In this world where life is fast and furious and sometimes tough, there’s nothing more important than intimate and authentic connections with a loving community of sisters. This monthly Q&A series is all about sharing some of my favorite women in wellness and how they shape, shift and uplift women to live life more fully. I have the honor of starting this series with the magnetic wellness warrior, Carly Morgan Gross, who takes a similar soul-centered approach to loving your body and celebrating the feminine. Welcome Carly!
Every great journey has a story, tell us about you and your journey towards holistic living? How beautiful and complex and sometimes scary and blissful it has been. My journey toward holistic living started back in high school. I actually started a project where I would cook a vegan dinner for my family, something new every day of the week, and make a little blog about it. I knew my future way back then, right?! That project opened my eyes up to a plant-based lifestyle and the gorgeous variety of foods that I had never known about all of my life. In college, my health greatly suffered at one point. I decided to get off of birth control, and all hell broke loose. I started losing all of my hair, I could eat probably 4 foods without a terrible digestive attack, I totally lost my libido, and well with this came a sense of hopelessness, especially because I wasn’t getting answers from doctors and naturopaths that were trying to help. I put my own body in my own hands. That’s when I began reading and studying all things holistic nutrition, healing, cleansing, yoga, meditation, and more. Since then I’ve studied in various holistic health schools and have been implementing and practicing all of the beautiful regimens I’ve learned throughout the years!
At what point in your journey did you decide you wanted to make a career out of your experience?
Ah I love this question. It came SO naturally, Claire. I already had a blog because everyone on my Facebook wall wanted my vegan recipes! I started writing recipes and blog posts frequently, and I just loved it. It was such a great way to express myself. From there, I’m pretty sure I stumbled across Jess Ainscough’s blog, The Wellness Warrior, and I saw myself in her. I saw her selling books and programs and all sorts of things and I began the possibility in my mind that I could do this as well. I’ve always looked at corporate jobs and the like and sort of ran away from that life early on. I knew, somewhere within me, that I could share my truth and my passion with the world and somehow make a career out of it. I also believe that we go through specific lessons in life for a divine purpose, and often times it’s to share what we learn through (sometimes sucky) situations to help or guide those who have yet to experience all that we have. I embraced that and went with it! Trust!
How would you describe your approach to wellness? What modalities do you work with?
I take a mind, body, soul approach to health and wellness. This means that I care just as much about the pleasure in your life, your relationship to your body, and your daily rituals just as much as I care about how many times a day you have a good ol bowel movement. In my coaching practice, I use positive psychology principles to hack food fears and food-as-medicine guidelines to get the bod aligned; both of which move women to their most aligned, feel-good self.
If you could name 3 women who shaped your life and work, who would they be?
I can’t answer this question without devoting one of those spots to my mommy! I definitely believe that our relationships with our parents are deeply rooted more than we ever could think. I believe that we CHOOSE our parents to learn lessons that only they have to teach. My mom taught me a zillion things one way or another: grace, beauty, self-acceptance, manners, hard work, and so much more.
Meredith Baird: Love this chick so much! I tell my friend Katie this story often, and I guess the web needs to hear it too. About 5 years ago I interned for Matthew Kenney and Meredith, and she was like the coolest big sis and friend to me, ever. Through my journey with food, one of the things that is the most important to me is simply FEELING GOOD with it. Meredith taught me how to do this simply by being herself. Decorating the plate, enjoying food slowly and sensually, showering and putting on comfy clothes and cute clogs to prepare dinner, music all along… There was something about the time I spent with her and taking in the way she behaved around food that I have come back to many times in my future.
Tara Bliss: Simply Tara’s authentic and unique style of sharing on the web encouraged me to be myself deeper, share my truth unapologetically, and gave me the courage to stand out. What’s a typical day like for you now?
