J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 54.
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 back to Vibrant Happy Women, I'm Jen Riday. On our last episode, I was chatting with you about my journey to find greater self-care. It all began on a very low point in my life when I suffered a miscarriage on Christmas Day and while driving to the hospital, which was an hour away from my parents’ house, my husband and I had this huge fight that hurt me for months afterwards. And that's what led me to decide, “You know what? I've got to find happiness. I've got to do something different.” And so I shared the 5 things that I did to find that happiness. And if you haven't heard that yet, you can go back and listen at jenriday.com/53. Well, in that episode I challenged you to get the self-care toolkit and that's available at jenriday.com/selfcare, all one word. And in that toolkit, there's something called the Wheel of Happiness which has 8 areas you can think about as you want to decide what you should work on to help you engage in greater self-care. So those areas are body, mind, emotion, spirit, relationships, contribution, being outdoors, and resources. So a lot of you downloaded that toolkit and you were thinking about what you can do to help yourself face your struggles with greater strength by picking one item, one area you are going to engage in greater self-care with.
So I have 3 letters that I received from some of you; well, I received more, but I'm going to read 3 of those. And the first ones from Carrie, she wrote, “Hi, Jen, I loved your episode this week about self-care and I wanted to share that I struggle with loneliness. I lost my husband to cancer a year ago and I'm struggling to feel happy. Finding your podcast has made all the difference. I don't know why I never realized this before, but the idea that I'm in charge of my own happiness helps so much. My Wheel of Happiness item for taking better care of myself this week is to sit in the sunshine 3 times. I already did it today and it felt so good.” Carrie, I'm so glad you did that. Isn't it amazing to just sit still and relax? We are in such a frenetic paced go, go, go, go, go, go, go society that I hear all the time from women that they feel completely overwhelmed and frazzled. So good for you taking that step, and then you're filling that cup so you can face your loneliness with… with greater happiness and proactivity and empowerment; so I love that.
My next letter is from Nancy. Nancy wrote, “I could so relate to your story of fighting with your husband on the way to the hospital. Getting along with my husband is my number one struggle. He just doesn't seem to notice anything I do, and when he does, it tends to be critical. He doesn't seem to know where the pots and pans or cleaning supplies are located and he watches a lot of TV; so I'm resentful, to say the least. I'm tired of running the house and I have a job too, plus helping the kids with homework. I'm guessing I haven't had strong enough boundaries and should probably figure out a better solution, but I tried in the past and it only led to fights. Long story short, I need to be happy anyway and find other solutions. So guess what I decided to do? I hired a housekeeper this week,” yay! “It felt really empowering and my husband didn't say anything; I'm so excited. And with the new 3 to 4 hours of free time, I decided to spend 30 minutes a day doing one thing I loved. I actually set a timer and so far this week, I've read a book, painted, and taken a nap; hooray for taking care of me!” Yes, Nancy, hooray! Awesome job!
The final letter I'm going to read today is from Steph, and she wrote, “Hi, Jen, I'm a single mom of 4 and I'm just plain tired. I don't even know what brings me happiness anymore,” hmm. “Between work and getting the kids taken care of after school and on weekends, I have not 1 minute to myself and I generally waver between fake mom smile and hiding in the car alone and crying. My parents live in the area and help a lot, but I still know that I'm completely empty and can't even remember who I am anymore. When I heard your episode on self-care, I knew I needed to take on this challenge. I took it to the extreme and joined a gym. I don't even have the money at all, but I figured at least there's a childcare and I can go on my lunch break and or drop the kids there for an hour on Saturdays. I love having that alone time and I really feel so much better when I exercise; and it seems like this is morphing into something more. I seem to be noticing other chances to take care of myself. I took a nap yesterday and I bought myself flowers tonight; life is looking upward- Steph.” Steph, I am so glad you did that for yourself. As I said last week, the greatest gift you can give your kids, even as a single mom, is your own happiness. And you're taking a step, and that one step, like you said, is leading into more and more and more. And I think what will end up happening is you'll find yourself slowly going upward on this journey of happiness because that's what happened for me. So thank you for sharing your letter, Steph; I love it.
