Approach with curiosity. When we are in the thick of the emotions it can be difficult to zoom out and ask yourself what the situation is teaching you, what it is leading your eyes towards, and what the lessons are in it. The reality is, sometimes we might not ever know. Approaching with curiosity allows us to have the ability to see things from a different angle or through a different lens.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jess Garay.
Jess is a waymaker, a butterfly nurturer, a gentle and steady voice that doesn’t need to demand a presence, a guidepost, a warm hug. As a Mama to 2 incredible humans, Wife to her soul mate, Life Coach + Nurse, her desire to change the world of everyone whom she connects with is her deepest intention.
Her work is rooted in creating a safe space for your expansion and growth. A place where you access new levels of awareness, bravery, intention, + magic within yourself. A space where your greatest passions and purpose are shared boldly and unapologetically with the world.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
Absolutely! Thank you so much for having me. It’s absolutely an honour to be here talking with you about resilience. Resilience is something that I have needed to cultivate both personally and with working alongside my clients. As a Registered Nurse with nearly 14 years of experience working with Cancer patients and their families, I have been given an immense privilege of seeing just how beautiful and precious life is. I always knew that I wanted to help people and stand in place for them as a support person, advocate and friend. Being at the bedside as a Nurse taught me a lot about the world and the fragility of life, which led me to the world of Life Coaching, a space where I am able to guide people through difficult times and support them on their journey to living their best life.
Beyond my professional life, my most important job in the world is being an amazing Mom to two of the most incredible humans on the planet, Nathan (11 years old) and Brandon (9 years old).
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
There have been many interesting stories from my career, many of which I look upon fondly and cherish deeply. I have learned so much in my career thus far about people who are living their best lives in spite of so much adversity. The most interesting stories to me are the stories where people are given the most difficult news of their lives and they continue to show up — Day after day after day and fight with all of their heart. The resilience they show. The courage. The bravery. The impact they are making in the world without knowing it. Those are the stories that touch me so deeply, in situations where you seemingly have nothing left and you decide to continue to rise. I have witnessed this time and time over in my career. It’s difficult to articulate into words — But those are the situations that have changed my life.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I became a Life Coach with the desire to expand my heart beyond the patient bedside in the hospital. To share stories of love, hope, resilience, promise, and power. To support people all over the world in many different situations. To hold space for them to expand into all that they desire to become. I am different because I see the world through a different lens, I have a perspective that so many don’t ever have the opportunity to have. My ability to hold space for people in all situations and through all circumstances is unwavering.
When I started my Life Coaching business, I had no idea what would happen, and I received so much more than I could have ever imagined. I have been able to support people through the spectrum of emotions as they navigate grief, loss, change in identity, major life transitions, new businesses, pregnancy, health challenges, and living a life of their wildest dreams.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
The support I have received in my life is something that I cherish so deeply. I know that my success is attributed to that. If not for all of the love and support I have been given — I would not be where I am today. My husband, Carlos, has been a rock for me on my journey. Through the ups and downs of life, entrepreneurship, major life changes, he has been a constant source of support and love that I am forever grateful for.
He believed in me when I no longer believed in myself. He held space when I was crumbling. He became my strength when I no longer had any strength left. He encouraged me to follow my dreams even when I wasn’t sure where they were leading me to.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
My definition of resilience is someone who, in the face of adversity, continues to move forward, see the bright side of things, and shift and pivot when necessary. People who are resilient are adaptable, flexible, and willing to work through challenges that are presented to them. Being resilient does not mean that you do not feel emotions, sadness, or experience grief. Being resilient means that you look at them, and are resourceful in seeking out the support that you need to continue living a functional life.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
I love this question. I think that courage and resilience often go hand in hand. It is courageous to ask for help when you need it, it is courageous to recognize that you need the help in the first place, it is courageous to sit with what is coming up for you and process it, rather than continue to push through day to day. Resilience is similar in that, it’s about being adaptable, shifting, pivoting, adjusting.
