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Her After Volume 1 - Stories of Inspiration, Passion, and The Search for Purpose

Her After

Volume 1

Written by Rachael Yahne

From the blog HerAfter.com

Contents

On Beauty:

Any Day With Hair is a Good Hair Day

On Wellness:

How to Become a Morning Person

On Style:

Fashion in the ‘Age of Women’

BONUS:

On Purpose:

It’s Your Call

Introduction

Welcome to Her After Volume 1! This mini-edition is a collection of essays from the site HerAfter.com.

On HerAfter, we talk about the things women care about: style, beauty, health, well-being – without losing sight of what really matters, like being at peace with ourselves and living with our full potential and even forgiving the past. Our greatest struggles teach us the most, but it’s our everyday obligations that make us forget the power we possess as individuals. A busy schedule and a bank account are usually all it takes to make us totally forget how magical life is, and how lucky we are to experience it. The effects of worry and stress cannot be understated; they are the quickest killer of happiness and contentment we can find. HerAfter attempts to help you use all the big lessons in all the little moments of life, every day. From the makeup routine in the bathroom mirror to the moment you lay down and reflect on another busy, glorious day, HerAfter is there.

 

If you’ve read the site HerAfter, then you know what this collection and our mission are about: helping YOU – yes you! – feel beautiful, confident and at peace by embracing who you really are. Who you already are, as well as who you will become. That includes embracing the mental (your thoughts and your ability to control your mind), the physical (your body, size, shape and health), and the emotional (how you feel about where you’ve been, and where you’re going). It will not include trying to change yourself to be like someone else, in order to be happy. These essays are designed to give you an over-arching view of yourself from a deep, intuitive place so that you can access the power you already have to be happy, feel beautiful, and change the world. You deserve it all.

 

My name is Rachael, and I’m a cancer survivor and freelance journalist. I write women’s lifestyle articles on everything from coping with fear to make-up tips, positive body image, productivity, and more. At age 17, I was diagnosed with stage 4B lymphoma, which had spread all throughout my body even into the bones. It was so advanced, in fact, that my small hometown didn’t have the resources to save my life. My mother (an incredible woman and nurse) flew me to Los Angeles to meet with an oncologist at Cedar Sinai Medical Center. At 17, I was just naive and headstrong enough to refuse fear, the same fear everyone around me seemed to hold. I whole-heartedly believed there was no way I would die. I had no reason to believe this, I hadn’t asked the right questions yet, but I traveled down to my heart where a little voice told me “fight, fight, fight”, and that’s what I did.

The hard part, however, came afterward. With a second chance at life came so many questions about what to do now. How could I live up to the miracle that is my second chance at life? It’s a lot of self-inflicted pressure, so much so I feel into years of deep depression, self doubt, and fear. But I followed my passionate, curious heart in whatever and wherever it lead. Whatever the little voice said, I listened. Since that voice had been right when it told me to fight, I obeyed when it prompted me to my first yoga class, which was the start of my emotional healing of cancer. Eventually I followed the voice to India to study yoga and meditation. I listened when it asked me to fall in love, and I believed it when my heart was broken, it told me everything would heal once again. I followed that heart’s whisper to become a yoga teacher, a writer, a fashion editor, join Americorp, travel to London, and so many other incredible experiences. And I listened when it said my life’s work is to help you, and all women, feel beautiful and fulfilled and most importantly at peace with themselves. So here we are.

 

You are capable of being happy and fulfilled; in fact, it is your divine right because you exist. Your existence is proof of your rightfulness to be fully alive. But it is your duty, and your duty alone, to do the work to get you there.

I hope this volume of essays helps you get there.

 

On Beauty:[
**]Any Day with Hair is a Good Day

Did you know that we ladies spend the equivalent of about two and a half years primping our hair. Just our hair. That’s over 90 days, almost 22,00 hours of shampooing, drying, curling, spraying, all in the name of hair. It makes the expression ‘a good hair day’ all the more poignant. Conversely, if our hair falls flat, so does our confidence. Like a psychic reading, a ‘bad hair day’ can spell disaster for hours.

