LIKE all OF US GO-GETTERS, I was A BUSY LADY...
And that's how I landed here. Being a multi-passionate being & creative soul, I was always full of a million ideas and projects, jumping from one thing to the next like a kangaroo on speed. Add to that studying for a creative degree (which require notoriously large numbers of hours spent in the workshop), followed by a career in the restaurant industry that demanded 60-odd hours of my time each week, and I'd become one VERY busy lady.
My health suffered for it. The demands of high-volume restaurant service meant I often worked 15 hour days, with no breaks, snacking on whatever was quickest and easies. And this was me, a passionate yogi and nutrition-conscious gym enthusiast. With the demands on my time, I resorted to satisfying hunger pangs with whatever was at hand, regardless of nutritional value. But mostly, I just didn’t eat, drink water or go to the toilet. I literally believed I didn’t have time for such ‘trivial’ things. There was work to be done.
I'm not alone there. Chefs are notorious for living grossly unhealthy lifestyles. It's not just the food, unsociable hours, and irregular sleep patterns. It's also through-the-roof levels of physical and psychological stress that manifest as a whole host of issues. But this comes up in so many industries.
I needed to move away from the relentless work hours and stress levels to a place of creativity and autonomy. As an ‘employee’, I’d always felt restricted and like my soul was slowly withering. I craved being the director of my own life, I craved creativity and freedom.
So what did I do? After years (literally YEARS), I faced my demons, my fear of not being good enough, and transitioned to being self-employed. I then conjured up not one, not two, but three new businesses I was going to start. Simultaneously.
Having shed one hectic, stressful, soul-smothering working regime, I built around myself the same scenario all over again. Except this time I was creating it for myself. Clearly, I didn't know any other way of being. To succeed (actually, to survive, as was my belief at the time) I thought I had to sacrifice everything - my health, my social life, my hobbies, holidays and self-care, because that’s what I’d always done. Talk about scarcity mindset!!
But intuitively I knew this was not the way to create the business and life I wanted. I was not operating at my peak - far from it, after years of over-stretching myself I was frazzled, distracted, unable to sleep and unable to maintain any level of momentum. 4 Months into this new journey, I had one (extremely rare) night out with friends, and for four days after could barely get out of bed. My body had gone into melt down and decided for itself that enough was enough. Absolute burn-out.
I’d been dancing with burn-out for years, but this time it forced me to take a step back and really clarify the motivation behind what I was doing. I got clear on what I wanted, after a lifetime of working to meet other’s (perceived) expectations. I began a process of stripping back to only the things that served to get me closer to MY big vision. I began listening to and honouring my physical needs. I acknowledged that these patterns of behaviour and lifestyle choices were impairing my ability to truly create what I wanted.
The irony is, I KNEW all of these things in theory. I knew from my previous life as a chef, from my Yoga teaching, my studies around natural health and neuroscience the influence that food, environment and lifestyle habits have… and yet I still fell into the cycle of overwhelm, exhaustion, frustration and feeling trapped.
That’s when I began to understand, stress has both external factors (environmental) & internal factors (our beliefs about ourselves & the world). For instance, two people can be in the same situation, and one is operating in fight or flight, stressed and anxious, and one is taking things in their stride, barely phased.
That’s when I came to realize, the stress, the overwhelm, the overworking & overcommitting are actually symptomatic of feeling disempowered. To outsource our wellbeing, outsource our healthcare, outsource our cooking, look outwardly for our needs to be fulfilled. Instead of having a society where everyone is valuable, just as they are, we are led to believe we have to prove ourselves, prove our worth by doing everything and more that we’re asked of. ‘No’ is not taught to us as an active part of our vocabulary, especially as women.
I noticed this exact difference between myself and my partner. And that got me thinking. I noticed that we have different base-temperatures, when it comes to stress. My default point-zero was much higher than his.
