Book Club, Happiness, Lifestyle Design, Personal Development, Spirituality, Working Mom, Working Parent Life

Five Things I Love about Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis – My Review of Rachel Hollis’ New Book.

There are five things I love about Girl, Wash Your Face, a best-selling book by Rachel Hollis which is on the NYT list right now.  I wanted to share those today.  I’m jumping the gun a bit, because I am ONLY halfway through the book right now, but I know I won’t get around to this post if I take my usual all-or-nothing approach, so we’ll have this half-way review, and a completion review, k?   I promise you I have my sleepy time tea ready and the kids are asleep and I am going to crush that thing tonight.  

Yes, I finally caved and downloaded it!  I usually run away from best sellers.  I prefer to explore in the fringes of self development / personal growth books, because I know the content there is just as good as any best seller content.  BUT… after hearing Rachel on the Lewis Howes School of Greatness Podcast (my fav podcast in the world and my trusted companion over 3 mat leaves) I loved her vibe and decided to spend the $10.

I FINALLY located my Kindle Charge Chord (in the ‘nono drawer’ a repository of all the things I have taken away from my little people.  Scissors, craft glue, matches, and all sorts of other absurdly dangerous objects they manage to find and play with) ) I was able to get back into my favourite mat leave habit of snuggling my little guy and reading the kindle.  Bliss!

Want to hear something else? I put off reading it because of this emotion called…

Jealousy.

Ugggh. Gross.  Jealousy is a very human but a rather sinister emotion and you feel horrible for experiencing it.  But, as I posted on Instagram TV the other day, if you are able to look hard emotions in the eye and break them down, you can often break through to a gift, or positive emotion underneath.  I did that very thing with this jealousy that came up, and discovered it is because she is doing what I desire MOST.  Jealousy can illuminate your deepest purpose and desire, and get your ass in gear. It shows you what you want.  Now, it’s up to you to get past your barriers (the barrier is your own thinking, btw.) It certainly is mine.  I keep putting writing off.  I keep shying away from setting the boundaries with my kids and husband.  I keep doubting my abilities.  All of those are thinking things. And they block the doing. 

What are yours?

I am absolutely driven to write the Great Maternity Leave Book, filled with all of the adventures from that bucket list I’ve been working through since 2012 when I started this crazy parenthood journey.  There’s a chapter on initiation into motherhood and how weird it is, striving  to keep developing, growing and retaining my identity, stepping out of the rat race and being a human BEING instead of a human DOING and doing deeper exploration into who I am as a human. 

I knew, in the depths of my soul, that when I read Hollis’ book that the passion and desire to begin writing would be ON FIRE and I was certainly right, because a central tenet of Hollis’ book is taking OWNERSHIP and RESPONSIBILITY for your own happiness. And now I’m like DAMMIT I need to fight for the space and time to write this book already ( the entire structure is sitting in my Evernote, whispering my name.)

But this post isn’t about me, it’s about Rachel and her wicked book, so let’s continue.  

Hollis’ book was about $9.99 to download on Kindle through Amazon.ca  and it’s showing that it is usually more, so I must have gotten a deal.  Win!  I’ve debated reading paper books versus Kindle, but the truth of the matter is, despite my preference for paperback, the kindle makes it possible for me to read with young children.  Another huge bonus of the kindle is that you can highlight and then log into your Kindle cloud reader and go back through the highlights, which I am doing right now as I type.  

I crushed 50% of the book yesterday and am already looking forward to crawling into bed with a tea (husband on night shift! win!) 

So, what are my impressions so far of Hollis’ book? What stands out for me?

First, her complete and utter authenticity.  She is bold and dives right into her most personal stuff. It truly takes courage to bring up one’s deepest challenges, particularly her early relationship with her husband and consequential journey with understanding self-worth.  I think part of what has made her a sensation is she has finally said (in a published book) what so many of us are thinking at this point in our lives (30s, with kids.) . I don’t know about you but I’m done jumping through the hoops of life’s benchmarks of success, and I’m done shifting myself to accomodate other people. At this point in my life I shall be unapologetically me, and not polish or buffer myself.  

Second, her humour!  Hollis’ sense of humour comes out in subtle ways in this book but I can easily imagine that in person, she’s hilarious.  I would dare say she could have unleashed her humour a bit more, but I’m only halfway in so perhaps she gets bolder as we go?  I hope so, it’s awesome.  So far, every now and then, out of the blue, she’ll drop a hilarious sentence into a paragraph that had me giggling.  It takes a keen sense of humour to be able to drop hilarious sentences into what is otherwise quite a serious topic, and when she talks about a particularly challenging point in her life, and that she “can see it coming” her perfectly timed reference to the Phil Collins Song  and the drum solo made me snort my tea out.  

