086. Jessi Stensland: Feet, reflection, and nature

Highlight [0:00]

Chapter show notes…

Jessi: So I like to challenge people. That’s a good example, too, of just challenging people in that moment, like are you in or are you not? And it’s always fun to come up with people who are just like on it, even more than they sometimes know sometimes that they are prepared to even do something like that. Just like run with feet anywhere.


Introduction [0:24]

Chapter show notes…

Craig: Hello. I’m Craig Constantine. Welcome to the Movers Mindset podcast where I talk with movement enthusiasts to learn who they are, what they do, and why they do it. This is episode number 86, Jessi Stensland, feat reflection and nature. How does a professional triathlete become a barefoot nomad? The path has never been clearer to Jessi Stensland. She discusses the role of movement in her life before diving into her passion, feat.

Craig: Jessi unpacks her own journey of foot discovery and shares foot recommendations for others. She describes her personal reflective practices and her focus of prioritizing nature in her life. Jessi Stensland is a nature-based, movement-inspired, wild, and free human, currently living in Oaxaca Mexico. And, boy, I hope I pronounced that correctly. She has a background in human performance, was a college swimmer, professional triathlete, and mountain sport athlete, who more recently began exploring parkour and dance.

Craig: Jessi is working on a concept designed to inspire a rerouting of our collective core values within nature. She’s passionate about living with nature, moving in nature, and about permaculture, foraging, growing food, floor sleeping, and as always, free feet. For more information, go to moversmindset.com/86. And today, a shout out to Rick. You rock. Thank you for becoming a Patreon supporter. Bringing you ad-free Movers Mindset takes a lot of time and has real hard costs, if you find any joy and stimulation in what we create, please consider supporting us on Patreon with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing between a cup of coffee and a good dinner. Thanks for listening.


Role of childhood movement [2:15]

Chapter show notes…

Craig: Hello, I’m Craig Constantine from Movers Mindset, and I’m here with Jessi Stensland. Hi, Jessi?

Jessi: Good morning, Craig.

Craig: Morning. A little bit of time zone, but it’s actually only [inaudible 00:02:25] I’m American, I’m bad with geography. I always forget that Mexico goes to the East. So you’re really only an hour West of me in Oaxaca, I had to look it up, Oaxaca, Mexico. So met four years ago. We had this discussion before we met four years ago and the free feet is really what I want to dive into. But before we go there, I like to start with the same question all the time. Which is, thinking back to your childhood, what role did movement play as you were growing up?

Jessi: Wow. That’s not the trickiest first question. I was like wow.

Craig: No, no, no. It’s too early for that.

Jessi: What role did movement play in my childhood?

Craig: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jessi: Yes. What’s really amazing is that I’m getting to watch my parents parent almost right now. Because my sister had three kids, exactly like my brother and sister and I, three of us very close in age, all within two and a half years total. And my parents had us at ages 21 to 24, so if you can imagine they’re super young, they’re super active, they were athletes themselves in high school years. And yeah, and now they’re very young, 65. Well, at the time it’s 55 to 65 years old now with the kids and I get to watch them parent.

Jessi: So I can tell you that we were very active for those reasons, period. They were very young parents. They were athletes at the swim team and the swim club from age four, learning how to swim, competitive by age six., at least going into competitions and little races at six, and by eight we were like ferocious competitive people. And that’s exactly what my nieces and nephews are. It’s incredible. In interesting ways because now I get to observe whether I feel what the competition is actually a thing anymore, because for me, it’s not a thing. But she was so rooted in the fact that you wanted to win. I would say they’re doing it in a very healthy way. I think it was a healthy-ish way. I will just say it’s a lot, and it was, and now I get to see why I was so competitive because of that.

Jessi: So if I could fast forward, so swimming and competitive at six to eight and then really swimming was my core sports. Not that we didn’t do other things, but mostly that turned into things like my swimmer friends playing crazy ball on the basketball court or the tennis court. We used balls and we used courts, but we just did it so that we could run around and hit each other and play with balls. It’s a good memory, because I love the fact that it was so random, there was no rules and that was a lot of our movement. So yeah, we played if we weren’t swimming. And we had the freedom to do that, that’s true.

Jessi: I would say we were quite like that through high school, actually, because we had our Summer League at the swim club. So the swim club was just a free for all if we weren’t just swimming those hour or two for the day, and we did that long, long time. And then it was college swimming, which started, I would say, to be more of the only thing I do is this. So it’s which… Then I turned to… Yeah.

Craig: True. And it’s says then you turned into triathlon.

Jessi: And then triathlon, and it wasn’t until-

Craig: If swimming isn’t hard enough, swimming in open water…

Jessi: Oh my God.

Craig: Swimming in open water is a whole different animal. Yeah that’s a different-

Jessi: We should talk about that. I was talking about fear that I don’t have anymore. It was thanks to getting over the fear of swimming in the water in the ocean. Because I have fear, like Dan Edward says is a visceral response, but I don’t live in fear, but I was afraid in open water. And that lasted about seven years of my triathlon career. No, I wouldn’t say… Very potent in the beginning and I forgot I had it, but I still needed to be around people. I couldn’t just be out there by myself. And it was really seven years in or way late that I realized, “Oh, I’m okay out here in this same body of water I always resented,” nothing changed but my mind. Okay. That’s a side note, but yeah, [crosstalk 00:06:23] the ocean has been there forever. So yeah, it was a big deal. It was a big deal.

