Sandra Moreland –
Vegan chef & Nia dancer
Living on “Natural Time”
By Sarah Hodges
Let me introduce you to someone who will set you at ease as soon as you’re in her presence.
As a Georgia native, Sandra shares true Southern hospitality and graciousness. When people say they feel welcome at Still & Moving Center, Sandra may be part of the reason. She exudes a friendly, smooth comforting composure, always unhurried, always making time for the person in front of her.
Sandra lives her life in what we call in Nia “Natural Time”. If that means following all the unexpected ups, downs and turns of life’s winding road, Sandra has the patience for it.
She met Still & Moving Center’s founder Renée Tillotson in a by-chance dancing encounter when she was visiting Honolulu. She became a steady presence – whether near and far – at Still & Moving Center once Renée called together her “First Circle” of companions to tell them about opening a studio. As I listen to Sandra’s story, I hear about a life deeply parallel to Still & Moving Center’s guiding mission.
Before coming to Hawai’i, Sandra lived in Atlanta, Georgia, where she led the technology practice for an international public relations firm. While managing hundreds of people and traveling often, Sandra couldn’t always find time for her two sons’ swim meets, and she and her husband depended on their nanny to help with the young boys. Sandra had what most call success, yet she longed to be present for their sons’ milestones.
Sandra left her corporate position. The family moved out of the city to a lake home north of Atlanta, and Sandra started working from home, cultivating a slower-paced lifestyle, enjoying more time with her boys.
Sandra made her first trip to Hawaii at the invitation of her college friend Amy, who was covering the Maui Film Festival for Variety magazine. Amy told Sandra, “You have to see Oahu first, then meet me on Maui.” So, Sandra booked herself at a Waikiki hotel. Little did she know her trip would change the course of her and her family’s lives.
Home in Georgia, Sandra explored new interests. She learned new ways to eat mindfully, healthfully, and plant-based. She attended yoga classes, Nia Mentorship sessions online, trainings in cooking, and vibrational sound massage with Himalayan singing bowls. As her two boys got ready to head off to college and their adult lives, and Sandra nurtured the family home in Georgia into a little sanctuary where they could visit on holidays.
Over the years and many, many visits, Sandra brought the rest of her family to enjoy the gifts of Hawai’i. Eventually, Sandra’s eldest son chose to attend the University of Hawai’i, and the family bought a boat that he could live on. Sandra’s younger son soon moved to Hawai’i to join his brother. Sandra happily visited her sons on the boat as often as possible.
It was during one such visit that Sandra met Renée. That morning, as Sandra and Amy finished their workout at the Honolulu Club, they passed a room with over twelve adults dancing full-out. The two looked at each other. They’d never seen such a thing – a room full of adults rocking out on a weekday morning. Without a moment’s hesitation, Amy opened the door to the room and motioned for Sandra to follow. They jumped right in, experiencing their first ever Nia class. O the teacher of this class happened to be Still & Moving Center’s founder-to-be, Renée Tillotson. Sandra and Renée became fast friends.
Life can be a long and winding adventure if we’re lucky. Sandra has a knack for taking all the curves and sharp turns with grace, in Nia’s “natural time”. After many visits to Hawai’i and with both sons living far from their home in Georgia, Sandra and her husband made their first attempt in 2011 to sell their Georgia home – an attempt that fell completely flat.
With no offers for many months, Sandra and her husband Dan pull the house off the marketi. Sandra puts her hospitable energy towards making a retreat of their Gerogia home: Zen Pond Oasis, She converts their downstairs into a healing spa center. Sandra’s many friends come to enjoy the tranquility of the space, bnb guests leave rave reviews about their stay, many people return for more. Though Sandra’s heart and two boys are across the continent and ocean in Hawai’i, Sandra finds the best path to be right where she is.
This last summer, Sandra and her husband finally decide to make another attempt at moving to Hawai’i. Sandra’s friends are in disbelief. How can she leave the beautiful sanctuary that she’s so carefully made? How can she leave her beloved koi fish?
Sandra believes in right timing. When she and Dan put their house back on the market, it sells within one day to the perfect family, dedicated to taking good care of the koi fish and the Zen Pond Oasis.
A mountain of a tasks ensues as Sandra and her family pack up and empty their large home of two decades. Sandra knows this time its the right timing.
And they arrive in Honolulu in August of this year!
Today, Sandra delights to be able to call the island her home. Sandra is now preparing her apartment to eventually host people from around the world who want to come to Hawai’i for a personalized retreat. “What I’m focused on now, after a big career in public relations, is sharing the things that I know and love. I want to offer our apartment, Ocean Oasis, as a space of healing.” She and Dan can always stay on their boat.
She now enjoys the spontaneity of picking up the phone to see their sons whenever they like. In less than ten minutes she can drive to Still & Moving Center for Nia, Melt, yoga… or for the cooking workshops she plans to teach in 2024.
We at Still & Moving Center adore having Sandra so close! For our recent Diwali production rehearsals, Sandra blesses the cast with delicious, nourishing meals during long evenings of practice. On one occasion, her tasty feast nearly brings a very hungry cast member to tears of gratitude!
As a certified vegan chef, Sandra will be offering in-person plant-based cooking workshops with Still & Moving Center in the coming months. Come meet Sandra yourself, either on the Nia dancefloor or at one of her upcoming cooking workshops!
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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)