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  • Valerie Hope

Ep. 28 - Not Quite Strangers: Your Environment Is An Expression Of Love Or Fear

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Not Quite Strangers: Your Environment Is An Expression Of Love Or Fear

Eva, what did you bring? Tell us what that is.


It's a magazine, Country Living, and Homestead by Jill.


We'll hear more about that in a moment. LaRue, what did you bring?


I brought a quote.


First of all, thank you both for being here for this episode. This is an opportunity to bring two people who do not know each other, yet whom I am very fond of to meet. The whole notion of this show is to inspire curiosity and build connections. If we're lucky, we may even challenge the status quo. I have the fortune of having amazing people in my life and you all know this probably in every single episode that I produce. In this episode, I have two very important characters.


Before we start digging into why these two not-quite strangers were deemed to come together, I want to make sure that any one of you who's reading is subscribed to That way, you don't miss a single episode. When we livestream them or they're posted, you get notified the moment that they are hot off the press. I've known these two lovely individuals for some years. Eva Castilla and I are relatives. She is my sister-in-law. She’s married to my older brother, Eduardo.


We met in college. It's been a couple of decades. Eva and I were friends first before she and my brother met. Now, I understand why she was so friendly. You know what I mean. One of the reasons I invited Eva here is she’s been on my other show, Time to Come Alive. Eva, you were instrumental in naming this show.


We had this big brainstorm one day as I was trying to figure out a name and she was the one that helped me hone in on this one. Thank you so much. You've played such a huge role in everything I do, specifically around how I decorate my space and organize myself. You're the person that I come to whenever I know that I need to up my energy and a lot of it has to do with the physical manifestation of where things are in my life.


Eva, thank you so much for that. I knew I wanted you on the show but then I was thinking, “Who would be a great stranger for Eva to meet and have a meaningful conversation around this?” Enter LaRue Eppler. LaRue, you and I have known each other for a couple of years. LaRue, your reputation proceeded you. When we first met, it was because my pastor at my church was telling me about you coming in to be a guest speaker.


I'd heard your name a few times but she spoke of you so highly that I was like, “Who is this lady?” It turned out the day that you were coming I couldn't be there. We planned to meet because I was like, “I got to know who this person is.” We met at the Wellness Expo here in Dallas, Texas, and spent three hours or something.


Since then, you have been such an inspiration to me. You've also been on my previous show, Time To Come Alive. We had a wonderful conversation there. One of our last conversations, and I can't even remember how we got to this point in the conversation, but we're doing some work together. You were working with me on some of your specialties, which I'm sure we'll talk about.


You shared how important it was for you to have a beautiful environment and how part of your soul like interior decorating was there. You work so much also with energy and beauty. I was like, “That's the person I need to introduce to my sister-in-law.” It all came together right here on the show. Welcome to both of you to the show.


It was an honor. I always feel delighted, joyful, and blessed to be in your presence.


That's a lot of fun.


Thank you both so much. I'm glad because this is only going to amplify the fun and the joy in the moment. Now that you guys are connecting, this is going to be great. Let's start with some baseline. You both brought an object that I asked you that represents an important piece of who you are and what you bring to the world. Let's start with Eva. You shared a couple of magazines. Tell us why you picked magazines and what those represent for you.


One is a magazine. The other one is a book. This is Living The Country Life. I love this magazine. What represents me is my love for the country, nature, and simple living. It represents being in touch with our environment. I love country-style interior decorating. That's my favorite thing ever. I knew about Jill Peterson a few years ago. She used to have a magazine called A Simple Life.


What she did was she would go all around the country in the United States and photograph and record historical houses. I fell in love with it. This also represents my love for a simple life. Even though some of these houses are not my style, I still cherish them a lot like what they represent. Every piece these people had was very special. It was handmade. It took a long time to have so it lasted a long time. It passed from generation to generation. They didn't have a lot but what they had was treasure for them. That's why I like it so much.


Eva was originally from Tenerife, Spain, hence the Spanish accent. Eva, when you say country, you share the book for the travel that this particular author did in the US. I'm curious. Do you feel the same way about your home country and the aesthetic of country life there?


I love it. The aesthetics are different. Each country has theirs but every time I go to a different country, that's what I look for. I don't go to the modern. I go to the old and historical because, for me, it represents history. I like my way of life. What I visualize myself as being very simple. I don't have a lot of things in the house but whatever I have is super precious, and I like that. That represents me. They did things with their hands. Everything was not always done in a factory with a million other objects that looked the same way. It was more special. This is a very general view but that's what it represents to me. They are beautiful, too. I love the style.


