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In this episode, Chelsea sits down with mindfulness expert, professor, and associate director of Global Spiritual Life at NYU Melissa Carter to discuss mental health, self-acceptance, mindful living, and how money impacts all of the above.

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Hello, everyone, and welcome back to a new episode of The Financial Confessions.

We have a guest today for whom you had many, many, many questions, and who is an expert on a topic that I am, myself, particularly interested in learning more about. So I'm very excited to introduce you guys.

But before we talk to her, I wanted to say a quick hello to our beloved partners with whom we make every episode of The Financial Confessions. We make the Financial Confessions with a company called Intuit. And if you've never heard of Intuit, you have almost certainly heard of some of the fantastic products they make.

They make things like Turbo Tax, which helps you file your taxes easily and simply. They make QuickBooks, which I use every single day to manage the finances of my company. They also make an app called Mint, which helps you just oversee, understand, and refine your personal budgeting.

I've actually been using Mint for about seven years. Started using it before I ever founded TFD. And basically, they give you all the tools you need it to help streamline, understand, and organize your financial life.

If you cannot wait to get started learning more about how to get better with your finances, check out Intuit at the link in our description or our show notes. So as we promised, we have a guest today that I am very, very excited about, and she is incredibly qualified, has many titles and many areas of expertise. She is the head of Mindfulness Education Programming, as well as the Associate Director of Global Spiritual Life, both at NYU.

She is also a doula, a mindfulness expert, a professor, and many other things we'll learn more about. And her name is Melissa Carter. Hi.

Hi. Blessings, everyone. Hello.

Thank you for having me. Thank you for being here. And thank you, especially, for coming on what is a gorgeous day in New York City where I'm sure you wanted to be outside.

Well, I got out this morning. I went out to the park and did a little workout. So I'm happy to be-- this is my first time in the city since COVID hit.

Really? Yeah. My first time coming into the city.

Into Manhattan? Into Manhattan since March. So you are, as I mentioned, among other things, you're a professor at NYU and you do a lot of work there with regards to mindfulness, I assume, both in terms of the curriculum and what the school is doing in terms of mindfulness.

But also working with students. So can you tell us just a little bit about what that entails, and what you do, really? Sure.

So I'm the Associate Director of Global Spiritual Life and head of mindfulness education and programming. And so what that entails is from a global spiritual life perspective, anything having to do with religious literacy, multi faith or interfaith leadership, and offering spiritual life advisors. We have about 80 spiritual life advisors that are available to our students, faculty, and staff.

We have different programs that develop multi faith and interfaith leadership for our students. And we also handle Faith Zone for religious literacy, which is educating the entire school on what it means to be of faith on campus, of faith in the world, all of the different faiths that encompass our community. And how to be partners of faith to each other.

And then from the mindfulness perspective, we handle education programming. So everything from services to education. So there's curriculum, which is-- you can go through different coursework or series and be able to understand what is mindfulness and how to apply it to your life.

We have yoga and meditation studio and teachers. We have a meditation room. And then we also have different programming that is really speaking to the needs and interests of our students.

And for example, right now, more than ever, activism. Right. So we have a mindful activism series, where it's a speaker series.

We bring in activists who are fun-- who are like grounded in their spirituality and/or mindfulness, and have a certain social justice cause that they are really, really focused on. We bring them in and we learn from them. And then we'll also be launching that online, as well.

So that's what we are. We-- it's a really amazing department. And then I'm an adjunct professor through the Silver School of Social Work, and I teach a course on spirituality, social change, and service.

What is, for those who may be feeling silly but would ask, what is mindfulness? Sure. So mindfulness-- now, if this was a very long series and I was going to be here for a very long time, I would go into the ancient tradition of mindfulness, as we should respect where it comes from an ancient tradition from the east.

But because we only have an hour and a half together, I'll give you a very secular understanding of what mindfulness is. So mindfulness is being able to be with what is with no judgment. So it's a state of being.

Its present moment awareness. It's where the noise of the mind, the distractions of the mind, the destructions of the mind drift away, and you're able to literally be in the present moment and with a lack of judgment and with compassion. Excellent.

So how did you get into doing this? Is this something that you went to school for initially, or is it something you came into later as an adult? Or what was kind of your path to becoming a mindfulness educator and practicing it in your own life?

Sure. So I have a really wild, curvy path to here. And I always say it involved deep, deep listening.

I'm a very spiritual person. I grew up not spiritual. I grew up in a Jewish home.

I was raised Jewish. And always felt a lack of belonging in the Jewish community until when I was 12, I was adopted by my aunt and uncle and started to do more Jewish practices with them that I've actually really felt a part of it. And I remember, now, I did kind of step away from the Jewish part of myself in college and in my young adult life.

But the rituals that I would do with my family really, really stuck out to me. The ritual of Shabbat or the ritual of Seder during Passover or-- and the ritual of doing the Modeh Ani gratitude prayer every morning. And-- but then I was having just a really difficult time deciphering the things that I was learning that I learned in Temple that didn't really like feel right to me and to my body.

Sure. And so I went on this really long path and-- a spiritual path and started meditating. And then when I started meditating, I was getting more and more into like hearing my intuitive awareness.

And that was bringing me closer to what I believe is a higher power. And then I realized that like, oh, I don't lose my Jewish identity because I'm spiritual, or I don't lose my Jewish identity because I actually pull from-- I'm a student of Buddhist philosophy. And I started-- I started to see a marriage between the two, and started seeing a marriage between those two.

And then other multi faith practices that I was fascinated in learning about. And so I've always been really interested in multi faith practices. So that led me to mindfulness and from a Buddhist perspective.

And becoming a student of Buddhism, I really started to sit with the parts of myself that I couldn't sit with. If you had asked me this 10 years ago, mindfulness saved my life. There was a lot about myself that I was really struggling to accept.

There is a lot of mental health struggles in my life. And it was to the point that I didn't want to be here on Earth anymore. And my meditation practice, [? well, ?] any time I would think that I didn't want to be here anymore and potentially go and act on that, I would meditate.

And it would get me out of that mindset every single time, and it would bring me to the truth of me within. And it helped me to really sit with all the parts of myself that I had bypassed or ignored for so long because they were too heavy to look at. And then all of a sudden, I started feeling this truth and this power and realizing all these things that society was saying about me, that ancestrally or abuse from my childhood said about me wasn't true.

And I started to really discover who I was. And it was being able to be with what is and not consumed by ways. And so that's how I got to mindfulness.

And once I realized like what helped-- like literally it saved my life, and the practice has saved my life. It's something I'm completely devoted to. I was like, well, I want to get this out to as many people as possible.

And I was already a coach. I was-- I had left-- I had been working in the music industry for really-- for about a decade, and I had a wildly successful career in the music industry. Doing what?

So I started working at Violator Management. They managed hip hop artists like Mob D, 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, and I was an assistant there for the CEO and then the president. And then I moved on to do some digital sales and marketing for Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group.

I mean, I ran an $85 million team for Universal. I really had this like-- a meet-- Billboard Magazine Top 30 Under 30. Like I was on paper sparkly and shiny and I was dying inside.

I was also morbidly obese and walking with a cane and depressed and wanting to kill myself. And had no real life. And just started, got laid off, and had this moment in my life where I was like, well, I could just start my musical chairs career, or I can go in.