Craig: Jessi I’m torn between talking about fear in open water because I don’t have a ton… Well, okay. I have a significant open-water experience usually on sailboats, but I have done a bit of scuba diving, a lot of scuba diving in open water where you take a boat ride out to… I once dove on the continental shelf at the Cayman islands where it drops off from 80 feet to 3000 fathoms or something. And that is open water, and when you’re out there… So I’m torn between, do you want to talk about… So I’ll leave it to you, do you want to talk about fear in open water? Or do you want to talk about bare feet? Because I was excited to talk about barefoot stuff because that was the context that I ran into you. So I’d love to go there, but I’ll leave it up to you. Choose your own adventure, you want to go open water?

Jessi: Well we can probably… Both, I love both. But I will have to say, I think a lot more people are diving into the fear, although not many in the way that I love to dive into fear. Unlike parkour, does it really well I have to stay. So that’s where I got really learned as well. So I’d say my more uniqueness and more what I love people to know is about feet and how amazing they are, and not just feet, but nature in general of course. So that’s the reason I would choose feet, but fear in open water is awesome too.

Craig: Let’s go feet.

Jessi: What do you think? Okay.


Feet [7:38]

Chapter show notes…

Craig: You got pulled into, invited into a rendezvous event in 2005, 2006, 2006, 2005, 2006-

Jessi: 2016.

Craig: Sorry, my brain is thinking it’s 2009. No, no. It’s 2020 Craig. Oh, wow. Decade just gone. Yes, 2016. And I’m wondering if there’s anything from that event now that that’s far enough in the past, that jumps out at you as a fun story where you’d want to start. Because I have a bunch of fun. That whole event was all like let’s run barefoot. Let’s do Park Hoard barefoot. Let’s go out in Hampstead, Heath barefoot let’s climb trees barefoot.

Jessi: Yeah.

Craig: Anything jump out at you from that?

Jessi: Yes. Any chance to bring up Sasa Sevo himself.

Craig: Not human.

Jessi: And I had just met him that day. We were in Hampstead Heath with the group, we were doing the, how do you call that? Reconnaissance of Hampstead Heath that morning and didn’t know him at all. And I had no footwear while we were in Hampstead Heath, whereas of course everyone… No, they didn’t because it was barefoot, I don’t remember. And so I’m running, but no shoes. I started running, we started running… No, we were walking down this trail and we got to talking and I don’t remember what I said, but I just started booking it down. Like see if you can, can you keep up or whatever? And he just took off, he took off right after me and so we just, [inaudible 00:09:11]. Yeah, just knew he was a wild teammate from the get-go, so that was the first interest.

Jessi: So I like to challenge people. That’s a good example too, of just challenging people in that moment, like are you in or are you not? And it’s always fun to come up with people who are just like on it, even more than they sometimes know sometimes that they are prepared to even do something like that. Just like run with feet anywhere. [crosstalk 00:09:36].

Craig: I know my story, how I got sucked into… I don’t do a ton of stuff barefoot, generally I’m barefoot throughout the day, I’m barefoot at the moment, but if I go outside, I’m usually running a minimalist shoes. But how did you get sucked into the… I don’t mean like in a negative way, but how’d you get into all the barefoot, the kinesiology, there’s a whole ton of benefits to it. What drew you into that?

Jessi: So I have to say, the first thing that I have to point out is that I have a banned word list, and on the banned word list, barefoot has made it onto the banned word list. So I could go into why have a banned word list. It’s just a better vocabulary, more useful, constructive vocabulary things you don’t want to say, filler words, but also other words. Trying to give you an example right off the bat. But anyways, let’s say barefoot is because I’ve learned what… We have these words to describe something from the point of view of consumer items. So I only have to tell you that I’m barefoot or we’re describing barefoot in terms of shoes. Otherwise I’m I’m just Jessi, I’m just running. I’m using my feet.

Jessi: In other words, if people come up to the trail on me and they say, “Do you run barefoot?” And I said, “I don’t run barefoot, I run. You run in shoes.” And why? Because we have a shoe company called Vivobarefoot, live barefoot. The first time someone asked me, “What does barefoot mean to you, Jessi?” And I was like whoa.

Craig: They mean shoes.

Jessi: Meaning if someone has to ask me, very, very wholeheartedly asked me what I think the word barefoot means, though something’s wrong with that word in our day and age now so unfortunately. It’s just fine, so I just worked through context of feet. So in other words, I would reframe the question to say something like, “How did you get into feet?” And that’s the point, which is to say, I put feet at the center. I default to feet. How that came about instead of defaulting to shoes in other words. I’ll soon go out without gloves on, unless I have a reason to put gloves on. It’s the same way. I don’t think I’m going out the door, I got to put something on my foot. No, I walk out the door, I’m like, “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa.” Or if I go to do a trail walk or run or hike, I bring the Fivefingers with me and put them on as needed, and only at the speed I want to run. If I just want to walk and tiptoe, that’s fine, but if I want to move faster than I’m going to put them on. But I don’t often just put them on.

