Fall / Winter 2021 | A conversation with Joanna Vargas
Joanna shares her voice on The Get Up Girl podcast where she chooses to inspire others to live a full and fun life! She has also hosted on Dance Your Life podcast. In this episode, she shares how something as simple as her own curiosity and asking the right questions brought healing in her personal life, and has become the foundation as to how she runs her business.
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A conversation with Joanna Vargas
Today’s Exclusive Guest.
Who is Joanna Vargas
Combining her enthusiasm and authenticity, Joanna is a dedicated entrepreneur and business coach. She shares her voice on The Get Up Girl podcast where she chooses to inspire others to live a full and fun life! She has also hosted the Dance Your Life podcast.
My Empath Ability
Empathy is such a muscle to be learned and especially in my world and I’ve been really studying it. About three years ago, I got very sick. I got a virus called the Epstein-Barr virus and it’s in the Mono family and I was down for the count and it was because of stress and it was because I was not communicating with my body. I was fighting and thinking that I knew better, my mind knew better and my body is so beautifully intelligent and I went on a journey and I asked questions. I got really curious asking myself, What is this? How can I shift this? What else is possible? I started to learn this curiosity-question-thing; we’ll call it, and it kept leading me to the next thing.
Now it didn’t lead me to “The Thing”, like I think we’re taught when we’re young children, that we’re going to find “the one”, “the thing”, no; that thing leads you to the next thing leads you to the next thing, leads you to the next thing. Each one kept leading me to a different healer that could help me, and I asked for help and I met this one Eastern doctor and she just looked at me and smiled and told me I was empathic, I had the ability. I asked what that meant and she told me to read the book that she gave me called The Empath’s Survival Guide. I read it from cover to cover in about two days, I’m more like an audio book girl but I read that thing and every word was me. Now, knowing, what is mine and what is someone else’s and I had this my whole life and I never knew it.
I think of it as getting six-pack abs. You’re not going to get it by doing one crunch. You do your crunches every day, you change up your diet and that has been this. Just the other day, I was walking down the street and instantaneously, I felt my legs buckle and I almost fainted. I was about to fall on the floor outside in the concrete, walking down the street. I thought it was interesting and wondered, what that was, I felt sick to my stomach, like I wanted to throw up but so quickly I forgot. I went into the logical, asking What happened? Whose is this? Who does it belong to? It’s not mine return to sender and then I got really curious and I thought, there’s something here, I don’t need to answer it, I don’t need to know what it is, I don’t need to analyze it, I don’t need to have the answer just knowing it’s not mine, and then it went away.
But how many times did I have that as a young girl where I was meant to be wrong, something’s wrong with me, I lived on Pepto-Bismol because I was always sick. I knew I wasn’t sick and my parents would ask what I ate and what I did and I’d respond, “I didn’t do anything.” and I would have a tummy ache; my body communes with me that way, so that was pretty interesting the other day when I felt that.
My healing journey played into the business
I’m still on the awareness, on the path and every little pebble leads me to the next thing. The first thing that I did was, I gave myself so much grace. Whatever was required, I would ask a question, What’s right about this right now that I can’t see? that’s one of my favorite questions; and then I don’t answer the question, I just open and allow for awareness because once I answer the question, it becomes solid, it becomes ‘The End’, and questions empower, curiosity empowers. So, I got so curious with this muscle of curiosity and it would be such a slight feather touch asking myself what feels light right now? If it was a bath then I would take a bath, if it was meditating, then I would and I did that for about three years, literally; What’s the next thing? and so tiny because in the past, I would live in the future of about two years; I’d make a plan and I would grind and push and push. That’s finally what happened when my body asked for a break, for time to breathe and I could feel that communion, so that’s the thing that I slightly did.