Courage can also be something though that you foster in the absence of adversity. You can take courageous actions every single day. Courage is the ability to feel fear and continue to take the action that scares you. Courage is allowing fear to come with you on the journey but not allowing it to guide your decisions and actions.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
When I think of resilience I think of one of my dear friends. In the face of so much adversity in her life, she continues to show up every single day. For herself, for her children, for her community, in the most powerful and beautiful ways. Navigating through adoption of her 4 children, the dissolution of some of the most important relationships in her life, living through trauma for both herself and for those she loves so dearly, and facing all of these challenges with so much grace and love.
In some of the most adverse times, situations where I could only desire the strength that this woman holds, I am constantly in awe of the power and presence that she holds. I admire her deeply.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
My biggest critic has always been myself. The little voice in my head that tells me ‘It’s impossible’, ‘Who do you think you are?’, ‘Who is going to listen to you?’, is the thing that I have worked so deeply around for myself, and that I continue to navigate daily. I didn’t think that I was going to be able to be a Nurse and hold space for people in such a beautiful way. I didn’t think that I was going to be able to have a successful career as a Life Coach. I didn’t think that I was going to be able to support my family in all of the ways that I have been able to. But my inner cheerleader — She’s got my back, every single time.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
I am navigating that exact experience right now, and though I have just had one of the biggest losses of my life — I see it as spaciousness, I see it as opportunity, I see it as growth. Though I am feeling all the feels, the emotions, rawness, realness, grief, and the loss, I have a deep belief that the things that happen to me are meant to show me a new perspective and allow spaciousness for new opportunities. I feel strong in this moment, I feel powerful, and I know that this is only the beginning of the most incredible time of my life.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
When I think about my definition of resiliency, I didn’t think of that as a reflection of myself until recently when my Coach reflected it back to me. As a family we have made big decisions when we needed to in order to continue to live a life that we all thrive within — and so it’s a series of things, but I will give you the example that I am most proud of.
When our children were small, we decided to homeschool (long before the current state of the world where so many are homeschooling). We didn’t know what we were doing. Every single year I questioned, ‘Are we doing the right thing? What if we mess them up for life? What if we can’t do this?’, and looking back now I think about those doubts and love that version of myself, the one who didn’t know if it was the right thing to do, but continued to move forward because that’s where we were called, and it’s been one of the greatest blessings of our lives.
This was the moment where we knew that we did life differently than most. When those in our world were questioning us, when we were questioning ourselves, and when none of it made sense, we kept going.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
1) Tune into what you need. Pause and ask yourself: What do I need in this moment? And listen. The wisdom will come from within you. Self trust is your greatest gift.
2) Cultivate resourcefulness. In times where you are faced with adversity it’s necessary to explore what resources you have available to you. When we look at the things around us through a lens of opportunity we are able to cultivate and strengthen our resilience.
3) Gratitude. Practicing gratitude shifts your energy, in a time where your world can feel so small. Expanding our awareness beyond the situation that we are faced with, and recognizing the beauty in all of the goodness in our lives cultivates a presence of power.
4) Surround yourself with those who make you laugh. Laughter is our greatest gift. Joy, pleasure, desire, all of the good feeling emotions. The situations in our lives can feel heavy, lightening your heart and your spirit with those that you love is so important.
5) Approach with curiosity. When we are in the thick of the emotions it can be difficult to zoom out and ask yourself what the situation is teaching you, what it is leading your eyes towards, and what the lessons are in it. The reality is, sometimes we might not ever know. Approaching with curiosity allows us to have the ability to see things from a different angle or through a different lens.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Thank you so much for holding the space here and your kind words. I desire a world where all humans are loved and accepted — just as we are. Where differences of opinions are opportunities for respectful and kind conversation. Where we use bravery and courage as our compass. Where children are empowered to become all that they desire to become. Where we give generously to the causes and people that we believe in. Where everyone has a voice, and shares from their heart. Where our earth is nourished, and the beings on it respect the gift that it is for us. Where no one goes to sleep with an empty stomach, quality education is accessible to all, homelessness is eradicated, mental health is prioritized. Where true healing can occur.
I dream big…
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I would LOVE to dine with Glennon Doyle. The way that she has cultivated resiliency in her life is something that I admire so deeply. I follow her work closely. It would be an absolute honor.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Thank you so much for having me! Forever grateful!