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Meet Marnie Grodzin of Gathered and Grounded in Decatur

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marnie Grodzin.

Marnie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
There are two paths that have led to the creation of Gathered and Grounded.

The first being a personal story. In 2011 at the age of 38, I began to experience symptoms of depression. Being in the helping profession and a person in my community as a go-to person for a variety of issues (this was in Dallas, TX) I was afraid to share what I was going through. My thinking, “If people know what is happening in my head they will no longer use me as a resource. If I’m not a resource that what value do I have.” As the years passed along the depression got progressively worse and I could no longer hide it, but only my closet friends and family where are aware.

I moved to the Atlanta area in June 2014. Within months my depression took hold and on a much deeper level. Being new to the area in desperation of not having a large support network I had to “come out” to those I knew. I needed assistance in following through with my “mom part of life”. There is more to this story, but bottom line I have learned to manage my disease and work hard at it. There have been a lot of life changes.

I share my story because the biggest lesson I received from my journey is “Let Go of the Stigma and Shame.” Once I shared my story with a variety of people I was amazed at the personal stories I heard from others. The sharing was cathartic and allowed others to see they are not alone. During this time I became a mental health advocate. My thinking “In life we are educated on dental and physical health, but what about mental health.”

One can’t turn on the news, read the paper or jump on social media without reading the statistics regarding anxiety, depression and the rise of suicide in our youth. With my experience of being a social worker, yoga teacher, 15-year meditator and connected in the Decatur community and school system it became clear I needed to find a way to support, educate and share tools with youth as well as those who care for them.

At this point, I hit the streets looking for space, space that kids could walk to or access by Marta. I know transportation can be an issue for families and I didn’t want that to be a roadblock. Writing a business plan, crunching numbers, networking and many nights with limited sleep Gathered and Grounded was birthed.

We opened in April with the mission, “Holistic positive and supportive mental and physical health services for youth and those who care for them.” We can’t address our youth without supporting the ones who care for them. The reality is many care for youth: parents, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, police and fire departments and the general community. When we provide support for all the entire community is on a track towards greater health.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Well, the location of Gathered and Grounded was the 8th place I looked at during my research. Along the way, I met some great people as well as those who wanted to take advantage of me. Honestly, I felt a bit patronized at times and I have to wonder if it has anything to do with being a woman.

Along with this, there was heartache when I fell in love with a location and it didn’t work out. During a moment of frustration and tears thinking there wouldn’t be a space within the footprint I needed the location to be, I hopped back online and found our current location. Let’s just say I couldn’t ask for anything better, including great property owners.

Next, learning not to get too attached to deadlines and expectations during the buildout phase. So turning my frustration into an energy filled with patience.

My current challenge is finding ways to utilize all the possible avenues of sharing what we do and where we are located. My life and professional motto is, “Connecting People & Building Bridges”. I’m good at this and thought it would be easier than it has been when it comes to Gathered and Grounded. I spend a tremendous amount of time on the computer, on social media, scheduling, writing curriculum, giving tours, attending meetings and then lower on the list is teaching yoga. I recognize teaching more yoga will come, but for now, I need a greater focus on the big picture.

I’m fortunate I have some great people to support our mission. I have others who teach yoga, therapists who use space for counseling and groups, people jumping in to assist because they see the need and support the mission. The title I have given myself for Gathered and Grounded is “Holder of Space”. All of the above falls into this title.

Gathered and Grounded – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I addressed much of this in the previous question. What sets us apart from others… nothing in the Atlanta area exists with all that we have to offer in one location. We offer group yoga classes for youth, one-on-one therapeutic yoga, meditation, counseling space for individuals and groups, meeting space for workshops and events, limited rental opportunities for personal celebrations, book clubs, community building for those in recovery between the ages of 16-24 and LGBT population ages 16 -21.

I’m most proud of the space being flexible and fluid. A space to address and support what the community needs or wants to have.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Working with kids there are several that come to mind. The most recent.

While teaching a yoga class to a homeschool group at Gathered and Grounded with the goal of working on body awareness in and outside of the body I asked the kids to put their hands over their heart. A four year old girl burst out, “I can feel my heart”.

This is what I want! I want kids to feel the sensation within and outside of their bodies, notice the changes and be able to verbalize them. When we, kids and adults, can do this we are steps further in supporting our mental health.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Cole Grodzin, Amy Kargus

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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