J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 46.
E: I got to this breaking point in the middle of college where God was just like, “Emily, you're not going to be perfect, that's not how I designed you to be.”
Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.
J: Hey there, welcome to Vibrant Happy Women. I'm Dr. Jen Riday and I'm so glad you're here. Well, on our last episode, I spoke with Ruth Soukup and she shared all about choosing happiness. She hit that very, very low point and we all hit one at some point or another in our lives. And she said, “You know what? I'm tired of feeling this way,” and she decided to get herself out of that pit of darkness and choose to be happy. That episode is amazing if you haven't listened to it yet, be sure to do that by going to jenriday.com/45 and you'll see a little link at the top and you can click that arrow and it will play the podcast for you. Also, I want to remind you, if you haven't joined the Vibrant Happy Women Facebook group, do so. We're having fun discussions every day about our goals and how we're moving forward and how we're choosing to be happy, so we'd love to have you. Just go to Facebook and search for Vibrant Happy Women and you should find us.
Well, on today's episode, I'll be talking with Emily Cummins and she shares how she chose to put on her warrior boots and live an authentic life. This is a great episode because, who doesn't want to put on their warrior boots? I've got mine on right now. I hope you have on yours. And of course, I'm being metaphorical, but isn't that the coolest phrase ever; warrior boots? Yes, I love it. Well, we got to jump into this episode because Emily is a bundle of energy and has some great thoughts you're going to love. So let's dive in.
Hey there, I'm Jen Riday and welcome to Vibrant Happy Women. I'm talking with Emily Cummins today and Emily is passionate about partnering with churches and people to reach their full potential and effectively share their story through digital communication strategies. She also founded and leads a community and resource for women called Becoming Me TV encouraging empowering and equipping women as they're living to their highest God-given potential. Emily lives in Ocala, Florida, and for fun, she loves spending time on the beach and driving with the top down, blaring the latest Taylor Swift song, and she enjoys reading and writing. Welcome to the show, Emily.
E: Well, thanks for having me, Jen, it's great to be here.
J: Yeah, I'm so glad you could join us. So I know you listed up several favorite quotes and I'm going to let you pick your favorite and share that with us today.
E: Absolutely. So my favorite quote is very simple, it's just, “Choose to become who God made you to be and daily choose to be her.”
J: Ooh, to be her. So who do you feel like God created you to be? I'm curious.
E: Oh, that's such a good question. You know, I really think I'm still figuring that out every single day. For me, I'm just banking on, if I'm waking up, if I put my feet on the floor, I lace up my warrior boots, I do hard things and lean into whatever God has tasked me with that day that that’s success. So I might not know exactly what it is that I want to do all the time or like work-wise or relationship-wise, but if I'm waking up and being the Emily God created me to be and loving people and trusting him with everything in me, then that… that looks like success and becoming Emily.
J: Okay, I love that; putting on the warrior your boots, ooh, that’s awesome.
J: Well, Emily take us to a low point you faced in life and share how you made it through that point because we all struggle and it's so inspiring to hear how others have made it through something difficult.
E: Absolutely. You know, in one of your recent episodes, a lady shared that she's had many different low points, and I couldn't agree more; I have lots of low points and lots of high points. But perhaps one of the low points that's a theme throughout my life that I continue to, you know, dive into and then rise above is just the pursuit of perfection. Ever since I was a little girl, I've always strived to be perfect, whether it was the right ballet routine or your hair just right or getting the right grades in school, finding the perfect guy, landing the dream job, I wanted everything to be perfect. You know, and after struggling and striving for that for years, I got to this breaking point in the middle of college where God was just like, “Emily, you're not going to be perfect; that's not how I designed you to be.” It was really my sophomore year where I came to the end of myself and realized, my pursuit for this endless perfection that really was never granted, it just… it was breaking me apart and it was limiting me from becoming who God made me to be. So it's in that time, I was reading a book by Shauna Niequist called ‘Bittersweet’, and literally chapter 25 in that book talked about how you're in seasons in your life, and seasons are all about you becoming who God made you to be. So that word leapt off the page at me, I ended up even tattooing the word ‘becoming’ on my wrist, just has this reminder that, “Emily, you were not made to be perfect and you don't have to be; there's freedom in that. But you can wake up and choose to become who God made you to be no matter what you're experiencing.”
