Posted in Blogs

What is the soul?

As I prepare for my Ph.D journey, the vegan, ecofeminism, and spirituality reading lists are gearing up, y’all! One book I have been greatly enjoying is called Making Sense of Death: Spiritual, Pastoral, and Personal Aspects of Death, Dying and Bereavement. Death has always been fascinating to me, and as a spiritualist, I understand that as our physical bodies die on Earth, our souls return home — a glorious, blissful, familiar journey back to the source of the universe.

One of my favorite chapters so far is titled “The Death of a Spouse: A Spiritual and Psychological Crisis” (Zonnebelt-Smeenge & DeVries). Many of these chapters are written by bereavement counselors, hospice workers, social workers, or psychologists who study not only people’s preparation for death, but also how a departed soul’s human survivors respond to the death. As we can imagine, a spouse/partner’s death would be unimaginably painful.

This chapter’s authors reference the work of Rachael Kessler to unpack how the surviving partner’s soul recovers in the process of bereavement. In doing so, they unpack Kessler’s seven primary conditions of the soul — which, with or without the context of bereavement, are fascinating to explore.

There they are:

Seven primary conditions of the soul

1. The soul represents a yearning for deep connection.
This connection is sought with one’s self, others, nature, and a higher power.

2. The soul longs for silence and solitude.
This helps people face their fears, find peace, reestablish a spiritual center, and reflect.

3. The soul searches for meaning and purpose.
A foundation of a worldview is essential to a healthy life with direction.

4. The soul hungers for joy and delight.
Soul issues do not eliminate the delightful only to focus on the somber and serious.

5. The soul is the seat of creative drive.
Sometimes referred to as the indomitable human spirit, the soul ultimately does not want to accept defeat.

6. The soul represents the urge for the transcendent.
People turn to a higher power for guidance and consolation, placing their issues into perspective within the grand picture.

7. The soul contains the need for initiation.
People’s souls bring them out of pain and into the light so they can enjoy a fulfilling life.

I am loving this list. It’s no wonder that when I’m feeling bliss, at least one of these conditions — and usually more — are being satisfied. When we remember that our truest selves is our soul, it’s easy to reread these statements by replacing the words “the soul” with “I.”

Yes, those are all my needs!

Which of those seven conditions do you satisfy most frequently? Which of them do you barely satisfy at all? As condition #2 states, deep and meaningful reflection leads us into the silence and solitude that provides all the answers. What do you need? What does your soul need?

Posted in Podcasts

Enlightenment Requires Fear

Listen to our latest podcast on Soundcloud or iTunes by searching Real Talk Universe!

“If I seek peace, I must embrace my fears.” What has fear robbed you of? Are you a reluctant sage? Did you know that fear can pave the way to enlightenment? We’re taught to avoid our fears, but often our fears represent the cosmic lessons we’re meant to learn during our human incarnation—and just like a parking ticket, you better pay that bill, or else your fear-based spiritual lesson will come back and slap you twice as hard, henny! Don’t let fear be a distraction from doing the real work on your own hero’s journey. Beginning with a metaphor about Juan’s brief stint as a blonde, Charise & Juan-Juan begin a conversation about how we navigate the path to enlightenment—and why fear is a requirement.

Posted in Podcasts

Who are you outside your addictive behaviors?

In this episode, Sister Charise & Juan-Juan are exploring the concept of time (otherwise known as “tiiiiiiiiime,” per Charise’s story) and how we use and abuse it. When we feel like time is escaping us, we panic to make dreams come true immediately: hence Charise’s daily addiction to and Juan’s addiction to finding new jobs. Where do our addictive habits come from, and how do we manage them in a healthy way? We also explore 5 stages of addiction-based change that frame our relationship with any addiction: food, people, vices, or anything that keeps you up at night!

Listen now at Soundcloud or iTunes at Real Talk Universe!

Posted in Blogs

Healing from Fuckboys

If you’re (still) getting over an ex — or currently testing your willpower with a fuckboy in your life — you know as well as I do that your opinion about the person in question can change with the wind.

It’s okay, love. We all have our weak moments, even after days… weeks… months… years?… of retraining ourselves to live without this person. Post-breakup, we have a surge of anger-fueled pride that engulfs a sea of journal pages where we declare, “I’ll never let someone have that control over me again!” and “I deserve so much better!” and “It all seems so clear now; I get what people were telling me all along!”

But after the anger goes away and you remember that, actually, this person wasn’t a total piece of shit — that there were many redeeming qualities that made you fall in love with them, and they were doing the best they could given the shitty hand they were dealt by their family of origin and their patriarchal world — it becomes much harder to remember why we were once so at peace with parting ways.

