We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Vosper and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, what makes you happy? Why?
Writing about what makes me happy makes me happy! I’m lucky, I seem to have been born a naturally happy person. I laughed my way through school and beyond. Happily for me I inherited my mother’s sunny nature and not bi-polar that afflicted some in my family. That’s not to say that I haven’t experienced my share of struggle as have we all. I did for a very short time (3 months or so) become clinically depressed, leading me to resort to medication, which thankfully worked very effectively. That was more than 20 years ago and I’ve never suffered from depression or had to take medication since (I’m delighted to say), although I have experienced some heartbreak in that time. So what makes me so happy? I put it down to a number of wonderful things! Let’s list them! 1 YOGA It has worked wonders on my general state of well-being (physical, emotional and spiritual) over the past 12 years that I have been practicing. Initially, not having any understanding of the mental benefit, I did it because it made me feel good physically. Over the years I have increasingly noticed calmness, awareness and bliss that I most certainly did not have a decade ago. I was going to say that maybe it’s got something to do with getting older and wiser also. But look how many old people are grumpy and cantankerous. It’s usually because they’re in pain. Well yoga is your guard against old age aches and pains. I’ve always been into exercising. It wasn’t till I was in my 40s that I had the patience to even give yoga a second chance after trying it in my 20s and feeling like I wasn’t doing anything. In my 40s I found it rather torturous, but after the session I noticed I felt extra good, so decided to come back for more. Within two weeks it was easier, and not long after that I was hooked. I decided to become a teacher of yoga seeing as I wanted to make a practice of it anyway. That was 12 years ago and I continue to teach and practice yoga to this day. I get antsy if more than three days passes without doing it. It’s a discipline and a practice and it’s not always easy to start, but I can’t even describe how worth it it is and how worth it it will continue to be my whole life long. I intend to do yoga till the day I die. On average I do it for 15-60 mins every other day but even just seven minutes is enough if you do it regularly so there’s no need to commit to a whole hour if you’re not up to it. 2. FREEDOM is joy and a privilege. I noticed that after 6 or 7 years of regular yoga practice I was no longer getting upset about things as I had in the past. A wonderful feeling of FREEDOM! I realize that dreadful things could happen at any time but I figure if whatever happens I’ll deal with it at the time. That way I’m FREED from fearful thoughts and can focus on what’s good. In spite of the fact that the world is messed up there is wonder everywhere. Which leads me to… 3. GRATITUDE This has to be one of the easiest, simplest and most marvelous practices. Anyone can practice gratitude, even someone with seemingly nothing. It’s ridiculously easy to do and can’t help but make you feel better. I do it several times every day. I do it more and more because I can’t help it. The more you do it, the more you find to be grateful for (and hence happy). The compounding effect is quite fabulous. 4. MEDITATION is powerful happiness if made a practice of. I strongly feel that meditation should be a compulsory subject in schools globally from 1st grade onwards. Not religious studies because that is too denominational and can lead to war. Meditation is universal wisdom and the more people that make a practice of it the better for the world. 5. BALANCE. Homeostasis. I love this word and this concept of homeostasis. Our minds and bodies constantly and unconsciously seek a delicate and sublime state of balance as does the universe. 5. ART gives me joy. I am as moved by beauty as I love seeing beauty in so-called ugliness. ART is in everything and inspires us to flow, to create, to appreciate. I’ve created art with disco balls, blow-up dolls, musical instruments and random junk. I’m currently making Megatrophies. I find neglected trophies and bits and pieces and turn them into something new, fun, sometimes functional. I enjoy working with shiny happy little action figures. I’ve also always loved interior decorating. Every place I’ve lived I’ve decorated differently; from my first place in my teens that was like an Arabian tent, to walls all different colors, to my current 60s vibe. I found the furniture online. I sewed my curtains, scalloped the carpet, built the curved loft, made the speech bubble on the wall, the globe lamp, ballsy fridge and of course my megatrophies. 6. READING. I’ve always been a bookworm. I love to get lost in a great book. Brilliant writing is wonderful to absorb. I’ll read philosophy, classical literature, fiction, non-fiction, anything I deem worthwhile. 7. Other things that make me happy: music, dancing, theater, sculpture, aesthetics, films, comedy, nature, humor, adventures, intelligence, innovation, writing, people, animals, fitness, family, friends, food, drink, home, tennis, bicycling and my above all my great HEALTH that allows me to enjoy all the above. I want to sum up with what I believe in for happiness: meditate, never stop learning, never take your health for granted and care for the planet like a beloved friend because you are the universe and the universe is you.