Interview by Lauren Ash. Contributions by Chelsea Jackson, Brandie Gilliam, Courtney Cobbs, Wendy Lopez, and Bri Luna.
We just closed Women's History Month and, at Black Girl In Om, we've been highlighting how we can all be Rebel Women through self-care, our creative space, sisterhood, and more. Here, in part two of our series spotlighting the rebellious ways of amazing women of color in our tribe, we hear from Chelsea Jackson Roberts (aka popular Atlanta-based yogi Chelsea Loves Yoga), Thoughtfully Magazine Founder Brandie Gilliam, Chicago-based reiki healer Courtney Cobbs, and Food Heaven Made Easy co-founder Wendy Lopez, and The Hoodwitch Founder Bri Luna. Be inspired by their perspectives and be sure to let us know what resonates with you! Check out our first part in this series with more amazing women, if you missed it!
Lauren Ash: In what way(s) would you say you rebel in your individual life, work and/or wellness journey?
Chelsea Jackson: When I began practicing yoga, I was longing for a fuller picture of representation when it came to who practiced and taught yoga. I did not see my reflection as abundantly as I thought I should when it came to my race and body type. I decided to rebel against the dominant narrative of what a yogi actually looked like by starting chelsealovesyoga.com and facilitating my "Yogi in the Community" segment where I interviewed a plethora of yogis who we normally did not see in the seat of teacher.
Brandie Gilliam: I always try to stand up for what I believe in and be true to what's right, whether it's in my personal life, my work, or my wellness journey. I think it's really important to have strong values, and be brave enough to show up in life for yourself and others.
Courtney Cobbs: Right now a lot of people are caught up in watching the news and keeping themselves angry, afraid, etc. I rebel by being very open about the fact that I don't watch the news and don't give my energy to the daily headlines about the political games happening in D.C. and my domicile of Illinois. It is a rebellious act in this day and age to take back your power and recognize that all the power to create a better world lies within you.
Wendy Lopez: I rebel against the idea that healthful living is not for black and brown people. I also rebel against systems that promote nutritious eating but are not inclusive of low-income communities. As an educator, I have the opportunity to provide marginalized people of color with practical tools that will motivate them to make healthier choices.
Bri Luna: A lot of people have this preconceived notion of what “spiritual” is supposed to look like. My journey is to showcase that there is no one size fits all to spirituality. For some, they think spirituality equates to being this yoga crazed, juice drinking, love and light, crystal hugging guru. I mean, of course, I love all of those things don’t get me wrong ... but that’s just one of the many facets to who I am, it doesn’t define me or make me more or less spiritual than anyone else.
We are all on very unique and deeply personal journeys. I’m into crystal healing, astrology, and tarot but I’m also a very practical business woman that is in touch with the material world. I’m balanced in darkness and light. I practice magick, I wear black, I cuss, I’m outspoken and I don’t take anyone’s shit. It’s shocking to some, but I’m not afraid of that. I’m not hung up on confining my spirituality to fit into a neat generic package. I encourage everyone, especially through my business to explore and focus on what feels right for them. What liberates and empowers you? THAT is the essence of spirituality...being free.
Lauren Ash: What are three self-care staples you just can't do without weekly?
Chelsea Jackson: A collection of essential oils pumping through my diffuser. Reflecting in my journal so that I can see the power of my experiences through my words. And a phone conversation with my Granny.
Brandie Gilliam: Prayer, yoga and masking.
Courtney Cobbs: On a weekly basis I can't do without a nice bath and some self Reiki.
I have made it a daily practice to massage my breasts.
Wendy Lopez: Palo santo, fresh flowers, and essential oils.
Bri Luna: I LOVE ritual baths! Need them in my life, always. Water is so soothing and healing. You can just soak away all of your troubles, and watch them symbolically go down the drain. I add lots of essential oils and flowers in the tub, sea salts, you name it.
