Social Studies: Dawn Epstein


Social Studies: Dawn Epstein


Date: May 29, 2013
by: Stephanie Hannum | Diversions Managing Editor


We have lived here only five years, and, with our amazing group of friends and connections, we are constantly amazed how our life has turned out here. We love having people to our house to enjoy the space. Most important to us is the connection with people.

I went to Clearwater High School and my husband, Mitchell, and I both went to University of Florida. When looking to move from Atlanta, we drove down and looked at Clearwater, St. Pete and then drove to Sarasota and fell in love with it. Mitchell always wanted to be close to the Gator games and my dream was to always live on the water. Shortly after, my parents followed me down here as well.

We’ve been married 24 years (in August), but I’ve known him for 33 years — we met at college and were just friends for a long time.

Debbie Dannheisser got me involved in the YMCA — we clicked right away and she’s been one of my closet friends ever since. All the YMCA people have welcomed me with open arms.

We started out involved in the birthday parties for the kids at the Bowman ranch — Debbie and her group of girlfriends brought everything for the parties — cake and gifts. That was really rewarding. We then put together the steering committee for Y Angels to raise awareness for homeless students — there are almost 1,000 in Sarasota County. The Y provides school supplies, bus transport and mentoring.

We appreciate our good fortune every day and are grateful we are able to make a difference in our community.

I taught yoga for a while in Atlanta — and took teacher training 12 years ago. I used to teach blind people, employees at a dentist’s office and at a healing center. I really enjoyed teaching, but I need to learn more.

I’m really into Kundalini yoga now — it is really different. There is less focus on poses and more on breathing, energy and meditation and chanting. I love the feeling you get from that. I go to various places; there are a lot of great teachers here. Mitchell started attending yoga in Atlanta and fell in love with it. He also did teacher training a couple years ago. It’s such a great compliment to any other sport.

I started painting when I was 39. I remembered I took a painting class in college and even though I didn’t think I was good, I remembered loving putting the paint on the canvas. I have so much fun using acrylics and paper to create bright colorful images and textures. There is freedom and excitement in the creation of a piece — as long as I don’t get hung up on the outcome, I love it.

I really love stand-up paddle boarding. One of my favorite things about being on the paddleboard is the excitement of seeing dolphins and manatees so close. They sometimes perform for us, swim with us and play around. We also see birds and fish and friendly people. I just love being out on the water with the sun shining and the breeze blowing. It is very freeing and calming. 

It was around the same time as my mom died that I got into healthier living. My daughter was in Montessori school and one of the moms I met there was very influential to me in the way I looked at health. I learned about the connection between nutrition and our bodies and that has changed our lives. 

We all eat dinner at home almost every night and enjoy cooking simple, healthy and fresh. Mitchell is a great griller, so we eat a lot of fish, chicken, and I love kale. Although we eat healthy, we sure do love ice cream, too. Balance is important in every aspect in life.

Mitchell got very interested in learning about wine after we traveled to Italy together shortly after we were married. I enjoy drinking wine but he is passionate about it. He loves buying it and learning about it. So we make a great team — I love to cook simple, healthy, flavorful foods and he loves to pair it with good wine.
We’ve been to wineries in Napa, Sonoma, Washington, Oregon and many regions of Italy. We did a bike trip in Denmark and look forward to doing some more active vacations. One of my favorite recent vacations was to Washington and Oregon, where we hiked in the mountains, went white-water rafting, did some wine and beer tasting and ate great local food. 

I traveled for two months with a girlfriend after we graduated college. We both saved up money from summer jobs and traveled through Europe with a Eurail pass and backpacks, staying in hostels and pensions.  It was an incredible experience, and I have loved traveling ever since.


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