In Episode 39 of the WANTcast, filmmakerErin Bagwelland I discuss creative postpartum (aka what happens after you finish a project), setting goals after hitting a BIG goal, speaking up and making your voice heard in the workplace (and world), using your creativity to make a difference, making money and how that relates to feminism, and so much more. Plus, why I’ve been AWOL, and how to pick the Season Two finale of the WANTcast.
The best part of acting based on your unique Through Line instead of what you think you “should” be doing?
It gives others permission to do the same.
By leaning into your fullest potential, you create a domino effect that helps others follow suit.
Lauren Bille’s Through Line is the kind that creates a major chain reaction wherever she goes: she facilitates experiences for people to connect and reflect deeply with themselves and others, so muchso that it spurs them into action.
Lauren’s passionate about equality, social impact, building meaningful communities, and shifting cultural paradigms. She’s a master at bringing people together to activate their inner activist. With that kind of Through Line, you’re bound to make shift happen no matter what you do.
Lauren is currently a partner atThe Big Quiet, where she helps organize mass meditations (mass = literally thousands of people) in iconic locations like Central Park and Madison Square Garden, and a co-founder of Cycles +Sex, an event that gives people the kind of education, tools, and empowerment on sexual, menstrual, hormonal, and reproductive health that we wish we would have learned in health class.
She’s spent the last 15 years working on social justice causes like race, gender and class politics, education policy, immigration resources, sustainable food, climate change/its effects on third world countries, and democratizing mindfulness. If you’re part of the WANT community here in NYC, you might remember her from ourHow To Activate Your Inner Activist panel back in February, where she dropped some major wisdom on everything from owning your privilege to mindfully engaging on social media.
So many of us are looking to make a difference in our messy world right now. Lauren is proof that change starts not with the WHAT, but the WHY. We create the meaning in our own lives.
Name: Lauren Bille
How you’d know me (occupation or role): Partner at The Big Quiet , Co- Founder of CYCLES + SEX
What I love about myself (and why): Love comes naturally to me. I’m good at loving people. Also I’m really childlike in spirit.
What is your definition of “positivity?” Seeing things through a lens of gratitude, hope and trust.
When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” When I was 17 I was given some tools to deal with life that helped me to see that my probs were of my own making. Essentially I was very self centred. Having low self esteem is just as self centered as having too much pride. It’s all ego.
Once I could see that, I had the opportunity to seek humility and a life when I think about myself less and think of others and how I can be of service more. When I try to live this way- I feel good about myself. It’s a daily practice. But truly, whenever I am very upset, it has to do with me and my thinking about myself.
When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… I don’t want to type it or say it out loud because it’s putting it into the universe, and manifesting. All forms of I’m not good enough, which can be broken down to I’m not loveable.
When others talk negatively about themselves… I show them love and then help them think of adding to the world. Watching others talk negatively about themselves shows me how self centered it is.
It baffles me that women still… Get liposuction, fake tan, straighten or perm their hair, don’t leave the house without eye liner. It’s wild all these things we do for the approval of men. Of the systems of beauty set up by men and reaffirmed by women who conform to them. I still conform to them.
I wish that more women… Were brave and honest and bold and independent. Were truly themselves. Let their natural beauty be revealed.
The coolest thing about women is… They are the most powerful. They have the solutions to all the problems inside themselves. Together (tribes of women) they are like the ultimate eternal force of nature.
My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: Remember that it doesn’t matter! It’s all my thinking! I create the meaning in my life.So I try to look at the big picture, stop being so self centered, pull out of the fear and ego, and be grateful.
My top female role models:Fannie Lou Hammer, Angela Davis, Alicia Keys
Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by… LISTENING to us. Becoming aware of patriarchal systems. Making choices not to conform to society’s beauty standards. Stepping aside to raise us up.
Favorite negativity-busting activities: Being with powerful women. Creating. Serving causes I believe in. Exercise. Sleep. Meditation.
Fave self-love ritual: To do all these things: Foot bath with special essential oils, water or tea, good tunes, pause and feel grateful
Favorite feel-good food(s): Water. Smoothies.
Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: Rom-coms
Favorite empowering book(s): Pema Chodron,When ThingsFall Apart. Anything by Brené Brown My feel-good playlist: Frank Ocean BloodOrange NirvanaUnplugged(lol) NeutralMilk Hotel
Advice I would give my
…4 year old self: there’s nothing to be scared of …14 year-old self: same …24 year old self: same
5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: • Make lots of money • Run for office • Be a part of revolutionary social change • Experience revolutionary romantic love • Build successful businesses that do good for the world
My best tip on self love: Treat yourself like you are a friend or a child who you love so much, unconditionally. Think of what they may need, what’s best for them.
