Seane Corn is an internationally acclaimed yoga teacher and public speaker known for her social activism, impassioned style of teaching, and raw, honest and inspired self-expression. Featured on over 40 magazine covers and countless media outlets, Seane has chosen to use her platform to bring awareness to global issues including social justice, sex trafficking, HIV/AIDS awareness, generational poverty, and animal rights. Seane is the co-founder of Off the Mat, Into the World (OTM), which trains thousands of leaders in conscious activism worldwide, and its offshoot, the Global Seva Challenge, which has raised over 3.5 million dollars for service programs in Cambodia, South Africa, Uganda, Haiti, India, Ecuador, and Kenya. Her first book Revolution of the Soul: Awaken to Love, Through Raw Truth, Radical Healing, and Conscious Action was published in Fall 2019, and it is what it says: a REVOLUTION.
In this episode Seane and I talk about dismantling deeply-engrained systems within ourselves and our society, the dark side of yoga, the nuances of “God” and “spirituality,” competition and judgement in what are supposed to be the most non-judgmental of spaces, and SO much more. This episode is a call-to-action for anyone who is brave enough to do the challenging, meaningful, profound work needed to make a difference in the world.
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All year, I’ve been running. Literally and metaphorically. Running into my career, running into my 30s, running into huge life changes, new habits, new routines, new purpose, standing my ground with people I love, and holding my own when it comes to my worth.
Running, running, running.
Not ever running away – running toward and running through – but nevertheless, running.
Last week, as I slipped on my shoes for yet another run that felt as if it might be lackluster, just like the runs I’ve been running for the last couple weeks, I realized – I do not want to run any more.
At least right now.
It’s pre-winter in NYC, which means that the weather’s pulling bi-polar stunts all over the place. One day it’s 65 and gorgeous, the next it’s in the 30s and so cold I can’t feel my hands crammed into my own pockets. I’m throw for a loop: I don’t know what to wear, my skin doesn’t know what’s going on, and my routine gets thrown completely out of whack without me even realizing what’s happening.
And my exercise regimen – one of my favorite forms of self-care – suddenly feels useless.
Seasonal shifts can do a number on you when you live in a culture that doesn’t honor (or even talk about!) the ways our bodies and minds subtly shift throughout the year.
According to the magazines and trends, we’re supposed to act, eat, and yes, exercise the same way January through December: with intensity, with drive, with an all-or-nothing mentality that promises slimmer thighs!, better sex!, and brighter moods! 365 days a year.
So when days like these seemingly lovely cool-and-crisp ones roll around and I can’t muster up that intensity and drive – I’ve gotta tell you, I feel like a real asshole.
Everything about this time of year is about slowing down, being thankful, and cozying up with the ones we love.
So why do we still think that high-impact, fast-paced, quick-fix workouts are the only way to go, when the rest of the season encourages slowing down and shifting gears?
I agree that a high-impact workout can be a great way to blow off steam. I understand that it can help de-puff after too many pie slices (been there, done that). But for someone like me, who is highly sensitive to the energetic shifts around her, adding stress to an already stressful time almost seems like fighting fire with fire.
I didn’t realize this until the other day, when slipping into my workout clothes I realized I had ZERO DESIRE to run. I usually love to run, and for the past year, it’s been my fitness form of choice. Running, and big group classes packed with familiar faces.
But lately, I’ve had zero desire for either. It’s crazily out of character. It’s unexpected. And it goes completely against my heath credo: I am a firm believer that there are way too many kinds of fitness formats for all kinds of personality types for a workout to ever feel “forced.”
And yet I realized that I’ve been trying to force myself through my routine for the sake of routine – hopping onto the treadmill and feeling no different afterwards, or going into my usual much-loved, jam-packed yoga class and getting major performance anxiety from the lack of space. Doing it not because it brought me joy or made me feel good in the now, but because it brought me joy and made me feel good at some other point in time.
We’re all dealing with a lot – year-round. The way we exercise should compliment what we’re missing, what we’re craving, and what we want to create in our lives each season of the year.
I realized that all year, I’ve been running toward the person I want to be and the world I want to create. Running toward, fighting for. Eleven-plus whole months of RUNNING.
It gave me solace, it gave me ideas, it gave me energy.
It gave me fight.
And after all that running, that soul-opening, spirit-gratifying running – my body doesn’t want to run right now.
It wants to ground down, plant roots, and reflect on the solid foundation that I’ve built and want to build from here on out.
My body is in its winter, and to my dismay, I realized I’ve been trying to fight that.
No matter your goals, you don’t need to prescribe to one certain type of exercise year-round in order to feel good in your body year-round. Even when it comes to cross-training and mixing your week up – sometimes the run-lift-yoga, or crossfit-pilates-spin, or whatever-you-usually-do combo isn’t the combo that’s going to be the best one in every moment.
