How do I live through the contradiction?
My recent novel, Radiant Shimmering Light, took place in the wellness industry. And here I am writing to my mailing list on our July theme, wellness.
Radiant Shimmering Light began as a satire. And then it became something else. What I feel about this industry is more complicated than satire.
I began writing this story to take a look at what happens when there’s a power imbalance in this industry.
Specifically, when there’s a woman in a position of great power, in a supposedly feminist world.
What happens when this leader is trying to do business in a feminine, countercultural way, yet is ultimately most motivated to grow and secure her position at the top of the existing system?
I uncovered dilemmas. Contradictions. Issues only compounded through bypass, toxic positivity and individualism.
And yet, as it turned out, my valid skepticism of this industry is also laced with hope, love and genuine appreciation for many of its influencers and their teachings.
Playing out this friendship between women’s empowerment coach Eleven Novak and her artist cousin, Lillian, took some of the charge out of wellness as it pertains to my own work.
My approach feels much more grounded than it did six years ago, when I first started writing about Lillian’s ascendancy, fall and rebirth through her cousin’s business and into a world of magic.
It’s true that Eleven’s dance with power and attention held a warning. And at the same time, a lot of Eleven’s teachings—informed by the practices I lived and researched to feed this book—are valid and useful. I often use them myself. (Everything in the Ascendancy Prayer is still a YES for me.)
Here’s what I’ve come to understand. We are all rightfully thirsty for a kind of wellness. A lot of us are feeling pretty unbalanced, for many different reasons, in unequal measure. And most of those reasons are systemic issues, not personal faults.
Still, the wellness industry and it’s individualized solutions aren’t going anywhere. It’s only grown more robust since the pandemic. There is a lot to be wary of. And, I have a lot of hope for wellness entrepreneurs and their audiences. We are growing wiser, more discerning and more nuanced in our wellness discourse. We are understanding that our wellness is interdependent, and learning to embody that truth.
All of us who engage in this space have the opportunity to check in and see how we feel about our own practices. About our relationship to business and power. About what’s happening behind the scenes with the people we follow, listen to, and buy from.
You could say that Radiant Shimmering Light landed on a “both and” perspective. A bit more complicated to pitch than a clearcut satire.
It taught me a lot. And it helped me get clear about how I want to navigate this sticky arena that is so essential to our lives.
I’m proud to see the book continue to grow, quietly. Little by little, as one person passes it to the next.
If you’ve yet to read it, I invite you to find your copy here.
Let me know if it resonates. And if it opens you to a “both and” perspective in your own writing. In your own choices.
Here’s to our wellness,
Discover how RSL is landing for readers on Instagram.
(click on the RSL highlight reel)