I'm the main face behind the Buoyant brand. I'm also a wife and mom, a linguaphile, string musician, and mixed-media artist. Enneagram 7 and ENFP.
FOUNDER + ACCESSIBLE WEBSITE STRATEGIST AT BUOYANT
Welcome to the Becoming Buoyant podcast, where we’re all about sharing our stories as entrepreneurs with chronic illnesses, making the invisible visible and breaking stigmas along the way.
In the fifteenth episode of Becoming Buoyant, Justine Hwang of It Just Flows shares how burnout affected her life and business, but how she took that experience and create amazing workshops that focus on connection and creativity.
Welcome to the Becoming Buoyant podcast where we’re all about sharing our stories as entrepreneurs with chronic illnesses, making the invisible visible, and breaking stigma’s along the way. In each episode, you’ll learn from expert guests exactly what it takes to build a meaningful and sustainable business without sacrificing self care. We want you to shine your bright light on the world, friend, and are honored to be part of your creative life giving journey. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Emilie: In today’s episode of Becoming Buoyant I’m joined by Justine Wong of It Just Flows. She is an amazing calligraphy artist as well as watercolor artist, and she hosts some incredible workshops on how to do these couple things. But it’s more than just a workshop on how to improve your penmanship, it’s about holding space for others and letting them really embrace their creative side. She can show us all of the fun things about what it’s like to overcome burnout and really dive into chasing the slow and the beautiful and the the important things in life with your friends and family and people around you. That’s what these workshops do. And I’m really excited to hear her story and share that with you today.
Emilie: Hey Justine, thanks for coming on the Becoming Buoyant Podcast, I’m super excited you’re here and I really want to learn a little bit more about your story, some of the health type things that you’ve gone through and about your business. So tell us a little bit more about yourself.
Justine: All right, well, thanks for having me, first. It’s just really fun to be able to have these kinds of conversations and I love what you’re doing with the podcast, talking about things that we don’t necessarily realize they’re happening. So in terms of an intro to who I am, I’m into all the things. But the one common thread between all the things that I’m really into, which I’ll talk about in a second, is I’m all about creating space for meaningful connection. I call myself a dot connector, people gather. So that’s like connecting dots between, helping people to connect, as a workshop host, having space to have aha moments and have meaningful conversations with people, have a connection with what your purpose is in the world. So I’m a workshop host. And it’s all about creating the space that you actually can engage in that kind of way.
Justine: And that comes out of my story of moving around a lot, being the awkward new person, needing to find a place of belonging wherever I went. So that part of me, it’s a big part of who I am as a people connector and a dot connector. But then I’m also a huge journaler, right? And I love ideas and brainstorming and I like to … I’m the one at the conferences that are taking copious notes just because I want to hoard all the good ideas. I’m an ideas junkie. And so that is also a part of my workshops, where I teach lettering as a form of journaling and self care, that kind of thing.
Justine: So it’s all about creating that space for people to have a sense of belonging. And I feel like, and this is an interesting one, as part of my business, I originally wanted to run an Etsy shop because that’s what calligraphers do, right? Or weddings, right?
Emilie: Well of course, right.
Justine: Took me a long time to figure out, I’m not a wedding calligrapher. And I’m actually interested in the face to face connection. And it came to my Rising Tide, local chapter. We do this thing in our local chapter. If you’re not familiar with a Rising Tide, I think you probably are if you’re listening to this podcast. But we have this thing where we do this hot seat where a member of the month gets extra support wherever they are in their business. And at that point I was just kind of getting started. And I started talking about the Etsy shop, but then I started talking about the workshops.
Justine: And at first everyone’s like, “Yeah, Etsy, I can see you doing that. I can see your stuff there.” But then one of the intuitive coaches was just kind of like, she cut through all of the conversation. She goes, “That’s not really where I hear you light up. I think it’s the workshop piece that I really hear your excitement coming out.” So I walked home that day and I was just really having to face why does that scare the crap out of me? Like why does the Etsy thing seem way more comfortable to me? And there’s something about live events that’s very vulnerable that you put out there. What if someone … If you go to my Etsy shop, 200 people come to my Etsy shop and don’t buy anything, I don’t know, other than like a number on the screen. It’s not as personal as nobody literally showed up. Right?
