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"Don't Go Too Long Without Catching a Sunrise": Exploring the Beauty in Life With Chelsea Pagels

I'd been invited a few times to Chelsea's yoga classes, but for whatever reason (childcare issues, time management troubles, pure laziness, what have you) I was never able to make one. Lately, I've been busy planning for the Spring Boudoir Bash, and feeling particularly frazzled and frantic. Finally, Katherine Wilbur of Woodland Confectionary fame invited me to a Tuesday evening yoga class and...I mean, I can't look uncool in front of Countess Chocula, can I?

I'm so grateful she extended the invite, because not only was the class the pause button I needed in my life, it led to me meeting Chelsea Pagels, local wellness coach and yoga teacher. Chelsea hosts an amazingly invigorating yoga class at St. John's church in Rogers City, and not only does she create an immensely warm and welcoming environment, she's just a warm and welcoming woman! She was such an open book while I got to know her, and she was so beyond cool about my toddler running around while I took some photos before class. Getting to know Chelsea was so easy, because honestly, we all know a Chelsea. She's that friend who is always willing to brew up some tea and help you through your woes, wants you to let her know you got home safely, and your pets will always choose her lap over yours. For real, get to the end of this interview and tell me that you don't feel like you want to join a book club with her. I dare you.

Tell me a little about yourself!

I grew up in Grand Lake and attended Alpena Public Schools. My life as a kid was phenomenal and I can never thank my parents enough for giving me everything I needed to have such a lucky life. I have an older brother who is close in age so I always had a friend, even if he teased me a lot. I started my first job when I was in third grade picking up dog poop and garbage at a local resort and got paid like 12 bucks and a free ice cream cone every Saturday in the summer, and since then I have always had a job. I remember one year I had 6 W2s because I just worked so many jobs. Working gives me a sense of feeling needed even though I know I am very important to a lot of people! I attended ACC to get my associates degree in Pre-law to become a Paralegal (a lawyer was too much school for me but my mom always said I should become one since she thinks I like to argue!) Right before graduation though, I got offered a job at Stoneport and have been there since 2012 as a mill operator. I never saw myself ending up at the same place as my dad, let alone meeting the love of my life there, but here I am, going to work every day to operate the mill at a limestone quarry. Like every job it has its ups and downs and I can't really complain. There are only 3 girls total there and I am definitely the most emotional employee. I think most people there have seen me cry at least once, but I cry about everything so nobody gets too worried when it happens.

I live in Rogers City with my boyfriend and he has 2 young kids (5&7) who are with us half of every week so I spend a lot of time with them and they have stolen huge parts of my heart. The other part of my heart is occupied by my dog, Archer. I say if I can't bring my dog somewhere then I really don't think I need to be there...but for real, any dog owner gets this!

How did you get into yoga?

I really have no idea how I got into yoga. I use to joke that yoga was just too slow for me and I am not meant to be quiet. I think in 2013 my friend Sam started teaching a yoga class so I attended to support her and it is probably her fault I fell in love with it. The class was perfect from the lighting, the music, the poses and the smell! It was so relaxing and I remember crying often during her classes because I would release so many thoughts and emotions I always kept to myself. Talking about feelings when I was younger wasn't something I enjoyed, but I have learned you gotta let those feelings out!! I invested in my own mat eventually and started doing it at home because it also reminded me of my acrobatic class I loved so much from my childhood doing back bends and headstands.

How and when did you start leading classes?

I went to a summer solstice yoga event a few years back and a guy was telling me how he was going to be attending a 200RYT training locally and thought I would enjoy it as well. At first I shrugged it off, but a week later I met this girl, Abby, and she was taking the training too and thought I would enjoy it (Now that is 2 strangers who told me the same thing!). So, after bouncing the idea around a bit I signed up, solely for educational and personal reasons. During introductions for the 6 month training I told the other people there I would never teach but if I did it would be to children because I enjoyed being a coach for GOTR (girls on the run) and lets be honest, talking in front of people was never a strong suit of mine. I have no idea what made me even ask the gym in Rogers City if they wanted more yoga teachers but I did, and suddenly I was teaching a weekly class a few weeks after I finished school in 2017. It's funny, a lot of times I call myself selfish for wanting to do something, but in the end it benefits far more than just myself.

What's your daily go-to for self care?