So after really embracing that as my personal battle cry, that's how I have learned to rise above maybe one of the lowest points. And when I start to dive back into those low points, I can remind myself, “Hey, Emily, you don't have to live here. No matter what you're facing, you can choose to become who God made you to be. You're going to have to fight, but you can choose to become,” and that's how I just journey through… through that in every single season.
J: Mm, I love that. And, you know, all of our listeners might not believe in God per se, but I think everyone believes in a higher power of some sort or listening to intuition. But putting that all together, how would you say perhaps that our weaknesses and this lack of perfection can work together for our good?
E: Mm, that's a great question. You know, I think sometimes our weaknesses can become our very strengths. That's why I love how you start your episodes with the question like, “What was a low point for you?” and then sharing those low points, we actually help people become stronger. And when any of us journey through the low, tough, gritty parts of life and really put one foot in front of the other and journey through it well, we always come out stronger. That's why I like the concept of you been just being a warrior with whatever you're facing in life. Because life is hard, we go through lots of low points and lots of valleys, but we don't ever have to live there; and that's literally just choosing to be who you want to be, who you were made to be. It's putting 1 foot in front of the other and often that looks like embracing your weaknesses, because in embracing it, you can share it and then you can help other people.
J: Mm, yes, exactly what I was thinking. A lot of what I talked about on the show is the low point, like you said. And my own low point was kind of hitting that rock bottom as a mom who had given too much trying to be perfect.
J: Like, I… I made bread, 12 loaves a week sometimes and through these lavish birthday parties, and I was totally exhausted. And now that I've risen out of that, I love sharing that story and kind of helping others, just like you said. So I think you're right on the money so thanks for sharing that.
E: Yeah, absolutely.
J: Well, so you came out of that low point and you… how do you go forward fighting against that… still, probably it's still there, that tendency to want to be perfect, how do you combat that every day?
E: Absolutely. I've really decided to almost put my heart on my sleeve. I'm very transparent so I like to share who I'm becoming with women around me. I have always written on a blog for years and just sharing what I'm learning, what I'm experiencing. And I've discovered that in sharing the low points and the parts that feel extremely less than perfect, that other women have discovered, “You know what? I'm strong, I can do hard things, and I can become who I was made to be too.” And it's in sharing that stuff that it encourages other women and it ultimately encourages me. So I really try to just stay transparent, realizing I'm not going to be perfect, reminding myself of that everyday (which isn't super hard to do), and then writing about it, sharing it on Instagram or Facebook; but being transparent with the people around me, sharing my weaknesses because it keeps me in check. And it reminds me that other people are on this journey too, and when we share who we are and what we're doing, we all become stronger together.
J: Mm. So you said you write about it, do you have a blog?
E: I do, it's at becomingme.tv, and it's become a resource and a community for women; it's really evolved or become over the last several years. So now, we share women's becoming stories and how they're becoming who they were made to be, the things that they're overcoming as well. So it's… it's moved beyond even just me transparently sharing the stuff that I'm journeying through, but now inviting other women to share their stories as well. And in the last 2 years, we've shared 119 stories on our website.
E: Which is pretty… pretty incredible.
J: So, ‘becoming’, I love that; and you also talked about being transparent. So that reminds me of a really popular word right now, especially kind of coming from Brené brown, but the word is ‘vulnerability’.
J: Not being afraid to, yeah, be transparent, like you said, and share that. So thinking about all those stories on your website of women who share their story of becoming and they're being vulnerable there, what… what are a couple of stories that stand out in your mind?
E: Yeah, absolutely. This year, we had a woman who she's been married for several years, she just had her first baby this past… actually, probably 2 years ago now. And she had actually wrestled through, in her younger years, she had several abortions; she didn't tell anyone about it. She wrestled with shame with the decisions that she had made in her past and she decided, she reached out to me, that she wanted to get vulnerable, she wanted to be real and she wanted to share with women what happened in her past; why she made the decisions that she had made, what maybe she wished she would have done differently or not differently. So we actually journey through that, her story for a couple months, walking her through, you know, talking with the people in her life face to face before sharing it online, and then we ended up sharing her story on our website. And there was so much freedom for her and for other
women watching because she had hidden this part of herself for so long, just afraid that the demons she wrestled with, that other people wouldn't be able to at her the same.
E: And she found that, after she was vulnerable and she risked it and she shared who she is and who she's becoming, that people actually respected her even more; which was really, really a cool transformation to watch. So that's just one story.
J: Mm, that’s great.
E: But it's been the same over and over. I think women (and… and guys too) are just dying for someone to take interest and to say, “Hey, what's your story? Who are you?” And once you ask, I mean, people… people share and they get vulnerable.
