I am an embodied womxn.
Jess founded J-Leigh, a values-led business, that’s passionate about creating spaces to decrease the amount of stress that we as a society collectively and individually experience. Their range of services create a holistic and well-rounded approach to wellbeing rather than treating each element as a separate piece. Jess is a woman on a mission to help others in these areas that can feel big and overwhelming, particularly when under stress.
How do you maintain mental fitness/mental health?
I ensure I have a whole toolkit I dip into, rather than relying on just one thing. Lately, strength training creates a sense of stability in my body that is my biggest contributor to my mental fitness. In a hypermobile body, as much as I adore yoga (I do teach it, after all), I found that it sometimes exacerbates the mental wobbliness if I feel overstretched, and unstable physically.
I also prioritise nature time every week, mostly in the form of hiking, being immersed and surrounded by trees and water. The mental and emotional space it gives me is truly priceless, and not like anything else I've been able to find for myself, particularly in times where I feel like I'm just going along for the ride - and adventure - that is life. I have a therapist that I see at least monthly, two different coaches I lean on for business and spiritual support, and friends / soul family who connect me with joy. It's so important to have silly moments of giggling, being light and playful as a reminder of my purpose.
What's easy for you as a womxn?
Reading the room and getting a gauge of the 'vibe' of people around me. Without assuming to read their minds, I'm surprised that it's easy to tune in and be on track with what's going on for others.
What's difficult for you as a womxn?
Being put in the position of justifying what I bring to the table.
What brings you joy?
Food - having it made for me and making it for others where it's a real shared experience (or going somewhere that it's made for us).
Helping and getting to witness people's deeper understandings and 'ah ha' moments for themselves, that means they get to step out of whatever box they'd previously been existing in and experience more of what feels good for them (this is a large part of my work).
Creating just the right playlist for a class that cultivates a more potent experience for the collective - whether it's super mindful and in the zone, or super light and playful.
Playing and stepping outside of my comfort zone with people who feel safe to me, so I get to experience more adventure - little things like different, potentially more challenging hiking tracks or recreational activities (slacklining in the park, skating etc).
The look on my dog's face and the full-body joy she emits when someone sits down with her just to give her some love and attention.
How do you nurture your relationship with nature?
I just love on it. When I'm in the ocean, I'm filled with gratitude for how healing it is for my whole being. When I'm amongst the trees, I feel such excitement at the stories each layer of rock or each centimetre of tree trunk can tell. I breathe deep. I soak it in. I let it hold me. Surrendering to the relationship is how the relationship gets to be nurtured.
Where do you feel a sense of belonging/community?
This is a tough question in a sense, because when you work for yourself there's almost a sense of not really belonging sometimes. Most often I find it where my people are. The workplaces I step into to facilitate sessions hold a sense of belonging for me in their own way, when there's a common mission and objective, and a respect for each person's role and energy put forward into that. The friends who feel like family. The connections that are consciously decided on between each person, where there is an purposefulness to the decision to contribute to the connection (friendship, relationship, however it is). So I guess it all comes down to, I feel a sense of belonging and community when there is the common decision and intention to create it.
Where do you live/work?
My work is all over Brisbane (Meanjin), where I live on Turrbul Jagera country.
What motivates you?
How I, and others, feel in how we're doing life. Supported, safe, and no pressure to have it always feel good or perfect.
What’s important to you?
Clear, kind communication that cultivates a sense of safety and reliability - even if we don't like what's being said or shared.
Best piece of advice from a woman?
"Speak, even if your voice shakes!"
How do you play?
Without forcing myself to. Sometimes it starts with handstands just to shift the energy, putting on my favourite song to get wiggling (dancing), or being out in nature - playing in the waves or paying attention to all of the amazing things to see in some of our beautiful rainforests here.
When you’re down, how do you get back up?
I give myself space, and where necessary ask my people around me for space. So I can just be. Trying not to overanalyse anything, simply being. I lean on the support I have around me, which is always there in some way. I ask people to hold space for me. I let it be little by little, as needed.
What are you working on?
Part Two of a Boundaries masterclass series that I'm delivering and making available as an evergreen course, alongside Part One.
Boundaries are a ripe topic for womxn - how to set them, define them, communicate them and even PUSH them. If, like me, you're Generation X or older you're unlikely to have grown up with the concept. It's an area where we can learn from younger womxn like Jess and my fierce daughters. As a place to begin therapistaid.com has a useful worksheet to consider, they describe boundaries as "...the limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships. A person with healthy boundaries can say “no” to others when they want to, but they are also comfortable opening themselves up to intimacy and close relationships."
In her podcast with Ruth Cease, Jess explores the benefits of boundaries.