I Want What SHE Has
With the New Year upon us, we find ourselves setting goals for what we’d like to accomplish on both a business and personal level. This time of self-reflection forces you to assess how much one can achieve in a day, a month, or a year? When you meet someone like Theresa Lyn Widmann and all she has accomplished, you can’t help but wonder…how does she do it? She studied Law at Seton Hall University School of Law before becoming a modern-day multi-hyphenate: writer-teacher-sound healer-yoga instructor-wellness coach, women’s advocate-community builder-activist.
Widmann is the founder of Anahata Center for Love and Healing, a member of the Ulster County Conviction Integrity Unit, Chair of Live Well Kingston’s Heal Well Focus Team, former Festival Director and Board President for the O+ Festival. She also was an organizer of Hudson Valley’s One Billion Rising, And as if that wasn’t enough, Theresa launched the podcast I Want What SHE Has on Radio Kingston, a show she co-created with artist/musician Shana Falana that amplifies women’s voices and stories. Her superpower is helping people heal and create a life filled with meaning. We want what SHE has!
Inside+Out was fortunate to spend time with Theresa to learn more about what drives her passion and creativity.
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Inside+Out Upstate NY: Hi Theresa, let’s start with how you wound up in the Hudson Valley.
Theresa Lyn Widmann: Rock climbing. Back in 2004/2005, I started coming up from NYC with my then-boyfriend to rock climb and camp on the weekends. Originally from Wisconsin, it was a nice break from the city, and I think the Ulster County Fair sealed the deal. Something about the community of that experience helped me see this was where I wanted to spend my time. That and the Rosendale Theater. Those are my first two fondest memories and, of course, the views! So in 2006, I bought my first little house in “the Vly,” which was technically a Sears Kit Garage. I was part-time until 2009 when that rock climbing boyfriend and I split up. I moved to the Vly full time and occasionally went back down to the city for work. Now my work is here, and that community that I imagined from that first Ulster County Fair is my reality.
That Hudson Valley magic– it’s always there; you just have to look for it. What makes it unique for you to live + work in Upstate New York?
Because my work is so steeped in the realm of healing, the Hudson Valley is an ideal place to support that type of work. I can look out my window and see the peak of Ashokan High Point, trees, a pond, squirrels and other animals happily going about their day. There’s something very soothing about being immersed in nature, and it regularly inspires me to get outside, breathe deeply, and keep the balance in life. It feels like a regenerative circle that allows me to continue holding that possibility for others as well.
You do many different things and do them all so well. As a studio owner/yoga teacher, sound healer, writer, holistic coach, and now, a podcast host–how do you stay focused and balance it all?
Years of practice (smile). Truthfully, I used to be a super Type A personality who overextended myself regularly. At some point, I knew that wasn’t sustainable, nor did it allow me to focus on what was really important. I did a lot of inner work and now have a pretty good balance based upon my values. I allow myself some flexibility with my schedule to be in the flow of where I feel pulled, yet rooted in some structure, like the podcast/radio show, which is a fixed feature in my life. Sometimes I will carve out specific time frames for certain projects like writing or other creative work and then I fill my time with my client work–sound healing events and workshops. After completing my coaching training, I knew that I had to stay true to my inner passions to be authentic, so I make sure to leave enough time for them. I love working with people and supporting them in their journeys, but I have my own journey as well. It’s a process of regularly checking in with myself, at least weekly, to survey the landscape and decide where my focus should be for the week.
How have you adapted to the magnitude of change over the past year? What effects have these changes had on your daily work?
Surprisingly well. My Kingston location had to close, which caused me to pivot to online classes. While it was nice to be connected to folks during those beginning moments of the pandemic, I realized that I preferred group events in person and that the online work might be best-done one-on-one. Despite teaching yoga and offering sound healing for years, I never really got into the one-on-one model. However, the pandemic helped me see that I actually love working with people one-on-one, so I went back to school to build upon my training. I deepened my Reiki training, took a course in Happiness, and got certificates in Health and Life Coaching. Of course, the downtime that I experienced during the pandemic helped me get clear about what I wanted to offer to others.
I’ve gone through some fairly significant life changes from walking away from a career in law, leaving a relationship just months before our planned wedding, leaving a highly lucrative job in sales, and healing some very unhealthy life habits. I realized that I want to support others who may be confronting similar life challenges. My work has evolved because of all the changes this past year. Plus, I finally fancied up a barn in my yard and can now offer sound and yoga there, which has been a vision I’ve held since moving into this house in 2016. I know the pandemic hasn’t been easy on many people, so I count my blessings and hope to share them with others.
As host of the popular I Want What SHE Has podcast, you shine a light on women and the fascinating things they are doing in the Hudson Valley. How does this intersect, if at all, with your healing/coaching/writing work?
I reflected on that earlier this year and made a conscious shift to focus the podcast stories on women doing work or somehow embodying what I call “the antidote to the patriarchy.” In other words, moving us from a system about “power over” to one about “power with.” In my experience and opinion, society as a whole is out of balance. I see it through the lens of masculine and feminine, not in a gendered way, but in an energetic way. There are certain characteristics that I view as feminine: nurturing, compassion, collaboration, healing, creativity, flow, intuition, stillness, and the like. I see society undervaluing if not completely ignoring these attributes of ourselves which is a big cause of the imbalance. This imbalance is what I believe needs healing, not only for our minds but our bodies AND our Earth. Right now, it seems like toxic masculinity is winning – hateful anger, bullying, guns, disregard for the earth and others – but there’s an undercurrent of doing life differently, something I want to help support and feed. This is where I believe all of my work intersects.
