A Liberated Life

Practices for leading with all you've got

Hannah du Plessis and I Medina, instructor-facilitators 

Medina and Hannah describe what to expect from the course. Click the CC icon under the video to turn on subtitles. 

Pre-register for 2020

Pre-register to be the first to hear

Schedule a chat with Hannah

Schedule a 15-minute call with Hannah to discuss whether this is right for you.

Where did you learn to be your full self?

Where did you learn to stand tall, inhabiting every inch of your body? To stand strong, even when you feel the darkest dread or fiery rage? To speak up despite the fear in your belly? To tap into the ancient aqueducts of stillness so you can rest even when the world feels ablaze? To create boldly using all the gifts that only you can give? To listen to yourself so that you know the season you are in?

If you are anything like us, you were not taught these things. Instead, you were taught to conform. To feel a little less. To put your anger aside. To keep busy so you can avoid discomfort. To do what is expected of you, and certainly not to follow your joy.

This course exists to help you find your way back to yourself—all of yourself. The world needs to come alive again, and it starts with each of us waking up from the numbing belief that we are powerless and stepping into our full selves.

This course can be transforming if you...

Feel stuck in habitual responses to life’s challenges and seek to show up with more authenticity

Desire to embrace your wholeness and create more authentic relationships, in the embrace of a multicultural community of folks on a similar journey

Benefit from having accountability and structure to learn practices that will result in lasting change

What you'll get from this course

The following quotes are from past participants’ feedback surveys and statements during end-of-course celebrations. 

Develop new personal skills

Course activities draw from the arts, mindfulness, theater, personal development, and more, and combine to help you practice skills of being genuine with yourself in the company of others.

“I learned to see the beliefs that had me boxed in.”

“I’ve learned that I can hold all of my emotions in my body.”

“I’ve learned to get unstuck from pain.”

“I’ve learned to create safe space for myself, and to spend more time with myself.”

Take time to practice and internalize your learning

We take our time, so you can increase your competence and confidence in essential new skills. The length and pace of the course–eight sessions over 15 weeks–is designed to help you internalize new practices.

“I’ve learned to prioritize taking time for myself.”

“I’m learning how to relax, how to heal, how to express.”

“I’ve learned to find my vulnerability and be comfortable in it.”

Learn a grounded state of being and begin to internalize it

The course provides practices to ground you in your body, help you see your worth and show up with more confidence.

“I have more self-confidence. I’m not so apologetic.”

“I have learned to love myself again.”

“I feel more grounded, less anxious. More whole, less scattered.”

“I’ve learned that I am enough. This space helped me be enough for myself, and we were enough for each other.”

Experience welcoming community and grow your network of support

We provide a comfortable, welcoming place. The people who show up come from different backgrounds and races and are genuinely interested in becoming their best selves. Together we learn what it means to create selves and community where all of each of us and everyone belongs.

“It is profound to do vulnerable work in a group like this. It was a different experience for me–we had such a deep level of trust with one another. It has really changed me.”

“By bringing together a phenomenal range of people who were ready to dive into this work, we created a safe container for genuine sharing.”

Pre-register for 2020

Pre-register to be the first to hear

Schedule a chat with Hannah

Schedule a 15-minute call with Hannah to discuss whether this is right for you.

Features and benefits

Eight in-person sessions of small group instruction and coaching

Access to an online library with readings, journaling activities, and personal practices designed to help you increase self-acceptance, start a mindfulness practice, question the stories you live by, feel all your emotions, let go of past pain, get still and access your wisdom, get bold and speak your truth, reclaim your creative fire and you right to live your own life well

A curated mix of activities, lectures, readings, practices and conversations to deepen personal reflection

Time-tested techniques drawn from multiple disciplines like psychology, coaching, theater, mindfulness and more

Two superb facilitators that will hold this learning space for you and have your back through the process

A context and community for uprooting the way we have internalized racial and systemic oppression, how this societal conditioning impacts how we show up in the world, and the urgency of being the change we want to see in the world

Gain access to transformative resources
It can take weeks, months or even years to research, read and filter so many resources on your own, so you can then put them into practice. This course does that for you.

