[S5EP10] How To Trust The Process Despite Anxiety

Want to empower more women?

Have you wished that you could help better, shift or change the world?

This feeling you have is also the fire that ignited Stephanie Johnston, the Psychotherapist, to create the Healing Arts Studio.

Impacted by the political instability in the world, she transformed this feeling through action it into something powerful for the women in her community.

How did Stephanie get the clarity to start her project?

Listen to learn how you can trust the process even when you don’t have the full picture.

Even if you feel anxious or have anxiety, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take a step forward with the guidance of your intuition.

This Episode’s Takeaway- Softening Into The Feminine Journey

Join the 5-day party as we connect with our femininity and begin to flow with life instead of resisting it.

✨Get in touch with Stephanie Johnston via e-mail stephanie (@ ) theStudioLR.space or get to know more of her work at www.theStudioLR.space

NK: Today, we have the wonderful guest, Stephanie Johnston. She is a psychotherapist, artist and mom from Little Rock, Arkansas. This wonderful sister has not only created her own Healing Arts Studio━a safe space for women to connect━she’s also having her private practice along the side and starting her family. She’s also teaching at the University of Arkansas. Welcome, Stephanie! I can’t wait to dive into your story for everyone to hear. It sounds like right now, you’re in a place where your plate is quite full━both in your personal life and light work. I can imagine that in order to share or hold a space for women and healing, do the practice you do or teach, you probably must have had your personal experiences to understand what it is the other people are going through and how you can also help them through different stages of life. Would you like to share a little bit of how your path has led you to where you are now?

SJ: It’s been about a year now that this whole process started. I’ve been a psychotherapist for probably eight years. In the past year, witht the political landscape, I got to the point where I wasn’t interested in staying with the status quo and doing the 9 to 5 forever. I worked at the VA with veterans full-time and I love it, but I was ready to do something that focused a little bit more on women which is empowering and flexible because we’re starting our family. I wanted more flexibility with my daughters, focus more on the arts and women in particular and have more of an artistic outlet. I started the Healing Arts Studio, and it is the place for us to gather. Especially as a mom, I feel like we don’t have our tribe anymore so finding your tribe is one of my underlining things. We need to gather together to support each other, learn and recreate the whole thing that we’re missing from society. We’re alone and isolated, so I really wanted this space to be a place for us to gather, drink coffee, do art, have therapy and support groups, and this whole central gathering place. We just had our grand opening and are getting started with programming. It’s very exciting.

NK: Congratulations! You really have so much going on, with the newborn you have and also this project. People have lots of ideas or maybe sometimes they even talk about them to others, but for you to begin taking action on what you thought was missing in your life or in the world, was that natural to you? How was the process?

SJ: It is terrifying to a degree because I left a very steady and great job that I actually loved. It’s not like I was miserable in my job full-time at the VA, and I stayed there part-time because I do love those clients I work with. It was really scary to leave the security and stability of that. A lot of people thought I was crazy to let go of something so secure, but I think the reward is worth the risk. It is risky and it could not work as well as what I had, but sometimes people talk about how you finally change when you’re too uncomfortable to stay the same. It was the point where the reward of connecting with other women and giving them a place is worth the risk for me. Staying in one job forever is an old way of working; now, it’s more normal to move from job to job and let it transition as you grow and change. I was at a point where it was natural for that to happen. Scary, but natural.

NK: I totally agree with you because when we start something new, it’s new for a reason; that means, it’s something we’ve never done before. Like you, there is a big leap of faith there; there needs to be trust that what you feel is correct. When you identify the fact that this is something happening in my country or political atmosphere, I feel connection, support and healing are missing. Can you describe to me a little bit about that bridge? Here you are, you have a vision in your mind or heart, and you want that for yourself, for people around you or for your community. Then maybe there’s a part of yourself which looks around you and wants to create it, trust that it can provide for you and it can be realized in a successful way. With the vision and scary feeling, how did you tackle that? How did you not let the fear stop you?

