We’ve all given up on perfection, right? At least in theory.
(In truth though, I suspect for most of us there is still a tiny place, deep down inside, where we’re hanging on to the idea that we can to do it all, be it all and have it all. It’s a piece of us we try to hide away, because the only thing worse than not being perfect is wanting to be perfect & failing at it.)
But on the surface, in public conversation, we’ve let perfection go & embraced her tricky sister: balance.
It’s okay if I’m not perfect as long as I’m in balance. As long as I’m taking care of self, work, relationships, health, personal growth, love, family, passions, creativity, and on and on and on. As long as I’m investing equally in all the things that are important to me, then I’m good. I’ve got it all under control, in perfect balance.
But does life ever really work that way? It seems that there is always something demanding our time and attention more than the rest. A crying child, a high maintenance client, an injury, an illness, a friend or family member in need, a big project, a deadline, a storm of one sort or another.
There is always something pulling us out of our best efforts at balance. And for a moment or a season we need to focus a little more effort over here, or spend a little more time over there. I’ve come to accept that this is normal. This is natural. This is the way of life.
Nothing is static. Even the elusive balance requires push & pull. (It’s all about opposing forces, ya know)
The pendulum always swings.
Our work is not to avoid it. Our work is to embrace it. Don’t get stuck feeling shitty about what is inevitable: you will get pulled off balance. Things will break down. Life will go on. You will be better for it.
The pendulum will swing. You can either hop on for the ride with an open mind and an open heart, embracing the messiness of life, screaming “weeeeeeeeeee!” as you rocket through space, or you can allow it to drag you kicking and screaming like an overtired tantrum throwing child resisting bedtime.
I used to think, “when things calm down, then I’ll (fill in the blank)”. But the truth is, things never calm down for long. And when the do, rest is usually what’s needed.
I’ve learned to embrace the pendulum swing, even when if pulls me off my desired course. If I work my ass off for a while, I will need to rest. If I let myself rest I will feel re-energized, re-invigorated and ready to go again.
When you try to moderate creativity, passion, or love, you smother it. Sometimes you have to let the fire burn until 4 in the morning. And then take a nap to let yourself recover.
Sometimes you have to hustle. And when the hustle is done it’s time for some fun. Or rest. Or whatever is calling you next.
Trust that all things will come in their due time, even if it’s not when or how you planned.
In other words: all timing is divine timing. Even when we don’t like it.
Trust the timing. Embrace the messiness. Enjoy the ride.
* This is a re-share from a Facebook post on 11/22/2016
She could not make sense of the things that were meant for her,
but she was drawn to it all.
And when she was alone, she felt like the moon: terrified of the sky,
but completely in love with the way it held the stars.
What I remember most from high school is this:
1) feeling completely out of place in every way possible
2) feeling like everything was a big effing deal
3) desperately wanting to get out of there
I don’t remember being particularly focused on or thoughtful about anything.
As I recall, I showed up, did the work I had to do, and was smart enough not to get caught when I was breaking the rules. Mostly I just thought it was all a giant waste of my time.
Imagine my surprise when a few months ago, while visiting family in Western New York, I pulled out a box of childhood belongings from a closet at my mother’s house and found a stack of loose leaf notebook paper, held together with a rusty paperclip, containing these words:
“The state of happiness that we choose to live will affect every aspect of our lives. Our level of success in the world as working adults will be affected. But more important are the personal relationships which we will have the opportunity to take part in throughout our lives. If we become aware of what we want our of life, those personal relationships will prosper.”
My 17 year old self had written this and read it to a crowd of parents and teachers at my high school graduation on June 22, 1996.
I can only imagine what that particular audience must have been thinking as this tiny little teenager lectured them on the meaning of life. Oy. No wonder I felt out of place. And I was just getting started:
“Only when we are aware of our thoughts, ambitions, and desires can we live full lives. It is impossible for an unhappy person to live a meaningful life; one in which they have an impact on the world and the people around them.”
As I read this sentence, it occurred to me:
The lesson I’ve been learning over and over for the last 20 years is actually something I’ve always known — and in fact stood on a stage speaking to an audience about when I was 17 years old.
