Monthly Resource Collection May 2021

My newest obsession (aside from quitting coffee- which is going amazing by the way) is learning about how beauty, health, and wellness spaces have been colonized and therefore systematically made inaccessible to many people because of varying identities. I’ve been seriously studying this topic because it inherently intersects with just about every “ism.”

As a beauty professional (but also just as a human committed to social change) I believe it is so important I make the effort to understand how beauty, health and wellness practices have been stolen and appropriated from different cultures and religions, but also how these sectors of business have been whitewashed and healing has been constructed as a privilege for the few. These practices have very real and dangerous ripple effects on the mental and physical health of our society, affecting some much more than others.

Currently I feel like I’m constructing my own college semester (or several semesters) consisting of books, podcasts, webinars, documentaries, and articles created by BIPOC, people of various body sizes and shapes, disabled folks, and LGBTQIAA+ folks to try to learn from those who have not been placed conveniently in the front and center of the behemoth which is our current beauty, health and wellness industrial complex.

I’ve been on my fitness, health and wellness journey for years, focusing on the physical components. As I transition into a me that still loves moving my body, but is much more focused at this time on working on my mental, emotional, and spiritual fitness I think it is imperative to seek out a wide range of perspectives as teachers. People who specifically consider and recognize intersectionality and social systems as inextricably entwined with our healing and wellness. Individually, and as a collective. Healers who understand the implications these systems have on physical bodies.

If you were to look at my home library, I’d like to think the diversity of voices there is great. But when I started looking at the wellness / self improvement section of my collection, the majority are written by cisgender, non-disabled, White women, with some cisgender, non-disabled White men sprinkled in there. I didn’t have ONE book on business, self improvement, fitness or veganism written by a Mexican (my other half). What a disgrace.

Instead of feeling disempowered or guilty, I instantly saw a huge blind spot in my learning and turned it into an opportunity for change and growth, that hopefully I can share with you. There are so many more amazing authors, teachers, badass fitness instructors, vegans, and holistic health practitioners that want to share their gifts with us. Unfortunately, it takes more than diversifying our social media accounts to find many of them. It takes effort. Research. Time and energy. It takes paying them for their services if you are able. Until one day when finding a Latina business coach with a emphasis on holistic wellness from an intersectional perspective becomes as easy as finding a White woman on social media, eager to help you lose weight.

These are the resources I found particularly enlightening this month, but there are many more coming.

Books:

The Body Is Not An Apology, Sonya Renee Taylor

Every. One. With. A. Body: READ THIS BOOK! I received it with my monthly subscription to http://www.feministbookclub.com and oh my, did it deliver. Taylor posits that in order to dismantle systems of oppression we must learn to practice “radical self-love.” This is different than self-acceptance, confidence, or even self esteem, which she argues are not “scalable,” but restricted to the individual. When we work to unlearn and dismantle the systems that have taught us not to love our own bodies this will translate into empathy for bodies different than our own, and ultimately help to create a world where hate and terrorism against bodies will no longer be acceptable or common practice.

When we speak of the ills of the world – violence, poverty, injustice – we are not speaking conceptually; we are talking about things that happen to bodies… Racism, sexism, ableism, homo-and transphobia, ageism, fatphobia are algorithms created by humans’ struggle to make peace with the body. A radical self-love world is a world free from the systems of oppression that make it difficult and sometimes deadly to live in our bodies.”

Check out Sonya Taylor: https://www.sonyareneetaylor.com

Vibrate Higher Daily, Lalah Delia

Lalah Delia is a “spiritual writer, wellness educator, and certified spiritual practitioner.” She is such a light in the world and I am so glad I am learning from her! This book is an overview of her concept of “vibrating higher daily” which is essentially a way of existing in the world in a positive and enlightened way that draws you closer to your purpose, the collective, and the “divine” in order to use your gifts to create a better world.

Lalah Delia also teaches amazing webinars on everything from energy cleansing to divine timing. I signed up for her monthly subscription at https://www.vibratehigherdaily.com and I have been extremely happy with the amount and quality of content available for the $22 / month. I highly recommend!