Justine: But it was a turning point for me in my business in realizing, okay, I’m going to own that piece. And I’m going to give that a go. And so I started to host the workshops. But not just for technical calligraphy. I’m much more about giving people the confidence and to reconnect with that creative like, “Oh, I’m not creative.” Or, “I can’t really draw.” Or any of those things that we start to tell ourselves. I’m all about helping people to get through that and actually have some fun and be okay with like messing up the white page in your blank journal. It’s okay. And that’s part of the process. And that’s the exploration.
Emilie: Oh, and that is so hard for so many people is to first put ink to a white page and say, “Is this going to be good enough? Am I going to screw up? What’s going to happen?” And really to be able to let that go and say, “It’s okay if you mess up.” It’s okay to have a first draft, a second draft, a third draft. You’re not, first of all, we kind of say a lot on this podcast and this is one of my mottos is there’s no such thing as perfection. You can strive toward excellence through practice, but perfection is not real.
Justine: Yeah, totally.
Emilie: I love that you’re facilitating those connections and holding a safe space for people.
Justine: Yeah. So that’s, I mean that’s the key part of it. But then in specific to this podcast and you’re focused on chronic illness. This is an interesting one because I don’t talk a lot about this. So my I guess, yeah, it is a chronic illness, is eczema, which is a lot of people do have it. But it’s one of those things where there are periods of my life where literally my skin is falling apart. And the worst times is there was a two year period where I had a weeping shoulder and it was just like it took everything … It was physically painful to be in my body. But the rest of them it, I think eczema is one of those things, or any of these autoimmune where it’s like it’s not debilitating but it’s got this silent, it just takes up energy that you don’t even realize because it’s been your whole entire life.
Justine: And my mum had this theory at one point, I don’t remember when it was. And she was like, she goes, “I think you actually probably need more sleep than the average person, Justine.” Because you are … the quality of sleep that you get if you’re having a rough night, you ate something that didn’t agree and you’re itchy for example, or it’s too hot or whatever. You’re probably, by the time you actually count the quality sleep, if you were to do a Fitbit or whatever those biometrics things are now, I’d probably … I’m actually not that interested because it would be depressing to see the poor quality or just how much extra buffer sleep that I need. Right?
Justine: But that’s a piece that I’ve only, I think when we talk about illness, because burnout is also a part of my story. And I think it’s the mental load. That’s the piece that I’m starting to articulate more and realize and try to bring into conversations. Because I don’t know that we’re talking about that that much. Whether it be the mental load of caring, so for example, one of my friends, I don’t even think she’s got a name for whatever it is that she’s trying to diagnose. But she and I, the beginning of my period where my body really was falling apart, we were getting together regularly sharing about all the things without any judgment. And we were praying together. And she’s still, that was a few years ago, and she’s still in that place. And so we’ve talked a lot about with her, like the journey of grieving, losing your normal. And how do you hope, but not hope? And all of those pieces that are just emotional space and it’s emotional labor. That’s a new term that I recently heard that really resonated with me.
Justine: So just that piece, whether it be some kind of physical, like if you’ve got this low grade or even high grade physical pain that you constantly have, it actually, it’s not just that it’s stressful physically, but it’s actually emotionally taxing too. And all the things that come with a diagnosis of an illness and realizing the implications of what this is going to mean to manage your condition, right? From the more serious conditions and debilitating ones, to maybe not conventionally as serious. But it still takes up mental space.
Emilie: And so there’s things too that I think are a little bit different too, that we don’t think about on a regular basis. Which would be if you eat something that’s not quite right, you had mentioned that a little bit before, but you have to be very, very cautious of what you eat. And that even comes to when you’re doing things business-wise, if you’re having a workshop and bringing in snacks. You’re probably a lot more conscious of when you’re hosting what are people’s food sensitivities and things like that. Because you know what it’s like.
Justine: Right. Yep.
Emilie: You have a little bit more insight to knowing I shouldn’t be eating something like this because I’ll have some sort of skin flare-up later. I have that internally, you may have that externally. But all in all if you’ve ever dealt with any food-related problems-
Justine: Any autoimmune, basically.
Emilie: Any autoimmune type problems. If you don’t understand what that’s like. That this affects a lot of people on a very regular basis and it affects the way that we do our work too.
