Reconnecting to who you are after major life changes with Jessica Graham…


Life after divorce can be hard, let alone in the middle of a global pandemic! That’s exactly what Jessica Graham chats to us about in the latest episode of the Happiness Hive Podcast. Listen as she vulnerably shares her globe trotting teacher life and how she journaled her way back home to reconnect with the essence of who she truly is.

 Jessica is a copywriter and brand strategist helping impact-driven brands highlight their brand personality with messaging that’s rooted in human connection, compassion, and storytelling.

In this episode you’ll also hear:
– the middle school moment that changed her family’s life trajectory forever
– how she became an international school teacher and the hardest experience of her life
– learning to live in a culture with less freedoms than Jessica had grown up with
– the moment Jessica decided to choose herself
– why loving every version of yourself (past and future) is the key to true happiness.. and so much more!

Join Catherine’s membership The Happiness Lounge here

Connect with Catherine here:

Connect with Jessica Graham here:
IG – @jessicagraham.brandstudio
FB – @jessicagraham.brandstudio

This podcast is produced by Nikki Voxx from Quintessential Being


Read Full Transcript

Speaker 1 0:00
I met today's guest, Jessica grey and through a business programme that we're both members of and just reached out to connect, which was so beautiful. And I've really enjoyed getting to know her, just as she's got a beautiful story to share. And part of it is that not everything during COVID was bad, even though we're going to explore that her story, but there's a really lovely element to COVID and how that turned out for Jess. And she's currently living in Liechtenstein. And I want to know all about how she got there. And all the magical things that make Jessica who she is so welcome to the podcast today. How are you?

Unknown Speaker 0:42
Be you so good? How are you?

Speaker 1 0:45
I'm great. You know what? I'm really good. I'm been looking forward to this chat for a long time because we did have a chat. And we've we've had a chat before and been in contact and I just want to just dive in so much deeper, and find out all about you.

Speaker 2 0:59
Same. I just love you. I'm an admirer from afar. That's what we would follow your whole travel when you were in your glam glamming band. So fun.

Speaker 1 1:16
That's for um, for people that I've just been on a camping trip with the family. But I've also got blossom, my mobile office that I've been doing some work with so that she's really good fun. Just tell me as we can tell from your accent. It doesn't sound like you're originally from Liechtenstein. Am I pronouncing that right? It's a cool word. I like kind of

Unknown Speaker 1:40
close. Yes.

Unknown Speaker 1:43
How did you get there? Like, where are you originally from?

Speaker 2 1:46
I was born and raised in New Mexico, USA. And I got here I was actually living and working in China at the time. And I had been single for a year and a half or so. So I decided to start putting myself out there to date. Got on an app. And I met a guy who was from this country called Liechtenstein, Liechtenstein. leaks and leaks in stone. And I thought he was saying Luxembourg at first. Like I didn't even know this was like its own plays. I had to do a quick Google. So yeah, and then. That's, that's how

Speaker 1 2:31
you were. So you were in China? Yeah, we're gonna go and put all the pieces together about how you got to China. So you grew up in America. And then you were living in China for a period Zingle went on a dating app in China. That met a guy from Liechtenstein. Yeah. Oh my god. How did that all happen? Let's wind back let's wine. Yeah. What was growing up like for you? In America? What was that? Like?

Speaker 2 3:03
That's a good question. It was actually pretty good. Like, I would say until middle school. I had a really good good childhood upbringing. Good family very close with my grandma, who I still like, miss her so much. I just love her so much. Yeah, so we were we were a good little good unit. Yeah. Small Group. Yeah, yeah. Unit.

Unknown Speaker 3:29
And what did mom and dad did.

Speaker 2 3:31
Mom and dad and a small sister. Not small. We're only 16 months apart. But for the youngest to me, I was the big bossy sister. So to me, she is forever the little sister.

Speaker 1 3:45
That's an older child. And what happened with middle school then? If so, life started changing at middle school. So what's Middle School? What age is that?

Speaker 2 3:54
We had that was I think you start at like 11. So it's like grade six to eight. So 11 to 13 or 14. Like that. Yeah. So it was it was a strange time because I feel like that's when like kind of the family secrets almost started to be reveal. Interesting. Yeah. And we found out because my mom just started she was a very involved mom when I was young. And like stay at home mom, but always like in the Girl Scouts. Leader like field trip mom, classroom mom very involved with us. Everyone loved her. I loved her. Everything was great. And then when I was in middle school, she started working. And then she her behaviour started to change a little bit. And so my dad sat me and my sister down and was like your mom has a drinking problem. And we were like, what? Because we had never even seen alcohol in the house. We weren't a drinking fan. Family. And now looking back, I'm like, Oh, those were all the things. Yeah. So there was this like sobriety even though it wasn't really sobriety, it was just dry, not drinking kind of stuff going on. So yeah, that's when everything just really took a shift, a hard shift.

