Modern Day Heroines
● By Kimberly Boney
Love Thy SelfFebruary 2017
By Kimberly Bonéy
Photo by Melinda Hunter
The line between self-love and conceit isn’t quite as fine as some may think. The distinction between these two very different points is often blurred, leading those who support the idea that they are worthy of love and respect – those who carry confidence in their hearts, embrace their own imperfections and hold fast to the need for self-care – to be relegated to the realm of narcissism. But with so many examples of women being made to feel inferior to their male counterparts personally, professionally, physically and spiritually, taking the time to nurture a bit of self-love is paramount. Recognizing that the benefits of self-love can change the world for the better is a concept that might just create a necessary shift in the matrix.
Meet Eva Ochoa, Alexis Asbe and Heather Phillips, three North State women from three very different professional backgrounds who are planting seeds of self-love within the hearts of the women around them and nurturing them in their own special way.
Owner, Stylist and Photographer at Glamourpuss Pin-Up Studio
“Red lipstick is glamour and confidence all rolled into one — and a confident woman can do anything she wants,” says Eva Ochoa, owner of Glamourpuss Pin-Up Studio in Anderson. This thriving small business, founded in 2011, is known for its beautifully stylized 1950s-style photography. During each session, clients of all sizes (ranging from extra small through 4X), all body types and all ages are treated to a glamorous vintage make-over, complete with hair, make-up, clothing, backdrops and props. While it’s an incredibly fun experience for clients and the photographer alike, Ochoa insists that what is most remarkable “is what is underneath the surface of this experience.”
“My motto has always been ‘to increase women’s self-esteem, self-acceptance and body confidence one pin-up photo shoot at a time.’ Some of the women that I have been hired to photograph say that it has been a very long time since they have felt beautiful — and some of them have never felt that way. During the photo shoot, I’ll often show a client a shot right from the camera. It is then that the switch is flipped. That moment is the reason I do what I do.
“Our insecurities hold us back. The media isn’t telling us to feel good about ourselves — often, it’s telling us the exact opposite. But all of that is wiped away when you look at yourself and see how beautiful you are. When you feel good about yourself, you carry yourself differently — and you make better choices. It’s a choice you make every day to accept every inch of yourself,” says Ochoa.
Ochoa describes self-love as “choosing to love and accept yourself unconditionally, and never allowing your self-worth to be compromised or dictated by external factors.” Having experienced physical and sexual abuse, homelessness and poverty in her own life, Ochoa has made it her life’s work to uplift other women by nurturing their confidence and self-worth. “I spent a lot of years feeling like a dented can. I had a rough childhood. When I started dressing in this retro style, I began to feel more confident and I wanted to share that feeling with other women. I was given the gift of positivity – the gift of being artistic. I can’t even describe the benefits that have come into my life through this business.”
Life Coach, Author, Blogger and Gatherer of Women with A Brave Love Tribe
“As women, we work really hard. But just because we can doesn’t mean that we should,” says Alexis Asbe, a local entrepreneur who has turned her passion for women’s success and personal development into a multi-faceted business. Asbe moved to Redding in 2005 with her husband, Kelly, and her family after having owned and sold a successful business in the Bay Area that specialized in wedding planning and hospitality.
Asbe’s life shifted when she ended up with a life-threatening illness that was the result of overworking herself. “I basically burned myself out. I was living in complete disregard for my body and the way I was feeling. I knew something wasn’t working. I wasn’t supposed always be tired and stressed out. I was supposed to be floating – swimming gracefully.”
That major health scare motivated Asbe to work toward taking care of herself – and encouraging other women to do the same: “Our society promotes a go-harder, go-faster, do-more mentality. But when we do that, we are not really living in a fully embodied way. Women are on the path to destruction in their pursuit of this workaholic mentality.”
Asbe’s heart and soul is in teaching women how to radically and fiercely love themselves and stand together through it all. Power circles are one of the primary modes of delivery for her quintessential message to women through her work at A Brave Love Tribe. These gatherings include women from all walks of life and highlight “the way of the feminine,” which includes collaboration, discernment and the importance of "seeking the highest good for everyone, not just ourselves." The power circles are an opportunity for women to learn to stand together, to acknowledge their differences while recognizing the beauty and strength in them, and to emphasize the importance of respecting another woman’s way of life without passing judgment.
“At The Altar In Your Underwear,” Asbe’s witty guide to planning a wedding around your authenticity instead of according to “the shoulds”, is a powerful metaphor for being seen and being vulnerable.
“It’s incredible to see women thrive in their femininity. We breathe life into things. Without that, we aren’t really serving the world — or ourselves — well,” says Asbe. A large part of being able to be the best version of ourselves comes from recognizing the value in self-love. According to Asbe, “self-care is self-love in action. It’s the act of nurturing, listening to and learning from yourself.”
Self-care “will change the world. There is nothing more powerful than a body of women who stand together and want something to change.”
Owner of Little Sprouts Micro-Farm
“The most inspirational thing that anyone can do is live an authentic life,” says Heather Phillips, owner of Little Sprouts Micro-Farm. This family-run business that specializes in growing 10 different micro-greens, including arugula, cilantro, chives and sunflower shoots, was established in November 2015.
While her husband, Rick, is responsible for sales, Phillips prefers to work behind the scenes to bring fresh, quality micro-greens to several popular local restaurants, which “has been the backbone of being able to have consistent production.” CR Gibbs, View 202, Market Street Steakhouse, Country Organics, Roots Juice Bar and Sweetspot, all based in Redding, have helped turned one family’s need for balance into a thriving local business.
As a professional American Sign Language interpreter in what Heather calls her “first lifetime,” she found it difficult to juggle an on-call profession with the demands of her husband’s real estate business. “It was time to be called back to the earth. I was sick of not seeing my husband ever. I was feeling like what was next for me wasn’t raising our kids on my own. It was time to live my life with the person I chose rather than having him be away to make money to pay for a house he couldn’t enjoy,” says Phillips.
“We are not particularly excellent at gardening, but we keep trying,” Phillips says, with refreshing honesty. The couple isn’t after perfection. Instead, they function with the belief that “food brings people together.” They see this business as a bridge to creating a local sense of community, an opportunity to develop a network of like-minded individuals, and a way of sharing resources — a kind of food collaborative. Their boys, Xander, 7, and Brendan, 2, are already learning how important it is to work together. Xander helps by washing trays and playing with his baby brother. Brendan does his part by showing the baby plants a bit of love each day.
For September’s new moon — and for every new moon since — Phillips has invited a group of women together to discuss the history of women, matriarchy, sisterhood and goddess magic. “Everyone who comes feels the need to be here,” says Phillips. “Self-love is different for each person. It means being keenly aware of your needs at that moment, and abiding by them. If your cup isn’t full, you don’t have anything to give anyone.
“I can say inspirational things, but if I am not living them, that’s not good. Be the example. Don’t make people feel badly about where they are. Be an encouragement to others instead of being an overwhelming presence of greatness. Passion can be found in the still moments. It’s when you are most uncomfortable that you find yourself.”