Can you remember the last time you felt truly seen? I’m talking about a moment when every part of you – flaws, quirks, and all – was accepted completely. A time when you didn’t have to pretend, perform, or minimize yourself for the comfort of others. When was the last time you felt free to express your deepest truths without fear or hesitation?
For many of us, those moments of radical self-acceptance and vulnerability are few and far between. We learn from an early age to project an image, play a role, or conform to expectations. Over time, we lose touch with our core essence – that authentic voice within.
In this week’s episode, I had the honor of speaking with three inspiring women who have walked courageously down the path of self-discovery: bestselling author and restorative writing teacher Alex Elle, meditation and mindfulness teacher Rosie Acosta, and poet & author Arielle Estoria.
Each has peeled away the layers of conditioning and uncovered her truest self. Their journeys have been profoundly personal, yet offer wisdom and light for us all. Together, we explored questions like:
What does it take to cut through illusions and touch your deepest truths? How do we let go of notions of who we “should” be and embrace who we are? Can we find belonging not by fitting in, but by sharing our unique light?
The stories and poetic words you’ll hear this week are infused with empathy, compassion, and generosity of spirit. My hope is that they will spark self-reflection and help you reconnect with your own authentic voice. Because when we can share ourselves fully and be radically seen, understood, and loved – that’s when we catch a glimpse of our highest potential.
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photo credit: Huebner Headshots, Torry Pendergrass
Alex Elle (00:00:00) – Writing has shown me myself, and that is what draws me to the practice. And when I started writing to heal and to explore and to be kind to myself and to be curious and to unpack and all those things that it can bring to our lives. The game like really changed for me, and I remember thinking like, Here’s a permission slip to tap into my truth, which is that I am worthy and I have always been worthy. And years and years ago I did not think that. And now today I am deeply rooted in that.
Jonathan Fields (00:00:38) – So can you remember the last time you felt truly seen? I’m talking about a moment when really every part of you flaws, quirks and all was accepted completely. A time when you didn’t have to pretend or perform or minimize yourself for the comfort of others. When was the last time you truly felt free to express your deepest truth? Your identity, without fear or hesitation? Well, for many of us, those moments of radical self acceptance and vulnerability are pretty few and far in between.
Jonathan Fields (00:01:11) – We learned from a pretty early age to protect an image, to play a role or conform to expectations. And over time, we start to lose touch with our core essence, that authentic voice inside of us. And in this week’s episode, I had the honor of speaking with three inspiring women who have walked courageously down the path of self discovery, bestselling author and restorative writing teacher Alex L, meditation and mindfulness teacher Rosie Acosta and poet and author Arielle Astoria. And each of them has really kind of peeled away the layers of conditioning and uncovered her true self in their journeys have been profoundly personal, yet offer wisdom and light that is universal. And together we explore questions like What does it take to cut through the illusions and touch your deepest truths? How do we let go of notions of who we should be and embrace who we actually are? And can we find belonging not by fitting in, but by sharing our unique light. And the stories and the poetic words you’ll hear this week are really infused with empathy and compassion and generosity of spirit.
Jonathan Fields (00:02:19) – My hope is that they will spark some level of self reflection and help you reconnect with your own authentic voice and let it shine. Because when we can share ourselves fully and really be radically seen and understood and loved, that is when we catch a glimpse of not only our highest potential, but our true essence and how we might be able to live with more peace and grace. So we’re excited to share this spotlight conversation with you. I’m Jonathan Fields and this is Good Life Project. So our first guest today is Alex Allen, New York Times bestselling author, Breathwork coach and teacher based in Maryland. Alex found healing through journaling and writing after being introduced to it in therapy, and her work really aims to build community and healing practices using literature and language. She shares her journey of self discovery through writing, how it helped her shape, how she saw herself explore self-love and uncover her core essence. And she’ll also offer thoughts on befriending our fears, recognizing that healing is a lifelong forever love and more. Alex’s story is really inspiring for anyone longing to feel truly seen.
Jonathan Fields (00:03:36) – Here’s Alex writing for you. Seems like it was like one of the things that dropped down early in the process as like your For some reason it seems like you were drawn to this as a really powerful early step into whatever path you would end up traveling down, where you ended up bringing in different modalities. Talk to me about how writing, especially writing as a modality to, to process, to, to reveal, to heal becomes a part of your practice.
Alex Elle (00:04:07) – Writing has shown me myself, and that is what draws me to the practice. I remember being in therapy for the very first time as a young adult. I think I was 19 or 20 and I had an amazing therapist and she gave me the idea to put a journal in my imaginary emotional toolbox. And I had always been a writer. I wrote short stories, I wrote sad poems. I was the I’m the only child. So I used storytelling to be a sense of like, comfort. And so I had always been a writer, but I never knew I could write to heal.