Save money
Instead of cobbling together a collection of books, trainings and conferences, you can take one cohesive course, carefully sequenced to give you the maximum benefit.

Benefit from having accountability
We set you up with small steps to take each week, helping you form new habits that result in a more authentic, supportive and liberated relationship with yourself. We check in and troubleshoot during our group time. We encourage accountability partners also.

Gain a supportive community
Learn from and build relationships with others in the Pittsburgh community, and help each other stay grounded after your finish the class​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


The 2019 course offered a sliding scale from $890 to $510, with scholarships and installment plans available. 2020 prices will be announced when registration opens.

Explaining the benefits to your employer: a little help

We know that some of you work for organizations that have budget for training or persona development, but it’s not always easy to explain the benefits in a way that wins the necessary approval. To help you out, we’ve prepared a word document describing the benefits of this course for organizations. We hope it gives you a head start for support-winning emails and application forms.

Pre-register for 2020

Pre-register to be the first to hear

Schedule a chat with Hannah

Schedule a 15-minute call with Hannah to discuss whether this is right for you.

Common concerns and barriers

It feels scary to be vulnerable in a group.

We curate the group of people who come together, and pay careful attention to creating a caring community that allows us to be brave and vulnerable. We won’t ask you to do or share something that you don’t feel comfortable with.

I don't have time.

This class provides a bi-weekly space to reflect and support you to get into the habit of reflecting by yourself.

I tend to “fly over” rather than “swim through.” I prefer to avoid my emotions.

By practicing together in class and then by yourself outside of class (supported by pre-recorded video guides available in the course’s online library), you can learn new habits, a step at a time, at your own pace.

I’m not used to learning this kind of thing. I’m new at it.

The course gives you a structured approach, with specific steps for getting to know yourself and learning new habits. We take it a step at a time, give you supporting materials, and good time to talk it through both before and during your practice.

Will I fit in?

The world we live in has too few spaces where all of us are allowed to show up. We feel the need too for the abundance of human experiences, across the spectrum of racial identity, gender expressions, and historically marginalized communities to be included in this course. People often tell us they are surprised how quickly they form deep bonds with others in the class.

I don't think of myself as strong.

In our time together there will be many opportunities to discover things about yourself. We value the full range of human emotion we all have access to and make space for our strength, vulnerability and tenderness. We think you’re going to be surprised!

I can't afford the cost.

a) We are happy to arrange for you to pay in small installments. Check the box on the enrollment form.
b) We are open to having a conversation about possible scholarships.

I have small children and it's difficult to arrange childcare.

We are working on that! If you want to join the course and this is a barrier for you, please fill out the enrollment form and check the box indicating you would like childcare.

Details: where, when, what to expect


The cozy living room of a house in Polish Hill. Close to bus routes 77, 91, 54, and 88, and near Herron Station on the busway


Every other Wednesday evening from 6pm to 9pm:
September 11 and 25
October 7? (will adjust date for Yom Kippur) and 23
November 6 and 20
December 4 and 11 (two Wednesdays back-to-back)

What we ask of you

Please join us as best you can. We ask that you miss no more than two sessions as this affects both your leaning and the group cohesion. Outside of class, expect to spend ten minutes each day to practice getting into a routine of checking in with yourself. Set aside +- two hours between sessions to go through the readings and spend time reflecting. A quick check-in with an accountability partner every two weeks is suggested, but optional.

Meet your instructors

Medina Jackson

Medina Jackson, M.S.W., is the director of engagement for The P.R.I.D.E. Program (Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education) at the University of Pittsburgh, a spoken word and Hip Hop artist, blogger, mama, community educator and 2017 Pittsburgh Magazine 40 Under 40 honoree.

Hannah du Plessis

This course draws from over eight years of Hannah’s study, practice and teaching, as she has lived and worked into her own journey of development. She teaches in two “social innovation” graduate programs, and is a principal at Fit Associates. Read more of her story and see her relevant writings on her bio page.

What others say

Over 180 people have taken the Liberated Life course. These practices have been put to the test and improved upon over the last eight years. Last year we hosted the first public version of this course in Pittsburgh. Participants came from organizations like 1Hood Media, Pittsburgh Public Health, The Pittsburgh Foundation and P.R.I.D.E. Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education.

