Episode 023: Abbi Miller
The Embodiment of Truth
Abbi Miller is a total firecracker. She’s sassy yet sweet, grounded yet wild. It feels pretty much impossible to not love her and want her to be your best friend. Abbi works as a coach, facilitator, and yoga instructor all over the world. She leads sold-out retreats, teaches people how to love their bodies, and coaches individuals on how to build their businesses. Abbi and I run in very similar personal and professional circles and I can say with full certainty that Abbi doesn’t just want to lead her own dream life—she wants everyone around her to lead theirs as well.
When Abbi and I spoke, she was just beginning to explore a new way of being in the world. This new way was aimed at helping her let go of some of the more masculine ways she has shown up in life (to-do lists, pushing through pain, saying yes when she means no) in order to embrace her more feminine side. This process involves trusting things that are in a state of flow, connecting to what is already fertile in her life, and letting her intuition guide her. As she began embracing her new way of life, she soon found herself headed to Italy to teach a yoga retreat with a woman she had met on Instagram. This relationship transcended the barriers of technology and was simply based on a gut feeling of connection and inclusion. She was trusting her instinct and willing to take risks to see where it would lead her.
We speak for a bit on the gap between reality and one’s perception of reality via social media. Because she is a woman who is regularly globe-trotting, it’s easy to look through Abbi’s Instagram account with a dropped jaw and a mind filled with self-comparison. One week she’s riding a camel in Egypt and the next she’s sipping tea in Morocco. What’s not being shown, however, is when Abbi gets carsick or seasick or homesick. Our culture doesn’t like to share discomfort and I am appreciative of how Abbi balances the act of building a vulnerable yet viable business. She isn’t afraid to say what’s true for her—you just have to ask.
From age 8 to 24, Abbi both played and worked in the performing arts. When she was 19, she moved to New York from Indiana and landed a gig on a touring production of the Broadway show Grease. She says with total conviction, “It was just my dream come true.” Overnight she went from a starving artist to the youngest woman in the cast. She received a good weekly paycheck and had the opportunity to explore all of Southeast Asia while doing what she loved. She describes her experience:
“On paper I am in heaven. I’m making money. I'm staying in five-star boutique hotels with heated wood floors and a personal trainer. I'm riding in fancy buses. I’m on the Korean Jay Leno. [I’m] modeling for Calvin Klein. I’m getting what I’ve always wanted . . . and not actually being that happy about it. I didn’t feel content . . . I didn’t feel supported. I didn’t feel like I belonged. I didn’t feel respected.”
As Abbi was in contract with the tour company and surrounded by a cast that was highly competitive, she didn’t feel like she had anyone that she could truly confide in and share what she was experiencing. She felt lonely and isolated: “I remember going to bed and praying if there was some way they could fire me . . . I really really deep down inside knew that I wanted to get the hell out of there.”
Abbi’s story comes to a head when she describes a crazy travel snafu that ended with the crew’s airplane having to make an emergency landing in Austria while en route to Kuala Lumpur. By the time the flight finally made it to Malaysia, the cast had less than an hour to get ready for their opening night show. Exhausted and depleted, Abbi walked onto stage for her part of the performance and sprained her ankle. Days after this incident, her wisdom teeth started growing in, leaving her jaw swollen and her face in an enormous amount of pain. She laughs and says, “It [was] hilarious because the two things I was hired to do—sing and dance—were completely taken from me.” Finally, there was a communication error with one of the theaters and the entire tour was cancelled. All of these events happened within a week’s time—her body screaming at her and the universe listening to her prayers.
After theatrically sharing this story, Abbi reflects on what she took away from the experience. She emphasizes the importance of listening to your body even when whatever is happening is still at a whisper—basically, listen before it becomes a scream. She shares the significance of stopping when something is hurting, examining a relationship when it is struggling, and truly taking the time to slow down and understand what feels good to hold onto and what needs to be let go. She says,
“You know, I'm joking that my body was saying F you [because] in reality my body was saying I love you. My body was saying, “Oh, that's beautiful. You're so unhappy. Let me give you an excuse. You need a reason to leave. Here's the reason.’”
The end of our conversation goes on to explore the process of bypassing emotions and how easy it is to lose touch with our own inner guidance when we don’t want to disappoint other people or let anyone else down. We so often look to others to give us permission to make choices in our lives, when in fact all that we need to do is give ourselves the permission that we so desperately seek. So often we want to skirt around issues or shove feelings into closets so that we can give off the impression that everything is okay—even though at many times things aren’t okay. Abbi describes this phenomenon by saying, “Gosh, we are just so conditioned to be in the light. So conditioned.” When I ask her to offer her thoughts on how we can move away from the light and feel comfortable sharing ourselves in darkness, she says,
“I think the word authenticity is overused but I don’t really have another option. [I think it’s about] people being raw. People being candid . . . Look at the people, whether they are mentors or peers or friends, [the] people who give life to your life. [Ask yourself], what is it about them that you can embody?”
Abbi Miller is a lover of anything punny, getting her passport stamped, and taking selfies at the grocery store with inanimate produce.
She works all over the globe via her wellness brand, running sold-out yoga retreats from Greece to Morocco, speaking at events about body love and how to better use nutrition as fuel for our fabulous lives, as well as serving up private nutrition and business coaching to inspiring humans seeking to level-up their badassery. She has an incandescent spirit and the power to awaken and revive. Her manifesto is to help people feel fabulous; if not now, when?