Celebrating 10 Years ❤️

I completed a grueling year of treatment for Stage 3 breast cancer in 2008.  I was overjoyed and grateful to be finished.  What I wasn’t prepared for was how difficult it would be to get my life back.

I was struggling with numerous side effects of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation including lymphedema, osteoporosis, a broken rib, fatigue, “chemobrain” and the common experience of depression and fear of recurrence.

I returned to my work as a psychotherapist, but wasn’t seeing cancer patients and survivors as clients because my own experience was still too fresh. But when I discovered kriya, I recognized the benefits for cancer patients and survivors.

Kriya for Immune Fitness is a practice you can do daily, as I did, to increase your energy and regain focus. Doing it every day for over a year, I found it ideal for the following:

  • managing mild lymphedema (in my arms and torso)
  • increasing mental and physical energy and conquering fatigue
  • consciously releasing tension, anger, pain and toxins
  • getting both sides of my body moving to decrease aches and pains and increase circulation
  • integrating the life changing ordeal I had been through
  • drastically reducing the depression and anxiety I felt

Ten years ago, in September 2010, I was eager to share a kriya yoga series I felt had been key to bringing back my energy.  I began offering a free weekly class in South Austin through a nonprofit. At the beginning I had very few students, sometimes none,  but I would still show up and practice the kriya on my own.

Over time, I developed a friendship with a member of the IV League, a support group for women living with Stage 4 breast cancer.  Together, we decided to offer my class immediately before their weekly support group at Casa de Luz, the macrobiotic center. For several years, the class was mainly folks from the IV League group – a closeknit and inspiring group of women.

One day, a woman from Capital of Texas Team Survivor joined us. She loved the practice, especially Lion’s Breath, and she asked if Team Survivor could co-sponsor the group, help advertise, and pay me a small stipend. I gratefully accepted and the energy around the class began to grow as more people learned about it.

Eventually the local YogaYoga studio allowed us to offer our free class in their beautiful space. When the pandemic hit in March, everything moved to an online format and we persisted, meeting virtually on Zoom each week. We average about 20 students per class and have hundreds who cycle in and out.

Sometimes people ask me why I like working with cancer survivors, assuming it would be sad or depressing.  For me, it’s the exact opposite. As one Joybooter remarked, “We get to embrace life in it’s  most VIVID, being truly aware of life and its beauty and fragility every time we get together.” I am inspired by the depth of feeling, connection and openness people bring to the class each week. I am motivated by the peace and stability of mind, pain relief, community and healing they experience.

I thank everyone that has participated or supported me and the JoyBooter community over the years.  Together, we lift each other’s spirits!

Please join me in celebrating our 10 year anniversary!  Share the Joyboots website and Joyboots Facebook group with friends or colleagues.  Since classes are being offered virtually, people can join from anywhere in the world and it’s always free.

Mamma Jamma is an amazing organization that has provided over $2 million in support for local programs and services for breast cancer fighters and survivors.  Thank you for donating to Mamma Jamma to support my class, Team Survivor and other organizations providing crucial assistance to cancer survivors. You can still donate through November 30th to help me reach my fundraising goal of $1000.

Yoga & Talk with Jeannie Ramirez

I love Jeannie’s poetic way of expressing herself!  Let’s all tune in on September 15th to support the HAAM fundraiser.  HAAM supports the mental and physical health of musicians in Austin.  And Jeannie, I’m going to start working on that JoyBooter retreat in the Bahamas RIGHT NOW!  Thanks for the inspiration.


Share a little bit about yourself.
Hi everyone! I’m so many layers like all of us, and here it is: I was 8yrs old when my mother passed from Breast Cancer, not really understanding what cancer was and why she died. So I am a Daughter of an incredible woman I found out many years later about Herlinda Gutierrez-Ramirez, Mother to my Amazing daughter who will be 36yrs old this October, like WOW!, YAYA to my Grandson Reid Atlas Glaze I have been an Animal, Community, and Political Activist for over 20yrs, and I have been a working musician for 34yrs this 2020!!!!!! My band name is Singing Lady Banana bread and you can find me at my online band page.

