We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Lucey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
This is something I continually work with, especially since I have the tendency to over work and strive for perfection. It worked really well until it didn’t and I got a pretty bad case of burn out. I had to stop, take a break, and reassess everything. Now I block off my “me time” and “family time” first. I schedule in walks and time to eat because, for me, if it doesn’t get scheduled it doesn’t get done. I keep white space in my calendar between events to give myself breaks and wiggle room. The hardest thing I’m working with is adjusting for my energy levels, giving myself compassion and being ok when things don’t get done. In short, know what rejuvenates you, schedule it in, and keep that appointment with yourself. Know what else is important to you and why. Get that on the schedule and make it a priority. And finally, give yourself grace when things don’t go as planned. It’s all a learning experience, and we’re always changing.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I teach yoga to busy people and nature lovers who want to have fun and relax. What makes my work really special are all the times I host classes outside. In the summer, I offer paddleboard yoga, yoga in the park, and yoga hikes. I love teaching outdoors and giving people the opportunity to spend time in nature. There’s just something about having class outside that helps people relax a little bit more and not take themselves so seriously. Plus, spending time in nature has been proven to reduce stress levels and improve health. I also believe that the more time we appreciate being outdoors, the more we want to take care of this planet we’re a part of. It’s a win-win-win! The funny thing is, is that when I was growing up, the idea of being outdoors for fun and recreating was really novel. In fact, I didn’t actually have fun and relax outside unless I was at the beach. Our “hikes” were surveying our land and walking the property line. “Spending time with nature” was taking a vacation to Florida to clean the rental home of debris from hurricanes. I’m actually just now realizing that if I wasn’t spending a day at the beach or by the water, I associated being outside with manual labor. Anyhoo, things started to change after I got invited to go on a hike with my boyfriend. I thought, sure why not. Turns out, it was a two day hike up the tallest mountain in the continental US (Mt. Whitney) with backcountry camping. The first day was one of the worst experiences in my life. I only continued because I needed a way to get back home, and wasn’t sure breaking up in the wilderness would give me the best chances of survival. Good thing I stuck it out because day two pretty much changed my life. I got over my altitude sickness and was in awe of the beauty that was the California Sierra Nevadas. Plus, at the end of the day, I had never felt so accomplished in my life. After that, I continued to hike and explore and appreciate nature. I believe my consciousness of how we affect our planet changed once I started spending more time outside and appreciating the natural beauty of Mother Nature. Now I try to create as little waste as possible and opt for sustainable and reusable options whenever and however I can. This connection to nature, combined with how yoga helped me feel connected to my body and spirit instead of all the ideas rushing around in my head, led me to want to teach yoga outdoors. Ever since I was in teacher training, I had said I was going to lead yoga hikes. Now, I’m doing that, yoga on the water on paddleboards, and yoga in the park. However, getting to where I am now wasn’t as straightforward as you might think. The ins and outs of insurance, permitting, and land use are definitely the not so glamorous parts of the job. I’ve learned a lot of other things along the way too. One of the biggest things was that I’ve got to ask questions: the right questions to the right people. In fact, I think I’m always continuing to learn the right questions to ask and the people to ask them to. Also, important was growing a network of friends, colleagues, and strategic partners. It can get pretty lonely doing things in a small business, but thanks to the people I’ve met along the way, the road is more enjoyable and easier to navigate. Plus, I know more of the right people to ask questions to and to ask for help. I would also be remiss to not mention the effect that covid and changes in weather has on things. It’s caused me to offer free hikes as a way for people to gather and get outside in a more accessible way. This past year was also the first time I tried doing a SUP Yoga class indoors during the winter season. Plus I started teaching online courses. It’s great for eliminating decision fatigue because people commit to the entire eight weeks of the course knowing they’re going to get themed content that they want to explore and learn more about. As an added bonus, they get to interact with the same people each week, which creates this nice little community. Sometimes, aka more often than not, I get caught up in the marketing and admin and other business stuff. During those times, I need to remind myself of why I started down this path in the first place. I teach yoga outdoors so people can feel connected to themselves and something greater than them. I believe that when people appreciate themselves and all the ways they move in and through this world, they’re able to genuinely care for themselves and others. And when people feel connected to and appreciate nature, it creates in them a desire to care for Her, the environment, and the world that we live in. It goes beyond relaxing, having fun, and being healthy. That’s just the gateway towards connecting to a life you love in a world you love.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Lucky for me, I’ve already had some practice with this one. When I lived in NC, I didn’t get many visitors. Now that I live in Fort Collins, people want to come by all the time. I always take visitors to Horsetooth Reservoir. There are some nice trails and great views for people of all levels and abilities. We also take a drive up the Poudre Canyon and go on a hike. If it’s winter time, that hike could be a snowshoe. If it’s summer time, we could even go rafting or rock climbing. Definitely after any of those activities, we take a visit to the Mish. (That’s the Mishawaka Amphitheatre for those of you who aren’t familiar with it.) I crave their mushroom burger and a beer after any excursion down the canyon. Plus, their location right on the Poudre River makes the time there so relaxing and enjoyable. Sometimes we even see bighorn sheep across the river. Rocky Mountain National Park is a couple hours away and has some great trails. A visit there also gives us the opportunity to walk around Estes. Some more low key options would be to take a walk around Old Town Square and hang out at the Exchange. There’s a bunch of shopping and restaurant options around there for you to hang out with friends and family. And if it’s a sunny day, you better believe that everyone will be outside. Another option for a relax day would be to head down to Loveland and walk around the sculpture garden. You could also take a short hike down Devil’s Backbone to the keyhole and back. Those rocks are out of their world and you can get a nice view of the mountains on a clear day. No visit to Fort Collins is complete without visiting some breweries. New Belgium gives the best beer tour. I also like the outdoor seating at Odell Brewing. The Horse and Dragon is female owned and has my favorite stout in the city, Sad Panda. The Gilded Goat has good beer and has a great trivia night. Another one of my favorites is Purpose Brewing. They do small batch, hand crafted beer, so what’s on tap is different from week to week. Obviously you can tell I encourage people to get outside and explore. It’s definitely one of the reasons I moved here.
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?
Can we do multiple? First, I’d like to shoutout to my husband, Tom Lucey. He inspires, supports, and encourages me to dream bigger and live into my greatness. Big thanks to Chrysta Bairre and the She Goes High Community for providing such a nurturing space for Women to be supported, be themselves, and acknowledge all the amazing work they do in the world. Shout out to my therapist, Elizabeth Brandon, who has helped me navigate and grow through the curve balls of life, false beliefs, and ineffective coping mechanisms.
Photos were taken by Jessica Lucey and Tom Lucey.