Diary of a Founder #8

I recently watched Dave Chapelle’s latest special on Netflix. There was a bit when he said, “I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my life, and I have to share it with you. And that lesson is this. In your life, at any given moment, the strongest dream in that moment wins that moment.”

That really hit me. It wasn’t about the biggest dream per se, but the strongest dream — and who believed in it. 

My dreams of Anact started in 2017 and have been carrying me through life for almost 7 years now. The vision I had driving down the PCH one day is a vision that has never left me. Even in the darkest moments, when my back is up against the wall financially, emotionally, physically, and more… I haven’t caved. The skills that I’ve learned from those experiences are grit and strength. The ability to play the hell out of whatever hand of cards I have and make it out on the other side unscathed. Equally important to mention is the resistance to when things come easily. The challenge is to not turn away but to accept them as gifts. If it feels counterintuitive — it’s normally right. Trust the process.  

All that said, I want you to know that I still battle with voices in my head telling me I’m unworthy, not good enough, and out of place on a daily basis. Everytime I go to do something new, whether it’s a tough work-out, or a hard conversation — I have to actively draw strength from the “good wolf” in my head to make it through. It doesn’t come naturally to me to believe that everything will always work out when I’m scared — I have to practice mantras and live in discomfort most of the time. I’ve just gotten comfortable being uncomfortable and I make myself do the thing regardless of my fear. If my 80 year old self would be proud of me for doing something — I do it. And you know what’s funny… I’ve spoken at Harvard, run the NYC marathon, started a business from scratch, traveled to 40+ countries, passed legislation to legalize hemp, and so much more, and yet I still feel like it’s not enough. I’m always wanting to climb higher mountains and challenge myself even more. 

One of the hardest parts of that process is the ego check of your reality. Not the reality that your parents/extended family/loved ones want to create for you but the reality of what you stand for and where you stand as a person in a world of 8 billion people. I suppose that is why I was so attracted to entrepreneurship. I was curious to find out who I was when all of the layers and masks were shed. It’s given me a level of confidence in the type of leader and woman I am in a way that  no other experience has given me. My mom said the other day that the downfall of America was when we started giving soccer trophies to every kid on the team. She said it prevented kids from knowing who was putting in the work and who wasn’t. But most importantly, it stalled the collective’s growth.

Because being burned by employees, receiving surprise invoices, and getting told ‘no’ by buyers and investors (or not getting a response at all), is not for the faint of heart. It’s funny, my mom recently asked me how I deal with it, considering I’m such a sensitive soul. To which I responded… not well. It takes a toll on me mentally and physically, which is why I’ve started to really focus on optimizing my health, so that I can take on all that is required of me as the captain of Anact. 

There are a lot of things I want to do in this life and I want to feel good doing them. Plus, I’m of the mindset that our body is our home. And if we don’t feel confident and at ease in it, then that’s a fairly poor way to live one’s life. 

One of the reasons I’ve been able to become a founder is due to Obamacare. The downside (at least for me) is that the medicines and treatments that I’ve found the most impactful (like somatic therapy and acupuncture) aren’t covered by insurance. I use my health insurance for emergencies but not for preventive medicine. 

Here’s what I’ve found moves the needle for me: 

  • Understanding my menstrual cycle 
  • Acupuncture
  • Reflexology
  • Plants and herbs 
  • Seed probiotics - https://refer.seed.com/x/kxsumn
  • Lemon water (first thing in the morning) 
  • Fond Bone Broth (but you can make your own too) after drinking lemon water 
  • Writing (as often as I need to, I carry a notepad with me everywhere I go) 
  • Meditation (I started with Headspace and then started using Melissa Wood Health and now I use the Chani app) 
  • Somatic Therapy (this might be the top game changer of them all) 
  • Exercise (Kawi Crossfit Gym, running/trail walks, ballet classes).  I’ve started to crave the endorphin release I feel from working out on a daily basis. It makes me feel invincible and like anything is possible. 
  • Boggy Creek Farm (I love stopping by after working out on the weekends and getting veggies freshly plucked from the soil) 
  • Colonics (I just tried this after being sick at the beginning of the year and it was pretty awesome)
  • Sauna (not as easily accessible but something I did when I was in Ireland writing this past August in my grandmother’s hometown and something I could easily do every morning)
  • Cold plunges (not as easily accessible in Austin either but Barton Springs usually does the trick)
  • Sun (just taking a minute to lay in the sun means the world to me) 
  • Reading (I cannot live without the library) 
  • Food combining (new to this, but I love the thought process around correctly combining your foods so that your gut can easily process them) 
  • Not owning a TV (I don’t want to be told everyone’s vision 24/7… I want to follow my own vision) 

If there is anything that has worked for you — let me know! 

