Richelle Ouellette

A love note to my Valentine by Richelle Ouellette

Dear Valentine,

I love you. You are incredible, fierce, bold, brave, a leader. When I see what you're doing with your life, I am amazed and inspired. It's truly incredible to see your capabilities and watch you learn about your potential.

You have such a beautiful soul. Your desire to serve others and lead comes from a pure place, and your giving attitude will bring you great success. People love you because of the way you treat them; you have an innate ability to make them feel important, and that can change the world.

You have been through many painful events, but you face this world fearlessly. You don't let your past mistakes, sufferings, or stories hold you back from living the life of your dreams.

I love watching you grow. Seeing you learn through books and living as you adapt principles and gain new ideas is truly inspiring. I can see the passion in your eyes, the strength in your heart.

You give so much. Make sure to take care of yourself, and give yourself that same love. Your suffering is real. Your stories are not necessarily the truth, but they are your perceived reality, and you can learn how to retell them to change the course of your life.

I love you because of your smile. You have an ability to see the positive things in life, and don't let the negativity around you phase you or prevent you from taking risks.

You are so incredibly smart. You are articulate and creative, and I love listening to you speak about the things that light you up. Your voice deserves to be heard, and I could listen to your wisdom for hours.

Your body is divine. The fact that you give your best efforts to care for your body says much about who you are. Be sure to always treat your body kindly, as a vessel for your being. I want it to be around for a long time. I love exploring your body and learning every touch that turns you on. I love seeing you experience pleasure in every sense of the word. I'm excited to continue learning about your body and how you experience and express your sexuality and your soul.

Your confidence is so attractive. I love how you walk into a room and don't wonder what other people think of you, but are more concerned with getting to know who they are and what beauty they offer the world. You project an air of certainty; you radiate. You know who you are and what you want, and that is the most beautiful thing.

I love you because you are willing to struggle. I love you because you set goals and keep them, and are constantly trying to push harder, be better. That type of progression isn't always easy, but I love knowing that you'll be a better person every single day if you continue to make positive change your priority.

I love knowing you, learning about you, and being you.

Will you be my best friend, Valentine?

Why I’m stripping on the internet by Richelle Ouellette

You know those nightmares in the opening scenes of 90s teen movies? Maybe you’ve even had this dream. The one where you’re in front of a massive group of people and all of a sudden you realize you’re completely naked. You do your best to cover your naughty bits, but in your dream world, the laughing and mocking of your classmates/work associates/family members is un-ignorable. It echoes in your mind, even after you snap awake and sit up in bed.

That dream. That’s the one I’m about to give myself in real life. Why? Because I’ve been longing to write more, and I heard a quote recently that ignited my soul:

“The moment that you feel, just possibly, you are walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind, and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself…That is the moment, you might be starting to get it right.” -Neil Gaman

And so I’m taking off my metaphorical clothing. I’m getting real. Like the kids used to say, I’m gettin’ jiggy with it. (Please advise; does that phrase apply here?)

I recently cried in front of my therapist as I exclaimed how deeply I crave real connections and authenticity. It’s not something I can magically manifest into my life, but I figure the best way to find what I’m looking for is to first be it.

That is to say: if I act authentically, I will attract genuine people and create pure, meaningful relationships.

Obviously this is something I have to practice in person with my friends & associates, but I’m willing to give it a shot on the internet, too. So this is me, Richelle, real, raw, and unlike one of my feminist heroes Beyonce, far from #flawless. (But seriously girl, twins?!) This is me, showing the world my unfiltered, uncropped selfie.

In other words, I’m just a girl, standing in front of the 3.2 billion people who have access to the internet, asking them to love me… for exactly who I am.

A Grand Life by Richelle Ouellette

grand canyon sunrise

I've always wanted to... So I did.

I wavered on my decision to go this far out of my way (gas money, time, lack of gear for this weather), but after a brief pause I knew I had to. Call it FOMO if you must, but yes, I am afraid of missing the moments that give my life meaning, of being caught up in the rat race, and of waking up one day 25 years from now wondering where my life has gone.