Share a little bit about your cancer experience.
I was diagnosed in 2017 with Stage 3 Breast Cancer Her2 Positive, and I don’t own a car and I remember I was riding my bike going to a cleaning gig (that was my day job back then), I got the call, pulled over to grass on sidewalk and was told the news. I was by a train track and the noise of the train was silent, I know that makes no sense, because trains are so loud, but I looked up at the sky and everything looked different for a moment, the car noise was silent, but the birds were so loud to me and I felt like a ghost, like no one could see me. All the treatment I received for my journey was given by incredible medical workers, but physically it was painful and mentally it took me to such a dark hole, that 6 months into chemo, my daughter and her husband were living with me, said “Do you want to do something crazy”, I said “how crazy”?, she said “lets go to New York for 24hrs”. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she said I smiled and she had not seen me smile in 6months, if that tells you how depressed and unhappy I was. Yes I appreciated family, and all the little things we do in life on a daily basis for granted, but thinking about death constantly, trying to get my things in order in case I wouldn’t make it, really transformed me into that ghost I was talking about. I have such a long journey like everyone that endures the cancer journey, I love all of you, and I’m in a new chapter in my life that now includes getting back to music even in Covid. I will be performing a Livestream for HAAM Day, Sept.15th on Singing Lady Banana Bread Facebook page, to raise money for musicians who have no health care and for musicians who are in HAAM like myself to continue to receive health care. When I was diagnosed in 2017, I had no health insurance, it was devastating financially and mentally. I got over 200,00 in medical debt and HAAM helped me get health insurance and I was able to get Radiation and Diep Flap Breast Reconstruction, one more surgery to go!

How has it benefited you to be part of the Joyboots community?
Kelly‘s words resonate in your mind and body for hours and days for me and I feel safe and peaceful always in her presence.

What is your meditation practice like?
I talk to God, Universe, Pray, touch all my plants and trees and kiss them. I visualize smiles from the people I love so dearly and I listen to the birds and watch the trees dancing in the wind.

How has yoga and meditation benefited you?
Yoga has a air about it that immediately soothes you, makes you feel warm throughout your whole spirit so the benefit of yoga is Peace for me.

What practices have benefited you the most?
Hatha Yoga, is very soothing, wakes up every part of your body, but I love different yoga classes and forms.

What are you still struggling to cope with?
Worry for everyone single human living right now in this time. Worry in general

What brings you moments of joy?
Hearing my Grandson, Daughter, laugh out loud! Or hearing an old song from Arlo Guthrie called “Coming To Los Angeles”

What is something you’d like to share with the community to help them along their healing journey?
Scream, Cry, let it all out, I’m so blessed to have music and I can sing as loud as I want so find whatever makes you happy, I don’t care if it’s dancing to the music on a commercial, be Silly, be Vulnerable, it’s Powerful. You Are Special, we are Warriors in an army only we get each other. I remember taking off my wig for first time and rode the city bus to Wheatsville and walked in, I felt like I was floating on air, scary but I felt more free that day, then a friend yelled out “Jeannie”, I turned around, she said, “Your so brave to walk in your baldness, she also had cancer in past, said “I could never do that when I lost my hair”, then on way back from store, I’m waiting at the bus stop, and some young guy said “I love you Punk Rock look”, I said “Kid, I got cancer”, again I felt free!

How has covid-19 affected you physically and emotionally?
In March 2020 when Austin first got locked down, I was recovering from 1st Breast Reconstruction Revision Feb 2020, so for 3 months I think I Spaced Out if you will. I was worried, thought the world was ending for sure as we know it. In June when I saw the PA from Surgeons office follow-up, I had gained alot of weight because I wasn’t moving. I’m a very active person, I don’t own a car so I get around Austin though bike and bus. Meditation, Prayers raised a higher level, but so did eating food with no movement increased. I started moving, doing Yoga on my own, sitting outside in the sun in my bikini on my beach towel and dreamed I was in the Bahamas! I’ve never been there, when I was in chemo I decided to get a passport, so it has never been stamped and maybe next year, I want to go to the Bahamas. Kelly, please get a trip going with Breast Cancer patients and survivors! To hang out with you in Bahamas would be bucket list event!!!!!