Alex Elle (00:04:50) – And when I started writing to heal and to explore and to be kind to myself and to be curious and to unpack and all those things that it can bring to our lives. The game, like really changed for me, and my mom gave me my first journal and I hadn’t used it. I still have it. And I think there’s like one thing written in there. It was this red, beautiful red journal with this embroidered flowers on it. And I remember thinking like, Here’s a permission slip to tap into my truth. And then the older I got, the more I started really exploring affirmation, writing and notes to self because I had spent so much of my time speaking ill to myself and being in negative self-talk and being mean to myself. I wanted to change that narrative and that started around 2223. Like, let me just write these notes to self, be kind to myself and see what happens. And that was really foreign. Like this doesn’t feel natural. But it started to feel natural because I was at that place of I want different, so I must do different.
Alex Elle (00:06:08) – I don’t know what different means, but I’m going to try. I’m going to try everything. And positive self-talk shaped how I saw myself, and it allowed me to give myself power to explore self love and what that look like. And so affirmations and notes to self really pushed me into this place of writing to heal. And I found it in therapy. And it’s been amazing. I mean, it brought me to my career and it also has brought me to my deepest truth, which is that I am worthy and I have always been worthy. And years and years ago, I did not think that. And now today, I am deeply rooted in that.
Jonathan Fields (00:06:55) – Yeah, that’s a powerful shift. Oftentimes when I’m doing a bit of prep for conversations for folks who have a significant public profile, I’ll like explore and I will go back to the very beginning. And so your which I did with your Instagram and it was about a decade ago that you showed up and very soon after that started sharing notes and thoughts and ideas.
Jonathan Fields (00:07:22) – If I have the timing right, that would put you at about 23 years old. 24 years old. So I’m fascinated because if you you’re deep into this personal healing process in your early 20s, you discover writing as something that’s really affecting you in a profound way. Personally, and I’m so curious, I’m always curious about the impulse that animates you to say what would happen if I shared this in a public way? Because on the one hand, I’d be like, maybe I could really affect people beyond just me. But on the other hand, it’s incredibly vulnerable to do that because you have no idea how you’ll be received. And this is especially you as like a 23, 24 year old person, like really trying to understand your identity in the first place and and come to a place of like grounding in your own identity. Do you remember back in I’m taking You Back a decade now when you were certainly going through the process of like, I think I need to share this, Like, tell me about what was going on.
Alex Elle (00:08:21) – Let me think back. Yeah, I know I had a friend tell me to stop hoarding my happiness. And she was like, You never know, like who may feel this and who who this may resonate with. You don’t know. And that was back when Instagram was really a place to just share. And it wasn’t about much but fun. Right? It’s very different now. And so I just I just did it and I was like, okay. And those notes to self, you know, really landed with people. And that’s when I started connecting with the idea of community. Like, Whoa, I am not alone in my struggle. I am not alone in my joy. Wow, that’s cool. That’s really cool. And I’m not the only one going through this. I had this woman reach out recently who’s been following me for about that long, and she was a young mom as well. I think she had her child at 19 or 20 and she was like, You are the reason why I chose to start healing.
Alex Elle (00:09:22) – I saw no one else being able to create a life that was beautiful and abundant for not only themselves, but their children. And you really helped change me in the type of woman and mother that I am. And I was in tears reading the email. You know, I’m 33 now and I still get messages like that. Like I’ve been with you for so long and we’ve grown up together. I’ve seen your children grow up. And this is just thank you. And I’m grateful for them. Like I wouldn’t be where I am today if people weren’t buying my books, if people weren’t coming to retreat, if people weren’t believing in me, you know, like this whole thing here, whatever this is, is community care, right? Like we are holding each other. And that is so special to me. In the 23 year old me had no idea, no idea that her stories were even valuable. But turns out that they were. And I think everyone’s stories are valuable. That’s the big thing for me about being a writer.
Alex Elle (00:10:27) – It’s like, I don’t want you to just read my stories. I want you to write. I want you to reflect, I mean, and how we heal. There’s journal prompts and there’s meditations and there’s practices because I want people to tap into themselves, not just take away from me. When I do take away, I’m doing air quotes because a lot of people are like, Alex has it all figured out, or they see someone with a large following or who is quote unquote successful or what have you. And they’re like, they have the answers. I tell people all the time, I know nothing. I am a student of life. I know nothing. But what I do know is that this works for me and I am giving this to you to. Try. Maybe it will work for you too, right? So it’s like this really communal, sacred practice of sharing and hopefulness and connection.
Jonathan Fields (00:11:12) – Yeah. No, it’s invitation based rather than proclamation based. It’s not. It’s not like you shall do this.
Jonathan Fields (00:11:19) – It’s like, Hey, I’ve been through some stuff too. Like this has helped me. It’s an invitation, like maybe a way that you can step into it, which is really interesting. One of the other things that you talk about also is the notion of of reframing fear, of saying, okay, so let’s deal with this. Like, let’s be upfront with this. And if there are things in that you’ve been through, things that have formed you, things where there’s trauma, things where there are fear responses that are almost DNA level deep if you’re further into life because they’ve just been so embedded in the way that you identify and live and behave. You know, like, let’s talk about this and let’s like, can we put a different frame on that? Because until that happens, there’s going to be a whole lot of struggle without moving through, moving past, without without being able to access the ease that I think so many of us want.
