It may seem weird that it’s my old GMC that is the catalyst for my new awakening into all things both glorious, and sucky; but it is.
For the past 4 months I’ve concentrated on getting out of the very small debt that Michael and I have. Instead of concentrating on savings only, and then moving on to the debt like every financial guru will tell you to do, I tried to do both at the same time. That’s the American way. Do twice as much with only half of the patience, concentration and discipline and see how it goes. Not being grateful for what I already have, and the fact that we carry less than 1/10th of the consumer debt that is the national average is the Jenna way. Despite what I’m capable of, I’ve yet again just ran – triathlon style – in the same cycle I’ve been running in for two years. The end result being that my beloved GMC paid the price.
I’m one of those freaky people that can’t stand owing the man. We bought a small house for less than we were approved for on purpose. A fully renovated 1923 row home in the city means by the time it needs a new roof, it will be paid for and generating income as a rental. To us, a smaller mortgage, and smaller space to maintain means that we can move our money into other creative ventures. We also only have one car – Jennie the GMC. This means that there is only one tank to fill with gas, one set of tires to purchase, and one insurance premium. Practical, simple, responsible; that’s Michael and I’s motto. I mean, we even gave up our cable package 2 years ago. We got this way because we spent our 20’s making a series of bad investments and learned what actual necessities are.
The simple life that we live means that Michael can work part time while launching his hand printed custom designed T-shirts, make art, and be the primary male influence for our son who is at home with him. We wanted to do something different so we gave ourselves the freedom to live how we chose. The real prize is that our son gets to watch family businesses launch right in front of him. Having Dylan watching our empire blossom in real time organically…that kind of education cannot be taught in school.
Michael and I believe that business is an art. It’s deliberate, purposeful, and beneficial to all involved in an equitable way. Otherwise, it won’t last forever. It’s easy to tell which start ups believe the same thing because they’re flourishing without hurting anyone to get there. Those companies and business are who we spend our dollars with. Hence our inclination to stay away from consumer debt which is only fun in the short-term, and harmful later.
All this idealistic entrepreneurship talk sounds dreamy right? Mmmmmm. Well it is. Especially since the ideas are our own, and while it will take people to help us get there, the growth potential is as unlimited as our imaginations. In the meantime however, there is frustration, overwhelm, spinning of the tires, feeling really busy without much accomplishment, creative blocks, dead ends, procrastination, and definitely self-sabotage.
I got a good dose of what being consumed with busy work costs us at 8:15 am on a Sunday morning. I was on my way to feed horses with my dog when Jennie decided to flash a Service Engine Soon sign at me and began to ride rough.
“Oh my God, no!”
“Ok don’t panic.”
That’s what I always say to myself when something happens, “don’t panic.” I learned this from my former Marine Corps uncle. A person whom I can’t ever imagine panicking because of his laid back nature. But he’s right. Panic is a misuse of energy and it accomplishes absolutely nothing.
I pulled into the nearest gas station and popped the hood. I realized as I was begging God to spare me the expense of an auto repair when I’m so close to all of my goals, that lately these are the times I actually pray the most. They are prayers initiated when I’ve been negligent to my most basic of self-care, am therefore broken down and can smell the dollars about to burn. I was going too fast, I was overwhelmed with the size of the responsibilities that I’ve built for myself, the enormity of the standard that I hold myself to, the frustration that I have so many projects to start and just want them going already, and also I was foreboding joy. I wasn’t paying attention to any of my signs. The ones that quietly tell you to sit down – shut up. Listen. Pray. Rest. Find joy in every moment. You know, the usual clichés. There may have also been one or two times I heard my inner guidance say “take your car in to be looked at”, but I drowned those out with the typical after-I-get-this-all-done rhetoric.
The last thing that I am always thinking right before the bottom falls out is “I’ll slow down tomorrow.” Then I do. I wake up early and make myself some organic coffee and sweeten it with coconut oil and cinnamon. I steam a serving of eggs and spinach and sit in the quiet dawn to listen to my morning meditations. I gather my little dog and his little raincoat and then plop him in the seat next to me; then I head to the barn for a nice slow Sunday morning routine. By then though, it’s too late. I soon find myself in the rain under a gas pump canopy at 8:30 am deciding if I should call roadside assistance now, or attempt to make it back and call from the comfort of my home office. I decided to run in and buy a quart of oil hoping that by some miracle I can get one more chance to do to it right without it costing me. Like what the hell is a quart of oil going to do?
On the positive side, two people approached me to see if I needed help. This keeps my faith in humanity. People will help you. I also got a chance to see just how my idea of a DIY & Economical Equine co-op is running when I made a emergency text and my fellow boarders were ready to help in the true spirit of the co-op.
