Excuses or Choices

How to have freedom and keep it after being told you have a brain tumor. Jessica shares her story about embracing life and trusting the power of surrender.

Listen to Episode

Show Notes, TLDR

  1. How important it is to understand your definition of freedom
  2. Surviving a drunk driver accident pretty much saved her life…
  3. Waking up one day with a tumor, and then many days later, it’s gone.
  4. The power of putting your life in “Phases” and knowing what to do next.
  5. Knowing the fine line between making a plan before acting and making one as you go along.
  6. The life of a gypsy, making the world her home.
  7. Realizing that freedom is not a place nor a thing, but a state of mind.
Jessica Brightman on a plane

A conversation with Jessica Brightman

Imagine getting hit by a drunk driver to wake up and realize you have a brain tumor… one that may never have been found until it was too late.

This and other events are shared to stoke your consideration for seeing the reason why certain things happen to us in life. Excuse or Choices has become the mantra of my friend, Jessica, as the result of facing tragedy and finding the only strategy for survival; to make excuses or choices.

Join Jessica and me to talk about her journey with traumatic events that have happened in her life. She shares how she has used those events to give her the power to self-heal and in the process, find her life’s purpose.

Resources Mentioned

  1. House, Season 1
  2. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
  3. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz
For more, check out the Resources library.


Jessica Brightman (aka JB) is a creative and inspired marketer with global experience in digital media + graphic design in both in-house and agency settings. Inspired by her travels and location-independent lifestyle, JB builds connections through culture, content, and color.
Steven is the Producer and Host of the My Niche is Human Podcast. He both interviews and provides solo episodes for the show.

Episode Transcript

Excuses or Choices - Jessica Brightman

Steven: [00:00:00] Well, welcome to the show we have here. Jessica Brightman coming all the way from

Jessica Brightman: [00:00:06] Seattle, Washington,

Steven: [00:00:07] Seattle, Washington. Wonderful. Finally made it out there after many years of living in St. Pete, Florida.

Jessica Brightman: [00:00:13] Yeah. well just in Florida in general, way too long.

Steven: [00:00:15] Just in Florida in general.

Jessica Brightman: [00:00:17] Had to get out of Florida.

Steven: [00:00:19] So what brought you out there?

Jessica Brightman: [00:00:21] To Seattle. there was really no specific thing. I was doing this epic road trip that I thought I was going to go around the country for a month. I ended up going for four and a half months cause I just kept extending it and then stopped in Seattle. I'd never been there before.

I think I spent like 24, 36 hours here, but there's just something about it that I kind of liked. And so I kept going with my road trip and then I got all the way. I think of as in like new Orleans and I was like, you know what, fuck this. I don't want to be in the South. I, there's a reason why I love Florida. It's hot.

I'm just over this. And so I made a big whole U-turn and decided to go back to Seattle and try living there for like three months and I think April will be 6 months now. So it's, been an adventure.

Steven: [00:01:09] So what's been the biggest change for you.

Jessica Brightman: [00:01:12] Uh, goodness, really just like the way of life here is completely different.

just people are different the way they interact, the way they live. They're just so much more environmentally friendly here. Surprisingly like when you go to the grocery store, you have to actually pay for your grocery bags. If you don't bring your own.

And I remember after the first month or two that I was living here, I had to go back to Florida for a wedding and I went to buy, I think it was like one stupid small thing in the grocery store. And they were trying to give me all these plastic bags and I'm like, no, no, I'm different now.

I'm different now. They're so friendly

Steven: [00:01:51] I was at the taco place the other day. And I was getting something to go and he's like, Oh, here, let me put that in the back for you. I'm like, no, it's okay. Don't waste it. And they're like, Oh, another one.

Jessica Brightman: [00:02:00] Yeah. that's just normal, but when you're somewhere else, you're like, Oh, it's one of those people.

It's been great. Everything, the weather here, the just everything. It's just awesome. Seattle is great.

Steven: [00:02:16] Cool. So I see online that you're on an, on a new endeavor, new and a new journey. Tell me a little more about that.

Jessica Brightman: [00:02:25] well, so when they, so the whole reason why I've kind of done all the crazy shenanigans that I've done lately is I keep going back to this word freedom and there's different definitions with it.

And to me, freedom is not having to be in one specific location, doing the same thing day after day. And so I quit my full-time job. I was working for a university for years and years, almost a decade. It was great. Could have been there for life, had all the benefits and all that great stuff. But it was just the same thing, again and again.

Steven: [00:02:58] Was it too safe, too predictable?

Jessica Brightman: [00:02:59] Too safe, too stable, to just mediocre. And so I quit that. I risked everything. Um, pack took my house, sold all my stuff, and I was like, I'm going to just freelance. I'm going to work for myself, have my own business. And I was doing marketing and graphic design. Just kind of like a Jack of all trades thing.

And then throughout this kind of Vagabonding journey that I've been doing for the past year, I realized that it's not marketing specifically, that I love, it's helping other businesses kind of find their identity and dress them up a little bit. And so I've been shifting my business now into more of that focus behind the scenes and probably in the next like month or so, I'll do a new launch of my business.

So we'll see.