Speaker 1 5:21
So what sort of things happened there? Was that because you said you were a tight family tight unit? Did it impacted the family?

Speaker 2 5:30
Yeah, a lot. Yeah. Now looking back as an adult, I can see how there were two sides, there was like a lot of hurt on both sides, a lot of I think betrayal on both sides emotionally and with, you know, the Substance Abuse stuff. And I think my mom needed more emotional support. And my dad was incapable of doing that. And so it really took it shifted everything. And it also shifted our roles. Like, I felt like I became more of a not caretaker for my dad, but like an emotional support person for my dad. And so it became where I was, like, making sure he felt okay, making sure he was okay. And then also trying to kind of help my mom at the same time, but my sister was more of a helper with my mom. So we both took our

Speaker 1 6:28
that's interesting, isn't it? Yeah. When you think about that, that sort of 1112 13 You know, adolescent years, that's a lot. Responsibility for young girls, isn't it?

Speaker 2 6:40
Right? Yeah. And it's just confusing when you like, didn't see it coming. And you didn't see the signs of like, oh, this is what something could look like. It was just like, overnight, change.

Unknown Speaker 6:56
Yeah, that's, that's interesting. How's your mom now, she,

Speaker 2 7:00
she's sober now. In fact, I just reunited with her for the first time after I think like, maybe 1618 ish years. So her substance abuse problem did not get better after Middle School. So when I was in my 20s, it reached its peak. And I, I was going to counselling at that time, because then I knew like this was affecting my life. And the I was choosing a lot of bad people to be in relationships with and kind of repeating this like pattern. So I was in my own therapy. And I remember the therapists like doing two things that really to this day, like, I think kind of saved my life. One was she was encouraging me to go to 12 Step programme, like an Al Anon programme. So I did do that. And that changed my life for the better. And then the other thing was, she was teaching me about, like, putting boundaries up with my mom. And if I needed to stop the relationship, pause it, it's okay. Like, she gave me that permission. And so I did do that. And that ended up lasting far longer than I ever, like, thought that it would, but that's just kind of how it went.

Speaker 1 8:24
Yeah, that's interesting, isn't it? And I think, from my experience, working with different people, and knowing different people that have things in the others in their lives are experiencing, sometimes take that ownership on for it themselves. And I think putting that boundaries in place and being okay that, you know, your your mom's drinking impacted you, but it's not your issue. I mean, there's parts of it that relate absolutely that become yours, but it's about not owning her problems and learning from those. It's a tough one, man, it's a tough one. It's tough sometimes, isn't it to separate and to differentiate between what's yours and what's theirs? Yeah.

Speaker 2 9:09
What do you like, still love through that? Yes.

Speaker 1 9:13
And it's interesting, too, I was when you were talking about, you know, you making some decisions that might not stream the best decisions, that you grow up doing what, you know, what, what you experience as well. And it's great that you were able to get therapy and get some help around that as well. And to sort of see those patterns. And because a lot of people don't see the patterns, they sort of keep engaging in and repeating stuff. And then kind of it's needing that independent person to help them to see things differently. So that's, that's cool. Yeah, so when did you leave? How did what's the trip to China? Like, how did you get to China? Like, what have ya? I noticed that wasn't America to China, but what what was the sort of progression from school

Speaker 2 10:00
Yeah, so when I was 29, I got married to my first husband, and he was a teacher. So he applied before we got engaged to a job and Dubai and got accepted. And then because I was going to be travelling along with him, they were like, oh, can she teach to and so the whole teacher abroad thing happened. And it was okay. Like, it wasn't, it wasn't a far fetched transition, because I had already been working in the classroom with some students. I wasn't a teacher, but I was there, like, behavioural support person. So I kind of had like, a little bit of an idea, but I guess they thought that was enough, which now I'm like, it's not. That was like the hardest learning experience, I think of my whole life. Like, suddenly you're thrown into a classroom with 25 kids from all different countries, all different cultures. And you're just like, there you go. Teach.

Speaker 1 11:07
My husband's. My husband's a teacher. And he taught teaches kids with disabilities. And he teaches them we call it in Australia, industrial arts, so woodwork, metalwork and jewellery. And he's, again, it's hard managing, like, managing a class. So I can imagine as a young woman, living internationally getting thrown in that would have been an interesting experience.

Speaker 2 11:37
Yes, it was. I feel like my face back then was just like, like, so. Dead and confused.

