Tag Archives: University of Texas at Austin

Member Spotlight: Tammy Saxon

Tammy in boys arms horiz.- DSC_0818.JPG

I grew up in Houston and set roots in Austin after graduating from The University of Texas in 1988.

Family Life:
I’ve been married to my husband Chuck for 28 years, and our family of six includes our oldest son Chase who is a Junior at Texas Tech University, our son Grant who is a Freshman playing lacrosse at Stevenson University in Baltimore, MD, our youngest son Reid who is a 7th grader at Canyon Vista Middle School, and our big, sweet 11 year old Golden Retriever, Harvey.

Work Life:
I earned a Finance degree from UT and worked in the finance and accounting fields until I took an early retirement to raise our family.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my iGnite experience…
The most impactful lessons I have learned through iGnite are to encourage and support each other on and off the yoga mat, YOU can always make a positive impact in others’ lives, and to set your goals high because you can achieve new heights physically and emotionally every day.

I am most inspired by…
My mom is a huge inspirational influence to me because she is overflowing in generosity, strength, unconditional love, dignity and grace. She has shown me the importance of giving back and that strength and will power lead you to achieve. Her generosity shines brightly through the Golden Retriever rescue that she founded a few years ago where she has placed so many orphaned dogs into forever homes. I recently thanked my mom for building such a long table after sending her this quote that describes her so beautifully: When you have all that you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.

Something people may not know about me…
I love, love, love polka dots and find them almost irresistible. They are happy, positive and uplifting, and they are represented in many items sprinkled throughout my home.

If I were an ice cream flavor, I would be…
Blue Bell Peppermint. Have I mentioned my love of polka dots?! Peppermint ice cream is a splash of spirited polka dots leaving a pop of confidence on your tongue preparing you to take on any challenges that your day holds. Everyone should start their day with a spoonful of Peppermint ice cream!

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Celebrate the Magic of Nature


Point to Ponder:
How often do you spend time alone outdoors and in nature?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Despite being raised in a rural community in Texas and surrounded by fields of grass, corn, cotton, wheat and maize, it wasn’t until I attended the University of Texas that I realized my love and deep need for nature. As almost anyone who lives or has lived in Austin experiences, at some point or another, Town Lake (a.k.a. Lade Bird Lake) becomes the treasured best friend who hears our prayers, absorbs our tears, and celebrates our accomplishments. While on my runs, she was always part of the cleansing, healing and restorative process that my body, mind and spirit needed. Not only did my time with her boost my confidence, but spending time in and around always enhanced the clarity of my thoughts and vision. In fact, I never left her without a problem solved and/or solution in hand. And, while I knew how much I loved and needed her, it was until I moved to New York City and didn’t have her at my fingertips that I longed for her.

As the quote in the pictures says, Mother Nature has the power to please, calm, comfort and nurture, and in my opinion, she has infinite healing powers too. I believe we have an intrinsic need for her in our daily lives, which is why when I founded iGnite ten years ago, one of our core principles was outdoor group fitness. Over time, and as a result of wanting to grow with our members and provide optimal class experiences, our outdoor-only model shifted to offering indoor classes as well. This is not to say that we didn’t try offering every possible class outdoors, because we did. This included year round outdoor yoga, Pilates and even dance. For example, through trial and error, we quickly found out that yoga at 6:00 a.m. and in 35 degree temperatures was counterproductive. I should’ve known that the body would have a difficult time loosening up while shivering, and despite wearing layers of clothes, gloves and shoes, not being able to feel your fingers or toes makes balancing and downward dog extremely difficult. Thinking back, it seems completely absurd that I ever thought that yoga under such conditions would work, but we were committed to all that Mother Nature had to offer us. And, while offering year round yoga and some of the other classes in nature isn’t ideal (at least in Austin), Mother Nature never disappointed. She was and is consistently consistent with showing off her magic!

