I don’t consider myself particularly exceptional. I am good at the things I am good at, but there are several others which I am not. I believe this is true of everyone. I have gathered through various interactions with humans of all kinds that I know exactly how important I am to this world. If I am exceptional in any way it is because I have an understanding of my purpose, and worth and I am openly committed to them without apology.

I was talking to Mari last night and she made a remark about her being envious of my ability to be so unapologetic. I guess it’s kind of like Lorde said,

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

The idea was and is particularly interesting especially after watching the documentary Light Girls. There was a section about the beauty industry in which the moving target metaphor was used. Perfection is unattainable and it is the idea that we are always imperfect yet on the cusp or within an arms reach of perfection which sustains this 300billion dollar industry. It is in the best interest of capitalism and our economic structure that there are less of me. Quite honestly, I could care less. Let the economy topple if it in any way depends on my belief that I am defective, insufficient, and in need of external repair.

I am not completely immune to beauty as a whole. I love make up and dressing well, I believe in fashion as art and liken designers to great artists. However, my worth neither begins nor ends with anything that is added after I leave the shower. My beauty is not circumstantial.

I find it doubly interesting that most women I know would adamantly argue otherwise. They would tell you but look closer, see my flaws? My giant pores, my full hips, my crooked smile, my frizzy hair. And I always assure them that I am seeing them. And all the things they’ve pointed out, and they are still beautiful. It’s a hard sell.

It blew my mind the first time I learned about internalized homophobia. People within the lgbtqia community berating themselves due to internalized ideals of heteronormativity heterosuperiority and an in general lack of tolerance for their own being. What I would later find out is that it didn’t stop there. There was internalized racism. Internalized classism. Internalized misogyny. And in my most recent discovery, internalized fat bias. In fact, external critique paled in comparison to the toxic dialogue happening within the folds of a woman’s own skin. We are down right nasty to ourselves.

Sometimes my friends say things out loud about themselves that makes me cringe. One because I know they likely believe it, despite the “just kidding” disclaimer. And two because I imagine the words are repeated silently and more frequently than is good for the soul.

I wish I could impart to them and to all women who struggle to see or believe their own pricelessness that it is as easy as a decision. My entire life changed when I decided to believe that I was worthy. That I was important. That I was unique and of value to the whole of the universe. That I was beautiful. That I was talented. That I was here for a reason bigger than my critics could ever comprehend. That I neither drew breath nor sustained life from the opinions of others. And that all I would ever dare to blossom into had seeds in my spirit already. Perfection is a myth. But the best version of myself is who I decide to be right now. And that target moves. It develops grows and expands moment by moment day by day. Yet I know that with each exhale I am enough.

It seems like overnight my passion for women grew. It didn’t. I just think I didn’t have words for it. But it was a woman who first revealed to me my own power. Well I suppose it was a few women. My mother. My grandmothers. And my former co-worker who I convinced to treat herself to a fancy Victoria’s Secret bra. After which she would tell me I inspired her to be kinder to herself and to own that she deserved tone treated well BY HERSELF. I’ve been hooked on that feeling of liberating women from their own muck since I was 18 years old.

And she called herself a feminist, not because she hated men–she did not–but because she loved herself and sisters too fiercely to be called anything else.


In the past few days I have been getting gentle reminders from the universe that I am on the right track. I was watching an interview Oprah did with the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) on her lessons from her life in career leadership and personal development. I had two major takeaways the first was her admission that she got to where is today by listening to what she felt was true for her.  I felt absolute chills when I heard her say this because it was just last week when I sent the following sentences in a note to my mentor about deciding to pursue the nontraditional path of writing as a career after pursuing my PhD:

“But how”

