Anxiety can weigh so heavily that it stifles creativity and productivity, and interrupts your ability to enjoy life. Elizabeth Moore and Ashley Brooke James know first-hand what it’s like to experience debilitating stress and the symptoms of burnout, and they’ve managed to find a way to turn it on its head. Through TRILUNA, a company dedicated to fostering communication surrounding mental health, these two women have joined forces to help others combat the burden of daily stress and the toll it can take.
Their workshops and programs assist countless companies and individuals by educating them on the path to stress management. Additionally, they’ve created a podcast, Wellness Community Magic, which they refer to as a “pro-donut, anti-racist, Glenda-the-good-witch agenda to build community and redefine wellness.” Please welcome this week’s FACES of Nashville, TRILUNA’s dynamic duo, Elizabeth Moore and Ashley Brooke James.
How did TRILUNA come about?
Ashley: Before TRILUNA, I was an IT healthcare recruiter and manager. I constantly traveled all over the country and practically lived in hotels. It was a high-pressure, stressful, and demanding job. It was also gratifying, and I was good at it, but I started getting migraines and tension headaches after about two years. I’d get them so bad, that I thought I was dying. At one point, I got a migraine every night for three months straight. I could barely function. At that time, yoga was blowing up in Nashville, and I wondered if it could help me. I googled “yoga for migraines,” and Yoga With Adrienne popped up. I did that video for weeks and realized it was exactly what I needed.
After feeling better, I knew I wanted to work in wellness in some capacity. It was as if God was telling me, “You have to trust me and go.” I went to a sales conference in Detroit and sat and cried in my hotel room. I called my mom and said, “I can’t do this anymore.” I got on a plane and came home.
I received my first yoga certification in Phoenicia, NY. Shortly after, I left my corporate career behind to focus on my wellness brand.
Elizabeth: I’m a Nashville native and come from a pretty scrappy, entrepreneurial family. My grandparents started Moore and Moore Garden Center with my dad. My mom owns and operates The Porch Company. My sister and my mom own The Porch Store. My mom’s dad is a serial entrepreneur, and my brother-in-law is a self-made fashion designer. I was destined to become an entrepreneur, but it didn’t happen how I thought it would. I was in marketing and branding for almost a decade before I accidentally quit my job way before I meant to and started TRILUNA with Ashley. By the time I left my marketing career, I was also teaching yoga and health coaching, so I threw myself into that while I got back on my feet.
I found “wellness” as a way to hide an eating disorder in high school — I couldn’t skip a meal but I could do a “juice cleanse.” I couldn’t purge but I could go on the South Beach Diet. I found ways to hide my disordered behavior in socially acceptable wellness practices. By the time I met Ashley and did my yoga teacher training, I was undoing a lot of learning about what real wellness is and is not. I knew I wanted to help make wellness a more inclusive space and dispel the myth that thinness and wellness are the same things. I wanted to build a safe space to talk about mental wellbeing, practice movement without judgment or triggering language, and redefine wellness as we see it: pro-donut, non-diet, anti-racist. Ashley was working toward the same goal, so we combined forces and TRILUNA was born!
The pandemic added stress to our lives in unprecedented ways. How did COVID change the way you approach stress management?
Elizabeth: It didn’t change much in regards to what or how we teach, but it did change how the world perceives and hears what we’re saying. We’ve been yelling from the rooftops about the need to have more substantive conversations around stress management and burnout for years, but it was hard to get most people to take that seriously until the pandemic forced them to. Stress is the reason we left our old careers, so we already knew the toll it could take. COVID and being quarantined have given us a universal example of what we’re talking about.
What do you wish more people knew about stress and how it affects our everyday lives?
Ashley: Our bodies don’t know the difference between real grief and stress or if we’re watching an emotional episode of This Is Us. We have to be mindful of how much we take in while managing stress. I had to stop watching some of my favorite shows because experiencing social injustices in real life and reliving them on TV was too much; I was adding more stress to my plate. I think it’s essential that we’re conscious of how much we consume from television and social media because our physical body and mind don’t know the difference between the two.