For those of us who need a reminder of why we aren’t with our ex or why we need to finally ditch the fuckboy causing us grief, consider the following:

1. Did you forget that your wellness as a human being depends on a loving relationship with yourself rather than your never-ending pursuit of approval from someone else?

2. Did you forget that this person hurt you over, and over, and over again? And then you internalized it and changed who you were in order to be “perfect” for them?

2b. And did you forget that two months to one year is not enough time for someone to fully change their undesirable behaviors?

2c. And that your brain is still trained in an unhealthy way to always feel inadequate around them even if they did change?

3. Did you forget that if your relationship requires both of you to change in order for it to work, then the relationship is based on fear rather than love?

4. Did you forget that crying, “I’ll never find someone ever again who gets me like they do!” is the same thing you said about the last five fuckboys in your wall of shame whose names you barely remember? And then, luckily, someone new always came along to prove you wrong?

5. Did you forget that your attachment to this person is an addiction intended to recreate a past that, while sometimes joyful, was laced with pain?

6. Did you forget the famous line from Perks of Being a Wallflower: “We accept the love we think we deserve”?

6b. Did you forget what you deserve?

7. Did you forget that it is not romantic, blissful, or tragically beautiful to be mentally and physically debilitated when navigating a relationship?

7b. Did you forget that every TV show and movie lied to you when it showed people getting back together and it working out well? Did you know how incredibly unlikely it is that you won’t run into the same shit with each other, thus delaying your inevitable separation?

8. Did you forget that your happy memories don’t lose value if they sit still in time — that you are actually preserving the integrity of the good times by not insulting them with more bad times?

9. Did you forget that if it’s not a fuck yes, then it’s a fuck no?

10. Did you forget that, back up in spirit world before you incarnated, you and your ex/fuckboy’s souls planned every detail of your story here on earth — that you were destined to meet to teach specific lessons to one another that may or may not manifest directly in this relationship — that you saw recognized the divine in one another because, for that period of time you were together, you were the “one” for each other?

Well, if you forgot, now you remember.

Love and light | xoxo

P.S. Watch this too.

Posted in Uncategorized

Spiritual Autopilot

Two months ago, at our first staff meeting of the new year, I shared with my colleagues that I would continue to prevent avoidable pain in 2018. I specifically used the phrase “surrendering to the truth,” conceptualizing surrender not as an admission of personal powerlessness, but rather an admission that it is no longer worth fighting against the truth.

When we fight against the truth, we choose to create pain.

When we fight against the truth, we lose time we could have spent living with the truth.

When we fight against the truth, we always lose; as they say, “Beat ’em or join ’em.”

You cannot possibly imagine the minefield of truth bombs I’ve navigated in just two months of this year. At the risk of perpetuating victim mentality, I should mention that these truths were so good for me to work out — so much so that I’ve added a new theme word for 2018: reckoning.

There has been so much reckoning!

Almost immediately after the new year, I began reckoning with the pain my physical body has endured. While I have been vegan and vegetarian for the majority of the past seven years, we know a plant-based lifestyle doesn’t absolve other bodily damage from sugars, processed foods, sweeteners, and hormones from meat I would’ve eaten through adolescence. The scorecard for my body hasn’t been a good one:

  • Childhood obesity
  • Years of crash dieting and body dysmorphia
  • Years of working out, many with improper form
  • An addiction to food binges to cope with emotional distress
  • Almost an entire lifetime of hating my reflection in the mirror

This pain showed symptoms in my joints — so much so that a doctor misdiagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis! Thankfully, my supervisor recommended an incredible acupuncturist in Tallahassee who took one look at my joints and told me this has nothing to do with arthritis. Instead, I had digestive issues! “In Chinese medicine,” she said, “digestive issues are all related to unresolved family pain.”

Well, fuck.

Indeed, over two decades of family issues now resides in my digestive tract, materializing as a gluten intolerance and prescription for a gluten-free, sugar free diet. All those years of emotional eating! It doesn’t take a perceptive person to know I have family issues abound, but the connection between food and family is a critical one for me. The more absent I became in my family’s changing landscape, the more I numbed, numbed, numbed with the sugar.

And while I have so intentionally — and successfully — remained independent from my family in a multitude ways (including geographically) in order to be come the person I needed to be — the person I would never have become if I never broke out of my socialized family mold, I am learning from Chinese medicine that you don’t solve unresolved family issues with a digestive pill.

