“Happiness is not an if then proposition”~ Rainn Wilson (actor who played Dwight Schroot in the office and creator of Soul Pancake)
I was listening to The One You Feed Podcast for this morning which interviewed Rainn Wilson. Here’s my translation of some wisdom on happiness from that interview that really resonated with me:
Happiness is not around the corner, something that you arrive at. We seem to believe that we have to be miserable…we think I’m going to put in this horrible time while I’m in college, or at this first job or at this job I hate and then when I make more money or whatever I’ll be happy. Happiness is not lasting. It’s like something you feel when you see a friend that you haven’t seen in a while. Or the feeling of how biting into the perfectly warm mac and cheese soft and gooey on a chilly day. Happiness is an a fleeting feeling… one of the most persistent feelings we have and pursuing happiness can just go on and on and on.
Gratitude and joy are deeper states of being that sustain us for a lifetime. And guess what…we carry that joy and gratitude with us down deep at every moment of every day of our lives.
I always hear whatever I need to hear when I am able to quiet my mind and listen. Isn’t that something?
The past 8 years, I’ve been facilitating this conscious dance class. Facilitating this class for me was chasing fleeting happiness. Okay, for those of you who don’t know what “conscious dance” is… Conscious dance is usually danced without mirrors with the intent of escaping the thinking mind and dropping down into and dancing the intuitive body.
I was introduced to conscious dance from, of course, an ex boyfriend. There was this really popular dance class that was kinda underground and happened in this cool loft space on 10th ave in Chelsea. The year, 2005. I met this guy online, on this website I think it was called like “spiritual match” or “yoga match”. Anyway, I put up a profile and this really good looking German guy immediately messaged me. I met him, wondering if he was for real… and he was. It happened quick. Too quick. And anyway for one of our first dates he took me to this event at Donna Karan’s studio/event space where this dance class happened after Deepak Chopra spoke and there was like some avant garde theater piece. There were passed h’oeuvres with servers who were all stunningly handsome and beautiful.
The conscious dance party was AMAZING!! The space was filled with glittery people….I was hooked. Well, the relationship with the German ended badly. So badly I did not want to show my face at the Conscious dance class …then… I found another form called JourneyDance. It was not as pretentious as the first Conscious Dance class…(did I mention that? Yea, it was a little over “hippyfied” filled with so much “love” and contact..faux family) Perhaps some of it was me, I’ve never been good with big groups of friends.
Anyway… I discovered this other form and was totally smitten. I ended up becoming a JourneyDance Facilitator and was determined to be a winner! Take NYC by storm! Make money by being a JourneyDance Facilitator then I will be happy!!! 8 years passed. I had great ideas, danced great dances, had wonderful courses…yet there was never enough support for “the business” to pay my bills.
We live in an age of “social media marketing” and I’m good enough at it to get a fair amount of people looking at my pages…but not good enough at it to figure how to …as they say in business…”close the deal”. I’m also really good at acting “happy”.
So, I gave off the illusion of success, happiness and abundance while in reality, I was living in survival mode. I never cancelled a workshop or class, even if one person showed up. It was always hard when like 3 or 4 folks showed up. I’d see their disappointed faces, “Oh I danced upstate and there were like 50 people in the room!” “Well, this is like a boutique experience! A one on one session.” I’d say. After class they would say they loved the experience, had shifted a ton of negative shit and were totally complete. They would return in like a year, when dealing with the death of a loved one or a divorce or some big life event.
My other “fall back career” was as a Health Coach. I’d gotten a scholarship to go to this school called The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I graduated from the last live class before the school shifted to an online program. IIN is more of a personal development course for ladies who lunch than an actual training program. There was a privileged class of women (the school is mostly women) at IIN who were able to, with their family connections, husbands, or former jobs in finance or on WallStreet, create thriving wellness businesses making six figures while they were still in school… being able to pay off school while in school…and a big part of the success of their wellness businesses were being paid for referrals. These fabulous well dressed women were paraded up on stage during our classes at Lincoln Center in NYC and we were all bedazzled. I even led a mini JourneyDance as a dance break at our “graduation” back in 2010 for like 2,000 people! I stood on that IIN stage at Lincoln Center. IIN even paid me to do it! YES we believed in Health Coaching! I thought yea! I can be Jeanine The dancing Chef and blend JourneyDance with Jeanine with Health Coaching and be able to pay off my student loan… get an apartment and get back to Acting with financial stability!
