I am an ambitious adventurer, happy homemaker and general lover of the little things. Life is a journey and it has become my mission to squeeze every ounce of pleasure from each day. From a very early age, I have worked to find a balance between my high capacity for achievement and my need to feel at ease and in joy with everything and everyone around me. As my commitments and ambitions have grown, my passions for cooking, gardening, travel, exercise and being present for the ones that I love (two and four legged alike) have remained steadfast. I believe not only that you can have it all, but that you need to have it all in order to show up every day, at full capacity ready to take on the world.
My story began on Long Island, where my personal ambitions matched the ambitions of the heavily striving culture I grew up in, that is to say that I expected only the best for myself in terms of career, income, physical appearance, relationships and nearly every other detail of my life. But at age 11 these ambitions took their toll on me and I felt overwhelmed by the stress of feeling like I didn’t quite fit in- I was hard working but not quite one of the smart kids, loved sports but not one of the athletes, tom-boy-ish but too sensitive for the guys and in general I was not easy-going enough for a kid my age. I fit in with everyone but connected with few. I knew that I could do anything I put my mind to, but also felt a bit like a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none. My best performance always came when I was relaxed and having fun, and much of this was lost in my feeling like I had to be committed fully in order to be accepted. I felt wholly exhausted, which resulted in some long term depression (an offshoot of exhaustion). It was a challenge to get through each day, torn between wanted to be sad and exhausted and wanting to be the very best version of myself (that I believed I was supposed to be). It was at this point that I had a few major epiphanies: first, that depression is real and unless I wanted to spend my life on medicine it I needed to figure out ways to manage it. Second, that if I wanted to get through the day genuinely well then I needed to take care of myself and be good to myself. I developed some very simple (remember- 11 years old here) habits that helped me to remember to smile, to remember that life was good and to remember that I was good too.
I kept working, growing and exploring. Though I did take better care of myself, I was still on the hard path of success- ya know, the one where you go to school, graduate, move to the city, get a job and earn lots of money. All the while I was doing this, there was a little voice in my head that questioned whether or not I could keep up, not with the uphill treadmill of success but with myself. How long could I follow this path after I exhausted my bank of joy, love and inspiration?
Well, the universe had other plans for me. At University I became increasingly interested in socially responsible and sustainable business practices, this shaped my chosen degree and the experiences that I pursued- what I ate, where I shopped, activities I participated in, how I traveled and where I wanted to work. It seemed so obvious to me that how we spend our money is the fastest and most influential way to change the world for better and this was a power that lay in every person's hands. I graduated in 2008 with enthusiasm and ambition that quickly got decimated- I spent over a year applying for the socially responsible finance jobs that I wanted, which turned into the general finance jobs that I was willing to settle on, then finally the just about any business related job I could suck it up to take. I had hit a low- I worked hard and was doing everything that I was “supposed” to be doing, yet it wasn’t working. I had spent so much of my life trying so hard to be the very best, doing my best and all the while fighting off a lingering sense of emptiness. This it when I was hit with my second big lesson - if I can’t do what I thought I should do, then what do I want to do? The answer: Travel. So that’s what I did. I spent about two years traveling Central America, South America, Europe and India, learning and in general rebuilding my perspective of a life worth living. All of the beliefs that I grew up with of what it means to live a good life weren’t bad, but they weren’t enough for me. I finally gave myself permission to believe that what I wanted from life was entirely valid and worth having, not just because it is a nice idea but because all of the pieces that I wanted were necessary elements of a successful life for myself. Just like the 11-year-old me, I wanted to be apart of everything and I wanted to do it all well. I wanted to have a beautiful home, make amazing food, entertain and be in a loving relationship, but I didn’t want to be a housewife. I wanted to be insanely successful at whichever career path I chose, but I didn’t want to miss out on the richness that comes outside of the office. I wanted freedom but I also wanted income and to create structures that lasted a lifetime. In my younger years being a jack-of-all-trades made me feel as though I could never fit into any one circle, never master any one thing, which made me believe that the only way I could have it all if “all” was if “all” was a very simple, linear path. But I was quickly learning that my ambitions would never allow me to be just one category of person, that the answer to having it all would actually come from doing it all and learning how to do it all to my own high standards. I redefined success, knocking down the walls and blasting through the ceiling to include all of my life- my relationships, health, passion and experiences- not just my career and finances. Success isn’t linear, but expansive. You cannot be fully successful if you are only focused on 9 am to 5 pm.
After my years of exploration and discovery I settled in to do my work, to get my hands on the ideals that I had been developing. I love being an entrepreneur, I have never truly worked for anyone and can't really imagine having to at this point. Being my own boss honors my constant need for growth, inspiration, excitement, hard work and enthusiasm. Just like everything else in my life, being my own boss means that I can do things in my very own, unique way. This also means that I am accountable to myself, it's so easy to hide away in my office, I don't have anyone telling me to take a day off or have a break. I understand that the best way for me to serve others is to walk the talk, which means finding a daily balance of getting shit done: in my business as well as my relationships, body, mind and soul. It’s about building practices, both personal and professional, that are sustainable in nature and inherent to my style. Life must flow and a successful life doesn’t come from force or excessive doing, but from being. This is a profound lesson that has taken me, an overambitious entrepreneur, lots of time and practice to grasp. Those of us who know success in any area of our lives know that our success came in moments of experiencing power, flow and inspiration within ourselves and being totally in control over how we expressed it. I truly believe that one of the best things I can do for my professional success is to wake up and do something really nourishing for myself.
Now here I stand, more than two decades later, continuously nurturing my life to have it all- the job, the money, the relationships, the fun and the freedom. After over a decade of practice, I believe that the answer to having it all comes from being present with all that you have and all that you do. It is a balance between working your ass off to create it and taking time to enjoy it. But time is a tricky thing, there is the perception that there is not enough, but the reality is that there is. It is not about creating more time but being more committed to the time that you have and present for those who and that which fills it. I teach badass, hard working entrepreneurs that they can have it all- the prosperous career, loving relationships, fulfilling home life and great health- and that having it all doesn’t come from giving anything up, rather from effectively directing yourself in a more intentional way. In Joy, Chelsea