Episode 50 – A Perfect Storm
Listen to this episode here!
In this week’s podcast Rachel talks about how she deals with social media drama and how more than anything, it’s a reflection of our inner world and can be a great lesson in sitting with your emotions. She talks about her deep longing of being of service and how it’s evolved from moving snails across the road when she was a little girl to launching non-profit initiatives today, and shares a recent experience with online drama. When it comes to doing good, people will always judge and voice their own opinions! The question is how to learn from each other and remember the true intention behind your actions. She walks us though the ins-and-outs of her new social media marketing initiative and opens up about making mistakes, being human and how at the end of the day, we are all doing the best we can.
Hi and welcome to another episode of From The Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl. Hoooly moly, you guys! Hi, how are you? It’s nice to talk to you. I have so much to share, I have so much to talk about, I honestly don’t even know where to begin. So, right now, I’m sitting in my bedroom. It’s early morning here in Aruba. I never recorded a podcast in the morning before, ever. And also, this is the third podcast that I’m recording for this week in the past 12 hours, because there’s a lot going on. So, before I dive into all of this madness and some drama and a lot of stuff I’m going to share, I want to just take a moment and take a really deep breath, and maybe you would like to join me and do the same. (audible breath) Alright. Hey!
[000:55] So, in the spirit of From The Heart, before I dive in, how am I feeling this morning? So, just speaking From The Heart, what’s moving through me? I had kind of a whirlwind of a 24 hours just now, and in this moment I’m feeling really good. I have a little bit of back pain, I kind of threw my back out last week. Or, was it last week? No, beginning of this week. And it’s very related to some fears that I’m sitting with in my body. And I’m on this very … kind of very intense healing journey right now that I’m sharing pretty publicly. So, that’s actually what I was going to talk about, or what my original podcast was about, was the balance I’m looking to find between fire and water, and working really hard to physically rid myself of these fears that I had lingering in my system. So, a whole other conversation.
[001:44] Then, last night, I sat down in my bedroom in the evening, the way I normally record this podcast, and I like to grab a glass of wine, and I sit down, and I kind of just turn on the mic, and it’s like I’m talking to an old friend, you know? That’s what this podcast is for me, really. It’s just this very vulnerable moment of sharing. And then I start talking about what I’m going through this week, and some fears I have about the baby, and some healing experiences that I’ve had, and epiphanies and things like that, and then I realize, like right in the middle of the podcast, I was like, “Holy fork! I forgot to post the purposeful ad!” And I had to kind of turn the podcast off, because I realized I had to post this one ad that I was supposed to do.
[002:24] So, for anyone listening who, maybe if you haven’t been part of this conversation for a while, so a couple podcasts back I talk about this, social media marketing and mindful marketing. About a week ago I shared an Instagram post talking about the fact that I’m introducing a brand new initiative on my platform, which for me is a super big deal. First of all, it’s a super big deal, it’s really scary, I haven’t done it before, and I’ve been really against it really kind of my whole life. So, I’m going to start sharing some very limited marketing on my Instagram platform, with the sole purpose of raising money for a nonprofit cause.
[002:57] How this all got started, and this has been kind of a … it’s been a little while coming. So, I’ve had Instagram for six years I’ve been on Instagram. It’s a really long time. Like, holy cow. Some of you guys have been kind of tagging along and following along since maybe 2012 or 2013, something like that, early days when I started the first YogaEveryDamnDay challenge. It’s a really long time ago. A lot of things have happened along the way. And for me, Instagram has become this very personal space where I want to share a genuine piece of my heart, and just genuine ways to inspire, to make the world a better place.
[003:31] So for me, really early on, whenever an Instagram ad would come up in my own feed, I would feel so, like, icky by it, like really triggered by it. And this is just me and my personal feelings. So, I like to have, or I like to be really selective with who I follow on Instagram. If I ever scroll through Instagram, I want to feel inspired and uplifted and empowered. And if there’s every marketing there, for me it’s important that it’s really transparent and obvious, like, “Oh, here’s an ad.” Similarly to you listening to this podcast, that, “Oh, here’s an ad.” You know? That it’s really transparent and real and true, right? So, whenever I started seeing these influencers and people just promoting all sorts of stuff, you know, like weight loss teas or yoga pants or makeup or whatever. But it was always kind of sneakily hidden in the post, so you wouldn’t really know, is this an ad or not? Like, is this person getting paid to say this? Or is this just like a genuine share?
[004:25] I started kind of publicly speaking up about the fact that this is not my thing. I really, you know, really really don’t vibe well with it at all, and I made the really strong, kind of public decision to not use my platform for marketing. And this is not me trying to be noble or pretending like I’m a better person than anybody else, not at all, it’s just me and my personal decision because, I think, for me what I share, it’s just so deeply personal, and it would feel really off if all my personal messages and the things that I share that are sometimes really raw and really painful, and, you know, a lot of the times when I share long captions on Instagram, I do it while crying. It’s a really intense moment for me. So, I just, for me to sneak in, like, “Oh, sponsored by …” Or, “These pants are from this and that brand,” it just didn’t sit right, right?
[005:11] So, that’s what I’ve been doing. For the past six years, it’s been like, a very ad and marketing free platform. Also, you know, it’s not always the easiest thing. I have to kind of share that. There’s been a couple of moments where we’ve gotten some really amazing offers from some really cool brands, and I have sat with it, we’ve even flown places for collaborations to kind of talk about if this would make sense, and at the end of the day, I kind of, almost every time, come down to that, “No, you know what, this doesn’t feel 100%,” because, and I think this is how also I feel like I can differentiate myself a little bit … I have other ways of making a living, right? So, I’m a yoga teacher, I have a strong business, we have a yoga studio here, I lead retreats and teacher trainings. Teaching yoga is how I started, it’s my passion in life, it’s what I’m really here to do. So, if I can make living that way, for me that’s enough. I’m content with that. For other people, of course, social media can be a really great way to make a living, you know? If you can create a platform and you can use ads in a cool way, and then that’s kind of, you know, how you make money to support and sustain your family. I don’t have to do that because I have another form of income. Not everybody has that. So, you know, there’s lots of different stuff behind this.
