By Guest Blogger: Sarah Tiefenthaler
This is a version of my story I don’t normally tell. This is what sits in the darker corners of my mind when I would much rather reflect on all the incredible milestones and moments of success. Nevertheless, this was part of my journey, part of what made me stronger and reason’s why I know I am committed to what I started.
I am a Woman Business Owner. There is a significant amount of pride attached to that statement. When I made the decision to take this step, there was much to learn and there was a lot of growing up to do, ready or not.
This journey began with a passion and one that is pure; a passion to teach, to share, and create happiness in nature through the practice that I love, Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Yoga. I knew I wanted to teach it but was not, right away aware that this equaled being the President and CEO of my own SUP Yoga company.
The sugar-coated version of what happened first, in the process of my becoming an official business owner, normally comes with a line like this, “In the moments I needed guidance for the next steps forward, the right people just seemed to appear to lend a hand and show me the way”. The truth of the matter is, at one point, someone did offer to help me in the process of incorporating my business (paperwork to file, fees, etc.) and had shown what seemed to be genuine interest in me and my journey. However, one night when I did not reciprocate his sudden and unexpected advances, he was no longer a resource for me, obviously, and sadly no longer a friend.
Lesson #1: When you’re creating something new-something truly important to you, do everything yourself. No one cares as much as you do.
Fast forward to everything being ready to a go-company vehicle, the full fleet of brand new shiny boards, a team of instructors hired, a successful launch party complete, doors officially open (so to speak) and ready to rock! But, oh wait, now what?? Phone rings, the instructor on the other line, a county official has stopped the class in progress and escorted the instructor and students off the beach, all because I failed to obtain the proper permit to offer classes at a public beach. I have to tell you, it is so embarrassing for me to share this even now, 6 years later. I look back at the 6 year younger version of myself and say, “What were you thinking???” But like I said, following my passion did not originally mean being a “business owner,” there was still a lot to learn. Unfortunately, some of it had to be learned the hard way.
Lesson #2: Follow the rules, do your research, and don’t take any shortcuts.
Shortly after this experience, a local businessman had heard about the classes I was offering in the marina and also learned of the unfortunate hold on my business. He asked for a meeting on his yacht and I went. He wanted to discuss, “working together”. He presented an opportunity for me to offer classes off his leased dock space, where I would not have to obtain a separate permit anymore. But oh wait, not as YOGAqua, just as the yoga teacher he hired to teach SUP Yoga on some boards he purchased. That sounds like an easy solution, right? I remember sitting there, almost in disbelief that someone would suggest I abandon my dream just like that; my dream of creating something beautiful and certainly something that extended beyond his personal dock space. Once I collected myself, I sat up straight, looked him square in the eyes and I said, “No, if I have to wait 6 months for the county to forgive my errors in following permit procedure, I will. If I have to collect letters of recommendation from local businesses, I will. If I need to send apologies and beg for forgiveness to the LA County Beaches and Harbor, I will. Thank you anyway.” The days following, I did everything I said I would right then and there and I am happy to say, my waiting period was only 6 weeks, not 6 months.
Lesson #3: Believe in yourself. Remember why you started.
Now I wish I can say the three lessons learned above were my toughest moments in this journey but they were minor bumps in the road really. Lesson #4 was the hardest. Two years into my beautiful new business I threw myself into a whirlwind type of relationship. A few dates led to moving in, moving in led to an unexpected pregnancy and baby on the way, resulting in a wedding ceremony at a Beverly Hills chapel that was arranged in a matter of hours. Were there happy moments, yes. Were they short-lived, yes!. The stress of a sudden and complete lifestyle change created constant arguments and sadness. A pregnancy should be a joyful and peaceful experience. Thankfully, I could still find peace on the water. Anytime I paddled out with that growing belly I liked to make the joke that I had, “baby on board”. The first time I felt him move in my tummy, I was leading a class into Savasana. I thank God I had created this space that allowed me to feel peace and calm because when I wasn’t there, I was trying to deal with the fact that the man in my life saw what I did on the water as merely a “hobby” and very much spoke about it in that tone. I was asked repeatedly how long I expected to carry on with it and when I would be going back to my “real job”.
Baby Oliver was born in June of 2013, and the tension between his parents only grew. I was looked upon as a burden and believe me, I felt it loud and clear. The first time my son said the word “stop” was when he shouted it to try and make us stop arguing. I knew then and there that this could never happen again. The next week I took myself downtown and filed for divorce. Was I ready for this step? No. Was I scared? Yes. But I knew this was what I had to do for myself and my son. I knew the three of us would be happier with two separate homes between us…and we are now. It was when this transition occurred that I knew I never had to doubt my faith in my dreams or my own strength. Once the negative energy was released, all the good came flooding in and I knew everything would be ok.
Lesson #4: Don’t be so quick to believe the negative.
Not everything is going to go exactly how you want it to so you may need to take an alternate route to reach your dreams. And most importantly, never forget that you deserve happiness!
Like I said, I never tell this version of my story. The happy parts are always much more fun to talk about but all of it makes me who I am today. All of it matters. And it’s the hardest lessons that we will never forget.
About the Author:
Sarah Tiefenthaler, owner, and founder of YOGAqua completed her first 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training in the tropical jungles of Costa Rica where she focused intensely on the philosophy of Yoga as well as meditation practices. When she returned to Los Angeles, she completed her second 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training certification in Hollywood, CA at Earth’s Power Yoga where she was able to expand her knowledge of human anatomy and alignment in relation to Yoga. After spending day after day in the magnificence of the Costa Rican jungle, Sarah still longed for any activity in which she could maintain a consistent presence in nature.When Sarah returned home from Costa Rica in 2010 she soon discovered her passion for Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP); it was the perfect solution that would keep her in nature, on the water, and under the sun. With her obvious passion for Yoga, it was not long before she began to experiment with Yoga poses on the boards which were just the spark that very quickly leads to the creation of her SUP Yoga company, YOGAqua. YOGAqua was launched in July 2011, is based in Marina Del Rey, CA with a second location opening in Ventura, CA in the Spring of 2018.
Sarah has since completed a third Yoga Teacher Training for 100 hours at Maha Yoga in Brentwood, CA. She offers SUP Yoga Teacher Training Certification courses four times per year as well as SUP Yoga Retreats at some of the most beautiful locations around the world. She is the SUP Program Coordinator for Wanderlust Yoga Festivals, a Level 2 World Paddle Association Instructor and a brand ambassador for BOGA Yoga Paddle Boards.