Often times in life our roles can be so clear… daughter, sister, wife, mom, friend. Other times in life, the roles remain clear, yet they can shift in fulfillment, or even connection. Then there becomes an awareness that changes need to take place.
Yet, the changes aren’t nearly as graceful. It may require courage in the face of uncertainty. It may require walking away from comfort and stepping out on uncomfortable faith.
While neither option brings a sense of excitement, could these actions be exactly what’s required to discover what’s possible on the other side of stepping into who we’re capable of becoming with a hefty dose of faith!
Today’s guest took that step and come out the other side with a sense of genuine connection and happiness for herself and her family.
Jess is a mom, daughter, sister and friend.
She works out Very Well KC as the Collective Coordinator wearing many hats, she also teaches yoga breath work and yoga nidra at Very Well KC and the Yoga Patch.
She does this type of work to help others learn how to calm their nervous system and find a fulfilling space within themselves.
For many years, she looked outside of herself to find happiness. And after many years of working through trauma and pain, she realized that all the happiness she needed was already within her.
Stay connected with Jess and find out more about her work with the quick, access links below:
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Midlife. What does it mean to you? I believe that midlife is a place to recognize, reprioritize and redefine your purpose. It's a place of new beginnings, new personal growth and new adventures. Midlife is a chance to release your outdated labels and begin designing your second like journey. How? With heart centered experts, tangible tools and a supportive community. Why? Because if not now, then when? Now that's real talk. I am Ericka, your host and curator obsessed. Let's begin building our Midlife by Design together. If you're enjoying this content, please follow and share this podcast with someone you care about too, as it truly helps to keep that zesty energy flowing and visit TheZestfulMovement.com where you'll find more resources cultivated for your midlife journey on health, relationships and more.
Jess is a mom, daughter, sister and friend. She works at Very Well KC as the collective coordinator wearing many hats. She also teaches yoga, breath work and yoga nidra. At Very Well KC andThe Yoga Patch. She does this type of work to help others learn how to calm their nervous system and find a fulfilling space within themselves. For many years, she looked outside of herself to find happiness. And after many years of working through trauma and pain, she realized that all the happiness she needed was already within her.
Oftentimes in life, our roles can be so clear, daughter, sister, wife, mom, friend. Other times in life, the roles remain clear, yet they can shift in fulfillment or even connection. It's in those moments of awareness that changes need to take place. Yet the changes aren't nearly as graceful. It may require courage in the face of uncertainty. It may require walking away from comfort and stepping out on uncomfortable space. While neither option brings a sense of excitement, could these actions be exactly what's required to discover what's possible on the other side of stepping into who we're capable of becoming? With a hefty dose of faith. Today's guests took that step and came out the other side with a sense of genuine connection and happiness for herself and her family. Jess, welcome to Midlife by Design.
Hi, thank you for having me.
Yeah, I am so grateful because I think your story is powerful. And I'm gonna loop it back real quick to midlife, because I think in midlife, sometimes we look up. And it's not that our life hasn't been good. But we know that there's something more. So could you please tell us, Jess, your story of walking through courage to discover your ideal life? Like how did that begin for you? And how did your children inspire you in the challenging journey?
Okay, um, well, I would probably say that it started. I mean, it started many moons ago, but really, when I started focusing on me, was probably about 10 years ago, and I got divorced 10 years ago. So, life was kind of shuffled upside down. I had two children, five and three, didn't know what the next step was. So we stepped out into this new world of the unknown. I tried to keep things as normal as possible for them. So I wanted I've always known as a mother that I wanted them to have a stable foundation. I wanted to break a lot of things that had happened to me as a child, going forward as a mom. So I tried to keep life as normal as possible during those times. There was a lot of times I cried in my bathroom to get through. I had to totally rebuild us. So of course, I fell into you know, drinking a little too much wine sometimes to get through those times. And, you know, and just pushing through. Honestly, digging deep has helped me a lot. And then I started utilizing yoga more.
