facing challenges intentionally


Lately, a few (possible) big changes in my life are being determined by a handful of factors beyond my personal control.

As I’ve waited for these situations to unfold, I’ve felt like an acorn floating down a river.

Sure, I can chart an intentional path down the river, that’s what this whole site – and my life’s work – is devoted to!

But there are times when a rock blocks an opportunity, or a canoe paddle catapults me to a completely different part of the stream.

In those times, I’m trying to get my head above water, rather than careening head-over-heels down the stream dizzy, upset, and gasping for air.

Though the (sometimes dormant) perfectionist in me would like to think that I can one day reach a point of “Acorn Zen” where I never get caught off guard by a waterfall, where I always keep my head above water, that may never be the case.

Or at least that is certainly not my reality in the present moment.

So rather than fight the rocks or force myself to always keep my chin up 100% of the time, I’m working on my buoyancy.

To acknowledge my disappointment if something goes unfavorably, to not judge myself for going under water a bit, and to resurface curious about how this setback is setting me up for something even better in the future.

This is actually something that I talk a lot about in Life With Intention Online, too.

Though it would be wonderful if we could always live 100% from our intentions, the reality is that we may lose that focus.


And that’s okay.

The more buoyant we are, the more we will be able to experience the peace, acceptance, and clarity that we desire — whether the current is calm or crazy… 

… not because we never sink below the surface, but because we we don’t allow the tide to drag us down for long.


Shaming ourselves every time we lose our equilibrium keeps us stuck in our own self-imposed riptide.

Acknowledging that we allowed a situation to throw us under and then seeking the river’s surface as quickly as we are capable in the present moment? That is maintainable.

It’s something we can do our whole lives.

It’s something we must do our whole lives.

And that’s okay.

Acorn Zen isn’t about having our head above water perfectly all the time.

It’s about allowing what is, and resurfacing whenever we bump into rocks along the way.


PS – Want some methods to help improve your buoyancy? Check out these three ways: one, two, three.


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  1. This is great article and such perfect timing! Thank you for sharing! So true, we are all going to go under one in a while!

  2. Sarah van Loon

    What a great reminder and mind-frame shift, Jess! Thanks for sharing. Have you read Ryan Holiday’s new book “The Obstacle Is The Way”? I just finished it this weekend and loved it, and I thought of you a lot while reading because a lot of it can be stilled down to being intentional about how you feel, and being intentional in your actions. I felt like I was underlining text that really spoke to me left and right, so if you are looking for a book to check out I highly recommend it!

    1. I haven’t heard of that book yet, Sarah, thanks for sharing! I’m going to drop a sample of it now into my kindle app to check out after I’m done with the books I’m reading now. : ) Thank you!

  3. Well said, Joanna. It is hard to shake the ego’s incessant drama about reality. But once we can just accept reality is what it is, rather than fighting it, options start to appear. : )

    This situation (whatever it might be) isn’t “forever” it’s just a moment in time. I also love the takeaway about how this might be helping you create new habits for the future circumstances, too. So true.

  4. Exactly! So well put, Sarah. That is a very strong skill that will take you far with your small business. : )

  5. Hope

    This is so perfect, and hit’s right at home with me this week. So happy I came across your site and just the right time.

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