59 Transcript: Finding Freedom When You Feel Trapped By Life (Beth Kempton)
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J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 59.
B: When I kind of sat up and looked around me, I, for the first time, could see what cage I was trapped in, what it was that was really holding back from the fuller life that I used to know.
Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.
J: Welcome to Vibrant Happy Women. I'm Dr. Jen Riday, women's happiness expert and my mission in life is helping women like you shift from frazzled to fantastic, from overwhelmed to overjoyed, and to help you be your best, happiest self. I give women support on their happiness journeys through my online time management program, Time Mastery for Women, through personal 1-on-1 coaching over the phone, and through my monthly membership, Vibrant Happy Women Academy. You can learn more about all 3 at jenriday.com. Welcome to the show, and I am so glad you're here. On our last episode, I spoke with Emma Bell all about letting go of perfectionism and feelings of being not good enough and learning to embrace ourselves and to develop an authentic self-love. That was a fantastic episode, many of you have written to me about that one and I'm so glad you liked it. In today's episode, I'm talking with Beth Kempton all about finding freedom. Often as women, we can feel trapped with all of our responsibilities and Beth talks about 8 freedom keys that help us to get over that caged feeling and feel like our authentic selves again. So this is another great episode, and let's go ahead and dive in.
Hey there, everyone, welcome back to Vibrant Happy Women, I'm talking with Beth Kempton today. Beth is a fierce champion of women living free and happy lives, doing what they love. If you were to read her resume from her early career, it would include stints working for the UN and at many of the world's top sports events like the Olympics, hosting her own TV show, and the fact that she speaks Japanese. But most important thing to know about her life now is that she's on a mission to inspire all of us to fly free. For the past 6 years, she's had a company called Do What You Love which has helped thousands of people to create a life that makes them happy through online courses and retreats. She's also a wife and mother of 2 sweet girls and has recently become a Hay House author. Her first book, ‘Freedom Seeker: Live More. Worry Less. Do What You Love.’, has just come out. Welcome to the show, Beth.
B: Thanks so much for having me, I'm excited to be here.
J: Yes, and we've had kind of a string of people from the UK, it's kind of fun. And I love your accents; I know, I know, you hate hearing that.
J: But let’s dive right into your favorite quote.
B: Sure. I… my favorite quotes is something that has inspired me for many, many years and it is… I just think it's so powerful. It's from the German poet Goethe and it's, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
J: So what makes you love that quote so much?
B: I think it's just so true. If you can see something in your mind's eye and then you almost already know part of how to do that thing. And if you can really see that dream and bring it to life in… in your mind, I think that you can do it in your real life. And I think when you really do that, you become bold and you take those difficult steps, then you start to see magic unfold. I mean, the connections that you make and the things that you notice and the people that seem to come out of the woodwork and, you know, the way the universe steps in to help you get those things done, but, you know, you have to make that first step, that commitment to what it is you want. And you have to see the thing to start with, to know what you is you want to aim for.
J: Take us to your low point and how you applied that principle when you hit your own low point in life.
B: It might be something that's been familiar for you, Jen, I know that you've got a lot of children. And…
B: And I bow down to you with 6; I only have 2. And it is… you know, motherhood is the most incredible thing; it's also one of the most challenging things I've ever done. And my low point really came a couple of years ago when my business was flourishing, I had one beautiful little girl, and I had another on the way, and we lived in a beautiful big house by the sea; and I guess, on the outside, everything probably looked like it was perfect. But one day, I just… like it… I mean, if I take myself back to that moment, I've just collapsed on my bedroom floor, my shoulders are heaving, I'm a shattered mess, I have tears streaming down my face, my pregnant belly is so heavy, I can't do my jeans off, and I'm supposed to be getting on a train to London to go and speak at a big event in a very well-known venue on the topic of doing what you love. And, to be honest, it was like a complete joke in that moment.
B: You know, I'm so exhausted and all I want to do is climb into bed. You know, I feel like, “How on Earth can I stand up and talk about doing what you love and I just feel like a complete mess and like I have lost all sense of who I am and why I'm doing what I'm doing?” And when I say that, I don't mean that that believing and the concept of doing that you love that's always been a really strong thing for me, but it… you know, it's crazy if you found a company called that and you're not enjoying the day-to-day moments of what you're doing. So I just… I had that moment. And I wouldn't say… I didn't hit rock bottom. I think there's a moment when I realized what was going on, but it was more like a slow ebbing of joy from my days.