I could go in and figure out what do I really want to do. And it was that meditation practice that made me pause-- that made me pause and not be consumed by autopilot and just do what was-- follow the money and follow the accolades and the sparkly shiny resume, but actually follow my truth. And that has led me in another 10 years of being a holistic coach, of being to love, of being a meditation teacher, of then being a mindfulness intuitive coach or consultant.

And now I'm running mindfulness for a university. Yeah. And so that goes to show me the more we listen in, the more we use the practice and take the practice off the cushion into our lives.

Then we can really do anything. Part of the reason why I wanted to speak to you and speak about this subject, in particular, is because I find that the intersection of money and capitalism, quite frankly, and mindfulness slash spirituality, putting those in obviously a very big bucket. But I find that the intersection of those two things is incredibly fascinating.

A really, really complicated place, I think, particularly, for women. Because I think a lot in our culture will often package spirituality, mindfulness, even mental wellness, to an extent with something you can buy. Or the way your home looks or the way you dress, what you're putting-- what food you're-- all of these things that are in my mind, often, just coded as very wealthy, very aspirational.

I mean, obviously, for a lot of people, what would first come to mind is something like Goop. But I think there's also even in the fascination with minimalism as an architectural and decor style. And travel as a luxury product.

And even to an extent social media and how we're presenting ourselves. I think we've sort of wrapped up what spirituality and what mindfulness really are, and something that you can purchase. But I also think for a lot of people there is a really, really sort of tangled up relationship between self-worth and value and direction in life with frankly, how much they're earning, or what their job title is.

And it's interesting because I think what has happened, particularly with the COVID phenomenon where most people-- so many people are losing their jobs, most people aren't traveling, most people aren't really able to consume the way they were consuming. They're not able to be-- they're not able to conspicuously consume. So many of these things have stopped, or really changed for people.

And I think a lot of people, a lot of our audience, is really asking themselves, where can I get a source of these things that is not tied up with money, or not tied up with consumption? And how can I release myself from the definition and the self-worth that is so tied up with money, and status, and professional success? So my first question is, how do you recommend people start untangling those two things, money and mindfulness, self-worth and consumption?

Yes. There's so many things [INAUDIBLE].. I ask long questions.

I would say I'm a fan of the two part multi series question. Yes. Before I answer your question, I want to back up a little bit.

Sure. Because this is actually something I have a major problem with. And one of the reasons why I do the work that I do.

Spirituality, mindfulness, is not something that you should buy, right? I'm really strongly against that. But we live in mindfulness and I think it just reached over a $30 billion industry.

If you look at the face of that industry, it is a fluid, it is white, and it is women or men. I don't see LGBTQ presented. I don't see women and men of color presented.

I don't see trans beings of color presented. And I don't see it accessible to the resource of mindfulness, the education of mindfulness. I don't see it being cited or sourced to the interim tradition that it's from.

I see it mostly being appropriated and used as a-- I will heal you, or I have what you need to be fixed. Kind of like almost a self-help. Yeah.

Really. Yes, it's turned into that. And so I have a really big problem with that.

And especially, I've been in this field for over a decade, and I have moments in my career-- not my career but moments in my path where I got caught up in some of that. Oh, I'll buy all the beads and I'll go to this retreat and-- OK. So if I drink that green smoothie, then I'll-- my chakra will do what, and then I'll feel better about what?

So I don't want-- I don't want to-- what works for some may not work for others. And I really want to be clear on that. And I also want to be clear that I think the industry is changing.

I think especially now with the uprising of Black Lives Matter, we are seeing a share-- we're seeing share the mic promotions and programs. And we're seeing people really understand like, oh, we're doing a disservice to the sacredness of mindfulness, to the sacredness of spirituality, by monetizing off of difference, rather than using difference to bring people together. Or monetizing to dominate and control, rather than to bring people together.

So I'm seeing frus-- I have frustrations. I also have hope. So what I would say for someone that's starting out is mindfulness, as you can see from my story, allowed me to sit with what is of myself and not be overwhelmed by my pain, by my rage, by my anger, by the things that really were making me feel I wasn't worthy.

And the messaging of our society is that a person in a black body like mine is that I am less than. And I had to unlearn that narrative. And so I'm learning that narrative meant that I had to sit with the narrative first, right?

No one-- I didn't buy anything to do that, right? I just sat and did it. Now, I also feel like there are free resources.

There are free apps. There are people doing amazing work that are in the service of it. So my suggestion is, listen to your body when you're interacting with people offering new ways to be spiritual and ways to be mindful.

You know a slimy person from a not slimy person, right? And I wanted to say like, the first thing is to trust yourself. Trust that if you're on a seeking path, that you'll find what you're seeking, and that to discern, to slow it down and to discern.

Like, am I doing this because everybody's doing it? And my social media feed is training me to believe that this is the next hot thing that's going to get me more spiritual or more mindful? Or can you slow down and be like actually that doesn't resonate with me.

That's not for me. This teacher is. Or this center is.

Or this type of exercise is. Or actually, I hate green juice. I don't want to eat green juice.

I want to-- I want to eat this thing, right? So I think it's really like discerning what is your all you can eat buffet and mindfulness and spirituality, and not what everyone else is saying it is. And that's difficult, right, because there's a lot of noise out there.

There's a lot of noise out there. Does that answer your question? It does.

I would love to hear more, though, about in addition one of our recent episodes was with a financial expert who's also a good friend of our team who her husband, due to COVID lost his job for what seems like indefinitely, works on Broadway. And he's someone for whom his professional life is just completely inextricable from his identity. And he feels, obviously, so proud of it, but also so wrapped up in it.

And one of the subjects that we talked about on the podcast at length was him really kind of going through a depression and going through a crisis of identity. And obviously, this is a time where more people than ever have been kind of forcefully separated from a lot of those elements of identity-- financial, professional, or otherwise. So I'd love to hear even more about how you can start to create an identity that can kind of be independent of those things-- Yeah. --and less reliant on it.

Yeah. First of all, my heart goes out to your friend's husband, because it's-- I'm seeing it all over the place, and I'm watching my students struggle with this. They were promised like this huge Yankee Stadium graduation, and they're about-- They're doing it at Yankee Stadium?

Yeah. Wow. Is that amazing, right?

I wish I had that graduation. They're ready to go take over the world, my first big job, and that's all been halted for them. And so my heart really goes out to people who are, I feel very tied to my work, too, I'm not separate of mine.

Make my work, my talent, my passions are not separate from what I do every day. Like I've never been that person. So I really understand that.

And I think I would say Adrienne Marie Brown, I don't know if you knew this author, she wrote Emergent Strategy. It's a brilliant book, and she talks a lot about adaptability. And she talks a lot about being like water.

And being like water allows us to transform into what is, right? This is how I'm bringing in the mindfulness peace of being with what is. And what is that we are in a very-- and it's not just one person.

I would actually start with that. It's like, you're not alone in this. This is not specific to you.

And it's not challenging your gifts or talents. Like you're still that beautiful Broadway talented person, right? But that's still you.

