Nathalie Kelley is an inspiration in many ways. Her natural beauty, her outlook + ethos on life as well as her commitment to the earth and being truly connected with nature all interplay in why we are constantly being inspired by her. Nathalie is an actress and weaver in the Navajo Tradition. She is also in the process of pitching a travel show. We love her own blurb of 'Born in the Amazon and raised in the Outback' - yes she was born in the Amazon, raised in Australia and now resides in Los Angeles. We caught up with her while we were in sunny Cali.
Tell us about your background and how that has inspired you to connect with nature?
Australians are all raised to respect the environment and revere the land, so it goes without saying that I watch my water and electricity usage and recycle. But in the last few years I have begun to immerse myself in my indigenous Peruvian heritage and embark on a much more personal, spiritual relationship with the natural world.
I am so blessed to live on a mountaintop surrounded by trees and snow capped peaks in the distance. Every day the hummingbirds dance outside my window and ravens and hawks circle the house. Its hard not to be filled with gratitude and reverence for Mother Nature.
But every morning I like to do a little ritual where I light incense and sit in meditation facing east as the sun rises over the San Gabriel mountains. The Incas believed that mountains had spirits, called Apus. The Apus connected the earth to the upper, celestial world above.
It brings me great comfort to think that these magnificent mountains, as old as time, are watching over me today. Its pretty hard to be sad or lonely up here when I'm surrounded by so many friends from the natural world.
What is your daily routine like?
Every day I get up, perform this ritual, meditate (sometimes on a particular animal like the hummingbird), followed by at least 45 min of yoga before I start my day. Then at sunset I like to hike. Runyon canyon is too hot and busy for me in the daytime but at sundown it is just magical. I want to add that I use the term "every day" VERY loosely! I would say about half the time I get up and meditate, do yoga and hike - but the other half of the time I just think about it. I want to be honest and not self righteous because I'm definitely not perfect nor do I have everything figured out!
The same idea applies to what I eat. I don't beat myself up when I indulge, but I have pretty healthy tendencies.
Thankfully I was raised in a household where sugar was forbidden so I don't have a sweet tooth. If anything I crave red meat and salty foods - so I allow myself to eat these things 20% of the time. The other 80% of what i eat consists of blended green drinks, salads, clean poultry and fish. I have a weakness for cheese but thankfully I like raw goat cheese which I've heard is better for you - and if it isn't please don't tell me because I need it in my life!
I avoid processed foods at all costs and I pretty much make everything I eat from scratch. I soak beans overnight and cook them for hours, the way my mother taught me.
Speaking of my mothers cooking - I'm learning how to make a mean ceviche, although mine never tastes like hers. When guests come by I ply them with kombucha cocktails and crushed ice/organic pear margaritas. Then when they need to sober up to drive home I'll prepare them a ginger tea and if they still need to stay the night I'll make them my special concoction in the morning - hot water, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, lemon, and a splash of rose water sweetened with a little stevia.
What is your daily beauty routine like?
My beauty regime is simple. I clean my face with jojoba oil and then seventh generation cleansing wipes. I don't like to put LA tap water on my face. I use rose water as a toner and rose oil at night before sleeping. I've been big on Rose everything lately.
My friend Rhiannon (Ghost Dancer: http://ghostdancercollection.com/) told me that Rose Oil emanates the highest energy vibration of all known oils. I don't fully understand what this means but i like saying it to myself as I lather it on every night and Rhiannon's skin is pretty perfect so I trust her on these matters. As far as lotions and soaps, my friend Jennifer at Naked Eye Beauty (http://www.nakedeyebeauty.com/) makes delicious and natural bath and body products that I am addicted to because they make me feel and smell good which is always important!
And how do you make conscious fashion choices?
The last few months I've been more focused on finding things for the house, but I think its important to acknowledge the power we have as consumers. I almost exclusively buy my clothes second-hand (my friend Prism of Threads has an amazing etsy store: http://www.etsy.com/shop/PrismOfThreads) and when I don't, I like to at least know where they were made.
