Joy's Thief

They say that comparison is the thief of joy.  I am finding this to be soundly true these days.
So, I turned 40 a few weeks ago and as a vacation/birthday present/way to celebrate all things Fermented being done and out there, Dude and I went to Prague in the Czech Republic.  Simply put, it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  Positively gorgeous!  So much so that it seemed fake.  You know like that Disney-fake or Las Vegas-fake where everything is just a little too staged and perfect and pretty?  Well, Prague is the real deal.  My puny iPhone photos cannot even come close to doing it justice.
prague 1
I didn’t think it to be true, but I guess when you turn 40, you get a little introspective.  I thought I’d burst into my new decade with gusto!  Nope. I’m being a little more measured about my enthusiasm and consciously or unconsciously, I am finding myself taking stock of where I am in my life – what I’ve done, what I want to do, where I’m going, where I’ve been. All that.
prague 2
Here’s what I’ve come up with:
I’m should-ing all over myself. 
This is anything but a complaint, but it’s hard to be around people who do things so well.
I have friends and friends and friends and friends (and tons more!) who are great at what they do.  These people are fabulous cooks, health pioneers, photographers, bloggers, writers, and entrepreneurs who are actively doing things that change people’s lives.  And they’re doing it beautifully – both aesthetically and metaphorically speaking.
I am also friends with and associated with a really terrific group of people who, locally speaking, are performing very well in the gym or on the roads.
I am very very honored to be a part of a community of people who are on the cutting edge of interesting things.
Plus, my husband is a genius (literally) who is very accomplished at his job and loves it.
This is my way of saying that I feel the pressure to live up to the company I keep.  Don’t get me wrong, THIS IS DEFINITELY A GOOD THING.  That deserves all caps. I am not complaining that I exist in a circle of people who are smart, accomplished, beautiful, trendsetters.  It’s just that I haven’t exactly found my place amongst them yet.
I am finding it very difficult to reconcile who I am as a private person with who I am as a professional/athlete/friend.  I look at what these people are doing around me and I tell myself, “You SHOULD be doing that.”
You should be posting on your blog more.
You should be doing more fermenting.
You should be better at social media.
You should be taking better photographs.
You should post more recipes.
You should be out there winning your age group in all these races you run.
You should be deadlifting 225 pounds.
You should be on the New York Times bestsellers list.
You should be faster/stronger/smarter/(insert anything here).
You should be holding webinars.
You should be giving lectures.
You should be selling more books.
You should __________.
I’m not doing myself any favors.  In fact, the result of this rampant “should-ing” has been me pretty much dropping off the face of the Internet for a few weeks.  I did it to myself.  I have been comparing myself to those around me and it’s only made me upset with who I am.  It’s taken away from the joy I feel with who I’ve become, what I can do, what I’ve already accomplished, and my potential to do more.
So yeah, comparison IS the thief of joy.
I’ve lost the joy I feel when I am doing MY thing – health coaching, talking food, posting stuff here, interacting with you guys on Facebook and Instagram – because I’ve been preoccupied with comparing my success to others.
I’ve lost the joy to go out and run because I’m too busy telling myself that I should be faster like all those people I see in my running club.
I’ve become disinterested in CrossFit because I can’t walk on my hands across the gym and I can’t lift as much as the other (younger!) people there.
And now I’m a bit mad at myself for letting this sense of competition get in the way of my own happiness.  That’s not what life is about.  That’s not what I’M about.
So the should-ing stops today.  I’m going to do what I want to do, in my fashion, at my speed, at my weight.
I’ll be seeing you here on the blog and around my various social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram [my fave!], Twitter, Pinterest) but it will be at my speed and in my style.  I hope that works for you too.

prague 3(Here I am – 40 years old.)


  1. Bill
    December 5, 2013 11:31 am

    *sigh* Jill… we all do this. It’s so hard to get away from it. The thing is, there’s always going to be someone doing a heavier dead, posting more, making more money, earning more accolades, taking better photos (ouch), and on and on. It’s something I struggle with, Hayley struggles with (I hope she doesn’t mind me saying so), and ironically I’ve had that conversation with all the other bloggers you linked to.
    It’s a big step to just saying “no” to comparison. It IS the thief of joy. And truthfully, if our business didn’t market via Facebook, I would have said “so long” this year.
    All that to say, you’re certainly not alone. We love you, and love what you’ve done, what you’re doing, and what you certainly will do. 🙂 Take heart – you’re changing the world in your own way. And thats, without a doubt, the best way.
    Bill (& Hay)

    • Jill
      December 5, 2013 1:51 pm

      Thanks for these sweet words, Bill! I don’t begrudge any one their hard-earned accomplishments and I know I have earned some pretty awesome things myself. I’ve been doing some self-shaming lately and that’s not good. Time to turn things around!
      I love you guys too!

