Recently I was on a walk and passed a drawbridge that, in the five years I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen go up. So it’s a surprise that when I heard all this loud beeping all of a sudden, I had no clue what it was. I thought it was a train but there are no train tracks. I looked around for the source of that beeping and saw the drawbridge.
It got me thinking that our bodies are like that drawbridge. Throwing out bells and warning signals we don’t recognize because we either don’t pay attention or we’re too busy to notice. We kind of push through that warning signal until literally the drawbridge is right in front of us and we fall down.
I had a wonderful conversation with Jenn Pipe from Self-Esteem Through Art and we explored our culture of busyness and the trouble it causes. Much like my realization with the train, Jenn believes that in a culture bred for busy, we get so caught up in our cycle of over-productive that we miss the signals even when they’re right in front of us.
“If you think of [your body] like any other living creature or any other technological advance, everything needs time to rest. Nature needs time to rest; we have to reboot our computers and do updates on that; we have to fill our gas tank in our car.” Jenn said early in our conversation. In the same way, we need to nurture ourselves with good healthy things, including a reset.
But as a collective, we all seem to be hell-bent on trying to be the busiest. We see or hear the signals but we’re in a race to the see who’s better at being busy. The busiest person with the longest to-do list who reaches burnout first wins.
Jenn’s on a mission to “relay the message and just say there’s a different way, we don’t have to live this way. ” We have to stop settling for our own excuses. I couldn’t agree more. Busy is our protection. I feel like busy keeps us from trying to be successful. If I’m always moving, I don’t have to stop and put tick marks to show what the hell I’ve done.
Jenn has gotten over her need to be busy and created her own system for success, which she doesn’t base on income or status, and she doesn’t have to grind for. It’s simply based on five core feelings that keep her centered and mindful.
1. Love. “If I’m not acting in love, surrounded by love, being loved, that’s not working.”
2. Creativity: “That encompasses art-based activities and also creative thought, like thinking outside of the box not taking someone else’s word for it. Doing the research, excavating, digging deeper.”
3. Connectedness: “I love to be connected to other people and communities”
4. Vitality: “I want to feel good in my own skin.”
5. Joy: “I want to be laughing. I want to be giggling, I want to be having a really good time. If I’m not feeling those things whether it’s in my job, in my marriage, in my personal life, I know something is not right.”
For Jenn that’s the ultimate measure of success. And she does it without getting wrapped up in a need for perfection. As an artist, she doesn’t believe in it.
“A lot of clients and a lot of people that come through my studio space and they’re so uncomfortable with the concept of the shitty first draft; it’s always perfection or nothing,” she says. “I have shitty fifth drafts and 15th drafts, but every time you go through the process it gets a little bit easier, and it’s the same way with taking care of yourself and coming up with a program and a plan that works for you in terms of health and wellness.”
If this culture is bred in busyness, it’s clothed in perfection. The need to be perfect is like an armor used to keep the world at bay. It blocks out criticism, ensures that the world only sees our best side, and creates labels that we can’t shake off. It tells us what we can and can’t do, what we are and what we are not.
Jenn is dismantling these beliefs through her unique combination of art and empowerment. “You’re going to react to that canvas the way you react to any other roadblock or bump in the road or difficult tasks. So, I get to see that stuff. If I’m giving someone a journaling prompt and they’re having a hard time working through that, I’m getting to see the inner workings of what’s going on with them, and that’s the launching off point for the work we do.”
Through art, she is able to see how people approach decision making. “ Even the simple act of someone saying back to me, “I’m not an artist, I would never take any of your classes”, that in itself is a breadcrumb because you’ve labeled yourself a certain way and you’re not open to being someone else or doing something new to get a different result.”
Using her own unique methods, Jenn is able to help her clients change their reaction to the canvas. Once they break through that, they can begin to change the patterns in other parts of their lives as well. They become more mindful of the thoughts in their heads, the words from their mouths and the food they put in their bodies. They release themselves from the labels, free themselves from the hamster wheel, a figure out their own definition of success.
There is so much more to this conversation on the Fit Girl Magic Podcast. Jenn Pipe was dropping nuggets of wisdom through the entire conversation. Go check it out, then let me know how you approach a canvas down in the comments.
Emotional Eating Episode