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Meet Shoshanna Raven of Living Brave in Highlands

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shoshanna Raven.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Shoshanna. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
There are two pivotal points that shaped my mission to break down shame and fear culture and help others take empowered leaps of faith. The first led me to break free from the cubicle, travel the world and launch an entirely new career. The second led me to see what was once my biggest, juiciest secret, as one of the best things that ever happened to me.

In 2015, I quit my corporate consulting job in NYC on a one-way ticket to India. I recognized that not following my heart and finding myself in that office 5-10 years down the road was scarier than going across the world solo. That not waking up passionate about every day, striving to do something good for the world, was a wasted privilege. That instead of choosing out of the options available to me, I could actually CREATE something new, create a new opportunity. Over the next couple of years, I traveled around the world, focused on my writing, and reached thousands with my personal essays on sites like Boulder-based Elephant Journal.

Living Brave podcast, retreats and signature coaching programs are the result of a decision in 2019 to go public about my HSV (genital herpes) status. I committed myself to help others alchemize their obstacles and perceived shortcomings into fuel for growth, so we can find deeper connection within ourselves and between one another. I share details of my story on the first episode of the Living Brave podcast.

Living Brave is about leaning into discomfort and pioneering a new way of being. It’s about inviting in “edgy” and “unpopular” opinions, especially as they relate to mainstream culture and new age spirituality. We unpack our biases and stigmas and continue to remove our blinders. Through my own experience of doing “brave” things like telling all the men I’ve dated in the past couple years that I have a highly stigmatized STI, I’ve learned that having no secrets is the fast lane to freedom and unshakable self-acceptance. No one told me about the vulnerability high! It’s so much more potent than the vulnerability hangover.

When I launched the Living Brave podcast, I still had various freelance writing jobs, some that were simply to meet my rent, and others I resonated more with. Throughout the past five years, I had been teaching yoga at various studios throughout Denver, as well as breweries, parks. You name it! In 2019, I started “Yoga Off the Mat” with my best friend Kelsey Brown, also a yoga teacher based in Denver. We co-teach donation-based classes in which all proceeds go to charity. During this COVID-19 crisis, we’ve been able to move that online and keep the community alive. My most recent transition to focus on the Living Brave podcast, international retreats, and 1-1 empowerment coaching, and drop my writing gigs, happened more gradually.

I held my first international yoga retreat in Panama in November 2019. The success of this transformational experience motivated me to offer another retreat in India in March 2020, and plan another experience in Guatemala in 2021. The retreats are spaces in which the groups become like family, where vulnerability is encouraged, as well as play, adventure and authentic self-expression. While I had experience working intimately with clients 1-1, it took breaking through uncertainty, imposter syndrome and some limiting beliefs to go for it with everything I had. And WOW, has it been worth it. I now work with incredible clients from Jamaica to New Zealand, and all across the U.S., guiding and supporting them through taking empowered leaps of faith.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It’s been a ride to get here. Not only have I been talking about Living Brave for years, but I actually recorded the first five episodes of the podcast, and lost them. I meticulously edited them, was slated to launch in a few days and realized I needed more room on my computer. I’m not a big tech wiz, so I called Apple to help make space on my Mac, and at the end of the call, the woman recommended an OS update. I was giddy! I left my computer, made some oatmeal, and when I came back, It had crashed! It wasn’t long after another Apple rep answered that I started crying, driving on the way to the Apple store in Cherry Creek.

While at first, there was a four-hour wait… I think they couldn’t manage having someone in that state of mind sobbing away at the back of the store, so they saw me right away. Like all setbacks, there was a lesson and a silver lining. I decided that I would move production from my house in Cap Hill to the recording studio and community House of Pod in Five Points. I took it as a sign from the universe saying “invest in your damn passion project, you have the bandwidth and you deserve it!”

“You can do better. You can be braver. Were you really going to put out something that wasn’t your best, when the work is so important? Never go with the first draft!”

Life is a master at throwing us curveballs. So you just have to get in the game and have fun with it.

My amazing guests agreed to meet again, at my new fancy and a legit spot in Five Points, and re-record with me. There have been countless other moments along the journey where I’ve wanted to crawl into my shell, to redirect and just break down. Anything from hearing crickets after a launch, experiencing criticism from anyone from strangers on social media to close friends, making the decision to invest in my projects before they started generating any profit, and the countless personal ups and downs and “rock bottoms” we all experience.

