063 Exploring Healthy Living, Interview with Alisha Leytem
After moving 100s of miles across the country with her brand new husband, Alisha struggled first to find and then to keep a job. During this year, she felt compelled to explore self care options, including blogs, podcasts, and, finally, yoga. She describes her struggles, and her ultimate actions to rescue herself.
Alisha discusses the importance of yoga in her self-care practice, read more about different types of yoga to find what works for you.
Read the Interview Transcript
Gillian: Ok dreamers, it's time to get curious. Today we're talking to Alisha Leytem, an amazing woman who is sharing her story with us today. Alisha is a certified wellness coach, yoga teacher, and essential educator known for her Zen Babe message, a holistic approach to health and wellness, focusing on mind, body, and spirit to find your Zen place. She is an advocate of mindfulness, yoga, essential oils, and helping others to love themselves in true alignment and balance.
Alright Alisha, we know what it is that you do professionally, but can you take one or two minutes and fill us in on the personal about your life and how you got to this point.
Alisha: yeah, I would love to. A big part of my story started when I discovered a few years ago, when blogs were really popular, especially healthy living blogs. I started to follow healthy living blogs, which was the first time in my life that taught me a lot about how to take care of my physical body and how to eat in way that made me feel great. That was the big first step to taking care of me. Then I got to these place where I still wasn't feeling peace within myself. I was struggling with a lot of other things in my life, which I'm sure we'll get into in the rest of this episode. Along that journey, I discovered yoga, which opened up the best of, I think was, the missing piece to me finding my own inner peace, which was connecting my mind and my spirit to my body. To living as a whole in general. My path with yoga got me more into the practice of loving my whole self, and taking care of my entire soul.
Gillian Awesome, thank you for sharing with us. At Just Stay Curious, I do like to ask everyone, why do you think that self love is important?
Alisha: I love this question because I think self love is everything. It really is the foundation to actually living a genuinely happy life. I think it's essential for us to have success in our lives for whatever that means to us. I think success is a word that we all... it has a different meaning to us. No matter what that is, loving yourself first, it has to come before. The more that you love yourself, the easier it is to take care of yourself. And the easier it is to take care of yourself, the more you can give to other people around. The more you can take care of those that you love, and show up fully for the life that you want for yourself. It's essential. I think it's so important that we all learn to do this and make this a daily part of our lives.
Gillian: Can you give us an example of how you apply this into your daily life?
Alisha: Yeah, absolutely. So one self love practice that I do daily, I do a lot of them daily, but one that I think helps me more than anything is meditation. Specifically one that helps me more than anything is a TM meditation, transcendental meditation, where you just repeat a mantra, or a word over and over again while you're meditating. When I'm not feeling like I'm in this great place of loving myself, or I'm not feeling very connected, I like to meditate on the word love. Just Love. I'll set my timer on my mediation app on my phone and I meditate for anywhere between 10-20 minutes, and repeat the world love. As I'm doing that I can feel and connect with the emotion of love, and once I feel that my body, while I'm also calming and getting into that place of connection, it just helps me so much. The more that I'm able to stick with this regularly, the easier it is to maintain that feeling of self love. So meditation for sure.
Gillian: so let's get into your journey, your heroine's journey. For all of us, in our personal journeys, there's a low point, an obstacle, for everyone. Alisha, can you take us to that time in your life, tell us what was happening, what was going on, and how were you feeling at that time?
Alisha: Yes. Ok. So, the lowest point in my life was definitely a one year low point. It really was a one year low point. What had happened was I had just gotten married and my husband, my new husband and I, literally two weeks after we got married moved hundreds of miles away from home so that he could start this new job. The plan was that I was going to find a job. Totally different than the field I'm in now, this was before I started my own business and everything. Once we got to this new location, I got there and I was like, "oh, now what?".
For the next 6 months, I was unemployed. I applied to tons of jobs, seriously, like 70 jobs, and nothing was happening. Meanwhile, my husband was working all day long and I was at home alone. We didn't have any family, we hadn't made any friends yet, we were brand new to this area. It was such a weird time because I was newly wed, and so in love with my new husband, but so ashamed of myself. So down and sad. It got really down to this point of depression and anxiety started to kick in. I was still going to the gym, and eating healthy, but I was not happy with myself. That happened, that lasted for 6 months, then the following 6 months, I finally got a job and a few months later they decided to cut the job. Then I got another job, and a few months after that, that start up company went under.
