I am Elizabeth Wojtowicz and I was born with Cerebral Palsy which affects my balance and ability to do certain asana. However not only have I been practicing yoga for 10 years, I have also become a certified yoga teacher at the 200 hour level. Yoga allows me to deepen my faith, open my heart and empower me to know anything is possible, teaching me that we are so much more than our physical prowess or limitations. My Yoga classes which include simple asana, breath and visualization, supports not just our bodies, but how we want to show up in the world and live our lives the best way we can. I am proof that yoga truly is for anyone. As beautifully said by my yoga teacher, mentor and founder of “Off The Mat, Into The World” Seane Corn, “You do not have to be strong or flexible to create a work of art.”
What do I do best?
I think I make people feel good and comfortable because I enjoy listening to people's stories and hearing what they are going through. Yes, I am a disABILITY activist, a Yoga Teacher, an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, a writer, passionate participant of the beautiful grassroots non profit organization "Off The Mat, Into The World"...but I feel I have a particular presence, an empathetic presence that people are drawn to. Being included and heard is very important to me because I know what it feels like to be left out and not heard, so I make sure that my students and clients are heard and involved to the best of their ability and strength (with necessary made modifications if need be). I make sure that the people I work with and that choose to work with me feel comfortable, safe, included and heard.
What makes me the best version of myself?
Something that a new dear teacher told me not that long ago when I was on retreat has really truly dearly and deeply stuck with me for the rest of my life and beyond. I have been around adults my entire life (with needing physical therapy, occupational therapy, massage therapy...anything that ends in therapy...you name it, I probably had it) and so many of the adults, my teachers etc would say to me "You don't have a disability. I don't see the crutches..." but when I heard these words that I will share with you in a moment, "Her CP is the least interesting thing about her..." I HAVE no words to express but just say that THAT right there IS what makes me the best version of myself. How? You might be asking yourself, so let me share. Ever since I was a little girl growing up and definitely more so the more Yoga came into my life (at 19), I was always a curious person, a creative person...I ask a lot of QUESTions and through that inquiry, support, love, guidance the older I am growing, the more I AM realizing that I am not an inspiration but I AM a Woman who is just like everyone else but just happens to do things, see things, experience things some might say and argue...slower. But, I HAVE had heartbreak, loss, disappointment, relationship....and maybe not in the "traditional" sense but THAT; the heartbreak, the loss, the disappointment, the realtionship...the curiosity, the craving...is what creates that cultivation, that Hell Yes! My CP IS the least interesting thing about me! It is about getting to, creating with, cultivating for, and choosing to stand strong in MY OWN POWER!
What are my aspirations?
Here and beyond! I absolutely love traveling! It is something that my parents instilled in my younger sister and I from the earliest age I can remember and as my grandfather used to say "Nobody can take away what you see, have seen.." and I will add nor can they. It is YOUR experience, YOUR opportunity.
As I have gotten older, I have been really feeling a strong desire as a woman, a Warrior Woman to really humbly, honestly authentically put myself out there towards a very special relationship (one that I knew in my Heart and Soul WOULD someday somehow someway happen) and it is my aspiration towards this new life endeavor to learn more about myself, learn more about human connection, learn about love (and not only romantic love) and possibility and potential.
To FINALLY write my book! I have always loved books and reading and writing and I have like two books started but to really take the leap and commitment towards connecting with a mentor to really share my story that I have had in my Heart for so long and to finally put it into written word...THAT is a dream (I know will) come true!
My Biggest Success?
To date....Receiving my Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Ramapo College of New Jersey in 2013, becoming a Yoga Teacher in 2011 and an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach in 2014. I have so many people to thank for supporting me, guiding me, loving me, believing in me (even when I didn't believe in myself)
But I know that hard work DOES pay off and really giving it my all and knowing that I CAN and WILL, (despite many "challengers" in my life I will just say), made me THAT much more determined, dedicated...on PURPOSE. Whenever I have had adults in my life question, doubt, confront my decisions (or try to), it has motivated me MORE to succeed.
My Most Challenging Moment?
Really listening and standing strong in MY beliefs, desires as a strong, confident woman that knows that just because she may have it somewhat more challenging Physically and that she has yet to fully wholeheartedly experience a romantic relationship with someone that she does in her Heart feel is someone very special and someone that has taught her and is teaching her so much about herself and human connection and possibility, that...I find myself asking, "Who are YOU to question and judge and offer advice...Life is a continual learning process and I believe that God brings people into your life, specific special people...to embrace the totality of human connection.
Challenging moments are all around; daily, weekly, monthly and I believe it is not one challenging moment that is the "defining" one but rather it is examining all the little ones and how we embrace them, challenge them, face them...that make us stand stronger in the face of adversity.
I really feel that there is ONE that I can just pinpoint. I have had the beautiful blessed privilege of studying with, working with and teaching with really great teachers, visionaries and leaders that have each, in their own way made a huge impact on my outlook and perspective of life; as a Woman, a Woman who just happens to have Cerebral Palsy (I may have a physical disability but it does not have me).
"CHOICE IS YOUR POWER"
"YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE STRONG OR FLEXIBLE TO CREATE A WORK OF ART."
"TAKE THE INITATIVE..."
"HER CP IS THE LEAST INTERESTING THING ABOUT HER."
"AND THE DAY CAME WHEN THE RISK TO REMAIN TIGHT IN A BUD WAS MORE PAINFUL THAN THE RISK IT TOOK TO BLOSOM."
