A Holiday “Inspired-By” Guide to Belonging: Here Are a Handful of People, Experiences, Movements, Artists, and Other Such Things, That I Think You Should Know About

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I have sat with this post for awhile, going back and forth on what to call or it or how to phrase things. What is the best way to showcase the artists, movement makers, and thought-leaders that leave me in awe of what this community (and the one just beyond it) is capable of?

Surely I’m going to neglect to mention someone, mis-interpret who they are and what they do. Not just that, but fail to get this out in time so that I can maybe, just maybe, bring them a few sales.

In short, I don’t want to fall short, but I’m quite certain that that’s inevitable with these sorts of things, so I suppose the alternative that I came up with doesn’t fix that, but rather, allows us more room to be and create from where we are, rather than where we think we should be. The root of it being…

We all have something spectacular to give.

We all have the ability to show just how much we care, whether it be through words, actions, a tea-date, walk through your favorite park, a poem written on a letter with a wax seal, or an adventure that was before, just out of reach. Of course, it’s only natural that we also say it with a physical object, but here, I want to see if I can’t showcase a few different options, similar to what we did last year, but maybe tied with a simpler and more attainable bow (you know, without the gold lining? Or maybe with just a few threads hanging loose).

So, here we are, at the gift guide turned inspiration guide turned—this is just a way to tell someone(s) that you care. That they belong. That no matter what is being faced, it doesn’t have to be faced alone.

That your dreams are attainable, fears valid, and worth only ever determined by you.

A few resources to pocket away for a snowy day.


And to keep things digestible and avoid the likelihood of a mile-long post, I decided to limit myself to “five-per-category.” I hope you do enjoy this simple little “care-guide.”

* There’s a good chance I’ll stray from the “five person rule” now and again. But I’ll do my best!


On our bookshelf

Heart Talk, By Cleo Wade

Wild Feminine, By Tami Lynn Kent

Devotions, By Mary Oliver

Sick: a Memoir, By Porochista Khakpour

One Hundred Poems from the Japanese, By Rexroth Kenneth

Available for pre-order:

The Collective Schizophrenias, By Esmé Wang

She-Explores: Stories of Life Changing Adventures on the Road and in the Wild, By Gale Straub


In our headphones

Hysteria: Political commentator & comedy writer Erin Ryan is joined by a bicoastal squad of opinionated, mouthy women to discuss politics, news, and cultural stories that affect women’s lives.

On Being: Krista Tippet covering the big questions of meaning, with featured Q + A’s, music, poetry, and other such wonderful things.

She Explores: A podcast for women who are inspired by time spent outside. Hosted by Gale Straub.

Bodies: An intimate, feminist exploration into the forces of history, society and identity that shape women's health. Created by Allison Behringer with support from KCRW’s Independent Producer Project.

Invisibila, from NPR: Unseeable forces control human behavior and shape our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions. Invisibilia—Latin for invisible things—fuses narrative storytelling with science that will make you see your own life differently.


Artists across the board

The Jewelry Makers: Roots and Wings & James Michelle

The Painters: Sheila Dunn & Jenny O’Neill

The Clay Molders: Cory Winn & Freckled Pottery

The Tool Holders: Annie Perkins & Melissa Mary Jenkins

The Recent Start Ups: Seasonally Me & Honey and Vinegar

The Moment Capturers: Elli Doran & Julia Duke Photography

The Story Tellers: Esmé Wang & Porochista Khakpour


Movement Makers

Kait Hurley: Through the Move & Meditation Method, Kait’s method is to offer tools to help you tap into your intuition and inner strength so you can live a more vibrant and resilient life.

I’ve been using this for over a year, and I have to say, for someone who has difficultly getting herself to go to a yoga class, this have been a complete game changer for me. With meditation, high intensity, restorative, and running guided classes all available.

*There’s a free 14 day trial, and then it’s 19.99 a month.

Rachel Rickets: Is a racial justice advocate, public speaker, and writer. She is an outspoken champion for women of color and their healing, and is committed to education, promoting, and advocating for antiracism and inclusion for our personal, professional, and collective lives.

With online courses, the opportunity to hire her to speak at your event, in-person workshops, and one-on-on sessions all rooted in dismantling racism. Something many of us are privileged enough to turn a blind eye to.

