Embrace Your Weird Online Class!

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Sundays from 3pm - 5pm Eastern

Jan 13, 20, Feb 3, 10, 17 (5 Classes)

I am so thrilled to be able to offer my classes online! I know t’s not easy - for many reasons - to get to a specific retreat location, so this offers a great alternative. Connect via video conference anywhere you have internet access, and join me for a fun, helpful, and engaging workshop. The class size will be small so we can keep it intimate and create a safe, supportive community.

Here’s the class description:

Learn to live with more ease and authenticity, whether you have diagnosed anxiety/depression, or just experience everyday stress. We will discuss tangible ways to understand your inner critic, increase compassion for yourself and others, and access the joy within that often feels smothered by stress.

The class will also include therapeutic writing exercises, breathing techniques, and mindful group dialogues about managing anxiety. We will practice proven methods to retrain the brain and create healthier habits in all areas of our lives.

This class provides opportunities (but no obligations!) to share your creative work in a supportive community, ask questions, and gather tools to create more happiness and contentment in daily life.

No experience in anything, other than being human, is required.

Join the class via video conference with free and easily downloadable Zoom software from anywhere you have an internet connection. Questions? Ask here. The class size will be limited, so save your space by registering below.

Veteran discount and a limited number of other scholarships are available, inquire here.

Get Early Bird Special pricing ($49 off) until Dec. 15th!

Here’s what my former students have said about the class:

“I found it beyond helpful and engaging. The content was so groundbreaking for me.”

“I was slightly apprehensive about taking this class, I almost didn’t come because of my anxiety. I’m glad I did because I’ve been given tools to cope. Effective, in just a few days!”

“Lisa’s workshop and book have been more helpful to me in self-acceptance and self love than the past years of therapy.”

“There wasn’t one thing Lisa said this weekend that was not incredibly valuable. As someone who is in education – Lisa is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.”

“This program was excellent. Lisa is a sensitive and caring person who communicated how to enrich our lives by giving us tools for self-awareness and dealing with issues that held us back from a self-aware and fulfilling life. “

“The program exceeded my expectations. Lisa is so easily understood and approachable. I came with an open mind and was led to where I needed to be.”

“Lisa Jakub is a refreshing soul that will feel like a warm hug as she teaches you to accept any of your weird crazy self, and provides tools to take home.”

“The ease with which Lisa spoke about all of these complex topics and her passion for exploring the intersections of writing, anxiety, and yoga was inspiring to say the least.”

“Thank you so much for your time, energy, and expertise this weekend and for just being so darn likable and REAL!”

“I feel our weekend together was life-changing in so many ways!!  I feel like something has opened in me and I finally have a direction for my writing. Things are just flowing… this is so healing and exciting!”

“Someone already mentioned how “up” and positive I sounded coming home after your workshop this past weekend!

“Lisa made it a safe, welcoming space, and shared personal stories in a way that illustrated what she taught and made it even more accessible. I am looking forward to putting all these tools to good use!”

The "I'm overwhelmed by the news" meditation

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I get this question a lot: how do I deal with feeling anxious about news of terrible things in the world?

I totally understand this, because I get overwhelmed by the news, too. I feel lost and helpless and angry. I get tempted to numb out and avoid the way I’m feeling - because it’s so awful. But when I can sit with those difficult feelings and breathe through the discomfort, it helps that pain to dissipate a little. I remember that I’m stronger than I think I am. Then, I can do the hard work of trying to make a difference in the world.

Here is a meditation that I recorded literally ten minutes after learning about the latest shooting. If I sound like I was a little shaky, that’s because I was. I felt sad and ungrounded. But this meditation is what I most needed, and maybe it’s what you need, too.

If you’re interested in more of this, check out Insight Timer. It’s a free app with tons of great guided meditations, music, and courses on mindfulness. Search for my name for a list of meditations that I’ve recorded, or listen online.

Wishing you all peace, my friends.

Last call for my writing and wellness retreat in North Carolina!


Reasons you might want to go on a retreat with me in Boone, NC

  • you like to write
  • you like to do yoga
  • you like to meditate
  • you like good food
  • you like mountains
  • you like to meet cool people and maybe make some new BFFs
  • you don't like any of those things, but you are kinda stressed out and you think it's about damn time you learned some tools for managing it better

Join my dear friend Cecily Armstrong and me on Sept 6-9th for a weekend of wellness, creativity, and fun!

ZERO experience with yoga or writing is required.

Just come with an open heart and a willingness to connect and play. 

Questions? Feel free to contact me. 

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Free meditations for you -- from my closet

 Insight Timer Meditation

Insight Timer Meditation

Hey lovely people, 

I am beyond thrilled about this. I have teamed up with the Insight Timer app to offer you guided meditations - all for free! Just download the app, and search for my name, or listen online.