But the most important tool of everything I use is my spiritual practice. An unwavering belief that I’m on the right path and that I’m being guided by a higher power (for me, that’s God). I wake up each morning with the belief that each day is  a new adventure. I don’t wait until Friday at 5 pm to have fun, or for a certain holiday, or moment. I embrace what I have and tell myself that yesterday doesn’t matter, tomorrow doesn’t matter— what matters is being present in the day I’ve been given and living it to the fullest. Mastering this mindset often feels like I’m not doing it right, because being patient in a world built on instant gratification can be r-o-u-g-h. I’ve also found this nostalgia for going back to catholic church these days. 

There are also a variety of books that have helped guide me in growing stronger spiritually:

  • The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer (he created a billion dollar company out of Gainesville, Florida) 
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (this helped me to embrace my own journey and connect my own dots to create Anact. I actually have a tattoo on my right hand that I got to remind myself that no matter what happens in life, I will rise above it after reading The Alchemist)
  • The Bible (shoutout to Jesus. I read this front to back in 2017)
  • A Course in Miracles by Helen Schucman (this book is where I learned the question that I  ask myself each morning…where would you have me go, what would you have me say, and to whom?) 
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller (this was my 2020 recommendation and helped me figure out how to prioritize my day and execute) 
  • The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield (my 2021 recommendation — I have no idea how I came into possession of this book but I did and it had handwritten notes. This book helped me understand the Age of Aquarius and the human experience) 
  • Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by by Sebastian Junger  (my 2022 recommendation - this book helped me realize that we are not meant to live this life alone but together as a community) 
  • The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron (my 2023 recommendation). I really loved this book because it helped me learn that when you’re ascending and really catching your stride, crazy-makers will come out of nowhere to distract you, which I personally experienced last year, and that you have to stay the course. There was so much more that resonated with me but that piece alone helped me distance myself from certain situations so that I could focus on what really mattered. 

Some of these might resonate with you, some might not. I think the key is to find things that bring you peace in your life so that you can become the observer rather than the reactor. Learning how to not attach myself to my emotions and feelings, and instead let them pass through me while doing my best has been my recipe for success. 

It’s funny, I was reading the book “Power” by Robert Greene and I really didn’t like it because it’s all about hoarding resources rather than sharing so that you can stay at the top. Call me crazy, but I think that when you’re connected to God then you’re already at the top. Gatekeeping and trying to throw people off your tracks will work but it’s a pretty shit way to live. 

Other things I learned about myself this week:

