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On Failing and Making Awesome Happen: An Interview with Jessica Rosen, Owner of One Down Dog

On Failing and Making Awesome Happen: An Interview with Jessica Rosen, Owner of One Down Dog

Lauren Ziel: Thank you, first and foremost, for agreeing to chit-chat. I think Michelle and I had you in mind because it’s the new year — beginning of 2019 — and really thick with rebirth, change, growth and resolutions. Even though that’s exciting; such a positive spin - I think sometimes we can overlook the hard, non-linear path towards success and how usually that road is paved in failure. With Michelle and I both knowing you and your success in growing your business One Down Dog - from an outsider perspective, you’re f*&#in rocking it. And yet, we also know that you have worked your ass off and there’s been struggle and failure in the process— and you’ve been so open and honest with that. So, we thought you’d be a really good person to comment on what it means to fail and why that can be a great and integral thing in the process of becoming successful. So, again, thank you. 

Jessica Rosen: Thank you!

LZ: So, we wanted to know in the context of your business [running multiple yoga studios] and in how you’ve grown over the years, what would you say is your greatest failure?

I’m trying to really show up for myself.

JR: Oh man, there are so many little ones. It’s hard to think of the biggest one. Okay…so, I think my biggest failure…maybe failure isn’t the right word…but we’ll go this one: it has been in my own ability to get shit done. Which, I know like you said, from the outside everything looks amazing, but I have a tendency to put things off, to get really overwhelmed and bogged down by the details and by the minutiae, by my email inbox, and in little things that take away from my bigger picture. I have this tendency to spin in circles and then at the end of every single day say, “I didn’t get anything done today.” 

What I’ve realized in the last few month is…I set myself up for failure in that way. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I say “I can’t get anything done.” And, therefore, I don’t get anything done. So, I’m trying to really show up for myself. I don’t really know if failure is the right word for all of this. But it feels like a failure when I go home and feel that sense of self-defeat. I’m shifting that, and I’m working hard on chunking things and giving myself projects. Because that feels more successful when I take things in chunks instead of trying to do everything all at one time. 

LZ: Yeah, we might want to play with that — can we reframe failure with a different word? But what I’m hearing in your process is that you’re coming home at the end of the day with a certain sense. And because of that sense and wanting to change, then you’re pivoting and finding a different way to attack something. It’s almost like you have to learn from the failure…you have to get to the point of feeling this certain way in order for that to be the impetus for you to innovate, pivot, change direction, scrap, go, etc. I think that is maybe what we’re getting at — the failures are these small or big chances…opportunities…to really hone in on what’s important and what will lead to either a growth or a success or something of that nature. How do you think failure has been a part of One Down Dog’s success?

JR: It’s a big part. It’s a constant learning of “Okay, I tried that. Okay, that didn’t work. Let’s try this..” In figuring out our hiring process. In our on-boarding process. In negotiating lease agreements. With our schedule. Trying a class and then it not doing well. And then having to figure out the right time for it or the right teacher with the right class type. It’s a constant evolution. Without those moments of things not working or “failing,” there’s no way we could have gotten to where we’re at today. I started in a temporary shared space and somehow now there’s three locations with two yoga rooms in each of them. That whole process was a series of throwing a ton of spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks. 

LZ: You’re doing the Make Awesome Happen workshop. Is failure woven into that? 

JR: Yes, absolutely. The biggest thing that I’ve noticed in my own life and I’ve seen it in others’ lives that stops us from making awesome happen, whether that’s making our biggest, wildest dreams come true or with the smaller stuff like personal interactions in our head….a big piece is our own negative self-talk, self-doubt, and our fear of failing. The fear of doing it wrong. The fear of it not working. And then like I mentioned before…this self-fulfilling prophecy where I’ll think that something isn’t gonna work or that I’m not getting shit done…whatever the case….and then it will be. Because I set myself up for it. That’s a big part of what I talk about in the workshop. How do we overcome those fears of failure? How can we reframe what failure is in our lives? Because ultimately, as corny as it is, failures are lessons and opportunities for growth. Every time something doesn’t work, it’s guiding us in the direction of what’s going to…if there’s a willingness to look at it and allow space for it. It can very easily turn into “Well, that didn’t work and that proves my point. Therefore, it’s never gonna happen.” Or it can be, “Well, that didn’t work but I learned something so wonderful from that experience and now there’s potential for something else” - which is amazing.

Without those moments of things not working or “failing,” there’s no way we could have gotten to where we’re at today.

