the truth series: alex

the truth series: alex

Andrea Morris | Jan 09, 2024 | minute read

Our b, halfmoon manifesto

Nature is truth. It grounds, inspires, and guides us.
With each day, the rising and setting sun and moon
bring new freedom, growth, and light.

Let nature inspire you to #liveyourtruth.

Alex is a Brookyln-based author and illustrator, known for embodying authentic living. Through her art and visual expression, Alex creates space for community healing rooted in vulnerability, compassion and perseverance. 

Our founder, Andrea, connected with Alex to discover what her truth is. 

Andrea: I'm here today with Alex from the beautiful platform @aolanow.

She has an incredible following on Instagram and I've been following her for over five years. She draws, illustrates her feelings and shares art with her community in a way that really inspires people's hearts and minds. 

I'm thrilled and humbled to have Alex here today to chat with us about b, halfmoon, her wellness journey, rituals and much more. 

Alex, thank you for being with us.

Alex: I'm so honoured to be here, thank you. 

I have been using and loving all of your products over the past year now and I completely and thoroughly enjoy them. When a product is great, it usually means it comes from a place of integrity and care from the founders and makers.

Andrea: That means a lot. And I echo that sentiment with everything you put out in the community as such inspiration and really speaking your truth, which links beautifully to our manifesto. And on that front, I wanted to ask you, does our manifesto speak to you? How do you interpret it and what does it mean to you?

Alex: Nature is critical for me.

It’s something that serves as an inspiration for me and roots me into myself whenever I feel like I'm spiraling or dealing with whatever things life throws at me.

I find that whenever I'm in a situation, I can just step outside or look around and see that I'm part of a bigger picture. Somehow that helps me find steadiness. 

So, I do appreciate that it plays a huge role in what you create and what you make.

Andrea: Nature brings so many metaphors for our life practice, our life experience. It's definitely an inspiration for us and I see that echoes for you in your life.

One thing that we find with nature is that it cannot lie. It's always speaking its truth, which is beautiful in and of itself. 

I'm wondering how you live your truth in your life.

Alex: I agree.

It's very hard to stay true to yourself or even to know what that means. I'm someone that always likes to check in with myself and make sure that I'm living an authentic and true life– a huge anchor in that is my daughter. 

When you have a child, you're suddenly put in a position to be a role model. You're amplifying your actions. When you do things, you're rechecking to make sure that's something or someone that you want to be. 

Another way that I stay true to myself is through service. It's something that took me a long time to participate in. I always said I wanted to give back and I've always been an empathetic person, and that is step one. Empathy is an amazing thing and you should congratulate yourself if you're empathetic. Even if you're not doing the service yet, that's the step into the service. But actually giving back to my community is something that helps me stay on the path of truth for me. And there's a couple of ways that I've done that over time. 

When I became a yoga teacher, I donated my time to different communities that couldn’t access yoga. And I did enjoy that and I still love the practice of yoga, but in 2019, I lost my mother. Grief has been a huge part of my past few years, understanding it and coping with it. 

Also, just taking a look at the life cycle and recognizing that’s all we have. That's when I found myself falling into becoming an end of life doula–similar to someone that supports a person coming into the world. This is the same thing but it’s support for someone going out.

I donate my time/volunteer every Tuesday at a hospital to hold space for people that are terminal. For me, that time is not just me giving, it's also about learning. I'm always reminding myself that life is temporary. It’s a wonderful gift to sit by someone, particularly people that are alone, but it's also a gift to myself.

Andrea: That is beautiful. I have full body goosebumps and it's so incredible that you do that and talk about modeling for your daughter, Coco. I mean, for her to witness you living your truth in such a profound way… what a gift for her too.

Alex: It is, and it also opens up a dialogue. She understands life and death–I don't hide what I do. She understands that I'm sitting with people that will be dying soon.

Andrea: I try to also be very truthful with my daughters. We all live, we all are born and we all die–to just be really open with them about that. But I have not had the same experience yet with grief that you have. I'm sure that adds a whole other dimension to it. 

Alex: It definitely does.

For me, part of how I fell into doing the doula work was because my mom did home hospice. Her caretaker was so special and created a space for my mom to really fully lose her mind. My mom was Dominican, and she never would want to burden her children with the fear and the pain that she was going through. 

Of course I knew she was afraid and I could see she was in pain, but she always was a bit measured around us because she didn't want to scare us. This hospice worker was someone that she could just really, truly be herself around. I thought, “Wow, that is an incredible thing. I'd like to be that for somebody else.”

Andrea: Paying it forward. That is unbelievable.

Alex: I think if anyone is interested in becoming an end of life doula, it's an incredible way to give back. It’s also so beneficial because every time I have a day that I've spent at the hospital and met with a handful of different people, I take away so much and I step back into myself so present and so… in the moment.

All the little things that I thought were so traumatic or so dire that may or may not be. I mean, we're allowed to have our struggles, of course, but it puts things in perspective.

Andrea: What a deep, meaningful way to support you in being present and living your truth and modeling that for your daughter–I can't think of a better way. It’s not every day you hear people are doing this. It’s an inspiration.

Alex: And back to your original question. For me, I truly think service is a way that anybody can stay honest to themselves and true to them.

Andrea: What resonates with me is you saying that empathy is the gateway to service, which is so, so true. I've never really pondered that before. That's something that I will certainly take away from this conversation.

