Hey Superhero readers,
I’m so excited to introduce a brand new interview series! These will be Q & A’s with creative superheroes in my life– people I admire deeply for their talent and important work in the world. They use their gifts to spread joy, inspiration and transformation and I am thrilled to introduce them to you.
The first interview is with Jen Lee, who I met through the Lovebomb gathering several years ago. Jen is a brilliant writer and teacher (definitely check out her site) but what gets me every time is her ability to tell stories. (Like, in public. On stage.) If you are a fan of The Moth like me, you might have already heard her story featured in this episode. Jen brings authenticity, beauty and depth to everything she does and I am so honored to have her here! Her wisdom is breathtaking. Enjoy.
Q: If you were a superhero, what would your power(s) be?
Being able to really see people–the gifts they hold or their capacities–in a way they often struggle to see themselves. I wish it worked as well with myself, but the irony is I really struggle with seeing myself accurately. I can be sounding the drum calling others out of the bushes and into the circle to dance their dance, while somehow still trying to hide in those same bushes when my own courageous moments come knocking.
It’s a struggle to be able to do something so easily for others that is such a challenge to do for myself, but it gives me compassion for all of us about the difficult work of becoming. It keeps me from getting flippant or glib or from minimizing what it costs us to stop into the courageous futures that call and beckon.
Q: What are your obsessions? and how do they make their way into your creative work?
God, where do I begin? My obsessions fall into two categories. The first are grounding–they give me rootedness and stability on the outside while things swirl and storm inside. These include my morning and evening rituals. Going to bed and waking at the same time every day, eating the same breakfast (currently obsessed with apple cinnamon instant oatmeal and English Breakfast tea), rubbing almond oil with a few drops of essential oils into my feet at night. I listen to the same record on repeat, wear the same necklace and clothes combo (dark jeans, soft tee). I go on these crazy food kicks where I crave one thing around the clock for days or weeks and have to force myself to keep eating some variety, drink out of the same glass (a Sarabeth’s jam jar)–things like that.
The other category are creative obsessions, which I stumble into unconsciously and often tease out later the missing piece they help me find. I was on a big Johnny Cash kick recently, and right now I’m obsessed with this British show called MI-5 on Netflix streaming. We watch it almost every night and I just realized a couple days ago (six seasons in) that its characters are icons of courage for me right now. I watch them at risk, in frightening situations, and over and over again they are willing to be the one, willing to be of service. Every night I feel that feeling in my body–a vulnerability and fear cocktail–and I watch it play out to some kind of resolution. It’s like I’m teaching my own body and that I can press through that feeling, that someone will be glad I did, and that I will be glad, too.
Q: What are the top 5 things you’ve learned so far as a creative entrepreneur?
1. There are no blueprints for journeys like ours, and trying to graft someone else’s methods onto your unique calling is often a source of confusion, not clarity.
Q: What are a few things people wouldn’t know by looking at you?
I’m a super introvert. I’m told the social awkwardness I feel in many situations doesn’t always show.
Q: What did you believe as a kid that you no longer believe?
Q: I believe that vulnerability is a superpower. Tell us a story about how embracing your vulnerability. What were the gifts on the other side?
These moments are slowly accumulating like a growing conspiracy to show me the things I think will forfeit my belonging are actually my greatest points for creating connection. I’m literally stunned every time to find more affection, not less, waiting for me on the other side. But no matter how this new body of evidence grows, I don’t think it will ever stop having that feeling of fear and trembling in the moment. So I play my record and watch my MI-5, and hold myself very, very gently along the way.
Bio: Jen Lee is an independent media producer and a beloved performer in New York City’s storytelling scene, including the Peabody Award-winning Moth Radio Hour and The Best of The Moth, Volume 15. Jen is co-leading a series of Indie Publishing Workshops with designer Liz Kalloch in October at the Create Explore Discover Retreat. You can find her Telling Your Story home study course, the Retrospective podcast and other resources to nourish and inspire at jenleeproductions.com. Photo Credit: Bella Cirovic, shetoldstories.com