By Wellness Official

Between Friends: Krista Williams + Millana Snow

Krista Williams, co-host and co-founder of Almost 30 Podcast interviewed our founder Millana Snow. Below, you can read the full conversation or watch it at length in the full video recording.

Krista: 

Millana, I am so excited, grateful and honored to be here. It’s so powerful because I feel like I know so much of the depth of your story, but because I met you later in life there are so many pieces that I am still constantly surprised by whenever we talk and whenever we’re together. Whenever you reveal these parts of you I’m really excited to actually have continuity for our friendship sake of like, the depth of your journey and the depth of everything that you’ve done. I’m so grateful and honored to be doing this, I’m really looking forward to it. One of my favorite things about you and something that I always think about was how when you were younger, you were so open and inquisitive about religion and spirituality. And I think that for my experience, I was very asleep when I was younger. You know, my awakening happened a little bit older and it felt like for you, you always had this like constant awareness of consciousness. I’d love to start with your experience being younger and feeling this connection and this depth of spirituality at a young age.  

Millana:

Well first of all, I have to say thank you for doing this. I couldn’t think of anyone else to do it. I wanted to really tell my story and the story of Wellness Official and how we got to this point. And there literally was no one, but you, that had to do this for me. So thank you.

You know, it’s funny I kind of only in the past couple of years realized how unique my childhood was. I can honestly say that I did start really really young in this spirit path. And I’ve kind of fact checked with my grandmother and my mom and it does turn out that my grandmother taught me to astral project, meditate and do self-healing at the age of four or five, somewhere in there. I was very, very young. It was before I went to elementary school. So it was really a powerful time to have that implanted in my mind and in my consciousness, because I think when you’re that young you’re just so open to anything. I mean, we literally are programming our children the moment that they come out of the womb. Thankfully, I had my very hippie grandmother who I am absolutely convinced, and she says all the time is one of my soulmates. I remember we would just lay down in her bed and she would say, okay, and now we’re going to leave our bodies. I’d be like “okay,” and she’d be like “this is how you do it,” and tell me how to do it and I would go on adventures with my soul. I didn’t know that was not normal or that there might be religious implications for that. I didn’t know what any of that was. I think that was the basis of what made me so open. And when I look back Krista, sometimes it’s like I was born to be this person? Or was I lucky to be this person? I don’t know. But I do know and what I have learned in the past like two years is that if I didn’t have spirituality and I didn’t have these religions to study, I don’t know how I would have made it through my childhood. So it was very much a saving grace and I’m very grateful.

Krista: 

That’s something I’m so excited to dig into the light and dark of your childhood, you know? Cause knowing you and hearing you so much about how powerful your mom was, your grandma, and these beautiful women relationships that you’ve had in your life has been just like a joy to witness. But then I know there’s a lot of your childhood that’s been traumatic and challenging. I’ve actually never asked you this, but how has having women that you look up to that are spiritual and then also savvy and business impacted you?

Millana:

I love that question. Well my mom had me when she was 21 and she was married to my dad but it was a really rocky time for her. When I was in her belly, she was working the front desk at the Marriott hotel in downtown Denver. She literally started with no college degree working from the very very bottom of the hospitality ladder at 21 pregnant. I literally would answer the phone at the hotel with my little sister who’s five years younger than me, you can’t do this anymore but it was like the early nineties. “Hello Denver downtown Marriott. How can I help you?” At a very young age I was exposed to that and you know I don’t really have a memory of my biological dad Mark at that time. My world was filled with being at work with my mom pretty exclusively. And then I would spend a lot of time with my aunts who were younger than my mom, one of my aunts is only 9 years older than me. So, you know, she was basically like a sister to me and then I had this tight community of my mom, her two sisters, and then my grandmother for the first five years of my life which was very, very impactful. My mom as I got older was consistently the breadwinner. So even when my stepdad got into the family and they got married, my mom was still the one who brought home the bacon, if you will. And so I got to see both sides of what it looks like to be the woman and the mother who leads the family finances in that way. Now I can say years and years later my mom is literally one of the most successful women in the hospitality industry. So it’s been really amazing to watch that.

Krista: 

It is so powerful and cool to learn from you. Growing up in Denver, such a homogenous culture. What was it like for you to be tall, beautiful, mixed, like all these things that don’t feel like very Denver. What was that like to grow up in this culture? 

Millana:

Well I was raised by a very white family and a lot of people don’t know that about me. You know, my mom is from Oklahoma. My mom’s family spent literally 200 years in the middle of nowhere, Oklahoma, and then they moved to Denver and Denver was the big city. They were the “big city kids” who moved out of Oklahoma, so it very much made sense that my family went there. And in fact, they were like the black sheep for doing that. But then my mom met a black Panamanian, like Playboy from LA and it was because she worked at a hotel so she had all these interesting people coming through. And if you stayed anywhere in Denver, that was like one of the places that you could stay. And so fortunately, and unfortunately my mom had our world rocked in many ways. Looking back, that’s really interesting because I’m like wow I was the black sheep and I still in a lot of ways am both literally and figuratively. I was actually the first mixed person in my family. And when my mom got married to my dad, one of my great grandparents wouldn’t come because they were so upset that she was marrying a black man. To hear that years later was kind of wild to me because they were so loving to me, I never knew that. It wasn’t until I was born that my great grandparents on my mom’s side accepted my mom and her new life because they were like, how could we hate a little baby? I always feel like I was the bridge for many different cultural touchpoints with both sides of my family, because on my father’s side, I was the only mixed child. There’s just a lot of really interesting intersectionality there. Denver was kind of that place where at the time was actually becoming kind of an intersection in our culture. People from Oklahoma and Kansas were finally going to the big city, and people from LA and Seattle were getting out of the bigger cities and going to places more affordable. And so that’s kind of where I found myself, but honestly we didn’t stay there very long. I moved many times all over Colorado and then we moved to Florida. I didn’t get that much exposure to what it was like, we never talked about race, we never talked about culture. So I didn’t even know that I was different, I didn’t even recognize that until later. 