Reconnecting with my strong and clear why has always picked me back up. Remembering that, as Brene Brown likes to say: if you’re not in the arena, I’m less concerned with your feedback. There are a lot of people yelling from the cheap seats. If you dare to put yourself out there, you’re already doing an incredible job.

We’d love to hear more about Living Brave.
Living Brave exists to break down the shame, stigma, and fear holding us back from doing the work that really matters in this world, together. Now more than ever, it’s vital that we clear the clutter keeping us small, closed off and isolated from one another. We need big, bold, imperfect action, and we need to be willing to show up with an open heart and mind. Living Brave inspires and facilitates that journey in a growing number of purpose-driven people. The platform started as a podcast and developed into retreats, signature 1-1 coaching programs, and an online community of 7000+ people committed to living authentically, standing up to shame culture and reclaiming the power it takes from us.

The podcast, community events, workshops and guest speakers inside the Living Brave Community on Facebook are free to the public and are brave spaces for people of all backgrounds. The podcast, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other platforms, explores topics such as sexuality, mental health, addiction, and social justice. My guests and I share unfiltered stories and diverse insights that inspire us to own our stories and rewrite our narratives together. Think Humans Of New York meets Brené Brown, with a dash of Tim Ferris.

We laugh, we cry, sometimes at the same time – and we keep showing up no matter what. We value radical transparency, acceptance, and true self-love. Recently, I’m most excited about the success of my 1-1 empowerment coaching program, in which I now get to work with clients from Jamaica to New Zealand, and across the U.S. I work with coaching clients on unpacking shame, re-connecting to purpose, building confidence, taking ownership of their stories, getting clear about what they want and how they can share their gifts with the world, and hold them through the entire process of major life transitions.

This may look like navigating a stigmatized and shame-packed STI diagnosis, breaking self-sabotaging cycles in a relationship and physical and mental wellbeing, moving cities, dating again, leaving a toxic workplace or relationship, quitting their job to travel the world, shifting careers, or simply finding more peace, confidence, and clarity in their lives.

My clients gain the courage to start new projects, build healthy relationships and call in conscious partners, unearth their passions and learn new hobbies, heal their deep-rooted shame, quiet their fears and integrate mindfulness practices that bring in joy, gratitude, and love into their lives. I’ve watched them quantum leap into their potential and it’s been the most rewarding part of this entire journey. The work is less about getting from point A to B or selling a tangible result outside of themselves, and more about guiding them through unlocking their dormant potential and rekindling the fire within that will propel them forward in a way that is authentic to each individual.

I’m honored to be a part of a larger movement championing vulnerability as our superpower. In my opinion, it’s the best definition of bravery. Living Brave stands for a world where we realize that although it’s not always easy to let go, and that sometimes the anchors weighing us down feel impossible to lift, there’s always a way forward. That we’re in this together, and that we don’t have to do it alone. It’s in ordinary moments that our authenticity can change a perspective, form deeper connections, and break down the walls that separate us from ourselves and one another.

Nothing pushes me past the discomfort of having my own business and “doing my own thing” 100%, more than imagining just one person feeling less alone. This life is too short to be anything but kind and forgiving to ourselves and one another. And the more people that can wake up to that fact, the bigger the positive ripple effect this project will have.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
It might sound cliche, and GOOD, because I love cliches (they work for a reason) – but NO! I wouldn’t change it for anything. I believe that what separates those who achieve their dreams and succeed in affecting change on a large scale do so because they are experts at alchemizing their failures and their wounds into fuel to move forward. Into compassion for themselves and the community at large.

This evolution of constantly failing and re-evaluating, questioning everything and pushing through anyway, doing the brave things despite all the fear and resistance along the way, this is an invaluable journey. If I could offer a piece of advice to a younger version of myself it would be to stay true to myself always and not worry so much about what others think. To pay less attention to the numbers. I believe this is super important for anyone in this field of work — remembering that it does not matter how many followers, likes and listeners you have, as long as you are speaking to the right people and showing up consistently and providing them with value as they work to solve an important problem. Keep serving from your heart no matter what.

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Image Credit:
Sunnie Heers for 2/6 images

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