Quantcast

Author Alex Elle & Her Memoir 'After The Rain' Shows Us How To Heal By Example

Sometimes life's greatest journeys are the ones that begin without a roadmap.

Exclusive Interviews

Sometimes life's greatest journeys are the ones that begin without a roadmap. The sense of wonder grants us the opportunity to carve out space for our own self-discovery, while leaving a path for those who choose to follow in the footsteps we've paved. Over the last few years, the wellness space has been the new frontier for many to find their way to healing and self-growth, where words like "self-care" and "affirmation" serve as breadcrumbs to lead us to our highest self. Although we don't all start off with the perfect tools or any at all, life has a way of guiding us to the lessons that will equip us for the journey ahead. For author and wellness consultant, Alex Elle, writing has been the compass that has guided her path.

alex elle after the rain

Courtesy of Alex Elle

For as long as she can remember, Alex had always been a writer. Whether through the expression of poetry or journaling, writing granted space to find her voice on the page in times of heartbreak and uncertainty. But it wasn't until she entered therapy that she was able to uncover the healing power that writing had to offer, "I found writing to heal by way of therapy and I think that's when the lightbulb went off for me; that I could heal parts of myself through writing practice that was supportive to the growth I wanted to have as a woman."

Through the guidance of her then therapist, Alex was able to unlock the "emotional toolbox" that opened her up to writing practice as a measure to write to heal, not just to vent. This shift evolved Alex's approach to writing, and soon, the gentle nudge of a friend would push her to tap deeper into the direction of her purpose, "A friend of mine told me to stop hoarding my story and happiness because someone else might need it. I said to her, 'Why me?' And I remember her saying, 'Why not you?' And that really changed the game."

Courtesy of Alex Elle

Since then, Alex has been writing her way through healing, self-compassion, motherhood, and partnership while drafting a blueprint of growth for a community of women around the world. Now, as her debut memoir, part guide, After the Rain, releases, Alex hopes that it will serve as a companion and support system along her readers' healing journey, "I wanted people to know that they aren't alone. I wanted to give people hope. Things can be really painful in our lives, but we can greet them with curiosity, grace, and understanding."

xoNecole: What was the moment like for you when you decided to say “yes” to the process of healing and self-growth?

Alex Elle: I love that you said that because it was definitely an intentional choice. When it comes to my process: self-choosing has been like a prayer; it's been a meditation and a mantra. Being able to hold myself accountable when I get it right and when I get it wrong has really been the greatest lesson in writing for me. The turning point was knowing I wanted something different in my life and knowing that I could access it, I just had to show up and do the work, even if it was scary and daunting. And it still is sometimes.

I think a lot of people might think that because I've healed some, that I've healed completely. And that's not the case. I'm really proud of myself for making the choice to use writing to get closer to myself and to examine my truth and my flaws. Because for me, writing makes things real. I wanted to make sure that I was really leaning into the self-belief of worthiness. This was the blooming of self-accountability and deciding to make a different choice for the life I wanted to have and the life I wanted to lead.

"The turning point was knowing I wanted something different in my life and knowing that I could access it, I just had to show up and do the work, even if it was scary and daunting. And it still is sometimes."

How have you embraced the path of a pioneer in your own healing?

I've been thinking a lot about this a lot; not having anyone show me how to do this. I think for me right now, there's a sense of pride that I was able to pave the way for what healing could look like for my daughters. And also being an example to other people who might not have had folks available to show them how to heal or love themselves. I want to show folks that you don't have to have somebody show you how to do it all the time, sometimes it's just a choice to figure it out on your own terms. It may take you a lot longer, but it's given me a sense of accomplishment and sacredness. The sacred ability to teach myself how to be who I want to be.

Courtesy of Alex Elle

"I want to show folks that you don't have to have somebody show you how to do it all the time, sometimes it's just a choice to figure it out on your own terms. It may take you a lot longer, but it's given me a sense of accomplishment and sacredness. The sacred ability to teach myself how to be who I want to be."

How do you decide what stories to hold and which ones to release?

Being in this work, I feel like I have a duty, especially as a Black woman, to show up fully in transparency and vulnerability because often we're taught to do the opposite out of fear and self-protection. And I get that. But I also think it's important that we have folks we can turn to who model vulnerability and who do it scared. I think it's also important to say that there are some stories that I will always hold close because they're sacred and they're mine. Maybe pieces of them will be shared but the whole story is not always for everyone. So it's about how we move through our delicate stories and still show up and say, 'Hey, you're not alone here.' That's what's so important for me in my work: that people know that they're not alone.

I hear so often that I'm like a mentor to people, even if we've never met, that the work feels like a warm hug from a mentor. And that makes me so proud, especially as a Black woman who is in this work of making space for other Black women. Even if they do it in private or make space in their family or community, that they have the language and blueprint to do it for themselves.