And thank you to all of you who… who wrote in. I read every single letter and what I learned is we all struggle, whether that's with anxiety or depression or loneliness or health or marriage problems or problems with our kids or problems at work, we all struggle. We all have these unlimited opportunities to be hurt by our lives. But what do we do with that? And that's where I want to go from here. When I hit that low point after my miscarriage and learned those very important things, I learned that I am loved and I am worthy. I learned that I'm 100% in charge of my own happiness no matter what's happening around me; what an empowering thing to know. And I learned that the greatest gift I could give my loved ones is my own happiness.
So let's start there. Write those down. And do you believe those? Perhaps journal about it. Number 1, do you feel loved and worthy? Number 2, do you really know that you were 100% in charge of your own happiness and have the tools to get there? And number 3, do you know that the greatest gift you can give loved ones is your own happiness? So think about those things and I'll talk about how those 3 things helped me.
So after that miscarriage and going forward, I began doing the yoga which felt amazing and I began meditating. Now, let me talk a little bit about meditation now. So for meditation, I take hurtful experiences and I realize, “Okay, I could either yell, I could cry, I could be angry for a while or I can go deal with it.” So what I do now is I go to my room when the hurtful things occur or stressful things or sad things. So I imagine I'm in a protective bubble all alone and undisturbed. If you can't get alone, well, try it in the bathroom ^. And I just noticed how I'm feeling and I begin to breathe deeply in and out. And I'll notice sadness, usually I'll feel that in my heart area and I concentrate on that feeling. And as I do that, really feeling into it, not dismissing it, not running from it, I notice it begins to dissolve and then I can start to analyze my thoughts, “Well, I'm feeling sad because my son just said, ‘Hey, mom, you're a horrible mom,’ or whatever the thing might be.” And then I look at my thoughts and analyze, “Okay, do I think I really am a horrible mom? Well, no, I'm doing my best. I did a lot of good things for my kids today, so that's not true,” and then I let it go. So it's a combination of feeling the emotion and analyzing the thoughts and only keeping the thoughts that are true.
So many of us engage in a constant stream of negative self-talk and we don't even know we're doing it. Things like, “I'm not good enough. I'm a horrible mom. I should cook better food. I should keep a clean house,” and this negative thinking can really cause our emotions to cascade. So taking the time alone just to analyze your thoughts and feelings in a moment of quiet reflection or meditation really makes a huge difference for me. I've used this tool again and again and again whenever a hurtful, sad, frustrating, stressful or angry experience comes up, and I return my emotions and thoughts to that even keel; that place of equilibrium that feels so much better. And how do I know that place? Well, because I'm familiar with it every day in meditation. Meditation brings me back to my authentic self, my best self; calm, peaceful, grounded, centered, happy. And I know that place through the 10 minutes of meditation I do every morning. So want to challenge you to add meditation to your mix; just 10 minutes a day. It's a powerful tool to help you combat any hard feelings or hard situations you're facing. So meditation is an excellent tool for dealing with those emotions that come up that don't really feel that amazing; letting them go and returning back to that place of homeostasis or balance and happiness. So I love that tool.
Well, as I started, you know, meeting my emotional needs in this way (because that's literally what I was doing; meeting my own emotional needs and making myself happy), I started to realize, “I want to feel this way; the way I feel in meditation,” and I started to carry that out into my life and notice the situations or the experiences or the activities that helped me to feel the way I want to feel. For example, I noticed I feel amazing when I go to a girls night out; that social interaction meets a big need for me. Or, I love how I feel when I play the banjo, so I decided to take lessons. I was constantly grabbing on to these things that filled my cup; that helped me to fill my bucket and feel amazing.
And then at the same time, I realized, “You know, there are these interactions and experiences that drain me. Why don't I start to eliminate those or reduce those?” For example, I have a teenager who likes to push buttons; he sometimes seems to think it's fun to rile me up or make me upset. So I'll just say, “You know what? I heard what you said, but I told you my response, the answer is no, we're not going to do this, so I'm done talking about it; I love you, but I'm done talking about it.” And then having that empowerment to end that interaction that I, in the past, had found so draining; and this worked amazingly with my husband as well. When I could sense that in an… a communication we were having was a about to turn negative, I would end the situation, not in a negative way, I would just say, “Hey, we could talk about this another time,” and then I would preserve my energy.