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I spent many years not knowing what I wanted for a career. My first real job, bank teller – gah. Then receptionist, secretary, occupational therapist, massage therapist, editor, musician, esthetician, bartender, waitress, event-worker, clerk, factory worker, farm worker, extra, part-time this, part-time that. I got into the fitness industry eventually and stayed because it was something I loved to do anyway. I have been a personal trainer and an instructor for more than a decade. In between I continue to dabble in art. Since the pandemic I now hold my yoga classes in the park, which actually is preferable to being indoors. LA has the perfect outdoors climate.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is a different question now as all has changed so dramatically. There were so many great restaurants/bars/hangouts/underground events/museums/parties/art openings all over LA that were worth visiting, all mostly closed now. Formerly I would find out where to go from FB, online sources, LA Weekly, invites and recommendations from friends for music gigs, comedy, theater, bars, parties etc. The following outlines how fascinated I am by the wonderfully eclectic city of Los Angeles: Hollywood Bowl always a great outing. LACMA, The Getty, The Broad, MOCA and any number of smaller art galleries. Out-there Hollywood museums, hipster bars and iconic Hollywood Hotels. The Magic Castle. Laemmle Theater. Theme parks. Murphy’s Ranch. Shopping in Beverly Hills and Weho. DTLA (grungily interesting). Any of the beaches from San Clemente to Carpinteria. Bates Beach in Carpinteria is one of my faves. Hiking all over. Rubel Castle in Glendora and The Zorthian Ranch in Altadena are both fascinating to visit and I was lucky enough to attend several amazing parties at the Zorthian Ranch some years ago before they stopped hosting large events. Astounding views from the Zorthian Ranch. Altadena is a very cool part of LA because you feel like you’re in the wilds, yet it’s only 20 minutes drive from DTLA. I’d take my friend on a wild and wonderful drive through all the different worlds that make up the city of Los Angeles: From far flung towns in the far east towards old town Pasadena with its stately homes, then into the wilds of Altadena, then northwest thru the endless leafy twists and turns of La Cañada/Flintridge. Then wending down through hip-and-coming Eagle Rock towards downtown LA, which is so eclectic and unlike any downtown of any other major city in the world. Slightly east into the fiercely proud Latino culture of Boyle Heights. Further south through some ghetto areas with surprising beauty spots dotted here and there; Watts Towers, cute neat houses in Inglewood, and on and on southward until you reach the industrial port of San Pedro, then Long Beach, which is a whole eclectic city all unto itself. Then on and on further south down the coast into Orange County and all the pretty beach towns, such a different flavor from dirty crowded hustling bustling LA. North of the coast are large Asian enclaves. There are bland suburban wastelands extending endlessly outwards in every direction and cute little towns like Del Monte or Orange popping up along the way. North from San Pedro up the coast all the beach towns; Redondo, Hermosa, Manhattan, El Segundo, Playa del Rey, Venice, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, each town more posh, snooty and expensive than the last, although of course Venice is in a league of its own. LAX. Then up into Topanga Canyon, hippy central. Westwards lies Malibu. Eastwards are clusters of huge wealth through Bel Air, Holmby Hills, Beverly Hills. There’s gay Weho. Then Hollywood, getting less glamorous the further east you go, until suddenly you’re in affluent Los Feliz. Immediately north lies the huge expanse of Griffith Park and beyond that the wonderful winding Hollywood Hills and on and on into Noho and the vastness of the valley. You’ve got whole cities of Armenians, of Russians, of Europeans of all descriptions.. so many different cities within greater LA, so many different flavors. There’s the Jewish community extending outwards from Mid Wilshire area. Next is Koreatown, then historic MacArthur Park that is so ghetto these days. Up into hipster Silver Lake, eclectic Echo Park and on into Chinatown. From there to Little Tokyo and finally ending up in skid row, which is growing ever larger. LA is a haphazardly fascinating city in which there are constant new discoveries and surprises. If you wanted to do a quicker tour, Mullholland Drive or Sunset Blvd are spectacular drives, not to mention PCH. California has desert, mountains, forests, beaches, snow, thermal hot springs, sand dunes, lakes, cities and towns. California has it all. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First I want to thank my family for their encouragement and support. I couldn’t do what I do without them. Next I want to thank various friends and neighbors for also encouraging and helping me – you know who you are 🙂 And last but not least I want to thank the arts community at large where I live/work for the inspiration it breathes.
Scott Barrett Gilbert Ortiz