Speaker 1 11:49
Oh, my gosh, that's so funny. And living in Dubai as well. What was that like? Was that

Speaker 2 11:54
and so I always say Dubai, because it's like a point of reference. But I was actually in a very small city in Dubai, where it's mostly the local Emirati people that live there. So very different Dubai would have been, I think, a little bit of an easier transition, because it's, there's a lot more like expats and a little more kind of freedom, I guess. So yeah. And I, I always like, I always was known to like, push the boundary on like fashion and like, ya know, what are you how whatever it my presentation of myself. And so when I moved there, that was like, the first big lectures that I got from people before I left and then when I got there, like, make sure that you are dressing modestly covering this covering that don't do this, it was like, and so I kind of also evoked a little bit of like rebelliousness and a little bit of resentment.

Speaker 1 12:59
Yeah, I can say that. So imagine that. I can just feel what that would be like. For those that are listening. Did you have blonde hair? Jessica's got gorgeous platinum blonde hair? Yeah. Did you have blonde hair?

Speaker 2 13:15
I did. And then before I left, I got so scared by all of the warnings that I actually like, darkened it. It made my teeth look whiter, and my skin looked down. So maybe that was a good thing. But I, it wasn't my favourite look. And then I got there. And I was like, Oh, you don't? Because then I started to see other expats, like not following everything. And so I got my mojo back a little bit.

Speaker 1 13:47
But that's interesting, too, isn't it going into a new culture? Like lots of changes happening there for you, in the culture, in the classroom, in an environment where you don't, that's new, and you don't feel comfortable? And then kind of suppressing who you really are for not wanting to buck the system that probably internally, maybe wanting to buck the system? How did that play out? How did that play out for you?

Speaker 2 14:16
Well, I ended up being there for seven years. So apparently, something worked about it. But one of the perks of being an international school teacher is those holidays. So you have all these national holidays, and it was like get out get free. So it was always like trips to Asia trips to Europe because the location there is perfect. You're in the middle of every year right

Speaker 1 14:43
in the hub, aren't you? You're in the hub of Yeah, that's cool.

Speaker 2 14:47
And like literally my friends and I have a European friend who always we would leave and it was like, you just kiss the ground of wherever it is you're arriving because it just feels like so frill. Was that in? Oh, wow.

Speaker 1 15:00
So you were there for seven years? Where did you end up after that? What did you do after that?

Speaker 2 15:08
After that I was in Vietnam for one year. Oh, wow. And that was the divorce year. So that was a transition here.

Unknown Speaker 15:21
How did that come about?

Speaker 2 15:22
Yeah. What was that was a hard, that was a hard one, I won't go into the detail because I want to save people's. But it definitely like, was something that I kind of foresaw coming before we moved to Vietnam. And in my head, I thought this is either gonna make us or break us, and it broke us. So that was a very tough year, and a very hard transition. So like, before, we settled on, like, we are divorcing, we were just going to have like a separation, and then we'll see what happens. And so in that time, I did get a job in China. So I knew this school year was going to end and then I was going to move on to China. So you already sort

Speaker 1 16:15
of worried you had some eggs to kind of keep you occupied. I know. I know a number of women at various stages, actually young women, middle aged women, later life women whose relationships end, and kind of just that inkling that things are not working and trying to make them work, but then making the choice for themselves that it's actually not what they want, you know, as tragic and sad as that is, for a lot of them. It's beautiful to see women stepping into men to, you know, doing what they feel is right for them. That is right.

Speaker 2 16:57
And I mean, sometimes I look back and kind of wish that I had made those decisions earlier. But it really was it was one of those in my life, I think it was probably the first one of the first times and definitely the biggest moment of like me choosing myself, and not thinking about how this is going to impact other people or what other people are gonna think. And with that decision, I mean, it changed a lot of things. Obviously, like, change, location change, the whole fact that I'm like doing this by myself, for the first time changed all of those things, but also, like, I lost a lot of friends. When I was with him, we were very involved in like a church community, I lost all of that I lost a lot of my kind of belief systems that were going along with that. But all of those things like for the better, like the loss needed to happen in order for the evolution,

Speaker 1 18:08
that's a I'm just thinking, she could almost be your twin sister, actually, there's a young woman that I've been doing some work with that almost said exactly the same things that you've just said there about choosing herself. It's the first time in her life, you know, life was okay, but not really what she wanted. And she said, I'm choosing me, I'm actually going to, you know, my partner's heartbroken. And she's moved internationally. And, you know, she said, I'm choosing me. And there's a lot of women and it's a scary thing to do that. Because sometimes it's easier to stay in the the mediocre, fearing that hurt and loss, but like what you've said, that is for the better. Right? And it's about having support systems. It reminds me, my husband was in a church when we met. And when we got together, it was one of the fundamentalist churches. And it was kind of like, I needed to join the church, or he needed to leave the church. And it was like, I'm not going to I have a different belief system. And he was questioning things and he lost friends and things. He's reconnected with them, which is really beautiful and lovely. But that was a tricky time for him when we were getting together, but that was just like my support system. That was no longer part of his belief system then either so it's interesting, isn't it? And it's about having faith and that trust that things will be

Speaker 2 19:43
okay. Yeah, totally.