For right now, for my body to be its best, I’m realizing I need to cross-train in a different way. I need to listen to how my body is changing with the seasons.
There is no one right way to exercise this season. Because the right way is the way that works for you, and for you alone.
Need some help? Here are 3 fitness “tips” (I use the term loosely) to follow this month and beyond:
1.) Feed your cravings, not your addictions.
Ever notice how the more you do something extreme, the more your body wants the next hit? Stress is like that. And not just the kind of emotional stress we associate with bad stuff: the kind of physical stress that gets our heart rate up in the gym, feels thrilling, and/or works our body to its edge. It’s why going super-super fast on a spin bike is trendy, even though it’s not efficient or effective: it’s an easy hit for a stress junkie.
Similarly, if you’re feeling cabin fever, extremely “restorative’ or more steady-state exercises might not be the best for you right now. You might need a run, or a boxing class, or ViPR or something like that to get your blood pumping and shake things up if they’re feeling stagnant.
Net-net, you want to feed what your body is craving (in this case – actually wants), not what it’s addicted to (in this case – what it’s simply used to wanting).
2.) Enlist a friend…or not.
Maybe you’re not around family during this time of year, or you live in a new city. Working out solo can be hard, for an unexpected reason: it reinforces the feeling of being lonely-alone.
On the flipside, if you’ve got party after shindig after obligation after whatever on your schedule, you might need some alone time.
If you’re getting a little too much solo time this season, you might need to put yourself in a community-type scenario, whether that means calling up a friendly acquaintance for a gym date or popping into that team-vibey class.
On the other hand, if you’re stretched thin on the social front – don’t force yourself into a class if you don’t want to (even if it’s your normal routine), and don’t wait around for someone else to be ready for the gym (just because it’s how you always roll). This is how I’m feeling right now, and while I usually use the gym as a way to feel a sense of community, I’m currently feeling the urge to keep to myself, go solo, and use my workout time to do some introspection (my best epiphanies come when I move, after all).
3.) All hail the rest day(s)…but also, don’t blindly follow them.
There was a time in my life that I thought rest days were a sign of weakness, low willpower, and lost athleticism. Boy was I wrong. REST DAYS ARE AMAZING YOU GUYS!!!!!
But something interesting happened along the way to discovering this: I found that when I planned my rest days, they ended up being the days I wanted to exercise the most, even if I’d technically taken a “rest day” the day before. Basically, I became so tied to the idea of certain days “needing” to be rest days and certain days “needing” to be workout days that it became really hard to listen to what my body actually wanted in the moment.
What I found works for me is to “nothing” rest days. I take them when I take them. Sometimes once a week, sometimes twice or three times. But always, always when I’m feeling the need to rejuvenate.
Of course, if you’re killin’ it in the gym every single day, working through injuries, etc, it’s very important to break the addiction and de-vilify the Rest Day. Your physical health depends on it. But as a former listmaking addict – a person addicted to planning her weeks down to the minutes she’d be brushing her teeth (fact; I still have the notebooks filled with the lists) – I’ve found that planning out my rest days works against all the hard work I’ve done over the years to listen to my body and honor its needs. Granted, I did need to plan rest days along the way just to get used to them…but after that? I became able to enjoy rest days and “sweat” days equally.
So how am I exercising right now if I’m not doing my normal run-lift-yoga combo? I’m doing the exercises that make me feel grounded.
I’m going into the spin room at the gym during non-class hours, plugging in my headphones, and doing a class all for myself. It’s low impact, which means my bones aren’t absorbing force that would come from, say, striking my foot down on the ground in a sprint. Each pedalstroke grounds me and reminds me that this is my body, and it’s the only one I’ve got (in this lifetime, at least, I don’t know what comes next!). Sometimes I’ll hop into the class of a teacher I know and trust, because with so much newness this year, my body isn’t in a phase of exploration and chance. It feels good to use the music to guide me or have the teacher tell me what to do, because all year long I’ve been making decisions that sort of scare me. I’m trading my box jumps and caterpillar crawls for machine-based exercises and mat classes.
And sometimes, I just roll out my mat, close my eyes, and BE.
Yes. THAT COUNTS.
I’m feeling a need to be nurtured and supported, held up while I do the work. What that looks like? I get to decide, over and over again, every single day.
I’m sure in the new year, or even in the new month, all this will change.
But that is the beauty of fitness, and what drew me to it in the first place: it moves with you.
WANT YOURSELF: In the comments, tell me: do you also find that your body craves different forms of movement as the seasons change? How do you plan on taking care of yourself this winter? What’s one thing you can do today to honor what your body truly WANTs?
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If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years of building a career, birthing a business, quitting a job, moving across the country, and getting engaged (it’s been a busy few years.), it’s that no matter HOW far you think you’ve gotten, there is still so much more to learn. And moreover, you don’t have to go at it alone.
