While a touch late considering my E-birthday is in October, I found myself in a bit of a state right around the time that a 'year in review' post would have been considered relevant. Never one for doing things the way they 'should' be done, here we are on January 2 and it's beyond the right time to celebrate all that the third year of self-employment was....and wasn't.
My entrepreneurial first two years went a little something like this:
- quit my job without much of a safety net, business plan, idea of what the crap I was doing
- said YES to almost everything that crossed my plate (as much a resourceful move to make sure i could pay my rent as it was an experiment to get to know myself, what i liked, and where my EFF YESes and EFF NOs were. Because...(warning: cussing) if it's not a fuck yes, it's a no.)
- exercised my 'saying No' muscle by refining my service offerings
- started selling some handlettered stuff through instagram and opened up to the endless possibilities of the letter form
And the Coles Notes version of year three—the year of the faceplant—reads a little something like this:
- start Y3 freshly single from first meaningful relationship in over 4 years
- dive deep into two content development projects that turn me somewhat into a reclusive loner who talks to her plants - a lot (social faceplant)
- come up for air and get back to human-level social interaction skills while in Mexico for mom's birthday (because Tequila is the world's grand connector) (alcohol faceplant)
- start relationship, go to Italy with said man friend, end relationship (personal faceplant)
- join the lululemon Robson Street family as an Ambassador (community highlight of 2016!)
- peak of wedding season (maj. high point of my year - so so much love - no faceplant here)
- start relationship, end relationship (personal faceplant)
- fall off the radar while picking up pieces of Self (professional faceplant)
Now, something I often don't write about is l-o-v-e. What I DO write about is how much I love certain things or places, people or products, how obsessed I am with the communities I am a part of, yadda yadda. AND. You'll notice that throughout any of my year-in-reviews or the posts I share throughout the year, I haven't talked about relationship or written about myself in—and more often than not, out—of love.
Yet if there's something that marks the tail end of year two and the majority of year three, it's exactly that: being in the hot pursuit of 'the one'.
The Outside/Inside Battle
Yes, I had client work that thrilled me; where I got to step up into creating some really meaningful content, pieces of communication and experiences with businesses, brands and individuals I absolutely adore. If there's something I can find confidence in, at least in the beginning part of the year, is that I felt in and on purpose, clear on how I worked best and was proactively planning into the future.
Then, I got cocky. I let that confidence allow me to believe I had the work puzzle piece figured out; that I knew enough about its curves, its sharp corners, its colouring that I didn't need to keep discovering more about it, look at it with a critical lens, see if it needed to change shape or form. And then I turned my back on it a touch - because some other puzzle pieces started looking more shiny than the professional expression of my 'me' that I had worked so hard to cultivate, form, shape.
By focusing so much on this one part of life—how relationships were taking form and breaking down—I got out of touch with what was happening inside me; how I was really feeling, what I deeply wanted or wanted to experience, what my intuition/guts/heart was trying to say, what my body was craving when it came to movement and yoga, what my mind needed to be able to recalibrate and process. I was so tied up, so tangled, that I stopped hearing myself, stopped listening, stopped taking care of me.
I tripped a couple times, let's call them mini-faceplants. Stumbled my way around for a bit, found my footing - shaky though it was. Then came the legit no hands, no knees to catch me faceplant. Full and complete breakdown. My body quit on me, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't connect with or control my thoughts. I felt numb, I felt alone; the feelings I had been working so hard on cultivating resilience against.
Now, the eternal learner that I am, I knew there was something in the multi-'plants this year that I needed to 'get'. During each trip-up, regardless of magnitude, I couldn't be convinced it was happening for a positive reason and that some seriously juicy personal power would come from it all. YET, in surfacing, there most absolutely was a boat load to learn from all the derp-ing of the past just-over-12 months.
The Big Three of Y3
Here's a not so brief rundown of the 'frying pan to the side of the head' calibre lessons this year held for me:
DO THE WORK. Not shocking, in true Jess-of-all-trades fashion, I've got my hands in more than a couple pots. And happily so. I know I'm a dynamicism-loving chick who's probably always going to 'do' a lot, yet if I want to get the things done in life I'm keen to do, and create the complete life I'm after, I've got to do a lot more work. Doing the work means yes, doing the client work and hitting my deadlines and doing a rad job...AND it means being willing to stop and ask myself the 'Why's that are easy to hurtle myself past when the promise of love (and/or beer and/or ice cream) is presented.
