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FROM THE WILDERNESS TO THE HEART // ELLE MALMSTROM

Call it the Universe or call it luck, I was able to meet an incredible soul who has significantly inspired me over the past few month. From her dedication to sharing love and light with the people around her, to the little elements that make her the beautiful soul that she is, there’s no doubt she’s a special human. I picked Elle’s brain about her personal style, wellness routine and how she tackles some of her own obstacles. Let’s all take a little (or a big) piece of advice from this wonderful woman.

TSO: Tell us about where you live, why you live there and your journey!?

EM:  “My entire life can be summed up in one sentence: It didn’t go as planned, and that’s okay” – my life. My twenties looked a lot like learning what wasn’t for me, keeping closer to what is. It’s been a lot of risk, therefore loss, however even more gain.  My story isn’t one of certainty or sense-making, it’s more “what the hell?”s and unlearning,  fighting “through hardship to the stars” (ad astra per aspera- a favorite mantra). Wouldn’t have it any other way. I recently moved to Seattle for my Masters in Counseling. I dream of opening a remote, private practice, incorporating body wellness and therapy through hike expeditions and wilderness. Where there is wildness, there’s possibility, chance, uncertainty and mystery. Nature teaches patience, the visible representation of renewal through death. I hope to offer others the opportunity to learn in wild spaces alongside me rather than staring at me between four walls. I want to provide the language for and access to the tools I often lacked. Permission because they exist and belonging because their heart’s beat. To take people to the places they do not want to go, into the depths of their own stories where we are terrified to tell the truth. I love holding broken hands with my broken heart because regardless of belief or story, we are all in this together fighting for the same things.

MN

TSO: Describe your personal style. How does it tell the story of who you are?

EM: I live a pretty simple life. Lots of nature, emphasis on humor (because how else can we make it), story and relationship with a heavy dose of play. I’ve been simplifying since I could remember, keeping or adding things of meaning along the way. The less I have, the more I become. Creating a space of rest and creativity is important to me and almost everything I own, I either love or can fit in my car. My lifestyle reflects my personal style. Minimal and purposeful, infusing comfort with aesthetic. Like a classic, feminine tomboy. Is that a thing? Mostly black or neutral with pops of floral, red lips, leather, camo, gold or tribal accessories and HATS, so many hats. The art of buying less by buying better is where I’m leaning. I’m not exclusively brand focused, as value varies within each brand, however I’m pushing towards more ethical consumerism and recently purchased from http://www.thegoodtrade.com/.

TSO: You rock hats like no one I’ve ever seen! When did you start incorporating them into your daily wardrobe? Which are your favorite?

EM: Hats have been a part of me since I could swing a bat, probably 5. They keep me wild and ready for adventure. I really dig Camp Brand Goods more feminine fits and appreciate the red pop. Mountain Standard, Patagonia and Miir are a close second behind, enduring some really gnarly terrain over the years. And my Carhartt beanie… My most reliable winter companion!

Glacier
photographer: alec matlock

TSO: How does your style, love of nature & spirituality come together in such a harmonious way?

EM: I was raised off the Appalachian Trail around a ton of dudes that I tried to keep up with surfing, hiking, wake boarding, snowboarding and so on. It was fun when I wasn’t breaking bones. Fastened to the earth with so many unanswerable questions, I struggled to belong. Faith has been a large conversation for me. It’s taken me to some pretty awesome and horrific places I’m still finding words for. My faith sustains me, as does my doubt. I’ve grown away from what’s certain and binary and have come to love “both” “and” because there’s always an “other” to consider. Peter Rollins says, “To believe is human, to doubt, divine.” When I hear someone say they know exactly what they believe to be true and what they are here for and where they are going and for who and why, I wonder. It reminds me of the certain little girl that I once was, the frames that I once wore. I am not suggesting we can’t “know” things or stand upon truths that sustain us, because that’s important, rather, I’ve learned not to box what’s divine. I’ve been learning how to hold grief and gratitude in both hands. There’s freedom and a wildness to embracing what’s unknown, which kind of is my style. Style is so much more than fashion. It’s spirit and individuality. It’s inward communicated outwardly, an instrument of self-expression and self-acceptance. Fashion on its own is just clothes and can mislead us into superficiality, unethicality, self-consciousness and comparison. Style can become philosophy, draping movement, communicating intimacy, inviting us into our bodies or permission to evolve. To me, it all belongs so I dress myself in ways that keep me free and unrestricted, carrying me into the places and spaces I love more comfortably.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

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TSO: How do you confront your insecurities, feel comfortable in your own skin and relentlessly encourage others to love themselves?