I recently started working with a coach to help gain clarity around a few big-time goals of mine (more on that in the future – both the coach part and the goals part). After unpacking stuff like my alternative definition of “accomplishments” and my love affair with structure, she asked me about role models. And after listing people like Jenny Lewis and Glennon Doyle Melton, I told her about one of my first friends to truly show me what I was capable of. That friend is today’s WANT Woman: Nicole Sciacca.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, you’ve probably at least heard of Nicole if not experienced her Force Of Nature-ness firsthand. Nicole Sciaccais a yoga teacher, professional dancer, actress, host, personal trainer, and (most importantly) a mother to her three year-old son Beau. She is currently the Chief Yoga Officer of Playlist Yoga in West Hollywood, where she spearheads their programming and works with teachers to turn each class into the kind of unique, music-driven experiences that have earned Playlist the nickname “The SoulCycle Of Yoga.”
Backstory: Nicole moved to Los Angeles from Birmingham, Alabama over sixteen years ago. After suffering a horrible back injury in 2006 that changed the trajectory of her dance career, she needed to find an outlet for her energy and genetic disposition for sweat. What originally seemed like her biggest roadblock ultimately introduced her to her greatest passion. Nicole simultaneously began yoga while recovering…and knew she was onto something. Although she had swam and danced professionally her entire life, it was yoga that transformed her mind, body and spirit all at once.
Nicole has always believed in the power of “the journey, not the destination,” so when her Venice Beach studio Hustle and Flow was forced to close, she knew something big was bound to be on the horizon. Days later, she met Playlist owners Jorden Cohen and Rob Rubano. The timing could not have been more perfect – and Nicole found her new path as the face of Playlist.
nicole + i at the one year WANTiversary party in 2016
Our story? Well, I need to preface this by saying that I have spot-on friendtuition. I don’t know how, but I can so much as hear about someone from someone else and have a gut feeling that we’re going to be friends. I’ve learned this about myself in time, but when I met Nicole eight years ago in her spin class and had that friendtuition feeling right off the bat, I was so confused because I was also ridiculouslyintimidated by her.
It wasn’t that Nicole was actually intimidating or scary in the least. It was that I was in the midst of figuring myself out.I was just finding my voice as a writer and fitness instructor, was battling self-doubt when it came to calling myself a leader…and here was this woman who freaking OWNED THE ROOM the second she walked in.
I’d never seen anyone foster such a deep sense of community (“a following,” if you will) like Nicole did. She made people work hard without even realizing it was hard work. She made people laugh but never at the expense of anyone or anything else. She looked you in the eye and listened to what you had to say, even if she’d met you three seconds beforehand. And she didn’t apologize for being herself.
She was badass. She was soulful. She was exactly what I wanted to be like but didn’t know I could become.
Fast forward to the Now, and she’s one of those “lifer” friends of mine. We’ve seen each other through some high highs and low lows, and I can say on my end that I’m not only a better person to have had her cheering me on, but am a bolder person for bearing witness as her story unfolds and seeing her move forward fearlessly through it all. Injuries. Relationships. Speed bumps. Successes. She’s the definition of fearless: when the fear is less than the faith.
I realized the other day that I hadn’t spotlighted a WANT Woman on the site since last year – crazy, right? Especially since one of the things I value most is connection. This means not only introducing you to WANT Women around the globe, but helping you connect with women who can ultimately help you find a deeper connection with YOURSELF.And so I thought, who better to get back into the flow of things than one of the WANTiest women I know. I love our WANT community so much, it was crazy to me I hadn’t introduced you to Nicole yet. So. Here. Done and done.
They (whoever “they” are) say that you need to see it to be it. And for me, Nicole was one of the first people to show me the kind of person I could become if I was brave enough to go there. Our story is never finished, our practice is never perfected, and if we just hold the mirror up and reflect our light onto one another, we’re able to surpass our wildest expectations.
Name: Nicole Sciacca
How you’d know me (occupation or role): I have been teaching yoga, group fitness, and indoor cycling as well as private training for almost a decade in Los Angeles, California. I formally owned a cycling and yoga studio called Hustle & Flow Fitness on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. Currently I am the Chief Yoga Officer (CYO) at PLAYLIST. Yoga in West Hollywood.
What I love about myself (and why): One of the things I love about myself is my sense of humor, because what are we doing, you guys? This LIFE business is crazy. And awesome. And scary. And beautiful. And unnerving. So please…let’s just laugh. Also, my resilience. I’m pretty sure that is a new found quality over the last 4-5 years but I can tell you I see the importance in resiliency now more than ever.
What is your definition of “positivity?” The energy that is extended when the deepest motivation is love, compassion, joy, and kindness. Or Katie Horwitch. I’m not saying that because this is your site. I honestly would define you as “positivity personified.” True story. (note from katie: omg.)
