she's a BEAST... The BlackGirlInOm.

     For the past few months in many conversations friends would ask me if I had met Lauren or they would just assume we knew each other. I would say no and they would look at me & say “You two definitely need to know each other.” I admit I get that a lot, friends telling me that I need to meet certain people and truthfully, sometimes I don’t know why. The first time I met Lauren was through a text thread a mutual friend put us in, then a few days later Lauren telling me about a job position then on a gloomy Sunday morning me attending one of her yoga sessions… We finally met. It was everything and so much more and at that moment I knew she would be one of the people to greatly impact my life. 

 The people in your life that by their actions, hold you accountable for your actions.”

     I wrote this with a few people in mind one of the main persons being Lauren, her ambition is admirable, the flame ignited in her soul is hypnotizing and the light that radiates from her being is life provoking. Over the past month alone I have witnessed Lauren going so hard for her baby “BlackGirlInOm.” When I think of why I created “she’s a BEAST” Lauren is my shining reminder. I’ve looked forward to this spotlight so you to can be gifted a piece of this magical woman.

 So, who is Lauren Miller?

I am a wellness, art, and social justice aficionado. As a certified yoga instructor, I am especially passionate about guiding women of color in their journeys with yoga. For me, yoga has been a powerful force of empowerment, liberation, and healing (physically, emotionally, and spiritually.) 
Art and social justice have always been central, and intertwined, in my life. From years spent working with youth of color on art for social change, to my studies on the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement, I am ever enthusiastic and curious about the creative works that people of color, black people in particular, manifest because of, or in spite of, oppression.. 

How was the idea of BlackGirlInOm (BGIO) conceived?

In spring 2014, I started to have visions of opening up a multifaceted healing center/yoga studio that would house culturally-specific yoga teachers, mental health practitioners, after school educators, and more. Then, during my yoga teacher training program in summer 2014, the name came to me: BlackGirlInOm. I didn't think hard about it. I didn't think at all. It came to me like a gift. Since then, BlackGirlInOm, what it is and what it will be, has shifted in form, thanks largely to great mentors, Janice Bond, Eric Williams, and more, who have inspired me to think bigger! 

So, what is BlackGirlInOM?

 BlackGirlInOm promotes holistic wellness and inner beauty for women of color. Through the forthcoming BGIO online publication and pop-up yoga and wellness events, we encourage self-care and self-love for communities of color. We affirm through our work the consistent, preventative actions that cultivate a clarity of mind, a strength of body, a prosperity of spirit, and an inspiration in our environments.
    We love: movement, food, growth, music, art and any and all things life-affirming to us and our communities. We learn and share wellness practices with one another, and through this work cultivate richer understandings of what it means to be healthy and beautiful from the inside out, and from the outside in.

What is your five-year vision for BGIO?

Great question! I'm really big on long-term visioning! In five years, I hope to have BGIO thriving with monthly events in Atlanta, Chicago, DC, Houston, Minneapolis, New York City, New Orleans, San Francisco, and beyond. Additionally, I hope to bring BGIO international in London. Our online publication will have been through nearly 60 issues, with hundreds of contributors, so we should probably have some sort of 5 year anniversary celebration! I hope to have a BlackGirlInOm studio and office opened in Hyde Park. I hope to have a philanthrophic/non-profit "wing" for BGIO to offer yoga and wellness to youth of color in schools with little resources.

Note: when I say hope, I mean it in a radical, manifestation sense. As in, this is what will be, God willing!

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

That's tricky! I feel like I receive really great advice regularly.

"Don't take any wooden nickels" my Grandmother. She's the wisest woman I know. This means, essentially, don't accept anyone's BS. Good advice, right? She says this to me in most conversations we have.

"There’ve been so many people who’ve done brilliant things who ended up being a footnote in somebody else’s fabulous story. So it’s very important that you chronicle your story as you’re living it." - George C. Wolfe, a wonderful playwright and genius. I believe wholeheartedly that everyone should write her or his own autobiography. We all experience so much and have a particular perspective to offer. I should get started on mine now that I've put this out there!

How do you find balance, do you believe there's a such thing?

Yes, balance is crucial and very real. I'm a work in progress in this area, but what I have learned and strive to put into practice is creating boundaries. So, I try to create intentional space in my week for "me time" or social time with friends that does not get mixed with "work." It's difficult when I consider most of what I do for work to be fun, as well! 

I will also say that balance can be found in any act of intentional wellness, as well. So, I intentionally strive to go to yoga, reiki, and acupuncture without thinking about work while doing it. Also challenging, yet rewarding.

What has Chicago meant to you since launching BGIO?

CHICAGO HAS MEANT EVERYTHING FOR BLACKGIRLINOM. Okay, but seriously, had I not taken a leap of sheer faith and moved myself here from a city I loved dearly (Minneapolis) BGIO simply wouldn't be. The renaissance amongst artists of color in this city is unreal and has inspired, motivated, and propelled me forward immensely! From my personal growth, to my new connections, and more, Chicago has sparked it all! To anyone considering moving, and to anyone considering launching a dream, it's really this simple: just do it. 

    What a genuinely amazing young woman, I’ll admit at the end of me re reading this feature I am full of love and emotion. It is such a beautiful piece of life to know & grow with a person of such character as Lauren. I am excited for the future of Lauren & BlackGirlInOm, it is everything we need in life right now. I know that you enjoyed the read stay in tune with BlackGirlInOM here:

Instagram- @BlackGirlInOm
Twitter: @BlackGirlInOm