LZ: Yeah. So, rather than foreclosing and shutting down. It’s the door closing and the window opening metaphor. 

JR: Yes, exactly.

 LZ: You’re the OG bosslady. One person can facilitate a culture in an organization of celebrating failure or in the very least saying that it’s okay. How do you think you have fostered that at One Down Dog?

JR: My initial response is that I could a lot better in fostering that. As I mentioned earlier, I have a tendency to be really hard on myself, and I’m certain that bleeds into the rest of my company to a certain extent. There’s a level of ask for forgiveness, not permission. And an understanding that just because something didn’t work the way we expected that doesn’t mean we throw it out. We’ve had events where we thought “Oh, this is going to be amazing and we’re going to have so many people show up” and then there will be two people who attend. I don’t want to just throw it away because there’s a reason why we thought it was going to be amazing. So, how do we do a sort of SWOT analysis? For those that don’t know, SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and…what does the “T” stand for?** (We’ll find out…). Anyway, so, we’ll look at: where are the opportunities in this experience? How can we reframe, re-shift, regroup, and keep the momentum going? Because a good idea is something to cherish and hold onto. It’s like clay. You gotta re-work it a little.

LZ: A good idea in one scenario won’t be the greatest idea in the next. Yeah, and you gotta mold and shape it as it goes. I like that metaphor. That’s a nice metaphor as we close. Thank you, Jess. I really appreciate your time. Yes, we will figure out the “T”!

JR: Yeah, I’m sure I’ll remember as soon as we hang up. 

LZ: Thank you very much. 

JS: Thank you!


**Note: The “T” in SWOT Analysis stands for “Threats.”


Jessica Rosen is a yoga teacher and an entrepreneur. She is the owner of One Down Dog (ODD), a community of three yoga studios in Northeast Los Angeles. Check out this post on ODD’s Blog for more about this awesome woman.


Lauren Ziel, MSW is a Registered Associate Clinical Social Worker, ASW #76483, working under the supervision of Gabrielle Taylor, PhD. Through the use of movement and mindfulness, Lauren develops specialized treatment for anxiety, depression, eating disorders, challenges in life-stage transitions, relational difficulties, and identity/intrapersonal development.


Women are NOT Property

Women are NOT Property

I’ve recently found myself privy to one too many conversations where women are spoken of in ways that objectify, minimize, and commercialize their womanhood. Sometimes it’s subtle. And other times I’m left dumbfounded at the blatant and aggressive misogyny that motivates such rhetoric and/or behavior.

I know womanhood and gender politics can be complicated, but let’s make one thing simple and clear: WE ARE NOT PROPERTY.

Being a woman means having pride and acceptance for who you are (even if that changes day to day). For so long I wanted to fit into what society told me was feminine. I wanted to be slender, beautiful, giving, and like-able. These acculturated gender stereotypes dominated my conception and expression of self.

After much work and self-exploration, I’ve redefined MY understanding of femininity – it means I have physical and mental fortitude. It means my body can be athletic and strong. I can shave my legs because I love the way my calves feel sans hair and not because some commercial tells me to. It demands that I admit my vulnerabilities and/or shortcomings without letting them define me. It means showing up for myself and my fellow women by accepting others exactly where they are in their journey.


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Lauren Ziel, MSW is a Registered Associate Clinical Social Worker, ASW #76483, working under the supervision of Gabrielle Taylor, PhD. Through the use of movement and mindfulness, Lauren develops specialized treatment for anxiety, depression, eating disorders, challenges in life-stage transitions, relational difficulties, and identity/intrapersonal development.

Women are Bold

Women are Bold

All humans are capable of bold acts, but being a woman requires it daily.  

Being a woman means many different things to the wide-world of self-identifying women. For me, being a woman takes a certain amount of boldness to be oneself and to honor the unique value of our more feminine traits, even in the face of misogyny and patriarchal structures. Bold may not be a word that readily comes to mind for some people when they think about women, especially considering that historically women have been considered more submissive, polite, and accommodating. However, inherent in being bold is a courage to take risks and be seen.

Without getting too political, I must say that bold was a word that came to mind after listening to the Kavanaugh hearing as I considered the enormous risk that Christine Blasey Ford was taking to have her voice heard. As a therapist and someone who has made a career of listening to people’s stories, I was particularly struck by the bold conviction she had to be heard and to voice injustices against women that can be all too cavalier. To speak of justice at the hearing of a supreme court justice nominee was a bold decision. Despite facing public ridicule and overwhelming threats on the safety of her and her family, she boldly went forward in a room full of predominantly high-powered men and spoke her truth.    

