A graduate of Landmark Worldwide’s Team, Management and Leadership Program, Jessica Santonato has been mentored by James MacNeil, one of the world’s top marketers and close associate of renowned motivational speaker, Les Brown.
Prior to her leadership efforts, Jessica left an abusive marriage and started her entrepreneur journey in New York City while raising three young kids on her own. She has been featured in various media such as Cosmopolitan Magazine and Rogers TV, various podcasts and has given talks at Humber College, Mississauga City Hall and at international peace activist and conscious hip hop rapper, Emmanuel Jal’s "Fireball Dinner". She has provided insight to government organizations and police on gaps in the judicial system when it comes to protecting the safety of those who’ve experienced domestic violence. Jessica has also helped couples deepen their intimacy and has helped women who’ve been affected by sexual trauma reclaim their sexuality after her own experiences of domestic violence, rape, self-harm and abuse.
Known to have her ‘nice girl’ side unapologetically drop the regular F-bomb, Jessica always says yes to healthy home cooked meals, is addicted to traveling and makes regular date nights with her second husband Michael, and family time with their three children, a non-negotiable.
As an EPPY Award winner for her contribution to the international best-selling book series, “Pebbles In The Pond”, which also features Lisa Nichols, Neale Donald Walsch, Arielle Ford and Marci Shimoff.
$20 Early-Bird Sold out
FREE invitation to the official book launch + Exclusive access to behind-the-scenes, updates and an invite to join my community + Two Copies of the autographed limited edition of the book “Joy Is Your Only Job- From Gangster Housewife to Happy Humanitarian” (This bonus is limited to the first 90 readers or before August 7, 2018).
1 copy + ebook included
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FREE invitation to the official book launch + Exclusive access to behind-the-scenes, updates and an invite to join my community + One Copy of the autographed limited edition of the book “Joy Is Your Only Job- From Gangster Housewife to Happy Humanitarian”.
1 copy + ebook included
FREE invitation to the official book launch + Exclusive access to behind-the-scenes, updates and an invite to join my community + Two Copies of the autographed limited edition of the book “Joy Is Your Only Job- From Gangster Housewife to Happy Humanitarian”.
2 copies + ebook included
$117 Joy Package
FREE 30 minute video session with author or FREE 60-minute virtual ‘J-Spot’ Joy Session (valued at $200 USD) + FREE invitation to the book launch + Your name mentioned in the book + Exclusive access to behind-the-scenes, updates and an invite to join my community + Five copies of the autographed limited edition of the book “Joy Is Your Only Job- From Gangster Housewife to Happy Humanitarian”.
5 copies + ebook included
$227 Evolution Package
FREE invitation to join my online course ‘21 Days to Joy’ (valued at $500 USD) + Your name mentioned in the book + Invitation to the book launch + Exclusive access to behind-the-scenes, updates and an invite to join my community + Ten copies of the autographed limited edition of the book “Joy Is Your Only Job- From Gangster Housewife to Happy Humanitarian”.
10 copies + ebook included
$497 Courage Package
FREE invitation to attend my weekend retreat in Huatulco, Mexico Valued at $500 USD + FREE invitation to join my online course valued at $500 USD + Your name mentioned in the book + Free invitation to the book launch + Exclusive access to behind-the-scenes, updates and an invite to join my community + Twenty copies of the autographed limited edition of the book “Joy Is Your Only Job- From Gangster Housewife to Happy Humanitarian”.
20 copies + ebook included
$497 Be a Corporate Sponsor
A half day virtual ‘Resilience In Leadership’ workshop for you or your team valued at $1000 USD + Your company's name mentioned in the book as a Crystal Sponsor + FREE invitation to the book launch for you and two members of your team + Exclusive access to behind-the-scenes, updates and an invite to join my community + Twenty-five copies of the autographed limited edition of the book “Joy Is Your Only Job- From Gangster Housewife to Happy Humanitarian” for you and your team.