SJ: As a psychotherapist, I came from a union or an existential healing background. Also I have a degree in art, and it is a huge part of my life. When you’re creating art, you do what feels right. Intuition is a huge part of me and how I work. I think I have a good intuitive grasp and I trusted my intuition. That gives me a little bit more confidence to trust the universe, my choices or the way things feel. I don’t just work on my brain because logically, there’s not an answer. It is very risky logically, but trusting in intuitive power, there are words that can’t be really be placed on it. I think I just trusted in the feeling of it, and so far it’s led me in really good directions. Also, I logically I thought what is the worst that could happen if all of this does not work out. I can always go back to a 9 to 5 job, so if worst case scenario, it would be really difficult and hard but I can manage it. Again the rewards of really having a place for women to come together and a place for myself to connect with other people, do art and be creative. I put those two different things on the teeter-totter and the weight of the one just totally outweigh the other.

NK: It sounds like you really have the perspective of what am I actually trying to create and the fears I have, can I resolve them at some point. Is it something so impossible that I can’t tackle? Or is it as simple as, if it doesn’t work out or things take longer than I anticipate, am I able to have other solutions? Am I able to adjust somehow to create what I need? I think it’s interesting that sometimes when we want to make a big change, wonder how do we do all of this and figure it out, it feels we have an infinite amount of answers to find within ourselves, when really sometimes we know the actual answer. Everything else is just a lot of thinking about that difficult question.

SJ: I’ve been through ten years of training to become a therapist, and I also know how to notice and manage anxiety so again it really has been terrifying. There’s a ton of anxiety that has been in me throughout this whole process, but luckily I’ve gone through training and my own therapy to notice and flow with it, and not let it stop me. If I wasn’t being conscious of it, I would have stopped a long time ago, but I’m willing to accept that anxiety and uncertainty to follow my values and dreams, and it’s a price I’m willing to pay. Getting out of my own way and having the anxiety to get out of the way has been a huge part of the process of accepting and letting it go, and continuing to move towards that value of connection.

NK: You bring a great point, because sometimes people think about therapy, healing or self-development work, it’s like we’re doing that so we can get over the past, so we can heal from this. What you’re saying and which I believe is the true essence of being our true self and feeling that wholeness again, is letting it shape us now and our future. It’s not about having more awareness that helps you to deal with the past, but coming together again now can make whatever dream you have to manifest and create more easily.

SJ: Acceptance and commitment therapy bring the idea of just being with it. You don’t have to wait until all the anxiety is gone before you move, and if you do, you’ll be waiting a really long time. It’s hard to get rid of anxiety, and it is something your brain or body creates based on past or whatever it is. If you had logically figured out there’s not valid risk, then let yourself be anxious as you make that public speech, choose a new business venture or you start a new relationship. You don’t have to wait until anxiety leaves the picture before you start working towards your values.

NK: Sometimes we do wait for that permission whether it’s from other people, the feeling within us to be 100% confident or for everything to fall into place on the outside. I find that funny when people try to sell something that you gives you 100% confidence, but we never really are because we are never really in control anyway. It’s good to hear again that in order to create change or even do something about your life, you don’t need to be 100% sure, confident and know what you need to do exactly.

SJ: If you can clarify the values and the general direction that you want to go in, these broader pictures can be used as a litmus test of: Is what I’m doing fitting with that? Am I going in a direction of love or kindness? That can help you answer the question of whether you should be doing it or not. As long as I’m continuing to ease suffering and bring in creativity, love, kindness and peace to the world, I think you can’t really go wrong with that. As long as you’re going in that direction, then you really don’t have to have all the answers.

NK: I have one last question for you. A lot of people or women struggle with knowing this is where they are right now, but who do they want to become and what do they want to do are still relatively unclear. Your next step, direction or new career, how did that come about? How did the clarity crystallize for you? Was it just a thought? Was it a feeling that then was multiple steps until you had the idea of what you want to create or your purpose?

