves.
I jokingly refer to this as my tiny urban farm. Our little backyard is home to our chickens, several garden beds for flowers, vegetables, and herbs, and multiple fruit trees. Two cats, one leopard gecko, and our sweet pup Mando (who follows me like a shadow all day long) round out our crew.
Where would you love to live and why?
I dream of living on a true little farm, where we can have more garden space, more animals…ha, more work! I haven’t found a location yet that really feels like “home”...I love so many things about California. I’ve lived here my entire life, in some of the most beautiful places, but my soul hasn’t exhaled yessss yet. Wherever that is, I imagine it will be closer to nature and further from pavement, with a big view of the sky and close to some moving water. Definitely more space between us and neighbors. But I love the mountains, and the ocean, and the (edge of the) forest, so… any suggestions to narrow that down are welcome!
Do you know your human design type and/or astrological sign? (What’s your cosmic special sauce?)
Yes I do! I’m actually certified in Quantum Human Design™ so this is my jam. I’m an Emotional Generator (Alchemist in QHD) with a split definition (head-ajna, and sacral-solar plexus definition, for any of you who visualize HD charts like me) and a 3/5 profile. I’m an Aries sun, Libra moon, and Gemini rising. My cosmic special sauce: umami with a kick of spicy!
Tell us what you do and why you love it.
As much as I deeply desire to respond with a tidy, concise answer to this question, I may never quite fit in the “what do you do?” box. I feel like I’m currently birthing my soul work - and what I have been up to for the past few years is really experimenting, refining and practicing to bring that work to form. Most people use the term “from the ground up” in reference to building a business or practice, but I feel more like it’s “from the heart out.”
I may never quite fit in the “what do you do?” box. I feel like I’m currently birthing my soul work - and what I have been up to for the past few years is really experimenting, refining and practicing to bring that work to form.
I believe our well-being is influenced as much by what we consume as by what we create, and that we are all alive to create…our creations can present in the form of a family, a business, a project, our art, creation takes so many forms. Put simply, creating is how we express our radiant life force; consumption is how we nourish or deplete our life force. I see how so many of the current models keep us trapped in depletion, and my passion is supporting women to connect back to their inner vibrancy. We contribute to the world through our thriving, but we’ve been sold the lie that it’s selfish, while simultaneously being sold the lie that we need to do xyz to thrive in the first place. I have a gift for helping women know what they actually want - what they want to create and what they want in terms of nourishment - and I get to make it my work.
I provide multidimensional mentoring, coaching and support for women who desire to feel and express their inner vibrancy. I offer 1:1 sessions and small-group classes and courses, intuitively drawing from a blend of modalities. I also mentor women in gently weaving a leveraged income stream into their life or existing business. I adore teaching women about their energetic design, especially as it relates to embodying their energy in real life. I love transformation, on the micro and macro level, and I love supporting transformation!
I believe our well-being is influenced as much by what we consume as by what we create, and that we are all alive to create…our creations can present in the form of a family, a business, a project, our art, creation takes so many forms.
We would love to learn more about your work as a mentor and energy alchemist. How did you get started and, for those uninitiated, what does energy alchemy entail?
Well the mentoring part seems to be woven into my soul plan…it’s an archetype that has been with me my whole life and has manifested through different roles. It’s something that comes quite naturally, but it’s also a strength that I have developed over time.
And truthfully we are all energy alchemists. Everything is made of energy - and we humans are composed of complex networks of energetic and magnetic fields. Alchemy is the process of transformation or creation. So energy alchemy is about utilizing your energy to create and transform your life. I remember always being acutely aware of energy, but not being taught or guided how to work with it.
I’ve spent years and years experimenting with this myself, ever under circumstances of intense anxiety and complete burnout. When I listen to other women, I am able to meet them without judgment, and to pull from my own experiences and toolkit to offer suggestions and feedback.
There are so many simple and practical ways to help restore the balance and flow of energy throughout the body, mind, and soul for increased well-being. I’ve spent years and years experimenting with this myself, ever under circumstances of intense anxiety and complete burnout. When I listen to other women, I am able to meet them without judgment, and to pull from my own experiences and toolkit to offer suggestions and feedback. The most impactful mentors I’ve had in my life helped me to meet myself in my journey - they really walked with me in my self-discovery process - and that’s how I show up and hold space for other women. But my focus is on that energetic relationship between creation as output and nourishment as input, and how to create transformation from there.
