Do You Even Mantra Though? One Illustrator's Journey to Finding Her Chill

This is a short story written by Isa D'Aniello. Isa illustrated the amazing lettering on the No Pants Zone, NOPE, and 100 Chill undies AND the lettering on the image above as well as the Slow n' Steady collection logo. She absolutely killed it and we are so proud to call her our friend and creative partner. Isa recently moved from New York to Austin, so we asked her to contribute a short story to the blog that reflected on how the move has affected her. Turns out, she has gone full yogi on us and adopted a mantra that is helping to keep her head clear and her work 'on fleek', as the youth say. Follow her instagram to see her latest work and to find out when she's teaching her next lettering workshop!

Lying on the floor in a dark candlelit room, Ben, a burly 6’2 yoga instructor, asked the room if anyone had any injuries to declare. My best friend Robyn and I looked at each other and whispered to each other “broken hearts,” trying our best not to laugh or cry, or both. It was summer after sophomore year of college and I was in the midst of that one breakup that ruins you. As timing would have it, we both were. We clung to the idea of learning yoga as a method of distraction and source of positivity. I had bought a yoga book a few months before in the $5 section of Barnes and Noble and we would flip through it at my apartment, trying to learn the poses on our own. 

An illustration from Isa's Lyrics to Live By series.  View more . 

An illustration from Isa's Lyrics to Live By series. View more

As all yoga studios do, Black Swan began class by asking yogis to set an intention. Early intentions of mine were merely to survive the next 60 minutes, but mostly I set an intention of focus. To conclude the practice, all classes ended with a few minutes of savasana, after which we would sit in prayer, hands to heart’s center. We would take a final breath as a class, bow our heads and say “namaste.” After attending a few beginner classes, we found ourselves at the more advanced vinyasa class, where the room was heated to around 95 degrees and lit only by candlelight. Not being a particularly religious or even spiritual person, the 10:30 PM sweaty class felt extremely cleansing, and it became a sort of religion. Night after night, we'd ooze out of yoga class drenched from head to toe as if we'd just taken a dip in the pool. It was the one place where I felt I could go and focus on breath, movement and nothing else. Seated on the mat one night at the end of class, Ben instructed us to bring our hands into prayer. “Bring your hands to your forehead — for clarity of thought,” he said. “To your mouth — for clarity of speech...To your heart — clarity of action.” He called this the anjali mudra. We bowed with the usual exhale and uttering of “namaste.” Feeling a sense of calm and clarity, I smiled at the thought of this mantra. From then on, I made this series a part of my practice. With time and dedication to the practice, both Robyn and I began to feel everything fall back into place.

An illustration that Isa made for one of her clients, Jeep.

An illustration that Isa made for one of her clients, Jeep.

After graduating in 2012, I moved to New York, where I lived for a whirlwind of nearly three years. A few months ago I returned back home to Austin, Texas in favor of a slower-paced and healthier lifestyle. Admittedly, the last three years have been filled with drastic change: with high highs, and low lows. But no matter which studio, no matter which yoga class, or no matter which city I’m in, it’s comforting to always end my practice in the same soul-centering anjali mudra that resonated with me so deeply years before.

It’s 10:30 AM as I lay in a sun-drenched yoga studio. Quite the contrast from my near-midnight yoga ritual I grew to love so much. And while so much has changed over these past few years, there’s always a sense of sameness that comes with how I end my class. Almost like a private, secret tidbit of knowledge, I bring my hands in prayer to my forehead. “For clarity of thought,” to my mouth, “for clarity of speech,” and to my heart,  “for clarity of action.”  Smiling to myself and bowing low on the mat, I feel life begin to slow back down.

How Living Nowhere Got Rosie Siman Yakob Exactly Where She Wants to Be

Rosie Siman Yakob in the Two Eggs Slow n' Steady Lookbook. Wearing the Balance Yin Yang Socks, the Money Bags Black Box Clutch, and the Balance tie dyed neck-scarf. Photo by Higor Bastos.

I left New York City in March of 2013, 2 months before my would-be 5-year anniversary of living there. I had put my notice in back in February, and in the month leading up to leaving, I had a lot of explaining to do. “You loved your job!,” my friends exclaimed, and I had, right up until the very end. “Where are you going? For how long? What’s next?” everyone asked, both thrilled and frustrated with my vague response of “Traveling. Who knows!” 

When we (my husband and I) left NYC, we were surrounded by many friends, but we were also surrounded by people who were constantly, well, busy. I imagine this culture exists in many places, but we found the answer so unbelievably common in NYC. Even I, at times, found myself responding to “How are you?” with the dreaded word. 

While I loved my job, I always clarified to those who commented on my love for the work that I was “working to live, as opposed to living to work.” How quickly we trade happiness for business, or busy-ness, especially when it comes to work and salaries.

