I am here.

 “Be who you are, where you are, in this moment.”

I typed these words hastily into a note on my phone, mid conversation, as they tumbled out of my mouth. I sat on the couch on my back deck, with Rashanna across from me, my dog curled up in the sun at her feet. We sat and talked and cried. It had been three weeks since I arrived at the hospital to deliver my baby girl, only to learn that she no longer had a heartbeat. Marie Evangeline Pike was stillborn at full term on Thursday, May 31, 2018.

As I confided in Rashanna and tried to make sense of this blow that has changed my life forever, my mind wandered to just a month earlier… we sat the same way but in the living room, my dog at her feet, with me perched on my yoga ball across the room. I bounced gently, feeling the weight of my belly and the press of my baby’s body against mine as we talked. This was our final work meeting before my planned maternity leave. Like all of our meetings, the conversation ebbed and flowed from day-to-day administrative tasks to our wildest hopes, fears, and dreams for ourselves and our business. We talked at length about how motherhood would change and inspire and challenge me in ways we couldn’t possibly predict. The thing we felt sure about was the strength of our inner voices, and that those voices would carry us through whatever changes were coming our way.

We were right to say that these changes were unpredictable.

In the eight weeks since I lost my daughter, I’ve been both terrified and invigorated by the workings of my mind. I have felt my inner voice become silent, abandoning me at my darkest hours and leaving me desperate, sobbing, “What is my purpose??” I have heard my inner voice speak clearly, in the wind on my skin and the sun on my cheeks and the pink flowers that bloom in the treetops, reminding me that I don’t just live for me - I also live for my husband and daughter and the babies who will know Marie as Big Sister. During my hardest days, I have cried to my husband, “I can’t feel her anywhere!” On my brightest days, I have poured my soul into writing about my vision of her...a warm light that glows in my heart and slips through the cracks and touches every inch of my spirit. Many times, all of this darkness and light swirls into a mass of complex grief where I can’t distinguish the anger from the gratitude or the fear from the hope, and I don’t know how to feel at all, other than lost. My inner voice gets mixed up in the chaos, drowned out by the noise, and nearly forgotten. When I can’t hear that voice, I try to remember that it is there, waiting. I remember the fire I once held inside. How it flourished with passion and purpose. Right now, that fire is reduced to a smolder, desperate to burn with the intensity I once knew.

But in that smolder lies hope.

I remember that in pain, breakthroughs are born. I remember that every day, I am re-learning the art of self-discovery. I remember that I am training to survive those moments when identity is lost, now and in the inevitable hardships to come. I come back to those words: “Be who you are, where you are, in this moment.” In my old life, I used to think up specific, layered mantras. Now, I simply whisper to myself, “I am here.” I know there are so many lessons and so many gifts that can rise from this pain, in the far away, sometimes unimaginable realm of “someday”. For now, I just need to live right here. One day, one hour, one minute at a time. Let pain in. Let peace in. Let life in. I am grateful to be taking this first challenging, yet important step back into the mission Rashanna and I believe so deeply in.

To be completely honest, I am terrified. I am terrified that this grief is too overpowering for me to show you silver linings. I am terrified of the fact that sometimes, there is no silver lining. I am terrified of the inevitable next trip into the darker recesses of my mind. I am terrified that I won’t be able to connect to the lighter side of my muse or write with the whimsy I once enjoyed. I am terrified that in moving forward, I might feel like I’m leaving my daughter behind. But as I recently shared in a post about my little Marie Evangeline, without fear there is no bravery. So today, I am afraid. But I also choose to be brave.

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The Truth About Greatness

For the last 11 months, my life has been in a state of flux with constant changes and adjustments in response to dramatic events or in preparation for anticipated events.  It has felt like a domino effect.  I think I handled the changes well.  I tried admitting mistakes and shortcomings and I’ve spent my days working as much as possible.  I haven’t given myself a break because so much needs to get done.  Everytime that there was a new change in one of the businesses, it required me to take several steps back, and shift the direction in order to move forward once again.  You take a hit, recover, rebuild and then bam, something else happens.  It’s exhausting and the only thing that has kept me moving forward is a positive attitude and a belief in greatness.  I think my biggest successes have often come out of hardships, so I’ve simply assumed the same  about the last 11 months.  An internal voice allowed me to believe that this stage would not last forever.