Alex Elle (00:12:13) – I mean, all of that. Yes. That the chapter or the section, rather, that you’re talking about is is befriending your fear.
Alex Elle (00:12:20) – And I wanted to put that in the book because I did a whole course on befriending fear. And people really gravitated to that because they had never been invited to allow their fear to be a part of their life. And there’s something really beautiful about saying fear. You can come in, but you can’t run the show. And also there’s something extremely moving about not being scared out of our healing because fear is at our door, right? Taking the time and making the space to truly be with everything, be with it all and then move through it. Fear is not a bad thing. It doesn’t make us weak. It is a natural response. When things get hard, it is something that will come up because change is on the horizon, right? And so fear is a great teacher if we allow it to be. And I wanted to make sure that I emphasize that in how we heal, because a lot of this healing work that we’re doing is scary. We may be the only people in our family doing it right now, healing right? We may be the only ones making the step.
Alex Elle (00:13:34) – And that is scary to do this work alone. But don’t let fear change your trajectory. It can come with you. It’s okay. It can be a great friend. Doesn’t have to be the leader in your life, but it can be a friend. And that’s hard and really, really valuable for us to to walk through and learn along the way, which we will. I think I’m still learning it.
Jonathan Fields (00:14:01) – Yeah, I think it’s one of the things that we all learn for life also, right? Because we don’t want to do it. No, but it’s never going away like the whole it’s funny when I hear, you know, some variations of be fearless, I’m thinking, I don’t know how to do that. And I don’t necessarily believe it’s possible. Like they’re always going to be things unless you completely release your past and then you never do anything to step into a path of growth in this moment. And then the next and the next. There’s no way to avoid some level of, Oh, there’s fear rising up in me.
Jonathan Fields (00:14:34) – So it’s like whether you can be friended or not, at least getting comfortable with the notion that it’s going to walk beside you in different ways. Can I develop the skills and the practices to be able to walk with more ease beside it and maybe even extract the wisdom from it? Because often, you know, there’s a teacher in there too, which is why I love so many of the practices and the exercises that you share in this conversation in the book or exactly built around that, it’s like, okay, what can we learn from this and how can we how can we breathe into it with more ease knowing that we may have moments where like, we’re not we don’t want to be controlled, like you said, by this, but in some way, shape or form, it’s a part of the human experience. So like, what can we do with that? Like, you know, while we know.
Jonathan Fields (00:15:21) – That’s so powerful, a lot of the sort of like the process that you built around the way that you share and a lot of which is it starts out with almost like this focus on okay, so first get to know yourself like not the facade that you present to the world, but like, you know, like.
Jonathan Fields (00:15:38) – The real you. Let’s explore fear and how that works and see what we can process through. And then there’s also a sense of this is what you write about this as well, you know, like, okay, so, so how do we come back into a place of power in our lives in a sense of agency? Because unless and until we can do that, you know, we feel like we are always being led through our lives rather than leading our lives. And I thought the writing and the ideas that you shared and there’s some of the practices around this were really powerful, too. And it seems like this is sort of like it is such a central pillar in your lens on healing and growth.
Alex Elle (00:16:14) – It is. And I’m glad the exercises and the words kind of flow together and resonate with you because that’s what I want this book to do. I want how we heal, to be that open invitation, to look at it all and to see the fear, to see that you may have to begin again after you think you’ve, you know, overcome that thing that you can heal even when no one else around you is healing and that you can get curious about, about yourself.
Alex Elle (00:16:42) – That’s really the biggest invitation of how we heal is to get curious about yourself.
Jonathan Fields (00:16:49) – And writing can be such a powerful modality in there. And some of the stories and I feel like there were more. You had a whole bunch of examples. And then the Q&A on slowing down from Chris Lynn, which I think it’s like here are all sorts of different ways into this. You know, like what feels good to you? You kind of come full circle in the book at least. You know, this is an ongoing conversation. The book is a moment in time with some really powerful ideas and exercises and things to do by saying we’re all dealing with unspoken and unseen things, some heavier to carry than others. Like this all goes down to a heart level and compassion and connection. We need to get down to that level. We need to bring the experience, not just the conversation, but like our felt experience down to that level. Yeah, to really be in the world the way that we want to be.
Alex Elle (00:17:40) – Yeah, I mean, that’s the community care, right? That is the, the compassion, the connection, the care. That is what our healing does. It connects us in a really powerful way, even when we feel lost. And I love that folks are open to using writing and these tools that I’ve offered in my courses and at retreat and at conferences to like just get to know themselves. A big question that I often ask is like, who are you outside of your roles to other people? Who are you? What’s hurting you? Where does it hurt? Why does it hurt? Like getting down to those micro level, back to basic questions that we often just don’t even ask ourselves because we are moving through the world, right? How do we connect with our true self if we are constantly ignoring the journey? And I think that that’s something that I’ve learned along the way, is that even in my own healing process, there was a point where I was ignoring different steps in the journey because I just wanted it.
