9/28/2016

Inspiring Women // Jacqui Lewis

Inspiring Women // Jacqui Lewis by Ashley Neese

I am very pleased to share my latest interview with Jacqui Lewis, Vedic meditation teacher and co-founder of The Broad Place. I first learned about Jacqui through my dear friend Lacy Phillips when The Broad Place came through Los Angeles last spring. I was eager to attend their meditation course but was traveling during that time. Thankfully Jacqui is coming back to town next week and I have signed up for her three day Broad Mind Meditation course. I cannot wait to learn from her!

In our interview Jacqui shares the benefits of Vedic meditation, how she is carving a unique path making ancient teachings accessible for modern life and what it’s like to run a conscious business with her husband. I am very inspired by Jacqui’s honest and well rounded approach to how she moves through the world. I love that Jacqui is so dedicated to her practice in the middle of running a business, growing a family and sharing her teachings with the world.

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You have been on the Vedic meditation path for many years and have now developed your own progressive meditation technique. How did you get into Vedic meditation and what promoted you to create your own style?
I practiced meditation for almost 9 years, trying everything I could, but not really experiencing what I thought I should be, I didn’t feel the full potential being reached. Throughout this time I also studied Eastern philosophy. I was undergoing an incredibly stressful time when my daughter was a tiny baby, and I learned Vedic meditation, I think I crawled through the door. It shifted absolutely everything for me, it’s a phenomenal practice and it continues to amaze and delight me.

After teaching and sharing Vedic meditation for years now, I was intertwining additional tools and knowledge for students to wonderful effect. The feedback has been remarkable, so I committed to broadening the teaching to encompass these formally. Broad Mind Meditation has a solid foundation of Vedic Meditation, with some extra teachings and tools within it. I’m really proud of creating this, and watching the results students have been experiencing, so I can’t wait to share it with LA!

When did you know you were meant to teach and share the benefits meditation with others?
Initially it wasn’t something I considered, I just meditated and loved practice. I had a marketing and advertising agency, and a restaurant and bar, and was working like crazy but sustaining it all, whereas people around me, our clients and colleagues were dropping like flies due to the pressure and  strain of being ‘creative’ and ‘on’ all the time.

I attempted to get them to learn Vedic meditation over and over (my husband included) but the responses were always similar, they felt it hippy or weird or old hat. So I committed to training and then teaching this practice to those who desired the ancient knowledge to be delivered in a very realistic, modern way. That’s the speciality of The Broad Place. I don’t live in a cave and practice yoga 6 hours a day. I’m a mother, a wife, I like eating donuts and having fun, and I have launched and started businesses around the world – I know intimately what it takes to thrive in the modern world. Broad Mind Meditation is a tool that doesn’t take us away from the world, it helps us engage better with it, with increased clarity, creativity and resilience.

Inspiring Women // Jacqui Lewis by Ashley Neese

Inspiring Women // Jacqui Lewis by Ashley Neese

It’s a personal dream of mine to teach workshops with my life partner. Will you share some of the joys and challenges of being running The Broad Place with your partner/husband?
Arran and I are incredibly fortunate in that we never get sick of each other. I am VERY high energy, and he is very steady and somehow this works. We have very similar aesthetics and philosophy and ideas and so collaborating on absolutely everything became a very natural process for us. We had our agency together, the restaurant and then co-founded The Broad Place. It works as we have very different roles, I educate, Arran designs. Sometimes he’s too busy and I whip up some graphics, which I’m sure pisses him off as I am not as great a designer as he is, but he never says anything. It honestly works so well as he doesn’t criticise or be judgemental and he let’s me really experiment, its his biggest gift to me. I am working slowly on offering him the same hahaha.

Currently though, Arran desired to go work on a few of his own independent projects and has 7 restaurants he’s doing the creative direction for, I mean the guy is a machine. He also takes care of Marley in the afternoons and evenings when I teach. I don’t know how he does it. The only friction comes from my missing him as I’m used to being around him 24 hours a day, which I think was more fun for me than him to be honest! I think the respect we have for each other is the foundation of our relationship. I’ve never met anyone like him, and I aspire to be a little bit more like Arran every day.

For anyone trying to work together, I always say the relationship comes first. If push came to shove I would shut down everything, every single project, fold every book, anything it took, to maintain my wonderful relationship with Arran and our daughter Marley. We all know our priorities and at the end of the day, it’s all one big experiment, so we try not to take it so seriously. I think this is key, if the ‘business’ becomes the only thing, you’re relationship is dust.

