Self-Care for the C-Suite by Amanda Smear Baudier

If someone had told me in 2011 that meditation & self care would not only improve my mental health but also my career (and life) I would have thought, “That’s cute. I’ll make sure to schedule that for when things slow down.” But as you and I know, things never really slow down once you get to a certain level in your career (unless they are forced to but more on that later). There’s always one more email to send and one more business function to attend even though you haven’t been home before 9pm in weeks.  All too often, there’s a last minute crisis that pops up, requiring your time and attention when you’re supposed to be decompressing at your summer home. And before you know it, another quarterly earnings report is due and you are back, burning the midnight oil, trying to keep your shareholders and your employees happy and maybe squeeze in a few hours of quality time with your kids, your spouse, your family, and your friends. But what about the time that you spend with yourself: the one who is responsible for keeping all the wheels in motion, without whom there would be no corner office or summer home or business class flights with free champagne? When’s the last time you put your phone down, shut your laptop and spent true quality time talking to and listening to your one and only real “day one”? When’s the last time you thanked yourself, or apologized to yourself, or just bathed yourself for longer than necessary to maintain proper hygiene? If you can’t remember or it sounds like a foreign concept altogether then this story is for you.

 

In 2012 I was flying high professionally. As a Hospitality Sales executive, I had recently opened a luxury hotel in Manhattan and planned major events for Beyonce and Marc Jacobs. My company had just started its massive expansion and I got to watch as the little “mom and pop” that I started with back in 2005 flourish and grow into an internationally renowned powerhouse with the financials to back it up. Sure, I was killing myself with the hours and demands of the ever-expanding role but I was determined to “make it” (whatever that meant). Some people have FOMO socially but for me, it only manifested in the professional sphere. I didn’t want to miss a moment of the action, for fear of getting left behind or not living up to my “straight A double major early graduation from Columbia” potential and so I pushed through every moment of fatigue. I ignored every episode of digestive distress and concealed every dark circle and acne flare-up. I was often referred to as a machine and though at some level I did realize I was a mere mortal human being, I would be damned to let that show. So I pushed and pushed. Caffeine and the occasional adderall scored from a coworker were my secret powers and popping Tylenol PM in the cab on the way home from work at 11pm while firing off last minute emails was my bedtime routine. I still slept, you see, but my schedule did not allow for having time to “wind down” much less decompress. Survival mode was the norm, all of the time - cortisol levels be damned. Who has time for that when you’ve only got 2 more years to make the 30 under 30 list and an empire to build?

 

Let me preface by saying that I started practicing yoga in 2006. I practiced ashtanga yoga almost every single morning for years. I knew it was good for me, and probably had an internal soul *knowing* that I needed this to counterbalance the crazy impact my stressful life was having on me. I also tried meditating...off and on, for years. This was before it was cool or popular, outside of yoga circles of course, but I never saw the importance of it. It was a nice-to-have as they say, not a non-negotiable. No one could “see the effects of it” and I didn’t care enough about myself (my SELF) to stick to a daily regimen that didn’t lose me pounds or win me points. I now know that willingness to commit to a daily self-care routine is inextricably tied to how much we value our Self. A value that is not quantifiable by our salary or the number of shares we hold or our net worth. No, this is the value that existed long before anyone tied a monetary value to our being. And let me tell you... if we all knew and recognized our actual intrinsic worth, we’d be behaving a lot differently (but I digress).

 

By the end of that year I had lost 15 lbs (due to an undiagnosable digestive issue that left me doubled over in pain if I ate a full meal), made partner in my company (the youngest person to do so and a female at that) and gotten engaged to my college sweetheart (who had somehow stuck with my crazy workaholic tendencies). On the outside I was skinny, successful and in love. If only I had had an Instagram then... my followership would have blown up (#snatched #girlboss #blingbling #blessed!). But on the inside - mentally and physically - things were starting to unravel. By Friday afternoons I was often so fried that I just couldn’t even speak to another human being. In order to have fun, I’d have to get completely wasted because otherwise I just didn’t have the energy to interact. My stomach was literally, constantly in knots. I was quick to lash out - or cry - depending on the setting - because you know I never shed a tear or showed any weakness at work. But none of this made me seriously reconsider my path or pace, until one day when a routine annual checkup at my gyno turned into anything but.