Jessi: So that’s the default to feet context. How I got into it was through self… You guys all know this, self exploration, self-awareness of that which brought me even to the sport of triathlon in general, the triathlon, the repetitive movements. I didn’t know my body until later when I was broken. I got broken down, had to crawl back out, like why is this happening to my body? Why does that hurt? I kept seeking those answers. And eventually they led me to the foot, which nobody in my world could really lead me to. So my human performance specialists, we still all wear shoes. They might’ve said engage your big toe, but they couldn’t see it. And I wasn’t doing it. So they would say it, they went so far as to say, engage your toe because my leg was unstable, I couldn’t stand on one leg. And they’re like, “Engage your big toe.” But it was in a shoe. And they have the right idea-

Craig: You are standing on marshmallows so you’re not connected to the ground.

Jessi: Yeah. Which I always think back like they missed it. No, actually they didn’t miss it. They knew to say it, but we weren’t taking the shoe off and actually looking at it happen. So when that happened was in the shower after swim session. When, again, I wasn’t in the shower like, “I’m going to figure this out.” I just was observant. I looked down at my feet that day, maybe it’s not as usual. And I saw that one foot was really less defined than the other, like smaller. So my right big toe was smaller than my left big toe. I had more veins in my left foot than my right foot. It must’ve pointed out… Yeah it was very, very obvious I guess. I had to remember that exact day, it was now in 2008, but I went home and I looked and that was the day I realized that this big toe on my left side could do that by itself-

Craig: Yeah different range of motion.

Jessi: And this one I couldn’t pick up off the ground. This big toe on my left could bend like this, and the other one I couldn’t bend and lengthen… Just lengthening these tissues, it wouldn’t do it. And on the flip side, on my fatty padding on my foot, it was really well-developed to my left right here. And this guy, like the arch tissue, the fine tissue, the baby [inaudible 00:14:05]. The thin tissue under your arch continued up towards my big toe. There was no padding.

Craig: There was no much of pad there.

Jessi: And that just sent me… That was just the beginning, that just sent me to be on a self… With no one else, I went to orthopedic doctor, I went to podiatrist, I went to bionics specialist and my human performance guys and they all… Intuitively they were giving you these crazy answers. They wanted to lift my foot. One said, “Nothing’s wrong with you because you’re not injured.” So many reasons, I sought one first and they didn’t give me an answer that luckily I appreciated.

Craig: You just kep looking.

Jessi: So I just went home. And instead, all that happened was I would go to start a session of training, which back then would have meant some weights in my house and a mirror and some space to move and would start with movement preparation and some mini band activation, glute activation and things like that. And I wouldn’t get past the initial movements because the big toe wasn’t working. So I would stop sit on my little bench, look at my toe, talk to it and move it. And I would step up, and in three, would be like two, I’m not exaggerating two or three hours I look up and that’s all I’ve been doing. So it was a constant. If you had the time for what’s important, because if that doesn’t work the rest… It was intuitive [crosstalk 00:15:20].

Craig: Yeah, a bit of physical therapy for your feet, which… I don’t have the most developed feet, but I cannot stand socks that don’t have toes in them. Like in the winter I need to put socks on. So it’s like all my [inaudible 00:15:33] and they’re like put a little toe in anything. But like all my socks now have toes in them. And I distinctly remember sitting on the floor at the chain store and your session was like, “Okay, everybody take your shoes and socks off.” And a lot of people… I wasn’t doing a ton of stuff barefoot, but I was at least comfortable. I took my socks off, and I’m like, “Oh yeah, look ugly feet. Okay, fine. Whatever.” And then we did some movement and yeah, I could tell that my feet weren’t in great shape, but at least that wasn’t like a first time experience.

Craig: But a lot of people… Where I’m going with this circuitously is a lot of people when they first take their shoes and socks off and try to do something, they realize… They’re like, “Whoa, my feet are not… They’re really, really atrophied.” And for me, I started wearing Feiyue, the little crepe sole padded shoe. I started wearing Feiyue to do park core, and I can’t really remember why I felt that I wanted… The first pair of shoes, I tried to do parkour in, but like big clunky Keens with like the plastic rubber in the center, was like strapping bricks on my feet. And I tried that a little bit and it didn’t work. And I’m like, oh. And it might’ve been Adam McClellan or somebody said we’ll try some thinner shoes. Then of course you put thin shoes on and you try it in just like one jump. You’re like what?

Craig: So I had to go. And then I started trying to walk more in them. And then I was going back and forth like I was wearing regular shoes and then it hit me I’m never going to make any progress. So then I started wearing Feiyue everywhere. I had one pair of dress shoes if I have to go to a funeral. But like Feiyue everywhere. And then that was like a turning point. Without being told relearned how to run and went around in Feiyues until the fat pads on the bottoms of my feet restored. Those didn’t used to be there, and now it’s like yeah, I don’t know, I wouldn’t want to do it, but I can run a 5K barefoot on the street. Which is like about the most brutal thing to run on, is a hard street.


Foot recommendations [17:21]

Chapter show notes…

Craig: And I’m just wondering if there’s someone, I don’t know whoever watch, but there’s someone watching and thought of these two cases people talking about. How do you… It’s one thing to say, take your shoes and socks off and go try it. But is there something that you’ve discovered that sparks it for people to make them go, “Oh, this is better.” Even when with atrophied feet, it’s often not better right out of the gate.

