Tara-jenelle Walsch (Soulful Author, Speaker & Artist)
The first time I spoke with Tara-jenelle I was immediately at ease. It was as if we were old friends catching up, laughing and exchanging ideas about life. To say that she is authentic is an understatement, all which makes complete sense if you know anything about her.
Tara-jenelle has built a career around what she calls, “Living Soul-First,” a phrase that suggests the way to connection with ourselves and others is by tuning within and genuinely being yourself.
She is the author of the recently published book, Soul Courage, which received accolades just two months after being released in Aspire Magazine’s Top 10 Most Inspiring Books of 2016. The book is filled with deep insight, inspiring suggestions and personal stories, all taking you on a journey to engage your soul in day-to-day life.
In 2004, Tara-jenelle launched a greeting card company called, Soulebrate, where she designs and writes unique and colorful cards created to support others in expressing themselves and staying connected. Soulebrate cards are being sold worldwide, carrying messages of empowerment as well as specialty designs for best-selling authors such as Tony Robbins, Byron Katie and Neale Donald Walsch (who happens to be her father).
You’ll also find her speaking publically about emotional and energetic awareness, and a concept called, Soulcialize, which she believes has the ability to enrich the world at large.
Tara-jenelle was born in Annapolis, Maryland and received a degree in Communications at Towson University in Baltimore. She later moved to Ashland, Oregon to be closer to her father.
Our instant kinship led me to offer her a monthly column in The Eden Magazine about Soul Courage and I’m now honored to share with readers about her life, her passion and the courage that brought her to be who she is today.
What is the most important work of your life?
I’m really passionate about the reminder that we aren’t just physical beings roaming the earth, there is more to us; we are souls. This seems to be something we often forget or are not open to as we get more comfortable living in the complexities of the mind alone.
Because I believe this is where connection lives; connection with ourselves, connection with others and connection with the Divine. When we live from a soul level, we begin to experience a sense of oneness with everyone and everything, enriching life in a more profound way.
This gateway from physical life to connection with soul opens as we increase our emotional and energetic awareness. When we really feel our feelings and courageously express them, and are more conscious of the energy in and around us—a connection is always created.
Doesn’t matter if we’re completely alone or with others, the act of doing so launches a sense of emotional and energetic connection with anyone or thing involved.
Your book, Soul Courage, is fascinating, what
inspired you to write it?
The fact that we’re connecting like this, less and less. At the risk of sounding dramatic, we’re losing each other right in front of our very own eyes. We are forgetting our oneness. And in the few moments that we actually do remember, we are seldom courageous enough to live from that place.
The rise of technology has improved our world in some amazing ways—the flip side is that it’s really taking humanity for a spin and shifting the depths in which we all relate to one another.
I had a personal revelation around this years ago after emerging from the darkest chapter in my life when I hit rock bottom and was hospitalized for an eating disorder and severe depression. Once I got on the other side of it, my intuition and awareness felt bizarrely enhanced, leaving me with a magnified experience of people and life. I just didn’t see things the same way. In fact, I started to feel them instead of just see them. I was feeling the emotions and energy of my experiences and connecting with myself and others on a new level. It felt like I was connecting from my soul.
I knew this wasn’t something special about me, because we are all souls, living in a physical body, so everyone had access to their true selves, as well. But it is going to take courage to embrace the essence of who we really are and live collectively from that place. That’s what inspired me to write Soul Courage.
What do you mean by the phrase, Soul Courage?
Soul Courage is a deep loyalty to who you really are and being brave enough to live from that place. So much so, that all masks and walls of protection drop and you are true to each moment.
There’s a certain new-found freedom that comes alive in us when we trust our true self like this and bring all of who we are to our life, sharing it openly with others; our joys and our pains, our wonders and our vulnerabilities, our excitements and our fears.
What does it take to access that kind of courage?
I’d say the first step to accessing your Soul Courage is to simply be aware of it. Not just in general, but consciously carry it with you throughout your days. After a while, you’ll almost hear your inside-self rooting for you in times when you may bend out of your genuinity.
But there’s way more to that answer, a whole book actually, which explains things much more expansively!
What do you mean about the moment of our life’s most important realization?
This is the time in your life when you realize that “you” aren’t just your physical body, and it suddenly becomes clear that there’s way more to life than meets the eye.
How do you believe other people can benefit from what you’ve brought to the world?
My hope is that it opens our minds to all of the other layers in life. Not just the physical things that are right in front of our eyes, but that we begin to feel a sense of who we are at our core and realize that life isn’t “happening to us” but that we are part of creating it together.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’m not sure I looked at it that way when I was little, it was just my instinct to grab a pen and paper to let out so much of what was inside. I did want to be a poet, actually. I was writing poetry and filling up diaries from the time I was 8 years old, and it wasn’t long before I began writing short stories, then online articles as I grew older.
When did you first know you wanted to write a book?
That question makes me smile because I used to make books when I little. I would cut a bunch of paper into rectangles, punch holes at the ends and sew the pages together with yarn or ribbon. Then fill the “book” with my short stories or poetry (the cover was usually made from some 70’s contact paper). I also made homemade greeting cards for years on end…go figure!
But I think when I was in my 30’s I really knew I’d be an author, it just took so darn long for me to build the courage to come out of hiding.
Was it a challenge to write this book or did it come naturally?