No wonder all the teachings of all my favorite speakers and authors resonate so heavily with me. They’re all reflecting my own words back to me.
All along they’ve been nudging me, not to learn, but to remember.
I believe that most of what we’re learning as adults is actually us remembering what we’ve always known. Not the tactical stuff. That will always be changing and evolving. There will always be more things to learn.
I’m talking about the important stuff – the life lessons, what we value, how we want to live.
That’s all stuff we’re born with. Then we get distracted.
We learn how to be in society. How to make other people happy. How to fit in. How to follow the rules. And in the process we forget who we are.
I wonder, if you take a look at the things you’re drawn to now — the books, the teachers, the activities, the work, the relationships — how much of that resonates with who you’ve always been?
What are you being called to remember?
I’ll leave you with my 17 year old self’s words of wisdom:
“There is one thing that I wish for all of you, my friends, to have throughout your lives. It is something that we all deserve and are capable of achieving. My hope is that as you progress through your lives you will take the opportunity to look inside yourselves, at who you are and what you wish to be. It is my desire that you will be able to look at your lives and realize that you are happy.”
Your sister in Pleasure & Profits ™,
PS — I can’t resist including this gem:
“Sources of amusement are readily found in a technologically advanced society such as ours. However, amusement must not be confused with happiness. What we must look at is whether or not we are truly happy when such forms of amusement are absent.”
It was 1996, yo. We didn’t have cell phones yet. Google wasn’t even a zygote. What would my 17 year old self think of the online world we live in now?
Like any well adjusted individual, I had my first existential crisis around age 6.
It was induced by a well meaning teacher who decided we should come to school dressed as what we wanted to be when we grew up. I’m pretty sure I believed this event would determine my entire life’s path. On the table were: doctor, female Catholic priest (yes, I was a 6 year old feminist), painter, gymnast. I agonized. I cried. I tormented my mother. This was a BIG deal, ya know?
Eventually I settled on gymnast with my mother’s reassurance that I could, in fact, change my mind down the road.
So when I found myself at age 19 trying to figure out what to do with my life, again, it was a familiar scenario. I’d been down this path a dozen times. At least. It had become my consistent state of being, marked by ebbs of certainty that I’d found my path, followed by dam bursting flows of feeling utterly lost.
What was my purpose?
What would be my career?
Why could other people show up day after day at the same job while I kept getting bored and frustrated 3 months in?
Why did everything interest me and yet nothing hold my attention for long?
I wanted to do something meaningful and yet everything felt so… so… disconnected.
It was all very Reality Bites — 90’s, brooding, melodrama.
And so it was that I found myself back home after a year of art school. Back in the little ski town in Western New York I’d grown up next door to, working in a coffee shop by day, schmoozing my way into bars at night.
It was during this time that I found yoga, Ayurveda, and a number of books that would shape my life profoundly – Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, The Celestine Prophecy, The Profit.
Over the course of that year I also spent a lot of time snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking and traveling.
And I did most of it alone.
Not because I didn’t have friends. I had plenty.
I had confidants I could laugh and cry with, I had drinking buddies I could throw a few back with, dance on a bar with, or sneak into an unattended hot tub in the middle of the night with.
I also spent a fair amount of time with my mother and her friends. I used to joke that I was really a middle aged divorced woman, living in a 19 year old’s body. The truth was I got those ladies. I was having a midlife crisis too. I was just having mine a little early…
For the most part, my friends were also into snowboarding or skiing, mountain biking, hiking and traveling. They all had the swag and the gear and the lingo down pat. They spent plenty of time playing snowboarding video games and talking about travel.
The thing was though — very few of them actually got out and did the stuff, like, for real.
But I was restless. Always. I wanted to do everything. I wanted to experience life.
It didn’t take me long to realize that if I wanted to have adventures and live an exceptional life, not just sit around and talk about one, that I’d have to go it alone. And that’s what I did. I hit the slopes and the trails and the road on my own. And had some great experiences — and a handful of mishaps — along the way.
