Look For Serenity All Around You: Can you name things that make you feel peaceful? Can you look around and identify what is still even when everything around you is chaotic? A tree? A singing bird? A hot bath? When we focus solely on the chaos, it’s really easy to see more chaos. A lot of times the peaceful can seem boring or unimportant and we don’t look at it. One of my favorite quotes is by John Lennon. He says, ““When you do something noble and beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps.” Serenity is all around us, and it keeps moving whether we take notice or not.
As a part of my series about the the things we can do to develop serenity and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alyssa Hoffman.
Alyssa Hoffman is CEO of Fearlyss Entertainment and manager of rock and roll band Wayland. She reminds you how to fearlyssly manage every aspect of your life through “shaking your ass + save your soul.” You can learn how to do exactly that at www.alyssahopehoffman.com
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
The music industry chose me! I was working at a Fortune 500 job on my way to climbing the proverbial corporate ladder when a break up landed me at a rock and roll concert with my mom’s favorite band. What started out as a VIP after party on a tour bus to get my mind off of things turned into a two week vacation as a merch girl, a social media position, and me telling my COO that I was leaving to live on a tour bus full time to follow my dreams.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The most interesting thing that happened since I started managing a band was Covid. Wayland toured the country for 8 years for 300 days per year. I pulled them off the road for the first time to go to LA to record a record. We completed an EP at MDDN Studios (Good Charlotte) with Keith Nelson (Buckcherry) and were set to go on tour when we realized all of our plans, and all of our income was cancelled. We had to pivot completely- rent a house, build a studio, and find a way to create an entire year’s worth of connection with our fan base without touring.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Burnout is easy to avoid when you cultivate an awareness. I am huge on energy, and I look at my personal energetics every week. I myself know I am most productive in the morning and that’s when I schedule my meetings and in-front-of-the-cameras. I know that my energy dips in the afternoon and that’s when I will schedule myself some space. If you’re not listening to your body, it will get louder and louder until it becomes burnout.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Culture begins and ends with you in the workplace. It’s up to leaders to know the way, show the way, and walk the way in every moment. Be accessible, be available, and listen. The mission of Fearlyss Entertainment is to “lyssten,” because that’s where you learn what needs to be birthed and what needs to die within your business. Understanding and inner-standing this business ecosystem will help create and maintain a culture.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I am a massive reader. When I’m “allowed” I read one book a day. I say “allowed” because I read so much sometimes I get put on “book bans” on the bus to save us space! I have so many favorites but The Sophia Code was a game changer for me. It naturally resonated and offered me an opportunity to really get in touch and in tune to the wisdom of my own body’s intuition.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious just from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
Serenity is a space that we can tune into at any time if we practice. One of our core values at Fearlyss Entertainment is to “practice and play.” The same way you practice an instrument and learn to play the song, you can tune your instrument, your body, into the sound of stillness, and when you get to play there, it gets really fun.
- Your Breath: Your breath is your best friend. A regulated nervous system keeps you feeling safe, and in times of uncertainty especially, keeps you in a space of calm. Take three deep, belly breaths. Release this entire breath as slowly as you can. Your parasympathetic nervous system will activate, and you will feel a shift physically within your body. When I was 18 I dated a body piercer and when getting my lip or ear or belly button pierced, he would always remind me to exhale as he was completing the piercing. It was miraculous how much it didn’t hurt. It’s the same way with emotions.
- Disconnect: Disconnect your phone, disconnect your social media, disconnect the television, and disconnect you. Turn the distractions off and allow yourself to just be. Notice the sensations in your body. What do you feel? What do you taste? What do you smell? My sister and I are a decade a part and she’s special needs. She is always my reminder to stay present. We play a game when I’m stressed out called “What Do You See” and as fast as we can we take turns going back and forth naming everything in the room around us. We start giggling halfway through as we run out of things we see because we get so excited, but this grounding reminds me consistently what a gift she is, and what the gift of presence does for cultivating peace.
