Shelly is someone you know is special from the first time you meet her.
I've only met Shelly a handful of times, and have had the honor of having her in my class, but each time she leaves me with a smile and a full heart. When I asked Shelly to be an Everyday Goddess, she responded with shock and some hesitation, which seemed so silly to me coming from someone who fits the bill of an "Everyday Goddess" so seamlessly. I'm incredibly happy that she overcame her hesitation, and that she's offered to share her wisdom through this series.
Without further ado, Shelly in her own words.
"It was a huge wake-up call for me to figure out what the hell I was going to do now."
Who are you? What is "your story?"
My name is Shelly Wilcoxen, and I am currently a community college student in the Bay Area. Like most soon-to-be college freshman, I’m sure, the application process to schools during the first semester of their senior year of high school is quite an eye-opening experience. I applied to many, and eventually decided and going to California State University, Long Beach. I remember not being that interested in the school while touring the campus, but still going because in my head – any four-year university was better than community college, even if it is not the school you truly want to attend.
After spending roughly two months at this school, I called my parents in tears…admitting I was simply not happy where I was. After much self-reflection, I now know that at the time, I was simply not ready to go to a school so far away.
This moment in time I would not necessarily categorize as “my story” per say – but it was a defining moment for my young seventeen-year-old self. Coming home two months in to my freshman year of college was a huge wake-up call to me. Telling my closest friends I was coming home was a huge wake-up call for me. Knowing I’d have to tell my family in just a month from my decision to come home at Thanksgiving, and more family at Christmas was a huge wake-up call for me. Running in to people from school at my local grocery store was a huge wake-up call for me.
It was a huge wake-up call for me to figure out what the hell I was going to do now.
"Adriene was the first teacher that I believe really built a foundation of yoga for myself."
How did yoga fall into your life?
It was at this time that I had been home for a little while during Fall of 2015 that I stumbled upon Adriene Mishler’s free, 30 Days of Yoga Challenge on YouTube. Adriene is an online and in-person yoga teacher based in Austin, Texas that I love. She is the first yogi I recommend to beginners and advanced yogis alike, and if you’re close to me you’ve already heard me babble on about her before. I really owe the beginning of my yoga practice to this woman. I actually had the honor of meeting her recently, after roughly two years after practicing her free videos quite often. And yes, if you were wondering, I totally geeked out when I met her.
Although I definitely had taken some free classes at various studios around my town with friends, Adriene was the first teacher that I believe really built a foundation of yoga for myself. Her main mantra is “find what feels good”, which helped me find the true joy in yoga and even self-love. Her teachings educated me on the fact that it is more than okay to wake up one day craving a Vinyasa flow, and the next day choosing to do a sweet Yin practice – to figure out what your body wants each day, and go from there.
"In the moments that I have fully shown up, life has been that much more fulfilling to me."
How has your relationship with your body changed over time?
My relationship with my body has taken many forms over the course of my young life. Growing up, I was always involved with activities that I loved. I’ve tried just about every sport my school district and community offered, and was also knee deep in music lessons and band practice.
I would say that at the end of third grade I was very aware of my weight. This happened because at the beginning of the year, I had normal little-kid chub, and by the end of the year I had picked up competitive swimming, and lost a lot of that weight while gaining more muscle. So from what I remember, I think that in and out of my childhood I was conscious of my body and my overall appearance.
I would say from about junior year up until currently on and off I had been heavily binge eating after quitting team sports during my sophomore year of high school. I think deep down I was sad, stressed, and not moving my body, and ultimately filled the void with fast food. At first I was unknowingly binge eating, but after finding yoga, I was more consciously aware and honest about my eating habits.
Since yoga fell into my life, my relationship with my body has been immensely healthier. I have been much better about creating a healthier dialogue with myself when I want to act on certain behaviors. While I do still utilize food to cope with stress or sadness, I now have a much healthier dialogue with myself when I act or want to act on certain behaviors that don’t have my best interest in mind.
"Being strong means showing up."
What does it mean to you to be "strong?"
To me, being strong means showing up. Showing up when things get hard, when you’d rather curl up in a ball in your bed, when you’d rather sit on your phone, the list goes on.
Being strong is typing this very post up, and allowing it to be published online to whomever in hopes that maybe it will help someone in one way or another.
I’m not always strong. I know that. But when I do step up and take action, I’m a lot prouder of myself than the times that I do not act and my inner monologue starts playing the “what if” reel over and over again in my head.
"When I am fearlessly authentic, I find it to be a complete necessity to have at least one solo dance party a day."
Describe the fearlessly authentic you.
When I am fearlessly authentic, I am a complete goof that loves my closest friends and family dearly. I am sarcastic and spunky, yet loyal and caring. I mess up, but I take it in my stride when I can. If I am comfortable enough with you, I might talk your ear off at times about what I am passionate about, but I hope you know you can always come and do the same right back to me. When I am fearlessly authentic, I find it to be a complete necessity to have at least one solo dance party a day. I am not always fearlessly authentic in my day to day life, but I’m doing my best to have the “fearlessly authentic me” show up more and more. Because in the moments that I have fully shown up, life has been that much more fulfilling to me.