Jessi: Sure. I love… Erwan Le Corre who started in it’s natural movement. Talked about instant gratification at some point and how our society that wants instant gratification and often lifetime of good habits and things are longterm… Not commitment but eventually they’re unconscious hopefully. But what I loved was he said instant gratification in that moment, is it enjoyable? Does it feel good? And that for me… It was just about halfway through my career that I realized it was a lot of the human performance stuff that taught me this, which means you can always feel good, you don’t have to go to the point. That was my first example of that. You don’t have to go to the point of feeling like hell before your workout’s over, before your season’s over. And it was very normal for us. And what they taught me, because we were so specific with our movement training, but I ran into those doors, at the time it was a gym or then in my workouts outside, and I was I just feel great. And that was the end of that. That was about 2004.

Jessi: So going back to this instant gratification. When people put their feet on, as one of the guys was saying, naturally deposited ground. Textured naturally deposited ground. Like the rock a stone, a stone, just stand on it, just wiggle on it. Don’t even have to… We’re not talking about running. We’re not even talking about walking at this point. Just that. There’s a reason why it feels so good. There’s a reason. There’s a reason.

Jessi: So what I find is that that’s just the basic. Get one rock that fits one foot or two feet, put your foot on it. As textured as it can be, we have so many rocks here out at the beach right now where I am, and it’s just there each one’s just a different shape and feel if you can imagine, and everyone you step on is different and that is nature. And so that’s what I would say.

Jessi: We have to have some grand ideas of feet and what you’re going to use them for. They just want to be included in life, and nature is life. And that means that to get started, it’s always not about going more minimal with footwear. I don’t even like to go there. People think it’s I got to back off, no, put your foot on their natural ground and feel. And then when it feels great, do it a little more and seek it out. It’s like it fills you up, and there’s a reason. It’s a sensory organ and it is attached to your entire body, your mind directly, your organs. If you want to look at all of that. So there’s is a reason-

Craig: Yeah, acupuncture stuff in your foot. There’s as many nerves in your foot as are in your hands.

Jessi: I didn’t want to go there.

Craig: I do.

Jessi: Then we will.

Craig: Yeah.

Jessi: I don’t want to go there on, because I don’t have all the knowledge of all of that. All I’m saying is, it feels good and there’s a reason. Yeah. And so just feel it like a child. Include them in your curiosity, they want to come out. I have great story on my website, actually it’s not live right now. It kind of is, but it’s not linked to a domain right now. But it does give the story of Fred, and Fred’s a foot, and he’s in a shoe and he’s just like, “Guys, I can play too. I can do all these things and any just as like you hands up being like this, I don’t understand. Look at the hands, they get to go out and play and do all these things and why I’m fucking here?” And then he’s like, “I have an idea if you …” Well, this had to do with shoes at the time, but it’s like, "If you just made shoes that were like let me do my thing, I could still be protective!

Jessi: But the point is just include them, touch them, go out on a walk and feel textures and nature. Things like grass and rocks and dirt and sand and puddles. It’s just amazing. And then from there buildup. I can go out and run as long as I want, I can run a 5K. I did it with my family, my eight year old nephew. No shoes in the middle of… Well, it wasn’t the middle of winter. It was Christmas. Yeah. It was January, 1st in New Jersey with my family. And I did put socks in my soft star, primal —.

Craig: Just in case.

Jessi: Which are these really wide shoes. And then I… No, I think I’d started the race, I did. I started the race, was jogging with him, he did amazing. But we came around the loop and then still had about most of the 5K to go. And I was like, “I don’t need these.” I took them off, put them under a car and kept… like our car, and kept running with him, and caught back up. And it was all good. So you see [inaudible 00:22:17]. I don’t need to protect them. And just to tell you, the foot has no problem with hardness. It’s more so the invariability of the terrain. So give it variability. And I am the living proof that the fact that really, if you just can repeat the same thing, it’s more about your body and its interaction with the surface. Just vary things up, and if you have to run long in a straight flat surface for a while, you can too. That’s just not the point, I guess is my point. Where are you today with all of that?

Craig: So today I’ve gotten to the point where… What I can’t quite bring myself to do is to run barefoot on… There’s like a cinder trail and stuff like behind… I live in a neighborhood, but right behind me is a conserved area that’s like a woods and trails and stuff. And the problem is there’s just enough use that there is some glass and it would require I… what I like about running. So back up a step, what I run in his Saucony track shoes and I pull the insoles out. So there’s literally two millimeters of rubber. So if you step on a pointy, a foresighted dice, if you stepped on a pointy rocket, it will go right through the shoe. So I love that it makes me not slow down, but it makes me keep my feet underneath me. None of this just pounding away and you have… You just feel like each foot is like, “What are we going to get when we put this down?”

Craig: And, I love how, I don’t know, still geeking out. I love the fact that, it’s taken a number of years, but I have enough hip flexibility and spine flexibility that when I step on something unexpected a tree root or something, it doesn’t really break the stride, but you can feel how, “Oh, my foot’s going to rotate that way.” Or you’re not loading that particular metatarsal. And then you can just feel the whole change shift. The leg doesn’t extend all the way, and the other one gives a little more push and it’s like the whole thing just chain. It’s like, “Hey, that worked.” Whereas I know in the past, if I had stepped, 10 years ago, stepped on something like that while running, it might’ve been a fall. If I had been on a thin enough shoe.