I love that, Eva. I get what you're saying because these things that are handmade, to me, are a person's soul. It's an expression of that particular soul. That soul is passed on through generations. It may not be embodied any longer.


That's exactly what it is for me. It is the soul. It has life. You feel the energy, at least I do. It's an honor for me to have something that other people have had in the past. It's like, “I cannot believe I’m having this.” I found something in a thrift store that was handmade by a grandmother. It was made in the 1800s. I thought, “I can't believe I'm getting this.” It’s the soul of the object that is there. That's exactly what it is for me.


Larue, I'm curious about your quote. What is the quote? What is the significance behind it for you?


Before I read the quote, Eva and I should have spoken before but it's perfect because you brought your magazine. I was thinking for days what am I going to bring. I thought, “I'll know when I wake up.” It wasn't coming so I came up with this quote but if Eva and I had spoken and shown me what she was going to bring into this whole conversation, I would have brought a book called Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. I read it in the mid-’90s.


It's something you can read a little bit every day. I would feel so warm and beautiful reading that book. I realized that the words in that book activated my soul. I made up my quote. I was asking myself what represents my passion for creating beauty and order, which is what you had proposed to us. You asked the deepest questions. I don't know if I'll ever get a full answer to that question. I'll probably have many different versions of my answer to that but it's so profound. Here's my quote, “Beauty is the golden key that unlocks the felt experience and warmth of the soul.”


I'm going to cry. That's so beautiful.


What moves you about that one, LaRue? I then want to hear Eva’s reaction.


I was asking, “Why is beauty important to me?” I knew it was important but I never asked why. I started looking around my home at beautiful things. I try to only have beautiful things. It’s the same thing Eva is saying in a different way. Beauty is important because beauty is felt. It's not just something you see with your eyes. It creates a visceral response in you.


If we judge it and deem anything beautiful, that makes us come alive. We feel our inner presence rather than our personality self which can be going through the day and doing tasks. I feel a connection and a certain aroma in a candle. I can feel my heart get warm. Certain smells shut it down but if I deem it beautiful, my heart opens.


A presentation of how a meal is presented brings me right back home to my soul. I don't know of anyone who doesn't love flowers. If you ever get a present with a flower, particularly one that you love, remember that as I read this quote. If you're present with a flower, what you're looking at, what you see, and what you smell, beauty is the golden key that unlocks the felt experience and warmth of the soul.


I feel that many people that I've met sometimes get that warm feeling in their heart center. Most of them don't know that it is their inner presence showing up, call it soul, light, or presence but I've learned that that's my soul. When I'm in that space of feeling that, I can know things. I have insights, inspiration, and knowledge that I don't have when I'm in my thinking mind.


Having an awareness of those sensations speaking to us is important. It was interesting when you asked us to think about a flower. I'm not a person that enjoys flowers as much. You can see I have a lot of greenery. I love plants. What I was thinking though is what catches my attention about plants. Generally, it is how uniquely structured the leaves are. If they're one of those that are spreaders, it’s how they hang or bunch. I have all types but they're usually very unique.


There's some textural difference or something. They don't all have to flower. If they do, that's cool but I'm much more apt to get a plant and feel more moved by getting a plant than I would a flower. Flowers after some time, especially if you cut flowers, have an expiration date. With plants, I feel like the ability to nurture them is also quite meaningful.


We're drawn to it for the very same reason. Yours are plant and I do love plants too but it's the texture and shapes. It's the same thing.


The aroma may not be as evident.


It is why I do fresh flowers every week for the smell. The smell opens my soul. If it's the right smell, I feel my heart chakra burst wide open.


The smell makes the difference.


Eva, you were moved by the quote. I want to hear what was it about that quote that moved you.


I'm also moved by beauty. It is very subjective. Beauty could be anything to anybody and that's also the beauty of beauty. For me, beauty represents each one of us. We can be expressed in any different way and be beautiful. Beautiful represents the soul in the sense that we live in a world where despite the news, everything is beautiful. We look around and it's beautiful. Even if we pay attention to the pavement, you can find very cool things about the pavement. It's the way of how you look at the world.

Beauty could be anything to anybody, and that's also the beauty of beauty. It represents each one of us.


Coming from there, looking for things that call our attention and are beautiful to us is a way to express our soul. That's how we find ourselves, too. It connects us to something that perhaps a lot of us have lost or don't remember. It will shift something. It is very important to be surrounded by beautiful things that one loves in the house and it could be anything. It's a way to notice the soul and be in touch with who we are.