That talent is still you. And if we're going to be like water and mold to what the situation is, and to be with what is, to be with the truth of a very horrible situation, what can we adapt to not? And so for me, I always say like when I was in music, and I got laid off, that was-- it was a similar moment, where I was like, I miss music.

Like what are you talking about? Like I can't get laid off. Like I literally was like my identity was so wrapped up in music.

And when I got laid off, I mean, it literally threw me for a loop. And so I sat down and I was like, well, what am I going to do? I don't know anything else but this.

Yeah. Right? But there was something in me that was like, no, there's more.

And so I asked myself a couple questions. And I said, what do I never want to do again? And there was some distinct things I never wanted to do again, especially in the music industry.

And then, how do I want to feel every day? What's my skillset? That was the biggest one.

I got really clear on what my skillset was. And then what can I create out of that? So allowing me to be adaptable and transfer the skillset to something else allowed me to realize that, oh, I'm not just Miss Music.

I actually have so much to offer. And it's in the interim, right? So like, we will eventually go to a new norm, right?

We may not go back exactly the same, but I hope and believe that your friend will go back on Broadway again one day. Sure. But in the interim, are there-- are there kids programs that want to learn how to sing or act that he can do online?

Are there-- I think it's like, what is your skillset? What was literally looking at your full path and what got you to where you are, and how can you transfer that in the interim? So we're recording this June 16, which is already-- we started recording these socially distant episodes here May 7.

And even in that five weeks, world of difference in terms of the city and obviously New York is the hardest hit, the last to change. But even then there's a huge, huge difference. And I think when we were first recording these things, we were still very much in the like people were leaving their homes as rarely as possible.

And for a lot of people, I think there was just starting because it was no longer the immense shock of the first part of that huge lifestyle change for people. I think there was-- we were then at the place where people were starting to be able to see what about it was positive, and what about it was taking them out of a lot of cycles that they were in. Because even for-- even for something as simple as a commute, which most people no longer have, or are just starting to go back to, to remove that maybe 45 minutes to an hour every day at the beginning and end of your day where you're focused on something else, you're stressed out.

You're often here like packed into like a cramped subway car. And to have that time back to yourself, and to see what you naturally gravitate to wanting to do with that time, people were starting-- even when we were having these discussions-- to point out the things that they were glad to have back to themselves, or that they were finding out about themselves with this new lifestyle. So what are some recommendations for people who feel like there's some good stuff that they're getting out of this, and they want to not get immediately sucked back into the sort of hamster wheel lifestyle that they feel that they were on before everything paused?

Sure. I want to answer that by first of all, so I want to say-- point out that it's-- we must recognize the privilege that it is to be able to sit in our homes, to lose our-- to not have to worry about commute, not have to worry about leaving the home and protect your health and the health of others. That there are many, many essential workers who are predominantly from marginalized communities that do not have that option.

And that still from the day we went in shelter in place, riding the subway every day, having to go to work, do not have the option to slow down. Do not have the option to sit still and realize all the patterns that have taken them out of their own truth, right? And so I really want to make sure that that's said, because we have to be able to bring our privilege into these conversations.

So what I would say to those who hold the privilege of that accessibility and space, and realizing this-- you know I even, too, have realized like, wow, I mean, I'm also a mindfulness person. I go pretty slow. Sure.

And so-- but this is like cosmic and even slower. And I realized like, how I forgot how much I haven't really read in a while, or like playing my guitar, or I write poetry, and I've written-- I've written more in the last two months than I've written in the last couple of years. Yeah.

And so it's, well, what-- well, how do I go back? How do we go back to whatever this new norm is going to be? And I keep saying new norm, because I don't think we're going to go back to the way.

Nor probably should we. Nor should we at all. And I think about, well, I don't want to lose this.

I'm actually being more of service because I am focusing on the things that bring me joy and bring me centering and bring me peace. And that I'm not my identity, because it's so easy, especially living in New York City where we're like, go, go, go, go, go, do, do, do. We're hard workers.

We're tough. We're this, right? It's so easy to get consumed by that, that actually like, what the softness of wow, and how can I [? allow ?] like-- it's not how did-- why does it have to be separate, right?

Like how can I bring softness into my work? How can I bring softness into my engagement with others? Sure.

How can I bring softness into my schedule? And softness, I mean space, space to hear yourself. Space to listen, space to connect, to actually connect to others.

Space to help out those who don't have this space. Yeah. Right?

Yes, I think it's like, how do we put the humanness back into our lives? Like, I think we're all touching a part-- I mean, I'm also seen because of this space, again, we talk about Black Lives Matter uprising. I've never seen so many white people come out to demand that Black Lives Matter, to join in the fight, right?

I've never seen that many people. That gives me so much hope. But that it took COVID-19, shelter in place, for us to stop to actually be like, oh, wow, that really is going on and we need to pay attention to this.

And then join together and do it. And so I think that if we can continue to not worry about, look, if you come out of-- if you-- I'll just say this directly. If you come out of all this with not a new skill, or you didn't launch a new podcast, or you didn't write the book, cool, right?

But if you come out a little bit more human, then, OK. And I don't think that that's like something that we should get trophies for, because how many people did we lose? It's 117,000. 117,000.

So far. So far-- I mean, so far, clearly. But, yeah, which is, I think, the milestone is that it's more people than we lost in World War 1.

Wow. So a moment for that. Wow.

Yeah, I mean, I just hope we all come out a little more human. Yeah. I think-- I'm wondering, social media in this time, I think, has been a really double edged sword for a lot of people.

That's something we've heard quite a lot when we put out the call for questions. And we will get to you guys' questions. I got answers.

I think social media-- I think we've seen in such a short span of time so many things that it can do well, right? We've seen the way it can bring people together around causes, issues. We've seen the way it can allow people to communicate when they're physically separated.

We've seen our ability to give money to people who need it, or causes that we believe, things like this, that are, I think, often we're not grateful enough for that we have this. Even just going through social distancing, the ability to call anyone you want, anywhere in the world and have them on your-- on your phone in front of you is just such a privilege. But I also think for a lot of people there has been, A, with very little else to do often socially.

We're not seeing our friends as much. We're not going out. We're not-- we don't have a lot of those distractions.

But also because a lot of the news feels very scary and very overwhelming and very difficult to manage that I think people are caught often in this cycle of overconsuming, or being too on social media, too connected a little bit. How do you manage to use social media in a way that feels additive to your life, and in a way that feels like you're controlling it versus the opposite? And how do you consume news in a way that is helpful?

Yeah, that's actually one of the things I wanted to share about like mindful consumption and that we have to have-- we're in a relationship to everything in our lives, right? We're in-- mostly it's like, how do you choose to consume-- consume food, consume people, consume energy, consume news, consume media? Resources get-- we can just google-- and how do you consume your [? cloak? ?] How do you consume everything?

So-- and that's by choice. Everything's by choice. I tend to think that everything's a practice, right?

Because I am about to tell you how to have a healthy relationship with social media. And I can also tell you that I have to work and have a healthy relationship with social media. Don't we all.

Don't we all. It sucks me in. So it's a practice.

Everything is a practice. Mindful consumption is a practice. And if we can look at things as a practice, we're taking out the judgment.

We're taking out the pass, fail that our society throw-- so thrives on. And looking at things as, oh, what do I need to learn from this so I can live a more aligned balanced life, right? So right now, you can't turn on the news that it just be horrible.

