Hitting a Wall

Are you familiar with that gnawing feeling inside? The knot in your stomach, or the lump in your chest that you’re meant for something more? I knew there was something greater inside of me, something the world needed. I just didn’t know what it was. I’d looked for it in other people, in a variety of jobs, and a whole slew of side hustles over the last four years.

Not knowing what I was looking for, I did all that I knew how to do – I got busy, being busy. You know the kind of busy that you’re not really moving in a particular direction, but you’re always on the move? Even backwards at times. I started to search, trying different side jobs, ventures, anything I could get my hands on that could spark the feeling I had long desired inside me. Something that would illuminate the path I’d been longing for. It wasn’t long before this need to discover my path became an obsession. Unfortunately this obsession led me to becoming very skilled at burning my candle at both ends. Sometimes determination can be a bad thing when it doesn’t include room for rest.

Stress does fascinating and terrible things to the body, mind and soul. Everyone has different signs, signals or feelings that arise when they’re reaching their limit. For me, my body tends to tense up, I start losing sleep and eventually I’ll wake up with a cold sore; the tell tale sign that I need to slow things down and rest. Getting to know your own signals, and then honouring your need for rest will save you a pile of discomfort and hurt.

There was a moment throughout this experience where I truly pushed myself beyond my own limitations and the Universe was forced to step in to intervene. The level I reached with my experience with burnout is one for the history books.

June 2018 was the climax of years of hustling, and I’d now been working long hours at my day job, and even longer hours on my new business that was set to launch in a couple weeks. I’d been putting off taking a mental health day for weeks, months even. Being the one responsible for opening the store, I wouldn’t let myself call in. Either way I felt myself reaching the point of doing too much, and my sleep quality was beginning to deteriorate.

After spending an entire weekend playing in a Corporate Challenge Slo-Pitch Tournament totaling seven games and a whole lot of sun exposure, I was sunburnt, sore and utterly exhausted. I woke up Monday feeling like I’d been hit by a freight train. I remember rolling out of bed, moaning and most likely complaining to my partner that my lips had never been so sunburnt. They were swollen, achy and sore. I went about my morning, jumped in my car and drove to work. I managed to push through all of Monday and Tuesday on literal fumes in my tank. I was still putting in long hours, no breaks and preparing for a 11 day kick off launch for my new business. Anyone who saw me in that first week of June would have a clear as day picture of what textbook exhaustion looks like.

June 6th is a day I’ll never forget. It’s when everything I’d been pushing down, persevering through and ignoring finally came full circle. By this time in the week my lips had swollen to three times their normal size. It was then that I realized it was more than just sunburnt lips, it was also one of the worst outbreaks of cold sores I’d ever experienced. My lips looked like they’d been pumped full of botox; even Kim Kardashian herself would have been jealous. It was hard enough to go to work right now with how I was feeling, but now I LOOKED awful too. Every ounce of my body was screaming at me that morning to stay in bed, to call my boss and let him know what my soul was crying out for. To finally take that mental health day. I didn’t do it though, I pushed on telling myself I could get through the rest of the week and recharge over the weekend and get just enough rest to be ready to kick off my business launch.

I take the same route to work every morning. It was along this familiar route that the Universe finally decided to make herself known and step in. I was exiting off the highway onto another major roadway. I was driving in behind a semi, and as he whirled into the merge lane he had such momentum that it caused the suction effect to pick a piece of drywall up off the side of the road and  hurl it directly into my path. It hit my 2013 Buick Encore square in the nose as I quite literally drove through “a wall”. There was no avoiding it, I had to drive straight through. Shocked, panicked, alive I slowed down only to get increasingly upset at the driver, and for some strange reason at myself (as if I had control?). I put the pedal to the metal and cursed a few lovely sentences in my vehicle as I pursued the semi driver. I managed to pull him over only to have him say that it wasn’t his fault, have a nice day! That was it. I reached my breaking point. I had finally hit a wall…literally. It was in this moment that I put any ugly crying girl you’ve ever seen to shame.