Speaker 1 19:47
Actually what you were saying there to Jess about. I kind of wish I'd done it earlier. I hear that a lot. And I think that about some of the things in my life and what I've kind of come to to terms with is that we, life just presents us with what we need to go through what the time we need to go through it. And there's no point wishing that we did things earlier because we're not, you know, we probably would have fucked it up. Anyway, so Exactly. Yeah,

Speaker 2 20:17
it's well, who knows? I mean, those last, I mean, if I had done it earlier, I probably would have never made it to Vietnam, I would have met all of those amazing people that I met when I was there. And you know, so I totally agree with you. It's just always like, if I had to do everything over again, play god, I would just like, make it all easier.

Speaker 1 20:42
Yeah. Yeah. No, I get that. I get that. Yeah. It's like that sliding doors moment. Yeah. The movie. Have you seen sliding doors with Gwyneth Paltrow? And have a look at that, because it's okay. It's a movie that shows her in different situations. So she, she made a decision. And then her life goes this way. And then it comes back. And if she made this different decision, something else if she hadn't got onto the train of I can't remember exactly sliding doors, the doors on the train closed, and she missed the train. And then she made a certain decision. And then it goes back and shows that if she got onto the train what her life would have been like, and it was just one of those. For me. It's that sliding doors if we've made different decisions, our lives might have been different. But yeah, they're not.

Speaker 2 21:31
They're not exactly. Oh,

Speaker 1 21:34
so you had a year in in Vietnam, then you went to China. So you had that job lined up in China? What was that? Like? Where was that in China?

Speaker 2 21:46
That I was south of Shanghai. So I was in a relatively small city of 2 million people instead of like 25 million people or whatever. And it's funny, because 2 million people in China, like it really was quiet. It was a quiet, place wild. And it was very different, very different from everything that I had done before. A lot of people from UAE were saying, like, if you could make it here, you can make it in China. Like it's not, you know, and I, I didn't know what to expect, but it was way harder than that. I was anticipating, I guess, language wise, culture wise, never like UAE was more of a, the warning of you need to be cautious and careful because of like how you're presenting yourself. And you definitely don't want to like burn those bridges. So you're always hyper aware of like, how could this be read and saying the right thing and doing the right thing. But in China, I think it was more Be careful of what you're saying and who you're saying it to because like, there's lots of crazy stories of like, what the government does and stuff. So that kind of stuff made me a little more paranoid, like I definitely was hyper vigilant. Plus, it was very difficult to get around if you didn't have your phone if you didn't have your translation on you at all times. And so I was always so scared, I was gonna lose my phone. So I became like, I will always had the Al Anon helped me with my codependency and like control problems, but I probably should have revisited it again, because my control issues started to get a little wacky because it was just like, always living on this, like, oh my gosh, what if what if what if

Speaker 1 23:50
that hyper vigilant isn't it? That's about just being hyper just always in that thinking mode and not being able to relax? And we are on there too, because you'd split from your husband? And so you want your own time? How did you get the job in China? Is that through the international teaching community was that how did you get that? Yeah,

Speaker 2 24:15
yes, I think I got it through like applying online through one of those community kind of things. And it was funny because I was getting my teaching certificate like to make myself official at that time, and the principal of that school didn't want to hire me because I didn't have it yet. And the board the guy higher than her said, No, you're gonna hire her and I'm like, forever thankful for that because it was it opened so many new doors and like, new relationships, so

Speaker 1 24:53
So we're kind of living in part of a community with the teachers like you were there on your own but you did you have that support. With the other teachers,

Speaker 2 25:02
yes, it's not one of those situations because I've talked to other teachers who, when they teach internationally, they live on like a compound and you all live together. And it's very like comfortable inside. We don't have that, like we were living, all of us were kind of spread out in the city. I know it depends, they give you like a an allowance for your rent. So you can kind of choose where you want to pay this much this much this much. So where I was living, I think there were like maybe 10, teachers also living in that same community. But you become super close with, the people you live with, and that you work with immediately. Because you're experiencing everything together at the same time and going through that whole thing. It just makes you like bond.

Speaker 1 25:56
What did you learn about yourself during that time, so on your own for kind of the first time in a very, very new culture, like a different culture? What did you learn about yourself?