LaRue, you should know that although Eva does not do this necessarily as a professional and a vocation, she has a great instinct for what brings an individual. You mentioned about beauty being very subjective. You have a way of not having this as like, “Here's what beauty is and this is the style that you should have in your home.” You have a way of tapping into helping me and in my case, identify what that is. I'll give a brief example.


When I first moved in, I lived in this specific apartment for a long time. It took about five years of that long time for me to take things that I had in boxes and under beds in closets and stacked in different manners that I'd collected. I traveled quite extensively over so many years of my life. I always buy things from different places. I didn't realize that I was going to unpack an apartment. I don't know what I thought but for some reason, I got into the habit of collecting it but not displaying it.


There was a point in time when Eva challenged me and she was like, “Valerie, you have all this cool stuff that you've collected for a purpose. Why are you surrounding yourself with it?” I was like, “I don't know.” We started looking through all the boxes and she's like, “What about this and that?” I'm like, “I forgot about that. I got that in Estonia and Japan.” I started to appreciate what my soul told me at the moment that had me buy it first of all. I put it away and started to pick those things out.


All that’s on my screen, a lot of it was inspired by conversations I had with Eva who had me identify and get present to those elements of my life or soul that I want to see expressed physically in your space. We might need to do a little cleaning up because I feel like it's a little too much. I'm a little stimulated but I appreciate both of you calling out beauty as an expression of our soul. I also get sometimes in our society that we encapsulate beauty based on the likes, popularity, and value that we add. I would love for the two of you to speak to that in your experience or maybe as you interact with the world. What do you make out of how we interpret and express beauty? 


For many years, I never felt like I was beautiful enough and I'm not classically beautiful. I would not be on the cover of a magazine or any of that but I've come to learn that our inner light, when someone is at peace, someone loves, and someone has kindness is beauty. In my 40s, I had a friend who was 20 years older than me. I hadn't seen her in some time and she had aged.


I looked at her as she showed up. I was like, “She's even more beautiful than before.” She has more lines and wrinkles but with the light in her eyes, she was so confident. Not in an egoic sense but an inner knowing. She was so connected to the truth of her being. I went, “That's probably the most beautiful woman I've ever seen.”


I have several friends who are 20 years and 15 years my senior. They have leathery skin but with the light and vibrancy, they’re so alive and wise. Wisdom is beauty to me. I'm quite honestly still in the process of redefining beauty when it comes to my physical self. I'm aging and the wrinkles are coming. Every day, it seems like there's a new one, a little more saggy skin here. I'm in the process of redefining that and feeling for my soul. When I feel my soul, I feel beautiful. Whether the world thinks so or not, it doesn't matter. I feel beautiful.


Eva, I saw you nodding slowly. I'm curious. How does that resonate for you?


I'm thinking of my life. Growing up as an adolescent, I was very much involved in magazines. The magazines could be very cool. I also love fashion so I appreciate a lot that part of the magazine. It’s how we use it. In my case, my journey has been accepting myself the way I am because I was very much comparing myself to the magazines. I got to a point where I don't care about age.


When people say, “How old are you,” I am like, “Seriously, I'm not kidding. I don't care. I could be 60.” This was what LaRue said. How do you feel inside? I have to learn that along the way. It's very interesting because I see my body change and how I used to be very fit and cool. It's not like that anymore. It's been a very psychologically draining process for me to be able to be where I am where I can go outside with my cellulitis and I don't give a crap. I just started doing that because I wasn't able to before. I was so ashamed.


If we are in touch with who we are, it's what LaRue says. Everything becomes beautiful. This culture in the West is very focused on beauty. You have to look very young. They don't value the beauty of all mature ages. For me, that's a shame. Each stage of our life is beautiful, from when we are born until we die in bed. Beauty comes with experience in your life and how much you have grown, and that shows. That's something that I see in this culture. I don't agree with it. Let's put it like that.


It's also for men, too. I've seen that with men. It's a lot of pressure for men also. It's very strange. That filter doesn't allow us to look at and value who are. It stops us from connecting to other people because of how they look. It's about age and race. If you're wearing this type of clothes and I don't want to look at you, it's all this stuff. Instead of symbols, be more curious or learn more about the person. Everything can be beautiful. It depends on how we look at it.


LaRue, what would you say to that?


I love everything you're saying and you're making perfect sense to me. I especially love what you said about everything can be beautiful and it depends on how we look at it. I used to want all my dishes to have no scratches. They needed to look perfect. Someone said to me one day that she loved to go buy old things. I would never walk into an antique store but then I find them fascinating in resale stores.