There is one beginner-friendly mediation on there now, with more to come. I really do record these in my closet, and I am so grateful that I now have a platform that is free and widely available. 

I am so passionate about meditation as a tool for anxiety and depression. It has been such a game-changer for me. I know there are many misconceptions about what meditation is, and everyone tends to think that their brain is just too busy to meditate. But everyone's brain is busy. That's the job of the brain. Learning to use your breath and awareness of your thoughts can be the key to finding a little bit of stillness in the middle of the chaos.

It is absolutely hard work. And it's absolutely worth it. 

wishing you peace,

~Lisa 

PS. Want to kick your meditation up a notch? Join me on a retreat!


Can you make art during a crisis?

     Art by susanmcculley.com

 

Art by susanmcculley.com

One of my favorite moments of television happened on a 2006 episode of Anthony Bourdain's show, No Reservations. It was supposed to be a travel show about the food and culture of Beirut, but Tony and his crew found themselves in the middle of a violent conflict. They watched the airport get blown up from their hotel room, and saw whole neighborhoods get blasted.

They were trapped there for a week before being transported out. And there is this scene, where in the middle of the tension and chaos and fear - Tony walks into the kitchen of the hotel, and he cooks. For a moment, he loses himself in the chopping and stirring, the creation of something to share with others.

That moment brought me to tears.

Tony cooked because cooking was his art.*

That's how he shared his love and passion.

That's the creative lens through which he translated the world.

We are in crisis right now. In a million different ways, this country is in crisis. I feel it in the pit of my stomach, and it's breaking my heart. I wonder, why make art? Why write? Why create anything when things feel this uncertain, when so many people are suffering? What is the point of creating in crisis? I stare at the walls and leave my projects untouched as I sit with my fear and pain and anger in my own little internal Beirut.

But as I think back to that episode, Tony Bourdain answered my question for me. We create  - we cook or write poetry or cross-stitch - because we are human. Because we've been doing this since the beginning of time. Because we made cave paintings before we bothered to figure out farming techniques because art was more important than eating regularly.  Because art connects the discordant, makes sense of the senseless, and gives voice to the unspeakable.

Creating something - anything - that makes you feel alive is imperative, especially in times that feel stressful or uncertain. Whether that stress is on a national level, or a personal one. So, if you paint, please, I beg of you, paint. If you sing or quilt or take photographs of the insects in your backyard, please go do it. Please make all the things, and then - here's the important part - share them with the world. Don't keep your creations to yourself because your ego is saying that's not really art, or that someone else already did it better. Get brave and get it out there, so we can experience beauty and stay in touch with our humanity.

We really need that.

In later interviews, Tony said that the experience in Beirut "changed everything." When he and his crew came home, they kept thinking, What's important? They made changes, both to the show, and to their lives. Tony's Instagram from less than two weeks before his death reads - "An eventful week. On the battlefield and off. Making art . Every motherfucking day."

So that's what I'll do. Life may feel like a battlefield. But I'll be here.

Making art.

Every motherfucking day.

——–

*I originally wrote about Tony in present tense, and it really sucks to change that. 

——–

You can leave a comment here, or join us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter

Three upcoming workshops: Wanna hang out?

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I have three writing & yoga workshops coming up! During these workshops, we come together to practice, discuss, create, and connect. (And, no, I will never make you share your writing!)

No experience is necessary, all my workshops are open to beginners to both yoga and writing. And if you have a writing and/or yoga practice already, these workshops will help you take it to a new level.

June 23rd - Oak Island, NC

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I'll be at Rebel Soul Yoga doing a half-day retreat on meditation, yoga, and writing for anxiety. We will explore mindfulness,  yoga philosophy, and journaling prompts. There are only a couple of spots left, so reserve yours here.

September 6 – 9 - Boone, NC

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I will be leading a Writing and Wellness Yoga retreat with the incredible yoga teacher and health coach, Cecily Armstrong.  We'll be covering topics such as the various aspects of emotional and physical wellness, nutrition, journaling as a form of healing, and using yoga as a way to reconnect to your life.  Get more info and sign up at Art of Living Retreat Center.

September 28-30 - Buckingham County, VA

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I will be leading a Yoga and writing for anxiety retreat at Yogaville.  Both Yoga and writing offer ways to tap into the heart of the present moment and see what is true and real in everyday life. The key to more inner peace lies in learning to drop the story and access the serenity of the present moment so we can stop obsessing about the past and future. For those of us with anxiety, that may seem like an impossible task, but there are proven ways to retrain the brain and create healthier habits. Sign-ups are open now!

