In a world that constantly celebrates people’s productivity and output, my hope is that by giving you a peak into the HUMANS I work with, you realize that the value you bring into the world is based on WHO YOU ARE first and foremost.
Your leadership is your legacy.
How we show up in all these various ways is modeling leadership and creating your realities.
Who we are at the core is the engine and the foundation behind the impact we make in the world.
When Kristen Rutherford walks into a room (albeit virtual or in person) one is immediately drawn to her, sun shiny, authentic disposition and her groundedness. Zero pretentiousness with this Kiwi transplant. She’s a safe haven for her team. She’s not afraid to speak up and she’s wildly creative. She’s also the Executive Creative Director, TBWA Chiat Day, Los Angeles.
SARAH: How are you living your legacy TODAY?
KIRSTEN: I’ve journaled every night for the past 33 years. In the last few years since my Dad passed away, I’ve tried to change the spirit of that daily summation into one that leads only with gratitude. If I have something to write on the page, then I’m living my values which feels pretty awesome.
Whether that’s seeing growth in my team, or seeing them feel appreciated…that makes me feel appreciated.
I’m grateful to be able to find the intersection between my purpose and profession– whether that’s working on accounts that do good, or finding opportunities with brands to help them find their soul.
I’m also grateful that at this stage in my career, I’ve been given the trust and support to bring even more humanity to place with the words ‘Be more human’ written in 12ft letters on our outside wall.
SARAH: Tell us about the opportunity to speak at Cannes and why it’s important to you?
KIRSTEN: I’m privileged to be talking to the Cannes Young Lions Creative Academy. The Academy is a talent accelerator for the brightest young (under 30) creative talent in the world. My session is called ‘Balancing your creativity with purpose’. We’re discussing how to intersect your values / purpose with your profession and how to use your moral compass if something doesn’t sit well with your beliefs and values.
It’s such an honor when this conversation allows me to live my own purpose: making the world a better place through kindness and creativity!
SARAH: How would you describe working with me?
KIRSTEN: I’ve been lucky enough to work with Sarah in both group workshops and personal coaching. I’m grateful for her insight- she has a glorious ability to take a step back and summarize what feels like a mountain, into a very walkable hill! Sarah holds you accountable. We all know the power of being challenge to articulate our 3ft toss and stay true to that. She’s challenging… in all the right ways!
A huge thank you to Kristen for taking a beat to slow down and share with me what she’s up too.
We’ll I’m circling back – because the next group for 2022 is starting this fall and you need to know more about this now.
Also – something happened last week that struck me about this program and the women who participated in 2021 – and I had a big moment of pride. Of joy. Of warmth.
“Transformation gets created, and these women experience a true sense of belonging well beyond the program.
We working moms owe it to ourselves to get supported. Our deepest desires matter. We’re not here just to support others. I know my working Moms know that.”
I notice how easily it is for women to bond over what’s not working in their life, and while that might feel good in the moment, it certainly doesn’t foster long-term change. If anything, it fosters more resentment, frustration and overwhelm.
I love this program so much because these women not only redefine what leadership means, they finally get the support they’re worthy of from other working Moms who get them. From there, I witness the Mother Board members truly be the author of their lives and lean into their deepest *desires* despite the circumstances around them (not enough time in the day, a partner who doesn’t carry their weight, lack of energy, money etc).
“One of the greatest gifts I see women experience in this program is the ‘ongoing’ support after the program completes.”
If you’re a working Mom, or know one, please consider this my invitation to invest in yourself. Doors will close Aug. 1st and I want you to experience the gift of not only having myself be a stand for you, but also other women who will believe in you like you’ve never felt before – all from a place of compassion.
My heart is numb from all that happened last week at Robb Elementary.
In fact, it’s been numb for a while as I’m still processing what happened in Buffalo. As a Mama of an 11 year old and a 9 year old boy, the pain I imagine the families feel must be unbearable and paralyzing.
Like you, my world doesn’t stop *even* when the most horrific events happen in my country. I still chose to show up and Mother. Coach. Wife. Cook. Drive the boys to various practices etc. I laughed, I cried, I got frustrated and everything in-between.
Just because we carry on with our lives, doesn’t mean that we don’t care.
Do you ever feel like in moments like this, that you *should* be…
Taking moments of silence
Giving your team the day(s) off
Keeping your kids home
Galvanizing your community to voice your opinion about gun laws
Whatever your ‘should’ is I totally get it.
What I notice is how much we all live in an either/ or world. In other words, you can’t possibly be excited over your current WIN at work, and be grieving at the same time.
Well I call B.S.
We are spiritual beings, having a human experience. That means our humanity can be feeling a smorgasbord of feelings at the same time – excitement, sadness, joy, nerves, rage, loneliness and so on.
In the midst of ALL of our humanity, there’s nothing wrong with you still choosing to lead in all areas of your life. Standing in responsibility and following through with your commitments. That doesn’t make you a selfish, unaware or an uncaring human being.
Your humanity and leadership are not mutually exclusive, they co-exist
What I will ask is that you give space for YOUR humanity to breathe as well as your teams. In practical ways this looks like:
Building in space for you to share your feelings (yes people, talk about how you feel…it’s super liberating, and the more you do it, the more you give others the opportunity to express themselves
Loosen the reins on the work agenda, and make space at the start of work calls to check in with your people.