I have a friend who is very much how I used to be. Her husband chipped a glass and she threw it in the trash. He was not happy about that. It didn't represent beauty to her. My definition of beauty has become so much broader than it used to be. If I have a crack in a glass and I do have some with chips in them, it's like, “I remember that event that I would not have remembered those people coming over had I not had the chip in the glass. It happened.” I cherish it. It has much more meaning to me now than it did when it was perfect and matched all the others.


It’s this story. The stuff that we use is about the objects and who we are. The more experience we have and the more history the object has, the more juiced up is going to look like. That makes it more special because it tells a story. It's not just plain. I have new things too but what the story teaches us is the special thing.


You both mentioned the soul and the soul is eternal. If we see something and we have a visceral reaction to it, whether that's a warmth that washes over us or brings a smile to our face or we have maybe goosebumps, excitement, or whatever that bodily sensation that shows up, when we get it, how do we keep that bodily sensation present when it gets chipped or no longer in style? Maybe there's a 2.0 version, a newer color, or something like that.


We could talk about the physical aspect. I love these dishes called the Le Creuset. I like to cook predominantly with cast iron and pot cookery. When I worked in the hotel industry, I often visited our chefs in the kitchen and hung out there. I learned so much about cooking but I have always admired one of our particular hotels. They used a lot of Le Creuset dishes, which I knew were quite expensive but they looked beautiful. They're usually in vibrant colors and interesting shapes.


I had a goal, “I’m going to get one of those.” Not from the hotel, I wasn't stealing but I knew I was going to purchase one at some point. I eventually did. It was an investment piece. I remember I was so mad when I scratched the bottom of the pan because of whatever I stuck on it or scraped something. I was like, “I'm not going to go buy another one just because.”


Almost for a moment, it lost its magic of why I wanted to get it in the first place because of the scratches that were in the bottom of it. I don't know if I'm hearing the two of you correctly with this inner guide that tells us this is beautiful for me or you. How do we sustain that no matter what happens to the thing that we consider beautiful at some point?


That's a great point that you've made because you're saying that and I'm thinking of beauty in the physical body. Once it has a scratch, has a wrinkle, and is not perfectly young and beautiful, then we don't want it anymore. That's a very interesting point. I never thought of that. What made you get that object in the first place? It's also an opportunity to question, “Why am I so upset that it has a scratch?” Perhaps there is something there.


For me, it was a journey of being very perfectionistic and being able to relax. That was the thing for me because I used to be like that. That's an opportunity for each one of us to be like, “If I love this so much and then I don't like it because this happened, how do I apply this in other aspects of my life?” I'm sure that most of the time, it will be a representation of how life is run or how one is behaving in life.


The object is an example of how you deal with it. For me, that would be an interesting way of taking it as a learning and seeing what's going on. It's also like, ”Did you like the object in the beginning because for you it represented a certain status?” That's the thing too. People get things because they love it. They are connected to the piece. It represents something they want to be and they feel they don't have.


For me, it was a little bit of a status symbol. These very accomplished and talented chefs, this is what they use. Not that I wanted to be a trained chef but I found that this elevated my abilities or capabilities like, “I can cook with this stuff, too.” I remember a point where I used to keep it in a box. It was like a braising pan. It could be used for anything like sauteing and braising things.


There was always this thing where I was like, “I should use my Le Creuset.” I would take it out of the box and wash it. I cooked in it, made sure it was dry, and put it back in the box. I did that for years. Eva, it was probably a conversation that you and I had at one point while we were organizing my space where I was like, “I like using it. I could use it for so many more things.”


Why do I keep it in a box? It's so inconvenient to pull it out of the box and go through the whole production. I could use it for everything. It could be my go-to. Why am I saving it up for a special thing and a worthy moment? I'm going to have to use it again since I'm talking about it. I feel like I had it on this pedestal because of maybe the status that was associated unconsciously but then eventually, I started to realize that it brings me pleasure to use it all the time, not just in these key moments so why I’m not leveraging that? That's what that brings to mind.


Sometimes we keep objects for a special occasion like people who have a set of China for example, and they want to use it for Christmas or birthdays. That's that's fine, too. It has to go with the relationship we have with the object. When it comes from a place of love, whatever it is that we are doing with that object, everything flows. If it comes from a place of fear or feeling inadequate and lacking, then it's a different relationship. I wanted to point that out.


If beauty is connected to love, there's the freedom of expression but when it's connected to fear, that's something that we have to look out for. I don't know. There's maybe a more sophisticated way. LaRue, what are you picking up on?


