By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's writer
Elizabeth Cooper is Jaunty's incredibly talented Community Manager. She grew up in Japan and Brazil where she learned to connect with a wide variety of people. If you've come to one of Jaunty's free workshops, it's likely thanks to Elizabeth, who's responsible for promoting our free events, as well as managing the newsletter and blog. She also runs her own business, Queer Body Love Coaching. In that capacity she says, "I work primarily with queer and trans* people who are fed up with worrying about food and their bodies, and are ready to start living their lives fully."
Elizabeth recently completed Jaunty's six-week course which she's found extremely helpful in her professional as well as personal life.
"I think everything we do is fundamentally based in social skills because humans are social beings," Elizabeth says. "In a city we're always interacting with people or not taking the opportunity to interact. You can contribute more to the world if you have strong meaningful relationships with other people." Elizabeth loves connecting a wide variety of people and groups to our social intelligence workshops through her work with Jaunty.
At Jaunty we strongly believe that everyone, no matter where they're at with their people skills and social anxiety, can benefit from honing their social intelligence. Since moving to the Bay Area four years ago, Elizabeth has, "Developed connections with a wide variety of people who are really lovely; people who nurture the path that I'm on." Now after completing Jaunty's course, she feels she's more playful with people and is having more fun in her daily life. She also says her confidence and assertiveness have improved, both of which have helped her make important professional connections for Queer Body Love Coaching.
Elizabeth recently completed a hugely successful speaker series for her coaching business. "I interviewed 30 experts in the fields of ‘health at every size,' body positivity, sexuality, fitness, and fashion. I did video interviews with them about radical self-love for queer and trans* people and released one every day for a month starting in Pride month." It was an ambitious project that required Elizabeth to reach out to some of her heroes.
Elizabeth found one of her speakers at the SF LGBT Center Gala where she went in with the specific goal of connecting with people. She had gotten a lot of solid practice approaching and striking up conversations with strangers thanks to Jaunty, so she felt more comfortable putting herself out there in that way. At the gala she met a "very sweet, blind, gay man," Belo Cipriani, who agreed to an interview. He came to Elizabeth's house and they ate pie together. Not only did Elizabeth get a great interview, but he got Elizabeth an interview in the Bay Area Reporter. All in a very meaningful and fruitful connection.
Elizabeth feels her Jaunty social intelligence skills helped her feel more relaxed and confident reaching out to people for the speaker series, and conducting interviews. She used specific techniques she'd learned to help build rapport, create stronger connections, and feel more competent in the process. If she hadn't done Jaunty, "I think I wouldn't have necessarily connected with them on a personal level as much. I would have been a little more business oriented."
And how did the speaker series turn out? "People loved it. It was so overwhelmingly positive. People wrote that it literally changed their lives. It provided hope and inspiration and shifts in their psyche. People wrote that they were crying happy tears." Folks watching wrote in saying Elizabeth seemed really warm and confident.
In addition to using her social intelligence skills for her business, Elizabeth appreciates the way Jaunty has helped her connect with strangers, just for the sheer pleasure of it. "One of the most helpful and exciting things about being in the [Jaunty] course was having the structure and assignments to interact with strangers. I didn't realize how much I was missing out on in terms of the connection and joy that you can get from just saying hi to someone you're sitting next to on BART. I think people are really yearning and wanting those connections but don't know how to do it." She found the specific exercises really helpful and fun.
Who would benefit from Jaunty? "I think people who are open and wanting structure and community to nudge them in the direction of becoming more fully who they are and connecting more authentically from within that place," Elizabeth says. "If they feel like there's more to life and connection is lacking in their life and want to turn up the volume on that channel. I think we have that potential and it makes all of us stronger to have that connection. I think there's this illusion in our society to do things on our own, that you have to prove yourself in order to be in company. But it's flipped. We need each other to do great things."
By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
Are you where you’re supposed to be? What are you supposed to be doing? Stop. We’re about halfway through the year. It’s a good time to take stock. Are you where you hoped, or thought you would be?
Well, the good news is you are exactly where you are supposed to be. I was reminded of that again at this year’s Camp Grounded, a digital detox summer camp for adults. I went to a session last month up in the redwoods in Mendocino. You could check out workshops on hip hop dancing, or cuddle therapy, or build a sweat lodge, or learn to play the ukulele. You could do a ropes course, or play with typewriters, or make a prop for the camp play in the art barn. You could take a walk in the woods. You could make a new friend over kombucha.
One of the camp’s ideas was this was all FOMO-free. They reminded us we were exactly where we were supposed to be, so whatever we chose to do was just right in that moment. (And if we ever felt it wasn’t right, we could go do something else!)
I’ve taken that idea back home with me. Now, every hour of the day, I literally ask myself what I want to do right now. Yes, I have commitments, but there is more time than you think in your day. I can’t speak for folks with children or a dependent loved one, as I know your commitments skyrocket, which can be great in itself. But even so, you have some time each day that is just yours. What do you want to do with that free time? What makes you happy? What brings you joy?
At least ask the question. Sometimes I have no idea what I want to do and that’s fine too. In those moments I’ll invest in a skill like I’ll pick up my guitar (which I make really accessible at home and work).
Or if I’m with someone, I’ll ask, "Hey, if you could do anything right now what would it be?" And we’ll do that to the best of our ability. I once ended up in a rented convertible headed to Laguna Beach for a crazy weekend.
Guess, what? You can make positive changes in your life and choose to bring in more of the things that make you truly happy. A lot of our students at Jaunty want to make new friends. They want richer social lives and deeper connection, but they aren’t sure how to make it happen. We can help by offering the social intelligence skills so you can go out and meet whoever you want for friendship, romantic relationships, or even professional contacts.
I want to take this moment to thank all of you, for being you. Your emails, and messages, gifts, and calls, and handwritten notes, I read all of them. I am so grateful for you guys, whether you came to a workshop, or are an alumnus from a course, trainings, or coaching. You are all amazing. You inspire me every day.
Give yourself permission, with good intentions, to do whatever the hell you want right now.