I was recently signing books at a GALentines event in Central Minnesota. I met so many warm and delightfully chatty people on that chilly February day–sipping fancy coffees, shopping for sweethearts, and talking about how to love on the people in our lives. As I was visiting with one woman, I was so moved by her positive energy and kind spirit that I asked if I could feature her as a #RealLifeWonderWoman. She was a little surprised, telling me she might not have enough inspiration or content for the interview.
“Are you kidding?” I asked, nearly choking on my Lavender Latte.
Folks, this is a woman who has taught self-defense for 20 years, works at a college, and also teaches yoga–offering special classes for cancer patients and survivors. She is generous, humble and hard-working. Um, yes Sweet Barb, you definitely have stories and inspiration to share with us!
Lucky for you, dear readers, she agreed to it and you get to meet her today. Without further adieu, here’s Real Life Wonder Woman Barb Novak!
KR: Hi Barb! I’m so glad you’re here. Will you please tell us about what brings you joy and fulfillment?
BN: Great question! There are a lot of things that bring me joy and fulfillment. Personally, my family brings me the most joy. My husband and I raised two children who are now raising their own children. I enjoyed all of the years of them growing up and now watching them raise their own gives me great pleasure.
Teaching yoga has also been very rewarding. I find joy in watching people evolve into themselves, finding that space where you can almost see their faces go awweeee. I have had some of the same students for many years. Teaching yoga led me to pursue the Yoga For Cancer certification which has been extremely fulfilling. I have had a couple of men participate but it’s mostly been women. These women have been amazing and they are truly real life wonder women. This program and time they give themselves is invaluable. It provides a sense of community, a place of genuine understanding and appreciation for what they have or are experiencing. During my time teaching this particular program, we have lost two wonder women, one just this year, and it affects all of us. Ironically, as I write this, both women were named Laura and they both had a smile and spark that impacted all around them.
My passions are to help others and at the same time find that same inner peace, joy and love within. I have learned over the years we can overdo it! We try to get everything done, please everybody, make sure this is perfect, and so on, but if we don’t have it within ourselves, we can’t always give to others.
KR: I believe we all have inner superpowers. What are some of yours?
BN: I think some of my superpowers are sincerity, compassion and loyalty. I am a good listener and I am a good connector of people. I believe I have an innate ability to see the entire picture in various circumstances, and can understand and respect people where they are coming from.
KR: Would you tell us about an influential woman in your life and how she inspired you?
BN: My best friend Kim influenced my life. Unfortunately Kim passed away in 2010 after 30+ years of friendship and it was a significant loss. I reflect on our time together and I realize how much she showed me to love and believe in others. She was always happy and the memories are forever in my heart.
KR: If you could have one super-human power, what would it be?
BN: To help others realize life is too short, to make the most of each and every day and to follow your heart with kindness and compassion.
KR: What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?
BN: I enjoy golfing, though I am not very good at it. It’s the socialization part I enjoy. I enjoy being in nature, spending time with family and friends, traveling, and now soaking up whatever time I have with grandchildren!
KR: Knowing what you know at this stage of your life, what words of wisdom would you give to your 20-year-old self?
BN: I stressed over too many things – wanting things to be done perfectly, pleasing everyone, and sometimes that comes at a cost of your own self-respect and wearing yourself down. I’d tell my 20-year-old self to realize it is okay and important to take the time to nurture your own body, mind and spirt. Life can be short and we don’t know what each day holds in store for us.(This advice is still good advice for me today, at 58!)
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