I love what you're saying. I had written it down because I'm reflecting. Beauty and love are the same thing. They're expressions and essences of the soul. If beauty activates fear, it's not activating the soul. It's activating the personality or some people call it ego. It’s all those identities of, “I'm not enough. I'm not pretty, skinny, or rich enough.” It's important to know when we're feeling our soul versus being our everyday personality or ego walking through life, and doing the next task in front of us, those two distinctions are important.

Beauty and love are the same thing. They're expressions and essences of the soul.


How do we keep that feeling of beauty alive? I don't do it every day. I notice that if I'm not doing something to create beauty or experience beauty every day, I'm not as happy. One of the reasons I do fresh flowers is for them to stay pretty long, you need to clip them every day and put fresh water in them. In the morning, one of the first things I do is clip my flowers. It brings me a present and wakes me up from sleep. I'm halfway unconscious sometimes when I get up.


I smell and see them. They're so beautiful. It puts me in a state of gratitude. I'm talking about how gorgeous they are with the clean water. It's like a ritual. Creating beauty consistently is one way I do it for myself. I don't paint a painting or rearrange a room every day because I have to work but those flowers do that for me. We can activate that feeling by doing something external or we can connect to our inner presence and feel the beauty.


What an interesting way to redefine a beauty ritual because often, we associate those two words. Beauty rituals with external like some night cream or perhaps a lavender-infused something or other that goes on our body but the idea of an action that activates that feeling is fascinating.


I love what LaRue says about being grateful for the flowers. You can be grateful for your Le Creuset. Thank you, Le Creuset, for what you are giving me. It's not like you are talking to an object but it's an acknowledgment of why you got the object and being present to the object and whatever you are doing with it. That's beautiful too. I like that a lot. LaRue, I love the idea that you have your flowers as your morning routine. It is super beautiful and cool. I love that you are doing that instead of, “My morning routine is I wake up and go running.” I am not against that but because it's so soft and gentle.


It’s a gentle way to treat your life every morning. It wakes me up. I have gratitude that I can have them, and get to have that experience. Those flowers were made and grown for me. No one else has them. They are mine. The universe must have had me in mind when they grew that batch of stargazers. Gratitude activates beauty.


Gratitude activates beauty.

Going back to what Eva said, we can see the same object in different ways. It can be beautiful, ugly, or something else but gratitude changes our filter in how we see what we see and what we see. My son was telling me, which surprised me, that every morning, he gets his coffee and goes to get in his vehicle to go to his business. I didn't know this and I loved it.


Every morning before he backs out of the driveway, he sits there with his coffee. He lists and says what he's grateful for in his life. I didn't know that. What a beautiful ritual. It’s so funny. Beauty can be anything. It can be kindness, a ritual, or anything that brings joy, love, inspiration, creativity, and upliftment. Kindness is beauty to me.


You're making me think, “What is my beauty ritual?” The thing that comes to mind is music. I remember doing a leadership activity, where we had to identify these moments in our lives that have marked who we are as leaders. I put all this stuff together. It was like a collage type of activity. I cut out images, words, and photographs of family, co-workers, and all of that but something is missing. This was probably an exercise I did a few years ago. I'm like, “What is missing?” I'm not an arts and crafty type of person so the process itself is a little tedious for me like the cutout things glue and all those markers.


Maybe 2 or 3 days after I started the whole thing, I was like, “I think I'm done.” I was done cutting out stuff from a magazine. Music is a big part of my life but I didn't want to do it like I was in a band or I took piano lessons. That wasn't it but just the music I listened to. What I ended up doing was listing all of the songs that I remember that activated that joy in me ever since I was maybe in fourth grade. I remember my uncle gave us a little cassette player that you could set to an alarm that can turn on the cassette or the radio. It was supposed to be for my mom but she didn't want it. I'm like,” I’ll take it.”


I discovered waking up to music. That was a game-changer. There was a song of promises. I don't even remember the group that sang it. I remember that song coming on the radio and I was like, “I need to record that song.” I want to wake up to it every morning. That was a period when I had that song, wrote it on the computer, printed it, and put it on the thing. Eventually, as I started thinking of all those songs that did that for me, the whole carton of moments of leadership has a border of music, songs, and artists throughout my lifetime. Who would have known?


To your point, LaRue, every morning, that's my ritual. I wake up to music that brings me joy. I'm listening to a band called Hige Dandism, which is a Japanese pop group. They have this song called Stand By You that has brought me joy. I listened to that every morning when I woke up. I don't hit snooze. I wake up and jam out for a little bit and then I get my day going. That's my beauty ritual. Thank you for bringing that up. I had no idea that that would be a beauty ritual for me.