What is the philosophy behind how take care of yourself?
The philosophy I embrace now is ‘whatever brings joy, do that’. The foundations though are that I meditate twice a day. I always try stretch and move my body. I try eat a croissant once a day, I absolutely love them and they make me so happy!  I love my morning coffee. I love the mind body connection and disciplined art forms like karate.

I really focus these days on nourishing my mind and my soul. I read like crazy, listen to audio books and podcasts and talk ideas and philosophy with Arran and friends constantly. Taking care of myself is keeping inspired. How I eat shifts a lot, I go through dedicated Japanese stages, and we only eat Japanese food, then it’s Ayurvedic, then I throw all that out the window for a week and we got out for pizza, and have french baguettes and triple cream cheese in our backyard. I’m more confident now in just going with the flow, I went through a slightly manic ‘health’ phase where I became a yoga/nut milk/green juice/cacao junkie and everything was very restricted. Now I’m way more chilled out!

Inspiring Women // Jacqui Lewis by Ashley Neese

How do you practice forgiveness?
The first step for me is to forgive myself. Live many women, I can be self-critical which doesn’t help anyone let alone myself. So I am frequently giving myself a break, cutting myself some slack. Then I find that generosity and kindness radiates outwards. I am so much kinder and softer to everyone else. Every morning I remind myself that everyone is after fulfilment just like me, we are exactly the same, even if our ways of going about it are vastly different. It’s a good grounding for what can be mental days that lie ahead!

Share three books on your nightstand.
I read 1-2 books a week. But right now I am reading How To Cook Your Life by Zen Master Dogen, The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan (I am terrible with history, so this is fascinating) and Who Would You Be Without Your Story by Byron Katie (Which is brilliant). Always by my bed though are Meditation by Marcus Aurelius and The Bhagavad Gita by Maharishi Mahesh Menon.

Best advice you have ever taken.
Best advice is ‘If you believe in your heart of hearts it’s what you want to do, just do it’. My favourite saying my friend Vashti always hammers into me is ‘Life isn’t what happens to you, it’s what happens for you’.

Inspiring Women // Jacqui Lewis by Ashley Neese

Tell us one thing you haven’t done yet that you really want to do.
Arran and I really want to live in Japan for an extended period of time, and I really wish to learn Japanese! Practising and studying karate in Okinawa (fluent Japanese being a prerequisite) is also a dream.

What are you most grateful for?
My creativity, I feel a constant sense of flowing creativity and it blows me away, I am forever grateful for it. Then of course Arran who has changed my entire life, and my daughter Marley, who is my constant teacher and inspiration. I’m also grateful for humour, I actually couldn’t live without it.

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9/13/2016

Letting Go With Grace

Letting Go with Grace by Ashley Neese At the end of last year I wrote an essay about going through my breakup with Jason. I submitted the essay for publication to a beautiful magazine that is no longer being printed. After much thought I decided to publish it here on the journal as it was and still is a very healing piece of writing.

It’s been nearly nine months since Jason and I parted and I am grateful so often for the way we showed up to let go. This experience was like no other break up I had been through. Choosing to end a relationship with integrity and love was incredibly healing.

What I am clear about, especially being on the other side of the breakup is that I healed much faster leaning into the discomfort of it all with Jason and I am truly grateful for that. Before I get into the essay I want to thank you all for being here and following along. This journal has saved me too many times to count and I feel blessed to have a place to come and share these tender parts of myself. This is such a huge part of my healing and sharing. All my heart.

Letting Go with Grace by Ashley Neese

Letting Go With Grace

Standing in our kitchen watching Jason cook the chicken the way he always did with confidence and ease made my heart sink into the floor. After many months of working on our relationship with each other and in therapy it all came down to this meal, the last dinner we would share in the home we spent nearly a year renovating. I was trying as best I could to soak in as much of each moment as possible. I needed to remember exactly how he prepared the chicken so that I could make it for myself when I was out in the world on my own.

Jason removed the chicken from the pan while I got the shredded collard greens ready. We like to cook them quickly in the chicken grease, it’s crazy delicious. He made our plates and we headed into the empty dining room to eat. After a few bites of dinner I burst into tears. I had been crying on and off all day but this time it felt like a flood coming out of my entire body. I couldn’t hold back.