  2. Kathy
    December 5, 2013 2:25 pm

    I will say that FIRST- you have no idea how much you do do (not doodoo) for people. I mean I know people in my area who started fermenting who would have NEVER even tried without your awesome instruction. I think (for me especially) the hardest thing to see is the great in yourself and what you have done. I short change myself ALL the time because I am not_____. I think just in the last few years did I actually train myself to NOT bash myself when someone compliments me ie “wow, that recipe is really great…” ..”yeah, but I didn’t add enough salt..” or whatever. So I think any time you make a conscious choice to be happy with whatever you do and who you are, you making big steps for yourself.
    Do YOU, cause honestly… I sorta measure myself to your success (of course I try not to measure myself at all, lol)
    Also— Happy Belated 40th! (LOVED the pictures from Prague!)

    • Jill
      December 5, 2013 4:01 pm

      I think you hit the nail on the head here – I AM proud of what I’ve done, but in my head I always followed it up with, “Yeah, but…..” Where is that getting us? Nowhere.
      Thanks for your comment, Kathy! And thanks for the birthday wishes! Too bad we aren’t closer to one another! 🙂

  3. Stacy
    December 5, 2013 2:29 pm

    I adore you.
    No really, I do.
    It’s a good opportunity for perspective: every time I see you, or a photo of you, I think “Wow, Jill is such a radiant, fun, healthy person. I feel lucky to know her. I want to enjoy life like that.”
    Honestly, you are absolutely right. Comparison is the thief of joy. And jealousy is the root of it. When I heard that B&H were doing your photos and Diane was doing the forward for Fermented I was so jealous and wondered what made you so special… and then I met you. And felt like a dingleberry for every having a moment of not loving you. You are one of the most sincere and lovely people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. What you put “out there” is of an immeasurable value you can’t begin to fathom. Your kind, radiating warmness, sense of humor and absolute good-nature impact those around you in a wonderful way!
    So certainly there is no need to compare yourself to others (as we all do) because there “should” be no room for comparison while you’re busy gloating in how awesome and HAWT you are.
    <3 Stacy

    • Jill
      December 5, 2013 3:54 pm

      Oh my goodness, I am tearing up right now! Thank you so much, Stacy! You know I feel this way about you too! You’re so damn strong in so many ways. XOXO

  4. Bernie Ross Zmitrovich
    December 5, 2013 3:00 pm

    As Billy Joel sang, “I love you just the way you are….” and that echoes my feelings! We all need to stay away from “the shoulds.” Just look back on this past year and see how much you have accomplished!!! I am so proud of you, Cuz! I look forward to seeing what you create in the future. Don’t you love that the possibilities are unlimited?! Take care and enjoy!

    • Jill
      December 5, 2013 3:55 pm

      LOVES to you, Bernie! I’m proud of what I’ve done and am excited for what is to come, but I let guilt and “shoulds” get in the way of it. I’m shaking that off today.

  5. Jake
    December 18, 2013 9:46 am

    Some very insightful observations on your part, and some wise comments… Yes, Comparison is a “joy-robber,” no doubt. In fact I read once that the words “better” & “worse” should be stricken from the English lexicon. Implied in that statement is that we ALL compare, often unconsciously, 100s of times/day. It’s an innate human thing to do.
    You are who you are, and you’re perfectly ensconced at this place and at this time to bloom and develop as a person, and assist others, even with all of their burdens, do the same. You are doing both! Somebody in these comments quoted song lyrics…I’m going to do the same –> “Don’t worry, be happy!”

  6. Janelle Pica
    December 22, 2013 7:01 pm

    I just want you to know that you have an amazing soul. I think we can all struggle sometimes with comparing our success to the success of others. I know a ton of people in my niche that are much more successful than me, but that’s ok! You’re right! You have to set your own pace and be comfortable with the pace of your own success. That’s normal! You’re human! But remember, you’re very special! You wouldn’t have gone out of your way to write an incredible nutrition book if you didn’t care about people’s health! And on a more personal note, you wouldn’t have gone out of your way to meet with yours truly if You didn’t want to help someone muster up the courage to start a business from scratch! The fact that I you even became a friend of mine has been a blessing beyond words! And I know that the people you coach, the people that read your blog and your book, and all of your other friends love and appreciate you for all you have done and are doing now.
    Keep up with your own pace! I’ll be right here rooting you on! 🙂

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