Craig: So that to me is my feedback. Look it makes me go, “Yeah, I’m doing the right thing.” My neighbor’s old. My neighbors think I’m nuts, but that’s not because of this, but I am often spotted outside barefoot. I take the trash out barefoot. Oh, it’s a whole 40 yards to the curb but in the snow. And I’m like yeah, it’s pretty cold. I’m not going to die in 40 feet out and back to the curb or just like standing in the morning. I have like a little retaining wall, I’ll be standing on top of the flat stones on top of the wall as the sun is… It’s like my feet are freezing and my face is in the sun. This is really cool. So I’m totally picking up what you’re laying down about the do what feels right. And let that be the feedback for it. So I can’t say enough great things about take your shoes and socks off and [inaudible 00:25:05] that way. Are those birds on my end or your end? That’s cool.

Jessi: I think they’re on mine. I’m looking out and there’s little [crosstalk 00:25:12] and they’re coming through.

Craig: That’s great.

Jessi: Oh, wow. I can’t even hear them now that you say that. Yeah. I’m just glad the dogs aren’t barking because it’s Mexico [inaudible 00:25:21] dogs. We have three dogs right outside this window and let alone the whole neighborhood of dogs. So we’re good so far.[crosstalk 00:25:28]. The birds are nice.

Craig: One of the things I love about doing these interviews this way is it’s a much more organic experience. A lot of times when we record in audio, as well as we record outside, but usually it’s in a pretty controlled environment and I’m trying to get the audio space under control. And these video calls are much more fun because it’s very much more random. Like we don’t know, I was kind of like, “I hope Jessi sets it up on the beach.” But it’s so cool.

Jessi: I wish. [crosstalk 00:25:52].

Craig: I want to be mindful of the time. So we’re gone 15, 20 minutes, and I always want to make sure that I give you a chance, if there’s anything that you came this morning, you’re like, "I want to make sure that we get to the things that you want to get to. Because I sort of picked, let’s talk about feet, but is there anything you want to get to? [crosstalk 00:26:12].

Jessi: No, I loving how this is going really. We did feet that’s… So why don’t you just keep on you, and I mean, yeah…

Craig: True.

Jessi: And I did write too that this idea, this greater concept of nature, I would love to tie that back around, so let’s do that. But I’d rather just keep going and [crosstalk 00:26:30].


Retreats, change, nature [26:31]

Chapter show notes…

Craig: Sure. I was going to say you ran an event two years ago, or like a year and a half ago, and I’m wondering did that catalyze something for you? My memory serves, you went there, went to Oaxaca and ran those events. And now I’m like, "Ooh, is Jessie going… Because I got excited… I used to run of those events all the time, and I was like, “Oh, it’s a thing.” And then something changed. So I’m wondering, does something catalyze in you running the event or was that a turning point? What happened there?

Jessi: Oh, so interesting. Okay. What events are you talking about? Because usually I’m doing other people’s events, but no. Yes, I hosted two retreats, a friend and I, and really the big inspiration was just that I had met this place in Oaxaca the year before, and it was just an amazing way to live period. From morning till night, what we did, how we used the nature, how we got to move around. As I mentioned, it just inspired movement and health from the fruits and the veg on the streets. No crazy supermarkets to walk into, no crazy lights. It’s just [crosstalk 00:27:35]. But yeah, I’m there. Yeah, it was just the coconuts, mangoes falling from the trees. We could dance right on the streets, meaning dance like we’re dancers and we bring the music and we just could dance. It was so free and let alone all the nature. So yeah. That said, that was a great time last year to invite people in and show them. To guide them through our world here, and loved that.

Jessi: All I can say about what is happening today and what has changed in the year, it is for me, every year I’ve come here, I’ve been different. I don’t know about you guys, but I am definitely, every year that starts for me, maybe every day, that’s a new year, is for me. You’d never know. So I’ve come to Oaxaca in this place, not knowing if I’d come back every time and now I’m quite not rooted here is in terms of having things here, but I-

Craig: [inaudible 00:28:26].

Jessi: Yeah, I’m much more local. It’s the third time coming back over the third year and it’s just you just get more local, you just know more things, you know more people, the locals, locals who live here, the Mexicans themselves. You’re just part of the family. It’s so great.

Jessi: But in general, what changed for me this year, to that year yet it was about others last time. And this time I went to Punta Mona, so I have to bring up Punta Mona, that was a year ago. I went to the permaculture regenerative agriculture, and permaculture place in Costa Rica that opened my eyes and my mind to a lot of things and even more nature, which is my point of going there. It’s all great to think you’re a nature human, but if you don’t even know how to live in nature, 100%, no money just to place or a hike into the jungle with only about 20 people, like a tribe then I knew I really didn’t know. And so they taught me how much more we can have a whole nother conversation, but that happened right before I did those events.

