Empowerment takes many forms, but for Lauren Peterson, it’s teaching and education that have provided her with the ultimate sense of fulfillment. Whether she’s leading her SUPers through yoga poses on the bay or encouraging her high school students to challenge themselves, Lauren’s passion for guiding through example have not only inspired others but serve as a shining example of what feeling empowered truly means.
What specific qualities do you think today’s empowered woman embodies?
When I think of the word empowered I don't necessarily think of someone who is an authoritarian figure. I think of a quiet leader, who performs acts of kindness for the cause not for the applause. An individual who builds confidence in others to be their best self.
What is one of your biggest accomplishments?
So far in my life’s journey the biggest accomplishment for me is in education. In primary school, I was told I had a learning disability and that it was unlikely that I was going to graduate high school. I ended up graduating high school a year early with a 4.0 gpa, and I went on to receive an associate’s degree, bachelor's, and master’s degree by the age of 24.
What inspires you on a daily basis?
I am inspired by random acts of kindness, and individuals who have turned their passion into a career.
Who are some people who inspire you in your everyday life?
My parents are my inspiration. When I think of the word empowered the first person I think of is my mother. She is extremely intelligent, she is fascinated by education, always reading and learning. She is the reason I became a teacher. As a nurse she is patient, compassionate, and kind. My father being a pilot and avid scuba diver loves water and travelling. He has managed to take his two talents and make a career out of both. He also has a love for photography that he passed down to both my brother and I. Last but not least, my fiancé is someone who inspires me every day. He is patient, humble and kind, and no matter what the conditions are like he goes surfing. We both share a love of nature, the ocean, and his environmental consciousness encourages me to develop my practices every day.
What motivated you to start SUP and teaching?
Growing up, the time I spent with my father when he wasn’t flying, was always on the water whether it be taking the old ski boat out, sailing, or scuba diving. For a couple years we were really into kayaking. When I moved away to Kansas for college my father put a rack on my car so I could go paddling. My brother is obsessed with Eddie Vedder, and in 2006 my mom called both my brother and I and told us to watch Iconoclasts, which featured Laird Hamilton and Eddie Vedder. Within the feature Laird and Eddie went Stand Up Paddling. As soon as I graduated, and moved back home to Arizona in 2008, I saved up my money and bought my first stand up paddle board and was hooked. My goal was to paddle all the waterways and lakes prior to moving to California. I actually did just that. There weren’t too many SUP’s back then in the state of Arizona, and people really didn’t know what to make of it. I would be on the 101 sitting in some traffic with my board on the roof of my car baking in 110-degree heat, and people would honk and yell, you’re in the wrong state, the oceans that way.
As for teaching, being the younger sibling I always looked up to my brother. I was envious of his leadership role and always wanted a younger sibling I could inspire and motivate just as he did for me. My mother’s passion for education was also a big motivation for me.
How do you empower your students so that they can be successful?
As a teacher, I hope that I am empowering my students to believe that nothing is impossible, with hard work, dedication, and confidence anything is possible. With a lesson plan surrounding student centeredness students learn the skills to pursue their desired career path while leading a healthy and active life. Skills include maintaining the five components of fitness, nutrition, increase of confidence, and being able to work collaboratively with others to achieve a common goal.
If you could teach your students one thing that they will take with them forever, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to be yourself, and if you have a dream pursue it.
How does learning SUP empower women?
Learning how to stand up paddle opens a lot of doors. There are so many modalities that it leads to, you could paddle long distances, explore waterways, surf down a river, or on uncrowded waves, go fishing or snorkel from your board, practice yoga, the possibilities are really endless. It is something that you can do independently or share with friends and family. Learning how to stand up paddle also allows you to meet new people. There is never a time where I am on a stand up paddle board and not smiling. SUP gives you confidence, the health benefits of strength, coordination and stamina, and above all happiness.
Name a woman in history that you admire and tell us why.
I admire all the women in the past who have paved the way for women today. Women who made work, education available, and who continue to contribute to the evolution of empowered women.
Any advice for women who need a confidence boost?
Be you. Believe in YOU. Don’t care about what anyone says or thinks about you. Dream Big = Achieve Big… Whatever may appear to be impossible, with hard work, dedication, and faith, anything is possible.
What does the perfect weekend look like for you?
Beautiful lefts (waves), beach or stand up paddle yoga, meditation sunset, and bonfire with smiling faces of friends and family.
How do you de-stress?
Soothing/calm music, nature, pranayama, and meditation.
Any goals you'd like to achieve in the upcoming year?
I am looking forward to teaching Stand Up Paddle Yoga at Wanderlust this summer at Squaw Valley. I am also looking forward to marrying my fiancé next summer. In addition, a long term goal of mine would be to pursue my doctorate degree in education.
Empowered Spotlight: Lauren Peterson