They're crazy but I love them!

 
Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor
 

As I write this I’m sitting on my mothers balcony in my favourite part of the world, Encounter Bay. I have a view of the ocean, the sun has just risen and the world around me is still asleep. I’ve just finished my practice, watching as the world goes from dark to light, and as I sip my cup of tea writing this, I feel nothing but an overwhelming sense gratitude.

The Easter weekend just been has been nothing short of chaotic – to put it frankly. My entire family would agree. This is a time of year when we all get together – countless children, extended family, dogs, cats… Everyone is here and we are all under the same roof. Brady Bunch eat your heart out! And yet chaos aside, I am always so saddened to leave and so grateful for having been a part of it.

There are tears, the odd argument, many laughs and a lot of catching up. Whilst my family get togethers are the surest way of promoting anxiety even in the calmest of person, I really do love them. Owen and I are really quiet people and considering we have no family back in Melbourne, these hectic gatherings are now few and far between. And let’s not pretend that our distance doesn’t contribute to making them (our gatherings) more bearable every year. But chaos aside, at the end of the day, this is my family and I love and miss them all. We decided to move to Melbourne for many reasons, a primary reason being that there are many more opportunities as compared with Adelaide. But this has come at a rather large sacrifice – being that we are no longer near to our families.

Growing up, I recall this desperation to get out of the house, travel and be away from everyone. I wanted to find myself and learn to stand on my own two feet. I was tired of everyone elses opinions and the feeling that I will never be taken seriously (as I’m the baby). Interestingly enough, however, having taken this time and space through travel and moving away, I’ve come to realize just how important my family is. How much they mean to me – craziness and all. The little things that use to frustrate me no longer do. Rather I can laugh at these things. I can appreciate and accept the vast differences between us, as well as the similarities we share.

Owen and I have no intention of moving back to Adelaide any time soon. Our life is now in Melbourne and we love it there. But this doesn’t mean it is easy to leave our family each and every time our little holidays are over. Sitting here, overlooking my favourite view in the world with mum in the room next to me is so comforting. I’m always sad to leave and wish I could just make time stand still for a little while longer. But the reality is, I can’t. Nor can any of us. Which leaves me with no choice but to feel grateful for the time we’ve shared.

I’ve been very present this weekend which has not always been easy for me to do, but has been important for my own peace of mind and happiness. I was always desperate to hold onto moments in fear of weekends or holidays ending – so much so I didn’t enjoy the time at all. My dread of good things coming to an end always came, something I use to feel so bitter about. But not now. I believe happiness is found through presence – through ones ability to be present. If we can be present then we deeply experience each and every moment – chaos and all!

If we are in the moment, then we will never experience that feeling of regret or longing for we know we made the most of something important to us. This is where I find happiness and I hope others will find it too.

We will drive home to Melbourne today – Owen and our two furry babies – and we will reflect fondly on the weekend just been, knowing we made the most of it and that there are more special times ahead.

Sending grateful hugs,

Jessica xx

 

Growth happens when you get uncomfortable

 
 

I’m aware that most of the people in my life think I’m a little crazy. I’ve always been the one who steps outside of ordinary life to experience what I believe is truly living. Unpredictable, new and exciting. More often than not this translates into “bloody uncomfortable!”.

When I reflect upon my life so far, all 30 years of it, I can’t help but look fondly upon some of the weird and wacky things I’ve done. From creating my first roadside stall selling coloured drinking straws, to taking 48 hour train rides on an Indian train - alone! - and now starting my own yoga studio in pursuit of a dream - my life is full of experiences that have always fostered learning, growth and on the odd occasion, sheer terror (and not just on my end.. “It’s ok mum. Keep breathing!”).

