“Just JUMP!”: 6 things a Cody girl-turned Ecuadorian Supermodel & Yogi learned from taking the leap
(Quito, Ecuador) – Carli Blankenship, 25, grew up in Cody. Since moving to the biggest city in Ecuador a couple years ago, she’s become a straight up South American supermodel. Oh, and she’s also a certified yoga teacher bringing playful Spanglish power vinyasa to the people of Quito.
We caught up with Carli on Skype to uncover six inspirational takeaways from a hometown girl making it big in the modeling world.
1. New people = New perspective
“It all comes back to the people I get to work with every day, and the people I’m meeting who are becoming close to me,” Carli said of what makes her life good. “I feel like I’m opening up a lot to different types of people and learning so much from them through modeling and through yoga. I’m learning to be able to connect a lot more to different types of people – people I would never have met in Wyoming or Montana.”
2. Coming to know yourself in a new place can be the greatest challenge
“My biggest challenge, since coming here, was understanding my own personality and my own being and being able to accentuate that in another language,” Carli said. “Even when you’re fluent and can get by, you’re a shell of a person when you can’t fully express yourself, and it takes out the spontaneity of who you are – how you live each second rather than what you plan on.
“The modeling industry – and now yoga – have helped me develop my real self [in Spanish]. With modeling, you’re so vulnerable in each job, and each situation … It’s really refreshing to be vulnerable and now feel comfortable with language and established within my career.
“Who am I here? In the modeling industry, I’m known as the ‘goofy gringa girl’ who’s easy to work with, and who has a pretty face.”
3. Expectations can be a good thing
“So, here, in the modeling industry, they expect me to be this nice, funny person,” said Carli. “That’s not necessarily the best thing to have presumptions and set expectations, but at the same time, if people have positive expectations, it’s nice to have that as a challenge for you to live up to.
“It’s the same with yoga – my classes are totally different than the other teachers’. I literally make people lie down and laugh – no one else does that. I teach them in Spanglish, so people have this expectation that we’re going to sweat our butts off and giggle the whole time and it will be cool. People are expecting to have fun and work hard, and I’m going to be excited about giving that to them. So I need to demand that from myself.”
4. Relationships are what make life real
“No one is really as independent as they say they are or want to be,” Carli said. “Even growing up in Cody, I’d say ‘I love Cody,’ and high school for me was fantastic, but I was always like I’m going to move away and never come back. So I would leave and say I don’t need people and I’m going to do this all myself …
But the more I have done that, the more I realize each place I get to know and enjoy, I only know and enjoy those places because of the people. It makes me cherish the people who come into my life, but it also has made me really, really miss the people back home and in all the places I’ve been – the people who made other places special for me.”
5. Go into the unknown
“I moved down here originally for a nutrition internship in January of 2013, right after I graduated college in Missoula,” said Carli. “I had lived summers and winters abroad alone, but hadn’t done anything like this. After awhile, I left my internship and decided to take off traveling. For the first time ever, I bought a bus ticket with a backpack, and was like, ‘I don’t know where I’m going.’
“It changed everything. The moment you get on a bus and don’t even know where you’re going or you get off the bus and are like, ‘I don’t know where I am or where I’m headed … it’s a really beautiful, refreshing and terrifying feeling. It’s what led me to be here.
“I wouldn’t have gotten married and stayed down here if I hadn’t gotten on that bus that first day. I went to Rio Negro for a two-week yoga retreat in the rain forest … In the next month after that first bus ticket, I met Katie Lewis, one of my best friends in the world, and Mauro, my husband. I actually met them both on the same day.
Even though that whole experience in itself wasn’t necessarily the highlight of my life, the hitchhiking, the food poisoning … it was just the fact that I was doing it that … changed me forever.”
6. JUST JUMP!
“Advice? I would probably just say JUMP!” said Carli. “I feel like that can be taken incorrectly because it could feel disconnected, and I don’t want people to be jumping from one life into another … There’s something so beautiful about those around you now … But if you’re looking for a change or an adventure or feel inspired, and you say ‘I couldn’t, I can’t, that’s s not for me,’ Don’t lie to yourself, just try it! Just jump!
That’s what I did, and the more I jumped, the more I realized that in each place I’m jumping from, there are things really necessary in making me who I am. I need them to be with me always. My family, and friends, and all these certain places have each allowed certain parts of my personality to blossom.”