Then everything changed and the bottom fell out.  There are so many details and memories of May 31st, but because of where I am right now, my details don’t seem to matter.  May 31st is not my story, it’s Shannon and Marie’s story.  My connection to them and responsibility to lead the businesses is what caused the bottom to fall out for me personally.  I went from a belief in greatness to an immense reality check of what greatness actually stands for.  I’ve been partially numb and partially removed in a state of observation.  My perspective changed overnight and it caught me off guard.  I can say that my last 8 years have been filled with plenty of hardships, but watching someone I love go through the unthinkable was harder in some ways.  I was truly rocked and life didn’t care.  There was still three studios, two cities, 57 staff members and hundreds of clients that needed life to continue as normal.  I couldn’t think straight and the domino effect was continuing outside of Shannon’s recent life event.  All I could do was show up as a shell of myself because this new change in perspective made so many things in life seem petty and insignificant.  I haven’t tolerated excuses, selfishness, and complaints with the same openness as before.  It’s as if there has been an immediate clearing of low frequency behavior.  I can’t define it, as I know that my full understanding will only come in retrospect.  But I can say that my understanding of greatness is much more clear than ever.  And right now, I can see the distinction that those who are great rise up despite life’s misfortunes.

I thought I may have observed this in Shannon a couple years ago.  Someone’s language, knowledge, work ethic, creativity and interactions with others, can tell you so much.  It isn’t always obvious when you first meet her, because she’s humble and just a hometown, mid-western girl.  But as we peeled back the layers of our relationship and got to know one another, I could see her future clearly.

Her future felt very bright, but it also scared me.  We are ten years apart, and in a lot of ways she reminded me of where I was 10 years ago.  I was fearful for her because it was obvious that she was on the extraordinary track of greatness.  Few people sign up for life’s extraordinary training, because it comes with a ton of work.  When you say, “Ok life, I’m going to live my purpose boldly and change the frequency in this world”, life shows up in a way that isn’t easy to handle.  The idea of hard work is cliché, but we often do not discuss the problems that accompany the extraordinary track in life.  I have never observed an extraordinary individual with ordinary problems.  And this observation is what scared me about Shannon.  She’s young and I knew that she had a lot of life to live.  And seeing the similarities of myself in her, I had an understanding of what 10 years of life can yield when you are pursuing major goals. 

Never in a million years did I think that her daughter, Marie, would not be with us today.  I was fully prepared and excited to be Marie’s adopted Aunt.  I expected her to be in the studios and in my house regularly.  I saw her as the extension of what we had built and I was looking forward to the new lessons that we would learn together.  It felt like an extension of my own family and I was just over the moon about Marie becoming the child that I would likely be the closest to until I decide to have my own.  That’s just the way it was going to be and the way we wanted it to be if we were going to continue moving forward in business.

What followed, is just too much, and again, it’s Shannon and Marie’s story that is for her to tell.

A little later, once Shannon was ready for a visit, two things about our conversation stood out to me.  One, I shared my past fear of her future path, knowing that she was destined for extraordinary things.  She had often expressed a concern of being green (too young or inexperienced), which I related to at her age as well.  She said that the loss of Marie made her grown up very quickly and changed her perspective immediately.  I also expressed the idea of Marie being her muse who may lead her further towards her purpose. 

With that said, I say World Watch Out.  The extraordinary path is not an easy walk and Shannon is walking the path in spite of extraordinary problems.  She also has taken Marie’s loss to inspire her towards her passion of writing and expression.  It has always been a passion, but it’s emerging in a completely different form.  To all of you, I hope that this tangible experience burns an impression on your hearts and minds.  To suffer and get knocked down into the dirt, then stand up and forge forward is what great people do.  I hope that you look at successful people and see the truth of their life experiences.  And most importantly, when you are down and having a hard time picking yourself up, remember that extraordinary people have been there too.  Allow it to be your motivation to get up and live your muse.  With a very heavy heart, thank you for continuing to support both myself and Shannon.  You are a wonderful community. 