Speaker 2 26:10
So my first thing that I really wanted to, like, intentionally work on, and I had a counsellor that kind of helped me with this too, but was finding my voice again, because in my marriage, I had really lost that I had become just kind of like, go with the flow, let the decisions kind of be made. And so that was like the first thing and also like finding who I was again, and finding what I enjoyed, because there's just so many things that got stripped away all at one time. So it's kind of like blank slating. Oh, wow. But it was really powerful. And I, I gave myself time and space. And I, like one of my friends that I met when I was there was like, Do you remember the first thing you told me when we met? And I was like, no. And she said, you said, I just got a divorce. I'm not going to be very fun right now. Well, we'll catch up later, kind of a thing. And I was like, yeah, that definitely sounds like because I was just like, Yeah, I'm not here to go to all the like functions on the weekends and kind of I needed to really, so I was by myself a lot, those first few months. And it was very therapeutic, lots of journaling, lots of like, rediscovering who I was. And then I think around the Christmas time is when I like started to kind of come out of my cocoon, when I just felt so much happier, like the weight of all of that had lifted. And I by that time, I had really made the decision of like, I'm not speaking to my ex anymore, because at that point to there was still kind of a little bit of a, and I just didn't, I wanted to like, truly be free to move forward. Yeah, yeah,

Speaker 1 28:18
can I go back because I, there's a lot of women I know, who would be interested in the process. And you may or may not remember it, that might be more of an unconscious thing. But you said that you did some journaling and really worked out what it was that you enjoyed. Do you remember that process of rediscovering yourself? Like it's almost like coming home to yourself, isn't it? Do you really is that you did that helped you to so journaling? Not feeling obliged to be the social person with everybody for a little period of time?

Speaker 2 28:56
Yeah, and I also started exercising too. And that made a really big difference too. And that was the first time that I really saw exercise in a different way. And it was more about like, being present with what you're doing and like tuning everything else out. Not so much of like, let's get fit and let's like work on our butt today. But those things were happening but it was more about the mind. And I think with the journaling because I've always been a journal er so it wasn't something that was completely new but I was allowing myself to like, like free freely get everything that was in my head out. So like if I look back at those journals now I would probably like not cringe but feel very sad for that person. One of the exercises that the principal had us do on the first day of school when we all got there was write ourselves a letter Letter of what we wanted for that year. And then she kept it for us and gave it to us at the end. And I remember, I still have it, but I wrote that I was going to be like this, you knew that this year was going to be hard for you. Be gentle with yourself, be patient and like, make new connections be very, like excited about the new connections. And it was like, also a prayer for like hope. And I was very hopeful of like, having a really cool co teacher that I could really get along with in the classroom, because you spend so much time with these people. And all of those things happened. And it was one of those things. When I read it again, I was like, wow, and I showed it to one of my really good friends there. And he just started crying. And it was very full circle moment. Yeah,

Speaker 1 30:57
that's beautiful. And you know, what I hear from that, Jess, is that you? Were being very intentional about the process. And, you know, rediscovering and reconnecting with who you are. Because it sounds to me from a very young age, when you when we started the chat about middle school, and mum, and family and then being out of your comfort, like, a lot of it has been needing to be very strong, from a very young age. So probably not even really having that time when you were younger to discover who you were then. So going back and being very intentional about it. Yeah, that sounds that sounds like a beautiful process sounds like a really, yeah,

Speaker 2 31:49
it really was, yeah, and the music thing i In the evenings, because I also was being very mindful of like, I'm not going to drink a lot, because that's not going to be productive. But I would just turn on music every single night and like, dance or do whatever. And that was also like, it just brought me so much joy. And that was when I started to learn to like, enjoy my own company. Like I didn't need other people to be having fun. I was I was whooping it up all by myself. And it was great. Isn't

Speaker 1 32:29
that cool? I remember before I met my husband, I'd had a couple of relationships, one really serious one and a couple of others. Not so much. But when I started to just feel really good about myself and be really comfortable in my own skin. My husband just kind of appeared out of nowhere. And I hear that a lot that, you know, people are searching for relationships, or they're searching for a certain thing. But it's almost like letting go of the thing you're searching for. When you come home to who you are. The thing you want. Turns up. Yeah, yeah. process and I Yeah. And it's just beautiful that what you said there about that you felt really comfortable on with your own company, not needing somebody to complete you. Like it's nice to have somebody there to experience life with but not being dependent on. Great. Yeah. So what happened China? When was this tell us what year this was that you're in China?

Unknown Speaker 33:33
I got there in 2018.

Unknown Speaker 33:36
And what happened?