When I truly love all of myself… I take good care.
Right now, I am most excited about… Working with incredible people to shift culture and make positive social impact.
My body is: Healthy and grateful.
Three words to describe me: Brave. Curious. Childlike.
Current mantra: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” -Dylan Thomas
Learn more about how to get involved in The Big Quiet here and Cycles + Sex here.
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I live in a city where I am PUMMELED by diversity the second I walk out the door. Diversity in race, diversity in religion, diversity in gender identity, diversity in age, class, body type, occupation — you name it, New York City’s got it. Bougie brownstones next to dirty bodegas. A multi-zillionaire riding the 1 train next to someone without a penny to their name.
I have never ever ever once in my life been exposed to so much diversity in my daily life. It has made me a better person because my eyes are opened wider. It has made my voice louder and stronger because I know it’s the only one of its kind in a sea of unique songs. Diversity has made me deeply internalize that the lens through which I view the world is neither right or wrong – no one’s is – because it is merely a single lens amidst COUNTLESS different prescriptions.
But. BUT. Here is the thing about diversity. Living amongst such radical diversity has also made it abundantly clear that while we all have different backgrounds and opinions and deep-seated beliefs about the way the world is, everything boils down to one of two buckets: GOOD or NOT.
We can all have different lenses on, but there are only two choices when it comes to what we condone when it comes down to the very basics of humanity.
I have noticed that sometimes the people around me can be harsh. They can sometimes be bitter or mean or maybe have different political views than I do. But at the end of the day, they (for the most part, don’t wanna generalize a whole city) believe in the notion that no matter who you are or where you come from, you deserve equal rights and you deserve to be here. Exactly as you are. The beauty of living in NYC is that while it’s maybe the most diverse city in the entire country, and the diversity is APPARENT on every street block, we’re all in this together. The majority is GOOD.
The majority of AMERICA is GOOD. I know it. But when we don’t own our stories or speak up or simply get curious as to why our story has favored certain races, religions, genders etc for so long – when we can’t even be proactive with our CURIOSITY – the GOOD gets weaker. And the NOT gets stronger.
As Queen of All Things Brené Brown said so eloquently in her FB Live this week (seriously, go watch it HERE), we need to own our own story in order to write our own ending. If we don’t, the story owns us. The ending gets written for us.
The shame is that too many people think that owning your story means making yourself feel like an asshole. Or that owning your story means aligning yourself with things you don’t believe in. And neither of those could be farther from the truth.
We’ve been talking a lot aboutrecoveryandeatingdisorderson WANT lately, so to go with an analogy: owning that you once had an eating disorder does not mean it defines who you are. Owning the fact that an eating disorder was a part of your story does not mean it is anywhere near your entire narrative.
Owning that our country was built on white supremacy, that anti-semitism and racism and homophobia are woven deep in our fabric, does 👏not 👏mean 👏 that WE ourselves are any of those things. But to stay silent – to not even let your curiosity question GOOD vs NOT out loud – is to stay in denial of a NOT that has gone on for far too long.
Speak up. It matters. Oh my god does it matter. I’m not saying you have to be posting all the time on social media. But words have immense power. We learn from each other. Just like bonding over negativity, if we make silence our MO, others will follow suit. However, if we start thoughtful conversations or make at the very least offhand comments boosting the GOOD and admonishing the NOT, others will start to follow. Your words let others know where you stand and how you think we should write the rest of our story.
And if you are struggling right now at speaking your mind – if you are feeling like you’re maybe at risk of losing your community or someone you love because they’re afraid of what owning their story might mean and will disown you if you’re the one who brings it into the light, because I do recognize that that is a VERY REAL THING for some people – I urge you to at the very least weave curiosity into your conversations.
It can go something like this: “It’s funny: we were raised to believe that XYZ” or “We learned 123 in our textbooks or in Bible study”…”But my current, more enlightened self WONDERS: _______?”
Create your own script. Wonder deeply and with intention. But do it out loud.
Wondering out loud opens doors that blame or shame cannot, and can lead to taking ownership of your past and therefore creating a new future.
One day back in early January, I saw a post from today’s guest that said something unnerving: that every single woman she’d worked on (she’s a bodyworker) since November had experienced some sort of trauma related to the election.
…Obviously I knew I needed to have her on the WANTcast.