Another thing after closing the brick and mortar due to COVID and I was going to sell it, and then she didn’t want to buy it anymore because the pandemic happened and one of the things that I did was I got real with it. When In-the-past-Joanna, I would have chosen to ignore it, to pretend that it didn’t happen and then I would turn a blind eye to this and this one, I was just in it, I say it was my big-girl panties. It was like a goodbye party I did, I thanked the business, I had one of my friends come and she blessed the studio, I had gratitude towards it; again, it was the next thing and the next thing, and that helped say goodbye to it because before, I had a dance studio and I left that business, but I did this- I didn’t look at it and to this day it still hurts because I never said goodbye, I pretended like I never knew it, I didn’t have it and so that was one of the big things that did help me move forward and then create the next thing.
Light Versus Heavy
I learned this tool a couple of years ago, the Light and Heavy and again, if this feels light what I’m saying, buy it and if it doesn’t feel light, don’t buy it, because what’s light is true and what’s heavy, there’s a lie there. Now here’s the thing, I’m going to add a little asterisk to it, because this is the other thing I just learned. Sometimes we will use the tools against ourselves, for example, let’s say I choose an event. I’m going to go to this mastermind and I chose it and I wake up this morning and today’s the event and now it feels heavy, I don’t want to go. So, I will use the tools against me and say, it’s not meant to be so I shouldn’t go, this is God sending me a sign that I shouldn’t go. I ask myself whether it is actually heavy or am I hitting an upper limit and the heavy is information. So, I do want to throw that out there because sometimes the heavy is your body giving you information that there’s a lie there and the lie could be that you’re really scared to go to this event. the lie could be 10 million zillion things. Here’s the thing, people will ask how to tell the difference between heavy- don’t do it and heavy- it’s a lie, it’s a muscle again. You build it to know the difference between a lie of heavy- like you’re buying this BS or a heavy of- this is not required next for my life, what is required is this. So just wanted to throw that in there too.
I think the more I try to put words to it, it even clouds it even more. The best way I can describe it with English is your intuition, your awareness will be a feather touch and you will know, you will just know. I’ve had so many events where it felt heavy, let’s go back to that Mastermind. I’ve done a gazillion Masterminds and I’ve thought, “What was the heavy about this?” and the heavy was, it was other people’s, but I could have bought that the heavy was, I shouldn’t be there, the heavy is I should sit in the back, the heavy is, oh, I should get my money back, et cetera. So to answer, kind of go through that; what’s the difference, how do we differentiate the clouding, is to ask more questions, get more curious, go to the next question, ask; What is this? What is the heavy? Is it really? should I not be here or is it something else? What is it body? and get really curious and without asking a question with a period, but asking a question with a question mark. We’ve all heard that saying, “Is that a question or a statement?” Are you really asking a question or are you just stating “What is it universe, tell me!” because that sounds like you’re pretty mad.
Curiosity spurred my positivity
I’ve been on this journey of my life and noticing that the past Joanna, I was always getting back up, but I was getting back up with this ‘F-you’ energy, I was getting back up with another wall, another layer, and so I was getting back up with more ego. She was getting bigger and bigger and like I said with this curiosity of the questions and I chose to get back up with an energetic expansion instead of an energetic contraction and that’s what I was doing. So, I was telling myself that I was getting back up and dusting myself off, but I was pissed off and I wonder if many of us are doing that, “See, I’m getting back up and screw the world and screw you!” Is that truly healing? I wonder, is that truly love?
I’ve been on this curiosity; this whole year my is, ‘What is love?’ the genuine question, not hearts and valentines, maybe it is, who knows what else is possible, and what is it really? It’s April now, how many months in of 2021 of this theme of, ‘What is love?’. Every morning I ask it in my meditation. What is it? show me what it is because I’m so incredibly curious of what it is. I get that, the getting back up, can I get back up with even more expansion of love rather than more expansion of walls up and barriers up and cutting people off, energetically pushing them away? and that’s what I was doing for many years, even though I was thinking I was healing.
