When was the last time you completed something and felt really accomplished? Think back on that moment and picture it in your head. (Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this!) How did you feel? Proud? Confident? Maybe helpful? Chances are good that whatever you accomplished was meaningful to you, especially if it was at work. So, why is this concept of meaningful work so important?
In a recent Gallup poll, it was found that it would take about a 20% pay raise to draw employees away from a job or role where they were engaged and doing work that mattered to them. The inverse was also true - it would take little to nothing to move people on from a job where they were disengaged. Companies are spending a lot of funds to keep people invested in roles where they’re providing you uninspired and disengaged work. Instead of keeping people in roles where they’re frustrated and disengaged, what would happen if we could figure out what would help them see their work as meaningful and lead to more employee engagement? Let’s first take a look at how meaningful work is described.
Adam Grant, renowned I/O psychologist at Wharton, has said that meaningful work can be summed up as “the belief that your job makes other people’s lives better”. I love this definition of meaningful work because for almost every role in most companies, this can be true. I don’t know about you, but when I am able to run and pick up a coffee (because it always tastes better when someone else makes it!)I consider my life to be better by the team who made that coffee. That may seem like a simple example, but I hope it rings true with you. When you truly believe that your job makes other people’s lives better, it shows in your attitude, your performance, and overall outlook on your work. So, how can you as a business leader help your people figure out what makes their work meaningful? Here are a few suggestions:
- Work with your employees or team to figure out what’s important to them about work. Do they want more autonomy? Do they need more connection with other employees? Are they looking for more certainty in their role? My encouragement to you when you approach these conversations is to be genuinely curious and solution seeking, especially with employees who you already feel are struggling with whether or not their work matters.
- Together, create a set of shared goals, including the why behind those goals, with your employees and revisit them frequently. Why is this important? You know that old saying, “If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, you’ll hit nothing”? That is why this is so important. Let’s take the coffee example from earlier. If your goal as a manager is to have people in, order taken, and drink in hand in less than 2 minutes, your team needs to know that. But also communicating the why behind that is just as important! The “why” behind the 2 minutes may be that customers will be happy with the speed of service, the store won’t get bogged down, and you’ll also have an opportunity to connect with that customer while they wait, which creates higher customer engagement (hey, that barista actually knew my name AND seemed to genuinely care about my day! I like this place so I’ll come back next week!...you get the idea).
- Lastly, help employees map out the connectedness of their roles to emphasize how their work is making other people’s lives better. A question that Adam Grant suggests starting with is “who would be worse off if my job didn’t exist”? It can be easy to think about customers only with this question, but I encourage you to paint the full picture with your team of who on the team would be worse off if my job didn’t exist. This builds that connective tissue between roles and can help increase the perspective that my work really does matter because Joe over in Accounting is linked to me through x, y, and z.
While it may seem like a time consuming exercise to identify what goals matter and why or helping your team build out their connectedness map, I promise you, it’s well worth the time and effort to help increase your employee engagement through meaningful work. Identifying meaningful work is something that I’m passionate about helping business leaders work through so please contact me to see if we’d be a good fit to work together!
Well, hello there. I know. It’s been a minute. You may have noticed that I’ve been a bit quiet the last few months on my social media feeds and website. There’s been so much that has happened “off screen” the last few months and it’s time for an update! Let’s just jump in with some lessons I’ve learned and news I’d like to share. You know the drill: grab your cup of coffee, put your feet up, and spend a few minutes reading with me!
Starting in mid-November, I made the decision to let go of writing posts every day for my social media platforms. Truthfully, there were several reasons for this, but the biggest one was that I was just plain worn out. Writing is something that I truly enjoy and have for a long time. I was that kid in 6th grade who started a school newspaper because we didn’t have one and was the sole author, typist, printer, and folder. For me, writing has been an outlet, a way to process my thoughts, and then share them with those who choose to read them. I’m always grateful for those of you who choose to engage with my words! But around early November, I started really feeling burned out with writing and posting regularly. You see, it wasn’t just the writing, it was also the time it was taking to check in on the posts, engage with anyone who chose to, and then turn around and do it again the next day. I wasn’t looking forward to it like I used to. I also wasn’t going to publish a post just to publish a post and get my name in front of your eyes on your screen again (that’s just not who I am - quality is really important to me, especially with how I run my business!). So, I set it down. I wanted to focus on my family, friends, and enjoying the holiday season and getting ready for 2022. And I am so thankful that I did! I was truly able to step back, be present, and do some deep dives on a few areas of business that needed attention.