Speaker 2 33:39
So in 2019, that's when I connected with my now husband on the dating app, a girlfriend and I we're going to be leaving China on holiday in January 2020. Yeah. And so we went to Vietnam, she had never been and I wanted to go back to have a better experience there than what I left with. And also just like see more of the country because I really wasn't able to do a lot when I was there. So it was amazing. We had a really nice time. And then at the end of that trip was when the pandemic broke out in China. So they were the first ones to close their border. And our flights were obviously cancelled. So we weren't sure what to do when everyone was just kind of in this like, well, it could open any day so like don't go far. And so we have the choice to either stay in Vietnam or like go somewhere else. We had some friends that were in the Philippines. So we decided let's just boop over there, see a new country and then extend this vacation. And so when we were there we were having to start teach our students online, which was Extremely difficult because this was the first time that I had ever backpacked in my life. Like, I am not a backpack. I had to borrow a backpack, I was so proud of myself that I was doing this, the girl that I was with is like, a hunter. And so she's like, she's got it, you know, so I figured if I'm gonna do it with anybody, I'll do it with her. And so we only had our cell phones, we were teaching our students and doing everything from a phone in this country, which if anyone knows Philippines, they kind of know that their Wi Fi is not known to be the most reliable. So that was really a difficult start. And then their borders started to close to. And during this whole time, I was talking to this guy, who now is my husband. And we were just really vibing. And like, I thought he, but I was also extremely cautious at this point, like,

Speaker 1 36:07
you know, I can imagine. Yeah, but

Speaker 2 36:11
when that border was going to close, and then it was very clear, like we needed to make a decision. And so a lot of people started to go home to the United States or wherever their home was. But I was not extremely close with my family. So I was thinking, like, if I go home, like who am I going to like home with? And, like, I have a lot of really good friends. But I was like, I can't imagine showing up to my friend's house and just being like, I'm here. And I don't know how long it's going to be. And just like, you know, yeah. So he, this guy just kept save, just come here. And, and I was like, I could do that and would only be like two weeks in my head. I just kept thinking this is going to be very temporary. And I liked him. And I wanted to see him. And so it just seemed like yeah, why not? And my friend definitely vetted him and made sure it felt right to her too, and all that stuff. So I ended up coming here. Everything was great. And it was just like a fun. It felt like a vacation. Things were still normal here. So we were like travelling around Europe. In the meantime, everyone in Asia was like locking down. And then what was supposed to be I thought two weeks of being here ended up being seven months of being here. And thank God we liked each other. Yeah,

Speaker 1 37:50
get back to China at all. Could you say your house? Apartment still there?

Speaker 2 37:54
Yeah, yeah. So there were people that were able, there was a small window where China opened up the border. And if you didn't get your flight in that window, you didn't get back and so I had some friends that made it back in that window. I didn't want to take the risk and I'm so thankful that I didn't do that. So they went back and then they were unfortunately the people that had to pack up my apartment for me on Zoom. Oh, holding things up like do you want to keep this do you want to not keep this? Yeah, it was really bizarre. Thankfully, she's a good friends so

Speaker 1 38:37
that's a good lesson to people if you go away make sure like I'd always do a tidy up of our house before we travel anywhere but that's even more important if you are potentially getting locked out.

Speaker 2 38:53
And another warning to people don't ever backpack like it's worst idea. Take as many suitcases as the airline will allow. Pack everything.

Speaker 1 39:07
Oh my god. So did you have to buy like if you were there, you have to just get everything new. So yeah, the apartment with a new friend. Because yes, and yeah, he's no yes. But so that's obviously god. Yeah. See, that's a good that's a good sliding door moment. Because had you not gone to Vietnam. You would have still been in China and you probably would have been. Yeah, have had a very different experience.

Unknown Speaker 39:38
Very different. Yeah, so

Speaker 1 39:41
packed up all your staff. What happened? Did they send it to Liechtenstein or no, because

Speaker 2 39:47
they would only ship if I was a resident of the place where I was. So I was without my things for 10 months. And when I was here, I was was trying to find another job. Yeah. And there was also during this time, too, it was so many amazing things happening in this one time, but it was not fun. Like it was a very high stress time. So like, I'm teaching my students I'm waking up at like one in the morning to get online with them, blah, blah, blah. But I had space to really again, journaling. So I started journaling, like, what do I want out of my life? Because teaching I had known for a while that I really wanted to get out of teaching, it wasn't something that I wanted to continue. And so I really started to like, dive deep on like, what do I want to do? What makes me happy? Yeah. And so I, at the same time, discovered copywriting and kind of knew, like, I'm going to try to pursue this. But I still needed like a job job. And I did get hired to work at a school in Milan, which from here is only like a two hour drive or something. So it would have been perfect. Like if we were wanting to continue our relationship, I'm not that far away, we just kind of do a long distance thing. But Italy was making me have to return to the United States for paperwork stuff. During this time. And even places in America were starting to close the embassies were closing. So it didn't work out. But I was able to get a job back in UAE. So I went back to where I was, it wasn't the same school, but it was the same town. So that was nice, because in some ways, it was like returning to something that I was like comfortable with and knew. But in a very strange time because the pandemic in certain places, the response to it was