Do you see what was happening? As I engaged in better self-care, I learned how I wanted to feel and I established boundaries with my loved ones to protect that energy. So all of that self-care and those boundaries and the meditation all work together to help me have better relationships because I was shutting down the negative interactions or postponing them until another time when we can have more positive interactions, I was preserving my energy, and I just had more resilience in these interactions. So I really could say I was happier than ever because I felt good from the inside out and it radiated outward into my relationships for my kids and my spouse and others I loved.
And so going forward, I had another child, her name is Cora, and that was 3 and a half years ago. And I continued to make time for yoga and my banjo lessons and other things I loved because I realized that was at the heart of everything else. I had to feel amazing first so that I could approach these interactions from a place of joy and happiness, rather than approaching them from complete depletion. When you go into your relationships with your spouse or your kids and you're completely empty, you just have nothing to give so you're less patient, you snap more, you're frustrated more easily. But if you have filled your cup that morning with some excellent self-care like exercise or meditation or eating a great breakfast or being hydrated, all of those things, you just are less reactive; I swear this works. And meditation is my number 1 tip for learning to be more patient; well, maybe it's number 2, next to getting enough sleep ^. So it made a huge difference in everything; better relationships all around better, happiness for me.
Well, with a new baby, with Cora, going forward, I had to continue to try to juggle all of the responsibilities of being a mom of 6 with wanting to make time for myself and it was really a juggling act. So I started to develop a system and I hung something on my fridge, it was called ‘a week at a glance’. It helped me to see the big picture of my entire week and know when I had time blocked out for myself, when I was helping my kids, when I was with my spouse. So I could see all the priorities in my life were there and it wasn't just tackling my to-do list. I didn't get sucked into housework and tasks and organizing something. And then at the end of the day, I didn't need to fall into bed feeling like I'd really gotten nothing important then; that was huge for me. I also developed ‘a year at a glance’ so I could see the big picture of our year and know what was happening throughout the year, so that I could make sure those important things that filled my cup like taking time to visit a friend in New Hampshire (Hi, Kit) and spending time with my extended family in Iowa or having a family vacation in The Dells or going north to the Apostle Islands, whatever we do, I had those in place and I didn't have to feel frantic and frazzled trying to squeeze it all in which didn't help me feel the way I wanted to feel. Well, people started to ask me, “Jen, how do you get so much done and you're still happy and you're not falling apart? I mean, you have 6 kids, how are you doing all of this?” and that was when I realized maybe my system could be helpful for some other people. So I shared it with some people and they loved it. They… people invited me to give little talks about it and I realized, “Oh, cool!” And so this system that helped me, not only manage my time, but to build in my priorities and to build in my self-care was awesome and it helped a lot with balancing all of those things.
Well, this week, I want to tell you about a workshop I'm offering on Thursday. It's called ‘How to know what you're supposed to be doing with your life and find the time to do it’. As I've worked with women over the years, I've realized most of you want to do self-care and you want to know what you’re, quote, ‘supposed to be doing with your life’. You want to do those important things, but you get lost in that never-ending to-do list of mundane household tasks; laundry, cooking, homework, chauffeuring, you name it. And at the end of the day, you end up falling into bed feeling like nothing was accomplished. I remember my low point, I used to be there too. I forgot to… to spend time on my priorities when I hit my low point and during that miscarriage time, and then I started building self-care into the routine and into the schedule and it made all the difference for my happiness. And I really believe no woman, not one of you should suffer or feel like she's struggling because she can't find time for herself, because the greatest gift you can give your loved ones is your own happiness; and that's why I'm offering this workshop on Thursday. You can sign up at jenriday.com/workshop.