Yes, so would you say this is for the point where it's like that discomfort and choosing to step into what you know, you had to, uncertainty, and discomfort did that begin to shift when you brought a yoga practice into your life?
Oh, yeah, yeah. So I had first started yoga when my son was really little like, not even one we went to a baby me yoga class, my sister not Yeah. And then I just kind of utilized it in my life as a workout really never dug deeper. Until my until my divorce. I found a regular studio that I loved. I started going on a regular basis. And it became not an exercise practice for me but more of a way of living. It totally opened my eyes, two things that I had been not facing for a long time. So I had to work through a lot of that. But with yoga and breath work and pranayama, and just deep meditation, I was able to guide myself through that, and not fall into the dark hole. If that makes sense.
It does make sense. So how did you notice that initially? So if you were doing yoga, as essentially the first time around as exercise, when did it shift from a tool where it started to have an impact on your life and how you felt about it? How did...
I want to say it was the studio.
The studio? So it was it was community in the studio that made that difference?
The community kind of how would you say what did they do to help shift it from exercise to actual dealing and having a personal impact on your life? What was the difference?
It was a tight community, everybody was friendly. You never felt out of place, I was introduced to mantra and mudra. And you know, just things that I never ever thought that would be accepted out in the outside world that was considered too woowoo. You know what I mean? And I felt like, I was just a part of this place now that I had always had in the back of me and I felt welcomed.
That is wonderful.
So yeah, on my mat, it wasn't like, I was comparing myself to everybody else, which is why a lot of people don't come to yoga, it's because they're nervous. Instead, it was just about me, and my mat and my breath. And still to this day, when I'm on my mat, I mean, my family knows that's my church time, almost, that's my sanctuary, that's my, you know, 30 minutes to an hour to have my space for just me. So I want to say that, that the studio really opened up that world for me, they had you know, workshops, and they have a monthly "satsang", which is at the end of the month. And you gather you know with people and you do mantra and Mudra, and you sing, and it's just a beautiful experience. And it took me to a place, very loving within myself, you know. So after a few years, yeah,.....
I should say, I really like that, because it shows that when you're in challenging times, and you have the courage to step out on faith, you still can do it a little bit better when you have that community. And if that community can let you up and provide you tools to help you through, it makes it an even more powerful transition. Because really, there's nothing you can do alone. We have to have awareness for where it is we want to go. But it takes a community to help get us through to the other side. So I wanted to come back a little bit, though, when you mentioned like mantras and things. So what are those? Exactly? I mean, what are some mantras that you use? How did you discover them? And what are some other tools that helped to kind of reinforce, reinforce your challenging journey?
Well, so to dig a little deeper, I decided to take the leap and do yoga training with this studio. Yeah, so once I took that leap, which was totally outside of my realm, I am an introvert at heart. I don't really like to step out of my comfort zone because I get nervous. So taking that leap was everything for me. So once I did join that, then we dug a little bit deeper into you know, yoga philosophy and mantras, or, you know, words or phrases. There's songs out there, there's so many that I listened to one in particular is called the Debye prayer. It's a song, you can find it on Spotify or Insight Timer, and it's a 20 minute song, and it repeats a mantra over and over again. And it's a healing prayer, basically. And it has become a part of my daily life. So I feel like you find those ones that you enjoy. There's also Mudra is which are shapes that you make with your hands. And there's different ones for each thing that you're trying to connect with or some for the chakras. You know, if you're fighting depression, there's some for those. There's just so many tools and outlets out there in the yoga world.
And it sounds like those tools allow your body to almost be involved. And it also I would assume gets you out of that rampid thinking, right? So if you're thinking is going down a rabbit hole of negativity, those mantras, those mudras they can pull you out of that and get back to a place of stability so you can operate with the way you want to not the way that you're falling into.
Yes, yes. Yes.
It's powerful. So really awareness, stillness tools, and replacing those downward spiraling thoughts with things that are more affirming so that you can choose to move forward. So that's that's extremely powerful. So thanks for explaining that for our listeners.