This act of boldness reminded me of the everyday struggle for women to be heard, to be accepted as ‘credible,’ and to be themselves in a societal structure designed to make them fight for their rights time and time again. The risks we take every day even in deciding what to wear in a world that has been known to blame survivors of sexual assault based on their personal expression of style, takes an inborn boldness to carry on and demand that we be treated fairly.  All humans are capable of bold acts, but being a woman requires it daily.  


HERE'S HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE IN DRESSEMBER WITH US:

Give! Visit our Dressember page and make a donation. It's that simple and no sum is too small. Truly.

Follow! Be sure to follow us on Instagram and our blog throughout the month of December. We will be documenting our fierce fashion choices but our deepest intention is to empower and educate.

Share!  Help us spread the word. You can do this by sharing our social media posts or links to our Dressember fundraising campaign page.


Erika Mitchell, MA, is a Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist #109385, working under the professional supervision of Michelle Harwell, PsyD, LMFT 50732. Erika specializes in helping her clients bring mindful, attuned awareness to their sensations and emotions.

Women Are Healers

Women Are Healers

...What has most shaped me as a woman is the way my relationships with other women have healed me.

As I scroll through the catalogue of my experiences both as a woman and as a recipient of love and friendship from other women, I am reminded of how many descriptors women embody. We are creative, resourceful, wise, wild, deep. And we wear so many hats. We have thriving careers, bear children, foster friendships, build businesses, care for the home — yes, sometimes overextending ourselves to show up for and love others. But what has most shaped me as a woman is the way my relationships with other women have healed me. The turning toward me in times of distress and offering care and compassion. The deep listening. The calming “coos” and soft body language. The gentle patience while I find the answers for myself.

Women are healers. I know that to be true deep in my bones. And I believe women are the antidote to the overly masculinized culture that has forced a broken, patriarchal system on us all.

I think of the places I work - MHT and Alive and Well Women – both with powerful women at the helm who use their strengths to lift others. These women are willing to collaborate and dialogue with their employees rather than prescribe solutions. They do not manage with absolute control or over-emphasize productivity, but instead empower employees to find balance in work life and soul life. They have cultivated cultures that nourish development and health.

It is not to say that men can’t also lead in this way, but I believe it is a mode of leadership that is perhaps archetypally connected to the feminine. Our history of men in the seats of power and the attendant systemic oppression of women seems to bear testament to this. However, the impact of women in my life and this powerful changing of the tide that I have been fortunate to witness in my young adult years has taught me to embrace the strength of my femininity and has given me hope for a different way.

Women are HEALERS.


HERE'S HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE IN DRESSEMBER WITH US:

Give! Visit our Dressember page and make a donation. It's that simple and no sum is too small. Truly.

Follow! Be sure to follow us on Instagram and our blog throughout the month of December. We will be documenting our fierce fashion choices but our deepest intention is to empower and educate.

Share!  Help us spread the word. You can do this by sharing our social media posts or links to our Dressember fundraising campaign page.


Lauren Joy Furutani, MA, LMFT, helps individuals and families of all ethnic and faith backgrounds maneuver through the unexpected turns in life.

Humans of MHT: An Interview with Dr. Vanessa Spooner

Humans of MHT: An Interview with Dr. Vanessa Spooner

In this installment of our series "Humans of MHT," Laura talks with Vanessa about holding contradictions within ourselves, growing up in Maine, and the power of group psychotherapy. 

Laura: Hello, my name is Laura MacRae-Serpa and I am a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern at Michelle Harwell Therapy. I am here with Dr. Vanessa Spooner, who is a Clinician and Clinical Supervisor at MHT, and we are going to have the pleasure of doing the fourth interview in the Humans of MHT series. So, I also wanted to mention that Dr. Spooner is the President of GPALA, which is the Group Psychotherapy Association of Los Angeles - Hello Vanessa!

Vanessa: Hi Laura - How are you?

L: I'm good, thank you. Are you ready to talk about feelings and thoughts about humanness?

V: Let's get started.

L: Okay, I'm interested in knowing what humanness means to you?

V: So, I was thinking about this this morning, as I was getting ready to head into work and for me, I think being human is being a contradiction - that we are so many polarities and opposites and we are constantly experiencing the tension between different thoughts or different feelings. And I think that as humans sometimes we get into trouble when we try to condense ourselves into just one thing - just one way of being - just one way of thinking - just one way of relating to people.