If you feel called to do more, then wonderful. Take the pressure off and be with ALL of your humanity and continue to lead in service to sharing your full self with the world.
If you want support around this, just hit me back.
Something has happened in the last few years (ok… a lot has happened) but *in* this moment, I’m really noticing how we make *everything* have so much significance.
I notice it everywhere.
I notice it with business owners, who get stuck taking action because they’re so fixated on knowing their purpose.
I notice it with people in various seasons of life.
The 50 somethings who crave a different kind of purpose in their life then they’ve had, but are concerned about agism. Not saying that they don’t have evidence as to why they should be, but I’ve noticed how much it contributes to their worry.
I notice it with the upcoming driven 20+ somethings who feel they MUST know their purpose in the first quarter of the life.
So much significance placed on every bloody exchange, that it can become a real time suck and energy drain.
So much pressure!
I notice I do it with my husband when he writes to me and doesn’t reference me by the nickname he calls me. Before I know it, I place so much significance on the exchange, that it causes me to question myself, question him, our relationship.
My intention for pointing to this, isn’t to have a conversation as to why us humans make so much significance out of things, because I think we know why (hello technology that has us connected 24/7, hello expectations and ambition that can cause us to obsess over details).
Instead, my goal is to help you see where you create unnecessary significance in your life, and by doing so, it’s that *leadership* that’s actually getting in the way of you having a better life.
Consider what happens to you when you give something a lot of significance? Do you start to over-analyze? Do you get stuck in the paradox of choice and not make any movement? Do you become overly prickly and barky with your partner?
When I start to give something a lot of significance I notice I have soooooo much expectation, so much desire to get it all right, and ultimately not a lot of trust.
My leadership in those moments are very much rooted in doubt.
One of the breakthroughs I’ve been actively creating this year in my leadership is instead of holding everything with so much significance, holding things with more grace and ultimately being grace. Which to me means a few things:
+ Assuming the other person has positive intent.
+ Being okay with murkiness and sometimes that means only knowing the very next baby step I’m taking, but not the one after it.
+ Letting myself change my mind and being okay with others changing their mind.
Question for you…
In service to your leadership, what in your life are you making significant, and if you were to hold it slightly differently, how would your life improve for the better?
The #1 desire I hear my clients want day in and day out is more inner peace. A sense of calm. A sense of spaciousness. As I deepen in my leadership and practice not making every dang thing so significant, I notice a much greater sense of calm. If this speaks to you, give it a go and let me know you get on with it.
For all my peeps out there whose #1 value is connection, read this carefully as you might be falling into the trap that I notice a lot of my community, clients and friends are.
Now more than ever as we emerge from 2 years working at home, little to know travel and/or interactions with others, we’re all craving connection. So much so, that we often choose a connection over saying what we really need to say.
I was working with a company’s president this week and we were discussing a conversation that he was planning on having with one of his C-Suite Execs that was the kind of conversation that if it didn’t happen, they’d have a major issue with retention in the near future.
I noticed every time we started to talk about the intention behind the conversation, how we was going to show up and what he was going to say, he would start to squirm and get distracted with other priorities. It was obvious he didn’t want to have this conversation and just the thought of if was bringing up a ton of discomfort.
This president values integrity as much as connection, but when it came to the possible thought of having a conversation that could trigger a colleague and cause a possible argument, he was paralyzed by fear. So relatable right?!
We live in a world that’s constantly telling us to ‘Be authentic. Speak up. Tell your truth.’ Yet, even when the stakes are high in the boardroom, or at home with our partners or our children, how many times do we (YOU) choose connection over authenticity, thinking they’re mutually exclusive?
Let’s be real.
There is a massive impact on each one of us when we choose comfort and connection over speaking up.
Where, in your life, are you avoiding sharing your most authentic self, because you’re prioritizing connection even though it’s at the cost of you really sharing yourself?
Think about it.
I bet you don’t have to look too far.
We’re human and we have a bias for comfort – but the last thing we need in this world is people avoiding speaking up and dancing around the truth.
Will you be courageous today and share your authentic self over connection in the moment?
Guess what… More times than not, the more authentic you are, the greater sense of true connection you end up creating in the long run.
For all my people who live by checklists, and go through the day trying to ‘get it all done in EVERY area of your life, this is for you.
From one driven leader to another, going about your day that way can feel really dang good in the moment, *but* it can leave you feeling burned out and even worse – UNINSPIRED.
When I feel uninspired, nothing works – I’m disconnected from my work, my family, and myself. Ugg.
So what can you do?!!?
Last week I spent the week at Camp Cultivate, which is an annual retreat that takes place in Dripping Springs Texas and is the brainchild of my amazing friend and life coach Allison Crow.
When we walked into the gorgeous room where we were going to be for the 4 days, she had a set of paints on every woman’s seat (50) and colored pens.
Throughout the whole week, I found myself picking up the paints to draw metaphors for what I wanted to remember. Each day went on, I found myself settling more into my body and less in my head. New ideas were coming to me and I started to experience even more ease around my business and what’s next for the back half of 2022.