As January went on, I learned I was rejected from my first-choice PhD program in Orlando. This was an incredible shock given the fact that this program was less competitive and the program director verbally confirmed my high degree of probability to be admitted. I had just spent the best day in Orlando seeing friends, journaling at my favorite coffee shops, and watching my forever queen Lana Del Rey in concert. When I checked my admission status after the concert, it was a big fat no.

The universe said, “NOPE!”

While my body quickly made peace with this news, my mind was already spinning a new plan. I had to be in Orlando. I started job searching and even applied to their Master’s in Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy program (!). I know. In the future, if your friend decides they want to pursue an entirely different career in the span of five yours, please recognize that this is a silent cry for help! In the back of my mind I knew I was waiting to hear from two Pennsylvania schools, but I had largely written them off. Not only were they much more competitive than my Orlando option, but I was stubborn in my manufactured truth that here is where I needed to be.

Long story long…

  • I got an interview for the therapy program.
  • A few days later, I learned I was admitted to the University of Pittsburgh with a full ride for five years. Pittsburgh is casually where ALL of my family lives.
  • A few days later, I learned I was rejected from Penn State University.

In the epic battle of Orlando vs. Pittsburgh that lived in my mind for too long, I had to reckon with another inconvenient truth: I wanted Orlando so badly because I was still secretly — even to myself — in love with someone who lived there. How could “super evolved me” possibly consider this dead-end option as a viable one? (and believe me, it is indeed a dead end). Spirit sent me an absurd dream that night that prompted me to call him the following morning.

We learned: Despite lingering feelings, we know it still will not happen.

The universe, again, said, “Girl, we’ve been through this like actually 1,000 times by now.”

I thought of the Victim card in the Chakra Wisdom Oracle Card deck that represents my year from January to March. It asks, “Are you willing to make different choices in order to grow?”

I signed my contract to the University of Pittsburgh the next day.

Then, some cool things happened:

The following day, I woke up to a text from my cousin saying she would also be moving to Pittsburgh. We’re hoping to live together.

The day after that, I signed my teaching assistantship and scholarship contract. Let’s just say all that abundance work over the past year has been paying off; that contract affords me the luxury of not having to find an additional job.

My body continues to heal every single day. I feel myself getting stronger.

The best way for me to describe my state of existence for the last two months is spiritual autopilot. The difference between what I hoped, expected, planned, and even forced (!) my life to be is so different from what is going to happen. Reminding me of my need to move on from my unfinished business — both in terms of romantic relationships as well as my food/digestive issues — the universe made an offer that was too good to refuse.

Isn’t that an interesting way to think about the universe’s care for us? An offer too good to refuse?

I can’t say I’m an expert on following signs from the universe, and I can’t say I still won’t fight against the truth in order to preserve my status quo when I am so blinded to and fearful of the inconvenience of change. But I wonder what would have happened if I played the “Orlando or Bust” card and withdrawn my Pennsylvania applications? Would it have been so obviously wrong that the universe would have course corrected immediately? Or would I have suffered through yet another round of writing my narrative exactly as I wanted it, unwilling to embrace a plot twist? What I do know is that mind, body, and spirit are aligning perfectly in what this time up north will mean for me.

Here is how I’m feeling in the last month of the Victim card, moving steadily toward my season of Gratitude beginning in April:

I am partnering with my truth in order to create love and joy.

I am choosing to accept my truth now so I can live in the present moment without pain.

I am forever grateful for my intuition that reminds me I’ll never fuck up as long as I’m expecting a miracle.





Posted in Podcasts

The Perfect Relationship in Hell

Does the pain in your relationship make you feel like you’re living in hell? Or have you been in a relationship that ended because you and your partner just couldn’t surrender to the truth? Today, Sister Charise and Juan-Juan explore concepts from Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Mastery of Love”: the idea of an unconditionally loving relationship, the toxicity of control and perfection, and how we attract people who aren’t good for us. Turn that finger around and take a look in the mirror, honey: when we say, “It’s not me; it’s you,” the wise of us know that it’s really both of us. Join us for a black-heart-emoji Valentine’s day chat!

Listen on iTunes or your podcast app today!

Posted in Podcasts

PODCAST: Disciplined Wellness

Arthritis, essential oils, and car accidents… oh my! 2018 is off to an interesting start for Charise & Juan, and you know damn well we’re gonna tell you all about it! Today we’re talking about tests from the universe, making the choice to be well, the experience of loving growing older, and how we’re embracing oil-, food-, and alternative health-based healing. The concept of “discipline” doesn’t have to be limiting to your freedom; rather, let it serve as a commitment to the universe that you want to feel better, do better, and be better.

Listen to this podcast on iTunes or your podcast app today!