It is a lingering question that namely attaches itself to provision. But how will you eat? But how will you live? But how will you afford to travel? But how will you repay your student loans?  [Many] of these questions are what drive me to continuously pursuing careers in academia.  Positions that I could do and sometimes feel I should do for the sake of all the logical answers.  However whenever I seriously consider it, I feel a sort of deep seeded unhappiness that I can only imagine feels like Azkeban.  I know it is not for me and yet I am so scared that I may choose this option for fear of a lack of courage to sustain me through the anxiety of answering all the “But how” questions.
It is perhaps the fear I have of regret that keeps me thriving towards my end goal of fully pursuing my artistry. I do not want to live in regret especially when I can see so clearly what my calling is, I can hear it, I can feel it.  Oprah articulated that her purpose was to raise people to a higher consciousness. Mine is…. well I wrote this of my purpose last summer,
Inside me resides the crux of a gift blessed upon me to open people up, not to me but to themselves. How did you know? People have asked. I didn’t. God did. I am a vessel of movement of communication. The spirit of the entire universe uses my words to speak to others. That is the purpose of my words…Of my being. I do not have to compose to be a writer. I am a writer walking down the hallway. I speak with smiles and the sway of my arms, the shift of my hips and the click of my heels. I make music in my motion and the entire composition is a song. A poem set to rhythm and the pulse is a life given to be lived courageously.
Just over a year ago I was having the same “artist’s plight” and I wrote very similar words to the first:
If I’m honest with myself I just want to write. I want to go places, photograph strangers, and write the stories they elicit for me. It’s what I do anyway. I’m inspired by people, places, words, things, and sometimes nothing I can put a finger on. And I want to talk about it, only verbally I’m no good. I want to create the art space of the thing I’m studying. How the things out there show me pieces of me, in here. And vice versa. How I’m both painter and subject in this world. It sounds romantic and Parisian, complete with a diet of baguettes dipped in Merlot…It’s an opportunity. To design the life that’s calling me, and to have enough stability for my ego but enough freedom for my soul. That’s the thing about listening, you can never unhear. The voice is clear, distinct, and unmistakeable; it rings and resounds like the bells of Notre Dame. And maybe one day when I hear them, I’ll laugh at the grossly exaggerated comparison. But maybe not.
Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.07.18 PMI know it. I capital “K” Know it. Art is my medium, it provides my stage. Written prose is my monologue, my talk show, my power ballad, my solo. I feel so blessed in this moment to get such joy and such peace from the thing that also allows me to connect with others. I am at home in words. The way Beyonce speaks of herself on stage, she said she comes alive there. Here is where I live, in these words and in these spaces. My purpose is intertwined very intricately and very deliberately with my voice.
Writing is the thing that soothes my soul. It is where I can suspend the judgment of the world. It is where everything makes sense even if the words don’t. It is where I can close my eyes and simply allow. Oprah said there is no doing without first being. Writing is how I Am. It is my neutral, it is my breath, it sets my Ohm. It saved my life at a time when I saw no point in living and it gives me the ability to talk to all the parts of myself. The part who loves, the part who cries, the part who hurts, the part who is feminine, the part who is masculine, the part that is a hermit, the part who loves a party. It showed me my madness, my mania, my shadow, my cruelty.  It shows me my light, my goodness, my hope and my love.  It is my complete salvation and if I couldn’t do this. As I do this, for me and not for anyone else. It would be like losing my breath.
That is purpose full.
**I finished this piece with my eyes closed and tears falling. It was perfect.

The Curious Case of Salt and Elle

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 12.42.24 PMI tried to imagine what it would be like to be popular on a massive scale like Alex Elle or Nayyirah Waheed.  Are they even massive? I mean I suppose its relative. They have considerable social media followers but would Jay-Z know who they are? Probably not. I was in the process of asking for something, last week the intention was opportunity. It woke me up at 5 am and beat down my door until I found resolution, and eventual resolve with it. Then came the talks of writing a book again. Again. How many times do I have to hear it? It is starting to be clear to me that the book may precede the work (and the next book).  

Okay, so maybe I knew that. In my office there is a sign which sits right in front of me. It reads “Follow your heart”. I hate it.  It mocks me daily. Mostly every time I stop working and pause, my mind almost immediately wanders to the place where I’m happiest. It is not within four white walls or a beautiful marble-floored building, or even an ivory sanctuary atop a mesa with an ocean view.  Metaphorically speaking. 

Kanye West said he remembers walking through a mall and feeling as though it was the last time he would walk through the mall and do so anonymously. He said he could feel himself about to be thrown into the spotlight.  I actively work against that. Or, I should say I have actively worked against that.  For a while now I have been apathetic to it, indifferent and not caring either way whether people read, shared, commented, engaged, etc. And now, I feel as though I’m about to leap into recognition and I’m asking myself, “Are you ready?”   

