Laura Guilliams and I have been knowing each other for a long while now, since we met in a tiny, quirky town in the Blue Ridge Mountains where we both once lived. In the years since, I’ve watched as she’s deepened her yoga practice, recently combining it with her long-standing victim advocacy work into a budding yoga therapy practice. Along the way, she and I have been doing some parallel work to let go of some deep and pernicious people-pleasing habits and she gave me a whole load more to think about in this conversation.

Also, she has chickens.


There were some connection glitches during this conversation but since they didn’t interrupt the flow of conversation, Laura and I decided to let them roll. After all, this is an intentionally wabi-sabi project of being exactly where we are.

Some key moments in our conversation:

  • Recovering people-pleaser doing the best to make the world a better place once person at a time while also keeping an eye on boundaries
  • In her work supporting people in the midst of trauma, she finds opportunities to manage her desire to fix and instead allow people their process
  • How trying to control other’s experiences through fixing is really a way to control our own discomfort – something her teacher called her God complex
  • Healthy and unhealthy selfishness
  • Laura finds the work of learning better boundaries as both freeing and exhausting
  • In her budding work as a yoga therapy practitioner, how to de-center self without losing the connection and the tool of discernment in that process
  • Self-care as a need that’s showing up: Who and what do I need in order to manage this experience
  • People-pleasers as mind-readers
  • Learning about the brain and the nervous system and how it’s factoring into her work
  • Tools: The full array of tools that fit under the wide umbrella of yoga (remember, the movement part is just one sliver), knowing who her people are and in what kinds of situations they shine, and Laura’s chickens – literally! – and her garden, home, and her various creative pursuits including her soap company, Mountain Laurel Soaps
  • Spotlight: Ursula’s Café, a pay-what-you-can non-profit working to feed everybody regardless of their ability to pay; it’s also an event and community-arts center with a focus on inclusivity

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