Third, You’ll Feel Connected to Her.  It’s not just me, I’m confident that you will be reading this think and nodding your head like , yes, yes, YES.  Hollis has her finger right on the pulse of women in their mid 30s, and an entire movement (I believe it is a world movement) of people who know there must be something more behind these stupid frantic crazy lives we have, filed with to do lists, and places to be, and things to pay and show up to.   

My oldest just started kindergarten, I’m still working on getting her lunches together and getting her to school on time (I had to pick up my first late slip today and felt quite guilty.)  When I began to see just how many emails I get from teh school council, this 6 day activity schedule (wtf? They go to school 5 days a week?) . all of the folders she takes on certain days and themes?  Jayyyysus. I can’t keep up.  Nor can Hollis.  And she spins a positive on it. 

Do what you’re good at.  Be average at the rest and be okay with average. GET BETTER AT BEING AVERAGE.  Or sub-par even.  Embrace your average-ness.  That is an entire blog post I need to write.  It’s freeing!

Fourth, She Doesn’t Bullshit.  Hollis is a hard, and I mean hard working mother, and she doesn’t sugar coat the work and sacrifices it took to get her media company to where it is today.  This is incredibly refreshing in the self help / personal development industry.  Though Hollis will rightfully tell you (as I do my own clients) that you can literally design your future and have it come to you, it’s also going to take some serious hard work and early mornings and crushing self doubt and questions as to whether the sacrifices are worth it. Story of working Mamas, I tell ya.  

Fifth, her Christian Faith is Strong, but not Alienating.  I’ve never subscribed to one religion, I think they all have the same themes anyways just packaged in different stories.  I grew up Anglican in England, and then attended Catholic School as a teenager.  I always felt a bit odd with literal interpretations and to be honest, totally confused at all fo the stories, characters, bibles, sections, etc.  Hollis references scriptures quite frequently in this book but what i really appreciate, is that she owns her faith, but not in a way that feels pushy, and though she shares scriptures, she links it back to our own lives.  For me, I felt this was a perfect blend of honouring your deep faith / religion, but in a way that doesn’t alienate others of different beliefs.  It’s a model of how the world should proceed – everyone should feel comfortable with expressing and living out who they are, and no-one in the process, feels pressured or judged.  

So far, halfway through the book, there’s been some things emerging which I am hoping she goes into a bit more depth on in the book. 

She’s mentioned how easy it is to buffer the intensity of human life with substance abuse (alcohol, cannabis, whatever the method) which was fascinating.  She’s also so far briefly mentioned letting go of the need to control and predict life (she teaches this through sharing her unexpected career twists and turns, and weaves it into scripture.) 

I find with self help and life coaching tools, that if you stay too surface level and just give tips, tricks and a quick anecdote, it doesn’t connect, it feels pithy and and pinterest-worthy, but doesn’t truly impact you, and you move onto the next thing.  Literally this is my only critique is that she offers some total gems of wisdom which you want to journey into deeper with her, but there’s simply not time and space for it in the book. 

I imagine that this is a really hard part of the editing process for ANY writer!    It’s so hard to capture an entire lifetime worth of experience in a book (I have no doubt she’ll write another) and so if she doesn’t’ go deeper on some of the above topics, I really can’t fault her for it, but I felt it worth mentioning I was left wanting more on a few topics and that is a GREAT thing.

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Ankylosing Spondylitis Journey, Happiness, health coaching, Physical Wellness, Working Mom, Working Parent Life

Returning to Work from Maternity Leave and Depression at One Year Post Partum.

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Currently I’m working through a hard season.  I’m in a disease flare-up (severe exhaustion and pain) and a depressive episode.  The two intermingle and make it a very difficult time mentally, emotionally and physically. The gravitational pull is hard to overcome and this is where self-care checklists feel almost impossible to accomplish. You’re just in an entirely different head space, mood space, and body space where any one of the checklist items that used to make you feel good, that you logically know will help you, just don’t appeal enough to overcome the total lack of vitality.

I’m not writing this post to have a giant complaining session, because there’s an important point I want to make at the end when you’ve read through this.

First, that you are not alone, and second, that this kind of stuff is a great gift.  I know, that sounds ridiculous, but read on…

xo

 

I’ve been through both before, but this time it was compounded by driving myself into the ground at work. And truth be told, this round doesn’t feel straightforward to get out of. There is a deeper matter here of who am I and what does my soul need?

I think THIS is the million dollar question that we must ask ourselves, when we find ourselves in a state of dis-ease.  Not just disease (illness) but not at ease.  Unhappy. Dissatisfied.  Frustrated.

With my return to work, I came back to the same pace I had always gone at.  Except, this time I was ill, tired and also the mum of three kids.  I jumped straight back into my old habits . I just kept working bigger, better, harder, faster.  I stopped taking breaks, or self care, or anything.  I love what I do, I truly do and that’s why it was so easy to get back into that crazy unbalanced work mode.