J: Well, so I love that story because I can just imagine the relief she felt and also all those other women who might have had a similar story, just feeling that joint human connection with another person; and that's why I love vulnerability. And so I hope more and more women will do this. So I encourage everyone to go to your website, it's becomingme.tv, right?
E: Yes, you got it.
J: And check out those stories. And what if someone wanted to share a story?
E: Absolutely, I would love to connect; they can email me. My email is my first name, it's firstname.lastname@example.org.
J: Neat! That's really a cool thing you're doing. Well, let's talk about any advice you might have to someone who's struggling with something that kind of burns them or makes them not feel like they're living as their best self, what… what would be the first step to being more vulnerable and, you know, rising up, I guess?
E: Yeah. I would say strip off all of the labels and the lies that you've told yourself or that you've listened to from other people; that's the first step. We have to dig through the junk that's in our heart and our minds first, and many times, that's just stuff we tell ourselves. Like, for me and my journey, no one ever told me I had to be perfect, that was something I told myself. And I had to rip off that live saying, “Emily, you do not have to be perfect.” So first, rip off the labels, rip off the lies that yourself or other people have put on you, and then second, you have to choose to
love you. If you don't love yourself, there is no way that you can really genuinely love those around you well or even love what you're doing. We have to love who we are in order to become whoever you want to be. So it’s, strip off the labels, love yourself, and the last thing… and this is something that I've learned maybe even the hard way this year is that you just have to choose to be her. Many times, it's easy to feel trapped or like here in your own prison cell from expectations from people or circumstances and you can feel trapped so easily. And what I've learned though is that, in the midst of feeling trapped, whether it's something that someone else put on you or something that you put on yourself, at the end of the day, I might not be able to control what other people do or say, but I can always control myself. And so the decision to become free, really lives with me. So I have the key, you have the key, and we just have to
choose to be her. So I might not feel like it, I might not want to be free or I might not want to take that best next step in my life to be coming, but I have to just choose to be her, choose to put
one foot in front of the other, and when you do, it really is worth it. Looking back, I've never regretted doing the tough stuff, it's like… like a working out. It's not fun going to the gym, but on the backside of that workout, I always feel better. So just choosing to be her, choosing to be me always feels better on the other end, I never ever regret it.
J: Mm. So stripping off the labels, loving yourself, and choosing to be her. So as you were talking, I kind of thought, you know, my personal journey… and I… like I said before, and maybe not all of our listeners believe in a higher power or whatever, but a big component for me of learning to love myself was to know that God or a higher power loves me deeply and perfectly already. And once I had that foundation that there's somebody who thinks I'm amazing, then it didn't matter what anyone else thought, and that gave me the freedom to choose to be me. And through that connection to a higher power and through prayer or meditation, I kind of learned who the real me is. And has that been part of your journey as well?
E: Absolutely. For me, that's how I believe I can become the Emily that I was made to be. And, for me, I… I've really experienced that I'm strong to an extent (I think we're all strong to an extent), but I do believe in that higher power; for me, that is God.
J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
E: Because without him I would be lost. And… and, for me, all the lies I've told myself, that's something that I would continue to be in today if it was not for God stepping in into my story in that sophomore year of college and saying, “Emily, this isn't who I made you to be.” So if I didn't have God in my life guiding and directing me on those next steps, I'd still being that broken college girl trying to find the perfect way to live, and I wouldn't be satisfied and there wouldn't be a sense of fulfillment in it for me.
J: Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. Well, so I know a lot of people think there's a God out there or a higher power, but can you tell more, how you make that communication happen? How do you know what those thoughts are? Because I've had that question asked many, many times and I have my own answer to it, but I'd love to hear how you address that. How do you know what God or a higher power is telling you to do?
E: Oh, that's a good question.
E: And that's hard too because I definitely don't have some audible voice speaking down saying, “Emily, do this or do that,” well, that would be so much easier. But, for me, I'm first plugged into a church community.
