Every week I write a column called BE YOU for one of the local papers (The Times of Acadiana) – Each week someone different answers the questionnaire – the paper often has to edit them,  so here are all the answers, unedited (the whole truth) : This week is Laci Lopez

Laci is the owner of (and passion behind) The Vertical Barre – A pole fitness studio (and no, it’s nothing like you are thinking). She flows with positive energy, and I imagine she leaves people changed wherever she goes. Laci believes she can change the world, and give her five minutes and she’ll have you believing it too.

What was your first job?

Selling Ting-tings (metallic scalp massagers) in the mall at 15 years old. I begged my mom for a job and luckily this place hired me… too young.

Describe a typical day in your life.
Wake up, meditate, teach at The Vertical Barre, long lunch filled with either being productive with the business, reading or cooking, back to teach some more in the evenings, to shower, to meditate and read/research something interesting, then bed. I’m sure some would say I’m pretty boring, but I’m very happy to say the least!

What advice would you give the younger you?

I would teach myself that it is all okay. You don’t have to grow up so fast. God will bring you what you need when you need it. Every moment’s exactly when it should be.

What event in your life most shaped who you are now?

This is a tough one. I think working as an investment banker really taught me a lot about life believe it or not. It has helped remind me that people are people and to truly love them to matter what kind of person they are (and a number they are NOT).
Working as a banker also taught me what “attachment” means. I would get so personally offended if someone were to criticize our company for I was so attached. Now I’ve learned to see one’s opinion as merely their opinion and nothing more, thus affecting me none.

What values do you live by?
“Let food be thy medicine” -Hippocrates
“Be informed, be non-violent, and be relentless.” -Foster Gamble
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” –Rumi
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” -Eckhart von Hochheim

What do you most appreciate?
Eeeevvvverrrryything! No really. I work hard to live in constant gratitude. I even remind my students at The Vertical Barre to remember to be grateful they HAVE legs to even TRY this. We (humans) take a LOT of what we have for granted. Lest we forget there are people just like me/you and your family suffering on this very planet, in this very moment: lest we forget to be grateful.

“A person however learned and qualified in his life’s work in whom gratitude is absent, is devoid of that beauty of character which makes personality fragrant.” -Hazrat Inayat Khan

What is your favorite journey?

My recent visit to Peru to experience the healing powers of the Amazon’s Ayahuasca Tea through AyahuascaFoundation.org. The experience was both highly educational and empowering. I’d recommend it to anyone ready.

Where is your favorite place to be alone?
I don’t have many ‘favorite’ anything’s but if I had to choose it’d definitely be a dance studio! With a pole even, if I could be so picky. Dance is my escape. With nearly 20 years of classical ballet under me, I can comfortably say; dance is my drug of choice.

What living figure most inspires you?

Hmm… tough. Oprah? Her creative giving, success and inspiration makes one hell-of-a person!

What was the best advice you were ever given?
“Let go and let God” –My mother
“Your word is your honor” –My father

What book would you tell everyone to read?
Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth! I would also recommend reading it more than once!

What is the best thing about where you live?
Just moved into an apartment RIGHT BY THE STUDIO –being so close to work is really quite a luxury.

How do you “let the good times roll” ?
I’m such a homebody, so I’d have to say a backyard friends/family gathering. Good food, good music and family, and tahdah! Laissez les bons temps rouler, sha!

What did u want to be when you grew up?
A business owner! No joke! I would play store with monopoly money more than I played with dolls or Barbie. I believe I’m doing my calling!

What is your motto?

“…Change  your perspective!” I firmly believe if more of us changed our perspective in any form we might all see our interconnectedness and how important that core really is.

How would you like to be remembered?
As a person who LIVED.

What do you say to yourself when you doubt yourself?

What will be, will be.

What three things are vital to BEing YOU?
Not allowing others/things to affect me negatively (for we must remember it is us who ultimately has control over ourselves/emotions. No one MAKES you do anything).
Being completely honest with myself and others. Why hide things? I am no better nor worse than you.
Reminding myself there are always two perspectives to everything: positive/negative and with knowing that I work to always choose wisely.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Yet”. Every time a student says “I can’t” I quickly chime in “..YET!”

What is your favorite word?
I don’t have one.

What do you collect?
I’m not really a collector…do quotes count?

What food could you live on for a month?
Whatever that was given…is this a trick question?

What would you change about yourself?
I would like to better my ability with meditation which will come with time and practice.

What literary, movie or cartoon character do you most identify with?
I don’t read/watch enough fiction to answer this.

Describe yourself in five words.
Happy, reliable, honest, efficient, healthy

What is your idea of happiness?
Happiness is an inside job. You cannot always control what’s on the outside but you can always control what’s on the inside, and no external factor will ever make you happy from within. Focus on all the good in your life: this is a start to becoming happy.
“If you focus on all that is awful, you will miss all that is wonderful” –Doe Zantamata

What is your favorite movie?
I don’t watch movies. Can’t even tell you the last one I’ve seen…but I can tell you my favorite documentary! It’s actually between Forks Over Knives, which is about the China study which proves we can cure (most) anything through food/diet changes, and No Impact Man, which is about a man who lives with his family in NYC and has no impact on our environment for a year proving it’s both possible and not has hard as it seems.

What music defines who you are?
Way to dish out the tough ones! What music defines me? Hmm, I think the best music is one from an artist to ‘feels it’ themselves in any genre. When they feel it, I feel it. I love when musicians can take an instrument to synthesizer, of any kind, and create something given to them by something bigger than us all. Now THAT’S music to move to.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything” -Plato

What do you most regret?
Honestly, I used to regret everything but over the past few years I learned that it has taken everything I’ve ever experienced to get to this moment now, and with that; I don’t regret a thing.

What question do you wish I’d asked?
Is what you’re living for worth dying for?

What would the answer be?
YES! I would say running The Vertical Barre (off Johnston Street behind Zea’s – dang right I put a plug) in the most positive and fruitful way I know how is what I was meant to be doing right now. I truly want to change all people’s perspectives on not only on pole fitness (for we’re probably not at all like the first thing that comes to mind…especially with our being co-ed), but on their outlook with life and how they can change both (all) views for the better. So, is the outlook I feel made to teach worth dying for? Absolutely!
-Change your thoughts, change your life, change your perspective.-