Think Big. Start Small. Step Now.

Think Big. Start Small. Step Now.

Motivation + Inspiration Work

I – Think big.

I grew up a sporadic yet impassioned journal writer. Long stretches of months would sometimes go by between entries, yet when they DID happen, the entries would always be pages long – usually smattered with pep-talks, observations, and comprehensive analyses of the world outside and inside of me (surprise, surprise). And although my journals rarely followed any sort of through line or linear story if read cover to cover, my younger self secretly envisioned them being discovered in an archaeological dig years in the future and serving some sort of important purpose. Therefore, I wrote a short bio in the beginning of each and every new book of blank pages.

What can I say? I was a history junkie with an active imagination.

Thinking big has always been in my DNA. My mind has never been able to wrap itself around the seedling of an idea without envisioning the entire oak tree standing tall and proud, providing shade and shelter and maybe even some pretty fall foliage. Even at a young age, my mind couldn’t envision Older Me not creating something bigger than myself and bigger than other usually dreamed. Case in point: my “bio” in my fifth grade journal read that I wanted to be a writer, actress, singer, model, artist, and teacher. I was only nine, but my head couldn’t fathom Older Me being linked to one single career and not using every single part of me to its fullest potential.

 

~

It’s normal to want to accomplish big goals – and normal to want them now. They’re just so damn attractive, and most of us (myself included) are so easily romanced that we think we’ve got this, no problem. Just like in any relationship, when you enter into a new idea, new job, or new circumstance, there’s this beautiful stage of initial excitement that you ride right away.
But after the initial thrill, new excitement always morphs into one of three things: disinterest/disenchantment (in which case the situation falls away as something that was never meant to be), blind ego (in which case you start to take the thing you once revered for granted, as something you’re entitled to or inherently deserve)… or a grand love, a developed and nuanced deep love you want to keep learning from, one that keeps pushing you and challenging you to be the kind of person you’ve always known you were inside.

Going big right from the get-go rushes the process –
which robs you of the reward.

The ride that really takes you somewhere is more like a slow and steady river flow than a gush of water straight from the geyser…

 

Rushing the process robs you of the reward. Click To Tweet

 

II – Start small.

Fun fact: I’ve been teaching fitness classes for a decade.  I’ve taught to one person and I’ve taught to sixty. I’ve had the stereo system die in the middle of my class and lost all of my music (I started rapping. Not my most brilliant idea). I’ve had my bosses audit my classes and have been starstruck when a celeb-to-me walked on in looking to me to lead the way. I’ve, to my horror, slept through my alarm and missed work.

I’ve been reprimanded and I’ve been praised. I’ve been harassed and I’ve been asked for help I could not give. I’ve known everyone in the room and I’ve known no one.

And let me tell you, I am so grateful I didn’t get where I’m at now way too soon. Looking back, everything happened right when it needed to. Starting small and trusting my journey back then, step by step, allowed me to be fully present and soak in each and every lesson – and now enables me to keep my heart open to all the lessons I know are still to come. I am still a beginner. Aren’t we all?

Getting experience is not about a popularity contest, street cred, or gathering up a bunch of LinkedIn referrals. It’s about…well, experience. You won’t know what to do when you fall on your face until you actually do. You won’t know how to manage major transition until you have to.

Experience is less about your resume
and more about your ability to navigate a range of scenarios
with a fine cocktail of confidence, perspective, and humility.

Experience is about navigating a range of scenarios with confidence, perspective + humility Click To Tweet

Sometimes timing catches us off-guard, however – and we’re given huge opportunities out of the blue, when we’re just starting out on our journey. We’re thrust into the spotlight, lights glaring in our eyes, making us squint and struggle to see through spotted vision.

And when that happens, we must actively keep searching for chances to learn. We must seek out a strong foundation, even if the external looks big and grand. Because if not, we run the danger of burnout, overwhelm, or even worse – developing a character-damaging ego. We run the risk of being that person who gets pissed off when she makes a mistake instead of searches for a new opportunity from the rubble.

We run the risk of becoming complacent – and complacency is the place where dreams go to die.

~

III – Step now.