So my exploration deepened - it brought up new things for me. I discovered that women suffer significantly more with long-term stress and anxiety, as well as auto-immune conditions, which result from a body in chronic stress (fight or flight mode - the body is on such high alert, it literally begins to fight & attack itself).
Why then are women more susceptible? I dug into this question and began to recognize our culture for what it is - patriarchal, meaning Yang (masculine) driven. We’re all spending our lives attempting to fit into this always-on, competitive, pressure-driven, status-quo. This is the fire of pressure, not passion, the fire of burn-out, not of having a purpose & being on a mission. The Yin (feminine) has been discredited, labelled as weak, dismissed as irrelevant. In the feminine energy we move in cycles, and are more sensitive to our environment (logically so - we carry the future of the species inside us & therefore, evolutionarily, needed to be more tuned in to potential threats). But in the patriarchal model, where everything is linear, measurable and fixed, there’s no space for our natural rhythms, to move with our fluctuations, our fluidity, no space for our intuition and innate, immeasurable wisdom. Again, our need to rest at certain times, to be alone at certain times, to slow down at certain times have all been deemed evidence of ‘weakness’. So we push through, to prove ourselves as equals, as capable, as worthy.
Not only are we fighting against this ingrained paradigm, we are constantly fighting to fit in a box that was never ours to begin with. It’s created a completely one-sided culture, where everyone (men & women, but women more so) are reaching boiling point - burning out in body and mind. Busy-ness is seen as a badge of honour. So is operating on minimal sleep (which I EXCELLED at for years, until… I didn’t anymore). In a society where exhaustion is a status symbol, we all lose, and we all end up depleted and ill. It’s totally unsustainable, and yet the pattern shows up everywhere, again and again.
It fascinates me that my work has taken this turn. Honestly, I shunned the feminine aspects of myself for so long - I was so conditioned that to express femininity was undesirable. I prided myself in being a ‘tom-boy’, I grew up wearing my brother’s hand-me-down clothes. I considered myself strong, but didn’t realize I could be strong and feminine. I wanted to climb trees, ride my bike, build things. I thought that meant I had to operate in the masculine, and prove that I was capable.
I burnt the candle at both ends for much of my teens and all of my twenties. I excelled at school, college & university, while simultaneously drinking the nights away with friends, working late into the early hours (in several jobs I even worked all night, finishing up at 6 or 7am).
The concept of honouring the natural rhythms of the day, my body, and the seasons was a million miles from where I was during that time. Instead, I operated from the head (again, the masculine) - headstrong, forceful and committed to doing everything that was expected of me, despite that it meant sacrificing my own needs, despite that my body was screaming at me to stop. I was living out the martyr archetype, like so many women do, and desperately trying to show my worthiness by doing more, more, more.We all need someone to guide us to a place of more balance, to give support, hold us accountable and - most importantly of all - help us re-write our own operating system. Without doing this work and shining a light on our subconscious, we’ll default to the same patterns over and over. Shifting things on this deeper level has the power to ripple out into the wider landscape of your entire life (just that little thing).
Now, I look after myself first and foremost, because I know that without me coming from a place of joy and ease, my vision cannot be realised. If we build a life or business from a place of struggle, it will inevitably be at the expense of ourselves, our relationships, our freedom and our wellbeing. Can that ever really be considered a success? Without you having built it holistically and sustainably FOR YOU, eventually things will crumble. You’ll overcommit, work yourself to the bone, end up on a one way street to burn-out and not be able to do the vital work for creating your vision. In the process, dysfunction and dis-ease creep into other areas of your life, the result of neglect and disconnection. And POOF, there goes your dream life, and there goes your ability to change lives and the world (because YES, you are capable of that).
That is my story, and I know there are busy people like us in all industries, with self-care always coming bottom of the list. Yet our wellbeing is the foundation on top of which the rest of our lives sit. After making the decision to change the course of my future and carving a new lifestyle for myself, I know that there's another way. And I want for you to experience that, too. I’m here to facilitate lifestyle by design, with YOU as the designer.
Claim your power. Find your freedom.