“The collection of people was very diverse, and led to some very personal and meaningful conversations.”

“This course gave me the valuable skill of moving into uncomfortable spaces.”

“The ability to engage in that inner work on yourself so that your work in the world will be more effective and genuinely given is what you gain from this course. It's an invaluable gift!”

Enroll to secure your spot, or schedule a call to answer your questions

Intrigued but have questions?

Let’s schedule a discovery call to talk about your specific needs, answer any questions, and explore whether the course is a good fit for you. There’s no obligation to join.

Would you like to apply?

We ask one simple question on the enrollment form, for two reasons:

1. We want to make sure that what you desire from the course is aligned with what it offers.

2. We seek to balance our interest in having as intersectional a group as possible with the desire to make room for everyone who will truly benefit from the course. The form helps us pursue that balance.

Course topics

1. Pack your bags: deepen your sense of agency and gain strength for the journey

What is the relationship between personal transformation and a better world?
Learn the difference between incremental change and transformation
Learn about the different stages people go through on the journey of transformation

Practice Set #1: Gain strength for the journey

Journal exercises
 Reframe the idea of “life’s journey” 

Let your social system help you recognize and claim your strength

Daily practice
 Create a place for reflection. Practice checking in and resourcing yourself in this moment

2. Develop night vision: increase your self-awareness and acceptance

Understand the forces that shape us
Learn the importance of self-awareness and unconditional acceptance
Understand the importance and components of self-compassion

Practice Set #2: Increase self-awareness and acceptance

Journal exercises
Explore the influence of your family history 

Self-compassion writing exercise

Daily practice
 Five minutes of mindful acceptance or free-writing

3. Work with your mischievous mind: learn to see and question your beliefs

Understand how beliefs perpetuate themselves
Take a look into white supremacy culture
Look at how beliefs are formed and shifted

Practice Set #3: Shifting beliefs

Journal exercises
Use the ”ladder of inference” to unpack your judgments about someone else

Write through judgment into self-knowledge and empathy

Daily practice
 Keep a pain diary, question your beliefs

4. Calm your anacondas: working with strong emotion

 Understand what emotions are and why they matter
 Understand what is useful (or not) when working with emotions
 Dig deeper into understanding and working with fear

Practice Set #4: Working with strong emotions

Journal exercise
 Write through strong emotions to find their wisdom

Daily practice
 Body and emotions scan

 In-the-moment practice: practice the RAIN technique                 

5. Support the wounded elephant: working with past pain and shame

Understand trauma and healing: what it is, why it matters
Take a step toward the difficulty: choose a painful aspect of your personal or cultural past to work with

Practice Set #5: Transforming pain

Journal exercise
Explore the shadow side of your own identity and cultural history

Daily practice
Ritual: practice letting go of something tough
Self-acceptance, self-forgivenness, and resourcing

6. Learn the ancient language: become still and tap into your own wisdom

Understand why we need our inner compass and our cultural script
Accessing your inner compass: remember what truth feels like in the body
Explore practices that help us step into stillness

Practice Set #6: Deep listening

Journal exercises
Writing exercises to access your inner wisdom

Daily practice
Try different techniques to quiet your mind and let go of control

7. Flaunt those flamingos: nourishing your creative fire

Learn the conditions necessary for creative response to life
Learn how to work with your inner critic barring the way

Practice Set #7: Dig into your power

Journal exercise
Develop your rebuttal against your inner critic
Body Practice freewriting from your imagination
Take yourself on an artist’s date to rekindle a sense of wonder

Daily practice
Practice resting into this moment and entering it fully   

8. Wild joy: caring as a way of being

Set yourself up for success: a closing conversation on how to stay engaged in cultivating joy, committed to your own becoming, trusting the process, and surrounding yourself with supportive relationships and practices. Discuss how these practices can be applied to groups as you facilitate change. 

Pre-register for 2020

Pre-register to be the first to hear

Schedule a chat with Hannah

Schedule a 15-minute call with Hannah to discuss whether this is right for you.