As we continue to celebrate iGnite’s tenth birthday, this week I invite you to celebrate the magic of nature and enjoy her life-giving gifts by spending a minimum of five minutes outdoors everyday, alone, and without any device or technology. Just like taking a screaming baby outside immediately soothes he or she, we are no different. Our time in nature is equivalent to pushing the reset button for our mind and spirit, and whether your time is experiencing a sunrise, sunset, the fall foliage, walking barefoot in grass, sitting near a body of water, hiking in the mountains, listening to the birds or going for a walk or jog, it is all grounding and the perfect solution to a busy mind and unsettled spirit. All in all, it’s a very cheap and simple solution that we all need to include in our daily routines.

Finally, in the event you need more evidence why time in nature is essential, check out scientific proven benefits from an article in Business Insider. I don’t know about you, but I could use some serious short-term memory help!!!

  • Improved short-term memory
  • Restored mental energy
  • Stress relief
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better vision
  • Improved concentration
  • Sharper thinking and creativity
  • Possible anti-cancer effects
  • Immune system boost
  • Improved mental health
  • Reduced risk of early death

Action Item:
Each day this week, spend at least five minutes in nature alone and without technology.

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Member Spotlight: Anne Jarvis

I was born and grew up in Houston, Texas. I came to the University of Texas in 1975 and have been lucky enough to have lived in Austin ever since. There is no other city I would rather live in!

Family life:
My husband is Tim, and we met at UT my junior year. We dated four years, married in 1981 and are celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary this year. We have two daughters, and the eldest is Mary Catherine who is 29 and moving back home from New York City after living there for seven years. Lizzy is 25, lives in Austin and currently works in business development for Corridor Title. We are really looking forward to all being united in the same city.

Work Life:
My work background was in women’s retailing, which includes sales, being a buyer and store manager. My current involvement in the community is as a volunteer. I serve on the Vestry at Good Shepherd Church and am also co-chair of an event this November called Maj for a Mission that supports Victory School in Uganda.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my iGnite experience…
The biggest lesson I have learned through iGnite is to keep moving and how important exercise and community is to promote health and wellness in your life. I thrive better in a supportive group atmosphere.

The best advice I’ve been given…
My mother used to tell me one should never wish for someone else’s life because you never know what trials they have faced, are facing or will face. We need to have gratitude for the life we have been given and never assume we know what others are dealing with.

Something people may not know about me…
I lived in Rio de Janeiro as a little girl for three years when my father was sent to Brazil to manage a manufacturing business. Our apartment was one block off Ipanama Beach.

My celebrity look alike…
This is such a funny question to me that I had to respond to provide a few laughs. People have told me I look like the deceased actress Ava Gardner, Lynda Carter, the original Wonder Woman, and Lucie Arnez, Lucille Ball’s daughter. Who knew? A few years ago, an acquaintance told me I reminded her of someone by the way I talked and said it was Robin Roberts. Really???

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Member Spotlight: Sydney Loyed


I grew up in Crested Butte, Colorado, and came to Austin in August of 2010 to attend the University of Texas at Austin. I graduated in May of 2014 and have been here ever since, so I’m going on 6 years of loving this city!

Family Life:
I am an only child, and my parents now live in Las Vegas, NV, so if you ever want to go to sin city, they love company! I have a boyfriend, Cameron, who works in the urban planning sector of Austin at RCLCO. We’ve been together for over 2 years now, and he is a good motivator for me to stay in shape because he loves to run and workout!

Work Life:
After graduation, I began working at JHL Company and have been here since January 2014 when I interned for the Mack, Jack & McConaughey event. We do a broad spectrum of public affairs, marketing, communications, event planning and fundraising. My role as Account Manager focuses on overall strategic communications, event logistics and execution for both private and non-profit clients, which I absolutely love!