Rashanna Moss
CEO & Executive Visionary
Moderna Muse

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Success for a Hot Mess

Ever called yourself a hot mess? Let me guess - you’ve walked into a room and forgotten why you’re there. You’ve locked your keys in your car more times than you can count. You’ve experienced that panicked feeling when you ask yourself, “Did I unplug the iron?!” And whenever you need that one, specific thing, it’s nowhere to be found. You’re sure you saw it somewhere...on the counter...or maybe in the laundry room...or was it in the back of the dresser drawer….?

Total honesty: scenarios like these (and worse) have plagued me for my entire life. I’ve been an hour from home and on my way to the airport and realized I left my wallet on the counter. In high school, I once called my mom, absolutely freaking out that my car wouldn’t start and I was going to be late for dance class. She drove to the school and found me sitting in THE WRONG CAR - yes, someone else’s car that happened to be the same model as mine - trying to start it with my car keys. I’ve gone to the gym before work and forgotten all of my clothes for the day. I’ve prepared a full day’s worth of meals to take with me, then left it all on the kitchen table to go bad. I am not exaggerating when I say the stories are countless, and many of them have had much more dire consequences than the ones I’ve shared.

With all of these screw-ups has come an overwhelming amount of self-loathing and self-deprecation. “Why am I like this?” “How could I let this happen?” “What is wrong with me, that I could forget something like this?” I spent many years in a cycle of negative self-talk, beating myself up over it, and apologizing to my loved ones for “who I am” - forgetful, scatterbrained, a cause of inconvenience. It’s been a confusing and conflicting character flaw to work through, because on the flip side, I am also a high achiever. When I start to get comfortable with someone new, and I open up about the "hot mess" side of myself, they’re usually surprised. “Really?? It just seems like you have it all together!” Fooled ya! I have always worked extremely hard and spread myself thin to achieve what I want in life. I pride myself in settings goals and succeeding in tackling them. I’ve held leadership positions since childhood, and have a passion for guiding others toward their own dreams. So how could I feel this deep, innate desire for success, but still fall short in my day to day life through all of these stupid mistakes?

Some very specific mindset shifts have saved me from spiraling into despair over my shortcomings. In reflecting on the last five years or so, I’ve realized that even though I’ve spent my fair share of time berating myself over my flaws, I’ve also consistently come back to focusing on my strengths. As I made the transition into adulthood, I started to tune into my inner voice - what I now know to be my muse. I found that when I allowed that voice to spew negative, self-deprecating talk, it exacerbated the consequences of my slip-ups and forgetfulness. That negative voice would cause more frantic energy, more anxiety, more anger, and ultimately, it would result in me making another mistake; all of my focus would be on how much I had already messed up, instead of how to move forward in the present moment. So throughout my own journey to know and shape my muse, I found some concrete ways to conquer my biggest flaws. I hope these tools can help you too, hot mess musa.

1. Acknowledge and accept your shortcomings, then stop apologizing for them.

Yes, the power of the mind is immeasurable, and it is possible to train yourself to function on a different frequency than what might be in your makeup or your habits. BUT - many of our seemingly “negative” characteristics also bring color, flair, and spice to our personalities. I might be forgetful and spacey sometimes, but that part of me is also why I am great at letting go, living it up, relaxing, and feeling comfortable in my own skin. I’m not worried about sticking to a rigid plan 100% of the time. This can get me into trouble sometimes, but there is no need to squash this part of my personality. Instead, it’s important that we acknowledge and accept that we are imperfect, that we will make mistakes, and that we shouldn’t constantly be apologizing for who we are. A few years back, I challenged myself to reduce my use of the words “I’m sorry” to only those situations that truly merited an apology. Instead, if I made a mistake, I redirected my energy to providing a solution. For example, if I was running behind on a project, I would say something like, “Thank you for being patient with me on this. Here’s how I’m going to fix it…” Admitting that you’re not perfect, but showing up and rising above those imperfections will train you to see beyond your own flaws. You’ll discover that you have way more power over them than you ever believed before. And you’ll be ready to implement the next two tips!

