Kimberly with Jarvis after his football game


Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why? has been a guiding source since the beginning of Big Fish. Although I agree with Sinek’s direction for getting clear on stepping into action, I’m equally aware that there is a bigger WHY out there – and if not consciously expanding, (read: getting yourself out of the way) we will contract vs. expand this space for the possible bigger WHY.

Kimberly Mashek, Director of Teachers at Big Fish Studios, stepped into Big Fish at our original location on Osceola Avenue in 2011. A graduate student in a rigorous program at UNF, Kimberly simply came to yoga for clarity. (her original WHY) Kimberly pulled me aside after a class and said she heard me talking about teaching yoga at high schools and could she come. She had no experience teaching yoga (yet) and yet she had a curiosity about the impact of yoga on kids. I said yes, and she went with me to Lee High School. She sat in the back of the lunchroom while I taught yoga to about 65 rowdy high school kids that day.

The next year, Kimberly enrolled in our 200 Hour Leader Teacher Training Program. She graduated, but didn’t start teaching. She did, however, support Yoga for Youth Project – by this time, a consistent program at several schools each week bringing yoga to high school kids by Big Fish teachers. She was a mentee in our Intro Series for two years and recognized this platform had given her more as a leader and speaker than anything she learned through college. After leading Intro Series for the next year, she empowered other young teachers to step into their leadership.

Her bigger WHY was just beginning to unfold. Flash forward to today – Kimberly has trained countless hours in the worlds of anatomy, speaking and facilitating, her own asana practice and self-study, researched the impact of yoga on kids, supports every team member at Big Fish, has a Masters in Counseling, is an E-RYT 200, supports our yoga program with the Jacksonville Jaguars, researches and creates content to constantly push the envelope in our organization, and, as a result she impacts kids and colleagues every
day by the example she is as a high school counselor, yoga teacher, wife, wellness advocate, team player and humble woman of integrity.
She is power. She makes a difference the minute she walks in any room.

So why did she drive for the past two Thursday nights all the way to Georgia to watch a high school football game? She had a high school kid, Javaris, who changed schools and is no longer in Jacksonville; he went through a tough year before relocating, and Kimberly (by no accident) happened to be his guidance counselor. She infused in him all that she could through tough love, impactful word and action- and made a difference in his life.

She pulled me aside – this time to share what happened at those football games, sitting with Javaris’ mom and aunt, cheering him on – seeing him keep his cool when the Coach called him to the bench, and celebrating his success when he scored – even taking them all to dinner afterwards to spend more time with him and his family . . . I am in awe at the commitment she is for others. Her WHY is no longer for clarity. Her WHY is no longer to be a great yoga teacher. Her WHY is no longer the quest for knowledge. Her WHY isn’t even to make Jacksonville great. If she would’ve stopped here, she would’ve missed the miracle. Her WHY is much, much bigger. Her WHY is something bigger than herself – it’s to make others great. This is an exclusive club on the planet – and I think Kimberly is the ringleader.

I love writing this because she would never write this about herself. She wouldn’t put something about herself on social media that brought attention to herself. She doesn’t speak to impress or waste her time making sure others know what she’s doing. She just does it. If you want some inspiration from a heart that’s in everything she does for all the right reasons, come meet Kimberly.

Let’s inspire each other to be great this month.
Love and gratitude,
Mary Lyn

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