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.
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