Jason sat there looking at me with an expression of concern, similar to the one he had every time I cried. This time, instead of shutting me out I could feel him opening and holding space for my intense feelings. I knew he felt as sad as I did about the dissolve of the relationship we wanted with each other yet couldn’t get quite right. But as usual I was the one showing my feelings on the outside. For the first time in our relationship that felt okay. I didn’t need him to cry with me. I didn’t need him to go into the darkness in the same way that I did. In that moment, I was able to accept him fully, through the pain, through the snot running down my face, and just be present with all of the hurt.

Once I came up for air Jason told me that he was really sad about everything too. We talked at length about the dreams we shared during the first year of our relationship and how our expectations got in the way of us being able to see clearly. Something had been off with us for a long while but neither one of us was willing to be honest about it until a couple of months before this last dinner.

It is powerful to be completely vulnerable with your partner. I remember exactly where I was sitting when I told Jason I was unhappy and didn’t want to continue our relationship in the same way. It was late afternoon, the air smelled of white sage and palo santo, the light was just the perfect shade of twilight. I knew it was time to say the words I had been feeling for months.

I am really unhappy.

I don’t know what to do.

I cannot go on like this.

I love you.

As they flowed out of my mouth my energy began to shift. I felt a strong pain in my heart and at the same time a lightness in my stomach. Intuitive feelings always come through in my stomach, it’s been that way since I was little. My intuition had been nudging me for a while to speak this truth to Jason, to get honest about what was happening. Once I did, the inner pushing feeling released and I knew in a very big way that I made the right call.

I’ve never been the one to initiate ending a relationship. My pattern has been to stay in relationships long past when I know it’s time to leave. I ignore my inner voice and wait for the relationship to continue to dissolve knowing that the other person will eventually make the call. This time, I felt in my heart that I had to be the one to begin the conversation. I had to reach up through the fear of being alone, beyond the programming of what it means to be a single woman in her 30s, and share my truth in that moment. The message was very clear: If I am going to step deeper into my role as a leader and teacher I have to put everything on the line and take the risks I am most afraid to take.

In that moment I stretched into a new woman I am still learning to become.

Everything changed after those words were spoken.

Everything.

Nobody knows how to end a relationship. Even if you read all of the self-help books and talk to your friends, family, teachers, and therapists, you still have to navigate the conversations and the separation on your own. It’s your work to do, it’s your path to carve out.

The reality is, we’re all just making up how we relate to each other as we go along. While it can seem overwhelming to breakup with someone you love, the truth is, you only have two paths to take. You can choose to let go with an open heart or you can shut yourself off from what is happening. To end a relationship with an open heart is to let go with grace. This is the path I chose because I had enough experience with unconscious breakups over the years and this time I had to do things differently for myself and for Jason. I owed us both that much.

I say I had to do things differently because in the end it didn’t feel like much of a choice. I knew I wanted to step as far out of my comfort zone as possible and that I wanted to grow through this experience and be proud of myself for the ways that I showed up and the love that I gave each day no matter how sad I felt.

Our culture places a great deal of emphasis on marriage. We celebrate coming together, participate in rituals to unite our spirits in community, and many of us spend countless hours planning for the big wedding day. When my meditation teacher David suggested that Jason and I show up for each other and create a loving space to let go of our relationship it sounded like such a radical idea. After listening to him speak about the healing that happens when two people release each other with consciousness and love I knew this was an incredible opportunity to grow. Letting go with grace taught me volumes about the resilience of the human spirit and our capacity to love courageously through difficult times.

In the first few days of our conversations Jason and I decided that we were going to fully show up and love each other through this difficult time. Love was never an issue with us. We loved each other from the start, but like many couples we got to a place where we recognized that love wasn’t enough to keep us together. We needed more from each other and were not in a place where we could make any more compromises.

Jason and I have been dear friends from the start and we talked about remaining close. First we needed to let go of the expectations that we created around building a life together and starting a family. It was clear this wasn’t in the cards for us at this time and we had to free that vision to make room for staying friends. When you spend years with someone you love, share many beautiful times and tremendous growth it’s impossible to cut yourself off from them. Letting go with grace meant making room for all of the grief that arises during separating from your best friend. Letting go with grace means holding space for all of the feelings that are experienced and for any number of possibilities to come through in the future.