But here’s the thing. My symptoms don’t discern between work I love and work I don’t love.

They discern between  I am taking care of my soul and I am not taking care of my soul. I beginning to suspect that disease + depression are so closely intertwined with whether we are on the right path for our souls at any given point in our life’s journey, or soul’s journey.  I believe they are a reliable indicator that we are ignoring our own intuition, and the body’s best way to yell at us to pay attention 🙂

I had returned to work in the summer fresh off my disease diagnosis, surgery, 3 kids under 5 and major passion for my side projects and full time work.  I was excited that I had negotiated to work 4 days a week for the first few months.

Then, it began to all fall apart.  First, I was feeling great so I came off of my SSRIs. I think that was not the wisest choice in hindsight.  If you are on anti-depressants, no matter how good you think you are feeling, do not come off of them in a major transition!

As I found myself back at a desk and in pain, I began to struggle with a level of exhaustion that I’ve never known.  It was so bad that I desparately sought out places to lie down on breaks, struggled to put my socks on (immobility) in the mornings, a few urgent care trips, and increasing panic at work with every additional meeting, or project in an already full schedule with people waiting weeks to get one of a few coaching slots. I have an hour commute each way, and each commute was filled with this horrible impending sense of dread – dread that work demands were far exceeding what I was capable of.  Doubts that I could keep up to others as a mother of three That I couldn’t handle my own life. Usually, this is a pretty good sign to buckle down and take care of oneself.  Except, I was so far in, I couldn’t even claw back the time for ANYTHING that fuelled my spirit. Nor was I motivated to.  Being outside in nature. A social life. Creative expression.  My happiest places couldn’t lure me back.  Mostly, I just wanted to lie still, sleep away the pain and exhaustion and shut my panicking mind down.

My days became – Just drive to work. Work like a madwoman (keeping up the standards of a worker without 3 kids.) Buy unhealthy snacks and a crazy amount of coffee to keep me going.  Drive home. Make dinner. Put the kids to bed. Pray for no-one to wake up. Go to bed at 9. Repeat.  This is the story of so, so many people out there. 

Nothing was keeping my soul afloat, and I could tell that was making the disease worse too. Yet, I couldn’t clamber out, because in my mind I would say to myself “ah, you’ll get through this just start going to the gym, get an extra nap, etc.” You know, the usual self-care checklist. But I literally couldn’t move past the exhaustion, pain and total lack of desire to do anything.  I ignored intuitive alarm bells.

And that friends, is depression.  You feel so utterly overwhelmed and exhausted that you want to curl up in a ball and hide from the world. You don’t know where or how to begin, because nothing you knew before, seems to work this time (or it still does but you’re in a bleak place and totally unmotivated to do them, and the gravitational pull of the bed / rest is too intense to overcome.)

That is depression and auto immune disease intertwined.  And this, for any of you parents out there reading this,  is when you get your ass to your doctor, and a psychologist and be KINDER and more LOVING to yourself than you have ever been before. That is when you dig deep and listen to what your soul really needs.

It’s time to start listening closely to your intuition in the moments when your brain stops panicking and rushing.  The Universe has been sending you hints all along as to what is right for you, it’s just that you’ve been ignoring them.

So at this point, it is sending you MAJOR hint bombs that what you are doing is not ideal for you at this stage, place, moment in your life’s journey and that change is ahead.

Depression and disease can be one of the greatest gifts you’ll ever receive because on the edge of massive shifts for the better, is suffering.  Suffering prompts us to shift, to change, to grow, to listen to our intuition and get one step closer to who we really are.  Yes, it’s a shitty process, but it is one where pain overcomes fear.  Suffering forces you upward and forward and will not allow you to stay where you are.   There are always, always gifts and rewards from the hardest moments and that knowledge is never lost, even in tough times like these.

 

time management, Working Mom, Working Parent Life

Time Management is about Letting Some Things Go. What I’ve Learnt about Trying to Clean the House with 3 Kids

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Let’s get into REAL time management skills for REAL parents.  I’m not going to list a bunch of life hacks and tips and tricks.  We all know that if they worked, none of us would be struggling and frantic and thinking how the F do I keep up with my life right now with these little kids and all of the things?

I ask myself this all the time, and then, very often about 30 seconds after I ask myself this, someone will ask me how I manage to have a career, a creative side hustle, co-found and scale a company and run a podcast with my husband – and have a lovely family life with my husband and three children under five.  Then I get a bit of perspective and realize, I must be doing something ok.

My answer to that question? The truth is, I don’t try to do it all and I consciously practice not doing things.