Jessi: So the events were based upon what I had done the prior year, if you know what I mean. Just introducing people to this place. And I’ve grown so much more since then as well, and that’s a whole nother year passed. And that took me way, like I said, closer to nature, myself exploration, and I don’t know what you’re observing from a far. Maybe you could tell me what you’re observing so I could speak to it more. But this time I really had to come here and just go inward to process. I knew I had to come back again for the serenity and the solitude, the nature that would allow me to process not only the last year, maybe the last seven years of my travels. Because I did take a one-way ticket seven years ago and ask the world for incidental education.

Jessi: So that was building up, right. Which were the culmination of which was living 100% in nature within those seven years. But it didn’t start out that way mind you. It was quite natural, but it did not start out that way in seven years ago. And maybe I was processing all 43 years, I don’t know. But I knew I had to come here and this place would give me the [inaudible 00:30:31].

Craig: [inaudible 00:30:32].

Jessi: It’s not in the middle of nowhere, it’s a town of 45,000 people, but-

Craig: We were discussing construction workers. Like is the roof’s going to work, or what time did the construction workers start? [crosstalk 00:30:42].

Jessi: Exactly. No, there’s a lot of life here, but yet… It’s funny, it’s a perfect mix. It’s that perfect mix you’d want. Like you have a lot of life, things are happening, cool people are here. You could do a lot, I wouldn’t be happy if I was just by myself, but at same time it can be very, very calm and serene and processing. That is what happened. My thoughts, my creativity, it goes places, like it went in the jungle.


Reflective practices [31:06]

Chapter show notes…

Craig: Do you do anything for reflection? I’m just wondering, because from over here, I’m in Eastern Pennsylvania, from over here, I don’t see much from you. And on one hand, I don’t like to encourage people like, “Oh, you have to blog. You have to be on Instagram more.” Because some people are born to be explorers, and you don’t want to be making those people check in, you want to just let them go and live their life and see what they come up with. But I’m wondering do you do anything? What do you do to try and capture the inspiration? Would you journal for yourself? Do you put things on video somewhere that I’m not seeing? Or what do you do for that mental self care if anything?

Jessi: Yeah. It’s interesting you’ve tagged on mental self-care at the end. So I’m curious, the question, because I want to go both ways. Is it about, are you a part of society and actually sharing things, but what is the mental self-care? [crosstalk 00:32:03].

Craig: So I’m generally interested in mental self-care. Like personal self-help, and one of the things that I find that I do is… I try not to color questions too much. One of the things that I do is I journal a lot, and I use it as a tool and partly a journal for what I did so I can look back and go, “Oh right. I remember doing that.” But mostly so that I can be reflective on my thoughts, my moods and I use it as a tool. So I’m generally interested in reflection, like people reflecting on their own stuff. So I like to ask people questions like… So I know what to ask, like some people are really into reading books so I can ask, “What books have you been reading that have been helping me change your thinking?” Or like, “What have you been doing with journaling?” Or some people go out and physically train as a way of thinking.

Craig: So I’m wondering what do you do personally, in the self-help and the taking care of yourself? The reason I didn’t just ask that is because well, clearly movement is a big part of that. That’s a lot of it. And I’m wondering things that might spark thoughts on other people are sometimes if somebody goes, “Wow, I’m really dialed into what Jessi’s saying and thinking here.” And then they might want to say, “Well, what else are you doing? Are you also writing? Are you reading? Are you…?” And so that’s where I was going with like the whole do your journal, and how does that play into your… Because clearly you do self-help, that’s my laundering, is laundering a word? Random [inaudible 00:33:24].

Jessi: Laundering, let’s do it.

Craig: Laundering Me rendering [crosstalk 00:33:27].

Jessi: I really love that. I mean that, random and laundering, I mean, that’s the point. That’s a new word. I love it. Okay. Totally get it.

Jessi: It’s funny how I have a thing with words. So they’re charged, mental self-help care, like gosh, whoa.

Craig: Yeah. Like the word should that’s my nemesis. I have terrible stuff [crosstalk 00:33:50].

Jessi: That’s the first one that was on my ban word list. Maybe I’ll send you my banned word list, see you [crosstalk 00:33:54].

Craig: That might be cool, yeah should is on my trying to ban word list.

Jessi: Yeah. For many reasons. Okay.

Jessi: Wow. I like everything these days. I used to be able to bring every conversation back to feet for a while. It was no matter what we talked about, I could bring up feet. There go the dogs, by the way. [crosstalk 00:34:12]. Hopefully it’s okay. Then there’s one puppy, and one puppy who had a puppy. So basically it’s crazy.

Craig: How good.

Jessi: [inaudible 00:34:22] words, charged.

Craig: Self-help, random laundering. First it was all about feet.

Jessi: No feet. Right, there you go. And now I’ve expanded that. I’ve expanded that to nature. This word it’s a little bit still, not that it has been like kidnapped and redefined-ish, if you’re conscious at all, but it can have different scopes. Which means nature? What do you mean, I’m touching a leaf, I’m by a tree right now, or am [crosstalk 00:34:52]. So many things about our environment and our nature. And by the way, we are nature. So when does electrons, protons and neutrons here turn into these protons and neutrons, turn into these, we’re all the same.

Jessi: So really nature is that for me. I’m a very physical humans, so I’ve turned it into a… I say, [Ockham’s 00:35:13] razor. I do love [inaudible 00:35:16]. When you just look at the simplest way to think about things. And for me, that simplest way without making it complex… Not that this is not a complex being, but the fact is we can make it so much more complex than just electrons, protons, and neutrons having energy and connecting that. And that to me is where I’m going with what nature allows physically from the outside to the inside of my body, to my mind, to everything.

