Breeshia Wade is the Co-founder and CEO of GrieveYo. She holds a BA in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University and an MA in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago. She completed Upaya Zen Center’s 2-year Buddhist Chaplaincy program.
Wade served as a hospice and palliative care end-of life caregiver in LA County. Over the past 5 years, Wade has supported people through grief and transitions as a birth doula and a lay ordained Buddhist chaplain working in jails, on the MotherBaby Units of hospitals, and in people’s homes. Wade uses her practice as an end-of-life caregiver to encourage those who are not facing illness, death, or dying to be open to what grief can teach them about relationship, life, failure, sex, and desire, conflict, and accountability. Her book, Grieving While Black: An Anti-Racist Take on Oppression and Sorrow, will be published February 2021.
Where did the idea for GrieveYo come from?
After undergrad (woo–that was a while ago), I’d worked as a professional Top, phone sex operator, and birth doula. I’d noticed that in people’s profound moments (e.g. sex, birth, life) grief was always present and driving most of their actions, from the shame that gave them private pleasures to the fear that inspired them to aspire towards greatness publicly…to the anxious anticipation embedded in a major life transition (e.g. wedding, pregnancy)–grief was always there.
Consequently, I ended up attending Divinity School as well as completing a two-year Buddhist chaplaincy program at a Zen Center. Afterwards, I worked as a lay ordained Zen Buddhist end-of-life caregiver in hospice and on MotherBaby Units for a few years.
All of these experiences taught me that grief isn’t just about concrete loss–it’s bigger than what’s already happened to us. Grief is connected to what we fear, love, and aspire towards.
I wanted to take the lessons learned from end-of-life and supporting people through major life events/transitions and encourage others to build a life of meaning and authenticity in the present.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
There really isn’t a typical day, especially with Covid-19 at the forefront of my mind. The definition of productivity has really changed for me and has become less about getting things done and more about making sure my actions today align with my overall life purpose so that I’m not wasting time. I admit to having less of a schedule than when this year started–I don’t have the energy to wake-up as early, I’m not writing by 7:00 am, I’m not exercising regularly. I’ve had a lot of shifts this year, some of them welcomed (e.g. moving, marriage, preparing a book for publication). So, I’ve stopped holding to a strict schedule for the sake of “productivity” and started looking at the bigger picture because sometimes I need to do nothing, or I need to sleep longer, or I need to find something that gives me joy instead of pushing myself to work.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Usually by either talking them through or writing them out. I tend to go in circles before I get to the heart of what I’m reaching for. I’m an HSP, so a lot of my ideas come from sensing and observing what goes on around me and trying to parse those experiences into something creative so I’m not just holding on to them as if they’re mine.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Apparently a lot of white people give a damn about anti-Blackness right now. I’m not exactly excited or hopeful, but I enjoy seeing them engage–at least until they realize how much work it’s going to take to sustain this movement long-term.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Honoring my process, and returning to the heart of why I’m doing what I’m doing.
What advice would you give your younger self?
You don’t need to suffer to grow or make art.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
None of us deserve anything we’ve been given.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Fail. A lot. And miserably, at that.
Adapt to failing miserably and receiving perpetual rejection, but keep showing up anyway.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Social media is treated like the golden standard by which we must grow our business, but don’t forget the importance of authentic, one-on-one relationships. Fostering genuine relationships with others has helped me grow. When people get to know me, they realize that they’re supporting more than just a brand or an idea–they are invested in me, as a person.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Just one? Ha 🙂
I’m not sure if I overcame my failures as much as I adapted and reiterated. I’ve had many variations of GrieveYo that didn’t work out because of the copy, target audience, and topic. I started offering free versions of classes and products in exchange for feedback to get a sense of what was working and what wasn’t, then started asking people to fill out brief surveys to get a better sense of my target audience based on income level, age etc.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An app that allows users to take a picture of a room in their home and fill it with furnishings pulled from any major home decor site.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Renting a car to drive my wife and me to our “honeymoon” hotel getaway in Palm Springs instead of risking breaking down in my current hoopty.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Ommwriter is very useful when I need neutral background music and blank space for writing/thinking.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
This is a shameless plug, but I have a book coming out called Grieving While Black: An Anti-racist Take on Oppression and Sorrow that I’d highly recommend to anyone committed to deep anti-racist work.
And, for a book not written by me, I’d recommend a beautiful and thoughtfully written book of poetry called Constructs by Keisha Cassel: https://ghostcitypress.com/2020-summer-series/constructs
I found this floating around on my Facebook feed and was grateful I read it and made a donation.
What is your favorite quote?
“Life and death are of supreme importance…do not squander your life.”
- Use fear of loss and the reality of impermanence as tools to guide yourself and others towards your ultimate life purpose
- It’s OK for the definition and practice of “productivity” to shift with your life
- Becoming an entrepreneur just to make money is often not a good enough reason to keep you constant through the lows, especially if money is a long way away
- The path of entrepreneurship is messy and a lot less glamorous than most of us are led to believe, but don’t lose sight of your calling
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.