Justine: Yeah, absolutely. And I think also I guess it’s the mind-body connection piece that unfortunately in Western approach that’s less holistic tends not to even go there. So I actually have, I remember when I was a kid, I do have quite a spicy temper, which was more when I was younger and it was not controlled. Right? But it’s still there. And I don’t remember even what it was about. I was probably about eight years old and I had a hissy fit about something. And my mom was like, in the middle of the conversation she was like, “Okay, I’m just disengaging.” She goes, “Look at you, you’re getting itchy.” Just as I was, whatever I was upset about. Right?
Emilie: Oh my gosh.
Justine: And just the internal heat I must’ve been feeling and I’m just like. But I don’t even think that anybody taught me any of that stuff in terms of paying attention to your body and how the emotion sits with you. Like where do you feel the stress in your body? What do you mean, where do I feel it in my body? As an Enneagram seven I’m stuck in my head all the time. Right? But just the whole, I think when that period, when I had the two year … I didn’t know it was going to be two years, and I kept thinking, “Oh, whatever.” I was so not paying attention to my body. When I finally went … So I had about six months where it was like six months of … I was so disconnected. I had no idea that I was having hot flashes. There were all these different things going on with my body.
Justine: And so I finally realized, okay, you need help. This is beyond you and it’s not just going to get better with you, whatever. So it was October or November, I did not have any heat on in my apartment and my sister was visiting. And she was in her down jacket and I was in my tank top. And then I said, “Okay, I’m having a hot flash and I need to sit here half naked. I’m going to take off my tank top now.” But you’re my sister. So whatever you’ve seen it all.
Emilie: And you’re in the Vancouver area and I’m in Florida. So I get the feeling of hot flash, but it’s also 90. Or in Canadian terms or the rest of the world is 32 degrees Celsius.
Justine: Right. Yeah, yeah.
Emilie: But it’s not the case up there right now.
Justine: No it was, I don’t know. It was funny because we just started, yeah, we had this moment of laughing but also seriousness for me to realize. Because I think, this is the point with that story. I was so disconnected with my body I didn’t even know that I was having hot flashes. Because in the summer I just thought well it’s air conditioned some places and some places it’s not. And you know, whatever. And I had no idea. So we Googled, web MD, which all my doctor friends hate. Because I just wanted a pill. I just wanted a pill to fix it. So we self-diagnosed. Which of course, the way I presented the symptoms, they thought I had a certain thing. They took a blood test and nope. And I was disappointed because I wanted the pill.
Justine: But then I was like, “Okay, fine, I’m going to try something else.” So I went to see a natural path. And he’s like, “So is there any connection with your diet?” And I was like, “Nope. None whatsoever. They’re random.”
Emilie: No, of course not.
Justine: And 200% connected, but just 300% unaware. And so it was just this whole process. And then as anybody who has food sensitivities and any autoimmune stuff that’s connected to that, it’s like a bad science experiment. You literally, there’s one, I had some reaction. I was like, “I ate the same thing three days in a row. So why am I reacting today and not three days ago?” Right. So it’s this, your body is just constantly new every day in the sense of what it needs and what state it’s in. And when I’m in a more stressed out period, I’m going to react more quickly than other times. Right?
Emilie: Oh yeah.
Justine: But it’s just, I don’t know, I’m still in that process of connecting my emotional health and my physical health and all the things together.
Emilie: Oh, definitely.
Justine: But it’s such a … Anyways, so there’s that part of it. Where you just don’t realize how much time you’re spending on just managing yourself, you know? And then the … Yeah, anyway. So there’s that piece. But then it’s this in-between thing where I don’t necessarily think about how do I give myself space then? To be like, “Okay, so this is just what you need for your routine, your physical routine. And it’s okay to do that rather than going, ‘Oh, I wish I could be the person that takes five-minute showers.'” Right? No, that’s not my body. That’s not what is called for.
Justine: So rather than fighting against it, working with it. And I guess that whole cliche, but truth, of embracing and working with it and giving yourself enough space. So speaking of creating meaningful space, and to honor what you actually need, whether that be emotionally or physically. And that’s the mental health piece related to my burnout thing. Where I really, one of the biggest things I appreciated from burnout, recovering from pretty serious burnout is, so it took me three years to actually crash. And then three years to recover, to truly get to an equilibrium again.
