I love the auspicious days between one year ending and another one beginning. It feels exciting, hopeful, but I also like to reflect back on everything that is now a memory. The experience of slowly unwrapping my year, month by month and seeing what sensations and feelings raise to the top comforts me. I find it so easy to get wound up trying to do more things that I forget what I actually accomplished and achieved over the year. Acknowledging the past makes me grateful and appreciate the people and experiences I’ve had. I also get a clearer vision of where I want to go next by reflecting on what I’ve learned.
One thing about reflecting back, is it can be shocking how fast the time went. I know people say this constantly, and I guess that’s because it’s true! To me, this is a great reminder that I need to take my ideas and pursuits seriously because time easily passes. If you don’t take action, it just doesn’t happen.
Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned in 2014 and I hope they will inspire you to do your own reflection of 2014.
Last January I was asked to speak at PechaKucha which takes place at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver and always has a sellout crowd of 1,200. Although I had done many speaking gigs before, this one terrified the sh*t out of me! At the same time, it was such a honour to be asked and an opportunity that I had dreamed of. When I would practice with my slides, incredible waves of anxiety coursed through my body to the point I thought I would pass out. I wondered how I would ever be able to get through it. A couple days before PechaKucha, I was working with a breathing coach and in one of the very intense exercises, I had a transcendental moment where I was told the secret is to simply trust. To trust my body, to trust my voice, to trust the 1,200 audience members, and to trust my message and the reason I was asked to share it in the first place. Trusting myself to be in the moment allowed me to relax and I actually felt incredibly comfortable and have fun! Words flowed out of my mouth without any thought or judgement. Plus I wore a dress that I felt very sexy in, which I highly recommend doing for any speaking gig
Commit before you have time to talk yourself out of it:
In March I came down with a very nasty cold. It was so bad that I didn’t get out of bed for about a week. When I’m sick, I like to listen motivational audios because I think that they help inspire my body to heal itself faster (there is no scientific evidence that this actually works, but I believe it does!) So there I was, lying in bed, feeling like crap and I had this overwhelming and unexpected urge to travel to New York City. It brought tears to my eyes it was so strong. So, I looked at my calendar and figured out I could spend all of June in NYC and within an hour I booked a flight and confirmed an Airbnb in Brooklyn for a month. At first I felt fantastic about my decision, but a few hours later I had the pangs of remorse. ‘Maybe I should have thought this through a little bit more, I have so much stuff I need to do, what am I going to do in New York for a month all by myself?!’ But my trip was booked and I decided there was no backing out. My month in New York was one of the best times of my life and I learned SO much about myself and what I really want. I also realized that impulsively booking the trip because of a sudden urge was the best thing I could have done, because if I had waited I would have likely found reasons to go. Now when I have a strong urge to do something, I let me heart take action before my brain can over analyze.
When to quit and when to keep going:
This is by far the most important lesson I learned in 2014. For a very long time I’ve had a desire to create a film about the handmade movement. I think the message that it is possible to do what you are passionate about is very important and the reason we started the Make It Show in the first place. To make a long story as concise as possible, in 2013 my fiancé and I set out on a journey to make a documentary. We did a crowd funding campaign and had a ton of community support. Everything was working out perfectly, until our relationship abruptly ended. Despite being heartbroken, I made the decision that I would finish what we had started on my own. It was a pretty bold decision considering I knew absolutely nothing about film making and no technical skills. I still remember the day, one of my best friends said to me “Jenna, you don’t have to go through with this. You can just give all the money back and everyone will understand.” As I was listening, something inside of me said not to quit, so I didn’t.
What came after was a series of blocks, misfortunes and some of the biggest challenges I had ever faced. Trying to produce the documentary was emotionally, mentally and spiritually draining and at times I felt like I just couldn’t catch a break. My health started to suffer, my friends and family were becoming concerned and I was really loosing faith in myself for making the decision to keep going. I was also hit by a car crossing the street, which I now know was the Universe telling me something had to change!
While in New York, I had the idea to turn the documentary into a series of online episodes. This would allow for the content to be easily shared, and I could get back creative control; something that I had given up when trying to complete the feature documentary. I knew I was on the right path because a couple of serendipitous meetings led me to the perfect production team. In 4 days we were able to film 8 episodes of #MakeItTV. Things were starting to finally flow again and I felt like I was back on the right path.
Shortly after completing the series, I found out about STORYHIVE which is a grant program funded by Telus to help filmmakers create new content. $10,000 is awarded to 15 teams who are able to get the most votes from their community. With the money, the teams work with the National Screen Institute to create a pilot that airs on Telus TV. As soon as I heard about it, I had a feeling that I was meant to win.
Getting people to vote for #MakeItTV was a whole lot harder than I thought it would be. There were 115 teams and the competition was fierce. Plus, I was also promoting both Make It Shows so I basically became a hustling machine and likely the most annoying person on Facebook! There were times where I was so exhausted and tired from pushing so hard that I questioned if winning STORYHIVE really was worth it. But then, I would listen to the quiet voice deep, deep inside of me. The one that told me to keep going in the first place despite the many reasons to quit. I was reminded of how important the message really of doing what you love really is and that I could not give up now. I also read this when my faith wavered.
On the final voting day for STORYHIVE I hustled like a mofo from the time I woke up until the very last moment people could cast their votes at 11:59pm. As I closed my MacBook utterly exhausted, I said a prayer to release any attachment to the outcome. I knew I couldn’t have done anything more and that what happened next was meant to be. At this moment the song ‘Celebration’ randomly started playing from my Songza playlist and I smiled thinking it might be a sign.
A week later, after our most successful Make It Vancouver yet, I woke up to the constant pinging sound of my iPad. It makes a little noise every time someone tweets @makeitshow. At this point I was so grateful that the show had been so successful for our Makies and because I had been so busy, my mind didn’t spend too much time thinking about the results of STORYHIVE. I didn’t even know when they were going to announce the winner.
As I sleepily looked at my iPad I noticed that all the tweets where congratulating us on winning STORYHIVE. I couldn’t believe that I had actually won! I danced around my condo and sang thank you over and over again with tears streaming down my face! My heart felt so joyful and I knew all the handwork and perseverance led me to this moment and it all worked out exactly the way it was meant to. I was also so humbled and thankful to everyone who had taken the time to vote for #MakeItTV. Thank you.
Summed up, this lesson is about when to stop and when to keep going. There are many times when you should stop, pack it in and set your sights on a new path. But, then there are those moments when something inside tells you with absolutely certainty to keep going no matter how hard it might get. Your job is to listen closely and then buckle up!
Happy sparkly New Year!