- Meditation: Transcendental Meditation has been a life changer for me. I use a mantra repeatedly in my head over and over again reciting it in between breaths. Meditation allows you to remember that you are not your thoughts. You are the one witnessing your thoughts. When you stop identifying with what your brain is telling you and taking it as the Bible, serenity is easy to access. I used to get so frustrated thinking meditation was something that meant my thoughts would turn off and I just couldn’t do it. It would make me feel like it was something I wasn’t good at. I remember watching a YouTube video where Rick Rubin had explained what T.M. actually was and it clicked. I am not my thoughts. I am the watcher of my thoughts.
- Listen: Listen to your body. When you want serenity, listen for the places that aren’t feeling it. Relax your jaw, unclench your teeth, drop your shoulders. Scan your body and look for where you’re holding tension. Recognize that your body is always talking to you and giving you biofeedback in that moment. I had crippling back pain that I would blame on working from a bunk in a tour bus for so many months, but we took a yoga class on Valentine’s Day two years ago when my teacher had come over and showed me literally how tight every limb of my body was holding on and refusing to let go. I hadn’t listened in so long I didn’t even notice just releasing it felt like a full body massage.
- Look For Serenity All Around You: Can you name things that make you feel peaceful? Can you look around and identify what is still even when everything around you is chaotic? A tree? A singing bird? A hot bath? When we focus solely on the chaos, it’s really easy to see more chaos. A lot of times the peaceful can seem boring or unimportant and we don’t look at it. One of my favorite quotes is by John Lennon. He says, ““When you do something noble and beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps.” Serenity is all around us, and it keeps moving whether we take notice or not.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Supporting others is so much easier than we allow ourselves to think it is. We get so caught up in giving advice and telling others what to do or feeling responsible for their feelings, we lose out on the opportunity to do what would really help.
- Listen: listen. Really, really, listen. Listen to what they’re saying and listen to what they’re not saying. Don’t interject. Don’t interrupt. Don’t say “that happened to me to.” Listen to what their experience is. Most people aren’t looking for advice, they’re looking for someone to listen.
- Breathe: breathe. Deeply. Especially when they forget to. When you are breathing deeply and slowly, you’re creating space. You’re not jumping in to offer your opinion immediately. You’re giving them the space to keep going. To come to their own conclusions. To make connections in their own mind. You are witnessing them in real time processing through something they need to get through, and that’s beautiful.
- Ask: ask them. What do they need? How you can be of support? “Do you need me to just listen or would you like my input?” Asking just this question can create such intimacy within a relationship.
- Don’t offer a different perspective: Not yet. Not unless they ask. Most people that are anxious are in fight or flight mode. The cortisol hormones have already started flowing and they’re not in a space to receive what you’re saying. They hear you say they’re “wrong” and they feel like you’re not seeing it from their perspective. This causes disconnection and misunderstanding. Offer it only if they ask for it. When they ask, that permission creates the space for receptivity.
- Trust Their Process: Don’t try to control them. Don’t feel bad or sorry for them. Allow them to be in their process, in their feelings, and in their life. Your friend or partner or co-worker is perfectly capable. Viewing them as a victim further perpetuates that vibe. Know and trust that they have everything they need to solve their problem and approach them from that space. Watch the miracles manifest.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
Breathwork, meditation, and movement. Music, in my opinion, encompasses all three.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
My favorite “life lesson quote” is “Shake Your Ass + Save Your Soul.” My grandmother used to say this to us all the time as children and it wasn’t until she passed away that it made sense to me what it meant. She taught us to “shake our ass” which meant to have fun, to never miss an opportunity to dance, and to always make joy be our job. She taught us to “save our soul” which had nothing to do with religion but everything to do with love. First for ourselves and then for others. In the process realizing, there are no others.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Love is the only movement, revolution, or solution any of us ever need. It doesn’t take one person to start it- it takes all of us to remember.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!