Growing up, Jess and I went to the same small-town schools. When Jess wrote on her blog that she would soon be leaving her teaching job to write full time, I became curious about how she knows what's right for her heart. Here's what she has to say.
What activities make your heart happy and your life full of meaning and purpose?
When I'm writing, I feel like I'm in the right place at the right time. I can also get that feeling of being in the flow when I'm with good people, or gardening, and sometimes painting, but writing is the only consistent activity that feels honest. I've published ten novels (the eleventh comes out next winter), and I have so many more stories to tell. I'm lucky to know what my passion is.
How did you discover your heart's true path? How do you continue to discern what is true to your heart?
I've always been overfocused on my brain, and it's taken me a while to learn to listen to my heart. I foresee that as a life challenge for me, but I am getting better at listening to the still, small voice. I think that's one of the reasons I've always loved to write. It turns off my head, interestingly, which allows me to pay attention to other rhythms.
What rituals do you practice that help you listen to and honor your heart?
I try to meditate every morning for twenty minutes, and try to practice gratitude on a daily basis. My kids and I used to keep a gratitude journal, and at the end of every day, we'd write down ten things each of us was grateful for. We should start that up again.
Think about a time when you got off track. What did you do that helped you return to your heart's true path?
I am lucky enough to be surrounded by good, positive people, which make it easy to get back on track. Also, all my detours have been learning experiences in and of themselves, so I try not to be too hard on myself if it doesn't seem like I'm getting where I want to go fast enough.
Are there tools (e.g., vision boards, to-do lists, mind maps) that help you stay on track?
My kids and I each made a vision board, and I put mine at the foot of my bed so it's the first thing I see when I wake up and the last thing I see when I go to sleep. I also have a life vision statement that I try to read every morning to orient myself.
Tell us about your heart's community: Who are your supporters? How have you found people who believe in you, accept you and cheer you on through your journey?
I am lucky to have supportive parents who've always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. My extended family is also supportive, and that became my template for choosing friends. I am surrounded by people who believe in me, and who make me pull on my big girl pants if I start whining too much.
What is a book, song, artist or quote that inspires you?
I have one word always written next to my work space: trust. That single word says it all for me. Trust in the good, trust in the purpose, trust that I am where I'm supposed to be, learning what I'm supposed to be learning.