I like to wake up early for at least an hour of spiritual practice. This looks different every day, but it usually involves a short meditation, time to journal, move on my yoga mat, and/or walk on the beach. From there comes a nice shower and then in to the kitchen to make some lemon water and/or take some supplements. Breakfast is almost always a superfood smoothie or juice. Writing, coaching, getting creative, and blogging takes up my mid morning and afternoon. I’ll take a break in the later part of the day to catch in with myself- maybe a chance to lie on the earth for 10 or so minutes to ground my energy, or simply check in for something I call reflectation! In the early evening I love getting in the kitchen to create! Lately, I’ve been making superfood, instant ice creams for a new e-book I’m working on. (Get excited!) Night time I like to spend time with my family and/or friends, have a nourishing and grounding meal, read, and simply relax. Sometimes I’ll go to a yin yoga class or a sound healing! Lately I’ve been taking time at night to lie with castor oil to detox from the outside in!
What ways do you nourish yourself daily?
Physically- with nourishing foods, self-massage, yoga, and essential oils. Mentally and emotionally- with meditation, journaling, and daily practice of surrendering fears, listening to my heart, connecting with those I love, being of service, making myself and others smile, expressing myself authentically, and making it a priority to feel good in my body. Spiritually- with music, (meditation fits in here too), and taking that time in the morning for ritual.
How do you balance your work/personal life?
This can be tricky because I definitely look at my work AS my personal life. But I did realize at one point that there needs to be a line, or else I can get burned out. As long as I am taking time for physical connection with friends and building community in person, I feel really balanced in this area.
How do you handle negativity or competition in your work/personal life? In what ways do you support women to rise above this pattern and uplift each other?
Mmmm, this is an in-depth one but I think I can give you something brief. Whenever there is a negative energy in my life, I do a couple things. First, I ask myself why it’s needed and necessary. I take time to go inside and ask what its here to teach me about myself. I believe that all of these things are merely messages FOR us. Then, I actually like to DANCE IT OUT! Movement is such medicine for me, and if I can get my butt to an Ecstatic Dance class or turn up some electronic beats in my room and get moving, I feel like I move this stagnant energy (negativity and/or competition) right on out.
Tell us about a dream project or collaboration you’re manifesting? What do you desire to (co-)create? What’s on the horizon for you!
A cookbook, for sure. I’ve been wanting to have one out there for some time now, but I know I want to do it right. I can seriously see it out there already, but I’m not in the time and space for that manifestation to come out right away. That’s why I’m working on an e-book right now (ice creams, peeps!). Co-creation with beautiful souls is something I am craving wildly. An online course or retreat sounds so ideal.
Your parting wisdom + the most transformational piece of advice you’ve received:
I’ll leave you with some short and sweet bits that have transformed my own life.
You are the guru. You are your own master. Listen to your body first.
Laughter cannot survive the ego. Laughter is the supreme spiritual path.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, crying rocks. Many of us were taught to cover up our feelings and put on a happy face. Doing this can take problems and root them deeper down inside the body. Crying lets them loose, and makes room to heal.
All physical problems are rooted in the spiritual and mental body first and foremost. Holistic healing means looking at how the issue was manifested in the first place and whats missing in our life and/or mindset.
God is in everything. Trust in the moment. Trust in the path you are on. Trust in your situation. It is a message, it is FOR you, it is God.
Stress and fear hurt the body, the digestion, and the heart more than a BigMac from McDonalds.
Imperfection is perfection. Ground in the body you have here and now and love her up.
Educate yourself on food and health and healing and spirituality and anything else on this path, but at the end of the day- eat what you want, do what you want, breathe how you want, exercise in a way you want- and all without the least amount of guilt.
Restricting food strictly leads to disordered eating in the future, so allow yourself fun and yumminess in a way that feels good to you. Eat calmly, get pleasure, and enjoy every moment.
Intimacy and femininity is a core of a healthy relationship to food and self.
Get present. Breathe deeper. Relax. Trust. Surrender. And over everything, love deeper. Even when its hard. Even when you think they don’t deserve it. Even when you think you don’t deserve it. Love deeper. Love harder. Love now.