Krista: 

I also just want to talk about the moving, you know moving so much shapes you, your root chakra is just having to adjust all the time. How did you feel like as a young person, has the moving has affected you?

Millana:

I love that you even just said the root chakra, it was hard for the most part but you don’t really know when you’re a kid. Cause that’s all I really knew. We never lived longer than like a year in a house. So like a year, maybe two years in a house until my high school years, I got to stay in one house for four years. And that was the longest I’d ever lived in any home. My mom always got a new job and thankfully it was always up, so she always had a new job up. And so that was kind of the catalyst for why it was okay to leave again. I think looking back what is really interesting about that is, I didn’t know how traumatic that was for me, I didn’t know how isolating that was, I didn’t realize how alone I actually was. And not in just the way I felt, I actually spent a lot of time by myself as a child. Even though my stepdad was always there. I didn’t have friends because every time I got friends, it was time to move again. And I know that there are a lot of people out there that can relate to that. I know it’s not the most common story, but I’ve found that a lot of people know what that’s like too. So that part was very hard, even though I didn’t know it. The feeling of being extremely lonely was very challenging. And at the same time, what I know you know about me is that I also can adapt to anything. I genuinely love people, I want to meet people, I want to find out about them, I want to learn. I think that there definitely are two sides to that for sure. 

Krista: 

Even hearing you talking about how when we’re younger it’s so apparent that everything that’s happening we think is normal, and that’s the beautiful parts of our childhood and that’s the traumatic parts. And then as you get older, you talk to others and you learn from others and you’re like, “oh, that wasn’t what everyone else experienced.” It’s just fascinating because so often too, we think our stories are so boring. We think they’re so typical, but like hearing everyone’s story, they’re so different. Within your life growing up I know there were a lot of things that were happening that maybe were incredibly traumatic. I don’t know if it was normalized in your mind, or I don’t know how you coped as a young person, but I know I’ve seen you do the work in the past couple of years to really heal. You really walk the walk and talk the talk as a healer, as a leader, and as someone that deeply cares about your own spiritual growth and relationships with the people  around you. I think it’s really powerful the ways in which you have healed and I’ve seen you prioritize it, it’s inspired me incredibly. I want to talk about how you’ve unraveled those through your healing in the past couple years? And where are you at now in your process? 

Millana:

Yeah. Oh gosh well for more context, basically I had just moved in with my boyfriend, who is amazing, and it was our first few months  together. The first two weeks were amazing. It was like, “Oh my God, this is everything.” And then literally within two weeks I couldn’t sleep, and I’ve never had sleeping problems. I literally was getting like two, three hours of sleep for weeks at a time. I was having nightmares of being murdered. I mean, it was bad. What I realized after going to my teacher, Dr. Clara, was that I am a trauma survivor. I have had, and still in some cases experienced PTSD. And I didn’t know that I had that, in my mind what I went through wasn’t that bad, which I later found out is a very common way of dealing with PTSD. I needed to understand that what I actually experienced, I needed professional help to work through in a way that I actually was not able to by myself, even with literally decades of self study, and spirituality self-help psychology. I realized there were so many things from childhood abuse, my grandfather killed himself when I was in high school, neglect, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, divorce. And then to realize on top of like, I was always bullied everywhere we went. I did look different for a lot of my childhood, I was very overweight, I had very bad acne, glasses, tall, bad teeth, big curly hair that nobody knew what to do with.  

For everyone listening and reading – you can look it up in trauma when they talk about big T and little T. Big T is what people would classify as like the more standard idea of what we see as trauma, which is physical abuse, sexual abuse, and things like that, where it’s very external. And then the little T is like the leg. Less outwardly powerful ideas of trauma that are the things like being an outsider, being neglected and things like that. So they’re both incredibly profoundly transformational, but I just want to make sure everyone’s clear on like understanding, but you can look it up to have a better definition, but they’re just like a classification of trauma that help you understand and validate the experiences that you’ve had in your life so that you can really see why you’re the way you are and then get help.

Yeah, I had the space, safety and the community to really understand that I had a lot of big T’s and I was always told because in my family, a lot of my family had a lot of big T’s and I didn’t know that they were big T’s because I was told that what happened to me wasn’t that bad. Because what happened to me was not as bad as what happened to some of the women in my family. And so you know I was given more protection and given more resources than maybe some of the women in my family had been given. And so one of the ways that we all coped with it was, “it’s not that bad” and “it could be worse or it was worse for me.” And I know so many people can relate to that. I’m trying to really be respectful of the women in my family, because it’s their story to tell. And they really have all done the best that they could do, same thing with the men who were in my childhood. But I do know that one thing that I had to really shift as early as last year is to stop saying “it wasn’t that bad” because I realized that I had psychosomatic responses. Not only where I could not sleep, but I’ve been having breathing problems since I was 22. And the breathing problems are not because I have asthma, it’s PTSD. It’s ironic that I’m a breathwork facilitator, because that is the one thing that is the most apparent sign of my trauma being touched upon. I don’t talk about  this a lot cause it’s kind of hard to know where that fits into teaching, but it has obviously been a very big part of why I’m a healer. And to go back to your question, when you’re a child and you move a lot, you don’t have friends, and you don’t have Instagram. I mean we didn’t even have the internet until I was like 13 or 14. I basically had two things to do; read, thank god for books, and use my imagination because I spent a lot of time alone. I would play in my mind and I would leave my body, which is one of the reasons why my root chakra has been one of my biggest challenges. Then I would just read to kind of understand why these things were happening to me and religion and spirituality was that place.