I sat and stared at Jennie with her hood propped up. There was a little bit of steam coming from the open oil tank in the windy cold rainy morning. Did I crack the engine block? Oh my God…is she toast?! I felt like I should apologize to her like I would apologize to any friend who’s feelings I hurt. I’m overly attached to that heap of metal, and the uncertainty of the diagnosis was heart wrenching. Jennie is one of a kind as GMC doesn’t make that particular model anymore, and there weren’t that many manufactured to begin with. Without Jennie I’d be lost. Her roof automatically slides back at a push of a button whereby converting my cargo area to an actual full sized truck bed when I fold down the mid tailgate, or just a half bed when I leave it up. If I told you how many times that simple feature saved or helped me, we’d be here all day. Jennie is my version of an old 1970’s woody wagon that wealthy horsewomen still drive with a dozen dogs hanging out the window, and the aroma of sweaty saddle pads lingering in the upholstery. On a monthly basis, Jennie helps me get about 400 lbs of grain and 500 lbs of bedding to my barn. She’d fit more if I was eager to load and unload more than that.
Jennie may be an older truck, but she is life lessons on four wheels. She and I have been through a lot. I used to have a long time mechanic who’s work became less than creditable compared to how he used to care for my Jeep. He once changed her oil and one week later her entire engine blew. I had to send her off on a flatbed one cold February morning. As I was standing in front of my office building watching her pull away, my phone rang with good news. My friend Mike the banker was telling me that I was approved for the mortgage. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the thought of buying a house and repairing an engine at the exact same time, but life is often bittersweet. That’s why I don’t get too down when something bad happens because just by the natural cycle of life, something good is right around the corner.
Turns out that I didn’t have a whole lot to worry about as she was still under warrantee. However, that’s when the real problems began. Not long after the engine fiasco, I had Jennie’s breaks done. Just routine change of pads and routers which I’ve done a dozen times before with all of the cars I’ve owned. It’s no big deal. Yet, a few days after picking her up, I was driving home from the barn to get showered for work when my front right tire nearly came completely off as something called a wheel hub all but exploded. Towed it in, fixed it. Decide a few months later to have my ball bearings done while under warrantee. A few weeks after they were replaced, while Michael, Dylan and I drove home from Philadelphia, I snapped a bolt under the other front tire. How I made it home, in the rain on I95 with tractor trailers all around me is a God thing. I knew that we’d be alright when a rainbow suddenly appeared half-way to our exit.
It went on from there a few more times. I saw the pattern; car under warrantee, I take it in and a few weeks later something in the area they were just working in breaks. I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to think that someone I’ve done business with for over a decade would put my family’s safety at risk. Finally I left him. I went quietly as I can’t prove anything. At best it was lack of staff supervision, at worst I fell victim to a scam. The lesson I learned is that you don’t have to remain in a relationship with someone who is hurting you just because you’ve known them for a long time. People can go an entirely different path than we do. We can wish them well and then find a new mechanic.
The GMC teaches me that though we all have dark in us, we also have light. Just like the time Michael and I found the dining room table of our dreams while poking around the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. We’re just not the Raymour and Flanigan kind of people. We like unique and well made and this day in age you have to really look for it because it just isn’t found in big box stores. With budget in mind, I wanted to avoid renting a U-Haul, but if we had to then I would. First though, I asked God. I asked that if he wanted me to have this table so that I can have many friends and family gather in our home to break bread, then would he please help me.
While we were looking for a way to take the table itself apart, because though Jennie is a beast the table was just too massive, a women and her son-in-law approached us. I will always remember her asking me if I really loved the table, and when we said that we did whereby regaling her with all of our plans for it, she offered to drive the table home for us in her truck. All she wanted was for us to pay her kindness forward to someone else. If that isn’t God, then what is?
Speaking of our Creator, Jennie the GMC also reminds me to keep faith in Him. There was the time that I stupidly drove through the state of emergency during the blizzard of 2015 to get to my horses. Despite them being warmly set up in their stalls with extra water, bedding, and hay, I climbed in Jennie and we barreled down 202 with the 4×4 on. I realized when it was too late to turn back that I had just made a really stupid decision. It was sunset, and I was completely alone on the road in a raging snow storm with near zero visibility. Dumb. But she got me there. And while I prayed and gripped my steering wheel promising God that if he got me home to my boys I’d never be this dumb again – she got me home. Not a stall nor a slip or spin of the tire either way, just pure truck power.
Then there is this current lesson. The one that is the basis for this story. Going too fast. Running full steam a head with no real plan broken down into actionable steps. Though my calendar is color coded and tabbed, it’s just paper when you’re gripping too tight. Scared of what people may think of my art, but not wanting to care. Wanting to break out, but not even knowing what to break into first. Wanting to get everything done so that I could rest because I was growing weary. Despite knowing that rushing to get it all done so you can relax never works. You’re never all done. Relaxing and living in joy cannot be reserved until after you “make it”. You “make it” by letting joy and relaxation be part of the plan. How else is your intuition and creativity going to speak to you? J. Krishnamurti once observed:
“To be empty, completely empty, is not a fearsome thing; it is absolutely essential for the mind to be unoccupied; to be empty, unenforced, for then only can it move into unknown depths.”