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my iGnite experience:
While I’ve only been at iGnite for 2 months, I’ve loved every second of it from meeting tons of new friends to getting in better shape! The biggest lesson I’ve learned thus far is that hard workouts go hand-in-hand with personal improvement including making the time I work count so that I can have more time to relax and digitally disconnect, which is a challenge for me!

I’m most inspired by…
As cliche as this sounds, I am most inspired by my parents. They found a way to do something they love for a living – they have incorporated sports and their passion for giving back to the community into a career – all while managing to be wonderful parents and do things that they enjoy on a daily basis like playing tennis and grilling out!

In my free time…
I love to cook, take cooking classes, and I obsess over the Food Network, but more than that, I love to travel! My goal is to visit every state in the US, every country in Europe, and every continent at least once (although Antarctica might be a stretch!).

My guilty pleasure…
My guilty pleasure is definitely watching reality TV. I know it is a horrible habit, but I am a sucker for The Bachelorette and any/all Oxygen and Bravo shows like Below Deck and The Real Housewives!

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Lifelong Impact


Point to Ponder:
If today were the last day you had with those in your sphere of influence, what would they remember about you?

iGnite Neissa

Neissa Brown Springmann

This time last year our life was turned upside down. After seventeen years of working as an assistant men’s basketball coach for Rick Barnes at the University of Texas, my husband Russell and the entire staff was let go. There was a humbling saying that Coach Barnes frequently quoted, which was “Proud peacock one day; feather duster the next.” Upon being fired and not having a job for a few weeks, professionally, Russell felt like a full-blown “feather duster.” Then, he really felt like a giant feather duster when he went to clean out his office and found that his name plate had already been replaced and seventeen years worth of office belongings were put in a utilities closet. Fully understanding that this was simply business and the job now belonged to Shaka Smart and his staff, being replaced and feeling forgotten so quickly stung. It’s like being in a committed relationship or married to someone, to then break up and a few months later learn that he is engaged to be married. It’s heart-breaking and cuts to the core, however the key is remembering that what we do, how we look, the things we have, our professions, and even the people we spend most of our time with with are not our identity. It’s always a sad reality, but especially in the workforce or in any organization, people are replaceable. There will always be someone smarter or more talented, and as it relates to the things we have and our outward appearance, there will always be someone who has more or is more physically attractive. What I am getting at is that everything is life is replaceable, however your impact and the way you make someone feel is permanent.

Recently, I had a insightful conversation with a wise women in San Diego. It’s the same woman I referenced in the journal two weeks ago titled, “How Well Do You Rest and Receive.” Not only did she kindly recommend that I take a chill pill and be still long enough to rest and receive God’s love, but upon expressing my restlessness, feeling like I need to strive to accomplish more and that I wasn’t doing enough, she looked me square in the eyes and said, “Do not underestimate the impact opportunity you have in your husband and children’s lives. This is the most important impact you will ever have. Your ability to love, support, encourage and be available to them everyday will create the most extraordinary impact that will live forever.”

As a “recovering over-achiever,” she fully understood my struggle and I appreciated her wisdom and boldness, because honestly and shamefully, I have always underestimated my roll as wife and mom. While I have definitely valued it and certainly viewed it as an enormous blessing and responsibility, I’ve always felt like I needed to do more in every area of my life. It’s my own struggle with approval, contentment and worthiness.

Maybe this is just my struggle, but because the “expectation pendulum” for women has swung soooo far to one side, it’s no longer “enough” for women to live a “simple” life as mom, wife or professional, and to “only” impact our family’s or co-worker’s lives. There is pressure to climb the ladder while also being the president of an organization or co-chairing every event. Meanwhile, we feel like a hamster in a wheel, we are unable to be great at anything because we have said “yes” to everything. We are resentful, exhausted and burnt out, and the people whom we love the most (husbands, children and family members) get the grouchy and easily annoyed and frustrated wife, mom, daughter, sister, etc. This was me, which leaves minimal opportunity to have the long-lasting impact that I know we all desire to have.