Within this year, the first 6 months I unemployed, and then the second 6 months I was let go from 2 jobs at the same time. It was awful. But, at the end of that year I was sitting there like, "you know what?"... During this year, I was forced to work on myself, and work on my spiritual growth. I didn't have a choice. This was the first time in my life when I was like, "oh I have to face myself" because I didn't have any friends to distract me. We only had one car and my husband would take the car into work and I would just sit at home like, "Oh my God, now what?" After weeks and weeks of trying to avoid, avoid, avoid with tv and whatever, I had to do some inner work. During that time I had started my own healthy living blog, which started off as me sharing recipes and stuff. Then, because of that, like I mentioned earlier in the show, I found other healthy living blogs and other podcasts, and they introduced me to this world of self love and spirituality. So I started listening to more and more podcasts and reading books and I then I started following YouTube videos and then I found yoga.
I know that even though that was really difficult for me to get through, it had to happen so that I could be forced to do that work on myself because I don't think... if I had just gotten the job that I "wanted"- I didn't even want any of those jobs- then I wouldn't have done what i needed to do which was to heal myself first, and then I could fully do what I wanted to do which is now helping others do the thing I had to get through. That was in a nutshell my lowest point.
Gillian: When you were doing this spiritual work, did you have a guide, or did you just trust your intuition? How did you go through this process?
Alisha: I didn't know at the time that I was doing spiritual work, first of all. I didn't know that's what I was doing At the time I was just trying to not be so depressed, and be ok with leaving the house. And be ok with being able to talk to other people, because I was so ashamed of myself and what I thought was my position. I couldn't do that. I didn't necessarily have a guide that I was seeking, I think my guide was yoga because yoga was teaching me how to listen to myself, but then it was also teaching me how to follow my intuition and then was guiding me to the teacher or the article or the video or the podcast that I needed to hear that would help me even more. So I think it was a collective thing, of a bunch of different teachers that were speaking publicly. I guess if I had to say one person it would probably be Gabby Bernstein because she was one of the first books, self help books, that fell into my lap, more or less. That opened my eyes up to "oh, i can think differently about myself", and that change things, that I can really dive into the spiritual work and that is how everything will change my life, not the opposite. Not everything in my should change and then I can dive into my spiritual work.
If I had to name one person, it would probably be Gabby.
Gillian: When you going through this process and having applying to jobs on the one hand, and then working on yourself on the other, was there any part of the process that was especially hard or that you didn't want to face that just kept coming back?
Alisha: Oh yeah. A lot. Ok, I think the biggest thing that I didn't want to face that obviously we all know, and I'm sure your listeners know that the lesson doesn't go away until you face it. When you're not facing it, it prolongs the inevitable of having to face it. For me, one of the biggest things was waiting... believing that I could save myself. I was... I felt like I was waiting for someone to save me. I was waiting for this job to save me. Someone to show me and teach me, and someone to save me.
When I got the new job, I thought this would save me- the first job after the 6 months of unemployment. I was like, Ok, yes this is it, this is it, this will help me. But it didn't save me from myself, of what I really needed. So then the universe had to release that and have it again in order for me to finally come to this point where I was like, "oh I have to save myself. I have to do this even though it's so hard. I have to face all of things about myself that I didn't think I was capable of doing". Which was the ability to be a confident person, and to really take care of myself even though I was married, or had just gotten married, that I could still be a strong, independent, really sure of herself person, and can take care of herself in that way. That was a huge lesson that I had to go back to over and over again.
I'm waiting for someone to save me, and then I had to realize, and finally face the fact that, no, I am the powerful creator of my life and I can save myself. It has to happen from me loving myself first.
Gillian: At what point did you go from saying, well, maybe you didn't say it, but I imagine you saying, "why does this keep happening to me?" to "what can I learn from this?" At what point did that happen?
Alisha: I feel like it was a process. A long process, but I do have a cool story where I feel like it was the "aha" moment of me actually understanding this, instead of just reading it and hearing it. You know the difference, when you're just like, "oh yeah, I know that, oh yeah" but you don't...
Yeah, that's what had been happening and I think that this is what I was saying before where it's like, it just keeps coming at you and coming at you and coming at you, but until you really get it, until you really understand it, then that's when you've learned it. During these... I think it was towards the end of that "not fun" year, I had gone out for a hike on this favorite trail of mine. One of my... during this time I learned that when I can be in nature, totally in nature, I can feel so much more calm. And when I feel calm, I'm able to not be so hard on myself, and love myself a little bit more. I would find that I would spend more and more time out at this trail.
One day I was out on the trail walking around and I had gotten lost. I never get lost, it's not that big of a trail, but I'd gotten lost this one day. Then I was freaking out because I couldn't find my way back, and all of a sudden it starts to rain, like, "oh my gosh, it's raining, this is my life. This is my life." I don't even know where I'm going and then it starts raining on me. That's when I felt this switch, this total understanding, I was like, "oh wait, I am the powerful creator of my life". It's not like someone's going to come save me and get me out of here, I have to find my way out. I am able to do that. I have to believe that I can. I had heard it so much, but for some reason in that moment, I just had this inner knowing that "oh, I CAN find my way out of this", and this does relate to my life. This is a mirror of my life right now.
I'm lost in the middle of this trail, and now it's raining on me! But I can find my way. I had heard Oprah saying it, you know when she says the quote, "I am the powerful creator of my life, I am the captain of my soul". I could hear her saying that in my mind, and I found my way out. I feel like when I walked out of the trail and the woods, I felt like, I don't know, like a new... not a new person, but kind of. I just felt different because I think that I really understood it, and I really really got it.
Gillian: I think that's so cool, how something that you had heard once in the past and maybe not given any mind to, came to you at exactly the right moment. That's really cool. So, after you had this moment in the woods, did you make any immediate changes, or did you let it stew?
Alisha: I think what happened was because I started to feel differently, I started to make the immediate changes of the way I was speaking to myself. I think from that moment on I started to really be aware of how I was talking to myself and how I was speaking to myself. The more that I could navigate, and the better I got at speaking kindly to myself, then the easier it was for me to go and do the things I had to do. To believe in myself. I feel like it was just this ripple effect that I started to be really aware of what I was saying. I started to focus on affirmations, I kept saying to myself, "I am the powerful creator of my life. I'm the captain of my soul. I am the person who is going to change my life and change myself".
By doing that, that was the immediate thing that I did, but then the changes around me started happening organically because I was able to do those things a lot easier, in a better, more organic way instead of forcing it. Also, believing in it.
Gillian: Alright Alisha, it's time for our Daily Insights. What was the one thing holding you back from accepting self love?
Alisha: Myself. Absolutely. It was me blocking myself from myself. I was looking at everything around me, trying to see what it was, and thinking that it was my situation and my life. It's because of this or it's because of that, when really it was just me.
Gillian: Who is one person who has changed your life for the better?
Alisha: I mentioned her before, but Gabby Bernstein. She has helped me more than... she's the one person who has helped me so, so much and really understanding my spiritual journey and my spiritual path. Even now in the years it's been since that year had happened, she continues to still bring me back if I feel like I'm falling off of the path of not really loving myself, which happens. It's not like once you figure out how to love yourself then it's smooth sailing. It's nice to have one person who you can refer back to over and over to bring you back to that place when you first understood it. It helps you connect a little bit more.
Gillian: What is the best advice you've ever received?
Alisha: I love this quote by Wayne Dyer, "Change the way you see things and the things you see will change". I feel like honestly that's the best advice I've ever received, which is just you're situation isn't going to change unless you start to see the difference of the situation. What you focus on grows. The more that I could see that my life was an example, or reflection rather, of how I was speaking to myself, and how much I loved or didn't love myself and what I was really focusing on, then everything else changed. The more that I started to focus on what was going well in my well, and what I did love about myself, and my own strengths, and I could focus on that, then the more good I was bringing into my life and the more I could grow those instead of doing what I was doing prior to that. Which was focusing on I hadn't had a job in forever and things weren't working, and I didn't know what I was doing, and I wasn't a confident person... that's what I was getting more of. The more I could focus on the good, then I was able to grow that. What you focus on grows.
Gillian: Can you share a creative self care habit that you practice regularly?
Alisha: My favorite habit it's more like my morning routine. Every morning I will wake up and the first thing I do is, I say a positive prayer- Today's going to be a great no matter what I have going on that day. I try to say something positive right away. Then I will head over to my favorite part of my home, which is honestly my couch in my living room. I will grab my journal, I'll grab some angel cards, and my phone, and set my timer and meditate. Then after I meditate I will journal about anything I need to that day, usually it's things I love to get me into that loving energy. Then I'll pull an angel card. I love pulling the angel card because it connects me with my spirituality, but also my intuition because I trust that that's the card I needed, and know that that's guiding me down what I need to hear for that day. My habit is really my morning routine.
Gillian: Do you have a favorite quote?
Alisha: Yes, I love the quote, "What you feel emotionally becomes how you feel physically". I think this is really important. I had learned this also, as well, in my tumultuous year. Your emotions, how you're feeling, becomes how you feel in your body. When we hear, or we say, I'm just so sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. That low feeling, those low emotions manifest itself into our bodies. If we want to feel physically better, then it's managing those emotions, which comes back to how we're treating ourselves, and how we're loving ourselves, and how we decide to view our day, and our life, and our moments. The more we can see that in a positive way, the more we can tune into those positive emotions, then the more energy our body is going to have. It all goes from there. It's all part of the package. I think that this is a really cool quote to bring you back to, yeah, manage your emotions and that will manage your body because it really is all connected into you feeling great spiritually as well.
Gillian: can you share a resource or an app that we can use in our own self care practice?
Alisha: One resource that I use probably every day is Audible, Audible books. the reason is because... or podcasts, this too, same thing... I just always have something on my phone that I'm listening to when I'm doing errands. If I'm cooking, I'll have a positive book or podcast interview that I'm listening to at all times. If I'm walking my dog, I have that on. When I'm getting ready in the morning I'll have that on. It's really nice to constantly have that on, and keeping you in that state of inspiration and connection. Because again, what you focus on grows. When you can focus more on that and have the internet and these apps as an awesome resource that's there for you, take advantage of it and keep doing it. I will even listen to... I have some books that I will go back to over and over again, especially on Audible. I just finished "You are a Badass" for the second time by Jen Sincero. You always get something that you needed to the second, third, fourth time around. It's really good to have that one podcast or that one book that helped you so much the first time, in your back pocket because it's going to help you again. And since you resonated with it so much that one time, I encourage you to listen to it again.
Gillian: For me it's "Big Magic", and I love that you mention Audible, because I actually have an offer for anyone who isn't already an Audible subscriber, they can get a free audio version of "You are a Badass", or "Big Magic", or any book they want for free by going to juststaycurious.com/freebook.
Alisha: Love it, and "Big Magic" is awesome, I love it
Gillian: I love that book, oh my God. It's so good. What book are you reading right now?
Alisha: Shockingly, Gabby Bernstein's new book called "The Universe Has Your Back".
Gillian: I just got that one too, I just started, I'm in the first chapter, but loving it so far.
Alisha: It's so good, you have to let me know what you think
Gillian: Alisha, my last question for you, what is the one thing you are most passionate about?
Alisha: I am so passionate about inner peace. I really believe that everyone deserves to have inner peace. I believe that everyone can have it, and my mission in life is to help others to find that. I think self love is a major part and step to having that. So, inner peace.
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What was the number one thing that was holding you back from accepting self love? Me, blocking myself from myself.
Who is one person who has changed your life for the better? Gabby Bernstein.
What is the best advice you have ever received? “Change the way you see things, and the things you see will change.” Wayne Dyer.
What is a self care habit that you practice regularly?
I try to say something positive to myself right away. Then I meditate. Then I journal. Then I pull an Angel card, which guides me to what I need to hear that day.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“What you feel emotionally becomes how you feel physically.”
Can you share with us a resource or an app that we can use to help our own self care practice grow?
Positive books from Audible, or positive podcasts that I listen to.
What book are reading right now? The Universe Has Your Back, by Gabby Bernstein.
What is the one thing that you are most passionate about? Inner peace. I believe that everyone deserves to have it and that everyone can have it.
About This Guest:
Alisha Leytem is a certified wellness coach, yoga teacher and essential oil educator known for her Zen Babe message - a holistic approach to health and wellness, focusing on mind, body and spirit to find your zen place. She is an advocate of mindfulness, yoga, essential oils and helping others to love themselves and true alignment and balance.