We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly Wulf and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I have long struggled with a work/life balance. While now the whole world works from home, I have worked from home for nearly 4 years. Working from home means that people think they can reach you anytime day or night. When you love your job, like I love mine at Comeback Yoga, it is easy to throw all of your energy behind it 24/7. I did that for a few years. I didn’t set any boundaries. I answered phone calls and emails at 5am and at 10pm. It was really unhealthy and was leading me to burnout. In the summer of 2019 I had a lot of personal stuff going on and that forced me to re evaluate my work/life balance. I knew that if I kept up at the pace I was I wasn’t going to last long. I began setting firm time boundaries with my Board of Directors and my staff. I needed to create a space where I could just be me instead of constantly being Executive Director of Comeback Yoga. It took a long time to feel comfortable setting those boundaries and I still struggle with it at times. I learned to say NO a lot more. I learned that creating space for myself made me a better boss, a better employee, a better yoga instructor and generally a better person. Now I encourage my employees to maintain a healthy work/life balance. This was especially important in 2020. We all were working on overdrive due to changes in our programming because of the pandemic. We all had to pay close attention to our mental health and really make sure we were staying above water. Work/life balance is essential but it is difficult, especially here in the USA where overworking is a prized trait. However, maintaining a healthy balance makes you better at your job and helps retain employees you truly value.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am the Executive Director of Comeback Yoga which is a Denver-based nonprofit providing free, trauma-informed yoga to the military community both in-person and online. I love my job and it is actually my dream job, but if you would have asked me in graduate school what I would be doing it wouldn’t have been this. I went to grad school for Public History and Modern European History so that I could be a museum curator. I graduated with my MA in 2010 and was immediately impacted by the Great Recession. I had a Master’s Degree and I was working retail and doing odd jobs I could find on Craigslist. I was disappointed in myself because it wasn’t what I thought my life would be. I finally got an opportunity to work in museums in 2014 and did that for nearly 3 years. I worked as Assistant Director at a local Denver museum and was barely making enough money to live, however, the most disappointing thing I learned was that I really did not enjoy museum work. I had spent thousands and thousands of dollars for my degree only to discover it was the wrong path. In 2017, I applied for the job of Program Director at Comeback Yoga and the co-founders took a chance on me. Thank goodness they did. Leaving museums and working with veterans is the best decision I have ever made. It was definitely not an easy journey. It was risky to switch career paths but it was a risk that paid off. Along the way I learned that being tenacious and tough is essential. You have to advocate for yourself especially when others aren’t advocating for you. You also have to be willing to risk it all and fall on your face. I’ve made so many mistakes during my career, some serious and some silly, but I have learned something about myself each time. As Glennon Doyle says, “We can do hard things” but damn, it’s hard to do hard things sometimes. I don’t think of myself as someone with a “brand” because honestly, I’m not that cool. I am someone who has worked hard, had great mentors and is never satisfied with mediocre.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am such a homebody- my friend would likely get a really nice tour of my house and my Netflix queue. However, if we were going to explore a pre-Covid Denver we would start off the trip at Javier’s Diner in the Highlands. They have one of the best breakfasts in the city and so many vegetarian options. From there I think we would take a drive to Estes Park and visit the Stanley Hotel. I love the history of the hotel and all the creepy stories that come along with it. I’ve only been there once actually so I would use my friend as an excuse to go back. I think another must see around Denver is the Wild Animal Sanctuary near Keenesburg. They rescue animals who have been abused and mistreated by people around the world. They have a beautiful facility and the stories behind their lions and tigers and bears can be heartbreaking but hopeful. I don’t eat meat so my friend would be treated to a meat-free tour of the city as well. We would hit up City o’ City, Metaburger, Fire on the Mountain and other veggie staples in Denver. It’s my goal to show people you can eat just as well (or as poorly) without eating meat. Our evenings would probably conclude at Sobo 151 on South Broadway. I lived in the Czech Republic and did my Master’s research there so I take any chance I get to visit the Czech bar. A couple sips of Becherovka and some smazeny syr from Sobo and we would hit the South Broadway streets for people watching.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people I would love to shoutout. I think the most important people for me to recognize are my parents. I grew up in a really small town where opportunities seemed limited, however, my parents let me explore my interests and never put doubt in my mind. They were supportive of my studies in undergrad and graduate school. They also encouraged me to participate in anything and everything that I was passionate about, even if that meant crossing gender barriers. I remember I wanted so badly to play baseball, but in my small town, it was frowned upon for girls to do that. My parents signed me up, taught me to play and eventually I was starting 2nd baseman on an all boys varsity team. They taught me to be scrappy, they taught me to work hard and I always knew I had their love and support. I wish everyone had parents who believed in them. It is such a gift.