With that said, I am guilty of doing just that, and it wasn’t until I reached six months of following her, that I felt it time (and I felt ready) to take one of her online seminars (which happen regularly and are attainable to all).

Almila Kakinc-Dodd: Through founding the platform The Thirlby, Almila is helming to redefine wellness for the common good. And though I could go on, it’s best explained and showcased by visiting her incredible platform.

Victoria Zimmerman: Through her platform Femmehead, Victoria is empowering ladies one cycle at a time, by way of guidance through the FAM method, getting off birth control, a youtube channel full of valuable resources, and one-on-one sessions with the opportunity to dive deeper into who we are as women.

I have been following this incredible human for around two years and am forever in awe of the humble and attainable way to she approaches life. There is room for everyone here.

Arielle Coree: Speaker, writer, and life Mentor. A woman looking to heal the world, one soul at a time. Programs, one-on-one sessions, card readings, apparel, and a deep understanding of human connection.

I have had the honor of getting to know this wonderful woman, and more than anything, she makes you feel as if you belong, and that is an invaluable gift & one that should be accessible to all.


Giving back

The Global Lyme Alliance: GLA-funded projects have led to unprecedented advances in such areas as prevention, diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne illnesses.  

Outdoor Womens Alliance: To create strong initiatives for women worldwide.

National Immigration Law Center: One of the leading organizations in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of immigrants with low income.

Planned Parenthood: Standing up for women's health rights. 

NRDC: On being a force for nature.

*for more guides to how you get support & be part of movements such as the above, head here to The Thirlby, where you will be guided through everything from immigration laws to an overview of where to receive the best healthcare in the US. & don’t hesitate to explore! That’s where you’ll find the real goodness hidden between stacks of books and dusty lamps (metaphorically speaking).


getting cozy

Movement: Outdoor Voices

Treat Yourself (or a loved one): Mate the Label

Women Founded, Run, and Owned: Salmon Sisters

Get Outside: Teva

Attainable (& sustainable) for all: Thrift Stores & local shops.

We are More Than: Our Custom Stitch Logo Tee.


You’ve got mail (both in your inbox and mailbox).

Say it with a notebook: Being part of such a wonderfully rich and expansive community, it’s impossible not to have friends in far away places. Friends that you love and support dearly, but can’t always be there in person for. And I believe I included a little something like this in the gift guide last year, but seeing as this one is taking a slightly different twist, I thought it would be appropriate to include it again, but from the standpoint of belonging:

How can we use the energy & tools that we already have and give someone a gift that is lasting & heartfelt—that reminds them of just that. That they belong. Now, for the actual act: Papier allows you to create your own custom notebook. I have two, one called “More Than Lyme,” and another, “Poetry.” So though it isn’t required or even necessary to get a new notebook for this, you can always use an old one, it could be a fun way to create an on-going log of your long-distance relationship. The ups & downs & everything in-between. Titling it, “the traveling notebook,” or possibly a little phrase or word that represents the relationship you two have.

Or, follow the same idea and use a notebook you already have. It’s similar to a letter, but instead of a single card, you send the notebook back and forth, however much or little feels right. Often it’s filled with drawings and little rambling, while other times you can write in it as you would a letter.

And by the time you’ve finished (and as far as I’m concerned), you’ve created a book!

A digital note (made with love): Another lovely option, and incredibly sustainable, is to use Paperless Post, an online card-creating & card-sending coming that allows you to customize it just to your liking. I mean, how lovely is that? There are countless options to choose from, and there’s nothing quite like opening up your email and spying a little love=note amidst the holiday discounts and promotions.

A Letter & a Poem: I’ve been doing this monthly for our membership program, and though we might not all expressive ourselves in this way, let me go over what it is, then propose an alternative.

Write a short little poem, reminder, mantra, or what have you, and sit with it. What comes up when you think about these words? Is it a place, feeling, or person? Whatever it is, take out a little piece of paper, some paints, or even pens if you’d rather, and put tool (pen or paintbrush) to paper.

Once complete (and it could be as simple as a chair or as complex as a landscape, just whatever you’re comfortable with), see where the poem could fit in. Is it around the chair or along the ridge of the mountains? And if it doesn’t fit, put it on the back and chose just a sentence for the front.

