J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 3.
L: By taking on the stoic sense that I didn't have to figure in my own well-being I ended up being of no use.
Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.
J: On our last, episode I spoke with Amber Price about making life happy. Today, I'm talking with Lisa Byrne, author of the book, ‘Replenish’. She talks about the 7 core principles of living a grounded life and what we as women can do to recenter ourselves when we feel burnt out or frazzled or overwhelmed, which never happens, right? Now last time, I gave you a challenge to check out the ‘eliminate overwhelm’ guide I prepared for you, and if you haven't done that already, go to jenriday.com/overwhelmed to download it now. It ties in perfectly with everything Lisa talks about in this episode. Now, as you listen to Lisa talk, you're going to love her soothing voice. She is so calm and grounded and I think we all want more of that in our lives. So let's go ahead and get started.
I am simply thrilled to introduce my guest today, Lisa Grace Byrne. Lisa is the author of the book, ‘Replenish’, and founder of the WellGrounded Life community where she supports and equips women and mothers to live healthy strong and vibrant lives. She's also the founder and director of the WellGrounded Institute for Women's Wellness which trains women to blend their passion for women's wellness, mentoring, and teaching into a career as a wellness educator. Lisa lives in New Jersey with her husband, 3 children, and the 100 pound yellow lab. Lisa, how are you?
L: I'm wonderful, thanks for having me, Jen.
J: Great, I'm glad you're here. I've given our listeners just a little overview so, Lisa, take a minute and fill in the gaps and tell us more about who you are personally.
L: Mm, who I am personally, oh let's see, I love to paint, I love long walks, I love playing with my kiddos, especially in nature. I'm someone who always had a passion for travel; I spent many years traveling, but motherhood kind of (how do I…) skidded to a stop.
L: So much of my… my old life felt like it had to be put on hold so quickly in motherhood that I think I'm integrating it all back; I think I'm figuring out the walk of bringing more and more of Lisa to my new identity as a mom.
L: And as you share it a little bit in the introduction, I have a business that serves moms and women and that's been, not only an early passion of motherhood when I began the business, but just a real source of my own joy and creative outlet as well doing that work.
J: Oh, I can't wait to hear more about it. We like to start off our show with your favorite quote or a life motto, so go ahead and share that with us.
L: So when I think about a favorite quote, one that comes to mind immediately is from mother Teresa. And it goes, “We can do no great things, we can do only small things with great love.”
L: And that's been a very guiding philosophy for me.
J: Oh, I love that, that's a great quote; one of my favorites too. So you mentioned a time when you kind of lost yourself and how you're now refining that, take us a little deeper into that low point in your life.
L: Well, it was early motherhood for me; so I had children very quickly. We were very gratefully blessed early on in our marriage when we began to have children and we… when my husband and I got married, I certainly wouldn't say I was married ‘old’, but I was 29 when we got married and we very quickly decided we wanted to start building a family, we didn't want to wait too long and I got pregnant very quickly. So I ended up having 3 children very quickly; about 20 months apart from each of them. And I wasn't really prepared, to be honest, I wasn't really prepared for the reality of keeping myself well while raising little ones. I think that I expected to be able to lean into all this head knowledge I had up into that point in my life. I, you know, kind of came into that season of my life with decades literally of intellectual study around wellness. So I have an undergrad in biochemistry with a minor in nutrition and metabolism, I have a master's in public health, I had been personally interested in wellness studies for many, many years. So I had almost this sense, this… you know, this belief that I had enough head knowledge, I had enough intellectual knowledge about wellness and keeping myself healthy before becoming a mom that it would just easily translate, and it didn't easily translate.
So I found myself struggling early on with postpartum depression. And if we're really going to kind of narrow in on kind of the darkest part of the tunnel, I would say that there was a stretch of time right after my second was born. So I have a boy, girl, boy, and so I had a 20 month old toddler boy and I had an infant girl and we were in the midst of moving. We sold our home, so I'm packing up our home, I'm moving into a rental, which I hated and I was kind of disconnected to, a really strong social circle, and my postpartum was really, really hitting me hard. And then physically, I was just very depleted and I got this upper respiratory cold that got very deep and it wasn't responding to antibiotics, it ended up going into my ears, I had double ear infections in both ears and I ended up getting vertigo so that anytime I slightly moved my head, I'd go into intense spinning where I just wasn't able to function. So I was on… in bed, I wasn't able to nurse my little girl, my husband had complete care while he was still trying to hold, you know, obviously a full-time job trying to keep the house running, I was in bed unable to take care of my infant or my toddler completely out of commission. So physically on top of emotionally and mentally, I was just capsized.