I think sometimes people think that they shouldn't have conflicting feelings or they shouldn't have different ways of relating to people but I really think that the richness that comes from being human is really found in that - in that contradiction. And I think the more we are open to that and the more that we embrace it - the more alive we feel and the happier we are. I think it's a part of our experience. I think some people really enjoy it and other people might feel stressed or trapped by that feeling - that nothing is simple - our thoughts and feelings can change about things -but we also enjoy it and seek it out.

For example, if a movie didn't have some tension in it and you didn't know what was going to happen then you wouldn't feel really riveted by it or if you're reading a book and a character seems pretty one-dimensional then you're not that interested. And people usually enjoy things when there's some ambiguity and there's many different meanings that could come from it - like a painting or poem - things that are so rich because they can have a lot of contradictions in them or they have a lot of different narratives in them. I think for me thinking about humanness that essence really speaks to me - the contradiction - the dialectics of it in that way - that you can have two opposing things happening at the same time and they don't cancel each other out and they can co-exist - like they don't completely contradict each other in that way.

L: Nicely said. True. During our photo shoot, you held up a cutting board of Maine, and I'm curious to know what that object means to you when you're thinking about your humanness?

V: So, I chose the cutting board because it's probably the easiest way to represent that I'm from Maine, otherwise I would have had to show a a state map or something. I chose Maine to represent my humanness because it kind of embodies exactly what I'm talking about- this dialectical opposition that we all embody. For me, a lot of times I have people who are surprised that I'm from Maine living out in California. It’s like - how opposite can you be? - you're coming from the other side of the country. I'm also from a very small town in Maine and there's a part of me that loves being from Maine and there’s part of me that hates being from Maine.

I think I chose that to represent my humanness because we all have mixed feelings about our homes. Mixed feelings about where we come from. We can have a sense of pride of where we're from. We can have a sense of shame, depending on our backgrounds. If I could have it my way then I would live in Maine and work in California. There are so many parts of Maine that feel more like me. It's slower and quieter. You're in nature more, the pace of life is slower and it just seems simple but not in a bad way. like People aren't rushing around trying to do different things. They're a little bit more interested in being. But LA also has a lot of things too. LA has a very vibrant community. LA has way more diversity than you find in Maine - diversity of thought, diversity of ethnicity, socioeconomic backgrounds, diversity of food and restaurants and things like that.

I find that I find myself kind of wondering where I might be in ten years and I honestly don't know. I don't know if I’ll be back in Maine or not but it reminds me of drawing than I did when I was a little kid. I think I was about six or seven and I drew this house that was in the woods on top of like a hill or mountain and I vividly remember making this drawing. I don’t know if I said anything to any of my family members but I know the story I told myself about the drawing was that I want to live in the country in this house in the middle of the woods and then I want to drive to the city and go to work. So, that was the ideal picture that I had in my head when I was a kid and I think I think I'm starting to ramble a little bit but that that's why I chose Maine to represent my humanness. I think there's a there's a tension in me from wanting to be kind of a rural country type girl from a small town and also wanting to be in LA - wanting to be in the intellectual community in Los Angeles as a therapist - so there's definitely the duality there. I think that represents my humanness well.

L: I will be interested to see where you are at in ten years as well after sharing that. See if you're here - maybe living out further and commuting or if you are actually back in Maine.

V: Well, we will see what happens.

L: How does your humanness come into the room with you as a therapist?

V: So, talking about duality - kind of oppositional forces - it almost sounds like I'm campaigning for a DBT therapy - dialectical behavioral therapy. I will say I'm not a DBT therapist but I think one of the reasons why DBT has helped so many people is because of exactly what I've been talking about- that we can have these conflicting ideas or different thoughts at the same time. They can coexist and we can start to understand from a outside perspective - our thoughts - how we feel about two contradictory things. I really like that viewpoint from DBT and I feel like that shows up a lot in my work with my clients - that it's okay to have opposing feelings. It's okay if feelings change. It's okay if your logic and your emotions don't agree with each other but how are you going to have a different dialogue with yourself? How are you going to come to terms with these contradictions and slowly over time make decisions that intuitively start to feel right? And to know that that's part of the process.

I think being human is being a contradiction - that we are so many polarities and opposites and we are constantly experiencing the tension between different thoughts or different feelings. And I think that as humans sometimes we get into trouble when we try to condense ourselves into just one thing - just one way of being - just one way of thinking - just one way of relating to people.