25 copies + ebook included
$997 Raising The Vibe Sponsor
Donation of five copies of the book “Joy Is Your Only Job- From Gangster Housewife to Humanitarian” to library or institution of your choice + Your company's name mentioned in the book as a Diamond Sponsor + Social media mention + A half day virtual ‘Resilience In Leadership’ workshop for you or your team valued at $1000 USD + FREE invitation to the book launch for you and two members of your team + Exclusive access to behind-the-scenes, updates and an invite to join my community + Fifty copies of the autographed limited edition of the book “Joy Is Your Only Job- From Gangster Housewife to Happy Humanitarian” for you and your team.
50 copies + ebook included
$5000 The "G" Package (250 Copies)
I will speak at your event anywhere in North America. Please contact for details.
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From Gangster Housewife to Happy Humanitarian
How a young woman survives gang-rape, escapes her gang-leader husband before he kills her, and uses the pain as fuel to change the lives of others.Share Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/duCqf 4553 views
|10 publishers interested|
Just shy of her ten-year wedding anniversary, Jessica faces a life or death decision: succumb to the destruction of her husband trying to kill her or vow to create a better life for herself and her children from that day forward.
Joy Is Your Only Job- From Gangster Housewife to Happy Humanitarian is a raw and gripping memoir of Jessica Santonato as the self-confessed wife of a gang leader and career criminal, how she left the marriage after a brutal attack that nearly killed her, and then transformed her life in ways she never imagined. This is a tale that hits at the hearts and minds of every reader going or has been through deep trauma and adversity to transform their pain into a place of pure joy.
The story starts ten years before the attack in their hometown of Edmonton, Alberta. Alluded to the glamour of gang life, blinded by love, they are married and conceived their first child in prison. She is quickly exposed to the operations of the criminal world and put in charge of overseeing specific illegal activities.
Behind and between the scenes of a young adult trying to find her place in the world, Jessica’s terrifying adventures take her through abuse, gang-rape, attempted suicide, prostitution, drugs, and trying to cope with “friends” being viciously murdered around her. Without family or true friends to turn to for support, her experience and upbringing are vastly different, she discovers, from anything conceivably normal.
Based out of Toronto, Canada, Jessica Santonato is the co-founder and managing partner of Syndicate 33, a social enterprise that collaborates with young adults in emerging economies who are called to make an impact in their communities. Jessica works with clients to be unconstrained in the face of any challenges and free to create a life of joy. She was one of three people chosen by an American personal development company to help more than a thousand entrepreneurs from across all continents with their communication and overall effectiveness.
She is an EPPY Award winner for her contribution to the international best-selling book series, “Pebbles In The Pond”, which also features Lisa Nicholas, SARK, Neale Donald Walsch, Arielle Ford and Marci Shimoff.
Raw, provoking and transparent, Joy Is Your Only Job- From Gangster Housewife to Happy Humanitarian is the memoir of Jessica’s years as the self-confessed wife of a gang leader and career criminal, how she left the marriage after her husband tried to kill her, and how anyone going through deep traumas and adversities can transform pain into making an impact in the world. Despite immense adversity, Jessica is a wise, grounded and graceful young mother, without a hint of the stereotypical criminal or abuse victim persona- in many ways, she is in fact the epitome of courage, resilience and joy.
Jessica suffered in silence. She couldn’t tell anyone what she saw throughout her husband’s criminal activities, including murder. How could she ever escape? She asks repeatedly, "God, why don't you just end it all for me?", leading her to believe that she exists for a greater reason.
Although she experiences domestic violence, this book focuses on how anyone can turn their pain into purpose, and help elevate consciousness on the planet.
Emmanuel Jal, author (War Child: A Child Soldier's Story, St. Martin’s Griffin 2009), conscious hip-hop artist and international peace activist.
CHAPTER 1: JOY VS HAPPINES
Jessica shares her views on the difference between joy and happiness, and why she believes that the key to changing our reality is by first changing our vibration. We accomplish this by feeling good as much as possible!