Speaker 1 41:53
very different. Wasn't it all around like Australia shut the borders here. We shut down our borders. And it was just a really uncertain time for even just in a culture that I've grown up in. It was still really Yeah, sure. So how long did you go back to the UAE for? Did you go

Speaker 2 42:14
just one year one school year, so I think it ended up being 10 months. But once I was a resident there, that's when China could send me my stuff. So I got it in October. So I had been without it for 10 months. So even when I came here, I mean, Vietnam and Philippines. That was like summer time and coming here in February, it was dead winter. So immediately when I got off the plane, it was like let's go find a jacket and some sweaters. Oh, my

Speaker 1 42:48
goodness. Actually, I forgot to ask where actually is Liechtenstein? For those that it's very tiny little countries and

Speaker 2 42:57
tiny little country and it orders Switzerland and Austria. Yeah. And so they actually like use Switzerland for military and lots of bureaucracy. So like when I got my visa to come here. I actually went through the Swiss and the sea. Yeah. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 43:17
What's the population? Do you know of?

Speaker 2 43:20
I think the whole country is 50,000.

Unknown Speaker 43:25
Yeah. Really tiny country.

Speaker 2 43:28
It's not the smallest, but it's in the I think, top five smallest.

Speaker 1 43:34
And your husband's is a German. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And so he's family's from Germany. He they still live in Germany, but he works in Liechtenstein. But you met him in China.

Speaker 2 43:47
Right. So he was on a business trip. For anyone that was wondering like, yeah, he was on a business trip a lot on Tinder on a business trip.

Speaker 1 44:02
But hey, it worked out for him. It worked. It worked. So what are you doing now? So you're not teaching? So you did your stint back at the UAE? Then you decided that you're going to move back to Liechtenstein after that? Is that right?

Speaker 2 44:18
Yeah, yeah, I had to apply because they don't just let everybody in over here. So we did get engaged but we also knew like for me to for us to pursue a long time relationship. Without distance we were going to have to get married. So I applied for the visa to for marriage you have to apply to marry which is just bizarre, but thankfully they let me do it. And then I came here in July of 2021. And that last school year in UAE, I used that to transition then. So I was teaching, but I was in the evenings and on weekends just working on building this business building the skill set and getting everything ready.

Speaker 1 45:13
So let's do in copywriting. And so what what is your business now? Because what you did you was kind of working out what you would really love to do. And so how did you settle on? The business idea?

Speaker 2 45:28
Yeah. I've always loved writing. When I majored. Like when I was in university, they were making me choose a major and I, by that point, because I wanted to do everything. And so I settled on majoring in history, because why not, and I just loved the reading and the writing and the learning of all of that no idea what I was going to do with it. So even when I was working as a teacher, and like living overseas, I had a few blogs. And I always loved design. So I questioned like graphic design, and this and like a kind of just in the eclectic Renaissance woman. But the copywriting felt right, because writing to me is always been a very natural thing, like I was always appointed, like, if anyone's gonna write something, just give it to Jessica, she'll do it. And then once I started doing copywriting, I learned about branding. And I was like, oh, brandings, like the pretty side of it, and more of like, the soul of it. And so it developed into that. So now I'm doing both. And it's lovely. And does that feel

Speaker 1 46:47
like a good? I know what the answer will be. But does it feel like a good fit for you?

Speaker 2 46:53
Yes, yeah, it really does. Yeah. I feel like there's more to explore. But yeah,

Speaker 1 47:00
yeah, I could tell that from the time that we connected and for people. We've got Jessica's details in the show notes, but can you just let us know your website because people can pop there and just even looking? You can see the style element that does that beauty. And if for those of you that are listening, you can watch us on YouTube as well. But just that eautiful essence and energy that comes from you. What's your website?

Speaker 2 47:27
That's so nice. Thank you. It's Jessica gramme brand.

Speaker 1 47:33
right. Jessica gramme brand We've got all those details in the show notes. Oh, my gosh, Jessica, we could talk forever and ever. What's next for you? What's what's kind of you're building the business, you're in another different country. But when you've been in for a little while, seems like you are out of your comfort zone quite a lot. Just for the sheer nature of life. What's next? Do you think for you?