When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” Oddly I don’t remember this “turning point” but I do recall my mother and father really establishing my self worth and the value of my individuality at a very young age. They let me wear the same self chosen outfit 4 days in a row to kindergarten (thankfully my mom washed it every night!). There was a prominent shift when I began to dedicate my life to helping others through fitness and yoga but I was certainly raised with an awareness of “self love.”
How/where negative talk shows up in my life: Paying off debt. Debt that I incurred from taking big risks. Strange thing is that I don’t necessarily regret those choices because the lessons are plentiful. Negativity shows up at least once a month when I feel bloated or hormonal. Sometimes as a mother I find my inner critic beating me up as I compare my parenting to other mamas.
When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… If I feel a lack of energy or physically lethargic, I blame my diet and for not having the discipline to eat more carefully. If I get a piece of mail that worries me, I doubt my capabilities to run my business. If I’m struggling on my mat, I tell myself my priorities are out of whack… There is a great deal of personal critique on my end and that has been a voice that I’ve battled my entire life.
When others talk negatively about themselves… I have a completely different reaction. I listen and immediately drum up all the reasons they are shining, glorious, star fairies!!
It baffles me that women still… make less than men dollar to dollar. Seems like we should just cut that shit out now.
I wish that more women… would praise, support, nurture and enable one another. I surround myself with some incredibly strong and driven ladies which makes me proud to be a woman in this industry, at this point in history. We are a great force for good and the world NEEDS us. Our children need us.
The coolest thing about women is… we can bring life into the world. Cliche? I don’t care. I have been blessed to do this and it is the coolest thing I’ve ever been privileged to experience. Also, we can multi-task like a BOSS.
My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: Pray or meditate or sweat. Nearly all my problems can shift when I do one (or all) of these 3 things. Also, I call my mom.
My top female role models: This is a random list here…. I’d say Elizabeth Lesser. Her life’s work and exceptional use of language as seen in her books is just incredible. Johanna Gaines from the HGTV show Fixer Upper. I only know what I see and read but from the dynamic she shares with her husband, her 4 children, their farm, and businesses, I’m constantly inspired.
Favorite negativity-busting activity: Spending quality time with my son. He fuels my heart in ways that I can barely explain. He reminds me of where I’ve been and that no matter what, the future is based in my reaction. I can shift energy by actively loving him.
Fave self-love ritual: beauty upkeep. Hair cut, a facial, a nice manicure and pedicure. IS THIS SHALLOW? My non-shallow answer is getting a good night’s sleep. Actual rest.
Favorite feel-good food(s): My mom’s cooking. Specifically her homemade red velvet cake or her German sourkraut, potato, and pork recipe. It has a name but I don’t know it.
Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: This is 40 or Deadpool. (sorry.) Strangely, I don’t really re-watch movies. THIS HAS BEEN A POINT OF CONTENTION BEFORE. I think it makes me an oddball…so I don’t have an answer. Outside of Love Actually and All About Eve. Those are my all-time Favs!!
My feel-good playlist: Like That – Memphis Bleek How Do You Want It – Tupac Lemonade (the entire album) – Beyonce Rock and Roll or Ramble On – Led Zeppelin Stand Back – Fleetwood Mac Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood River – Leon Bridges
Advice I would give my… …4 year old self: It’s okay that you like micro machines and dirt. And maybe eat less Velveeta cheese. …14 year-old self: You’re not too tall. You’re perfect. Don’t worry about boys and take more ballet classes. …24 year old self: A partner should compliment your life, not fill the holes. GO TO YOGA RIGHT NOW.
5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: A trip or yoga retreat to New Zealand or Iceland. Go on safari in South Africa. Maybe another child. Build a house. Ride in a hot air balloon.
When I truly love all of myself… I feel enamored and in the presence of God.
Right now, I am most excited about… my haircut and color this Wednesday. Also, the rest of 2017!! I have a couple big things in the works and am excited to get the ball rolling on my potential collaborations.
My body is: a freaking temple. I am shocked that it puts up with me. haha. We stay healthy 98% of the year, we breakdance at weddings and we operate on less than the desired amount of sleep.
Three words to describe me: goofy, hard-working, and compassionate
Current mantra: The more comfortable I am BEING uncomfortable the better prepared I am for any and all surprises. Or: I am becoming my best self and living my most fulfilled life here and now.
There's so much I love about WANT. I love the community that surrounds it. I love how it's ever-changing. But most of all, I think, I love how every single essay, article, how-to, interview, tip, trick, podcast, even Instagram photo seems to inspire something beautiful in someone else.
Each week, you tell me how WANT is helping you in your own life. Maybe you just moved back in with your parents and are feeling at a standstill. Maybe you're becoming a parent yourself, and realizing there is this entirely new world you've just entered into that apparently does NOT come with a manual (like, at all). Maybe you're ending a job, a relationship, a stage of life - or maybe a new one is just beginning. Whatever it is, what I love about you and the WANT community is the way you move forward fearlessly through whatever challenge life hands you. You don't rest on the status quo - heck, you don't rest on "DON'T"s themselves. You're proactive, not reactive, and are interested in true, lasting change when it comes to actualizing the you YOU know you're meant to be.