How has being a cancer survivor prepared you to better deal with the pandemic or how is it making it harder to cope?
Everyone gets a Great Awakening when diagnosed with cancer I feel. I never thought about death, never talked about it, so when I started to get my things in order which entails so much, it gave me peace, I had the reconciliations that needed to happen, got my clothes etc etc in order and I’m so grateful for being alive and celebrating my 57 birthday this Nov 1st. I have all talked about Covid with my immediate family and what potentially could happen if any one of us get it and it takes us down. We are prepared for anything, hoping for best of course, Cancer gives you time in most cases to prepare for anything in life so my new moto is “Thank You Cancer For Awakening My Life”

What is something surprising you’ve learned about yourself as a result of the quarantine experience?
Boy do i love Documentaries! The quarantine has pushed my mental capacity to the highest of mountains and lowest ocean floors and I’m alive, I experience joy in this time, that is a miracle!

WILD CARD: Would you rather die in 20 years with no regrets or live another 50 years with many regrets? Why?
This might be controversial, I know many people live their life with no regrets, I have many regrets and I’m ashamed of things I did in past, but I continue to live, so for me, living is what I want to do in future and 50 more years seems like the biggest challenge imaginable. It won’t be all roses I know, it will be downright scary, I’ve had many adversities like most people, and I’m sure so many more to come in this life.

If you wish to connect with Jeannie, you may connect with her through email at jeannieschoice@austin.rr.com.

Interested in being a featured participant in my Yoga & Talk newsletter? Click here to apply!

Kundalini Yoga

Many of you know that I have practiced and taught Kundalini Yoga for over 20 years.  In the interest of being open with JoyBooters, I wanted to let you know that there is a lot of upheaval in the kundalini yoga community right now.

In January, a former student of Yogi Bhajan (who brought kundalini yoga to the West and died in 2006), wrote a book called Premka, about her life living communally with Yogi Bhajan from the late 60s-early 90s.  She revealed that she was exploited and abused by him and she shares about her traumatic experiences.

When it was published, many other stories of abuse in the kundalini yoga community began to emerge.

I was shocked at the pervasiveness of the abuse and especially saddened and outraged to hear that many children who were sent to boarding school in India had been abused.  At that point, I ended my affiliation with 3HO, the kundalini yoga organization, and stopped sending in dues payments.  I also asked them to take responsibility, do a complete investigation and pay reparations to any children (now adults) who had been physically or emotionally injured.

The kundalini yoga organizations did solicit an investigation (which was released in July) and determined that the abuse alleged was very likely to have occurred. You can read more about it here:  https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/abuse-in-kundalini-yoga

Some in the community are denying the abuse and others are working on healing.

I believe every one of the survivors and am also appalled by the cover-ups that occurred.  As a therapist and a human, I can only imagine the pain that was created.

I have been in dialogue with many other teachers about how to move forward with what we know works and the willingness to shed what does not.

I still believe in the value of integrating yoga, meditation, and psychotherapy.  In many cases it has accelerated healing in people with severe depression, anxiety, PTSD from cancer or other trauma, or addiction, and helped people re-connect with themselves in ways that had previously been elusive.

I only teach what I have experienced personally and taught to hundreds of people over the years.  I intend to keep teaching, free from dogma and the shadow of Yogi Bhajan, choosing practices that are especially effective for cancer survivors.

The yoga and meditation practices are simply tools for consciousness, they are not the consciousness itself.  Consciousness is the state of being awake and aware.

I am happy to visit (talk and listen) with anyone individually or in a small group if you have questions or feelings that come up and you want to check in.