[006:23] Anyway, so, last year, end of last year, beginning of this year, it’s come along, it’s been kind of creeping up on me since I became a mom. I’ve always had, always, I mean for as long as I can remember, this really strong anchor in wanting to be of service. It’s just, I think I was born that way? Honestly, I think everybody has this within them. For some of us it’s just very present, you know? It’s very much in the front of our minds? I think everyone is just kind of one epiphany or one moment of perspective away from realizing that the only form of really true, pure joy and feeling truly purposeful in life is being of service to others. Whether it’s serving other communities or people in need or the planet, and there’s thousands of ways of doing this, large and small. Sometimes the smallest actions have the greatest impact! You know, if all of us spent more time focusing on smaller actions, we could really, truly, all together change the world. So, this has been something that I have been immersed in for a long time.
[007:25] I remember, when I was little, someone asked me about this. “Do you remember the first time ever you kind of did something for someone else in a selfless way?” When I was little, I was always such an animal lover. If there’s ever an animal in need, any … I have an animal recue foundation here in Aruba. We have 97 animals in our care right now. It’s kind of getting out of hand. We’re opening an animal shelter that we’re busy painting and renovating right now. You know, a lot of what I do now is very anchored in animals. But even when I was little, this memory kind of came back to me the other day. So, we used to have this little house on the countryside in Sweden where my family and my aunts and cousins and everybody would go every summer, and whenever it rained these big, slimy, long snails, like snails without a shell, they would come out on the road and on the driveway in front of our house. They would just come out, and they would be everywhere, right? And I remember, every time it rained I would feel so incredibly panicked about the fact that people were going to drive in and out of the driveway, and there were these snails on the road. So, whenever it rained I would put on my rain boots and I would go outside and I would go on a snail mission, and I would just gather as many snails as I possibly can and kind of get them off the road and bring them out into the forest, and then they would come crawling back, and I would take the snail and go back into the forest to keep them safe.
[008:46] I even remember one day, because I had my cousins would always make fun of me, like, “Ew, they’re icky! They’re snails, why are you touching them?” You know, they kind of didn’t get it, I guess. For me it was just so obvious, like, they’re a living, breathing being! You know? I love him. And I picked up a snail, I was like, “Look how beautiful he is! He’s so perfect and precious, we have to save him.” And my cousin went, “Well, if you love him so much, why don’t you give him a kiss?” And I remember holding, maybe I was like six years old or something, and I remember holding this, I mean it was a really icky, slimy snail, and I’m holding it in my hand and I’m like, “Oh my god, I have to prove this point now!” So, I kissed the snail, and the snail released this whole thing of slime, and it got stuck all over my face and all over my mouth, and it wouldn’t come off! And I had to go running into the house crying for my mom. She’s like, “What did you do?!” I’m like, “I kissed the snail!” (laugh) And I was kind of old enough to understand, like, you know, this was stupid. But, I really remember this, and this is how I grew up. I always, always had this anchor in wanting to do good for other people. Especially voiceless beings, so like animals, snails, I never kill mosquitos, this is just something that’s been a part of me.
[009:53] One of the biggest fights I ever had with my dad, and this is funny that I’m thinking about this now, because I told this story just the other day for the first time, I think, in forever. I think maybe I was eleven or twelve or something. My dad used to live in Latvia, in Riga, he lived there for over 20 years, and he had a little restaurant there, and he was at the restaurant, and he had promised me, I don’t know if it was my birthday or some event or some celebration, that I was going to get, like, a Walkman. You know? One of those old ones, kind of, that you put a CD player, like a CD Walkman thing, you know? Like, before there was iPods and iPads and iPhones and all of that stuff. And the special one that I wanted was special because you could walk with it. It was, like, shock resistant. And the other Walkman that I had, like, you couldn’t turn it sideways, you couldn’t turn it upside down, because then it would skip or it would stop. And this was, like, a brand new, super cool one, where you could like walk with it, and it wouldn’t stop.
[010:43] Anyway, so he gave me money, and he gave me 100 euros, which is, I think, almost the same as a hundred dollars, which is a lot of money. I walked down the street and I had my money and it’s winter time and I had my boots on and I’m going to this mall around the corner to go to this electronics store to get my Walkman thing. Right outside the entrance to the mall, there was this woman sitting … I don’t know how old she was, because I was so young, but there’s this woman sitting, and she’s not wearing any clothes. She doesn’t have a jacket, she doesn’t have a sweater, she’s clearly really, really cold. She’s wrapped in this kind of sheet, and there’s a little candle in front of her, and in her arms is a tiny little baby, and she’s sitting and it’s snowing. It’s freezing cold, she’s sitting on a little thing of cardboard outside this mall where people are walking in and out to buy, like, Christmas gifts, and everything smells like perfume, and people are wearing furs and jackets, and she’s just sitting there outside the mall with nothing. With a baby! And I remember having this, like total, like … I just stopped in my tracks and I was looking at people just walking in and out, walking past her. So I go, well this isn’t right, you know? And I didn’t even hesitate. I remember not even thinking twice. I took my hundred dollars and I run over to the lady and I said, “Here you go,” and I gave her the money. And she looked at me, and then I just, I left.
[011:57] I went back to the restaurant, or to my dad’s place, and I was like, “Hey dad, do you think I could have another hundred dollars?” He was like, “What?! Did you lose them? Did you drop, did you get robbed? What happened?!” I said, “No, there was a lady sitting in the street, and I gave it away.” And he was so upset. Oh my god, he was furious. And I get it, like now, it’s a lot of money, of course, of course, it’s kind of crazy and reckless of me to do that. But, I didn’t even think twice, like, that my dad would get upset or that it was for something else, or, you know … And this is one of the kind of arguments that I constantly, consistently have with my dad. Like, I always give people, beggars or homeless people, I always give them money or food, and his argument is, like, “Well it goes to drugs, or it goes to alcohol,” you know. If you have enough, if you have too much, if you have abundance, then give some away. It’s just … (sigh) I think it’s a solid way to live your life, alright? Not trying to preach like I’m holier than thou, but this is just my way of living, I guess. This is just how I operate.