After our delicious dinner filled with tears and some deep belly laughs for good measure, we climbed into bed to watch a couple of episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. This is one of Jason’s favorite shows and it took me nearly three years to agree to start watching it. Afterward, we tried to sleep, but neither one of us slept well that night. It’s hard to go into a deep sleep when you know it’s the last night you’re spending with your partner. I was still the entire night, my body exhausted but my mind unable to rest.

The next morning Jason made his usual buckwheat porridge breakfast with loads of Chinese herbs while I prepared eggs and greens. We ate quietly then I helped Jason gather a few more items to take with him. He was leaving that morning and I would have our house to myself until I moved out a few days later. While he started loading up the car so many intense feelings surfaced. I was sweeping the floor in the room that was supposed to be our office and I fell to my knees. My legs went numb. I sat on the floor sobbing like I had the night before during dinner. My mind was blank and all I could do was let the feelings flow through me and allow myself to be messy. After a few minutes Jason found me in the room and sat down in front of me. He didn’t try to fix me. He didn’t tell me that I needed to stop having my feelings. He just sat there and let me move through the experience.

Often times in relationships many words go unspoken. You stuff feelings down at some point. You keep quiet about difficult emotions at other times. What I have learned from ending my relationship with grace is that in order to thrive in any of our relationships we must be willing to be brave no matter what. We must be willing to open our hearts even when we’re terrified because to stay closed is to miss out on true intimacy with another person.

During my relationship with Jason there were many instances where I held my true feelings back. Growing up it wasn’t acceptable to express my feelings and it’s taken me a long time to learn how to open up in partnerships. The beauty of coming to the end of a relationship cycle is that it’s easier to be honest. The big fear of the relationship ending isn’t there any more, which gives both people a chance to come clean and tell the truth.

The paradox is that real intimacy is born from letting go with grace. By showing up and allowing yourself to feel all of the feelings and be the most honest you have ever been with your partner, you create the connection we all crave from relationships. Learning how to let myself crack open and be completely present during our transition made my love for him stronger. It was clear through this process that even though it was deeply sad, we were able to still love each other and count on each other for compassion and support.

In some ways I love Jason even more now than I did when we were together because I fully let him into my world. I also had very clear boundaries during our breakup and was able to hold space for his feelings without making them about me or trying to change them. Letting go with grace has shown me that I have the capacity to fully give myself to another person, to break my heart open right before their eyes and to not have it all together.

One of my favorite stories growing up was The Velveteen Rabbit. My grandmother read it to me too many times to count and it always touched my heart. Over the past weeks I have been coming back to this childhood classic over and over, deeply connecting to the wisdom it shares: True love has nothing to do with being shiny and perfect and everything to do with becoming real. The process of becoming real is uncomfortable and scary at times. Each time we reach up and become a truer version of ourselves, we open our hearts to the grace alive in the present moment. Becoming real is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of life.

Ours is a story of deep healing. By making the commitment to let go of our relationship with grace we honored our love, respected our time together, and cleared our emotions to be able to stay friends in the future. I have learned through this breakup that it is possible to release with loads of generosity, healing, and love. I don’t know what the future holds for Jason and I but I have no doubt that we are forever transformed by this profound experience. Endings are sad and there is always grief to be felt. Instead of running from the pain, numbing the sadness, or trying to rush through it, we took it slowly and gave ourselves permission to simply be in the experience of it all.

When it was time for Jason to leave our home we embraced in a very long hug. At this point we were both crying. There was no place to hide and we didn’t want to close ourselves off. We just stood there holding each other, tears flowing, sharing how much we loved each other, that we were grateful for the time we had, the ways we grew and the lessons that we learned. We took long breaths and held each other up. Time seemed to stand still as we tuned into each other’s feelings and allowed ourselves to become real.

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Photos by Anais + Dax

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8/11/2016

Inspiring Women // The Founders of CAP Beauty

Inspiring Women // The Founders of CAP Beauty

I am thrilled to introduce you two of my favorite women in the holistic beauty scene today! Kerrilynn Pamer and Cindy DiPrima are the owners of CAP Beauty, a natural beauty boutique in the West Village of Manhattan. Kerrilynn and Cindy have been friends for twenty years and are on a mission to merge the worlds of wellness and design, something I can totally get behind.

I came across CAP when they first opened and have been a huge fan ever since. Since making the switch years ago to natural beauty and body products I was over the moon when they opened their doors. Kerrilynn and Cindy are incredible curators and are making natural beauty accessible, cool and doing it all with such great taste. CAP has been such a big part of my life and I was so honored when they agreed to be part of this series.