So what will you learn in the workshop? Well, you'll learn how to declutter your schedule and make time for what matters most like family, friends, creativity, or those dreams you've left on the back burner for years. You'll learn the secret to letting go of guilt so you can actually enjoy taking time for yourself. You'll learn how to spend way less time on household tasks like laundry, shopping, cleaning, and way more time on what you love to do like watching an episode of ‘This Is Us’ (my favorite show) or enjoying a girls night out or maybe learning to play the violin; whatever that is. You'll learn why most women get stuck in mundane household tasks and why these tasks kind of cause them to lose sight of those passions and those hobbies and date night. And instead, you know, you'll learn how to focus on the big picture and what's important to you (what you value) and build it into your life, and not just be stuck in this never-ending list of to-dos. And in this workshop, you'll learn how to get more organized, you'll learn how to feel less overwhelmed, because I'm going to share this exact system I've been using with ‘the week at a glance’ and talked about that with you. And, by the way, this is a system that you can stick with long term because I made it to be completely flexible. So as your needs change, the system can change. So when the kids come home for summer vacation, your whole schedule doesn't have to fall apart because you can tweak within this flexible system; or when the kids are back in school, you don't throw all your good self-care routines out the window, you keep them going because you have this flexibility. And finally, in this workshop, you'll learn my favorite part which is getting your spouse and kids to do more at home so you don't have to do it all.
So my husband was raised with doing many household tasks, let's put it that way; he didn't do a lot of chores. And coming into our marriage, he simply didn't have those skills. So trying to be the, quote, ‘good wife’, I was doing all of them at first. Then I got wise after about 3 kids and I started to nag him to do more, and then I realized, “Well, that system isn't working.” So I'll share exactly what I did do to get my spouse and kids to do more at home. So, yeah, I'm talking about all of that in the workshop on Thursday and it's called, again, ‘How to know what you're supposed to be doing with your life and find the time to do it’. You can join me, it's all online, I would love to have you. There's a join link you just go to; go online at jenriday.com/workshop.
I forgot to mention, but one of my favorite parts that I'll be talking about in there is, as you think about what's ahead for you in your life, you've engaged in some self-care, but you want more time for it and we will talk about time management, but knowing what you're supposed to be doing with your life. How do you listen to intuition and know that you're doing what you're supposed to do; that you're using your gifts? Well, I remember, when Cora was about 18 months old, I was in a yoga class and I was asking that very same question, “What should I be doing with my life now that I'm done having kids?” and that day, for some reason, I had an answer. The thought came very clearly, “You need to share with other women what you've learned about taking care of yourself and finding time for it,” and so I've done that. I've loved having the Vibrant Happy Women podcast. I've loved sharing that you can be 100% happy, and I love sharing now how you can manage your time to find time for the things you love. And also in this workshop, that exact same question, I want to teach you how to listen to intuition or God or a higher power whatever you believe so you can know what you need to be doing with your time. What are your top priorities? What are your values? What are your talents and gifts that you need to share with the world and how can you best share those?
I think a big reason so many moms feel empty inside is they're not really using their talents. They get so stuck in these mundane household tasks and to-dos that they're not living the bigger picture of what their, quote, ‘supposed to be doing’. And maybe that's you. Maybe you know that there's something more you need to be doing with your life, but you don't know what it is. And you if you want to find out, I would love to share more with you. This episode could go on and on and on, but I'll save that for the workshop on Thursday. So, yes, come and join us and learn how to figure out your priorities, how to figure out your values, how to know what you’re, quote, ‘supposed to be doing with your life’ and find the time to do it. Sign up at jenriday.com/workshop.
Well, on a final note, I want to express my gratitude to each of you. I'm so grateful you joined me for the podcast each week; it is a joy to think of you all out there. And please know that my great… the greatest wish of my heart, aside from raising a good family, is to help you and other women like you to find the greatest joy you can, the greatest fulfillment, the greatest meaning. And that starts with self-care, and that starts with knowing what you're passionate about and knowing your purpose and setting up your schedule so you can have time for those things. Now, I know, many of you are in the thick of motherhood or busy careers or whatever and you think, “There's no way I can make time for that. I am totally busy as it is.” Well, you know what? I'm a mom of 6 and I have found the time, I have made the time, and I am so much happier for it; and I want to help you do that as well. Be sure to join me next week when I talk with Megan Tenney, all about forgiveness and how she was able to move forward after some struggles in some of her relationships. So that will be next week, and until then, I hope to see you in the workshop on Thursday, and I hope you make it a great week. Take care.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.