It slips across my Instagram feed every morning—little reminders that I'm worthy, and that it's okay to walk away from someone who doesn't know how to love me; subtle hints that I don't need to apologize for being who I am, and that it's more important to practice self-care and to rid of self-destruction; that I can't rush the process, and instead, I should enjoy the journey.
One thing's for sure—when author and poet Alex Elle puts up a post, you know it's going to be laced with truth sometimes so uncomfortable you have to wonder if she's talking to you or talking about you.
When I hop on a call with the mompreneur on an early Friday afternoon, she confesses that she's fighting against the urge to lie on the couch. She has just finished a meeting for one of her many business ventures—an array of products that help her devoted followers heal through the lens of reading, journaling, and meditating—and is taking advantage of the time away from her daughter and her romantic partner to focus on her endeavors before she has to jump into mommy mode.
“I try not to work when they're home unless it's at night and she's asleep," she says. “But if I am home, and I happen to hop on my email or something, she'll go read a book or she'll be out here on my desk with me coloring, and it's a family effort."
For Elle everything is about balance. She doesn't believe that you can't have it all, but that it's a matter of making time and having people in your corner who will support you and put you in check when devoting too much to things that drain your energy.
It's been a little over two years since her book Words from A Wanderer: Notes & Love Poems was released. With over 30,000 in independent sales, it has become a self-help manual of sorts for those seeking healing and motivation on topics ranging from love to self-worth. Flip through the 58 pages of uplifting quotes and poetic prose and you'll swear that Elle is inside your head reporting on your own rollercoaster of a relationship. The ups. The downs. The pain. The beauty. All eloquently penned and amazingly accurate. Words that only someone who's been to “hell and back" could relate to.
Although she grew up an only child in an upper middle class neighborhood in Montgomery County Maryland, Elle struggled with finding happiness. Her mom worked to provide her with a stable life, but her dad, well, let's just say he used their lives as a revolving door.
“In a sense she didn't want to be that mom like if you're not around consistently then you can't see her at all type of thing, but I think that would've served me better," Elle says.
At the age of 16, she decided to do what would later become one of her many mantras—she loved herself enough to cut ties from someone who didn't appreciate her worth. I ask if he ever attempted to reach out to her again, and she laughs as she recounts the story of him contacting her through social media—after reaching a level of success and visibility of course.
“It's crazy how God works because my page has always been open; it's not private. And for some reason I made my page private one night, and I woke up the next morning and I had a friend request from him after not seeing him in years."
She saw the random encounter as a test to prove the type of woman she'd become. One of peace, and who protects her spirit. One of forgiveness, but not forgetfulness.
"Just because you forgive somebody doesn't mean that they can come back and be in your life."
"I don't wish him ill will or anything, but he's just not welcomed here, you know what I mean? That's just where I'm at with relationships that don't serve me."
It's no longer just her heart that she has to worry about protecting, but that of her now seven-year-old daughter. Being unprepared for the real world, she found herself caught up in the college whirlwind of hook ups and break ups, resulting in her pregnancy at the age of 17. The birth of her daughter was just the shot of reality needed to focus on her physical, mental, and emotional health. She started attending therapy sessions to deal with her feelings of abandonment due to the absence of her father, and to help her move past her depression and suicidal thoughts.
“I was in therapy for years, and that is the best thing that has ever happened to me. In our community mental health in general is very taboo. It's like I don't want anybody to think I'm crazy or know my business and stuff like that. With therapy, for me, it wasn't that at all. I literally needed a neutral party to help give me the tools to move forward in my life, and that is what a good therapist will do. I had to go talk to someone, there was no way I could get through my sadness just by talking to my mom, or my grandma, or my best friends."
It's something that she talks about more openly through her posts, and has encouraged many to come to her seeking their own emotional release.
“I always tell people, especially young women who reach out to me telling me how sad they are and how they don't want to be here anymore, I can't help with that. That's definitely not my forte to give that type of life altering advice, but I always send them to the suicide hotline, and I make sure I send them love and to get help—not to keep quiet about it if they're hurting. That's definitely what I'd say to anybody; there's nothing wrong with going to talk to someone to help sort out your feelings."