Do you ever really get ready? Or does there just come a point where the tables turn and staying put, sustaining becomes less comfortable than the unknown? Anything could happen, how absolutely true.  This song, Ellie Goulding just came on my radio. Coincidence? Never much believed in those.

So here is the truth. And I’m wincing as I write this… I will take the next few days and write the prologue. What has gotten me to here. Blog posts. Coupling them. Using them to tell the story. I’m researching, piecing together the patchwork quilt which will begin the foundation for my work. As I write this our research librarian emails me and says the following:   

Dear Jessica,
I did NOT find anything under Women AND Leadership AND (Obese OR Obesity OR Physical Characteristics OR health).
What I heard her say was that the lane, my lane, is open.  And that everything I have done up until this point has uniquely prepared me to tell this story in a way that only I can tell it.  Wait, no…not tell the story but begin the conversation. The post-conventional conversation about body, weight, authenticity, connection and capacity.  tumblr_lo06h95mlo1qiaf2xo1_500I don’t know if I’m ready but I’m leaping and I am no longer apathetic or indifferent. I openly solicit the recognition, too.  A lump in my throat appeared as I typed that. I openly solicit the recognition.  AND I lean heavily on my support system because this is not about me personally, I am just the vessle, but I understand that being themedium, the conductor is what makes the energy constructive.  I own my importance in the process. That’s the piece I’ve been uncomfortable with and that’s the piece I’ve been running from. Well, no more running. No more hiding. I will not die wondering. 

Last Night a DJ Saved My Dissertation

The entire room felt like one massive, united tribe of thousands of people, and the DJ was the tribal leader of the group. People weren’t dancing to the music so much as the music seemed like it was simply moving through everyone. The steady wordless electronic beats were the unifying heartbeats that synchronized the crowd. It was as if the existence of individual consciousness had disappeared and been replaced by a single unifying group consciousness, the same way a flock of birds might seem like a single entity instead of a collection of individual birds. Everyone in the warehouse had a shared purpose. We were all contributors to the collective rave experience.
~Tony Hsieh “Delivering Happiness” 

I’d read these words sometime last year and highlighted them to remind myself to share them with my Work Wife. I knew she attended raves, and I wanted to know if this experience that Tony described was what she felt, too.  When I asked her, she confirmed and ever since then I’ve wanted to attend a rave. Last night I did.

A short remark before I continue, people are often surprised at the things that I get into.  My thought now, and for most of my life has been to just have fun and never be afraid to try new things.  Of course there are things that I do not like or that do not sound appealing to me (sky diving), but more often than not I believe in the fun of the adventure and a life free of what-ifs.

So, last night Work Wife (WW), her husband and friends and I went to see Armin Van Buuren here in San Diego.  I was dressed like a highlighter in bright neon workout clothes because she told me to dress bright and light–as in light fabrics because with so many people dancing it can get hot.  We arrived at the concert at about 8, and for the next five hours were treated to lights, smoke, acrobatics, singing, dancing, live musicians, confetti, and of course, really really good music.  I’ve told WW previously about my ability to see people’s auras and colors in music.  There was a moment last night when I sat down and just closed my eyes. She asked me if I was too hot or needed anything and I told her no I was fine but I could see better with my eyes closed. I tried to describe to her the way all the colors looked to me but nothing I said could quite paint the picture. It was amazing, and the words Tony used, or that I would use to describe the experience fall daftly short to even begin to explain.

I texted a friend of mine who has been to raves and told him that it was easily one of the best things I’ve ever experienced in my life, and asked him why he never told me about them before.  He messaged me back and simply said, “Its a total different experience, right?” It is.  When I woke up this morning I was still so curious about what I’d experienced the night before. What was that? It was beautiful, whatever it was, but what was it?  It was then that I went back to my copy of Delivering Happiness and looked for Tony’s words to see if I could find my own truth hidden in them. It was exactly it.  It’s a shame that raves get this stigma of drugs and out of control behavior, because it was so much more than that. It was, I thought, exactly what I’ve been trying to describe in my dissertation.

