Jeanne talks about FIGGI. What is it? How was the name chosen? What led to it? Will you join her journey?
Jeanne talks openly and honestly about her first panic attack when she was on a business trip. She shares some of her panic disorder journey and her previous life as a human rights consultant. She takes you through the highs and lows that led to her difficult decision to leave her consultancy behind and start something new in her late thirties.
This episodes explains how and why FIGGI came to be, what the name means, and what you can expect as a FIGGI Goddess.
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The Birth of FIGGI
Jeanne: [00:00:00] Today we talk about FIGGI. What is it? Why you should care about it, and how it came about. This is ultimately a community for other goddesses, just seeking a moment's peace, a safe retreat, and a place to share and just be. Let me tell you the story of FIGGI. Stay tuned.
FIGGI Intro: Welcome Goddess to your Sacred Space. This is the My FIGGI Life podcast where we openly discuss life's wins and losses on our journeys to self discovery. This is your best life. This is your FIGGI life. And now here is your host Jeanne.
Jeanne: Today we are talking about the background to FIGGI and to give you the idea of why it started and how I got here, I have to give you a little bit of background about my other, or as I now lovingly refer to it my [00:01:00] previous life. This is just so that you understand the commitment that went into FIGGI. The tears, the nights of crying, the uncertainty. So hopefully you can share your journey with me, or you may find some inspiration or motivation in my journey, and my mistakes.
So by trade, I am a human rights consultant. My PhD is in international criminal law at International Human Rights / Humanitarian Law. I built a consultancy from the ground up, specializing in human rights, human rights projects, development of human rights projects. I have worked all over the globe implementing new projects, running them, facilitating them, coordinating and managing them. I have done various project management gigs and I also work a lot, or used to work a lot, in programs and development programs [00:02:00] where there is a need for more high performing teams and making sure that the engine and the strategy behind the team and the organization flows well.
This was my field. This was my IT moment. This is what I prepared for my entire life. I have never been a career adventurist. I've never been the type of person who kind of jumps from one opportunity to the next. I've never been that brave, but I'm telling you all of this so that you understand how unbelievably difficult it was for me to make a decision to do something completely different.
You don't follow a path like the one I just described if you are not a thousand percent committed, a thousand percent sure that this is where you want to be. This is what you want to be doing. And this is not just what you want to be doing now, this is what you want to be doing for the rest of your life. This is what you are pursuing. This is what you are working towards. And so my consultancy came [00:03:00] about. I did wonderful work in my consultancy. I loved every moment of it. It was my baby. I gave everything I had. Everything went into that emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally, financially. I was super all into this, but this meant never saying no. Always trying to be the best version of myself in that moment. Super prepared, super dedicated. It led to many long hours in the office many times 6-7 days a week, and an excruciating travel schedule.
I had started noticing that things were taking a toll on me in 2015, I felt a little bit more anxious than normal. I felt like things were a little bit off. I really believed in what I was doing. I love to see change come about. I love to see the practical impact it had, but it was a grueling task because I was dealing with people's emotions a lot. I was dealing with very [00:04:00] heavy subject matter a lot of the time, and it was taking a toll on me.
On top of that, I had my own internal issues and struggles that I never dealt with in a way that I felt I was supposed to have . I had a lot of previous issues with always being a super stressed out person. I come from a background of childhood sexual abuse that has really been a very large narrative in my life and has affected me in many ways.
And at this point in my life, this moment, 2015, the universe just decided, you know what? We are gonna call it quits. This is the time where you need to really take a breath. We are going to take over the steering wheel right now and we are going to tell you how this is going to go.
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Jeanne: So here I was traveling on yet another business trip. Rushing yet again from one plane to the next. I was having a super normal day. All things considered. I just landed. I was in the car heading to my hotel room. All of a sudden my vision started going away, but in a super, super, super scary way. I was seeing black and purple shifting to complete blindness for moments, which really rattled me a lot. And now you have to understand I'm alone in a foreign city away from home. This starts happening to you and you kind of start getting a little bit nervous. Things escalated super quickly from there, I started shaking uncontrollably.
My hand was literally shaking [00:06:00] up and down, up and down. There were moments where I actually felt myself slapping my knee, and slapping the side of my shoulder as my hand was shaking. It's the most horrifying feeling because you have no control of your body at all. Then the room started spinning around me at what felt for me, like lightning speed.
