- Matthew Thorsen
- Taraleigh Weathers
Taraleigh Weathers has led many lives. She's been a professional dancer and tumbler for the New York Knicks. She founded a free Burlington publication called the Healthy Hippie Magazine that ran for about three years. She's a certified lifestyle and health coach. These days, she's a yoga teacher, writes for the Huffington Post and has led musical retreats called How to Rock Your Life in Vermont and Costa Rica, with plans to continue them at a retreat center she just bought with her husband.
Now, at 40, Weathers can add publishing a book to her accomplishments.
The self-help volume, titled How to Rock Your Life: Maintain the Magic of Live Music in Your Everyday Experience, draws on one of Weathers' biggest enthusiasms. She's practically a professional lover of live music, especially that performed by Phish. Her affection for festivals and jam bands has infused every aspect of her life, from her retreats to her writing. Oteil Burbridge, the bassist for Dead & Company, wrote the foreword to Weathers' book, which contains a wealth of quoted lyrics from (mostly) jam-band songs.
How to Rock Your Life may be a self-help book for the live-music fan, but its lessons are universal: Eat healthy, indulge in self-care, follow your heart, and don't waste your time on negative people or actions. The chapters have funky titles such as "Become a Manifesting Unicorn," "Stop Being an Ass" and "Forgive Everyone, for Realsies."
Weathers just wrapped up her book tour, which was just as quirky and live-music-obsessed as she is. It started in Las Vegas, at the Zappos headquarters, with an acoustic performance by Vermont-based jam band Twiddle. She made additional stops in Colorado and wrapped up last week with a signing at Tailfeather, a new retail store in downtown Burlington. That event featured live music from Nina's Brew.
"There were so many people," Weathers said. "People I knew, people I didn't. New friends, old friends — it just felt very happy and supportive." So far, she's sold about 200 books, 50 of them at the Burlington event.
When this reporter showed up at Weathers' house in Burlington's South End last week, roughly 150 books were neatly packaged and labeled, ready to be taken to the post office. Weathers' kitchen is painted the same bright teal as her book cover — a shade she evidently loves. She was dressed in her outfit from the previous night's signing: a creamy crochet wrap with a stretchy silver sequined belt, comfy pants and shirt, long feather earrings, and a rhinestone headband.
It's a look she cultivates, describing herself in her author bio as a "weird and wild sequin-and-feather-wearing live-music fanatic." It's also a look that gets her some shade. "When I'm walking down the street dressed like that, people will yell, 'Walk of shame!' at me," she said. "I'm like, 'No! It's a stride of pride!'"
Settled on her suede couch, Weathers said she used to try to "buy all the clothes you're supposed to buy and have the job you're supposed to have," but she eventually figured out that conformity wasn't her jam. It was a long road from that realization to her current life, but the lessons she learned along the way inspired How to Rock Your Life.
In the book, Weathers acknowledges that changing your life is a slow process and that not everyone can (or should) give up their job to follow Phish. Her own journey started not with a single epiphany but with a general feeling that her life wasn't working for her.
"I think it was being at music [festivals], and then being home and feeling like I was playing a part when I was at home. I was in an abusive relationship at the time," she confided, "and I just wasn't happy. Then I would go to [a festival], and I [would] escape and [be] so happy, but it was such a release, I [couldn't] handle it."
Weathers struggled to find balance between her unhappy home life and the excesses that often accompany the festival scene. Ultimately, she said, she realized the draw for her wasn't drug use but the freedom, connection and surrender of participating in a live-music festival.
She recalled asking herself, "How can I feel this in my regular life, even when I have this relationship that's not so good and I have this job ... How do I bring freedom to that?" Her solution: She started wearing tie-dye bras under her clothes and having "raging dance parties in the bathroom."
"It wasn't all of a sudden," Weathers said of how she arrived at her current attitude and look. She left her former relationship and has been happily married for eight years to Dan Weathers, an accountant (and fellow massive Phish fan) who helps her run her various businesses. Together they bought the retreat center, which sits on 12 acres in Morrisville and has a large barn and a six-bedroom farmhouse that they plan to renovate.
Weathers' first retreat, scheduled for early May, is called Unleash Your Creative Wildwoman. Featuring intimate musical sets by eclectic Americana artist Hayley Jane, it's already sold out, according to Weathers' website. Also in the works are a cannabidiol- and cannabis-assisted creative retreat and a songwriting retreat with singer-songwriter Ryan Montbleau. All retreats will feature yoga and healthy food prepared by a chef friend.
Weathers plans to call the retreat center This Wonderful Place — an apt name for what will surely be a space as full of music and sequins as its cofounder.