Connection…drafting…murmuration…movement…one purpose…deference to the collective…this was it. It was the experience of being at a rave but in a classroom.  How do we get that? How can we foster that? What do we call that so we can ask for it specifically?  My synapses were firing all over the place lighting up connections between this theory and that study. It was like a laser light show of thought.   I went straight to my computer and began typing. I didn’t stop for two hours.


The end of chapter 2

I just read this: As someone who knew me during the dark days, Simone even suggested that I had found my heart’s calling. “You needed something to propel you out of your survival story, Jane,” she said. “It wasn’t working for you. You didn’t know how powerful you are on a universal level…”

So naturally, I cried. But it was okay because only moments before I read, “I’ve never been a crier. But when the heart is this full, it must overflow.” The words come from an article by Jane Ganahl about her calling to rescue cats–a topic I’m not particularly passionate about, but pulled relentlessly on my heart strings. As I read the first quote I mentioned, I placed my hand over my heart and wept. And I thought, that’s me. That’s me, with people. People are my cats.

I rarely claim to do things well. Which, I suppose, is befitting because my motto in life is do less, well. However, I an excellent writer and I am an excellent listener. When I listen to a person its a spiritual experience, much like my writing process. I’ve learned not to close my eyes, though that would be my preference, and its like I plug in to right now. I hear things sometimes that I do not call attention to. I used to say I’m not sure the other person was ready for it to be spoken. Though, I think it may also be that I am not. Ready, or willing. Because see, when you call people out on an intangible “truth” they can easily deny it. Then my ego takes a mighty blow. Whap! Right across the jaw. That’ll teach you to meddle. And then I shut up.

But this past week as I was writing a paper for a class I have with Cheryl (my advisor), I found myself accidentally telling the truth. After I submitted I remember thinking, I don’t know what she’s going to say about that… that paper is the first assignment I’ve had since Zachary’s very accurate accusal of leaving myself out of my work. As I sat to write, I felt like I do when I’m here writing. In a zone, a trance and at total peace. I had a short conversation with myself in my head: Ego: Cheryl said specifically, don’t copy one of your blog posts, but here you are blog writing. Self: academic me, blogger me, same-same.

So, I wrote that. I wrote that my goal in life professionally is to not lose my Self in this world of academia. I cited some authors but wrote that I wasn’t sure yet who all I wanted to study, but as I live I’ll know. And after it was done I said to Cheryl (in my head) give it the grade you think it deserves, but I didn’t complete that assignment for you. I did it for me, so it had to be my way. I am at peace with that. All is well with my soul.

And so it seems this PhD journey just got a bit more interesting. There has definitely been a shift, a shift since this summer. A shift since the kundalini. And a calling out by Zachary, but not in a superficial way. He literally called me out of hiding. The space that used to feel safe and secure now feels restrictive and confining. He called me OUT. He pulled me out of my survival story.

So begins the next chapter…

Destroying worlds

“Whoever wants to be born, must destroy a world”~ Herman Hesse Demian

Words from a book I never wanted to read. Yet somehow it fell into my life. Dr. Kim’s doing…but the question that lead him to assign me the novel escapes me. And thank god for it, as I draw upon the words in an attempt to tell a story.

Bill Isaacs says we prefer the pattern of familiar failure. Why? Because we know it? Eh…more like, the anxiety of being outside of our comfort zones is so incredibly high that we would rather fail in comfort. That is the world we live in, a world of destructive patterns and habits that hold us captive in warm and tender arms.


I was in the grocery store tonight getting a bunch of junk to get me through the next week of class and work, cue lean cuisines and granola bars. As I walked to check-out I saw a shape magazine with Jordin Sparks on the cover looking amazingly hot. I bought the magazine and once home I read the story I’ve read 1000000 times about how some small event happened that caused this cosmic click and began the path to weight loss. (Silently I resolved to never say those words once I can tell my own story of weight loss). But what occurred to me was that she destroyed her world.

As I am nose deep in this adult development class, I can’t help but relate it to this thought…Demian was based on the work of Carl Jung, of course. Anyway, the destruction of worlds reminded me of Erikson because of his idea that crisis pushes us into our next stage, and Sharmer whose theory u work speaks frequently about letting go and letting come, assassinating what we think we know and remaining open to new generative ideas.  Hell, its Schön and his paradigm shifts, Wheatley and her order in chaos…its a lot of things.