I'm thinking of people who are going through very tough times in their lives either because of illnesses, family issues, or whatever it is. It is so important to have a beauty ritual. I remember going through my own. If I hadn't had those rituals, I would have gone crazy. It could be anything from a song. In my case, it was a salsa song that I loved. I would put it on my headphones, walk, go crazy, and sing out loud in the street. That kept me sane.


For other people, it could be flowers or whatever it is. It doesn't have to be specific like a spectacular thing but it's so important. With this conversation, I’m realizing that so many times we take for granted things we do like our beauty rituals. We don't even think of them as so important for us to do. We just do it without being present and then it's like, “I need to do this. This is why I'm doing this.”


I have two questions for you, guys. LaRue, when you said that about the flowers, I was like, “What's my beauty ritual?” 1) How does one get present in their beauty ritual? 2) If it's gone, lost, or maybe there's nothing that you can think of that brings beauty, how do you remove whatever the blocks are that don't help us perceive it?


Things change. The same as we change, our rituals change. Even if we don't do something anymore, that doesn't mean we have to pick it up. Perhaps it had this purpose and that's it. It's our time to find something else.


I agree. I've noticed that my rituals change a lot throughout the months and years. I may start one way at the beginning of the year and it might have changed 2, 3, or 4 times until the end of the year. I was realizing one of my beauty rituals is making my bed in the morning. I love making my bed because it looks so beautiful when I'm finished. I have that feeling of beauty.


I'm listening to Pharrell Williams. I use it as a regular alarm. I can hit snooze but that gets me out of bed. I'm still halfway unconscious and I'm dancing while I'm making my bed to that song. I look at my bed. It's beautiful. I do my teeth and all that stuff. I go into the kitchen and do my flowers. How do you tap into what your beauty ritual is? Maybe you're doing it already. Maybe there was a time you did something. Look through your life. Is there anything you do in your daily life that feels beautiful, fun, or joyful for you?


Some people don't resonate with the word beauty. Maybe they resonate with the word joyful or fabulous, which makes you feel joyful. That's fine. For some people, it's maybe grabbing up a coffee, going on the patio, listening to the birds, or reading a book. I was surprised that a friend of mine runs a Facebook group with the question, “Do you make your bed every day?” All these people did. He said he did and it surprised me. Here's a man who loves making his bed and making it look nice. It feels good to him. Look at those rituals.

Not Quite Strangers | Eva Castilla & LaRue Eppler | Your Environment
Your Environment: Some people don't resonate with the word beauty, but they resonate with the words joyful or fabulous.

To your point, maybe the word beauty doesn't resonate or is joyful. People are going through difficult times at any given point in life and that tends to obscure whatever it is that brings that beauty and joy. The darkness is so heavy, exhausting, or overwhelming. How does one clear himself to connect to the beauty or joy that's around him?


They need to look at what they're saying to themself like, “I don't have time. That's not important.” We think we don't have the time for that but the truth is we usually do have three minutes. If we don't, we probably need to take it to tune into that. Look at what we're telling ourselves. I didn't have plants for years because I didn't have time to take care of them. I just wanted to be free. I don't want to be obligated to water my plants and make sure they grow.


Guess what they did when I bought them or someone gave them? They would die. I haven't killed a plant in a long time because I'm taking the time. It's not taking the time for the plant. It’s taking time for me to say, “I'm deserving of this.” Look at your beliefs about it. In survival, we’re trying to keep all the balls in the air. This seems like such a luxury. It may not do it or connect to it. It might even not turn on the music. If you love music, why not have the music playing when you're brushing your teeth or having your breakfast? There are maybe ways to put it in there.


I recommend a soundtrack. I have a soundtrack to my morning and at night for my wine down. I have it in my car. Music is every aspect of life for me. Eva, what would you add to that?


I need silence, instead of music. It is funny that I use music when I need to break out of something but my tendency is more silence. I'm talking from my experience. One thing that I like about what LaRue said is the bed. I read somewhere a long time ago that making the bed is also a very psychological thing. You make your bed and feel like you have accomplished something. That could be a start. Even if it's not the ritual that you are going to choose, it is that feeling like something gets accomplished.


I'm thinking of when we go through hard times. You don't want to do anything or feel like doing anything. Something like the bed is a step because that could take a lot of energy to make a bed. We do the bed and then suddenly, it's like, “I've done something.” It's very important to be present and sometimes it’s like, “I'm going to have a walk and see what happens.” Something will show up.