I look back on all my grand ideas and big dreams scribbled down in journals and I’m a little surprised at how spot on they all were. The only thing I had wrong, really, was the timing. There it is, tangible evidence of my intuition and vision hard at work. It was all meant to be. I just thought I was in control of WHEN it was meant to be. How glad I am I kept putting one foot in front of the other, always anticipating the next-best-thing around the corner and not stopping just because that next-best thing didn’t look exactly what I thought it would look like. Or even like a next-best-thing at all. Life is like one big game of Chutes and Ladders: sometimes we climb and sometimes we slide, but we all get to that finish line, because duh, we keep playing the game.

Starting small and growing from there is one of the biggest gifts you can give to yourself. If you’re doing it right, whatever “it” is, you will mess up or fall short. A lot. But if you are NOT feeling lost sometimes, if you’re NOT learning something new every day, if you’re NOT slightly doubting yourself on and off, if you’re NOT botching things up or falling flat on your face or screwing up unintentionally as you boldly move forward in spite of all that – and on the flipside, if you think you are above missteps or are too good to grow – then it’s not that important to you and your path anyway.

The best ideas and jobs aren’t sustained on an initial, huge gesture –
they’re sustained on the small steps forward you take now and every single day to grow, learn, and be a way that surpasses the day before.

I will always be a goal setter and a big dreamer. It’s in my nature. And I’ve learned, seeing the big picture and the grand oak tree – knowing where you want the journey to take you – is a strength that’s not to be discounted.

But just as important, if not more, are those small steps you take every single minute to help your ultimate dream materialize. Every single millisecond is a lesson in the making, every single mini-step strings together to lead you down the path you’re meant to forge. As a writer, actress, singer, model, artist, teacher, trainer, chemist, entrepreneur, designer, archaeologist, accountant, chef, creative, best friend, parent, sibling, spouse, leader, mentor, muse. Maybe even all the above.

You just have to make the first move – and then the next first move – and then all the next first ones after that.

Think big.

Start small.

Step now.

Think big. Start small. Step now. Click To Tweet


Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


One Year.

One Year.

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

One Year Ago this week,
I moved across the country.

stuff on stuff on stuff
last night on the roof
lunch with mom before the big day

I moved with my then boyfriend, now fiancé, future husband. I moved with my then purpose, now career, future calling. I moved with no expectations, some trepidations, and an enormity of determinations.

One Year Ago this week I fulfilled the choice to choose my life. I could have said no, I could have said wait. But it’s easy to say no when you should say yes, just like it’s easy to say yes when you really should say no.

One Year Ago this week my heart started beating a little faster, and my mind started to go a little slower. The pace around me started to move quicker but the pace inside me started to calm.

One Year has brought so much to the forefront and sunken so much into the background noise. The things I thought mattered some matter less, and the things I thought mattered most matter way more than I thought they did.

It’s crazy to look back a photos and feel the shift One Year has brought. Was it because of my age? Was it because I was ready? No, I don’t think that was it. I think I wrung all the lessons, all the love, all the heartache and heart-aid out of my surroundings – and the only way to grow was to shift my perspective. Through a turn of the kaleidescope, it’s amazing how the same-old can become completely forgeign all over again. Through a different lense, it’s amazing how many things become dimmer than you knew them to be.

Or brighter.

Or maybe both at once.

everything was so exciting to me. even the metro cards. especially the metro cards.

I don’t think we need to change our physical surroundings to see a shift in our lives, but man oh man did it help me. To think our opinions are ultimate or our perceptions final is to be naive and stubborn. Here, I realize that while your word is your truth, it’s also his, and hers, and theirs, and it’s how we all come together that breeds true enlightenment.

Marianne Williamson says, “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” And that’s true. But it’s also what ILLUMINATES us. The light and the dark together. And what’s more, how we all move in tandem. It’s not just our light or our darkness, but the way our beams bounce off one another.

It's not just our light or our darkness, but the way our beams bounce off one another. Click To Tweet

In my dreams, I always lived in New York City. A thriving Broadway career, an apartment in I Don’t Even Know Where. In my dreams I didn’t know how anything fit together, I just knew the One Thing of my success led the way. In my realities, I am here. I rarely visit a Broadway stage (something I DO want to change in Year Two) but I’ve found the stages that suit me best. In my realities I cannot quite believe how seamlessly it’s all flowed, how I managed to fight for a sense of community and actually achieve it, how I managed to fight for a career and actually own it, how I managed to fight for a lifestyle of river runs and sweet potato fries and Adventure Sundays and yes – I’m actually in the adventure every day.