This got me thinking about not only the political climate, but trauma in general. How we deal with it, how it lives in the body, and maybe the very most mind-boggling, how many times we don’t even know it’s there.
Trauma isn’t always a car accident or violence. Trauma can take on many forms.
So how does that impact us on a daily basis?
And do we even realize it?
In this season of the WANTcast, I am determined to be a little bit bolder and expose you to different stories, ideas, techniques, tricks, methods, and practices that are helping others move forward fearlessly in their lives and can maybe do the same for you – or at the very least, which is not something to take lightly, get you thinking outside the box.
Some of them might be sort of familiar. Some of them might blow your mind. Some might be toeing the line of what is “acceptable” to talk about and what isn’t.
Today’s episode with bodyworker Pamela Samuelson details ALL of the above. From how trauma lives in the body to what YOU can do to let go of negative energy to the taboo form of therapy that even I was a little nervous to talk about when Pam brought it up to me….we really go there.
Activism doesn’t always need to be loud to be heard. What resonates with one person might fall on deaf ears with another. What might make one person fired up might make another person want to run for the hills. Activism can be portrayed as complicated or extreme – but it doesn’t have to be either.
After the election last year, I started to think about ways I could make a difference that were in alignment with who and where I was: sure I’d go to a protest or march here or there, but I was more intrigued by the ways I could make a big difference, every day, in small ways.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a powerful march. But I know that’s just ONE part of the equation. I think it does a disservice to whatever cause you’re fighting for to force one “form” of activism on everyone. It makes it seem like activism only looks one way – and can often lead to the kind of black-and-white thinking (You’re selfish if you don’t march! or How can you call yourself a feminist/activist/ally if you don’t XYZ?) that discourages newbie activists from taking that powerful first step of their own. Which is where it all starts: with those powerful first steps.
The more we can find ways to speak up in ways that are in alignment with who we are, the more comfortable we get with getting uncomfortable, the more we’ll cause a ripple effect within ourselves and others. We’ll eventually feel more comfortable with getting more and more uncomfortable. What once felt awkward and fearful will feel awakened and fearless.
Through this series, you’ll get inspired, have epiphanies, and learn how to make a difference in a way that’s in alignment with who you are. Right here. Right now.
To kick off this series, I’m chatting with powerhouse strategist, artist, and activist Jahan Mantin.
Jahan Mantin is the co-founder ofProject Inkblot, a media, service, and program design consultancy that uses their unique Design For Diversity approach to build inclusive campaigns for organizations and companies. She is also the co-creator/executive producer ofFit the Description, a video interview series between Black male civilians and Black male officers.
The coolest thing about Project Inkblot – and what makes it different than other strategic agencies or consulting firms – is their“Design For Diversity” model. Instead of merely working with the perspectives already present, Jahan and her co-founder Boyuan Gao (who you may or may not meet soon on the WANTcast, hint hint) help brands expand their worldview by discovering overlooked touch-points and reframing them as breakthrough opportunities.
From what she loves about the world right now to her best advice when it comes to handling the haters, I’m so stoked to have Jahan here kicking off this important series. Here we go…
Name: Jahan Mantin
How you’d know me (occupation or role): Founder of Project Inkblot and Co-creator/Co-producer of Fit the Description
What I love about myself (and why): I have a good sense of humor and I’m able to laugh at, and make fun of myself.
What are some causes you feel strongly about? Women’s issues, racial equality, creating a code of ethics around technology development – way too many to list.
When did you start to identify as an “activist” – or just realize that you had something to say? Don’t’ know if I can pinpoint a “time.” I’ve always had a lot to say – being opinionated and outspoken runs in the family.
What was your first PDA – Public Display of Activism? I remember writing a letter to The Village Voice as a teenager. I grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and the neighborhood had started descending into hipster/yuppie gentrification. This was during the late 90’s – I was walking into a new/gentrified bar, with all white folks listening to hip-hop with my then boyfriend and brother.
We weren’t allowed in.
There was no probable reason. I actually remember the bouncer, a Black man, apologizing. I can remember the frustration and resignation from my brother and boyfriend, both men of color. We felt rejected, as if we didn’t belong in our own home. It was a microcosm of what was happening, on a larger scale, in our neighborhood. I was frustrated and angry so I wrote this letter, and it was published. I remember feeling like I had been heard and had stood up for something.
What I love about the world right now:I love that historically identified marginalized people are making their voice heard. Truthfully, we never stopped – but I do love that folks are using their voice. It’s a weird time to be alive. I feel like something is bubbling to the surface, about to implode. It’s scary but also a bit exciting.