A few months ago we witnessed a horrific garment factory fire in Bangladesh where over 100 people died. There is a human price to pay for cheap clothes. I am not perfect -I buy retail every now and then - but I think its important to be aware of the global and human impact of your purchases. Make a fuss!
Hopefully the fashion industry will wake up and put human life before profit so we can all enjoy those Topshop jeans guilt free! I'm a dreamer! Until that dream is realized, there are still labels that produce clothes with integrity. My friend Leaha's label All That Remains (http://allthatremains.bigcartel.com/) is one of them. These are clothes you will keep forever and that's really the point I'm trying to make. Clothes should be an investment, treasured items that you want to pass onto your children. That's why I don't follow 'trends' and never by cheap 'disposable' pieces that will be out of style next month.
You mentioned you try to meditate every day, what type of meditation do you practice?
Prior to learning how to meditate I thought it was the most difficult thing in the world. I was always the one in yoga class fidgeting, opening one eye and looking around while everyone else was sitting silently, achieving inner peace.
Looking back I realize that I was daunted by the power of my own mind and that it was easier for me to distract myself than look too closely within. Last year I finally took a class in basic meditation at Insight LA which is now my favorite place in all of Los Angeles. I've attended a number of their courses and seminars and i have learned so much from them.
The kind of mediation they teach is mindfulness based. You quieten your mind by focusing on your breath, then your body, then thoughts - while maintaining detachment and a non-judgemental attitude. The first time I was really able to do it, I was buzzing for days. I had glimpsed something so precious within me that I had not previously had access too because I had been too busy filling my mind with endless chatter. After that first taste I was hooked.
In addition to the mindfulness meditation I also practice Metta meditation, that is to say - : I repeat a phrase of loving kindness about myself, someone I love, someone I am neutral towards and lastly an 'enemy'
This has been so instrumental in bringing me peace, especially in situations where I feel I have been wronged, or matters have been left unresolved.
I meditate in the mornings, or sometimes if I am really worked up I'll pull out my cushion and do 20 minutes throughout the day. If I have trouble sleeping I will practice Yoga Nidra in bed at night. The purpose is to not fall asleep but I never last more than 5 minutes. I really recommend it to people who suffer from insomnia.I find that when I am disciplined with my practice I am calmer and more in control of my emotions and my life in general. When I don't meditate I find myself responding to situations and people from a very reactive place or paralyzed by my indecision. (I am a Libra after all!)
"I want to be honest and not self righteous because I'm definitely not perfect nor do I have everything figured out!"
Tell us about some of the beautiful objects we have come across in your house?
Palo Santo is a wood incense used for centuries by the incas and indigenous people of the the Andes. It is used ceremonially to clear energy, much like sage. I burn it everyday day, usually before I meditate. You can buy palo santo from http://www.daughterofthesunshop.com/ (online shop)
All hats worn by Gladys Tamez Millinery
I have little sacred odds and ends all over the house collected from my travels. Shells from the Bahamas, quartz from The Yuba river and driftwood from Big Sur. These little objects bring me so much joy as they contain the energy and memories of magical adventures with friends.
By my bed sits my Huichol Jaguar, watching over me as I sleep. the Huichol and the Shipibo are tribes that I feel a particular connection to. Both have extensive knowledge of plant medicine, that western medicine is still trying to understand.
And what would be your 5 tips to people who are thinking about starting to meditate?
- Do a class. Courses at places like Insight LA are so helpful, or you can even find a lot of help online. It makes such a difference to work with a technique rather than sitting in silent agony waiting for something to happen.
- Buy a mediation cushion - I don't know about you anyone else but discomfort is the biggest distractor for me. Especially when i sit for more than 20 minutes - being comfortable is key. I use on a cushion and two blankets - athough accepting the discomfort is in istelf a part of the meditation.
- Buy INSIGHT TIMER or a similar app to help you keep track of the time during meditation. You can customise your bells/gongs and even set interval bells. There's also a way to connect with friends and see how their practice is going so you can encourage one another (although it ignites the competitor in me so I leave that part alone!)
- Switch it up. There are an unlimited number of loving kindness phrases you can send to yourself and others. Don't get stuck in routine. The same goes with other meditation practices. Branch out and find what works for you.
- Just do it!