For more information about my Pose & Pose Workshops, click here.  And feel free to contact me with any questions. Hope to see you at a retreat!

We'll never be royals: Princess Diana tried to set me up on my first date

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In case you are still in the midst of Royal Fever from Harry and Meghan's wedding - here's the story of when Princess Diana tried to set me up with her son. (This is an excerpt from my memoir You Look Like That Girl: A child actor stops pretending and finally grows up)

Some people must enjoy attending fancy movie premieres, maybe the same kind of people who get excited about getting an invitation to parties at roller rinks or backyard barbeques or anniversary celebrations. Because premieres are much like those regular parties, except add another 700 people, paparazzi, forced ass-kissing motivated by a deep-seated fear that you will never work again, and small, low-carb food served on toothpicks, as required by scrawny Hollywood actresses to keep them that way.

However, my first premier (for the film Rambling Rose) set the standard pretty high. It was a royal premiere in London, which meant the guest list included Princess Diana. When you are being introduced to royalty there is serious protocol because Brits are not known for screwing around when it comes to tradition. There were many rules to adhere to; when I met the princess, I could not speak until spoken to and when I did dare to open my mouth, I needed to say, “Your Royal Highness.” This level of formality felt completely awkward; my instinct would have been to give the princess a hug, offer her a piece of gum, and show her a picture of my dog.

I traveled with my entourage, which for me, consisted of my mother, father, and grandmother. For my Canadian grandmother, attending a royal premiere was akin to having brunch with Jesus. There was no way she was going to miss that.

As soon as we arrived in London, I met with a woman whose actual job it was teaching me how to curtsey properly. My curtsey teacher came to our hotel room, and it scared me a little to let her in. She looked like a cartoon someone had drawn of what a British curtsey teacher should look like. Her entire being was lithe and severe and her hair was pulled back so tightly that it made you wince just to look at it. After a brief history lesson about the curtsey, we practiced the move itself. I was something of a disappointment to her, as my curtsey looked more like I was suddenly tripping over something. She smiled a tight British smile and patiently requested I try again. She seemed convinced that I was about to massacre the ritual in front of her princess, which would inevitably cause the crumbling of the British Empire and everything it stood for. When she had done her best, she patted my shoulder a little too hard and said she was sure it would be fine—but please would I mind terribly spending another hour or so practicing in front of the bathroom mirror?

The whole thing was incredibly intimidating. I worried about what to say to Princess Diana. British weather seemed to be a terrible topic of conversation. Would I have enough time for a real heart-to-heart exchange? Should I tell her she looked beautiful or was that like telling Mount Everest it looked big?

Right before the main event, the actors, director, and producers of the film gathered together to watch an instructional video on how to properly meet and greet the princess. We crammed around the television in the producer’s hotel room. I brought a notebook. The air was thick with nerves and everyone else seemed to be hoping that the video would answer some questions for them, as well. We all sat around looking tense, the ladies smoothing hems and straightening pantyhose, the men buttoning and unbuttoning tuxedo jackets.

I poised my pen and paper as the video started; Rowan Atkinson came on screen as Mr. Bean. It was a spoof in which he was spit-polishing his shoes and making a fool out of himself as he waited for his royal introduction. The video ended with him head-butting the Queen of England. I laughed, but it was the kind of laugh where I was simultaneously looking around, hopeful that the real video was about to start because the issue remained that I didn’t have a clue about what I was doing. Seriously? This was the “educational video”? The little skit was supposed to help everyone relax, but all it did was encourage me to scribble in my notebook - "No head-butting."

There was no time for questions as my family and I were ushered into a limo that took us to the theater. When we arrived in front of the marquee, my heart froze. The street outside the theater was teeming with hundreds of people. It might have been thousands. When I panic, I hyperventilate, which often leads to blackouts. That had the potential to result in an unintentional royal headbutt, so clearly it needed to stop.

“That’s...that’s a lot of people.”

Mom waved her hands dismissively at the crowd outside the tinted limo window.

“They’re waiting for the bus. Look, there’s the stop right there.”

She was right. There was a stop right outside the theater.

“It’s London. Everyone takes advantage of public transportation here. It’s very smart. Environmentally responsible, too.”

I was about to inquire as to why people would be waiting for the bus by crouching on top of the bus shelter with a long-lens camera, but my dad and Grandma beamed at me from the other side of the limo. “They’re just waiting for the bus,” they agreed. There was a lot of nodding. It seemed best to believe them.