The last nine months have been very humbling and revealing. Prior to moving to San Diego, I thought I would for sure expand iGnite into Southern California. After all, it had to be why God moved us (ha!). However, what I am figuring out is that God moved us to slow me down and refocus my priorities. Not only did He want me to rest so that I can fully receive His love, but He needs me to be present and available to my husband and children, because I haven’t been. At times, this has been terribly uncomfortable and very ugly, like an addict needing a purpose and identity fix, but it has also been so dang good.

I can’t express how great it feels to admit that I am unsure if iGnite will expand into California. I’m comfortably waiting for God to show me, but until then, I’m in receiving mode so that I can fully serve my family, be an effective leader for iGnite and create a lasting and fruitful impact. Meanwhile, I encourage you to take a breath, evaluate where your time is spent and determine how you can create a lifelong impact in the lives of the people you love and care about the most.

Action Item:

Take a breath and evaluate where your time is spent. Then, determine how you can create a lifelong impact in the lives of the people you love and care about the most.

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Real Women, Real Stories | Kristin’s Story: Creating Community in the Front Yard



Roots: I was born and raised in Dallas, but as they say got to Austin as quick as I could. I moved here in the 80s to go to The University of Texas and aside from a couple of years in Washington, DC and Paris, France ATX has been home.
IMG_1688Family life: Tony and I met at a UT football game but post-college. We got married New Years Eve 1997 and have four kiddos – Will (15), Anna (14), Ellie (13) and Sarah (8).

My favorite quote: I have so many favorite quotes, mostly because I love to read, but my current favorite is “You can’t be what you can’t see,” by a woman I admire greatly named Jo Saxton. The context of Jo’s quote is discipleship and how we need good role models to pave the way. I think of the women who have taught me so much, not by anything they’ve written or even said, but simply by how they live their lives.

Something people may not know about me: I’ve lived in some interesting places — like Siberia where I learned to ice fish! And, a tiny village in France picking olives. I love to experience foreign cultures. For me it’s all about the people and how truly one we really are.

My Story: Creating Community in the Front Yard

JaneKovak, Austin

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t met.” – William Butler Yeats

A couple years ago, I had a big dream – this vision – of living in a community where neighbors knew and loved each other well. I knew a handful of our neighbors, but for the most part our interaction was limited to friendly waves from the car, brief chats at the grocery store, and our annual Memorial Day block party. The block party is a highlight of the year, but twelve months is a long stretch of time between neighborhood get-togethers.

I felt a tug to open our doors wide and invite neighbors, friends, and even strangers into our lives on a more regular basis. But, as a busy mother with four children and an introverted husband, the how-to was a big question mark.

Then, I read these words by Francis Schaeffer in the book A Meal with Jesus by Tim Chester:

“Don’t start with a big program. Start personally and start in your home. I dare you. I dare you in the name of Jesus Christ. Begin by opening your home for community. . . All you have to do is open your home and begin.”

At first I hesitated. But, I longed for more than an annual block party. I wanted real and meaningful relationships with my neighbors. I wanted to know their stories, hear their sorrows and troubles, and celebrate their joys.

So, I took the dare!

The Turquoise Table


In October 2013, prompted by a last-minute party I was hosting, I ordered an unfinished picnic table from Lowe’s. I didn’t think much of the table when I ordered it online. It was just an ordinary picnic table.

Until I saw it. And, I knew.

The Turquoise Table Invite

The turquoise table is great for planned or spontaneous meals & gatherings

The simple wooden picnic table was destined for our front yard. After the party, I painted the table bright turquoise (Sherwin-Williams Nifty Turquoise, if you’re wondering) and placed it under a magnolia tree, close to the edge of our lively street.

That’s when life changed. The very day I put the table out front, someone who needed to get out of the house – a neighbor I’d never met – walked past and stopped to talk. We sat at the table and started a friendship. Next, curious people from across the street stopped by and stayed for a cup of coffee. By week three, both spontaneous and planned gatherings were happening regularly at The Turquoise Table.