Alex Elle (00:18:59) – I just wanted to be over it. I just want I just was done. Like, get me there, right? But healing is or forever love. Healing is something that we’re going to be doing until the day we leave this earth. We’re going to be growing and changing until the day we transition off this earth. And so how do we do that in a way that not only supports us but supports the collective? And I think that is the question I want people to sit with How can your healing support the healing? When we start healing our inner world, we start healing the world. And I think that there is something deeply sacred and necessary about that.
Jonathan Fields (00:19:41) – Hmm. Can’t agree enough. It feels like a good place for us to come full circle in our conversation as well. So in this container of Good Life project, if I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up?
Alex Elle (00:19:53) – To live a good life for me. Means to stand in my power and be my most authentic self.
Alex Elle (00:20:03) – No matter the room I walk in. Because when we are rooted in who we are and the truth of who we are, people can see that. So I guess that how I want to live a good life is by leading by example.
Jonathan Fields (00:20:20) – Thank you.
Alex Elle (00:20:21) – Thank you.
Jonathan Fields (00:20:24) – So I loved hearing how writing really helped Alex see and understand and heal, not just personally, but also within community. Her courage to embrace vulnerability is just deeply inspiring. Next up is Rosie Acosta, a yoga teacher, podcaster and author based in Los Angeles. And Rosie has studied mindfulness and yoga for over 20 years, working with everyone from inner city residents to professional athletes. As a first generation Mexican American, Rosie’s mission is to really help others find self acceptance and what she calls radical love within. She shares her journey of discovering yoga as a toolkit for self-care and inner truth. And Rosie also talks about the philosophy behind her book, radically loved offering thoughts on self awareness, dignity and more. And her wisdom really provides a genuine oasis of compassion that we all need so much these days.
Jonathan Fields (00:21:18) – Here’s Rosie.
Rosie Acosta (00:21:19) – Yoga is not about touching your toes. It’s not about how bendy you are. It’s about being present and it’s about being able to breathe. And it’s about connecting with the mind, body, spirit, integration and. Being able to. Yeah. Be at home within your body, within your space. And it’s about making the unconscious conscious, you know, like your unconscious mind that is processing your life doesn’t care what you look like in your little moments. Like it doesn’t matter that so and so can do this really fancy handstand and you can’t it means how can you be fully present where you are and how can you carry this practice outside? Because I saw so many of those people that would be incredibly athletic. Beautiful postures. Go into the parking lot and like honk and yell and be totally frenetic trying to get out of there spot in, you know, right outside the yoga studio. So I always saw that as. Being part of the LA paradox that LA is.
Jonathan Fields (00:22:30) – Yeah, I mean, we saw a lot of that in New York also, but I think LA was sort of like the central place for that.
Jonathan Fields (00:22:38) – But yeah, it would amaze me for those who don’t know, I taught yoga and for for seven years and owned a studio in Hell’s Kitchen in New York. And it was always this interesting paradox where you’d see somebody who just has this, you know, physically gorgeous practice, like you watch the way their body moves and their mastery of the breath in the movement, you’re just like, that is stunning. They must be like so committed and so devoted and so still inside to be able to reach this place physically. And then like five minutes later, I’d walk by them on the street and they’re chain smoking and screaming at somebody else on their phone, like calling them all sorts of names. And I was like, Wow. And this actually happened once or twice with people who were teachers for us. And I was like, this actually is not okay. Like, we can’t have these people representing our community and our values. It’s a really interesting world. Then the journey of you being this like a teen who’s really, really struggling and on the edge, having this one experience that leads you into the spiritual side of the practice and then like finding your way deeper into that out of a place of curiosity.
Jonathan Fields (00:23:46) – And also, I would imagine at that point just desire to breathe, desire to like, like once you have that first experience where you’re like, Oh, this is me. Like the me that is, that is me isn’t hyper vigilant, isn’t, you know, like posing to try and be accepted. It’s just me. It sounds like that was this powerful catalyst for you to go deeper and deeper and deeper into the esoteric side, the philosophical side, which then led you to the physical side, which then led you to this awakening that says, Huh, I love this. I’m deepening into this. I could see this like doing this, but there aren’t a whole lot of people like me that would feel comfortable doing this, and I wonder if I could actually be the bridge. Yeah. Which you then become, you know, over over the next period of years, you step into this role as the teacher, as the bridge, as somebody who invites people into the practice and into themselves. And eventually in 2018, land on the cover of like the biggest magazine in the Space Yoga Journal.
Jonathan Fields (00:24:51) – By the way, I have a story of being in the pages of Yoga Journal years earlier, which is not a good story.
Rosie Acosta (00:24:57) – But oh no, well, pray tell.