And I am in it, I think, because I’ve always been fighting for it, not against it. I’ve learned how to be malleable but true to my heart. I’ve learned how to bend but not break.

And most of all, I’ve learned that challenge begets change, but also begets truth. In my life thus far, I’ve asked for truth and learned how to see it as my ally. Even the truths I would rather not see. Even the truths that hurt. I ask more questions instead of fighting against the answers that pain me. I have fought for a life that rings true each day, and in One Year I now see it before me. It’s not something I take lightly or take for granted.

my very first friendsgiving.


Spoiler: Relationships are not supposed to be easy.
With cities, with people, it’s all the same. You’re supposed to push each other, but in the best way. You’re supposed to help each other see the best in themselves but also the misalignments. Ultimately, you’re here to help one another not only recognize your values but live them out loud. In what you say, in what you do. You’re here to be the bridge between seeing and believing. Between dreaming and doing. And that is not easy work.

And, ANOTHER SPOILER, the work isn’t work to MAKE it easy. It’s work to beget more intricate and nuanced work.

It’s trust work. It’s truth work. It’s the best work ever.


us, 2.0 (or 3.0, depending on your timeline)

And so here I am, One Year After packing the boxes and shipping the bins. One Year After that feeling of readiness and maturity but also of complete surrender. It has not been easy, and it hasn’t always been fun. But it’s been soul-stirring, and it’s been soul-lifting, and it’s brought me in touch with a deeper layer of myself I didn’t even know was there. And anyway, I don’t want easy. I want right.

unsolicited advice

it’s all still a thrill.

To grow, we must stay aware. And to stay aware, we must stay awake. And to stay awake, we must challenge ourselves to displace our gaze. If you always ride the same waves, you’ll never truly see the spectrum.

Once you learn the thing, once you get the stuff, once you master the immediate, where do you go from there?

One Year Later, I’m living the answer:

You exhale fully, slowly, and calmly, and you shift the kalediscope.



Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


How To Activate Your Inner Activist: On Finding Your Voice (In A Way That Works For You)

How To Activate Your Inner Activist: On Finding Your Voice (In A Way That Works For You)

Community Tips + Tools WANT Women

I think we can all agree: it’s been quite the year so far (*LOL to the understatement of the decade). Every single person I talk to says some combo of the same things: I’m fired up. I want to make a change. I’m ready to fight. I’m exhausted. I don’t know what to do. I feel called to action.

Overwhelming, right? I know how you feel.

Over the last few months, I’ve had politically and culturally charged conversations with people I would have never expected to talk about these things with so candidly. A common concern I started to hear from most people was that they were worried they weren’t overtly “activisty” enough to be an activist – which, really, was a worry rooted less in their desire to help and moreso their fear of being shamed or judged. Oof.

As I talked to more and more people, I realized I wanted to help. I wanted to meet them where they were at and help them go outside their comfort zones *gradually,* so that eventually the uncomfortable would become comfortable. I realized that while I was on board with all forms of activism, I was most interested in exploring the seemingly small but huge things people could do NOW to make an impact, not exhaust themselves, stay in this for the long haul…and do it all in a way that would feel aligned with who they are.

'Conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.' - @cantpatthis Click To Tweet

Last Sunday, I had the honor of making my dream panel come to life: an intimate yet powerful conversation with five activist-minded WANT Women and Men (Lauren Bille of The Big Quiet and Cycles + Sex, actor and playwright Patrick Burns, Christen Brandt of She’s The First, Jahan Mantin of Project Inkblot, historian Natalia Petrzela of Past Present) about how to make a difference in a way that’s in alignment with who you are. This dynamic discussion, held at the gorgeous HUBseventeen space below Lululemon’s Flatiron flagship, was for anyone who was new to activism, struggling to figure out ways to make a difference in their OWN way, or just curious as to what “activism” can look like beyond marches and protests.

I wish I could adequately express the energy in the room. It was...electric. Comforting. Eye-opening. On-the-edge-of-your-seat. A big long exhale and ‘I thought I was the only one!’

Here are some of the best takeaways from the day:

1) Use social media wisely. Instead of using social media as a venting ground, use it to share events happening this week (awesome suggestion by Lauren). Without pushing your viewpoints on someone else, share everything from rallies to donation-based yoga classes happening nearby. Social media can be a great way to help people find options that might work for them, whether YOU are able to attend or not. You never know who’s reading that has been looking for a way to take action.