Lesson learned: it’s okay to set things down.
About the same time, I also listened to this amazing podcast with Brene Brown and James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. It. Was/Is. Life. Revitalizing. It was so good, I ordered his book that day, which is all about how to build sustainable, positive habits. One of the biggest takeaways for me was this quote: “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” Whaaaaat?! When I read that section of the book, so many things that I had been struggling with clicked into place! There is A LOT I have learned in the first few years of opening my company. There have been mistakes, missteps, and a lot of whoopsies. And when it comes to figuring out my systems, I realized that was an area that I had seriously been neglecting! Specifically when it comes to creating sustainable systems around my own wellness. I don’t know of a business owner, especially in the mental health world, that isn’t a bit tired and worn right now. I’m still figuring out my systems to create sustainable wellness habits, but I’m learning it’s worth my time and effort because I have a LOT of goals for the work that I do. A lot of dreams. But I won’t get those goals accomplished until I figure out how to regularly show up for and take care of myself and those who matter most.
Lesson Learned: Creating sustainable systems and habits is hard, but 100% worth it to build a meaningful life.
Probably the biggest reason I took time away from social media and posting was for me to invest time in continuing to learn and grow. There’s a lot I was taught in grad school and there’s a lot I wasn’t taught! Grad school was also a bit ago and long before I was ready to actually open a business that encourages, empowers, and equips people. I took time to research and learn about a few things that will be launching this spring…and to also make sure that I have the bandwidth to sustain them long term.
Lesson Learned: Lifelong learning is critical to preventing burnout (for me).
I'm so excited to share a few new developments with you that I was able to create over the last few months. Let’s look ahead to what all 2022 will bring (with a lot of hard work, creativity, and care) for J. S. Goldsberry & Associates!
I am going to adopt a very Texan word to start off with...Y'ALL. I have started this essay at least 10 times. And then deleted it and started over. Truthfully, this is the most challenging post for me to get out of my head and onto the digital paper. Today I want to talk about actual wellness, from the viewpoint of a therapist. To be very vulnerable with you, I feel a bit like an imposter writing this. Because the truth is, I haven’t been practicing what I encourage my clients and readers to do, which is why this is hard. However, I have never been one to shy away from working through hard things so we’re going to dive in.
First, let’s talk about our bodies and trauma for a minute. You know I’ve written about the collective trauma we’ve all experienced living through a pandemic. I’ve literally listened to and helped clients process through hundreds of hours at this point about just this topic alone. New research is showing that 1 in 3 adults in the USA alone are experiencing clinical levels of anxiety and depression originating from the pandemic. Statistically speaking, 33% of a population is something to pay attention to -- imagine that. Now, imagine the therapists and counselors and doctors who have walked through the last 18-20 months alongside people who are hurting in one way or another...trying to hold space for, support clients, and also trying to keep up with their own wellbeing. Secondary trauma is a real thing and it’s more than just something I had to study in grad school back in the day. We’re seeing a mass exodus in the education and medical sectors, primarily due to secondary trauma because they are so exhausted and burned out from the day to day of their jobs. It’s a lot. Most of the therapists who I network with and collaborate with are completely full and have at least a 2-3 month waiting list.
What does this all have to do with me and wellness? For the last 24 months, I have been so focused on starting my business, navigating my family through a pandemic, and helping support others, I haven’t been taking great care of myself. Yes, I’ve been drinking my water, trying to exercise more, and eat better. All good things. But what I’m talking about is setting down my “hustle, hustle, hustle” mentality and taking time to practice the boring self care that I work with clients about on a daily basis! And my body has kept the score and WOW. Two weeks ago, my body threw on the brakes and said, “Nope. No more. You cannot continue on this trajectory. You are teetering on burnout. You are at critical mass. No more, ma’am, no more.” The thing was, it wasn’t anything major or dramatic because that is not who I am. I literally sat down for dinner with my precious family and couldn’t get up afterwards as all of this hit me. I. Was. Done.
My husband and I had a long talk that evening. We talked about what systems and processes we had as a family that we could change, but truthfully, I have the most supportive family in the world, starting with my husband. He is my biggest supporter, encourager, thought partner and I am truly the luckiest. I can say the same about my extended family and the circle of friends we have. They are the literal best. When people comment “How do you do it all?!” I am so quick to answer that I, in fact, do not do it all! I have a team of people! Those systems are on lock.
