INTERVIEW BY CHELCEE JOHNS. PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY LATHAM THOMAS.
“I feel that women are thrust into this paradigm around hustling [hard] and around a more masculine way of approaching the world. We’re taught early on that if you want to succeed, if you want to scale the corporate ladder, if you want to have the life of your dreams that you have to do it a certain kind of way. Terms like ‘slaying’ and ‘killing it,’ these are the adjectives we use. ‘She’s killing it.’ But, no one is killing anything that is doing well in the world... because they’re probably nurturing it.”
This is how my conversation begins with the “Glow Maven” nurturer Latham Thomas who is a best-selling author, celebrity wellness/lifestyle maven, birth doula, Mama Glow founder and sister-friend to the BGIO movement. If you’ve been reading, Latham’s latest book Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living and Crowning the Queen Within along with the BGIO Book Club then you know Latham is a light that has been shining into all of our lives.
If this is your first introduction to Latham then you’re in for a transformative conversation of worthiness, growth, leaning into your light and darkness and so much more. Latham was named one of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul 100—an enlightened group of leaders elevating humanity with their work. She’s helping us embrace optimal wellness and spiritual growth as a pathway to owning our power.
“I think it’s this kind of mindset of nurturing, tilling soil, harvesting, and cultivating. That is what we’re doing when we’re creating a pathway for success. I think there is something to be said of the value of letting it happen instead of making it happen. There is a stillness that’s involved,” continues Latham on the power of shifting our angle while pursuing our goals.
As we close October and our first BGIO Book Club read, we’re taking the time to rest, rise and rejuvenate with a one-on-one chat with the body and soul glow tiller below.
Chelcee: Hi, Latham, we’ve so been enjoying Own Your Glow! I’d love to just jump right in and ask how the book came to be?
Latham: So, I was really looking at the work I do with women at Mama Glow, and I saw a strong contingent of people who were recoiling from this culture of hustling hard and making it happen. It’s really what we see in big cities as a driving force for success. I saw so many women who felt pressured to the idea of hustling hard, but who also really felt strangled by it. Through the classes, events and coaching that we do, I saw a landscape of possibility around how we could reclaim our bodies as sacred. Using the techniques of self-care that I talked about in Mama Glow, but also really having women bring those into their daily lives and not just when they feel broke down. In Own Your Glow, we are working in a more preventative and integrative way. It was like an elixir, this book is a bomb for all women.
Chelcee: I think that’s one of my favorite aspects of the book, it’s preventative nature. There’s so many, as you call them “glow-tips” that are easy, useful and just all-around helping me slow down and be more intentional about my day to day process. Out of all the glow-tips you offer, what is the one tip you often start all your clients off with?
Latham: One of the first things I start women with is conscious calendaring and moon mapping. I see a lot of women who don’t know the rhythm of their bodies and cycles. When we have our monthly moon cycle, it’s an opportunity to really embrace self-care and slow down because you already don’t want to do most of the activities you’ve committed. Most of us are having symptomatic periods or painful periods because we are not listening to our bodies, so it’s a great opportunity to start incorporating these practices. So, you’re probably wondering what that would look like. We look at your current calendar, how you schedule yourself, and that 5-7 day period when you bleed; we mark that in red.
In that time frame, you practice saying ‘no,’ you go to bed early, you’re journaling, you take essential oils in your baths, you do your crystal work — whatever it is that you do that builds you up. Anchor yourself and replenish so that when you get on the other side of the cycle, you feel good that you’ve used this period as a time of introspection rather than output. People always push themselves to perform. We’re often not kind to the body when we’re bleeding. I use this first because it’s such a great place for people to start. Then from there, we can look at diet, relationships, and other things that affect our mood and wellbeing overall.
Chelcee: I love that! I spent some time living abroad with a cousin who also does a lot of alternative healing work. I was the one who took Midol every period and she often said, ‘I just want to feel everything.’ It took me about 6-7 months to stop trying to mask the pain and just sit in it and see what I needed. That also makes me recall a section in the book that I think is brilliant and embraces darkness.