In this inspiring interview Kerrilynn and Cindy share how they moved through some of their biggest challenges, the importance of trusting your intuition, and the why developing daily self-care rituals is a must. Kerrilynn and Cindy are full of experience and wisdom to share for conscious entrepreneurs and are a shining example of what it means to run a meaningful business with heart, soul, and tons of love.

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Inspiring Women // The Founders of CAP Beauty

How to you stay true to yourself?

KL: I am most in tune with myself when I’m sweating everyday and stopping for moments of reflection. It’s so easy to keep pushing and moving towards the finish line but I’ve realized that when I take the time to appreciate all the beauty and all that is happening I’m the best version of myself. Easier said than done, though.

CD: Honestly, I feel most like myself when I’m practicing yoga consistently. My body feels right, my heart is open and I’m just more at ease.

Do you make time for meditation and/or reflection? What are your go-to practices?

KL: Recently Cindy and I studied with Bob Roth of the David Lynch Foundation. I feel really blessed to have learned from him (he’s amazing!), and implementing this twice a day practice has proved to be invaluable. I’ve done Kundalini for years and love the quick shift I feel from just a 3 minute Kriya but the two times a day practice of TM feels just right to me. Consistency is something that I’ve realized is fundamental to me feeling my best. I’ll also work in my Kriyas and feel like I’m just adding to my wellness toolbox (a tip I learned from Lacy of Free & Native!) of feeling good.

CD: Meditation is a pretty new practice for me. I was never consistent with it until recently. A customer of ours, Natane Boudreau, introduced us to her incredible teacher, Bob Roth of the David Lynch Foundation. Learning TM has changed everything for me. It’s so simple and so efficient. I do 20 minutes twice a day and have already felt an incredible shift in my energy and focus. I don’t think I’ll ever go without it.

Inspiring Women // The Founders of CAP Beauty

How do you stay grounded in the hustle and bustle of NYC?

KL: I don’t know if I have the best answer to this question. I can feel pretty overwhelmed in a place like NYC but also have a deep love for this place I call home. I live a stones throw from the park so make it a non negotiable to get there with my dog and husband as often as possible. If they can’t come with me, I head there on my own. I truly need nature around me and when I don’t have it, I feel the city pretty intensely.

CD: New York is an insane place to live but at the same time I find there’s a warmth among those of us crazy enough to live here. I think it’s a matter of shifting your perspective, creating a small town out of a big one and finding your niche. I’m lucky to be able to walk to work and lucky to live near the best Greenmarket in the city. We know our farmers, our local business owners and the street vendors near our home. And of course it’s important to leave the city too, to spend time in nature and really recharge.

What is the philosophy behind how take care of yourself?

KL: Be kind to myself, check my thoughts often and clean them up when needed. Move my body, exercise my brain and throw in some good loving with my husband.

CD: I like to focus on adding good habits and focus less on the struggle to give something up. Kerrilynn and I call it “crowding out.” When you commit to positive actions, the less healthful ones will fall away.

What do your self-care practices at work look like?

KL: I try to have all my practices have some element of self-care. We consciously created a company to share the this knowledge with as many as possible because we ourselves had experienced the power of this intention. At work this looks like palo santo burning, matcha brewing, mantras playing and the best, healthiest snacks being eaten. Might sound insane to some but to me it’s heaven!

CD: I work at CAP! When I was a stylist this would have been a LOT tougher to answer. It’s revelatory to work for a company where self care is the mission and to have a business partner  and co-workers who share this priority. Eating well is vital. I like to follow a light to heavy style of eating so lunch is usually something simple like a big salad with tahini or a raw soup or smoothie from Gingersnaps. Of course we get hungry and so we stock the office with fruits and vegetables, ZenBunni and Freaky Health Co chocolate, raw crackers from Moon Juice and of course our Matcha tonics.

We schedule our workouts and meditations in the calendar. This is so so helpful. There will always be times when an important meeting trumps yoga, but if it’s in the calendar, I know it has to get moved to another slot.

We also hold group Kundalini sessions in the office. Like a quick Sat Kriya to recharge everyone. Kerrilynn leads and even Beba, her chihuahua joins in!

Inspiring Women // The Founders of CAP Beauty

How do you strengthen your intuition?