B: Until I realized, “I… I don't… I'm… I'm suffocating. And, you know, I know how to make bold moves, I've done hard things, I've, you know, I'm running my own business, I don't have to be in this position, I can choose, and I'm not going to choose this anymore,” and that really woke me up. And I think when I kind of sat up and looked around me, I, for the first time, could see what cage I was trapped in, what it was that was really holding me back from the fuller life that I used to know. I was… I was a real spontaneous adventurer and would hop on a plane at a drop of a hat and, you know, go anywhere, talk to anyone, do anything, and all of a sudden, I was just this shell of myself, just guilt… feeling guilty all the time, not… not running my business properly, not being a good mother as I thought; I'm sure we would think that sometimes. But I seemed to be… I was never where I was supposed to be. So if I was playing on the carpet with my baby, you know, my hands would be in the game and my head would be my inbox. And the other way around, you know, I'd be feeling her, my computer, and one minute, I'd be like, “Oh Well, done! You're multitasking!” and the next minute saying, “What are you doing? Baby close to the screen, you should just…” you know, “Why are you even on your computer?” and my marriage and all these things, just… just feeling rubbish about everything, thinking, “You're not doing anything properly.” But it was only once I'd seen that that I was able to do something about it. I think we go… sometimes we go through in this kind of blur, not really knowing why it is that we don't feel happy, and it's only when you see what it is that's happening that you can do something about it.
J: Hmm. And so you hit that low point, and I think every woman hits 1 or 2 or 3 (Laughs). And …
J: … you saw that, “This isn't how I want to live,” but how do you get out of that? And that's the question I'm asked more than anything; how do you get out of that place?
B: Well, I think there's a couple of things. The first one is to recognize what it is that's going on, and I think that's hard. It's like if you're driving through a fog, you know, you can't see the buildings or the road in front of you and the other vehicles and all those things, and you have to just take a moment to really look and see around you what is going on. So that's kind of recognizing what's trapping you and then realizing that that… I call it, a cage that you're in. That cage is not the same as the context in which your life is playing out. So I think the cage that you're trapped in is separate from your life situation. And that's a really important distinction because your… your life situation may be something that you want to change, but can't change right now, it may be something you don't want to change. You know, I don't want to change the fact that I'm a mother of 2 children at all; it's one of my greatest blessings. And that's the kind of fact, that's my situation, but what was the problem was my response to that situation, how I was dealing with it; and that's really the cage. And so, kind of recognizing those 2 things are different, suddenly takes off a huge amount of pressure, I think, and you put your energy in the right place, dealing with what is within your control, which is your response to your situation. And in my particular case, I was then… I then had to work out, “How do I get out of this situation?” and… and it actually wasn't about fixing any of the things. Like, you can't tell yourself, “Don't feel guilty,” you know, or, “Don't… you know, that thing you're afraid of, don't be afraid of it,” it doesn't make any difference; you can't… that's not how people work, you know? So actually, what I discovered was that the key was taking my mind to somewhere where those things didn't get any attention. And I did that in in that particular situation by making some, I call it, headspace in heart space for myself; making some space in my… in my life. And the first time I had a baby, I had 4 days off and I was back at my desk the 5th day; absolutely insane, wouldn't recommend it to anybody.
B: I just thought I was… I could carry on as usual, you know, everyone tells you, “You can’t,” and you don't really listen.
B: And then… and then you discover it for yourself. So… so then the second time around, I… I decided, and what I… actually, I started when I was there on my bedroom floor going, “What is going on?” the first thing I did was say, “I just…” I actually had a series of flashbacks and to my life before business and marriage and children and things. And I saw myself on all these big adventures; I've traveled the world a lot, especially with my work with the UN, been to some amazing places, Antarctica (unclear) [09:58], all these things, and I had this whole series of flashbacks and started to look for connection between the stories that I was seeing and… and what was going on in my life now, what was kind of… it's almost like I saw a free version of myself out in the world.