And so, we put on the brakes. While we loved NYC, we wanted to explore the world. We wanted to be less busy. We wanted to see our families more. We wanted permission to put down our phones, to avoid email. We made excuses about why we couldn’t do it for one week, and then spent the next three planning our departure.

We sold our kitchen island and our desk. We gave away our couch and most of our clothes. We hosted a party where we invited our friends to help us drink the rest of our booze, and take anything that was left in our apartment. And that then we left.

We traveled to Germany, Croatia & Australia for previously-booked speaking gigs, but otherwise became decidedly less busy. We read books, we explored cities, we drank coffees over long conversations. We talked to strangers, visited friends & family all over the world, made more friends, and Skyped with those we weren’t physically close to.

Rosie Siman Yakob, Katie Corcoran, and Melissa Serje in the Two Eggs Slow n' Steady Lookbook. Wearing the Balance Yin Yang Socks, the Money Bags Black Box Clutch, and the Balance tie dyed neck-scarf. Photo by Higor Bastos.

 

Someone asked if we could help their advertising agency with a pitch they were working on for one of the big airlines. We brainstormed from the beach in Bali. Another asked if we could help a brand with their digital/social strategy. We did that remotely as well. And because we had decided to take a break (& live cheaply in Southeast Asia) we said no to plenty of projects that we weren’t interested in. But before we knew it, we had clients. And then a company. And then more clients. 

We never stopped traveling. Together, my husband (who is now also my business partner) and I have traveled to countless cities in 47 countries. Our strategy & innovation consultancy is location independent, and we make it a point to work 20 hours a week or less.

Rosie Siman Yakob, Katie Corcoran, and Melissa Serje in the Two Eggs Slow n' Steady Lookbook. Wearing the Balance Yin Yang Socks, the Money Bags Black Box Clutch, and the Balance tie dyed neck-scarf. Photo by Higor Bastos.

“Don’t you miss having a community?” someone once asked and I stumbled over an awkward “No…” struggling to articulate just how big our community is, how rich the relationships are. It’s just not in a single place. But then again, neither are we. 

We’re not busy, we’re just having fun. And home? It’s wherever we happen to be. 

Rosie Siman Yakob is the Managing Director of Genius Steals. Before founding Genius Steals with her husband Faris, Rosie was a teacher at Miami Ad School and a Senior Strategist at 360i, an award-winning digital marketing agency named by Fast Company as one of the world’s most innovative companies. She helped brands like Oreo, Bravo, Dentyne and NBC navigate the world of social & emerging media from creative ideation through to activation. Her work has been awarded by Cannes, CLIO, Facebook and the Addy’s. You can follow her adventures on twitter, instagram, and the Genius Steals newsletter.

How a 3-month Break Changed Melissa Serje's Life Forever

Melissa Serje models the Slow Down neck scarf for Two Eggs. Photo by Higor Bastos

After working at an agency for a year and a half, I decided to take a break. I was working alone the majority of the time and felt there was a big disconnect with where I wanted to go and who I wanted to be. I needed to find myself, which was exactly what I did. During this time, I moved into the city, kept a healthy lifestyle, and travelled. 

Moving into the city is something I’ve always wanted to do, so as soon as I saw the opportunity, I took it. The city's energy feels full of possibility. I was able to discover new neighborhoods and meet incredible people. Knowing that I’m in the middle of this amazing chaos of a city, filled me with so much hope and energy. I kept busy by being physically and mentally active. 

I took all types of exercises like barre, boxing, boot camp, pilates, dance, row, cycling, etc, while keeping an open mind in what types of classes to take to discover what I liked (boxing & yoga) and disliked (cycling & pilates). Yoga and meditation played a big part to help me find my inner peace. I remembered Yoga to the People were hosting a Happiness Yoga Workshop and knew this was exactly what I needed to find a sense of balance. The workshop had a few traditional yoga exercises but included some fun techniques like laughing out loud, staring into a stranger’s eyes, and writing a note to yourself. I left the workshop having a clear mind and knew that if I ever felt lost again, I could use the tools I used there.

Melissa Serje for Two Eggs Slow n' Steady. Photo by Higor Bastos.

By the end of my break, I took a month to travel abroad. Traveling gave me the chance to open my mind and provided a fresh perspective on how others live their own lives. I planned a trip for two weeks in Turkey and two weeks in Italy. The experiences were very different for many reasons. For starters, it was my fourth time visiting Turkey so I had a lot of personal history there whereas it was my first time in Italy. My previous times in Turkey I spent it with my ex-boyfriend since that’s where he’s from, but this time I saw the city, Istanbul, through a different light since I was surrounded by a solid group of girlfriends that provided a strong support system. I decided to visit Turkey again because I get a “homey” feeling each time I go, leaving with the fondest memories. I couldn't wait to create new memories on this trip. Turkey’s hospitality is superb and it's people, food, architecture, etc is A+ and can’t wait to go back. Italy, on the other hand, was spent with my family exploring a new culture, cities, and lots of food. I had a wonderful time and even experienced my first silent rave in Milan. 