Last night, when I asked the man who checked me into my hotel for viewpoint recommendations, he responded that he has never watched the sunrise here. He's lived outside the park since 1991. Who am I to judge; he's probably quite content with his life which includes sleeping past 8am, but I will not settle for content.

Standing in solitary stillness on Yaki Point with frozen toes and frozen tears I want to trap this feeling in a jar like a lightening bug and let it glow inside me forever. 

I want to lead with my heart and lean into the awkwardness of meeting new people, the vulnerability of falling for someone, the pain of heartache and loss, the embarrassment of making a mistake, and the anxiety of waiting for something I long for. These are the moments that remind us we are human and which open the doors to learning, joy, and love. 

I want to push myself to new horizons, come to the edge of what I think is possible and soar beyond it; take risks that simultaneously terrify and thrill me, and explore every inch of the world around me with the curiosity of a toddler. 

How often do we take for granted the beauty that lies around us? And not even the special, Grand Canyon-esque views. What about the creases around our grandparents' eyes from years of laughter, the sharp red sunsets when we're stuck in traffic on the way home from a long day, or the change in a person's countenance when they bump into someone they know. Though intangible, we have to grasp onto these fleeting scenes and hold on tight for as long as we can.

Forget the obstacles standing in your way. It's not about having time, or money, or the perfect circumstances. It's about what your priorities are... and you are too smart to be the only thing standing in your way.

Let Go by Richelle Ouellette

let go

Earlier week I attended the most amazing yoga practice.

Ok, several, but one in particular was incredibly inspired. The teacher for this gentle Hatha class set the intention to eliminating perfectionism from our practice, and our lives.

Enlightenment, he taught, is not reaching perfection, it is eliminating the anxiety attached to imperfection.

I choked back tears on multiple occasions not because of the challenging binds and holds, but because of the hyper-relevant wisdom to let go of the things we can not control and to love ourselves completely because we are perfectly whole.

To not do things perfectly does not mean that we will be failures. We can still attempt each action in our life with purpose, well intent, and a desire to learn. In her badass book, #GIRLBOSS Sophia Amoruso says, “When you approach everything as if it’s a big fun experiment, then it’s not a big deal if things don’t work out.”

Let go of expectations. Of destinations, and outcomes. When you release the desire to control these things (which really can not be controlled anyway), is when you gain real power.

My Two Cents by Richelle Ouellette

the best things in life are free

One of my goals this year is to spend less money on tequila-based craft cocktails and brussels sprouts roasted in duck fat. The foodie in me is somewhat disappointed by this lifestyle change, but I have a feeling my bank account (and waistline) are going to love it.

How often do you bump into a friend and say, "we should meet up for drinks or dinner soon!?" I can't be the only one, and quite frankly I'm sick of spending $30, $40, $50 or more on a regular basis for a conversation that could be had over a much more interesting activity, such as navigating a sculpture garden or at least in a more affordable setting, like my living room.

So, if you want to hang out with me (or date me) in 2016, be prepared for me to turn down your invitation to dinner with a request that we find something more affordable and creative to do with our time. Here are some of my (free, cheap, nerdy and/or weird) suggestions, in advance:

  1. Wildflower Center

  2. Ladybird Lake

  3. Hope Gallery

  4. Tacos (breakfast, lunch, or dinner; the ultimate cheap meal, if we must eat)

  5. Tea time

  6. Coffee shop (a new one please, not Starbucks)

  7. Free yoga session

  8. Mayfield Park Home

  9. Congree Bridge Bats

  10. Governor’s Mansion

  11. Capital Tour

  12. BookPeople

  13. HRC

  14. Farmers Market

  15. Before I Die Mural

  16. Austin Nature & Science Center

  17. James Turell

  18. Creative Mornings

  19. Mexic-Arte Museum (Sundays)

  20. Broken Spoke

  21. Elephant Room

  22. Laguna Gloria (Tuesdays)

  23. Bike ride

  24. Bocce @ Mandola’s

  25. Austin Pets Alive

  26. The Contemporary (Tuesdays)

  27. Uncommon Goods

  28. Workout class

  29. Outdoor Movies

  30. Shakespeare in the Park

  31. Thursday Improv @ Hideout Theater

  32. Open Mic Comedy — Cherrywood (Tuesdays)/Austin Java (Saturdays)

  33. Tuezgayz

  34. Connect Four Night

  35. Zilker Park or Botanical Gardens

  36. BOTG

  37. Central Market Concerts

  38. Sound & Cinema

  39. Unplugged @ the Grove

  40. Meetups

  41. Talks @ UT

  42. Kick Butt Standup

  43. Service activity

  44. Cathedral of Junk

  45. Historic Walking/Ghost Tour

So, hey, let's hang out.