As a little girl I use to dream about the big things I was destined to do with my life. I’ve always been aware this life is short and with that in mind, I’ve been absolutely clear I want to make a really good go of it. What I naturally always did, and continue to do, was to place myself in different and always challenging situations. Learning to dance when I really have two left feet for one! Singing in public, signing up for presentation opportunities even though I’m absolutely shit scared terrified getting up there! Quitting a six figure income and leaving my entire life as I knew it behind to follow a dream… Intelligent? Maybe. Maybe not… Regardless, why do I do these things? Because I believe my life is meant to be lived how I choose. Not how someone else chose for me.

Do you  remember those Careers Advising Tests you did in years 10, 11 and 12 at school – you know, the ones which are meant to tell you what your ideal path in life is? Your perfect job. I remember being excited about one of the options which consistently came up for me – drama (despite my terror on stage). The rest offered very little by way of excitement for me personally. Law for one.. But having an academic family (lawyers, teachers and business owners) combined with very little self esteem, I never felt the unique path of something like acting was ever going to happen. I recall electing all the same subjects as my siblings when choosing university preferences. Law. Psychology. Criminology etc. I had no idea what I wanted to be, and couldn’t help but feel like a failure because I was now an adult (surely finishing school makes you an adult???) and had NO idea who I was, what I wanted to be, what I was capable of. As such, the easy option was to do what everyone in my family did. I had no mind of my own. I had no answers yet - and upon reflection, nor should I (and nor do I come to think of it!).

I fell into the classic path of school, university, full-time career. I’ll never forget bursting into tears on my first lunch hour of my first full time job. I called my mother crying and asked, “Is this it?!!!”. I was devastated that the rest of my life was to look like this 9-5 job. Answering to someone else and sacrificing my time, my life in exchange for money. Surely there was more to life. Wasn’t there?

It took almost 10 years for me to finally wake up and realize life didn’t need to be that way. Yes – the money was great  - but was it enough? Of course not. My life was falling apart. The work I did brought little meaning. When I eventually found the courage to let it all go and begin from scratch, I felt so liberated. So in control. And whilst times are tough at the moment (trying to get a new studio off the ground) I’m living my dream. I’m living my life, my way. I answer to myself. Every day I’m growing, evolving, becoming a more powerful human being in my own right. And whilst there are days where I worry (maybe panic is a better word here) everything is about to fall apart, I know there will always be a way to get through it. How do I know this? Because no other option exists.

So if you feel your life is disappearing down a path you’ve not chosen, ask yourself these questions to bring about some clarity. Be sure you take a good 20-30 minutes to really think through your answers. Don’t rip yourself off here. Your time, or more correctly, your life is too precious for that:

  1. “Whose path am I on? Mine or the one I feel has been expected of me by others?”

  2. “If I could do anything in the world and not fail at it, it would be ……………………?”

  3. “What’s holding me back?”

  4. “Am I making excuses to keep myself small when really I have the potential to live a fulfilling and happy life?”

  5. “What steps do I need to take next to make this happen?”

And now, hold on and enjoy the ride!

Sending huge hugs, love and congratulations your way. You can do this.

Jessica xx

One year ago today...

One year ago today I left Australia and everything comfortable in my life to embark upon a new, exciting but also terrifying journey in pursuit of something more meaningful. I can’t help but feel quite emotional when I think about what this day meant for myself and Owen in particular. Holding each other tightly at the airport, we were devastated by the knowledge that as soon as we let go we could not hold each other again for three long months. But this was a sacrifice we both needed to make. Owen made this sacrifice as a symbol of his unconditional love and support of me and my dreams; I made this sacrifice as a symbol of my determination and commitment to pursuing a life that has meaning, that is authentic and that is chosen by me. A sort of self respect if you will. But despite knowing how important this was - for both of us in the end - it didn’t make those goodbyes any easier. Owen and I, and our Chug (pug x chihuahua) Tyrone are an inseparable trio. We like to think of ourselves as a tripod. We support one another. We are always there for each other. So for me to step away from our little family for so long was immensely challenging.

