Where do you even start?
In and amongst the tears and the smiles and the grief and the peace, perhaps, we'll start with what my mind naturally lands upon when I think of our dear angel, Jess Ainscough.
I think about life.
I think about the first time I met her and the last time I hugged her.
I think about the New Years Eve we spent dancing our sober, kombucha-fuelled legs off on a footpath in South Bank.
I think about her gorgeous and totally dorky bursts of laughter.
I think about the way she led with complete and utter devotion. 'Busy-ness' was not a concept that Jess bought into, or accepted. Nothing came before her nourishing routines, or her urge to serve in big ways. While most us often run about sweating overwhelm, comparison, self-sabotage... Jess innocently and at times hilariously confessed that she rarely suffered from those things. She just bloody got on with, in full confidence. At one of our winter mastermind retreats (pictured above -- really, just an excuse to be together), this quality in her stunned the rest of us into awe. There were few of us who would barely leave the bed of a morning before reaching to check emails on our phones, but Jess? First came meditation, and juicing, and journalling... She was committed to living.
I think about her joy. The type of joy that in contagious, and cheeky, and silly.
I think about her bad-ass-ery. Her divine, fan-freaking-tastic way of being so outspokenly her.
I think about how wonderful it must feel for her right now – to fully be experiencing her complete vastness now that she is in the light. But then the human part of me aches in all my depths and widths and corners for her fiance, and for her father (two spectacular, angelic men).
I have never felt closer to my soul sisters than right now in this very moment, and that includes Jess. Last week as we all gathered in her home, there were large fragments of time that were spent in silence. Occasionally, someone would wipe away a tear, or blow their nose, or reach out to hold someone, or laugh at a 'Jess memory.' None of us were afraid to meet one another in our pain, and it felt freeing to fully express and fully love so safely, knowing that we will never, ever take one another for granted. Even for a moment.
There is so much to feel right now. So much to hold space for. And as this is so raw and recent, so very much to process. Grieving is an acutely personal process, and no one can give you advice on how to navigate it, however, if you're feeling lost and confused, and you're looking for a way to show reverence to Jess but you're not entirely sure how, maybe these ideas will help you:
- You can make a donation to Edgar's Mission – a non-for -profit organisation which has always held a space place in Jess' heart. Please donate in lieu of gifts and flowers.
- What did Jess embody that you admired? Her courage, her resilience, her creativity, her generosity? Pin-point what you admired in her and try it on for size yourself. Let her legacy live through you.
- Dedicate your spiritual practice to her. I've been doing this since last Thursday and it gives me purpose to rise in the morning in reverence of her.
- Light two candles – one for Jess, and one for her mother Sharyn, who passed of breast cancer 18 months ago.
- Learn the lyrics to Salt-n-Peppa's Shoop and jam on out in your 90's best :)
- Chant Akaal for 40 days:
In Kundalini yoga, we chant Akaal – which means undying spirit – to help souls transition into the light. It is a powerful and deeply, deeply moving chant that brings comfort and sacredness, and an in my experience, an inner, unspeakable understanding of what life and death may be about. (Have your tissues ready, press play, and then close your eyes)
Just quickly, there's something grossly inaccurate about any statement that mentions Jess' '7-year battle with cancer.' Anyone who knows her will tell you that that's simply not true. She thrived with her disease for six miraculous years. She was the complete embodiment of buoyancy and effervescence, and she positively impacted more people in this world than most of us dare only dream about.
Please, when you hold Jess in your heart and in your thoughts, avoid the trap of believing she was at war with her life; at battle. She wasn't. Those first six years of her diagnosis were brimming with life and nothing but hope. Let's hold onto that.
Finally, please know that it's likely you'd never be reading this blog or following my work were it not for Jess. I mean that. Just like many of you, I was a girl, sitting in front of my computer screen, completely enamoured by her presence. I admired her. She was a hero to me. By simply being her, she completely transformed me and the way I lived my life. To have been given the chance to love her, laugh with her, be with her and share the stage with her is something that brings me to my knees in gratitude and pain and disbelief. I could not possibly feel more privileged or more graced if I tried.
There is no need to comment below. The love that has already been pouring into her community has been overwhelmingly beautiful and touching beyond absolute belief. Thank you for all your tender words and loving thoughts. Sharing this post using the buttons below may help slice through a little of the crap that's being published about her. I'd appreciate that.
Be kind. Be brave. Be well.
Rise in peace, sister.