Around that time I embarked on my most epic road trip to date, complete with my Rand McNally road atlas and a shiny new copy of Let’s Go USA. About halfway through my 2 month tour around the US in my little, turquoise Geo Metro, I found myself bunked up at a hostel in Austin, TX.
On my first morning there I asked the gray haired, 50-something hostel manager what he suggested I check out while I was in town. He excitedly told me about all of his favorite places and things to do in and around Austin. Clearly he was a fan of the city.
Over the next couple of days I biked around town, swam in Barton Springs pool, hiked Enchanted Rock, lunched in Fredericksburg, went out dancing on 6th street, ate at Magnolia Cafe (pre Diners Drive-ins and Dives fame), and had a beer at a bar/barn in a one-horse town that some country singer had once written a song about.
When I was checking out of the hostel, about to hit the road to New Mexico, the same gentleman asked me what I’d done during my stay.
“Everything you told me to,” I responded.
He looked surprised. “You get the award for the most ambitious traveler, “ he said.
“Most of these kids just sit around here and play cards all day.”
Funny thing was, when I’d spent an hour hanging out with those “kids” they had all had big, big stories to tell about all the things they did and had and were. It was a familiar scenario — lot’s of people talking big, but apparently most of them actually not doing anything.
Almost 20 years later as an entrepreneur, a naturopath, a business and lifestyle strategist, I have found that I still encounter lots of people who are talking big, and just a handful of people who are doing big.
Over the years, lots of people have expressed to me their desire to quit their job, change careers, go all in on their dream business, improve their health, fall in love, try something new.
Some of them have been telling me for years that they want to make a change. But they don’t.
Most of them quietly slip away, back into the old, comfortable, familiar life they claim to desperately desire to ditch.
Ready for some profound wisdom?
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.
– Tony Robbins
In other words —
If you want to experience something different, you have to do something different.
And the most important thing you can do? Just show up.
I mean REALLY show up. Fully. Authentically. Messily. Show up.
Be present. Put yourself out there. Stop hiding. Take risks.
Stop sitting around talking about doing things and start showing up to do them.
As far as I can see the most important (and maybe only) difference between people who talk about living an exceptional life and those who actually do, is that the doers show up. They don’t necessarily have a better plan, more resources, some innate ability or learned skill.
They just show up.
They put themselves out there. They try new things. Even if they don’t know what the hell they’re doing. Or what the hell they want to do.
They go for it. They risk failure. They risk embarrassment. They risk the discomfort of not knowing.
They put one foot in front of the other, even if they don’t know where the path will lead.
They embrace vulnerability.
They’re willing to risk that they might get lost, they may look foolish, they may waste a few bucks.
They know that opportunity isn’t going to come knocking on their apartment door. Clarity isn’t going to come while they’re sitting on the couch watching American Idol. (Is American Idol even a thing anymore? Haven’t watched tv in years…)
They know their chances of having a great time go up substantially if they get off the bar stool and go dance.
So, where are you not showing up?
If you’re sitting at the end of the bar waiting to be noticed, your chances of meeting the partner of your dreams are pretty slim. If, on the other hand, you’re out on the dance floor living it up, reveling in the enjoyment of who you are and what you have to offer, you’re way more likely to attract an audience. And you’ll have the pick of the litter.
Same goes for business. All the wishing and hoping and waiting in the world is not going to help you find your purpose, clarify your vision, or grow your client base. The only way you’re going to find your way is to put one shaky foot in front of the other and trust that the path will unfold before you.
Get out there and try some stuff.
Take a risk.
Just show up.
Your sister in Pleasure & Profits™,
* I first published a version of this article several years back. It’s been edited, added to, and updated and here it is again, because it’s more relevant than ever.
“You can’t just say that to him,” my brother-in-law scolded me. “Tell her Jess.”
My sister, looking regretful, “yeah… you can’t say that to a guy.”
“Why not?” I asked indignantly, honestly perplexed by their responses.
My verbal transgression?
I had gone out on a date with a guy and… gulp… told him that I liked him and I wanted to see him again.
Like a scene out of a bad rom-com, they proceeded to school me on the rules of dating.
