The universe has a way of working where through chaos there is always a cleansing and a calm. I think the environment needed a break and we’re seeing better air quality in Los Angeles, Mumbai and elsewhere.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Raquel Tavares. Raquel Tavares is the CEO/Founder of Fourth & Heart. A devout Ashtanga Yogini, snowboarder, mother of two young boys and lover of all things food, Raquel was born in Brazil and migrated to Northern California at the age of six with her mother and brother in the early 80s. She currently resides in Los Angeles and prides herself on her ability to tackle family, work, self and play — making sure to get the most out of each minute of the day. Since its founding 5-years ago, 4th & Heart is now the leader in the category of products that improve wellness and has successfully branched out into other aisles of the grocery store and is leading the ingredient innovation.
Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
My mother, Renee, was one of three children to my grandparents, who both worked for the State Department. My grandfather, originally coming from the Peace Corps, and my grandmother, who has a M.A. in Spanish and French worked in the language department. While my mother was born in the U.S., she spent most of her childhood abroad and grew up speaking Spanish and Portuguese. She lived in several countries prior to meeting my father in Northeast Brazil. Needless to say, my mother grew up eating food from around the world, speaking foreign languages and was exposed to more than the average American girl. By time she met my father at the young age of fifteen, she’d already lived in 5–6 countries and had adopted a healthy lifestyle. When she became pregnant with me, she was on a macrobiotic diet and actually helped many locals heal from diabetes by suggesting they go on the diet with her.
My father died a couple years after I was born so she moved me and my brother to the U.S. where she began to study nutrition with us in tow. She graduated as an Registered Dietitian in nutrition sciences to later work with the disenfranchised through government subsidized programs like W.I.C. She then realized many would listen to advice then get food stamps but rather than buy other food staples, they’d buy formula for their babies and stop breastfeeding, which led her to become a Board Certified Lactation Instructor. However, between the degrees she became increasingly interested in Ayurveda. She, therefore, took it upon herself to get a two-year degree in Ayurveda, and that’s when ghee was introduced to me.
Being inspired by such a vibrant woman and growing up as a Brazilian-American afforded me the ability to grow up with diverse foods from countries around the world, which naturally made me curious about diet and foods.
Ultimately, I became interested in diet, yoga, Ayurveda and naturally became a little carbon copy of my mother, but also unlike my mother, had a keen interest in business and commerce!
Is there a particular book that has made a significant impact on you?
There are so many books which have made large impacts on me as a young woman through adulthood and shaped who I am including, Eckart Tolle’s Be Here Now; Elizabeth Gilbert’s, Eat, Pray, Love and The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.
Common to the thesis in all these books is the idea that one must follow their heart or their bliss in order to find the journey they’re destined to walk, and often the path less traveled, is the one where you’ll source the lessons which will further fuel your journey. Honestly, it would be difficult to surmise my life thesis came just from the book’s messages or from my role models. It seems as if I was destined to walk the uncommon path and use my roadblocks as catalysts to where I am today. I’ve always been a sucker for a good challenge and proving nay-sayers wrong. I think growing up as a foreigner and with a single mother gave me a little chip on my shoulder making me a glutton for punishment.
However, these books were often reminders and affirmations of my decisions, and in them I’d find solace and hope when navigating the paths less traveled. I think what I believe more than anything from what I’ve read from all of these authors is what Paulo Coelho says, in that:
“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to
help that person to realize his dream.”
In my life everything I’ve ever wanted I’ve meditated, visualized and felt the desire in my bones, pulsing through my blood to which I’ve gotten. Admittedly, one must be careful with what they ask for because the universe has a funny sense of humor and it will give it to you. This has always, always proven true in my case — both in my personal and professional life.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective, can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons to Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
Similar to our life’s journey, as much as we think we know what will happen tomorrow or one minute from the next, we simply do not. In my humble experience five reasons to be hopeful would be:
- The universe has a way of working where through chaos there is always a cleansing and a calm. I think the environment needed a break and we’re seeing better air quality in Los Angeles, Mumbai and elsewhere.
- This time forces us to look in and as Esther Perel says, “it becomes a great accelerator for what you want and what you don’t want. You’ll know what you want and when you want it and won’t hesitate to ask.”
- You begin to see people’s true character in crisis, so you may lose toxic relationships that didn’t serve you anyway.
- Businesses will fundamentally know what spend actually helps make revenue
- Parent’s get to spend more time with their kids and enjoy the little things
From your experience, what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Accept you aren’t in control of what is happening in the greater world or macro economy, so make a list of things you can control and focus in on what those things are in your immediate control.
- If you can’t find the mind space to do that first, it’s great to take out your angst on your closet or your pantry and just start cleaning. I think clearing out physical clutter in your home, creates space to begin to organize your thoughts, and is very much like a moving meditation.
- After you’ve gone through the above exercises make a wish list of things you always wanted to do but couldn’t do because you didn’t have time. Perhaps reading, learning a new language, calling an old friend, writing a book, or learning to sing. If you can’t afford to pay for an online course, perhaps check YouTube or find a friend to teach or help you. It’s always good to get out of your comfort zone so your mind can be challenged to which then can help build self-esteem and provide a good distraction.
- Exercise and eat well. This would be a hard time to change existing habits, but a good time to take anger, uncertainty and panic to running or possibly biking. If you need a good scream first, get that out, but turn it into physical energy and get those dopamine levels up! You’ll need them.
- Remind yourself that you may need help. If you find yourself hopeless or depressed call a doctor or a friend and don’t be shy in following their steps to just getting to the other side.
- Most importantly, know this time will pass and even if you need post-it reminders to help you, then put them up. And there is no shame in not being able to meditate or exercise your way out of this. Some may need professional help and need anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications — that is ok. Be gentle with yourself and others around you. Clearly, we’ll all be tested, and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve lost my temper more than once, knowing it could be worse if I wasn’t taking as good care of myself as possible. It’s also important to talk to friends, Facetime and watch a lot of stand-up comedy. I watched Alice Wong the other day and that was my ab exercise for the day!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
While I’ve had some spare time during all this I was flipping through photos and came across a picture of my father, who died at the age of 36 through gun violence, when I was just two and a half years old. Living through loss like this gives an element of perspective not easily achieved. I almost feel as if the ability to not take things for granted, is somehow laced into my DNA structure. I’ve learned it’s through this universal experience that we must understand nothing is permanent. We are passengers, voyagers, and a drop in the pond and that humility will be our greatest gift in this journey. You’ll find as soon as arrogance takes over, something will come around the bend and bring you to your knees. Take nothing for granted. Not the air you breathe, the socks you wear, even if you lost the other one, and stop holding on. Nothing is yours; nothing is forever and it’s ever so important to have a daily practice of saying thanks, expressing gratitude and humility. Regardless, of your belief system, history will tell you that karma is real and just the simple natural order of business. Say your prayers, blessings, give thanks to those you love, and the universe will give back in abundance. Start now and let’s raise this vibration!
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I think mental health and parent education should be fundamentally important and that birth control should be free and available to all who can’t afford it. If we’re not going to give national ability for a woman’s right to choose, then woman should all be able to have access to free birth control, regardless of age, race, class or other demographic profile and religion.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
I’m found on my personal Instagram @iamraqueltavares and @fourthandheart