 

“Something is seriously wrong with your pulse,” said my gyno, “do you have a heart condition?” “It’s probably the latte I just pounded,” I said as I glanced up from by Blackberry screen. “No,” she said sounding both angry and a little afraid. “This is not normal. You need to go to the cardiologist, NOW.” “But I’ve got a crazy day today,” I protested (just give me my damn pills NOW is what I really wanted to growl). “Unless you go NOW and come back with a normal EKG I’m not writing you a birth control prescription. Figure out what is going on with you. Now.” Now, of course would mean cancelling a jam-packed afternoon of meetings and calls. Now would mean admitting I wasn’t indestructible. Now would mean the somewhat off way I had been feeling for months (years?) wasn’t just “all in my head” and a sign of weakness.

 

Fast forward several appointments with several different specialists and a myriad of tests: blood, urine, tilt table, bubble study, genetic testing, EKG, heart ultrasound, genetic screening, holter monitor, and more. The holter monitor - a really fun device that connects 5 electrodes to pulse points and you have to wear 24 hours a day for a week - revealed that my heart was skipping every 3rd beat. Without any hyperbole this level of “extreme arrhythmia”put me in the “high risk of sudden death” territory. It turned out that I have a rare genetic heart condition that generally has no side effects except for in extreme athletes, the morbidly obese, or those under... you guessed it: extreme stress. In order to manage the condition I was told to “minimize stress” and also schedule heart surgery... you guessed it: now. I got married in March 2015, went on my honeymoon, had surgery a month later, then took a sabbatical from work. Because how the F was I supposed to “minimize stress”? Stress was my entire life. I figured I might as well just crawl under a rock and die (or not die, if the surgery was a success).

 

But instead, I decided to immerse myself in the world of self care. I moved to New Orleans - the capital of taking it easy - and became determined to get a PhD in healing. I became a Certified yoga instructor and Holistic Health Coach. I did trainings in MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), Meditation, Reiki, Essential Oil Therapy, and even became an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist, planning to help other people on their healing journeys for the rest of my life. I was dedicated. I ate well, slept well, did over 2 hours of healing self-care modalities each day, and felt pretty damn good. But after about 8 months I realized that something was missing: me. I missed feeling important. I missed closing deals. I missed putting on a pair of high heels, walking into a room with a pitch in my brain and pit in my stomach, then giving a firm handshake on the way out the door - knowing I’d just landed another major client. I missed New York. I missed... me. All this time spent meditating, breathing and teaching yoga - which I thought was my new calling - only allowed me to hear that little voice inside me even stronger. I needed these tools - of that I was completely certain. However, and rather annoyingly at that point in my life, they were not enough to fulfill me.

 

But who was “me”, who was not a burn-the-candle-at-both-ends stressaholic? How could I be me and not work 24 hours a day? How could I be me and (literally) survive? I wasn’t sure of the answer but I knew I needed to try. So I called my old boss and he gladly and eagerly welcomed me back to the fold. We packed up our 3000 square foot home in NOLA and moved back into a 450 square foot studio in Chelsea. I got new business cards and my old email address back. I returned to my old life but I brought something back with me that I still hold onto to this day: non-negotiable self-care daily practices as well as non-negotiable boundaries.