I know you might be thinking there’s nothing new about this idea of using color markers and paints, but here’s what I know about myself and my community! We often don’t, because we’re so busy, the idea of anything that could slow down productivity gets an eye roll.
If you want to experience more of your creative brilliance, I’m telling you, get your paints and pens out and carry them everywhere.
Do NOT underestimate what happens when the little child in you gets to draw.
To BE inspired and commit to leading from your heart, THIS is one brilliant way that will crack it open.
So this week I’ll ask…
If you were feeling more inspired today, what would you put your energy toward that would have you feeling more alive than ever?
Commit to taming your busy and reignite your creativity,
Are you ready to embrace the day!? Here’s what I’ve been seeing this week that may help you lean into the day as a stronger leader….
So for context, I spend a lot of time with corporate execs from creative agencies and foundations, and one of the biggest desires I’m hearing from them is a culture of candor.
I credit companies like Amazon, MSFT and Netflix for leading the way 4-5 years ago to create cultures where it became expected to speak your truth in service to tearing down ideas, and leaving no rock unturned. Caveat- I’m not saying that they’re nailing it, but I am saying they kicked off a trend. But I would still hear stories about how these exchanges would go, and quite honestly, it frightened me.
There was an undercurrent of ‘its business…leave your feelings out of it’ which results in a lack of harmony and collaboration, and more of a ‘get it done’ attitude.
Today, the desire for a culture of candor is even more present, but what got us there 4 years ago, isn’t what will get us to that brutally open, honest and transparent culture now.
I was coaching two groups of creative execs this week, and was blown away by how each of them were showing up. Both groups have big missions, big revenues to hit and lots of employees to manage – and each meeting was two hours (not a lot of time to jam through the top priorities).
What stood out to me was how these execs were relating to one another:
1. People were giving feedback in a way that was direct and respectful. 2. People were actively listening to one another, instead of talking over each other. 3. People were genuinely curious about other’s people’s ideas and how they arrived at certain decisions.
These execs had dropped their armour and lead from open hearts.
People don’t use the world ‘love’ much with leadership, but it’s the secret sauce to growing your culture and ultimately your bottom line. I’m literally watching my clients experience transformation and they’re creating a ripple in their organizations.
Remember, how the leader is being, is how the team is being.
I’ve been working with these groups for the past year and they’re incredible examples of exec teams prioritizing doing the work on their leadership and who they are in the world.
As a result, they’re pacing ahead on their revenue and, equally important, they’re on their way to creating cultures that foster transparency and humanity at the same time.
(It’s the humanity that was getting left out pre-Covid btw).
I can’t say it enough, investing in your teams is one of the greatest gifts you can give your people. If you’re looking for an immediate baby step to help you drop your armor, and instead lead from an open heart so you can experience more candor in any of your relationships, check out Brene Brown’s new doc series on HBO Max, ‘Atlas of the Heart.’ Her ability to breakdown emotions and put words to them (remember it’s our emotions that we hide behind when we experience fear) is so valuable. John and I watched it together, and it sparked a ton of really important conversations that I experienced bringing us closer.
SO HERE’S SMTH FOR YOU TO CONSIDER THIS WEEK….
If you were to 10x your ability to be more transparent and honest in any area of your life, what’s the biggest impact you can imagine creating?
And for those of you who might not be a mother yourself, I know for sure you know one – so please also read along and forward forward forward.
So Mother’s – My Dear sweet Mother’s – we’re a tricky group of people.
Because we’re 1st to say YES to everyone else….and we deplete ourselves. And when it comes time to put ourselves first, to actually nurture REAL growth in ourselves, we often
…DON’T DO IT.
Please listen up.
There’s nothing wrong with being of service, until you lean so far to the edge that you’re running on empty. You have a combination of a low energy, irritability, overwhelm and exhaustion. Zero space left to make any decisions, let alone implement them.
But underneath that …
There’s a women who had BIG dreams. But, now fully having stepped into Motherhood AND working AND generally keeping up with life, those dreams seem super out of touch? Forget trying to implement them at this point.
The question that I see that stumps driven Mama’s the most is this….
“What do you really want more of in your life, that you don’t currently have?”
I was one of those mothers for a long time – ask me what I wanted, and I could give you some general, neutral answer but felt zero connection to it (not because I was dead inside, I was just feeling an overall disconnect with myself, my partner, friends and colleagues at times).
Thank goodness for my coach at the time who quickly reflected back to me two things:
My ability to speak up and ask for support was non-existent (asking and then martyring about it didn’t count in her book).
My experience of disconnection had nothing to do with other people, and everything to do with my leadership and how I was choosing to relate to people and experiences in my life.
I wanted something different. For the sake over everyone around me, they too wanted something different for me.
I soooo get it.
Ultimately it’s up to US, to commit to investing in ourselves and get support.
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I’m inviting you to ask to be appreciated in a way that will truly impact you and the ripple you create around you. Ask to be supported by joining The Mother Board.
This isn’t Mother’s sitting around talking about parenting. It’s Mothers declaring their desires, and doing the work to remove any obstacles in their leadership while being supported by other Mothers who want you to WIN.
