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6 Things I Learned in 2017

6 Things I Learned in 2017

January 15, 2018

At the beginning of each year, I look back on the previous year to see what worked, what didn’t, and what I can take from all of my experiences to make the most of the present. This process helps to hold me accountable so that I can more fully show up in my life and business. Thank you for supporting and following me along on my ups, downs, and everything in-between. Here are my words for the past six years:

2011: Creativity, Connection, Mindfulness.

2012: Mindfulness, Spontaneity, Simplicity.

2013: Build. Track. Focus.

2014: Free. Alive. Expand (along with the 10 things I learned in 2014).

2015: Grace.

2016: 8 Things I learned in 2016

I jotted down a few my words at the beginning of 2017. The one that stood out the most for me was:


1. Rebirth requires a love affair with the unknown.

The reference points of my identity got stripped when I let go of all of my possessions and things that felt like “home” to move to California. I was forced to find a home in a new state that beats with a pulse that isn’t mine. In the beginning, I could still feel the echoes of my East coast self. And I didn’t know if I should silence the sound or see through its subtext. In a house of mirrors, reflection isn’t always what I want to see. But I still stare.

The Pacific is nothing like the Atlantic. It’s colder and I haven’t yet warmed up to its many moods. I’m learning how to ease into its icy grip. I step barefoot into a wave and it feels like home. And that’s when I realized: I’ll need to make a home out of the ebb of its waves.

“I suddenly realized I was in California. Warm, palmy air – air you can kiss – and palms.”

– Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Only the sea was icy, the air was cool, and the palm trees weren’t (yet) kissable. Arriving in the endless California rain was my initiation, my rite of passage.

2. Vast space can possess depth. 

The first six months that I moved to LA, it rained so much my dog wondered why we moved to Portland. I even questioned my life-long dream to live in California.

Miles away from my family and friends, I had to redefine meaning.  I found hope in new things. I discovered joy in a different life. Only the new life was a stark contrast to what I expected. Juxtaposition. As I traversed from the chaos of a city to the aridity of the desert, the juxtaposition did not just sit in silence. It became alive with stories. It became my comrade.

From Scottsdale, San Francisco, Sonoma, and beyond, spontaneous road trips centered my soul. One of my most memorable road trips was six-hours in silence through the sacred, mystical energy of the Arizona desert.

In the desert, you see, there is everything and nothing . . . It is God without men.
—Honoré de Balzac, Une passion dans le désert, 1830

I needed a getaway from the endless, wet rain in Los Angeles. And so I did…again and again. I learned that a portal to a different kind of paradise required stepping on the gas pedal.

Did you know that vast space can possess depth? I didn’t until I experienced it firsthand. 

The desert is a place of God and the gods, where we’re allowed only the briefest of exposures to the power of the supernatural.

The stark beauty of the arid desert became symbolic on my search for self and purpose. In the midst of a rebirth, my transformation did not start in the same environment where I first began.

3. I had to surrender my stories to the tide. 

Six months into my West coast whirlwind, and it was me and my dog…and 1,001 stories about what my life “should” look like. I felt shame about who I haven’t yet “become.” And then I cry//laugh because I realized that this is the WORK. I remember feeling so human in my tears. Living in LA fueled the incessant need for labels, identity, and status which took me away from feeling the void. But it was there…underneath the “stuff.”

I am here. Naked. Wild. Free. I am still me… enjoying the ride. But it only happened when I  learned how to surrender 1,001 stories into the tide.

4. It’s ok to do things my way. 

Since starting my business in 2012, I’ve challenged the idea that you need to sell advertising or do affiliate marketing to run a successful online business. While these tactics may work for the Internet marketing ninjas of the world, these approaches never felt like me. But I didn’t have another way to make recurring revenue (other than project-based client work).

Flash forward to the beginning of this year.

I released my audiobook, Humanize Your Brand: How to Create Content that Connects with Your Customers. The best part about releasing an audiobook into the world is that it feels like me. I’m speaking my Truth to the world through an intimate, unique medium.

The dirty little secret of the book world is that you can’t make a ton of money off the sales of a business book. But you can make money off the sales of an audiobook. Even though it’s taken me a year longer to release the audio version of my book, it’s self-published and out in the world.

Here’s why I’m sharing this: I have never done sponsored content and I never will.  I believe in purity. Truth. Substance. If I start publishing advertisements, I will lose trust with my audience. I do not want to become part of the many problems in the marketing world. I want to be part of the solution.  I strive to live with integrity and virtue. And when sharing my Truth is the backbone of my business, I cannot afford the quick hit of a sponsored ad.

5. Language expresses a worldview.

I use different forms of communication to express my worldview.

My worldview is sometimes intangible, and inaccessible by some. But it’s my Truth. And I’m not here to fit into the old paradigm. I’m here to help create the new one through poetry, art, and self-expression.

The new world that we’re co-creating means that we need to embody passion, and exist on love. This paradigm is not about logic and reason because it’s a world bigger than our mind-based egos. It’s a world that’s filled with the beauty and magic that becomes possible when we live in the experience of the heart through awareness, intuition, and empathy.

When we write purely for creativity, we elevate the human consciousness and give rise to a new paradigm where serendipity and content collide. Writers and artists are creating a new world where we can deliver new ways of thinking that are far from status quo.

I’m still feeling into what this looks like in my business, and how I can show up in a bigger way in the world. In the meantime, here’s a poem I wrote:

🌟🚀🌊❤️ #mermaidlife

A post shared by j e s s i c a a n n (@itsjessicann) on

6. There’s a difference between art and entertainment. 

LA is an entertainment-driven social-media-fueled dream world. But I’m over the status quo of “entertainment.” I’m here to create a new world of art through self-expression in marketing.

Less advertising. More art. More authenticity. More stories. This leads me to quote my spirit animal, Father John Misty:

“There’s a difference between art and entertainment. Entertainment is really about forgetting about your life, and art is about remembering your life. Sometimes remembering your life involves stronger emotions than the narcotic glow of entertainment. What I’ve set out to do is more than to just entertain.”

My words for 2018 are Curiosity and Efficiency.

I plan to live through this lens.

Here’s to love, peace, health, and a deep sense of purpose for 2018.