Krista: 

It’s interesting that your grandma was teaching you how to leave your body and that’s like a trauma response too. It’s not like she was doing it intentionally, but it’s kind of interesting to think about her teaching you a trauma response. It’s almost like it was being taught for you to use throughout your life because you definitely probably had to use it through a lot of the trauma.  

Millana:

Yeah. I also realized just this past year that I actually have mild dissociative disorder. So for those who don’t know it is on a spectrum, like for me I’m on the lower end of the spectrum where there’ll be times where I just don’t remember things at all.

A lot of us have that from our childhood, we completely clear total experiences sometimes even years. For me where it has kind of gone a little bit further is sometimes my reality doesn’t look real to me. So sometimes I’m a little disembodied, or it almost looks like I’m in a fake space, or I can’t remember things that happened just a couple of weeks ago or with my clients. I mean, some of this is kind of a plus for me, as you know, I don’t remember my sessions with my clients because I’m one, I think probably channeling most of it, but two, I totally am just not able to hold that much energy for someone else. Sometimes it can be helpful in that way, but also it’s to your point, I literally was taught how to disassociate to the point where sometimes I am not even fully present in a conversation and I have to really watch that now that I know that.

Krista: 

That’s interesting because I feel like you’re still present. And that’s probably because of all the work you’ve done with all the traumas that you’ve experienced and some of them are very close to you, you know, close in family and close in situation. How have you learned to forgive? Like, what is the process of forgiveness felt like for you? 

Millana:

Wow that’s a hard one. You know some people can perhaps just forgive someone and they’re done with it. I find that some relationships are so nuanced. Especially when you’re doing the deeper work, you realize that there’s so many other parts where you could find things that happen that you kind of forgot happened and find more nuance to the motives of a situation, that then I have to renew my forgiveness on. As my teacher always says, it’s about me having a conversation with myself about myself first. I have to go into deep practice with really understanding how I metabolized these experiences for myself and how I was accountable as I got older or not. When I was younger and had no control over my circumstances, I still had to work at forgiveness for some of my childhood experiences with my family. But I can say that one of the ways that I’ve been able to really forgive some of the big T experiences was when I really got into my breath work and some of my plant medicine work and really got deep into my energy healing work for myself. I think one of the reasons why I can hold space to such a degree for others is because I really went so deep in the experience and so deep into the pain of it within myself, and I was okay. I was able to see that the reason why people do these things to other people is because they haven’t had the tools to heal themselves. The way that the human psyche works is you’re literally going to do the exact same thing that was done to you to try to get the energy out of you. The psyche is constantly trying to release the energy from the body, from the mind, from the spirit, from the emotional self. I mean we didn’t even have the word trauma until recently as a main term for people to use in the open and so. Once I really started to see this I was like oh my god I was treated this way because this person went through this X, Y, and Z, and their coping mechanism was alcohol or fill in the blank. Which by the way is a human response, I was lucky to have spirituality as my soothing mechanism. Once I realized that it’s not having pity either or, or even giving permission for people to treat me that way, but understanding that this is actually the human response if you don’t have healing. And the momentum that comes after generation and generation, cause it just builds and builds. And then you’re actually carrying a heavier weight than the person that gave you whatever they passed on to you. And so when you decide to take that shit off, It’s a really heavy burden to answer the call for. That was how I’ve been able to go through that process again and again.

Krista: 

I love that point about forgiveness being active. I think we think of romanticized movies where it’s like someone’s on their deathbed and you’re like I forgive them. But it really is when we’re living as humans, it’s actively forgiving. It’s having the thought, forgiving them, having the thought, forgiving yourself. I think it’s really beautiful, and a relief because I feel like sometimes people think forgiveness means that people can walk all over you or you can, but it’s not really bad. It’s more of the freedom and the active part of it. I know too that you were with Justin when you were having these sleepless nights and experiences and that was so spiritually interesting to see that union bring this up for you for healing. Can you talk about being in a relationship with someone that was new for you ,newly moved in that you really loved and then having this realization of the depth of your trauma? 

Millana:

Yeah. So something I learned being with Justin, and seeing professionals for help on a regular basis, cause I can’t emphasize how impactful that is for me. When I moved into this house that we’re in right now, when we moved in with each other, it was the first time I ever had an official two year lease of moving into a home and being like, oh you’re going to be here for two years. I know that for most people I know I don’t talk about him on social media, but for those who know him know he’s one of the most solid people on the planet, like actually. And I’m very emotional, and deep in my feelings and experience. So I’m able to really be up and down sometimes, and he can really hold space and it’s safe and I definitely needed that. When we moved into this space, what I actually learned was that my subconscious mind for the first time had a safe container that is actually safe so that I didn’t have to be in my heightened state of trauma. So, like my heightened state of trauma would also look self-soothing with really deep spiritual practice, because I’d have to be in constant speed, spiritual practice so that I didn’t crack. So when I had a really safe container I was still doing my practices, but my psyche and subconscious mind was like, oh no, no, no. You have to crack open now because you actually have the space, the home, the grounded-ness, the security, the partner, so this stuff, some of this abuse that’s actually like still in your body has to come out. Whereas before it couldn’t when I was constantly moving, living in New York, running on adrenaline and caffeine drinking at night, or constantly doing religious and spiritual practices like nobody’s  business. I didn’t have the space or the container to be able to have these experiences. That’s something that I learned about how trauma works, and that’s why a lot of soldiers when they come home out of war and are actually safe, that’s when they crack. Their psyches are like, Oh, we don’t have to be on alert right now. So now I’m like, shit, what do I do? I can be soft. And so that was my experience moving in with Justin.