KL: This is something I work on daily. I’m a very sensitive person and feel things deeply. I have learned to tap into feelings that are happening in my body. I think as women we are so often taught to ignore these feelings or push them to the side but I’m very focused on listening to the intelligence of my body. I’m always trying to learn the language of what my intuition is telling me.

CD: I had a coach for many years who taught me to simply start recognizing my intuitive hits as they happen. Even with simple things like realizing you were thinking of a friend moments before she calls you. When you become aware of how in tune you really are it’s easier to trust yourself.

Share some words of wisdom for women entrepreneurs.

KL: Find people you trust and admire and spend lots of time with them. Exercise often and have some really good playlists on repeat. Always refer back to why you started and stay true to your mission. Always focus on the why.

CD: Surround yourselves with people you love, trust and admire, and get clear about your mission. One of the first things Kerrilynn and I did when we created CAP Beauty is write a Manifesto. It’s still our North Star.

And push it. Moderation is overrated and the world doesn’t need more “good enough.”

Your current playlist.

KL: Sat Narayan, Kisser by Usher, Going to California by Led Zeppelin.

 CD: I just listened to one of my old favorite albums Pavement’s Wowee Zowie. It sounded so great.

Inspiring Women // The Founders of CAP Beauty

Share three books on your nightstand.

KL: City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg

Contagious Culture by Anese Cavanaugh

Inner Work by Robert Johnson

 

CD: The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary

Holy Terror, Bob Colacello’s bio of Andy Warhol

The Bondi Harvest Cookbook by Guy Turland

Best advice you have ever taken.

KL: “Tomorrow is a new day” from my Dad.

CD: “Don’t worry about the future. It will never happen.” (Dechen Thurman said that during one of his great classes at Jivamukti.)

Name one of your biggest challenges and how you moved through it.

KL: My husband and I were having some challenges after being together for close to 20 years. Learning to be completely honest with each other allowed us to come out better on the other side. By embracing vulnerability I moved through that time with a power I never knew I had.

CD: Losing my mom at a young age. I was 21, she was 49. I’m still moving through it, but at the same time I don’t  relate to the idea of “missing” her because I don’t feel like. i still feel like she’s gone. And really, she’s not. I honor her now by trying to be that good a mom to my own kids.

Inspiring Women // The Founders of CAP Beauty

Current CAP beauty must-haves.

KL: May Lindstrom’s The Honey Mud, Romy Northover x CAP Smoothie Glass, Dr. Alkaitis Ageless Elixir, Moon Juice Green Crisps, Fiore Treate Cleanser, Tata Harper Replenishing Nutrient Complex, W3LL PEOPLE Universalist in Creamy Peony.

CD: Romy Northover 24K Matcha Pots , Strange Invisible’s Virgo perfume, Kahina Giving Beauty’s Prickly Pear Oil, infused Palo Santo sticks from Morphologically, Quinton Hypertonic marine plasma shots.

What are you most grateful for?

KL: My life and my health. And Beba, my sato from Puerto Rico.

CD: My family. The one I come from, the one I’m raising and the family that surrounds me at CAP Beauty.

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6/9/2016

Releasing Relationships

Releasing Relationships by Ashley Neese

Releasing my relationship with Jason last fall was such a huge leap of faith. While I don’t feel that he was the one that made me feel small, our dynamic left both of us feeling like we needed space to stretch and grow. Our combined energies made us both feel small. All these months later we are expanding and reaching beyond what we could create together and that feels really powerful.

Since committing to taking better care of my energy in relationships I’ve observed how much they are changing and that there are levels to letting go of people that cannot meet you where you are. It’s also becoming clear that some people are not meant to be forever relationships on the physical plane. There is a natural ebb and flow that keeps things dynamic and interesting. I am learning to enjoy the coming together and releasing as part of a bigger practice in being present and grounded in the constant change we inhabit.

Over the last six months much has surfaced in some of my close and distant relationships around jealousy, fear and feeling like my growth is accelerating at such a quick pace that there are certain people that simply cannot meet me in this new place. And the truth is, it isn’t a race. We’re all on our own path and some of us are meant to flow together for lifetimes and others a short distance. I just keep swimming out into the middle of the ocean and I am not really looking back to see who is there and who isn’t. My eyes are focused on the greater vision of my purpose. These days I am most interested in noticing who is right next to me, swimming along, one breath at a time towards the dreams we are manifesting with every stroke.