I was 36, a year past divorce and starting to play the field. It had been 12 years since I’d dated. I wasn’t looking for the man of my dreams. I was looking to have fun, go out, meet people and make up for too many sexless seasons.
In the weeks prior they had set me up on all sorts of dating apps. How they knew about these things I have no idea – they’ve been married with kids for years. For sure they were living vicariously through me, looking over my shoulder as I swiped left, then left again, and the occasional right. “Not that guy,” my bro-in-law would say. “You can do better.”
“He’s cute,” my sister would chime in. “You should give it a shot.” Go team!
“That’s dumb,” I responded to their “rules of dating” diatribe.
“Why would I want to date someone who’s intimidated by me saying what I want?”
They looked at me with expressions of utter hopelessness.
Flash forward a year. New city. A plethora of dates under my belt. Pretty sure I’m ready for a real deal relationship. I meet a promising prospect. I roll just like I do – straight up, shoot from the hip, real and raw. He ends it after 5 dates.
I’m ragingly pissed off. I haven’t been dumped since high school. This stings. Big time.
Do I even like this guy? I wonder. Or is my ego just bruised?
I realize it’s all ego and decide I need to get over myself.
I run away to the beach for a weekend and through 48 hours of sunshine, sand, saltwater and the better part of a bottle of tequila I determine that I’d rather be alone the rest of my life than have to pretend I’m something I’m not in order to have a relationship. If me being me freaks a guy out, then he’s not the guy for me. Period.
I make a list of what I want in a relationship, in a partnership, the non-negotiables. It’s a long, long list. It reads like an entrepreneur / personal development junkie’s 10 commandments (except that there were about 30 of them):
Thou shalt be happy with thine own life
Thou shalt not be needy
Thou shalt respect the opinions of others
Thou shalt be invested in thine own self care
Thou shalt get that my work is important to me and that I’m never gonna be a 9-5er
Thou shalt not be made uncomfortable by my emotional, intuitive, woo woo-ness
You get the picture.
I was looking for a partner who would fit into my life, complement it, honor & respect who I am and what I bring to the table.
I wrote the list and then I went back to the real world. And 6 days later I met him.
I showed up fully myself.
I told him that I work a lot of hours and sometimes I work at night, and I love it. I told him that I absolutely must go to yoga, write in my journal, and meditate on a frequent basis… like almost every day. I told him I was training for a marathon and that meant very few late nights and Saturdays monopolized by long runs. I told him that I dance this thing called Qoya that’s about connecting with the divine feminine, that we use crystals and angel cards and that all my friends are super woo. I told him that I travel alot and in fact, I was going out of town for 10 days and I fully expected he’d be seeing someone else when I got back. I told him I was hard to date.
“Okay,” he said. And smiled through it all.
Months later he told me that he’d had the same revelation not long before we met — that if he couldn’t just show up and be 100% himself, if he had to try to make someone else happy, then he wasn’t interested.
A year and some months later, we’re both still showing up 100% ourselves in what feels like a true partnership.
Now, I’m not naive. I realize that a year is a tiny blip on the screen of life. Relationships are challenging and they evolve over years and decades.
I also know this:
Starting with authenticity and alignment is a way, way (way) stronger foundation than anything you could build following “the rules”, showing up the way you think you’re supposed to, trying to meet someone else’s expectations, trying to make them happy.
My question for you is this: Are you showing up in your business like a Cosmo reading, rule following, people pleaser, swiping right for everyone who seems even vaguely promising, like you’re trying to win them all over, whatever it costs you — integrity, dignity, freedom?
OR, are you showing up fully, authentically, 100% yourself, in a way that feels aligned with who you are and what you value?
Are you looking for clients/customers whatever the cost or are you willing to hold out for true partnerships that are built on a foundation of aligned authenticity and sustainability?
Are you building partnerships or chasing one night stands?
Don’t get me wrong… a one night stand can be a lot of fun, and a business one night stand might just be what you need to pay the bills. Today.
BUT it’s not a sustainable way to run your business.
If you’re slapping on lipstick and laughing at someone’s bad jokes week after week after week just to fill up your calendar, that shit’s gonna get old after a while. Before long you’ll be hiding out at home in your pjs with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s on Friday night.