The alternative: Is there an artist that you admire greatly? Do they sell cards or smaller pieces of artwork? If yes (which they normally do), take that artwork and either over it, inside the card, or on the back (depending on how it’s laid out), write out a poem, quote, mantra, or reminder that either symbolizes your friendship, or words of encouragement they might need to hear/ from someone they look up to.

It’s often the most simple of gestures that have the greatest impact!


The gift of connection & community.

Community Dinner: Reach out to your best pals, then have them invite one friend that inspires them, and at the beginning of every month, decide when, where, and what time you’ll be meeting at. You could either choose a restaurant, coffee shop, tea bar, or the cozy living room floor of your best friends house—it doesn’t really matter, just as long as you prioritize it happening.

Community, support, encouragement, and room to be who you are without any walls or boundaries—this is the kind of gift that lasts and evolves and often times creates opportunities you would have never dreamed of. It creates bonds and the motivation needed in order to not only face those things that you wish to do, but do them, while reminding others that they can do the same.

Planning the Trip of Lifetime: You don’t need to have the funds for you, you don’t even have to have a clue as to where you want to go, you just have to know that traveling, curiosity, and adventure are all on your horizon & very much part of who you are.

Start day-dreaming up places you’d like to see. Grab yourself a journal, jot ideas down, and get descriptive on the why’s and the where’s, not worrying about the when’s. Once it begins to take shape, imagine who you’d go with and reach out, seeing if they’d like to start trip planning with you.

Now, promise each other that whether it’s 5 dollars or 100, every month you’re going to set aside a little money each month towards this adventure. A promise to each other to always, no matter the obstacles or doubts in this moment, put curiosity, adventure, and connection are at the forefront of everything, be it opportunities, career paths, friendships…anything is possible).

A Weekend Getaway: Or if you’d rather do something right now (I get it, I can be pretty impatient with these sorts of things), pick a weekend within the next couple months, a place, and a reason for going. Even if it’s a weekend=long slumber party, plan it as you would any other trip: with purpose and the reasons why behind your every decision.

If you do wish to go somewhere outside of your hometown, what is it that you’re hoping to get out of it? Are you feeling stressed, fatigued, irritated, calm, invigorated? Get clear on this first, then decide on a place.

Now, what do you need to do in order to make this happen? Are finances tight? Your days packed with other activities? See where you can make room and prioritize this. At first it might feel silly and extravagant, but in the end, you’ll most likely return a happier and more fulfilled you. And besides, sharing this experience with someone is well worth it. Don’t feel bad about taking this time for each other.

The More Than Lyme Adventure: I am most likely biased, but this is something I truly cannot imagine not having be part of this community. Since the beginning of MTL, I knew that I wanted to prioritize in-person gatherings so that we could take the friendships and connects made here, and bring it directly to you.

Through hands-on activities, inspiring speakers, gifts bags chalked full of local and in-community artists, a tea bar with every kind of hot drink you could imagine, incredible meals and snacks throughout, polaroids to document, a raffle, and an in-house apothecary to shop (to name a few), this year’s event is going to take all that we learned last year (which was a lot), and apply it to our second annual event.

Where: Fig & Yarrow in Denver, CO

When: May 10th, 11th, and 12th.

Why: Because there’s nothing quite like connecting with & celebrating one other in-person.

Cost: $250, $250 split into two payments (x $125 over two months), $40 for the digital pass (also available through the membership), any of these options given as a gift to someone you think could use the encouragement and support from a community such as this. From people like you!

On-going communities: The More Than Lyme Membership is a wonderful way to share in the goodness that is our in-person gatherings (see above), year round. With monthly focuses, weekly content being released (videos, podcasts, interviews, online gift bags, an ever-growing archive…) you’ll be given every reason to share your voice in a way that works for you right now, or if it suits you better, allowing yourself to sit back and be inspired by those standing next to you.

Not just that, but we'll be sharing weekly videos with each other in our Facebook group. Going over things that have come up recently that we’re having trouble working through or little victories that add up and make it all feel possible again.

Really, it’s about belonging. It’s about that support that so many of us don’t have access to. It’s about making that attainable for all instead of just a select few.

And I’ll be there every step of the way!


in Need of more inspiration?

And if you want a more practical gift guide (I get it, this is not-quite-that), head here, to our Holiday Inspiration Guide from last year!

Chloe O'NeillComment