We had the good fortune of connecting with Charla Truesdale and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Charla, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born and raised in Texas, and I am one of “those” who loves my home state and all that it represents. Being raised here came with an expectation to be respectful, diligent, friendly, resourceful, helpful, courteous, faithful, and humbly independent. In my early years, my parents often told me, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”, and that became my mantra throughout my youth and beyond. I witnessed examples of these lived values every day in my own family, and in those other faithful Texans around me. My father was the one who always stopped to help a stranger on the side of the road, offer his skilled assistance to a neighbor, or rescue an animal in distress. All of that experience shaped the way I view the world and those around me. I have lived in various parts of the country and the world, but I always looked forward to the day I would come back home to the place that shaped me for a life of service.
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’ve always been interested in working with health and well-being in some capacity, but I never imagined I would be running a nonprofit working with veterans and first responders who are navigating the effects of traumatic experiences. My degrees and certifications had prepared me for a career in health education and promotion, and I honestly expected to be teaching fitness and yoga classes, coaching personal training clients, developing and leading health promotion workshops, and teaching college students for the rest of my professional life. I had even landed what I thought was my dream job leading the health promotion department at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Okinawa, until the unexpected death of my mother brought me back to Texas to take care of my stepfather in his Alzheimer’s journey. Looking back, though, I realize that every life experience, learning opportunity, and detour has prepared me for this exact mission. I truly believe I was being guided to fulfill a greater plan than my own, and I’m still being guided! What was simply a fuzzy idea that occasionally nagged from the back of my mind, brought on by my awareness of increasing numbers of post-9/11 warriors returning from deployments with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Moral Injury, has become an organization with three programs, fifteen yoga or meditation teachers, and a trauma-informed Yoga Teacher Training! Warrior Spirit Project (WSP) has evolved and flourished for almost six years now, and what I’m most proud of is the community we’ve built along the way. We consider our participants and all of our volunteers as family (and we’re ALL volunteers – no paid staff at all). We’ve also witnessed a common theme over these years. Struggling participants become engaged members of our WSP community, then volunteers, then advocates, and then some even become our organization leaders and mentors. I am so grateful that many of my best decisions came with a Divine nudge, and other intentions were sometimes blocked. Serving with Warrior Spirit Project is exactly where I am supposed to be.
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?
Being a Texas girl, if this was a friend from out of state I would have to go somewhere and show off a little of our culture. We might go to the Fort Worth Stockyards and hang out for awhile, or I might just drive around the corner to show off the longhorns hanging out in a local field! Hopefully, it would be Spring when the bluebonnets are in full bloom. I actually love the opportunities to be out in nature surrounding our area, including Joe Pool Lake, Cedar Hill State Park, and Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center. Weather permitting, a leisurely hike would be nice, followed by a relaxing happy hour on the back deck or down at the Oasis on the lake. A visit to Arlington for a stadium tour (Cowboys Stadium, that is) has always been on the visitor agenda, and then it’s just a short trip over to Texas Live!, part of the new Rangers stadium entertainment complex. In Dallas, we would have to visit our Veteran friends at the Urban F.A.R.M. Park and maybe come home with some fresh produce for dinner. Or we could save the produce for later and eat from a food truck at Klyde Warren Park instead, after visiting the Crow Museum. Heading a different direction, we would probably visit the Bush Presidential Library on the SMU campus, which is a pretty amazing place that includes a full section devoted to 9/11. Restaurant options for the week would need to include Wabi House ramen while in Fort Worth, fried catfish from Babe’s in Arlington or Cedar Hill, Veracruz margaritas and Mexican food in Cedar Hill, and Eno’s Pizza in the Bishop Arts District on the way home from Dallas. And if my friend is in town on the 3rd Sunday of the month, we’re heading out to Equest at the Texas Horse Park for some WSP Yoga with Horses!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband David has been my rock for more than 36 years. His unwavering integrity has always been a beacon to me, and his support through thick and thin has truly helped me become the person I am today. Just by being himself, he has taught me about courage, determination, confidence, service, loyalty, and love of country and humankind. It is because of his encouragement, that I am able to serve others to the best of my ability.
J Keith Emmons Photography