B: And… and was like, “What did she have that I don't have now?” and realized that it was space. You know, she had this vast amount of space, both physical space in the places that she was visiting, but also space in her day, space in her mind, quiet, all these things, and I had none of it. (Laughs)
B: And although I was very heavily pregnant so it wasn't really realistic to, you know, get on a plane and go to Siberia, I was… I thought about, “How can I make some space?” And I started really small with, you know, 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, we just go outside and stand on the grass and look at the sun or have a cup of tea and read Flow Magazine. And then, that would build it up; I'd go to a yoga class, I would, half a day, walking on the beach and it made a big difference and I felt better. And so I started thinking, “Okay, how can I make more space?” so I negotiated time within my business and then, you know, hello, maternity leave, great excuse to have a big chunk of time away from everything. It came at the perfect time and I took 5 months off. And then something amazing happened that I wasn't expecting in that time in maternity leave, which just kind of set me off on… I wouldn't say new paths because it's very much in line with the ‘do what you love’ work I've been doing for years, but really, on a personal basis, gave me a lot of space for creativity and which has been an unbelievable blessing in the last couple of years.
J: You took 5 months off and you just relaxed or, you know, how did it look? I mean, I can't even imagine 5 months off at this time in my life.
J: But maybe someone can, but how do you do it? (Laughs)
B: It is such a treasure. Well, I have a couple of business partners and they were incredibly understanding, they both have children themselves and we just negotiated time off; we put people in place to run the different things. My husband works in the company so he was still, you know, in… in the business; so that was just discussion and agreement. And then, but I think the hardest thing was actually telling myself, “This means you're off, you know, out of office, on back in November.” And it was summer and my baby turned up 2 weeks after I went on maternity leave and we just had an amazing summer.
B: Walking by the sea, enjoying, you know, our new little family and I started journaling about the experience and kind of comparing how different I felt this time around than the first time around when I, you know, it was really stressful. And interestingly, I had very different birth experiences. I have no idea whether they're connected and… but the second time around, I walked into the hospital and had my baby within an hour, and whereas I'd been in hospital for 3 days the first time. (Laughs)
J: Oh no.
B: Yeah, it was amazing. And so the second time, I… you know, the first time, I was very heavily drugged up, which… and I'm sure that was in my body for days. And so when I was back at work on day 5, you know, doing this email, just my… you know, my brain would… must have been mushed, whereas the second time, I had no drugs in my system and I was just… I just felt so happy. And… and the journaling, I was, you know, just writing about what was going on and then realized that I really love writing I'd forgotten I loved writing so I just wrote and wrote and ended up writing a book.
J: So you wrote the book, it's called ‘Freedom Seeker: Live More. Worry Less. Do What You Love.’, and tell us more about it; I mean, I'm totally intrigued. If it's about this ‘making space’ topic, I've got to get it.
B: Yeah, it is about this. And what I think is really interesting is, that is one of the freedom keys. So in this book, there were 8 freedom keys that work in any situation. So it doesn't matter who you are, what your situation is, what's trapping you, where… what life stage you're at, these 8 freedom keys will get you out. And I can say that because, that headspace and heart space one was the first one that I realized, and then, you know, at the time, I didn't realize it was, what I now call, a freedom key, but that was the thing that was really helping me feel better. And then when I had all this time walking up and down by the sea, I was thinking about the other times in my life when I felt trapped and managed to escape; and that was much more, you know, career pressure orientated. And I realized that, in the cases that it hasn't been about space, it's been about adventure and aliveness and that that's my other freedom key, it's like a part of my DNA, and that, any time I feel trapped, if I just take myself on an adventure (it doesn't mean overseas, you know, just being adventurous about some aspects of my life) then it does that same thing; it takes my mind away from those things that trapped me and… and I feel more free. And so I started thinking, “Okay, well, I… these 2 things really work for me, but what about other people?” And obviously I've got this community of thousands of people who've come to me over the years for support to find how to live a happier life, and so I went to them and I actually talked to hundreds of them because I had all this time to chat to people…
B: … you know, and really kind of dug deep into their story. So our online courses have incredibly strong tight-knit communities that stay there, you know, in their Facebook groups for years afterwards. And so I was able to go back and talk to some of those people and some of them in person, some of the on Skype, and… and really understand the detail of what had been going on. You know, for some people, their life challenges are about health situations or toxic relationships or children with very severe disabilities or all sorts of different things that just, you know… it's life what happens to us and how they've gone from feeling trapped to escaping. And… and I kind of reverse engineered all those stories and my own stories and discovered these 8 freedom keys that really, really worked; they've like worked for everybody. And that's really the main thrust of the book. So it's not just my stories, it's… there's about 35 other people's stories from… from a couple of famous people through to people I've… you know, I went to school with when I was 5, to people that I met on the road on my adventures as I was really… you know, once I had a book deal and I had to write this book, I went out into the world to really kind of test my theories and… and find other people and was blown away by a lot the stories that I found.