Jonathan Fields (00:25:01) – Yours is fantastic. You’re on the cover. It’s like. And they’re really sort of like telling about about you. And it’s this really interesting full circle experience, you know? And along the way you’re writing, you’re speaking, you start to build a podcast. You’re basically taking every avenue that you can to share what you’re learning with people who might raise their hand and say, Yes, like, this sounds cool to me, and you start to develop your own philosophy. I literally went all the way back to the very first post on your Instagram, which was in 2015, I believe. Oh wow. And even in the very early days, you’re using the hashtag radical love or radically loved. So this is like this philosophy of radical love, which, you know, then now becomes the name of your book.
Jonathan Fields (00:25:43) – You’re radically loved with pillars and tenets that are part of it. This is brewing inside of you for years. And I’m curious what what happens where you’re saying, okay, so I’ve deepened into this world of yoga and spirituality and this philosophy, but there’s a there’s the rosy philosophy that needs to find its sweet spot with all of these different things that I’m learning and sort of like be formed into something that I want to stand behind and share with other people.
Rosie Acosta (00:26:10) – Yeah. Oh, when you put it like that, it sounds so nice. Like, Oh, it’s really nice. Yeah. Radically loved was definitely. Part of that spiritual awakening, right? That moment where I experienced being me and being supported and feeling held. So much of what I do and what I create is still coming from the student in me that wants to continue to learn and support and. Just provide value as much as I can to everyone who wants it or is open to it. There was a lot of autonomy for myself during those formative years because my both my parents worked.
Rosie Acosta (00:27:03) – My parents were separated and I spent a lot of time by myself just thinking a lot. And part of my desire was always wanting to have somebody there to just listen, you know, to to hold space, to feel that support. And I think in that experience at the Self-Realization Fellowship was that moment for me where I was realize that I wasn’t alone and I hadn’t been alone. And I wanted to figure out a way to infuse all of those lessons together in a way that. Was yes, a community and yes. A conduit for me to share these teachings and to explore other ways of integrating what I was learning. And, you know, what’s the quote that says, If you want to learn about something, read about it. If you want to know about it, write about it. If you want to master it, teach it. So it very much. Felt true to where I was going and what I wanted to provide. It’s still difficult even now to think about myself as the leader or the teacher or the person You know, I always say we and it’s our podcast or it’s our book.
Rosie Acosta (00:28:32) – Our book is finally arrived or because it very much feels like a collective. And I, I want everybody. To feel that from me. You know, I want people who don’t have somebody to sit with to know that they can sit with me, to know that they. That there are people who just care because they just care and there is no reason for it. It it’s just people. People just care. When I first came up with the concept of the book, it was more about what you said. What is my philosophy? What is what do I stand for? What is. What are the tenets of what I’m trying to create? What is the truth of this experience? What do I want to bring to the world? And that’s where the concepts started to to come up. And it was really a blog post. If I’m being honest, it was a one blog post that I wanted to have as a manifesto of sorts for people to know who I am and what I’m about and what I’m offering.
Rosie Acosta (00:29:44) – And it just grew from there. More and more and more and more. And then a podcast about the topic and then interviewing other people about what they thought about the topic and and on and on it went. And I’m still it’s hard for me to look at it from the perspective of like, Man, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I mean, I started doing this full time. I’ve been teaching for 15 years, but I’ve been doing radically loved for about a decade. So it feels very much like. Even writing this book feels like the completion of a cycle, right? It feels like, Oh, this last decade, we’re done like this. This, this cycle is now complete. The lessons that I was learning and the. Voids that I wanted to fill are filled. And I and I feel complete. You know, people have asked me if I’m proud of what I’ve done. And as a recovering Catholic, I always say this. I’m like, I have a weird thing with pride.
Rosie Acosta (00:30:52) – I’m not a very prideful person, but I do feel complete. So yeah.
Jonathan Fields (00:30:59) – Yeah. It’s an important distinction, I think, in a lot of ways. So and in the book, you know, you basically, you know, this is it feels like it’s probably the expansion of that original post so many years ago where it’s like, okay, so here’s what I believe. Here’s what matters. A lot of it, you know, and you have these a series of radical truths which people can can walk through and exercises to really explore them. A lot of it sort of like it circles around the notion of self awareness and dignity. Like those things as I was reading those two words, well, I guess three words, self awareness, depending how one Hyphenated word one got you.
Jonathan Fields (00:31:38) – But they kept coming up in my head over and over. I’m like, This is about knowing yourself more deeply, more honestly, more openly, more truthfully, and about you feeling a sense of dignity, like knowing, but not judging yourself, you know, like even if there are things where like, the more you know, there are definitely things that you’re not proud of and you want to change that within that that self evident truth or the seeds of of dignity based solely on acknowledging your humanity.
Jonathan Fields (00:32:08) – And that’s what kept coming up over and over, you know, with all the different ways into it. I feel like you just kept bringing us into that place, which I think is so important and so needed at this particular moment in human history, you know, because a lot of us, we are so divorced from really knowing ourselves and we feel like we don’t have a lot of dignity and people are really struggling around that and wondering, what do I have to do to earn it? And so much of what you’re saying is nothing. It just is like what you have to do is just own that.
