Car Talk: So tell us, Lea! Did you drop out of school, become a hippie and spend the last decade following Phish? Or are you a "guest" of the federal penitentiary system?

Lea: I decided Mount Holyoke and the East Coast weren't optimal for me, so I transferred to the University of Washington. And yes, things got better! I majored in the comparative history of ideas and minored in women's studies.

I graduated with a ridiculous GPA - sorry, I didn't take Tom and Ray's advice to skip classes! I had planned to go to Harvard Law School. All my life people had encouraged me for that path and so I applied and was accepted.

 

 

Car Talk: What about all that talk about "finding inner happiness"?

Lea: Well, when I got the acceptance letter from Harvard Law School, something inside me said that it might not be the right school for me... even though it would have put me a stone's throw away from the Car Talk office!

 

Car Talk: Wow... so you really didn't want to be associated with us!

Lea: No, you guys aren't that bad! I just decided I really wanted to work on international and human rights issues. I visited Columbia University and enjoyed New York, so that's where I decided to go to law school.

 

 

Car Talk: We're starting to feel like your confessional with Car Talk was useless.

Lea: Tom and Ray did have an impact on me! Really. Throughout the whole time, I was very involved in yoga. People in my class at Columbia would laugh. I would study like crazy and then run downtown to a yoga class. At some point, it became clear that yoga needed to be my focus. After law school, I got offered a job at one of the top law firms in the country but I didn't take it.

 

Car Talk: So, what did it? What was your "Ah ha! I'm going to sleep on park benches like Tom Magliozzi" moment?

Lea: I thought, "I am young!" There are a lot of things I still want to do. I have always been really involved in horses and I wanted to spend some time teaching riding. I wanted to spend more time practicing yoga. My mom was opening up an organic farm and I wanted to help her. I decided law would always be there for me if and when I wanted it.

 

 

Car Talk: End the suspense, already! What are you doing now?

Lea: I'm living in London! I'm working at the London Business School, and interviewing with global law firms. I'm also a yogini... more on that later!

I've realized that having a spiritual life and an ordinary job are not mutually exclusive. I began practicing karma yoga, where work itself is a spiritual practice. Karma yoga is about doing work with complete awareness, but without being attached to the outcome of work. Work became an end in and of itself. Not a way of attaining reward or personal gratification.

My state of mind and experience of life is quite different from where I was when I wrote that letter to Car Talk!

 

Car Talk: So Tom and Ray did impart some wisdom?

Lea: Definitely!

Car Talk was a catalyst and Tom and Ray's advice resonated with me and also with other people around the world. After I was on the show, many people wrote to me with their personal stories of transformation. For the most part people said that growing up isn't easy, that it's a struggle, but that life is also about finding happiness.

Talking to Tom and Ray helped me dig my heels in and demand a different reality. It's been a long process. The change wasn't overnight. It's not like I woke up the next morning and started playing Frisbee. Knowing Tom and Ray were in my court, that I had these two guys who lived life differently, who really enjoyed life, offered a kind of support that was really important.

 

 

Car Talk: So what's your daily life like now?

Lea: In addition to working at the London Business School, I'm teaching yoga and meditation all around the world.

 

Car Talk: So have you finally found happiness?

Lea: Yes. I used to feel a lot of stress and that happiness was fleeting. At some point I broke down the mental model of adulthood and realized it's just something we create. I started moving into a new idea of myself that was beyond the body, mind, and personality. Once you do that, there isn't anything to be afraid of anymore.

Through the years since I wrote that letter, the layers of responsibility have built and built. The more I tried to control things to be happy, the less I found satisfaction. Something always needed attention. Something always needed to be accomplished. Trying to control the world around me just created more suffering.

I realized that happiness is an internal state. My efforts were best spent trying to change my internal environment. The stress and fear didn't go away overnight, but it was recognizing the work I had to do on myself was figuring out, "How did I let things become stressful? And why?" I had to let everything fall off me like water off a duck's back and move forward and not get caught up in it.

 

 

Car Talk: We're glad you're happy. That means that you're not going to sue us, right?

Lea: Of course not! Tom and Ray did have an impact on me but I internalized what they said in a different way. I didn't drop out of school and start sleeping on park benches. (Nice suggestion, Tom!) But they did help me see that positive attitude is essential. That is the human gold mine. Everyone is going to go through a hard time at some point. Everyone has his or her own biggest drama. But keeping that positive attitude like Tom and Ray's ability to laugh and not take life too seriously, to keep looking forward, that's key!

Car Talk: Say, any chance you can teach us to be yogis?

Lea: Sure thing! If you can breathe, you can do yoga. (Tom and Ray can do that, right?) So just say the word and I'm ready to work with you. Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for the ultimate ride!


Learn more about Lea at her website, leafrey.tk