Krista: 

He is so special. Seeing you fall in love has been the best. I’ll never forget the beginning, I’ll never forget the whole process, it’s been such a dream to just be a part of. What’s something you really learned about love being in relationship with him?

Millana:

There’s so many things I’ve learned, but one of the things is when we first started I was super resistant to it. Then one day I was like, yes this is 100% .Cause you know, that’s like a part of my defense mechanism is to push away that, which is actually safe and secure.  I think with the moving and some of the trauma and abuse in my childhood, it’s not that I wanted to be in an unstable environment, it’s just that is what I knew. And to constantly move there’s a lot of surface safety and to constantly be moving. Cause you can get ahead of the bad shit before it happens to you kind of thing. At least in my experience that was kind of the deeper psychological trick, which is not true. And so, you know, this idea of being with someone who wants to go slow, cause I was like, you don’t want to marry me after three weeks?!  And Justin’s like, uh I’ve never lived with anyone ever. So I think what I learned to answer your question is one, sometimes what we’re asking for doesn’t always come in the packages that we think they’re going to come in. When we actually met on Instagram, and I was super resistant because he’s an electronic music artist. And I was like, no, I am not dating somebody who was on tour and plays festivals. Yes, it looks cool, but like no. And then two, he’s grounded and really really deep of a person in a very unique way. I knew that I was ready for that but that kind of made me feel like I have to have all my shit together. And here I’m realizing that I actually have so much trauma that I have not ever even known I was carrying. And what I didn’t realize is that someone who is truly a rock within themselves first, they can actually hold space so I can take responsibility for my own life and my own wellbeing. I didn’t realize that was kind of the formula that was required. Another thing that I learned too is that being independent instead of codependent is really the preference. I didn’t know how codependent I was because I am a very independent person, I’m very comfortable with being alone because I spent a lot of time alone. But I really like to be almost meshed with my lover or partner and Justin was not about that shit he was like we’re not meshing. He was like I have my life, you have your life and we’re going to come together. I was like, oh, that’s what real healthy love is, that’s what healthy attachment style is.

Krista: 

Yeah, there’s just such a power in his security. Cause for me you’re so divine feminine, like you are a mix of both perfectly balanced, but there’s such an aspect of you that’s so divine feminine that I’ve learned a lot from. There’s something I want to talk about that you mentioned earlier, which is so powerful that I want people to just nibble on how spirituality can be avoided. And how before you were using your spiritual practice as avoidance of feeling and healing, can you talk a little bit more about that?

Millana:

Yeah, that’s a great question. In a lot of ways in my childhood spirituality was a soothing mechanism and it was really the only thing that I knew to do. And I loved reading. But over time I was able to manifest things and create things very quickly and easily because I knew how to do those things with my mind. When I was in New York, I really knew how to be magnetic and make things happen through spiritual nonphysical practices and elements of living. And so because I could manifest, I didn’t have to face or deal with what was really deeper and disturbing me. I do believe that in manifestation and conscious creation of your life, it’s really important for us to look at how we could use those things. For me it was a lot of material gains, manifesting modeling jobs or manifesting being skinny and things like that I was able to make happen through my mind and spiritual practice. But it wasn’t actually dealing with the reason why I was constantly moving and constantly doing these things, was because I wanted to avoid a lot of the really tough stuff that would’ve come up if I would’ve just sat at home. 

Krista: 

 I want to talk about New York and also just like modeling, it’s so funny that you growing up said that you’re overweight and felt like you were too tall. Like your looks were not something that you saw all the time and then going to win America’s next top model and be like the most beautiful person. But how did you grow into your looks and what’s your relationship then to your physical appearance, especially being a model? 

Millana:

Well, you know, it’s really interesting. By the time I was 14 we moved to Houston, Texas, I was very much overweight and very very depressed. I had left Boulder, Colorado where I spent most of my middle school years and was very upset to leave. So we moved to Houston, Texas. We knew no one and I did not want to be there. I will never forget, I was very overweight and the first day of high school my gym coach picked me out of the class and said you’re 5’10, you’re playing  basketball. And so from that point on, thanks to coach Lichtenberg, he helped transform a lot of things for me, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, even though it was a tough relationship with him as a coach. I just so happened to land in Houston, Texas at the number one basketball program in the country for girls. Those four years completely transformed me because all of my sadness, grief, and the things that were happening at home that I wasn’t able to tell anybody about. I was able to go into the gym and just go work out. And so I actually became obsessed with learning how to play basketball and I would play like six, seven, eight hours a day. Literally, I went from being the worst basketball player on the freshmen team to being the best within a year. That’s kind of indicative of my just natural inclination on just dealing with things, so that transformed my body. I became extremely athletic and what I learned in those three years, I only played basketball for three years, was that I could transform myself through athleticism and that I could make my body do anything that I wanted it to do. And that also had its darker side because it was like, I’m going to make my body do things for me. I’m going to make it get me places. So eventually I think that same realization translated into modeling because when I was 16 things at home got really rough. There were just a lot of problems and I was hardly staying at home. I was staying at my friend’s houses for weeks at a time during the school week. And so when I was 16, I decided to stop playing basketball so I could start working and start making my own money and take care of myself. And so I started working at 16 and for that entire year, I worked at the Sugarland mall in Houston. So when I went to the mall everyday for work, people would stop me and say, you should be a model. You should be a model every day. I was like, yo, I got to get the hell out of my house. And the only way I’m going to get out is if I use what I have. And although I was very smart and well read, nobody told me that I could go to Harvard. Nobody told me, in fact my high school counselor told me not even to apply for UT, even though I had a great GPA. So I was only told that I was beautiful by strangers and I thought that time that’s my ticket. And that is actually how I started!

Krista: 

So you decided that, and then what was the next step after you having a job at the mall to being signed?