I was putting a band-aid and like little Neosporin and thinking I’m better and then asking myself what it was that I kept bleeding and that’s the curiosity of asking, “What is that?”, because putting the band-aid on, I keep bleeding. That’s what I was doing, getting back up and buying a little bit of time. It was like a hit; I was a drug addict, I got another hit and it was just enough to get me through for a little bit until I asked what it is, really and I’m still in that curiosity.
Curiosity in my business
I just had a big awareness because I feel like I’m on a next step. After the pandemic, I had to ask myself what’s next and I had the awareness just this morning that I have been working in my business in conclusion, thinking this is the way it has to look and I thought, I was doing it again. Instead of, or in contrast, working in curiosity in my business, I realized that I was in curiosity with myself, but not with my business. I’m on the hamster-wheel of business is serious, even though I thought I was over that I thought about my avatar, my this, my that and I wondered whether it was curiosity or solidity. I’m doing it over here. What if I am in curiosity, everywhere, even in my business where in this reality we’re taught that it needs to look like this- ABCD? and what if my business doesn’t look so conventional? and that’s where I’ve been right now.
I still have, this is what I would like and what else is possible? Universe, show me! Is there something better? Universe, show me, but it was very conclusive thinking about my avatar. I decided, I’m doing it, no wonder I was being kept in my business because I wasn’t asking to be shown, maybe my avatar looks different, maybe it’s something completely different than what my brain thinks, and it felt like I lost five pounds this morning.
How it all translated into my business
When the pandemic hit, I had a dance competition. 3000 people? not going to happen during the pandemic and we asked ourselves what could be created and we started interviewing people on Instagram and Facebook, you name it. We were meeting so many people it was so much fun. So we created a dance podcast and here’s the thing, even my business coach told me I was crazy, one podcast is enough, how was I going to do two? Let’s go back to, Is this mine? Or is this his? Or is this somebody else’s? and I can actually do two podcasts! It wasn’t that bad, because I was doing it differently than what this reality says it’s supposed to feel and be like, et cetera and we did it.
Then, I passed on the dance podcast to my gal and she started interviewing people. I thought, cool, this is amazing! and so I still did my other one, the Get up Girl, but I did want to throw that out there to show that there are more possibilities than what it has to look like and my super power is I can do a bunch of things and I could juggle a bunch of plates where as if other people can’t, that’s theirs, it’s not mine, so that was pretty big on that. It’s been very interesting in this past year talking to so many people and really discovering something. Let’s go back to the awarenesses with the pandemic, lost a business, but gained so many other gifts that I probably wouldn’t have done without that gift of the pandemic.
One of my favorite questions is, “How is this the gift that I’ve been asking for showing up differently?”, and I wonder, let’s talk planet, almost 8 billion people asking this question. I felt universally, I think we all craved and we’re asking for something different, like a new possibility. It was 2020 January, February, March, and I felt like we were just going okay, what is it? and I felt like the world got a gift, even though it looked like it was in a package of ugliness, it was not pretty, but how was this what we were asking for? We’ve been asking to slow down, we’ve been asking I want something different, and then we get it and it looks completely different. Those are the questions and the curiosity that I was talking about, being aware to receive something that looks completely different and I wonder if universally we’re asking something.
I just love that question; sometimes if something comes up in my life and it looks it’s packaged in ugly, I will call a girlfriend and tell her I’m drowning right now, help me get out of this or just help me shift, don’t go down there with me, don’t drown with me, just throw me a raft and she’ll ask me, “How is this the gift that you’ve been asking for?” I’ve been asking for X, Y, Z, and this ABC showed up.
We create our reality. I like to think of it this way, I’ll ask friends, people just because I love conscious conversations, how many lies have we bought? So many lies and I think of it like we’re shopping on Amazon and we’re just buying stuff that we don’t need and then we get it to our house and we realize, I don’t like this. What are you going to do? You’re going to return it and you return it because it’s not ours and that’s how I see lies. We’re buying lies. They’re not ours, but we buy them and then later when you look at it, you realize, that was a lie. Sometimes it takes longer, and I wonder what else is possible for us to be so conscious that we can see a lie sooner that we don’t have to buy it, bring it to our house, try it on to then know it’s a lie.