L: I remember being in my bed at that time, just couldn't move because if I move my head, just all that vertigo would come back, and I felt just this wave of failure, just this wave of realizing that, by me not taking care of myself, which it was almost like this badge of martyrdom, I think many moms take on and I certainly embrace that badge that I could be everything to everyone, that my personally… personal needs could be sacrificed for the good of the family, by taking on the stoic sense that I didn't have to figure in my own well-being, I ended up being of no use. I ended up not being able to actually care for those that I was using as an excuse to keep myself from actually finding a place of vitality, finding a place of thriving in the rhythm of my life. And that was a really huge critical turning point for me, and it slowly from that point forward where I decided I have to change direction, I have got to change direction because it's no longer feasible for me to keep going the way I've been going. And that was… I always say like the seeds were planted in that darkest place along the journey where I decided I have to figure this out; I have to start figuring out how to bridge practical ways to start caring for myself. Because I didn't need more head knowledge, I felt like I get information. I have really smart information, but I don't know how to make it practical in my life.
L: And so that was my journey, “How do I make this practical? How do I actually make concrete tools come back into my life so that I can start really nourishing and caring for myself on even a basic level, so I can actually start caring for those I love?”
J: So you hit this low point and you said the seeds were planted, so what did your turnaround look like? What… what grew from those seeds?
L: Well, you know, it be so wonderful just to be able to like show on this beautiful line trajectory, you know, this upward slant that things just effortlessly got put back together, but really, it was just an ongoing experimentation of figuring out first, “Where am I and what are my needs?” and secondly, “How can I start to experiment with ways to meet them?” And one of the things that happened early on was that I recognized that part of what was feeling so painful in terms of my postpartum depression was this distinct sense that I didn't feel connected to myself anymore. I didn't have any part of my life that was just for Lisa, that was a personal outlet, that was reconnecting to who I was or my sense of creativity or my sense of expression. So once I started identifying that that was an element, it was just a part of it, right, I mean, my body needed to be fed better and I needed to be able to control my stress better, I mean, these were all like core self-care principles.
L: But there was that sense of, “Before I can even care for myself, I need to connect to myself.”
L: And I began a blog and I called it WellGrounded Life.
L: And it was the word came to me immediately because I just thought, “What do I want? I want a WellGrounded Life. I just want solid ground underneath my feet. I want to feel that sense of wellness and stability again.” And it was through this blog that I started being able to marry my… my personal journey of, “Let's start talking about what we need and self-care,” true self-care, not manis and pedis. I love a mani and pedi, I loved nice massages, but I really wanted to understand my… “How do I actually start caring for my core essentials?” But I did it in the context of reaching out to other moms and saying, “What if I could support another mom along the way and what if their voice and relationship back to me could be supportive to me? What if we could do this in community?” And so that… I was really able to do this kind of ongoing process of slowly putting it back together, this dance of coming to know myself and working self-care more deeply into my life through my blog at first. Because it gave me a sense of focus, it gave me a sense of, “Well, how do I articulate this in a way that I would put out there in the world, even if 3 people are reading it?” I didn't know.
L: You know, I mean, I always say like I felt like I reached out my hand thinking maybe one other mom was out there and could grab on, and thousands started reaching back, you know? But I didn't know that; I didn't know the whole world of blogging, I was actually so new to it. I didn't even understand what a blog was, I was introduced to it from a friend. But, for me, that was a really critical aspect of putting my own well-being back together because it gave me a little slice of my world that felt like Lisa.
L: Like WellGrounded Life was Lisa's again. And of course, Lisa was a mom, I mean, you always bring 100% of yourself to everything, but it was a small part of my life I reclaimed for myself. And I feel like that was a really critical part of the healing.
J: Reclaiming a piece of yourself so you could be Lisa and mom at the same time, yeah.
J: And I would imagine that so many other mothers out there reading your blog were drawn to you because they felt the exact same way.
