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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.


Slowness

Slowness

Slowness to me is the quality of pausing from deep within.

This poetic piece is about the author's experience at a yoga and reiki sound bath. Its structure and tone is intended to parallel the sense of slowness that she is describing.

Slowness to me is the quality of pausing from deep within.

The slowness in my life comes from deep breathing, grounding and connecting to my senses through smell, sound, touch and feeling my thoughts float away as I move through postures and become enveloped in the reverberation from the singing bowls.

As my instructor leads us through a meditative practice, I find a kind voice within myself that honors the stillness in my busy day, and I begin to feel a sense of belonging and connectedness to the universe.

As sage fills the air and my feet hit the mat, I take a deep breath. I let go of the day's struggles and release the tightness in my body. I notice the heat in the air and the smells in the room as more and more tension is released. I have a sense of slowing down and oneness. When my instructor guides us through a chant of gratitude, my heart swells and my feet feel firmly planted once again.

Yoga,

sound,

and meditation

bring slowness to my being. 


Maria Elena Marquez, MA, is a bilingual Spanish-English Marriage and Family Therapist Intern, IMF #103470, working under the supervision of Michelle Harwell, PsyD, LMFT.  As an art therapist, Maria is passionate about helping clients unravel complex cultural beliefs and family pressures through the use of expressive art.

Humans of MHT: An Interview with Lauren Ziel, Registered Associate CSW

Humans of MHT: An Interview with Lauren Ziel, Registered Associate CSW

This is the second interview in our series "The Humans of MHT." I was delighted to spend time with Lauren Ziel, Associate Social Worker Intern. Lauren's curiosity about her own internal process lead us through an invigorating journey at the intersections of vulnerability, mindfulness, and the wisdom of the body. She is equal parts scientist, fitness guru, and empath - and she's unafraid to be silly and to speak truthfully about not-knowing.

To view (or read) the first interview in this series, go here

- Taz Morgan, MFT Intern

Taz: I’m here with with Lauren Ziel. I’m excited about getting to know you better, Lauren. I guess to start with…what does humanness mean to you?

Lauren: You know, when I think of humanness, I think of this idea of this eternal hope mixed with a lot of fallibility. A lot of pain, a lot of suffering, a lot of this capacity to self-preserve. And there’s a lot of ways that we self-preserve. Sometimes they benefit us at one point in our lives and then they no longer benefit us later on. The human condition is the depths and dark and deeply troubling things we can experience combined with this ability to overcome...maybe with a little help sometimes to overcome. 

There’s this joke, and I don’t know if you’ve heard it. But when you’re in school, maybe undergraduate or in your master’s level work or so on, where the joke is that therapists are all crazy, and they’re taking these classes to figure out themselves and to figure out their experiences. And I think there is some truth to that. I think that our inherent curiosity about ourselves and how our brain ticks, how our heart beats, all of that definitely plays into…at least, I’ve used it as a way to connect to other people. 

T: Your point about…this…well, I think of it as this Wounded Healer. Because of my background that I have…we talk about archetypes. This archetype of the Wounded Healer. And how we use our deepest wounds to be compassionate; to feel into what maybe the people we’re working with are feeling. 

L: Absolutely. What I think is so great about this project is, you know, we are not this all-knowing entity sitting across the room from you. There’s a lot that I don’t about you - the person sitting across from me - and there’s a lot I’m still learning about myself, this world and my place in it, your place in it, and how we’re coming together in this room in this weird situation where it seems kinda contrived, but it’s really, potentially a vehicle and a space for tremendous vulnerability, but also safeness in that vulnerability. 

There’s a strange way in working with my clients that make me feel accountable; that make me remember how much work it takes to figure out yourself. And it’s a motivation for me, honestly. Yeah, I think that’s the really cool part about doing what we do, or being in profession where you’re helping people on such a visceral level, on an emotional level…is it changes you. You learn so much. 

T: Yeah, you’re speaking to how it can be transformative for you as the therapist…that you’re being impacted in some way by sitting with this person or working with them. Yeah, that it feeds something in you, not in a way that is impeding the work…but it’s…I’m forgetting the quote…something that Carl Jung says that it’s alchemical. That the two people are in are this space and they’re both gonna be transformed somehow. It’s not just about the client changing. I really like that, and that seems to be what you’re speaking about.

L: Yeah. Absolutely. I feel like I need to find the quote now, but yeah (laughs), absolutely. I think that the more I can bring myself to the table - my humanness, my fallibility, in a mindful and constructive manner - but the more that I can show up being a human...being…like I don’t know sometimes. I’ll tell you when I don’t know. I might feel a little silly and wish I that actually did know the answer. I want, in way to model, to model the vulnerability, and model it so that it’s okay.

T: You’ve talked a lot, I think, about how humanness shows up in your work as a therapist. I want to talk more about what you chose as your passion that represents your humanness. Even the phrase that you chose “movement is medicine” — I thought that it would be “fitness.” Say more about this idea of movement is medicine, and how it’s meaningful to you. 