And the same will happen to your business. I’ve seen it more times than I can count.
Hell, I’ve done it myself.
Hustling without alignment is EXHAUSTING.
You can only do it for so long before you burn out and want to hide out.
If you want to build a sustainable business, you have to do the alignment work first.
Build a foundation of authenticity. Show up and shine in all your imperfect glory. And trust that you’re awesomeness will attract the perfect clients to you.
If you’re playing the short game – quick cash and out – then by all means, hustle it up.
But if you’re in this for the long haul, then authenticity matters more than anything. It might require more patience, more trust, more conviction, more risk. But do the work. It’s worth it. I promise.
Loving you in in all your authenticity,
Your sister in Pleasure & Profits ™,
For the last couple of months I’ve been sharing Pleasure Posts on social media. I’m on day 64 of 1000. That’s a good chunk of time. As a friend explained to me, “You realize that’s like, 3 years, right?” Yes. I do. Thank you.
This sharing of pleasurable experiences is not without intention.
Pleasure is such a loaded word – riddled with guilt associations of guilt and unworthiness and impropriety.
Yet, by definition, pleasure means: a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment. So, what’s there to feel bad about, really? It’s a conversation we need to have.
Don’t we all want more pleasure in our lives? I know I do, and I’m willing to bet you do too [First Name]. Why should we feel bad about that? And why should we be holding out on pleasure until… anything?
The thing is, many of us are going about feeling good in the wrong way. I was until a couple of years ago when I had an experience that changed it all.
Here’s what happened, and here’s why pleasure…
In August 2015 I ventured to Kripalu in Western Massachusetts to participate in a Qoya retreat & teacher training. Over the course of the week our guide & Qoya creator Rochelle Schieck took us on a journey around the sun. We started with Autumn — the serpent, shedding our skin, releasing what’s not serving. Then we moved into Winter — the jaguar, sitting in the darkness, feeling it all and trusting the unknown. Both of these felt so familiar, places I’d been intensively over the previous years.
And then we got to Spring — the hummingbird, joy, lightness, pleasure. And shit, if I wasn’t so freaking uncomfortable all damn day. And the fact that I was uncomfortable on THIS day – the day about joy – really pissed me off. What was wrong with me???
It took me a solid 24 hours of discomfort to realize why I was so miserable. The following morning I woke super early, while it was still dark. I wrote in my journal, drank some tea, walked in the hazy dawn down to the lake where I stood watching the steam rise from the water and just breathed in the beauty.
On my way back to the lodge I took a detour to the labyrinth. I stood at the entrance and set an intention to release what was holding me back from experiencing Joy. As I walked the labyrinth I began to think about all the times that someone important to me had squashed my excitement, diminished my enthusiasm, belittled by dreams, responded with a cold & distant “that’s nice” as I beamed with the possibility of some new opportunity. As I recounted all of these moments in my memory I began to pick up sticks from the path. One after another after another. I remember thinking as I collected them, what am I doing with all of these? But it was a compulsion. I couldn’t stop.
As I approached the center of the labyrinth it became clear: these sticks (now an arm-full) were all the crap I’d been carrying around with me, that were keeping me from experiencing joy. I had carried them into the center of the labyrinth, but I was not going to carry them out with me. I bent down and laid the pile on the ground.
I rose to my feet and looked up to the sky. Just at that moment the clouds parted and the sun peeked up over the mountains. I stood there feeling the warm sun on my face and the freedom created by letting all that go. And I smiled.
Walking out of the labyrinth I let my mind run through all the things in life that were really exciting, all the wonderful experiences I was having and amazing people I was meeting. By the time I reached the exit my heart was beaming. I couldn’t wait to get back to the retreat and see what this next day had in store.
Of course, after Spring comes Summer –– the eagle, expansion, stepping into all that’s possible.
That’s when I realized I’d been going about things all wrong. Over the last couple of years I had been through the fall, released what wasn’t serving me. And I’d sat in the darkness of winter and learned to trust that all was well. But I mistakenly thought that summer, expansion, abundance, possibility came next and that once THAT was accomplished THEN the joy would come.
