Rays of Light: Alyssa Wildenauer

Hometown: Woodbury, MN

Current Location: St. Paul, MN

Current Roles: HR Specialist at 1517 Media & Graduate Student at the University of Minnesota

Nominated By: Meredith Bruster

Reason for Nomination: Intentional, loving, and passionate, Alyssa has a gift for meeting others where they are, loving others for who they are, and inspiring others to be the best version of themselves.

I distinctly remember our text message conversation during the summer of 2014. At the time, we were new friends and had spent a mere three hours together. It had been months since we saw each other and even so, she asked deep questions and offered heartfelt encouragement at a time in which I needed it deeply. In the six years since our summer conversation, Alyssa has become one of my closest friends and deepest sources of inspiration.

Alyssa has a natural ability to uplift others’ strengths and partner with others to identify how they can be the best versions of themselves. As a coach, Alyssa meets people where they are, providing many with an opportunity to feel validated and significant. Her qualities of abounding compassion and intentionality are rare. As Alyssa radiates love, she shines her light.

A Short Bio.

A born-and-bred Minnesotan, Alyssa Wildenauer has spent the majority of her life in the Twin Cities Metro. Raised in suburban Woodbury, Alyssa fondly remembers growing up in a “very loving family, [with her] mom, [her] dad, and little sister Linzie.” Fortunately, her extended family all lived within an hour’s drive of the Cities as well. As result, Alyssa enjoyed visiting family on the weekends, especially her grandparents, who used to indulge her with good conversation in addition to “cookies and popcorn.”

Having visited dolphin shows as a child, Alyssa aspired to be a “dolphin trainer” at the age of seven. Today, she jokingly reflects on this early childhood dream for its cuteness and for how quickly her plans evolved. At age eight, she discovered ballet, which she would passionately pursue for the following 4-5 years. Says Alyssa, “I was going straight from school to ballet most days of the week, either preparing for the Nutcracker or a spring show.” When not at ballet practice, Alyssa also participated in various sports and community theatre. These activities kept her busy, practicing activities she loved and spending time with people she loved: her family, friends, and community.

Alyssa and her family. PC: AW

After high school, Alyssa left her hometown and home state to study at Luther College in Decorah, IA. There, she studied psychology and dance, while also singing in choir, participating in many student activities, and studying abroad in Europe.

Since graduating from Luther in 2017, Alyssa has worked as a Human Resources Specialist at 1517 Media (formerly Augsburg Fortress) in the Twin Cities. There, she finds joy in serving as a strong member of her HR team while also brightening the days of her coworkers. This past fall, Alyssa also began her studies at the University of Minnesota for Integrative Health and Wellbeing Coaching. Through this applied program, Alyssa is gaining to skills and practices to help others lead their best lives—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And though Alyssa remains holed up at home by COVID-19, she feels excited to volunteer and serve at integrative health centers in the near future.

Outside of class and work, Alyssa enjoys dancing, spending time with loved ones, laughing, and exploring the Twin Cities. She also loves plants and the outdoors. Reflecting on this, with a laugh, Alyssa writes, “I lovingly talk to my plants pretty much daily. I seriously believe it makes them grow more.”

Succulents. PC: West Coast Gardens

All said, Alyssa Wildenauer is a deeply passionate, intentional, and joyful person. She loves her family, her friends, and life’s simple pleasures—like tea and spirited conversation. At 25, Alyssa is poised to positively shape the world around her.

Q & A: The [Not So] Serious

BB: Finish the following sentence: The world would be a greater place if everyone knew _____________ (this artist’s) music. And why?

AW: The world would be a greater place if everyone knew the Wailin’ Jennys. Their songs are written with such beautiful and profound lyrics. They also have songs that, for me, are my go to for both comfort and for joy.

***

BB: What was your favorite show to watch as a child?

AW: I honestly can’t remember because I didn’t watch a ton of tv as a child. But I can remember watching Hannah Montana or That’s So Raven, and I enjoyed those for sure.