L: Yeahm I think that's true and I think that, even if it didn't feel exact, it's like there's… you know, I feel like one of the wonderful things is that, you know, sometimes the feedback was, “Oh my gosh, you're in my head,” but sometimes the feedback was just, “What a blessing, because in listening to you and your story, I'm hearing my own story more clearly.”
L: “And I'm getting to know… I'm reflecting on how it is for me,” which in some ways is different, but sometimes it's almost like, it's okay if it's contrasting, it actually helps clarify for all of us to hear each other's stories, our own story, and that's what's most important. I mean, that's what's most profound about it all is that, when we hear each other stories, there'll be elements of it where we feel are mirrored and there might be elements that feel very different, but either way, it's helps us, for our own journey, clarify, “What's my story?” you know, “How did… how did I process this all and where did I get stuck and what do I need?” which I think it's just kind of like the miracle of community.
J: Mm-hmm, that's so true. And so you mentioned the blog and then how did that develop into the WellGrounded Community?
L: Well, I would kind of say that they're one in the same, right?
L: You know, because right from the beginning, and especially when I began the blog, my blog was much more interactive. So my work has kind of evolved where most of my interaction at this point happens within my courses and my programs…
L: … versus the comments and the conversations that are happening on my blog posts, whereas actually in the beginning, it was like the opposite where my blog posts were where we would do lots of conversations in connection and interaction in the comments. So I would say, right from the beginning, I saw a WellGrounded Life with that kind of dual nature. It was both mine in terms of my outlet of expression, but it was always ours in the sense that the community nature was always there very early on.
J: You're the author of the amazing book, ‘Replenish’, which I have read and loved, tell us more about the key points you have in that book that can help a woman feel more grounded.
L: So in the book, I refer to them as the 7 core essentials. And, you know, even that, like I… I also put them and kind of organized and sometimes as 6, sometimes as 7, sometimes I call them like the 6 pillars, like my replenish 365 program which is my year-long program of study with moms, I organize it kind of in 6 ways, 6 kind of pillars.
L: But the 7 core essentials, for me, what ended up happening was that, over time working with literally thousands of women in my courses and in my programs and the conversations and the mentoring we had with one another and the sharing, what started to rise to the surface were these elements of our well-being that, if they were not present, would diminish kind of the whole, right? They would… like they were… they were critical, right; they were essential. So what they are, I can kind of like quickly just speak to them overall, but I saw that it was critical that a woman had her… had tools or had an ability to establish a calm mind and to have control over her inner-calm in order for self-care to take root. So calm mind…
L: … is one of the first ones. And then out of that one was sovereign thoughts. So they're actually separate because establishing a calm mind is actually a hormonal biochemistry type thing. And your thoughts are very poor at, you know, keeping you calm. So what I realized is that, we had… I had to learn ways or practices that helped my biochemistry stay calm, and then once my biochemistry returned back to calm, my next, you know, line of focus needed to be reining in my thoughts and having, not only control of my thoughts, but sovereignty in my thoughts so I directed them in ways that served me, because my thoughts were really my primary cause of the stress trigger, more than anything.
L: And the nourished body is another core essential, like, “How did I… how do I feed my body the raw essentials it needs so that my basics, like my biochemistry, my neuro-physiology, my hormonal systems have what they need to work?” right, the nourish body part of it.
L: Restorative rest is another core essential, joyful movement is another core essential, anchored quiet is a core essential. I found that life with children didn't allow me naturally the times of pause that I needed so that I wasn't constantly being stimulated by outside noise or by outside needs. So carving out and protecting times of anchored quiet was… was another critical one.
L: And then in my… in my pillars, I kind of bring in authentic connections, right, what are the nature of our closest and most important relationships, including our relationship to self and our relationship to God or spirit. Then aligned living, you know, I could do all this inner work, but if my life still didn't support well-being, if I kept living in a culture of depletion and in a culture of stress, I was just my car into mud.
L: So I started realizing that actually self-care needs to be honored in my schedules and how I use my time and how I use my attention and my energy.
J: You mentioned calm mind, sovereign thoughts, nourished body, restorative rest, joyful movements, anchored quiet, and aligned living. So that's beautiful and I really loved reading about that in your book. Tell us what that looks like for you in your life today in your routines and how you've really bring it into existence.