CHAPTER 2: 360
Two weeks after leaving home, Jessica finds herself in deep trouble with the law. With the guy she just met, Chris, taken to jail, Jessica makes the decision to still build an unusual relationship with him. What she soon discovers is the magnitude of his criminal involvement.
CHAPTER 3: THE COME UP
Jessica walks through her painful and turbulent years prior to meeting Chris, trying to make sense of how she ended up on the opposite side of the tracks.
CHAPTER 4: A CHANGE IN PLANS
After building her life back on track in San Francisco, Jessica finds herself back on the street
trying to survive. How did Jessica get to the point of falling back to the streets, despite a bright looking new future? Jessica opens up about meeting a pimp who turns her out onto the streets, to her shock. After having enough with running into police, she reconnects with Chris and returns to Canada be with him.
CHAPTER 5: DIGGING A DEEPER HOLE
With another child in the photo, Jessica encounters her first death threat and with more street soldiers knowing her face and police surveillance a regular occurrence, Jessica sees no way out.
CHAPTER 6: TAKING IT ALL ON
At the busiest time of her life, Jessica finds herself expecting another child while finishing university and helping out with Chris’ business. That is, until he rips someone off in a drug deal gone wrong.
CHAPTER 7: THE ATTACK
Chris’ increased jealousy and control lead to him trying to kill Jessica in a shocking and violent attack.
CHAPTER 8: HEALING A SOUL
During her healing, Jessica takes time to ask herself what she really wants out of life. Lady Luck is on her side with the employer she works for, helping start a new path for Jessica and her children.
CHAPTER 9: RELAPSE
In a typical abuser-victim cycle, Jessica secretly visits Chris in jail, both re-professing their love for one another and her agreeing to recant her police statement.
CHAPTER 10: POWER OF DECISION
Jessica comes to terms with her dark experiences, yet faces a new challenge: raising three young children on her own and while in hiding. She’s ready to forgive Chris after realizing that if she runs now, she will run for the rest of her life.
Jessica makes a powerful decision about attracting a new lover into her life. Michael shows up with what she needs plus more. He becomes an anchor for her personal development from that day forward.
CHAPTER 12: JOY IS YOUR ONLY JOB
Jessica shares about how one can sustain joy through healthy living, soul, body and
mind. She shares how joy is the best way to get things done.
Males and females 20-45 years-old who’ve been through adversity or deep emotional traumas and are stuck in their pains, often tired of living a diminished, mediocre life not doing what they truly desire.
According to the North Dakota Department of Human Services, the economic burden of trauma is more than $585 billion USD every year.
People who have experienced trauma are:
NationalTraumaInstitute.org and RecognizeTrauma.org
Adults focused on spiritual evolution and believe that a higher force beyond the physical world exists.
Other viable markets:
1. Adults who are depressed and suicidal. According to the World Health Organization, "more than 300 million people are now living with mental health issues, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015. Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Many more attempt suicide." With the increase in relatable conversations in mainstream media and millions of people suffering in silence, this book is relevant more than ever. People crave connection, purpose and belief in themselves, so that they can be free of their circumstances.
2. Women’s shelters helping women leave abusive relationships (often times women are compelled to take action when they hear from another woman who has been in their shoes versus a social worker with textbook knowledge)
Domestic violence affects 20 people per minute in the US, which totals to 10 million people per year, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. One in three women and one in four men have been victims of some form of domestic violence by their intimate partner in their lifetime.
3. Counsellors/psychologists looking for inspirational stories for clients to read, ex-criminals looking to turn their life around (they can feel misunderstood and unaccepted by mainstream society, so it helps to hear from someone with a relatable background)
4. Women of abuse seeking courage to create a new start for themselves
5. Adults experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), "a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood." (The Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs).
According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
According to the National Centre for PTSD about seven or eight out of every 100 people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.
