After Cate Hollister and I reconnected at the end of the year exhibition I had, she put me in touch with Elaina. I can't say exactly what caused it, whether it was her forgetting about our first appointment or my forgetting my gear on the way to our rescheduled meeting or something else entirely, but I would use the word strained to describe our time together. It felt as though the point of what I am doing and why I was there with her was totally lost -you will likely hear it in the interview - and there was a confused and maybe even combative energy.
I left this interview feeling deeply affected by that and full of so much doubt and trepidation for embarking on the third year of this endeavor. It happens like this so rarely in a face-to-face meeting. We all have the encounter in more anonymous ways with other people who don't come into our sphere with all the love and joy and encouragement that we want, right? Ordinarily though, when I meet someone face to face and look them in the eye and talk with them, I feel connected to them and part of something much bigger. I didn't feel that with Elaina and even as I type this now, more than a week later, I am still searching for why. And even though we don’t see the world through a similar set of eyes, I still think there is value in our conversation below. And despite the fact that Elaina and I didn't become fast friends there is a lesson here, not just for her and for me individually, but for all of us.
Who are you and how would you describe yourself?
My name is Elaina Love and I'm an entrepreneur. And, basically, my life is focused on helping other people to find their joy and live a great life. And I've done that through - over the last 20 years - teaching people how to upgrade their diet and just kind of anything related to living a life that's purposeful, meaningful.
What concerns you and what motivates you to do something about it?
What concerns me... I guess the planet. I just want to take really good care of the planet. And I feel motivated because I feel like when you start taking care of your own body and your own self, it becomes an extension of you - the planet does. So I just feel like we're all connected and so I care about other people and I just kinda feel like as you do that, you notice that there's an interconnectedness and a... it comes back to you. So, it's a cycle. I just guess staying in integrity concerns me and just staying true to what's really important in life, which is not material things but being connected with people and the planet.
Have you always been that way?
I think as long as I can remember. When I was in my late 20s, I kind of started discovering another form of spirituality other than Catholicism - that I grew up with - and realizing that when we tune into different energies they actually become real. And so, it's been for most of my life. And then I got into healthy eating in my early 30s and everything changed for me because I suddenly started realizing I had an effect. Like, what I did actually had an effect - whether it was on my body or on other people's lives.
Do you have a sense of purpose or a compulsion to live with intention?
Yeah. I mean I would basically say what I'm doing every day - being of service to other people, seeing how I can help other people through my podcast or through my books or through my website. Help them find something that's meaningful and important to them - usually starting with people's health 'cause when your mind is healthy and your body's healthy, then you tend to be more concerned about the world. So, yeah, I mean... same answer as before (laughs).
What do we mean to each other, individual to individual?
I think it's kinda like the butterfly effect. I feel like everybody has an impact. I think it can even narrow down to our thoughts. I used to always focus on my words having impact, but now I realize it goes even deeper than that - to just even how you're perceiving people or how you're perceiving the world. I believe in the law of attraction, so if you believe the world's a negative place, you're gonna experience that and the people around you are probably gonna react to that feeling or thought. So, everything's energy. So, we all have an impact on each other - down to the smallest thing of just throwing a piece of trash on the ground. 'Cause that could make or break someone else's day.
Why do you have the concern for the planet, for the health of others, for your relationships? To what end? What does it all mean?
I don't feel like there's an end. It's just who I am, how I resonate in my vibration - the core of who I am. I mean, I guess I could liken it to a flower. Flowers are beautiful and they just shine because they shine. So, for me, I don't feel like I have an agenda every day when I get up to like, I need to make the world a better place because I don't really even feel like that works. I feel like it's more because I feel good inside and it starts there. So, it starts with my meditation every day - my visualizations - and then my heart's just open so I want to care about other people and I want to interact with people that feel good. So, I'm drawn to that. Like people like Cate - she's happy and joyful and playful. Those are the kind of people I become friends with and then the two of us start beaming and then we meet someone else and they come into our circle and, you know, it just becomes this ripple effect, I guess. But it's not because I'm trying... I mean I have my good days and bad days, but the core of who I am when I get up and I start my day is like, How can I bring joy today? How can I find joy? How can I be of service?
What does it mean to you to be human and part of this vast community with all these differing opinions and values?