L: I think I have to start that with my own experience...in that, when I physically move, when I exert myself, when my heart rate is up, my respiration is up. Again this is how I do it. Some people would hate doing that, and I get it. When I’m sweating and exerting, and I’m fully engaged in what my body is doing in that moment….and I can feel the strike of my foot against the concrete… when I can feel how I roll my fingers over a dumbbell or a barbell as I move it - it’s really, honestly, a practice of mindfulness for me. It’s a practice of being in the present moment. There’s a degree of like a flow state where it almost just happening and there’s not a lot of thinking about. It parallels with this incredible attunement with your physical being. And it’s very grounding for me. It allows me to take my energy…because I can tend to be very heady and all up in my head and very light — pretty anxious. And using my body to ground me is very effective for me. It calms me down. It provides my brain with a little bit of clarity and being in that moment. 

028-Michelle Harwell-AU2A0241.jpg

L: I have just found in particular, running, weight-lighting, yoga - those are the things that tend to do it for me. I have discovered dancing, which I don’t know that I’m very good at, but I actually really like it. Not yet, at least, I’m not putting it off the table (laughs). You know when you’re a kid and you go climb a tree because there’s a tree there and that’s what you do? Or when your favorite song comes on and you scream at the top of your lungs in your room or in the shower?  I feel like your body, moving your body in a way that expresses feeling, and you not having to understand exactly why that is…is so freeing. 

T: Yeah, honoring the wisdom of your body.

L: Yeah, exactly, yes, beautiful way of putting. That’s perfect. It’s my me time. It really is. It’s my me time. If I can help someone find a little bit of that - it’s great. When I start to see someone really come into their body, really come into what their body is capable of, and listening to that intuition…your physical being holds so much and it can also let go of so much. 

And at the same time, I think that the body can also….just like what we talked about at the beginning…there are ways that we have learned to protect ourselves, right? The body does that, too. The body holds onto to certain things. 

T: My shoulders will just be up here sometimes (shrugging and laughing).

L: Me too. I’m a constant shoulder-shrugging. It’s like someone just scared me all the time. I totally get that (laughing). There’s a lot of really awesome research about where tension is held in the body and where certain physical maladies are coming up or somatic presentations of psychological issues. There’s so much research out there now.

T:  To incorporate the somatic piece or the body — it’s widening the scope of how we look at what it means to be human.

L:  What works for me one day won’t necessarily work for me the next. And that’s okay. It comes back to learning more about one’s self and the motivations we have, the needs and the drives that are bringing us to these behaviors is what is so interesting. And the work is never really finished at the end of the day. 

This is something that went over in my yoga teaching training - the more that we try to keep things from changing, the less satisfied we are with the situations or ourselves because change is natural. And learning to be okay with the ambiguity, the scariness, and the discomfort is probably the biggest skill that one can develop for themselves. And it’s hard. It’s work that keeps going.

T: It’s such a challenge, I think, to accept one’s own rhythm, right? The opposite of being human, in my view, is being a robot where you would have the same sensations everyday. You’re talking about having a lot of acceptance or compassion for each day being different or one day something works…there’s this nuance and complexity. And being in the not-knowing.

L: And then taking that…and having a frame of mind where…one could look at that and find it terrifying. I get that, yeah it’s terrifying but it’s also…if you put your science cap on and have this curiosity about yourself about how you function in the world and why you function in the world, then it’s almost like this cool on-going experiment you have with yourself. Figuring out all the variables.

Thank you, Taz. This was great.

T: Thank you, Lauren. It was so nice to get to know you, and hear your thoughts a little bit.

L: Samesies.


Lauren Ziel, MSW is a Registered Associate Clinical Social Worker, ASW #76483, working under the supervision of Vanessa Spooner, PsyD. 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.


Taz Morgan, MA, is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern, IMF #99714, working under the supervision of Vanessa Spooner, PsyD. She has trained in Depth-oriented psychotherapy and works with adolescents, adults, and couples. 

We Are Worth Knowing

We Are Worth Knowing

A few weeks ago, I interviewed Kim Neer, a doula, about the power of recognition. Kim, who has witnessed many births, intrigued me with her description of the first moment that a mother and her baby share: babies almost always grow deeply calm and alert when first looking into their mother’s eyes.

...I don’t think we can come fully alive or be fully at peace without the knowledge that we are worth knowing. That’s what recognition reminds us of.

That struck me as simple, but incredible. Incredible that a child who has only been part of this world for a few minutes is wired to be so captured by the chance to know and be known. That knowing and recognition brings them to life in the most peaceful of ways.

This all makes me think about the power that recognition has in my own life. Recognition is nice in general, of course, but I am especially hungry for it when I feel I’ve revealed something valuable or vulnerable about myself. When I don’t receive recognition in those moments, I can be described by anything but the words “calm and alert.” The words anxious, down, or angry would fit much better.

The interesting thing is, I think I’ve only been able to find my way out of that icky place through some other form of recognition.

Sometimes, I find that through another comforter – a friend, a therapist, a trusted leader, perhaps. Sometimes through the original person I wanted it from, after a risk to explain my need and ask for it again. Sometimes, I simply receive it from a nurturing place inside of me. Wherever it comes from, I don’t think we can come fully alive or be fully at peace without the knowledge that we are worth knowing. That’s what recognition reminds us of. Yes, we’re worth knowing, even in this moment.


Alison (Allie) Ramsey is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern, IMF #94391, working under the professional supervision of Michelle Harwell, MFT 50732. Allie works with individuals on a broad range of issues, including anxiety, depression, relational challenges, faith integration, divorce, and aging.