Jessi: And so, I don’t tend to separate mental and even mind at times. Because that starts to have boxes, and so to me, my long-term self care I would say is just that it’s going to nature and come what may. So that could be everything from, do I have energy right now? Do I feel like being super creative with my mind? No, but I know I want to go out. This is just taking you through something that happens in a day. So no, but I know I haven’t been to the beach yet. I haven’t walked away from my house and done something yet. So yes, I’m going to go. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I get there. So what happens? Beautiful point of the beach, lots of rocks, sunshine, air waves. People surfing in the water, people walking by-

Craig: Smells right.

Jessi: All I have to do is sit there where the water meets the sand, let it hit me a little bit or stand on a rock and just put my hand on one and my foot on another and it just begins. It just begins. I just take another step, I take another step, I feel another thing, I go. Can you imagine that’s exactly what my life is, and I’m glad we got there because I wanted to go there anyway. Which is to say, “How are you moving, you’re not in the gym. How do you look like this?” Like what? Well, I’m touching nature. And it’s a pleasurable experience every instance. I want to picture, if the water is meeting me at the sand and I’m sitting there in a straddle, sure I’m not just doing like a straddle stretch because I want my hips wider. I pushed the sand out a bit, I feel every grain of sand, I reach over, I wait for the wave to come. The wave actually picks me up a bit, because it’s so strong and now I’m over here. But I had to twist to do that.

Jessi: You get the idea, I’m being like a child, going back to having the best qualities of being a child with all the consciousness of being an adult and not letting either of those hinder, more so the adult hindering the child thing, but even children are hindered now by all our adult things. So it’s hard to say move like a child even, unless that child is very free and able to move, then they’re getting challenged way earlier than they could and should. And we should be observing them as we are. I don’t know [inaudible 00:37:48] but we are lots of big kids.

Jessi: Self-care wise, that’s one quick example. The other day I went to watch, I did that. I went at sunset, I sat in the water a bit, when skin got wrinkly, I don’t know, I cannot say I saw that, but you just feel the need to then sit back off the ocean, get a little warm on the sand or a rock. And the sun was setting, I moved a bit. Next thing I knew I was lying on a rock body size at about this angle. But I mean, I say jagged, but not like jagged, but like jagged the whole way up. And I just hugged it with my head over it so I could see the ocean and yet my body was on… You think I can talk about sleeping on the floor, that’s so comfortable. It’s a flat, smooth surface. It’s not soft like people are thinking [inaudible 00:38:40]. We don’t need, we can go there. But the fact is I was just being pushed on and just I found… Mind you, I found a good spot to sit on, bone was sitting by the bone, no rocks was sitting on the bone.

Jessi: But all that to say, I sat there and it was about 10 minutes. So the sun was setting, I don’t know, but of course I was comfortable till it wasn’t comfortable. That’s the point of moving. And then I was like, “Oh darn, it’s not comfortable anymore. But it was for 10 minutes, but now it’s time to move.” That’s what nature gives us. It makes us move. So I had to move. I was kind of bummed, but I got it. I’m okay, fine, I’ll sit somewhere else. But thank you for that time that I was comfortable in this like sensory biomechanical experience. [crosstalk 00:39:25].

Craig: Right, right. And then feeling away.

Jessi: And then this idea of meditation comes up. So I have two thoughts, you say self care, two thoughts. People say, “Well, are you meditating?” And I’m like…

Craig: Yeah. But not in the way you mean the word.

Jessi: That’s a charged word too. And that’s great. It’s I used to say, I meditate through movement. Great I do. But you know what, in this case, same thing, it was just come what be in my thoughts, in my mind, in my body, nothing comes, it comes. That is what I can answer. I don’t know, but I do this.

Jessi: And that is about that amount of time. People say that I was comfortable in one position. But that position for me, could you imagine wasn’t like sitting in some like seated position, which it was that position. It could be a different position the next day. It could be a seat, not a seat, but a seated position the next day. And funny how it naturally becomes a 10 to 15 minute period of time. And I didn’t need anything from that moment, maybe I got something. Like I said, is it just space to be free? Is it to recharge me for the next moment when I’ll actually do something with that quiet time? Was it meant to teach me something? Its just…

Craig: Yeah, seems like it’s a cycle of absorbing, taking in and then being active in the environment and the other part of the cycle. It’s interesting.

Jessi: Yeah. And the same thing happens… You paused, so I’m going to say it because I don’t know how much time we have.

Craig: That’s why I paused.

Jessi: You’re so good.

Jessi: The same thing happens. I listened to someone else the other day who said, in the morning I do my meditation in the morning, like 20 minutes, I find that’s the best thing. And I was trying always to relate this back to what I do that people are then… Inspiring or guiding people to do in a box. So like meditation in the box, you have 20 minutes, you wake up and you do this thing. And you know what I’m doing today? I sleep on the roof, we haven’t gotten there, but I do sleep outside every night now on the roof, under the stars. It’s up one flight of stairs, so you’re protected from things. Sure, you have the odd critter come around, but no big deal. You’re asleep. So it’s like you’re up there and what happens? I wake up, but I don’t immediately have to wake up. I have no alarm, no alarm for years, not since 2008 or whatever. So, mostly, most every day. And so the… Except today I had an alarm by the way.