According to the European Journal of Psychotraumatology, the highest PTSD risk is thought to occur after traumas involving interpersonal violence (Caramanica, Brackbill, Stellman, & Farfel, 2015; Fossion et al., 2015).
Here is a recap of all of the initiatives Jessica is involved in or will be involved in in regards to her book:
Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living A Better Life
By Eric Greitens
Mariner Books May 3, 2016
New York Times Bestseller
In 2012, Eric Greitens unexpectedly heard from a former SEAL comrade, a brother-in-arms he hadn’t seen in a decade. Zach Walker had been one of the toughest of the tough. But ever since he returned home from war to his young family in a small logging town, he’d been struggling. Without a sense of purpose, plagued by PTSD, and masking his pain with heavy drinking, he needed help. Zach and Eric started writing and talking nearly every day, as Eric set down his thoughts on what it takes to build resilience in our lives.
Eric’s letters—drawing on both his own experience and wisdom from ancient and modern thinkers—are now gathered and edited into this timeless guidebook. Greitens shows how we can build purpose, confront pain, practice compassion, develop a vocation, find a mentor, create happiness, and much more. Resilience is an inspiring meditation for the warrior in each of us.
How The Author's Book Compliments: The author exemplifies resilience and shows others how they can use their pains to fuel a joyful life.
“Au bout de la violence” (After the Violence)
By Elina Feriel
Jean-Claude Gawsewitch, May 2013
In this memoir, Elina Feriel shares her story of being a gangster’s wife. She grew up in the northern district of Marseille, with an absent mother and an alcoholic father. “I was raised by the streets. I used to go around like a little boy,” she told France Info radio.
A distracted troublemaker at school, Feriel married her husband Sabri when she was still in her late teens. She had fallen for his rough charm, and the two quickly started a family of three children.
He showered her with expensive gifts, the proceeds of his drug-dealing, but as Sabri rose through the ranks to become a top gangster in the city's northern district, his paranoia and abusiveness increased.
Living in constant fear, Sabri began to beat Feriel, and their life spiralled out of control until he was finally shot down with a machine gun while riding his scooter.
Then, incredibly, Feriel’s older brother, who had been convicted of a bag-snatching, as well as her new partner Sam, who was “in with a bad crowd”, were both shot dead over the next few years.
Feriel says her book is not the start of a career in politics, but just to “get things off her chest.”
“I’m not an activist or a spokeswoman…I just felt the need to write this to get things of my chest. It’s crucial. And if it helps to change things, all the better,” she told Elle magazine.
After everything that has happened, Feriel has moved "far away" from Marseille's northern district, and lives with her three children.
How The Author's Book Is Different: The author is a gang-leader's wife as well, however did not come from the streets as part of her upbringing. She turned her life around and created a social enterprise to help support communities around the world impacted by adversity, and now shares her message with as many people as possible to help them through their challenges.
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy
By Sandra Sandberg
Knopf April 24, 2017
New York Times Bestseller
After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build.
Option B combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Beginning with the gut-wrenching moment when she finds her husband, Dave Goldberg, collapsed on a gym floor, Sheryl opens up her heart—and her journal—to describe the acute grief and isolation she felt in the wake of his death. But Option B goes beyond Sheryl’s loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. Their stories reveal the capacity of the human spirit to persevere . . . and to rediscover joy.
Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead. Two weeks after losing her husband, Sheryl was preparing for a father-child activity. “I want Dave,” she cried. Her friend replied, “Option A is not available,” and then promised to help her make the most of Option B.
How The Author's Book Is Different: Through a spiritual lens, the author shares how the power of feeling good and raising her vibration was central to her overcoming adversity after trauma.
