Challenged Towards Change

In order to truly change, we have to be aware of where we have been and where we want to go.  The need for change can present itself in many forms; sometimes it’s self-inflicted and other times it is not.  No matter the course, change is not easy. It requires us to think differently and, usually, to utilize skills that we have never tapped into before.  With that said, change almost always results in growth, despite the growing pains. But we often cannot appreciate the value in being stretched until we have reaped the rewards of growth.  

Today my change comes out of transition.  A couple of weeks ago, I sold two thirds of the Pure Barre Studios that I owned.  In many ways those studios have been my external identity in terms of how people know me, especially in Austin, TX.  Most introductions would start with, “This is Rashanna Moss. She owns Pure Barre.” Those introductions have always been flattering because I felt like the person introducing me was proud.  It does feel good to have established a new brand in a competitive fitness city. It also feels good to have defined a new sector of fitness locally, as barre was not on the map in Austin prior.  In contrast, I was equally uncomfortable with those introductions because I don’t like being defined by external brands. Prior to my pursuits with Pure Barre, I was with Nike, which is an amazing company.  My transition from Nike to Pure Barre taught me so much, that I cannot go back to brand identification in the same way. A perfect example was being on flights for business travel and starting conversations with people on the plane.  I always remembered most people assuming I was in college and green. Then as the conversation continued, “Nike” would come out. I always tried to hold that card as long as I could. As soon as “Nike” was revealed, the entire conversation would change.  I was treated differently, and I particularly remember being treated as more of an equal among businessmen at that point. I hated that feeling in a way. I didn’t like the feeling of presenting my resume in order to be accepted as an equal.

That feeling translated again into my Pure Barre world.  Yes, I owned studios, but the tone again would change as soon as the dots were connected.  I opened Pure Barre because I believed in the technique (still do!) and the value of what we created locally among a community of amazing women.  I’m not into Pure Barre because it’s the largest national barre brand, and the same goes for Nike being the largest international sports brand. I love Nike because I understand some of the details behind the scenes.  I respect the science behind Nike’s product and their commitment to innovate and create some of the best products in the world. I have no need to lead with either as my identity. I’m immensely grateful that I understood my identity prior to opening Pure Barre because it allowed me to mostly stay true to myself.  

I say “mostly” because I did fail to take care of myself in the manner that was truly needed.  I definitely sacrificed too much financially and from a health perspective for others. It is ironic because being in health and fitness should mean reaching new heights of wellness, but in a lot of ways entrepreneurship is the ultimate contradiction.  With that said, lesson learned.

All in all, staying true to self and taking lessons learned, as well as being aware of where I came from and where I want to go, is leading me to change.  I have been on an amazing ride and my identity is really strong internally. My passions are my compass and although I love business, I have never been interested in much of the world of capitalism.  I love business because of the stories behind the brands, and the opportunities that they provide for others. I despise the sectors of capitalism that squeeze all opportunity out of the little guys.  I hate greed, lies and bullying. Too many of us have seen too much of that lately and the level at which it’s accepted is disgusting.

I’m ready to take my lessons learned and change the conversation in business towards support, growth, success and positivity.  I’m ready to be a leader who has the space and permission to have truly authentic conversations with a community who is inspired to rise into their potential and passions.  I’m also looking forward to being supported at a soulful level, rather than sacrificing too much of myself. This is a needed pivot and I have never felt more fired up, inspired and excited overall. Cheers to change!  

Rashanna Moss

Rashanna is the Founder and CEO of Moderna Muse and an advocate for leveling up your life. Join the Moderna Muse team for a 30-day guided lifestyle challenge starting September 5th. This online challenge will help you strengthen your body, mindset, and voice. Click the button below for more information.

Rashanna Moss - Moderna Muse

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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