Okay. Oh, then. Yeah, so for sure. So then it takes on to my next love that I found so it's been a few years since I've done yoga training. I've been teaching yoga three times a week at different studios. And then 2020 hit.
Yeah, so 2020 hit and that put a halt on all. I mean, I was still teaching in one of the studios, I stepped away from one because they did close with the quarantine. And then when they opened up, I just didn't know what was going back on. So I just stepped away. But I did want to dig deeper for me. So I joined yoga nidra training, and I don't know if you're familiar with yoga nidra?
Yeah, go ahead and delve into that a bit. What is that exactly?
Okay, so yoga nidra is a yogic sleep is basically what they call it. It allows you a space to kind of explore what you need at the moment. But it gives you an opportunity to work deep with your long held emotions that you have inside. We all have things that we haven't gone through, you know, and kind of work through. We all have things that we hide deep within. Yoga nidra takes you to a place right before deep sleep, and keeps you there in a state of consciousness. And it allows the brain and the body to heal within itself. So we all have these deep grooves within our mind, the mental impressions that we all do to ourselves, and it's not any of our faults. It's just as you grow up, things are said to you. I mean, that could be done as a child, you know, you're not good enough, you're not this, you're not that. As we grow, we continue to repeat those things in our mind and they build these grooves into your brain. They're called samskaras. These samskaras are kind of like a little canal. And we continue to repeat these things over and over again, and they get deeper and deeper. But with yoga nidra, you're setting an intention at the beginning of the process. It's called a sankalpa. So it's like an intention and affirmation. It's said that you are to work with this phrase for at least a year or until you have healed that part of yourself...
....I do appreciate that because that reminder keeps coming up that when we, so transformation truly is available to us. But we have to be aware of where it is we're wanting to transform, and then we have to imprint something new onto that to focus on. But it takes time right? A year is nothing in the blank of living life, but a year is really a dedication when it comes to practicing something. So I think it's very, I liked that you brought that up, because time is required to have great change. So...
Absolutely, absolutely. And it is life changing. I mean, I have noticed I've been practicing yoga nidra consistently on a regular basis for almost four years. I, I love the practice, I can't speak enough of it. It is so healing and so therapeutic. And it's not, there's a difference between meditation and yoga nidra. Meditation, you focus on one thing, and you're you know, sometimes you're silent unless you do a guided meditation. Yoga, nidra is guided. So you go through steps. There are eight stages. You start with the initial relaxation, and then you go into your intention and your sankalpa. Then you're taken through a rotation of consciousness through the body. Then you go through your energy and breath awareness. Then you bring that sense perception in, go through a visitation. And then you come back to that sankalpa. And then we bring you back to your external body. So it's a whole process that we that you go through during this. And when you wake up, you feel so relaxed and rejuvenated. It's beautiful.
No, that actually sounds very wonderful. And I think that's a really nice practice for someone to fold into their life, especially in these moments of great change. Like in your instance, your life you chose, right you chose because you you knew there was something better for you. But sometimes, like when we're working through midlife, they're not they're not all choices, they're life circumstances. But I think the feeling is still the same. We're wondering, we're lost, we're not sure. And you'd really have to trust faith. And so I like this idea of having a practice that brings you back to self so you can have clarity on what it is you want moving forward. And it also sounds very rejuvenating and relaxing as well. So it gets us out of our cluttered overwhelming thoughts, just to find some calm and ease in the process for the day. So I like that a lot.
Absolutely. It really really helps you connect within. And that's that's the problem with today's world. We all live or not all but a lot of us as humans live... And we live in that fight or flight mode lives. So this gives you a chance to come back into that parasympathetic nervous system and be in that rest and digest mode where our body is just so held.