 

What these daily practices and non-negotiable boundaries look like are unique to everyone but they are not unique to me. Just because I am, as I love to call myself, the “former beauty queen turned junkie with meth teeth,” horrifying example of what stress can do to you, doesn’t mean we aren’t all suffering as a result of our high-powered fast-paced lives. Now 3 years back into professional life as someone who takes exquisite care of herself, I am here to tell you that you CAN do both - especially at this juncture in your career. Not only can you perform at high levels, but you can feel amazing, and use these self-care tools as a lever to improve your optimum life experience. Survival mode is not the mode you want to be in, most of the time. Self care is the foundation of not only a life well lived, but peak career performance. Even if you weave them in slowly, your daily non-negotiables - routine and boundaries - will enrich and reinvigorate you in ways you could never imagine, until you’ve experienced it yourself.

 

For me, 20 minutes of meditation and 30 minutes of physical activity a day is a non-negotiable. Not looking at my phone from 9pm-7am is also, non-negotiable unless something is urgent enough for a phone call which would basically mean something is on fire or somebody died. I probably get 10-30 emails/slacks/text a night between those hours but phone calls? Maybe one a month. It seems crazy to disconnect for that long on a daily basis...until you do it. Unless you are a surgeon, no one will die and even more likely - no one will even notice. So I wake up at 6, meditate for 20 minutes using an app,  and then I move. Most of the time the movement is gentle (yoga with an app, or jog-walking my dog) but it gets the right chemicals in my body flowing and therefore gets the job done. After that, it’s time to get to work and I do so with a clear head, lowered cortisol levels, and a knowing - a deep knowing - that I deserve to be cared for. Not because I’m a partner in a hospitality firm or the Vice President of a company or even an Ivy League Grad. No, I deserve to be cared for because at the end of my life when all the titles are stripped away, I want to know that I enjoyed my life. I worked hard and I achieved a lot, but I had fun - and lived life - while doing so. What is all the success in the world worth if you have to suffer to get there?

 

And what’s more - and more exciting - is that as a leader and a boss, you have the power to share these lessons with those who look up to or report to you, thereby having a major impact on their life outside of the workplace and potentially change their whole lives. No one was ever telling me to work myself to death but then again... no one was ever telling me not to. As we all know from Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Wouldn’t you love your legacy to not only be how successful you were, but how much of a culture-carrier you were? How much you supported the evolution of your coworkers and mentees? How you were able to achieve much but live that much more? How much of an inspiration you were to other high-achievers who also wanted to enjoy their family and their (dare I say it) free time?

 

What I’m here to tell you is that you do not have to choose success or self-love. You do not have to sacrifice personal success for spiritual satisfaction. You hopefully do not have to sacrifice your health and suffer greatly as I did in order to realize this. You can have both a full plate (which we all do) and a full cup. We fill our cups every time we meditate, do yoga, pray, prioritize sleep, eat well, and prioritize self care in anyway. While giving to others is necessary and admirable - both personally and professionally - it is literally impossible to pour from an empty cup. When we try, we experience fatigue, anxiety, stress, resentment and finally suffering. You were not placed on this earth to suffer. You were placed here to thrive and self care for those of us performing, achieving and giving at high levels is not a luxury: it’s a non-negotiable.

 

 

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Give Yourself Permission to Choose Healthy Love

 I work with women who have father wounds; they've either been abandoned, neglected, abused by their fathers or perhaps most damaging of all, he's been woefully inconsistent. After 200 interviews regarding the impact of fathers, I learned that they impact the way women see men, money and themselves. In order to heal the way their father-daughter dynamic is replaying in their adult lives, women must come to believe in their own worthiness. Whether the wound shows up as a lack of boundaries, falling in love with potential, a fear of loneliness or isolation, I've found that the root often traces back to unworthiness. Our childhood core belief system stays fiercely protected so even when we're going to yoga, therapy, and reading back to back books, we can still find ourselves in an unhealthy relationship that is eerily familiar to the last three unhealthy relationships we had. How is that even possible?

Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know. --Pema Chodron

There are practical steps and journal prompts women can use to begin the work of bringing their core belief system to the light. I always like to start with:

Because my father wasn’t around, I tried to...
Because my father wasn’t around, I became...
Because my father wasn’t around, I assumed...

You can replace "my father wasn't around" with whatever is truest for you. "My father was abusive" or "absent" or "an addict" etc.  

Once we understand what we came to believe about ourselves as a result of our relationships with our fathers, we can illuminate the lies we've been telling ourselves. Suddenly the lies come pouring out: that we have to earn love. That love has to be hard. That we have to be strong all the time and vulnerability is a sign of weakness. That being an alpha means we can't be with an equal. That we can't confront people who hurt us. Once the lies are exposed then we can start telling ourselves the truth. That we are worthy of every good thing on this earth. We are worthy of love that feels good, especially from ourselves.

When we say no to what hurts and hold boundaries with potential mates, we can finally stop the cycle and give ourselves and our daughters permission to choose healthy love. 

Keep discovering what you've been believing. There are clues all around you; in your relationships, your friendships, your home, your self-care routine. What do you believe about yourself? Every choice you make reveals the standard you accept. And in my experience, women with father wounds have a hard time saying NO. They feel starved for love, affection, attention, so they say YES to crumbs--because when you're starving crumbs look GOOD. 

But there is so much more love out there than most women with father wounds have given themselves permission to experience. Good, kind, loving, honorable men EXIST. We don't have to settle for potential and abuse. Saying no is a crucial part of dating. So start saying no, correcting people and holding boundaries. Let people earn and prove that they are worthy of your time and energy. Start booting these boys out to make room for a man. If you are dating you should be saying no....OFTEN. No. This isn't enough accomplishment, honorable behavior, love, commitment, support. This isn't enough kindness, gentleness, faithfulness.

You know what you need. So use your voice and get your needs met. You deserve it.

Self-Care for Father Wounds

Can you remember who took care of you when you were young? Do you remember HOW they did that? Many of us had busy, working parents. An overtired mom. A disengaged babysitter. A grandmother who yelled at us to hurry up because she would rather be watching her soaps. An absent father.

When people were irritated, exhausted, or burdened while they were running your bath, brushing your hair or otherwise caring for your child body, it's possible you internalized some of that dangerous messaging. "Taking care of you is a burden. Taking care of you is annoying. I'd rather be doing something else than taking care of you. I'm too busy and tired to do this properly so let's rush through it. I have more important things to do. Do it yourself even though you're not ready and I haven't taught you how." 

If no one happily participated in what would become your self-care routine as a child, taught you how to care for your body, cherished you, sacrificed for you, delighted in you, it can be SO hard to take care of yourself as an adult woman.

You can literally hang up the phone after talking a friend off the ledge (because you're the light in the dark for so many people) and have nothing left for yourself. You can struggle with lotioning, teeth brushing, hair care, shaving, skin care, finding products that work for you, connecting to fragrances you enjoy, finding a form of exercise you really like doing, feeling good in your body, eating healthy foods, even looking in the mirror. It can feel taxing, boring, truly burdensome; a 4 step before bed skincare routine can inspire an even more dramatic sensation like RESENTMENT, bitterness, complete avoidance and even anger.

Here's what I know about this:
Mothers have an important role in teaching their daughters how to care for their bodies as they became women, but it was your father's job to reflect your value to you. His ability to do his job has no bearing on your inherent priceless value. And I do mean: INHERENT and PRICELESS. Perhaps you've been thinking that his ABILITY to do his job was a reflection of your value, that he reflected your value to you period. But he could only do his job to the extent that he healed from his own wounds.