My journey went from straight and direct to meandering and zigzagging, all in the last ten years. I went off to college at 17 with childhood dreams of going into pediatric medicine, and realized pretty quickly that the path I had imagined wasn’t what I wanted.
Is this career part of your first or second life? What was your journey up to this point?
Oh yes, my journey went from straight and direct to meandering and zigzagging, all in the last ten years. I went off to college at 17 with childhood dreams of going into pediatric medicine, and realized pretty quickly that the path I had imagined wasn’t what I wanted. In hindsight, I realize that the system of allopathic medicine didn’t resonate for me at all, but there was very little visibility in terms of career paths in holistic medicine back then. So, I made a quick pivot into education, getting my teaching credential and first teaching job by the time I was 22. I taught full time and went back to school for my Masters degree in curriculum & instruction shortly after. I thought I’d be a “lifer” - I taught elementary school and really believed that I loved it.
The transition into motherhood rocked everything I thought I knew about my identity, my desires, and how I envisioned my future.
Looking back, I was ignoring many signs of burnout and ancillary trauma early on, which impacted my mental and physical health for years. Regardless, I was so committed to my job that before our first child was born, I planned to take a quick maternity leave and then be right back in the classroom. And then matrescence hit me hard. I didn’t have the language for any of this at the time, but the transition into motherhood rocked everything I thought I knew about my identity, my desires, and how I envisioned my future.
At that point, I started dreaming about alternatives, but it took several more years and my second pregnancy to release my grip on that original identity enough to even have the courage to transition out of the classroom. The next few years I spent in other roles, still within education. I also leaned into partnering with a terrific network marketing company, thinking maybe that was my new route. That led me to a deep dive into health coaching and circling back to wellness.
I was going to step off into the unknown and basically hit restart. I wasn’t even sure what that new life looked like, but I knew it wasn’t the hustle and grind and numbness I was in.
But all that time it just felt like competing devotion. One day during a multi-hour commute I had a realization that the path I truly desired was not the one I was on. By late 2019 I made the decision that at the end of the 2020 school year, I was going to step off into the unknown and basically hit restart. I wasn’t even sure what that new life looked like, but I knew it wasn’t the hustle and grind and numbness I was in. And then, we all know what happened in 2020. I transitioned from “retiring from education” to homeschooling both our kiddos for the next couple of years. The universe is so funny.
I’ve been in my own self-designed program in holistic well-being during these last three years, studying and applying somatic therapies, integrative health coaching, Human Design and the Quantum Alignment System™, and the Gene Keys, among other elements. Next month, I’ll begin my training with Amy Taylor Kabaz to become a certified Mama Rising® facilitator, which feels like it will be kind of the final piece to this deep period of study. It’s something I’ve been magnetized to since I first heard the term matrescence about four years ago, and although I still don’t have a clear picture of how it’s all going to fit together, there’s a deep knowing that it will.
That brings us to now, where I feel like I’m still everyday figuring out the next steps in my own journey as an entrepreneur, lightworker and creative. And then simultaneously walking the path of parenting our active kiddos, which is such an experience of “every season brings changes” to our daily lives. Our son returned to school this year because he wanted to go to his dad’s middle school, but I’m still homeschooling our daughter.
We would like to know a little about how you were raised. Was self development encouraged and modeled by your parents or was this something you discovered for yourself later in life?
My mom definitely has an entrepreneur’s mind and heart, so that kind of kept me open to the entrepreneur’s journey. Nine years ago when I partnered with that first network marketing company was where I found a community that modeled personal development, and I kind of just ran with it. I was like a sponge. I’ve always been really self-reflective, but prior to that I didn’t have the mindset tools for transforming that self-reflection into self-actualization. That partnership and community is really what blew open the door to the path I’m on now.
There is no greater opportunity to learn about your power than to get knocked down and have to learn to get up again.
As a woman, I believe a challenge we share is becoming secure in ourselves and our worth while learning to love and accept who we are fully. Most of my challenges in life would have been minuscule if I’d learned those things sooner. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve overcome that shape who you are today?