My family took their seats in the theater and left me to join the other people from the film in the reception line. I waited for the princess’s arrival, between Lucas Haas, who played my older brother in the film, and Jane Robinson, the costume director. I was wearing itchy tights and a horrendous black, flowery Laura Ashley dress with a wide, floppy lace collar that seemed quite sophisticated to my pre-teen sensibilities. The tights had been a last-minute purchase from a Marks & Spencer in London. I had forgotten to bring tights and my grandmother gasped at the thought of me meeting a princess with uncovered legs. My itchy British tights crushed my waist and made me even more uncomfortable. The princess took a long time to arrive but she was a princess, so no one said anything.

The dark, rainy London night suddenly turned to daylight with all the flashbulbs and the air filled with the excited yelling of paparazzi. Moments later, Princess Diana stepped into the lobby of the theater and looked just as spectacular as you would expect. As she made her way down the line, being introduced to the representatives of the film, I tried to practice the curtsey in my mind. I slipped my foot behind my ankle a few times to make sure I could still move it.

She chatted a bit with each person she met. It very much resembled a wedding reception line, except Princess Diana was both bride and groom and was more stunning than both put together. When she was presented to the person just before me, I started to freak out again. Do I look at her now? Or is that eavesdropping? Do I stare straight ahead? Do I look at my shoes and feign surprise when she gets to me? “Oh! Hello there!” As if there was some other reason I had flown to another continent and was wearing itchy tights?

Before I was able to work out an answer, suddenly, Princess Diana was standing in front of me, reaching out her hand. I took it and curtsied, losing my balance a little and wobbling to the side. She smiled kindly and supported me with her other hand.

Strike one. I was specifically told to not steady myself on the princess, as if she were some sort of bejeweled kickstand. But I was a clumsy twelve-year-old who tripped a lot in normal situations; this fumble was inevitable.

The official presentation was made by some sort of royal aid with a booming voice, “Lisa Jakub, an actress in the film.”

“Hello Lisa, it’s very nice to meet you.” Her words were effortless and felt like sunshine.

“It’s an honor to meet you, Your Royal Highness.”

Okay, I got through that part. That was the line I had planned. Now we were freestyling. It seems an easy thing, to have a conversation and respond like a human being to another human being, but when there are several cameras in your face and you’re holding the hand of a princess, it’s not so simple.

“You look so pretty!” she remarked. I blushed and looked at my feet, then remembered that you are supposed to keep eye contact. I looked back up and stared blankly. Saying, “Thank you,” seemed like I was accepting the premise that I was pretty, which is hard to do under regular circumstances, let alone while standing next to Princess Diana. Saying, “You look pretty, too,” seemed trite, as if I hadn’t thought she looked pretty until she thought I did. I fished around in my brain for something else to say.

Nope. Nothing.

“I hear you did a lovely job in the film.” She kindly made up for my lack of words.

“Thank you, Your Royal Highness.”

“I have a son that is just about your age; his name is William. I’m sure he would love to meet you.”

Was Princess Diana is trying to set me up with her son? Now, this would be a hell of a first date for me.

“Oh. Yes. Okay. That sounds fun.”

“Well, it’s settled then, we will have to do that sometime.” She beamed more sunshine at me.

Again, I was stymied. How was that going to work? I almost said, “Should I just stop by the palace one day, or...?” I went with, “Thank you, your Royal Highness,” because I had already said that successfully and was fairly confident that my mouth could make those same sounds again.

She gave me a final, sweet smile and moved on down the line to greet the rest of the people from the film. I just stood there looking forward. We had all flown to Europe for those twenty seconds and now they were done. Had I done a good job? It was a surprisingly intimate public moment that no one could grade me on. I was surrounded by crowds of people and cameras but I suddenly felt very alone. People to my left and right were worried about their own performances, my mom hadn’t been there, nor my curtsey teacher or anyone else that I could count on for an honest critique of my behavior. If I had another take I could have done it better, been more charming and articulate. I could have done that curtsey better and would have said something funny so that I could have heard her laugh. But, for better or worse, life didn’t just write “Take 2” on the slate, offering another chance to be perfect in that moment. There was no choice but to be content with what had happened, even if I felt the pressure to have made it worthwhile. So, I exhaled and tried to wiggle my toes within my stiff, shiny black shoes and wondered how we were going to work out this whole William thing.

After surviving the receiving line, we all made our way into the theater and watched the film. I was a few seats down from Diana and kept stealing glances to see if she liked it. She laughed and cried in the appropriate places and seemed to enjoy herself. She was indescribably beautiful, lit by the flickering screen. It’s hard to understand the full impact of meeting someone like that at age twelve, but I at least understood that I was in the presence of someone who radiated goodness. It had nothing to do with her status. It had to do with the fact that she was kind and she gave me a loving smile when she had to support my curtsey. She had seen my nervousness and had tried to comfort me, mother me. Her title was meaningless. She was simply a kind person.

And I’ve decided to forgive William for going a different way with his choice of wife. Even though Kate might not have been his mother’s first choice.

