A Hill flashlight shines light on life’s possibilities
by Lou Mancinelli
From modern dancer to Vegas showgirl, to marriage in Manhattan and the lucrative dot-com years, the road for Chestnut Hill resident Mary Gulivindala, 45, now a life and wellness coach, has gone from one coast of the country to another and to a very different kind of life.
In June, 2010, she founded Blue Print Life and Wellness Coaching, based in Chestnut Hill. At Blue Print, she utilizes her experience, and certifications in yoga and meditation from renowned institutions like the Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts, where she is an associate faculty member, to help clients integrate mind, body and spirit and balance their lives in a healthy way.
“I consider myself a flashlight,” Gulivindala said about her work. “I’m not a coach telling you what to do. I show [people] the possibilities they can’t see. Sometimes when you’re stuck in your own life, you can’t see the possibilities and choices available.
“I have been in many therapeutic communities on both sides, a patient and a healer.”
Now, she is on the healing side. Her services at Blue Print range from workshops for groups of new brides to meet one another to individual sessions that serve as a new-style kind of therapy. She uses tools like movement, meditation, art and traditional talk therapy to guide clients. In 2010, Gulivindala became a certified life and wellness coach/holistic health consultant through the American Aerobics Association International/International Sports Medicine Association (2010).
After graduating from Temple University with a degree in dance in 1991, the young woman from Lafayette Hill moved to L.A., where she knew no one and envisioned that she would “be the next Madonna.”
“I didn’t get the memo,” said Gulivindala. The memo she refers to is the show business idiom that it was singers who go to L.A. and dancers who go to New York.
Because she knew she could make a living, Gulivindala decided to go into entertainment instead of modern contemporary dance, a form she said has taught her to focus on her breath, a key element of meditation, since she began to study it at age 7. Modern dance influenced her to pursue an interior dialogue through artistic expression, movement, breath work and discipline, she said. “It was the beginning of my journey into my spiritual practices.”
The last semester of her senior year at Temple, Gulivindala had gone to Japan and performed in a production. She knew she could do similar work in Vegas. And so it was until 1996 that Gulivindala worked in Vegas. After that, she came back to Philadelphia for a short while to be with family and to regroup. That same year she moved into a single room occupancy hotel (SRO) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. As it turned out, she had unknowingly moved into a residence run by people in recovery from drugs and alcohol. Upon later reflection, she thinks it was “by the grace of God” she moved into such a location.
The years in Vegas and subsequent three months in New York had been years of hard living. In between productions at the casinos, Gulivindala danced in clubs or traveled and led a gypsy-like life performing in other productions. Late nights and drinking were to her life what early mornings and traffic might be to a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. type.
“Three months after moving to New York, I said this city was going to kill me,” said Gulivindala. “I was losing interest in dancing. I felt destructive … I was living large, living the night life. I was being wined and dined. I was pretty into the scene. You know, girl in Manhattan.”
But when she observed the women who lived with her, usually when she would come in from a long night around sunup, she decided to change her life.
Gulivindala went to Alcoholics Anonymous and began studying Eastern meditation and yoga. She sought out yoga gurus and attended fasting and holistic retreats at the Omega Center in Rhinebeck, NY. Over time, she developed a working relationship with a woman named Alison Shore-Gaines and began to work on her staff at the Kripalu Center.
Kripalu was formed in 1966 in western Massachusetts to promote yoga and uplift the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of individuals, according to its website. It offers a curriculum of more than 750 educational programs and spiritual retreats attended by over 25,000 individuals each year.
While living in New York, Gulivindala also met a man, and in 1998 at age 32 she married him. In the ensuing years the couple had two sons. They enjoyed a wealthy lifestyle provided for by her husband’s dot-com investments, but the same thing that built his success separated his family. When the economy crashed, so did her husband’s business. The family fell apart.
In 2006, Gulivindala moved to Orlando, Fla., with her two sons, Ravi, now 13, and a Springside Chestnut Hill Academy student, and James, now 6. In Florida she worked as a dance and substitute teacher, choreographer and at Walt Disney World as a friend of Pluto.
In 2008, after picking herself up through the severe depression and despair brought on by a broken marriage, she moved to Chestnut Hill. She wanted herself and her boys to be closer to her family.
In addition to her yoga and wellness certifications, Gulivindala is also a certified Community Chaplain through the New York Theological Seminary in New York City.
At one point, she worked with David-Dorian Ross, an American T’ai Chi Champion who has won seven U.S. National T’ai Chi gold medals, a world silver medal and two world bronze medals. Ross taught her to coach not only from the neck up but to use specific physical training practices to address emotional blocks and patterns.
Clients seek coaching services during times of personal or professional transition to achieve specific goals. Those seeking weight loss and wellness, brides preparing for a new life, those in career transition, parents and families needing direction, and people going through a divorce are a few examples of the people Blue Print serves.
Mary is now working out of her home, but she is currently negotiating for a space in the area that would be a home base for activities from holistic healing like yoga and meditation to dance classes, drum circles, drama, poetry, music, etc. Gulivindala also maintains a poetry blog.
“I did not go through all my struggles not to use those experiences to help others,” she said.
For more information, visit www.blueprintlife-wellnesscoaching.com, email@example.com or call 267-505-1779.