I recently had a friend tell me she was jealous of something that I did. This is not the first time this has happened in my life or this year. My life is getting so big and it’s challenging for some people to come to terms with because they have to look at the places in their lives that still feel small. Jealousy is something I have had to face time and time again and it’s always interesting to look at where I stand with it in certain moments and how much has shifted around it over the years. One thing I do know for sure is if I am feeling jealous chances are there are areas in my life where I need to take up more space or get that project off the ground I’ve been sitting on. It’s very much tied to my creativity and once I express that energy in some way it moves.

While I am grateful for the honesty and vulnerability in my relationships it still doesn’t mean that I need to hang onto every one of them. I’m at a point in my life where I am recognizing how limited my time is in many ways and I want to spend it with people who bring me alive. By releasing the relationships that feel like an energetic drain I am creating space to connect with the people who are in my life that light me up. My friend Erica always says, if they can’t ride with you it’s time to let them go. My vision has never been this clear and I am committed to disengage from anyone or anything that doesn’t help me grow, expand, and love myself in a deeper way. Also, fun, if there is no fun involved it’s got to go!

When you’re super sensitive releasing relationships and coming to terms with the sadness and grief that accompanies those changes can feel very intense at times. I’ve been pretty invested in other people’s feelings most of my life and have made myself energetically tiny as to not upset anyone. Since separating from Jason I am committed to taking up more space in all of my relationships and it’s been challenging me in new ways. It’s humbling how much work I have to do in this area, but I am mostly grateful to be in close relationships with people that love me and are fully supporting my expansion.

Releasing relationships that don’t encourage aliveness has created space for new friends and heightened my creativity. I’ve been taking a storytelling class for the last six weeks and am working on sharing my work in public on the stage. It’s so huge for me and feels in many ways like the next evolution of my writing practice. I have dreams of writing a one woman show, after the book is out of course ;)

I could go on and on about the significance of letting go and share a list of steps to take to release a relationship but I’m most invested in all of us looking deeply within our own hearts for the answers we seek. When in doubt, pause and listen. When you’re ready to step away from a relationship you will and if it feels like you cannot do it on your own, reach out for help. Relationships are living, breathing energy connections and they are always shifting.  It’s important to ask yourself if your relationships are changing in the direction you are heading in or if they are keeping you from reaching your fullest potential.

The older I get the more I feel the preciousness of life. We are meant to be joyful and we are meant to be full of life. Relationships that don’t nourish our spirits are meant to be catalysts to propel us toward a bigger vision for ourselves.

Take a risk.
Let something go.
See how big your life can become.
Share your truth.
Pray to the animals.
Trust your gut.

All my heart.

xo

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5/25/2016

Inspiring Women // Jessica Lee

Inspiring Women // Jessica Lee

I am over the moon to share my most recent interview with the incredibly talented Jessica Lee. I was introduced to her textile and clothing label, Willow Knows several years ago and we quickly developed a long distance admiration club. We started our businesses around the same time and she has been a huge creative inspiration for me ever since. On those days when everything felt hard or even impossible I took refuge in her beautiful photos and creative process. I am grateful Jessica is out there taking risks in her life and practice.

Jessica’s textile design explores the intersection between our inner and outer worlds. She is fascinated by the way energy moves and creates custom pieces that embrace the beauty of imperfection. In our interview Jessica shares how she navigates her self care, what it looks like to follow your intuition and the deep love that comes from learning to hold space for your own heart.

Inspiring Women // Jessica Lee

How do you stay true to yourself?
Following intuition, fulfilling creative ideas, allowing for comfort in vulnerability & power in honesty, slowing down.

What motivates you to create?
I am passionate about art and design and truly believe it has the power to shift individuals and the world for the better. It is a form of communication & encourages connection. As living beings contributing to life on this earth, I believe it is our responsibility to participate in healthy forms of conversation and connection in order to move forward.

Creativity allows us to dig below the surface, something a lot of us are scared to do. When we do we are able to be vulnerable with ourselves and with those around us, and I believe that creates beautiful shifts. Visual art is a means to translate and receive ideas about the world without having to use words, which is a powerful opportunity.