Now a familiar sight, The Turquoise Table has become a meeting place – like the old village well – for neighbors, friends, and even strangers to hang out and do life together. The table spurred a front yard revival in our neighborhood.


The turquoise table is a place to gather & love – friends hosting a Shoe Cutting Party to benefit children in Uganda

When neighbors from a few blocks over learned about The Turquoise Table, they wanted one, too. I remember thinking, “This is crazy! Am I really supposed to encourage people to put turquoise tables in their front yards?”

Now, two years later, The Turquoise Table has turned into a movement of Front Yard People – people just like you and me who want to create community right where they live. There are now countless turquoise tables in front yards across America, even as far away as Uganda.


Blog1__0000_1Want A Turquoise Table? We’ve partnered with ReWork Project  — a non-profit  helping those struggling with homelessness find a path to permanent housing through the dignity of work. These special turquoise tables are hand-made, painted, and delivered! To learn more and order a turquoise table, click here.


What about you? Will you join the Front Yard People movement, too? For more information, visit my blog.




iGnite’s Real Women, Real Stories is a series highlighting the inspiring lives and experiences of women in our community. We hope their stories motivate and inspire you to live your life to the fullest.

Know someone who would be a great candidate for a Real Women, Real Stories feature? Email nominations to hello@igniteyourlifenow.com


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Member Spotlight: Kaye Eichler


I am from Corpus Christi, Texas and have lived in Austin twice! The first time while at UT, then moved away but came back and have been here 21 years.

Family Life:
I have been married to Paul for 25 years, and we have two kids. Jared is 22 and a senior at Austin College majoring in Business and Economics. Anne Marie is 20 and a sophomore at Texas State majoring in Communications.

Current Occupation:
I work part time for Central Texas Orthopedic Products. It is a medical device company Paul and I started 21 years ago and we distribute hip, knee and shoulder implants to hospitals.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from my iGnite experience…
The biggest lesson I have learned through iGnite is that we are all striving for the same things in life. Being happy, staying healthy and trying to balance it all. What a great group of women from diverse backgrounds to support one another through the challenges in life.

The best advice I’ve even gotten…
The best advice I have been given was from my mother. She always said to be yourself, be happy with who you are and don’t compare yourself to others.

Something people may not know about me…
I enjoy hunting and fishing. Growing up with just girls in my family, my dad always took us hunting and fishing with him so it was something I grew up doing.

My guilty pleasure…
I love to bake so my guilty pleasure is eating chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven.

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Wait, You DO Have a Choice!

IMG_2744 2

Point to Ponder:
Do you feel weighed down by unfulfilled goals, expectations and/or unfinished business?

iGnite Neissa

Neissa  Brown Springmann

If you’re like me, it was much more fun to celebrate my 2015 accomplishments, unexpected wins and everything that I am thankful for than to identify my 2015 disappointments, regrets, unfulfilled expectations, undelivered communication and unfinished business (a.k.a. the heavy five) from last week’s journal. While it was painful to dig these up and reveal them, it was necessary to pull them to the surface, look them over and decide what I wanted to do with them, because I DO have a choice!

When the Clean the Slate exercise was first introduced to me, I was bummed to realize that I was being asked to remember “the heavy five”, however when I was told that I had a choice as to what I did with them, my attitude completely changed. I think my reaction was something like this: “Wait! You mean I have a choice as to whether or not I pursue my unfulfilled expectations, unachieved goals, undelivered communication and unfinished business? And, I don’t have to keep them on my ever growing goals and to-do list that I can’t ever seem to complete?” Brilliant!