2) …Speaking of which, focus on the common ground instead of the shakey ground. Natalia stressed the importance of educating yourself and learning about the “whys” behind the “whats.” Not just for your own personal benefit – but so you can have more nuanced, productive interactions with the world around you. People who, say, voted the opposite way you did – they have hopes and dreams for this big world, too. Instead of grilling or shaming someone about their choices, ask why and actually listen. Maybe they’re worried about affording healthcare. Maybe they’re passionate about education. Whether it’s on social media with acquaintances or around the dinner table with family, find the things you agree on. You’ll probably realize you have a lot more in common than you thought – and maybe, just maybe, each of you will be able to learn about a new perspective. 

3) Be proactive, not reactive. One of the biggest themes of the afternoon was the importance of listening – and then doing something with that information. It’s really easy to let our emotions go crazy when things get under our skin, but now more than ever is the time to press the pause button. Just like negative self-talk, it’s easier to bond over what we loathe instead of fighting for what we love. Instead of fuming about the latest headline with your friends, probe as to why each of you feel the way you do – and then ask, non-rhetorically (as Christen said), So what are we doing to do about this? In order for progress to be made, the days of venting ad nauseum need to come to a close. As Patrick said, “Conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.”

4) Privilege is complicated, but it’s not something to feel guilty about. Privilege is a sticky subject. Some people argue that being able to be an “activist” is a privilege in and of itself – however, many people will also say that some don’t have the privilege of turning a blind eye and NOT being an activist. One big takeaway from Sunday was to be honest with yourself about whatever your situation or life has looked like and then do something with it. Christen spoke about how powerful it is to create “safe spaces” – how it’s important to show up time and time again and know not only when it’s important to speak up but when to shut up. We take cues from each other. And she’s realized that her “privilege,” so to speak, can help model the behavior she wants to see out in the world – one that doesn’t assume what someone else’s experience is like or discriminate by class, race, gender, or who we love.

'Show up, know when to speak up, know when to shut up.' - @cjbrandt, @shesthefirst Click To Tweet

5) Small actions can lead to big impact, from the inside out. It doesn’t matter what you do or who you are, you CAN make a difference. If you’re an employee who wants to create change within their company, for example, keep throwing ideas into the mix and eventually one will stick. The first one might fall on deaf ears, but keep going. Something as small as a conversation with someone in the grocery store can shift lives. “You never know what is going to start a ripple effect,” Jahan told us. “You start with one ripple, then another, then another – and eventually, that’s how you make waves.”

'You start with one ripple...eventually, that's how you make waves.' - @projectinkblot Click To Tweet

6) Activism doesn’t always need to be loud to be heard. Okay, that one’s my own. What resonates with one person might fall on deaf ears with another. I think it does a disservice to the causes at hand 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. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a powerful march. But I know that’s just ONE part of the equation. 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.

Activism doesn't always need to be loud to be heard. Click To Tweet

Activating your inner activist doesn’t have to be complicated or obvious – it can start with one conversation and go from there. Inch by inch. Step by step. That’s how you build up a voice that resonates in the long run.

HUGE thanks to HUBseventeen for being such fierce supporters of WANT and allowing us to take over your space for the afternoon, and to Lauren, Patrick, Christen, Jahan, and Natalia for sharing so much of yourselves and making the very first WANT panel in NYC a wild success –  and to YOU, the WANT peeps, for being the reason this community is as powerful as it is. Not only did you pack the room, but your questions and enthusiasm had us all on the edge of our seats.

All proceeds from this event went directly to Planned Parenthood.

Photos by Anke Kuballa

Want How To Activate You Inner Activist to come to your town? Get in touch here.


Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


WANTcast 027: On Education, Immigration, and The Power Of Conversation with Brenda Gonzalez of Tamarindo

WANTcast 027: On Education, Immigration, and The Power Of Conversation with Brenda Gonzalez of Tamarindo

Community the WANTcast

I know I’m not alone when I say that the last few months – heck, the last few days! – have been a lot to process. And that’s amplified by a bazillion when I feel like I’m constantly needing to confront how much I don’t know. I’m not saying I’m not informed or “woke” or however you want to put it, but I’ve been made very aware of how much work I have to do when it comes to understanding the nuances of the American experience – specifically when it comes to people who were not born here. Coming to terms with that information gap can be overwhelming. But we can’t let it be paralyzing.