Oh and it’s the challenges that shape us most, isn’t it? There is no greater opportunity to learn about your power than to get knocked down and have to learn to get up again.
So for me, a huge inflection point came in 2015. The first six months of that year was pretty bumpy emotionally - my grandma passed, I was recovering from stress-induced shingles, had resigned from my teaching position, and was still navigating the first couple of years of parenting two babes - so I wasn’t exactly feeling strong and secure in myself. And then in July we lost my husband’s mom, suddenly and quite traumatically right after her 58th birthday. She was such an integral part of our little family, she lived right next door, and she just radiated love. I vividly remember saying to a close friend at the funeral…”I don’t know how to love these three (my husband and my children) enough all by myself now, without her.” It was an absolutely transformational period for me. I had to get up again, for my family. To learn that I am enough and how to love myself enough to love them completely. I learned so much about drawing from my deep inner well of courage, resiliency, power, and self-love in the months after her death in order to sustain myself while also supporting us in that process of grieving and really rebuilding our life.
Taking care of others provided a sense of self-worth. You know, I think it’s what is modeled for so many of us - by our own mothers, by our culture, and frankly by our peers.
What are your tenets of vibrancy and nurturing energy? How do you take care of yourself while caring for others?
I spent years and years taking care of others without understanding that actually prioritizing my well-being was foundational. Taking care of others provided a sense of self-worth. You know, I think it’s what is modeled for so many of us - by our own mothers, by our culture, and frankly by our peers. I read something years ago, and actually maybe it was during that grief period I just described, and it stuck with me…Lisa Nichols talks about how, when we are trying to give everyone else what we need, before we give it to ourselves, we get stuck in this cycle of depletion. She talks about keeping your cup so full that you serve from your saucer. It just struck me soul-deep. It’s rooted into the work I do now, both to break that cycle within my family, but also to encourage and mentor other women in this revolution.
My work is how to keep your cup so full that you serve from your saucer, from your overflow. I see these five elements of holistic well-being as fundamental: nourish, connect, move, rest and create. These are the foundational pieces. When we offer these to ourselves honoring our uniqueness, what comes to us and through us is vibrancy. Vibrancy is a practice as much as it is a state of being.
Personally, nourishing my own energy begins with the basics: nutrition, sleep practices and movement. When I attend to these, I create capacity and energetic abundance for connecting and creating. It’s those two aspects, the connection and creation, that we are really in the energy of when we are caring for others.
Speaking of vibrancy, you’ve produced a portfolio of poignant photography in the Self Portrait Studio, all with your signature aura of generosity and vibrancy. Tell us why you decided to join and how that experience has been for you.
So I think I learned about you and your work through a little trail of breadcrumbs on Instagram. Self-portrait-ing was nowhere on my radar, but I was magnetized to two things about your course. One was learning how to take pictures of myself that I could possibly appreciate and identify with. The second thing about this course was an internal nudge that this was going to be an exercise in showing up (as in, the opposite of shrinking and hiding and getting small, all habits I was working on shedding.) I really committed to the process, and both of those visions have transpired.
The community that you are nurturing and growing is this delightful combination of incubator and mastermind - I was completely surprised by that. It’s been such an edge to lean into this gorgeous group of rad women...and really confront my inner voices of inadequacy.
Did any part of it surprise you?
The community that you are nurturing and growing is this delightful combination of an incubator and a mastermind - I was completely surprised by that. It’s been such an edge to lean into this gorgeous group of rad women (sharing their soul-work with the world and building amazing heart-led businesses) and really confront my inner voices of inadequacy. But actually in this community I’ve made connections and friendships that are so inspiring and nourishing, and feel incredibly supported in this growth curve I’m in.
I’m also surprised by the many ways that something as seemingly simple as taking my own photo with my iphone has had this deep effect on my capacity for meeting discomfort in general. Like even when you asked me if I’d do this interview, I was like “ME?!, like no way am I cool enough for this.” But showing myself more and more through self-portraits was really the scaffolding for me to be open to accepting this invitation and meeting my edge. So thank you, and thank you.
I’m also surprised by the many ways that something as seemingly simple as taking my own photo with my iphone has had this deep effect on my capacity for meeting discomfort in general.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting to explore their self trust and self awareness? Where should they start?