You know, I've kind of started to change my perspective on that recently a little bit. Feeling like I'm not really sure where I actually come from; if I come from a star seed or if I'm... I don't know what the intention of me being put on this planet, but I do know that everybody that's here is important for whatever reason. So, it's not my job to say whether Trump should be doing what he's doing or not doing what he's doing. And, again, I think it comes back to me for the law of attraction - if I focus on what's right in the world - so I don't really spend a lot of time thinking about everybody on the planet. But I guess I just focus on my community around me. Before the world was so big and we knew what was happening in Australia every day. I like the tribal feeling of just... instead of checking the weather, just looking outside and seeing what kind of day it is. Or instead of reading the news, going out to ecstatic dance or to a coffee shop and just seeing what happens in my small world. 'Cause global's just too big for me. Like, I care but it's just too big for me. 'Cause it can be too easy for me to... if I read the paper and start focusing on somebody that something horrible happened to - especially children or even animals - that could make my day go completely differently. And I'd rather just stay in the small world that I'm in and whatever's supposed to come into my field is supposed to come into my field. I'm not gonna go looking for trouble, basically (laughs). So, I guess I try and keep my world smaller as opposed to like worrying about the whole globe all the time.
You don't go seeking out trouble, but there's plenty of it around. Do you have or do you feel a sense of responsibility to affect positive change? And then how does your previous answer mesh up with what you said about how the planet concerns you?
Well, I mean, if someone's not healthy in their mind, that's where you gotta start. Someone that eats a healthy diet - which I teach people to do and I affect them through everything I post on Instagram or whatever I'm doing in my world - if someone has a really unhealthy mind filled with sugar and junk food, they're not gonna be a good person in the world. Or, possibly. So the way that I affect change is just by starting with myself - ripple effect. Like, I'm not going out trying to change or fix people 'cause it's not possible. They have to come to me or they have to be looking for it. Again, law of attraction: that which is like itself is attracted. So, I draw people to me that are attracted to what I'm doing and then I help from there.
I mean, every day I'm posting free information, free podcasts, free, free, free, free, free, free - how to change your life. Start with a fast. Start with one day of skipping meals. Start with a meditation for ten minutes, you know? That's how I affect change - just getting people to start thinking possibly like one little, small thing they can to starting that growth, expansion. But again, I don't feel like it's my job to change anybody. It's not what I'm here for. I know.
What are you here for?
I'm here if people need help and they want information and they want... I'm just here to be the best person I can be on the planet, but I'm not out trying to fix people or fix situations even. To me, in my mind, it doesn't work that way. That's just how I... and then maybe someone else can go and volunteer or do what they're doing. Mine is the way I put out information is just from my core.
Well, this is unusually quick. So, do you have anything else that you'd like to say?
Well, what's the core of what you're getting to with this, I guess? I'm still not super clear. Just seeing how people live in the world or...?
At this point most people now what's going on here, but this is about community, it's about what we mean to each other as individuals, it's how we function, it's what are we supposed to do about what is wrong and how we're supposed to take care of each other. And then my own personal sense of curiosity towards all the people that I interact with.
So, your path and my path may not have ever crossed had it not been for Cate or had it not been for the project or had it not been for an infinite number of other things, but now that we've met I care about you, I care about how our paths do intersect, and I care about what happens from here. And then I care about all the things that happen from our meeting, like all the way through the rest of my life. So, this project is about introducing us to each other because we often don't do this. We say, "Hi. How's the weather? How's your day? What a fun yoga class that was! See you next week." Right? But we don't sit down and ask questions. We don't interview each other. We don't dive very deep. So, this is an exercise in doing that. Especially moving into year three - I sent you all that information - I want this to grow in a different way and have a lot more impact than it has been having. So, this last question was just an opportunity for you to put your closing remarks on the record.