[012:58] So, all my initiatives leading up into last year have been in my book, they haven’t been ginormous. I mean, I’ve been doing what I can. So, the animal rescue initiative is a really big thing. Actually, before we started the proper foundation, it actually took more energy before then, because we didn’t have a team. So, my rescue efforts, whenever it came to rescuing stray animals in Aruba was that whenever I saw a sad dog or a dog that wasn’t in good shape, or a puppy in the street, or a skinny dog, or a dog that was sick, like whatever I was doing, I would just stop the car, get the dog in the car, and go to the vet, and then I would take the dog home, and I would fight with Dennis, for weeks, you know? Because we had so many rescues and so many strays, and they didn’t mesh well with our dogs, and it was always, you know, it wasn’t a good thing, and it was really draining and really hard. But for me, just driving by and leaving the puppy on the side of the road, it just wasn’t an option, at all. So, a lot of my energy went there, but it was really heavy, right? It was really … I would cry when I saw a dog in the street, it was just very heavy, very intense. And then we opened Sgt. Pepper’s friends, which is the animal rescue here as a memory or in the name of our dog, Sgt. Pepper, who passed away four years ago. … Is it already four years? Jesus. No, three and a half years.
[014:11] Since then, for me, this effort has become super easy. Honestly, I don’t even feel like it’s … like I’m pouring myself into this foundation. And the foundation is thriving, it’s doing amazing. And right now, like, I raise the funds, I promote the foundation when it’s needed. We do the administrational work behind when people find dogs, but my main, you know, my main purpose behind the foundation is marketing and bringing in the money. That’s what I do right now. I am no longer the person who is like on the side of the road, chasing the puppies, lying in dirt, which used to be me. So, I’ve been able to make a greater impact, because we now have this amazing team, and this shelter that we open, we bought a property with the donations that we’ve received. We’ve done so much, and it’s really good. But I no longer feel like, you know, not that I’m not doing enough, I just feel like, “Oh, I have a lot of energy left!” I guess that’s a good way of doing it. This foundation runs well, I have a lot of energy left. I can do more, right?
[015:09] So, a couple years back we also founded 109 World that I did together with my two co-founders Olivia and Laticia. I have a podcast with Olivia, my best friend, talking about 109 a couple months back, if you want to scroll and read that, or listen to that. But, 109 World was born through another initiative which was, for me, just this organic thing that sort of happened. It was very, very simple. So, I lead these yoga retreats. Right now I do seven a years. It’s a lot, or with teacher training, seven groups a year. They’re very popular, they sell out very fast, they’re super transformational, beautiful weeks. They’re my favorite thing in the world. And I did one, this was one in Thailand, and we’d never been to Thailand before, we’d never done a retreat in Asia. Normally these retreats would take, like, a month or two months or, you know, a little while to sell out, and then we would go, we’d go to Costa Rica or Aruba or Bonaire, you know, around my neck of the woods. Then I announced that we had this really beautiful retreat and the new retreat location was going to be in Koh Samui in Thailand. And in one day, like, this retreat just sold out! It was totally insane. It was, I mean, administrational-wise, it took longer for us to sign everybody up and everything, but we used PayPal to receive funds, and we had hundreds of people just forward us money for the deposit to join the retreat. This was before I had, like, a proper team, with staff and employees and all this stuff. It was just me, Dennis, and our assistant sitting around our kitchen table, and we had hundreds of people that sent us money to come to this retreat. We had to refund people. We didn’t know what to do! Like, oh my god! And then we had to kind of select, like, who gets to come? It was super intense! And my thought was, “Whoa! Look at all of this abundance! It’s too much! There’s no way (we had 45 people on that retreat) I’m like, there’s no way I can take more than that. That’s too much. 50 people is, like, max. No matter what. I’m never going to have retreats with 500 people in them!” So, what do I do with this superfluous abundance? Like, we’re just overflowing here. Like, where can we put that to good use, right? Because all these people, they want to come, they want to practice yoga every day, they want to go on this trip, but they can’t. So, how can we use this, right? And do something … Maybe we can do something really cool.
[017:17] So, I had this idea, it was like, “Okay, if hundreds of people want to come to this yoga retreat where we’re like drinking green juice every day and eating organic foods and swimming in waterfalls and doing yoga, all of that is really amazing, but what if we all came together and we did something for communities in need?” Like, holy moly, maybe not 500 people want to come to that, but what if, like, 100 people want to come to that? What can 100 people do spending their money, like, retreat money, which is a lot … It’s a lot of money going on a trip like that. What if there was a way to kind of use that, and to use my influence and to make deals with hotels, and maybe with airlines and kind of have these companies donate, or give big discounts, so that all of the money that’s raised for a retreat can go to a good cause? Like, that was just the original, really basic idea. And through that, we founded 109 World.
[018:07] It’s definitely developed since then, it’s become much, much more than that. But we have social mission project all over the world, and we’ve had projects in … I mean, everywhere. I have … let me see if I can kind of rattle them off. We’ve done Nicaragua, we’ve done Ecuador, Latvia (we did an orphanage there), we did a mission in Sweden for supporting women that have suffered through sexual violence and abuse. The one in Ecuador was in support of the earthquake that happened there, to build a community space for people to survive after the earthquake. In Nicaragua we brought an entire village water, sustainable, potable water, for the first time. We did Thailand, we did a refugee camp in Greece. Yeah, we’ve done tons, like so much, so much, in just a really short time that we’ve been operating. It’s been a really beautiful, beautiful journey. And it’s so much work! And this is where things kind of are. I guess there’s a difference between the local foundation here, where things are fairly easy. The global mission foundation takes so much work. The team that we need there, like, you know, they really kill themselves to make this happen, day in, day out.
[019:17] At the end of the day, no matter how much work was poured into every project, or every mission that we do, at the end of the day, it’s always worth it. Like, it’s always … It’s so, so fucking worth it. Like, I can’t even tell you. There’s been moments where I’ve really doubted, because yeah, it has been a lot of hard work. And some of the things that … One of the things that I noticed really early on, or that all of us noticed, specifically through 109 was whenever you start any nonprofit initiative, or any mission initiative, anything that’s just, you know, for a good cause, people immediately get super nitpicky and start judging you for the way in which you do good. And this was a huge surprise for me, honestly. I mean, I do a lot of work through social media, like everyone has comments and thoughts and judgments and hate sometimes and all of that. That kind of comes with the gig. But, I was so surprised when we launched 109 World all of the sudden these people were like, “What are you really doing with this money? And what are these people getting paid working for the foundation? And why would you do it this way? This doesn’t seem like a good cause, there’s better causes to put your money at. Why are you working there and not there?” And all of this judgment started coming in, and I was so, like, dude … hey! Why are people all of the sudden so judgmental when it comes to doing really good things for the world? Is it because there’s this fundamental, underlying complete lack of trust in the fact that people want to do good things? Like, I just, I still don’t really get it. But there’s something about people doing good that brings forth this total judgment from other people. And maybe it is on this deep spiritual level that we all feel like we want to do more, and seeing people do a lot can be really triggering for other people. I really don’t know, and I still don’t get it.