Six years later, I was in a limo coming home from the airport when I heard about Princess Diana’s death. I had just finished a shoot and they always send limos for that sort of thing because it’s supposed to be impressive and they want to make you feel like you are more important that you really are. I’m always uncomfortable and usually carsick in limos but this was a different kind of awful. The horrible news came on the radio and the driver turned it up for us. My parents and I were all in the backseat and I started shaking. It took a while for the tears to come; my tear ducts were shocked shut.

I stared out the window of the limo and thought of her staring out the window of her limo. She was gentle and had held my hand longer than necessary. She loved her boys. Now, the paparazzi, who had been stoked and encouraged by what I did for a living, were gaining strength like a well-fed dragon. They had chased her. Hunted her. And now she was dead. This job of mine had put me in this unique position to meet this spectacular person, but, I wondered, at what price? My body had been turned inside out and my lungs were too small. I heard my mother whisper to my dad, “Put your arm around her.” He did.

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Olive: our anxiety

 The FRAZZLED early days of dog-motherhood

The FRAZZLED early days of dog-motherhood

When they brought her around the corner of the rescue organization, the first thing I noticed was her protruding ribs.

But this malnourished two-year-old dog looked at me and her whole body wiggled. It was like she said “oh, thank god. You made it.”

Moments later, when my husband entered the room, she said something quite different to him. She said something like, “fuck you, I will kill you dead.” She initiated what we would come to affectionately call “full-on Cujo mode.” She tucked her ears back, barked and snarled while backing up.

“Oh, yeah. She doesn’t really like men,” the rescue organization lady said.

Jeremy immediately dropped to the ground, palms up, and said with confidence - “it’s okay, she’ll love me in a minute.”

And because he knows these sorts of things, she totally did.

Thirty minutes later, the three of us piled into the car and went home.

And we were happy because, since the loss of Grace more than a year earlier, we had shuffled through life with a dog-shaped hole in our hearts. Olive filled that space beautifully. But it might have been worth thinking about the implications of her little Cujo moment.

Olive was anxious, timid, and haunted by her past abuse. She has had very few experiences of the world, other than having far too many litters of puppies for her young age. Fire hydrants, flags, and statues were terrifying. She made no distinction between house guests and intruders, so anyone daring to step onto our porch would send her into a fear-rage. When I walked down the driveway to get the mail, she cried hysterically as if her death was imminent. She ripped the spines off my books. If we put her in a crate, she would bang her tail against the side so hard that it would spurt blood, covering the walls like a horror film. When I tried to pad the crate by pinning a quilt to the sides, she ate the safety pins.

"She's so cute," my friends said. "How's it going?"

I would smile and say "She's a handful." And I'd try not to cry.

We wanted a challenge. We said that to anyone who would listen while we were looking for a dog. We were experienced dog owners and we were ready for a dog who was difficult. We expected that would be an older dog with health issues, but we kept saying we wanted the harder-to-place rescue. And we got just what we asked for.

The last five months have been filled with love and sadness. Of heartbreak. Of joy. Of learning and of failures. At times, I wondered if we took on a dog who is too much to handle. If her anxiety and fears are beyond my capabilities -- because they trigger all of mine. I laid in bed and held Jeremy's hand in the dark while I choked back my shame and guilt and I whispered: "what if we made a mistake?"

But as I train Olive, I find myself in training.

We use the phrase "leave it" to mean a bunch of things. It basically means I don’t like what you are doing with your face. It could be sniffing at a rotting bird carcass, or barking at the neighbor kids. "Leave it" means - stop that immediately and make a different choice. 

One night, I was spinning. It was 3 AM and I was obsessing about how Olive's terrible separation anxiety was going to mean that Jeremy and I could never travel again. I'd never again go out to a movie. I extrapolated to the extent that I no longer had a career because I was not able to leave my house. (Nevermind that I work from home - this was not a time for logic.)

3 AM has a way of creating a singular panic within your heart. The half-awake, inky blackness seeps in and makes any number of irrational things inevitable. At a certain point, my wiser self woke up, stepped to the forefront and said, This is silly. We need to stop. So I said, out loud, LEAVE IT. It's time to stop what I’m doing with my face. Or, rather, that unreliable narrator behind my face - my mind.

Leave it, Lisa.

Leave the irrational thoughts and the spinning and the obsessing that is not productive. Leave the repetitive, negative thoughts. Put down the fear like the rotting bird carcass that it is.

Leave it.

And go lie down.

In the past few months, we have recruited the help of some incredibly talented dog trainers, and Olive has made fantastic progress. She is calmer, more confident, and less fearful. Her separation anxiety has dissipated and she now knows that I always come back to her. I see how clearly she reflects my anxiety right back at me. Olive needs me to temper my fears so that I can show her how to manage hers. I need to be brave so she can relax and let me be the Alpha of our lives. She is forcing me to calmly step up and take charge.