Alex: And this is not to make anyone feel guilty or bad. We all have busy lives. I'm in my late 40s, so it took me a long time to get to the point of continually volunteering. And there's no time like the present. You can start, even if you offer once a month, once a year, whatever it is, just giving service is such a special way to connect with yourself and your community around you.

Andrea: Yeah, I love that insight. And certainly that's an element of your overall wellness practice–something that supports you in gaining insights, in contemplating the realities of our lives and being present. I mean, that all funnels into wellness for me.

I'm curious to know what other elements are important aspects of your wellness routine.

Alex: Movement is key for me. 

I've really transitioned over the decades. I was an avid runner as a young person up through college–running a marathon, half marathons. I love running, but my body changed and I can't run anymore. It just hurts too much. 

That's partially why I’ve always practiced yoga, since my 20s. I was trying to support my ability to run. But what I found with yoga was a little bit more of a spirituality and a way of creating beyond moving my body. I've always loved my yoga practice because it was my way of diving deeper. 

Even now, my body's catching up to me and I'm not able to practice like I used to. But I find my ways. I have my own practice of yoga now and do a lot of chair yoga.

Andrea: It's like self-practice.

Alex: Yeah, self-practice. Then I also do low-impact, lightweight workouts because I'm in menopause. That's a whole other path but I will say just moving my body anyway, whether it's walking or exercise, it's crucial.

Andrea: That resonates with me increasingly as I evolve into my mid 40s, 100%.

Alex: The other components are drinking water, which is such a challenge for me. The minute I drink water, I have to pee but the benefit of hydration is worth the multiple bathroom breaks.

And then food–what you eat, what you put in your body. I have a massive sweet tooth, so I would eat gummy bears all day if I could, but I don't.

Andrea: Do your meals shift with the seasons or with how you're feeling?

Alex: Yes. In the summer, I'm having more salads and in the winter, I'm having more soups. 

I have a group of friends, we call ourselves the happy sads, because we're always very happy. But there's an underlying sadness because we've all been through a lot–however you have to see the positive through it. 

One thing that we all love to do is make soup. To us, soup is nourishing and it's meditative to make. You know, the cutting, the preparing.

Andrea: Ah, it's wonderful. I love that.

I'm going to carry that forward with my girlfriends because it's true. I mean, we all have our challenges. Of course, that's part of the experience. But we, especially when we're together, we find the light and it comes very naturally, which is actually a beautiful transition to my next question.

Light in every day, finding joy. I think to me that's a huge element of wellness and really prioritizing the value of finding the light. So how do you manage to create space for play and light?

Alex: It’s so amazing that you're bringing this up because I'm working on a third book and it's all about finding joy in the small moments. And this is the practice for me. I've really been practicing seeing beauty in the small things. That could be the way the light shines on something, that could be a flower that's in a sidewalk crack. But it also could be just connecting with a neighbour or a stranger. 

It's looking for those little reminders that life is magical.

Andrea: Beautiful. And you do. Some people are naturally programmed to find those light moments–others, myself included, have to program themselves or reprogram themselves to hone in on those beautiful elements that surround us every day. So that's where I am. Your book resonates because I need to program myself to see those light moments. It's so important for our mental health and our overall well-being.

Alex: Absolutely. You have to find your ways. For my daughter, something that always makes her feel good is singing. She loves to sing. So if we ever get into a funk, we sing.

Andrea: Love it. Being silly is part of finding the light in every day. For me, my best friend said recently, “Our kids need to see us being silly.” She was talking about her and her husband's Halloween costumes. And it's so true, they need to witness us having fun. That's a big element of finding the light.

Alex: Definitely. Truly doing my best to make my way through this crazy thing called life. And there's a lot of ups and downs. And it's, you know, learning how to ride the waves and flow.

Andrea: Yeah. Flow with it. Flow and grow with it.

Alex: What I've learned after having an extremely difficult past four months (and I'm now on the other side), is that when you experience something truly painful, although I'm not saying I want those painful things to happen, it helps me have this appreciation of the good that happens. So if that great thing were to happen to me, it would still be great without the painful thing, but I appreciate it so much more because I've been to the other side. 

Andrea: Yeah, absolutely. I couldn't imagine if life was just even keeled. You wouldn't grow and learn and feel nearly as much. 

I think one of the beautiful things that we haven't touched upon as much is you share this with your community through your illustrations and you mirror other people's experiences for them. 

And that, as I said at the beginning, supported me in the past five years. Just seeing a little image of “this too shall pass” or a coffee cup on a Monday morning, you don't feel as alone, which is so healing and powerful.

Alex: When I started drawing and sharing my feelings on Instagram, it was really a cathartic thing that I was doing in the midst of a divorce. It was my way of exercising what was inside of me. But what I didn't realize was that people were going to connect with it. Something about knowing that someone else is going through it too makes you feel less alone.

Andrea: Without a doubt. 

I think it also shows the power of speaking your truth like you shared so vulnerably. Being vulnerable and honest and how much that has resonated. You've created this massive community through vulnerability and truth. That really speaks to me because that's what we endeavor to do with our community–offering inspiration, growth, light, anything that supports our wellness.

Alex: You're offering products that are tools for people to elevate their lives.

Andrea: Exactly. 

On that note, we're so excited to be launching, offering six of your illustrations through our platform. It’s such a dream for me to be able to offer that through our platform. So stay tuned for more on that front. 

Thank you so much Alex. It's been a pleasure to connect with you. I'm so grateful for the time and the conversation and to be able to share this with our community.

Alex's collection of prints are an extension of her truth and a documentation of life’s moments–available now in collaboration with b, halfmoon.

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