L: I think, for me, what I'm realizing is that, while all of those core essentials are just wonderful and necessary, the biggest skill of self-care is self-assessment because they're changing all the time. You know, there's no formula that I've ever been able to find that keeps them all in balance because I'm always changing and my life's always changing and the needs on me are changing and my hormones are changing and, you know, my kids are going through different challenges and… which trigger different things for me. So I feel like what I'm learning is the core skill of self-care is keeping a fluid kind of ongoing self-assessment happening where I keep self-connection and self-check-ins happening on a fairly regular basis, and then I respond to them. So it's almost like these… I always think of it as like there's these doorways that lead you into deeper self-care, and the first doorway has to be self-connection. I mean, you have to be responding to what you personally actually need or you're just signing up for someone else's template.
L: You're just signing up someone else's formula which isn't based on what you might need at that time. So self-connection has to be established first. And then once self-connection is established and you start becoming aware of yourself and aware of your needs, then the second doorway has to be self-love. Because if you do not choose to respond lovingly to your needs, then you could have a need, you could be aware of it, but you could go on the martyr road, you know, and ignoring your need or beating yourself up for having that need or telling yourself you're too needy or feeling guilty for that need, I mean, all the stuff that keeps us stuck in a place where we actually don't give ourselves permission to meet our own needs. And I think that at the very core is an element of self-love. It's an act of love to empathetically look at someone and care for their needs and then respond to them, and so why wouldn't we do the same for ourselves? So once that happens, once you're aware of your need and once you decide you're important enough to have those needs met, then I think you enter the world of true self-care. And that, I think, is always changing.
J: Mm-hmm, you know, there's times when… when, you know, a self-assessment says, “You know, I think a little light of nurture needs to be shined… you know, shined on the restorative rest because I'm really struggling there.” Sometimes it's nourished body, sometimes its sovereign thoughts because my daughter is going through a new stage and it's triggering stuff and I'm starting to go crazy in my mind with these runaway thoughts on how irritated I am at her or conversations I want to have with her. You know, it's…
L: … really, it's amazing and I just… I think it's such a beautiful journey of just coming to see yourself in this…. in the fullness of who you are, the complexity of who you are and just honoring that. There's no 1-size-fits-all, even for yourself because you're always evolving and changing. And so what if you get into this practice of just the checking in and the responding to what you find? Yeah.
J: Self-connection first and then self-love and then always checking in and tweaking; constant tweaking. But… but, like you said, the attitude of, “I'm important and I'm going to meet my needs too, not just my children's needs.”
L: Yeah, I do. And I think that, you know, because self-care necessitates action on some level, right? It necessitates you making a positive change in the direction of your own well-being.
L: But if you don't go through the doorways of self-connection and self-love before you take that action, then you can find the same tools of self-care start getting used against you. So I don't know if you're familiar with the indie song writer, Ani DiFranco.
L: Well, she's one of my favorites and she has a lyric where it says, “Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.”
L: And I don't think there's… I mean, I apply that to self-care so… how many times or how many women or how many times in your own life… and I can't speak for you, I could certainly speak for myself, where I have used food as a weapon against myself.
L: And food is… you know, food is a beautiful tool of self-care, but if I don't go through the doorway first connecting to myself, asking myself what I need, and then deciding I'm going to treat myself with loving kindness, food very easily is a popular tool, I think, that women start using as a weapon against themselves.
L: If you jump right to the food because we go right to this mentality that we're going to restrict and control and use food to force our body to be what we want it to be.
L: And that's a weapon, but it's the same… it's the same substance that could be used as a tool if we go through the right process.
J: Right. So many of us do that, but when we turn it around and start using it as not a weapon, but something that heals us, it can make all the difference.
J: Lisa, we have now reached my favorite part of the show where we talk about a few of your favorite things, kind of the… the light chat portion of the show. So you already shared a personal habit that contributes to your success, you mentioned the self-connection and self-love, so I'll go to the next question, share your favorite easy meal that you like to eat regularly.
L: I would say it’s puree soups; my veggie purees soups. I always have a huge batch of some kind of veggie purees soup.
L: And I eat it for breakfast, I eat it if I just need a quick snack between meals, I'll eat it as a meal with some rice.
L: Yeah, so those are mainstays for me.
J: So you puree the vegetables and what do you add for flavor?
