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THE WOMEN OF TTN

Our members are the heart and soul of The Transition Network.  Our chapters are born, nurtured and grown through the vision and energy of these exceptional women. And they come to TTN with wonderful life stories of successful careers, diverse families, and plentiful life experiences to share.  

Browse through our Member Profiles to learn more about what brought our members to this point in their lives, what they are hoping to accomplish next and how they view their impact on the world.

Elizabeth Hansen

No, she wasn’t short of breath – despite an additional recent return from a tour of India, where she traveled to the mouth of the sacred River Ganges.  She’s in shape for all kinds of treks, having also walked the Santiago de Compostela in Spain and climbed Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro in the near past.   To top it off, she celebrated her 65th birthday on Cape Verde Island off the coast of Africa!Maintaining this level of energy has long been of interest to Elizabeth – and it powered her initial effort to explore TTN membership more than 10 years ago. 
 
“I heard about it on NPR,” she recalled, “when two of the founders were interviewed.”  She immediately looked into TTN-NYC programs and attended a meeting, where she hit the jackpot right away:  A long-lost friend and work colleague also showed up, and the pair were able to recall old times and catch up on their lives to date. 
 
The peer group she participated in had a unique profile, an interest in expanding the diversity of the TTN membership.  A very successful multi-cultural panel presentation at a Third Thursday meeting grew out of that group’s discussions, Elizabeth recalls. 
 
Following that project, Elizabeth’s interests segued into the field of health.  Partly in an effort to meet more people, she eventually became involved in TTN’s Caring Collaborative program – specifically, the East Side Single Neighborhood Group, which normally draws 8 – 15 attendees at monthly meetings in members’ homes.  In fact, she’s still involved – to the point of hosting this year’s holiday gathering. 
 
She’s been involved in TTN leadership, too, assisting with the production of “strategic health services” sponsored by the Caring Collaborative.  One of these presented a talk by a surgery specialist who explained how sun-caused skin cancer can be detected. 
 
“I think TTN’s Caring Collaborative is visionary,” she declared.
 
But Elizabeth’s interest in health predates her TTN membership.  After years of running for exercise, her 50-year-old body began to complain of pain in her hips.
 
“My hips were hurting from running, so my sister gave me 6 weekly sessions in athletic yoga,” she recalls.  She describes the experience as “love at first sight”.   It coincided with the agony of watching a friend take a year to die without the benefit of physical therapy.  That settled it:  She would focus her yoga explorations on learning how to help older people.
 
In the meantime, our Energetic Elizabeth served in the Peace Corps in 2006 -07, with her project located on Africa’s Cape Verde islands, a key launching site in the slave-trade diaspora from the African continent to the Western Hemisphere. 
 
“In the Peace Corps,” she points out, “all volunteers are expected to handle two assignments:  their official one [in her case, teaching linguistics and English literature] and one they choose for themselves.”  Elizabeth’s choice was – you guessed it -- teaching yoga, with her extra earnings dedicated to expanding her host school’s tiny library.
 
She notes that her practice grew slowly but steadily, helped by referrals from a physical therapist who lived on the same island.  Most satisfying of all, she has learned that a successor has continued the sessions in her absence.
 
Upon her return from Africa, Elizabeth felt the need to further sharpen the techniques she could employ when providing older people with yoga instruction.  That required her to take a big step: enroll in a geriatric course at Duke University’s integrative medical center.  Her research for that course, which was known unsurprisingly as Yoga for Seniors, concluded in a practicum she was able to serve in Harlem and coverage in The Journal of the Association of Yoga Therapists. Exposure in that journal has led to the publication of articles in other periodicals and further study of the effects of yoga on both arthritis and diabetes. 
 
However, she has found that yoga can be a hit across generations.  Between 2000 and 2013, she and a friend taught students at an elementary school in Kenya, where yoga was all new.
 
“They were surprised by it,” she notes, “but they loved it.”  
 
Since graduating from the Duke program, Elizabeth has been teaching at senior centers in East Harlem and also working with small groups and private individuals, either at their homes or hers.  TTN has occasionally been the source of referrals, and she meets regularly with a small group of 3 or 4 TTNers.
 
 Remembering her dying friend, she practices a form of quiet physical therapy that includes all three approaches to yoga, including the poses, the breathing practices, and meditation.  A recent fall, which injured both rotator cuffs, has taught her a great deal about the powers of yoga.
 
“I couldn’t do much with either arm,” she recalls.
 
 She says the experience has enabled her to talk more effectively with clients about their pain and how they can deal with it.

~ Marticia Moore Madory