I'm wrapping up our #LoveYourBody series with someone who has been cheering on the SoulPowered community since day one. Jess Robson, the first member of the SoulPowered team, has been instagramming, facebooking, twittering, blogging and brainstorming with me since I took my offline business online in June 2014. She's a member of the SoulPowered family, Auntie Jess to Jackson and one of the closest friends and partners in crime a woman could dream of! I couldn't be more excited to share her story in the #WomenWhoLead series.
Jess's story is about losing herself. She spent years working to mold herself to fit into the work places, relationships, cities, communities and environments that she found herself in. Until finally, in early 2013, she realized how lost she was in work, values, language and a way of life that wasn't her. That realization was the catalyst for slow, deliberate and often uncomfortable steps forward towards uncovering herSelf and getting into her groove.
She's a visionary creative out to change the game in how we communicate and connect with one another. Read on to get a taste of this prairie-girl-turned-west coast-resident and what she's out to create in the world.
Where did your drive to contribute to your work originate from?
I’m hyper-curious about people. Some of my first opportunities to write for someone other than myself revolved around storytelling about people in the Vancouver community who were creating positive social change through projects, initiatives, organizations, etc. As I interviewed and wrote my way into the community here, I got more and more in tune with Vancouver being a source of and home to insanely innovative entrepreneurs using their unique talents to create their living and their lives. Through writing I had, and still have, the opportunity to make their message live, and live loud.
My own story of losing a lot of my personality, and especially language, to relationships, environments, work places, etc. is where my drive to support others in tuning into their words comes from. Bringing someone’s personality to life through what they say in their web copy or marketing collateral so their brand SPEAKS them is why I do what I do.
How did you land in the freelance world?
Through one helluva leap of faith and a mission to get my Self back. I had been in support and service roles for years while writing on the side, always struggling to ‘find the time’ for myself to write or find a ‘balance’ between work and the rest of my life. When I got real about what I wanted to fill my days with, how I wanted to create my life and what my vision was, I stepped out of the ‘9-5’ and into, well, nothing at the time…but what is now a freelance career.
Did you know you were stepping into a purpose, or a calling when you took the leap out of full time work?
No, not at first. Year one felt like I was stumbling around in the dark, bumping into some really great, soft, lovely things and also some super sharp corners or prickly bits. It wasn’t until late 2014 that I started to feel, see and understand that I had found where my heart, head, soul and tear ducts (I happy cry more regularly than I think some people do) were 100% aligned and all in.
Is there a defining moment of your understanding or a realization that you had found your purpose?
It clicked when I was talking to a group of women about an upcoming workshop that I was leading about intentional language and self-expression. I hadn’t built the content yet and was still noodling around on what I was going to do, but was asked to tell them what I was up to and just blurted out an answer – to wide eyed, open mouthed response. They hadn’t experienced it – simply were on board from hearing the why behind it. In that moment, it was clear that the work around words and intentional language was exactly where I was meant to be.
Our February theme is #LoveYourBody. How has your relationship with your body evolved over time?
I grew up ‘doing’ a lot: dancing competitively, playing volleyball, working in restaurants, etc. and always had a jammed schedule. My body was simply the ‘thing’ that got the stuff done; a thing that I hated at times, a thing that I compared myself to other people through. I pushed it through long hours of physical exertion, short nights of little sleep and through annual illnesses that knocked me on my butt.
It’s been a slow shift, yet in the last four years, I’ve learned that my body is more than a vessel for ‘doing stuff’. It’s a source for information, expression and inspiration that needs time to rest, reset, refuel and re-energize. I’m learning to appreciate it for what it is, how it feels and what it can tell me, and obsess less about what it looks like and what’s wrong or broken with it. I’m working on focusing less on how it holds me back, and more on its strength, insight and potential. It’s an ongoing process of figuring out what self-love looks, sounds like and feels like and practicing patience with myself when I don’t do it.