Rosie Acosta (00:32:46) – Yeah. Mean. Oh, God. It’s like I. I love that you said that. And it actually kind of chokes me up a little bit because it really is at the base of all of that work and all of that inquiry and. I really do feel like we have lost that desire, even for inquiring within in a deep way, in a sustainable way. Not in an instant.
Rosie Acosta (00:33:17) – I’m going to do a 14 day challenge way, right? In a way where. You really spend time getting to know yourself, you know? I’m thinking about sparked, right? How you talk about really understanding what your spark type is and giving yourself the space. Like, okay, you do this, but you also do this and that’s okay, right? So we’re always trying to. Create some sort of finality with who we are when we’re evolving and we’re changing and we we don’t even have the same cells that are in our system, like hour by hour. They’re constantly changing. There’s constant movement. And if we’re able to pull from that inner reservoir of acceptance of true deep acceptance and love and integrity and dignity. We can really create anything in our lives and be happy and be content. It’s not mean you’re not content happy. It’s not sustainable to always be that high, right? That’s always the pinnacle. But I always like to say I want to know who I am and nurture myself enough to know when I’m in the valleys.
Rosie Acosta (00:34:42) – That I’m being cared for and supported. And I know that I can weather any storm that comes my way because the peaks, they’re amazing. Of course, they’re absolutely incredible. But they’re also not sustainable. We can’t be there all the time. What we know for sure is that we’re going to be on the path for longer than we’ll be on any peak. So part of that philosophy, too, is understanding yourself at a deep level to create that sustainable practice for yourself. That’s why each each chapter there’s a practice, there’s some invitation to integrate this for yourself. What are your own truths? What is your. What is your vision for your life? What is it that you’re wanting to create? How are you wanting to feel supported? How are the relationships in your life nourishing that? How are you nourishing yourself? How often are you asking yourself how your heart is? Because we you’re right, we’ve sort of disintegrated that part of our society where we can just be who we are. Everything that’s being fed to us is telling us how imperfect we are.
Rosie Acosta (00:36:02) – Everything that’s being fed to us is only reaffirming our negative beliefs, the negative thought patterns, telling us we’re not enough, we are not likable enough, we’re not attractive enough. We’re too old, we’re too young. We’re not talented enough. We. Don’t have good grammar, you know, like all of the things. And I feel like we need to create that validation within ourselves more often than not. Because that’s the track that’s playing in our mind most of the time. And if we don’t make friends with it, it’s not going to serve us.
Jonathan Fields (00:36:44) – Yup. Don’t disagree with any of that. I think we’re at that moment or at that moment where we’ve all got to do a lot of self reflection and self discovery, and I love that. You do include. I’m not going to call them exercises, but invitations similar to the way that you first stepped into that one day when you did school, took the bus and showed up at SRF and you see a woman and she’s sort of seed planting and planting invitations for you to play with, work with and say yes or no to.
Jonathan Fields (00:37:12) – I feel like you’re you’re doing the same thing. Rather than saying, here’s what you have to do. Go do this. And sort of like here. Invitations. Yeah. To go deeper, to explore some ideas, to work with and see how it feels for you in your context, in your life. Acknowledging that each person steps into the process with their own history, their own circumstance and their own sensibilities, and that’s got to be a part of it, you know, if this whole thing is going to work. So it feels like a good place for us to come full circle in our conversation as well. So sitting here in this container of Good Life project, if I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up?
Rosie Acosta (00:37:52) – I listen to your podcast, so I always like this question. I think to live a good life is to nourish. To nourish yourself. To really nourish yourself and. To really nourish the people in your life. And I’m not. I mean, food.
Rosie Acosta (00:38:12) – Yes, delicious food is great. But I think more. Of the energetic. Nourishing where? The more aware we are of our own nourishment, nourishing ourselves. The more we can invite the other to be nourished as well. And that type of tender love and care and kindness. It’s what creates a good life.
Jonathan Fields (00:38:43) – Hmm. Thank you. So I loved hearing how Rosie found yoga as really a powerful tool for self-care and a sense of belonging. And her message of self-love and inner nourishment is genuinely inspiring and bringing it home today is Arielle Astoria, a poet, author and actor based in Los Angeles. And Arielle found poetry as a way to empower audiences, especially women, to embrace their truths. Her motto is words not for the ears, but for the soul, reminding us that language is meant to be felt, not just heard. And Ariel shares her journey of unfolding, shedding, conditioning and uncovering her core essence. And she reads powerful poetry from her book, The Unfolding. Arielle’s words really invite us to live fully as our true selves.
Jonathan Fields (00:39:33) – Here is Arielle.
Arielle Estoria (00:39:35) – I got to the point where I could no longer reconcile existing in pieces for the sake of upholding a conditional acceptance, love and belonging. It got to the point where that was more exhausting, being half of myself just to be loved in the pieces of me anyway. And so it definitely is a huge part of not only what I was raised to believe, what I was taught, what I was exposed to, but it was very much so and ingrained aspect of who I am. And I still identify as a person of faith, but there that tethering to it, that chain aspect to it, I’ve definitely released significantly. I mean, it’s in all of our names. That’s how ingrained this has been in our identity. It is. My parents very much so instilled that this was a namesake. It wasn’t just a belief system or a thought process. It was a namesake. And so Arielle is it means line of God. It’s a Hebrew, mostly male name. And each of my siblings have names that represent some type of connection in spirituality to God.