Living With Joy
By Sanaya Roman
HJ Kramer/New World Library June 7, 2011
Over 500, 000 copies sold
With the guidance of this bestselling classic, you can see immediate results in your life when you learn to:
* Love and appreciate yourself
* Open to receive
* Experience more self-confidence and self-esteem
* Live in higher purpose
* Take a quantum leap in any area
* Change negatives into positives
* Gain clarity in your relationships
* Increase your sense of aliveness and well-being
You can live a life that fulfills you. You can radiate love; be compassionate and forgiving; feel inner peace; open to receive; take a quantum leap; and live in higher purpose. You can experience more joy as you increase your self-respect, self-esteem, and self-worth; experience more balance, stability, and security; embrace the new; and discover your higher purpose.
Orin guides you into the art of self-love, where you can accept yourself as you are right now, release guilt, examine how your beliefs about reality create your experience, and open to the love others have for you. Orin discusses the nature and power of love to transform your life.
You will look at how to achieve balance, stability and security; gain more clarity; embrace the new; and discover and draw to you your higher purpose. You will discover more about how to create freedom, to value yourself and where you put your time, and believe that what you love to do is your higher purpose.
You will connect with the power and love of your soul, your innermost self. Orin guides you to recognize who you are, to develop positive pictures about yourself, and how to bring out the higher wisdom, love, and nature of the true self that lies within you.
The images you send out about yourself determine how other people view you and treat you. You will explore the images of yourself that you are holding and broadcasting to others. Orin discusses the value of becoming the authority of what is good for you rather than making other people and their opinions determine your self-worth.
In this book Orin talks about how to have more, believe you can create what you want, open to receive even more than you have ever allowed into your life, and discover the power of appreciation, gratitude, and the law of increase.
You can stop being affected by the world around you. Orin guides you to feeling more inner peace through connecting with your deeper self, and how to stop being affected by the world and instead to positively affect it with your peace.
You can live a life filled with happiness and aliveness as you follow your path of joy. You can learn to create what you want and take a quantum leap in every area of your life, changing your reality and what you experience. You can live a life doing those things you love to do, feel joyful, and bring joy to everyone around you as you do.
You live in a limitless world, and you can expand beyond anything you know. Fill your thoughts with what you want and you will have it. Believe in abundance, trust that the universe is friendly, and sound your soul's note of joy as you read and explore how to live with joy.
Sanaya and Orin invite you to choose joy, release struggle, and open to the power of your innermost being.
How The Author's Book Compliments: The author talks about the power of joy and how changing your vibration changes your reality. It is joy focused.
Ten Years Later: Six People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives
By Hoda Kotb
Simon & Schuster, February 4, 2014
New York Times Bestseller
Now a New York Times bestseller, in Ten Years Later, Today show co-anchor Hoda Kotb tells the incredible stories of people who, when faced with impossibly challenging or tragic life situations, persevere—and even thrive—and asks, What if you, facing a game-changing event or decision right now, could see ten years into the future?
In Ten Years Later, New York Times bestselling author and beloved co-anchor of the Today show’s fourth hour Hoda Kotb examines game-changing moments experienced by six different people—then revisits those people a decade later. From a mother of two who struggles with an abusive relationship, to a civilian hero of 9/11 who suffers tremendous personal loss in the wake of the terrorist attacks: the harrowing obstacles they faced shook them to their core, but each of these people found the strength to take the first step in a journey that changed their lives for the better. In these beautiful, astonishing, and life-affirming stories, Hoda reveals how adversity can unleash our best qualities: resilience, perseverance, gratitude, empathy, and creativity. This book will show you how to believe in the future, no matter how dark the present, and inspire you to take the first step in your own journey of personal growth.
How The Author's Book Compliments: The author shares her story of persevering and thriving after immense adversity that leaves people ready to take action in their own lives.
Koehler Books is an Indie publisher based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Our team of dedicated professionals promises you a holistic publishing experience where you'll receive our full attention, collaboration and coaching every step of the way. We offer two publishing models: a traditional non-fee model for the highest quality work, as well as a co-publishing model that includes creative development fees for emerging authors.
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Too many beautifully written books are rejected on a regular basis because the submitting author doesn’t have a strong enough author platform.