But Summer never comes before Spring.
Joy and pleasure must always come first.
Then all that is possible can follow.
And that’s why pleasure.
If you’re seeking expansion, opportunity, abundance you absolutely must focus on creating joy and pleasure in your life now. Not someday.
Oprah Winfrey said,
What you focus on expands and when you focus on the goodness in your life,
you create more of it.
So I choose to focus on pleasure, and I invite you to do the same.
Your sister in Pleasure & Profits ™,
I’m really tired.
You read that right. I’m really tired. Like really. Fucking. Tired.
I know that’s not what we’re supposed to say. We’re supposed to be sunshine and roses, rainbows and unicorns, and talk about how awesome our business and life is.
The thing is, my business and life are awesome. I love them both, or I love it all really, as the two blend together more and more.
Yet, I’m still tired.
Before you reply with all kinds of advice on what I should be eating, what supplements I should be taking, how much sleep I should be getting, and how much caffeine I should NOT be drinking, let me say this — I’m doing (or not doing) all the things. And thank you for loving on me
Believe me, I’ve been down the list of all the possible reasons for not feeling as energized as I want to as often as I want to — it comes in waves, you see — and here’s what I’ve figured out:
While my external world feels moderate and mindful, focused on health and wellness;
I’m eating super healthy, taking the best damn supplements money can buy, sleeping a solid 8 hours and getting plenty of exercise;
And my stress levels feel the lowest maybe ever in my life;
Internally, I’m in a period of massive expansion, of massive growth, and if we’re being honest here (and why wouldn’t we be?), massive growing up.
A couple of weeks ago I shared my Core Desired Feelings:
These CDFs have developed out of what I would describe as a paradigm shift — a shift in perspective, in the way I see the world — that’s been a long time coming (and never ending) multilayered process, like the peeling of an ever expanding onion, if you will.
Faced with this shift in perspective, I’ve been doing what my friend Megan Hale calls a “TFD cha cha” — a few steps forward, followed by a few steps back — as I make conscious choices to shift how I think, how I feel, and what I do every day.
Megan talks all about this on her podcast Wild & Holy Radio — check it out some time
No wonder I’m tired — I’ve been dancing an energetic cha cha nonstop. For a solid year.
Side bar —
This reminds me of a night out dancing many, many years ago, where a friend compared me to the girl in The Red Shoes, who starts dancing and can not stop. Also, I’m kind of obsessed with red shoes.
— now back to the story…
So… massive expansion sounds massively awesome, right?
It is awesome! And it’s simultaneously exhausting.
Think about expansion in terms of exercise: The workout actually creates tiny tears in the muscles and it’s during the resting time that your body repairs and builds itself bigger and stronger. If you dial up your workouts you’ll notice pretty quickly that you require more sleep. Your body demands it of you so that you can grow.
I think about my adorable niece (5) and nephew (6) who at times, barely eat anything. They will snack here and there, push around their dinner and not even ask for desert. And then out of the blue they’ll start eating like it’s their job to put away as much food as possible, and they start sleeping like crazy, and maybe they’re a little cranky (or maybe I’ve imagined that and then suddenly you realize they shot up 2 inches, seemingly overnight.
Growth — whether it’s physical, intellectual or energetic — happens in the resting periods. Therefore:
Massive expansion requires massive self care.
It can be easy to be hard on ourselves (ironic) and expect that as we’re growing we should be bursting with fruit flavor at all moments because, holy shit! Something awesome is happening!!! But the truth is that much of expansion requires hard work, focus, dedication and compassion for ourselves, much like we’d give a child learning to walk.
I’m curious if you’ve ever experienced this type of expansion? They type where after the shift in perspective, you have to dig in and do the hard work, of choosing to show up every day and think, feel and do differently than you ever have before. And when you’re in that space, can you have compassion for yourself, to let yourself rest, to layer on the self care and to happily dance the cha cha until it becomes easy like walking?
I’d love to hear from you, so reply below and let me know
I’m gonna go take a nap now…