Justine: And what I learned from that is life is this kind of up and down. We talk about Zen balance and it’s not ever going to be this straight line in the middle. So that’s okay. Just like when you go exercise, you purposely stress out your muscles. But you need to recover and that’s where the strength comes, right? So once I realized okay, this is the way it is. And because of my personality, I am intense into one thing or another. And just the cycle of the work that I do is seasonal. And so don’t try to be Zen and feel badly about the intense periods, but also recognize and give full permission when you need to pull back.
Justine: So if you’re doing a big conference or it’s like Christmas season and you’re pushing certain deadlines, that’s okay. Lean into that. But then give yourself complete permission without feeling guilty at all to back off afterwards and to really rest afterwards. I used to feel guilty about not being as busy in the summer, which is not a busy season for the kind of work that I do. But it’s like, so then I would create this, I would have this guilty mental load. “I’m not working as hard, I’m not working as hard.” When it’s just objectively not as busy of a season. So now when the summer comes, I’m just much more like “You’ll make up the time later, you’ll make up the energy later.”
Justine: And even if you don’t, that’s the whole other part of burnout is where does my identity lie? It’s not in actually how much I produce. And that’s something I still struggle a lot with, where it’s like-
Emilie: That is a heavy one.
Justine: Yeah, it’s huge.
Emilie: That’s a really common tread I think in a lot of the conversations we have is that your self-worth does not have to come from what you produce and the income you make, which is so big.
Justine: Yeah, it’s huge.
Emilie: Especially for somebody with any sort of health issues. That’s a big one to wrap your brain around, especially if those health hurdles that you’re going through are relatively new. Somebody who’s maybe gone through this their whole life and they’ve just managed their illness forever, may not realize that this is, for people where this is new, this is a really new struggle. Is to identify where your self-worth comes in and it’s not out of productivity. But maybe it’s just you being you is good enough.
Justine: And that’s tough in our culture, though. Because it is so driven by productivity and how much you produce and all that stuff.
Emilie: For sure.
Justine: And that really is quite a shift to make. And I think that’s probably one of the hardest things when you’re changing seasons in terms of getting a diagnosis of what your new reality is. Or even like you become a mom, right? Your capacity is going to change. It’s going to increase in certain ways and it’s going to decrease in other ways. And is that … How do you actually, let’s use the word grieve, right? How do you grieve the transition? So even in a positive transition like, “Hey, you’ve always wanted to be a mom.” Or even getting married, right? There’s just certain things that are going to come from in your new reality. That yes, you need to embrace, and yes, they might even be joyful and positive things. But it also means you’re leaving behind certain things as well.
Justine: And that’s, yeah, leaving space for transition. Whatever those transitions, even in your illness or the seasons of your business, what does that look like? And just be intentional about that. Rather than autopilot just driving through it all and feeling guilty when you don’t make it, right? That’s a coffin, quickly.
Emilie: We all go through things at different speeds at different times and that’s okay.
Emilie: When you were just talking about this transition phase, the first thing I was thinking about was a Caterpillar and its journey to become a butterfly. Because I’m a very visual person, I think a lot of creatives just generally are, we’re very visual. But you think about what a Caterpillar does. We consume, we consume, you know, all of these things in the beginning. And we become, we’re slowly becoming our new selves. But in order to do that, sometimes it’s horribly difficult and painful and scary. We don’t realize, I mean I don’t want to go into the graphic details. But caterpillars are kind of creepy and they kind of liquefy and they break the skin open on their back and they shed their skin. And even at a certain point, it’s like their whole face falls off, which is kind of crazy.
Justine: Yeah, you’re right. Yeah. I love that description.
Emilie: They don’t love the idea of transitioning from an itty bitty little egg on a leaf into the caterpillar phases into the butterfly. It’s a really traumatic transition. But the caterpillar just kind of keeps going and doing its own thing. It doesn’t look around thinking, “I wonder if I’ll become that butterfly or that butterfly.”
Justine: Right. They’re probably just-
Emilie: It doesn’t matter. They’re just like, “Hey, where’s the coolest new leaf that I can eat up? And I’m just going to break open my skin and become this like gooey weird thing crawling around and I just do my thing.” And I think we need to think a little bit more like a caterpillar just embracing the season, whatever season we’re in, we do our thing. And then when the next time for change comes, we’ll be prepared for it. By probably not eating leaves on a plant, but we do our thing, we prepare for it for that next season. And then when it comes through we push through it and we evolve, we change, we grow. That feels really, for me, that’s a calming thought. That it’s okay to move through tough periods of our life and it’s okay to have slow periods where we just rest and recuperate and prepare. And that works well with business, with life in general, with having a chronic illness, or whatever it may be. It works with all of those things.