You chose your eyes as your favorite body part - tell us why.
My eyes are the most accurate external gauge for my internal ‘temperature’. When I’m out of my personal practices that keep me totally ‘Jess’ (which causes doubt, fear, worry – the full icky-emotion-onslaught), my eyes are clouded, I can’t focus, and I shy away from making eye contact with others. When I am fully myself—eating right, doing the yoga, meditating, spending time with my loved ones, in work that’s right for me, etc—they are clear and I eagerly draw others into engaged eye contact (it’s not creepy, just intentional – promise).
My eyes also symbolize how I choose to see the world. While I know there’s an element of my choice in perspective, context and what lens I am seeing things through, I navigate life looking at my environment and the people around me with happiness, trust, excitement and one serious silver-lining outlook.
What’s the gift of having, as you say, clear eyes?
Literally and figuratively, I see what I want and where I am headed. I make choices aligned with my vision and that move me forward intentionally. I’m able to navigate life in a much more aligned and well-considered way.
Also, and to quote the epic-ness that is Friday Night Lights: ‘Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.” Yep, I just went there.
How do you continue to develop yourself?
Through my very favorite question: Why?
I’m painfully curious and while books and lectures and courses and assessments totally light up the data loving human in me, an ongoing self-inquiry is where I seem to grow and develop the most.
It’s my innate curiosity that’s led me to slowly peeling back the layers of Jess to learn more about myself to be able to grow, develop, shift and change. I am seeing the greatest growth is some deeper self-reflective work. I recently started working with a therapist and we're exploring social connection and why I function the way I do in relationships.
What’s your take on leading with soul?
Leading with soul is all about listening. It’s throwing out the idea or thought that leadership has to ‘look’ a certain way, and is about being fully tuned in to what’s going on in a conversation, business, community, city, country, the world at large, and navigating decision-making from there. It involves, presence, awareness, curiosity, vulnerability and the willingness to not know or have the answer; to be courageous to create possibilities and opportunities from potential, not probability.
Leading with soul is BOLD and super badass.
Who are some women leaders who inspire you?
Karen Wice (aka: Miss Karen). Karen was my dance teacher for nearly 20 years, and now owns the studio I used to attend. Aside from teaching me how to pirouette and pas de barre, she was mentoring me before I knew what that meant. It was through her leadership that I learned about relationships and successes built on mutual respect, and how truly seeing someone can be the key to their genius being unleashed.
I’m also privileged to work with and around some of the most inspiring female entrepreneurs that the PNW has in it’s community. Their drive, determination, resilience, curiosity, passion, sense of collaboration and willingness to elevate one another and raise each other up is THE definition of leadership. Cue Beyoncee (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBmMU_iwe6U). #nuffsaid.
Why do you lead?
Because I believe in creating new possibilities for the world through communication and connection. That self aware, expressive leaders and leadership encourages self aware, expressive teams, relationships and communities to grow and thrive – and that it’s that movement that can and will shift our experience of this crazy thing called life.
There’s something so important about sharing thoughts and insights with other women: what would YOU want other women to know?
Your potential and possibilities are endless. You are smart, creative, resourceful, strong, brave, bold enough. The opportunities to get creative with how your life looks when it comes to work, relationships, family, creativity – all of it – are only expanding and becoming more accessible. Whatever the thing is that you want is yours to go get, and there’s a community of people out there that are waiting to support you in making it happen.
Oh, and that there’s ALWAYS room for dessert.
Jess is a multi-passioned and multi-purposed lady living and working in Vancouver, BC. She spends her days immersed in the world of words, bringing businesses to life through truth telling copy and elevating company cultures through writing leadership development and training programs.
She's a peanut butter enthusiast, has more tattoos than you would think she does, is afflicted by wanderlust and has an affinity for making letters with an obnoxious assortment of gel pens.
Get a peek into her creative adventures, curiosities and love for chickens HERE.