How I Leaped: The art of self-care


Two years ago, I leaped 250 miles from Virginia to Brooklyn. I left behind everything familiar, comforting, and sure. I left love, family, and friends.

I left not to escape anything bad, because nothing was bad. It was because of an insistent, nagging sense that a life I'd wanted to try—a New York life—would be gone forever if I didn't leap now.

The problem with leaping from a really lovely place straight into a deep unknown is that it comes with a surprising amount of fear and guilt for leaping at all.

You know, "Who am I to give up something so good?"

By Jess Larsen, virtual assistant & doula.

And that guilt and fear created a darker place than I've ever known, exactly at the point that I needed courage and faith most. I'm not always proud of those months, but someone once said that to get through it, you have to go through it.

I learned quickly that even if a leap is mine to take, I never have to leap alone. My personal leap team consisted of a career coach, a therapist, a creativity and change guru, beloved friends, and, once, a psychic.

With their help, I learned how to care for myself. I learned that doing anything extraordinary requires an investment in yourself first, so that after you leap you'll have the balance and strength to land and keep going on the other side.

So I became an apprentice in the art of self-care. I tried everything.

  • I wrote a love letter to myself, as if I were my own best friend.
  • I dedicated the year to self-trust, and trust that fate and serendipity would help me land me on my feet in ways I could never orchestrate.
  • I learned to recognize when I needed outside input, and when I needed to listen to my own needs, feelings, and desires.
  • I got in touch with my body and started paying attention to the influence of my inner critics.
  • I found reaffirming mantras, took bubble baths, let the tears fall where they may, tuned into my intuition, created vision boards and embarked on tiny adventures that made me feel strong.
  • I looked everywhere for wisdom, peace for listening, inspiration for living juicy and vibrantly.

It was a scramble for control and meaningful growth at a time of frightening, nebulous unknown.

Liz Gilbert wrote:

When you sense a faint potentiality for happiness after such dark times, you must grab onto the ankles of that happiness and not let go until it drags you face-first out of the dirt—this is not selfishness, but obligation. You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.

My leap was in a rented U-Haul truck on a snowy Saturday in March. I'm now living the New York life I could have never found otherwise - as my own boss, in service to creative businesses and women in labor and childbirth, in community with friends, loved ones and colleagues.

A few years later, it's clear that I leaped with savvy and a small measure of peace only because I learned that I was worth caring for.

My leap into self-love and exploration was my obligation, and I see now, the big lesson I needed to learn.