Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘I always found nursing an amazing thing, working with the body and really seeing how it works.’

Lisa Muchnik, Commack

“I am a mom of two young kids. My daughter is 7 and my son is 4. I work part time as a nurse anesthetist three days a week, and right now I’m teaching aerial yoga consistently one day a week, but I also, you know, sub and do workshops, too. All those things came together when I released a children’s book about yoga.

“My original degree was a bachelor’s degree in dietetics. I’ve always had a really intense love for nutrition and fitness, but as a career, once I got into it, I felt like it wasn’t what I wanted. Career wise, it just wasn’t fulfilling, so I decided to go back to school to become a nurse.

“While working as dietitian, I got my associate’s degree in nursing, becoming a registered nurse. I liked that job but wanted more hands-on care with patients. When I was in nursing school, I had learned about nurse anesthetists, who administer anesthesia for surgery or in other medical settings. At the time, barely no one in the medical field knew about it, and it just sounded so interesting to me — to be able to do anesthesia as a nurse. So I got a job working in the ICU and applied to nurse anesthesia school. I had to finish my nursing bachelor’s degree, work in the ICU, and get my master’s to become a nurse anesthetist, which I did in 2011.

“I always found nursing an amazing thing, working with the body and really seeing how it works. The idea of being able to be part of fixing someone’s body was also fascinating to me. Also from the nursing perspective, I loved the autonomy of it. Just really being able to take care of your patient, being in control of what you’re doing and also the one-on-one of anesthesia. When you’re in the operating room, you’re taking care of one patient. All of your energy is focused on healing this one person.

“Around that same time, I started working as a yoga teacher. I have always been very into yoga, practicing yoga for many years. My husband and I actually went together to California and got our yoga certifications and started teaching yoga. After I’d been doing it for a couple of years, I became very interested in aerial yoga and then went for a bunch of certifications for that. And so now that’s the main yoga that I teach today, I teach at Sound Body & Mind in Huntington.”

My book is a story of little panda who goes to his yoga class one day, and he comes home really sad.

“My book, ‘Rainbow Panda,’ came out of my love of yoga and taking care of the body. In yoga, one of the things I always especially loved were the chakras, which are the main energy points in your body. [There are seven of them, and they each correspond to a color and part of the body from the crown of the head to your pelvic floor.] They had a special place in my heart. I just love the idea of the colors and the different energy and how those different energies could have healing properties. It kind of just all came to me to write the book because my kids always were so interested in the chakras. I would tell them little things about them and they loved it.

“My book is a story of little panda who goes to his yoga class one day, and he comes home really sad. His mom asks him why, and he says it’s because he notices that he’s just black and white, and all his friends — a flamingo and an iguana and a giraffe — they’re all brightly colored, and he’s not. So his mother teaches him about his inner rainbow and all the colors he has inside. The book goes through each color and is accompanied by an illustration that reflects what that chakra is about. By the end of the book, when he sees himself in the mirror, his reflection in the mirror has all the chakras.

“Once the idea came to my head, it all just flowed. I would wake up at night and I would have an idea for one of them and I would write it down. And once I had it on the paper, it all came together. I started talking to people to find out how to get a book published — I had no idea! I learned about self-publishing, hybrid publishing and regular publishing. I took a chance, and I submitted my book to a bunch of traditional publishers. Most of them don’t write back. I got one or two that were specific rejections. But lo and behold, one relatively quickly wrote back and said, ‘We’re interested in this.’ They wanted to publish it, and it came out this spring.”