We are learning how to play. How to find the courage to go on adventures. And we always come back home where it is safe and warm with good food and cozy beds.

Sometimes what seems like a mistake is actually a gift. Because this is what love does: it builds you up and it breaks you down to the core of what you need to deal with. It holds up a mirror and shows you the scariest depths and most beautiful heights, all at once.

And when you get to witness it all and also get to be the recipient of cuddles and unconditional love? You're one lucky dog.

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Speaking event in Utica, NY on May 3rd!

I am thrilled to be speaking at Mowhawk Valley Community College in Utica, NY next week. It's open to the public and I'd love to see you there!

I'll be talking about things like:

  • my life growing up in the film industry
  • what it's like to have your first kiss be on screen in front of 60 crew members and your mother
  • what happened when I walked away from Hollywood at age 22 with zero plan for what came next
  • my experiences with issues like anxiety and depression
  • ways to manage stress, deal with your inner critic, and figure out your authentic path
  • and probably my dog, because she's awesome and I love her

It's going to be a great evening with lots of time for Q&A and hugs if you're into that kind of thing. I'll also have both of my books available for sale and a signing.

See you soon!

Get your tickets here.

(Want me to come talk at your school? I would love that! Send a request.)

That time I met Barbara Bush and her running shoes

As a twelve-year-old Canadian, I really didn't know what I was supposed to wear when I met the First Lady of the United States.

Had I known that she was going to show up wearing running shoes, I think I would have felt much better about the whole thing.

I had acted alongside the spectacular Jessica Tandy in "The Story Lady" a TV movie that exulted the joys of books and reading to kids. The role was tailor-made for me, the pre-teen nerd who frequently walked into walls because she could not put her book down. The show got some attention, and it inspired Mrs. Bush to create The National Story Lady Project, a nationwide project to foster inter-generational reading. And when the invitation for the program kick-off party arrived, I was rather embarrassed to find it was it was me, and not the First Lady, who was on the cover.

My mom and I, plus the writer and producers of the movie, went to the White House. I don't actually remember what I wore, but I'm sure it was full-on-preteen-circa-1991 glory. I would be surprised if lace gloves were not involved. We stood around a very flowery room and drank tea with the First Lady and pretended this was just what we did on Monday afternoons.

Barbara Bush was very kind to me and sweet about my role in the film. I was trying to pay attention to her, but I could not stop staring at her shoes. She was wearing a beautiful suit, accented with white sneakers (were they Reeboks? I'm pretty sure they were) that had the word “READ” on them in puffy gold paint. They were incredibly dorky and wildly endearing and they were the best things I had ever seen.

I wondered if she had done that herself or if there was an official White House bedazzler. Was this a career I could grow up aspiring to?

We drank tea from tiny floral china cups and I learned how to eat finger sandwiches without dropping the saucer. There were photo ops and Mrs. Bush gave a little speech about the movie and then my mother and I just stood around awkwardly for a while, trying not to touch anything. Neither Mom nor I ever felt comfortable in fancy situations. We were the kind of family that went camping for vacations and considered dinner at Sizzler to be only for extra special occasions. So, we passed our uneasiness back and forth, while we stood below a larger-than-life-size painting of Jackie O in a gilded frame that probably cost more than our house.

But I kept thinking about Mrs. Bush's shoes. Even in the midst of all the secret service and crystal chandeliers and crustless sandwiches - she was cool and normal and maybe even kind of like me. All while wearing those awesome shoes.

I presented the First Lady with a book, which seemed like the right thing to give someone who had all those libraries. It was a book I loved, by an Indigenous Canadian author, since I assumed the White House library wouldn't already have that one. She later mailed me a thoughtful thank you note, which must be somewhere in my basement.

I wasn't very political when I was twelve. I knew that the Bushes were Republicans and we were Democrats and I knew those things were different. But I also knew that the only thing I cared about was that the First Lady of the United States had smiled kindly at me, had lit up when I gave her a book -- and had rocked out the coolest shoes I had ever seen.

Thank you, Mrs. Bush. Rest in peace.

————– You can leave a comment here, or join us on Facebook,  Instagram, or Twitter!

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Last chance to apply for Veteran's retreat in Texas!

For the last several years, I've been working with Expedition Balance - a Veteran's non-profit. (Those who have read my book Not Just Me will recognize them from chapter 8!) There is still some space available in this year's retreat. We'll leave from Houston on April 19th and drive a few hours to a ranch in central Texas.