What I’d love to change about the world right now: Our dependence on technology and some of the insidious ways technology is being used to collect date and eradicate privacy. It’s gotten to a level I think is supremely unhealthy; for our nervous systems, state of mind, energetic levels etc.
The coolest thing about women is… women have some kinda profound well of innate strength that can be accessed at a moment’s notice.
Finish this sentence: Social media… is dos muchos.
My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: Masssssssssages.
My top female role models: Basically all of the women in my family, Frida, Toni Morrison.
5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: Having Fit the Description make a positive impact worldwide! Traveling to Iceland, Rwanda, South Africa, Italy, Cuba (all places I want to visit).
My best tip on activism: Just start with where you are. Make sure it’s rooted in something you really care about.
Right now, I am most excited about… summer being around the corner – meeeeh to the cold.
Three words to describe me: optimistic, curious, silly
What is your definition of “positivity?” Being around good people who really know you and lovingly call you on your bullshit, being kind to yourself and others, having enough self-awareness to not take things too personally.
Current mantra: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
WANT Yourself: What is ONE way you “activate your inner activist” and make a difference in your own way? Nothing is too small – I want to hear! Leave a comment below and share your ideas…
photos by Seher Sikandar
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Hi. It’s me. We haven’t met, but I feel like I know you. Scratch that – I know that I know you. And I don’t mean that in a pushy, I’ve-been-there-before-so-now-I-know-you-and-also-everything way. I mean that in the way that we all come from the same source, the same sisterhood, the same #rigged system that’s made us believe false truths throughout the ages that nothing we do will ever be enough.
I know you are struggling right now. With what, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the job? The relationship status? The family or kids or lack thereof of both? As someone once said, “Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
But what I do know is this: your struggle is inflammed by the perceived expectations of the world around you.
To be kind, to be humble, to be gracious – to be boistrous, but not too much. To be soft, to be resilient, to be a leader, but not too much. To be heard, but not absorbed; to be wild, but at the same time tamed. This is the dichotomy of being a woman. Just a woman.
And to be a powerful woman – oh jeez! That is a task of itself, a dance more precise and more stress-sweat inducing than walking through eggshells. One misstep and the craaaaaaaaack of everything delicate below you rings loud in your ear. You must be bold. You must be brave. You must be a mind-reader and truth-teller but always know when and where your place is to say such things.
Success, you must learn, is relative. And success, you must say, is nothing but smoke and mirrors. But success, you must learn, is both the pinnacle of acceptance and the beginnings of lifelong critique. You are not kind enough, or humble enough, or gracious enough – or you’re boistrous, but way too much. No softness, too much resilience, too wild, too heard.
Because when you’re a powerful woman, you are a goddess unchained.
And everyone will have something to say.
I believe in you, lady. I believe in your grandness and your solitude, your quietness and your noise. I believe in the way you walk through the world, step by forceful step; the way you trip sometimes but always keep going. There are pebbles lodged in the soles of your shoes and dirt encrusted on the laces, relics from the places you’ve been and the things you have seen. Resist the urge to scrape them off. They belong there, they complete you – shoes were not meant to stay crisp and clean, in my opinion.
You have the answers you’re looking for, deep down. Whether they’ve made their way to the surface yet, TBD. You’re not supposed to wake up one day and know. But anyone who says they do or assumes the opposite is a liar.
Surprise, surprise: the hallmark of being a true adult is knowing that you will never know.
And so you, goddess unchained, you are grappling with the knowing and the not knowing and to that I say you’re doing it right. The world wants you to believe it expects you to know but all that is is a desperate plea to fill in the blanks. Blanks that are not yours to fill, blank spaces that aren’t meant to be filled in the first place.
But the last thing I want you to do, sweet friend, is get defensive and stew. How Dare They! How Dare This! The world is not conniving against you, the world just does not know. The world is a child, curious and stubborn. It’s wary of change. It wants to see what sticks. It wants to know what can be cuddled, and how hard, without being smothered. It wants to know what can be crushed, and how hard, without being broken. You don’t have to be the parent or sitter – but rather, the other curious child on the playground who is building sandcastles in the sand instead of eating it.
Nothing you do will ever be enough?
Everything you do is already enough, by the very nature that you’re doing it.
The world is reactive, so you must be proactive.
The world takes cues, so you must make your own.
I don’t want you to look down at the quicksand and say, How Dare They!
What I do want you to do is stand in the middle of the storm and exclaim with pride, How Dare I!
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