I mean, I really have not seen any piece of news on TV that has been something positive or uplifting. There was a Supreme Court ruling yesterday. That felt like-- Yeah, someone-- so someone on Twitter was like, I'm sorry, did we just go into a different reality because this does not-- this feels like way to good news.

Yes. That what's happening. I'm so thankful for that Supreme Court ruling.

Yes, right? So I would say that we have to have a diet with it, right? We have to have a disciplined diet.

So it's taking breaks, right, like having it timed. So when you get up in the morning, maybe you're not jumping right on social media, which is very difficult to do. I know.

What, go look at the sun first, right? Say three things out loud that you're grateful for. Touch your own heart, right?

And then if you have to go on social media. But also like the unfollow button is awesome. It's your friend.

It's your friend, right? Truly. Now is not the time for mediocre news or mediocre influencers.

And like some influencers might feel really offended that I said that. But like, seriously, there's some mediocre trash out there and like unfollow it. Because right now, we're living in such uncertain crazy times.

We've never lived in this type of world before, right? We're learning all this together. So like you get that best information.

You get back good word, right? Like unfollow the mediocre. Only follow what's actually filling you up.

If it's taken away from you, unfollow. And then I think also breaks from news, break from social media, and then admitting that you have a problem with it. I have a problem with it, right?

Like I will literally, like, sit there-- I remember when I was on my Facebook on my computer and then I picked up my phone and went on Facebook on my phone. And I was like, what is happening with my life? Oh, something that's insane.

And so I've had to be really intentional about like, OK, I'm going to go on here now, especially someone that I don't feel like a big following. I'm not an influencer. But I have a growing community.

I call them like, they're my darlings, my like [? Melissa ?] darlings, and we engage each other. And I do believe that I can have tools and resources to get out to this community if they're looking for.

And there's people that are doing a way better job being influencers than I will ever be being an influencer, right? But I do know that I have educational resources to get out. So I think it's for someone that's on social media, that's like a potential influencer is, know your craft, know your talent, know your gift.

And like really drive that home and don't worry about what anyone else is doing. Totally. I think when we get into such comparison, and it's like, no, just like know your lane, stick with it.

Don't care about anyone else because we have a unique gift and talent that who you're speaking to is not who I am speaking to. And who I'm speaking to is not who that person is speaking to. Right.

And someone needs to hear us-- Sure. --right? So like let that-- let those people find you. Like-- You were able to form mostly as an adolescent without it.

Absolutely. I was. And I think that-- I'm so thankful for that because I can look at that now and be like, that's not real life.

Now, someone that grew up with it, are they able to do that? If someone's not telling them, then it's not. No.

And so that's why I think that in one hand, social media can be dangerous. And then on the other-- and harmful. And then the other hand, I think it's actually an amazing resource.

So like if you look at the movement for Black Lives and all of the organized-- from an organizing perspective, it's a lot of the way that organizers are getting words out, resources out, educational-- education. If you look at that-- even the share of the mic how influencers, both black and white, are sharing the mic and sharing their resources and educational and educational outputs. And so I think there's this like beauty in social media, and then there's just harm in social media.

Yeah. And we need to just keep educating the realities of what it is. Again, like I'm a truth teller.

I'm always looking for what's the truth, right? And the truth is, right now we're living in an-- we live in a world that's unjust, that's built on patriarchy and white supremacy and for a need to dominate. And those narratives, indoctrinative narratives, inflections of, are in all of our systems and in all of our structures.

And right now, we're being asked to examine all of them and to unlearn them and to build a new world that's built on something completely different than that. It's built on equality. It's built on love.

It's built on compassion. And I think that we can do that. So we can hold that-- and this is mindfulness.

Hold the truth for what it is. All of it's good. All of it's bad.

All of it's ugly. While still dreaming and bringing and building a new world, right? Totally.

Yeah. I think one of the things that is difficult for people when we look at, let's take for example, the Black Lives Matter. Let's call it a level of awareness that we've seen on social media.

To your earlier point, a lot of people interacting about it who didn't in the past. Right. For whom this is new.

Something that I've seen a lot from people-- and I would say, again, I hate to say it-- but especially in that sort of influence or creator people who have some stakes, is a real fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, which will often lead them to say or do nothing or the bare minimum. And a huge part of that is just about your ego and defensiveness and being afraid to look stupid or taking that risk of being corrected, and what have you. But I think ultimately, whether it's for this or something else, the goal should be for people to move to a place where their ego is not standing in the way of them changing, evolving, taking a risk.

What are some practices that you would recommend for people who are looking to gain control over their ego and to let it kind of fall back? Well, I think it's the-- is to let go of control. It's to-- again, I think I actually think that the dominance over the ego perfectionism that we all battle, like to get it right, to have the resolution, to do this, is a form-- an affliction of white supremacy.

That's been indoctrinated into us. All of us. And it shows up in my black body differently than it shows up as you're white-- Yes. --in your white body, right?

And I think it's being real with that. And so one, when I say let go of control is, befriend your ego, right? Just know that your ego is going to try and dominate.

Like that-- there's a part of you that like wants to get it right, that doesn't want to be wrong. It's going to have big emotions and feelings come up when you do. Like be willing to be wrong.

Yeah. And for that it means to like hug yourself a little bit, the inner critic, and the perfectionist in you. And be like, I don't know if this is right, but I'm going to go for it because that's the only way I'm going to learn.

Right. Now, if you're saying things that are harmful, you're probably going to get checked, especially in social media. But this whole cancel culture that's going on in the social media, what if we stopped canceling and we have started calling people in? [INAUDIBLE] [?

Tron ?] from Black Girl, Warrior Black Girl dangerous. I think is where [INAUDIBLE] [? Tron ?] is from.

And has this concept of calling in, where something is said that is wrong and it can be potentially harmful, rather than like it can not saying anything, we actually say like, hey, I'm having a really difficult time with what was just said. And I find it-- I find this-- and this is what-- this is what I heard. This is what it's landing for me.

This how it's making me feel. Can you tell me a bit about how you got there-- Yeah. --so we could talk about it? And we call each other in to talk.

Now, there's some people, especially on social media, that don't want to talk, that don't want to be called in, that think that they have it right, that don't care about being wrong, that don't care to be called into this conversation, and they change and live from a place of humanness. I don't put my energy into those people because there's plenty of people that do. Right.

But-- so what we have to be clear that well intentioned is not enough, that sliver is not going to [INAUDIBLE].. Yeah. We have to be willing to like literally take off our masks and be like, this is going to feel really uncomfortable.

And so my method is getting comfortable being uncomfortable. And then being comfortable saying that you're un-- like that you feel that you're embarrassed. Yeah.

You're hurt. You're ashamed. You feel maybe something that you don't often feel in your day-to-day life, which is seen in a way that you don't necessarily love to be seen.

Because especially as adults, I feel like when we're in school, when we're kids, or going even through college, you're used to the idea of being wrong about things, being openly disagreed with. But then most people get into some kind of a work structure where it's either a reprimand or something that's coming down in a very sort of structured way, or people don't say those kinds of things to each other. You're not having conversations on those levels.