My right side went completely numb. I couldn't move my leg. I couldn't feel my foot. I couldn't feel my arm. And then the major freak out just started. I rushed to the phone. I placed the call to reception because in that moment, I honestly thought I was having a stroke. I asked them to phone the ambulance for me, which in itself was an issue because let's just say that where I was at at that moment, ambulances are not easy to come by. Things escalated even more. My entire body started shaking. I couldn't put on my shoes. I felt like I couldn't breathe. My heart [00:07:00] felt like it was literally beating outside of my chest. The pain in my chest was so severe and so intense. I felt like I couldn't breathe. Then my throat completely closed up and I could not swallow, and that's when the world ended for me. I was absolutely convinced in that moment that I was without a doubt going to die. I mean, just thinking of this, it's really difficult to recall that day and how that felt.
I just rushed to the hotel reception, begging anybody, somebody please just help me. I'm so convinced I am about to die at this point in the game. I honestly thought that it was purely a miracle that I was still alive. There was no way that I was so incapable of breathing for such an amount of time that I could still be alive.
When I got to the front desk of the emergency room or urgent care, I tried my best to explain what was [00:08:00] going on, but at this point, I was in such a state of panic, and I could not formulate words. I could not speak. Anything and everything that came out of my mouth was mindless, chaotic, bubbling, and mumbling. My hand was still shaking. In that really harsh up and down manner, so I couldn't get a grip on my wallet. I couldn't do the action of opening my wallet and taking out my medical aid card or my insurance card. I just wanted to sit down. Crouch down on that floor, that filthy floor, and just give up and say, Listen, I've tried ,I really have, but I can't. Nobody's helping me.
I was eventually admitted to the emergency room. I was helped by a doctor that was absolutely convinced that I was on some kind of drug, and I was having a reaction to that, and he just kept screaming at me: "Tell me, what did you take? What are you on? What did you take? We can't give you [00:09:00] anything. We can't help you if we don't know what you're on. And this was the most extreme thing to me because I'm sitting there thinking to myself, I'm going to die here tonight and I haven't said goodbye to my husband. He doesn't know where I am. I can't use my phone. I am unable to speak, so I cannot tell them how to communicate with him, how to contact him.
This was just not helping. I begged them to just give me oxygen, anything, anything, just to help me breathe. I was grabbing onto the hands of the nurses, and I was begging them, Please, please don't let me die. Please don't let me die alone. Can you please just help me? Please, Please don't leave me alone. And I could see the fear and the panic in their eyes.
I remember absolutely nothing after that. The only thing that I remember is that I had this monitor on my finger from my heart rate and my heart rate went crazy. People started screaming at me that I needed to calm down. I had to calm down, and from there everything just went blank. I definitely did not know that it [00:10:00] was a panic attack. I really believed that I had almost died that night, and this was the start of a very long journey towards FIGGI.
Unfortunately, I'm not a very wise individual because after this happened to me, I just went back to life as I know it because this was just a glitch. Nothing really important. It won't happen again. And it did happen again, it happened many times in much more horrifying ways, and I eventually had to make peace with the fact that I was dealing with an anxiety disorder. And that is how I turned, or at least tried to turn to a life that was more balanced, calm, a little bit more routine, a little bit less work. I didn't do it very well. Let me just tell you that right now. I didn't, I struggled with this for many years. In 2020 when Covid happened, I was still struggling with this. I was still having severe panic attacks, and this was just something that kept recurring and recurring.
When I moved [00:11:00] to Portugal with my family in 2020, it really came to a point where I could no longer deny this. I had to really look at myself and my situation, and I really had to admit that something had to change. Something drastic and something significant, something felt out of place. Of course, I had this anxiety thing going, but this was the first time I really honestly felt that there was something more, something deeper, something integral that was out of balance. It was a soul calling. It was not a must do. It was not a "maybe I should consider a different lifestyle." It was not a request. It was a soul instruction. It really felt like a moment of completely breaking apart and coming back to together. It was excruciating. It was painful, it was confusing, but in the end, it was completely necessary.
I started questioning many things, and one of the things that I started questioning a lot was [00:12:00] my path in my human rights consultancy and the role I was playing there and what I was aiming to achieve with this consultancy. You know, many people cracked it up to being a phase, everybody was going through a tough time at that moment in time because it was covid. It was a stage, a type of crossroads that we all go through in our life. Not a midlife crisis, but a type of life crisis that we all experience. But I knew in that moment that it ran so much deeper than that. It went to the core of who I was and how I defined myself and the baggage that I was carrying with me.