Speaker 2 48:00
Ah, that's a good question. I think continuing on with what I'm doing, but also intentionally making more connections. And that's been slowly happening. I think for the first year that I was here, it was very reclusive, kind of like, we're just getting ourselves sorted. Now we're starting to kind of get out and make more connections and friendships. And it's been really fun. So I want to nurture that and see how that grows.

Speaker 1 48:37
Something almost like the seasons of life, isn't it that I mean, you've been through a lot. And a lot of things I've heard you say a number of times, I wasn't expecting. And things kind of turned out and they were, you know, they were pretty tough environments. But you were able to get through it. So you very resilient. So going through the, you know, that toughness of staff. But it sounds like it's at a beautiful stage of life. And it's that next exploring what can be as well. So I think that might we might have to do a part two, and then yet find out more about what that next phase is. Oh, my gosh, any kind of just last pearls of wisdom that you would that could be useful for others that are going through you know, those journeys of reconnecting with who they are any little tips or no, that's putting you right on the spot.

Speaker 2 49:42
No, it's good. I actually heard something yesterday that really made me like, huh, cuz she was saying that sometimes, you can reconnect with people or be very drawn to people who are drawing something out of you. And in this session, wishes she was reconnecting with an old flame from her past. And she reflected on it and was able to see oh, I was drawn to him because he was reminding me of my past self. And I wanted to reconnect with that person. So it wasn't so much like we could take him out of the equation. But just use that opportunity to connect, reconnect with that version of yourself. And I thought that was so empowering. And like, wow, because I think so often, like, I know, I can get kind of tunnel vision. And it's very like, next step, next step, I don't want to, like I want to keep growing. But sometimes you're like, but that girl back there, she wasn't broken, she just needed a little support and like, you grow from things, but it's you don't have to throw away your previous versions of yourself. So I think if you're going through that strange place of like reconnecting with who you are, like, really going through your life, and seeing who you were at every chapter and like, what you liked about that person, and like, how you can bring that into your current situation.

Speaker 1 51:24
Yeah, I'll share something with like, I 100% agree with that. And I think it's about one of the things that I really focus on is honouring my past. I think I've done a few posts around this recently, when, you know, my mum passed away when I was younger. And for a period of time, I used to really refer to that as like a really short time in life. And I used to look at it really negatively. But I am who I am because of what happened and I can't change what happened. And I really shifted my focus around honouring the all the parts of me. And you know that even that really angry young girl who didn't know what to do in life, and some of the choices that she made, she did that because of, you know, what she knew at the time and what she was going through. So I really shifted my perspective around that. And one of the practices that came to me are probably in the last year or two years, I do a lot of journaling, I do a lot of meditation, I do a lot of inner work as well. And I was when I go for a walk of the morning is when I do a walking meditation, and I just got this image. And I call it the sacred circle, there's me, I got this image of all the parts of me, you know, from just all the versions, me as a baby me as a one year old, and each age group of me, even the future versions of me, just sitting in a field together. And then we all just actually sat in this circle, and joined hands. So we joined hands. And then there was almost like a part of me would come forward and ask for something from the other parts of May. So it's a lot of inner child work, but it was kind of these different versions would come forward. And sometimes that would be that 12 year old whose mother passed away. Sometimes it'd be the 17 year old who was still really, like really fucking angry with life. And it was just reconnecting with all the parts of me that was so powerful, Jessica, that I do that. Not always, but semi regularly, is part of that connection. And you know, when you were talking about what you heard yesterday, the friend going back to the, you know, the previous partner, it's not about the previous partner, it's just reconnecting with that part. And so I kind of go through this little bit of a process. And it's just been a really beautiful way to, I guess, bring elements of me together that maybe I've ignored for time. So yeah, that's been

Speaker 2 54:19
Oh, that's so good. It made me teary. So beautiful it is.

Speaker 1 54:23
And I'm not sure if I did that, you know, that might have sounded a little bit gobbly. But it was a really, the evolution of that process. And I've done the meditations around that as the sacred circle of who you are. Yeah, that's cool. Because this has been so beautiful. Thank you. We've got all social media, in the in the show notes. So if people want to reach out to Jessica on Instagram, what's your handle? Just really quickly,

Speaker 2 54:50
Jessica gramme Brand Studio so that's across the train to keep it Yeah.

Speaker 1 54:56
Practice what you preach, practice what you preach and if anybody's you will work with people internationally as well don't use so the timezone is pretty okay, our southern hemisphere evening is Jessica's kind of morning. So the hours are really easy to work with each other. So yeah, no thanks gorgeous.

Unknown Speaker 55:19
Thank you so much

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