In calculating this daunting amount of time, an important question arises:

If we were to embrace our natural hair and spend less time and money worrying about it, would we be happier?

You might have noticed the hair product marketing ploy of problem-solution. The idea is that there is something wrong with you, but that you now have the ability (responsibility?) to fix it. For curly hair, there are frizz fighting serums. For straight hair there are volumizing mousses. And this myth doesn’t just hold true for beauty: for sadness there are self-help books. For weight, there are personal trainers, diets, surgeries. For every condition, natural or otherwise, there is a possible problem, and for every problem, there is a possible solution. Sure, there are product advertisements that claim to ‘enhance our natural curl’ and more promises of improving our hair’s natural state. But does our hair really need improving?

I personally endure a mixed bag of textures every morning. My hair is straight on top, wavy through the middle, and converts into thick spiral curls down near my neck. After years of straightening layer by layer (and cursing rain as a personal insult from nature), I finally began to embrace the curly side, forcing the straight hair on top to follow suit. Like many women, I find the act of styling my hair to be incredibly satisfying and a wonderful creative outlet. Unlike many women however, having lost all my hair to chemo as a teen, I don’t take having a ‘good hair day’ quite so seriously. After all, having a hair sometimes still feels like a surprise.

Through a wider lens, we see that not only do women spend a lot of time coiffing and styling, we spend a lot of time talking and thinking about our hair too. Magazines are dedicated to it, entire websites are devoted to it. In fact, it can go so far as to be an expression of your sexuality, your femininity, and your romantic worth.

If you’ve ever cut your hair because your boyfriend/girlfriend mentioned they like a specific style, or did the reverse when the relationship went sour, you’ve probably equated your hair with your romantic work. But that’s exactly the problem. When the inclination to have a hairstyle because it’s sexy or popular is no longer counterbalanced by a desire to have the hairstyle that we would derive the most joy from, we do ourselves and our sense of individuality a grave disservice. After all, individuality is not derived from being purposefully different; it is birthed only from a complete willingness to be yourself, curly/frizzy/flat/wild hair and all.

On that token, it would be unfair to offer up the solution of au natural hair to every woman, which had been my original intent for this essay. In research for this article, I watched commercial after commercial, read article after article, and finally asked the public as well as personal friends for photos of their hair, and a quote as to why they loved their unique hair. In poured beautiful shots of hair in all colors, lengths, and styles, and the statements to accompany them were even better. Truly, for every woman there is a natural hair type, and also an opportunity to find beauty and grace in the mirror every morning.

What began as an attempt to argue in favor of embracing one’s natural condition ended in the realization that there truly is one golden rule in the game of hair:

That only you can know what’s right for you. No commercial, no article, no hair dresser and certainly no boyfriend is going to be able to tell you how you look best. That, like with all of life’s great truths, the answer is already inside you.

While you may compromise your natural hair by way of serums and styling, the one thing you should never compromise is your knowledge to know what’s right for you, and the knowledge that you deserve to feel beautiful.

Because being unapologetically yourself will always have you looking and feeling great.

 

[On Wellness:
Becoming a Morning Person]

After you’ve sat in a hospital chair for 6+ hours listening to the machine pump treatment into you, you learn to really enjoy those quiet, peaceful moments of aloneness. But then life gets busy and you forget to plan them when the doctor doesn’t do it for you.

In the soft, still coolness of the morning, before my neighbors have even risen, I greet the chill of the new day with hot coffee. Enjoying this coffee only comes after a laborious 15 minutes of alarm-avoiding denial that sleeping time is over, but the sweetly refreshing invitation to reality only early morning can offer is worth the struggle.

I am not a ‘morning person’. For years, I worked tediously to create a schedule which supported this notion. It was only after reading that some of my heroes were early risers – Barack Obama, Anna Wintour, and more – that I attempted to reverse the self-imposed statute and become one. The misunderstanding many of us fall prey to is that to be a ‘morning person’, you must feel naturally energetic and productive in the morning. Conversely, if your more fruitful hours of thought fall late at night, you are a ‘night’ person.