What needs to change is my internal motor that feels safer and better going, hustling, and moving. Because if I’m doing that, then I’m not having to sit with and process the last 20 months. If I’m hustling, I’m not working through my own PTSD that can get triggered when I see a headline about another run on bottled water and toilet paper, shortages of food (even though we were NEVER without food during 2020 - trauma and the brain, it is a TRIP), or worrying when a client is late for a session that something tragic has happened. Yah, all of that - decidedly not fun to sit with, right? Yet that is what my clients trust me to do with them every day. So I have to figure out healthier systems to support my wellness. Because there is so much that I am grateful for and am determined to show up for, most of all my family.
When I was thinking about what the biggest barrier is to truly practicing whole person wellness myself, I realized it was time (always, right?). Most days I manage my time very efficiently and then there are some days where decision fatigue is hitting hard and behind the scenes business tasks become challenging. Those days were becoming more often, also a clue that all was indeed not well.
Here’s how I’ve decided to make some space for figuring out wellness for myself:
May you truly be well this holiday season and every season!
Let’s Talk Consulting!
Throughout my time in education, I worked with quite a few consultants and consulting teams over the years. They were all well intentioned people who were hired to solve a specific problem or try to help improve a program. I learned a lot from those experiences and if I’m being honest, a lot of what I picked up on was what not to come in and do as a consultant. When I was first dreaming about starting my own business and including consulting, I knew right away that I wanted my clients to walk away confident in the plan that we would work on together to better their business. I also knew that I 100% did not want to waste anyone's time - it’s too precious and as a small business owner who wears many hats, there’s rarely enough time. So, let’s talk about what it’s like to work with me as a consultant!
First Step - We Talk about YOU! One piece of consulting that absolutely thrills me is getting to talk with and learn all about my client’s business, to hear their story. People’s ingenuity in starting their business never gets old to me! I spend time with the founder to learn what their pain point is - why they reached out to me in the first place. This is the time that the client really gets to paint a clear picture of the history, current state, and then any hopes and dreams they have for their business. This is so important and I never rush this process. Listening and picking up on the nuances of their business that the owner may be too close to see is a huge part of this phase.
Second Step - Plan, Erase, Plan! You may be thinking, “whaaaat are you talking about here?!” Well, it’s this. After meeting with a client, I’ll draft up a plan of how I can best come alongside to help alleviate their pain point, and how I can work with them to help make things better. Sometimes, this looks like coming up with a comprehensive people development plan with customized content and learning experiences. With some business owners, it’s helping them strategically think through managing change that is coming. Whatever the need is, it first starts by laying the groundwork of a plan. When I have that all sketched out, we talk again and usually make changes. Hence, the Erase part! That’s the beauty of working with me - my goal is never to be a one size fits all consultant. My goal is to listen to you and hear your business needs and then create a plan that is unique and will meet your specific needs. After we make any changes, we get started!
Third Step - Let’s get to work! This is where I roll up my sleeves and get in the trenches with you. I love this part because I get to continue to know you, your business, and your people. We work through your specific, customized content and move through your customized plan. Ultimately, your pain point is gone and your business is set up for continued success.
One question I get a lot of is what kind of consulting do you do. I love to work with business owners on creating whole person healthy businesses. Businesses that people want to work with and for because they know what it means to take care of their people. Through my time as a Director of Student Support Programs and then program managing on a regional and state level, I know what it takes to juggle many, many different components of work at the same time. Brene Brown has a quote from her Dare to Lead training that just resonates with me so much when it comes to my work as a consultant. “Leaders must either invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears and feelings, or squander an unreasonable amount of time trying to manage ineffective and unproductive behavior.” It’s my goal to help business owners do just that and to maximize their time as a person first, then a business leader. I’d love to hear from you how I can best help YOUR business flourish.
What a week it has been! Thank you for sharing my excitement in relaunching my website and new content - it truly has been so fun for me to engage with each of you and I hope you’ve been encouraged along the way, too.