EM: Choreographer, Ralph Lemon said, “I begin with the body, no way around it. The body as place, memory, culture and as a vehicle for cultural language.” Our bodies tell on us. And before we go to that place or person or thing to remember ourselves (also important), we can miss a crucial, first step. Finding comfort inside of our own skin doesn’t come by stepping outside or on nor over or around it. So, I check in with myself and I wait with my mind and be still with my heart as I find my own breath. That instead of hating my own anxiety, I welcome it, get to know it. Because hating something inside of you is like hating a part of you. To take power from the dark, we have to shine light on it, be kind to it, because we’ll see it again and hopefully greet it more kindly the next time. The dark places are the holy spaces and it’s by learning to live in the tension that I find more ease. When I’m ready, I remind myself the moments I feel most myself. Who am I around? How do I feel? Where do I go? What am I wearing? And I try do those things. Somehow, it’s always nature. Nature reminds me a thing or two about letting go.

Port

TSO: Do you have any morning rituals or healthy practices?

EM: I live my best life when I rise before the sun or before the hammers of construction beat me to it. On my best day, I start with candles or Palo Santos, hot water and lemon, then meditation. It might look a lot like silence or a podcast (Robcast, Liturgist, NPR’s Morning Edition- this last weeks), gratitude journaling or books, watering my plant bb’s because nature teaches me to go slow. I hit the gym or run Green Lake (I put my gym clothes out the night before which helps), shower, take a slew of probiotics and vitamins, coconut pull and make The Chia Babes boss, anti-inflammatory smoothie. Sunday’s are my Somatic Sabbath where I consciously tune into my body’s needs from start to finish, something we practice in school, something I’ve never been good at. Sometimes, my body takes me to movies alone, on walks or through mountains or to cook the next week’s meals or brings me to Farmer’s Markets for fresh flowers and produce or keeps me in bed all day, classically finding solidarity in new kermit the frog memes (my weakness next to pizza). Yesterday, it was to my favorite library down the street that’s actually Hogwarts doppelgänger. I wore a badass black leather, floral, studded jacket to feel cooler than I actually am as if I was off to meet Harry. Healthy looks a lot like dancing like no ones watching, rewarding my studies with massages or forging for wildflowers (there’s literally a link that tells you where to find incredible wildflowers around Seattle) or collecting more scents (lavender, pine, cedar, eucalyptus) and baths, I LOVE BATHS. Self-care looks a lot like saying no and not responding right away. I am learning to apologize less for myself and where I need to be, and the ones that are for you will understand. You can’t give away what you can’t give yourself.

KC

TSO: What do you want us to know?

EM: Humans are surprising, more dynamic and full of change than we know. We are not who we were yesterday, that’s pretty hopeful and fun.

TSO: Wisdoms you’ve told yourself or asked or heard this week?

It will do you no harm to find yourself ridiculous. Resign yourself to the fool that you are. T.S. Eliot

Don’t talk about the things you aren’t, the things you hate. Tell them about what moves you, the people that restore you.

Locatedness is important. We all carry thousands of worlds within us, be sure to focus on the one between your two feet.

I am only one decision away from a whole new world. All that is required of me is the next right thing.

Go slow. It doesn’t come all at once. You’re coming home to yourself. (@jamieleefinch)

What’s coming will come, and I’ll meet it when it does.

Grace is what meets you in your despair, when you have no answers, when you have no strength – and kisses you on the forehead, greets you home. – Rob Bell

Be the person you needed when you were younger.

All that matters is how you rebuild. It’s all in the breaking and re-mending. (@jamieleefinch and @s.veak)

You can’t dance and stay uptight. – King Harvest

May you never lose your wonder.

May we be motivated forward by the things that can hold us back.

She survived whatever happened; she forgave; she became. – W.H. Auden

Be still and still moving. – T.S. Elliot

Get out of your own way.

Self

italy

Let’s just take a moment to let all that beauty sink in… Happy Friday, my friends.

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