So why then Jenna? Why when you know your pattern do you continue along not always fully engaged with life? My answer to that is because doing the work to change yourself is fucking hard. It’s messy. When you do it almost daily, there comes a point where you get pretty tired and decide to take a break. A rest is fine. What isn’t fine is engaging in meaningless running around to keep from going to the next level because deep down, you’re scared.
I’m lucky that when I begin to rest on my laurels, my GMC will do something like this because believe it or not, that’s what it takes to get me laughing and looking for the good again. For some people it’s a catastrophic accident because they’ve missed all of the trillions of signs before then that they’ve got some self-work to do. Oh don’t worry, that use to be me once. A few rear-end collisions, a failed marriage, and near bankruptcy is all it took to wake me up. No big deal right? So long as the end result is that you’re awake? Trust me, it’s easier to wake up when the first alarm goes off.
By the way, if none of this resonates with you, then I have some news for you – you’re time hasn’t come yet. I have more news: it will. I can’t walk you all the way through as the “dark night of the soul” is different for everyone as is the evolution of our consciousness, but I can tell you that the first thing to do is not to blame anyone else for it. And steer clear of falling into the victim mentality. That shit is a trap and there is a great risk of staying there for the rest of your life. Instead, look closely at yourself. I wouldn’t suggest you be as perfectionistic or hard on yourself as I am on myself, but starting in the mirror is always the way to move you forward.
All of the above revelations came to me during my careful 4 mile drive home. Once there, I jumped into the shower to contemplate whether I should cry, or throw up. I was so mad at myself for running full speed ahead with stupid things, thinking that every towel folded perfectly would somehow bring me closer to achieving my business goals. I had so much guilt that I didn’t stop by new mechanic’s shop weeks before so that he can give it a once over while changing her oil. All this time I’ve mistaken my running around for accomplishments when all the while I’ve just been spinning tires in the pit waiting for the green light. As it turns out, the green light is something that you have to give yourself.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been writing the proposals and sending the gutsy emails to decision makers, but there are so many other creative things that my soul has been pulling me to do that I’ve been avoiding. I’ve been doing the work, but not all the way. Because all the way meant walking into a board room, right passed the people that are trying to keep me out. I also involves cameras and production crews. Sending press releases, and putting my money where my mouth is. I had not done all of those things because I just wasn’t ready for the heat that I had built up in my head because to me the internet can be a scary place. The meanness, the jealousy, the sabotage. Have you seen comment threads lately?
Some people fully understand what is actually in your heart and that you’re just living through the experiences that you’ve created for yourself, but most people don’t understand just how tired you are. That you’re tired of the bullshit. Tired of watching people who have no business being in power have so much of it. You’re tired of fighting people for respect. You’re tired of the trickery, the backstabbing, the asshole bullies from 30 years ago who come out of nowhere. You’re tired of being the square peg and everyone trying to jam you into the round hole so that their insecurities can be quelled around you. You can’t understand what the fuss is all about – you just want people to be fair. And kind. And whomever can’t be either of those have real problems and need to work them out.
You’re tired of being told no, and then watching your ideas be implemented not long thereafter while someone else takes credit. You’re tired of watching people needlessly sink themselves right after they come to you for help and you point them in a better direction. You’re tired of feeling deeply unappreciated and unrecognized for what you bring to the table. You just can’t understand why others don’t at least acknowledge how hard you’ve worked for where you are while they bad mouth you. And yet while you’re tired from all of this, you still have work to do. Ground breaking, innovative, creative work to do. Having all of this on your mind keeps you from fully paying attention to the fact that you are in progress of repeating a pattern that you know doesn’t work for you. This is my friends is how people get lost. This is how those who give up self-examination get caught up in the drama and the mundane. This is what makes one such an easy target for all of the Trumps of the world – they make you feel like they’ll do all the work for you and all you have to do is breathe. Only that’s not how life works.
Life only works if you do.
By 9:30 am, I’m unloading all of this onto my father who has graciously came to take Dylan and I to feed our horses. I didn’t even have my seatbelt clicked before 3 years worth of frustration were rained down upon him. I felt like a teenager again, setting free an entire semester worth of hard work and fears because that’s what I do. I keep it all stuffed up inside until my seams burst. These meltdowns tend to occur right before something very important is about to happen. Moments before I’m about to take a stage, take a stand for something important, make a change, or take a seat while I swallow my pride. Gunk from deep below the soul gets drudged up to play out as some sort of backstory for my parents, just in case I totally screw up. This way they’ll know that I went ahead and already put incredible perfectionistic pressure on myself, so they may decide to chose sympathy rather than disappointment. For those who don’t know the signs of self-sabotage, that would be one.
