April Book Club: Why Andrea Isabelle Lucas Wants You to ‘Own It All’
Andrea Isabelle Lucas is the founder of the award-winning Barre & Soul® studios with five locations and counting, and Barre Guild Academy online fitness certification. As a women’s empowerment speaker, she has shared stages with Michelle Obama and Billie Jean King. She is a feminist writer who has appeared in Forbes, HuffPost and Entrepreneur, and the author of the new book, Own It All: How to Stop Waiting for Change and Start Creating It. Because Your Life Belongs to You.
We’ve chatted with her before, to get a peek inside her business, but we had to also recommend her book in our latest edition of Book Club. Her story is inspiring and thoughtful, empowering and moving. We checked in with her right after her book launch party, to get deeper insight into why she was compelled to write it and what she thinks is the most important takeaway for women. Here’s what she had to say.
Why Andrea Isabelle Lucas Wants You to ‘Own It All’
You say in your introduction that when you were in a domestic abuse situation, you were waiting for someone to give you permission to leave, even if you had no money and no plan. What made you finally give yourself permission?
I finally gave myself permission when I hit rock bottom and felt I had no other choice. I was in the emergency room getting facial x-rays after being assaulted by my then-partner. I realized that I was on a very dangerous path that could absolutely cost me my life and that I had to leave. Even though I had no Plan B and no idea how I was going to rebuild my life from that place, I knew I had to do it.
I wrote my book in the hope that by sharing my story, others would be inspired to give themselves permission to change whatever they want (or must) about their lives or the world we live in, without having to wait for a rock bottom moment to take action like I did.
Why is the ability to give yourself permission so powerful and necessary?
I think many of us, especially women, hold ourselves to such unrealistic and perfectionistic standards. We compare ourselves to others, now more than ever in the age of social media, and think that all these successful-looking people we see must have some quality, or some secret that we don’t possess. The messy behind-the-scenes of our day-to-day lives doesn’t match up to the amazing highlight reels we see portrayed by others.
So we think maybe someday later, when we’re more like them, we can have what we want, that we will have somehow “made it,” or that we’ll be “chosen” for success or leadership. But that’s not generally how these things work. There’s no great authority out there granting or denying our wishes. Most forms of power—financial and otherwise—aren’t just being handed out to a chosen few. It’s up to us to reach out with both hands and seize it for ourselves. It’s up to us to say, “why not me??”
You also talk about being dependent on your partner in almost every way. How did you end up there, and what would you say to women (or men) who are in similar situations?
I started to fend for myself from an early age. When I was 14, I felt so unsafe at home that I ran away and slept in clothing donation dumpsters and on strangers’ couches for months before returning home. When I was 19, I became a mother, and spent several years working in strip clubs to be able to take care of myself and my son. When that abusive partner came along, it all looked really good on paper at first, and I willingly surrendered to being “taken care of” financially.
By the time I realized I was in a bad situation, I didn’t have much else to fall back on or return to, so I ended up staying until things got very bad. My advice to others in similar situations is to honor your authentic self. Don’t wait for external permission, like I did. Tune in to that voice within you. What is it telling you? I knew deep down I didn’t belong there long before I ever left the relationship; I just hadn’t been honest with myself about it.
Once you’ve been honest with yourself, get honest with another person. This will help create accountability and support for the transitions ahead. My other advice is to be kind to yourself, and be willing to forgive your mistakes. Most of us make poor choices as a result of some kind of pain we were going through. Have a little compassion for that; it will help you move forward in a better mindset without all that guilt and self-flagellation dragging you down.
I want to add that if you feel you are in an abusive relationship, always reach out to your local crisis center for help. They will take into account all the unique factors in your situation and help you make a plan.
Your book focuses on actionable steps readers can take to set and achieve goals. Why did you want to include this, and not just write a memoir?
Don’t get me wrong. I think my story is exciting and all, but I really wanted every single reader to actually USE the advice and tips throughout my book to create change and create what they want in their own lives! I know that my story is just one perspective, which is why I included interviews with many other powerful people throughout the book, to lend even more diverse voices to whom readers might be able to relate and see a bit of themselves.
The steps in my path may seem very unique to my situation (hey, I just happened to come into my own as a barre fitness expert RIGHT when barre was getting ready to go mainstream) and much of my success might look like “luck,” but I believe a lot of that “luck” was really “strategy” and I wanted to make it really explicit for the reader which strategies I used and how to use these tools for themselves.
We might not all have experienced the extreme circumstances you’ve been through, but it can be easy to get complacent—how can we take back our own power?
Life is short and we only have so much time to make our mark. Reflecting on my own impermanence usually pulls me out of my sleepwalking state and back to acting intentionally. Travel is another great way to shake up the status quo and think more deeply about how you’re spending your time (in other words, how you’re spending your life!) and what you might like to do differently with this one precious life you’ve been given. Taking back your power is as simple as taking 100 percent responsibility for yourself. That’s “owning it all.” You’re in the driver’s seat, babe!
What’s your line between being independent/able to take care of yourself by yourself, and relying on others to support, defend and take care of you?
We’re not machines. We can only do so much on our own, and our potential is so much greater when we work together. It’s all about making sure our relationships stay healthy, whether personal or professional. Our intentions should be aligned, our boundaries respected and an open and honest flow of communication are critical to giving and getting the support we need.
Lots of our inabilities to move forward are tied to the negative narratives we have on repeat in our heads. How were you able to move beyond those to take action for yourself, personally and professionally?
I call it “taking the biggest risk you can stomach for today.” That may not look super big and sexy at the beginning. But every baby step really adds up. You will sometimes fail, but each time you do succeed, you’ll grow a little braver and more confident. As you do that, your self-talk will naturally improve, and you’ll begin to feel comfortable taking on bigger and bigger things.
This is what got me from being broke, relying on food stamps and terrified to get up and speak in front of just a handful of people when I first became a barre teacher, to speaking on big stages and building my own multi-million-dollar company from the ground up. I absolutely believe it will work for you too. I hope you love Own It All, and I look forward to keeping in touch with you at ownitallbook.com!
Interested in other books to add to your reading list? Check out the latest from Hannah Bronfman, who just wants you to do what feels good.