Millana:

The story is extremely fascinating because I was going to school in East Texas. So I graduated from high school. The last year of high school, I barely was home, but literally the day that I graduated, I moved into one of my best friend’s houses. Her parents let me pretty much just stay there. As soon as I could go to college, I went and I stayed at the dorms and at 17 I was completely on my own. My parents did me a solid and helped me get a loan for my first year because I wasn’t old enough to get it myself. But in every other respect, I was 100% on my own. And so I was 17. I worked three jobs in Nacadocious, Texas and East Texas, where I went to school at Stephen F. Austin state university and a school I didn’t want to go to, but I was like, I’ll go because I need to get out. On weekends, I would drive three hours back to Houston to do modeling jobs. And thank God I had enough sense to not get naked and do crazy things. I had enough sense to say I’ll wear a swimsuit, but I’m not going to show you my butt. So, every weekend I would come and do modeling jobs. I met this guy one weekend when I got hired to be a clothing model at a festival to wear academic clothing for like a weekend. It was like a hundred degrees. And the guy who was running it was the head of marketing from academics. He said to me, If you want to be a real model, you’ve got to move to New York. And there was something I never thought about moving to New York at that point. My aunt and uncle lived in LA and I would go visit them. Sometimes I thought I was gonna be an actress in LA once I got enough money to move out there. But he told me if you want to be a real model, and move to New York, here’s my number. You call me. I’ll take care of you. I’ll show you around. And honestly, I didn’t know this guy from like two days of being in the park, but I knew that I was not supposed to be in East Texas. I knew that I had a big calling on my life and I was like, you know what, I’m just going to, I’m going to try it out. I would pray about it. I was at the time  a Born Again Christian, which is another story probably for another time after being a witch and a Buddhist and Hindu. I went for a trip on my spring break, my sophomore year of college. And I remember I was 18. I called this guy, he answered, he took me out to a bunch of clubs. I couldn’t even get in. Cause I wasn’t even old enough. I was only 18, but I actually ran into a slim thug, the rapper, him and I were friends and I ran into him that one week that I was in New York, he just happened to be in New York. And we ran into him at a club that I couldn’t get into. Because he was famous and had a hit with Beyonce, he got me in that night. So that night was like literally the night. That was like my first night ever in New York. And everything was just like magic. It was like God just opened every door. It was like, I don’t know how God opens the club doors. I don’t know how that works, but, like he opened like bottles and God’s opening every door. So long story short, I was there for a week by the second day I knew in my bones, that New York was home. I remember crying and thinking I finally found home, and never in my life had I felt that. I went back to Texas. I applied for city college because I knew that was the one school I could afford. And I took out every school loan I could. And let’s just say I paid for that later. I flew to New York and my parents did not talk to me. They were not okay with that and they were very disappointed in my choice. It didn’t matter because I was financially supporting myself and I thought that I was going to find an agent immediately and it ended up taking me a year and a half. So it didn’t happen easily. Every single agency that I went to and I mean, dozens said no to me. And I found out it was because I was too thick, I wasn’t the model type. And so I spent the next year and a half the first year and a half of New York going from being 150 pounds, a size seven and a video model. I actually did a Nellie music video in New York. I purposely just like I learned in basketball randomly, I worked my ass off and I made myself go from one 150 to 123 pounds. And that was when I finally got an agency. So it wasn’t pretty and it didn’t go like one might think. And then finally, when I graduated from college, which was a whole three years later, I was casted on project runway. And that in itself, which I know I’ve told you was a very spiritual experience, it had nothing to do with being pretty enough at all.  

Krista: 

What was your degree in? 

Millana:

Communications with a concentration in PR. 

Krista: 

Just because I know the project runway story, but I don’t think everyone listening knows the power of the story. Cause it’s like a TV show on all these things, but the way that you navigated it is such inspiration for people that want to be in the mainstream that can still do it in a spiritually aligned way. What was like your experience through that? And how did you win?

Millana:

Yeah, project runway was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. And this is coming from somebody who studied spirituality their whole life. Modeling wasn’t working for me prior to that. I’d gotten a couple of commercials and I think I did like a few music videos and a movie, but I wasn’t really getting anything that was like, really big. I had just graduated from college 10 days prior to the casting and I got a call from my agent, and it’s just clear as day. He told me you have 30 minutes to get to the casting. I remember hanging up my phone. It was a flip phone, by the way. So I think it was like a razor. I don’t know, you slip it in your back pocket. And I remember as soon as I hung up the phone, I heard in my spirit, “you are the winner of the project runway.” And because I had a very spiritual like relationship with God and spirit I literally laughed out loud and was like, God, can I just go to the audition first? Immediately when I walked into Parsons, I could feel the thickness of spirit in the room, like it was tangible that something was different and the way that they spoke to me and the way that things happen in the audition. I was like, I can feel something is actually happening. And I went home that night and I prayed, and I said, God if I booked this I will make the inner choice that this was you speaking to me and that I am the winner and that my job is to be in the vibration of that and that you will do the rest because it’s a reality show where everything is supposedly random, you know? So I was like, I will be in the vibration of being the winner the entire time. And I’ll rely on you doing the rest. I booked it the next day and that was my symbol. We literally started filming two days later and I was on that show for four months. And it was the most deeply mystical spiritual experience that so happened to be the number one TV show in the world at the time. And that to me just showed me like how God can work and just these really beautiful, miraculous, even like fabulous ways. But it can still be extremely spiritual. I’ll just say this because I know I’ve been going on for a while but the very last day that I had, I had just walked in fashion week and then as soon as the show was over, everybody came back. The three finalists come back to Parsons and they deliberate for about an hour and a half. So me and the two other models and the three other designers all had to wait in private rooms while they did this outside. And I remember the other girls, they were still nervous and I went to the bathroom and I got on the floor and I started crying in gratitude while we were waiting. Before they told me and then the PA came and knocked on the door and I fucking knew that it was me. It was incredible. 