Yeah, and the reason why I'm stumbling over you, Jess is because it's so true. And it's interesting. So in the handful of interviews I've done and whether we're talking about money mindsets, whether we're talking about relationships, whether we're talking about health and wellness, whether we're talking about gut health, you know, any of those things, it still always comes back to the nervous system. Like that seems to be a consistent theme that has gone through all of these conversations, a nervous system. Calming that nervous system, so that there's stillness so that there's clarity, so there's clear action, versus us being heightened, and reactive. And I think that when we go through decades of being heightened, and reactive, sometimes it's hard to recognize that that's not the best state for us to be in. So like for you, specifically, you've had this practice for four years now. And you really delved into finding your community, finding your tools, embracing them, using them and then expanding on your knowledge. So what would you say like, think of yourself 10 years ago? Yeah? When you made this big life transition, what would you say to her now? Now that you stand where you are looking back at her, and all the fear that she may have had of changing, what would you say to your 10 year old yesteryear self?
Everything's gonna be okay.
Yeah, yeah. And it always is, isn't it?
Oh, yeah. No matter what it really is. And I mean, what's sad is that a lot of us that fall through that depression and anxiety, you feel alone, like no one else knows what it feels like. And the honest truth is Ericka, we all battle it at some point. We, and it's, it's, I'm glad that now it's becoming more aware, and we can talk about it more. So that people feel safe, they really do. And it's my passion to share this with people, you know. And I want to share it with as many people as I can, because it hasn't been so guiding and healing for me. And I've been able to work with people and see, you know, the outcome at the end, and it's just beautiful to watch somebody evolve, and work on themselves and really connect within and see the growth. Yeah, yeah, that within itself is like, oh, so heart fulfilling.
Yes and I like that there's still growth at all phases of our life, too. So I think that's very powerful. But for the people who are listening today, and they're like, Okay, I hear you Jess, and I love that just and I'm proud of you Jess for the work you've done. Like that's important, or it's inspiring to me. But what do you say to them? If they really still feel like they're stuck? Because I think we have a tendency as human beings to be like, well Jess did it. So I mean, that's cool. I'm glad she did. But I can't do that because of XYZ. So if someone's listening, and they're inspired, but they still feel stuck, how would you encourage them to like, go ahead and move forward, so they can find that own faith, and then that own process that will help get them through their, the other side of their struggles right now?
Take one step at a time. Everything's not perfect. Even if you just start. If you've been nervous about meditation, or yoga nidra or yoga. Take it a couple minutes at a time. Start by meditating for two minutes, or even just taking three to five deep breaths, daily. Five minutes for yourself a day. That's all just baby steps.
Yeah. And you think about that, that's doable, right? Because you could even do that before you fall asleep at night. You could do that before you put your feet on the floor in the morning. You could do that while you're waiting for your coffee to brew. Like there are so many little windows of time, that yes, for ourselves, versus worrying about what the next step is, or what we haven't done or who we have to do things for. We could go ahead and flip that a little bit and put that energy back towards self. So yeah...
Exactly. There's no perfect way. I mean, let's be honest, there is no perfect way to do anything. There's times in the morning where I am running late, and I don't have time for my morning practice. So that may mean that I just stand still for five breaths and take five deep, intentional breaths for myself settling myself in. And that's fine. That's my practice for the day.
And don't you find it interesting that it's as simple as things really are the most profound? And why is it now that you've had this journey for yourself and you also work with your own clients, do you have any inkling why we as human beings don't trust things when there's an ease of process?
I feel like as humans, we're conditioned to think that the other way is the right way. Okay, and it goes back to those samskaras. We have these grooves and these pasts that we've done all of our lives, and we think that that's the way. So when we take ourselves out of that and introduce something that's not normal to us, it feels different. And yeah, I mean, think about it. A lot of us don't live difference. We don't like change. We don't want other humans to think, oh, gosh, she's stepping away to take her own breaths. You know what I mean? It's like our own mental thing in our own heads.
Yes. I totally agree with that. Very profound. So how about that? That answer is easy as well. Already, we're just stuck in our own stories.
Yeah, we're stuck in our own minds, we really, really are. And that's what I tell people when they say, you know, I'm scared of start yoga, I'm not flexible. It's not about that. It is not about that. And I can guarantee you, the person next to you on their mat is not looking at you on yours, because they're too in their own head about what they're doing.