Steven: [00:03:43] So is that, your new Instagram handle that I saw? Brightthoughts

Jessica Brightman: [00:03:48] So Bright Thoughts Design. Yeah. So that's focused more on design aspect. Yeah.

Steven: [00:03:52] Nice. So feeling a shift in your business, was there a life shift that correlated with the shift in your business? Did one kind of lead to another? What, kind of caused that?

Jessica Brightman: [00:04:02] Um, it was kind of just all the domino pieces falling into one. So with the shift of my business, it's really come from my shift in lifestyle and just like a mentality of how you approach things, how you live, what's important to you. And really like kind of what sets your soul on fire and what can heal you thanks to the self healing.

Um, so fun fact, because I have all these crazy fun facts and stories a few years ago, back in 2016, I was hit by a drunk driver, which yes, it's shitty, but there could have been more situations like I'm still alive. So that's a good thing.

But with that, um, with the, the testing and the MRIs and I had all kinds of a herniated disc in my neck and back and all this, but there's also issues with my brain. And so with an MRI, I, they found a meningioma, which is basically a fancy name for a benign brain tumor, which is weird because all my life, I grew up watching that show House. And I always told my parents, like, I think I have a brain tumor guys.

I think I have a brain tumor and they never believe me of course, because I'm like some 12 year old just walking around thinking, I think I have a brian tumor. But so it turns out I actually had one talk about like manifesting your.

But the crazy. I might actually have healed myself. And so that was back in 16. I've had multiple, well, MRIs, there's been multiple tests done. It constantly showed up on this, on the, the images that my doctors would do. It was never to a point where they wanted to do surgery or anything like that. It was just, we're going to monitor it and make sure it doesn't change in size.

It doesn't grow over, it doesn't push too much on your other parts of your brain. And so I was like, okay, I can handle this. Some of the side effects though. The biggest problem for me was vertigo and balance, because it was in my inner auditory canal back here so that it messed with that a little bit, but I was like, ah, I can deal with that.

Like, whatever. So for years I had this and then within the last year, and I've quit my job, I've kind of lived the life that I've wanted to live. You know,

Steven: [00:06:13] Which is, give us a little more on that..

Jessica Brightman: [00:06:14] Which is me running basically was. Portrait. I went to China for a few weeks. I did that road trip for 4 and a half months where I basically would just spend my days hiking mountains and, and just doing whatever I wanted to do in the daytime.

And then I would use the night to work for my freelancing business. And I was just having the time of my life. Like I was, there was no stress. There was no pressure of, you need to be in the office at 9:00 AM every day. There was just, this is how I want to live my life. Like this is, this is what I want.

And so with all of that, I think I've healed myself because when I got to Seattle, I had to do another follow-up with my doctors. Um, you know, just to monitor this tumor and things like that. And I, I've been stumping doctors, like literally it's gone from my scans. So the brain tumor is gone.

They've done, I've gone to a neurologist and audiologist. They've done all these tests to see if, cause I still have a little bit of the vertigo. It's like, Oh, well we'll test your inner ear and see if it's now that's a problem. That's not a problem. They've done like study scans for my central nervous. Some of my brain, tested my eyes because apparently your eye muscles acted to your balance and your ears and your brain.

It's like, that's how one talks.. It's insane because I just keep stumping everybody. And they don't know how this has happened because there's been no treatment. There's been no like new medications, no change in like diets significantly. The only answer I can think of is, I just need to go back to the mountains, like running around the mountains, literally it's self healed me and it's. Yeah, it's amazing. So if you just put yourself in a mindset and a frame of life of how you want to live and what brings you most joy, it really does wonders for just mind, body, and soul. It's been amazing.

Steven: [00:08:07] Wow. That's incredible. So for anyone that's listening, like they're, hearing you say, yeah, that's great. You went up in the mountains. Woo. But what did you do? Like maybe on a daily basis from a mindfulness perspective, did you journal, did you self-talk like what, what, did you kind of go through on a daily basis?

Jessica Brightman: [00:08:24] Was, there was some journaling and honestly it was just a lot of gratitude and letting myself kind of feel being alive.

And so I think a lot of people, they, they just hold in so many emotions, whether it's pure joy or pure sadness, and they don't really let themselves kind of ride those waves. They're just trying to block it and stick with this normal pattern of what they think their life should be like. And there'd be so many times where I'd be up in the mountains and it was just so gorgeous and I felt so grateful for being alive.

It brings me to happy tears and I feel like such a weirdo, Oh my God, these strangers on the trail are like is this girl okay? She's just crying on a mountain. But honestly, like just feeling pure gratitude, it makes you grateful for so many different things in your life and it makes you just prioritize.

What's important to you. What's not important. And it's just, yeah, just being very, self-aware very mindful and just being in the present moment, like the here and now, and not constantly thinking what's next. What's next, because I think we get stuck in this like rat race trap of just there's something better.

There's something bigger we got to go into what's next. And you just have to kind of to take a moment to just calm down a little bit and appreciate it now.

Steven: [00:09:38] So, yeah. With, when you say calming down, so create some contrast. So you've described the difference in circumstances. So you said freedom felt like you were tie