January Intention: R H Y T H M by Richelle Ouellette

curacao boca pistol ocean

The first Monday of 2016 felt like the first day of school. I took my time planning my day and week last night, right down to the outfit I was going to wear, just as I would have before the start of a new semester. I was excited for this morning and woke up at 7am sleepy, be ready to seize the day.

Recently I have been setting a one word intention or goal for each month. My theme for January is rhythm. I like that this word conveys a certain routine, but still has a sou; a melody. Like the waves of the ocean, rhythm is constant, though it varies in tempo and intensity. It carries on. 

My personality is such that it demands a certain amount of structure -- I need a schedule, and I calendar (both digitally and analog) like a fastidious executive assistant. I set myself reminders and alerts, but within my schedule I want to find flow and flexibility. I have made a list of areas I want to focus on daily and have many ideas as to how I can accomplish each:

  • SPIRITUAL/EMOTIONAL: Meditation/yoga/journaling/gratitude
  • INTELLECTUAL: Education (ie. studying language)/reading non-fiction
  • PHYSICAL: Workout/stretch

My hope is that my intention for January will be a chorus through the year as I sing the song of my heart and align it with the song of the universe.

Rules I Will Live By: 2016 by Richelle Ouellette

I like rules, probably more than the average person. I have an obedient personality and tend to trust that laws and regulations are in place for a good reason and that abiding by them will be for my benefit. Perhaps this is tied to my strict religious upbringing, but that's a conversation for my therapist.

The point is, I'm an all-or-nothing kind of girl. I can do a 30-day sugar fast without a problem, but the second you suggest I should reduce my chocolate intake I'm binge eating double fudge ice cream and an entire batch of brownies.

With that in mind, herein follows the Law of Richelle:

  • Meditate often
  • Continue to make my health a priority
  • Say no (when it's right)
  • Be selective about social engagements - who I spend my time with
  • Spend time with friends doing creative, cheap/free activities (ie. not just drinks or dinner)
  • Respond to emails within 24 hours
  • Read non-fiction daily
  • No media on weeknights (parenting myself here)
  • Set a weekly/monthly intention
  • Be kind to myself
  • Write at least one thank you note every week
  • Be grateful
  • Set tech-free time each week

I reserve the right to edit this post as I am confident I will think of more rules I want to live by. These are sort of resolutions, I suppose, but the kind that make it past Jan 5.


2015 Reflections by Richelle Ouellette

she designed a life she loved

About this time last year I lettered these words on my planner. I felt a little schoolgirlish and silly so I would often flip my notebook over in meetings or public to hide my cheesy quote. And yet, almost as if a self-fulfilling prophecy this phrase shaped my year. I took greater risks, opened my heart wider, powered through difficult circumstances, and ultimately gained the confidence to quit my job to pursue a lifelong dream of self-employment and travel. I am still working on the finer details, but this year has been monumental in pushing me towards the direction of my dreams. Here are 15 lessons I learned (or relearned) in 2015 that helped me design a life I love:

• Resist nothing
• The universe is conspiring to help + support you (pronoia)
• Everything in life is fluid
• When you seek greatness, you find greatness
• You are stronger than you think
• Action will set you free
• Speak your truth, even when it hurts; silence is a sharper pain
• Listen to learn something from everyone
• You must do the thing you think you can not do
• You have to risk the fall in order to fly
• Love conquers fear
• Specific people are put in your path at exactly the moment you need them
• The less you try to control, the more power you have
• Until you learn to accept and love your own imperfections you will never fully love others'
• People, circumstances, and trials in our life serve us for the time that they do, and then they don't; when they're gone, let them go

Thank you to each of you who continue to support me in my journey. I'm looking forward to a new year filled with laughter, discovery, love, and growth.