For example, remember in the nineties, where everything was fat-free, we’re thought, this is how we’re going to be skinny, everything had to be fat free and then five years later they discovered, fat is actually good for us. So we bought that lie, now we get the new one, then what’s the next thing, gluten-free! Now it’s this and now it’s that and we wonder which one is it? I can’t keep track and those are just random ones but think about all the lies that you’ve bought and then later we learn, that it didn’t happen.
Somebody will ask me a question, I’ll say, right now, the answer is yes or and they don’t understand what I mean, “As of right now?” It might be different tomorrow and it might be different in five minutes. I don’t think we’re taught or I know we’re not taught to change our minds. We think once you make a decision, you have to stick with it, and I ask, says who? People ask whether I’ll get the vaccine? and I’ll say, as of today, nope, but that might change tomorrow, we’ll see. I am control not in control. As of right now, we’ll see if it’s light tomorrow right now, it’s not that it’s a lie, it’s just this not for me, right now, in this second.
The universal gift of choice
We always have choice. We bought the lie that we don’t have a choice. We hear that often, “I just don’t have a choice”. I used to say that, I was the queen of I-don’t-have-a-choice, I wore that like a badge of honor. That was my little saying to do it. I had a coach one time who called BS and told me I always have a choice. I literally stopped in my tracks. I was on the phone, “I do?”, “You always have a choice!” My life took another turn.
I think a lot of times we go into a choice thinking that choice has to be solid forever and I made that choice and I’ve realized that choice creates awareness. That choice showed me that I actually liked this, whereas I tried other things and made that choice found that I didn’t like it, but I actually liked talking into a microphone. So for hitting the almost a hundred episodes, I’m so proud of myself because I went into that door and I knew there was another door if I didn’t like it and I liked it. It’s a buffet, we’ve got to try things in life. I kept this thing and it was cool.
Why listen to The Get Up, Girl
The Get Up, Girl is for a woman that feels like she’s hit the limit. She feels like she’s done it all and now what else? she’s still unhappy. It’s for that girl, she’s already marinated, she’s done some things and she wants to know what else is there? This podcast is for somebody that’s tired of the cliches of the means like, “Just think positive!” and she does not think it’s working. That’s for that girl who wants to know what’s next in her life, isn’t really as happy as she would like. I give you actual tools and I tell my stories a lot. I’m like an open book. So that’s who the podcast is for. It’s for that girl because that was who I was. I still am, but I really was about 10 years ago. I had done Tony Robbins; I’d walked on fire a thousand times. Like, what else is next? I wasn’t getting to the root of the band aid.
Online Workshops and Daily Instagram challenges
I had this download, it was my birthday last year and I was asking questions like, how do I want to celebrate my birthday? and I had the awareness of doing a challenge on Instagram. I heard a voice from God and I decided I’m going to go live and so I created a 30-day challenge and then I just kept going; choice creates awareness. Those 30 days are now going to a year and I’m going live every day on Instagram and every 30 days I’m changing the challenge. As of right now, I’m doing a bed-making challenge. Each one has been so different and a contribution to me and I wonder if I did this for 30 days, what can I create in a year? Who knows, I might keep going for five years. I wonder what else is possible. So, join me on Instagram every morning I go live and I do a different challenge every day because I know that it’s going to take some time to shift things in your life, 30 days.
Every day I wake up and I choose it again because I don’t see it as an end destination, I see it as every day I get to choose it. I’m going to choose this. I could change my mind if I don’t want to do the whole year, I could choose something different, but it feels new every day, a new choice rather than, Am I getting to the end of the year already? so I think that’s why it’s been fun for me.