[020:58] A struggle that we’ve had, for sure, if you’re running a nonprofit, whoever works for that foundation, you know, are going to need to get paid. That’s also, like, a really weird misconception about working in the nonprofit world. It’s not like you have, you know, all of these people working for good causes living in tents in the street at the end of the day. These are people that do amazing work for a really good cause. They deserve to get paid for the work that they do. This work should be even higher value than just a regular day to day job, like, whatever you do. At least that’s my opinion, you know? So if people in the nonprofit sector, if they can’t get paid, we’re never going to have enough good initiatives to truly make a difference in the world. And since it’s a nonprofit, you know, no one makes money at the end of the day. That’s just, that’s literally what it means.
[023:24] So, it’s been kind of a … it’s been a really interesting path, at least for me, the couple of years navigating this, and working to find the balance between giving a lot away, and also realizing that to give a lot away or to do a lot of good, you have to have a lot, right? You first need to have that abundance. You first need to have that overflow. You need to have to give. And not just in terms of money and funds, but like you need to have energy to be able to give a lot away. If you drain yourself through the causes that you’re working with, you’re not going to have enough to make the difference that you’re actually able to make if you would have that zest and that passion for what you’re doing. So it’s a really important balance to walk.
[024:03] I guess since becoming a mom, you know, this for me has become even more important. Definitely, definitely. All of last year, while nursing the baby and kind of being at home and changing my pace, I’ve had this feeling, you know? This underlying feeling of wanting to be of service. It’s grown way louder than before. Like, since having Lea Luna, it’s become this … almost this renewed sense of purpose, in a way. And not just that I want to support kids and children, although that’s definitely rising on my list. Like, I feel an urgency to support kids in need more than I did before. But I just … I feel really purposeful in my motherhood. And also I think my heart has grown a couple of sizes and it’s just … I have a really hard time absorbing pain and suffering. And I know, if I’m in a place where I can do more, I want to do more. So that thought and that emotion has been growing in the back of my mind for a long time.
[024:57] And then, a couple of months ago, this was a big … uh, yeah. A big kind of milestone … What’s the word I’m looking for? Like, a big moment in this whole process was there was a really horrible, really hard for me to talk about without crying, but a really horrible case of child abuse that happened here in Aruba. And, like, all the projects I just mentioned, all those social mission projects, they happen abroad. And we do so much for them, but in other places, other parts of the world. And in Aruba, this really horrible, horrible case of child abuse came to surface where two young boys, three and five years old, were killed at the hands of their parents. Tortured at the hands of their parents. One of them was buried in the backyard, and the other one was brought into the hospital with … yeah, enough wounds, yeah, for him to pass away the next day.
[025:53] This came out, and for me, it was like a punch in the gut. Like, they live 15 minutes away from me. 15 minutes away from where I live. And somehow I just, like, I couldn’t stop thinking about these boys. There was an outrage in the whole community, of course, you know, because it’s too close to home, and it was a degree of horror and pain that these kids had to endure. It was just, it was too much to even digest, to even understand. It was just, all of it, it was just too much.
[026:25] And for me, knowing that, okay, I’ve had this focus on supporting and doing good in other parts of the world, like serving other communities, other countries, and realizing, like, “Hey, this stuff happens in my own backyard, in my own community where I live, and I’m not giving it any thought!” Like, I wasn’t even aware, at all. Not at all. And it turns out, child abuse, and also sexual abuse towards children is super prevalent on the island where I live. The laws that are in place right now, and the punishment for pedophiles, for instance, and for … yeah, for people that abuse their kids in different ways. Like, it’s ridiculous! There’s no proper laws even in place to prevent this from happening. There’s a whole fucked up part about this system and this government when it comes to taking care of kids! And I had no idea. And it’s just something that isn’t really talked about, it’s not a lot in the papers, and it’s just, once you start digging, like, all of this came out. And of course, you know, through this incident that became really public in the country, a lot of this stuff started surfacing.
[027:22] So, I decided immediately, you know, what the hell am I doing right now? There’s a reason that the local animal rescue foundation we have runs really well, because it’s present, and I’m here, right? So it’s really easy for me to manage and keep track of and support, you know? It’s right here, it’s not overseas, it’s not in another place, another country. It’s easy to manage, because it’s here. And why am I pouring myself into all of these other projects when this shit is happening in my own home, like, this is just not doable.
[027:52] I made this really drastic decision to, okay, 2018 is going to be for the kids. That’s 100%, that’s what it is. Animals, like, that foundation is doing really well. I’m not going to pour myself into Sgt. Pepper’s Friends anymore. It’s going to continue and continue as it is, but any new initiatives, any new funds raised have to go towards a children’s initiative here in Aruba.
[028:17] We started doing a lot of research, and still haven’t decided exactly how this is going to go. It’s not the same thing, opening an orphanage or a foster home. I’m kind of envisioning, because the orphanages here, there are two, they’re always full. And the purpose of the orphanage is, which is really strange, is to return or re-unite the kids with the family, which to me makes no sense. Sometimes these kids are removed from horrible circumstances, and they’re put in the orphanage for a couple of months until they decide, “Okay, I guess your family, they’re doing better now, so you can go home.” Which just doesn’t make any sense at all. So most of these kids, they actually don’t end up getting adopted. They end up going back into this abusive place, in their house. These two kids, they were at the orphanage, and they were sent back, and they were killed there.
[028:58] I’m envisioning maybe like a foster home, like an in between. A transitional space for kids that have to be taken away from their parents, because they’re just not fit. But maybe not a proper orphanage where they stay forever, but like an in between space. Like a refuge, where we can have an organic garden and we can have real care and amazing support and do yoga and just pour love on these kids while trying to transition them to a proper living space, or to a proper home. Yeah, this is still a work in progress. We have a lot more research to do, and we have to also work with the Aruban government for this to happen, since it’s a lot.