Melissa Serje, Karie Corcoran, and Rosie Siman Yakob model the wave bag from the Two Eggs Slow n Steady collection. Photo by Higor Bastos.

My break made me feel like I was finally taking control of my own life; by creating my own path of self discovery and peace. My almost-three-month break from work, was the best decision I’ve ever made. I can honestly say I've become a better person for it. My advice to anyone who is looking for a sense of self or control is to look within and always listen to your intuition. Whether that mean you should travel, exercise, or experie something completely new and out of your comfort zone, you are the only one that knows what is best for yourself. Remember to enjoy and savor each moment life brings along the way.

Melissa Serje is a sales and marketing professional with a huge passion for fitness and travel. She freelances as much as she can so she can continue pursuing her dream of traveling the world full-time.

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How Katie Corcoran Stopped Hustling and Started Living

My entire life, I have always had a plan, a goal to reach and a mission to fulfill. I was always eyeing the "next step," the next promotion, raise, next group to join, internship to obtain, athletic class to master, and more. 

And, you know what?! It worked. I saw successes I should still be in awe of to this day.

By the time I was 27, I co-produced a music video, worked in the eCommerce department at a huge jewelry brand, was a hostess in a trendy NYC restaurant for a period of time, went to a lifestyle coaching school, started a direct sales business, grew at a tech-startup company by beginning in their account management department, creating a strategy and planning department, and eventually began securing large partnerships by selling the product as well. Then, "on the side," I launched a career/passions coaching business and wrote a personal development book featuring other "do-it-all"-types called She Makes It Work

Katie Corcoran modeling in the Two Eggs Slow n Steady Lookbook. Katie is a career coach and the author of She Makes it Work.

I am a ultimate Lady Hustler. There’s no doubt about it.

Katie Corcoran modeling the Money Bag in the Two Eggs Slow n' Steady lookbook. Photo by Higor Bastos.

But hustling comes with an expense. If you are (or were) anything like me, the "accomplishments" never really felt worthy of a celebration. I often thought, "yes, this is all fine and dandy, but I just have so much to do, places to go, and a gagillion emails in my inbox so thanks so much, but I'm busy and got to run!" 

Living in the moment was just a mere aspiration of mine. The practice of actually LIVING didn't mean squat until I reached a point many of us passion-seeking, always-on-your-email-types experience when we're burnt the eff out. And that was in my last advertising sales job. 

The negative pressures were softly killing my spirit. I felt anxious on my commute to work. I was losing hair. I felt like I was in a constant state of "doing something wrong," when really I was obsessing over an unrealistic view of my own perfectionism. My health suffered. I lost sleep. I became caught up in the day-to-day social BS existing in my workplace and I was just generally unhappy during the work week. 


Outside of work, however, I felt amazing. The incredible thing about being a Lady Hustler is that we are figure-it-out-er-ers. I knew the piled up anxiety wasn't sustainable long-term so I had to make a change. I could no longer fall victim to my career surroundings. 

During that "ah ha" period, I wanted to figure out why some people thrive daily, and why others continue to let their own unfulfilling cycles spin right round, baby right round, without making a positive change. 

So I got myself well. Wrote a book about how Lady Hustlers "make it work," and I quit my job to career coach job seeking women to prevent then from experiencing this slump in their own lives. 

And for the first time in my life, I am currently living my version of enough. I am more happy today taking a spin class, sipping on a latte, coaching people and enjoying time with my loved ones than I ever was making more money and frantically spending it on frivolous things. 


Whether I have $20 or $200 in my bank account, I realized those dolla dolla bills y'all will fly out of my hand like no one's biz-ness so why not spend my precious time, slowing down, living now and truly loving the now?

While I will always be a hustler and find joys in productivity and accomplishment, I have learned how to slow my roll and truly value the experiences in life... sans many of the "things" I thought I needed to feel happy. 

I now have the time to celebrate a book launch (and sales, WTF, so cool!?), feel proud when a new person is interested to work with me, and have become a master of a good "disconnect." And surprisingly, in the end I am actually more productive now because I truly love what I do. 

Katie Corcoran wearing the Slow Down Scarf from the Two Eggs Slow n Steady collection. Katie is an entrepreneur and lady-hustler and the author of a book called She Makes it Work.

Katie Corcoran is a Career Coach and author of the personal development book She Makes It Work: A DIY Guide to Thrive in Your Hustle which profiles busy "on-the-go"-types {aka the Lady Hustlers} on how they master work/life balance. Katie's coaching includes guiding multi-passionate job seeking woman on how to set themselves up for career happiness and success. She is also a master brand identity maven and enjoys creating a brand strategy for individuals and businesses. For for information, or to contact Katie, visit www.katiecorc.com