We all have a story of moving forward fearlessly on a big or small scale. Some of us are in the middle of our own right now – and I want to learn about them all. So instead of reading a crapton (I have been) and learning in just a few months what seems like more than I did in an entire year of school (also true) and then regurgitating the information to you (down to do that!), I thought I’d do what I would want to listen to right now: talk to someone who knows a lot more about this stuff than I do and has personally experienced it firsthand.

Activism is as small as going conversation by conversation. Click To Tweet

Brenda Gonzalez is co-host and co-creator of Tamarindo, a socially conscious podcast she hosts with her friend, Luis Octavio. Together, Luis and Brenda discuss politics, food, music and life through a Latino lense. Recommended by NPR’s Latino USA, they interview comedians, artist, activist, and those that want to shake things up in their community. Brenda has over 15 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations, most recently with a national Latino civil rights organization, the National Council of La Raza – which is the country’s largest Latino nonprofit advocacy organization. She is also the Board Chair of Los Angeles Education Partnership, an education nonprofit working in high poverty communities to foster great schools.

Bonus points – she’s my former neighbor! Brenda and her husband Jeff (and pup, Frieda, who Jeremy and I nicknamed “The Happiest Dog In The Universe”) were some of my first friends in DTLA and some of the best neighbors I’ve ever had. I was always impressed by Brenda’s immense knowledge on the topics of activist work, non-profits, civil rights, and immigration, and the way she could put a fun, engaging spin on otherwise complicated and slightly overwhelming topics. When she first talked to me about wanting to start a podcast focusing on Latino social, cultural, and political issues, I knew it would be a hit just because of her personality. What I didn’t realize is how much I, someone who is not a member of the Latino community, would get out of it on a weekly basis.

In the episode we talk about Brenda’s experience coming into the United States from Mexico as a four year old, the complications that come with wanting to become a citizen (or even just go to school!), how she began working with non-profits, and how a dark diagnosis in her family led them to the lives they are leading today. We also talk Brenda’s experience at the Women’s March in Washington D.C, the power of simply having conversations, and what YOU can do to make a difference in your own community even if you don’t have a background in politics or civil rights.

This is a must-listen, must-share…all the musts. 

WANT BRENDA:

Listen on iTunes | Play in new window | Download

SHOW NOTES:
Tamarindo podcast
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram
NCLR.org
DACA
AB 540
California Dream Act

Frieda, The Happiest Dog In The Universe

PODCAST/BOOK RECS:
Show About Race
In The Thick
The Warmth Of Other Suns

WANT to support the WANTcast? Click over to Amazon via this link, then shop as usual. I will receive a small-but-meaningful kickback, which means we can invest in things like sound editing, new equipment, and more. No extra charge to you. Easy as that!

Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes, share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. The more you share, the more Brenda’s message can be heard. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

 

This Too Shall (Not) Pass: An Open Letter To The Wellness Industry

This Too Shall (Not) Pass: An Open Letter To The Wellness Industry

Community Motivation + Inspiration

When I was twenty one, I made one of the best decisions of my life – a decision I can trace almost everything good in my life back to, from my friendships to my career to my fiancé to my self image. I got certified to teach indoor cycling.

My decision wasn’t so much about my love of fitness as it was my love of how fitness fit into my life at the time. I decided to get my indoor cycling instructor certification for three reasons: One, as a musical theatre actor, I knew I could have a side job wherever my “real” job took me. Two, I wanted to curate a stellar experience I felt was lacking. The classes at my gym played EDM remixes of Broadway musicals, and that was just not okay on so many levels.

And three? I was struggling. I was struggling to learn to love myself, to make peace with a world that seemed to tell me that investing in self-love was selfish and crude. It wasn’t cool yet to become a fitness instructor, and spouting off terms like “athleisure” and “reishi” might as well have been speaking Klingon. The fact that I stuffed spinach into my smoothies was weird enough as is. Now I was venturing into the even weirder world of self-improvement.