Here's a quick example I love to use to illustrate just how preposterous it is that someone's behavior towards you is a reflection of your value. Imagine there is a priceless gem kept in a vault at a museum. A security guard falls asleep on the job and the gem is stolen. Does the museum president get on the six o'clock news and say oh well guess that gem must not have been worth anything after all. If the gem was real, that security guard would have been sitting up straight with his eyes wide open drinking red bull if he felt sleepy. His behavior has made us reconsider whether that gem was worthy of thousands of dollars we've invested in protecting it. He would have never let this happen to a real gem. We're going back over our pictures and the authenticity certificates. I think we were wrong about that gem and are now looking to return the money to all visitors who paid to see it. We at the museum are truly sorry to the people who wasted their time to see this fake. All that time we spent caring for it, cleaning it, safe guarding it has been a total waste.

No. You've never heard that in all your life. The security guard is fired and investigated as a suspect for the robbery. Because the gem's value is assured and increased. Now the museum is spending time energy and resources to go get the gem. The TV crews have come down. They've sent police and private investigators to go look for it. The museum knows the worth of the gem and never not one second ever falters.

Similarly, the behavior of the people who were responsible for caring for you, precious one, has never and will never ever have any bearing on your worth.
You have always been priceless.
You will always be worthy of the highest level of care and protection. 
If your dad didn't show up to tell you and assure your soul of that unalienable truth, hear it now: you are priceless. You are lovable. It was his honor to stand guard over you and make sure you had a childhood. If he didn't, he missed out. You were great. Taking care of you was his soul responsibility and his honor.

Release the lie that taking care of you is heavy, burdensome, an irritation, too time consuming, that there are better things to do, that it costs too much money. Embrace the truth that taking care of you is light, is a delight, is an honor, and is an investment in your bright future.

Give yourself permission to find the scents and products you love, that work for you, that inspire you to look forward to taking care of yourself. No one wants to hurry to the bathroom to use a lotion you don't like, put on a face cream that ain't really doing nothin, and light a candle you feel meh about before a bath with no bubbles or oils or anything fun for you. You don’t have to like the gym. Find a way to move your body that make you feel good to be in it. Give yourself permission to be DELIGHTED in caring for yourself. I’ll share some of my favorites over the weekend.

Receiving a Nuclear Bomb Threat in Paradise

On Saturday January 13, 2018 this notification came across my phone’s screen:

Emergency Alert. BALLASTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

 I stopped thinking and grabbed my baby, my Bible and a giant blanket. I was headed for the ocean. I watched my neighbors weeping, dashing for stairwells and the darker parts of the parking garage. I felt none of their panic or fear. But I did feel urgency. For one more moment of breathing, heart-beating life. Just one more beautiful moment. “Please Father God. Just let me have ONE more.”

Read more on Elephant Journal

Love is a mirror.

If we find ourselves trying to help-lift-heal-carry-teach-change-adjust someone else, we have to stop. It means WE need our OWN attention. Love is a mirror. We need to do all that for ourselves. We are in desperate of need of healing.

Now I love a good metaphor. But for the sake of clarity; I’d like to expand on what I mean by heal lift carry teach change. Here are the things self-honoring women will no longer be doing for boyfriends in 2018:

