In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we have interviewed our favorite Wellness and Self-care Expert, Eileen Arugu. If you recall, she dropped gems during the Big Leap Summit during her session, “Be Full of Yourself.” And we are ready to “be full ourselves” this year and beyond. Are you?? Check out Eileen’s story below.
Tell us: “Who is Eileen?” And what has been your journey?
My name, Eileen, literally means light. Growing up, I used to despise my name because I thought it made me seem older. As I’ve matured, I’ve learned to embrace the meaning of my name and have made it my personal mantra for dealing with life’s ups and downs.
By asking myself “what is this situation trying to show me?” and “how can I make light of this moment?”, I’ve gained much clarity and peace about situations beyond my control.
My journey has been filled with teachable moments and golden gems of wisdom passed down from incredible women. My biggest challenges have stemmed from not honoring God’s timing for my life and wanting to be more like others instead of leaning into more of my true self.
My biggest achievements happened when I stopped worrying about the “what ifs”, acknowledged the fear, and showed up anyway.
So speaking of teachable moments, what event or moment occurred that led you towards your passion?
Almost failing out of college led me towards my passion.
During my freshman year, I experienced a lot of challenges. I was performing horribly in my pre-med classes, while dealing with the tragic passing of one of my roommates.
Life was unbelievably difficult then. I had no idea what self-care was at the time, but I practiced it as a form of survival.
When I was ultimately dismissed from my college for poor academic performance, I had to make a decision on whether I would leave school for good or appeal the decision. I decided to appeal.
During the appeal process, I leaned into prayer and journaling. Because I didn’t tell any of my friends that I was kicked out of school, I had to be creative with my time while everyone was attending classes.
I spent more time in the gym of my apartment complex, started eating healthier, and practicing gratitude for the little things. Ultimately when I was admitted back into school, I gained a fresh perspective on self-healing and the power of focusing on the positive.
Wow, thank you for sharing your story. That must’ve been incredibly difficult to go through. I’m happy that you found ways to heal and grow from this experience. Now, let’s fast-forward…what inspired you to start Real Women on the Rise (RWOTR)? What are your goals?
I co-founded Real Women on the Rise with my friend, Helen Orukotan, as a podcast for millennial women who were interested in topics discussing entrepreneurship, manifestation, and a minimalist lifestyle.
The podcast idea sort of morphed into a wellness event planning service when we hosted our first vision board party in November 2019.
Being able to witness our very own community form was inspirational. Instead of recording weekly podcasts for our tribe of women, we decided it would be better to host self-care events in person and catch up in a girl talk fashion (pre-COVID).
One of my goals for our collective is to expand our community and create a network of resourceful women willing to help each other achieve personal goals.
Following up with members after our first vision board party was magical because we were able to learn in real-time of all the visions that came true following the event. So many of our friends went on to launch their businesses, start their Youtube channels, earn more money in their respective fields, and become new wives and moms.
Yasss! That’s amazing. I love that you cultivated your initial idea into a self-care and wellness event planning service. Community is so important. What do you hope to accomplish with RWOTR?
I hope to encourage more people to take care of themselves. Self-care is not always picturesque settings and unlimited spa days.
Sometimes it’s crying after a long day of stressful events or communicating why you don’t feel like yourself to a loved one. I hope more people begin valuing the inner work that leads to fulfillment just as much as we value our exterior selves.
You mentioned fulfillment. Travel is one way people feel fulfilled. And, just to add travel into this conversation, what do you see happening for travelers because of this resource?
I hope to see travelers being more present as a result of this resource and using their time abroad to do more meaningful work in the communities they visit.
And, why is it important for travelers to engage in self-care activities? Or, share the importance of self-care and why travel is one activity they can engage in to take care of themselves?
Self-care is important because it serves as a way to stay connected and re-align with activities and environment that promote peace and joy.
Self-care is also an outlet for stressful events and how they can leave lingering tension in the body. I love travel as a form of self-care because it is one activity that literally encourages you to move out of your comfort zone.
There’s a quote that says “you cannot heal in the same environment that made you sick.” When I think of travel, I think of a chance to get away and recharge with culture and seeing beyond the routine.
Personally, traveling has made me more adaptable and inspired me to dream bigger because goals become more tangible with vision.
You are a seasoned traveler, what would you recommend travelers do to prepare before they embark on their first trip (or first trip post-COVID) to anywhere around the world?
I would recommend learning a few common words in the native language of the country they are visiting, greetings included. Words are powerful, and taking the initiative to learn a new language is such a dope way to connect with people.
We are coming to the end of the interview, we would love to know what is a quote you live by and how has it played out in your life now?
“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe
I love this quote so much. It has taught me a lot about resilience, and trusting the timing of my life. I can be very critical of myself, especially when it comes to where I think I should be in life.
When it starts getting tough, I remember this quote and my mood begins to shift. I remember how my current place is laying the foundation for where I will be in the future and I am reminded to enjoy where I am right at this moment.
Most of those challenging moments seem so insignificant now when I see how things have eventually worked out.
If there is anything else you feel is important to include, please include it.
Thank you for this incredible opportunity, Adriana. I feel so blessed and honored to share my voice on your platform. The fact that I get to share my views on a black and woman-owned platform is a slight flex and privilege. Thank you.