B: So I hope you will read it because it's… I mean, I tell you, writing that book totally set me free; like, I'm a different person to who I was 2 years ago. And it was only 2 years ago; that baby that I was pregnant with when I had my meltdown moment is 2 in July.
B: Yeah, it's been the fastest thing. You know, and my book has just come out, right? So I… just standing there with a physical book in my hands going, “I can't believe how different my life is to 2 years ago,” and it was just from that very initial making a little bit of space myself. We have to do it. I think we… we give ourselves…
J: Yeah, we do.
B: (unclear) [16:43] time, don’t we?
J: So when you did that did you reduce the time on social media and email and those kind of things as well?
B: Absolutely. I didn't do any social media for work. I mean, I was on Facebook posting about my baby and things, but… and that, you know, I'd go on in order to connect with people to find out about their stories and things, but hardly anything. Interestingly, I did actually read quite a lot of tweets like, you know, like other people's tweets in the middle of the night when I was feeding just out to kind of keep my brain connected just, you know, general news about the world and stuff. And I would look at Instagram for visual inspiration, but I was not doing any… any work.
B: And I cancelled all my online courses that I teach. So I produce some courses for other people and they kept running because we have teams that run them, but the ones I teach, I just said I'm not doing anything for the rest of the year.
J: Hmm, that's so great. Well, so you mentioned those first 2 freedom keys and you're going to tease us, aren't you? We have to go get the book to find out the other 6.
B: Well, it would be weird not to, but, you know, there are… and the thing is, none of them are concepts that you've not thought about. I think it's just the way that it's laid out in the book really makes you realize that, if you pick a freedom key, you can get instant relief in a challenging situation and you can also use them as a kind of decision-making framework for the rest of your life. So once you… once you feel more free, then you go, “Right, okay, now I've got out of the immediate trapped cage, I'm out at the fog, and I don't want to get back in there.”
B: “So I can just, you know, reorganize my life in a way that is going to keep me out of that cage,” and that, you know, they can also help you there. So just to give you a couple more examples, say creativity and innovation is another one. There were so many people in my community that feel so stuck in their… you know, they're like a lot of them in midlife and they're so talented and just lovely people that you just want to reach how I give a hug to you because they just seem so, you know, just upset and can't understand why life isn't really working for them when they did everything they were supposed to and followed all the rules and all those things. And… and so often the key for them is creativity…
B: … whatever that is. And it doesn't necessarily mean picking up a paintbrush (although it might), you know, just in the way that you think about your life and… and all different kinds of media and, you know, music and dance and all those things; just creativity in it’s very widest form. Even literally just decorating their shopping list so it looks beautiful…
J: Mm, yeah.
B: … before they go and do those things. But, you know, the tiniest of things just to bring you into the present moment so you experienced that exact moment. Even the rest of your day goes to crap, you know, you just have one tiny moment that allows you to explore a part of yourself which is really important to you and is maybe even buried, makes such a difference.
J: So, everyone, that book, again, is ‘Freedom Seeker: Live More. Worry Less. Do What You Love.’ by Beth Kempton. So I'm definitely going to get my hands on that.
J: And, Beth, I know you have something you want to share with our listeners, tell us about that.