After graduation, years passed and I kept failing. But I kept up good face. “Happy”! Marketing on Social media while I worked in after school programs hating every moment. I was not pleasant to live with in my non “happy” times, and my boyfriend at the time was a weak man who wanted the type of woman I could never be even though I tried…so that ended. All the while I soldiered on determined to keep going while I continued to fail.
My last public JourneyDance class in NYC was in December 2015. There were about 18 people and we danced deep. In my gut, I knew I was done. But I soldiered on. When trying to book for 2016, my booker at the location where I used to teach was always busy. She booked me for January, but I couldn’t nail down any other dates for the year. We had a major snowstorm the day my class was scheduled…so I cancelled. First time. Then my booker finally said what I already knew… I just was not making the numbers to warrant doing the class. The studio is becoming even more popular… and I would have to attract 35-40 people at each workshop in order for the studio to make the minimum they would need to keep me there.
Eight year…epic FAIL.
I embrace my failure…because the whole experience as grown me a little bit more wise. Yes I said that right. What I needed to learn could not have been taught in business school. The experiences that I had in the past 8 years could not have been dreamed up in some Ivy league MFA writing program. I had to live it. This is my nature. I had to go in, balls to the wall, stubborn as shit, not listening to anybody, and go through it…in order to grow me a little bit of wisdom. Every failure, a lesson.
I no longer will lead public JourneyDance with Jeanine workshops in NYC. For a moment that made me happy. Then I felt this deep sense of disappointment in myself. I felt shame. I dug deeper, did some meditation and I found my gratitude. I was so grateful to all the people throughout the years who DID dance with me and support JourneyDance with Jeanine. I remembered how many people had experienced joy and healed sorrow. The woman who trusted me enough to hold space for her..that she came to my class after her childhood friend of 50 years died. These women had gone to elementary school together, outlived both of their husbands and when her dear friend passed away, this woman knew she needed to come to the space I provided to heal. That is not a failure.
It feels right to let go of JourneyDance as a business. I know that I will JourneyDance with the non-profit organization I volunteer with…GirlTrek. I know that when I danced with them last fall it was one of the most meaningful JourneyDance experiences that I’ve ever led.
Yea, I learned so much in the past 8 years of failure and I am grateful for the lessons. In fact, due to the lessons I’ve learned I’ve discovered my natural state of joy. This joy is not as vibrant as the euphoria of fleeting happiness…but I’m totally cool with dealing with the darkness and shadowy stuff as well.
Here’s to failing BIG… growing a bit more wise letting go of “happy” and just being grateful.
P.S. What does freedom really look like? Being brave enough to take care of yourself first. I’m a Volunteer Organizer for the non-profit organization GirlTrek. The woman shown above is Fannie Lou Hamer. Fannie Lou Hamer was a Civil Rights Activist who, in 1963 registered 60,000 African-Americans in Mississippi to vote. She died at age 49.
Here’s GirlTrek’s Mission: “In the footsteps of a civil rights legacy, GirlTrek is a national health movement that activates thousands of Black women to be change makers in their lives and communities — through walking.”
African American Women have work to do, for our families, for our communities, for ourselves and we need to live to do it. This membership drive is more than a walking club…it’s a movement.
We are 42,000 right now our goal is to have 1,000,000 black women walking with GirlTrek by 2018.
This month we are reclaiming Black History month as self care for Black women.
We aim to change the statistics one step at a time.
CLICK HERE to join us. It’s free, requires whatever commitment you chose to commit and you will be a part of an inspiring community of unstoppable Black Women from all over America.