I called my partner in complete tears, and with every passing breath I was losing my grip on “keeping my cool”. I was bouncing in between blubbering and hyperventilating, I’m sure he barely understood what I was saying. Since I was already pulled over I took a look at the damage – it was minor. I’d lost my emblem, tow hook cover and damaged my hood slightly. Though the front end of my car looked like it’d had a bag of flour explode all over it (or illegal drugs). I took some deep mindful breaths and pulled myself together, by thin and weakened threads – I still had to get to work to open the store and I was going to be late. I spent the rest of my drive being grateful for the little amount of damage, and the fact that no one was seriously hurt (in between waves of emotion and tears).

Once I safely parked. I leaned in to my tribe. I had joined Sarah’s Unstuck program and had an incredible support team that had known all about what I’d been going through. I went live in that group and poured my heart out, with laughter, big crocodile tears, ridiculously reflective glasses that probably hid my red eyes, and my sore and swollen lips. The Universe finally got through to me. I was finally ready to listen, and I was definitely done pushing myself day in, day out. I needed rest. I was sent home for my mental health day shortly after my boss arrived to work.

Since that fateful day in June, I’ve been able to establish better boundaries, though there are still times I work longer and harder. I’ve also eliminated my corporate job and pursued the business I launched that week full-time. Burnout and stress are very real in our working world. If you can learn anything from reading this is to listen to your body, take rest early, and know that should you choose to push yourself too far – the Universe will likely step in and FORCE you to rest. It can show up unannounced and at anytime and in any way.

Remember that your body is always speaking to you.

Listen.

It is always communicating and sending updates on how you’ve been treating it.

Call it intuition.

Call it signals.
Call it warning signs.
Call it whatever the hell you want.

Just don’t ignore it.
Ever.

Once the Universe is forced to step in – you never know what she’ll do to wake you up, or slow you down.
Much love,
Miss Olivia

Olivia Shwetz is an Intuition Reactivation Coach from Alberta, Canada. Find her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/wakethewildwithin/ and check out her 8-week program: Naturally Intuitive http://bit.ly/Naturally_Intuitive

She Had Enough

By Megan Harmony

She woke up one morning a different from the woman who went to bed the night before.

She was no longer going to wait.

She had enough!

Enough waiting for the perfect moment.

Enough hiding from the world.

Enough putting everyone else’s needs first.

Enough ignoring her soul.

She had seen enough pain in the world and could no longer sit by and do nothing.

She had enough of the fear. Enough of the, “who am I to do this?

She had enough of telling herself she wasn’t good enough.

What is “good enough?” She couldn’t define it.

So she let it go!

No more believing she didn’t know enough. The time had come to rise up. The time to act is now!

That voice in her head that had kept her stuck and small for so long, was gone!

There’s no room for it in this space!

No Space in this world that is desperately calling for women to stand up and speak out, share the truth from the depths of their soul, spread the hope about overcoming trauma and tragic loss and offer comfort to those who are struggling,

She knew she needed to be that voice.

To be heard, to be seen, to serve.

There was a new voice in her mind.

One of a cheerleader, encouraging her every step of the way.

You’ve got this!

It is a privilege to be in your presence!

The world needs your light!

GO, GIRL!

And so she put herself out there. Raw, vulnerable & real.

And the world was a brighter place for it!

She never looked back.

She had no regrets.

For she knew her worth and she knew it from her core.

She showed up. First for herself, and then for others.

And that in itself was enough.

Megan Harmony

Grateful Heart

By Robin Liechti

“Let’s raise children who won’t need to recover from their childhoods.” – Pam Leo

Gratitude. This one simple word has changed my life forever.
I keep hearing “be who you needed when you were younger”. My first reaction is to defend my family, because I’ve always felt I had a good childhood. We spent holidays together, went on trips, I was loved and I full heartedly know my parents did the best they could. I’m not sure if it’s a person I could have benefited from, or just the knowledge, but what I needed is simple. Gratitude. I needed gratitude for myself… for my body, my thoughts, my feelings and all of my perfect imperfections. How was I supposed to be grateful for others, things or life in general when I wasn’t even grateful for myself? How could I love someone else unconditionally, when I didn’t even love myself?