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eBooks2go, Inc., was founded in 2011 to provide the missing link for all your publishing needs. Our end-to-end solutions provide the guidance and support that enable publishers and independent authors to pursue their passions. To date, we have helped more than 750 authors and 100 publishers worldwide.
Iguana Books publishes ebooks and print-on-demand paperbacks and hardcovers, and we publish in all genres: literary and historical fiction, mystery, sci-fi, thriller, theatre, finance, romance, poetry, memoir, and children’s literature. Iguana wants to give every writer the opportunity to publish not just a book, but the best book they can. Our goal is to publish quality books that look good and read well. We use a new, hybrid publishing model, one we think works for readers and writers. We distribute to online bookstores around the world, including Amazon, Chapters Indigo, Apple, and Barnes & Noble. Our authors hail from Canada and the United States to India and South Africa.
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We are a full service book publishing company that works closely with independent authors in every phase of writing/editorial, book production, book marketing, and book distribution. Our roster includes bestselling authors who have previously traditionally published, first time authors, and authors at various levels in between.
Prodigy Gold Books
Atmosphere Press is an independent full-service publisher for books in genres ranging from non-fiction to fiction to poetry to children's picturebooks, with a special emphasis on being an author-friendly approach to getting a book into the world. We're professional, honest, and kind.
Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bookmobile provides book printing, graphic design, and other resources to support book publishers in an ever-changing environment. Superior quality, excellent customer service, flexibility, and timely turnarounds have attracted nearly 1,000 satisfied clients to Bookmobile, including trade houses, university presses, independent publishers, museums, galleries, artists, and more.
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We have helped 250+ authors to get their books self-published, hit the #1 position in the Amazon bestseller charts and also establish their author website & brand to grow their business. And the best thing is, we do all this without taking away your rights and royalties. Our publishing packages start at $699! Let's schedule a call to discuss the next steps in your book project: www.happyselfpublishing.com/scheduler
ShieldCrest are book publishers based in the UK who fill that vital gap for talented authors where mainstream publishers are unwilling to give them that chance. We strive for excellence and invest in our authors and are listed in FreeIndex as the number one independent publisher in the UK for price quality and service rated author satisfaction. We publish books of all genres including; fiction, historical, biographies and children's books.
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This memoir is a work of nonfiction. The experiences, dialogues, locations, and timeline are factual. All names of characters have been altered, except for the names of my current husband, to protect individuals' privacy.
Anyone who picks up a book about some gangster’s wife mentioned in the title is gangster in their own right. This book is not for the faint of heart. I say fuck. I talk about sex. I talk about death. The things real about life. This book is not where I expose criminals and glorify the lifestyle. This book is not about domestic violence (it’s just something I experienced), nor is it about bashing men. Cool with that and curious enough to continue on? I promise you’ll walk away with a new vantage point in life.
This book was written in the summer 2017 and one year later I scrapped it all to start over. Like an obsessed-for-perfection artist, it wasn’t to my liking. I felt like I had just painted a brilliant red flower that captivated one from first glance. Then, like in Bon Jovi’s music video for “Always” where the long-haired guy decimates the painting, I destroyed the art. I might has well have torched it. It needed more edge, more grit, more unapologetic-ness, like the story I know breathed inside of me.
Perhaps it’s my recollection of Mr. Wowk, my tenth grade English teacher, serious as fuck as he handed back my assignments with a “good luck in the real world” disappointment look on his face. How could a barely passing English student, who was born and raised in Canada with English as her first language, author anything one day? I questioned my ability to complete the writing of this book at the level of satisfaction I envisioned it, yet I was determined and knew it was time. Writing this book has been a heck of a process. It wasn’t so much the “blood, sweat and tears”, but rather the ability to get present and asking myself why I wanted to share my story when often it felt like I was volunteering my head on guillotine back in Victorian times (only this time the table might as well have been in middle of Times Square for thousands to discern, laugh at, doubt, dismiss, empathize with or throw a dollar at). There were times it felt like another gym day on the stair-climber, chest burning with each half wheeze in (I painfully convince myself for twenty minutes each time that it has nothing to do with exercise-induced asthma).
