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Living Soulfully with Marian Mellen of The Zen Bird

Life is full of paradoxes.

Such as: the only constant in life is change, the more afraid you are to fail, the more likely you are to fail, or the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know. Or perhaps you’ve experienced the paradox of having so many choices to choose from, the less happy you are with your decision.

How the heck are we supposed to navigate these ironic ideologies? Many of us suffer through them and some of us handle them with grace like it ain’t no thang.  If you’re not part of the latter, how do we move to that space where we are gentle with others and most importantly, ourselves?

A floral arrangement at a heart + soul curriculum workshop.

The old adage such as “it’s all about the journey, not the destination,” is one of my favorites, and something I truly try to remind myself on a daily basis.

But, doesn’t it seem like we’re always looking ahead, planning our next move, while simultaneously trying to live in the now? This tends to happen on a larger scale mostly (where will I be in 5 years?), but what about on a smaller scale?  If your life is dictated by a calendar on a daily basis then you know this first hand.

Marian Mellen personal coaching offers the heart + soul curriculum.
The Heart + Soul Curriculum helps people navigate the paradoxes of life, and settle into their authentic selves.

For me, life’s paradoxes and ironic guidelines can make a girl crazy.  I struggle with the opposing concepts of things like having structure and just going with the flow.  I like to be organized and plan ahead, but I also really value spontaneity.

Studying yoga through Sutra Studio’s yoga teacher program, helped me settle into my being a little more, and helped me to wrap my head around some of these ideas, because lessons we learn on the mat can be applied off the mat within our daily lives.

yoga teacher training
Sutra’s Yoga Teacher Program was an amazing growth opportunity for me and my peers.

I can confidently say I know I’m not alone in this soul searching.  I’m not the only one looking to strike that balance. We’re all out there trying to figure ourselves out and to be accepting of the world around us.  We’re all trying to be the change makers and the good-doers, and the leaders by example. We’re all reaching for that feel good, soulful and purposeful life.  What is our gift, and how do we share it for the good of the world?

Although I am not a yoga teacher, Sutra Studios has been instrumental in my personal growth over the past few years. Had it not been for me attending one of Sutra’s free community yoga classes, I most likely wouldn’t be able to genuinely share my love for the person who is the center of today’s feature.

A few weeks before my 28th birthday, the stars aligned and I met Marian, the mastermind and creator of The Zen Bird brand. These super cute groovy headbands can be found at a hand full of local boutiques and yoga studios across the valley, or online on her etsy shop.  If you own one of these chic and stylish headbands, you’d know that quality is one of it’s best features. Simply put, it’s the best headband I’ve ever owned and no other headband will EVER do.

Last summer Marian had posted on Instagram that she needed some gals to join her marketing team, so I reached out intrigued by the opportunity. With her warm smile and gentle spirit, she welcomed me into her home to have a chat over some coffee.  I went in to find out more about a job opportunity and left with so much more than that.

How could you not want to work for this lady? Just adore her!

I remember telling Marian that day, that I didn’t really have a good reason for being there, but I felt like it was just where I was supposed to be. My intuition was telling me to follow this gut feeling I was having….things would make sense soon enough.  Let me just say, I wouldn’t recommend using that line on any potential future employers in most instances, but because Marian is who she is, she was accepting of that answer. I promise though, I had a good reason!

On the drive over to a community Sutra yoga class, I started thinking about headbands for no good reason.  After I rolled up mat I noticed two women having a chat by the pool. The dusky sky was beautifully lit and all the fun lights were coming on at The Palomar rooftop, so I asked if they wanted a picture taken.

Naturally, I was wearing a Zen Bird headband during class, and one of the women complimented my headband, which was a Mother’s Day gift from the hubs a few weeks earlier.  I started telling her how great her own product was, and she just smiled at me. She introduced herself, “I know, because I made that headband.  I’m the Zen Bird.”

I thought to myself “of course you are.”

I would go on to work for The Zen Bird for only a few short months, but man! Those were an impactful few months.  This is where I became more engaged in the creative Phoenix community, this is where I would make connections with local vendors and creatives, and ultimately where a passion was ignited. This is where Marian and I established that one of a kind, authentic connection.

Marian is still slingin’ super cute groovy headbands, but her life’s work is evolving and transforming through personal coaching and helping others to live the one life they’re given in an authentic and soulful way.  She has crafted The Heart and Soul Curriculum, and uses this as material for her monthly workshops. She has even brought forth this curriculum in meetings with various charter school boards, proposing that it should be incorporated into student’s education.  How cool is that?

One thing I love about Marian, is that she is a real life human being. Although she promotes a well lived life, she’ll be the first to tell you that things don’t always go as planned.  It’s all in how we handle those moments of vulnerability or anxiety.  It’s about being gentle with yourself and allowing yourself to make those mistakes and to learn from them.  It’s about just going for it, answering your calling in life.

heart + soul curriculum workshop at The Teapot in Phoenix AZ with Marian Mellen.
Marian speaks to a group of women at one of her workshops.

If you take one of her workshops you can expect a powerful and informative experience.  You can expect to connect with a small group in an intimate (and usually chic) setting.  You can expect local goodies and a light snack.  Need I say more?

Gifting services provided by Meg Staren of Darlin Darlin.
Desoto central market room provides an intimate and cozy setting for a workshop.
An intimate setting for a workshop at DeSoto Central Market.

I had the opportunity to chat with Marian for this feature and I was thrilled to hear about how much growth has occurred for her since we met.  It’s all good stuff….see for yourself in her interview below.

An Interview with Marian of the Zen Bird

Hey girl, whats your sign?