L: Oh, there… it's enough. So I would make in some kind of stock, either a veggie stock or chicken stock, I would just basically cook a handful of veggies. So it could be beets and cauliflower and carrots or it could be broccoli and onions and carrots.
L: And then once they're soft enough to be pureed, I just have a hand puree and I puree it up. It really does not even need anything else.
J: That sounds so nourishing and really healthy. (Laughs)
L: Yeah, it is. I mean, it's so simple and I eat it all the time. I mean, I eat it with like rice I'll eat it, you know, just as a bowl by itself; it’s delicious.
J: I'm going to do that, thanks for that idea; I love that. What's your current favorite household item?
L: Household item, I mean, I have my favorite candles.
L: I also really… I just recently got a Teavana tea maker. So it's a super easy way for me to make tea if it's not in bags; loose tea. And so I've been loving it because, before, I'd always have to like be shoving loose tea in those little balls, you know? (Laughs)
L: It wasn't easy, so this has been one… I've been using it constantly all throughout the… my days.
J: Nice. Tivana, you said?
L: It's… so it’s Tea vana.
J: Oh, Teavana, of course; Nirvana, Teavana (Laughs). Great.
L: And it's like a tea maker, yeah.
J: Mm, I’ll have to try that. My favorite is chamomile tea.
J: So good.
L: It's great.
J: Your favorite book that you'd recommend to the Vibrant Happy Women community and why.
L: Most recently, I would recommend… I might have 2. Most recently, I'd recommend ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert for a more new release.
L: It’s phenomenal. It's about the trusting the magic of living a creative life based on kind of your own desires and your own creative instincts.
L: But I think it really applies just to life in general, even if you don't feel like you have kind of a creative calling or a creative profession, it's just a very applicable book. And then a classic of mine would be when… ‘Women who Run with the Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estés.
L: And she's a phenomenal sociologist, kind of psychoanalyst, feminists, but not… but she's just rich; rich in culture. And she takes many of the old fairy tales and myths and she dissects them and explores kind of the feminine nature or the feminine archetype and a lot of the different myths. And it could be… it's just a really an interesting personal reflective kind of journey through that book with her; it's great.
J: Oh, I can't wait to get that one.
L: Oh my gosh, you’ve got to.
J: I will, I will, thank you. Well, we will jump to our last question, the happiness formula. Iif you had to create a 3 to 5 part formula of actions that maximize your happiness, what would that include?
L: I am happiest when I'm kind and when I'm trusting and when I'm grateful.
J: Mm, yes. Well, that's a great formula, thanks for sharing that. And, Lisa, I've truly enjoyed listening to your journey and… and your ideas. Tell us where we can find you online.
L: At wellgroundedlife.com. You can hop over, there's lots of different free resources. If you wanted to plug in and get a sense of the kinds of stuff we do over there, we'd love to have you.
J: Excellent. And then finally, give our listeners a challenge; something that they could work on to be just a little happier.
L: Hmm. I would encourage everyone to find the pause.
L: And give yourself a few moments in the day just to bring yourself back to your own attention and just check-in, you know, “How are you doing? How are your needs and your feelings factoring in to your day?” just an awareness.
J: Check-in, I love that. Lisa, the Vibrant Happy Women community is aware that they can find links to everything we talked about by going to jenriday.com/3. And I wanted to thank you for being so generous with your time and your experience, and we really honor what you've done there at WellGrounded Life and want to thank you for being on the show.
L: Thanks so much, Jen, it's been a pleasure; great talking with you.
J: I loved what Lisa had to say about self-care. She said essentially, there are 2 doorways we need to walk through first in order to achieve true self-care. And those are self-connection, knowing what we really need, and self-love, being willing and empathetically conscious and able to meet those needs. And then at the end, her challenge to us, I'll share that again, find the pause and give yourself a few moments in the day just to bring yourself back to your own attention and check-in, “How are you doing? How are your needs and your feelings factoring into your day?” That is a beautiful challenge that we can all work on in the days and weeks ahead, and I would love to hear how it goes for you. Let us know by dropping us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and maybe we'll post some of those responses on our website. In the next episode, I'll be chatting with Stephanie Rogers, the 2015 Wisconsin Young Mother of the Year, about how to take care of yourself without feeling guilty about it. Stephanie is from the south and you're going to love her happy Southern drawl and her ideas about taking time to be a person and not just a mom. Until then, take care.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.