  • Lending money to men who are not your husband. If he needs to borrow a grand until his next paycheck, he needs to call his mama.
  • Writing his essays, business emails or resume for him. Editing and making suggestions are fine. Doing the work for him is not.
  • Cleaning his room, doing his laundry, being a 1950s housewife at his apartment with no ring on
  • Opening a bank account in your name that he can use, co-signing a loan, pitting anything in your name that he will have responsibility of. He needs to call his mama or his best friend of twenty years for these kinds of things. A real king protects his queen. He doesn’t increase her liabilities.
  • Directing boyfriends to books or resources when he has already shown you he will not read them or participate.
  • You cannot be a coach or teacher to your partner. Not in a direct sense. You cannot drag him towards his own greatness.
  • Believing what he says over what he does. Potential is a word I’m removing from grown women’s dating vocabulary. Potential is a word for fifth graders who might grow up to be on the honor roll in high school. There is no one day when you’re dating an adult. One day is now. Whatever he’s doing right now IS WHO HE IS. He might do it better, he might actually start using a day planner, he might change his career, he might make more money, but his character, the people he’s chosen to surround himself with and THE WAY he lives his life? That’s who he really is. Believe him.
  • Making doctor appointments he doesn’t want to attend
  • Continuing to engage with someone when you no longer RESPECT him
  • Staying with someone who cheats on you or ever puts their hands on you violently. Nuff said. Deal breakers. Block his number. Lots of women experience shame when these things happen. You didn’t do anything wrong. His unchecked rage or inability to keep his word is a reflection of him not of your worthiness. Love yourself. Get out. That’s his shame to carry.
  • Allowing someone to lie to you. You know when someone is lying. It doesn’t make sense, the timeline doesn’t add up, your body doesn’t feel right. Trust your body. It is the temple of the Spirit. So if your belly and chest tighten up and your hands start sweating when he’s talking about where he was —SOMETHING AINT RIGHT. If you find yourself feeling paralyzed and unsure of what to say, I like these lines: "In order to be in a relationship, I have to see someone behind your eyes I can trust. Until you can tell me the truth about _____, we won’t be engaging any further."


These are all examples of boundaries.
And sadly — This is how many women with father wounds engage in dating relationship. They give of themselves and then when they’re tired and over drafted they give more—-so they can feel worthy enough. So they forgive what they don’t even have the emotional bandwidth to forgive so they can feel some leverage and not feel the searing pain of abandonment again. They think he’ll never leave me now. Now that I’ve forgiven him and helped him and saved him from himself? He has to love me now. When the relationship goes up in flames they say I gave you everything!! And mean it. But theyve just ended up right where they started bankrupt alone and wounded. Because that is the space where you need healing. Romantic love appears in our lives as a reflection of our self-love. So if you find yourself in a pattern of romantizing losers, it’s time to heal up. You’re better than this, Sis. There are great men in the world and they cannot find you while you’re broken-hearted over some boy you tried to strap to your back and drag to his destiny. He never deserved you in the first place.

So what can I do for my partner? What does healthy relationship exchange look like? It’s reciprocal. It’s give-give. You assist your partner and he assists you. For every contribution of effort, energy, love, support you provide you are met and matched. Maybe not that same day in the same way, but you are never doing all the work. Are you familiar with basketball? An assist is passing the ball to someone who has already done all the work to get to the hoop, they’ve ran, they’ve jumped, they’ve gotten their body into perfect position all on their own. All you do to earn the assist is essentially see their greatness and alignment and then perform an almost effortless flick of the wrist. We been out there hoisting grown men on our shoulders who are not even qualified to play the game trying to stagger towards the hoop. And then complaining about back pain. God did not design you to leave your dreams unattended, strap a grown man to your back and then draaag him to his destiny. You cannot stop your own dream, your own life or give up who you are to HELP someone else. You are not helping anyone. You are not a savior. If you are doing that in your relationships it’s because you need help. THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL. Chainbreaker time: If you are in a pattern of helping and saving men until you feel bankrupt, it’s because deep down you want someone to hoist you up and show you the light. You’re just hoping one of these men will return the favor one day. But RESCUE CANNOT come from romantic love. God is trying to get your attention: It’s time for YOU to help yourself.
 If this sounds like you, please get yourself on my calendar for a free call CLICK HERE so I can walk you through how to start healing unworthiness.  

Give Life to Your Inner Voice

Of all the self-development and healing work I've done, one of the most truly transformative was to start recording my own voice. 

You can use the voice memo app if you have an iPhone or do a search for "recorder" when you look for an app using your Android. 

The exercise: tell your stories. Ones that hurt or made you feel sad, embarassed, forgotten, guilty or resentful. Ones that you know shifted you away from being the divine incarnation of love that you really are. Once you've recorded one or two, replay them for yourself and speak out loud to your recording with love, acceptance and compassion using loving phrases like that wasn't your fault. You were so brave. I'm so proud of you. You can let that go now. I'm here. Everyone makes mistakes and just because that's what happened doesn't mean that's who you are. You are wiser now. I love you so much. I love you so much. We don't have to hold on to that pain anymore. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Let's write a new story together now.