Aries sun, Taurus rising, Leo moon 🙂

Where are you from?

Westby, WI- population 2,000 humans.

How long have you called Phoenix home?  What brought you here?

I have been in Phoenix 4 years and moved here on a whim thinking I would be in ‘transition’ and move back to the mid-west. I came here to teach Spanish and soak up the sun. Little did I know I would fall madly in love with Central Phoenix and decide to buy a home here. I love the energy and the people.

Do you have a personal mantra you can share?

I release the need to move onto the ‘next step’ and will feel completely the very present moment in which I am currently experience. AKA- slow down, sister– you gotta feel the NOW.

What is your craft?

I am a life coach and empowerment workshop leader for women who are coming into their authentic selves. I allow space for healing and work with women to dig into their core essence of who they are. We work on shedding the image to let the world SEE who they truly are at the heart level.

What kind of topics do you cover in your workshops?

You can see my workshops here.  We talk about soulful things such as peace, love, joy, and body image.

How was The Zen Bird born?

I got started creating Zen Bird Bands- headbands worn to remind us of the power of our thoughts and to choose the ones of love, gratitude and authenticity. My mother ship company, The Zen Bird, started 4 years ago when I was on summer break from being a school teacher. I had just experienced yoga and wanted to create a headband for class. I threw myself into being a domestic goddess that summer and re-learning sewing. I remember that first headband I made- took about 18 hours to get it right!

How did you come up with your business’ name?

The Zen Bird- I find myself spreading soulful, Zen energy with the people I come into contact with. I also feel as though my life has been one of a bird- traveling and living in various places sharing my heart and soul with the people. This is the reason for Zen Bird 🙂

Where is your favorite place to shop at in Phoenix?

Frances Vintage

Are there any local businesses you love supporting?

I adore supporting local businesses. A few of my favorites are Be You Jewelry, Strawberry Hedgehog Soaps and Sunny Brooke Co.

Are there any small business owners or creatives that inspired the work you do?

Leanne of Dream Rock Living was (and still is) a huge inspiration for the work I do. I remember the first summer launching my headbands I followed her Instagram and the retreats she did for small businesses. She had a genuine feel to her brand and made me feel very connected to her. I later went onto be coached by her 1:1 and this is where I found inspiration in coaching women.

What words of wisdom would you share with someone who is considering taking the leap into entrepreneurship?

To simply check in with your center. There is a knowing and so often we over look the FEELING side of who we are and only THINK through our dreams. Begin by checking in with yourself on a deeper level through breathing or meditation to uncover what your soul is asking you to pursue. You have all the answers.

Is there anything exciting happening with your business that we can look forward to?

Yes, ma’am! I am launching a self study book on my Heart and Soul Curriculum and lemmmmie tell you- it is DARLING and POWERFUL. You can look for the release of this by August and will be doing pre-sales in July. Rachel of Pink Puddle Studio created the beautiful cover and Nikki has been the design lady behind the workbook. It is a road map filled with hands on activities, challenges, journaling and soulful writing to allow readers to dig to their core and feel radical self love.

If someone is interested in being coached by you, where do they begin?

Yes! I host workshops every month around the valley and also work 1:1 with clients looking to find that deep, inner self love and meaning in their life. All can reach me at thezenbird@gmail.com

Do you know the muffin man?

I do, he makes the best corn bread muffins. Would love a few of those this morning. 😉

Thank you Marian!

All smiles after a powerful workshop on “purpose”.

Marian is available for personal coaching, speaking engagements, and workshops. She recently spoke to Pinegate Road about her creative brand, listen to the podcast here!

You can keep up with the newest and cutest headband prints on The Zenbird Instagram account or Marian’s personal coaching account Marian Mellen .  Or join her Heart & Soul Workshops Facebook group. 

Marian continues to be an inspiration for me personally.  She is a delight to know, and I look forward to working with her some more in the future.

Looping back around to that whole paradox thing,  I’ll leave you with some thought provoking lyrics….

I think @Zhu ‘s song “Good Life” on his album GENERATIONWHY, does a great job at portraying some of life’s more ambiguous paradox’s through its intelligent lyrics.  I also appreciate that this song is a jam….

“Life is all about you and not at all about you.
Now, that’s two opposing thoughts and yet both of them are true.
How can you experience everything you choose to do,
While observing the experience you’re having from a higher view.
See, it’s the question, not the answer, that’s the higher view,
Otherwise, you couldn’t differentiate between the two.

Awareness? But of who?
You think you hurt me, but I promise I was letting you.
They say we’re all one, but where have we been headed to,
I’d rather die free than have to live inside a petting zoo.
I am the journey that I’m getting to.

Gratitude is my destination,
My destiny is perfectly aligned with this location.
I am the map, so I travel back in time,
I have everything I want cause my imagination is mine.
But mind is not enough for me cause I am not my mind,
I could see it all, but never get to see I’m truly blind.
I could be it all, but all identities intertwine,
The moon is only bright cause it reflects the sun’s shine.

It’s not the human race, it’s just the human race
There’s nothing left to chase, we do not run this place
But both medicine and poison’s an acquired taste
So I started taking selfies of somebody else’s face

I could be it all, I’ll make a good life
Let me lose my mind, it’s the only way to love
Only way to, only way to love.”

BOOM.

Zhu dropping some truth bombs on us.  I love it.

Sending you sunshine,

Audria




Photo’s Contributed by:
Lara Gabrielsen of Exhilaration Photography
Rachel Fischer
Anna Marisol Photography
Molly McElanney
Sarah Hoag Photography

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