Not Quite Strangers | Eva Castilla & LaRue Eppler | Your Environment
Your Environment: When you go through hard times, you don't want or feel like doing anything, but doing something to feel like you accomplished something is a start.

I go through the day doing things and I'm trying to notice the things that are more connected to myself. Sometimes it doesn't have to be I feel joyful but it's very subtle like I do this and then I feel calmer. I do this little thing and then my stress is a little less. It could be making a cup of tea. It's being present that makes us more center and then from there, everything else shows up.


Are you familiar with Esther Hicks? Esther Hicks was talking to a person in the audience at one of her her talks and was asking him questions like, “Do you prefer to be relaxed or stressed?” He's like, ”Relaxed.” “Do you prefer joyful or gloomy?” He’s like, “Joyful.” “Clarity or confusion?” “Clarity.” It was interesting so she kept asking him about these different emotions.


She asked, “If you could focus on the emotions you wanted. Forget about the activity. Sometimes we have to get general. Maybe it's not the thing that gives us the thing. What would give you more clarity at the moment? Try that. What would give you more relaxation at that moment? Go do that.” It's so simple because I was struggling with the leadership challenge that I was trying to figure out.


Figuring it out was causing me a lot of stress, overwhelm, and all the feelings that I don't enjoy having. As I was listening, I was like, “What action would cost me to feel relaxed? I can call a couple of people and talk to them because that'd be nice. I love talking to people. What action would feel less overwhelming and simple? I can take this stuff off my to-do list. I don't want to do them.”


It’s the other little things. We complicate ourselves so much sometimes. Waking up in the morning with your favorite song is amazing. The is energy moving. If somebody else needs something else, instead of, “This should be like this,” no. It’s what it is for you. If you don't want to do something, you have the option of not doing it.

Not Quite Strangers | Eva Castilla & LaRue Eppler | Your Environment
Your Environment: If you don't want to do something and you have the option of not doing it, don't do it.

Do it in a way that produces that emotion. You have to feed your animals and children. You want to keep your job and probably still have to show up.


There are things that you still have to do even though you don't want to. That's something you told me a long time ago. I don't remember if it was related to your circle of influencers but sometimes, we have the option to not do certain things and we cannot do them. We don't think that it could be beneficial for other people to do those for us. We are helping those people but not doing something we don't like at all. I don't know why we are talking about this. It has nothing to do with it.


No. It's great. That's how the two of you came to my mind, too. Both of you have been very instrumental in me doing something that I didn't want to do or didn't like or enjoy doing and gave it a frame that made it more joyful, interesting, and exciting to do. Eva, with all the apartment decorating stuff, it's not something I'm even interested in but when I'm doing it with you, it is fun. I enjoy it and you enjoy doing it. I'm like, “This is something she loves doing.” LaRue, when I'm working through this problem and trying to figure something out, I feel so way down by it. You bring your magical frame of reference and some of the tools that you love to use to coach people. I'm like, “That’s amazing. I want to do more.”


I've been listening to you both and I've got two words that keep jumping out at me. When Eva was talking about being present, I went, “How do we create beauty, joy, or whatever it is in our lives?” First of all, we need to be present to be aware. The word is awareness. Eva, you notice that that feels good so you’re like, “That's going to be my beauty or joy routine.” Valerie, you were talking about exploration or adventure. When you go on this exploration, you’re like, “What does bring me joy? What does make me feel beauty?”


Feeling beauty and feeling beautiful is not the same thing to me. I can feel beauty and not feel beautiful. Feeling beauty helps me start to feel beautiful. It shifts my mindset. You go on an adventure or exploration. Go about this and say, “I did a little something different when I made breakfast this morning. That felt lovely. I twist a lime on the top of my glass when I make my tea or lemon. That felt beautiful.” You have the awareness but it's an exploration. Explore and then have the awareness of that little thing that felt lovely.

Feeling beautiful helps me start to feel beautiful. It shifts my mindset.


We got homework from LaRue, everybody.


That's a great exercise.


You can already see it here why I hope that I thought the two of you together would be magical.


I'm shaking with everything she says. “Me too.”


I can go on and on for years but I wanted to take a moment to get present since this is a whole conversation of exploration and how the two of you might connect. I'm curious about what that’s been like to be in this conversation with someone who was not quite a stranger because you knew each other through me, at least a name.