Arielle Estoria (00:40:41) – So it was very much so you were this before you were anything else. So having to relearn and embody what it means to be a black woman and a person of faith, you know what it means to be, you know, a woman in a relationship and a like a body and this and so there wasn’t a whole lot of and conversation. So that was my unfolding, adding the end to what was happening because I was only given one side of the story.
Jonathan Fields (00:41:06) – Yeah. And you just shared that that phrase, the unfolding, which is also the name of your new book. And it’s a process, too. Well, it’s almost like the framework that you created for the book seems like a framework for a slow and intentional revelation of your own vulnerability and your own story, which is really cool because you created it. It sounds like, at least in part for you. But what you’re also offering in the book is essentially it’s a framework for other people to step through it too. So you talk about this thing you describe as the unfolding and then offer essentially five phases through a process of personal individual unfolding and want to explore those different phases.
Jonathan Fields (00:41:42) – But before you even get there, tell me what you when you use the word or the phrase unfolding or the unfolding, what do we actually talking about there?
Rosie Acosta (00:41:50) – Yeah.
Arielle Estoria (00:41:50) – So I had written the unfolding in my notes in probably 2018, and I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know if it was a book, if it was a song, if it was a spoken word album. I was like, okay, love this, whatever this is going to be. And I just left that in my notes and I didn’t do anything with it. And then a few months actually after that, I received an inquiry about writing a book. And at that time I still didn’t know what the unfolding was. And so I was writing all these proposals and trying to pitch it, and none of it felt right. And so I just left it. And my now literary agent was the first person to tell me, You don’t have to write a book right now. So I said no to everyone. And then a year later, more life happened.
Arielle Estoria (00:42:35) – A lot of these poems started to spill out of me and a lot of it was growing up in the evangelical culture and watching a lot of that shift for people, especially prime of the of Covid and the pandemic of just as we’re sitting in this space of like, what does it mean to be human, you know, and what does it mean to be in community, let alone what does it mean to be a Christian? Or what does it mean to go to church? You know? And so I watched all these people talk about this conversation of deconstructing things. And that word felt so harsh to me. It felt so disconnecting. And a lot of it at the same time was this conversation of deconstructing felt so much like you’re changing and you’re being utterly you’re being something different. And for me, as I felt I was changing and unfolding, I really just felt like there were these layers that were just slowly getting peeled back. There was this shedding that was happening, and I wasn’t becoming this brand new person.
Arielle Estoria (00:43:32) – And I really strongly felt that I’ve always been this, this has always been me, but not having the fullest permission and space to fully be that. And so I talk about meeting my husband and I say very clearly, he. Was not the reason for my unfolding, but he gave space for all these different seasons in my life to kind of catapult in one space. And he gave me permission to unfold, to ask these questions, to not know which was the biggest part of it, and ultimately helped me to trust myself and trust the decisions I was making. Trust that I can still believe in a divine orchestration and also that I have a wisdom and a discernment as well. And so when I see the unfolding, I’m talking about all the layers we shed, all the pieces of ourselves that we pull back, that we let go of in order to be who we are today, in order to be our fullest and freest self.
Jonathan Fields (00:44:31) – Yeah. I love the way that that feels. The final season that you describe is the returning and it’s less about who am I turning into down the road, but more about this sense of returning, but not returning to the old self, not returning to the old box that you left behind.
Jonathan Fields (00:44:48) – Tell me more about what you actually mean by returning and returning to what or who?
Arielle Estoria (00:44:53) – I think there’s a level of returning to ourselves for having experiences of being disembodied, being suppressed and disconnected. There’s such a beautiful aspect in in conversation of returning. And I think for me it’s almost like getting to my mat, you know, every day that I know my mat, you can almost still see where my footprints are in my mat. Like there’s just something about it that feels like, I know this. I’ve been here, this is familiar to me. And even though we’ve changed and shifted, I do still think there’s a level of a core of us that is still very much so true to who we are and who we’ve always been. So it’s almost that return to that core and then vice versa. For me, that core has always been, I think, one that has been connected to my creator, connected to the divine, and I hadn’t lost that. But it just was a matter of me returning back to it and more consciously than it was anything else.
Arielle Estoria (00:45:56) – And so I think of that return as, you know, coming back to your home after a trip. And I have been very much so ingrained to always clean the house before we leave anywhere. And so I love that feeling of coming back home, you know, after however long, honestly, I feel like 1 or 2 nights Covid has made travel feel extremely longer than it feels, than it felt before. So 1 or 2 nights is good, you know, And you feel like you’ve been gone for weeks and you just that feeling of coming back home and my plans are all there, you know, all our cozy things. It’s just that, like, exhale of like, uh. And I say in one of the poems of just it’s that return of Oh, there I am. And there I’ve always been. I haven’t lost this. I haven’t lost my connection to myself or, or to God or to the divine or creator or whatever you want to call it. Those have always been there and now I’m just coming back to it and staying grounded in it is really that return space and it almost is does bring the same light that that the illuminating does.