Some days I let go and accomplish nothing, others I am doing all of the above and loving it.  So, my first answer, is go with the flow of your energy and what feels right.  Experiment with gearing up and gearing down in your life, become flexible and adaptable and able to.  The day you feel like you can’t relax or gear down is the day you KNOW you need to practice that more.  Lately I’ve struggled with that and I let it go far before practicing it again.

My second answer dives deeper and it explores what we do with our time…and…equally important…what we don’t do with our time.  As a time management specialist, I see more issues with the latter.  Everyone’s trying to do more, but at the same time, struggling to decide what to let go of, in order to let other things expand.

The code for modern parents is kind of like the olympic motto “citius altius fortius” which means faster higher stronger.  Except our code is basically more of everything, much faster, and on a bigger scale of accomplishment.

I’m getting better with managing this…  I am becoming increasingly selective over where my time goes, and my children gave me that gift, as they have for you.  You’ve realized with kids that those windows of free time are so limited, and you are way more purposeful about it, right? You are using that time to really act out that future life you want, right?

I am SO proud of you if you are making progress in that direction, and if not, this is a wonderful personal development piece to try out and practice that will benefit your life hugely.  You’ve got this blog to help you get there 🙂

Let’s break it down…

1.) Identify the things to keep and spend more time with:

One of the best things you can do is sit down and reflect on your values, the things that are deeply important to you. Yes this will take a deliberate and conscious effort to carve out the time to do this on pen and paper.  Less thinking.  More writing it, speaking it and doing it. Don’t let them fade away into the mists of your consciousness for the 100th time.  Write them down somewhere.

To prime your brain and tease out your priorities and values, you can answer these questions:

At my eulogy, what would I want people to say about me?

In the last month, where have I felt most happy, creative and inspired, what was I doing in that moment?

When do I wish time could stand still?

What are the most important values I want to pass onto my kids?

What do I admire most in other people? 

What my idea of a perfect day with my family and what are the feelings that come up when I imagine that day? 

What do I say “hell yes” to? 

Identify your “hell yes” categories.

They do change and develop over the years.  Just a few of mine I have written down are:

Time in and appreciating nature

Learning

Kindness

Serving others in elevating their lives

Authenticity and openness

Creative expression 

 

2.) Identify the things to let go and examine why you struggle to let go of them:

As Steven Covey says, the most important thing is to have the YES categories burning inside of you.  When you have those, it is easier to set boundaries and say NO to other things.

That is the other side of the time management coin:  Saying no to things which do not align with those priorities you sat down and clearly outlined.  These are the pieces where you practice the art of letting go.  I fully appreciate that this is harder than it sounds. Most of my clients really struggle with this piece and it takes practice.

Where have I let go?  My house.

I don’t often have people over (or if I do it’s a close trusted circle) because truthfully, it’s much messier than the average house and I don’t care to spend huge chunks of my day cleaning it, neither do I have the means to hire housekeeping right now.  I know my house bothers some people, others it is no big deal.  I want to say it’s easy and that I am okay with that piece and I’ve let go of any and all challenges around that – but that’s not how life is – we have to work at it, acknowledge our internal struggle and then make the choice that aligns with us (not others’ priorities FOR us.)

Yes, I still have to work through the inner shame that activates in me all the time, but I can make a choice now instead of act unconsciously.

So I choose to rebel, ignore the judgements, perhaps not have the people over that don’t feel comfortable with our house, and embrace the ones who embrace our crazy house style.  Let me tell you, it’s freed up so much time to deepen what I really care about.

Instead of feeling guilty I’ve explored it enough to know it is on a level, “learned shame” because a messy house does not align with how I was programmed:  Growing up,  society’s expectations in general (check out people’s houses on social media, there’s only a few brave souls who show their house au naturel,) family and outside judgements that continue to this day, not to mention the remnants of general gender roles and unspoken expectations.

But with awareness there’s something else you develop.  Choice.  You’re human and will feel those feelings, you will feel the fear of judgement, and then you can shake it off or cave to it.  Which lines up with who you really are?

Do I cave to other people’s judgements and spend hours cleaning my house over and over to maintain what is largely a facade of a clean organized house?

Or do I stay true to the values and priorities I set out for my self, in terms of how I want to spend my day? I know which one leads to the life I’ll be proud of.

And then… I take my kids outside.  To free play in the beautiful fall weather.

Because that’s the life I want, and that makes me alive.  Not spending more time cleaning my house, to avoid the judgment of others and keep up to expectations.

It’s truly not for me.

Kraft dinner comes out of shag rugs easier when it has dried and gone hard, anyways 😉

~

Moral of the story:

With better awareness comes freedom to make a choice.

With choice comes actions that align with who you are, and who you want to become, and the life you want for yourself and your family. 

Always, always before saying yes or no just ask yourself quickly in your mind:

“Does this align with where I want to go, who I want to be, what my future life shall look like? If it does, keep it.   If it doesn’t, let it go.  That is true time management.