[029:36] But what we know, in terms of starting this new foundation that I’m starting now, it’s not just going to be a local foundation here, but it’s going to be a global foundation that does good in many ways. And this specific children’s initiative will the first project that we do. With these boys and this moment, I had this, like, “Fuck it, I’m done now.” You know? I’m done making this little impact. I need to do something more. I need to do something bigger, something way way way more impactful than anything I’ve set out to do ever before. I need to launch something absolutely incredible. I need to raise a shit ton of money, so that we can all dedicate ourselves to making this world a better place. And yeah, to do that, you have to raise enough funds. You have to have enough people working on your team, you have to have enough time, enough energy … There’s a lot required for this to happen.
[030:25] So, beginning of this year I made the decision to switch gears and start focusing on making money to do good things. This might sound like a simple thing, “Well yeah that makes sense, make money to do good things,” I just have never had that as a motivator. Doing good yes, but making money no. So, I never think about the money at the end of the day. I just want to do what makes me happy, and I want our … to thrive. But I’ve never, you know, I’m not a numbers person at all, so I don’t look at that. But now all of the sudden, I started doing that. I’m like, okay, well how much do we need? What do we need to do? Like, for real big initiatives, to make a real impact. Okay, how can we make that happen? And not just through social media ask people to donate to causes, because that’s a really really slow and really long process, but what can we launch? How can we create to truly do something epic? That’s what this whole year has been about for me. So, whenever I talk about something secret and we’re launching something huge, blah blah blah, it’s very connected to this. I know it’s still secret, so it sucks, I wish I could tell you, but we’re a couple of months away still.
[031:28] Anyway, tied into this, this is every single month, because of this decision that I’ve made that we don’t do marketing on the social media platforms, I turn a lot of money down. Like, a lot of money. Um, I wish I could give you specific numbers … Um, a lot, a lot of money. (laugh) Right? So when I had this big epiphany of like, “Fuck, okay, we need to do something really, really epic,” and then there was an offer that came in, and I have this agent that I work with who is awesome, who sends offers for collaborations and things my way, and nine times out of ten we turn them down, and he’s like, “Hey, okay, so this came up. I’m guessing it’s a no.” And it was so much money. We’re sitting in this meeting talking about how we can raise enough for this new foundation and this new launch, and then this offer came in, and I’m like, “No, yeah, it’s a no.” And then I was just like, “Does it have to be a no?” Like, these brands that come along, and they go around to every social media influencer out there. To celebrities, to artists, to yoga influencers. Everybody out there. Everybody with any type of influence, there are brands reaching out to them – to me, to us – every single day, looking to pay a lot of money for their product or their service to be featured on that platform.
[032:35] And it’s, since long really proven that social media marketing works way better than, you know, does anybody ever really do like T.V. marketing or newspapers anymore? It’s not a current medium. So, these big brands are willing to pay a lot of money for this.
[032:50] Then I had this realization, like, fuck! Is there a way that we can just totally do this? Like, say yes to the biggest impact, meaning the biggest amount of funds raised, and have it be really commercial, look really commercial, make it super obvious that it’s an ad. Basically scream, like, “Ad! Ad! Ad! Here’s an ad!” 100% transparent, make it really, almost like, I envision it like almost a little bit cheesy, so that it would be like a break in my social media feed. And then for the whole community to know that yes this is an ad, but 100% of the proceeds of this ad goes to changing the world. It goes to helping people in need.
[033:30] Instead of asking the community, can everybody donate donate donate, help help help help help, trying to rally people to give like one or five or ten dollars here and there, we’re just, you know, we’ve learned through 109 World, isn’t a sustainable way to run a nonprofit. It doesn’t work long term. Can we get these big companies, who are the ones who sit on all the funds … Like, that’s also the case. We can, all of us, try to rally and give what we can every month, but there are these billion dollar corporations out there, many of whom actually do a lot of bad stuff for the world, already, through however they source their product, or through pollution, or through … Just the commercial side of life. We all play a part, we’re all players in that game. But there are these companies just making and spending so much fucking money. Like can we just use their money? Like, that money! And do something really good with it? Can we maybe even start sparking conversations with some of these huge brands and see, maybe they want to match our donation? If they do an ad on my page, okay, we’re going to donate all of this, this is how much will be donated to this cause, do you want to match it so we can do double? Or do you want to support, do you have an initiative somewhere … If we can start having this conversation with brands, maybe they will start looking at social media marketing in a slightly different way.
[034:43] Also, knowing that whenever I pass on an ad, that brand will go immediately to another influencer who will say yes, they will take that money, and it will not be put toward a nonprofit. It will be put toward whatever they do with their lives. So, my thinking was kind of like, okay, this is something that it’s going to continue happening in the world anyway, this is just normal commercial day-to-day life. If I play a part in it, and I can assure that my community knows, like, “Hey, we’re doing this kind of out of the box, totally different, not at all normal for this platform, like it’s totally different, but hey, look at what we’re doing with this money. Look at the kids we’re able to save with this money.” That’s just so totally fucking worth it! No matter the brand, no matter what it is, right? That was the decision that I made, and I still feel really really good about it.
[035:34] I shared a little bit through Instagram, I kind of spoke about, “Okay, you guys should get prepared, get ready, I’m going to do purposeful ads.” I call it #GoodKarmaMarketing, and then I call it #PurposefulAds, and I always wanted to attach that hashtag to each ad, so that it’s really clear when it’s an ad where 100% of the profits will go to this foundation.
[035:55] And then I sat down yesterday after kind of a long day to record this podcast, and I realized, “Oh shit! I forgot to post the ad! Oh my god oh my god oh my god.” So I just, I went on Instagram and I just copy pasted the caption, which was very ad-y. It says “Ad” like five times in the ad, is Paid Partnership, blah blah blah. I shared the ad, and then I started recording the podcast, and I’m talking about all of this other stuff, and then I was like, “Oh shit. I got to, like, check in on this post,” right? I got to just see how it’s doing.
