Born and raised in Los Angeles, Laurie Rice did not expect to land in the South. However, when ministry led her to Nashville, she knew it was home. So, with her husband and kids in tow, the Rice family made the move from Seattle to Music City, and with a passion for outdoor activity and community involvement, Laurie fits right in!
This wellness guru has her name plastered in quite a few places. In addition to being a rabbi — along with her husband — at Congregation Micah in Brentwood, Laurie is also a yoga instructor and certified life coach. This mom of three is a passionate teacher and practitioner of connecting the body and soul, which means we’re taking some serious notes on our newest Nashville FACE, Laurie Rice!
You’re originally from the West Coast. What brought you to Nashville?
I grew up in Los Angeles, and my husband and I were ordained in Manhattan. Then, we moved to Seattle, where we served two different synagogue communities for five years. During that time, we had three kids. We began thinking that it might be nice to work together and only have one congregation to serve between the two of us. So, we looked at job openings around the country, and we were instantly drawn to Congregation Micah in Brentwood. We were a little nervous as neither of us had ever lived in the South, but as soon as we decided to make the move, Nashville popped up everywhere we turned. It was rapidly becoming an “it” city, and we were moving right as that was starting to happen. Ultimately, we came to Nashville to serve as co-senior rabbis at Congregation Micah, and it’s been a blessing since day one.
What drew you to ministry?
When I was an undergrad at Northwestern University, I spent a summer volunteering with Russian immigrants in Israel. I had never really done any kind of deep dive into spirituality until then, and I was hooked. How had I been gifted this amazing tradition [Judaism] and not known all that it offered me for so long? Or, as Jacob exclaims in Genesis, “God was in this place and I had no idea!”
I fell in love with the history and magnetic energy of Jerusalem. I returned to college and began studying with a female rabbi, also a graduate of Northwestern. She was articulate and inspiring, and I thought, I want to do what she does. I am not sure what defines a “calling,” but I was enchanted by the possibility of ongoing learning, teaching others and working with a community to transform the world, and myself, for the better.
How did yoga and life coaching enter the picture?
After two decades of marathoning, my body was beginning to revolt. I took up yoga as a way to give my muscles and overall body some much-needed tenderness and love. Seven years ago, I hit a wall professionally, and I needed to recharge. I gave myself the gift of yoga teacher training with the sisters who would soon open Shakti Power Yoga on Music Row. The training not only allowed me to better understand my body and how I might help others, but the experience also gave new meaning to my rabbinate. I was lucky enough to join the teaching team at Shakti when it opened in October of 2012.
Life Coaching, or “pastoral counseling” in the synagogue setting, is something I do frequently as a rabbi with my congregants. I found myself offering counseling and coaching sessions over coffee and lunch with my friends who were not congregants and often not Jewish. It occurred to me that I ought to open a private practice and formalize what I was doing over coffee and lunch for free. So, I received an additional certification in Life Coaching and launched Clarity Coaching in January of 2018.
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How do these three different jobs work together? Do you have many clients that overlap in different areas?
In truth, I am a full-time rabbi who loves to teach yoga and meet with Clarity clients on my day off, which is no longer, technically, a day off. But I couldn’t love it more. I see congregants from Micah from time to time in the yoga studio, but my Clarity clients are not members of the synagogue community, so there is really no overlap. The true symbiosis lies in the intention that links all three of these areas of work for me: the opportunity to find oneness and wholeness in ourselves and with others through reflection and transformation that is both spiritual and physical.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Most definitely my family and my friends. I am lucky to have a robust handful of both. There are some incredible women in my life who continue to show me the light and inspire me to rise higher and discover new things. I was part of the Leadership Nashville class of 2017-2018, and I met some amazing friends who are now family and are doing things in this world to truly move mountains.
And I read. Glennon Doyle and David Brooks, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Liane Moriarty, Michelle Obama and Atul Gawande. I read the Torah and Jewish literature, and some great Christian thinkers like Barbara Brown Taylor and Rachel Held Evans. Oh, and I loved Amy Schumer’s recent book, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo — hilarious, crude and touchingly deep.
Since you specialize in wellness, we have to ask. What is one thing you think everyone should implement into their daily routine?
Physical movement. Exercise is moving meditation.
With three jobs on your plate, how do you balance work and life?
I don’t really think of myself as having three jobs. These are just the things I do to fill me up and give meaning to my life. If I wasn’t a rabbi or a yoga teacher or a life coach, I would have to find three or more other ways to serve others with my time because serving is just something that gives me purpose. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning and allows me to smile when I go to sleep at night. Parenting and being a wife are also things I do, but I don’t collect a paycheck for those, at least not in dollars. I run a lot of miles, but no one pays me for those either! I guess I would say that my work is just a manifestation of my life. As far as the balance goes, I have an awesome husband who does his fair share of laundry, and my oldest child now drives, so we put him to work carting his siblings to school and around town.
Describe your ideal day off in Nashville.
A long run on the road or trails of Percy Warner Park with my running buddies or a fabulous podcast, a nice long shower, a mid-day walk with my husband and any of the kids that will come along, hanging around the house (a rare occurrence to be home during the day), dinner out with my family, and in bed by 9.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
It’s from Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Never fails.
What are three things you can’t live without, with the exception of faith, family and friends?
My running shoes, wine and the mountains — some people are beach people, but I’m a mountain girl.
Thank you, Laurie, and thanks to Leila Grossman for the wonderful photos!
Dr. David Yi is a self-described life-long learner with an unwavering desire to be the best at everything he does. And at TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center, he’s committed to making a difference in the lives of his patients. Meet this dedicated and passionate FACE of TriStar! Click HERE.