When I first pitched the LIHA Muse to the LIHA founders I knew I had to come with a real-life, modern day muse to kick the series off with, and Washington, D.C. resident Alexandra Elle is that woman. Alex’s words have adorned our minds and bodies (many have had her thoughts inked on their skin as a lasting reminder) – for years both as an author and through her Instagram @alex_elle, where she shares the most beautiful reminders of how precious and tough life, and humans, can be. In the weeks before her new book, After The Rain, launched, we had a chat about all that matters right now…
Charisse: What is a muse, to you and do you have one?
Alex: A muse, to me is someone or something that sparks inspiration and embodies grace. When I’ve had muses before, especially with writing, oftentimes it’s not a person, it’s a thing. And that thing encourages me to dig deep into myself and to find the same inspiration that I’m capturing from that muse. It’s like this transcendent experience, taking on the inspiration from whatever is inspiring me and making space for it.
Charisse: Have you ever had a time when your muse has disappeared, writer’s block, for instance?
Alex: Oh yes, especially when writing books, manuscripts and proposals. It can be really challenging to bring creativity to the forefront. And when that happens I give myself permission to not write, and to take a step back. Because I am a writer through and through – not just for my career but also for my selfcare and my mental health – if I overdo it, career-wise, then I don’t make space for it in my personal time, and then I’m burnt out. Something I’ve been doing during quarantine is finding different ways to tap into my creative heart.
I’ve been doing watercolour painting and then writing down the feelings that come with that practice. So, I’m getting two different experiences and it’s keeping me excited and engaged. That way, when it’s time to show up on the page for work, I don’t feel like it’s a hassle and when I’m writing for creative or personal reasons, I don’t feel like it’s a hassle. It’s hard but it’s absolutely something I have to lean into, otherwise nothing will get done.
Charisse: What are the daily tools you rely on to get your work done?
Alex: I try to do my gratitude journal every morning, either before or after my coffee, depending on my mood! I have three children here, plus my husband, so we’re all in the house, so something I want to add to my ritual is getting up early.
This week I’ve been going to bed much earlier and the next phase is about getting up much earlier so there’s time that is just for me, to do my meditation, before the noise of the house begins.
Something that helps me now is my morning cup of coffee; I love it. I have a little espresso machine that has a milk steamer on it and the whole process just makes me happy. It’s something I can rely on every day; I’ll add my nutmeg and cinnamon and just enjoy that process. It starts the day off on a good foot.
Charisse: What is your favourite way to wind down?
Alex: Lately, it’s been, after the babies go down and the eldest is in her room – winding down from her day – it’s been about enjoying the quiet of the house. Me and my husband will sit; I’ll have my tea or take my vitamins and we’ll just sit in quiet, and enjoy it. We’ll do that for thirty minutes or an hour, and won’t even talk to each other. We’ll just sit across from each other and enjoy the slowing pace of the day. It’s truly amazing, to not have any noise and just wind down and get ready for bed.
Charisse: Do you have a favourite piece of clothing?
Alex: This is going to sound crazy but I have 150 sweatshirts. I have different colours, vintage ones that are super, super soft and broken in, I have brand new ones, I have patterned ones – my husband thinks I’m insane. I love sweatshirts. I’ve been living in sweatshirts and leggings and I feel like, having so many different sweatshirts helps me switch things up!
Charisse: What have you found yourself listening to lately?
Alex: Natalie Lauren’s Handle With Care; that album has been on repeat for six weeks. It is an affirmation for the soul. It is so good and beautiful and she is an amazing songwriter and I am in love with that album; even our little babies know the lyrics.
Charisse: what is your favourite scent?
Alex: I’ve actually become really scent-sensitive since having my two youngest kids so I’ve just started getting back into light scents. The ones that don’t irritate me are vanilla – like vanilla bean or the pod, not artificial. I have this oil that’s vanilla bean steeped in Jojoba Oil by Now Foods and it’s a really light, beautiful scent that I add to my lotion. Also, anything citrus, like grapefruit, wild orange, lemon, lime… I’ll just add some vanilla and it makes it smell really soft and sweet.
Charisse: As someone who inspires so many people, do you have an inner critic?
Alex: Yes I do and it shows up a lot. I deal with it by having conversations with it. I greet my inner critic with curiosity and ask it: ‘well, why do you feel this way?’
Instead of ignoring it or putting it to the side, I try to address it instead and speak life into it. What I mean by that is; remembering that yes, we’re human and we’re gonna have these moments of doubt or Imposter Syndrome, but how do we remember our truth and how do we speak life into ourselves when that negative self-talk comes up? That’s what I do.
Find out more about everything Alex does at http://www.alexelle.com
Interview by Charisse Kenion