You talk about us seeing our light and dark spaces, and accepting them without judgement. I think in a lot of wellness spaces, we focus a lot on growth, being light and not dealing with our dark spaces enough or what we feel are spaces that we judge ourselves on. How did that process affirm your glow?
Latham: I think that darkness is an essential part of our journey. Ever since I started working with women and the birth of my son (which obviously was an integral part of my journey), I witnessed how all things grow in the dark from babies to plant systems. Darkness is an organic and intimate system, before anything is planted onto the surface. The darkness is the key to being able to move through challenges and into the light. I see it as anytime I go underground working on something, I’m in the dark. I see it as part of stepping away from the world.
When I think about doing phone-fasting or detoxing, I go into darkness. There are all sorts of ways we can reframe the way we look at darkness. I embrace darkness. I embrace the aspects of myself that are still growing. What’s important to remember is that we need that darkness to fuel the growth. I have a relationship that’s healthy with it and I invite women to also have a healthy relationship with their darkness. Let’s look at it from a completely different lens.
Chelcee: You’re walking right into another question I had. One of my favorite sections, in portal 1 is when you’re speak about having the “good girl conditioning.” I grew up a preacher’s kid and I know you grew up in a Catholic household. You have this statement, “I always walked away with the idea that I should apologize for who I was.” It’s one of the things about being brought up in a religious household that often surfaces. How did you find the freedom to unravel a bit, to see what you really believe? And, how does a woman begin to look at what she’s believed in and ask if it’s strengthening or weakening her spiritual walk?
Latham: Yeah, that’s a great question! I remember going to confession as a child and wondering, ‘what am I confessing?’ I understood in theory, but I didn’t have anything bad to confess. I was eight or nine and playing with earthworms. So, what I used to do instead is a practice that I put in the book called “confessions of light.” I thought, ‘well, I have to go here [to confession] and I have to put on a show — then I'm going to talk about what I feel like talking about which is: my best friend, this person who I like, and the fun that I'm having. So, I extended that as an exercise in the book. We are so indoctrinated with these ideas around our worth, our worthiness and whether or not we even deserve the things that are coming to us. We deserve to be blessed.
Chelcee: Yes, to the idea of worthiness! It’s a topic I talk about with friends often. And, our measure of worthiness does often come from how we’ve been raised and our spiritual walks early on.
Latham: Agreed, I believe the thing about spirituality is that it's so inclusive! It's not about excluding people, it's not about having to go this direction or that direction. We have to find that for ourselves by experimenting and going into spaces, some of which probably have cultural significance for us. Some spaces are going to be from our own ancestral traditions and some spaces are not. They are just going to resonate and it may be something that we just found and fell in love with. You have to put value on that and not knock yourself cause you don't feel like going to a Baptist church or you don't feel like going to temple. If that's not your home, it's not your home. But if you find yourself at home there, then that is your home.
The way that we really want to get in a right relationship is with being able to find ourselves at home in any spiritual space. So for me, I'm at home in nature and in church. I can find something that resonates in any space because I go in with the idea of being open. I think that if we go in, strip away some of what we've been taught and allow ourselves to experience the moment. For people who may have some spiritual scars from upbringing, it's good to maybe go to a mutual place like nature. It's undeniable what God is doing. Look at mother nature at work — it’s something everyone can appreciate: a beautiful space, a flower, a mountain range, or a hike. I recommend starting there with initiating or revisiting your relationship with spirit.
Chelcee: You’re sooo speaking a part of my personal journey. I lived in Bali for a bit and it's, of course, mostly Hindu and I was brought up Christian. But, in having that space and different cultural experience, it let me find what home was like in this new spiritual community. The experimentations allows us to stretch our spiritual capacity. That’s really what your book does too. It’s such a space of rebirth or as the book states, reclamation. How do you want women to feel once they complete Own Your Glow?
