Kino Topazio knew something was missing from his life.
On the outside, his life looked perfect. He been living in Arizona for five years, creating a steady routine of working, working out, and teaching Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines fight movements with music rhythms and acrobatic movements. But something was missing.
He didn’t have a community, let alone one that he felt completely accepted in. All he wanted was a group full of like-minded people he appreciated and enjoyed being around. After all, it is people who make a home rather than a place. This was all about to change, though.
All it would take was stepping out of his comfort zone, but he didn’t know this yet.
“I started having like an emotional breakdown, so to speak,” he said of the months leading up to his life changing events.
So, he tried everything from time off from work to going out clubbing, but nothing did the trick.
“I didn’t find a place for me. I couldn’t find myself anywhere,” he said.
That’s when a friend suggested he go to one of the Yoga + More in the Park sessions. He was still skeptical, though, and had everything set up to relocate to El Paso, Texas mere days before going to the park. His place was rented out, he was renting a place in El Paso, and all he had to do was move.
The following week, Kino found himself still in Arizona. His big move didn’t work out, but there was still something missing from his setup here in the Valley.
Willing to try anything at this point, he took a chance on the unknown and ventured to the park full of strangers. What happened?
“That first class, I remember, it was like BANG! It got a lot of parts moving inside of me. I started feeling much better right on the first day.”
He first connected with Brittany, who was instructing the yoga practice that day, and continued meeting people throughout the night and then week after week.
“My brain, my heart, and my emotions feel much different,” he said.
Kino was making friends with people in real life, but he also noticed the change in an area that is so simple, we mostly take it for granted: Facebook. He filtered out the negative individuals on his Friends list and was left with his new, positive real-world friends.
“Instead of seeing what people are saying, like very impersonal things, I see people in Messenger and just talk to them. I double click and send them a hug…I feel like I’m sharing my own joy and making people think…
Wow, this guy is happy!”
Kino’s new sense of self and purpose translated to his martial arts teachings, where he grew confident in his role as a public figure and a role model.
“I feel really happy to be able to help people,” he said.
All of these changes happened since only January of this year.
“The past four months have been more significant emotionally and enriching for me than the past five years that I’ve been living in Arizona.”
This time last year, Kino was a corporate worker with a daily routine, stable yet in limbo without being grounded in a community. Just one evening changed his entire life, from an unsettled day-to-day existence without a group to lean on to now being right in the thick of all the amazing things Desert Canvas is doing, from events to festivals to everything in between. Like all community members, he co-creates everything that happens, and he has found a place where he has a voice and can make a difference.