College football season kicks off this weekend and while I’m a tried and true University of Florida Gators fan, I had to borrow some of my favorite Texas football words (and also from one of the best shows ever, Friday Night Lights. Long live Coach and Tami Taylor. If you know, you know). Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose. For me, these words really sum up my plans and hopes for the future. Let me break down my thought process:
Clear Eyes: When it comes to thinking about what all is to come for JS Goldsberry & Associates, these words ring so true for me. Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist who I learn so much from, has recently released a new book called Think Again. One of the points he makes is that we don’t know what our world will look like in 10 years, so it’s really not beneficial for companies to take the time and resources to create them. Instead, he advocates for 1-2 year plans and for me, that really resonated. Of course I have big dreams about how to grow this company in the next 10 years. But if I don’t keep clear eyes on the values that drive my work, I won’t be able to sustain my business for the next 6 months, let alone 10 years. The same concept can be applied to each of our lives. We all have plans, hopes, and dreams for what life can look like in the future. But unless we keep crystal clear eyes on what really matters, we’re going to veer off course.
Full Hearts: Do you know one of the things that drives me in my work with clients? It’s the clients! I love getting to hear their stories...whether it’s a counseling client or a business I’m working alongside. Hearing their pain points and walking alongside them while we find the best solutions and strategies to help them. Seeing people become empowered to change their lives and leaders equipped to lead their people well and with wholeheartedness. Talk about a full heart!
Can’t Lose: The work I do is not without risk. That’s actually one of the things we talk about in our first session, both with counseling clients and business clients. When we’re working through messy stories and figuring out what a company needs to help its people be their best and that means we have to hear the hard and the hurtful first. But when client’s show up and do the work, that’s when we can’t lose. When things like courage, bravery, and vulnerability are practiced, lives change. And that’s worth the risk every single time, in my opinion!
I did promise earlier in the week that we would talk about a few things that are definitely in my one year plan. In 2022, I’m so excited to be launching 3 things:
We’re continuing this week with a highlight of what it is like to work with a counselor - specifically, me as a counselor! First, I want to speak to the courage and bravery people show in seeking out counseling. I wish we lived in a world where it was as common to say “I’m seeing my counselor for a check up” as it is to say “I’ve got a doctor’s check up appointment”. I truly have hope that we will get there, but the reality is we aren’t there yet. A big part of my goal is to normalize mental health and wellness and talking about counseling gets us closer to that goal. One thing I share with my clients is that even counselors need counseling. It’s true! Throughout my counseling career, I’ve worked with several amazing counselors who have walked me through hard, challenging seasons. I’m so grateful for those experiences because it also helps me experience counseling from the client’s perspective. It gives me more empathy for my clients and I work really hard to make sure, especially through telehealth, that my clients feel welcomed, supported, and known. So, let’s get to what it’s like to work with me!
One of the first interactions I have with clients is usually through an email or a consultation call. We briefly discuss what’s led them to look for a counselor and if that’s an area of mental health that I work with or have experience with. Sometimes, this is where I refer out because there are areas of mental health that I do specialize in - anxiety, depression, ADHD, working through trauma, and parenting-adolescent challenges. An example of mental health where I do not have experience or further training in is the treatment of things like OCD and personality disorders. In those cases, I have great colleagues that I refer people to.
Once we, the client and myself, decide this is something we can work together on, we move forward with scheduling. This may seem silly to be writing about, but what happens next is the part of counseling that isn’t so glamorous, but is still so important! When you first start to work with me, you’ll set up a client account where you’ll fill out some forms (confidentiality, cancellation policy, emergency contact, etc). You’ll also have the chance to share more with me about what’s going on and why you’re working with me as a counselor.
Before our first appointment, I review all your information that you’ve shared. This helps me be as prepared as possible heading into our appointment so that we can get right to work! The first thing we do when our appointment begins is to cover some “housekeeping items”: review confidentiality, give verbal consent for telehealth, and verify emergency contacts. For my teen clients, I always include an adult caregiver in this part of our appointment since anyone under 18 legally has to have an adult give consent for any type of mental health counseling, just like at a medical appointment. After we get through all of that, I answer any questions you may have and then I ask my favorite question of all…”So, tell me your story”.
Most of my clients say that I’m warm, welcoming, and easy to talk with. I like to infuse humor throughout our time together because I firmly believe there is healing through acknowledging both heavy feelings and lighter ones. This also helps my clients feel at ease and to know that I’m a real person, too! Ultimately, my goal is to create a safe space where clients can show up just as they are and we can wade through the messy middle parts of their journey. We’ll work on strategies and developing skills that are personalized to you and the challenges you face. Each client is different with what type of support and strategies they need so this part of the process is uniquely tailored to you!