But I was fiercely determined to love myself and sort my mess out – and slowly started to notice that I wasn’t the only one. I would side-glance at the people around me, both in and out of the gym, and could tell they were struggling too. How was it that we were so devoted to this idea of “health and wellness,” yet none of us looked like we were healthy or well in any respect?

The dance club remixes kept thumping, the aggressive cueing kept coming, and I knew in my heart the conversation needed to change.

~

The world has changed a lot since 2007, and so has the wellness industry. No longer is it “weird” to stuff your smoothies with mushrooms and herbs; no longer is it taboo to wear workout clothes to a brunch date. Being a yoga teacher has been named one of the top 100 job opportunities in America. Flower crowns – do I need to say more? It’s now officially hip to be green.

One thing stays the same, though: when asked, almost anyone who is anyone in the wellness industry will say their goal is to inspire others and help change lives for the better.

So here we are. A time in which so many are feeling legitimately terrified for their lives or the lives of their loved ones. For them, it’s not just about job security or economics. It’s not just about the environment (although I do suggest watching Before The Flood, like, ASAP.). This is about the actual safety – and go figure, health and wellness – of human beings. As a woman, as a religious minority, as a citizen of this country, made up of such a diverse quilt of cultures and races and religions and gender identities and backgrounds – I am horribly, borderline-irrevocably, afraid.

Sometimes my fear makes me want to stay inside all day and ignore anything going on outside the walls of my tiny, inviting apartment complex. And yet I, along with so many of my incredible and inspirational colleagues, still get up every morning and do the work we have done every single day we’ve been in this profession. We show up. We witness struggle. We show people how to love – not just others, but themselves.

We show up. We witness struggle. We show people how to love – not just others, but themselves. Click To Tweet

I’m really lucky in that most of the people I know are empathetic to their core and unafraid to dance around the details. But I’ve noticed something interesting: some of the people who are the most peace-promoting in profession are glossing over peace-threatening issues in practice. They focus on proclaiming that now more than ever is the time to be the “kindest people we know” and just wait it out. “This too shall pass,” people have told me.This too shall pass. The words hit me like a kettlebell in the stomach.

Of course I agree that now more than ever is the time to be the “kindest people we know.” But I’d like to suggest that times like these call for way more than just the standard human decency we should all be striving for day after day. Times like these call for us to make actual, tangible changes in our day-to-day lives – seemingly small changes that make a huge impact in the long run. Kind of like diet or fitness. Kind of like any wellness practice.

We can encourage people to meditate. We can educate them on the benefits of sleep and yoga, even methods like bullet journaling and affirmations to manage their feelings. But beyond emotional healing and stress mitigation and telling people to be the kindest people they know, what else is there?

Turns out, a whole freaking lot.

~

As leaders in the wellness industry, we have a rare and vital opportunity to reach people at their most vulnerable. In fitness, that opportunity comes during moments of hard exertion, or sometimes in the moments of standing firm and staying still. In nutrition, it comes while helping people with one of the most personal things they can do: eat. In holistic and functional medicine, the opportunity lies in exploring the literal aches and pains of the mind and body. And the list goes on: crystal healing, dosha balancing, sensory depravation, etc etc etc. Wellness is about so much more than images of flower crowns and  yoga poses (and don’t get me wrong, I love a good flower crown and yoga pose): people come to us to sort through their struggles, tame their anxieties, and just generally feel better in a consumerist and reactive world that would rather they feel worse. Our jobs are more important now, in this politically charged and divisive time, than they’ve ever been.

We’re lucky that the people who are seeking out wellness-related products, services, communities, or “influencers” are already halfway there when it comes to an inclusive, bold, and proactive mindset. They already know they can be the change they wish to see in the world, and they already know that it’s those tiny-but-mighty tweaks to routine that are the gateway to being that change. Whether it’s meditation or movement, a cardio class or crystals, wellness-minded folks come to us ready to strip themselves of their pretenses and shed what they don’t need anymore in order to start anew. That requires an immense level of vulnerability, which is something we cannot take lightly. Not ever, but particularly not now.

Here’s where I propose we start…

• We must be cognizant of the language we use right now more than ever. Our words can be triggering – shameful even. In fitness, for example, creating a “beginner vs. advanced” mentality between students instead of meeting them where they’re at can make someone feel ashamed of their abilities, or resentful of their body’s limitations. Our students, readers, clients, and followers come to us baring their most vulnerable selves in the heat of the moment. Things like sweating at a high intensity, lying still with closed eyes, being open to alternative ways of living…those are vulnerable things to do! The language we use during these vulnerable moments – which are made even more fragile by the current political climate – can close someone off, open someone up, or even change the course of someone’s life.

