One of the biggest struggles as a person who owns a business, and really for the entire human condition is balance. Currently the balance I’m trying to strike is brand/professionalism vs. authenticity. As a person i tend to lean toward authenticity always. That said I’m not unflappably authentic, one of those people who can’t help but be themselves day in and day out. I do have a filter, or many filters that i use in various situations. Some people call them masks. I find filters more accurate, as the lens i choose doesn’t obscure me completely. Just adds a different glow, shift in focus.
And then there’s what they call “building a brand.” In the past year i’ve taken this seriously. I’ve been thoughtful about what gets said, who’s saying it, and even some of the choices that are not necessarily polished or professional are just that, choices. I’m proud of this brand. I’m proud of the professional face we’ve put on this passion project. I’m proud of the work we’ve done/are doing and what we’re building. Maybe this need to be present as professional comes from a place of trying to convince others (and maybe myself) that i am. Wherever it came from I’m proud. I’m proud that it’s professional, but also that it comes from the heart.
But it can be isolating, this professional face. So i wanted to step out for just a minute and say hi. While I cannot claim to be all that The Hive has grown into, i am the (wo)man behind the curtain. Administrator, director, curator, dreamer. I believe whole-heartedly in all of the beautiful souls that have joined this dream as both instructors, healers, and community members. I have so much gratitude for what they have added and continue to add to this magical little corner of the West Side. It’s this gratitude, belief, and understanding that nothing is possible flying solo that makes me hesitant or uncomfortable to say things like “I.” even if the sentiment represented at the time is purely mine.
It’s tricky, this whole social media game, this whole person in charge of a collective. But here i am.
For those who don’t know me, my name is erin, and i hate capitalizing my name. I got away with it as a poet, but it’s a harder preference to justify as a professional. Then again, the whole point of a venture all but all your own is making these choices that sit well with your soul. So it’s erin, no capital E. I waffle also between last names. You’ll see me on our site as Nowak. That is after all my official, legal, married last name. Very businesslike and proper, don’t you think? When i run workshops or lead meditation i use my maiden name, erin jewell. Mostly because it feels more authentic to my true self and the work that is aligned with my soul and purpose, my personal brand if you will. Also, because it’s a great name. i just can’t let it go.
There are many names & roles & jobs that encompass my life’s work. One of the biggest ones is Momma. This is the reality of the situation. I run the studio from home. Posts are made, schedules finalized, website updated in the midst of a flurry of snacks, questions, tantrums, and the occasional bliss of a 3.5 & 1.5 year old actually playing nicely together. I have one guaranteed afternoon a week where the inlaws take my daughters and i again balance. I balance between squeezing in all the work that requires focus and any meetings where i need to actually talk productively to other adults, and relishing in my guaranteed time with no one climbing, pulling on, or whining at me. I’m a big believer in building your dream life. I also believe i’m living mine. It’s hard for me to come out and paint a picture of reality because I don’t want it to be taken as complaint. It’s often a pleasure to be spending unrushed morning with these two, watching American Ninja Warrior and giggling over breakfast. The reality that creates though is trying to present polished IG posts while defending my keyboard from gooey hands. While complaint doesn’t serve much purpose, neither does hiding the truth. And the truth of stay at/work from home mom/femtrepreneur /whatever we’re calling ourselves is not always glamorous.
This is just a facet of my reality. The “modern” working woman, work-life balance which at worst means i’m doing both all the time plus always some side hustling, a personal brand, and i get burnt out. But in the good times it means that i can watch my kids play in the kiddy pool, work in my garden, and come up with endless social media posts that look hopefully professional and on brand, organize events, and encourage everyone to participate in this dream of mine/ours.
Because it always, always comes back to that dream. When i do get burnt out from always having my work hat on, or overwhelmed by being surrounded by such a beautiful wellness and yoga community that this dream feels futile, or social media feels too impersonal and i really just want to say “Hey guys! Come let us love you!” I come back to that dream and lead from the heart, from authenticity.
And here it is. I’m working from a beach chair on the driveway while my kids (who rarely are fully clothed these days) play with chalk. Play that quickly devolved to arguing and whining so i’m actually finishing up while stuffing my hungry face with qdoba because that’s what today’s pregnant tastes will tolerate. Presenting professionally when i don’t actually remember the last time i washed my hair. But that’s the whole point of this thing, this place. Come as you are. I’ve taught yoga in (stretch maternity) jeans. My kids have been in studio up to the very one or two minute late beginning of class because my husband was late leaving work. And this standard is not just for me. Come. As. You. Are. A minute or two late or right on time. Jeans or workout capris. Flexible or not. Mindful or not. Having never touched a yoga mat, or your toes. Whether you’ve heard of a chakra or chaturanga. There is too much pressure to present as perfect, to act like you know it all and can do it all. It’s ok if you can’t. I can’t. And if i’m the leader, then i’m going to work on doing so by example, sometimes put together, sometimes a hot mess with a huge heart.
So here i am, stepping out. I’ll still hold it together often, and not just because i’m a little addicted to Canva. But if you’re sticking around, expect to see a little more of life unfiltered also.