Well said! What inspired you to start your podcast?
An obsession with self-improvement! Truthfully, my dearest friend Shana Falana and I used to share podcasts with one another and then played around with the idea of doing our own, which we joked would mostly just be us and our very loud and identifiable laughs. At some point, that distilled into a real idea of celebrating women who we look up to. That was back in the Fall of 2017, which was right around the massive social wave of the #metoo movement. We approached Jimmy Buff from Radio Kingston. We used their equipment for the show, which turned into a radio spot that became the podcast episodes. Shana left the show to focus on her music in mid-2019, but I continue to hold the torch of “amplifying women’s voices and their stories.”
Here’s a preview of some of the amazing women that have been featured guests on I Want What SHE Has. See the link at the bottom of the page to start listening
How did you learn how to produce a podcast, and do you have any tips for anyone that wants to start one?
Shana and I really just did a lot of research online and took it one step at a time. Being a musician, she already had some background with the tech side of things and editing audio. I taught myself how to do that using Garageband, and Manuel Blas at Radio Kingston helped me learn some other sound editing programs. Kale at Radio Kingston recommended Simplecast as a hosting system, and the rest of it was pretty easy.
My tips for starting a podcast would vary depending upon what you want to get out of it. If you’re looking to monetize your podcast, there are some things that are important to do. Mine is not actively being monetized, so I am not an expert, but it’s good to have several shows completed that you can launch initially, and then you’re going to want to have people provide reviews and subscribe to the podcast. It’s hard work and well worth it to hire someone to help with the marketing if you’re serious about it. If you’re doing it as a passion project or to offer content to your already established audience, keep it simple at first. It can take significant time, especially if you’re doing a lot of editing. My shows largely flow from the live radio interview, so I do minimal editing. You can build elements and get more complex as you go along if that feels right for you. The bottom line for me is being excited about who and what I am talking about. That keeps me going!
This might be a tough question, but what was one of your most inspiring podcast interviews?
Impossible! I honestly fall in love with all of my guests. I am always inspired, moved, and so grateful that they’ve given me their time. If I had to pick, I suppose I would say my most recent interview with my 12-year-old niece Eva. It was really interesting to watch her be “goofy” when we weren’t recording and then step into a very professional and serious demeanor when we were. I was also blown away by what came out of her mouth. She shared some really profound wisdom on life and navigating challenges and disappointments. I don’t think I would have had the kind of conversation we experienced had it not been for the interview format, which was a real gift to me.
Let’s talk about marketing. How do you promote your own business?
My yoga and sound healing work started at my Kingston studio located in the heart of Uptown on North Front Street. This gave me some pretty incredible street traffic, for which I am very grateful. I’ve also been very active in the community. I was the former Festival Director and Board President for the O+ Festival, have been the Heal Well Focus Team Chair for Live Well Kingston for the past few years, and recently served as an Advisory Board member for the YWCA/Girls Inc. There’s more, but those wonderful opportunities have allowed me to connect with and collaborate with so many amazing people in the Hudson Valley, which I suspect has also helped me in some capacity in my work. Other than that, I try my best to do social media, but I am not that consistent with it. Despite my failings there, it does help to get the word out and stay connected with people interested in my work.
What impact does your business have on your community?
I hope my business brings some peace, joy, healing, and connection to people. We are living through a difficult time, and I know it’s not always easy to pause to take care of ourselves, but I will keep doing what I do to offer opportunities for those when they are ready. Part of that involves doing sound healing for large groups out in public. I’ve done them in collaboration with others at Academy Green Park in Kingston, the Old Dutch Church, the O+ Festival, and the Summer Hoot. They are some of my favorite experiences where people accidentally stumble upon them and have profoundly transformative experiences.
What local businesses do you rely on to be successful?
That’s a great question! I don’t know if there is one business, but there is such a strong network of both women and “healers” of all sorts who are regularly open to collaborating which is what is needed for our own benefit and the betterment of all. As I say when I sign off on the podcast, “love yourself and uplift one another.” We can accomplish a lot when we come together, but of course, we must take care of ourselves first.
What is missing in Kingston, New York that you wish we had?
An Indian restaurant!
What does your typical day look like?
Right now, I get up pretty early and feed the outdoor furnace. I then meditate, journal, make tea, read for inspiration, and get on the computer for work/creative stuff. I break up the day with a walk, three square meals, and then read before bed, usually around 10 PM.
Who or what inspires you professionally? Personally?
Creativity inspires me. That might be images, sounds, or words which is why I start my day off with some reading. There are too many people to name anyone in particular, but I can honestly say that nearly every guest on “I want what SHE has” has been an inspiration in some way. I always feel like I walk away from our conversation with a gift, having spent time with them.
What would be your DREAM job or project?
Doing a sound bath before a My Morning Jacket show : )
What’s next for you? Sneak peek of new direction or product?
I am saying this in writing to the public, so it’s going to happen, right? I have been working on a novel since 2009. I would love to wrap that up and get it out into the world. More writing in general as well as more sound creation. I have one Gong recording and one recorded guided meditation, so my hope is to do more of that over the winter months. I am also returning to some online group offerings most likely aligned with the New and Full Moons.
What is your current state of mind?
Thank you, Theresa, and thank you for all you do, especially giving voice to the Women of the Hudson Valley.
Can’t wait for that novel!
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Discover + Connect with Theresa Lyn Widmann