My father listened to me as Bruce Springsteen played in the background and Dylan observed passing cars from the backseat;
“Dad, Michael and I are struggling” I started out.
In my broken marriage of a decade past, this would have meant that the bank was looking for my car, because my former Marine Corps husband with untreated PTSD lied about blowing my entire month’s salary with nothing to show for it and no bills paid…again. I went on to ensure him that this wasn’t that.
“Michael and I have incredibly high expectations for ourselves, our business ventures, and our careers and we’ve felt for a long time that no one understands what it is we’re trying to build.”
By this point, I don’t even remember what else I said. I don’t know if I stopped for a breath even. All I know is that the more I spoke, the more that poured out of me and the lighter that I started to feel. It took all 11 miles.
“We’ve got shit to do and we’re trying to figure out where to even begin.” I exclaimed
By shit I mean, YouTube channels, a production company, an artist collaboration, an artist management company, my equestrian management company, expanding the co-op, writing and presenting webinars that will evolve both the legal industry, and the equine industry. E-books, a publishing company, an apparel company, a children’s book series, comic books, art shows…
…and a partridge…
…in a pear tree.
Will everything come to fruition? I don’t know. That’s the thing about art, the art itself or the art of business, it’s all intuition and intuition can only be followed when you’re mind is “empty, unenforced”. It’s Divine timing and living intentionally so to follow the messages that you’re getting from up above. What I can promise about our empire, is that it will help others. Everything we do altruistic, even when we’re making our own art. We don’t hurt people to get what we desire. We pay people what they asked to be paid and we avoid major problems by only working with people who have integrity.
I told my dad that I know when people doubt Michael and I. Which is fine, approval is not needed. No one in our circle of family and friends has to be in love with what we publish, create, or do; all we ask is that they look at our track record of being smart, being able to learn from our mistakes and then have faith in us that we’ll follow our guidance. That’s it. That’s all that support is. Michael and I have always done what we said that we were going to do. Our past 5 years with one another gives no cause for doubt. When the going gets tough, we remember that about us.
My GMC always let’s me know when it’s time to air my soul to my father because she makes me catch a ride with him. My GMC always puts me in the position to ask for help like asking my fellow boarders to cover me while I’m jammed up. She also makes me get into the nature and mingle in my neighborhood by making me walk to get to work – which I should be doing anyway. Whenever I’m not going down the right path, she makes herself unavailable for me to mindlessly retreat in while doing errands that I’m only doing so to procrastinate on my soul purpose. In other words, Jennie gives me no choice but to sort my shit out. It’s inconvenient and beautiful at the exact same time, such as life usually is.
In the end, Jennie cost me $661.60 for a new coil. I had them throw in an oil change and new air filter while she was there. I even sprung for some new headlights, since it’s getting darker earlier and all. I also got a few evenings where writing was the only thing I could do. My horses got fed and I realized that the world did not end. To top it all off, because I had the time to pay attention to life, I got about 6 occasions for full on belly laughs that I may have missed out on otherwise.
Life lessons can come from anywhere at anytime. The greatest and most memorable ones catch you when you aren’t looking, and often times they cost you a bit. Otherwise, they would just get washed away in the short term memory; over ridden by things that you think have great bearing on your life, but actually don’t. True life lessons that you desperately need to learn will sting you, and you should allow it. Feel it. Be uncomfortable, don’t run from it. Make the situation your friend. Let it be the teacher that humbles you a little bit. Understand it and then move through it when you’ve grasped it. Don’t numb yourself with distractions, otherwise you’re bound to repeat the lesson until it’s learned. Make yourself come out on the other side smarter, better and more prepared to live life differently.
As for me, I’m going to go get Jennie, and then I’m going to park her in the driveway and walk to my office every morning that I can until it gets too cold. While I’m walking, I’m going say good morning to every living being that I walk past. I’ll let nature wash over me enough times to ensure that I take life at an even slower pace so that I can pay absolute attention to the beauty in every moment; because it’s always there.
Michael and I see life very differently than most. We can see the life giving force of freedom in simplicity and efficiency. We know that we all have choices even when it doesn’t feel like it. We know just how beautiful life is, despite how ugly it can appear at times. We’ve built a big life around the deep appreciation for the very small things, but lately I just forgot. I was so focused on the future, that I neglected the moments that get you there. Over the past few days though, my boys helped me remember and it’s all thanks to Jennie the GMC.
Jenna Prosceno is a storyteller with a ton of stories to tell. She is a conscious evolutionist blogger with the deep belief that anything and anyone can evolve into a higher state of being though purposeful intention. Jenna recently got over trying to argue with anyone who doesn’t agree with her, but she does think that you’re life will improve if you subscribe.