We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarni Jaye and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarni, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Work-life balance is one of those concepts that is literally key to our wellness as human beings but that we often don’t think about until we reach a point of unwellness that forces us to do so. When we’re younger, we have boundless energy, fewer life demands, and a feeling of invincibility. For me, it wasn’t getting smacked by the fact that I am not invincible that made me seek balance—it was first realizing that people I care about aren’t. When you see the passage of time unfolding literally in the aging faces of your family, the increase of hospital visits and funerals, or cracking knees (whatever gets your attention lol), your relationship with time changes. Everyone in my family has a strong work ethic; my grandfather never truly retired, he just shifted his work to helping friends with their businesses and to nurturing his farm, and I never saw anyone around me take long vacations or even sick days really. Hard work was ingrained into the fiber of their being. For people who share that mentality, time off can almost make you feel guilty. But that’s an unhealthy viewpoint. To balance my life, I first had to shift my mentality to the understanding that time outside of work is simply sharing time with other important factors in life that ultimately help me do my work even better. When you’re knee-deep in deadlines and the rat race, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. The questions I had to ask myself were: What does a balanced life even look like? What do I want from life in the long run? So, I made a vision board to start at the end (the answers) and work backward. What I saw laid out on posterboard before me wasn’t a pile of money, it was a mix of career, health, family, laughter, love, travel, and growth. Prosperity is a multi-layered definition, so you have to consciously layer your time to tap into it. Most of us have moments where we wonder where the years went, so I made balance not another bucket list goal that could get away from me, but a daily routine. My to-do list expanded from just what I aimed to accomplish at work or to meet other people’s demands like bills and invites, and it now fulfills the needs of my mind, body, and spirit. That can look like taking 20 minutes upon awaking to stretch instead of scrolling through 20 social media profiles. Now I think about balance as a lifestyle choice that I have ownership over vs a concept that someone else has to provide for me or something that I have to wait decades for retirement to realize. It really is a great practice to become intentional about setting priorities, then setting boundaries around those priorities, so that at the end of your day—or the end of your journey—you can close your eyes with the peace of knowing you honored yourself and your dreams in the best way that you could. That’s a life well lived.
What should our readers know about your business?
My business/career has bloomed where I nurtured and planted it. Truly starting from a seed of an idea, it has evolved so much over time, but the core has always been helping people to believe and achieve their goals. Sounds simple on paper, but it’s more than a notion. I don’t know anyone who would say building a career or a dream is easy (unless it was handed to them on a platter), but the answer is that it’s always worth it. The biggest lesson I’ve learned that I’d impart to others on their path is to identify and surround yourself with people who want to see you win so you have folks around who are genuine enough to celebrate your successes but also brave enough to talk through your failures so that they become lessons. That’s the secret of turning something that knocked you down into a stepping stool to get back up. Many people are afraid of truth and think being nice is better than being honest, but there’s some deceit in the perception of niceness when it silences constructive criticism from trusted sources, when it’s based more on fear than love, when it prevents growth… The most successful people in the world, for example, often surround themselves with yes men and enablers, but the ones who rise to the top—and stay there—keep someone close who speaks truth to power, keeps them humble, and pushes them past limitations. They do not spend their hard-earned money to be draped in mediocrity and illusion like “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” I’m most proud of being both a cheerleader and a truth-teller for my clients and those in my inner circle. That’s my tribe; we celebrate together, but we grow together also, balancing pruning the weeds with watering the soil as we grow up towards the light.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
CityCentre is a cool one-shop stop, but I’m an inner looper, so with so much to do within a certain radius, we’d likely spend most of our time here because there is still an “off the beaten path” that exists within the hub of the city. I’m a fan of arts and culture, so the shortlist would include: The Museum District juxtaposed with street art murals; a play at The Ensemble Theatre or a locally-produced comedy show; custom cocktails at Anvil Bar & Refuge or Davenport; jazz at Cezanne, bar-hopping downtown to the beat of DJs on Main St., or live music at Alley Kat. Dining at Riel, Local Foods, Truluck’s, Steak 48, or Sunshine’s Vegetarian Deli are options, and of course, it’s like a rite of passage to eat at Pappadeaux and Frenchy’s in Third Ward for the iconic urban Houston foodie stops. (Yes, I did mention a vegetarian and a fried chicken restaurant in the same sentence; hey, my friends are diverse!) A visit to Hammam Spa to unwind from it all over mint tea in authentic Moroccan style would be divine. The pandemic impaired so many great places, so supporting family-owned and small businesses would be important. In BC times (Before COVID) I challenged myself to break out of my comfort zone by choosing a new restaurant from Yelp regularly, so somewhere that neither of us has been would for sure be on the itinerary. The rest would be left up to the spirit of random exploration and adventure, but given that everything’s bigger in Texas, even if they didn’t leave fulfilled, they’d for sure leave full.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I dedicate my “Shoutout” to my family for being salt of the earth people who provided a foundation that stands strong through the generations; to my mentor, Phyllis Bailey, who welcomed me with open arms and took me under her eagle wing; to clients I have had the pleasure of working with who dare to dream big despite fear or challenges as well as those who have cracked the code of leadership that inspires rather than devalues (Common, Crystal Powell, Chris Kattan, JB, Romany Malco, etc). Lastly, a shout of solidarity to anyone who chooses to courageously and empathetically stand up for balance not only in their own lives but also in the world.
C. Allen Photography, B. McKinzy Photography, and Krish Photos