Okay, well I guess, for me, what's been coming into my field - I don't even know how long now - but is kindness. I think that's the best way we can impact people and impact their day is saying something, going out of our way even in the grocery store or at a bank, How's your day? What's going on with you? And that is what I love about living in Bend. People seem to care a lot more. And that's why I love living here. But I feel like that can really have an impact. Like you were asking earlier, How do I want to make a difference in the world? If I'm kind to someone - just go out of my way to be caring and extra kind and to really honestly care about their day - then that could change how their whole trajectory of their day goes. Which could impact someone who might be depressed and contemplating suicide for all we know. Again, I guess it just comes back to the ripple effect. We have control over this and what comes out of our mouth and what we're doing and saying and the rest - it's energy. We just affect people energetically around us. So, to me, I guess my biggest thing is just to be kind. And to think about what our impact is on people as we go through our day. Like picking up that piece of trash or stopping at the stop sign for someone else to go first. Or on and on - letting someone go ahead of you in line that has one item. Or giving someone a compliment - an honest compliment - when you see them. Maybe you're the 10th person in line and they seem flustered and just stopping for a moment just to care about them. So even though my days tend to be super busy and I've got a lot on my mind, I still try and think about what other people are experiencing and going through.
I've been ending this interviews by allowing you to ask me a question. You already got one, but if you have anything in mind, you can ask me a question and then we'll close it out.
Well, I would love just to hear what the thread has been for you of these people that you've interviewed. What has been a big impact on you - maybe something that you learned from someone that you hadn't thought of before or if it changed your perspective on anything?
ACT: I guess I learn a little something from everybody - not to sound trite. I get a little nugget from everybody. There's different things that come from this - individual levels of friendships and acquaintance levels bump up a few notches and one thing leads to another.
The intention for me was to find the good because unlike you I'm pretty weighted down by the state of the world and the way we often treat each other. Those are the things that I tend to notice first or the things that ruffle my feathers. And so life becomes difficult in that way. If that's what you're seeing and you are a person that cares deeply, then it's hard for that not to affect you. But I also know that that's not the only thing happening. Right? So, I wanted to go out and find the good, share that information with whoever's willing to click on the website or listen to the podcast, and then go on to the next and the next - kind of build the case for positivity.
So, I glean little bits from everybody, but on the whole, this is changing my life for the better one interview at a time. And then maybe one day I wake up and I look out and I just start to see the good things. And I'm fairly confident that I'm not the only person that's paying attention to the shitty stuff that's going on in the world, so maybe it starts to affect all those people, too. And then maybe the more good we see the more good we do and then the better it all gets. To what end? Again, like you, who knows to what end. It could all end tomorrow. I don't really know. Nobody really knows. I guess the short answer is this is having a profound impact on me but just a little bit at a time.
EL: Like you say, we all influence each other. Have you found Bend or another place... people different in different places or in the end do you feel like everybody's kind of similar?
ACT: Oh, I think in general people are very similar but all the places I've spent time in definitely have their own aroma or personality. So Bend's got something different, for sure. I think there's a lot of people who are well-off here and that gives off a certain vibe. And part of what I wonder is if people create bubbles for themselves and they don't want to engage with the negativity because they don't want to have to think about it. Whereas I'm not in that position - I'm not in a well-off... relatively speaking... I'm not living in extreme poverty, but I've had a life full of many hardships and I know what's under the bed and what's in the closet - so I don't turn a blind eye to it. So, I wonder about some of the clashes that are happening here right now. But it's not just here. It's wherever you go and you start looking, you're gonna find the differences and the similarities.
EL: Do you feel like what you're looking for expands? Like if you're looking for the good in people, you find more of that?
ACT: Well, certainly through the project. Sitting down and asking what they care about provides an opportunity to learn about what they care about. Whereas if I just get cut off by somebody in traffic, I'm never gonna know. But the more stories I hear about what people care about, the more I can assume that that person that cut me off in traffic probably has something good to offer, too.
EL: Mmhmmm. and usually it has nothing to do with you. (Laughs) It always has nothing to do with you. They don't even know you. So, we can take things so personally. And that's what I'm learning, too. I think meditation has helped me a lot because I am learning to be more of a witness versus taking things at this level. Even if someone that I know says something, I could take that in. I could take it personally and make it completely change my opinion of them and myself or I could see if I can change the story in my mind. Do you know who Byron Katie is? She talks about questioning your own thoughts. Is that true? Does that person really think that about me? And then in the end, we turn it around on ourselves. And it's just interesting because so much of what's going on in the world usually has nothing to do with other people, it's our own... for me, I feel like the more I focus on what's happening, then I help that expand. Start that snowball rolling and then affecting people in that way. Versus, Oh my god! Did you hear the shitty thing that happened over on the other side of the world? And then that person who was having a good day suddenly is like, Oh, shit. Whether they can do anything about it in that moment or not.