You're not in a place where you're often going to necessarily disagree with someone about a big issue, or come off in a way that you don't want to come off. People, I think, get further and further from the ability to be wrong and to grow in that way. And so when it happens, it feels scary.

And to have compassion for that, right? Totally. We've been trained that way.

Right. We've been trained that way as women. We've been trained that way as people of color, black, indigenous, and people of color.

We've been trained to-- listen, just do what you're told. Or this person right over who holds more privilege has the final word. Or I don't-- or I know I struggled for a very long time at being a woman of-- being a black woman and not speaking up in certain meetings because I was afraid to lose my job-- Right. --right?

I can't take away my security, so I'd rather not say anything. And I think we live in a moment right now where transparency is-- it rules. And transparency is needed because that's part of the system.

Someone taught me to be that way. But I don't have to live by the rules of patriarchy or white supremacy, right? Right.

Neither do you. And so it's-- but our parts are parts in that unlearning are very different, right? I'm learning from an internalized oppression perspective, like how have I internalized oppression within me that's keeping me from living this life of truth and transparency and being empowered?

And then-- and then you're also looking at it from oppression of being a woman. And then also being white and like, how did those narratives, they may-- you may not be like walking down the street with the KKK, but like there are narratives that show up in your system. Oh, for sure.

And how do you contribute to upholding white supremacy? And I think if we can just-- like I'm talking about it like let's us have past assault. But we almost need to be able to talk at a level where it's like, I'm not going to like tiptoe around, or you're not going to tiptoe around.

It's like, no, let's roll up our sleeves and figure this out. Yeah. And not immediately go to a place of defensiveness, right?

So one last thing before I get to the audience questions because I know some of you are probably like already fast forwarding to that part. So kind of on that note, one of the things-- so we're obviously-- our wheelhouse is personal finance, right? And we're very, very active in like the pay transparency, transparency around money, not just the numbers, although everyone listening, watching, please share numbers.

Please share with your co-workers and people in your industry, with people in your life. But also the truth of our relationship to money and how it is insidious, and how it holds us back, and how it leads us to do things we don't even necessarily want to do. And for me, I think the most powerful antidote that I found to shame or negative emotion or baggage around money is just radical transparency around money.

What are-- I know that you have a lot to say about your relationship to money, but what are ways in which you feel over time you've come to a better place around money and your relationship to money? Sure. I'd love to share this because, I mean, actually, this is the first time I've ever said this in an interview.

And so this is an exclusive. [INAUDIBLE] So I lost both my parents at a very young age. And-- thank you. And I moved in and I was taken in-- I'd say adopted because they're like-- they were like-- they're like parents to me and their kids are my siblings. [?

By ?] [? my ?] [? end, ?] [? Nicole. ?] And when I was 18, I had an inheritance that was from my parents' death. And so I'm 18 years old and I'm being given this money.

And I'm off in college. And living the college party life. And there's a lot of backstory to my history which led me also to mindfulness is that I was a big partier.

Yeah. I was into drugs and I was into drinking and I was dating drug dealers, and I was not living like-- how I got here I just really don't-- mindfulness-- mindfulness. But, yeah, I think back about that time.

And I got handed this big chunk of money. And talking to someone at a bank, but I was 18, right? I didn't know how to balance a checkbook.

I didn't know-- I wasn't even 18 yet. I didn't even-- I didn't know how to like put myself through school with it or this, and I blew it. I blew it.

I blew it. Put myself through school. I ended up having to take off from school because I blew it so much and had to get a job.

And then work myself through school. And then that taught me like about earning money, right? And about the importance of, oh, so we earn to have to [? work, ?] right?

But then it was still this relationship with money that that money-- and I think why I blew it was that money represented the death of my parents, right? I didn't-- I didn't care about it. I didn't realize that it was my security blanket or my future.

No one was teaching me that. And if you look at historical society, like in systematic oppression, like I didn't have this family on either side of my family-- my black family or my white family-- that like my Jewish family or my black women had like stacked money for many generations and were passing generational wealth on. We didn't have that.

And so it was never like understanding of like stacked money for security. It was just like get it out, because that's what I learned when I got some money and let it go. And I started earning, oh, so you just get more in and you keep working.

You keep working to have. Keep working to have. Keep working to have.

Right. So then I became part of this like system. And I did-- I always managed-- I just didn't know how to manage it.

I did not know how to manage my money or save it. And I was also in that state of being like we talked before about needing validation, comparing myself to other people, trying to be like everyone else. I wasn't standing in my own truth.

So I had to look like everyone else. I had to do all these things. I had to buy all these things.

I had to do follow up and I was just constantly in this same cycle. Yeah. I'll just make more.

I'll just make more. I'll have-- I'll make more. I'll make more.

And then all of a sudden, I was really hard to have once I got-- I mean, I had this monstrous career that paid me really well. And so I didn't feel worthy about money. Yeah.

And then I got let go and I decided to become a personal trainer after having a six figure salary and working in the music industry and could easily have gone onto any other company. But instead I was like, no, I'll just be a trainer now. I'm not morbidly obese.

I've lost all this weight. I'll just help people to lose weight. So I thought that that was going to be my life path.

It was just a start of a new path. Right. But I went from making a six figure salary into the six figures to making like under 30 grand, maybe even less than 20.

And-- but I made it work because I was adaptable and resourceful. And I'll just make more. I'll just make more.

I'll just make more. And I struggled and I struggled and I struggled and I struggled, and I've now forgotten the question. How your-- how you have-- So improve my relations, so then started like this continued on for so long that finally I started-- I-- well, I got personal training and went into just online coaching and hired a business coach.

Because my business was starting to do well, but I need-- I didn't know if-- I didn't know what I didn't know. Right. And I knew that something needed to change, but I didn't know what.

Like to make the business go more. Like make the business be more successful. So I hired a business coach.

And I was very honest with her, like I was like investing in you is terrifying. All right. Like paint-- like I was-- she was like, I think she wanted like seven something $100 a month, or something like that.

And I was like, that's terrifying. But she was like, it's going to come back to you. You're going-- you don't know what you don't know.

I'm going to help you do this. And that started the switch of, I'm paying into this as an investment in me. Yes.

And I really listened to her. And so like moving on, my clients were paying sporadically throughout the month and move them to the first of the month. And now everybody was paying on the first of the month and I was able to start a budget, right?

And then every month I was recreating about it and practicing having a budget. And so then I started looking at, oh, I'm not earning to have, I'm earning to be secured. And then once I'm secure, I can start investing in me and do all these things.

And so I started looking at things as investments in me. Everything I bought was like an investment in me. Yeah.

And if it wasn't an investment, then it wasn't necessary. It was an investment for what I wanted to do with my life. It wasn't necessary.

And then I also learned how to receive. I was the one that you'd go out, I had $5 in my bank account, but I paid for everybody, right, because I so badly wanted to belong, right? So now I'm like, oh, I can receive.

It's almost like, hey, like let me take you in there. You could take me there. So I think the relationship changed, so I stopped looking at it from a scarcity mentality of what-- if I lose, I'll just have to go out and work harder to get more, which is very much the way our system instills in itself and in our bodies.