You can also start using this app in your goal-setting work. Every once in a while, flip the exercise on its head and tell the story of awesome goals you've accomplished or ones you're working towards like they've already happened: 'Oh my gosh! We opened the doors to the business today! I finally got up the guts to send out some query letters for my book idea and an agent emailed me back today!' When you play them back, celebrate yourself! Cheer and clap and congratulate yourself on all your hard work. 

Lisa Nichols suggests telling yourself something you're proud of yourself for, something you forgive yourself for and something you commit to yourself every day. I love that. 

There is a voice inside you and if you only use its kind and supportive version to be kind and supportive to others, you're doing yourself a real disservice. Especially if you have a tendency to be critical to yourself inside your head and think all kinds of cutting, hurtful things you would never say out loud or to a friend. 

This exercise brings that inner voice outside and allows you to hear it. Even if there are places where you hold blame for yourself in the story, be kind, loving, and forgiving about it. You did your best. If you had known better you would have done better. 

Why would you do this? What would you really get out of it? 

It changed the way I related to myself. I'm a recovering perfectionistic, a type-A personality when it comes to my professional life. I recently retired that there was a way things SHOULD BE. I did this exercise for the first time when my daughter was a teeny tiny pumpkin. I was really struggling with "should be." She should be sleeping more by now. She should be rolling over. She should be bonding more with her dad. She should be letting me take longer than a 3 minute shower. She shouldn't be teething this much at this age. Motherhood exploded my consciousness open.

There is no should be. There is only what is. And what is: IS BEAUTIFUL, if only we'll let ourselves be present in it.

But whew, our thoughts sure can ruin a perfectly good moment. My daughter was late to walk. I got to hold my baby two more months and before I knew it, she was trying to free her fingers from my hand so she could do it on her own. During those two months, I had to really work on myself to direct my thoughts. I was repeating a track of mantras every day when fear and anxiety tried to get the better of me: 'Savannah is healthy and whole. She will walk when she is ready. I am enjoying this extra time to cuddle my little one close.' It was easier to say to myself when she was in her baby sling as we walked around the park and harder when I went to mommy and me playgroups for her age and every other kid was walking. So we stopped going to those groups. They made me feel bad. This exercise helped me ask myself a very important question:

How am I contributing to my own misery?

What am I doing and saying to myself that is literally making me MISERABLE? 

And how soon can I stop? I looked at my calendar and cancelled all kinds of stuff. I needed less post office runs and more yoga class. Less grocery store trips and more lunch with friends. I started realizing the best gift I could give my daughter was a happy mom. So I started asking myself, what can I do today to be happy? And changed my entire approach to motherhood and life.  

The most poignant example I remember of this exercise making a difference for me is in my attitude towards household chores. I had been mentally running a program for a long time ---when there's an annoying task I need to get done like the dishes after the end of a long day, I often said to myself "God won't bless your mess." to inspire myself to get in there and get it done.

I actually remember the exact moment of the shift. I remember what I was wearing and the color of the orchid in the window sill. It was around ten pm and the sink was overflowing with pots and pans and sippy cups and portable snack packs and I was just about to say that old phrase when I caught myself.
That is some seriously MEAN nonsense. What is my insinuation to myself?? After a full day of work and commuting and mothering, I am not worthy to be blessed by God because I'm too tired to do the dishes? Needless to say when I had chosen to say this hurtful/spiritually unsound phrase to myself in the past, many times the lights were turned off and a back was turned on that dirty kitchen. (I say spiritually unsound because God does indeed bless messes on the regular.)

