“How are you? Still busy?” my friend said.
“So busy. I haven’t stopped for ages. And not looking like changing anytime soon! You know me, LOVE to have lots of things on the go!” I would reply.
Busy. Hustling. Workaholic. Never stopping. Next project. Next Business. More. More. More.
This was me. Always. From my late teens I always had a new project on the go. Or I was studying. Or I was researching something. Or I was making businesses. I didn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. I often wondered why I would always find a way to fill any spare time with ‘something’. Something, anything. I had to fill it. Staying still was boring I would tell myself. I LOVED being ‘busy’ and having lots on the go. It fuelled me, I would tell myself. I would joke that I needed to stay busy to keep my brain occupied. Until then it didn’t anymore. Until it got me to that place where mentally, physically, emotionally I was exhausted. Why was I doing this to myself? Who was making me work so hard ALL the time? It wasn’t anyone, it was ME. Busy was my band-aid….
In 2003, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. A supposedly good cancer, that he would go through some treatment and come out the otherside. Except he didn’t. The doctors didnt find a more sinister cancer that was lurking and 9 or so months later, he left the earth for heaven. At the age of 19 I lost my dad. Unexpectedly lost my dad, as in go to work one day and come home to find he is no longer with us. But not only did I lose my Dad. I lost my mum for a while too, as she cared for dad during his illness and then needed to heal following the grief of losing her soulmate. Gosh she is one of the strongest women I know, it still amazes me how she made it through it all. I lost my sister for a while, who at 15, her way of coping with the grief was to retreat, spending much of her time in her room. And I lost myself, a 19 year old who suddenly had to grow up to care for all of those around her, forgetting the most important person she needed to care for – herself.
Grief hurts. It hurts to the core of your soul. It makes you question everything. Life. God. Where you are going. What you are doing. At his funeral, I remember watching the car leave, a sea of people lined the driveway to farewell a man who had touched their lives. At that moment, I decided I was going to leave a legacy, just like my Dad did. And so it began. Never stopping. Never slowing down. Must make him proud. Must leave a legacy of my own…..
I worked. I studied. I researched in my spare time for a new car. Then I studied some more. Then I decided I needed a new job. Then a new car again. Then a new course. Then a house. Then a wedding. Then a business. Then more study. Then a baby. Then another business. Oh, and another baby. I never stopped. Anytime I had spare time, I would again fill it up. I was plugging any gaps where that grief may sneak in and I would have to feel the hurt.
The thing is. You can only keep running from grief for so long, before you can no longer fill the gaps. The plugs keep falling out. Or the band aid falls off. I told myself I had dealt with that part of my life, I went to a psychologist after all! And while I had done some of the work. I hadn’t done all the work I needed to. So late last year, my body decided that had to stop. I hit burnout and things started to fall apart. My health, my business stalled, I was miserable and angry at home a lot. My husband who has been through this whole journey by my side even when I felt alone, my absolute rock, commented that I was so grumpy all the time. It was a wakeup call. So slowly I picked up the pieces. Slowly I started to understand where all this was coming from. I worked to keep my mind busy. I worked to keep my anxiety at bay. I worked to forget the grief. I didn’t outsource because while I did it ALL I had control over everything. At that age of 19, when I felt that I lost all control over my life, I subconsciously decided that for anything work out or be fixed, I had to do it myself. At 19, I began the tape that tonne else could do it like me. I mean if doctors cant get a diagnosis right, and we trust them with our lives, how could I trust anyone to do anything else for me? It is clear to me now why I burnt myself out. There is a reason I cringe when I see the word hustle and why it has negative connotations to me. It’s because I know it was my way of covering up my hurt. It’s like an addiction, but to work! I also know there might be others out there like me, hustling themselves to burnout. Covering up the things that they may be struggling with, with ‘work’. And if it’s work, its ok right? Well yes, until it’s not ok. And that’s what happened to me.
So where am I now? Well it will be 13 years this Sunday since Dad passed away. This last 8 months have been a journey of uncovering each of the pieces of who I am. The ‘she’ that got lost through that grief that overshadowed me. Am I now healed? Gosh no. I have a feeling this will be a constant work in progress for me (I don’t think we ever get fully healed do we?). But the thing is now I am aware. Now I know what I need to be mindful of. Now I have the strategies in place to help me. Now I am making the changes to my businesses that they need so that I can focus more on slowing down a bit (I recently rediscovered how green the trees are! It as like an awakening!) and looking after me, but still doing everything I love.
And what have I found? I have been able to find joy again. By slowing down, by taking some steps back. By allowing emails to sit unresponded too for longer than a day. By allowing my business to take a back seat for a while while I found myself again (and I am so glad I now have!). By allowing my husband to do more of the parenting while I stopped. I began to find me again. I found the things again I love in my business and in my life. I rediscovered my love for reading. I rediscovered my love of movement and ballet. I rediscovered my purpose and the vision I want for my life moving forward. Joy seeped back into my life. Love came back into my life. And fear has slowly dissipated from the highs that were once all consuming. My life is now about flow, a much gentler approach from where I used to be.
And now I am here. On this soul mission to nurture women and their businesses. To help them to learn to nourish themselves (body, soul and business), find that joy and spark and thrive and flourish into the future. Because I truly believe and have experienced myself that when we really look at working on ourselves as much as our businesses, when we look deeper than our social media presence or marketing plan, that is where the magic happens. And like the legacy my dad left on all the lives he touched, leaving a legacy of my own through nurturing and supporting as many women as I can throughout my life so that the ripple effect of that continues well beyond me.
This is my personal journey (I am not saying this is why others are ‘hustling’ or busy too). It has also not been a solo journey. It has been through the support of my art therapist, womens occupational therapist, business coach, intuitive guide, close friends and my husband that I have worked through all the things I have. And previously a psychologist and counsellor. If you feel like you are struggling or my journey resonates with you, please reach out for help. You can start with your GP and a mental health plan and then slowly take the next steps.