It’s a gift that I wish I had received at any stage of motherhood as I go into my 14th year of mothering. We’ve all felt our identity get mumble jumbled when we become mothers, but this is an opportunity to create REAL, meaningful, impactful, change with a support network and professional coaching experience.
Doors are OPEN for The Mother Board beginning Sept 2022, and we have limited spots. Reply directly to this email and we’ll grab time to discuss what’s possible for you through the support of The Mother Board.
Today I launch my 2022 The Boardgroup and it has me thinking a lot about…first impressions.
As I prepare to welcome this incredible group of men and women I find myself jostling back and forth between feelings of confidence, nervousness, and *old habits* of wanting to “get it right” (whatever the heck that means).
I used to over-prepare when I was launching a new group or giving a talk. Because I value excellence, I would take this to the extreme (we’re talking notecards, late nights rehearsing, the whole nine yards).
As a result, I would come across as intelligent, organized, and polished, but also distant. Something was missing for me and for others – I could feel it. It was heart. I was so buttoned-up, that I’d covered up my heart, my authentic self.
I see this a lot when I’m working with clients – the desire to make a big 1st impression, to be seen as brilliant, a worker bee, and above all, buttoned up and yet it often overshadows their natural self. Their humanness. The part of them that lets people connect to them. Without that connection, it’s really hard to get behind whatever it is they’re presenting, selling, or solving.
So this week consider…
“Who do YOU want to be known as?”
& “Is that how people are experiencing you today?”
Pro-tip: Over the years one of the greatest techniques that have helped me in making a 1st impression that fully represents me is to choose a quality that I want people to experience and then lead from it wholeheartedly.
Ex: I want people to experience ease with me today. As do I. So I’m leading from grace.
Grace to me looks like leading from patience and compassion even in the face of discomfort, and being willing to own when I’m feeling uncomfortable. Full transparency.
What’s cool about this pro-tip is that you get to *choose* who you want to BE which I’ve found to be incredibly empowering and supportive.
Instead of trying to “get it all right”, give yourself a break and choose a quality in which you’re committed to leading from. Embody that quality and witness the magic that happens from there.
I’m directly speaking to all the mothers in our community, so if you’re reading this and you’re not a mother, pls gift someone the opportunity of being seen and share this with them.
I thank you, as will they!
As a Mother of a 13, nearly 11, and 9-year-old boys, I’m speaking on behalf of my experience and what I hear in everyday conversations with clients, friends, and family.
It’s no secret that mothers are being stretched in ways we never dreamed of.
There are some wonderful outlets out in the world that provide places to gather, share and collectively exhale, but often I notice that support helps give relief in the moment, but doesn’t necessarily translate to transformation.
There was a long stretch in my motherhood where I really couldn’t remember who I was.
Ask me what I did for fun? Couldn’t tell you.
Asked me how fulfilled I was? … meh. (Aside from loving my boys!)
Asked me how connected I felt to others? Comme Ci, Comme Ca.
Asked me if I felt truly supported beyond the point of colluding with someone?
Not so much.
Asked me what I was doing to change things up in my word? Not much. But I was really good at living in mediocrity (because on paper everything looked pretty fabulous).
Then came the movement of providing Mothers a ‘safe space’ to share, be heard and be seen thanks to social media. While I see the impact many of them have had on Mothers, for me they lacked intention beyond ‘sharing.’
I wanted more.
I wanted the kind of support that was going to truly shake things up, hold my feet to the fire, ruthlessly tell me what I couldn’t see, and ultimately inspire me to remember who I was. All in service to showing up more fully in my wonder.
So what does one do when they can’t find what they’re looking for?
*Spoiler alert* They create it themselves.
An intimate group coaching experience for women who all share the badge of “Mother” AND a desire to bring their most connected leadership self forward to experience MORE fulfillment and fun. This group of women serve as a personal Board of Directors to each other – the female transformational partners that I believe we mothers speak. No feeling of competition, comparison, or criticism. When one boat rises, we all rise.
One of the greatest gifts that I’ve seen come from my Mother Board groups is a newfound set of tools that empower women to create the world they want to be experiencing NOW, despite all the circumstances around them.
I’m on my flight back from Costa Rica, after 13 days in the jungle with 16 other humans from every corner of the world – all coaches committed to their work.
It was a transformational experience to say the least.
Something that completely struck me yesterday was when one of the participants asked me if I was excited to go home. It hit me in that moment. While I missed my husband, our cheeky boys, and my own bed….for the first time I didn’t have the anxiousness to get back.
This was a big AHA moment for me.
Normally, after a few days I start to get consumed with thoughts like…
“I need to get home to finish x, y, z”
“My clients are going to check out if I’m not there to support them”
“Is the kids homework getting turned in and are they prepped for their weekly tests?”
“John must be exhausted as it’s a full-time job parenting with two, let alone one”
Side Note: These thoughts have nothing to do with John, my children, or my clients, and everything to do with my stuff and the significance I would place on being ‘away’ from work and responsibilities.
Productivity for me (and probably you if you’re one of my people) has been a part of my DNA for as long as I can remember.
The feeling of checking things off, closing loops, ‘getting ‘er’ done had been a good feeling…a validating feeling of my worthiness AND it was costing me.
I struggled to relax, to be fully engaged, to be with whatever choice I made at the moment and the worse part was I could hide it. Others didn’t experience so much, but I could feel it in my body. I felt scattered, anxious, and disconnected and at times unfulfilled.
If this speaks to you, here are a few ways you can get practice:
I haven’t seen my crew in 13 days and I’m feeling incredibly calm and at peace in my body. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to see them, AND my clients this week, but I don’t feel the sense of anxiousness I used to feel after traveling and I certainly don’t have thoughts like ‘I’m going to be so behind in my life….” which use to run my mind!
And it feels really refreshing, freeing, and incredible.
I want this for you, too.
So for this week, I’d love for you to consider…
Imagine the ripple you’d create with this shift in your leadership!
If you’re too busy to say yes to something you really want, are you willing to lead from a different quality in order to create it?
Almost all of my clients, and myself included, have a bias for action. We like to plow through things and get it done. That also tends to mean that are schedules are packed. Sound familiar?
Part 2 to that, those packed, productive days can also mean that when opportunities we really really want come up (professional, creative, personal, fun) we don’t know what to do.
We freeze, and often turn them down completely. Also sound familiar?
Case in Point: I was at a wedding a few weeks ago and one of my clients spontaneously invited me to the 3% Conference in Atlanta in two weeks.
I didn’t tell her this, but I’m telling you. My initial thought…. “Is she crazy? That would mean rescheduling nearly 15 client meetings across three days. And the boys… what about the boys, the homework, the cooking, and and and…”
…. Clearly, that came from fear.
Then I thought….” is she being serious?”
All the while I could feel a burst of positive energy and excitement course through my body.
Experience and impact are two values I live by, and the 3% Conference is something I’ve wanted to participate in for years. In a nutshell it’s a very established movement in the creative world that believes (as do I) that more women & more diversity = MORE creativity + more profitability.
Without speaking to my team, my husband, my kids, I blurted, “HELL YES.”
I let go of how I would make it all work and I chose to lead from trust.I get it, I really do. Leadership happens in the moment. Busy bees like us can get such tunnel vision and addicted to the high of planning and completing things, that we deny ourselves the joy of living in the moment.
But there’s another way to lead.
So this week in your leadership…
Can you identify what you’re craving, and then identify what QUALITY you need to lead from to experience that desire.
I chose trust. My team, my family, my own ability. To communicate changes and decide what things can be pushed back or let go. And I know you can choose a different quality to lead from too.
Stay tuned as I share my key takeaways and leadership growth from the 3% Conference this week (follow me on socials if you don’t already)!
I’m so glad we’re in this together learning and growing,
Today’s leadership kick: Before that big event or meeting, take the time to create a vision for how you want to experience it. Then let that vision guide the choices you make.
This Friday I’ll be heading to Zion National Park with a group of incredibly driven, open-hearted, growth-minded women who have been part of my group coaching programover the last 9 months.
These are driven women who wear many different hats. They are committed to growing their own leadership while at the same time being a stand for one another in a very honest, transparent and open-hearted way. It’s required a big investment of time, money, and energy. So now we’re off to do the work in-person in the midst of magical Zion.
For me, there was a time leading up to big meetings and events where the week prior would feel chaotic. I’d have an endless list of things to do, and quite frankly, wasn’t a whole lot of fun to be around because of how much pressure I’d put on myself. The big meeting/event would ultimately go well but the experience leading up was so far from what I wanted – and I simply put I didn’t know any other way to BE.
How do you show up prior to an important work event?
Do you jam-pack your schedule?
Over-prepare to the point where you’re staying up late and then feel rubbish the next morning?
Do you become snippy with people around you?
Do you question if you know enough?
Do you obsess over all the details?
Do you feel a huge sense of relief when you actually get on the other side of the event?
If any of the above resonates with you, I so get it. I’ve realized through my own growth that the experience leading up to the event/meeting is equally important to me.
In fact, I often find it’s more enjoyable or equal to the event itself. As I go into the final week leading up to this retreat now, I still feel a variety of emotions: excitement, jitters, a bit of anxiousness – but above all I feel calm and grounded.
That question will draw you into the present moment, and from there you can choose to course correct and lead from such qualities like curiosity, vulnerability, grace, etc.. And as a bonus, here’s a pro-tip.
Regardless of how big the event or meeting is, take time to create a vision for how you want to experience it. This will give altitude while also connecting you to the experience, instead of focusing on the end result. Length of your vision doesn’t matter, so don’t get caught up! Write your vision in the present tense and remember, it’s this vision or something even better for your highest good.
Then let that vision guide the choices you make.
For example: I’ve cleared my evenings this week, so I have space to relax and rest. I’ve also let colleagues know that I’ll be less available this week. Not so I can fill that time but so I can create space. That space is what allows me to lead with a wide-open heart. This is the key to being an impactful and effective leader.
I’ll be sharing more about Zion as I have insights and learnings for you all, but in the meantime, slow your roll if you want to experience the gold that’s available to you in those BIG moments.
Now what? You’ve declared how you want to feel or what you want, and might have even gone as far as setting a goal, but have you noticed how quickly life gets in the way? Suddenly, that thing you were going to change gets shoved to the side, and before you know it, 2017 is starting to look a lot like 2016.
To be notified when NEW Conscious Convos become available, sign up HERE!
I can hardly contain my excitement when it comes to sharing the story of my new friend, Robin Smalley, with you.
Robin exemplifies what it means to be a conscious Mama, playing full out. She exuded confidence, calmness, elegance, and a sense of grace about her. She immediately struck me as someone who is as much alive on the inside as on the outside.
Through Robin’s own awakening process, she became the co-founder of mothers2mothers, an remarkable non-profit headquartered in South Africa, on a mission to end pediatric aids. Side fact, over 600 children are infected with HIV a day. This issue is very real and their work is much needed.
In this edition of Conscious Convos, you will hear from a women who had it all. A Mom of two. A wife. She had the successful job in entertainment and all the perks that come with it – only something was missing.
Robin and I had a candid conversation, and she shares with us:
How she know’s when she’s living consciously and when she’s out of alignment.
Three tools to help experience the best version of yourself while pursuing a life of purpose and motherhood.
My intention is that this ‘Conscious Convo’ will inspire you to wake up, plug in, and play full out. It’s time to start experiencing the highest version of who you’re here to become. Remember, there’s only one of you, and you have something that nobody else does.
Here’s to getting Conscious, feeling alive, and experiencing all of who you’re here to become with grace and ease,
I’ve been thinking a lot about Gratitude since Thanksgiving is just a few days away. I keep having this thought around it and wonder if you have too. From as young as I can remember, I was taught to be grateful and happy for what I have. As an adult, I’ve noticed gratitude has been productized.
Can you remember? Were they flapping their wings right in the core of your gut?
Were you scared? Excited? Nervous?
A few days ago, I had the brilliant opportunity to share my story and tangible tools with a large group of savvy, professional, “make it happen” women. Sound like you?
My talk was on the theme, “Where did ME go?” and addressed the working women and working mom challenges that we all face. Even though I love public speaking and have given countless presentations to studio execs, CMOs, creative visionaries and working moms, there was something about this particular event that sparked butterflies in my stomach.
They came and went throughout the day and I wondered why I was feeling them. I was confident in the content of my talk. I was super excited about the women who were attending and I was incredibly thankful for the opportunity that had shown up gracefully and effortlessly.
While on my run that morning, the light bulb went off. The butterflies weren’t fear—they represented excitement. Joy. Fun. Expansion. It’s almost as if their wings were beating faster then normal because of the positive charge. I was reminded that I felt that way because I’m living on purpose. I’m doing what I call my “God’s work” and I LOVE IT. Every experience and job I had that led me to this part of my life has contributed to the unfolding of where I am now. I welcome the butterflies. Anytime. It means I’m growing in ways I never knew were possible.
Are you wanting to experience the good kind of butterflies? I have a question to help get you going if you’re feeling stuck.
“What is your soul seeking right now at this very moment?”
Sit with that and see what comes up. You will be surprised at what you start to hear. Now is your time to listen and act on your intuition, so you can experience as much fulfillment, purpose and harmony as you desire (and can receive).
Do you ever feel you’re doing it all (been there)? Or, maybe you hear yourself saying, “When is it going to be my turn?” (been there too)! Or, maybe you catch yourself in comparison mode to others, and you’re left with a feeling despair (the worst!). This got me thinking last week as I gave a talk to room full of ambition women about reframing self-love.
For me, I use to think of self-love as simple acts of doing things for myself that made me feel good in the moment (insert: shopping, manicure, dinner out). However, the happiness would fade, and I would still felt disconnected. Through my own personal and professional ups and downs, I’ve discovered three tools that, when practiced, provide the confidence to share the real me with the world. I think we all yearn for a sense of freedom and, by practicing self-love from the soul, I experience it daily.
Here are my three “aha moments”:
As women, we require a conscious circle around us. Protect it with strong boundaries.
Think of a conscious circle as your personal space and visualize a velvet, gold cord, protecting the most exquisite art collection at a museum. It’s there to protect the art. Similarly, imagine the circle extending out from our bellies where all of our emotions are stored, particularly our intuition. The more you protect it, the more you’re able to remain connected to who you are and make decisions that honor yourself.
In order to support this conscious circle, we must set clear boundaries. You might be thinking, “Ah, I know how to set boundaries”, but do you? Because if you’re finding yourself in victim mode, fear of losing control or falling into people-pleasing, there is a big opportunity for you to strengthen your boundaries. I’ve noticed with myself and through hundreds of conversations with women, that we struggle to set boundaries. We feel guilty, selfish and, yet when we do set boundaries, it allows us to show up as our best selves. It allows us to nurture our souls, to feel connected to who really are, and to be able to give to others from a much more loving place. I’m inviting you to think of where in your life you could set a healthy boundary to support experiencing what it is you want more of in your life.
Recognizing that we have a choice in how we respond to our emotions!
We always hear how powerful our mind is, but isn’t it amazing how easily we forget? What I’ve discovered is that I always have a choice in how I talk to myself and how I think, feel and respond to others. Maybe you can relate, but when you judge yourself for not being enough, or you get into comparison mode, or judge someone else as wrong, there is not any space in your heart to love. What I’ve discovered is that compassion and judgement cannot coexist; they’re like oil and water. So, if the goal is to increase self-love, the judgments have to go. Yes, easier said than done. I’m inviting you to pick the biggest judgment you might be carrying around and practice letting it go. It’s not serving you, and it’s time to update it with something that does.
Last “aha moment” is honor your voice and speak up!
Speaking up requires vulnerability. However when we do it, it strengthens our connection with ourselves. In my experience, this has allowed me to love more deeply, live more purposefully and intently because of that connection. For quite some time, I ignored the whisper inside and didn’t speak up when it came to my professional purpose in life. Until finally, I listened to the whisper and spoke up. What I’ve discovered is that we women desire connection to ourselves and to others, yet we fear speaking up because we mistakenly think that doing so will push away those who are close to us. Yet, speaking up and being vulnerable are the very things that will bring us closer. It’s a way for us to show up as our true selves and encourage others to do the same with us. I’m inviting you to think about a desire you want and ask for it. Speak up. This will give you a new found courage and freedom that you haven’t felt before.
The benefits of self-love extend beyond the self. When we nurture our own souls, we vibrate at a higher level. We feel better about who we are, and we contribute to the collective conscious in a much more meaningful and positive way. I’m inviting you to get on the self-love train now. It feels uh-mazing.
For all my ambitious working Moms out there who are doing a mile-a-minute with both feet on the gas pedal, please hit pause and watch this Ted talk today ‘My Year of Saying Yes to Everything,’ by Shonda Rhimes.
I’m proud to say I’ve watched this upteenth times because the message is just that good. For those of you who don’t know, Shonda Rhimes spent last year doing a social experiment saying YES to everything, allowing her to push boundaries and fears.
What was most valuable to her is what resonated the most with me. The idea that ‘Work doesn’t work without play.’
When I reflect on my own professional experiences, I can absolutely draw a correlation between the years that I spent head down, chasing, running, scrambling to close the next deal, only to feel disconnected, exhausted, lost and unfulfilled on the inside. The joy had been sucked out my professional life and was seeping into other areas of my life. My a-ha moment came when I had three very active, enthusiastic boys, five years old and under, staring me down every night and begging me to play?
It hit me. The message became clear.
Shonda Rhimes is spot on when she says, “It’s not really about playing with the kids. It’s about finding your joy. Give yourself 15 minutes a day and figure it out. Play in that arena.”
I like to think of our children as spiritual guides, sent here to remind us how to connect to ourself, so we can live our lives Consciously. Awake. Engaged. At the highest version of ourselves. My little boys had done just that.
Here are three things I do to weave JOY and PLAY into my life daily.
I go for a 15 minute walk, and I always find one or more of my children want to join.
I have playlists lock and loaded on my phone and put them on at least once a day – dance parties (solo or w/ children)
I sit on the ground. I find play happens on the ground. Either wrestling, make-believe, conversation….it all happens on the ground.
I couldn’t agree more with Shonda Rhimes, the more I give myself permission to play, the more I feel like myself, which is the ultimate goal, isn’t it? To live and experience the truth of who we’re here to become with grace and ease.
Do you feel like you could do your job with your eyes closed? Stuck going through the motions because each time you start to consider any other possibility that would feel more purposeful, impactful –heck FUN– you can’t imagine starting over? How would you make as much money? What would you actually do? Before you know it, you’re right back where you’ve started; only this time you might be convincing yourself, “It’s not so bad. The hours are okay. The pay is good…”
This is what I call unconscious living. And as a result, parts of us start to feel unfilled because we’re living in mediocrity.
In service to helping my CWM community, I got to the point where I felt like I was dying inside. I had hit a glass ceiling in my career and wasn’t making the impact or living on purpose in the way I had dreamt about. You might be thinking, “what dreams?!” Exactly?! My dreams had slipped away because I was choosing to live unawake, unengaged, and out of alignment. Maybe you can relate. Or maybe you’ve experienced justifying these feelings because other areas of your life you do feel completely alive and awake – your marriage or your role as a mother seem perfectly in tact.
Now what? You’re dying inside and, with a snap of a finger, another year will go by. No more “fake it until you make it” attitude.
Here’s a secret game I use to play to help me wake up and start to get real clear on what it is I want and how it is I want to experience my life. I always knew time was precious and I wanted to live BIG, otherwise what was the point? “Go big or stay home,” is what an old sales boss use to tell me when I was 20 something.
So, I would write out my obituary just as I wanted to read it. This might sound silly, but when you read it out loud something powerful happens. You’ll see. I don’t want to spoil it, so I’m asking you to trust me.
15 MIN EXERCISE TO WAKE YOU UP
Take out a piece of paper.
Set timer for 15 minutes
Writing assignment: Write your obituary from the place of how you want to be remembered.
Consider these questions:
What kind of impact do you want to leave? How do you want to be remembered? What are the qualities people would use to describe you?
It is from this place, I’m inviting you to take stock in how you’re experiencing your day. Your life, your career, and trust what comes forward.
For me, I couldn’t believe what I found on the other side. A sense of freedom, empowerment, ease, impact, creativity, prosperity, and joy that I didn’t think was possible.