Latham: I want women to feel at home in themselves, in their bodies. I want them to feel like they were able to return home. I feel the most joy when I know that somebody crosses an obstacle or comes out on the other side feeling more powerful — that’s really what I want. I want women to feel their most radiant, their most beautiful, their most powerful, their most embodied. I want them to reconcile with the darkness and integrate it so they can be in their super heroine at all times.
And also, I want them to not feel afraid to be connected to the feminine. To be in their divinity, there's a lot of branding of spirituality that is lost on some people. We can normalize these tools, but not only that, we must reclaim these tools that have come from ancient ancestral traditions. These things are our own. We have to remember that. We can't allow people or society and popular culture to take from us what we came here with. We have to see that these tools and these entry points to spirit are available to us at all times. These totems and these weapons of consciousness are there for us to access at any time and no one can take that away.
Chelcee: I think now more than ever we feel that in the political culture of our country right now. The not forgetting what we came here with and how it can empower. What’s one more thing you’d advise on empowering ourselves - whether a small or large practice?
Latham: The only other thing I wanted to say, that might be good for women to practice together is an exercise in the book about adorning yourself and figuring out how you want to be in the world with what you wear. I want women to think about what they put on and what that says to them and also to the world.
I want them to play around with how they adorn themselves and not just with the clothing that everyone sees, but even their underwear and even the things they use on their skin, their jewelry, what they put in their crown. I want women to think about that too. What statements are we saying to the world, but also to ourselves when we just wear things that don't necessarily make us feel good? Maybe we have to do a closet edit and donate those clothes to the victims of all of these recent hurricanes. There’s a way to do good for ourselves and be good for others as well.
Chelcee: I’m sure the BGIO ladies will love that, especially as we move into the fall and recalibrate how we care for and adorn our bodies. Well. My last question, what are your personal go-to self-care practices?
Latham: Well, one of them is phone fasting, which I do all the time. I shut off everything electronic and I don't have anything to do with electricity. I'll go outside. I'll hike. I'll cook. I'll do anything, but be in tether with electronics. I do that a lot because I think we get inundated with so much information. For me to stay resourced in terms of my creativity and my own thought processes, I can't also be actively engaging in spending my cognitive energy on social media.
I also really believe in setting healthy boundaries. That is a big piece of my self-care practice and being able to use the power of “no” to communicate where I begin and where I end. And, to help people understand where they begin and where they end. I found that the boundary piece is so important for us in any aspect of work that we're doing. If you integrate that boundary piece into the moon mapping and conscious calendaring space you get stronger at it. That's how I actually got really good at saying “no.” I used the moon mapping to dictate when I would even have the ability to do things. I say “no,” then I sit in the “no,” and how it feels and how that person feels and how uncomfortable it is. And then, I get over it! Guess what, they don't hate you. They actually respect you. And, if you say “yes” at the risk of your better judgement and against what your body told you anyway… you end up resenting you. So those are two, because I think those are the hardest ones to practice.
Chelcee: I’m still relearning those two! For me personally, reading Own Your Glow is helping me recenter and as you stated - lean deeper into the divine. It’s been eight months since I've been back in the states and for a minute it seemed as though I was losing grip on what I came to know as personal truths while integrating into the hustle of American culture. This has been a remembrance and reintegration. I’m loving it and so are our readers!
Latham: Thank you!
Chelcee Johns is a digital nomad, Detroit native, editor/content strategist and word & world-loving soul. She is based between Harlem and Detroit, and recently called Bali home for a year. Her passion for the power of the written word & highlighting often policed narratives has led her to work in publishing for the past 7 years with organizations such as Moguldom Media Group, Serendipity Literary Agency, the New York Times and writing for the likes of Ebony. In a rupturing political climate and blooming social change, BGIO is the place Chelc is able to create a community of safe space in our collective stories as Publication Editor. She is empowered by the (inner)work! With that said, her self-care go to is journaling, prayer and meditation.