Written by Sarah Holtz
Our Volunteer of the Month is Karen Scott, retired Spanish teacher, avid festival-goer, and trained yogi! Check out the full interview recording below:
- How long have you been reading for WRBH?
I started reading in August of 2006. I had just recently retired from being a schoolteacher and I got to be able to do the things that were interesting. I would listen on the radio and was flipping through, station searching, and I heard the station and didn’t know what it was. When I found out what it was I said I can do that – it would be something that I would enjoy – and that’s what provoked my interest.
- What was your first experience reading on WRBH?
I came in and my assignment was the Wall Street Journal. Lots of numbers and names, and I was very nervous. I really didn’t have enough saliva to swallow so that was an issue. I don’t mind speaking in public, because I was a teacher doing it, but in front of a microphone it made me very nervous. So it was a challenge at first but I got through it and it was good – it took me a while to calm down and then I had enough saliva to keep going [laughs] and it was good.
- What has been your favorite thing that you’ve read on air?
Well, I don’t remember titles very well but I do remember one that Fannie Flagg wrote and that was a lot of fun because I threw accents into that – that was fun to do. Another one was Cuba on my Mind and I got to do the Spanish accents because I was a Spanish teacher, so I like when they give me things where I can use some Spanish. When they give me French I’m not very good at all [laughs].
- Where did you teach Spanish and how long did you do that for?
I taught for 31 years, most of the time was at St. Martin’s Episcopal. I taught middle school Spanish. The student trips I’ve taken…several times we went to Costa Rica, we’ve gone to Spain, and I took them to the Peruvian Amazon. Then other trips I’ve taken on my own were to Central America, one to South America – to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. And that’s one of the reasons I chose Spanish as my language in high school, because there were more countries you could go to that spoke Spanish. And they were closer.
- Do you have a favorite word in Spanish?
It’s funny you say that, no! Let’s see, you know I sort of do but it’s very strange: it’s garaje, which means “garage.” I just like the way it sounds. There are a lot of words I like the sound of.
- What do you like to do in your free time?
Since retiring, I started to work out. I wasn’t a health nut at all, I didn’t eat well, I didn’t exercise. I thought, well, this is the time to change so I joined a health club and started doing various things and one of the classes I walked into was a yoga class.
I didn’t know anything about it, and a friend I had met – the mom of one of my students – in the grocery store, and I asked what she did and she said, “Oh I do yoga, I love it.” And I thought, well, that’s nice for you, but that class opened up and I went in and took the class. It was not real comfortable, I didn’t enjoy it at first but I kept going until I became completely enamored. I felt better, my whole outlook changed, the people were nice, nobody judged you. So I kept going until one of the teachers asked if I wanted to train to be an instructor.
I studied with her, trained with her, and then I guess I’ve been teaching for four years. I started yoga the same time I started reading here. Retirement opens you up completely. It’s like, people say “What are you going to do?” and I say, “Whatever I want to do!” So it opens you up, it gives you opportunities, and I just fell into it.
- What kind of yoga do you practice?
This is called TriYoga. It’s a form of Hatha yoga, the flowing yoga. It’s very gentle, people of any age or illness, with any disability, can do it. There’s ways that you modify to make it fit them where they are. There are different levels, and you do what you can do within your capability that day. It’s very rewarding, it’s very relaxing, it releases all the muscles in your body, it calms your mind, and you learn how to breathe to release your stress. It’s all about mindfulness and recently I read about the number of books that have been written just in the last year on mindfulness, the number of articles being written on mindfulness, so you just have to kind of stay in the present, be aware of what you’re doing. And every day is different.
I teach yoga at Elmwood Fitness Center’s Heritage Plaza in Metairie and at Zoo Health Club in Kenner. I want to invite all WRBH listeners to my yoga studio, Yoga Diva Harahan. Come to relax, to renew, to realize. It’s on Citrus Blvd.
- How does the experience of teaching yoga compare to teaching Spanish?
Well, I’m feeling the yoga as I’m teaching it. You know, there are a lot of similarities. I think probably the first one is that I was passionate about Spanish and I still am. And I’m passionate about yoga, and I think it shows through if you love what you’re doing, that comes through, and people might not meet how you feel, but they’ll say, well there’s something in it if she’s interested enough to do that.
- Has yoga taken you to any exotic places or is there some special place that you’ve practiced yoga outside of New Orleans?
Yes. A few years ago we went to a retreat in Costa Rica. Then the next March we went to the Jamaica, so those are the two out-of-country retreats that I’ve attended.
- What’s your favorite festival in New Orleans?
Jazz Fest. I go every year, usually twice. I’m a volunteer with WWOZ, so I work their pledge drives, on the phone, and then I also volunteer with them in the hospitality tent. So when I’m not working my shift then I’m out and about stage surfing. I don’t stay at anybody’s tent really long unless you’re rained in. I just go from venue to venue, because they’re all good.
- Do you have a favorite kind of music?
I like R&B, I like New Orleans funky music, and Latin music.
- Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in New Orleans and I grew up here. I went to college in Mobile, grad school in Mississippi, but I’m a New Orleans product.
- What’s one thing you can’t live without?
I can’t live without yoga. I can’t live without music.
14. What’s one thing you could live without?
I could live without the negative, anything negative. Negative people, negative things, negative news. I can do without that. I used to read the newspaper all the time and now I don’t do that all the time, partly because the Times-Picayune doesn’t come everyday, but partly because it’s all the same. It’s a soap opera that doesn’t stop.
15. Thank you for sitting down with me, and congratulations on being our Volunteer of the Month!
Thanks, and thanks for WRBH. It’s a great place to be!
You can check out Karen’s yoga studio, Yoga Diva Harahan, at Yogadivaharahan.vpweb.com