E: So every week, I'm learning, I'm growing, I’m stretching. I'm also plugged into a small group at that church. So weekly, I'm meeting with about 5 or 6 girls and we dive into the Bible together, we talk through it. But then beyond that, every day when I wake up, whether it's just reading the verse of the day on the YouVersion Bible app or it's diving into a devotional book or just reading a chapter in Proverbs, I'm diving into God's Word because I believe that's one way that he does speak to me; speaks to me through what's written in his word. You know, second, I pray; and, for me, that looks different. Sometimes, I write my prayers in a journal, and they're just processing what I'm thinking, and sometimes, it's just talking in my head are talking out loud. And like I said before, I don't hear an audible voice confirming or telling me what to do next, but I do feel a sense of peace come over me when I know that there's a right decision that needs to be made or I can feel a complete lack of peace and something is so often like a gut-check that I need to dive into. And with those types of things, I have a really small inner circle who also believes in God the same way that I do. And I'll bounce the ideas off of them and just see, “Okay, what do you… what do you think about this? You know me, you know who I'm wanting to become, this is how I'm feeling, is this… you know, what's your gut take on that?” that's about actually 3 people. And so I really, in the midst of reading my Bible, praying, seeing how I'm feeling God talking to me or not; I also bounce it off of the people really close to me. And at the end of the day, going through those different things together helps me determine, “Okay, is this a right best next step in my life? Is it not?” but sometimes, man, I wish there was an audible…
E: “Emily, this is what you should do.” (Laughs)
J: Right, right. Well, so I totally love what you said because that's the most fun thing for me doing the Vibrant Happy Women podcast is hearing women describe different belief systems, maybe they meditate, I had someone on who was a Buddhist, and I’ve had…
J: Yeah. But what's really neat is we all seem to come back to this place of getting grounded, getting centered, and communicating with something out there, someone out there or intuition, whatever people call it. But…
J: Feeling that sense of inner peace or lack of peace and knowing, “Hey, there is a right way for me to go here, and if I get quiet enough to listen…”
J: “… things are so much easier,” yet that's one of the hardest things to do is to make that time. So, for you, you get up first thing and knock it out before you get distracted, is that right?
E: Yes, and before I check my Instagram feed because if I flip it, life starts running faster than I can keep up with. (Laughs)
J: Yes, exactly (Laughs); that's funny. Well, I've been teaching this time mastery course it's called Time Mastery for Women, and in the course, we talk about doing the proactive things first where you're in charge, rather than the reactive things; and Instagram or email or Facebook are completely reactive because then…
J: … then, you're meeting everyone else's needs, rather than your big needs; so that is smart. Well, this was so fun so far and I would love to keep going on that topic, but let's go talk about the things that are exciting you today, how you're living a vibrant and happy life.
E: Absolutely. Oh, goodness, that's a very big question. I get excited about a lot of little things and big things in life. Right now, I'm very excited to be doing life with my family.
E: A year ago right now, I actually lived on the west coast I lived in the fabulous city of Las Vegas. And so being able to be back near my family, my home family, this past year has been wonderful; that's exciting for me. And then genuinely the thing that excites me deep inside my bones the most is what we've been talking about today, watching women discover their voice and share their stories. My… this week, I've actually been emailing back and forth with 10 women who want to share their stories in 2017. And that has been bringing a huge smile to my face and getting me very, very excited.
J: Hey, I can almost imagine a podcast in your future. I would love to hear interviews of women sharing their story. (Laughs)
E: Well, all… they’ll learn all the good tips from you. (Laughs)
J: There you go; there you go. And what's something you're currently struggling with, if anything?
E: Mm, that's a really good question. Right now, I am struggling with the balance of planning and being strategic, but also holding things loosely. So, for me, I've discovered there's a balance between those. So when I started becomingme.tv, it was very much and for me I believe it was a God thing that I just was writing my own stories, sharing, and women have latched on to that idea and it's evolved and become its own thing. I never tried to make it a blog community, it just happened.
E: And so for a while, I really tried to make things happen for it and tried to implement all these new strategic things, and there's nothing wrong with being strategic, but there is a point where you can cross a line and try to force something to happen that isn't maybe meant to happen. And that happened a couple times this past year with becomingme.tv; I was trying too hard in a couple areas. So now, heading into New Year, I'm really working on balancing being wise, stewarding what I have well, being strategic with it, but not to force things to happen. And the second I feel like something isn't coming natural in a good way and I'm really trying to make it happen, that's where I'm having to learn to take a step back, reevaluate, see if it's really fitting with my ‘why’, my mission, my purpose, and then go from there. But it's that balance of being strategic and not forcing things to happen is where I'm… I'm currently living.
J: That is super wise. And I'm kind of at a loss because you are a super wise person and you seem rather young, can I ask your age? (Laughs)
E: Yeah, absolutely.
J: I'm thinking, you are brilliant for your age.
E: No, I'm 25.
J: Oh my gosh! You’re kidding me!