What are the most effective ways we can reduce stress (even if we’re tight on time)?
Ashley: I think it’s important to talk about the difference between stress and stressors. A stressor puts you in fight or flight: a conflict at work, too much on your plate, a screaming kid in the back seat, bills you’re worried about paying on time. Stress is your body’s actual response to that stressor. Stress is the cascade of hormones and reactions in your body that prep you to flee or fight. When we’re talking about taking care of the stress in our bodies, we call it “moving through the stress cycle.” We’re trying to signal to our body that we are safe and no longer in danger so our body can cycle through its response. There are a few ways to do this:
- Movement: This doesn’t mean running two miles or doing a power yoga class every time you’re stressed out. It can be dancing around your living room, going into a bathroom stall at work and shaking everything out, or going for a walk. We try to be careful about ableist language when talking about movement because not everyone has the same access to movement practices. Still, training in terms of stress management can even be tensing and releasing your muscles at your desk or in your bed.
- Breathwork: Breathing deeply into our diaphragm signals to our body that we are safe. We like Three-Part Breathing because it teaches us to breathe fully and completely. It familiarizes us with the airflow within the body, paying particular attention to the flow and connection between the torso, lungs, and diaphragm. This practice can be done daily and does not require any sound (though sound can amplify the experience) to achieve a grounded and relaxed state of awareness. Even taking a couple of minutes to move through a few breath cycles can help downregulate your stress response.
- Hug someone! Grab someone you love (without putting your weight on them), wrap your arms around them and hold on until you feel your body relax; this usually takes 20 to 40 seconds. Try it a couple of times and pay attention to the moment you feel your body take a sigh of relief.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Elizabeth: As a rather outspoken and brash child, I developed a reputation for being “a lot.” The world drove that message home at every opportunity, so when I was a young woman, I worked incredibly hard to be more well-rounded and find the “perfect balance.” During a ruthless episode of self-flagellation, my sister Rachael sent me a message that said, “If you round out your edges, you lose your edge.” It occurred to me that by focusing on my weaknesses, I was perhaps getting a tiny bit more well-rounded, but I was also losing my sharp corners and my authenticity.
This came full circle in 2021, when we were asked to speak on a panel for an Entrepreneurial Festival called 36|86 here in Nashville. The topic they gave us was work/life balance, and when we were building out the panel for our talk at the festival, we asked a friend, Kia Jarmon, who also happens to be a brilliant speaker and educator, to be on the stage with us. She agreed but added, “I need to tell you, though, I don’t believe in balance; I believe in boundaries.” Combined, I’ve taken those things to heart: Be yourself, hone your sharp corners, set firm boundaries.
Ashley: When I was ready to leave my corporate job to make my passion for wellness and mental well-being my career, my husband told me to outwork my work. He meant to get so busy with my love for wellness that I was too busy for my job. That forced me to create opportunities for myself, have a deeper faith, and take a chance on myself and my abilities to develop.
Aside from faith, family, and friends, what three things can’t you live without?
Ashley: Food (duh): I LOVE TO EAT all the things! In one of the chapters in my life, I wish to travel to different places, try all the foods, and learn more about the culture and stories behind food creations. Music: I listen to different music but love hip-hop and R&B. I could honestly have music playing at all times around me. My phone: I asked my husband this question, and he immediately said your phone! This is very true. My phone is entertainment, connection, and business all in one!
Elizabeth: I grew up being in nature all the time. My dad (who also just had a StyleBlueprint article!) is a moss expert and all-around nature dude. He’s one of my favorite people on Earth, and I’ve been tromping around in his hiking-boot footsteps all my life. And books. So many books! And good cheese. Basically, just give me a picnic outside in the sunshine with a good book, charcuterie, cheese, wine, and my people, and I’ll explode from happiness.
Meet more inspiring women from across the South by visiting our FACES archives!