Second: writing. Writing things down in my journals, or on napkins at a cafe gives me clarity. It is also the first step to manifesting my goals. I enjoy writing down ideas, stories, words, and phrases. It’s very therapeutic.
Third, meditation: making time to silence my mind from all of the outside noise is so essential for me (and everyone). We live in such a fast paced world, where social media bombards our psyche. our minds become filled with tons of information to process at lightening speed, and most people are scrolling through for hours a day. It’s so important to learn how to disconnect and unplug from it. Most people say they don't have time for meditation, but this isn't true. You can meditate literally anywhere, and at any time. Even 5-10 minutes is better than nothing at all. I mean, ideally you’d like to have 15-30 minutes to just stop and care for yourself. Taking time to focus on your breathing, relaxing your eyes and just allowing the thoughts, images, and whatever else to float in and out of your mind is powerful. By meditating weekly I have found Immense mental clarity, and balance to start or end my days.
Lauren Ash: How have you witnessed these practices make a difference in your life?
Chelsea Jackson: Our sense of smell can be quite transformative to our moods and the simplicity of having a smell like lavender around can actually make us calmer. I started this practice when I was an elementary school teacher and kept a diffuser in my room and saw how it really made a difference. I figured if this scent could bring peace to a room full of 3rd graders, this is a must have for my personal space as well.
When it comes to my journaling practices, this is also something that we practiced in our classroom that I later began to integrate into my own life. It was like, I wanted to walk the talk. I encouraged my students to believe in the power of the written word, and it eventually became my therapy after challenging days.
My other practice is to return to my source. Although so much of what I do and how I teach comes from within, I always make it a point to honor my teachers in the process. My 92-year-old grandmother is one of my most influential teachers, so it is essential that I not let too many days go by without talking to her while I still have her wisdom here in my life.
Brandie Gilliam: I have witnessed prayer transform my heart and spiritually connect me in ways that I never imagined. Yoga has strengthened my body and taught me how to become more comfortable in being uncomfortable. Masking is a must for my skin to help draw out impurities and maintain a healthy glow. I also use my masking time to help slow me down and still my mind.
Courtney Cobbs: I notice whenever I take my weekly bath I experience a lot less fatigue in the days following. Self Reiki boosts my overall mood and helps me feel even more connected to Source within me. My daily breast massage practice makes me feel even more connected to my Divine Feminine and keeps me primed for pleasure. For me, being in a state of pleasure is healing. The more often I’m in that state the better I feel which creates a ripple effect in many areas of my life and in the collective.
Wendy Lopez: Through practicing self-care, my mind is more clear and grounded. When I’m not intentional about self-care, I tend to get carried away by emotion and cloudy thinking...the Cancer in me perhaps? Through prioritizing these practices, I have been able to experience the wonders of stillness and peace of mind.
Bri Luna: The practices that I utilize are not only practical but they are powerful. Ritual Bathing falls under the category of spiritual hygiene. cleansing your aura and your personal energy is an essential act. Whether or not you know it, we come into contact with various people and environments, all of which have their own energy vibrations and not all of these frequencies are high and positive and because our field is constantly taking in and putting out vibrations, some of the vibrations (including our thoughts, as well as external influences) are low and will bring us down if left unchecked, so this is why implementing bathing rituals and smudging (using herbs such as sage, palo santo, frankincense resins, cedar smoke) are also beneficial to me in my day to day life.
Writing as I mentioned is an excellent way to organize a scattered mind, it is a great guide and reference point into manifestation work. Taking a thought and putting it into the material world is an act of transmutation, making it “real” by placing the idea onto paper. With meditation, it has changed my life only for the better, from clarity to stress-relief, to enhancing my intuition. There is just a special type of magic that comes with just ..being. To sit with your own mind, and to breathe. knowing that you are floating in space, supported by the Universe.
Lauren Ash: Thank you all so much for sharing! I can't wait to hear what resonates with our readers!