***

BB: If you could time travel, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

AW: Hmmm, that’s a tough one. There are many things I would like to say, but the biggest piece is that things will unfold in ways you never could expect or guess. And that can be such a beautiful thing! Just keep living in alignment with yourself, and trust that good will continue to come. It always does. And trust that you’ll have faith and love and your internal strength to carry you through the really tough stuff too.

***

BB: If you could be a backup singer and dancer for any musical artist or band, historical or present, who would you choose? Why?

AW: ABBA. Their music makes me feel like singing and dancing naturally, so I think I’d have a blast.

ABBA. PC: The Current

***

BB: Alyssa, you seem to be an avid connoisseur of coffee shops. So, if you had to design your ideal coffee shop, what would it include? And would it be thematically designed?

AW: So many plants… Lots of windows and white walls for the bright light to stream into. Folk music.

***

BB: Tell about a recent moment when you felt proud to be you. Why do you think you felt this way? And what does this moment say about you?

AW: I felt proud to be me after one of my grad school intensive weekends. I felt both challenged and supported to be my best self. And I felt strong and confident in myself. It confirmed that I’m on the right career track!

***

BB: In your eyes, what is the most underrated food, food group, or type of cuisine?

AW: Kale! And not as kale chips, but fresh.

***

BB: You are currently studying Integrative Health and Wellbeing Coaching at the University of Minnesota. Can you tell me a little bit about this program? How is it shaping you personally and professionally?  

AW: Yes, it is a mostly online program at U of M. I have a cohort, and I really love the people in it. We are learning the skill of coaching, and then doing a lot of self-awareness work along with learning about integrative and conventional medicine systems. It is shaping me so much personally and professionally. I’ve gained a lot of self-awareness, and then we’ve done some workshops on the Enneagram which is a fun tool. The tools for coaching are all about deep listening, open questions, and empowerment. In coaching, there is a belief that the client is the only one that has the answers they need, so it is empowering to learn how to empower clients.

***

BB: Who is your favorite author? And what is your favorite book?

AW: Shauna Niequist will always hold a special place in my heart. But otherwise, I don’t have a current favorite author. I appreciate books so much though. I recently read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and I loved it so much. I used to only read non-fiction, but I’ve been craving fiction books recently. I have been wanting to get lost in stories.

PC: Penguin Random House

***

BB: Your Christian faith seems to be an integral aspect of your life. How have you recently seen God acting in your life, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic?

AW: Yes, I’m so grateful for my faith. My personal relationship with God/light/love/the universe, has been a constant in my life. Of course, it is stronger certain times, but it is still a constant. While I love people so much, I have never minded being alone. I’m an introvert, so that contributes. However, I think that I also don’t mind being alone because I never truly feel alone. I feel God’s presence really strongly in those moments when I am alone. So during this COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve had more alone time than usual, and God has been a comfort and a spirit all around me.

***

BB: Hollywood has announced the upcoming blockbuster: “The Epic of Alyssa Wildenauer.” For casting, they have decided to consult with you. So, who would you pick to play your role? 

AW: I’ve been told I look a little bit like Taylor Schilling, so maybe her? I am so bad at keeping up with actors/actresses and movies, so this is a hard one!

***

BB: With modern technology and social media, it seems really easy to perceive others’ lives differently than they occur. Given this phenomenon, what do wish the world knew about you that they might not already know?

AW: I don’t love social media, nor do I love posting because it never can give the full picture. But I do appreciate it because it is a way to stay connected to people you don’t see a ton or even stay in touch with much. I appreciate seeing updates from people I knew years ago. So, I think my answer is that even though I don’t post a lot, I appreciate seeing people’s updates and I feel a cool sense of connectedness from it.

Author’s Note: All responses are present as they were written, except when subtle rewriting improved narrative flow. Alyssa has approved this content. I am so grateful for Alyssa and her generosity. Thank you for letting me try to tell a piece of your story:)

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