We have a responsibility to use language that not only uplifts – that should be a given – but softly urges people to be proactive way after they leave their class, complete their session, end their meal, or finish their daily reads. We must urge them to be proactive, not reactive in their choices. We must not only help them feel powerful, but help them realize that feeling power is only productive if you DO something meaningful with it. We must remind them that even though they might have come into the room alone, they are surrounded by a team that has got their back – and they have the opportunity to do the same for others in turn.

• We must show a wide range of images of what it physically looks like to live well. Wellness has been popularized by the image of a lithe, privileged, upper-class white woman. I remember speaking to an editorial team about this once and urging them to publish more diverse images on their channels. They argued that mostly white women ran their platforms, so it only made sense these would be the images they gravitated toward. It “wasn’t ideal,” but it was “just the way things were.”

THIS IS NOT A SUFFICIENT ANSWER.

We must, must, MUST NOT loop wellness into a bubble of white privilege for only the size-2-and-under set. We must, must, MUST show more diverse images in our publications and use more diverse models as the face of our products. And we must, must, MUST not bill these instances as special occasions or campaigns, because the second we do that is the second we reinforce the idea of “the other.” From body image to skin color, men and women now more than ever need to actually see that wellness is for everyone and know that they are part of the rule, not the exception.

• We must provide people with a wide variety of ways to live well that can work for any lifestyle – not just the wealthy and socially/culturally privileged. Most of us aren’t living the life of the “wellness high society,” as I like to call them: people who can afford multiple holistic treatments per week, buy thousands of dollars of special powders and supplements to live their best life, and have transformed their backyards into what are basically small farms (or even have backyards to begin with!). I’m not against any of these things, for the record – they’re just not realistic for the majority of people out there, whether in a big city in Los Angeles or a small town almost entirely off the grid. In our practices and preachings (although I’m using that term figuratively; hopefully no one’s “preaching at” anyone), we’ve got to take into account the entirety of the human experience and not just the bubbles that look like the ones in which we live. We must use not only the words and the images that are inclusive and encouraging, but the call-to-ACTIONS that not only take all kinds of high highs and low lows into account, but above all else promote being proactive, not reactive; inclusive, not exclusive. We must seek out, actively seek out, viewpoints other than our own, because we all know that living truly WELL in body, mind, and spirit means not assuming that one way is the right way for all times and for all people. Living well is about finding what works for you. And in order to help people find what works for them, we must show, time and time again, that there is more than one option.

• We must use our art as activism. If you’re in the wellness industry, chances are you’re using some sort of artistry to build your business. Writing. Cooking. Speaking. Healing. Teaching. So many ways in which wellness and creativity intersect – and so many ways you can get creative when it comes to promoting change. Behind the scenes, you can be writing letters and making calls to your government officials. Or better yet, why not host a letter writing evening and mix in whatever you do – yoga, bootcamp-style fitness class, meditation, natural beauty demos – to give the night a personal touch and fun flair, then donate proceeds to a cause you care about? Maybe you can publicly use/promote businesses led by women and minorities. If you’re a writer, you can be writing poetry or op-eds or interviews or essays and and share them on social media or your blog or even Medium if you’re a bit shy about posting personal things directly on your platform. You can listen to podcasts that talk about diverse issues, and use them as inspiration for your next project. Maybe it’s as simple as admitting you don’t know about certain issues or experiences, and then seeking out another artist or person in your field to help educate your community on those issues or experiences. Both art and activism are made even more powerful when there’s collaboration involved.

~

Contrary to popular belief, activism isn’t always loud and in-your-face. Activism isn’t always protests or rallies. And if your brand of activism doesn’t fall into one of those two categories – or makes its impact on the mat instead of in the street – I am here to reassure you: it is still activism.

