ShaWanda Gatson | Ep 149

ShaWanda's first experience with the desert was as a third-grader, moving with her military family to 29 Palms, after having already moved from Mississippi to Bridgeport, CA and Camp Lejune, NC. She had all of her 'firsts' in the desert, it was her foundation.

ShaWanda and her family were active in church and their community came from church and school. ShaWanda says her family found they had everything they needed her in the desert in the 80's and reminisces about Foster Freeze, the Alamo Market and their holiday coloring contests. ShaWanda feels the desert was a good place to grow up and she has many fond memories of those times.

In this episode, ShaWanda shares what downtown 29 Palms was like growing up and says that between the shops downtown and the ability to shop on base as a military family, they had everything the needed.

Being a teen in the desert, ShaWanda says, "you see things on television and you want to see more." For ShaWanda, more was Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA, the complete opposite of the desert. After graduating, ShaWanda returned to the desert to start her family and begin work at Copper Mountain College.

ShaWanda has made many moves in and out of the desert - for many reasons - and says 29 Palms feels different to her this time around. With military families being given more options than just traveling together from assignment to assignment, perhaps the city has less military families.

ShaWanda is grateful for her leaves and returns to the desert, feeling they seem perfectly timed, allowing her to get quiet and she says, ‘hear myself’. It's been a place of great growth - as has yoga.

After her divorce, ShaWanda needed to something else in her life and she found yoga. This is where she can be completely herself and push and challenge herself to her personal edge. It is also where she found new members of her soul tribe.

Yoga led to becoming the managing editor for the online publication, Untamed Voices, created by desert resident and podcaster, Emily Silver. The publication has been created to amplify the voices of marginalized communities. ShaWanda is also teaching at the Institute of Inquiry – a local enrichment program founded by desert resident Kimberly Sikora (Desert Lady Diaries EP 5) as an enhancement to home school, charter school or public school programs.

ShaWanda lives in Yucca Valley with her son, Mateo and their miniature schnauzer, Dutchess.

Find more about ShaWanda at her website.