What will we do there? We'll ride horses, hike, stay in a luxurious lodge for three nights, learn about nutrition & meditation, attend gentle yoga classes, and eat great food. I'll be teaching two classes - one on therapeutic writing and one on yoga. (No experience is necessary!) The transportation will be covered, you just need to get to Houston.

And it doesn't cost a dime for Veterans. It just requires effort and intention.

Time to apply is running out, so if you are interested, get your application in now! Applications available here

Let me know if you have any questions - if you are a Vet, and you're ready to connect with other Vets and have a whole lot of fun, I'd love to see you in Texas!

 

Accurate not arrogant: admitting your strengths

 

What are you really good at?

Does that question make you squirm? Or is it just me?

Perhaps it’s a product of my humble Canadian upbringing (heaven forbid a Canuck be proud of an accomplishment) but the idea of talking about the things I’m good at seems about as fun as a bikini wax.

But isn't there a difference between confidence and arrogance? Between honesty and grandstanding? Isn’t it our right as people of this planet to embrace the things we are good at – isn’t that, in fact, our societal obligation?

Why can I only admit that there are some things at which I do not completely suck? I say things like “decent” to describe my writing, my yoga, my workshops. I cringe when asked to promote the two books I've written. But ask me where my weaknesses lie and I’ll launch into a calculated and comprehensive attack detailing my sub-par spelling skills, fashion sense, and map-reading abilities.

Not everyone is this way. Other people can stand with pride and say “Hey, I’m good at this” and not be struck by lightning or fall so madly in love with themselves that they are rendered useless to the outside world. Other people can accurately name their strengths and then identify their weaknesses in an equally factual manner.  I know that these Other People are not just mythical creatures but they truly do walk around among us. I am married to one of these baffling mortals, which makes it all the more frustrating that I’ve not picked up on this particular habit.

If this is indeed a habit, it can be adjusted. So, here’s my plan: I’m going to write down at least ten things that I am good at. From big things to little things. From the serious to the silly. From my ability to self-motivate and hit even the tightest of deadlines to my talents as a Stuffed Animal Surgeon. I'm a devoted friend and I can cook without a recipe. I love to give away books and I can carry a six-foot-tall Christmas tree all by myself. I’m going to put that list somewhere I see it a lot and I’m going to look at it until the sight of that list doesn't make my skin turn inside out.

Because here's the real issue: if we don't proudly stand up and own our talents - we get overlooked. If you're locked in "move along, nothing to see here" mode, you are absolutely going to miss out on some awesome opportunities. And those opportunities are not just great for you; they are chances for you to empower and inspire others. That's your moment to contribute some of your unique goodness to the world.

So, don't be selfish and keep all your awesomeness to yourself.

Stand up.

Be seen.

Take up space in the world.

It's your birthright to be here.

I want to hear it: what are you really good at? (Seriously, leave a comment and tell me.)

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Dear Gods of Whatever: a prayer from a highly sensitive person

Dear Gods of Whatever,

This is a prayer to care less.

This is a heartfelt wish to have it not matter.

To be the Queen of Whatevs.

To let it all roll off my back, like a nonchalant duck.

I think there are those people, people who are cool and calm and collected. Who shrug their shoulders and laugh it all off.

The blessed ones.

They can handle the awkward comment, the whining dog, the unanswerable question, the brutal unfairness of the world.

They seem to know they will survive, they will move on. It will all fundamentally be okay.

Why do I move so quickly to life-ruining conclusions? Why does my stomach churn at a mere thought? Why do my eyes tear as I imagine complete devastation?

So I pray to you, Gods of Whatever, to help me to care less.

To be more callous.

Less empathetic.

Please --- just make me a tiny bit more of an asshole.

Amen.

Happy New Year Sale: Not Just Me for just $2.99!

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Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 11.47.57 AM

Happy New Year, y'all! To celebrate and welcome 2018 - I'm putting Not Just Me on sale.

We're all anxious. We have a lot of good reasons for it. But I've spent 39 years dealing with anxiety/depression and then I interviewed a bunch of other people about it. Then I wrote it all in a book and you can buy it for just $2.99 for the next 2 days.

Click here to get your copy of Not Just Me!

Just a few of the Amazon reviews:

"It has opened my eyes to many new therapies and treatments available to those like myself who have been suffering with this for so long. Lisa put her soul on the line and left nothing out describing the hell she’s gone through with depression, anxiety and panic attacks."

"As someone who has always struggled with depression and anxiety, I find it invaluable. Lisa Jakub's "voice" is pitch-perfect; she is empathic, informed, and her use of humour is adept and deft. While the book is geared to a lay audience and extremely accessible, the methods she has tried and recommends have evidence-based research backing them."