Ultimately, the goal is to equip you with mental health and wellness skills to help you feel better, resolve the hurt, and move you closer to whole-person health. Most of my clients work with me for anywhere from 3 months to 6 months and a few choose to stay on longer. The choice is yours on when you want to move from regularly scheduled appointments to as needed visits. Mostly, I want to make sure you are leaving each session seen, heard, encouraged, and equipped to make changes in your life.
Now that you know more about what it’s like to work with me as a client, I’d love to know if you still have questions - either about counseling in general or my specific approach to counseling. You can fill out a contact form, call, or email me. I’d love to talk with you more!
Can I just tell you how excited I am that today is HERE?! I have been counting down the days, planning out the content, working with amazing people all to be able to show you (yes, YOU!) all about JS Goldsberry & Associates. I may not even need coffee today! Who am I kidding - of course I will need coffee today!
I mentioned in my Instagram post that it truly has taken a team to get where I’m at today. You may be thinking, “But JoEllen, you work alone. How do you have a team?!” Well, I’m so glad you asked. The thing about owning your own business is that you’re really never on your own (unless you choose to be, but that approach doesn’t work for me). My team includes my husband, Joe Don, who is the CFO of our business. Literally. Joe Don handles all things numbers and we are all thankful for it. We have regular meetings about the numbers with our CPA, Robin (and we sleep better knowing she is in charge of all the like, really important tax-y numbers). Then, there’s the amazing professional colleagues who I share referrals with and get their thoughts on hard counseling things. All of these talented people make up my team. And I’m so, so grateful for them!
Today 100% could not have been possible without adding several talented people to my team though and I’m so thrilled to introduce them to you! First, all of the incredible photos on my website and in my social posts were shot by my friend and photographer, Alicia of Alicia Leigh Photography. I first met Alicia in 2009 when we were both teachers and I had moved to Austin knowing exactly 2 people, my aunt and uncle. Oh, the journey we have taken since then! Alicia is truly the kind of person who makes you feel like you are the only person in the world when she is talking with you. I distinctly remember telling my husband in 2019, "When I'm actually making a profit, I'm going to pay the bucks to do a real photo shoot with Alicia!" Let me tell you, we laughed and laughed and laughed during the photo shoot! What a gift to me - again, just a heart full of gratitude.
Second, when I say I struggled with creating a logo on my own, I s.t.r.u.g.g.l.e.d. It was then I was reminded, “Oh, hello there! You are, indeed, not a professional graphic designer. You are actually a very talented professional counselor, consultant, and leader! Let’s do those things.” So, enter my friend Michael Bergman of Berg Designs. Michael is, in fact, a professional graphic designer and storyteller. I literally gave him perhaps 4 sentences of what I was hoping for, what my company values are, and how I want my clients to feel (more on that Wednesday right here!) and he created a stunning, spot-on logo. How lucky am I to have talented professional friends? I will tell you - just the luckiest.
Let me share 3 quick things I learned from the process of launching a business 2 years ago and now, re-launching it.
How is it almost August already?! I feel like just yesterday we were in January and talking about goals and the new year ahead of us and then WHAM, it is already August! It’s been a minute since I last wrote on the blog and I’ve decided I’m going to practice what I tell my clients - let it go because good enough is good enough. I am working towards progress not perfection. I am confident that I have been present and leaning in as clients are vulnerable and working through hard things each day with me. My new commitment is to add to the blog as often as I can while juggling all the things that go into running a small business and private practice along with many other “plates” I hold! So, let’s do this. Today I want to talk about the stigma of mental health and openly practicing taking care of yourself.
Is anyone else excited about the Olympics? I have long been an avid fan of both the winter and summer Olympics and this year is no different. As a little girl I took gymnastics at the local rec center and had bold dreams of maybe being an Olympian one day...until I realized I loved volleyball more and then switched courses (to be clear, I was never an Olympian, but am still an avid fan of all things Olympics). You’d better believe I cheered on The Magnificent 7 USA Women’s Gymnastics Team of 1996. Complete with the poster on my wall, Shannon Miller bangs, and the Kerri Strug haircut (if you know, you know).