Krista: 

Who was the designer that one year / season?

Millana:

My designer was Gretchen Jones, incredible designer. The fourth runner up that season was Michael  Costello, who’s now a very famous dress designer and red carpet designer. So it was a very competitive season. It was insane.

Krista: 

So where you are now and where you were as like the top winner model in this space. And then now you’re a tech founder and now you’re an energy practitioner for people around the world. What made you kind of transition out of that, to this space where you wanted to democratize wellness with something like wellness official?

Millana:

Yeah. I think the short of it was that, you know, after winning the project runway, I realized that if it doesn’t feel like that, I don’t want to do it. You know and it doesn’t have to be modeling. It has to be something that is like a deeply, profoundly actually, where I’m supposed to be. I didn’t actually book any work for about a year after that. And then I did a travel show, which was a total spiritual experience as well. And after I got back from that, it was like I did a project runway. Then I did a travel show in China that I manifested with God’s grace. And I was like, okay now I have to do something that actually matters and it really became clear to me that that meant that I just had to do something that showed people what I had been doing behind the scenes. And that started off with rooftop yoga. I started my first company, serene. I had Serene for over five years. We started off with rooftop yoga at the James hotel in New York. Then that became rooftop yoga meditation in London. Then Los Angeles, we had this huge in-person community. And that’s where I really finally realized that, Oh my gosh, I need to bring what I have learned to as many people as possible.

Krista: 

I wasn’t in the wellness space until I moved to LA really and have been thankful to be with you pretty much the whole time so that I have the awareness of it. When we talk about the importance of making wellness accessible for all things like wellness official, why is that so important?

Millana:

When I first started Serene, I had this idea that I wanted to be surrounded by a bunch of fabulous rich ladies doing rooftop yoga. And then about two years later I realized that that was like really kind of bullshit more than anything. Cause we had some amazing people that came. I mean we had people do yoga with us for the first time like Misty Copeland, who’s an acclaimed ballerina. So it was like, we had really amazing people, but what I realized was that we needed to make this accessible because I realized I was one of like three people of color who people were reading about magazines in the context of wellness, you know? And I was like, huh? Once I started to get press and things really started to pop off with serene, I was like this is really  interesting. My group of  friends was always diverse. I realized after a couple of years of doing these programming events with all these amazing brands was that there weren’t that many people looking like me doing these things. And so what became really clear after a few years of that was that if I wasn’t going to be the one to actually become the key holder to open up those gates for people that looked like me. Although wellness and  healing has been on this continent for forever, indigenous folks have always had this here for us in a mainstream way that hadn’t happened in Western mainstream culture yet. It was just interesting that a lot of people of color, indigenous folks, the people who started these practices, the lineages, were nowhere in the conversation from the media coverage or  mainstream  conversations. From a personal experience that I had with my former business partners, colonization is real and it still happens. And that colonizes the colonization of wellness. Isn’t just a tagline that is actively happening right now, it’s been happening for centuries. And in our modern culture, I experienced that through the form of my business completely collapsing. I realized from that experience, I was like okay I have to help bring more people of color into the mix. It’s not that wellness officials are about that, it’s just that I had to be the reason why people saw themselves in wellness more.

Krista: 

Yeah, I’m glad you brought up. I did want to talk about your, you know, your former experience with your business partners and give people context for what happened and the colonization that you’ve experienced and frankly, the trauma that you experienced. So what was the situation and what ended up happening? You’ve realized more about how problematic it was and what has that experience been like? Do you feel like you’re reliving some of the trauma?

Millana:

 Thankfully, I have really cleared all of it within myself and I’m so grateful for that. But at the time, you know, 2015, I brought in two women. One of them was a friend and a former student of mine. And then another one was a woman that was a yoga teacher that we had met off of Instagram who came to teach for us. And they were just two brilliant women who so happened to be two white women who also so happen to come from higher education and socioeconomic circumstances. And I really thought that I couldn’t build an online platform to take what we were doing in person digital globally. I didn’t have enough self belief and education to believe that that was something that I can do. And so where I really set myself up was I really in also a codependent way really gave everything to these two women who I hadn’t really known very well and gave them a large chunk of the company and became co-founders and started serene. And I was really disempowered and really fearful and really just like freely giving things away without actually like holding their value closely. And so that’s where I had to really like to look at myself after the fact. But what I realized about a month before we were going to launch was that pretty much from the day we started our legal documents, the plan was to take over my company without me knowing. I don’t think I’ve ever said that recorded before, but it’s just the facts. It’s like, not, it’s just period. That’s what it was like, actually. And so when I found that out, I mean, I was fucking gutted.  I think why I was gutted more than anything is where this comes back to like what colonization can really look like? My talk about wellness and spirituality is that serene and why I was doing it was my soul. I wasn’t making money cause it wasn’t about money. And I didn’t understand money at the time. I didn’t understand how to make money from the things that my soul was calling you to do. All I knew was to do what my soul was calling me to do. So everything that serene was, and one of the reasons why it was so loved and why we have still such a deep community that came from those days is because it was my soul that I poured into it, my blood, sweat, and tears. You know, when I found out that two people saw a business opportunity and favored that over my friendship with them, my well intentions, my ignorance, me not being as financially poised in education. I wasn’t able to really compensate for what I didn’t know to learn that that all was like on the line. So what I saw was the first time that wellness had become an industry. And that wellness was just like, fashion was just like finance was just like hospitality. It was something that people can become rich off something that people want them famous off of. And so that had a different kind of quality and a different kind value that I didn’t even realize that people saw that I had that was worthy of taking from.  Like what I actually found out from that experience was that I was so disempowered and I take responsibility for that. I gave away things so blindly and I needed to learn and such a shocking blow to step into who I really am to own my spiritual power, to own my blackness, my mixed culture, my Latino culture, to own the fact that I am a healer, but I am an entrepreneur to understand that it’s okay for me to make money. It’s okay for me to be powerful and seen.I didn’t know that all of those things could all be present. Until I was knocked the f@$k off of every single platform that I was standing on and to have something publicly failed so bad. So I don’t know even how this will be in the context of this conversation with wellness official, but like, to be honest that was one of the best things that ever happened to me. And what actually, I didn’t know was that, you know, those women. They kind of had to do that to me, like karmically that had to happen and the things that they took, they had to take. Cause they weren’t actually what I was supposed to be doing because I wasn’t owning all of me. And all of me is what I’m owning now. And of course I’m going to still learn and like, see my blind spots more and more. But like I wasn’t, I was trying to be something else. Cause I didn’t think I could be who I am. And so they had to take that from my grasp. It just, I didn’t know that  it had to come that way. And I’m grateful it did because I had the most transformational experience of my life at that point. It truly healed that and seeing the inequities of the socioeconomic system, and the inequities of spirituality being. Commodified and profitable for the use of commercialization and scalability, those things, I didn’t know. And now I know very deeply, both sides and I am now a better woman for it.