Podcasts:

Shine Brighter Together Podcast with Monique Melton
Season 3, Episode 29: “Do Better w Rachel Ricketts”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/shine-brighter-together/id1464945623?i=1000518800938

Latino USA
5/21/21: “Masks Off With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/latino-usa/id79681317?i=1000522634422

No Meat Athlete Radio
5/13/21: “NMA Chats: On Being a Vegan Activist in the Black Community with Jasmine C. Leyva”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/no-meat-athlete-radio/id476196931?i=1000521580114

Get Loved Up with Koya Webb
Season 2, Episode 47: “11 Rituals to Raise Your Vibration”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/get-loved-up-with-koya-webb/id1455677259?i=1000470869132

Black Girl in Om Podcast
12/17/29 59. #55. “Creating Space To Expand: A Live Conversation with Rachel Cargle”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/black-girl-in-om/id1117951237?i=1000459859296

Real Food Reads Podcast
Episode 22: “Decolonize Your Diet: Luz Calvo and Catriona R. Esquibel

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/real-food-media/id1215522970?i=1000414763700

Movies:

Seaspiracy

This documentary focuses on the environmental impact of fishing, but also touches on the human rights violations perpetuated by a highly unregulated global industry.

The Word of the Day is Lament

I haven’t written much about my experiences or feelings navigating the last four or five months. I still have a lot to work through before I feel clear enough to discuss my thoughts regarding the traumatic closure of my business, my scramble to keep afloat, the uprisings all over the country and the way our mainstream political discourse has changed. I’m still struggling daily. Every crack and flaw in our feeble system has finally been exposed. Watching and living that reality through sober eyes has been an experience. It will continue to be for some time. Accepting that new reality is where I currently reside on my grief journey.

In the face of challenge or trauma I place myself in a constant state of motion. I’ve learned this through years of writing and a year of weekly therapy. Moving fast helps me to feel productive, like I’m in total control, which I understand is rooted in a deep history of societal ideology promoting capitalism and individualistic bootstrap culture in this country. The guilt I feel is constant; it’s enough to make me sick to my stomach at the thought of possibility of failure. It is with me daily. Were my parent’s sacrifices for nothing? If I’m not producing something, I feel worthless. I would be lying if I said that being Mexican / American – the daughter and granddaughter of people who worked hard and sacrificed everything to give me a better life – hasn’t influenced my relationship with work and my value. With production and permission to exist. It has. The extent to which I feel these things is something I’m working through now. And it’s tough.

I’ve gone through months of feeling unpredictable and intense emotions. And months of trying my best to stay busy and channel them into something tangible and useful. But for the last couple of weeks I’ve been feeling something different. Something that I couldn’t name until earlier this week when I listened to Rob Bell’s podcast episode “We Hung Our Harps” on The Robcast.

I listened to it three times.

“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and

wept

when we remembered Zion.

There on the poplars

we hung our harps,

for there our captors asked us for

songs,

our tormentors demanded songs of

joy;

they said, “Sing us one of the songs

of Zion!”

How can we sing the songs of the Lord

while in a foreign land?”

-Psalm 137

Although I was raised in a strictly Christian household, I am not religious. I fall somewhere on the scale between atheist and agnostic beliefs. What I appreciate about Rob Bell is how effective he is at using the bible to teach lessons that make sense no matter what your religious beliefs may be. However problematic, these words spoke to me, on a symbolic level. They helped me to begin processing that emptiness I started to feel a few weeks after being back to work. I feel disconnected from everything that was taken from me so easily. From my job, from my business, from my relationship with work and to the part I play as a cog in a larger broken capitalist system in this country – that does not care if I succeed or fail.

Bell made two specific points in regards to the Psalm above that gave meaning to my feelings of emptiness and disappointment. The first is that we are on the cusp of a great, collective “lament.” We, as a country, had the opportunity to make something great. To use our privilege in this world for good, and we largely did not. We blew it. And now we’re here. “By the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept, when we remembered Zion.” We’re mourning many of our privileges, but also mourning our fantasies. The ones we had about who we were as a country and “how far we’d come.” I feel like the first stage of this lament began for many of us, after Donald Trump was elected. Bell acknowledges that even those of us that are critical of our country and it’s flawed systems still, on some level, believed at least something about what our place in this world was. What the United States could stand for, what goodness we could pull together to do if we used all that power in the right ways. We were capable of so much good. But the reality of what’s happening doesn’t reflect those beliefs. I had this personal moment of reckoning when I was thinking about the Muslims currently in internment camps in China. My immediate though was: “How can we help anyone else when we can’t even help ourselves?” I had never felt that way before. Before, I could either be proud of our country or disappointed in our country. Helplessness was an emotion, as an American with white privilege, I haden’t spent much time feeling. “There, on the poplars, we hung our harps.”

