There are a lot of blogs out there. A lot of yoga teachers. A lot of fitness chicks. A lot of life coaches. And I’m guessing by now, you get where I’m going with this. Why should you follow me? Why read my blog? What do you care what another Los Angeles yoga chick has to say? Well, you may or you may not. Either way, I’m just happy you stopped by. If you made it this far, you may as well hang out and finish this post. Below I’ll give you the abridged version of my story, and what I hope to accomplish as this blog grows.
Who is Cheryl Feinberg?
My parents know me as their oldest daughter. My friends know me as an attorney and yoga teacher. My pets would call me mom if they could talk. I call myself a thirty year old trying to make it through this thing we call life.
I grew up in rural Appalachia in Kentucky on the borders of Ohio and West Virginia. My sister and I were the only Jewish girls I think that town had seen in over 50 years. It was...interesting.
I was an extreme overachiever growing up and I put a lot of pressure on myself. Soccer, dance, varsity track, cheerleading, and grades at the top of my class, just to name a few. But with all that pressure, I found myself taking the stress out on myself. When I was 15 I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. A disease that looking back, I now know shaped much of life in both good and bad ways over the next several years.
The good thing about pushing myself so hard educationally was that during my junior year of high school, I was accepted into a really good university in Atlanta, Georgia. Without graduating high school, and with many promises to my parents that I would get better, I accepted. By the end of the summer before I was to start school, I had brought my weight up to something resembling healthy, and was allowed to move away to college.
Looking back, I know I was too young and too eager. My recovery from my eating disorder was only physical. I had healed my body enough to make those in my life happy, but not my mind in the slightest. This became insanely evident in my behavior my first two years of college.
In college I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and anxiety. Being the strong-willed, naive, and sometimes very stupid 17 year old I was, I ignored the professionals my parents demanded I saw. If I could “recover” from anorexia on my own, I didn’t need to see a shrink, right? Wrong.
I can’t tell you how many guys (and girls) I got drunk and made out with. I can't tell you how many pills I did or different drinks and drugs I tried. I can tell you what I haven’t done, that’s probably a much smaller list. From anorexia to drinking, making out with lots and of classmates (I was still pretty young after all), and doing lots of drugs. Addiction is a disease that manifests itself in more ways than one.
Another one of those manifestations was the emotionally (and sometimes physically) abusive relationship I entered into towards the middle/end of my drugged up haze. When I finally cleaned up my act, I clung too hard to someone who was way too wrong for me. I was addicted to the craziness of our relationship and in that relationship I became someone I don't even recognize anymore; someone I'm glad is no longer a part of who I am today. Ultimately, he helped me more than he hurt me. The emotional scars have faded, and I learned so much about relationships and my own personal strength. The fact that he stood by and helped pull me out of some of my darkest days is something I will always be grateful for, even if as a partner, he was not healthy for me (nor I, him).
Which brings me to…
New England Educated
My entire life was leading up to an education in New England. I spent summers at boarding school there. I did my pre-college summer at Brown. I just knew that’s where I needed to be. Naturally, when I got accepted to law school in Vermont I jumped at the chance. Honestly, even though I ended up changing areas of focus and probably should have transferred to better school once I did, it was three of the best years of my life. I learned so much about myself, what I look for in friends, in relationships, in a home…..Vermont is where I found my true loves: yoga, nature, and a very special someone.
Unfortunately the lawyer life in Vermont didn’t go as planned. After two educational, but not quite as expected years working for a firm post-graduation, I was tired of paralegaling and losing hope of finding a real job. I’d been on countless interviews for jobs that ended up dissolving or going to someone with more experience for the same salary because the climate was so bad. Even though I was happy with my beautiful surroundings, I was falling back into depression and starting to re-visit old habits. I got back into the work of my college days, bartending to supplement my income. All the while, I was feeling like there was more out there for me. The more I applied for jobs, the more I lost hope, and the more depressed I became. Depressed Cheryl is not a good version of me, and kind of scary.
I knew it was time for a change. I knew I needed to do something to get back on track. So I made probably the most radical change I could and accepted a job in Los Angeles. From comparatively sleepy Burlington, Vermont, to bustling Southern California. It wouldn’t be my first solo move across the country. I’ve moved myself from Kentucky to Georgia, from Georgia to Vermont, and from Vermont to North Dakota for a while (internship). Unfortunately, knowing i need to make a change, and committing my brain to making the change are two entirely different things.
So that’s why about a year later…….
Los Angeles Yoga Teacher
In June of 2015 I accepted a paralegal job (with potential for promotion to attorney after I passed the bar) in Los Angeles, packed everything I owned along with my cat and dog into my tiny SUV and drove across the entirety of the United States. The drive was rushed but beautiful. This country is amazing.
Four months after moving to LA, I was back in the full time office life and no happier than when I lived back in Vermont. I was working all the time, spending the rest of my time in traffic, making dinner, walking my dog, and sleeping. That was it. My practice fell off. I stopped rock climbing, I stopped enjoying myself. So what was the point of the move?
And then they laid me off……
Bye bye salary. Bye bye benefits. Bye bye financial security. Hello “oh fuck” moment. But ultimately, hello BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME.
I’ve been pushing myself to this place of being an attorney for as long as I remember. But by the time I was really working towards it, I couldn’t remember why. My life was consumed with interviews and job hunts and billable hours and sitting on my butt all day. So, I finally decided I should start doing what makes me happy as long as it’s financially viable. For me now, that’s teaching yoga and sharing my story with others.
On this blog, I’ll be going into much further detail on all of the topics I mentioned above. Everything from mental illness to eating disorders, learning from failing hard to finding happiness in the small successes...even some topics I didn’t mention like my recently developed food allergies or long distance relationship with someone from back on the East Coast.
I really hope you enjoyed reading this rather lengthy introduction, and I look forward to sharing more of myself with you in the future.
All the best, Cheryl.
I'm Cheryl. I moved to California from Vermont in 2015, gave up the path I'd spent years planning for, and started down a road to a happier, more fulfilling life. Goodbye suits and courtrooms, hello bare feet and yoga mats. After a few years, a couple of cross country moves, and a broken heart, I know I don't have all the answers, but I'm slowly starting to get the hang of things. :) I'm just taking things one day at a time, trying to figure out how to live my best life and help others do the same.