Over the last year and a half, we've been able to dive in and dig deep together, and your emails and comments inspire ME to, as Michelle Obama so eloquently stated yesterday, "Go high when they go low." Whether "they" means other people, life in general, or the voices inside of our head, I feel so blessed to be surrounded by WANT Women (and men!) who choose to go high.
So in honor of my favorite summer pasttime - summer reading! - I'm rounding up the 7 most read WANT posts of all-time. Grab a glass of iced tea, lay out a beach towel, and soak inthese favorites:
WOMAN AGAINST NEGATIVE TALK: JESSAMYN STANLEY ON BEING WORTHY FROM TOP TO BOTTOM
The biggest yoga myth that’s out there? That yoga is just for one body type. People like Jessamyn are the solution. • READ MORE ➪
MAKING FRIENDS AS AN ADULT: IT’S NOT ABOUT THE BESTIE
In a world that’s put such importance on pairings, what does it really mean to have a "best" friend? And why are so many of us finding our playground surprisingly barren?• READ MORE ➪
AND I’M FEELING GOOD: SHIFTING A BAD BODY DAY (OR WEEK) WITHOUT KIDDING YOURSELF
In a funk? Here's how to dig deep and make lasting change. • READ MORE ➪
THE 4-LETTER WORD THAT NO ONE’S CENSORING (BUT SHOULD BE)
It’s a word that's violent and should be used sparingly. So why do we use it so much, especially about ourselves? • READ MORE ➪
THREE INCHES OF SIDEBOOB: ON THE PHANTOM GAZE, PREEMPTIVE BODY-SHAMING, AND “A LITTLE TOO MUCH”
We’re taught to body shame ourselves before we even walk out the door, because if we notice it first, then maybe, just maybe, our own censorship will prevent the judgement of others. One of my most personal stories on WANT.• READ MORE ➪
A CRASH COURSE IN CASUAL NEGATIVITY: THE NOT-SO-SILENT CONFIDENCE KILLER
If this is what our unconscious self talk sounds like, how can we ever expect to conquer the negative self-talk that’s conscious? • READ MORE ➪
Tomorrow is the WANT anniversary party at Playlist Yoga. The perfect space, the perfect day, the perfect group of people. And even though I’ve co-hosted events and facilitated workshops and fun stuff like that in the past – this feels different.
It’s the first event that I’m going at solo.
One year ago, I made a decision that would – and I’m sure will continue to drastically – change my professional trajectory. I launched what I called my “purpose project,” because it felt like my purpose living out loud in the world.
When I started WANT, I had a gut inkling it was something the world needed at this exact moment in time. However, I still had that self-doubt taunting me every time I sat at my laptop or got asked “So, what do you do?” I hesitated to identify myself as a writer, I hesitated to identify myself as an activist, I hesitated to identify myself as someone who was able to spearhead true and lasting change.
Fast forward to one year later, and those voices still creep in. As I stood in front of a room packed with 30 women of all ages, passions, body types, and backgrounds, I found myself questioning my worthiness. Even after a year, the front-and-center role was not one I fully believed I was worthy of, even though in my heart I knew I was capable and more than comfortable. It was the negative self-talk loop of the past speaking: you can’t be capable and comfortable and worthy. You can’t take up energetic space and speak your heart.You’ve got to choose, Katie. You’re not worthy of it all.
But looking out at everyone gathered in that West Hollywood yoga studio on a beautiful Saturday afternoon and taking a deep breath in…I remembered that although I was standing in front and leading the call, it wasn’t about me. It never would be. The last year had become way more than that.
This first year of Women Against Negative Talk has taught me more about myself, the world, and our relationships to each other than I could have ever fathomed. And as I’ve said time and again, it’s because of you.
Here are my top five takeaways from Year One, on and off-line:
1.) You don’t need to know what your goal is, but you do need to know how you want to feel along the way. The one question I got over and over from family and friends was “What’s the ultimate goal of WANT? In the end, what is it you’re working towards?” Completely valid question…except for most of the people asking were looking for a tangible thing to hold onto. I want to ultimately be an online coach. I want to ultimately have a web series. I want to ultimately XYZ. The question of the “ultimate goal” was more about a thing than an effect.
Thing is, in the first year of WANT, I didn’t want to define the endpoint before I knew what the journey even looked like. For me, knowing how I wanted WANT to affect others (and how I wanted to feel in the meantime) was the most important factor in its success. As long as I was on track with WANT’s mission and vision, I was open to whatever would come my way. How could I ever know what would be most effective in the long run if the short run hadn’t even begun yet? It’s one of the only times in my life I haven’t been tangible-goal oriented – and it’s one of the only times it still feels right. Strangely enough (or not?), things are happening I wouldn’t have even dreamed of one year ago. I’m rolling with it.