A couple months after I started to rewrite the book, I had a breakdown, which started emotionally and impacted what showed up in my life. There I was writing about joy and sharing with others on social media how much I believed in the power of playing and resting for productivity. Yet I was going two-weeks without a break, pulling twelve-hour plus work days (a message often pushed in the entrepreneur world that I loathe) and sneaking in work on Sundays, which are designated family days in our household. Bad girl. I felt compelled to get things done with my book proposal due on top of launching our first product at the social enterprise I co-founded. My iPhone started wigging out and one day pretty much died. Wait, didn’t Steve Jobs himself admit to “planned obsoletion”? A couple days later my MacBook Air gave out (I still love you, Apple). The computer couldn’t read the hard drive. Nada. I broke down and cried in front of my husband. The tears weren’t ones of a spoiled, demanding queen but rather a woman who was going non-stop without recharging her batteries. My grounded husband reminded me that there was a message to be learned from things starting to breakdown around me.
Two days after that, a Sunday family day, I woke up early and decided to vacuum my car because I felt unproductive idling on the sofa. Workaholic sign number one. I took the vacuum outside and just as I was about to finish the last section of the car, a voice in my head said, “Jess, forget it. Just leave it as is. You should be slowing down.” At the moment I was about to give in to the voice, head-strung I carried the vacuum to the other side of my car, trying to balance on a lean concrete divider that separated my family’s driveway and our lovely Italian neighbour’s. Shaking slightly and then immediately losing footing, down I went wrist first onto the rocks and concrete, feeling the scraping of my knees on concrete that rushed back disturbing memories of falling off my bike as a kid, scraping my knees bloody. I also heard my Russian martial arts instructor voice always telling us in class, “Never fall on your wrist.” Ugh. I just wanted to shrivel into a ball to hide from the world. It was a sign to slow down. Again. I laid in bed staring at the ceiling as my scrapes burned, hearing the humourous Universe scold me with, "I told you to slow down. Now learn your lesson". How you feel internally is reflected by your reality. The kind of people in your life, the breakdowns of technology, the satisfaction of what you’ve accomplished, all starts from within. They are all reflections of you and your state of being. When you can change your being, you can change your reality because after all, everything is energy. For me, it was time to make feeling good a priority again and to “stay in the play” as my friend George would say.
This book isn’t just here to help people feel good, and I get that with a title like, “Joy Is Your Only Job”, that’s what you might expect. It’s more than that. I don’t care if you’ve lost some limbs, been raped by someone you thought you could trust, have no family...Ok, I care but I don’t. Why I say I don’t is because it doesn’t matter what your rock bottom is or was. My journey is different than yours, just like yours is unique from your next door neighbour. Point is, I believe in you and I believe you can get out of the roughest, shittiest, darkest hole you think ever existed. The challenges you’re going through now or have gone through in the past are some of the greatest gifts one can receive. It’s your chance to grow, learn, evolve and come back stronger than ever. You were given this gift, whether you see it as that or not. And if you think you’ve done such fucked up shit that no light can save you, I’ll prove you wrong. This book is also not about putting BandAids on your pain with happiness. What would life be if it was all gumdrops, daisies and unicorns? There’d be no chance to learn our lessons and grow from them. Pain is neutralized by facing it head on first. Uncomfortable? Often. It’s your key to joy.
You may hide your story well behind a smiling face and generous heart. No one might come close to guessing what you’ve gone through. Hey, I’ve yet to have someone tell me I look like a troublemaker. I’m not your stereotypical Asian. (not just because my Chinese mom Carmen, has siblings including Santiago, Miguel and Eduardo) and I’m not your stereotypical badass. But I am still Asian and I am still badass. Listen, you’re not meant to suffer in this lifetime. That’s just a choice. You’re meant for joy.