But here I am, one year later and soon to return to India for a second time.  My life has become  everything yoga - and I’m committed to teaching yoga full time. I let the corporate world slip away as it no longer serves me. Rather I’m on a path that is focused on health and well-being. On encouraging self respect, self love, self awareness. A path that has brought some of the kindest, most gentle and compassionate souls into my life. Once upon a time, when I was the corporate employee trying to escape the prison I had created for myself, I was that person, that employee who was desperately seeking a way out. I was the person who turned to yoga in search of solace. To allow my tired mind to rest. To look for strength when I felt weak. It is now me who is offering this to others. I mean - what an incredible gift I now have. An amazing opportunity to support and nurture people who are in a similar boat to where I was and assure that life can be ok. We can get through the challenges. We really can find stillness among the chaos.

Now - to be clear - this is not to say that yoga has made my life perfect. Far from it in fact. It’s highlighted just how imperfect my life is. But that’s ok. My life is real and it’s mine. Rather than look at challenges as barriers, I see them as opportunities. Rather than feel angry with myself for not being ‘strong’ today, I see that as a chance to look a little deeper and find out why. Rather than feel bitter toward the world for my life not turning out as I had hoped, I feel gratitude, choice and acceptance. Of course there are days where I feel victimised if something doesn’t go as planned. I want to blame others and receive the quick fix to a problem. I wouldn’t be human if this weren’t true. But it is through my practice that I’m able to quickly return to a place of understanding, acceptance and peace in knowing that it’s ok if things don’t always work out like we imagine. There is a reason for this and we just need to open our eyes to understand why - rather than become arrogant or naive to this knowledge.

For me - typical me - by now I had ideas for having a full blown studio with people bursting through the doors trying to get in. Turns out - this isn’t how business necessarily operates. Harsh wake up call. Money is not being thrown at me for memberships, investors are not banging down my door to get in on a piece of the action and I’m certainly not about to have this happen in the next few weeks. It would be nice but it’s just not very likely. Rather, I’ve been exposed to how tough the market is out there. How competitive this industry is. I’m not interested in that game though. I’m here to teach yoga for the love of yoga. I won't sell out just to make a buck. It is my responsibility to make sure I remain true to my practice and the philosophy of my practice. This has meant learning to organically grow my business and establish a community of people who respect my approach. Who seek the deeper aspects of yoga rather than look to yoga as a weight loss fad. This sort of following doesn’t come overnight. It takes time to build. I know this now. I also appreciate this now. For had I had a studio thrown into my lap without having gone through these struggle times, the humbling experiences of  going from a six figure income to nil (initially), learning how to negotiate when you have next to no authority to do so - I would not be the person I am shaping up to be. You see, every experience is a stepping stone to being better - in the task at hand, a hobby, in how I communicate, how I think, how I live. Whilst I have days where I truly hate these tougher times and wish it were easy, but at the end of the day, it is through these experiences that I am becoming a more well rounded human being. Whilst I’ve always tried to think this way, it has only been since I’ve made such huge changes in my life, (and experienced the never ending challenges as a result of my decision I might add), that I am knowing this to be true.

So today, I’m continuing to work on my speech where I will be presenting to over 200 people in a weeks time about Strength through Vulnerability. At the #GoFestival - Melbourne’s Women’s Expo and Conference. I’m absolutely terrified, but I’m also super excited to share this crazy journey with the world to show what is possible in this life. A year ago today I had no idea I would be preparing for something like this - which is huge for me. Nor did I believe i would have taught at multiple festivals in front of hundreds of people. Never in my wildest dreams or imagination would I have believed this to be true. But, it is. My life has taken a completely different turn, through nothing other than my choices, and I’m now on a crazy, whirlwind adventure which certainly keeps me on my toes. There is never a dull moment.

In just over a month's time I will be returning to India - a place I now consider to be my second home. Assisting Guruji with his next teacher training and continuing my personal training, I cannot wait to begin the next chapter of my life. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s hard work. And, yes it’s overwhelming at times. But it is real and it makes me smile every day. This is what it’s all about.

Namaste.