When I was drowning and I could see the raft towards me and I knew the little raft was choosing this. I accepted this as my healing. I’m choosing this for me and you’re all invited to join me. It was that energy.
My Harmonyum experience
I was taken personally to another dimension; it was like another reality of where I was. I don’t really remember being in the room. It expanded my awareness and my being without putting words to it and I knew there was a ripple effect afterwards and I’ve thought about it many times since, it was really cool. It was like you’re turning a dial and it just, it moved and that was such a contribution to me.
Tips for my audience
I want to leave with this three-step process on how to ask a question to create more in your life. Step one is to ask a question and get really curious. Step two is to get curious and don’t answer it because when we answer it, our conventional mind will cap the possibilities and we were taught to always have the answers. We were taught to have the answers in school because that’s how we get A’s and good grades and what if we don’t have the answers and we’re open to a different and bigger possibility. So that’s the muscle we build on step two. Step three is to pause, slow down, or just wait for the awareness. It could be five seconds, five months, five years to feel a feather touch, to get the awareness, to see notice the gifts. It may show up differently and be ready for different and bigger possibilities that you can ever imagine that your conventional cognitive mind can’t imagine.
I want to when you ask a question, ask it when things are wonderful and also ask it when things are crappy both times, because many times we want to ask when things are great, What else is possible? But also, you could ask, How does it get better? What is the gift in this? The universe wants to help you.
Joanna Vargas creates her life. A powerhouse entrepreneur right out of high school, Joanna never worked corporate and chose the path less traveled. At 20 years old she formed her corporation, took all of her savings and produced a dance showcase in Hollywood called The King of Pop. With Joanna’s quick (some might say crazy) work ideas, this venture quickly turned into a dance competition called Maxt Out now going on its 20th year. Using keen street smarts and with no professional business training, she created Jayvee Dance studio by the time she was 24 and built that business to 700 students. A true serial entrepreneur, Joanna sold that dance studio and prepared to design her next download (from The Universe).
Joanna recognized a gap in conversations about mindset and physical form when it came to fitness and responded with the solution, The Fit Factor Studio; a wildly successful brick and mortar fitness studio catering to women, their mindset and living fully. In the process, Joanna’s own work-life philosophy, built on the principles of asking better questions and getting really curious about life, inspired her to make the choice to close the physical doors and go completely virtual with The Live Fully Academy. Now serving women all over the world with her Three F’s; Form, Fundamentals and Fun, a new thought leader for Gen X and Millennial women.
Known for her open book candor and positive vibe, Joanna proposed to her city that she start a 5K run, it was then the Pumpkin Run 1K/5K/10K Halloween event was born. Her superpower is getting butts in seats, and this run brings 1,500 runners every year with no paid advertisements (a little fun fact for our fellow entrepreneurs). By the time she was 32 she was running four businesses and choosing for her. With learning how to choose herself, she now facilitates other female business owners to do the same.
This summer Joanna launched two new podcasts – The Get Up Girl and Dance Your Life. The Get Up Girl is a rally cry for all the women who are different and were taught to choose for others, who are now ready to Get Up and choose for themselves. Dance Your Life is a podcast of dance conversations, for dancers, by dancers and developed to educate dancers all over the world with stories and wisdom.
Awarded Woman of the Year Congressional Honor by Congressman Adam Schiff and Woman of the Year Congressional Honor by Judy Chu, Joanna is a well respected female business owner and creator. Named Business of the Year by her city along with many other business awards, Joanna has earned her way to the frontlines of business during times when choosing yourself
and the roads less traveled were not celebrated. With the entirety of her career devoted to inspiring her sisters to wake up and live fully, 2020 is poised to be Joanna’s biggest year yet. The Get Up Girl is her latest creation to surpass her upper limits and expand energetically to avenues she hasn’t discovered yet, and YOU are invited for the ride as she redefines what getting back up really looks and feels like.
Resources for Joanna Vargas:
Harmonyum LA Links: