Beautiful Voices is our ongoing blog series that highlights inspiring, empowering women. Our most recent Beautiful Voice is Linda Wooliever . See what she says when Annmarie asks her some questions about her own personal beauty…
Linda is a mother of 2 and will be 42 this July. 🙂
Linda owns and runs a small store in central VT. The approach in the beginning was to have a “no excuses” place for people to make better choices for themselves. That's why Linda and her team made raw food for stores, have a raw food cafe and can do catering. They also provide the products and appliances to make one-stop kind of shopping for anyone in the area or online to get what they need to eat healthier and live better. They teach classes and workshops and have e-books and soon will have e-classes for those that can't make it to them physically. They also manufacture THE best filtering bags on the planet. People use their bags to make their own fresh nut/seed milk, juices. They've made custom bags, too. Their bags do great for sprouting as well.
Who do you feel you are today? What event has defined your life?
I am a woman on a journey to herself, to love and live fully and to serve in whatever ways I can to help others awaken to themselves as we go. There were a lot of speed bumps and obstacles in my growing up and yet I always had a fierce determination to want to overcome and evolve into a better person for my own sake and for the sake of my world around me. I never wanted to be labeled a “survivor” of something because that meant I was only getting by. For me, it's about thriving and living my best life: the life of my dreams. I do believe that my entire life journey is “the” event and even when I've wandered off this path here and there, all of it has been necessary in my learning and growing.
More recently, I'd say the death of my mother 2 days after my 25th birthday provided a great calling to me to take on the role of mothering myself and to do it in a way that was way more loving and nurturing for me. I would say that we all have to practice daily the good work to break through the stories and suffering of our conditioning in our culture. My mother did the best she could for herself and for us in the family. She died at the age of 51. I watched my mother and my “surrogate family” (a neighbor friend's dad) die of cancer and diabetes, respectively, and I made a vow to myself that I would do what I could to have a high quality of life now with the hopes that it would help me keep a high quality of life into my grandmothering years (and maybe even my great-grandmothering years!) 🙂 I began reading about nutrition and practicing a more whole foods diet; a diet, however, full of meat, dairy and grains and even though I was a localvore before a movement came out, I was still not as well as I wanted to be… You can read more about this here. I have a really nice article in the Hippocrates 25th anniversary magazine.
After my kids were born and I was feeling pretty sick, I stumbled across a raw foodie who wanted to help me heal myself. I'm forever grateful to her and to my kids being born because it was a catalyst to further propel me into more radical self-love. I would say that in all the events of my life, mothering is probably the one that has reinforced this idea that I want to really love and care for myself SO MUCH so I can be around for these kids for as long as I can. And of course, I don't just want to be here, I want to ride my bike with them, laugh with them, go on hikes with them, whatever we can do to actively participate in really lovely lives. My kids are 11 and 13 now and as I write this, I am having a grand time with them on vacation, walking and riding my bike with them pain-free. My kids are my best teachers. They help me to stay in the present moment, they remind me to be my best self and they remind me to take really good care of myself so I can be a better person for them and for the greater community around me.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
My heart, when it is open, inspires me. I can look at anything and everything and see absolute beauty in it. When there's beauty, there’s inspiration. With an open heart, I can see the amazing colors in nature. Try it sometime. See for yourself how the world looks when your heart center feels tight. (Buddhists say that our heart center is the place of our mind and our mind's natural state is one of clear luminosity.) Then take a few deep full breaths and open your heart center. Now look around. Do you see how the world sparkles now? How can we not see hope and beauty and inspiration now?
What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge at present is my own chattering, monkey-brain mind. I believe what Buddhists say about our natural state of mind is clear, still waters and I love when I can be in that state. I’ve noticed that so much of the suffering that I might feel comes from the story I tell myself inside my mind. Thoughts are abundant and when I tune in, I can see that sometimes the thoughts are not very positive! This is shocking to me! Cultivating awareness of thoughts has been the beginning. Replacing them with present moment awareness has been what has come next. I'm lucky to have a responsive body that doesn't like the negative thoughts, so my body steps in sometimes to remind me that I'm out of the moment and when that happens, I can stop and breathe and get back to the clear still waters. Meditation is another cultivation that I'm practicing. I also set a clear intention for the day so when something does knock me off center, I can remind myself what it is I'm choosing to focus on for the day and get back to it.
If money was no object what would you be doing (or, would it be exactly what you are already doing?)
Money is not the object of why I do what I do. I do what I do because my spirit tells me it's the right thing to do. I do love my work: work seems like play much of the time so it's easy to be working at play (or play at working.) I have an active and creative mind and I love having visions/ideas of what I want to create and then making the plan, doing the work and getting to a place where I can say, “YAY! I did it!”
Right now, I'd like to make more time for loved ones in my extended family/friends. That's been missing because of where I live and because of my enthusiasm to be doing what I'm doing. My kids mean the world to me, too, so I always want to play with them more. My dream for the future would be to continue cultivating my time to helping myself and others to live our best lives with our food and caring for ourselves. Then I'd work on being a doula for the letting go of this body and preparing for the next adventure for hospice patients. There are really lots I want to do! 🙂 And still, there must be time to paint and write! AH!
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
In college, I had a great teacher that recommended to “bloom where you are planted.” I think that is the best advice ever.
Where and when do you feel most at peace?
When I'm at the beach, walking with my feet in the sand. I listen to the sounds of Mama Ocean and I'm really calm. All the noise of life filters out through the sand and I listen to the waves tell me what is next for me.
What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty on the outside is fleeting so real beauty must come from inside. Beauty radiates outward with an open and loving heart, a clear, luminous mind and full trust in oneself.
What makes you feel beautiful?
With an open heart center, I feel playful and sweet. I am open to the universe and I feel loving and beautiful. When I'm free to be myself in this heart center, then all is right in the world. 🙂
What’s your favorite beauty secret or tip?
Wear less make up, eat the best food ever, drink lots of water, play and laugh a lot and use minimal products on your face/body making sure that you could eat the ingredients. If you wouldn't put it in your mouth, don't put it on your skin. 🙂
What do you do when you want to pamper yourself?
I take a long hot Epsom salt and essential oil bath with lit candles and read my favorite book.
What are your words of wisdom to other beauties out there?
Try on some fierce, unconditional love for yourself and see where that gets you. 🙂 When we women awaken, amazing things take shape.
Isn't she beautiful? If you want to keep up with Linda's amazing life, follow her at vt-fiddle.com! You can also search through her blog of recipes and information at vt-fiddle.com/blog and they have newsletter archives with even more recipes at vt-fiddle.com/rawfood/raw-food-recipe-archive.php
“Teaching People About Beauty From the Inside Out”
(If you’re interested in being featured as one of our Beautiful Voices, please email us at info [at] annmariegianni.com)