Some environments will allow for more “activism” than others. Sometimes special events are the way to go (for fitness classes, perhaps), sometimes the topics at hand call for immediate and direct attention on the regular (meditation, maybe), sometimes it’s best to choose one issue and hone in (say, when you’re devising an editorial calendar or working with other companies). It’s all about the brand you’re choosing to build. Everyone and every avenue is different. The important thing to remember is that if we stand for everything, we stand for nothing. Seeing all sides of a situation is important and is one thing, but not standing up for the values you hold to be true is another – no matter who you are or what you value. I’m not suggesting we ridicule our readers or force our political opinions on our followers. None of that ever works – and probably isn’t the best idea when part of our job description is to help people (anyone) live well. We can, however, actively seek out ways to speak inclusively and build empathy. Most of us already do. Now it’s time to kick it into overdrive. When we help others tap into (and act upon) their very human, but oft ignored, innate empathetic sensors – we all win.

When we help others tap into (and act upon) their innate empathetic sensors, we all win. Click To Tweet

Whether you are a writer, an instructor, a teacher, a healer, a doula, a nutritionist, a designer, a marketing whiz, a CFO, a juice company, a minimalist guru, a wellness center staff member, a yoga studio owner, a chef, a sound bath master, a meditation guide, an actor, a “personality,” or simply just someone who preaches the wellness gospel to your own inner circle – this too shall not pass.

Right now is the time to take action.

Right now is the time to do things differently.

We say that our goal is to inspire others, to help change people’s lives for the better so they can truly live well. Right now, more than ever, is the time to make that happen.

 

 



WANT Yourself:

These are only a few thoughts on how we can be of service in the wellness industry. But what about you?

Whether you’re a teacher/professional or a devotee, what are some ways you’ve found your brand of activism under the umbrella of wellness? Share this post, or leave a comment below – I would LOVE to hear. You might inspire another reader to make change happen in their own way.

(p.s. – thank you for the difference you make!)

WANTcast Episode 025: On Manifesting It All + Waking Up Fully with Sarah Britton of My New Roots

WANTcast Episode 025: On Manifesting It All + Waking Up Fully with Sarah Britton of My New Roots

Body the WANTcast Work

Who else is excited for a brand new year?!

I know that a lot of people are saying things like “2016 sucked!” “Good riddance 2016!” “Go home, 2016, you’re drunk!” etc etc. And yes, there were some crappy moments. But it’s important for us to remember how much GOOD there was within the last twelve months as well (personally ending with some great news I reveal on the pod).

So here’s where I’m at: I’m choosing to look at 2017 as the year where we sort of, as one of my role models Glennon Doyle Melton says, sift through the crises of 2016, sift through the muck of last year, and then take what we have left over – the stuff that really counts – and just build on that into the stratosphere.

sarah britton women against negative talk

Today’s guest is the perfect person to help us move forward fearlessly into a new era. Today’s guest is Sarah Britton – author, holistic nutritionist, certified nutritional practitioner, and artist (you’ll hear why later in the podcast) who’s based in Copenhagen Denmark. She is the creative force behind MY NEW ROOTS, an award-winning food blog featuring original recipes that taste great, look beautiful, and boast incredible health benefits (ps, she’s been doing this since 2007 – so she really is the food blogger OG).

In this episode we talk about overcoming obstacles, manifesting things in your life and how important it is to be mindful of what you wish for, how Sarah completely revamped her relationship with food, and three things that ANYONE can do to remove what Sarah calls the fog from your life and wake up FULLY. I’m talking super simple things that don’t involve going to a fancy store, searching for some weird gadget on Amazon, or overhauling your life – these are small tweaks that anybody can make no matter what your lifestyle. Basically, this episode is all about how to realize and actualize how good you’re meant to feel on a day-to-day basis.

Verdict: Sarah is the perfect positive voice to help us ring in the new year. (added bonus…her voice is like buttah.)
We're only given the challenges we can overcome. - @MyNewRoots Click To Tweet

WANT SARAH:

Listen in iTunes | Play in new window | Direct Download

SHOW NOTES:
Order Naturally Nourished now!
My New Roots
Facebook
Instagram
Gourmet Print Shop
Facebook
Instagram
Esther Hicks
Jessica Murnane on the WANTcast
Laura Wright of The First Mess

How To DIY Your Own Planned Freak-Out

WANT to support the WANTcast? Click over to Amazon via this link, then shop as usual. I will receive a small-but-meaningful kickback, which means we can invest in things like sound editing, new equipment, and more. No extra charge to you. Easy as that!

Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes, share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. The more you share, the more Sarah’s message can be heard. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!