Gratitude goes hand in hand with self love. Although I have no regrets in life, while lacking both of these, it certainly lead me down some dark roads. I wasn’t treating my body with the respect and love it so needed and deserved. Instead of nourish and care for my body, I would starve it. Instead of take pride in my body, I would compare it to everyone else’s. I didn’t appreciate that we are all different and that’s what makes us who we are. I didn’t appreciate that I am the only me there is, and I relied on validation from others instead of loving and honouring myself.

As I look back on my childhood and teenage years there isn’t anything I would change, as its part of who I am now. I am still the same me, just a stronger, more accepting and loving version with a greater sense of awareness through gratitude. Practicing daily gratitude has positively changed my life and views. I’ve learnt that there is gratitude to be found in the tiny moments, the big moments, in the struggles and in who I am.

I’m grateful for being Canadian.
I’m grateful for my body for growing, carrying and delivering my children.
I’m grateful for my marriage that ended in divorce.
I’m grateful for reuniting with my first love after the previous.
I’m grateful for family dinners, hikes and adventures.
I’m grateful for the chipmunks that show up at our patio door during breakfast and dinner time. (They are pretty much our pets)
I’m grateful for having the courage to pursue my dreams and inspire others.
I’m grateful for the support from family, friends and those I have not met.
And, I’m grateful for cuddles with my boys.

I have decided to be the change, and inspire change. My goal is to encourage love, peace, joy, kindness, fulfillment and resilience through gratitude. With the unrealistic media expectations and the rise in anxiety and self-esteem issues, I feel its imperative we act on this now. I have had so much fun creating and publishing a children’s gratitude journal titled The Making of a Grateful Heart. This journal encourages children and families to practice daily gratitude, together, and really appreciate all there is and all that they are. Once I realized this journal could have benefited me as a child and could benefit my children now, I knew I had to write it. When we are grateful for ourselves, we can find true appreciation and joy for everything else the world has to offer. Without gratitude, we’re just going through the motions but never stopping to admire the little things in life. When is the last time you stopped to listen to the leaves dancing in the wind? Or watch the sunset? When we pay more attention to the little things, the things we often take for granted, we come to realize how beautiful the world really is. I wish for all children to grow up truly loving and appreciating this world as a whole.

Gratitude is love, spread it generously!

Robyn Liechti

Robyn Liechti

Author

www.robynliechti.com

https://www.instagram.com/robynliechti/

Highs and Lows

By Stephanie Johnston

Highs and lows are a normal part of the human experience. Peaks and valleys. I have been told so many times, “You are always happy!” I think the dimples make me seem that way but the truth is, I have highs and lows too. I’m an emotional being, so what I feel is usually amplified. 

Since it’s been a long winter here on the East Coast, I thought I’d share some of the ways I deal with the low days when they do show up. Knowing that it’s OK to have sad days, and allowing myself to feel what I’m feeling helps so much!
Here’s what I do:

  • I surrender to Netflix marathons, wrapped up in cozy blankets. 
  • I play outside with my best friend ROXY (My angelic Golden Retriever). Seeing her in her happy state makes me smile every single time!
  • I always feel better in the water.  Oceans + rivers in the summer, bathtubs or pools in the winter. 
  • Turn off social media!
  • Lay in bed (or on my living room floor) and listen to music.
  • Take a drive to the wintery beach with the music turned up!
  • Look up at the sky and notice the clouds or the birds flying.
  • Move my body!
  • Journal or write out my thoughts and feelings.
  • Walk in the woods to ground myself and enjoy the scents and sounds.
  • Book myself in for a massage therapy session. 

I always just ask myself, what could make me feel even just a little bit better? What would bring me comfort right now? 

Stephanie Johnston

Founder, The Goddess Gatherings

Find Stephanie on Facebook or Instagram or on her website

The Science & Art of Business & Leadership

By Sarah Swain

This is an open letter to all entrepreneurs, visionaries, side hustlers, executives and middle managers alike. There is an art and a science behind what we get to do. The science is the business and the business is in the numbers. Metrics, formulas, trends, graphs, trajectories, projections, performance, growth, productivity, losses, profit and anything else you can measure. It’s black and white, or should I say, black or red. The business is either running, or it isn’t. The business is either producing results, or it isn’t. The business is either growing or it isn’t. The business is either profitable or it isn’t. The results of the numbers tell us this, our feelings don’t. There is no grey area here, and how we feel about our business doesn’t have a line on the profit and loss report. This isn’t cold. This is business. The warmth of business lies in the art; the art of leadership.

Here’s the deal though, being a business owner does not make you a leader by default, just the same as being a leader to a group of people doesn’t mean you can run a business. Titles don’t generate leaders, behaviours do. Inspiration and feelings don’t produce results, performance does.

Through my observations of working for billion dollar companies, running my own business, and watching others run their own platforms, there is one thing I know for sure. In order for business, or anyone in business to survive, they must respect the balance between the art and the science. I have seen great business minds fall down as a result of their poor leadership skills and I have seen great leaders fall because of their lack of business fundamentals. I have seen visionaries quit their own vision because business feels too cold for them, and I have seen brilliant business ideas flop because of something as simple as a lack of interpersonal skills.

Successful, sustainable business is a dance.

The best business models I have ever seen, possess this ideology – If it isn’t good for the employees/clients, it isn’t good for the business. Meaning, if the employees and/or the clients and customers are not happy, the business has a decision to make: listen and change, or ignore and fail. Because guess what? Businesses with happy, engaged employees and happy customers win every single time. If you’re making decisions for the business, without consulting the input and overall experience of your team, clients & customers, your business won’t succeed in the long term. On the flip side, if you’re allowing emotions to create knee jerk reactions and decisions for the business without proper planning, strategy and roll out, you’re still heading for a metric face plant. Its’ a dance.

One thing I did at the beginning of 2017 when I knew my craving for entrepreneurship was nearing it’s breaking point, I did what most people wouldn’t. I asked for feedback. I surveyed over 30 people I had worked with or had personal relations with over the past decade and asked them for their feedback based on their experience with me in the categories of leadership, communication, business & interpersonal skills. In exchange for their honesty, I committed to not rebutting any of their comments, or engaging in any type of justification for why they may have had a sub-par opinion. Why did I do this? Well, it’s easy for us to get caught up in what we think we are really great at and ignore some of the tougher interactions that may suggest we have room for improvement. Naturally, we don’t like to acknowledge our weaknesses so we tend to steer away from those lanes. However, if you’re going to engage in business in any form, I can’t stress this enough. Your weaknesses are your blind spots because if you don’t familiarize yourself with your blind spots, it makes it that much easier for threats to your business and reputation to enter in through the spaces which you cannot, or choose not to see.

The art of business & entrepreneurship is to know yourself, your triggers & your blind spots. The art is to acknowledge your strengths and your weaknesses. The art is to be conscious of how you’re showing up as and being seen in your community. The art is the willingness to listen to feedback and engage your emotional intelligence before responding. The art is to stay in your area of expertise and genius as often as you can, while simultaneously addressing skill sets or traits that may pull you backwards. The art is surrendering when it’s time for you to delegate to people who have the required skills that you don’t possess. The art is knowing when to take a step back and evaluate. The art is continuing to learn. The art is accepting that you don’t know it all, and finding excitement in knowing there is still so much more for you to learn. The art is your ability to lead because your ability to lead affects your business, more than your business affects your ability to lead.

Sarah Swain

Founder & Visionary, The Great Canadian Woman

http://www.thegreatcanadianwoman.ca

https://www.instagram.com/thegreatcanadianwoman