At least I’m not a sheep!
I pride myself on having a really good mindset. I’m very self-motivated, always the glass-half full kind of girl and always strive to overcome challenges I’m faced with. But last week, I became flat, which is very rare.
This blog has been written to inspire anyone who might have lost their mojo or has been experiencing a bit of burn out. Please don’t get out the violins for me; I’m a bit better now!
So last week, I became really frustrated. I was running out of time to do things workwise. My boys were being challenging. I was tired. I was struggling to keep on top of domestic stuff as well as work load. My bank balance was stressing me out. Every time I went out for a run, my boys would get upset and need to be peeled off me. I was emotionally drained. Lonely. Fed up. Annoyed I couldn’t move my businesses the way I wanted them to. I felt like I was doing a lot of things not very well. My iPhone stopped taking photos that put me behind with my online food diaries, my computer was making my head and hands tingle every time I used it. I had accounts meetings around my usual work. I felt old. Useless. Ugly. I was overwhelmed and I was about to crack.
My immediate response was criticism…. “How have you got yourself in this mess Janey? This is all your fault! If only you had done X, Y, Z! Or if only you hadn’t done X,Y,Z! Why have you taken so much on? You’re so stupid! You need to learn to work better! Why are you not managing your life better? Why aren’t you where you should be in your life right now? Why haven’t you achieved this and that? Why, why, why, you get the picture…. Exhausting or what?!
I got really emotional, went for a power walk across the fields around me and cried (the benefit of being in the country – big fields where you can cry and no-one can see you!). For about an hour, tears were streaming down my face. It felt so good to let it go. And I realised what it was all about.
You see it’s been nearly four years since I’ve been a single parent. And I’m really feeling it at the moment. For nearly four years, I’ve been doing night time feeds, the morning and evening tea/bath and bed routine by myself. And that is after trying to fit in seven or eight hours of work AND my training sessions each day. The boys’ dad only has them six hours a week with no overnight contact which means every weekend I do it all too. No lie in, no one to share the domestic chores, pop to the shop for the papers or to fill up with petrol when you need it. All those little things you take for granted when you have a partner. And on an emotional level, for a long, long time, I’ve had nobody really to talk things through at the end of a long day, hence my love of a nice glass of wine!
Although my parents have the boys sometimes, I’m usually working or getting up at 345am to head into London to teach. As many of you know, I often get up at 4am to get ahead of work to allow me to spend more time with the boys or be able to fit that training session in and last week, it all just got too much. (Jeez, when you read it like this on paper, it’s no wonder my mojo’s gone a bit, ha!)
I started to look for inspiration and I thought about the time I saw Cath Kidson speak at a networking event I went to in 2010. I’ve always admired her both as a woman and from a business/brand point of view. I remember her saying two main things that stayed with me. 1) It took her 15 years to get to the point she was at and 2) That she would never have done what she had done if she’d had children.
So there I was at this point sat in a field gushing with emotion, and the criticism I was self-inflicting up until then, suddenly turned into compassion. Boy did that change things for me! I started to see my challenges in a different light.
How many people I admire in business a) have young children, b) are single parents c) are single parents whose children don’t have any overnight contact with their father d) have twins e) have twins and have been a single parent since they were 14 months old f) exercise most days on top of their workload, you get the picture.
Not any. Not one single person. And I realized instantly just how brilliant I am. I don’t mean that in a conceited way, but just because I’m not sure many people would be able to cope in my personal situation regardless of trying to drive and build up two businesses in let’s face it, a far from nice economy. Instead of criticising myself, I started to give myself some credit. It felt really good.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a single parent or not, we all have challenges that we are faced with and by me sharing my story, that shouldn’t undermine your own situation.
Start with compassion for yourself before you start attacking yourself. Then work on what you need to do, what do you need help with? I made a call to my parents and said ‘please can you help?’ and they were happy to.
Maybe you are a busy working mum with a nice husband but no mother nearby. What do you need? Maybe like me, you could stop comparing yourself for a moment, look at where you are at, look at what you have against you, and then pave the way for solutions?
One of my clients has a wonderful husband but one of her sons is disabled which is a big emotional challenge. I said to her ‘instead of struggling, ask for help, create some me time as well as the extra time you need to give to your young child? Maybe stop trying to be so brave?’ She did and it’s making a huge difference.
For me, I needed some space, to slow down, to get emotional, to reset my life a little, to support myself a bit more, to be brave enough to adjust things. And it’s been an emotional few days as I’ve looked at what is working and what is not working in my life.
My tears turned into laughter as I realised the biggest life lesson for a long time… “At least I’m not a sheep!”
I laughed out loud and I realised that we live in a wonderful world. We have choices. We have opportunities. We have the option to have a fantastic life. So when things aren’t working. Watch how you approach things. Be kind to yourself. Be calm. Take your time. Work out what works for you. And trust that things will always work out in the end, as Harriet Beecher says:
“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” Harriet Beecher
I’ve nearly got my mojo back :o)