We had the good fortune of connecting with Cara H. Cadwallader and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cara H., as a parent, what have you done for you children that you feel has had the most significant impact?
When I became an older, first-time mother, I knew that – in order to thrive – I had to continually be creating a sense of community around myself and my family. The most important thing I have done as a parent is to continually expose my young child to a vibrant array of aunties and uncles who represent a diversity of color and belief systems. For example, our Cardiff home was a regular meeting place for playgroups of Mothers with their toddlers. This group organically evolved into a cooperative with a backyard preschool for babies up to 4 year olds. Our home hosted other groups like the Water Protectors who brought a Native American Chief over for celebrating the winter solstice, as well. We also rented out a few rooms to people from South America, black people and a Muslim Pakistani American. After my partner survived his first bout of cancer, my family and I headed south of the border to experience community in places like the Yucatan, Guatemala and southern Ecuador. Traveling was a natural extension of how we had already been raising our son, that is to be open minded to all ways of life as well as inclusive of all people. I like to believe that, as a result, he will grow up to be an emotionally available, well-rounded and grounded man. At five and a half years old, however, only time will tell.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a life long educator, I have taught dance & creative expression, language & outdoor education, and art & sustainability classes across the globe – from San Diego to Europe, and from the Bay Area to China. I hold an MFA degree from Goddard College and, for over a decade now, I have contributed greatly to progressive San Diego heath and wellness communities across our beautiful county. Privileged to lead a life of following my heart and passion, as a child I gravitated towards dance and movement, writing and the expressive arts as a means to communicate all that my stifled heart couldn’t say. Raised in a home where vulnerability was frowned upon and a cycle of emotional and physical abuse was enacted, the arts and nature were the only two places where I felt safe and could bask in healing. Fortunately, I was also raised by parents willing to support my going to college as well as choosing dance as my major. Early on, my dance career was situated within performance on the stage. In the mid to late 90s, a peer introduce me to the idea of ’embodiment’ but it seemed too great a concept as, at the time, I was channeling all of my pent up emotions and feelings into my on-stage performances.
Along with teaching, my writing has been published in numerous alternative magazines across the country and, now, world. As a spiritual seeker, I have always felt called to travel the globe. After graduating from Sonoma State, I climbed mountains in New Zealand, taught gymnastics in Switzerland, led children on outdoor adventures in France, danced in a mud and grass thatch roof hut in a village in Zimbabwe and more. Before pursuing a graduate degree, I also taught space science in the mountains of Idyllwild. Returning to San Diego, I discovered all that I had been seeking – specifically, a community of heart-centered people committed to dance as a language for leading lives of deeper meaning and greater ease and grace. My life partner eventually joined our group and soon our son was conceived.
The life of a creative is not always a financially prosperous path. For too many years, I was located in a co-dependent relationship in which I would trade my precious time and energy for money at a very high cost to my emotional health and well-being. Emotional abuse is corrosive to one’s self confidence so I lacked the wherewithal to sell myself as an artist. For the past six and a half years, however, I thrived because I chose love with an emotionally available man. His modeling of empathy and acceptance have been some of the greatest teachings of my life.
With my entrance into parenthood in 2014, I shifted my lens towards women’s well-being. This included creating programs that support new mothers during their postpartum periods as well as after miscarriage and other losses. As my baby grew, I needed to also address his – and our family’s – needs for ‘village.’ For two and a half years, I ran a cooperative of mothers and their children out of my Cardiff home. It was mine and my husband’s intention to share a loving space where people could gather regularly to get their needs met for in-person connection and meaningful conversation about things like: how to parent in this day and age, how to re-purpose materials for less consumption, and more.
In 2018, my husband was diagnosed with an aggressive head cancer. After surviving radiation and chemo, we simplified our lives by heading south of the border in order to “worldschool” our son.
Our seven-month sojourn was filled with glorious adventures accrued at: a worldschool community in a small, Mayan village found in the upper Yucatan peninsula; on the glistening banks of Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan; and in a western outpost located in the mountains of southern Ecuador.
Unfortunately, my husband’s cancer returned. He passed away peacefully with me by his side, right before we all found ourselves in this strange, new world of a global pandemic. Although he is no longer in his body today, I feel more spiritually connected to him than ever before. My husband’s death brought my young son and I back to San Diego County, where we commemorated my husband’s amazing life with a large group of our loved ones just before social distancing dictates came into order.
Today, as a single mother, I must pivot all of my in-person teaching experience towards offering connective and educational experiences virtually. I am excited to now offer my signature “LIVE YOUR PASSION” educational online program for women, mothers and anyone else looking to shift from pain to pleasure and to a live filled with positive, pure energy.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh, San Diego ~ my heart has beat for you for a long time. With an out of town visitor here for the weekend, we would: drive over the Coronado bridge with the windows down and the music blasting. We would grab a beer, usually an IPA for me, at Coronado Brewing Company and then rent bikes and ride down – and back up – the strand. From there, we would drive over Pt. Loma, stopping at the Lighthouse for a meander, and then into Ocean Beach for a walk on the pier and to pick up some herbs from In Harmony Herbs and Spice Shop. Perhaps, we would grab some Kava root to make our own to drink that week. Depending on where we were staying, I would cap the night off in Encinitas with a sunset stroll (or surf) at Swami’s Beach and then dinner at Kim’s Vietnamese. Depending on the time of year and weather, a visit to Thich Nhat Hahn’s Deer Park Monastery in Escondido could be on our itinerary, as could be visiting a local farm, like either Wild Willow in San Diego or Coastal Roots Farm in Encinitas, ideally for a community potluck event with live music. Sundays are typically reserved for a Farmer’s Market adventure, either in Leucadia or in Hillcrest, and then for Dance Church Encinitas and a drum & community jam above Swami’s Beach.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Shoutout goes to my life partner, Burton Judson Lo, who passed away from a recurrence of liver cancer on January 31, 2020. Burt was an embodiment of the Divine Father. He emanated unconditional love, compassion and acceptance. He has been one of my life’s greatest blessings, and my only wish is that our young son had more time with him here on this material plane. We have made a website to share Burt’s legacy, if you are inclined to check it out – burtiful.com – because unconditional love is the marker of true beauty. Another Shoutout goes to our most supportive dance community who, even from a distance, have been right by our sides demonstrating their love and commitment to us. When I was in Ecuador, a team assembled to help me execute a sacred and beautiful memorial for Burt that was held on the weekend after my son and I returned to San Diego. Right before our region slid into social distancing, our team was successful in creating a weekend of high vibration events that rightfully commemorated an unforgettable man’s life. This team also made sure that my son and I were provided with shelter, food, winter clothing, money and more.
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