Hot lemon water! Within minutes of waking up I have a cup of hot lemon water before I do anything else. I can't even remember the last time I didn't do that. Your body is dehydrated when you wake up so this beverage helps replenish it really well. I usually have coffee for no reason other than it tastes good and warms me up in the wintertime. I also drink a gallon of water a day, at first it sounds like a lot but once you make it a habit, it's no big deal. I always schedule time in my day to get a workout in, and that ranges from anything including a youtube video, yoga, attending a class, going on a run when there is no snow on the ground or a bike ride. I try to get a walk in with my boyfriend and dog as much as possible too. I don't really believe in the "3 square meals a day" concept so I have multiple small meals a day with dinnertime always being the one meal a day I actually plan for and we eat all together and I ask lots of questions about everyone's day.

How did you become a wellness coach?

I became a wellness coach last fall because I have a long time fascination with fueling my body the right way.  In 2018 I had to run a marathon before I turned 26 because it was a long standing goal of mine and I knew if I was going to be running that far I couldn't just eat cold spaghetti noodles like in high school before a cross country meet. I met with a nutritionist and she was basically talking gibberish to me. I felt upset I didn't gain anything from her so I started to research on my own and realized there were simpler ways to learn it, so I taught myself with books and the internet. After a year or so I felt I just needed more, so I looked up how to become a health coach and stumbled upon a school that gave you the tools to teach people in a super simple way and was in love. I went to school primarily for selfish reasons (see again, for myself but benefiting everyone) but then after I started learning things I knew I couldn't keep all this information to myself. So many diseases can be prevented with food, childhood obesity worries me and I think food is extremely powerful and gets abused. It really bothers me that it is okay to put chemicals in our food. I want maple syrup, not corn syrup and additives.

As far as managing your own business, what have been the biggest challenges you've faced?

I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. I have gotten better but for awhile I was easily persuaded into buying anything so I always said I was the buyer, not a seller. I am very hard on myself at times with comparing my business to someone else doing something similar and you should never do that. You have no idea what is going on behind their front door. I took a class this summer to gain knowledge on social media tips and growing my business and parts of it still stress me out. I am not a very "techy" person and if I could I would hire someone to do all the social media stuff for me. I prefer the old school method of hanging up flyers.

What advice would you give to young women in the area on how to live their best lives?

Hmm, what advice would I give young women on living their best life around here.....I would tell them something I wish I learned sooner, don't chase boys, or anyone!  If people want to leave, let them. Not everyone is meant to be in your life forever. The only thing you need to chase are your dreams (ok, and your dog if they run away) If you keep thinking about doing something, do it! Your past and your current emotion does not define you. Just because you are sad, doesn't mean you are depressed and just because you used to do certain things doesn't mean you can't change your ways. Little less serious: don't go too long without catching a sunrise, go for a walk once a week, and drink your water!!!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years I hope to still be living where I am with all my favorite people under the roof. I always say at work that I'm on the 30 year plan so I will be gone in 3 years, and they all tell me I am wrong. But for real, in 5 years I will be 32 and I am not sure how long my body can take the swing shifts. I hope to continue living my passion of wellness and yoga and sharing it with everyone. My goals I make really only ever include myself because anything that involves another person could change and I have learned that is just a heartbreak waiting to happen.

Do you have any other hobbies or activities that are a big part of your life?

Running. I absolutely love running! I have been running for fun since 7th grade. It is such a great hobby to have because it's free and you can do it anywhere! I recently started running half marathons and I love them! Having a race to train for keeps me motivated and a goal to work towards. I love waking up at 4am to go running down main street and to catch the sunrise. I also love to bake. I am working on trying to make some treats a bit better for you, but it is tricky! I wish exchanging baked goods was an acceptable form of payment because I love when people want to give me something tasty to eat. My family and our traditions are a huge part of my life. I talk to my dad every single day, even though he lives 20 minutes away. If they were closer I would probably go there daily for no reason other than to see what my mom has in the fridge to eat.

**side note here: Chelsea ran a marathon FIRST. Before she started doing half marathons, she did a whole. Damn. Marathon. I know. My face did the same thing your face is doing right now when I heard that.**

Who is the biggest inspiration for the way you live your life?

Gosh, I don't think there is really one person who inspires me to live the way I am living! I am always inspired by all the people who meal prep like a boss, can go months without buying new clothes, maintain a smile even when they are enduring hardship in their life, runners over the age of 50 and people who shake negativity off like no big deal.  I really just admire so many people. I have never had one specific role model.

So...was I right, or was I right? She's just someone you want to hang with! Luckily for you, you can, in fact, hang with Chelsea every Tuesday evening at St. John's church in Rogers City. Classes start at 5:30 pm and are by donation, and best of all, they're appropriate for any and all experience levels! You can find her on Facebook, where she shares healthy recipes, tips, and just a general good vibe! Now, as Chelsea ends all of her classes:

"The beautiful light in me sees and honors the beautiful light inside of all of you. Namaste."

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