Upon going through the exercise, it allowed me to see the significance of releasing the burden of carrying anything that is unnecessary, non-relevant, or extra, NOW! Cleaning the slate also allowed me to precisely look at my New Year with a brand new pair of high quality, smudge free, Ray-Ban glasses while also determining what is really important to me, NOW! I don’t know about you, but that was and continues to be an epiphany for me–that I ALWAYS have a choice in what I continue to pursue (or not). Either way, what’s most important is that we pull the weeds, bring them to the surface, acknowledge them and make the important decision to do something with them. It’s like clearing your conscience!

In conclusion, the clean the slate exercise reminds me of a “choice dilemma” that my older sister, Shonna, experienced many years ago. Shortly after high school she became an RN and then received her BS in nursing from the University of Texas. A few years later she decided that she wanted to get her master’s degree in exercise physiology. She was accepted into UT’s program and attended, however six months into it she became very confused. She was not enjoying her experience, she was not enjoying what she was learning and she was pretty miserable. Ultimately, she wanted to quit, but two things tripped her up: 1). Our mom and dad raised us with the value of commitment. Once we started something we finished it. There was no quitting. 2). She always envisioned herself with a master’s degree, and specifically with the “M” initial behind her name. It was a right of passage that she thought she needed in order to prove herself.

What my sister lost sight of (that I think we all can relate to) was it was her life and therefore her choice. The “never quit” philosophy that we were raised with was great, as it taught us the values of commitment and hard work (my parent’s actual goals for us), however because that was a firm rule in our house, as an adult the line for her was blurred.

After talking through it, she was able to see that saying “no” to her master’s degree was not quitting. Instead, it was the wisest decision she could make because it was saying yes to her life, now. Trying to prove herself, please our parents or please anyone besides herself would make for a devastating waste of time (and money!)! It was the best decision for her and of course my parents didn’t care one bit! They actually never cared. Their ultimate desire was and is for her to be happy and pursue her passion. She made up all of the other assumptions (dang assumptions!). Finally, because she made the best choice for her, she went on to do exactly what she really wanted to do and was really good at: nursing in the ER at Brakenridge Hospital and becoming a mother of two.

All in all, when we make a conscious choice to pull our weeds, choose to toss them or keep them based on our heart’s desire, we become aligned with our spirit and are able to do our best work, be the most effective and make the greatest impact!

Action Item:
Review and reevaluate your unfulfilled expectations, undelivered communication and unfinished business from 2015. Acknowledge them and determine if they are complete, unfinished, and/or if you want to continue to pursue them and make them a goal for 2016. Whatever you do not want to take with you into 2016, choose to scratch it and move on.

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Member Spotlight: Melinda Twomey


I was born in New York City and raised mostly just outside New York in Englewood, New Jersey. We have lived in Austin for 16 years.

Basic Family Stats:IMG_1621-1
I have been married to Barry Twomey for 26 blissful years, and we are blessed to have four wonderful children: Paul (sophomore at Beloit College in Wisconsin), Margot (sophomore at University of Texas in Austin), Laura (freshman at Trinity University in San Antonio) and Mark (high school senior at AESA Prep Ac

Current/Previous Occupation:
After attending Smith College and Columbia School of International Affairs, I worked in New York at several investment banks until retiring to be a full time mom. I currently serve on the boards of Fountain Valley School of Colorado and Tomorrow’s Children Foundation.

Biggest lesson learned through iGnite experience:
The biggest lesson I have learned through iGnite is to try new things! iGnite had literally been on my mind to try for years, but I was just too stuck to my routine. I finally made the leap in April, and the rest is history – thank goodness!

Who inspires you the most and why?
My girlfriends inspire me the most. They are smart, informed, readers of great books, travelers of the world, givers to those in need, sensitive, funny, interesting, fun, loving and humble. How lucky am I?!

In my free time…
I like to travel, hike, ski, read, do jigsaw puzzles, watch Homeland, Downton Abbey and House of Cards, work on my photography skills, spend time with family and friends, and most of all, I love to iGnite!

What is your guilty pleasure?
I only have two guilty pleasures: Chardonnay and Kone coffee (which we actually order from Hawaii).

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