And I've gotten to this place that, oh, no, I'm going to be smarter, and I'm going to just spend less on things I don't need. I'm going to get on a budget and budget my money and practice being in relationship with it and hold it sacred as I hold myself. And then now, I don't really-- I mean, I don't-- I have goals for money and I have goals for things I want in my life that I'm not there yet.

But I'm not in that cycle of I'm just going to blow money as an answer to other holes in my life. I don't know if that was helpful. I went on a tangent.

No, it's good. I obviously have an opinion. So speaking of being more mindful about the way you do money, one of the most life-changing tools that I have ever found for managing my money-- and I did mention that I actually got this tool seven years ago, which was before I ever started TFD.

It's part of what inspired me to do it. Is a free app called Mint. Mint basically provides you with the ultimate perspective on your day-to-day personal finances.

It shows you your spending categories, your-- you can look at your savings goals. You can move things around in different categories that will give you alerts if you're spending too much on a specific thing. Basically, it helps you understand and manage all of your personal finances so that you don't have to micromanage and think about it all the time, and you can spend that mindful energy on something much more worth it.

I highly recommend you download Mint today. It's totally free so you have nothing to lose, and start being at peace with your money. OK.

So as promised, you guys had a lot of questions for our expert today. And so we're going to ask as many of them as we can. Feel free to go rapid fire, go long, whatever feels right to you.

OK. This is a very popular one and one I'm also curious about myself. Thoughts on Goop Style Wellness brands.

Can you-- can you ask the question in a different way? Sure. Well, this is one I have, too, so brands such as Goop-- and I feel like it's just such an easy one to make an example of.

But it truly is the archetypical one. But brands that make wellness into a product and make wellness something that is aspirational, and also as you put it, clearly very tied up with being white, being rich, being thin, all of these things, who have sort of rebranded wellness as a commodity. OK.

I think wellness is not something that is for some people. Wellness is for everyone. And I would hope that all brands recognize that and create brands that messaging-- that delivers that message.

How do you deal with anxiety in the age of COVID, especially for those who are unemployed? And I imagine, therefore, have a lot of time on their hands. Sure.

Sure. I actually-- I deal with anxiety myself. And my anxiety went into overdrive during Shelter in Place and COVID.

So I want to just explain it from-- we're going to be a little long here because I want to explain what's happening a little bit in the brain. In times of uncertainty when we're being deregulated and we're being asked to just sit it uncertainty an extended period of time, the part of the brain, the primal stem, the amygdala that isn't responsible for our fight, flight, or freeze, is constantly being stepped on. And the other two parts of the brain that are affected by this-- and there's many parts of the brain that are affected by this-- but just for the purposes of this conversation.

The limbic brain in the frontal neocortex, so the limbic brain which holds all of our memories and our emotions and our feelings, our emotional brain. And then the neocortex, the front of the brain, which is our thinking brain-- rational, logical, allows us to discern and actually be with mindfulness, state of being, present moment awareness. But when the primal stem is activated and we go into fight, flight, or freeze, the neural circuitry of the thinking brain has much-- has much more neural circuitry that needs to be activated than the emotional brain.

So the emotional brain kicks in first. And then if we're not doing something or being with something to bring ourselves to this state of balance, it stays on-- Right. --and we get stuck-- stuck in our emotions. We get stuck in anxiety.

We get stuck in a dysregulated system. And then the neocortex never has a chance to actually be with what is, right? Right.

So I, as someone who struggles with anxiety, what's been helpful for me so I can stay in a state of balance, and then even-- and then also be able to decipher when I'm getting out of balance, is a schedule, is keeping myself on a routine. And Monday through Friday I have the same routine that I do because I know that that's what's going to help me. But it's flexible, right?

Like I might have this dream of going for a 5k ride tomorrow morning, and I might wake up and not emotionally be available to that. And being flexible, but like, at least I get up and I go for a walk and get outside and do some type of movement. So movement is the new-- is part of the routine, not the 5k run, right?

Or making sure I'm drinking a lot of water, making sure that I'm taking-- as we talked about earlier-- news and media breaks as part of our routine, right? That we actually schedule that into our schedules. And we're talking.

We're checking in on our people. And we're being really transparent. Like transparency is going to save the world, and like, I think it's like being super transparent.

Like if you're not someone that's used to talking about your emotions and letting people in knowing that you're messy, get messy. Like I get messy, like I-- last night call my friend, I was like, I'm so messy right now. And like had a good cry with a friend.

And then I felt better because I felt less alone, right? Yeah. And I also add in that it's important that you touch joy and really touch joy.

That we're living in such uncertain times and we don't know for how long. And some of this feels like it's never going to end, especially for people that are unemployed and security is being threatened. You are still a human being that's allowed to be happy.

And you're still the human being that's allowed to touch joy. And if that means looking at an old picture of you from when you were a kid, or being grateful that you were able to get a bed and-- or sharing a meal with someone that you love, or like, being silly with your kids. I don't know what it is for you.

But like touching joy-- touching joy. And knowing that like you're human. And if you're anxious, like it's OK.

You know what I mean? Like we have to allow that we're not our-- going to be our best perfect selves right now and nor should we ever have to be. Right.

Right. Yeah, I totally-- and I also think that it's very important for a lot of people are catastrophizing right now as a response to, I think, news that feels very overwhelming, uncertainty, all that kind of stuff. Their mind immediately goes to a worst case scenario.

And I feel like you have to let your-- fine, OK. So let's say you never get your job back and you wipe out your emergency fund. And of course, that meaning that you're privileged to have one.

But let's say that's your worst fear. OK. Well, think about it.

Think about what you would do in that case. Think about how to prepare for that moment. What-- what would be good in that moment if it were to come to that.

Just allow yourself to go to the end of what it is that you're worried about and thinking about, rather than feeling like you're constantly running from it and trying not to think about it. And I think it's-- there's two things there. Something I exercise I have my students do in one of the mindfulness classes is understanding what triggers you, right?

Getting ahead of it. Like we have to stop looking at spirituality, mindfulness, and self-care as cleanup, and look at it as foundational, right? Like we have it so backwards.

It's not like once you get into crisis, then you take care of yourself. It's how we're taking ourselves-- care of ourselves. We don't go into crisis when a global crisis hits, we can be with it.

Yes. So writing down like what triggers you, how you would respond in that trigger, so you can start to like identify it and mind map it. And then what do you need to bring yourself back to the state of alignment?

So that's one exercise. And then the other is like my friends and I-- my best friend, she knows that I have catastrophized in the past. I had a lot of childhood trauma, losing both my parents, and not knowing if I was going to be adopted, or if I was going to go into Children's Services and end up in the system.

I get very-- when triggered, in the state of trigger, and there's a big difference with being upset and being triggered. And I want to make that very clear. But when triggered, my catastrophe of like all-- I have to get this right or I'll end up homeless, kicks in, or I'll end up like losing everything.

I'll get fired. I'll lose all my money, or I'll end up not being able to take care of myself. And then I'll have-- I'll have nowhere to live, right?

And that's something that I am getting out of my trauma had to really deal with, because that could have happened to me. And as a young kid, I had to like that's what was my reality, that was potential-- I mean, it was literally like could have been my reality. It was sitting right there.

And there was a moment where in my life, my sister and I were very young. And we did live alone because our parents were sick. And so we did live alone.