J: You are like the coolest millennial I've ever met. You're a millennial, right?
J: I don't know what…
J: This is amazing, oh my goodness; what a future you have ahead of you.
E: Thank you.
J: Well, so let's talk about some of your favorite things, a habit that contributes to your success.
E: Journaling, hands down. For me, my love has always been writing and I've kind of viewed it as my cheapest form of therapy, if that makes sense.
E: And I've noticed if I'm not writing, something's off. And so I always have a journal around or sometimes I'll write things down on my phone, but writing is my favorite habit because it keeps me centered, it keeps me balanced, it helps me think through things objectively, and it's just… it clears my brain; so writing, for sure.
J: Oh yes, that's nice; clears your brain; I need that.
J: And a favorite easy meal.
E: Ooh breakfast all of the time. A friend of mine says, “Breakfast is love,” and I agree with that. So I always have like pancake stuff on hand or eggs, bacon, and I'll just whip up breakfast whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner.
J: Breakfast for every meal; I love it. We have pancakes often with bacon for dinner.
J: So, yummy. And a kitchen gadget.
E: Ooh, hmm, that's a good question; probably a spatula because that's what I use for pancakes. And I know that sounds really silly and basic, but without it, I wouldn't be able to have breakfast for dinner, so a spatula.
J: Yeah, a spatula; I love it. And your favorite book.
E: ‘Bittersweet’ by Shauna Niequist.
J: I love Shauna and I need to get her on my show. Do you know Shauna? Because we can connect. (Laughs)
E: Well, I don't know her personally, but I feel like I do. (Laughs)
J: Yes! Her books are great.
J: And the best advice you've ever received.
E: Hmm, the best advice I've ever received was this past summer and I… the thing I've said a couple times today is, “Just choose to be her,” that actually, my dad, when I was really struggling, looked at me in the eyes and said, “Emily, you know who you want to be, just choose to be her,” and that's become a mantra for me the rest of this year and that's one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received.
J: Wow, your dad is a good advice giver.
E: (Laughs). Yeah.
J: So do you have an image of who you want to be? I mean, you know, we talk often in life about having a vision of where you want to go, so do you have a vision of who you need to be; your best self?
E: Yep. To me, it's really simple (and it might sound overly simple actually), but as long as I'm waking up and I'm becoming who I believe God made me to be every day, and that part, for me, means helping other women become who they were made to be too.
J: Oh yeah.
E: Yeah. So if I'm waking it up and sharing who I am and inviting others to do the same, that is the best image of me.
J: Oh yeah. And you can just see yourself doing it, can't you?
E: Oh yeah, absolutely.
J: Oh, I love it! And you mentioned how that lights you on fire inside; I totally know what you're talking about.
J: Oh, that's the best. Okay, so everyone, you can find links to Emily's favorite book and everything else we talked about by going to my show notes page at jenriday.com/46. And now, Emily, my favorite part of the show, your happiness formula; 3 to 5 things that contribute most to your happiness.
E: Absolutely. Lacing up my warrior boots, pursuing becoming who God made me to be and daily choosing to be her, that is success.
J: Hmm, choosing to be her; that's going to go viral, I'm telling you.
J: That… that is the quote. That reminds me of the Nike ‘Just do I’; ‘Choose to be here’.
J: It's so empowered; love that. Okay, well, I'm going to create a meme for you that you're going to have to share out because it’s do good.
E: I totally will share it. (Laughs)
J: And a challenge for our listeners.
E: Hmm. No matter what you're facing today, you can rise above it. The power and the key is already inside you, just choose to be who you are.
J: Thank you so much for being on the show, Emily, you're amazing.
E: Thank you, Jen; so are you.
J: Told you Emily is amazing and I am so excited to discuss this episode over on the Vibrant Happy Women Facebook group. We'll be talking about vulnerability, authenticity, and how we're going to put on our own warrior boots; so be sure to join us. And be sure to join me next week when I interview Anna Seewald, and she talks about living a slower paced life. She has some things figured out; she reduces her stress, she moves very slowly, she limits her email and online activity. I know, that sounds painful, but she's living a vibrant and happy life in a beautiful way; I envy her actually. I emailed a friend and said, “Hey, she's living the life I want.” Well, she does only have 1 child and I have 6; so there's a big difference there (Laughs). But when I figure out how to slow down like Anna, you'll be the first to know. Anyway, join me next week when I have that interview with Anna, and until then, make it a great week. Take care.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.