Just because you don’t know exactly what the end result will look like does not mean your idea is not valid. Quite the opposite, actually, Know how you want to feel, know how you want to affect others, then use that as your launching pad into the stratosphere.
2.) Feel the fear but do it anyway. In the first year of any business, shit comes up. When it comes up – and it WILL come up (including the personal/professional dilemma of whether it’s brand-appropriate to say “shit” without strategically placed asterisks) – the only thing that trumps that unexpected moment is how you deal with it.
The most powerful tool we’ve got is to feel the fear and do it anyway. The urge to criticize and critique ourselves will threaten to get in our way – but moving forward fearlessly through that urge is what counts, and what makes WANT WANT.
My own moving-forward-fearlessly challenge started early on. I consulted with a few friends pre-launch, sharing the ideas I’d had swirling around in my head and heart for so long. I was afraid to let them down. Feel the fear but do it anyway. I smacked a “Coming Soon” page up on the internet and urged people to get in on the action. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to launch on time. Feel the fear but do it anyway. I launched and then had a mild panic attack when I realized I might have jumped the gun too soon and didn’t know how I could possibly fill weeks and months and years on end with content. Feel the fear and DO IT ANYWAY. Two months into launching WANT, I received an email from the team at The Girls Lounge asking me to meet with them; a month later I was at SXSW speaking on a panel with women I’ve admired for years. Feel that fear. Do it anyway.
What I’ve realized is that it never stops. You never stop feeling the fear, it just morphs to fit your level of experience. Every single week, I get that tight grip in my chest as I’m hovering my mouse over the “Schedule Campaign” button in my newsletter host on Monday evening. I’ve done this for over 52 weeks now, and for years before that in various jobs and roles. It never doesn’t feel scary. But you know what DOES feel scary? The notion that one day, I might lose it all. The idea that one day, I might forget how to be vulnerable – nay, honest – or worse, I might become apathetic about what I’m meant to give. And keeping that fact in mind – that I’ve been given this moment to help make a difference, to help fight for something – is my greatest ally when it comes to feeling that fear but doing it anyway.
3.) Stepping outside your box is an inside job. Years ago, I had an acting teacher pull me aside after class and tell me “You’re not an ingenue – you know that, right? You’re a leading lady. It might just take you a while to grow into it.”
If you’re familiar with stock characters, you already know that an ingenue is the endearingly innocent, wholesome, and oft naive character in plays, literature, movies and beyond.
Nothing wrong with that – it’s just never the role I identified with on a deep level.
It’s a role I wasn’t all that comfortable playing, yet because I looked and sounded the part, it was what I was told I should go after when auditioning. And if we’re being honest here, playing the ingenue – both onstage and off – was easy. Playing the ingenue was safe. I knew I could bet on success that way.
In reality, that was partially true: I could bet on success up to a certain point. Talking the talk? Sure. But walking the walk? My steps were shaky and zig-zagged.
I knew in my heart that I ached to own my space and own my strength, but each time I tried I ended up delegating myself to the “ingenue” box over and over. It wasn’t until there was deeper meaning behind owning my power that I actually stepped into it. When I pressed the “publish” button on WANT – heck, when I launched the “Coming Soon” page! – I knew that while it wasn’t about me anymore, I WAS the messenger. I needed to own that role, and it wasn’t about me anymore. Even though it was scary, I needed to be the Leading Lady in my own life, no apologies accepted.
4.) Success is more than a numbers game. We all crave guarantees, clarity, and definition (a reason why extremes are so alluring). Staring at newsletter subscribers, Google Analytics, and Facebook insights can be a welcome validation or a panic-button push depending on the stats of the day.
In my past life (and up until October of last year), part of my job was to be increasingly aware of site and social analytics: how many people showed up to read what you have to say, what kind of “following” competitors had, how much engagement a post got when it went live, stuff like that. It also taught me to look beyond the numbers: where people were coming from, where they were going to, how they were interacting with one another.
When I launched WANT, it became uber-tempting to define its “success” numerically, because I knew what that game looked like. In order to do X, you must have Y amount of subscribers. If your post/podcast/email gets Z amount of views, that means that A-B-C.
But I started to realize that WANT’s success didn’t work like that. WANT was resonating on a deep level because of the two-way street that was happening: the WANT community was opening their hearts and engaging with not just me, but each other on a personal and vulnerable level. Because of this, podcast guests felt comfortable shining a light into their dark corners, weekly “posts” morphed into nuanced essays, and together we turned this platform into a movement on a roll.
Some days there are thousands of readers and listeners. Sometimes there are 30. But I’ve realized that while it might matter to people like sponsors or advertisers, they don’t matter to US. They don’t matter to ME. Success is not about calculations, it’s about connections.