2. Visualize yourself functioning at your peak level of performance, even in the most mundane activities. 

Take a quick scroll through our Instagram page and you’ll see, we believe in the power of visualization. We’ve lived it, we’ve coached it, and we’ve seen the results firsthand. Many people are intimidated by the idea of this practice - they too-often associate it with meditation, making the assumption that in order to visualize, you have to hole up in a quiet, calm room, eliminate all distraction, and achieve a transcendent state of peace and clarity. Sure, that’s part of traditional meditation, but visualization is entirely different. Visualization is using your mind’s eye to see yourself living out a specific scenario, which prepares you to live it in your reality. I use visualization every single day, even in the most mundane scenarios, to help me stay focused and on top of my responsibilities. While I’m getting ready in the morning, I think about what I have going on in the day to come. I walk myself through the hours, seeing myself accomplishing all of the things that go into my day, from important meetings to simple tasks on my to-do list. Once my day is rolling, my mind goes a mile a minute and in a million different directions at once, so it’s way too easy to forget about a little task that can throw off my whole day if it doesn’t get done. Visualizing myself living with positivity and productivity helps me turn that into my reality. Full disclosure? I still forget things from time to time. In those scenarios, I go back to tip #1! And of course, I could go on for hours about using visualization for the bigger “stuff of life”. Right now I’m using it to prepare for delivering my first baby. I have no fear and no delusions about childbirth. I’m ready - I’m ready to feel NOT ready when I arrive at the hospital, I’m ready for my entire vision to change, I’m ready to feel scared at times, but I’m also ready to overcome these situations if they happen. I credit this to my visualization practice. I’ve already seen myself owning childbirth. All I have to do now is bring that vision to life. You can do this with any big event in life.

3. Put systems in place to prop you up in the areas where your flaws threaten to pull you down.

Here’s where I come down off of the “U-RAH-RAH, LOVE WHO YOU ARE!” pedestal and get real with you about those darn "Type B", hot mess flaws. If you want to be a high achiever, you’re going to have to work for it. You can’t forget things, miss deadlines, show up late, procrastinate on the daily, and expect to achieve the success you desire in your soul. Some of these things might be a part of you and bring that color and spice to your life that I mentioned before, but you have goals that are bigger than your comfort zone - so get ready to leave it. You owe it to yourself to be unchained from the restrictions and consequences of that flaw. Tap into your alter-ego and ask yourself, “What would someone completely different than me do?” Then pick a sliver of that, and implement it in your daily life. Pick something that’s attainable and works with the flow of your personality. A great example from my own life is home organization. Back in the day, I was a mess. Queen of Clutter. A “tornado”, as my mother would call me. I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t cut it in adult life. It jams up creative flow, induces stress when you can’t find what you need, causes you to forget or lose more of the things you’ve worked hard to obtain, and pushes you into that place of negative self-talk. So I have implemented systems in my home that I don’t compromise. I know I’m not a Type A, hyper-organized person. Solutions for someone like that would not be sustainable for me, so I didn’t go over the top with color-coded closets or elaborate drawer organizers. I simply defined specific spaces for specific storage and uses, and I stick to it. Certain cabinets are only meant for certain things. I have specific bins for hair, makeup, cleaning supplies, etc. They’re not beautiful, Pinterest-worthy hacks. They’re just simple, functional strategies that get the job done and keep me from throwing my whatever, wherever. 

All in all, there are two beautiful things I want to see all of our musas achieve. One, accept and love who you are and give yourself credit for how far you’ve come. Two, take ownership over your opportunities to grow and never let your flaws hold you back from truly living your muse, your truth, your highest expression of self. You’re flawed, but you’re also colorful and spicy! Don’t compromise who you are to fit into a mold that someone else created, but understand that doing the work to shift your mindset and habits will bring you greater peace, more creative flow, and ultimately, the success of your wildest dreams. See who you’re mean to be and become her!

Shannon Pike
Founder & COO, Moderna Muse

  Checking out, letting go, and embracing my spice in Marfa, Texas!

Checking out, letting go, and embracing my spice in Marfa, Texas!