You’re probably asking yourself, JoEllen, what does all this have to do with counseling and mental health. Glad you asked! If you’ve been tuning into the Olympics, scrolling through social media, or watching the news highlights, chances are you’ve seen the news about Simone Biles (the absolute GOAT of gymnastics) pulling out of the competition to take care of her mental health. Listen. This is huge. This is a world class athlete setting the example and helping to shatter the stigma that we have to power through when our mental health is literally impacting our life and performance. Here is what I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, even though I’ve obviously never spoken to Simone. The pressure she has been under is immense. She is carrying the weight of her team, her coaches, and her country on her shoulders. Not to mention surviving years of abuse from a team doctor and all the trauma that comes along with that. And while some will say, “well, she needed to push through and show some perseverance. Toughen up. This is what Olympians do”, I could not disagree more. If she had pushed through, there is a good chance we would’ve been reading headlines more along the lines of Simone Biles sustained a serious, life threatening injury. By publicly stepping away from competing, Simone is normalizing what actual self-care looks like. A teacher that I learn a lot from is Adam Grant. He wrote this week, “We need to have the same compassion for emotional pain as physical pain.” So well said. When someone we love breaks a bone or gets into an accident, we rally around them with support. But how often do we rally around the people in our life who are suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, or any other number of mental and emotional challenges? As a country, this has to change. As individual people, this has to change.
Brene Brown has famously said “Daring Leaders are never silent about hard things.” To me, Simone Biles advocating for and protecting her mental health is not a hard thing. It's a thing that makes perfect sense to me. But when I look at the number of people who are criticizing her for doing so, I realized that this was something I cannot be silent about. As someone who deeply cares about people, their wellbeing, and their whole person health, I am firmly in support of Simone Biles. I wish her well on her continued journey towards healing. And I cheer her on for setting an example to all the other little girls at the community rec centers learning gymnastics. May they only know that it’s okay to step back and take care of themselves. And my hope for you is that you know it is vital to prioritize your own mental health and wellbeing. I’d be privileged to be a part of that journey.
It’s officially been a year since our lives were changed by Covid-19. March 13, 2020 I remember attending a mandatory staff meeting on my campus. All we knew was that our Spring Break could look different. Our principal encouraged us to still try to unplug, spend time with our families, and recharge. I remember telling my husband, “I think we need to go by HEB for some groceries. I think things could get a little crazy, kind of like when we knew a hurricane was coming to share in Florida”. He trusted my instincts and we went to the store. It was overwhelming as there were so many people who had the same idea. Shelves were empty of staples, lines were so long, and you could feel the stress and tension radiating off of people. Later that week, our Spring Break was extended as local officials tried to work out a plan...I think you know the rest because our story is a similar story to so many people around the world.
I’ll be honest, it is still really hard for me to think back on those first few weeks and then months of sheltering in place without getting emotional. There was so much unknown about this virus that was sweeping the world, affecting so many. Our lives were turned upside down as we went from seeing family and friends almost every day to being around just our little immediate family. And while we truly have so much to be grateful for...it was still really hard. A year later, I don’t know that we’ve really had the time or space to begin to truly process all the emotions, thoughts, and feelings we had. (And I don’t think that I am alone in this because every therapist friend or colleague that I talk to has expressed this. Every. Single. One). As a therapist, I quickly had more people wanting therapy and counseling than I had availability for. Now, a year later, things have not slowed up either. My concerns about the longer lasting effects the pandemic is having on mental health and wellness are for another day, though.