A great lament. A mourning for what we had, and what we thought we had.

An acceptance of our painful failures.

The second point that Bell made was in regards to exile. Exile can be a literal, physical banishment from one’s country or home. Or it can be an emotional expulsion. The anxiety I feel knowing that as a US citizen, the mobility and “freedom” that we’re used to owning has been largely curtailed, is intense. What a privilege we had. But the emotional exile is something interesting. A feeling of banishment, of loneliness, of losing the little faith I had in this country to keep us safe. The safety net I thought I had just doesn’t exist and that, more than anything, feels like abandonment.

I’m not bringing up these points to focus only on the negative, or to wallow in self pity. I bring these up to hopefully help others recognize that that sadness and grief for what we had, and thought we had, is real. And it will likely get worse and more intense before the upturn. But that’s the beauty about a lament – a loss, a grief process – once you allow yourself to feel it, you can move through it. With a clear head and a stronger heart you have the freedom to create something better, something new and previously assumed to be impossible. My hope, for all of us who make it to this next chapter in United States history, is that we have the courage to mourn what’s lost, let it go, and build something compassionate and new.

2019 Book List

Every January first I sit down with my journal and I write down five personal and five business-related goals, then consciously forget about them until the following January when I finally quantify the progress I’ve made. Then I make new goals. Sometimes I’ve not met the previous ones to my standard, so I repeat them, acknowledging it’s a process and not a failure. Some goals I’ve repeated several years in a row.

As I get older I realize that for inspiration to find me, I must always be learning. The perfect Liz cocktail therefore includes: A specific amount of solitude (mental stillness or quietness alone with my own thoughts), time set aside for writing and writing alone, and a steady flow of books. Reading great stories helps me to learn style and flow, story construction, new words, and most importantly, new and different ideas. Reading brings me back to my real and true self, writing aids me in showing it.

At times, reviving my creative self has felt like waking up from a sleepy but satisfying hibernation, hungry to come out of my den for new ideas. Other times it feels like a violent reviving of my soul, shocking myself back from unconsciousness and a kind of temporary creative death.

As a strategy to read and create more, which ultimately makes me connect with my true and happy self on a regular basis, I implemented some strategies in 2019.

1) Read 30 minutes every morning before work when you’re having your coffee.

2) Try to also read on your days off instead of watching TV, or being on your phone.

3) Aim for completing one book per week.

4) Write one blog post per week for one year to see how it goes. It can be any length.

5) Set aside about five hours per week to write. Divvy it up however you want. Write about whatever you choose.

6) Try to freelance at least one article.

7) Start a book club.

Reviewing this list overwhelms me with gratitude for the progress I’ve made getting to (re)know my creative self this year. I mostly stick with goals one, two, and five on a regular basis, with some room for improvement of course. I only missed a couple of blog posts this year, but published one almost every single week. I freelanced several articles, and did in fact start that book club, and we’ve met twice so far. As far as the books go- I read 21. I plan on reading a couple more before the year is through, but I wanted to share my list with you for two reasons. One: So you can get new book ideas! And two: So you know that I didn’t even make it half way to my goal. But I don’t at all consider it a failure- I still read about fifteen more books this year than last, and I have no doubt that I’ll read even more in 2020.

Liz’s 2019 Book List

These are simply listed in the order I read them, with asterisks next to the five I most highly recommend at this time, based on how interesting they were, how much I learned from them this year, and their ability to influence my research and work. I read very little fiction, therefore I feel that the couple novels on the list deserve an imaginary and automatic asterisk for being amazing.

1) Lullaby, Chuck Palahniuk

2) American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land, Monica Hesse

3) The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule

4) Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout, Laura Jane Grace

5) Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country, Pam Houston

6) Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, David Goggins

*7) Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, Jon Krakauer

8) Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered, Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff

*9) Deep Work, Cal Newport

10) Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport

11) I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara

*12) How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence, Michael Pollan

13) Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, Sheryl Sandberg

14) The Testaments, Margaret Atwood

*15) Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, Sarah Smarsh

16) Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking it All with the Greatest Chef in the World, Jeff Gordinier

17) The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem, Stacy Schiff

18) The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life, Shawn Achor

*19) Into The Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro, Rachel Slade

20) Shit the Moon Said: A Story of Sex, Drugs, and Ayahuasca, Gerard Powell

21) Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert

Next on the List / Will Read Before 2020:

22) The Gift of Fear, Gavin De Becker