But the truth us, none of us are any ‘kind’ of person, but we are creatures of habit. The day does not define us as one way or another, or accept us only at certain times. For the day, there is no specific time for which nature and human can best interact; in fact, just the opposite. Being a ‘morning’ or a ‘night’ person means only that we indulge in that part of the day well, that we relish and cherish it. As such, we can actually be both.

As a creative type that does much of my work in late evening, I find that morning offers a different kind of nutrition than the cathartic night. The morning time is a ritual of reflection and feelings of gratitude. Rather than thinking, calculating, creating, the morning hours should be reserved for quietness, stillness, and lack of thought. Allowing the early morning to be a daily meditation in which nothing is required but to exist and enjoy enables one to feel more rested and invigorated than those extra minutes of sleep ever could.

The practice of being a day and night person does not require giving up late night desk time and social engagements, but does require a bit more preparation than you might be used to. It can be hard the first few days to train your body to get out of bed when it usually sleeps, but the effort quickly pays off. You will quickly reap a longer, more fulfilling day filled with moments of peace. Here are a few tips to get yourself into a new early-riser routine:

In the evening:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Stop drinking water an hour before bed. Hydration is key to a healthy life, but getting up in the middle of the night to use the restroom ultimately depletes your sleep, and restful sleep is essential to functioning throughout the day.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Pre-plan what you might need for the morning as much as possible. Set the coffee maker to brew before you even get out of bed, plan your outfit, and have an idea of what you’ll eat for breakfast. (A hardboiled egg, fruit and toast makes a great breakfast. I like to make the eggs once a week and then just peel and eat in the mornings.)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Relax. Enjoy the night. Remember it is also a special time and fill it with positive activities like reading, writing poetry or playing an instrument. Allowing a guilty pleasure like an addictive TV show is fine, but be sure you’re also doing something positive to relieve stress, so the evening feels as if it releases your energy in a fulfilling way.

In the morning:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Get up! The hardest part is actually getting out of bed. In honesty, that extra few minutes of sleep won’t offer much in terms of alertness. You will never regret getting out of bed when you should, but you will likely regret sleeping in…

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Give yourself a stretch. Yoga teachers like to say that ‘motion is lotion’; Try a quick sun salutation or three, or simply reach your arms out and up to the sky. A great way to turn this into a moving meditation is to treat it as a sign of gratitude to the sun for rising with you today.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Keep your home quiet, and enjoy natural light. Turning on harsh artificial light can be jarring, and depletes from the natural beauty of the morning, where as sitting beside a window and sipping your coffee lets your body wake gradually.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Be still, and breathe. Noticing the stillness of the morning and allow your mind to be still can be very beneficial to your well-being. These moments of clarity are usually nonexistent in the rest of our busy day, and first thing in the morning is the perfect chance to indulge in them.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Fit in something you love. Whether it’s catching up on news, or reading an article from your favorite magazine to inspire you, include something in your morning that feels like a reward. It will stimulate your thinking and give you something to look forward to.

When you become a ‘morning’ person, you will also learn to enjoy the night more fully. In fact, you might find that the entire day feels more enjoyable, as you now have more than one time for which you are excited to experience. Just as the coffee tastes better when you allow yourself time to sit, taste, and savor its flavor, so the evening’s first cup of tea or glass of wine is all the more delicious and deserved. Each day, and every moment of each day, is an opportunity to feel grateful, to feel alive, and to enjoy distinctly from every other day and moment. Embrace this; greet and end each day with enthusiasm.

 

[[On Style:
Fashion in the Age of Women]]

Fanciful bohemian vibes, entrance-making fringe accents, intimidating power-suits borrowed yet beat the boys at their own game, and all the floral and floaty fabrics one woman can handle…Vogue has proclaimed that fashion in 2015 is to be one for the record, with the most fascinating mixture of genres, time periods and statements I’ve ever seen in my years in the industry. But why wouldn’t it be so? After all, we’re approaching not the age, but yet another Age of Women.