Once you realize that and take that out of your mind, your whole shift changes. It really does.
Yeah, I love that. And Jess but I also want to go here, so I'm smiling big, because I love, I love what you're sharing it is it's so human. And it's so real. And if we gave ourselves a little bit of space to just be, we might be surprised at what we discover and the growth that's there waiting for us. And in conjunction with that, I felt like all of your growth really led you to this big leap, where you actually left your corporate job. And you went to go in and work at your now dream job. So can you tell us a little bit about like how the courage came for that and what you're doing today?
Oh, gosh, I just did it. Let's see, honestly, I had been working in the financial industry for eight years. Working very closely for entrepreneurs that were financial advisors. It was a very, I don't want to say it was always stressful, because I have some great connections that I made over the years, and some great friends came out of it. But it had its moments, it was a very high demanding job. I worked with entrepreneurs who are building a business and things got stressful, and then 2020 hit again. You know, we circle back to that year, that dreaded year. And I feel like all of our mind shifts changed at that point. Some things happened within the business that were very sad and made us a lot of us take a step back and kind of look at our own lives. And I had been on my yoga journey for a little bit, you know, at that point, and I knew, at some point, I wanted to step away from the corporate world and, you know, venture off into the yoga land. I just didn't know how I was going to do it, because it is hard to build a business just around yoga. So I I made a plan last year 2020. I have a word for each year, each year when a new year starts. Instead of setting a resolution, I set a word and it's just a word that I work with for the whole year. It's pretty much my sankalpa. Honestly, last year, mine was Growth. That was my word was Growth. So I was determined to grow more within to learn more, to dig deeper. So I made a plan, I sat down and I wrote it out. And I started working with a yoga nidra astrology mentor that I've become very good friends with. And I just came up with a plan and I wrote it all out. Made a map of what I wanted it to look like. And I started working towards it. I started saving more money. I started learning more. I started investing in more workshops and more trainings. Because we were all home, you know, and I had that time to do that. And then I, the beginning of this year, I had a friend, a yoga friend come to me and said that she had found a new studio who was hiring was I interested and I was like yeah, of course I'm always interested. Went and met with them. And it was a beautiful studio. It's a new studio. And they hired me to teach a couple times a week. So I started teaching there and really, really enjoyed what they're bringing to Kansas City and I love the owners. I love just what the business is all about. And they put out a posting for kind of a front desk coordinator person. And I thought, What do I have to lose? Is this the universe in this year's word for me, just so you know, at the beginning of January, I was Expand. I am expanding as my sankalpa for this year. So I wanted to be able to expand everything that I had learned in 2020 out to everybody else and share it. So I took the leap and I applied and I knew that the salary probably wasn't going to be what I was making. I was making you know good money, but money is not always what's important in life. So I interviewed with them and they offered me the position and after some negotiating after a lot, a lot of internal reflection and looking at my map that I had drawn out. And coming up with a plan and seeing if I could really take this leap. Because I do have two children I have to think about you know and myself and everything else my blended family that I have built. I decided to do it. So I closed my eyes and I leaped and I quit my corporate job after eight years after. For 25 years, I have to say that out loud, yeah. In April, I gave my notice. And I started my new job at Very Well KC, and the day after my 43rd birthday on May 18. This year.
I love it. Oh, that's a powerful story. I absolutely love that. And as I'm hearing to you, even with your big leap from corporate wellness, or corporate work, to going into a job that you really love that's steeped in the things that matter to you. It sounds like the same thing. It's about stillness, having a clear plan of action, and then being focused on practicing what it is that you want for it and really creating that roadmap and time. But if we stick with that, and we believe in that, then opportunities will present themselves to us. And then there's more.
So I love that growth, expansion. Beautiful.