I think people feel like they're doing something wrong or they're stuck or something else isn't right if they're experiencing this tension. And like I was saying before about a movie, if you don't have tension, then the plot doesn't move along. So, if you don't have tension inside of you, then you don't have something to push against. I want clients to kind of embrace that tension and to know that it's not something they're going to overcome and then it's done. Like, if I go to therapy then I'll never have mixed feelings again. I'll always know what I want and it's done. It's not that you're overcoming once - each day you're overcoming this resistance to whatever it is that you might want to be doing. It's the conversation that you're having with yourself to kind of get yourself through to what you want.

It reminds me of this book called The War on Art. The author Steven Pressfield talks about resistance against creativity and he gives it a capital R and I like that because he's naming it. He's talking about how when you're trying to be a creative person, you need to have discipline and understand that resistance is always going to be there. You're not going to create just because you feel like creating-that happens sometimes but not most of the time. So, with my clients in therapy, I want them to kind of have the same feeling - that this resistance, this tension isn't going anywhere but if they are making peace with it inside of themselves then things don't have to be so stressful. There is going to be tension, there is still going to be friction but they're having an experience of themselves. They're not too critical of themselves. They're not shutting down differing points of view or different feelings inside of themselves. They're not limiting themselves to just relating to either other people, or the world, or themselves and just one standard or constricted way. So, I guess that's in a nutshell that’s how I see humanness in the room.

L: What are your thoughts on humanness in the group process or in group therapy? Do you see some similar tension - dynamics?

V: I think group therapy is humanness times a thousand. What I mean by that is that group therapy is inherently full of contradictions and opposition. Every time somebody talks in group, somebody else can't talk and there's always this tension…How much space do I take up in the group? What things are okay and not okay to say? What different types of relationships am I having in the group? I might be relating to someone as a sibling. I might be regulating someone else as a parent. I might want to relate to someone else in the group like a lover but I might be scared of showing that side of myself.

So, group, I think, is wonderful because you get all of these different points of view and there's no one truth to put in quotes- there isn't.  I could say something in a therapy group whether I'm a client in the group or the therapist and everybody in the group could have a different reaction, and all of those reactions are valid in their own way, and all of those reactions could also be reflected upon and shifted in a certain way. So, I love group for that reason. I think being a group therapist you show your humanness a little bit more because just like a parent, you're not going to relate to everyone in the group in the same way. Whereas, if you're in individual therapy, your individual clients don't know - they don't know how you were in the room with the person before them or the person after them. They just know the dyad - the relationship that the two of you have.  But when you're in a therapy group, you're kind of in the hot seat in a good way because everything that you say you have an audience. You have six or seven or eight people who are watching you and then they're also watching you interact with the other group members so, you're going to be you're going to be full of contradictions in that way.

It’s okay if feelings change. It’s okay if your logic and your emotions don’t agree with each other but how are you going to have a different dialogue with yourself? How are you going to come to terms with these contradictions and slowly over time make decisions that intuitively start to feel right?

I think the more I receive training in group therapy, the more I realize how comfortable I have to be with my humaneness in that way. I'm not going to be the same every week. The group is not going to be the same every week and that doesn't mean that anyone's doing anything wrong. It just means that it's a tension that we need to be aware of. I think another tension that comes up a lot in group, that doesn't quite come up in the same way individual therapy is the tension between wanting to be separate and the tension between wanting to be a part of. If you have a group, some group members are going to be very eager in the beginning to be like yes, we're a group and this is how we relate to each other. I understand you. Your story is similar to mine and we're forming into something that's a collective. Throughout the group, there will be periods of time when people don't want that and they want to separate. They're experiencing the tension of what if I don't want to be a part of this group? What if I lose a part of myself if I'm in this group? So maybe I don't talk, maybe I get mad at someone, maybe I don't show up one week… and I think that tension is very much present in our everyday lives and our communities and our relationships. How much we want to be connected? How much we want to be separate? You can definitely go there in individual therapy but I think it just comes up in a richer way in group therapy. You're really seeing it happened in the room whereas in individual therapy, it's the dyad and the client might be worried about getting too close to you. But I think it's a slightly different interpersonal experience when you're talking about the collective - when you're talking about a group instead of the dyad.

L: Thank you for your thoughts and sharing your humaneness and your experience. It's been wonderful listening to you and chatting with you.

V: Great, thank you so much for coming on today.

L: Bye Vanessa.

V: Bye.


Vanessa Spooner, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in helping adults work through anxiety, depression, grief, and eating disorders. Dr. Spooner also has extensive training and experience in group therapy and is currently president of the Group Psychotherapy Association of Los Angeles (GPALA)


Laura MacRae-Serpa, MFTI, CCLS has special interests in supporting children and families navigating adoption and the challenges of chronic illness.