Inspiring Women // Jessica Lee
Have you ever struggled with self care in your life? How did you navigate that?
Of course. In Ayurvedic terms I am considered a Vata constitution. One of my teachers has a term “vata deranged” that I can easily relate to if I am not mindful of what I am eating, drinking, doing with my mind and body. With that said, I have also found that the more I force sticking to a strict diet or deprive myself from things my body is asking for, the more I actually feel imbalanced.

If I am in tune with myself,  practicing yoga, sleeping enough, and living mindfully – my body asks for the right things and I am able to listen to that knowing it is exactly what I need. When I am craving things that are not healthy for me (this could be food or more emotional) I try to take a step back and figure out the root of the cause. It has been valuable to learn through Ayurveda that our bodies (mind, spirit, physical) want to live within the rhythms of nature, and nature is in a constant state of change. I am in love with the ebb and flow of it all.

Also, running a small business and supporting yourself off of that is not easy work. I am “working” a lot. I used to guilt myself for not giving attention to my art and business during practically all waking hours. This dedication has allowed me to fulfill a lot of dreams but is also a constant balancing act for me. It is not a simple thing to clock in and out of creative work, so allowing myself time in the mornings, afternoons, and weekends to have creative time that is separate from my “job”  leaves me feeling more inspired and productive in the end. It has become very important for me to be able to create work that I do not need an immediate response from, or does not need to be shared with the world right away.

What does your spirit need to feel nourished?
Valuable time with those that inspire me to be my best self, silent conversations with nature, the ocean, meditation, space to find humility, space to dream, clean mind & body, early mornings, my love by my side.

Inspiring Women // Jessica Lee
Share some words of wisdom for women entrepreneurs.
As soon as you feel the pull to do something creative, start making/doing anything right away, even if it does not feel like your ultimate end goal. Don’t let your ego get in the way of creating something. When I first started willow knows I was dying pieces of clothing that I would find in thrift stores and selling them on Etsy.

Honestly, most of what I was doing those days was hideous. There was part of me that knew that and also part of me that knew I was pushing through a barrier. That is called intuition. By starting small and continuing to learn the craft and nurture my own personal aesthetic – I’ve continued to be led to where I am today.

Any small act of creativity will open your heart and hopefully lead you closer to your calling. (whether that is being a creative or not.)  Also, surround yourself with women you look up to. Let go of people that are bringing you down emotionally or energetically, that was an extremely important lesson for me in my 20s. Find women who are doing things that you are interested in and reach out. You always hear that having a strong circle of like minded people around you is key and I really can’t express how true that has been for me.

Your current playlist.
We have a really amazing local public radio station where I live and every Sunday morning they have a Sunday Morning Bluegrass show, I look forward to it every week. They play new & old bluegrass made in and around the Virginia, North Carolina, & Tennessee area. It connects me to these areas of the country where I never thought I would, but turns out I am building my life.

My general spirit lifting sounds come from artists like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell. My mom has the most incredible taste in music and the artists that she loves and that we grew up listening to always bring me back to feeling home.

Inspiring Women // Jessica Lee

Inspiring Women // Jessica Lee
Share three books on your nightstand.
H is for Hawk – Helen Macdonald
Animal Vegetable Miracle – Barbara Kingsolver
And I always have Thich Nhat Hanh by my bed.

How do you strengthen your intuition?
By continuing to listen to the wisdom that rests in my heart. The more I honor and listen to what I intuitively know to be true, the stronger and more clear I feel. Also by continuing to learn to be my own best friend. When I love and respect myself, I want to listen to what I have to say.

Sister wisdom.
Love & support one another in every possible way. We are truly all in this together, and everything and every one of us is connected to everything else. Do not compete, competition is ego driven and your ego does not have your best interest at heart. History has proven that women are capable of incredible things when we join together with strength & love for each other.

Inspiring Women // Jessica Lee
Share a favorite quote or piece of wisdom you love.
The lyric “When all the broken hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer – let it be,”  has always stuck with me. We are all here living this life with the deep rooted need to love and be loved. Hearts break and our greatest challenge is understanding the ways to put them back together. When we struggle with that, walls are built and hearts become hardened. When we live with a shell around our hearts – anger, hatred, and ego wins. Imagine if many of our world’s leaders were living life with an open and vulnerable heart. It always comes back to the heart. We have to be comfortable talking about it in order to heal it. Only then will we know peace.

Tell us one thing you haven’t done yet that you really want to do.
Motherhood.

What are you most grateful for?
Each new day.

 

Photos by Meredith Coe

© ASHLEY NEESE 2016