Before I discovered another way of existing in this world, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. My search of happiness in all the wrong places was actually my soul’s yearning for joy, which was I learned was so much more than “just” happiness. I knew something greater existed for me but I didn’t know how to get there. Universal Laws will kick you in the butt when you don’t play by the rules and yet, will give you every single thing you desire when you do. My intention for you is to walk away from this book pumped, ready for action and with a no-excuses attitude despite your dark times. I want to see you create everything you can’t fathom possible in this lifetime! You deserve it!
Let’s do this, baby. This time, uninhibited.
CHAPTER 1: The Come Up
"Get out of the car NOW!"
"Fuck", I muttered quietly to myself.
"Get out of the car!"
It took one second for me to look up and see a storm of men dressed in dark clothes and heavy gear. Guns were already pointed at me. Multiple ones. If you know anything about police tactical units, they don't draw nine millimeter handguns on you. These guns were big. And long. And black.
I opened the passenger door slowly.
"Get out and put your hands in the air!"
"Turn around and put your hands behind you! Walk backwards towards me!"
I guess I moved too slow for the main man's liking. "Turn around NOW and walk backwards!" Okay, okay, dude.
Considering I left home a couple weeks prior, not long after my seventeenth birthday, I found it amusing to be in that situation. Even to my own surprise, I was calm despite the police arresting me in a scene straight out of a movie.
Police officers ran up the loading ramp of the storage unit to look for Shawn. Weapons pointed. Staring through their scopes. “He's in shit now”, I thought to myself, and what did I really care. It wasn't like we were together as a couple and I didn't owe him squat.
As I was patted down and took into the back of a waiting police cruiser, it looked like what was remaining half of the tactical team strategically placing themselves around the storage unit facility, just like I’d imagined they practiced down to a tee on training day.
Shawn had hurried from the truck with a black bag the second he saw the police, and I was left in the passenger seat patiently waiting. It was January in Edmonton, possibly one of the coldest places on earth, particularly at that time of the year. Bright blue skies, so bright it’s almost blinding by the sun reflecting off the snow, and cold as fuck. The short black jacket I had on was designed more for warmer weather but what did I care, I was seventeen years-old and I wanted a jacket that was sexy and blended me in with the gangsters I hung around.
On my ride to the police station, a man’s voice came through the dispatch mic, which somehow always sounds garbled and is a startling level of loud that rattles my eardrums. "Tell Jessica that Constable Kowalski says hello." The driving officer looked at me with just his eyes in the rear view mirror. I couldn't help but crack a smile through my pissed off, trying-to-be-tough exterior. "She's all smiles", he reported back to the dispatch voice. Constable was the high school police liaison a couple years prior at a school I attended that was known to be where "bad kids" went. I wasn’t considered a bad kid, but that high school was the only one on the north side of the city (Edmonton was divided into northside and southside) that offered Spanish language classes, which I felt was a good daughter thing to do with my mom being from Peru. In desperation as any concerned parent might do, my mom had privately met with the officer on a number of occasions to get advice on how to handle where I went wrong getting involved with gangs. Sometimes he'd pull me out of classes to speak to me in his office. I didn't mind. Girls at school crushed on him and hung around his office just to sneak a, "Hey, Officer!" as they giggled like high school girls would. Smugly and with an attitude like, "yeah, well he wants to see my privately" that seeped out my pores, I sauntered past them and into his office a number of times.
Being born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in the early eighties there was nothing wrong with life because it was all I knew. It wasn't long into my early school years that other kids called me "chink" as they stretched the skin of their eyes thin to mimic what they saw on TV or wherever they learned it. “Why would they do that to me?”, I wondered. It felt like a moment I woke up from a dream. Life wasn't just Cabbage Patch dolls named Fiona, riding purple bikes with pink tassels to friends houses and family road trips each year that exempted me from schoolwork. I felt marked. There was a song on Sesame Street during that time that went, "Which one of these doesn’t belong here?" The tune has been etched in my memory every since.
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