Furthermore, I would never, ever even dream of saying that to a friend. Certainly not one who was working as hard as I was. I was so much meaner to myself than I would ever be to anyone and all that was about to change that night. Recording my voice helped me get the voice inside my head OUT. I could almost hear my own voice because I had played my voice memos so many times. Of perhaps equal importance, I had also practiced being kind, forgiving, loving and compassionate to myself for "mistakes" far greater than not wanting to do the dishes. So this thought just did not compute. My brain picked it out as foreign and bizarre. When I tried to use it to inspire me into the kitchen, I stopped dead in my tracks. That is so mean! I couldn't let it slide. I certainly couldn't allow myself to hurt myself anymore.

I realized, I loved myself now and there was no turning back. 

I can hear my inner critic and catch it in a way I hadn't before. This way, I can turn it into inner compassion. My "let's get in there and do those dishes" internal dialogue sounds more like this now: Shadé, you're so awesome. Look at all these dishes and blenders and pots and pans. You make organic meals for your baby, veggie smoothies she actually likes AND homemade popsicles? Like...I just think you're great. You give your best every day. If you want to stuff these in the dishwasher and go for it in the morning, you've earned it. But I know how much you love waking up to a sparkling clean kitchen, so whichever you decide, you'll still be a great mom and an amazing woman. 

These days? I usually do the dishes and smile. 

 

Say No with Confidence

One of my dreams for all women and therefore one of my goals for each of my clients, is that they learn to so say no to men with confidence. And if it comes down to it, to let them go with confidence. There is a great big, beautiful, abundant world out there full of love. Don’t settle. Be assured of your own priceless worth, unique beauty and amazing strength. Let the ones who don’t want to stay GO. Let the ones who hurt you and make you cry GO. Let the ones who lie to you GO. Let the ones who cheat on you GO. Let the ones who aren’t ready GO.

Start thinking of every relationship and interaction like you’re signing a contract. Because you are. The good news is contracts have clauses. You don’t have to hold up your end of the bargain while they don’t. That’s a violation of terms. Get crystal clear on your terms so you know when you’re being violated. So when you see the flirty text pop up on his phone after you’ve been together for six months, you don’t go back and forth, you don’t second guess, you don’t call all your friends and end up defending him when they’re rightfully outraged for you. Flirting with other women while in an exclusive relationship is a violation of terms. When you let the violators go, you make space for new connections that feel good by releasing the ones that don’t. Don’t let the ones who hurt you take up space in your heart, head or house. They’re just blocking your good and killing your joy.

When It Feels Overwhelming To Revolutionise Your Life, Where And How Do You Begin? by Emily Hassett

When it feels overwhelming to revolutionise your life, where and how do you begin?

This question came in today, and it’s brilliant. So let’s get stuck into it.

There are a couple of things to unpack in this question. The first is the use of the word overwhelm. That word is a red flag to me. Society would have you thinking that being stressed, busy, and overwhelmed is normal, even a good thing. This is bullshit. Overwhelm tells me that you’re not coping. Are you in therapy? Are you meditating? Please do both. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it is even more essential that you stop what you’re doing and take a very clear look at it.

All that is required to revolutionise your life is a willingness to be radically honest with yourself. For some of us this is easy, and for others it is more challenging. Many of us grew up in homes where telling the truth was a sin, or something we were shamed or ostracised for. We grow up to be adults who deny our true feelings, who pretend everything is okay just to maintain the status quo, and then lie awake staring at the ceiling, wondering why it feels like our soul is circling the drain.

So here is your first task: start to be honest, and begin with yourself. Allow yourself to feel mad, or miserable, or confused. Give yourself permission to say no to the boring work party. Stop straightening your hair if it feels like a burden.

There’s a reason why know thyself is such a powerful aphorism. Hiding from your truth is a sure route to sadness and destruction. If you cannot tell yourself the truth, you are really screwed. Honesty gets easier the more you do it, just like anything else. Practice telling yourself the truth every single day.