[036:21] I pull up Instagram and there was, like, there was just a flood of hate. There was just a flood of … people are so upset, so upset. Like, oh my god. I am actually still in kind of shock of how upset some of you guys were at me. Because one, like, if you really follow me, if you’re really part of this community, wouldn’t you just know that … or be able to trust, like, that the end game, it’s big enough, you know? That however much is generated through this ad, it’s just so fucking worth it, you know? Couldn’t you just trust that, like, I’m not an idiot? We’re going some place with this, it’s genuine, it’s really real. I don’t know, I was really, really surprised in the beginning with the backlash of all of this. People getting so upset, like, “I can’t believe you chose this brand!” And then, you know, “This brand isn’t a natural brand, it’s not an organic brand, it’s not this yoga type brand,” which I was okay with, like I 100% was because the impact was big enough, right? It’s just, they’re going to continue doing their thing anyway, with or without me. Just because I’m posting the ad, I’m not pulling you by the hair, making you go out there and get their product. And you know that the money is generated, the purpose was to generate money for this orphanage, to save the lives of children.
[037:42] So yeah, I’m still kind of in shock, but also kind of getting where some of these people are coming from. These comments start coming in, and I’m just like, what?! I can’t believe it was this bad! Holy shit! Okay okay, and I’m reading stuff. And here’s how kind of, how the process, at least for me, goes. So whenever you get caught in like a perfect social media storm … I’m sure many of you have, I’m sure many of you have not been on the end of it when it’s 2 million plus people involved. It’s very intense. People that get really upset, they go beyond just commenting on the post. They will find my email address, send me hate mail, send me direct messages, like intense amount of direct messages, like really vicious stuff. And I’m an idiot and I’m polluting the world, and I’m … you know, really kind of intense things.
[038:29] For the person on the other end of this, i.e. Me, my first reaction was like, “Oh my fucking god. This …” I put my podcast stuff away, I went downstairs and was like, “Dennis, I … Something is happening. I don’t know.” Anyway, and then it continues. And then, here is where it gets, like, really tricky and really shitty for me. Someone comments, like, I cannot believe you support and endorse a brand that tests their products on animals. And I was like, “What?! That’s not true. There is no way, there is no way, like, no no no. I have a whole team that are involved when we made this decision. My whole brand, my teaching, me as a person, everything I do is dedicated toward being of service, to bringing less suffering into the world. It’s all about less suffering. There’s no … and I was like, “Okay, if it’s not an organic brand, I’m okay with that, because the impact is big enough.” But, you know, testing on animals, that’s just … no. No. Not at all. Not possible.
[039:24] I was almost crying on the phone. I was like, “Can you please immediately, like, get me a statement issued that says that this is not true? Like this is just not true.” Like, maybe people listening, you’re going to think I’m totally naïve and like a total idiot, but I live in this world where just this is not at the front of my mind. I, honestly, I did not even think to ask that question, because it’s just, it’s not … it’s just not, like, real to me. Like, how is that still possible? If it was at the front of my mind, like, yeah, for sure, I would have done more research. Hell yes. I should have done more research. But, honestly, it did not even occur to me to think that thought or to ask that question. So, super apologize for that, to anyone who is offended and I should have done more research.
[040:08] I live in Aruba, we don’t have Whole Foods, we don’t have health food stores here, we have no farmer’s market. Like, it’s a tiny island in the Caribbean. We use, like, regular, kind of toxic stuff for our house, sometimes. I order a lot of stuff from Amazon, sometimes it doesn’t come in on time, sometimes we run out. Sometimes there’s this one store on the island that they’ll have, like, one thing for your kitchen that isn’t toxic. But, we can’t get all of that stuff. I’m just a human being. I’m not all organic in everything I do. That’s just, yeah. It also was an authentic product for me to promote. Like, I’m just a normal person, knowing that all of this would go to something really good. However, if there’s suffering involved, like, no, I can’t do that.
[042:09] What happened was in the midst of this panic, because all of these comments coming in, all of the negativity, all of the people kind of hating on me, telling me I’m an idiot, I’m a hypocrite, how can I be vegan and support this company, lalala … Like, so inside of me, and this is something that I’m really deep in practice of right now, is being able to sit with my emotions as they surface, and also catch myself before I disappear in a rabbit hole of panic. I have a tendency of, like, jumping into the rabbit hole of panic, of fear, especially when it comes to my daughter, my baby girl. When I have a fearful thought about her, I can just follow that thought until oblivion, until it’s just, oh my god … It’s awful. But I’m working on that right now.
[042:52] So, whenever I end up in that place of like, “Oh my god, holy shit, the world is ending!” Or, “(Gasp) Oh my god what if she’s not breathing in her crib anymore?” Like, a thought like that, I would sit with a lot. And then go from, okay, here’s a fearful thought, here is a panicky moment. What’s reality? What’s actual, true reality, like, in this moment where I am. The fear is not based in reality. It’s not true. She’s in her crib, sleeping soundly, breathing well. I’m sitting here with my husband, eating dinner. We’re living this peaceful life where everything is safe and we’re well and we’re protected. Like, I’m really working on bringing my awareness back to that space again and again. And then now, in this perfect social media storm, I find myself with, like, hundreds of people telling me that I’m a terrible person, and I should go to hell, and I’m a hypocrite, and I’m bad, and I cannot believe, I’m so disappointed in you … And inside of myself I’m like, “Oh my god, I’m a horrible human being! I’m such a horrible human being. I cannot believe I did this. I fucked up! I am the worst person in the whole world. I should just, like, go jump off a bridge or something. I cannot believe this. I have no impact, I can’t do anything right, I’m just like a total fuck-up, and like oh my god I should just like … Ugh, I’m the worst person in the whole world!” You know? That was my thought process as I’m, like, reading through these comments, like, “Oh my god, I’m horrible, I’m horrible, I’m horrible!”
[044:13] And then, some time passed, because this is also how it works. A lot of process of my people talking to the agency and talking to their people, blah blah blah, people are on different time zones. While all of this was kind of being ironed out, I started calming down, and I just, like, put my phone away, and I ate dinner with my husband. Dennis cooked really delicious, actually, garlic ginger tempeh and rice and garlic broccoli. It was really good. And as I’m eating and just sitting there talking to Dennis, I just … I started mellowing out. And then I catch that thought of, like, “Oh my god, nobody likes me, I failed. I’m a failure.” You know, so instead of just isolating, like, “Hey, maybe this wasn’t an ideal thing that you just did. The end game is really good. If people knew all of the facts, maybe they would all agree that the end game is super awesome, and yeah, this was a really good move. Because that’s still what I believe. And I wish I could share all of the facts, but I just, I can’t in this moment. But, everyone is going to have their own opinion.