SJ: It was always a distant point that I wanted to have more flexibility and art in my life and to connect more with moms. I think it came about because I had ten different desires and needs going on at the same time, and in the back of my head was an eventual thought that when I retire, maybe I’ll do more art. The real catalyst was all of the political and social upheavals over the past year. It really woke me up to what needs to happen now, and there’s no reason to wait for 30 years to put this stuff into play. I guess it was more an intuitive subconscious stirring and happening, but it made me realize. I was going to do some private practice in the evenings to get started in that direction, but there was nowhere I could rent a space by the hour. I kept running into this roadblock of I don’t want a full office, I just want an hour, and I couldn’t find it. Then I thought I guess I’ll just make my own space. So I rented a whole building, quit half of my job, jumped all the way and do it. I guess it was the obstacles and the suffering that pushed over the edge to really make the change.

NK: This is a theme that is really interesting. Whether it’s a circumstance that pushes you out of your current comfort zone or you see something on the outside, you can’t handle it but to do something about it. Beautiful things don’t have to come from other perfect beginnings. Sometimes when people are feeling like they’re at their lowest, they think this is it and it’s going to be forever like that. To hear your story of transitioning from pain or suffering from the outside, I’m witnessing this, feeling the pain and then going so empowered, I can do something about this and taking the action steps to make it happen no matter what’s going on in your life. Pregnancy, newborn, family, reducing your job━those are big and courageous steps.

SJ: You’re never going to change if you’re comfortable. When the shoe grows too tight, you’ve got to get out of it. I’m Buddhist too, and that’s a huge wellspring for me or a source which I come out of. There’s a saying thereof, “The lotus can’t grow without the mud”, because the mud is a huge component of it. In acceptance and commitment therapy, there’s this idea which the anxiety, depression and political upheaval is the storm, but you’re the sky; you’re bigger than that and the sun is shining. Taking these perspectives of appreciating the pain and the discomfort help you move on, transition and grow; you wouldn’t if you were just warm, fuzzy and comfortable all the time.

NK: Thank you so much for sharing this phase. It sounds like it’s just a beginning of many things.

SJ: Collaborators with some really great women. It’s coming together to be a place where we can all come and get connected. I’m really excited.

NK: Thank you for listening to that feeling and then carrying it out, and bringing the people together to all benefit from this. How can the audience get in touch with you or even hear more about your Healing Arts Studio?

SJ: The website is thestudiolr.space. My email is stephanie (@) thestudiolr.space. You can find us on Facebook━the full name is The Healing Arts Studio. My phone number is plastered all over the place though. I’m more than happy to text, email or call with people. If you’re in Central Arkansas, you can come. I’m also doing teletherapy and some life coaching stuff. I’m focusing on all of the women’s issues, but a portion of that is going to be like this Skype therapy and teletherapy for people that can’t come into the office. All of those options are there, and I’m more than happy to talk to anybody about it.

NK: You know Stephanie, I really do hope the audience reaches out to you. I find it so beautiful how you keep mentioning the word ‘space’. In my own mind, I’m creating that same virtual space in this sense for women, because I think we all want to be held. That seed has the whole roadmap of everything which we will become, and the whole capacity or potential we will have over time and as we age. It’s amazing to know you’re holding physical space for your ladies over there, and I’m here, holding space for women all over the world.

SJ: This is an international connection. Following that intuition like I was saying, some amazing and beautiful connections happen. We got connected randomly. I randomly got connected with an amazing birth photographer, Brittany, and she photographed our birth of Izzy. Then a doula agency is using the space. These weird, little miraculous accidents keep happening when you get out of the way and let them happen. I really believe that as miserable and dark of a time we’re in in history, this whole feminine happening is going on; we’re connecting and supporting each other, and getting out of the whole patriarchal misery which has gotten things a little bit twisted. It’s really hard and difficult right now, but it’s also beautiful and lovely.

NK: Thank you so much for everything you’re doing and for the stories you have shared. The amazing thing is we’re talking about our life today, this moment and who knows what tomorrow brings or the year after. It’s unbelievable. Thanks again, Stephanie! Thanks everybody for listening! I’ll talk to you next week.

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Natasha

Women's Tribe Leader, Healer and Podcaster at Feminine Space
Natasha Koo is the founder of the most celebratory and empowering sisterhood online. She has helped women from all over the world to let go of guilt and shame and to live balanced and self-love filled lives. Read or listen to Natasha's inspiring story, "From People-Pleasing, Conflict-Avoiding to Woman’s Tribe Leader." Feel free to send Natasha a message here.