Today, I want to focus on probably the single biggest thing I want to not forget from this past year. While this past year was incredibly challenging in so many different ways, there was also good that has come from this past year. I’ve written about some of that before and you can check that out here. Mostly, I realized how much a slower pace is good for me and my family. Connecting with our friends and really focusing on being present with them, not multitasking and taking for granted that we can get together whenever. Spending time exploring outside and making cool discoveries with our kids is way better than trying to stay “busy” indoors. Yet, in the last few months I’ve realized while all of those things are good, this past year also represents a lot of loss. Loss of time with family. Loss of routine. For some people, loss of a loved one. When we can recognize the incredible beauty of life and the absolute fragility of life at the same time, we are actually more emotionally healthy. Instead of burying our feelings of overwhelm, weariness, and grief, we need to acknowledge them. Even just giving voice to the thought that “I’m not doing okay right now” can give your heart and your head the moment it needs to pause, breathe, and just be. If we don’t acknowledge how we are actually feeling and instead stuff those feelings, they will eventually come out sideways in unhealthy ways and spill over onto those around us. Dr. Susan David is an incredible researcher and teacher out of Harvard. Her work on emotional agility has been so helpful to me as I navigate my own “big feelings” of the past year. It’s the tension of holding space for both the good and the hard parts of life that we find the ability to embrace life with all of its ups and downs.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Hitting our pandemic wall” either about 6 months ago or very recently. 6 months and 12 months into any major natural disaster or crisis, we inevitably hit a wall. The wall usually sounds like “I’ve had enough. I can’t take this. When will things be better?” you get the idea. The wall can feel like utter weariness, no patience, the inability to make decisions, etc. I remember hitting my pandemic wall about 6 months ago and I could feel it coming on again the past few weeks. This time though, I’ve learned not to stuff those harder feelings and instead acknowledge them. It goes back to a basic principle I learned in grad school - name it to tame it. This is my encouragement to you as we move forward. Be courageous enough to hold the tension of “Both-And” with your feelings. We are not our feelings. It is possible to take charge of them and move through them in a healthy way. And it starts with recognizing them. Giving yourself space to voice them. Sometimes that can be with a trusted friend or loved one, with a therapist, or sometimes alone in our car, just to ourselves. However you choose, I hope you can embrace the “Both-And” strategy. It has certainly helped me navigate these last few months better!
Today is International Women’s Day! I am so excited to celebrate this important day (along with March being Women’s History Month) and a movement that has been celebrating and working for women’s rights since 1911. This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge and that got me thinking about stereotypes. Especially as a woman business owner, there are several stereotypes I #ChooseToChallenge:
~ I am intelligent, strong, and courageous. I am not a damsel in distress waiting to be rescued. I'm grateful that I was raised by a strong Mom and with incredible women leaders on both sides of my family. My parents did not raise me as a princess or with the mindset that I was in need of someone to “rescue” me. I learned the value of hard work, tenacity, and resilience through challenging personal growth. Reading and learning were skills that were taught and then ingrained into me, fostering a love for learning that I still carry with me today. But most of all, I observed the women in my life be courageous as they worked various jobs, held different titles, and fostered community wherever they were. This myth that women are in need of a rescue is just that - a myth. The women I grew up around and then surrounded myself with as an adult are some of the strongest, smartest, and bravest women I know!
~ I am someone who cares deeply about my work, those I work with, and I will advocate for those who cannot, even if it's not easy or popular. These things do not make me overly emotional. When I was a classroom teacher and then school counselor, I learned to stand up for students who didn’t always have a caregiver to do so. I wanted them to know that they mattered. They were worthy of someone fighting for them. I hold this same view of my clients now. They are each deserving of the time and space to become a healthier, stronger person. Advocating for others is not always easy, but I learned (and am learning!) from some of the best educators and counselors in the world - a lot of whom were women who work alongside me and show me by example what true advocacy looks like. It requires a passionate yet calm and grounded heart that is fortified by a resilient spirit. Sometimes this requires us to tap into some very strong emotions and that is a good thing! I am a firm believer that wherever major decisions are being made that impact others, women absolutely must have a seat at the table. We offer a perspective and view of the world that is too important to not be heard.
~ I am working hard towards creating a healthier, better world for my own children, including our daughter. I am not “too much” of anything. Now that I am a parent myself with children of my own to lead and advocate for, I am realizing the power of teaching young kids to recognize their emotions and move through them, not stuff them. By vocalizing or acknowledging what we are feeling, we can learn how to move through the emotion cycle in a healthy way. Yes, I have thoughts, dreams, and lots of work to still do. I’m proud that our kids see me working hard to achieve my goals, both as a parent and in my professional roles! I want my daughter to know the value of hard work and to know that my glass ceiling is the glitter she'll walk on because I’m confident that this generation of women we are raising will be the ones to absolutely shatter it. This is not something that will be handed to either of us. We will work hard, be resilient, and be daring leaders. We will learn to live kindly, authentically, and wholeheartedly.
So, for International Women’s Day, I celebrate ALL women. Thank you to the many who have and are still investing in me to become the best wife, mom, daughter, friend, and CEO I can be. Thank you for challenging me when I need a push, encouraging me to pause to take care of myself, and most of all, thank you for believing in me. Here is to all the strong women - may we know them, raise them, and (most importantly) BE them!
I'm JoEllen and I'm so glad you're here. Thanks for visiting and let me know how I can best serve you!