It’s an absolute joy. It's like a kindred soul. Eva, you feel so familiar to me, getting to know. It's me expressing and projecting myself. Eva, when you said you like silence, me too. Once the alarm clock with the song goes off, I go and turn it off so it's pure silence in the house. Magical is what it's been.


LaRue, your energy is so light and beautiful. I feel like like this warmth is over me. I'm going to cry because I would love to meet you in person. You are such a lovely person. We have a lot of things in common. It's been amazing to talk to you.


Mission accomplished. I was the golden key that unlocked the felt experience for the two of you. 


When I'm connected to another soul, I feel connected to both of you, and you being a new friend, Eva. I feel the beauty of the connection and warmth. Valerie, thank you for the invitation and opportunity.


It’s been an honor. We shared a lot of techniques, ideas, rituals, perspectives, and philosophy. What are each of you walking away with after this conversation?


Spanish was the last exercise LaRue had for us because even though I did that, I also took it for granted. I was doing a creative course and one thing they said is to stimulate your creativity to do things that you've never done before or do it in a different way. For example, go downstairs backward or tie your shoes with your other hand. When LaRue commented on starting to be present, I thought, “I haven't done that.” I already am present but perhaps I am skipping things because I am not doing it mindfully. I'm going to do this as an exercise and see what I discovered. I may discover something new. That's what I'm taking with me.

Stimulate your creativity with things that you've never done before.


LaRue, what about you?


This conversation has given me permission to unleash my creativity around beauty, although I try to do something like the flowers. There's so much more that wants to be unleashed inside of me, do it more, and go for it.


Anything in particular that you'd like to tease us off and let us know?


Looking at my wall, I have this big whiteboard with projects on it. When I get ideas, I put a little post on it. It's pretty ugly and disorderly. I'd like to give myself permission to have it be beautiful, whatever that may look like once I go explore. The last one is to respect my value of beauty with that board that's in front of me because it doesn't reflect beauty.


If you need some support in that, I'm sure Eva could give her two cents.


I'm so glad you are doing that. That's a great point, too. We are surrounded by things that are practical but we don't think of elevating them.

We surround ourselves with practical things but don't think of elevating them.


I tolerate too much of that. “It's not important. Other things are more important. I'll get to that someday,” and someday doesn't come so I need to put it on the calendar and do it.


“There are so many of those things that I'm tolerating. I don't have the time or the interest.” This is so silly but I had a notebook. It's a regular composition book and I bought this cover for it on Amazon years ago. It was made out of this burlap material. It was cool with my initials and everything. I’ve traveled with it. It's brought me so much joy but then it started to fray. I would try to burn the ends off the wooden frame. It was falling apart.


I have kept that falling-apart cover for years. When I looked at my pants and I had all these pieces of this fiber all over, I was like, “Why do I still deal with this? Why am I trying to keep this? I should throw it away. It's done its work and run its course. It is no longer beauty, cool, or fun.” It's taken me maybe three years in this dismal condition but I wasn't using it enough so I barely noticed it.


It's funny. We do tolerate some things that don't bring us joy. What I'm taking away from this conversation is I'm going to be doing a little bit of exploration in my space because there are some things that I've been used to seeing like a fixture that is getting in the way of the expression of myself. I might invite Eva to come by. Eva, you can work on the physical stuff, and with LaRue, I work on the mental stuff. Any final words before we bid adieu, ladies?


I'm so grateful. Thank you so much. It was a lot of fun. LaRue, you are amazing. It was great. I got insights. I was tired and then I can go and do whatever I want.


I feel inspired to create. For a toleration like that orchid back there, it's a silk flower with a black vase. I've never liked that black vase. I've been tolerating it so I'm going to clean up that toleration and restore my energy because I have a white vase that goes in, which is much more beautiful.


I'm inspired that we set a time on the calendar for us all three to get together and meet since we all live in the same area here in Dallas.


Let's do it.


I'm so inspired, humbled, and energized by the two of you. Thank you so much for saying yes. Thank you for sharing yourselves, ideas, challenges, and assignments. For any of you who need this type of information, energizing conversation, or insight, both Eva and LaRue are gifted and talented individuals. They express those interests and gifts in different ways. I encourage you all to reach out to them. Thank you so much for reading. Please be sure to subscribe to so that you get many other episodes directly delivered to your inbox. Eva and LaRue, it's been a pleasure. I love you, guys. Thank you so much for being here.

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Strangers: Meet Eva Castilla & LaRue Eppler

From: Tenerife, Spain/Texas, USA & Oklahoma/Texas, USA

Connect on: A beautiful environment as an expression of love or fear

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