And so the feeling of insecurity that I could go without gets very real for me in times of crisis. Not really anymore, but back when I was younger and I didn't have these tools, it was very real for me. So I think it's having friends that you can share those stories with.

Like I can speak very openly and honestly about that because the only-- like it happens to all of us. Do you know what I mean? It's not unique to just one person, right?

Like we all struggle. We all have ways that we cope unconsciously and consciously, and tools like mindfulness and self-care and faith-based practices, I think, allow us to be real with what it is. What those struggles are, and then find practices that help us through them.

And that's why I had a really hard time with people monetizing or making it commercial or cool to do these things. This stuff is actually saving people's lives, and we have to remember that. Very true.

How do you balance rest and recovery with not procrastinating during a busy period of life? Yeah. I want to tell you about this period of life rather than a busy, cause I'm always busy.

It's never going to end. It's never going to stop. But I think, like I said earlier, like if you don't walk out of COVID-19's pandemic with a new skill or a new book or a podcast, it's like-- it's OK.

Right. And that that doesn't make you lazy. And like there's days where I'm super productive, and then there's days where like I'm emotionally spent, and I'm exhausted.

And I'm-- and I need to take time to recover from that. And that doesn't mean that I'm a procrastinator. It means I'm taking care of myself.

It's like not a very good framing to just make any time that you're not doing something that is, I assume, by the wording directed toward your career advancement to automatically be procrastinating. Well, I think it's like this-- again, this awful thing that we have done in this society of do, do, do, do, do, do. So then if you're not doing and you're just being, then you are being lazy or procrastinating.

And actually, I think we can-- if we-- rest allows us to show up more authentically and more effectively and more powerfully when we are rested. My friends always know when I'm exhausted. And when I'm not.

And I'm probably a much more fun person to be around when I'm not exhausted. So rest has to be a part of the equation. And again, that's moving the formula or the thought process that rest, self-care, mindfulness, faith-based practices, are part of the clean up or come after or secondary to doing, attaining, and succeeding.

Absolutely. Yeah. And when I say rest, I don't just mean sleep.

Like I mean rest, like play and being creative. And also like-- and this is my mindfulness practice, but resting into what is. Not trying to control it, fix it, or change it.

Just rest into like-- yeah, that's-- that blows, but that's what it is. What are your thoughts on giving wellness and mindfulness advice to people of different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds? I think it's-- I think I give different advice to people that are practitioners of it than I give to people seeking to be in relationship to it.

I would say it's for you. And do you feel resourced? And if you don't, let's find a way for you to be resourced.

And for practitioners, make it accessible to all races, all beings, and all genders. Yeah. It's such a short answer.

What is one underrated aspect of wellness or mindfulness that everyone should understand? I'll take mindfulness in that piece of the question. It's not-- the woo woo of it's relaxing and serene.

It's this, sure. It's to be with what is. It's to be with what is so radically in transparency, in truth, that you do not get absorbed by what is.

That you actually can sit side by side with it and learn what you need to learn, so you can then go out into the world and stand in your own truth. I feel very strongly about that. I feel like this-- that it gets mistaken that it's just for stress reduction.

It's just to relax. And it's something cool to do. Sure.

Yes, and it's also so you can sit with the truth of who you are. Yeah. And-- in literally your essential self, in your truth.

Not the truth of like the performative you, but the truth of who you are as a human being. And then stand up of that in the world and help this world be a better place. How do you recover from burnout when cutting back on work is not an option?

How do you recover from burnout when we're cutting back from work is not an option? So I think it-- this all kind of goes together with everything we're saying right now. But when identifying that you're in a state of burnout, asking for support.

So if you're in a state of burnout, you need to ask for support at work. Burnout can lead to medical stress issues that could lead you into your body, you're responding in a way that could ignite illness and sickness. Or exacerbate.

Or exacerbate, absolutely. It's to take it really seriously and call in for support. Get your rest.

And I think it's really like giving yourself time to touch other parts of yourself. I think-- I like to look at myself as many different parts. And when one part is burned out, that means another part of me is not being touched or expressed.

And so what are those other parts that are being minimized or muted that need to be touched and held? But really calling in support, using resources online to find more ways to help burnout than I'm saying right now. But really, it's acknowledging that you're going to get into a state of burnout.

And some of the things that we've been talking about earlier, like the self-care tips and mindfulness tools. So going from cleanup to foundational. It's never too late to do that.

And as I've just-- especially treating it as the medical problem-- Yes. --or soon to be medical problem that it is. I think a lot of people really don't take it seriously for what it is. But it can put people in the hospital.

Oh, I mean, I-- it can put people in the hospital. It can wreck relationships. It can kill you.

And it's a very real thing. Other countries, actually, will pay for you to take time off if you're getting into a state of burnout because they believe humans-- people over property and people over working. So it's actually like, oh, you're a human being.

You're in a state of distress. Let me take care of you. So I just want to urge that since the seriousness of what burnout is.

The time has come for the famous Financial Confessions of rapid fire questions. So these are asked to any-- to everyone that comes on the set, but you are always free to pass/skip. We love all kinds of stories so just whatever is true to you.

I'm getting a little nervous. What is the big financial secret of your industry? And you may choose to take either academia or wellness/mindfulness.

Oh, I don't-- I think it's so secret I don't even know. There should be no secret in mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state of being.

It is free and accessible. And it should not be something that we profit off of. That should be the big secret.

Yes, to not be behind a paywall. What do you invest in versus what are you cheap about? Oh, so I invest in professional development.

I have a coach for everything. I have a mentor. I have-- I really invest in my development of my being and who I am in this world.

And what I get to do it in this life. I want to-- I want to live it to the most authentic way I can, so I really invest in that. And I think what I'm really cheap about is-- which people would be surprised about this, is airfare.

Like, I will-- I will keep looking for deals. I will buy like a one way ticket and then wait to buy another one. I'm all like the price-- price hack apps.

Are you on Scott's Cheap Flights? I am not, but I will be when I leave here. Follow it.

It's the best ones. Yeah. Like I don't care about like a good seat or like being first on line.

Like I'm just like it's part of the travel. Yeah. What has been your best investment and why?

I think my best investment-- my best investment was four years ago, I put all my stuff in storage. I closed down now my new six figure business of coaching, moved everything online, was like one or two clients. I cut my salary, again, to underneath like 30 grand.

And I bought a one way ticket overseas. And as you can see, I'm very much a person like listen to your intuitive awareness and let that like guide your life. And I wanted to test that message.

And so I put every-- closed out my life here in New York and bought this one way ticket overseas and said, I'm going to go, let my intuitive awareness guide me. And it was the best decision I ever made. I mean, it's just three or four years later and I'm back in New York after having traveled the world, studying under some of the most amazing teachers of mindfulness all over the world, and seeing, learning about myself, amplifying parts of myself that were hidden.

And now I get to serve the world in a way that's so authentic and true to me. And it was just taking that risk. And so I like-- maybe I could say, yeah, I bought a plane ticket.

But I think actually taking a risk for yourself is an investment, as well. Where did you go? Oh, I went to like 13 different countries.

Oh, wow. Yeah. What was your favorite?

I don't have a favorite because I stayed a month in almost every single one, or I stayed for six months in Southeast Asia. But Portugal probably was like where-- yeah, Portugal really ignited like the creative parts of me that I had forgotten about. Each part was just so different.