Krista: 

Yeah. I mean from the ashes truly. You mentioned it too, but like coming into your power as a healer, you know, you are like so incredibly powerful. I’ve learned so much about healing because of you for anyone, you know, that maybe doesn’t know. How you heal or how healing fields for you or what that experience is like or what you’re normally doing with people. How do you describe your sessions or how do you describe when you teach other teachers, what is happening within your energy healing?

Millana:

Yeah, you know, I think the best definition that I can give is that it’s me getting out of the way for spirit to do its work through me. That’s the only explanation I can give about why such powerful things can happen, not just through me, but through any of us and, and to any of us. I just have learned some very simple, not easy, but simple things that get me to move the ego aside long enough so that God can just work through me as a medium and it absolutely has nothing to do with me as Millana. The only thing I can give myself credit for is like that I have to practice getting out of the way. And then when I do that, people have miraculous experiences because I can see them in their wholeness. I can hold the space that, like this miraculous experience is happening. And so, yeah, I think the more that we can find ways to do that, cause there are infinite paths to that. Then I think that’s how we all experienced very mystical, powerful healing. Yeah. It’s honestly changed my life completely. And it’s so beautiful too, because so many of my mind, our community of how their life changed by you, you know, going on tour, we’ve been all over the world to get there.

It’s like, I mean, dude, it’s crazy. And now you’re teaching others, you know, you’re teaching others to heal, which is so beautiful. what is I, you know, with that, it’s like, that’s another layer of. Reaching an upper limit and having to get past it. Cause there’s one part of you. That’s like, okay, I have to step into being a healer. You know, you, you had to have this tragic thing happen for you to be like, no, I’m a healer. And then you’re stepping also at the same time as I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a tech entrepreneur. And then now stepping into like, I am a teacher of teachers. What was that experience like to start teaching others to heal?

I’m so keenly aware of my imperfections. A child who has experienced a lot tends to think that they need to be perfect to not have to go through those things. So I have that very deeply embedded that I have to constantly work on.I am very much in the process of being easier on myself about  it being okay that I’m imperfect and that I sometimes hurt people’s feelings or don’t always do the right thing. And that even with that I can still be a healer that helps people have miraculous things happen and helps teachers facilitate that for people at scale. Like it’s okay for me to be both that. And have those two truths at the same time. I think that’s been the biggest thing for me. And I try to teach my students that specifically, like you are still going to be healing and you are not ever going to be finished. We can be enlightened in this lifetime, but it’s a very narrow path. And, and I just say like, don’t let that stop you from being the one who gets to be. The one that answers the call, like spirit is calling each and every one of us, I don’t have to be perfect to answer that damn phone. You know, I’m just going to do it and I’m going to mess up a lot and it is scary sometimes. I think what’s kind of cool is that this is all cyclical. Like we know that we’re going to just have to come back over and over and over again. And so if I can just trust that, like the scariness. I don’t have to be afraid of being afraid. I can just go into it and move through it and still answer the call over and over again.

Krista: 

I was thinking about that earlier, how that part of you that’s like, feels like you need to be perfect or have it altogether as like I’ve seen that come through in you. And it’s so interesting. Because it’s so like, Human. It’s so cute when you’re like, I feel like I, you know, like sometimes you’ll be like, I’m a healer, but I feel like this or something. And I’m like, it’s just, it’s so human and adorable. And I just love that about you that you feel that way. Cause it’s like people on the outside are like, what are you talking about? Of course. Yeah. It’s like, so it’s just, so I’m going to drop some love and a little bit about. Yeah, she got a new dog. Well, I think it was like, was it your birthday when you were like, Hey guys, I knew I have a lot of people’s healer, but I just want to not be a healer tonight. We’re like, okay dude, like, cool, man, we got it. Like, it’s just what I love. But you take it very, your life very seriously. And your healing is very serious. I would love to do some like quickfire, some like fun, quick fire to like round it out. If you’re feeling it. Okay, perfect. These are going to be like fun ones. Okay. What is your favorite book? The most impactful book you’ve read.

Millana:

I was going to say self esteem, prophecy, or, or conversations with God. They’re deep in many ways and they really changed my life. Those two books. 

Krista: 

Love it. Favorite part of your morning routine? 

Millana:

Justin and I, every morning we read for 30 minutes and I will go back between reading and journaling and taking notes. And it’s been such a beautiful thing.

Krista: 

I love you guys. What is your spirit animal? 