"Being in this work, I feel like I have a duty, especially as a Black woman, to show up fully in transparency and vulnerability because often we're taught to do the opposite out of fear and self-protection. That's what's so important for me in my work: that people know that they're not alone."

What did you learn about yourself in the process of writing 'After the Rain'? 

I learned that rainy seasons are a part of this life. Not enough people are talking about our stormy seasons, especially in wellness and self-care. We hear about manifesting and affirming and that's beautiful, but sometimes things are going to be hard and rainy and terrible. But the sky will clear, the sun will come back up, the plants will bloom and we will still be here. There's a blooming and wilting that happens, during and after the rain. Making that really clear on the page was important and trusting the storms of my life is too.

Courtesy of Alex Elle

"We hear about manifesting and affirming and that's beautiful, but sometimes things are going to be hard and rainy and terrible. But the sky will clear, the sun will come back up, the plants will bloom and we will still be here. There's a blooming and wilting that happens, during and after the rain."

As you look to the future, what does legacy look like as it pertains to being a wife and mother? 

It's funny because I've been thinking about legacy a lot when it comes to my work, but I haven't sat with legacy as much around motherhood and wife life because I just feel like we are a living legacy. But now that you ask, my greatest legacy is that my children know that they are valuable and important and that I model that for them. At first, I didn't know if I was doing it right because in motherhood you really don't know. But our children are watching; they're watching closely. My oldest daughter wrote an essay for school recently and shared, "My mom is a successful author and a kind, compassionate person. She shows me that if I work hard, I can do what I love." And that's legacy. The memories that your children have is legacy.

Belly laughs and fun is legacy. And I say that because I don't have a lot of good memories from my childhood, but my husband does. His mother passed away four years ago, and the greatest legacy that I see through her children is how hard she loved them and how much they loved her. Legacy for me is deeply rooted, unconditional love. That at the end of the day, my husband knows that he is deeply loved, my children know that they are deeply loved, not just because we say it, (because we are a very lovey home), but if for some reason any of us lost our voice, we would be able to show it and feel it deep in our bones in ways that words can't match. So for me, that's legacy.

Get your copy of After the Rain, here. And for more on Alex's work, follow her on Instagram.

Featured image courtesy of Alex Elle

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

If there's one thing Historically Black Universities are known, it's fostering a sense of interconnectedness for collaborative genius to thrive. Of all campuses, it was on the soil of The Mecca, Howard University, where She'Neil Johnson-Spencer and Nicolette Graves rooted their friendship and aligned their passion for beauty and natural brains. Today, the two have founded a skincare brand of their own, Base Butter, that has not only carved out their niche space in the market but rallied a community of women to glow from the inside out.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

I will never make an apology for the fact that I adore the Scriptures. There is something very, remarkable is the word that comes to mind, about the fact that even all of these years later (thousands and thousands of years later), there is so much wisdom within the Bible that is still relevant and — if you want to live a content life — even necessary. Matter of fact, some of the people in my world who aren't Bible followers or even believers in God will admit to me that Proverbs (King Solomon's book of wisdom) has some real gems in it.

Keep reading... Show less

August invites you to shine bright like the sun which requires you to leave behind the sob stories of being the underdog. Recognize your power as a reflection of the Divine and watch how far you can go. Be mindful of that inner critic when Mercury enters Virgo. For every negative thought, counteract it with three compliments about yourself. When Venus enters her home sign, relationship matters get a whole lot sweeter after the wild ride that was Mercury Retrograde.

Keep reading... Show less

This article is in partnership with Staples.

As a Black woman slaying in business, you're more than likely focused on the bottom line: Serving your customers and making sure the bag doesn't stop coming in. Well, there's obviously more to running a business than just making boss moves, but as the CEO or founder, you might not have the time, energy, or resources to fill in the blanks.

Keep reading... Show less

Lawd, lawd. I'm assuming that I'm not being too presumptuous when I start this all out by saying, I'm pretty sure that more than just a few of us can relate to this title and topic. I know that personally, there are several men from my sexual past who would've been out of my space a lot sooner had the sex not been…shoot, so damn good. And it's because of that very thing that you'll never ever convince me that sex can't mess with your head. The oxytocin highs (that happen when we kiss, cuddle and orgasm) alone can easily explain why a lot of us will make a sexual connection with someone and stay involved with them for weeks, months, years even, even if the mental and emotional dynamic is subpar, at best.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive: Find Confidence With This Summer Workout Created By A Black Woman For Black Women

Tone & Sculpt trainer Danyele Wilson makes fitness goals attainable.

Latest Posts