Oh, it flowed naturally, just in a cattywampus kind of way! Initially there were chapters and ideas all over the place with little structure or order. But it was fun to print everything out and put it together like a puzzle. Those years of sewing pages together weren’t for naught! Watching it all come together was when things started to feel real.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Hahaa! Ugh, yea. But I’ve noticed when that happens it’s because my head is in the game too much. I can’t write from that place. I can’t write from my mind. I usually have to switch the energy up and step away from the computer. Take a walk or do something to shake my head out like a snow globe and get the non-sense down to a place where I can reground into me again—then things start flowing.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
I would probably say, try not to stop writing for long periods of time. Keep the flow going and stay consistent with your writing. It doesn’t matter if it’s going to be published or not, doesn’t even matter what it’s about. Could be a book, poetry, stories, wisdom bits, or just getting out some good old fashioned ranting and raving in your journal.
I used to write a lot when I was little, but then as I grew older the dramas and responsibilities of life distracted me and I fell out of the habit of regular writing. Sure, I was writing when I was sad or wanted to vent, but it was initially difficult to find my way back on a solid basis. But once I got in again it was like spending time with an old friend. Which, of course, is what I’m doing when I write. Spending time with my inner true self; my soul.
Something that’s helped me to stay consistent with writing is a secret that my Dad passed onto me: Write at the same time, every day. By doing this, you create a productive habit and are also telling your subconscious or muse when to show up.
My time is early morning when it’s still a little dark outside. It feels like borrowed time to me, almost like Christmas morning or something. I’m not as dedicated to this process now as I’d like to be, but it was especially helpful when I was writing the book.
You also have a greeting card company called, Soulebrate—what was your motivation to start this business and where do you get your inspiration?
When I was in a deep depression years ago, I noticed that no one knew how to interact with me—not even my own family and friends. And because they didn’t know what to say to do, many of them just backed off completely.
I started noticing that to be true with a lot of people when it came to expressing their feelings. Most people just didn’t know how to respond or reach out to others in need.
It was so bizarre because everywhere people were “doing” something to appear as if they were showing up for one another (wearing Breast Cancer Awareness pins, running the Aids race, walking for MS, etc.), but seldom did I see people actually reaching out to others. Calling, hugging, sending cards, opening their hearts up and really “being” there for each other.
This awareness inspired me to create something that might help another to feel and express, just a little bit more. Continued inspiration comes from my feelings and life experiences.
What keeps you going?
The thought that somewhere, in some way, I’m helping another person. Whether it’s through a card they receive, something in my book they read, or through an interaction we have. Knowing that I have opened their heart to feeling or expressing themselves more, or increased their connection with others in some way—that fills my tank.
It can be difficult, though, working from home and not knowing whether anything I do is even making a difference. It can really pull a number on me. In those times, I often take out a note or pull up an email from someone that has shared with me how I touched their life in a positive way.
What do you do for fun?
I love abstract painting! Something about it just sets me free—it’s like my mind “leaves the building” immediately upon touching the canvas. I really enjoy the process of expressing my emotions through color and shape and watch as the art becomes a message of its own, without words. And the best part is that there’s no “wrong” way to do it! That’s a major plus for a perfectionist like me!
Mostly, though, you’ll find me spending time with my fur angel pug, Sascha. We used to go hiking a lot and he’d run through the Oregon trails, but he’s over 15 years old now and physically unable to do much except love and snuggle. Hey, I’ll take that!
If there was one thing that someone reading this could do in their life right now to make ours a better world, what would it be?
I would say to be more emotionally and energetically available. Both to yourself and to others. One of the biggest compliments that anyone ever gave me was, “You’re the kind of person that everyone wishes was their sister!”
I didn’t take the comment to mean that I’m more special than someone else, but more so that my energy was inviting, safe and that she felt naturally teamed-up with me, like we can often feel with our siblings or best friends.
Imagine feeling that way with everyone you know. Imagine engaging like that with strangers!
I’m not saying that there wouldn’t be disagreements or conflicts of interest from time to time, but the difference would be that your relationships would be based in connection. All which opens the space to relatability, understanding, compassion, compromise and unification.
If we shift our energy collectively in this way, this level of emotional and energetic sharing could potentially be one of the most powerful steps towards world peace. Since both peace and turmoil are a result of human interaction—if we can turn interaction into connection, we will dissolve separation.
What are you up to now? Are you working on anything new?
Yes! I’ve been getting a lot of questions since the book came out about how to apply the messages of Soul Courage to everyday life, so I created what I call, Soul Courage Response, as a way to guide people through the process.
I’ve just launched a Soul Courage Response comment stream on my website, which is an interactive outreach that allows people to pose any question, dilemma or challenge that they’re facing and get a response from me showing them how to apply soul courage to their situation.
In addition to launching this on my website, I’m bringing Soul Courage Response to people in person through speaking events and workshops to guide them directly on how to respond to a dilemma, interaction, or challenge from a place of soul courage. I’m excited to support others in moving through life in a new and deliberate way!
If there was a final thought you wished to leave readers with, what would it be?
Everything that you do matters. Never underestimate how your feelings and energy affects others and eventually the world at large. In every single waking moment of our lives each one of us is facing the exact same choice—and that is, “How much of me am I willing to share?”
At some level, we’re all deciding how much of our overall energy we will let shine through in each moment, genuinely and openly, and how much we will hide, protect, or disguise.
When we’re with others, do we have the courage to look them in the eyes and be fully present without putting on a protective cloak? When we’re alone, do we have the courage to feel our feelings without a numbing distraction?
Try posing this question, “How much of me am I willing to share?” to yourself, from time to time, and see what comes up. The benefits of keeping an awareness around this are vast, both to our spiritual growth and personal relationships.
For more information about Tara-jenelle, visit her website www.soulcourage.com and follow her on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/tarajenellewalsch
To book Tara-jenelle for a speaking engagement or workshop, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Steven Addington | Location; Ashland, Oregon