Good Hustlers: Jo Smith || Mum of Essie and Banjo
When I first started the Good Hustler series, my intention was to ask women who were inspiring and changing the world in their way to tell their story, and show the diversity of methods and approaches that being in service and living a whole hearted life could be.
From my lens, this was very much about a business concept, albeit perhaps a social enterprise or an offering to the world. I asked my friend and yoga teacher/wellness coach Jo Smith to participate in the series way back when. She had just had twins and was reshaping her business helping women to be whole and well, along with growing an enormous organic vege garden and living off grid.
Jo has given me a new perspective on good hustling, and along the way been integral in helping shape some of my thoughts about the difficulties of being a mum in a culture that values and valorises women doing everything perfectly, and simultaneously running a commentary on social media. When Jo had twins, it was full on. Right - twins, of course it was full on. She did all the mommy things and was doing all the other things and looking across the tabloid that is social media and still feeling that she wasn't doing and being enough. The madness of this was quickly apparent, and with a strong holistic yogic practice, Jo (and through her I) had a significant epiphany about how this thinking is diminishing the significant work that being a mother is, but also devaluing everyones experience of their own parenting as they doubt and question their worth.
At the recent (and bloody excellent) WorkLifeX conference I spoke at, myself and the other participants examined what it was to live a whole life, where the unnatural boundaries between life and work dissolved, and the many different forms and approaches that could take. Being a mum is being a mum. Not a working mum. Not a stay at home mum. A mum, the source of life and all that is sacred.
That we have to create linguistic divisions of work and home mothering between women that make everyone feel that they are missing out is simply untenable. Brene Brown said, and I paraphrase, that the most important parenting is being present to your child. What she meant is that simply being interested, and engaged with, and modelling your own authentic, vulnerable selves was the best parenting there was. Not perfect, or work life balanced, or anything other than being the best you can be, and working on your own self awareness to not pass on the hurts of our lives to the next generation.
Jo isn't the only mother I know that has been stung by a sense of lack and unworthiness through the lens of social media, how mothers and women are represented, and especially the levels of judgement and opinion that are cast on different approaches (um, breastfeeding, diets, vaccinations anyone) with a sense of righteous indignation.
Her approach was pure yogi genius - turn off the sound, step away from social media and focus on being present to her twins, knowing that when it is time for her to kick start her business again, it and she will be ready, in her own perfect time. Jo gave herself permission to parent how she wanted and in a way that felt strong and authentic to her, using her intuition. She sent me her responses to the good hustle questions as below, with a note saying she wasn't sure how to respond when she decided to park her business and focus on being a parent, but then realised that it was a totally legitimate form of good hustling just being her as she was right now.
I 100% agree.
And to all the mothers out there who are doing the absolute best they can, and raising new humans to take their turn around the sun a few thousand times and fix up some of the mess we are collectively leaving them, you are the goodest hustlers of all, giving the ultimate selfless service.
1. Describe your business in one powerful sentence.
My current 'business' now is being a full time mum to twins. Before that I was helping women live a natural and conscious life. I have decided to put my business completely on hold (without a timeframe) to do another important job and that is being at home with my babies. Who are already one year old and growing and changing so quickly.
2. How do you integrate service to others in your business model?
In my current role (stay at home mum) my service is to ensure that Essie and Banjo are fully nourished, loved and have my full presence. A few of the ways I have done this is by cooking all of their meals from scratch. I have also taken myself off all social media. NO more FB or Instagram and this has helped me immensely to become a mum who has no need to compare myself to others and also to become fully present in my interactions with the twins and life.
3. What were some of the highlights and lowlights of your journey to where you are now?
OMG, there are so many, where do I start. Highlights, was having the twins. Lowlights, not realising that where I am right now on my journey is where I am meant to be, and I don't need to be or do anything else. Its all working out how it should be.
4. Do you have a spiritual practice?
I sure do. I practice yoga, not always in the way we think yoga needs to be practiced. For me yoga goes beyond being on the mat. I have a daily practice of chanting, pranayama and meditation. I am always chanting with the twins. Meditation & pranayama I do before they get up or when they go to bed. I also practice asana, but not everyday. My other spiritual practice is my life. This is my Sadhana. The ebbs and flow of life. How I treat myself, how I treat others and how I am learning everyday to be a mum to twins. I also find that when I am gardening I am home. I find so much peace in the garden that I truly feel I am oneness with mother earth,
5. Advice for others who want to start their own good hustle?
Turn off the noise. Social media is great because it links us to amazing people (like you Polly) however it can disturb our own intuition and disturb our self confidence. I think if you are going through changes or want to go through changes and start up your own good hustle, turn off all social media and meditate everyday on what you are here to do. Once we sit in our own noise, we can start to hear the truth in what we want. Sometimes that truth may surprise you too.