A Promising Year

Last October, while visiting The Lake Austin Spa Resort for her work as a marketing consultant, Jamie Eslinger ’96 had an epiphany. A  Jamie Eslinger self-confessed lover of shopping, it occurred to Eslinger that the price of spa services—things that made her feel “peaceful, relaxed, and very alive”—was comparable to what she would easily spend on shoes and dresses. And, as she states in her blog: “While shoes are a passion, dresses make me feel pretty, and chocolate is pure joy, they do not compare to an hour of power yoga or one minute of meditation.” In January, Eslinger began a blog called The Promise 365. In it, she offers daily details about her commitment to be more “aware of what goes in and on” her body, which translates into eliminating frivolous shopping for 365 days. The AASC spoke with Eslinger on Day 209 to see how this promise to herself has impacted her life.

What compelled you to write about this?
The bottom line is that it keeps me accountable. To do anything, you need inspiration, strategy, and support. The spa was my inspiration. My strategy has been to shift my purchases from clothes and shoes to head, heart, body, and soul. The support has come from the blog and the community it has created. Having a daily deadline keeps me on task.

In addition to changing your shopping behaviors, you’ve also dramatically changed your diet.
Eating really good food at the spa, in manageable portions, showed me how nice it is to eat that way. Simultaneously, I was in the middle of an integrative nutrition program. Being more aware of what I put in and on my body made me start to question everything. I did a month-long cleanse in April, and that’s when I learned that I was addicted to sugar. I realized that every two hours I was either becoming anxious or losing concentration, and I had programmed myself to reach for chocolate.

You’ve passed 200 days so far. What’s been tough?
The tough things are related to going out to eat and participating in work, family, and social events that are centered on food and drinks. The cleanse was physically and mentally tough. The hardest part was an exercise in writing a letter to someone that had constricted me. I learned that our bodies store emotional toxins in our fat cells. The emotional release was amazing.

What’s been surprisingly easy and rewarding?
The most rewarding aspect is the feedback I receive from people about their lifestyle changes that I’ve inspired. It’s been surprisingly easy to write every day. I’ve made it part of my routine, and I’ve had to let go of being perfect.

What are some of the major revelations you’ve had?
One main one is the discovery that I already have what I need. For example, I was on a business trip and it snowed. I was able to make do with what I had. Someone lent me her coat. Things appear in my life when I need them. We also have all that we need inside of ourselves. Shopping isn’t about the clothes; it’s about what’s going on inside, wanting to feel a certain way, and seeking to fulfill a need. Now I ask myself, ‘Can I fill that need in another way?’

Has this process conflicted with your work in marketing and branding?
Surprisingly, it has helped in that people now know me. The tough thing—again—is related to food and meetings. But from a standpoint of pure consumerism, I haven’t felt the impact. The best marketing tells an authentic story, and since I am more in touch with my authentic self, I better understand what messages need to be conveyed.
What are five tips you can share from this experience?
1) You can do anything that you set your mind to for one year. The secret is to create a strategy. This message comes right from Smith—I was there listening to a woman talk about her trip with the Peace Corps, and I remember the moment she described that she had to eat bugs.

2) STOP. This acronym stands for: Sit. Think. Consider other Options. And Purchase something like there’s no return policy. Really think about why you want something and where in your body you feel it. Ask yourself questions like ‘Can I borrow this?’

3) Transformation comes from daily writing. Dedicating yourself to a daily writing practice engages you in a regular process of reflection, and it keeps you accountable, even if you write just one sentence.

4) Realize that you already have what you need—you really do. Even when you think you don’t have something, you will find that it will show up.

5) Let go of perfection. Set your intention and let it happen.