  • I think Soho House is great for making connections (because at the end of the day, the world operates on relationships) but I want the camp/outdoor version. Like if SoHo and REI had a baby. Where are the people who like to do good, make money, and sit by the fire outside and meet each other? Sign me up. 
  • Whoever is meant to stay will stay, but whoever is meant to go will go. I lost a lot of people in 2023. Some of those people I think about daily, but I tell myself that if they’re meant to be in my life, we’ll find a way back one day. Something I’ve noticed about myself is my ability to be a lone wolf standing tall when no one else will. But sometimes I wonder what it would be like to not have to have such a strong connection to myself and my values and just scoot along with the rest of the herd. Actually, I take that back as I type. I would rather stand for something than fall for anything any day. Even if I’m alone. That’s just who I am. 
  • I am so excited for the Notley's Leadership Network program that I’m a part of. Largely because it's run by Austinites that represent the Austin culture I was first introduced to back in 2007. It’s funny, walking up to the office this week brought back a really unexpected memory for me. In the spring of 2022, I got COVID after attending a good friend of mine’s wedding in Ireland. I was quarantined in Dublin for a bit and one day we walked the entire area of the Airbnb we were staying at in the Docklands. We stumbled upon a brewery (BrewDog Outpost to be exact) and sat outside to people watch and have a drink (I had had COVID for two weeks by then, but I kept testing positive). It was cold and dreary and we sat outside watching everyone get off work and go out for a pint. I remember feeling so wishful, wanting to be one of those people getting out from work for a pint instead of a solo founder with COVID trying to figure out inventory and sales channels by myself. Well, I’m happy to report that memory came full circle this week while walking to the orientation for the fellows program. The weather was just how I remembered it in Dublin that day, and the outfit I was wearing was almost the exact same. But this time, I was one of those professionals walking to meet a group of people who are passionate about caring for their community in the same way that I am. It gives me chills to think about.  Being able to make money and create jobs around topics I care about, while also discussing the things I see in the city I wake up and live in each day — figuring out how to make it better — is truly one of my love languages. 
  • Back in March 2022, I discovered this spot (https://tropicalfruitwarehouse.com/) on a walk in Dublin and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’ve dreamt of Anact being there in some form or fashion ever since. When I start assessing the distance of where we are now and where we want to be, the movie “The Intern'' always gives me hope for that to come to fruition.. 
  • I really love teams and community. I think it’s so odd that in the US we move less and do less together as we get older, whereas my family in Ireland keeps playing sports and building together. My grandfather played Gaelic football until he was well into his 40s in the Bronx. He was a scorer. It’s something I want to instill in my children and my own family one day — the ability to be active in one’s body until the very end. Funny side note, I’ve been getting hit with all of the content from the Irish rugby team lately, which has inspired me to become a rugby fan. 
  • Stealing ideas… imitation is the highest form of flattery ay ay ay but boy it’s annoying and frustrating. I just tell myself that when you’re serving a higher power and in your ikigai that it will all work itself out. 
  • I hate fame. I would much prefer to be the quiet RBG-type that crushes you in beast mode without ever having to show any strain. I’m obsessed with knowing that we can create real impact, authentic responses, connections in our community, AND see the textile industry evolve while creating profit and jobs for everyone on our team. I’ve always been a bit of a wild horse in that way, preferring to run free and set big visions to bring to life over playing the game that is expected of me. Needless to say, you can understand why men find me hard to date sometimes :/ 
  • Reading before going to bed has been a game changer. I’ve been having the best dreams because of it (even if I am reading difficult material like I am right now). Don’t get me wrong, I’m obsessed with this book (it’s called Demon Copperhead) largely because of how conscious and present the main character is — from when he’s a baby and as he ages. But also because the author paints such an accurate description of “hillbilly culture” with tenderness and care. Most people don’t know this about me, but I spent a large part of my childhood growing up in Bowling Green, Kentucky and going to summer camp at Camp Marymount in Fairview, Tennessee. I have a special place in my heart for the people there and for anyone who is considered “unpopular or uncool.” I always have. I pride myself on being able to hang with a variety of people in this world, regardless of sexual orientation, age, color, or background. I love to learn about people and understand them. A writer I adore who used to do that was Marjorie Rawling in her book “Cross Creek.”She went hunting with the men, attending pound parties with the local families, and never once made anyone feel less than or not enough because they were labeled as “crackers” living in the middle of Florida. Goals. 
  • A song that has been haunting me in the most beautiful way has been Shane Smith & the Saint’s latest song, called “All the Way”. I love that they sourced footage from their fans to put their music video together and how the song celebrates getting old and love that surpasses the test of time. It takes my breath away.

Alrighty! I hope everyone had a lovely week. If you haven’t done so already, mark your calendars for March 8th. We will be doing our first activation at SXSW and cannot wait!

Also, we’re still figuring out this whole blog thing. We’re looking into moving to Substack, so stay tuned on that front! I’m also going to write about the kidnapping (finally) so I can create a piece for people to read to understand what happened so I don’t have to relive it anymore. I don’t quite understand this, but the more I share with people about it — the more people seem connected to and understanding of me and why I live life the way I do.

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