Our mission at Rock This Out is to inspire women to be their authentic selves. Each of us have women in our lives who inspire us in so many ways. Each month we will spotlight one woman, how they inspire others and how they maintain their authenticity. We hope that these women can also inspire you in some way. If there are any women in your life that you would like to nominate for our monthly spotlight, please shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you.
This month our
Woman of Inspiration is Ellen Bradley
We are so excited to announce our Woman of Inspiration for September, Ellen Bradley. This wonderful woman has such an amazing energy and cares so much about the world and everyone around her. In addition to owning three yoga studios in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area (Modo Yoga Greater Cincinnati), Ellen is the mother of three beautiful daughters. Three years ago, she and her husband, Michael sold their home and most of their belongings with the goal of traveling around the world with their girls for a year, enrolling them in World School.
Ellen attended an all girls' Catholic high school in Northern Kentucky and instead of going to a college where most of her friends had chosen, she decided to attend Villanova where she also played tennis. While in college, she felt a strong calling to travel the world. She had a double major in Spanish and Economics and although most Spanish majors typically choose Spain for their study abroad experience, Ellen chose Chile. She wanted to do something out of her comfort zone and South America was just that. She attributes this experience as a "jumping off point" as she was forced to face fears and be on her own. During this time she realized an inner courage that she didn't know she had. She found herself taking flights to Peru and Northern Chile where she would backpack on her own. She describes this period as a hard time in her life, but also one of her first big growth points. In addition to personal growth, she was realizing that the world was not all first world as she began to see poverty first hand. This allowed her to look through a new lens of life while opening her heart. It was then that she also began to feel a strong sense that she would someday adopt a child from a third world country.
Upon returning home to complete her degree, she met her husband, Michael. Michael was drafted into the NBA and they were married the following year. The first several years he played throughout the US and Europe, and Ellen moved with him to each new city. Despite being surrounded by the often-luxurious NBA lifestyle, Ellen and Michael always stayed grounded with the idea of giving back and early on they developed The Michael Bradley Family Foundation to serve in every city they lived in.
About a year after their first daughter, Taylor was born, Ellen had completed a yoga training and the couple had started the process of adopting a child from Ethiopia. Michael was completing his final year of playing pro-ball in Lithuania and Ellen and their daughter, were preparing to move there as well. On the same day they received the papers to adopt their middle daughter, Kya who was then 8 months old, Ellen discovered she was pregnant with their now youngest daughter, Shae.
Once Michael retired, they settled in Northern Kentucky. Within three months they opened their first yoga studio. In a month span and while eight months pregnant, they opened the doors of the studio, flew to Ethiopia to adopt Kya and Shae was born.
While many might think this situation would be stressful, Michael and Ellen took it all in stride. They felt this not only connected them with a courage within themselves but within each other.
Ellen believes that the practice of yoga as a teacher, leader and student has allowed her to grow and connect more with an inner space and spiritual side by simply listening to the guidance of her heart. One of her daily intentions is to 'let go and be with love'. "By practicing and studying this intention daily, these are the small pivots that led us to where we are today. When you come back to your intentions, it ultimately does manifest."
Over the years she would often mention to Michael that she wanted to someday sell everything and travel the world with their girls. She dreamed that her children would be global citizens and feel one with the world. She also often found herself feeling overwhelmed and drained of energy from all the "stuff" that we all surround ourselves with.
About three years ago, when her girls were 8, 9 and 10, while they were in a bit of a transition career wise, she looked at Michael and said, "if not now, when? It's now time." She describes this time as being "guided by intuition, not a list of why's and why not's" and admits, if they had taken this approach, they would have never done it. So they did it!
She reflects that had she looked at the pros and cons of various pieces of her life she would never have done many things, such as opening the yoga studio, adopting a child from Ethiopia, and the list goes on. Ellen has always trusted her strong intuition and what her heart was saying instead of letting her mind override.
Along the way, she has been challenged by friends and family for some of her decisions. When friends and family disagreed with her choice to open their first yoga studio, a yoga friend gave her the advice to "stay with love". She has guided her Modo community with the same intention and belief that your 'vibe attracts your tribe'. Twelve years later, Modo Yoga is still voted best yoga studio in the city because it's a pillar of community and connection in the city of Cincinnati.
She faced questioning again from friends and family with the decision to leave everything behind and travel the world. They criticized her for taking the kids out of their routines and their lifestyle. Ellen fully admits that this was the scariest thing she could have done. Selling their home, walking away from a comfortable life, a business, and stepping out of an identity she had built in the Cincinnati community was frightening. Letting all of this go, has now created space for new to come in.
She now realizes that if they had kept their girls in their suburban home with well scheduled days and all the comforts of life, they wouldn't be the kids they are three years later. They are experiencing and learning for themselves that they are a part of a beautiful, diverse world and that we are all so much more alike than we are different.
"Their favorite memories of their travels are those where they connected with people. It wasn't staying in a fancy hotel somewhere, it was staying on a rice farm in Thailand where they had no electricity or running water but connected with the people there on a one on one level. "
When I asked Ellen about how she managed being questioned about her decisions she said, "I just smiled. I feel really grounded in my spirit and who I am. When negativity arrives, I always see it as an opportunity to shine brighter. I will always align with love and continue on my path. When you're grounded in yourself and your truth, it doesn't matter. Inevitably, the negative people eventually fall away, and you attract so many more like-minded people and so much more positivity. It's just more reason for me to stay high vibe."
For those that are looking to create a life that they love but they aren't sure how to start and what to do, Ellen suggests taking the time to connect to now. Set intention and call it in. Ellen gets up each morning at 4am and journals, does yoga, meditates or listens to podcasts. She suggests doing something that works for you. Whether that is lighting a candle, just breathing, being in nature and create space to align with yourself. Step back, be in the present moment and listen to what your heart is saying. Listen to your truth.
"Women today are inundated a lot of pressure to be so much, wear multiple hats and to do everything for everyone. It can seem nearly impossible to find time for self-care or to simply check in with themselves. Self-care is a priority for our physical bodies and our minds. We must first fill our own buckets before we can do for others. Once we can do that, on a physical, mental and spiritual level, these huge dreams are revealed, and you realize it's all possible."
Although their goal was one year of travel, the family is now on year three. While they currently call Costa Rica home, Ellen and Michael continue giving back in many ways. One of which is Namaste And Play. A global foundation sponsored by NBA Cares, Manduka Yoga. Their mission is to educate, inspire and unite children around the world by teaching the fundamentals of basketball, yoga and meditation. Through this, their hope is to cultivate confidence, spread peace and encourage children to live healthy and positive lives.
What's next for this wonderful family? Ellen has huge dreams to educate, inspire and unite the world. She will be releasing a book early next year. In addition, they've recently signed on with a production company for a new TV show. Be prepared to hear lots more about this inspiring lady!
"We were in this for only a year and now we're on year three, but I truly feel like the journey has only begun."
Ellen inspires others in so many ways, with her story, her strength, her giving nature and her ability to trust her instincts. We are so incredibly grateful to Ellen for being our September Woman of Inspiration.
If you would like to follow along with their journey, please visit: www.journeyoftheglobe.com
Additional Links: www.namasteandplay.org
"One thing I've learned first hand with my girls on this journey of the globe.... we are all so much more alike than different. Love is the golden thread between all of humanity"