Justine: I love that analogy. I love that analogy. Because it gives so much permission to, even as sort for example, you have your idea for your business and you’re super excited about it. Well like I say, just wait a few months, try it out, see how people … It’s like an evolving conversation with the world, what the world needs. What people need, what they think they need, what they actually need. And then for yourself too. It’s like, well, I thought I would love this and I’ve done it and maybe I don’t love it so much and let’s adjust. Right?
Justine: And rather than being so married to, “But I said I would do this thing and do it like this.” And the expectation can kind of lock you down in a way that maybe is not helpful. So I love that analogy of the caterpillar and butterfly.
Emilie: Yeah. I think that we’re all kind of made uniquely to do something, but we just don’t necessarily see what the end result is going to be when we’re in the thick of it.
Emilie: Eventually we’ll get there. But in the meantime, we’re just doing our thing in our small little area and we don’t see the end result. And that’s okay. We don’t have to. We just have to keep doing the best we can with what we’ve got and not trying to worry about everything that’s out of our control. That’s outside of our realm of control.
Emilie: So I’ve learned some of these little things as trying to cope with a lot of the ups and downs in my business and life over the last five years. And honestly, I can say I’m in a position right now where I can look back and say, “Wow, I’ve learned so much.” But when I was going through a lot, it was hard. It was so hard. So I would love to know a little bit more from your perspective some of the things that you’ve learned over the course of your business. And maybe give a little insight to our listeners of what maybe they could be learning from you.
Justine: I think that idea of just the organic and the seasonal and just really listening to that internal dialogue as well as externally, like what’s actually happening in the world, what your clients are needing, that kind of thing. And like I said, being open that it might change. Earlier I was like, “Sure I want to do Etsy. But I’m not really into washi tape and all the things and packaging.” But then when I started to feel a little burnt out and tired, I was like, “Okay, bring on the washi tape. I need something to just turn my brain off while I’m watching Netflix.” Right? So even I was changing in terms of what I thought I needed or wanted for my business at the time.
Justine: But then I would think that it’s also just seasons is one of my favorite words in terms of what season are you in? What season is your business in? And this is something I’m right in the middle of learning. I want everything yesterday. And I want to hustle, hustle, do it quickly. But no. The kinds of things that I’m dreaming about building, they’re going to take a while. And nevermind actually building that thing, but this is the thing that’s been blowing my mind lately. Are you actually the person, and not in a shame, shame kind of way. But are you actually the kind of person and do you have the character traits and the habits and the life that actually has the capacity for that thing that you’re dreaming about?
Emilie: Ooh, I love that.
Justine: So that piece. But then it’s also do you actually want the thing that you think you’re dreaming about? That’s a whole other journaling exercise, if you want to explore that. In the sense of say, for example, it’s easy to get caught up like, “Oh, well that the influencer has this many Instagram followers and stuff. And they’re super engaged.” And I went to a conference this weekend where one of the speakers she’s very authentic and very connected to her community online. And she was like, “Well, because my community has made me, and I do not exist without them. I choose to spend four hours on Instagram. But that’s a choice of my business and brand to engage with people.”
Emilie: Each day?
Justine: Yeah. And I was just like … But I get why her brand and her connections, they’re genuine. Right? But I’m like, “Do I actually want that? No, I don’t.” Right? So keep me at my little following. I do want to stay engaged and stuff, but that tool is just for me to actually, to have the in-person connections. That’s what I actually want. It’s not actually the online connections. Right?
Justine: So it’s just becoming aware of, and also the things that I do want to do for later. It’s like no, there’s some basic life habits that I still am working on that I can’t, I’m not actually ready. I don’t actually have the capacity to handle some of those things. And so I’m finding myself in a season right now of just foundation building. And just going back to basics. And hence we were talking earlier about just becoming aware enough of your personality. What is the most fruitful, I don’t like the word efficient, but what’s the most fruitful way for you to be working for the season, for the personality, for all of those different factors so that you can actually do the business? Right?