[045:09] And is it true, like, if a thousand people tell you that you’re a horrible person, does that make it real? You can also turn that around, like, if a thousand people tell you you’re an amazing person, does that make it real? Both of those things are completely false. It’s just not true. This is social media. Other people’s opinions and thoughts about everything in life from their own lenses, right? From their own views, poured onto another person. But virtually, right? So, it’s not really real life. Real present moment here. Like, hey, where am I? So I just, like, looked up, and I’m looking at my house, and we have candles lit in the living room, and my husband cooked this beautiful meal, it’s delicious. And, you know, I have this foundation being started, we’re doing this amazing initiative, and I just kind of could feel my breath mellowing out and it just started to calm down a little bit. Like, okay, hey. This is still okay. I don’t have to feel like I’m a horrible being because people don’t agree with something I just did. In my book, my eyes, was still totally worth it, and still a really good thing, right?
[046:17] I went from that, and then all of the sudden I started taking myself back to the original intention. I was like, “Well, hey, what are we doing with this money? We’re building this orphanage. Okay.” And then I started envisioning, like, what will that look like? The kids that will be present there, like, the lives we might be able to save. The lives we might be able to change through this money, through this one ad. And the more I think about it, the more pissed off, all of the sudden, like, I went from despair and feeling totally attacked and sad and like, “Oh, poor me,” you know, feeling really like, ugh … To like, fury. Like, I got so forking pissed off. I just, like, if you really sit with that perspective, and still like I can really sit with this today. I’m not angry anymore. I’ve totally gone through all of these emotions and I’ve landed in a really solid place.
[047:07] Yesterday, I was like, you know, all of these people that are telling me that I’m raising money the wrong way, right? I’m building an orphanage out of this pure incentive, pure intention of wanting to save the lives of children that are suffering through horrible abuse, right? That’s the end game. That’s the goal here. And I’m actively doing that by sharing this ad. I’m actively making that money. Yeah, it wasn’t great, yeah could have done more research, yes, I understand. Like, I understand everybody where you’re coming from. Yeah, maybe it didn’t resonate, maybe it was like a shock from what I normally share, like all of that, it’s okay. But, hey, at the end of the day, this is what I’m doing right now. This is, like, the potential impact that I have with my actions. And everybody that’s sitting there on Instagram pouring, like, negativity over me, saying that I’m doing horrible things, it was like, what the fuck are you doing with your time?! Like, what are you doing in your life? I you living this perrrrfect, like … to throw these rocks at me, you must be living this completely perfect, perfect, incredible life for all you do, where everything you do is just 100% perfect and you have no flaws whatsoever. Because, if not, like, how can you hate on an initiative like this?
[048:20] I got one comment that I really … that I really resonated with. I want to read it to you right now. This was one of the comments that kind of really made me just switch my perspective immediately. This is Courtney Lee. She ways, “Literally laughing out loud at all of these people hating on Rachel for using dirty, non-vegan, bad for the planet money to create an orphanage. You should all be ashamed, all of you. Enjoy driving to work in your gas-powered car that is harming the planet. Enjoy your fruits and veggies shipped from another country, more fossil fuels to harm the planet that directly contributes to animals dying through deforestation. You know, cutting down natural habitats for agriculture. Make sure you have a nice long hot shower once you’re home, wasting water while parts of the world go dry. Don’t forget to run that A/C, you wouldn’t want to get too hot. Thank goodness for more fossil fuels to harm the planet. Make sure your husband takes out the trash at night. God forbid, you wouldn’t want all of that trash to sit in your clean home. Much better for it to sit in a landfill. I could go on and on. Every single one of you, in a big of small way, contributes to harming the planet, myself included. Hopefully we try our best and we make less of an impact and do some good while we are here.”
[049:33] And I just thought, like, this was just … yes, yes. And maybe there is that perfect person. Like, I imagine you driving your solar … like, drinking your solar-powered coffee, eating like your muffin that you’ve baked in your solar-powered oven, driving your electrical car or biking to work, where you volunteer, for nothing. Like, yeah, if you live that perfect, incredible life and you do no wrong, no harm, and okay, yeah, give me these comments. But this comment is just so incredibly fucking true in that we all in some shape or form do things that contribute to harming the planet, or the world around us. That’s just what it is. Living, that’s what it means. It’s impossible to live a life in this society, in this world, without in some shape or form doing something that isn’t perfect, right? That’s what it is.
[050:17] So, for me, here, the ends justify the means. That’s really what it is. And I just, when I started reading all of this stuff, I just got so fired up and so … I don’t know, I got really, really, really, really pissed off. So instead of feeling sorry for myself and sad and all of this stuff, I started getting really fiery and really kind of pissed. So, at the end of the day, I shared a post, and the post went some … I edited it almost immediately, because I, again, I shifted. But I wrote something like, “Hey, everyone commenting on this, what do you do with your life? How much good do you do for the world?” Like, take a moment to sit with that. Before you throw shit at me, what do you do? You know? And then I wrote, “Yeah, excuse me while I … I must get my beauty sleep now. Running three nonprofits is a lot of hard work.” (laugh) You know, yeah, it was a really bitchy comment, it was a really bitchy caption, it was really passive aggressive. Aggressive aggressive, actually. But I was fucking angry! Okay? I am a human being, I’m allowed to have emotions. Sometimes I think people just … you all prefer it when I’m just this … I don’t know, this smiling, happy person, and if I write about grief or sadness, that’s okay, but god forbid I show that I have an ego that sometimes gets bruised, or that I get frustrated or that I feel jealous, or that I feel angry … These are all still normal, valid, human emotions, and I am entitled and allowed to have them. Like, it’s okay. I’m allowed to be angry. I’m allowed to feel pissed off, especially in something like yesterday, where I felt like, hey, here I am pouring myself into doing something good, and all I get back is just hate, you know?
[051:59] I understand, if you didn’t like it, it didn’t sit well with you, you could take a breath and get more information before you comment. I think that’s it. I think you could communicate your viewpoint in a kinder way, and maybe, maybe, just maybe, have a little faith. If you’re truly a part of this community, have a little faith, have little trust. Believe in the good things coming, yeah? That’s just … That’s just really where we are right now.