5.) Commit to not only HOW you want to be better, but WHY.There will always be a way to be better at something. But the quest for “better” can eat us alive if that “better”-ness is empty. As an HSP, I get overwhelmed easily – everything from piled-up emails to angry crowds. I also need to watch where and to whom/what I give my energy, because I’m like an empath on ‘roids: I’ll give and give until my well is dry, and even then I’ll find some way to empathize and give even when I’m not asked to do so. And the combo of the two? It leaves me with lots of things I tell myself I can be better at.
What has helped me, especially in reflecting on this previous year, has been committing to a purpose rather than just an action. For example: I receive lots of emails from readers and listeners, sometimes just saying hi, and sometimes asking me very specific questions. The hyper-empath in me wants to answer them all. But not just answer them, give the most groundbreaking answer ever! in my response. What ends up happening? The emails pile up, I get overwhelmed, and inherently feel horrible for what I interpret as letting everyone down.
This year, I’m committing to responding in a timely fashion, but in a way that works for me (i.e. not allowing it to seep into my personal life or make me tied to my computer, because if I don’t have those boundaries I will lose a part of myself). I know that if I answered everyone’s questions in the emails themselves, I would never get anything else done.
So I’ve also committed to doing something different this year: videos. Yes, I want to be better at responding to emails, but the reason is because I want to be better at being of service. This means efficiency. This means accessibility. And since I’m not camera shy and I’m not afraid to just use what I’ve got (read: iPhone, MacBook, and ladyballs), for me, that means video. We’ll see how it goes. It might take off. It might be a trainwreck. I’m open. Stay tuned for that.
Bottom line? I know if it wasn’t for the service factor, I would probably fall back into old habits quickly. But because there is a WHY attached, I know I’m all the more likely to follow through.
As for the party – it was a huge success. We sweat, we laughed, we drank smoothies, we danced to dirty hip-hop in down dog. The weather could not have been more beautiful, and the group of women (and man!) could not have been more incredible.
As I walked out of the studio with my friend Meghan, she tried to read my face for signs. How do you feel? she asked.
“It was amazing,” I exhaled truthfully.
“It felt like we were in it together.”
On to Year Two.
A HUGE thank-you to Playlist Yoga and Nicole Sciacca for hosting such a rockin’ party, Beaming for the beyond-delicious smoothies and treats, Caryl Kristensen for the photos, and Your Joyologist, Quest, Blooming Lotus, and Trust Salon for the best swag for bags in the world. And most importantly, to every single person who made not only Saturday, but this entire year, what it was. I’m eternally in gratitide and awe.
WANT Yourself: What has been your favorite part of WANT’s first year? A post? A podcast? A feeling? What would you like to see more of? I’m all ears. Well, all ears and heart, but you know. Tell me in the comments…
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I know that for me, coming down from the high that is the holiday season usually means turning inward, reflecting on the twelve months past, and gearing up for a whole new adventure. It can be a challenge to shift gears so suddenly, especially when the tree’s still up and there may or may not still be gingerbread men in the fridge calling my name (no comment). I love the holidays and hate for them to end… which is why it’s extra important for me to surround myself with things that remind me of who I am and where I’m going in order to prep for an intention-filled new year.
Blooming Lotus Jewelry is a brand that specializes in just that: mala beads that each carry a special meaning and intention. Think of a mala as a wearable resolution. Malas have been used for centuries to help their owners set intentions, meditate in the moment and get in touch with what they truly want to manifest in their lives.
I’ve been looking for a mala for what seems like eons, and the one I got from Blooming Lotus for my birthday could not have been more appropriate. I was four days away from leaving my job and going off on my own, just WANT and I, and I’d also just gotten some big news about the year ahead. Basically, my head was spinning and I wasn’t quite sure if it was excitement, birthday cake, or fear of the unknown. Just wearing my mala makes me feel more grounded in who I am, and gives me a visual reminder to keep my daily intentions in check – quite the feat for just a little string of beads.
cred: Blooming Lotus
I recently sat down with Blooming Lotus’ lovely founder Jennifer Ciraulo on The Chalkboard to find out more about the malas I love so much – and how you can DIY your own for the brand new year. Because I’m a sucker for personalized gear, and it doesn’t get much more personal than this. A bubble of bright energy, I’m so lucky to have Jenn in my life and her malas to help remind me how much awesomeness women are putting out into the world right now – all of you included.
WOMEN AGAINST NEGATIVE TALK: What’s the significance of 108 beads?
JENNIFER CIRAULO: It is said that there are 108 reasons why 108 is a sacred number. A few: -It is said that there are 108 energy lines that converge to form the heart chakra. -It is said that there are 108 Indian Goddess names -The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth -There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet…each having a masculine and feminine (Shiva and Shakti). 54 times 2 is 108. -In astrology, silver is thought to represent the moon…the atomic weight of the silver is 108.