Justine: And one of my key messages that I always talk about that comes out of my story because I’m so bad at it. And that’s why I need to preach it constantly to myself. And if it helps other people, is helping people to serve from a place of fullness. And that’s because I struggle with that myself. Right? And so are you able to … So if you look at the external, whatever external markers you have for your success, and we talked about this at Imperfect Boss Camp. Shout out to Ashley. But this whole like, you can have all the successful stuff.
Justine: I’ve had phenomenal, doubled my amount of workshops this year. Didn’t have specific goals, but just was hustling. Right? But on the inside I am feeling dry, right? And so I need to course correct that. I need to listen to the people closest to me who are like, “You’re not yourself.” And I’m like, “Oh, I’m not?” And so just, okay, it doesn’t matter … It’s not that it doesn’t matter that there’s external success. But my definition of success needs to have a more internal shape right now. Right? And I need to … I cannot do the work that I do to the best that I can if I’m not putting on my own oxygen mask first. Right? And so I’m always preaching that to myself. And if it helps other people, great.
Justine: So that’s the thing. I think especially with entrepreneurship, we’re so tied to our business. Our brands are so connected to who we are. And so it is really important to take care of yourself and just make sure your cup is full and do all the things that are so hard to do when you’re like, “But that thing is really important.” Or that internal maybe unhealthy sense of drive to prove ourselves or to feel like we’re getting the approval that we need. All of those different things really factor into how we run our business. And so I guess that’s the practical takeaway to do, if I were to tie it up with a pretty bow is define for yourself what success looks like internally, not just externally. But just the more holistic view of what your business looks like. Right?
Justine: Because how many of us get into this because we’re like, “We want freedom and more time with their families and to travel and all this stuff.” but then because we love the thing that we’re doing, we don’t know how to take a break. Right? And so that’s the other piece I would probably say that I’m learning. I’m almost discouraging people who are like, “Oh I know how to knit scarves. Yeah, that’s pretty. Let’s start an Etsy shop.” Think carefully about turning your hobby into business. Because you’re going to have to find a new hobby, right?
Emilie: That is accurate.
Justine: Exactly. Having to create on-demand and then all the, 90% of the work that’s actually not creative and it’s administrative. If you’re doing that hobby because it purely brings you joy, then stick with that. Unless you’re running your business to actually serve people. If it’s to make money, that’s never enough. It’s just not enough. Right? And so yeah.
Emilie: It always reminds me of, I’ve always loved Simon Sinek’s Start With Why and then Finding Your Why.
Justine: Yes, love his stuff.
Emilie: I will always recommend those books. Really, really recommend them.
Justine: Yeah, me too.
Emilie: Because then you can really understand why on a very deep level do you want to be doing this? And I started my first business doing fused glass art because I love fused glass art. And I actually wanted the time flexibility. My parents had both passed away in the last couple of years and I was working in a corporate job. It just didn’t feel like a very good fit for me anymore. I wanted more time with the people I loved. And I thought that being an entrepreneur was that ticket.
Emilie: Well, let me tell you how many weekends I spent away at art shows because that was what I thought was supposed to happen in order to sell my work. So now it went from having every weekend off and doing a clock in, clock out type of a job. To now I’m working all week long with my kids in daycare and I’m working on the weekend and I’m sometimes in the studio at night getting things done because I need to load my kiln up. Well let’s step back and analyze how well did that work out?
Justine: Right, is that actually what you wanted?
Emilie: Right. But when you’re first starting out, sometimes you don’t really realize the effect that you could be having on your business if you choose a certain path. It’s like you don’t know what you don’t know.
Emilie: And that’s okay. That’s totally okay. It’s worth taking a shot. But like you said, sometimes you do need to have a different hobby if you choose to take your hobby and turn it into a business. Because you do need to have time off. You do need to have an outlet. Or you will get really quickly into that burnout mode you’ve been talking about.
Justine: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah.
Emilie: So let’s talk about, the last thing I want really touch on is what would you like to tell others? People who maybe don’t have a chronic illness or disability or things like that, what is it like to be an entrepreneur with a health hurdle?
Justine: That’s a great question.
Emilie: A little specific.