Learning about Human Design was a game changer for me, in terms of having language available to help me understand my wiring. You know, there’s lots of systems out there that can assist with this and I had dabbled with many of them (astrology, Enneagram, personality tests) but Human Design was the one I both understood and resonated with most clearly. Even just learning the basics of my chart helped me to be more metacognitive with my self trust and self awareness. To move from “ugh, there’s this part of me that should be different” to “Oh! Perhaps this is how my energy is designed to work…” It gave me some space to get curious about what I was noticing internally. Whatever the tool is for you, whether it's a system like Human Design or a practice like self-portraits, I think the foundation to exploring self trust and self awareness is having an avenue to witness yourself, outside of the stories in your head.
Whatever the tool is for you, whether it's a system like Human Design or a practice like self-portraits, I think the foundation to exploring self trust and self awareness is having an avenue to witness yourself, outside of the stories in your head.
Abby, what are you most proud of?
I am really deeply proud of the way I’m a mama. It’s the aspect of my life where I trust myself the most. I think part of that is a wholehearted belief that my kids both came into this world with their own unique life journeys and soul curriculums. They have everything they need within them. My role is to keep allowing my own unfolding to be someone who can help them blossom. I’m really proud of the way that I am alongside them as they grow and learn and develop.
I’m proud of not getting stuck in life, because it’s really easy to kind of settle into the life we’re in. I notice that many people become trapped in the skeleton of what life they thought they wanted.
And then also, I’m proud of not getting stuck in life, because it’s really easy to kind of settle into the life we’re in. I notice that many people become trapped in the skeleton of what life they thought they wanted. Especially as women, resisting change when everything in our bodies is changing keeps us locked out of coherence and in a life that doesn’t match our current state. I’m at a point now where I am continuously asking myself “Is this what I want?” and then making adjustments accordingly. It’s something I don’t often acknowledge myself for but when I zoom out I know it’s a big deal. I recently took a huge leap in partnering with a new company to share individualized microfrequency technology, and I actually think it’s a great example of continually checking with myself and moving with coherence.
Where do you find inspiration and motivation on the days you are not feeling it?
I usually have plenty of inspiration (with a defined head and ajna), but I have an undefined will and root, so I have had LOTS of conditioning around and filtering to do with the energy of motivation. Learning about my own emotional wave (that I’m going to feel how I feel and it’s OK), slowly releasing the go-go-go tendencies rooted in past trauma, and just making sure I’m moving my body have all helped me with this. The days I’m not feeling it are usually the days that I haven’t moved my body. Movement is usually enough to change my state, but when I feel my brain ruminating and unsure of my direction, I’ll pick up and play with one of my many creative outlets. If I’m short on time, I’ll get outside and put my hands or feet on or in the dirt and it’s the best little energetic reset button.
What does living well mean to you?
Mmmm…what a beautiful question. Well, for me, living well is this intersection between how I feel within my physical body and how I contribute to & show up in the external
(my relationships, my community… like how I move in the world). Living well is when both of those are humming along. For me, it’s a feeling more than an image. Living well is this beautiful cycle of nourishment and creativity and carries a vibration that touches the people around you.
I think that plays into how I mentor too…I want to know how you feel in your body, what you want more of, what are you holding onto, where do you feel stickiness in terms of your dreams becoming your reality, are you even able to access and answer “what do you desire?”...These are all things I’ve been working with and developing myself over the years, to tune into living well, being well. And I’m so inspired to reach out and pass that along to other women.
Favorite book, podcast, or spotify recommendations?
I’ll offer what’s currently in my eyes and ears.
The Creative Act, Rick Rubin
The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer (this is a re-visit)
The Gene Keys, Richard Rudd (this is one I refer to almost daily)
Journey to the Heart, Melody Beattie (daily meditations)
Free by Florence & the Machine (on repeat, and watch the music video)
On Being - the episode with Dacher Keltner on “The Thrilling Science of Awe”
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Keep going. Rest when you need rest, find what nourishment you need in your different seasons, pivot and change course as often as you like, but keep going. Create your most beautiful life.
Abby is a Holistic well-being mentor. living in San Francisco with her family of four, two cats, a leopard gecko, and a pup named Mando.
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