In support of your own awaking and experiencing the fullness of your life,
When I was 7 months pregnant with my 3rd son, I decided I wanted more out of my life. I was feeling very stagnant. On a bit of a whim, I applied and was accepted to the University of Santa Monica. Two years later, I’m on the tail-end of receiving my Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology. The reason I’m telling you this is because, up until two years ago, I had no idea what it meant to live a ‘conscious’ life, let alone a ‘Conscious Working Mama’ life. I was 98% focused on satisfying my ego, until finally, I arrived at a place where I realized that that is an unattainable goal. Regardless of how idealistic my life might have seemed, I felt that something was always missing, and my light was dim. I was ready for a change, and I knew it had to happen inwardly, no more chasing outwardly experiences to drive happiness and fulfillment.
Fast forward two years and, for the first time, I feel awake — I feel conscious. I’m evolving on every level: spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Interestingly enough, my day-to-day routine hasn’t changed much, but, when I reflect inwardly, there are 3 practices that I now incorporate everyday that support and honor me as a Conscious Working Mama. They include:
Acknowledging and embracing that, as long as I’m alive, school is in session, and life truly is about learning.
If something is upsetting me, it has nothing to do with anyone else. Since I’m the only person who has dominion over how I choose to react, it’s up to me to explore the judgment that sits beneath my initial upset.
Assuming that every person I come in contact with is a loving, compassionate soul. This has completely changed my reactions to potentially upsetting situations.
Being a Conscious Working Mama has no end. It is the longest days, shortest years; its an ongoing exploration. I invite you to wake up your consciousness’ and examine all areas of your life with this question in mind, ‘Where can I make small changes to experience more joy and meaning in my life, regardless of how many hours I work and how many children I’m raising?’ Keep checking back with CWM for easy tools and processes to help get you started.
“Just this morning, I was thinking about all that I accomplish in 24 hours. Most of the time, I’m incredibly thankful to be a working Mom in the 21st century for one main reason: flexibility. But with flexibility, I found, comes this crazy idea that I can cram in even more into my day because, well, I just can! My work day is no longer a set day of 8 hours, but rather as 16 hour days that intertwine work, personal errands, self-care, and whatever else comes up throughout the day all with the intention of keeping my personal and professional life on track. While this system worked beautifully when I didn’t have children, and truthfully it worked okay with one child, it completely short-circuited when I added three kids to the mix. I started dropping the ball in all areas. I would begin tasks, but not complete them. I would find myself physically present with my children, but not emotionally or mentally available. I was often grouchy because I was running myself into the ground. I realized it was time for an intervention. I became open to the idea that I needed to update my own operating system when it comes to getting it all done. So, I took a new approach. I played with the concept of setting boundaries between work, motherhood, marriage, and personal care. Just when you think it isn’t possible to set boundaries as a working Mom, I invite you, for one
week, to experiment with these tips:
1. LIST OUT PERSONAL PRIORITIES NIGHT BEFORE – Keep this to 3 items so that it’s realistic. This will help you really get focus on priorities. Ideas can include: setting up doctors calls, setting up summer camps, ordering a gift, dropping off dry cleaning. (hint: What will give you the greatest relief if you can cross it off your list?)
2. SCHEDULE 1 HOUR OF ‘PERSONAL TIME’ DAILY ON YOUR CALENDAR – This time is to be used for your 3 personal calls and errands. By grouping them together, you’re going to be way more efficient in taking care of personal business, and this will be much less disruptive to your paid job.
3. BE TRANSPARENT WITH YOUR COLLEAGUES ABOUT YOUR FAMILY TIME– I strongly encourage you to be upfront with your manager and day-to-day colleagues about your needs. This honest communication builds trust and loyalty. For me, my team knows that between 5:00pm and 7pm most days, I’m with my children and I do not answer the phone. I’m available before or after if they need me.
4. REMOVE OBSTACLES – When I’m with my family I’m starting to carry my phone less (gulp!). I’ll admit, it’s not easy. It means I can’t Instagram in that very moment, but my whole intention is to set boundaries so I can feel more present. I encourage you to remove any and all obstacles, and start with your phone!
I’ve implemented these tips and I’m starting to feel human again. I feel a sense of calm, and I’m not running around with so many incomplete tasks around me. I also feel like I’m accomplishing as much as I use to under my old system, but I’m more connected to family, and finally have a few minutes to myself. Give it a go, and let me know how you get along with it.
You’ve put in a full day in the office, you’re rushing home to start dinner, and you really have to pee-but the second you walk into front door, you’re faced with a screaming toddler (or two or three) and a partner you have had a great conversation with in days….welcome to the second shift. How do you work it?
For years, I would literally feel this physical sense of anxiety and force take over my body when I would walk in the door, and I was so confused by it. On one hand, I was so excited to see my children and eager to hug them, hear about their days and at the same time, I didn’t want to be touched. I wanted to set my bag down, look through the mail and pee. In fact, I could even feel the physical anticipation before I would even pull into the driveway. I would get antsy, sometimes a headache, irritable and just impatient. I knew that this wasn’t how I wanted to be showing up when I greeted my children after being gone for the day.
I decided it was time for me to actually develop a process that I could use in those very moments between pulling into the driveway and greeting my children, that would turn this high anxiety ridden situation into one of my most treasured moments of the day. To learn more about the process, subscribe to Conscious Working Mama!