Even in times where YES the offer of a patio date for a couple cold ones seems WAY more enticing than writing email campaigns or working on web copy, to check in and check up on myself: am I working to my full potential if I go? Am I doing the very best job that I can on this piece if I rush it? Am I wanting to say 'yes' to the date because I really, really want to go or because FOMOOL (Fear Of Missing Out On Love) is kicking in? A lot more brutal honesty with myself this year to be spending my time in ways that serve me on that gut-deep happiness, peace and ease level.
THE SWEET SPOT. I have a tendency to let my 'what I'm up to' pendulum swing too far in any direction. I hear myself only talking about work when I'm single, often only talking about my partner when I'm dating or in a relationship, etc, etc. What I know, and connecting up to focus, is that creates mad imbalance in how I'm distributing my energy and what I'm paying attention to (WHICH is often not myself and my own needs -- read: SELF LOVE below). AND - I am committed to finding the sweet spot where I put focus into and make time for all the parts of life and parts of me that need to be nourished and expressed: my Self (aka: yoga/meditation/fitness), friendships, family, work, love, travel, creativity - and beyond. No, that doesn't mean ALL those things will be done every day - but that those are the cups that I'm looking to find some balance in filling.
SELF LOVE. For a long time, I thought self love meant taking care of my physical body: taking it to the gym, feeding it good food, getting massages or manicures every now and again -- pretty much keeping it in good working order (and with nice hair - thank you Amy Lopes). This year, it hit home that if the self love isn't happening on a head + heart level, anything that's being done on the surface doesn't mean a whole lot. If I don't love myself enough to trust my gut when I need to speak up, then I sit with unspoken feelings, thoughts and emotions. and that, my friends is toxic. If I don't love myself enough to make time for yoga or can't be gentle enough with myself to sit and meditate for even 5 minutes, I'm not going to be the best version of myself when I go out into the world to serve, when I show up for my family, or when I try and be a partner in a relationship (cue the self loathing that kicks in when I'm an asshole to someone I love, or a crappy project partner).
I learned this year how disconnected from love I've been - how conditional I have made it, how it's depended on someone else giving it to me and how I've made work and my work in the community a barrier to being able to access love at all. What I know is love, and especially self love, is at the center of everything; it's what makes my world go 'round and what makes all the parts of my life work. And again and again, I have to start with me. The biggest act of self love I've done in well over 5 years? Just moved to Squamish. Nature, people I adore, a new community to get connected to, nature....and nature.
Cheers To Failing
Faceplanting—aka: failing—has so much to teach me, this year being a testament to that in spades. And like I said, in the moments where things felt like they were falling apart, I couldn't see the smorgasbord of opportunities to grow that were laid out before me.
With the love and support from very patient friends, some compassion for myself for doing my best and being, you know, human, coupled with some deep work with #SpiritualBree, I can look at this year as one helluva experiment in life. It's been a good reminder than even though I think I know some stuff, I don't really know a lot of anything. AND a reminder that I'm brave enough to give this life thing a legit go, that I'm resourceful enough to pull myself up by my ponytail and get my proverbial and literal shit together (read: packing up a house over the holidays while tryign to recover integrity with my clients...#GetItTogetherRobson), and that we're all just doing our best with what we've got.
Yes, everything is working out. Yes, I am happy as a clam in my new little neighbourhood. Yes, I am back on the work horse and getting back in touch with my vision for this year, and the years in the near future where I get to throw more spaghetti at the walls - experimenting with this wild thing called life. And YES, I am still, and forever more, wildly open to love. All of this with patience, without forcing, and with focus on who I'm being for me, first, in the process.
So, here's to the faceplants we'll all take in one regard or another: may they teach us all they're meant to, and may we pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and move forward with a little more self-intel in our back pocket - still open to all that life has to offer us and a touch more ready to catch ourselves when we begin to stumble.