We had the good fortune of connecting with Elizabeth Greene and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elizabeth, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
My deepest values are authenticity and integrity. Who are you and what are you about? If we’re committed to embodying these things in our lives and decisions, we’re far more likely to end up on a path aligned with our purpose, but t
here are actually very few of us who have the courage to live this way. The world around us can make it feel impossible, and sometimes it feels easier or more comfortable to just fit in and stay quiet. Authenticity and integrity give us the courage to go against the grain when it matters most, to stand up for what is right and for what we believe in, even when it’s terrifying or even when we go at it alone.
More than that, authenticity and integrity keep us humble and growing. When we’re rooted and grounded in our truth, we’re able to admit when we’ve been wrong and we take action to make things right. The people I respect most in life are those who own their behavior and actions and expect the same of others. To me, these are the true leaders of the world regardless of whether they’re in traditional leadership roles or not. These are the people who’ll be able to bring about the type of change the world so desperately needs right now. I have very little tolerance for bs—especially after last year—and I think we’ve all got to get a little closer to telling the truth unconditionally if we’re going to create a world we all want to live in and in which we can all live peaceably and equitably.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
2020 was, how shall I put it, a little different for me (and I think for a lot of us) professionally. I mean, how does one measure success in a year marked by political turmoil and a global pandemic? Like really, how does one do that? When I first read this question, I thought to myself “oh boy” because—let me just be quite frank with you—professional forward movement, let alone success, has felt kinda pointless and impossible in the midst of everything else going on. In the last year alone, writing projects I’d intended on completing became irrelevant or impossible to complete, and the entire yoga industry was essentially shut down. I have the utmost respect for those trying to pivot, but if you’re out there just thinking “how do I stay alive and maintain some level of sanity?”, I see you and I’m with you and, believe me, that is enough. The world has changed and despite what some people are desperate to have you believe, we’re never going back to what was once normal. I think there’s a large population of us just trying to figure out what exactly that means for us moving forward career wise, and I’m here to tell you that’s ok.
I suppose this is where I come back to that authenticity and integrity piece. This is not the first time I’ve had the rug pulled out from under me in my career—oh no, not by any means. In each of these situations sticking up for my values and what I believe is right has meant hardship and sacrifice. I’ve given up major opportunities and financial security and, as a result, I maybe haven’t gotten as far professionally as I imagined I’d be at this point in my life. That being said, I would never change my path. One thing I can say is that I’ve learned so much about who I am, what it is I truly value, and that I am both tenacious and brave (even though I don’t feel that way sometimes). I can identify key values in my life and my work, and I could never sell out in sacrifice of these things.
My ideas about success have shifted in the last year, and I’m proud of that. American culture can be so individualistic and all about self, self, self. Southern California is particularly bad about this, and if you need any proof for that, just think about the selfishness and entitlement that’s been on display in full-spectrum color during the pandemic. We forget so easily that we’re all inextricably tied to one another; it’s a truth whether we like it or not. That reality has been slapped in my face like never before over the last year. “Professional success” as defined in America matters less and less. What about community success? What about community care? That’s what I want to work toward. I’ve tried to integrate these ideas into my work by doing things like leading yoga classes themed around community care issues with proceeds benefiting different social causes as well as writing and speaking openly about social justice on my website and social media, but I know that’s only the beginning. That’s what I want my life and work to be about, and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to explore these ideas more in the next year with others whose values align with my own.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
One of my favorite things about San Diego is its diverse neighborhoods, many of which I’ve called home. I’d love to spend some time exploring and showing my friend what made these places special to me. In North Park, we’d have to visit James Coffee, Blackmarket Bakery, Fall Brewery, and Modern Times. A stop at Dark Horse in Normal Heights would be in order as well as drinks at Sycamore Den, dinner from Blind Lady, and maybe, just maybe, a drink at Triple Crown (because you have to). University Heights has several of my favorite eateries—Plumeria Vegetarian, Meraki Café, and El Zarape—and if it’s summertime a movie in Trolley Barn Park is charming. We’d absolutely spend time in my current neighborhood, South Park, enjoying a coffee or matcha at Communal, a little shopping at Thread and Seed and Gold Leaf, drinks/dinner at The Rose, Fernside, Piacere Mio, or Kindred. Balboa Park is a must-see. We’d take our time visiting the museums, enjoying the beautiful architecture and nature, and relaxing in one of the many open spaces. Panama 66 is always a go-to for me when anyone I know comes to visit from out of town. Of course, you can’t come to San Diego without enjoying our amazing outdoors. Sunset Cliffs and Torrey Pines are always a must for any tourist as well as a visit to any one of our beaches (Moonlight Beach in Encinitas is a fav or even Blacks Beach if you’re feelin’ a little spicy). I always enjoy a hike through the Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve for some solitude and cow time. Finally, I would be remised if I let anyone I know leave San Diego without a trip to Las Cuatro Milpas or visiting at least one of my two favorite taco shops—Saguaros on 30th or Tacos El Paisa in Logan Heights.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Honestly….I’d love to give a shout-out to my therapists (who shall remain nameless due to confidentiality). I would be nowhere near the person I am today without their help. Go to therapy—it’ll change your life! Anyone who has spoken a word of affirmation to me in the last ten years or so—thank you for seeing me when I sometimes couldn’t see myself. In my work life, these people have included Dr. R. Keith Beeman, Dr. Karen Quek, Michael Mather, Lauren Zamora, several members of the WSU Foundation staff, and Kim Toelle. Finally, I can’t forget the friends who’ve consistently been there through thick and thin over the last several years (you know who you are), my partner Andrew, and my dog Winston.