We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Juliano and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
I disagree with the concept of hustling, which, as I understand it, supports working ourselves to exhaustion and sacrificing things we love (sleep, meals, friends) to make it happen. Instead, I support following our joy, however that looks for each of us. Yes, it takes time, consistency, and perseverance to achieve a goal. Yes, it can be easy to give up when we face rejection. Yes, we are capable of more than we realize, and we may need to push our boundaries to realize that. Yes, we will have to make tough decisions about how we spend our time. But I do not believe we should give up anything we love or need to feel our best. Our culture is already overworked and lacking sleep. I would love to see us overjoyed and lacking stress. Prioritizing joy, sleep, or even time to do nothing can relax our chaotic minds and fuel our creative ideas. More importantly, it positions us to ENJOY the process. If we’re not doing that, we’re doing something wrong. When I embarked to write my first book, The Worthy Woman Handbook, almost every resource told me to write every day. Not only was that not feasible for me (unless I gave up sleep and friends), it didn’t sound joyful. Instead, I went to the library 2 days a week, and sometimes on Saturday. I listened to Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” to connect with my message. If at home, I’d belt it out as loudly as I could. Then I wrote for as long as I wanted, whether that was 30 minutes or 3 hours. I made time for my book but I didn’t sacrifice anything. I didn’t force it. It was THE most enjoyable project I’d ever worked on and the ONLY project where I never felt any overwhelm. I consider this a huge accomplishment considering I knew nothing about writing a book or publishing when I started. Yes, I have goals. My number one goal is to feel my best. If I don’t get enough sleep, food, or laughter, nothing else matters. I want to celebrate how much joy I experience in my life – not how much money I make or how much success I’ve had – although it is possible for all of those things to come packaged together. Maybe the hustling approach works for you. Maybe it doesn’t. In either case, I hope you listen to your joy and let that guide you.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As an artist, my craft is storytelling, specifically the hard vulnerable stories that many can relate to but don’t talk about willingly. In my recent book, Worthy of Me: Reclaiming wholeness from loss to love, I share how I desperately tried to save my relationship through ongoing intimacy issues and anxiety after my dad died. I struggled with the decision to stay or leave, mostly because I was terrified of being on my own. Recently a friend told me how brave it was to put it all out there for anyone to read. So many readers have told me how they relate to parts of the story. That was my intention from the beginning. I wanted readers to know they aren’t alone so they too can find the courage to make hard decisions, honoring what they’re worthy of experiencing rather than listening to the fear of what they’d be leaving behind. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for a few strong courageous friends who opened up to me about their own relationship difficulties. If they could do it, I knew I could too. I’m proud to say that when I started writing this book, I had no idea how to write a book that would be interesting for others to read, and now the comment I receive the most is “I can’t put this book down!” But what excites me most of all is establishing a reputation as a truth-teller. I value authenticity, especially in these times where we’re bombarded by images of life’s perfect moments. Life is beautiful but also heart-wrenching. We all experience highs and lows, yet at the lows we often feel alone, even though millions of people at that exact moment are navigating something similar. My mission of my art and writing is to tell the truth to diminish this sense of aloneness and expose more people to love, acceptance, and understanding.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m blessed to live in St Petersburg, FL with an abundance of parks, wildlife, and water activities. A visit with me will most definitely include a trip to Fort DeSoto State Park which has some of the most beautiful beaches on the Gulf coast. There we can kayak or paddleboard and see the array of Florida birds, dolphins, and a manatee if we’re lucky, then catch the sunset. We’ll go for a bike ride on the Pinellas Trail which runs through the entire county. We’ll visit the cute beach town Gulfport and grab a ginger turmeric steamer from SumitrA while sitting outside soaking in the soothing live music. We’ll stop by the Saturday Morning Market for fresh-made tamales and to pick up veggies from the local organic farm so I can cook you dinner! But when I’m too lazy to cook, I’ll treat you to some of the BEST food I’ve had at 11 Chicks, a Venezuelan restaurant that is always packed. Lastly, we must visit the Sunshine Kitty Catfe and hang out in the cozy lounge with adoptable kitties waiting to find their forever homes.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I hold so much love and appreciation for my Book Buddies: Tania Welch and Tracy Brooks. We got together in the summer of 2019 to support each other through our shared goal of self-publishing our first books. We met twice a month for 8 months, and by the end of it, each of us had not only a book, but book buddies for life. I’m so grateful for these women for their support, guidance, compassionate listening, and for the important work they are each doing in our community.