I really read a lot! I really LOVE books! I sometimes have never heard of the author or the style of writing that a particular author does but I will be at a bookstore and I will see a catching, intriguing, interesting title (just by the title) and I will pick up the book and start reading.
I would say that my "Motto" depends on the "Moment" that I am going through in my life, my teaching etc.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
I will probably sound like a child here but, I honestly don't like to play favorites. In all honesty, I find that QUESTion to be childish if I may say so. I believe people come into your life for a reason and they are there (whether through a class, a workshop, an encounter at an event or party etc) to connect, meet, greet and maybe teach you something new (perhaps about yourself?)
Yes, we have our favorite friend perhaps or favorite person we like to be around (and that is probably what you meant when you ask this question) and that IS awesome and special and sweet, but I feel that "Favorite" can tend to put a sort of "flavor" on it, in terms of "pressure" if you will..in that "Are you my favorite?" "Why are you her favorite and not mine?" I understand that I sound like I am back in the 5th grade here (and maybe I am as I write this answer), but I feel that it kind of is a continuation of my answer to the previous question in that...your Favorite person will be your Favorite person in the moments that you need that person for support, guidance, a shoulder to cry on (and that IS beautiful)
So, with all that said and shared (in the moment), I believe I have many near and dear role models in my life that I am truly dearly and deeply grateful for. Seane Corn, a beautifully blessed, down to earth, humble, tells ya like it is (Jersey style) teacher who I am grateful to call a dear friend...who has (and continues to), shown me, supported me, guided me...shows me, supports me, guides me, to "Take The Initiative...", in my life, my teachings, my offerings, my leadership...
Hala Khouri, who is a beautiful dear teacher, therapist and friend who has supported me in my independence as well as a Yoga Teacher who just happens to practice and teach with more modification than "most." I am truly grateful for her love and support.
Suzanne Sterling, who is a radiant ritualist, powerful Priestess, magical musician, teacher, friend who has supported me on my journey towards finding my OWN Voice; to stand in my OWN Powerful Power and OWN IT!
Elisabeth Halfpapp & Fred DeVito, two very dear friends who are fun, funny, encouraging and supportive. Honored by their friendship.
Elizabeth Gilbert, who is fun, funny, a dear friend, down to earth humble..that I am beyond beautifully blessed to call a friend.
Rayya Elias, who is kick ass tells ya like it is (whether you like it or not), strong, beautiful, blessed, a fighter, her own, a WARRIOR Woman...
Sarit Rogers, an amazing awesome kick ass photographer friend who is a true Woman Warrior.
Charlotte Victoria, a beautiful, sweet, kind, funny amazing artist who is a dear friend that understands the "struggle" of Strength and determination.
Amir Magal, an awesome amazing Tribal Body Paint artist that connects Heart to Heart, Soul to Soul; one mark at a time.
Iyanla Vanzant, a beyond beautifully blessed Being of Soul, Spirit Initiation...towards our OWN Power, our OWN Choice and Warrior Womanhood. Honestly, having just recently this year (in July) been a part of her amazing, life transforming, unforgettable "Rites of Passage: A Women's Retreat" I truly dearly and deeply have the most radiant respect for this Warrior Woman, her message, and her Work. I am truly deeply and dearly honored to be in her Presence and to Witness, Wholeheartly and Humbly and Healingly..her Message that comes through God/Spirit whatever you feel called to call a Higher Source.
My younger sister Marta W. Jurewicz, who has taught me (and teaches me) to stand up for myself and that no matter how hard or challenging it may be, there is always more opportunities out there. Don't give up!
My Mama and Dad, who teach me that no matter how hard or challenging it may be, don't give up! It WILL work out! :)
My boyfriend Todd Melucci, who through this very new experience of relationship...has taught me (and teaches me) that "Just Because" isn't always so bad. (and that having Cerebral Palsy has its benefits :))
This list is truly endless because I am beyond beautifully blessed to be around beautifully blessed individuals through my work and personal life.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
Oh I absolutely LOOOVE to travel! (Thanks to our Mama and Dad :)) This list is truly endless because I have been absolutely blessed with the places that we have seen, felt, tasted (Holy sites, endearing tropics...
I Love to travel to the Golden State of California. I call it my MotherLand Golden State for many special Sacred reasons but greatly because California was and is the very first state that I traveled to by myself...EVER! (at 27) and onward...so it is extremely special to me.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
I Love my Yoga mat-my StillMotion Yoga mat (and frankly ANY Yoga mat). I Love Fortune Delight Tea in Cinnamon :) Oh so good you have no idea! I love books, books and more books! I could LIVE in a Barnes & Noble if I could! I love natural beauty products; The Body Deli, Pangea Organics, Derma E (to name a few)
I love a good eye pillow, a good meditation chair/cushion...oh, good really good pure therapeutic grade essential oils...oh yes!
My Current Passions?
When I see the question "What is your Passion?", I feel as though their comes with that QUESTion a sort of "pressure" if you will
So, with dear inspiration from my good friend Elizabeth Gilbert, I like to also say "What are you CURIOUS about?" And so, it is with CURIOSITY that I will answer this QUESTion. My current Curiosities are vast. I consider myself a "multi curious" person if you will. I love art journaling, getting on my Yoga mat, going to Yoga class, workshops, fun special Yoga festivals. I love being in community with like minded people who are loving, kind, compassionate, fun, authentic. I love being in Circle with Women; Powerful Warrior Women!