Taking cues from some of the most assaulting and profound periods of history; the 20’s revolution of sexy dress, the 60’s liberated woman, the 80’s working woman; we’re sartorially gearing up for one of the most powerful times in history for women. And it’s about time we did. It’s been a rough few years, a rough few decades perhaps, since we called about a revolution and asserted ourselves as world leaders and game-changers. I don’t mean as a culture; I mean as women. It’s the same kind of sentiments I would like to think accompanied movements like women’s right to vote, the ceremonial burned bras (which, coincidentally, we don’t need with this season’s floral bohemian garbs), and every protest for equal pay.

Recently, Elle magazine published an article regarding the Broad City girls’ Dumb and Dumber outfits, and whether it’s okay for funny women to love fashion. As an unsolicited rebuttal both for and against the article, I’d like to offer this thought: it’s seen as more socially acceptable for men to be many things, or more poignantly ‘wear many hats’, while women can’t. Elle and cited stylists described a social barrier prohibiting women in comedy from being fashion icons. Ironically, women in news often complain the opposite: that they are forced to take an interest in fashion despite their reporting chops, or at the very least go to extreme measures to look beautiful.

In either case, the problem lies in this: that society is still having an issue with women being incredibly skilled at any one thing, and having interests or talents or abilities in other areas. She’ll be ridiculed and harassed if she is beautiful and works in politics. She’ll be criticized if she is funny and stylish. She’ll be ostersized if she is artistic and sexually liberated, open, or any other term for brave enough to sleep with whom she wants, when she wants. But if there’s one thing this season proves, it’s that we women must keep proving these stereotypes wrong, and will continue to have to do so for the unforeseeable future. For driven women with a love of fashion, this is actually good news.

If you doubt that this be the Age of Women, then strike as proof:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. When the Chair, President, and Editor in Chief of one of the largest news sites in the world, The Huffington Post, is not just a woman, but one woman in all three jobs (the moving and compassionate Arianna Huffington).

*
p<>{color:#000;}. When a young activist from Pakistan, and survivor of horrific violence, stands up in the face of fear and war, and named the youngest ever Nobel Prize laureate, is a woman. (The incredibly inspiring Malala Yousafzai)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. When the world prepares, with baited breath, for the possibility of the First Female President, as a former First Lady prepares to take potentially her greatest role yet, and forever change history. (Of course, the much debated Hilary Clinton campaign).

And so we women do what we do best: we take the lessons of all previous generations, of our mothers and our grandmothers, of their mothers and grandmothers, and we combine our strength with our compassion to change lives. We stand as both a protector and a nurturer. We cover ourselves with beautiful florals that captivate, while the dirt and soil in our souls and powerful sun of our minds fuels us and the world. We show beauty on the outside, and courage on the inside. We are truly powerful beings, and when history has asked us, we have risen, and begin to do so again today.

In every aspect of our current time, we have hate and fear. In politics, in religion, in medicine (IE Ebola), in sports (IE the NFL), in fashion (the body shaming debate), in art (IE Charlie Hebdo). Women are the teachers, the doctors, the mothers and caretakers. Like the mothers of fighting children, we must band together to create the peace this world needs. On a personal level, we have the responsibility to find peace, to create peace, and to share peace. We must, individually, offer peace which we cultivate internally, and give out externally, to fix the future for our offspring, regardless of what womb it comes from. Because as all women know, it takes a village…

Do not think that to be peaceful you must be quiet; that is not a necessary to be peaceful nor ladylike.

Peace is not always calm.

Peace is sometimes loud. Peace is sometimes demanding. Peace is sometimes brash and bold and clattering like lightening. Peace rallies, peace cheers, peace screams and slams it’s fists on the alter.

And to be ladylike, you need not be restrained. You need be collected; you need be intentional in your thoughts, in your words, in your ideas. You need be calculated, educated, you need know what you believe, know what you stand for. You need to stand tall, with confidence, with grace, with assertion.

So as you take the spring trends from the runway to the streets, remember the women that created them for you. Remember the free spirited aunts who danced through Southern California decades ago. Remember the grandmothers who proudly served her family, wearing her linens and lace. Remember your mother gathering the strength to to wear denim jeans, to redefine her role as ‘working mom’, not just stay-at-home mom. Remember the women who braved a boardroom of men and criticism to change our economy, who wore a suit instead of a pencil skirt, and refused to be a secretary. Remember the woman you once were, standing in the middle of the city, demanding her right to better wages, to vote, to create or not create life. She is you and you are her. Do her proud.