Practically I think of what it is like for me to workout. Its uncomfortable, its sweaty, its clumsy, its slow, and its misguided. And why? I know how to workout. I know how to lift, to train…but it feels so foreign and so overwhelming when I’m doing what I know to do and my body can’t keep up with my spirit.

I feel as though I need to destroy this world of…two separate mes. Me that can and me that can’t. Me that wants to and me that will. One whole me. That is the theory of Jung–that the self fully realized is the ultimate achievement. Maybe the world I need to destroy is the one that feels like anything other than flying…the one home to can’t, don’t, shouldn’t, and maybe.

You know how I know I’m a writer? Because I just spent hours working on a paper, typing notes, and writing for class. And here I am now writing about writing. The thing is, I love this. I love to express, and feel free. If I am in the clouds over words, I am happiest.

Born to do it

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams

I’ve always loved Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the original one…not that Johnny Depp crap.  Whats wrong with living in the paradise of the mind?  If perception is reality then I prefer to perceive only beauty and wonder.  I have always been a big dreamer.  By that let me explain, I have always wanted a LOT of things for my life. I have very high expectations of myself and have an intense amount of things to accomplish in my short time here on earth.  I think big and work hard, and haven’t ever been ok with the word “no”.  I do what I want. In some ways that oblivious arrogance has worked to my advantage.

Right now I’m working as a counselor, or therapist (as more of you are likely more familiar with that terminology).  I am working with college aged kids, which is my dream, and I am feeling so at home.  I find something so rewarding about helping people.  Not only that, but helping college aged people, because they are just on the cusp of finding themselves.  Growing into the people they want to be.  Struggling shedding the skin of adolescence and walking in this fresh new body of adulthood.  Ooooh I love it.  I often wonder how I want to progress in my own life, in particular, in school.  Do I want to get an advanced degree in counseling?  Is that even necessary?  Do I want to educate budding counselors?  Do I want to work in educational policy and influence the politics of education?  Education has always been a passion of mine.  It took me a minute to find out how to work within it.  I knew, always, that I would be a writer.  Something to do with writing.  As I progressed through upper level English classes in college I quickly realized that that wasn’t for me.  I wanted to think and analyze a bit too much for the subjective based humanities.  I needed some scientific fact. Some proof. Something soft and hard.  Room for debate, but some kind of definitive conclusion.  So I made my major my minor and my minor my major. Psychology was it for me…In that…I quickly realized that research was NOT for me, I could do it just fine, but I wanted to talk to people. About everything!  And people liked talking to me. There’s no way I can NOT do this.  This is what I’m meant to do.

Love affair at hello…Long time ago, right after I got into my accident I was at Target in my neck brace riding in the handicapped seat cart thing, and someone stopped me and said, “baby you’re going to overcome that, and you’re going to do great things.”  I never knew what that meant. I’ve never thirsted for fame or celebrity, even in my field. I’d love to be known in my field and well respected…but never sought that.  I think, now, that those great things are simply the things I do everyday.  Listening to people.  Empathizing with people. Letting people know that they are not alone.  That someone cares enough to listen to them. Telling people they are worthy.  Helping them fight.  I’ve been kind of addicted to inspiring people.  I don’t want them to be like me…but just the best them.  If someone walks out of my office and says to themselves, “I feel renewed.”  I’ve done my job. If they breathe a little bit easier, can sleep at night, can express their feelings, can smile, can cry, and know that everything they feel is ok…then I’m wildly successful.

Its not about me.  I’ve never been about me.  I told Deeds that I often feel bigger than my body.  Perhaps that is my influence.  I take my role very seriously and hope that pieces of me stay with my clients.  Not me, Jessica, me hope.

“I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.”

Og Mandino

Power and Purpose

Yall…God was speaking to me in too many ways for me not to share this message.  When the Spirit moves you, you gotta get right or get left!  So here goes!