Writing out her pain also helped her, and her followers, find the beauty within themselves and to understand the importance of self worth. In the process, she wrote and released her first self-published book and met her partner Ryan. “I don't know how I knew he was the one, but you just feel when somebody really loves you for who you are, and you build that friendship."
It may all sound so simple, but for the young writer it was a process. One that she shares with her readers and followers through the pages of her books and her social feeds. By nature she's a creator, and by teaching she is an entrepreneur. The desire to have sole control of her product and her brand led her to self-publishing both Words from a Wanderer and her second book Love In My Language. She encourages all writers to bet on themselves instead of waiting to be discovered by a big publisher. Her advice? Hire a graphic designer, and just make it happen.
“If you have quality work and you really believe what you're doing, you can make music, you can write books, you can start a business. It just all comes from determination and the work ethic."
Of course having a strong following makes a difference, too. She admits that when she first hopped on Instagram, she wasn't using it for business and actually got kicked off twice before realizing that the best way to use the platform was to showcase her creativity. She shared her jewelry line (now exclusively sold in a boutique store in Washington, D.C.), and started flexing her photography skills, and over the last five years has grown a substantial following with little marketing beyond social media. Now she's adding brand consultant to her resume by helping other small businesses with social media. She stresses the importance of staying connected with your consumers.
“I try to be available when I do post on social media just so that they know I'm a real person and that I'm here to help if they need me," she says. “People like having that access, so finding the balance between that and your business is definitely important for entrepreneurs."
Her third book is currently in the works, and this time she's decided to partner with an independent publishing company so that she can expand into bookstores as opposed to solely being online. She also recently released her meditation journals and runs her Balm Co. product line with her daughter, which she prefers to keep on a smaller scale so that she can continue writing, crafting and creating.
It's enough to wear you out just listing all of her business ventures, and I can't help but to wonder how this mom, businesswoman, and future wife manages to do so much and still make time for herself.
"A lot of people think that they can't have everything because they haven't found balance yet. And that just comes with trial and error."
She credits Ryan being a supportive partner as a part of her ability to balance it all. Even as she speaks about him I can hear the happiness in her voice. “It's so funny because people think that it's so deep…like we're just super unique and we're really not. We really are just two people in love, and we're friends that [got] to marry each other."
Her balance also comes with knowing herself, what nourishes her, and incorporating those things into her lifestyle. About three years ago she started embracing more holistic habits and went vegetarian after eating a Wendy's burger that left her feeling like “crap." She did research on how to feel at her best from the inside out, ditched the meat, and picked up more veggies. But cheese? That's something she couldn't part with. I mean, come on. Pizza.
Essential oils also became a part of her medicinal cabinet. She credits her lunar oil to alleviating cramps and mood swings during menstrual cycles. “I rarely take over the counter meds for anything. I think essential oils are freaking amazing."
After her yoga class she may slip on her favorite basic tee from Everlane, ironically doting the same name as her partner (she assures that it's just a coincidence!), jeans, and a pair of Vans. It's her signature outfit that she's most comfortable in. I tell her that there's beauty in simplicity, and she wears it well with confidence.
"I'm not like super glam. I don't wear makeup. I fill my brows when I feel like it. I'm real lowkey, and that's mainly because I just don't have the time to go through my closet and figure out what to wear.
"I like my jeans. I like my neutral tones and monochromatic tones. One of my close friend's teases me all the time she's like, 'oh, you're back to no color again.' And I'm like no girl, no color."
Let me tell you, talking with Elle the girl oozes cool, calm, and collectiveness.
Maybe it's because of the success that she's gained by turning her pain into poetry and sharing her words of wisdom as her way of giving back to others. Maybe it's the fact that she's finally at a place of peace in her life—one filled with family, love, and authentic friendships. Or maybe it's that she's simply mastered the art of attraction—getting back what she's feeding into the universe: love, light, and laughter.
Whatever it is, I'm here for it—soaking up every bit of her positive energy.