Arielle Estoria (00:47:00) – And I wanted that to feel like an exhale because we might have to hold our breath again because again it just goes in waves. And so but for now we get to exhale. For now we get to release and just be here.
Jonathan Fields (00:47:13) – That beautiful. One of the essays in that section and say yes, it’s also really it’s an invitation to keep saying yes to the process. Keep saying yes to like the essential you. Yeah. Just keep saying yes to allowing this unfolding process to happen so you can get closer and closer to your true identity in stories. And which I thought was just a really beautiful invitation to to really bring the book home with it towards the very end of the book. Also this poem Glorious. Would you share that with us and maybe bring us home with that poem?
Arielle Estoria (00:47:43) – Yeah.
Jonathan Fields (00:47:44) – This is it’s on 209 actually wrote down the page for this one.
Arielle Estoria (00:47:47) – This one. I know, I know. Because I specifically I specifically wanted it to be closer to the end. Um, and actually I wrote this poem after my partners and I first state.
Arielle Estoria (00:48:01) – So that was, this one was a really beautiful, full circle moment. Glorious. I’ve grown familiar with the feeling of holding out my hands with the expectation that I will pull them away empty, that a catastrophe would be made in every moment, that instead of shooting stars, atomic bombs will end up falling. So afraid that a solar eclipse automatically implies there will only be darkness. And I will not notice that the light always returns. I have this bad habit of believing that all good things that happen to me are not actually for me, that somehow they dodged the person they were meant for and wound up in my lap by happenstance. Once attended a retreat where they asked us if the glass was half full or half empty. And I said both. But it doesn’t matter because it’s not my glass to begin with. I told them that even though glorious opportunities have happened to me, they did not have my name on them. Someone else dropped them and I just so happened to be the next one to pass by and pick them up.
Arielle Estoria (00:49:08) – I was asked, So what does that mean? You need to learn to accept? I said, I guess it means I need to believe that I am deserving of glorious opportunities. I am deserving of glorious opportunities. I am deserving of glorious opportunities. Now say it with your hands out like you’re receiving. I stood there with my hands open and tears falling down my face. See, I am fully aware of the fact that I am human and flawed, that the mediocrity of my humanity often shadows the still hint of sparkle in my dust. It often blocks the fact that I am human and grace-filled and swimming with purpose, that there is nothing happenstance about my existence or the things that happened to me. That my story is weaved with intention even when I think it is not. I want to expect more shooting stars than atomic bombs these days and be in awe of the change that comes after a solar eclipse and learn to sit in the darkness when it arrives. Take in the moment where it like the warmest blanket I’ve ever known and then find the light again because the light will always be there.
Arielle Estoria (00:50:22) – I want to look at the glass and know that no matter how much is inside of it, its purpose is to hold things. So it doesn’t matter if it’s half full or half empty. It is simply doing what it was made to. I want to hold out my hands, grasp the glorious parts of life as if I were holding on to raindrops. Watch them bounce on my palms and still find them marvelous even when they disappear. Because even if they aren’t mine to hold forever. At some point, no matter how long ago they were still mine and they were still glorious.
Jonathan Fields (00:51:00) – So beautiful. Thank you so much for that good place for us to come full circle. So in this container of Good Life project, if I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up?
Arielle Estoria (00:51:11) – To live a good life means to love well and let yourself be loved.
Jonathan Fields (00:51:17) – Thank you.
Arielle Estoria (00:51:18) – Thank you.
Jonathan Fields (00:51:20) – So I loved hearing Arielle’s poetic words guiding us to really embrace our wholeness. It has been such a pleasure to learn from these incredibly wise and inspiring women.
Jonathan Fields (00:51:30) – Their profound stories of self-discovery really remind us that radical truth and belonging begin with embracing all of who we are ourselves and their courage and wisdom. It really reminds me just how important it is to share our whole selves quirks, flaws and all. And if you love this episode, be sure to catch the full conversation with today’s guests. You can find a link to those episodes in the show notes. And of course, if you haven’t already done so, please go ahead and follow Good Life Project in your favorite listening app. And if you found this conversation interesting or inspiring or valuable and chances are you did. Since you’re still listening here, would you do me a personal favor, a seven-second favor, and share it maybe on social or by text or by email? Even just with one person. Just copy the link from the app you’re using and tell those you know those you love, those you want to help navigate this thing called life a little better so we can all do it better together with more ease and more joy.
Jonathan Fields (00:52:29) – Tell them to listen, then even invite them to talk about what you’ve both discovered. Because when podcasts become conversations and conversations become action. That’s how we all come alive together. Until next time, I’m Jonathan Fields, signing off for Good Life Project.