Millana:

I have a few, but the black Panther or the black Jaguar is absolutely my number numero UNO. Fricking love Jaguar dude. 

Krista: 

What’s your favorite musical artist?

Millana:

That’s so hard. Or maybe even at the moment. Maybe I could say right now, I really like Liana LA Hava. She’s so wonderful. I met her family. I met her. I met her two years ago in London too. And she had super, super cool views.

Krista: 

The best music to listen to all day. Yeah. It’s just like, she’s amazing. I love that. What’s your favorite spiritual tool? Like crystals, tarot, pendulum. 

Millana:

I love my pendulum. Yeah.. 

Krista: 

I love it. where’s your favorite place in nature?

Millana:

Place in nature?  I would say right now it’s probably Justin’s family’s beach house and like anywhere near there. I’m actually a little afraid of the ocean. So it’s been a place for me to kind of heal that fear. It’s like on a cliff, literally looking at the ocean and it’s been one when we go there and I really want you to come Krista, you just don’t want to leave. You will sleep the deepest you’ve ever slept in your life. The best, honestly, just going away and just sleeping, like a dead person. You’re like, yes, yes. Oh my God. Isn’t that bad. It’s like maybe living in the middle of nowhere. Isn’t that bad. I’m like, this is kind of nice to be honest. Like all I need is some good wifi and I’m good.

Krista: 

When do you feel most like yourself?

Millana:

You know, I would say, my birthday is an example of when I feel most like myself like that, that night. I had my ex boyfriend and my life partner at the same dinner table. I had some of my closest friends, friends from when I was like a kid too. Some of my newest friends and I felt like I could be exactly the same with every single person there and yeah, that, that, and, and being with my little sister, Jill, she and I have a lot of fun. I think maybe I had kind of withheld my spiritual side from her, but like my dorky kind of asshole self, I get to be that full on. I totally know what you mean, honestly, with a sibling it’s like, you can just be like, Sometimes you can just be like a little piece of shit and it’s just nice. You’re like, I can just like have an attitude and it’s fine.

Krista: 

What are you manifesting right now? 

Millana:

Ooh. a couple of things, a couple of properties right now, one with you and, and we want to definitely have a house outside of Los Angeles. And we’re, we’re looking at that right now in Northern California, and I’m also manifesting. The daily practice is really taking off . I’m this, I don’t think I’ve been this excited about something since my training idea came through last year. I really want this to be something that really just opens up on a whole new level that I have never experienced before for myself and for others.

Krista: 

I am. I saw it. I was like, that’s so genius.I can’t wait to talk to you about it, but for people that don’t know what is the daily practice? 

Millana:

So basically it’s an unlimited library for 10 minutes or less. You can just pop in, do a daily practice and the same practices that I’ve been doing for the past. Like literally 28 years that I decided to finally just put into really easy bite sized pieces and we’re going to actually categorize them and really interesting ways. So like one of the categories is going to be the daily practice that I did when I won project runway. So literally giving every single practice that I did every single day for four months. And to help people manifest things that they want to. So I’m excited about it. It’s going to be really cool now I’m wearing dads and it’s, it’s a subscription by the way. I haven’t even said this, but yeah, it’s only 9.99. I didn’t even tell you that 10 bucks a month. 

Krista: 

Yeah, no way. What is your favorite, like I said, in master angel guide, like who’s your favorite person to work with spiritually?

Millana:

Well, um, I really love to work with Archangel, Michael. I think he’s great for, you know, protection. Also my cousin Nita is one of my guardian angels. She is one of my best friends and she died of cancer in 2013 and she’s with me a lot and we like to have fun. Like I really get to like commune with her. I have this  amazing new very high ascended teacher master named Micah, who I’m now working with. And it’s really interesting because one of the ways that he kind of communicates to me is that he just likes to shine light. Like that’s his only response. Sometimes he’s just like light and I’m like, Oh, okay.

Krista: 

I love that. What is one word you’d use to describe 2020? 

Millana:

Transformative. 

Krista: 

Hmm. And how’s your experience then?

Millana:

I mean, it’s been extremely painful to see what’s happening in the world and to have some of that meet our front door. For that to be on the micro level and at the same time, I’ve had some of the biggest breakthroughs of my life this year. So, you know, I feel like a lot of the really, really, really tough stuff that I had to face last year was in preparation to be okay. With some of the tougher stuff this year it gave me a lot of tools to kind of be able to stay the course, be in the eye of the storm. I really, really believe that it is not just okay, but really our biggest contribution to be at peace, to thrive no matter what is going on in our lives or around the world. And so this year for me, I’m like, I will still transform. And, you know, in the Bible they say, be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. So it’s like over and over and over again. I’m just renewing, renewing my mind and allowing myself to be transformed no matter what the hell is going on, because I know that’s my greatest service and it’s okay for me to have a good life. And it’s okay for me to have a good life, even when shit is not always going great for me. So, yeah, that’s where the transformation has really come from.

Krista: 

I love that. Yeah, I’m working on right now, like spiritual codependency and like not having my healing attached to others and that kind of belief that like, we need to be responsible for everyone else’s healing is something I’m really working on. And I love that quote from the Bible and my gosh, that is like, okay, this is the best way for me to spend my life. I’ve had so much fun talking to you and just like, And it’s interesting too. We could go on for hours and hours more. There’s so much more to you. There’s so many more layers and there’s so much more depth. And, I just love the way that I just love you. I’m so grateful for you in my life. It’s just been so transformative and you are such a leader and you’re just everything people would ever want from a friend and from a healer leader, teacher. 

Millana:

You help bring the best out of me, Krista. Thank you. You know how much, I love you and you know, the feeling is absolutely fucking mutual, so thank you for doing this. I love you.

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