So whether your spring goals have you in a blazer to make your name in the boardroom, or a pair of jeans to tackle all your family’s needs as supermom, or a pair of pink sweatpants to brave the chemo suite for the next 8 hours, stand tall in your uniform. There is nothing dainty in femininity, except like that of a snake who moves slowly until it bites. Don’t be fooled by its softness. Feminine trends only prove our capability to be both kind and relentless.

Welcome to our age, sisters.

 

[On Purpose:
It’s Your Call
**][
**][
**]

Here’s what no one ever tells you about life when you’re in your 20’s:

Your purpose, like everything else in your life, is anything but permanent.

Unstable boyfriends, moving apartments every two years, shoes from Aldo that only last one season. Absolutely nothing is permanent.

Given the way that our educational system is laid out, and the way our parents talked to us over our entire childhood, you might assume that by age 20-25 you should know exactly what you want to do with your life. And if (when) you don’t, there is a small, irreconcilable amount of guilt that unavoidably occurs.

Here’s what no one ever tells you about life while you’re cancer fighting:

Your purpose, like everything else in your life, is anything but permanent.

I must have just naturally assumed that once I had won my battle with cancer and got my life back, a purpose would find me and I’d go down that path to a happy, successful ever after. When it didn’t, that same 20-something-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life guilt was magnified to the utmost.

For you, that fight could be anything – committing to losing weight, rebuilding your life after a painful breakup, or starting at the corporate ladder all over again. Just because you’re in the fight for your life doesn’t mean that once your done, a purpose will find you. Purpose doesn’t work that way; it isn’t a force that’s lying in wait, preparing to pounce. It isn’t an end goal. It doesn’t even stand still.

The truth that no one tells you is: we’re not meant to have a stagnant purpose. We aren’t even supposed to have one purpose, but many. If we had one purpose that never changed, we would never accomplish anything new. Even if we stay in the same career field, genre, relationship, whatever it might be, things evolve. And we must evolve with them.

The composer must write [music then move on to the next symphony, inspired by new muses.
__]

The lover must learn [new about her beloved, and seek more.
__]

The poet, the painter, the athlete, the dancer must all master one skill, and continue to expand and reach for more.

If we evolve with our passion and keep our purpose as an ongoing practice of ambition and evolution, we can achieve much more. The only constant in life is change.

So if you’re still waiting for ‘your calling’ or purpose in life, remember that the call isn’t one that rings your phone – it’s an outbound call. It’s one that you make after you get out there, learn, and expand. And it’s one you should keep making over and over again, to bright new paths ahead.

That must be the reason for the saying: “it’s your call.”

 

 

 

 

A big thank you to YOU for reading this collection!

 

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Her After Volume 1 - Stories of Inspiration, Passion, and The Search for Purpose

How can I find my purpose? Where does true beauty come from? Where does my personal power come from? These are just a few questions cancer survivor and blogger Rachael is out to answer with this debut collection of stories and ideas from her website, HerAfter.com. She's asking big questions, and finding the answers that will help all women get the most out of themselves and life! Rachael Yahne is an award-winning blogger and writer of women's lifestyle articles on sites like Huffington Post, Yahoo! and SheKnows. This ambitious collection of essays is destined to inspire every woman to fall back in love with her self and her life! HerAfter Vol 1 is full of essays from the renowned women's lifestyle site, HerAfter.com. Each inspiring story is created to help you live fully, reach your potential, and create a beautifully conscious life. HerAfter is dedicated to helping all women find personal peace and happiness after life's greatest struggles. Volume 1 includes: On Beauty: Any Day With Hair is a Good Hair Day On Wellness: How to Become a Morning Person On Style: Fashion in the 'Age of Women' Plus a BONUS essay: On Purpose: It's Your Call

  • Author: Rachael Yahne
  • Published: 2016-04-21 03:05:23
  • Words: 4164
Her After Volume 1 - Stories of Inspiration, Passion, and The Search for Purpose Her After Volume 1 - Stories of Inspiration, Passion, and The Search for Purpose