That led to the next big question. Okay, so if I realize this and I feel like there is true change needed, what is the change? How do I leave behind everything that I have built with a single minded focus for more than a decade? For what I didn't even know? For what? What am I leaving it for? Where do I want to go?
What do I want to do? How [00:13:00] am I going to make this better? Like many others in my situation, I was not 22 anymore. I was 35, 36 at the time. I had bills to pay, I had responsibilities. I had heart investments in my consultancy. It was my baby, it was my life. Everything I had worked towards. It wasn't easy to just walk away.
I also didn't know what to walk away to. Where was I heading? What did I want to do if I didn't want to do this? And if I didn't want to do this, what did that say about me? As a person, I am the most disciplined, dedicated person I know. And now I don't want to do what I have wanted to do for my entire life. Deciding to do something different with your life is one thing, deciding to leave a career late in your thirties, a career that you spent your life with a single minded focused building, is something completely different. It is really terrifying. [00:14:00]
With this also come all the doubts that we have. The what ifs. The could haves. The should haves. What if I don't succeed? I'm not qualified enough to do anything else. My expertise are only in one field or area. If I do this, if I consider doing something else than my consultancy, what does that say about my resilience? My perseverance, my dedication to something? So it was time to do my favorite thing. Make a list. And that is really one of my favorite things to do in life.
When I took an honest look at it, I saw that in my opinion, I wasn't making the difference I set out to make anymore. I was spending my time dealing with politics and red tape assisting and bringing about practical change in roundabout ways while I was trying to meet the needs of the decision makers who I many times fundamentally disagreed with, and all of this was mostly [00:15:00] not in favor of the end person I was trying to assist. An already difficult job became unbelievably heart wrenching and demotivating because there were just so many obstacles created by, as I said, regulations, administration, red tape. Politics. I couldn't do it anymore.
I was giving all of my best self to something or a space that didn't appreciate me anymore, and that wasn't either ready or able to accept the help that I wanted to give and the difference that I was hoping and aiming to achieve this is when I began asking a lot of critical questions in my life.
FIGGI was born, and believe me, FIGGI was born with many, many tears, a lot of feelings of failure, a lot of back and forth. Should I do this? Should I not do this? Can I do this? A lot of happiness, a lot of [00:16:00] confusion, a lot of true direction and purpose, but a lot of being lost, and then eventually finding myself again. I went back and fro in my mind so many times. It honestly felt like I was on a permanent merry-go-round but I got to a point where I wanted to make this commitment. I knew I had to make this commitment. I wanted to build FIGGI.
So why FIGGI why the name FIGGI? First of all, figs are my favorite fruit. You can make me do almost anything , if you gift me with figs. I love figs and the word FIG or FIGGI in my case just kept on getting stuck in my mind, and when I did a little bit more research about the meaning behind it, it came about that fig actually denotes our earthly nature as co-creators and how we awaken our collective memory of belonging to each other. And this is what FIGGI was all about. Co-creating your [00:17:00] own space, your own future, your own happiness, your own inner peace and serenity, self-care, love for yourself, and self-acceptance. We co-create that. The recognition and reminder that we are never in it alone. There are others like us going through the same challenges.
And you know what? I've been in the entrepreneurial high powered business space for more than a decade. I know without a shadow of a doubt, there are so many women out there like me. You may not say it because you may feel you cannot say it, or show it, and that's okay. That's why you can listen to the FIGGI podcast because nobody has to see you watching or listening. But there are many of us that feel like either we don't belong, we're unsure of our skills or expertise.
We just have bad days that we are not okay. But we feel that it's not allowed to say that we're not okay. We need a community for this. We need to support each [00:18:00] other and build each other up and be there for each other and create a space where this is okay. Without judgment, isn't that so significant? That FIGGI means that we are awakening our collective memory of belonging to each other. It inspires us to share our creative energy and desires, and it is a new opening to life. That is what sold it for me. FIGGI the new opening to life, the stepping into that moment, the accepting that moment, the taking charge, and ownership of that moment.