And Ericka I am going to be honest, the power of manifestation is real. I mean, it really is. When you sit down with yourself and you journal on your vision in life and what you truly want. And you think about it on a regular basis, it really starts to unfold in front of you so beautifully. It's like the universe just springs it and lays it out for you and says, you did the work here it is now. So to see it happen has been very magical for me. I work there now full time. I also teach yoga there a couple times a week. I help with the workshops. I have some really really great things coming up. I'm I just got atuned for Reiki level one. So I'm going to help one of the Reiki healers there put on her first Reiki training at the end of September. she asked me to join her, so that's amazing. And then, in the middle of September, we have a workshop there, a mental health workshop that we're doing, and I'm going to participate and teach some yoga nidra and breath work during this workshop. Next month in November, I have another workshop I'm doing with another therapist doing some breath work and yoga nidra. So it's just really come full circle for me. And it's, it's amazing to see. I feel very blessed.
Oh, yeah, but you did the work. Right? And you believe So now you're, you're there in the moment, receiving the things that you you dreamt of that you Yeah, envision for yourself. And that is really, really powerful. Because to me, it also says, if we can find that stillness to get clarity about what we want, then those opportunities become real. They can be real in our life. So thank you for sharing your heart like that today, Jess. I am so inspired by your story and, and also that all that you've created for yourself. That's very powerful. And so just to be clear, you just told us all these wonderful things you have coming up, where can people go specifically to find out more about these events that are coming up?
So definitely, definitely follow Very Well KC on Instagram. And you can follow me on Instagram as well. I don't have a website or anything like that. But my Instagram page is just Jessica Harrington. I am also out on Insight Timer. It's a meditation app that's international. It's a free app you can download on your phone. And if you look up Jess Harrington, I have a couple of my yoga nidra is that are published out there. So I would just say social media is a way to find me. I do privates. I work with teens that struggle with anxiety and depression. Kind of guide them through, you know how to settle their mind and breath work that they can utilize when they're in those moments that they feel they can't dig out of. And I work with adults as well. So if anybody is ever interested, you know, send me a message on Instagram, and we can connect. I would love love, love this share.
Fabulous. Well, you know what, Jess, you really shared your heart with us today, and gave so many great insights about how we can make our dreams come true. Even if things seem you know, a little bit chaotic, a little uncertain. It's really about coming back to self, finding a strong community, Have tools to pull us back to who we are and what we want. And then work that plan and it takes time. Consistent time. So I thank you so much for being here. Really enjoyable to talk to you. And yeah, just a big thank you, Jess. Really appreciate.
Thank you, Ericka.
Yeah, and I forgot. I forgot I got so enthralled. There's one more question. Okay. But yes, pull it back, Ericka. All right. Last question here. So I have to ask you Jess really quickly before we do leave this time, how is it that you define zest in your life?
So zest in my life, and it may sell a sound it might sound a little selfish to some is to fill my own cup first.
I love it.
So yeah, so many years I filled everybody else's. And it was really when I started doing my work, really deep work, that I noticed that my cup was never really full. It was always depleted. So my daily focus is to fill my cup before I start my day. And I have to tend to everybody else that needs me.
Right? Well, I mean, that's just Yeah, I don't think it's selfish. I mean, I understand why we can perceive things that way, but it's not and you're proving that it's because when you've taken the time to fill your cup first, look at where you're at in your life now and how you've been able to provide for your family. And as well provide for the community through the services. So I think the more we can fill our cups first, it gives an opportunity to give back tenfold. So absolutely, absolutely wonderful. Thanks again, Jess. It was a true, true joy. Thank you for being here.
Thank you so much, Ericka. It's an honor to be here with you.
I appreciate your presence and holding space for my passion of helping women rediscover the essence of who they are meant to be so they may live their life by chosen authenticity. If you enjoyed this episode, please like subscribe and share with someone that could use a little zest in their life today. Keep the good energy going by following me Ericka Bell on Instagram and LinkedIn at The Zestful Movement. You're invited to sign up for our weekly newsletter that will help you become a part of our Zesty Crew as you stay connected to the conversations. This will also allow you to gain access to some monthly special offerings created with you in mind. Go to www.TheZestfulMovement.com Until next time, please do keep Zesty.