Justine: Yeah. Well and that’s what your podcast is about and that’s the uniqueness that you’re bringing. So that’s such a good question. I think what comes to my mind is just the permission, just the space and the understanding that they are carrying a lot. It might not look like it, especially if the chronic illness is one that’s not obvious externally, but they look perfectly healthy on the outside. And just to give people who are your creative entrepreneur friends who do struggle with, are managing an illness, so much permission and support and encouragement of what that. And just reminders like, “We’re here for you.” “You are not what you create and do. So if if you are struggling with feeling like you’re not being productive, that’s okay.” Right? “We love you as you are.” But I think also just without getting into, I can’t remember the term, when you see those inspirational memes of people who struggle with illness, but they’re upheld as like a hero. There’s a term for it, but I don’t remember.
Emilie: Oh, inspiration porn.
Justine: Yeah, that’s it. Inspiration porn. I know the fit-spiration porn. But yeah, so without going overboard like that, but also just recognizing they’re carrying a lot of extra on their plate. And just how to support and encourage that. And just, I don’t know. Yeah, I guess it’s just, yeah, just seeing the stuff that maybe is unseen. Being curious and asking what it’s like. Just like any other experience or identity that you’re not familiar with because it’s not yours. Like my boyfriend is black and I have to be, I am very humble in listening, just learning. Learning what’s it like to operate in the world in your reality? And it’s the same thing with chronic illness and entrepreneurship. What’s it like in your world to have all these unique challenges that you have? And just to recognize their strengths and how amazing they are for just showing up some days. Every day waking up, getting out of bed. That’s the stuff that we take for granted when we’re well.
Justine: Just let those people help you to retune your own sense of gratitude in just your normal-ness. I don’t like the word normal. We’re all weird in our own way.
Emilie: Isn’t that so true? We all have our own things that we’re up against. We all have things that are going super well for us. And there’s always the things that each one of us handle that maybe is not going super well. Or maybe is not the easiest thing in our story. And that’s totally okay. But I love the fact that you mentioned to be a good listener and understand what it’s like to be in their shoes.
Emilie: Or slippers, whatever.
Justine: Empathy as well. But the other thing, I’m sure it’s not new in what your guests have said, don’t try to offer them medical solutions.
Emilie: Oh yes.
Justine: Right? It’s like, do you not think I have tried everything under the sun and spent all my money trying to get better? Right? I know you’re trying to be helpful. But I just don’t even go down that path in terms of trying to solve things for people. Unless they ask. Unless they ask, then go ahead. But please don’t offer. That’s not a good way of expressing empathy by trying to give them all the solutions that you think might work or that they’ve tried. So I don’t know. I just find that, that’s not … I’ve heard that from a lot of my friends who do struggle with the illness. Like you think you’re helping, appreciate the effort, but no, just don’t. Just don’t go there.
Emilie: Yes. It takes a special relationship to be able to offer unsolicited advice. And even still, sometimes that’s not the best use of your time and energy is to offer unsolicited advice. Usually that’s … The best thing is for that particular person to work with their healthcare providers. And they know who the right people are to get the advice from, but to offer like, “Oh, have you tried this diet?” Or, “Have you tried this particular brand of blah, blah, blah cream or shampoos or blah.” It’s like, “Please, no.”
Justine: Yeah. Thank you, no thank you.
Emilie: Thanks, but no thanks.
Justine: Yep, yeah.
Emilie: Yeah, I love that. That’s awesome advice. And I thank you so much for coming onto the podcast today. It means a ton to me to hear your story and a little bit more about what you do in your business. And of course what you go through on a regular basis. And I hope that I can have you again on soon to maybe dive a little bit deeper into more of the business type advice, especially when it comes to building something sustainable without burning out. So if you would join me again, that’d be awesome.
Justine: Thank you so much.
Emilie: Thanks, Justine. Hey friend, thank you so much for tuning into today’s episode of Becoming Buoyant. It means the world to me when I can read all of your comments and reviews. So if you’re listening on iTunes, please go to the leave a review section, send me a sweet little message, and if you really love the episode, you can leave some stars. Hopefully five would do the trick. If you’re watching on YouTube, make sure to like this episode if it resonated with you. Leave a comment if you have some suggestions on other people that might want to come on. And of course, let me know what you think. And then make sure to subscribe. On either platform, subscriptions mean the world to me. It tells me that what we’re doing here on Becoming Buoyant makes a difference. So I hope you have a wonderful day ahead and I hope you tune in to the next episode of Becoming Buoyant. Take care.
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