That is FIGGI. It's the FIGGI life. It's your best life. So now that I had that down, where do I start with this? My biggest driver for this was always to create a community of women that are where I am, that feel the way that I feel, that have the same challenges, the same questions with no [00:19:00] answers, the same yearning for support with no support network. Women that feel bogged down by all of the how to advice out there. We have so many amazing self-help tools, but I was literally drowning in it. It felt so suffocating after a while because there's so much information out there. There's so much advice and one source will tell you do B, C, and D. And literally the next source you find will say Oh, that is the worst idea ever. Do not do B, C, and D. Or you will be given tools of how to live your best life, how to be motivated, how to be positive, how to succeed. And to me it always felt like it came from mythical human beings that were super human to me in some way because they were in this space it seemed, or they portrayed [00:20:00] where they were always okay. They had this down. All of these things that they were advising me to do, they did. Absolutely correctly without fail. And yes, they may have struggled in the beginning, but now they are superheroes and superwomen, and they can do it perfectly every day. This used to break my soul because I am a perfectionist, so I would dive into all of this, how to self-help information and completely commit myself to it.
I mean, I would really try, I would be the star student. But inevitably, and this is what I didn't realize at the time, life always always happens and we are going to make mistakes, there are going to be missteps. But the challenge for me was when I inevitably made those missteps, I felt like such a failure because how can there be these wonderous people? That can just [00:21:00] achieve these things without missteps or without days where they just feel, you know what, today, life just sucks. I don't want to be positive. I don't want to be okay. I just need a moment to not be okay, and to just be honest about that and not be judged for that. Or be told, You know what? You really should try this. Or have you meditated today, or, have you been following your routine?
Sometimes we just need to embrace life as it is with all of the failures, all of the setbacks, and all of the bad days. I wanted to create a community like this, A space where there is real connection for women with no judgment, no how tos and must dos and overpowering information. Just, you know what Goddess yes, the door is open. Come in, sit by our table, [00:22:00] share with us. Be with us, connect with us. Let's all support each other in this space, in this time. I needed to figure out a way to start this, to get there.
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Jeanne: That's why you now see the FIGGI Life blog, where I share a lot of honesty about my life, the now my FIGGI Life podcast, and also the FIGGI Beauty Skincare Range. The skincare for me personally, was the perfect place to start the community, and what FIGGI is [00:23:00] about. Its about finding your space in this chaos, finding your moment of self care, building a community and growing into that together, what better way to start then with skincare, it's always been such an integral part of my life, and there's something so divinely intimate about taking care of your skin. That moment, even if it's a minute that you have just for you, when you're massaging those products into your skin, when you have that single moment of just thinking about you, your skin feels soft, hydrated, refreshed. There is no better feeling than that.
So what better way, what better place to start than the skincare range? And FIGGI Skincare encompasses all of that. It's made for people with dry and sensitive skin; sensitive soul goddesses that need this type of [00:24:00] indulgence. I will do a complete deep dive episode into the FIGGI Skincare and why it is so amazing. But that's the reason why I decided to start with the FIGGI Skincare line, followed by the FIGGI Life blog and the podcast.
FIGGI represents the journey of seeking and finding value in my inner peace and serenity, and I hope and dream the FIGGI life community that we can build is a community that we all come to in our journey of seeking and finding value in our inner peace and serenity. It's about surrounding yourself with elements, people, and work that reflect this mantra and to see and to believe in our own beauty. Whatever that may look like, however that may manifest. It's about letting go of the insecurities that all of us had as young women and to not only become comfortable in our own skin, but to celebrate it.
We all [00:25:00] deserve to celebrate the goddess within. This is a journey I want to take with you. I am quite honestly, either brave or stupid, but I will be the Guinea pig here. I will open the conversation and the platform for you to find your best self. I will do my best to bring amazing guests to these podcast episodes. Tell me what do you want us to talk about and what do you want us to discuss. I will share with you my experience in the business world, the leadership skills and tips, the business building, the failures in business, the successes in business. I will share with you my personal journey, my panic disorder diagnosis, and how that has affected my life, how I deal with being a mom, a wife, a business woman, and balancing all of that.
Just a side note here, I don't believe in balance. Mm. And we will talk about that for sure on the FIGGI podcast and why I think that is a myth. But that is [00:26:00] what FIGGI is. That's what it is, goddess. That's what I want it to be. That's what I aim for it to be. The FIGGI journey for me has been and will continue to be fraught with obstacles.
I mean from registering international businesses and to learning about the tax compliance issues, to learning the ins and outs of manufacturing, regulations in the cosmetics industries, the naysayers, the people that, and you get this in all business types that just slam the door in your face with a big, resounding no, but we've all been there and we will all be there at some stage.
So why not share that together on a platform where we can support each other and open doors for each other? FIGGI is for every woman like me that has struggled, achieved, and continues to seek professional and personal purpose in all things. This is my best life. This is my FIGGI life. [00:27:00] Will you join me?