i first crossed paths with jessica in susannah conway’s unravelling course a couple years ago. jessica was a strong voice in the class and i remember feeling drawn to her. a few months ago, we reconnected and it’s been wonderful to watch her new project (of which you’ll read below) take off. she’s an old soul, a beautiful soul. have a look for yourself…
can you tell us about Stay with Yourself? what is your vision for the space?
Stay with Yourself is an online space for people to share and receive stories – a Story Co-op of sorts. To stay with yourself simply means to be who you are where you are, and it’s often our stories that inform us as to who we are. Stories are also the easiest and most accessible way to foster empathy and belonging, not just for others, but for ourselves. None of us are born into a complete and perfect story. We all, at some point during our lives, have to start filling in the missing pieces. Most importantly, we need to know we’re not alone and that we are understood, and that’s exactly what stories do for us. I created Stay with Yourself to be a place of rest, beauty, encouragement, and guidance for anyone looking for a little help along the way. Mostly, I want others to know they are not alone. I have felt alone for most of my life and it’s stories that have told me otherwise. To tell a story is to offer understanding, and to hear a story is to find you are understood. Both are absolutely vital to human connection as well as connection to your truest self. Stay with Yourself is place of reprieve from the outside world – from the voices and messages that are so quick to tell us how we are failing at life. I want it to be a beacon in the night, leading others to their own doorstep, and ultimately the light and warmth of their own soul.
stories can be powerful healers. can you share some thoughts on story and those you’re gathering at Stay with Yourself?
Healing is the greatest outcome of storytelling, and it is the primary reason I started Stay with Yourself. So often we feel alone in our experiences. We are isolated from ourselves and from others. We wonder if it’s just us. It can be difficult to imagine that other people feel the same sorrows and loss and imperfections we do. And even though each of us carries a million stories that are unique only to us, the emotions behind the experiences, the stories, are universal. I have heard from many of the storytellers on my site that the process of telling their story was extremely cathartic. Very often there is a struggle to tell the story, but once they do, something in them is recovered, healed. Then, when I talk to the people who have read the stories, they talk about how cathartic and relatable the stories are. Both the one offering the story and the one receiving the story are being healed by the process of storytelling. It’s one of the most beautiful exchanges I have ever witnessed. You never know how your story might impact another person, even yourself. Stories are healing because they teach us we are not alone and that we are accepted, just as we are.
has story played an important role in your life?
For as long as I can remember I have been hungry for stories. But not just any stories, real life stories – true stories. Funny, heartbreaking, mundane… I will adopt them into my soul and draw strength and wisdom from them. For me, stories have dressed my wounds, cooled my fevered brow, and lovingly filled in the missing pieces of my life. For example, my good friend Kristi has a really excellent Father. When I first met Kristi, she would talk about her relationship with her dad and it always made me really jealous. Her good Father only served to highlight my not-so-good Father. But I couldn’t shake how drawn I was to her stories about her Father. I was desperate for them. Over time I realized that Kristi’s stories about her Dad were filling in the missing Father pieces of my life. Through her stories I was being offered a new experience of a Father. I could go on and on with examples on how stories have played an important role in my life, but can’t we all? It’s just so essential that we SHARE our stories with one another. They are not something to be locked away and held close.
can anyone submit a story to Stay with Yourself?
Yes. Yes. Absolutely. Yes. If you are living and breathing and roaming the earth you have a story to tell. I am not looking for perfect stories or outrageous stories. I am looking for everyday stories – the tiny moments we all have but don’t always think to share. When my friend Kristi would talk about her Dad she didn’t even realize she was telling a story, but she was. People tell me all the time that they have a story but they just can’t think of one. That always cracks me up because it’s so true. If we’ve never given our stories much thought it can be hard at first to know what they are, but if you go looking for your stories you will find them. So, yes, anyone can submit a story because everyone has a story. One of my favorite quotes by Diane Setterfield goes, “But silence is not a natural environment for stories. They need words. Without them they grow pale, sicken and die. And then they haunt you.” Giving our stories a voice is the most important thing we can do for ourselves. Even if a person is not ready to submit a story, I encourage everyone I meet to at least write one – because with every telling, private or public, we raise ourselves from the dead.
now a few fun ones…
can you share a favorite quote with us?
I’m so glad you asked me this! I have so many favorite quotes but I’ll just give you my top three…
1. “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom.” –Anais Nin
2. “Here I am, where I ought to be.” –Louise Eldrich
3. “The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the first day your life really begins.” –Bob Moawad
what’s the weather today in your corner of the world?
The weather here in Salem, Oregon is absolutely amazing. It’s warm and sunny and the trees are on fire with color. It’s one of my most favorite times of year in the Pacific Northwest.
if you close your eyes right now, what word comes to your mind?
thank you for being here with us, jessica. you and the space you’ve created at Stay with Yourself are so very wonderful.
now you, my dear reader…i’m wondering if you have a story you’d like to share. you can submit right here.
and you can click here to visit Stay with Yourself and read the healing stories which jessica has lovingly gathered.
i hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know jessica a little bit. and, as always…
sending a little love your way, m
My name is Jessica, but my inner child prefers you call me Jessa. As a child I was deeply introspective and empathetic and I often felt alone in my aloneness. Like many of us I’ve had to figure out how to live by keeping my eyes wide open, always looking for clues on how to live. I lost myself for many years between childhood and middle-adulthood, but it was through the call of my own soul, a good therapist, an honest friend, and stacks of books by others who were able to put words to what I never could, that I started to find myself again. One of the wisest, most profound pieces of advice I was ever given was that I must learn to stay with myself, and I started my website as well as offering one-on-one sessions so that you could learn to do the same.
I am a Story Maven + Soul Docent. As a Story Maven I combine my passion for human narrative with my passion for personal growth and exploration. I help people connect with their own story through telling the stories of others. This storytelling fosters empathy and belonging on both a personal and collective level. As a Soul Docent I help guide others through the expansive and beautiful gallery of their own soul. Every gallery is different – composed of light and shadow, and various works of art. By offering commentary and insight into the unique aspects of the human soul, I help individuals discover their truest and deepest self.