First of all, I have had it up to HERE with people not taking personal accountability for the state of the nation, both economically and socially. Children are in High school and can’t read but have 2 kids, your house is being foreclosed on and you’re in 10k in credit card debt and everybody wants to point the finger at former President Bush. Stop it. Its not his fault. I don’t believe it was Bush, nor Fannie Mac telling you to buy a house outside of your price range, or live beyond your means to the point where you have no savings or everything you “own” was bought on credit.  Yes I understand that the President was in charge, in a sense, of the social programs that govern our society but where does the personal accountablity come in?  When do you sit down and say-I, ME, JESSICA (or whatever your name is) MESSED UP?  I bought a house I couldn’t afford. I shopped when I should have saved. I assumed the money would be there next week. When did we become so quick to blame? That happens when we’re not right…you’re getting left.  People wanna get mad when someone calls their daughter fast, or tell them their outfit is inappropriate but parents are so busy with their own problems they aren’t seeing that their children are lacking self worth and are making poor decisions headed down a path of self destruction.  Mothers want to be BFF with their children. Fathers don’t want to discipline (if their even present) and would rather throw money or material goods at the problem than solve it.  It is my sincere belief that the break down of the American Family-the CORE- that has lead to the current state of the Nation.  People searching outside of themselves for things to make them happy or fulfill them. They are lacking the Spirit. HAS to be. When you are truly filled with God’s love then you don’t find a need for worldly things. You don’t need a 7 series BMW to make you feel accomplished. You don’t need a man who doesn’t contribute just to keep your bed warm at night. You don’t need promiscuity to fill a void of love and acceptance.  Yall don’t FEEL me right now…

What is in our power…we can.not.change.other.people. There is nothing, that you can do to make someone do what its not in their hearts to do.  Nothing.  Exacting revenge, use of force or aggression, or even pacivity, man was not made to move mountains.  Rev. Wakefield (old pastor from college) said “My friends don’t call me like they used to since I laid my burdens down.” People love to see you down. LOVE IT. It is not the mark of a friend, or a loved one when they are there to see you sad, and filled with gloom, sorrow, and mourning.  How many will be there to celebrate your joyous occassions? How many will be truly happy for you when you receive your blessings? How many will show up to share with you the desires of your heart coming to fruition??  THAT is friendship.  That is love. God is love, he is not malice, hate, jealousy, and sadness. So if your friend, or loved one, cannot be there for the things that are most like God, they aren’t for you. Let them go.  Pray for them, and love them anyway, but let them go.  Maybe I should be a preacher? LOL. When you lay your burdens down you say, “This battle is not mine, it is the Lord’s…it is not about my enemies war with me, or this job, or this man, or this friend etc, it is about Satan attacking my spirit with sin and weariness in attempt to get at God.”  When you say that, and you give in to His will, you will know peace like no other.

Philippians 4:6-7
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Each of us has a purpose.  God does not make any mistakes and there is no conincidence. Our stories have been written many moons ago.  Do not run from your purpose. Do what God is calling you to do, and you cannot fail. Nothing that anyone says or does can deter you from that which God has destined you for if you don’t let it.  Do not give man power of that which God has made, which is you.  We were made in His image, carved from His hands, and given life with His breath and His blood. We are so blessed and favored and yet we are but man, and let things of mammon affect us.  Don’t. You know when you are doing what you have been called to do. Because when you do its like everything you touch is blessed.  Faith is the eternal Felix Felicis (Harry Potter allusion lol).  When you strengthen your faith in God rather than in other people who posses the same limits as yourself, you will succeed. Everytime.  We have talents, passion, things that feel so natural its like second nature to us, things that awaken our spirit, and appeal to our senses. Do those things. Those are the things, those intuitive, natural things that make us the person we were born to be. Rev. Rick Warren, in his MLK sermon, said “There may be accident parents, but there are no accidental children” Do yall get that?  Mama and Daddy are no more than people themselves and they can, and will fall short. But you, me, we, were made created for a specific purpose. A reason that may be, as of right now, beyond our understanding.  Of course we do have to overcome adversities but there is nothing man made that can stop the Divinely driven.

I hope this wasn’t too long winded, and that this touches someone today, because He is really moving today yall!  And for those who don’t believe, I can’t censor myself nor will I.  Be blessed! xoxjess