ML: What prompted you to start down this career path?
RP: It’s been an evolution. I began practicing yoga at the age of 16 because I was curious about it. My career aspirations weren’t a factor. I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. My parents will tell you I was the kid staying up after my bedtime reading with a flashlight beneath the covers. The merging of these two passions, yoga and writing, took a long time, catalyzed by the skills I learned in other industries in which I worked, such as marketing, media, and education. My career has not been linear, but I think that’s one of my strengths. Over time I realized that I could fulfill my life dream of being a writer; yoga and meditation became the backdrop for how I tell stories and share what I know with readers.
ML: How have you maintained your passion for yoga from the start of your career to now?/ What does yoga mean to you?
RP: Yoga is less something I “do” now, as it is a part of who I am. I admit that it can be tricky when one of your passions is also foundational to your livelihood. No career or person is immune to burnout, so—while it might sound counterintuitive—I maintain my passion for yoga by staying inspired outside of yoga. I run. I box. I have a meditation practice separate from my yoga practice that is very meaningful to me. I love art, dance, design, fashion, and other sources of creative expression. Many of my friends are yoga teachers or yogis. Some are not. What inspires me is how yoga intersects with the themes and experiences found in life, which I think is the same for a lot of creative types. If you want to stay fresh and inspired, you have to be willing to see inspiration in different places.
ML: How has your time at Loomis affected your professional life?
RP: Loomis accepts good students. That part is obvious. But I think one thing it excels at is then cultivating in those young people the discipline needed to be great on a path of their choice. Before being self-employed, I worked in many different industries, acquiring important skills in each, and learning what I liked to do most. To transition between industries or even between jobs as your career advances, it’s essential to be an exceptional student of the moment. Figure out what a business needs (or, heck, the world!), what you’re best at, and how you can help. These aren’t subjects taught in a class but rather an underlying theme on which our school was founded. We aim to learn, create, and inspire a “better and grander life.”
ML: What is the mantra you find yourself using most often?
RP: I tend to take on a lot of big projects at once, and sometimes, I fly too close to the sun. When I find myself getting overwhelmed by too many deadlines, commitments, or tasks, one of my favorite mantras is “Just This.” It’s so simple yet powerful. In whatever moment you find yourself, you’re more likely to be happy, productive, and able to perform your best if you can focus on just this.
ML: As a distinguished alumnus of Loomis Chaffee, could you offer some words of advice for life during and after the Island?
RP: Trust your journey. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others and feel like we’re falling short sometimes. I remember vividly my tendency to do this as a young adult, and I can honestly say that the sooner you can let go of some of that self-imposed pressure and comparison, the happier and more successful you will be. Michael Jordan was once cut from his high school basketball team and ended up the greatest player of all time. Teachers belittled Einstein because he saw the world a little differently. Oprah was fired early in her career and told she wasn’t fit for TV. Failures, rejections, and setbacks sting, but they are never the end unless you decide as much. I also encourage people at any stage of their journeys to visualize the best-case scenario and keep their dreams close. We’re all very good at worrying about what can go wrong, but there is power and possibility when you consider that rather than falter, settle, or fail, you just might soar.