[052:27] So I got to be all fiery and I shared that post, and of course, that’s the thing about anger, it arrives really quickly and really swiftly, at least it does for me, and it disappears just as fast. So I went to bed … I’m reading “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass, which is just, it’s one of those books, if you haven’t read it, please please please please please pick up a copy. You need this physical, like you can’t Kindle this book, you need a copy to hold in your hands. “Be Here Now,” and I don’t know how many times I’ve read it, a gazillion times, but every time I open the book, it’s always at some time in my life where, like, I can’t believe how much I needed this, right at this moment. The past two weeks I’m reading the book, I read a little bit every night before I go to bed, and I picked up the book and I was all, like, angry, and you know, my phone is by my bedside, my phone is like in my bed, it’s all this anger and 2 million people talking about stuff and drama … and I’m buzzing with this tension. I had a super headache, like of course that’s the first thing that happened. I got this massive headache, wouldn’t go away all night. And then I opened the book and I’m like, “(sigh) Jesus …” The first page that I open is this … You’re going to laugh when I read this out. But yeah, I open the book, so if you haven’t read “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass, it’s a book in three parts. The middle part, it’s like you read it the opposite way around. You hold it up … How can I explain it? It’s a vertical book, I guess? I don’t know how to explain it. But it’s a lot of … The art in there is really beautiful, and the pages are brown, and it’s just more about this visual smack in the face of insight than actually getting of text.
[054:08] Anyway, so I open this page, just at random, in the middle of the book, and here is what it reads: “Drama is drama is drama is drama is drama. Breathing is drama. Desire is drama. Emotions are drama. Thought is drama. All form is drama. It’s all part of the drama. I have no scruple of change, nor fear of death. I was never born, nor had I parents. What does this mean? What it means is when you clear away all of the underbrush, when you go back and back, not for the fun of it or for the powers involved, but go back to be who you really are, who you are turns out to be spirit. Turns out not to be matter at all. No matter, never mind. No mind, never matter. Either way, it works.” (laugh)
[055:00] Oh my god I love him so much. No matter, never mind, no mind, never matter. Either way it works. Drama is drama is drama is drama. Right? It’s just who you are turns out to be spirit, and for me, this was just like, all of this, all of this commenting, and it was just like the negative part of being caught in what we call real drama in this world, but all of this stuff, waking up in the morning and arguing with someone or being stuck in traffic, or having a bad night’s sleep, or posting something to Instagram, people don’t like it, or you don’t like a co-worker, or you have an issue with this, or you watch this on TV, like, everything we do all fucking day long is just drama! And this is also a really big part of this learning that I’m in right now, this learning how to be soft, how to be still, how to go from fire to total water and just submerge and float and let myself be. Like, really separating from the drama of just the day to day of all this stuff, because that’s … being a human being with a mind, like, that’s what it is. There’s so much drama around us all the time. And sometimes it heightens and it becomes, like, peak of drama, like this little storm that I was just in, but it’s all still the same, you guys. It’s all still the same. We’re all trying our very, very, very best in this life. Like, everyone who commented on my post, who was angry yesterday, there’s a reason you were angry. You’re also trying your best. I get that. You’re trying to sway my persuasion or my actions into something that you feel is better for the world. I get that, you come from a place of love and a place of truth as well. And it’s all just drama.
[056:35] When I read that, drama is drama is drama is drama, I was just kind of laughing at myself. I’m like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe it.” Then I went back to my own Instagram post, and I was like, “Oh damn. I can’t believe I wrote that.” (laugh) You know when you’ve shared something and it’s like a little poisonous, and then you’re like, “Whoa. Who was that?” You know? So I just changed my caption to something else and I ended it with “be kind.” Also, for me, like hey, be kind, like I need to be kind to everyone reading, to everyone commenting, and not … And it is hard sometimes to not get caught up in the drama, get caught up in the emotion, in the anger, in all of this stuff, you know?
[057:13] What I would love from everyone, like really, from everyone, is just a little more compassion would be super nice. And I know I’m a public person, and I talk to a lot of people everyday, and I’m a really easy target, I think, as well. But just a little more compassion, a little more love into every situation, especially the way we communicate with each other. And a little more trust. I would love a little more trust.
[057:36] And for everyone that poured support over me yesterday and that poured support over me today, and continue to pour support over me every day, and for everyone who’s there and it clicked right away and it made sense, I don’t want to forget about you, because you’re the most important part of this conversation. Actually, that ad has a shit ton of likes, and I know that’s all of you supporting, that you get, like, hey it’s a purposeful ad. It’s purposeful, we trust, we’re here, we believe, we have faith, we’re right here. And at the end of the day, hey guys, if I can do something through the internet, like, anything, like post a post, it’s not even real, it’s not even tangible in real life, like, I can post something on the internet that might result in saving a child’s life? Like, just one, I envision just one child, that’s what I went to bed with last night. I changed that caption, my anger went away, I lit some Palo Santo in the room just to clear out the space, I hugged my husband, and I was just like, “Okay, you know what?” And I saw those two little boys in front of me, and I just … like, maybe there’s kids out there right now and I have a potential, maybe just a tiny little potential, a little possibility … to change something for them, you know? There’s possibility that an outcome of this is changing one child’s life, then all of this is worth it. Are you kidding me? I would do this a thousand times, a million times over, again and again and again and again.
[059:03] And I think for all of us, whenever we get caught up in this, like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe she did that! Oh my god, I can’t believe …” You know, like, hey, where’s the love? Where’s the love within me that brings forth this rage or this anger or this fire, and how can I dial it back down? How can I invite some water into the equation so I can just sit with this and feel the love that’s already present in everything that we do? Because it’s here. It’s within you, it’s within me, we are walking this path together. Ram Dass says, “You know, at the end of the day, we’re all just walking each other home.” … I’m going to end on that note. We’re all walking each other home.
[059:48] So, thank you all for enlightening me. Thank you for being a light for me. Thank you for educating me. Thank you for being on this path with me. Thank you for your compassion, for your thoughts, for your comments, good and bad. Thank you for letting me arrive to this perfect moment, right here, right now. And I can’t wait to share with you what I’m creating.
[060:14] Sending you lots and lots and lots and lots of love.
Havenly – havenly.com/yogagirl
Third Love – thirdlove.com/heart