WANT: What is the Guru bead?
JC: The Guru bead represents your teacher(s) in life and also the teacher within yourself. During a Japa meditation cycle, this is where you pause, reflect and give thanks to your teachers and the teacher within you. If you choose to do another cycle of meditation, you reverse the direction and never cross over the Guru bead as that would be seen as stepping on your teacher.
WANT: How can I meditate with my mala?
JC: Mala beads can be used to help keep count of your mantras during what’s called a Japa meditation cycle. During Japa meditation, you recite your mantra on each bead, going around the entire mala to reach 108 repetitions of that mantra. Through Japa meditation, you will become more aware of your intentions.
Your mala is a physical reminder of your intention! You will be surprised how attached you will be to your mala and the energy it brings. Sometimes when life gets crazy, you need to bring it back to you! Wear your mala, meditate with your mala or place it in a special place as a reminder of your intentions, dreams and where you want to go. Wear your intention and let it support your soul. They are gentle reminders that will keep you feeling like you!
More from Jenn:
Before you choose a mala or make your own: Give thought to what meaning you want for your mala so you can choose the appropriate gemstone. Think about where you are in your life at this present moment and also where you want to be. What are you dreams? Choose gemstones that align with you! For example, are you looking for love or does your heart need healing, do you want to be able express yourself better or communicate your needs, do you need grounding, confidence, or creative energy, etc.?
Some ideas: For Love: Choose rose quartz, green aventurine, rhodonite, or rhodochrosite For Communication and speaking your truth: Choose amazonite or aquamarine For Grounding: Choose onyx, black quartz, or hematite For Fertility: Choose moonstone, rose quartz, carnelian, or lava stone For Clarity: clear quartz, amethyst, or tiger’s eye
Want to make one? This version is a hand-knotted tassel mala but you can choose the 108 beads that fit your intention. There is a lot of labor that goes into a hand-knotted mala. Expect to spend 1 to 1.5 hours or more if this is your first time making a mala:
DIY WANT MALA:
You’ll need: 108 beads (recommended size: 6mm-8mm) 1 guru bead (this bead lies outside the circle of 108, above the tassel) 3 counter/marker beads (optional – these are not included in the 108; these beads are often slightly larger or different in surface texture or shape) string/cord (recommended thickness: 0.7mm-1mm) tassel tiny spacer beads (optional) Crazy Glue glue for knot (fabric cement is recommended, to allow for flexibility) scissors or cutters options to cleanse your mala (sage, singing bowl, Tingsha bells, etc.) a whole lot of love and intention
Step 1:Gather 110 inches of cord. Snip ends of cord on an angle as best you can. Use Crazy Glue to make both ends pointy and needle-like; gently rolling between your fingers, being very mindful not to glue your fingers together! Loop cord through tassel, making sure both sides of cord are equal in length. String both ends of the cord through the guru bead. Slide guru bead down toward tassel. Optional: Add a tiny spacer bead on each cord and slide to the top of Guru bead.
Please read through remaining steps before continuing so you know what’s to come. This will prevent any errors and avoid any unknotting and backtracking.
Step 2:Adding beads & knotting: Note: each side will have 54 mala beads, plus the optional counter beads if you have chosen to add them. Make a knot on top of each bead, sliding the knot as close as possible to the bead. Add a bead. Knot tightly above the bead. Add a bead. Knot. Repeat. *If you have chosen to add counter beads (optional), please see step below. If you chose not to use counter beads, your final knot will be exactly between the 54 beads on each side of mala (at nape of the neck).
*Optional counter/marker beads: Shown in these photos are counter beads located at the 18th and 54th stations. There are other options, but for this mala, we will place counter beads at the 18th and 54th stations.
Step 3:One side of mala: add 18 beads and 18 knots. Add one counter bead and one knot. Then continue with 36 more beads and 36 knots, which will put you exactly at ½ of the mala. Add one counter bead and a knot (this is the counter bead that will be at the nape of the neck). You have completed ½ of the mala.
Step 4:Other side of mala: add 18 beads and 18 knots. Add one counter bead and one knot. Then continue with 34 beads (note 34 beads… you’ll see why in a moment) and 34 knots. At this point you should have only two beads left. Last step is the final knot. (Insert 54 beads on each side, plus optional counter bead collage.)
Step 5: Final knot: Add one bead on EACH cord end. Knot between these two beads. Repeat the knot one more time so it’s secure. Add a dab of fabric cement glue to the knot on all sides. Snip excess cord.
Step 6:Wrap your arms around your body and squeeze: Congratulations! You just finished your first mala and deserve a hug.
*For tips on how to cleanse your mala, head over to TCM for more…
*This isn’t a sponsored post – but even if it was, I only shout out the things, people, brands, and ideas I truly love on a deep level.
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