Spain, I walked the Camino de Santiago, and I think that that gave me back like any path-- I could take any path with the resilience. And so-- and then I got to live in Indonesia for a while. I mean, it was really-- and I built my clientele as I went.

Yeah. It was pretty incredible experience. And it was very tough and scary, as well.

It was not just rainbows and unicorns. Lots of tears. Yeah.

What has been your biggest money mistake and why? So it's actually part of that learning, too. Prior to that when I first took my business solo, I-- and this was like over a decade ago.

I refused to get a second job. I was like, no, I'm just going to be in the dream. I'm just going to build the dream.

And I was struggling so bad financially. I mean, like literally, like barely able to pay my rent or feed myself. But I was like, no, I'm going to build this business.

I am not a plan B person-- da, da, da, da. So do not let your pride keep you from getting a part time job to help pay for the dream. And once I got that learning, I literally remember I was building my business on the side, and I was doing like promo modeling for L'Oreal.

I'd gotten some random gig doing promo modeling for L'Oreal. And I was passing out mascaras on the street while building this, what would soon be a six figure business. And I remember I was like barely making any money at the time.

I was just like is this going to work out? Is this going to work? And one of the stops during fashion week was in front of my old building of Universal.

So I had to stand in front of Universal handing out-- that I used to run an $85 million team for like the best of the best executives in the world, and celebrities and artists, and hand out mascaras. And that was a moment that I didn't swallow my pride that moment, but I handed out that mascara like it was the secret to life. And because I was like, no, this is paying for my dream.

And I was like I'm not going to shame myself and be proud of what I'm doing. And I remember an old coworker walked by and stopped, and I was like, oh, god. And they're like, you look really happy.

Keep going. And so that's like the biggest mistake is that I shamed myself for thinking I had to like look a certain way or take a certain job-- or couldn't take a certain job to help pay for my dream. So like do what you need to do, but like support yourself financially while you build your dream.

And your dream will happen a lot faster. Well said. Thank you.

What is your biggest current money insecurity? I'm trying to make some really big decisions for my life right now. And it's a either or decision, and they both require a big investment.

And I don't want to make the wrong decision because it's going to have an impact on my life for the rest of my life. And so I don't know if it's insecurity, or if it's a little bit of fear, which I guess is part of insecurity, is I want to make the best choice for myself. But since I don't know what the right choice is, I'm just not making it.

Because obviously, I'm not ready yet. What has been the financial habit that has helped you the most? Is getting a coach.

I-- Bridget Todd from the Financial Gym is my coach and-- We love The Financial Gym. Oh, good. I actually did an episode.

We'll link you guys on our Tuesday show-- a long time ago with Shannon at The Financial Gym. Shannon is the founder. It's nice there, right?

It is. I think we're actually at the old place, but I was still-- yeah, very cool. So why I say get a coach is-- and there's also free resources that you can use, which can serve as a coach, like an app like Mint.

Mint has an app, a budgeting app, or just how do I [INAUDIBLE] my money, or how do I invest? There's like plenty of free resources out there. The Financial Diet.

The Financial Diet. You being one. But at The Financial Gym, Bridget, when I first came in, I was like it's a mess.

And then she looked at it with me and she's like, it's not that messy, actually. We're going to make a few tweaks. And then what I really respected about her and about The Financial Gym is that they took the time to get to know me and get to know why I had certain habits that I had, or what were my goals and what were my dreams.

And like, what did I really want to plan out. And then they made me see like by doing that, I was like, oh, that's so attainable. And it wasn't this like huge overwhelming thing anymore.

It was actually something that someone was leading-- helping me lead myself to. And just I needed a little training. And it's just like a practice, a meditation practice, like any type of prac-- life is a practice.

So the same thing with money. And it was just getting into practice of being with my budget. And then being in practice of like, am I making the right investment decisions?

And being a practice of should I do this first or that first, right? And being OK with asking questions I didn't know. And Bridget's really been wonderful for that.

And so I feel very liberated around money. And I'm not crazy rich. I'm not a billionaire.

I'm not-- like I don't have a ton of investments. But I feel liberated that I can speak about money without shame. Yeah.

And that is-- like it's so satisfying. Yes. And the rest is bonus.

It's also kind of funny when it freaks people out. Last question-- when did you first feel, quote, unquote, "successful", and what does that word mean to you? I think I feel like I was-- I knew that question was coming so I was thinking about it in the car over here.

And I actually feel most successful in life-- successful in life right now. And the other time I felt most successful in life was when I bought that plane ticket and went away to another country. And I'll tell you why, both of those times.

Both those times I didn't have any fancy title. I didn't have any-- well, right now I have fancy titles. But like back then I didn't have any fancy titles.

I didn't have a ton of money in the bank. I didn't have a huge following. I didn't have any of that, but I was living my truth.

And I was doing-- I was taking a risk for my happiness, and my future. And I think right now is the product of that moment is that I'm living a life that is so unique and true to me. And in all aspects in-- from my career to how I express myself, playfully and creatively, to my sexuality, to money, to how I interact with people.

I'm living the most true I've ever lived in my life, and that to me is a success. If you stripped away my resume, stripped away all the titles, I can say that I live a life of integrity and authenticity. And that is something I've had to fight for and have had to go through really, really, really dark periods to get to.

And I'm really proud that I live in this moment right now. Well, thank you so much for being here, Melissa. This was actually really fun.

It was fun. I love them all, all TFD episodes are great, but this one-- I'm the most fun, I know. It was particularly fun.

I'm not going to lie. So where can people go to learn more about you and what you do? Sure.

Check me out on Instagram right now, Ignite with Melissa. I'm in LinkedIn. My site will be launching soon.

I don't know when this is airing but-- Two weeks. In two weeks. But it will be

So if you start with Instagram, I'll be announcing the new site. It won't be anything big but-- and, yeah, check me out on Instagram. That's really where I'm doing any kind of social interaction right now.

Very cool. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for being here.

My pleasure. And continue to be well. You, too.

May you all be well and keep living in truth. Yes. Yeah, thank you.

Bye. Chow. So we talked a lot today about the ways in which we can increase our level of mindfulness over our lives, as well as start to have a little bit more clarity on those bigger long-term decisions that sometimes we feel just a little too clouded to make.

And one of the tools that will give you an extraordinary level of clarity and preparedness about those bigger, higher level decisions is an app called Turbo. And like Mint, it's also totally free. Turbo is the perfect compliment to your personal financial habits, because it helps you get a higher, more bird's eye view on all of the important indicators of your financial health.

Things like your debt to income ratio, your net worth, a detailed look at your credit score. All of the various elements of your money life, which, for example, a lender might look at, or which will help you plan for those slightly bigger, more expensive farther term decisions. At the end of the day, what choices are right for you on a financial level are totally up to you.

And no one else can tell you what's right or wrong. But once you decide what is right for you financially, you want to make sure that you have all the deck stacked in your favor and have your T's crossed and your I's dotted when you walk into, say, perhaps a mortgage lender's office, or are wanting to maybe quit your job to take that big trip, or do something that requires that advance planning. To never be caught unaware with your big money decisions, check out Turbo at the link in our description or our show notes.