Craig: Sorry.

Jessi: No, that’s okay.

Jessi: No, I’m sorry. So yeah. But anyway, so wake up and then just, I have the time, it’s not about waking right up and getting out of bed. I get to do like, "Oh, I’m awake, but my eyes aren’t open. It’s still dark. I just [inaudible 00:41:51] here. Then I start to feel any sensations, the breeze, the birds.

Craig: There’s always a pre-dawn movement of the air, or the birds out there [crosstalk 00:41:59].

Jessi: Yeah, pre-dawn, thank you. Yeah.

Jessi: I have to fast forward to pandiculation. So basically I pandiculate every morning and wait to pandiculate to wake up. That’s another whole conversation maybe, but it’s that reflexive stretch in the morning that you do. And when you’re done with it, your body has like checked in neurologically, get out the bed and let’s run for this day. So that actually takes… Now you said that about the morning meditation, about 10 to 20 minutes often more towards 20 and sometimes a 30. But in that meantime, what did I do? I just sensed. I just thought, I didn’t like… I said, “Oh, how interesting.” Naturally, that is where I would relate this idea of in a box to something that’s quiet sitting with your thoughts. Whereas I’ve got this biological thing going on about that and naturally doing that. So that’s where I am today with self-care things. Yes, I have a journal. Yes, I draw and write. But I think those are the main points to make right here. That nature inspires that and my self-care.


Final thoughts [43:03]

Chapter show notes…

Craig: Those are terrific points. And I was like 50 things I could say in response, but I don’t want to start us on another 15 minutes train of thought. The one thing I like to say about this is we can do more of these. So we can do another one of these another time and we won’t have any problems picking up where we left off. I find that just takes like three seconds, “Hey, we were talking about…” Because there’s so many things.

Craig: Any last parting words or things that occurred to you like I wanted to make sure I told people to go look at X or Y or…

Jessi: Oh goodness. Goodness gracious. No. Yeah, sure.

Craig: The ending is the hard part.

Jessi: Okay, okay.

Craig: [crosstalk 00:43:33] hard.

Jessi: No, I know, we’re under Movers Mindset, but I will say moving mind you. But yeah, I guess the two things I will say is make nature a priority, as a core of your value system and a core of your movement. This is the first time I’m actually… We waited a long time, I waited a long time to come and speak to you. I haven’t spoken in a long time to anyone publicly like this is. Back when Feat Freaks was happening in 2015. So you see, it’s like… And I didn’t know when that would start. And that’s why I’m so naturally speaking to you right now because this whole message was building up. And I’m glad I said that so clearly today. Whatever… And I’m not ready to tell you what that means. It’s whatever you think it is. I just want to leave everyone with the fact that, if nature, however you want to define it right now for yourself, in your core values? That means every moment you’re doing something is nature at that core value? With what you’re purchasing, with what you’re doing, who you’re around, the fibers you’re wearing?

Craig: You’re eating.

Jessi: So just is nature one of your core values and also a core move with it in your movement? Are you either touching it, appreciating it. Be very aware when you’re not and when you are. So that’s all I wanted to say. Yeah. Nature in your core values and your movement, training and life. And there was one more thing. Did we have 45 minutes? Oh, and forage. Find one thing. That’s what I’m doing so much here. You say what’s different about be here in Mexico this time is, I can’t tell you on my street I came here two years ago, didn’t know anything. The next year moringa was on the trees, something else I knew. I’m like, "How did I walk by the moringa every day and not know it was right here the year before? This year, holy, wow. I have a list of 10 things I can eat on this one block alone. And I was walking right by them.

Jessi: So if you’re following me on Instagram, you’re going to see these little journeys around what I’m sharing to the world. And it may not be that you have tamarind or coconut on your-

Craig: On your street.

Jessi: On your streets, but I bet you can eat dandelions, you can eat those leaves. There’s nutrition to them, you can just put them in. You don’t even have to taste them if they don’t taste… Whatever it is, there’s so many options, at least one thing eat wildly. And just open your mind to that exploration as well as a part of your nature. And that’s just what I’m doing right now, is I’m exploring. So that’s why I thought I’d had it in.

Craig: Well, thanks for sharing. You’re terrific. Sometimes I would love to just spend whole days with people. A lot of times, even the podcast, which can be much longer. It’s still a tiny taste of like spending time with each person, and there are lots and lots of people. So I’m always just tickled pink to get a chance to sit down even for just 45 minutes. Thank you for taking the time out of your morning and I’m tickled pink you’re able to like sit still. I was worrying that like, I hope she’s okay sitting still for 45 minutes.

Jessi: I was going to show you, what am I wearing? But yeah, if you notice, I’ve been moving my legs around. So we’re good.

Craig: We’re good for now.

Craig: All right. Well, Jessi, it was a pleasure to finally get a chance to sit down and talk to you. I’m sure we’ll be speaking again, and I have to come to Mexico one of these days. But I think we’ll call it there for the day. So thanks [crosstalk 00:46:37] again. And it was a pleasure. Bye.

Jessi: Yeah, bye.