The Cocoon and the Butterfly

Raise your hand if you're watching Wild Wild Country. Fascinating show.

I watched the finale last night. Jane Stork (a.k.a. Ma Shanti B) was talking about leaving the commune, relating it to a butterfly freeing itself from its cocoon. What a laborious process that is. How the cocoon doesn't just pop open and the butterfly fly out. How there's wriggling and writhing and it takes a long, long time to free itself. 

And then the butterfly gets all the glory.

But what about its life as a caterpillar? All those feet on the ground, perhaps knowing it was meant to fly? What about the commitment to cocoon itself for the hope of something better? What about the work that took? The courage. What about that? 

As I'm in limbo--between cities, between jobs, between who I was and who I will be, I'm trying to appreciate the struggle. All the effort it takes to get from one place to another. 

It's clear why people opt out of this. Why they choose to stay the same. Why they settle for good enough, rather than strive for their best life. Because cocoons are sticky. And hard to get out of. And when we do free ourselves, we arrive to the world as a new thing. A new thing people may not understand. A new thing we may not understand.

It's just easier to stay the same.

I saw a viral post on Twitter yesterday. About how someone didn't get her dream job, but worked hard and applied two years later and got it. It was supposed to be inspirational, and it was for many people. But not for me. Because it didn't give credit to this in between. The two years this women spent working hard, wriggling out of her cocoon. And how uncomfortable that cocoon probably was. And, in sticking with the analogy, how there was no guarantee she would become a butterfly.

None.

Jobs come and go. Dreams do, too. But the capacity to move through it all, all the uncertainty, to move forward towards the unknown with grace and beauty and fierceness and grit, not to "become" anything but to simply be who we are meant to be today, in this moment, as we are. That's the story I'm interested in. 

Because there are no guarantees. 

And because it takes guts to own the struggle. And I'd like to see us do this more.

And because becoming a butterfly is so not the point. The point is we work hard and we move towards the things we love because it is in us to do that and because we've been entrusted with talents and abilities and it is our privilege and duty to grow and manifest those talents and abilities so that we can give them back to the world. 

This is a radical act of generosity and love. 

And this is what it's about.

Not that you became a butterfly but that you struggled and broke one wing on the way out and you still learned to fly.

Choose To Matter

I want my work to matter.

And I'm not talking about a paycheck. I'm talking about what I make, who I am, who I want to become and how I manifest that. 

And I want to do good work. Work that is meaningful. Work that changes people. Or changes the way people see things. Or changes the way people go about the world. Brave work. Fucking fearless work. Work that has guts and soul and heart. 

And I want to do this work with good people. People who do work that matters. People who are out there, making shit, sharing their voice, bringing about the world they wish to see, being generous, being brave, living undivided.

And I want more people to want this.

I want this to be the majority position. That we wouldn't settle for the things the world tells us will make us happy but that we would define our happiness for ourselves. Go inside. Get real with ourselves, real about what makes us come alive, real about pursuing that aliveness. Real about what we want. Real about the responsibility we have to actualize our gifts and talents. To make good on those, not just for ourselves but for the people around us who need us. Need our gifts. 

I need you.

Don't hold out on me.

Don't hold out on you.

Choose to matter. 

The bigger the leap, the bigger the reward

Earlier this month marked the 15th anniversary of one of my favorite records of all time, Destination: Beautiful by the band, Mae. Here's one of my favorite songs of theirs. Listening to it now has the same affect on me as the first time I heard it--pure joy.

Mae was on Tooth & Nail Records. They were one of the first bands I ever worked with. I was a new media intern, which is what they called social media before it was Social Media. Weird, right?

I was a fan of the band before getting to work with them. Like a "wait around after the show so I can get a picture with the band" fan. In fact, I looked for said pictures with no luck. If someone out there can get me back into my MySpace account, let me know.

Back then Mae was playing to small venues of 50-ish people. Imagine my thrill getting to work with them at Tooth & Nail and seeing them grow to play packed houses where the crowd sang along and knew all the words. 

I remember the first time I witnessed this. I could take you back to the very spot where I was standing. I remember what I was wearing. And I remember full body chills, thinking, wow I had a tiny part in this, a tiny part in getting this music into the ears of these people in this room where the joy was absolutely palpable. 

Man.

Can you think back to a time in your life when you felt like this? Joyful? Alive? Maybe a bit out-of-body but in the most grounded of ways? Like you were exactly where you needed to be? 

I've been thinking about this moment. About what it had to teach me about who I am and what I value, about who and what I love. And how I would never have had this experience if I hadn't left my home city and a good paying job for an unpaid internship in a new state where I knew no one. 


That was a huge leap of faith. And as I get older, with more responsibilities and more riding on the line, these leaps get harder to make. Which is why I'm so thankful for Mae. For Tooth & Nail. For what these experiences have taught me.

The bigger the leap, the bigger the reward. 

On Being Giving

A while back a friend offered me this advice: "Be good to the people who are good to you." I bristled. Because relationships aren't transactions. And whereas of course it's good to be good to the people who are good to you, it's also equally worthwhile to be good to the people who aren't.

It's just a hell of a lot harder.

And what about being good to people we don't even know? The people we've only just met? The stranger on the street, or on the internet. What about them?

Oh, the internet. I have an unusual track record of making friends on social media. Like, real friends. Maybe you're one of them. And I've made enough real friends this way to say with confidence that even though social media is an increasingly negative, overwhelming space -- goodness grows here.

So here's some goodness to share. I followed Chloe on Twitter a while back. I thought her photo was cool. She appeared thoughtful and interesting and one day a message from her popped up in my DMs. As she says here, "everything that happened after that was gravy."

I'm happy I met Chloe on Twitter (I hope to meet her in real life one day) and I'm happy she wrote this because all of it--her, our interaction, this essay--has reminded me of the unexpected, beautiful things that can happen when you simply begin with being giving.

Every Job Has Boring In It

It's 11:52 and I've already cried today. Which is dumb. Because I had a brilliant chat this morning with a woman I really admire, someone who has built a creative business from the ground up, who was generous enough to take time for me. 

Her name is Sophie. And after thanking her, she ended our conversation with, "Well, yeah. I think especially women need to be helping women." 

Can I get an AMEN??

After talking to her I had something I lovingly refer to as a "brain buzz". This happens for me when someone taps into my creative core, and my brain starts whirling. Sometimes it's more of a sensation, other times I can actually feel it. Like my brain is about to burst.

It was a rush. 

But the rush wore off and I crashed. And I cried. I was actually blow drying my hair in the bathroom mirror when it happened. So I got to see my face distort into cry face right before my eyes. Which, let's be honest, no one needs to see. I was like, stop that Joce, stop that! 

And so I listened to Let Me Go by Hailee and Alesso about 20 times and I danced around my office and posted some ridiculous stories on IG and remembered something I heard recently: every job has boring in it. 

Oh jeez, I hate that this is true, but it's true. Building things takes time and building any kind of business usually includes at least 90% of work that you don't enjoy (I may or may not be exaggerating.) For me the dreaded work is planning. Ideation and implementation are easy. Planning how to get there is my own personal hell.

Which is why I wanted to talk to Sophie. She's been in business for over 20 years. Girl knows how to get from point A to point B, to do the things I find hard to do. And I have lessons to learn in what it takes to stay focused over the long run, how to iterate and reiterate and not lose the magic, and how to make plans. Actionable, doable, inspiring (?) plans. 

 Every job has boring in it. Even the most unboring jobs. And the boring stuff gets you places.