"Lisa Jakub is that dear friend whom you wish you had at your side when the going gets tough. With humor, intelligence, insight, perspective and an "I totally understand" attitude, she brings you on a journey of discovery and acceptance."

"While reading, I found myself in equal measure seeing myself in the pages and learning something new about other people. This book, in it's conversational tone and immediately accessible language, invites the reader in to a world he may or may not recognize. Either way, it's engrossing."

Hope you enjoy the book, and please leave a review on Amazon!

Happy new year!

How to love someone who has anxiety

"What should I say?"

I get this question a lot. It almost always comes up when I do speaking events at colleges and conferences. During the Q&A, an incredibly kind and thoughtful person stands up and says, "I don't have anxiety, but my partner/friend/parent/kid does. How do I help them?"

I first tell them they are pretty much an angel walking around among us. They care so much that they came to a talk about someone else's issue just so they could learn to help. I hope that a million blessings fall on their heads.

Then I say that I don't have a one-size-fits-all answer, but I can tell them what helps me when I'm in the middle of an anxiety spiral:

Ask if there is anything you can do 

99% percent of the time, I'm going to say there is nothing you can do. But it's going to make me feel loved and supported that you asked. And on the occasion that I really do need something (Can you bring over dinner? Meet me at the gym for a workout? Get me out of this social obligation?) I'll know you actually mean it.

Understand that I don't need you to fix anything

Most of the time, I just need to explain what is in my head and have someone hold my hand and say something like, "ugh, I'm sorry, that sucks." Please know there is zero pressure on you to fix whatever is going on. And you definitely don't need to fix me. I'm not broken. I'm just a girl with some anxiety.

Let me cry

Crying is good for me - it's a release valve. Trying to shove those emotions down is much worse than just crying it out for a little while. If you can just sit with me through the uncomfortable ugly cry and maybe get me another Kleenex, that is incredibly meaningful.

Tell me you get it, that you've been here (if you really mean it)

This is a controversial one. I frequently see the advice that you shouldn't tell a struggling person your own stories of struggle or say that you know how it feels. But personally, I love it when someone does that. It makes me feel less alone to know that other people have had to deal with this shit, too. It reminds me that things won't always feel this hard. So use your own judgment with this one. But always make sure that you are listening first, and sharing your experience as a distant second.

Be silly with me

Lightening things up always helps me put things in perspective. Not in dismissive "it could be worse, you could be a Rohingya refugee" kind of way -- but let me know we can laugh together and it's not always about my anxiety.  Cute animal memes or cuddling up together for an Arrested Development marathon might seem frivolous, but it can help to stop the Doom Spiral.

Text to check in the next day

The "Just thinking of you and sending a hug"  text is a wonderful thing. A well-timed heart emoji has been known to turn my entire day around. For many of us with anxiety, we worry that people will decide that we're annoying or overreacting or just too much to handle. A quick check-in lets me know that you're still here, that my anxiety didn't freak you out, that you love me for who I am, which is so much bigger than the anxiety. (And you know that phone anxiety is a legit thing for some of us, right? So yeah, a text is better than a call.)

It's not easy to love someone with anxiety. So to all those friends and family members who care to learn and support us -- thank you. We're grateful from the bottom of our anxious little hearts.

**Want to read more from me about anxiety and depression? I wrote a whole book on the topic -- Not Just Me: Anxiety, depression, and learning to embrace your weird. **

Have additional ideas that have been useful to you? Please leave them in the comments!

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New retreat at Kripalu in Massachusetts: Writing & Yoga for Anxiety

The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is an incredibly special place to me. It's where I did my 200-hour yoga certification, where I made some life-long friends, and where I found a new little piece of myself as a teacher.

And now I'm beyond honored to be teaching a workshop there! It's called Embrace Your Weird: Yoga, meditation, and writing to manage anxiety. Join me in Lennox, Massachusetts, March 30 - April 1st for a weekend of creativity, connection, and fun. We'll play with writing exercises and we'll practice some yoga. We'll talk about tangible ways to understand your inner critic, increase compassion for yourself and others, and access the joy within that often feels smothered by stress.

Never done any yoga? Never written anything other than email? No problem. This weekend is totally beginner-friendly.

Click on this link to get more information on the workshop and to sign up. Please contact me if you have any questions. And if you want to come, but you're feeling totally anxious about going to a workshop about anxiety, I'm happy to talk you through that. :)

I'd love to see you at Kripalu!

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Public Speaking Event: Hi, Michigan!

I'll be at Glen Oaks College in Centreville, Michigan this Thursday!

I'll be speaking about my new book Not Just Me, talking about leaving L.A., writing, mental health, yoga and whatever else might be on my mind that day. I'll be signing books and attempting small talk, so come hang out and let's be awkward together!

For more information, click here.