We had the good fortune of connecting with Jean Parker-Renga and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jean, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Work life balance is a tricky one! Twenty years ago when I started Lily’s Cocoon I felt like all I did was work. I was fresh out of college, working an office job, and trying to create jewelry after I got home from my 9-5. Most of my custom orders came from the ladies I worked with and it was a great way for me to build my supply inventory. With those orders I also was able to grow as a jewelry artist and create what was trending. As the years went by I continued to adapt my creations to my current customers needs. I always have had a connection to gemstones, and directed my projects to the metaphysical properties within each stone to make personalized pieces that truly served the customer more than just being a pretty piece of jewelry. I also became more faceted as a person, adding yoga to my offerings in 2011. Then I became pregnant with my first child…
With the new baby in our lives I knew something had to change. All the plates being balanced started to fall and I was feeling the constant stress of being on for someone else. At this time I was working at a brewery, teaching yoga, making jewelry, and taking care of a newborn. I was very lucky to have the support of my husband to quit the brewery gig to focus on being a stay at home mom. With this shift I was able to care for our baby and do what I was truly passionate about, keeping yoga and jewelry in my life.

Wish I could say I was able to find my balance then, but time constantly creates change. I still teach yoga and create jewelry, but the idea of constantly being on for others has stopped for me. After having my second child I really felt like I was still stretching myself too thin. Saying no was something that made me feel uneasy, and it was always easier to just keep going to have it all. But I realized I needed to reevaluate what “having it all” really meant to me. Honoring myself finally made so much sense! Doing only what served me created space I needed to be more present with the projects I jumped on board with.

I still work past 5pm sometimes, but I make it a point to shut it off to be there for my family. Enjoying this life is full of adventure and am so grateful that even when I feel a plate slipping to the floor I can quickly press the reset button and take a deep breath.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a jewelry artist I’ve continued to evolve to create what my customers want. Starting in junior high I began making friendship bracelets with embroidery floss and then transitioned to hemp knotted necklaces in high school. During college I took a break from jewelry and focused on my other passion, writing. In 2003 I officially started making jewelry under the name, Lily’s Cocoon, and it has grown and blossomed into so many different offerings these past almost twenty years. When I added yoga to the list in 2011, I naturally figured out how to create malas. Like a lot of children, I grew up loving to collect rocks. Within this collection was mostly polished agates of all different colors purchased for me by my grandfather in Gunnison. Naturally when I started making malas I knew that all of my pieces would be made with various gemstones, specifically suited for the customers intentions and goals, Now that I practice reiki professionally, being able to energetically connect to these gemstones in bead form and create a custom mala for someone is truly magical.

In addition to celebrating twenty years of Lily’s Cocoon next year, I celebrated ten years of being a yoga instructor last November. To celebrate, I began training in aerial yoga as a way to continue to grow in my personal practice and in what I offer my students and clients. I am also excited that I will be participating in my first yoga teacher training this spring, at Live Beyond Limit, offering my knowledge of pre and postnatal yoga, and Viniyoga.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
When I lead my mala making workshops I tend to tell the story of how I started creating jewelry at a young age. I grew up living with my grandparents and I’ll be forever grateful for my grandmother shooing me out of the kitchen with an empty butter container filled with acrylic beads and some thread from her sewing kit. I would sit in the living room for hours stringing those beads making some of my first necklaces. She also taught me how to crochet, sew, and cross-stitch and always supported my arts and craft projects. I will always cherish the skills she passed down to me with so much love and patience.

Website: lilyscocoon.com

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