B: It's interesting, Jen, you are asking about the other freedom keys. There is on my website, if you go to bethkempton.com, there is actually a little quiz to find out which freedom key will help you get released from your cage right now. It's just a fun quiz, so that might be something to try.
B: But, yeah, this is… so that's on bethkempton.com. But I also have a free mini course for you, it's called ‘Live More, Worry Less’. It's really simple, just 3 part video series which, once you sign up, will get delivered to inbox. And it will help you discover the simple reason why so many of us feel stressed exhausted all the time and the simple solution. And it's just me on a video having a chat with you. So 3 videos; I really hope you sign up with that and help just… you know, just to take a couple of steps towards living more and worrying lees. So you can find out at bethkempton.com/livemore.
J: Okay, and in case you can't remember it, just go to our show notes page, I'll put that link there; jenriday.com/59. And, Beth, let's talk about some of your favorite things. So what is a habit that contributes to your success?
B: Ooh, I'm really bad at habits.
B: I'm like the first person to let habits go. I have a lot of good intentions, but I'm… I think that's what comes… it's interesting actually, I've never thought about this, but I think my lust for adventure and for wanting things to be fresh in you means I'm very, very bad at habits. But I do know that I am much better in going through my day when I am organized, so I do like to sit down and organize… you know, plan my week and when I have a moment of quiet with a cup of tea.
J: Okay, and your favorite easy meal?
B: Definitely miso soup and rice, I've spent a lot of time in Japan, it's my favorite.
J: Okay. And your favorite kitchen gadget.
B: That would be my rice cooker. (Laughs)
J: Ah! Okay, well, that's convenient. And favorite book. (Laughs)
B: I have to… I have 2 actually. One… if that's okay to share.
J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
B: One was really the first book that I read that made me think about the mind, body, spirit connection, I don't know if you know it, ‘The Way of the Peaceful Warrior’ by Dan Millman. It's based on this true story of a world champion gymnast, that's him, and… but it really extends into the realms of the magical, so you're never quite sure what's fact and what's imagination, and he just blew my mind. I think I read it when I was probably 20 and it's still, you know, a best-seller today; it's an amazing book. And then the other one which is a much more recent book is ‘Phenomenal’ by Leigh Ann Henion, and it's kind of a memoir. It's a search for wonder, natural wonder, by women who's got a young child. So, for me, it was fascinating both for her adventures in pursuit of, you know, eclipses and bioluminescence and all these other amazing natural phenomena all around the world, often in quite remote places, and… but also that inner struggle with guilt that she felt leaving her child at home to go on an adventure for herself. And, you know, she was obviously away for a good couple of weeks at a time to go on this adventure, but you can see the transformation in her as she does that. It really resonated deeply with me and inspired my own writing, so I highly recommend that book.
J: ‘Phenomenal’, okay. And the best advice you've ever received.
B: I think that was from my mother which was, when I was about 15, she told me to moisturize my neck every day.
B: Which has made a massive difference; I don’t have any lines on my neck so I’m grateful to her for that. But I think actually, I was very blessed when I worked at UNICEF and to have a mentor in the person who at the time was the president of UNICEF in the UK, Lord David Puttnam, who's an oscar-winning film producer. And he always told me to, “Keep your eye on the prize. You know, don't let other people's ideas of how big your… other… other people's opinions of how big your idea can be limit how big your idea can be.” And he was a real… I mean, he still is a real go-getter with just huge ideas he makes happen. And that idea of keeping your eye on the prize, not to do with, you know, financial things and stuff, but just be really clear about what it is that you're trying to achieve and keep that in mind when you get the negativity and the obstacles and all those things, and that's always really helped me.
J: So speaking of keeping your eye on the prize, do you have a big prize or a big goal or dream in mind that you're reaching for; if it's not too private to share?
B: I do, I do. It's something we've been working on for a while, it's not out in the world yet, but it's really this idea of connecting freedom seekers all around the world. I… I know that every single person whose story is in the book has only managed to get where they are doing what they're doing because of the support of people along the way other people, but not everybody has that in their life. And often it's that the ones closest to us that hold us back and, you know, whether they're worried about what's going to happen to us or they worried about our relationship with them or whatever it is, and well-meaning or not, they do often do that. And so to have people in your life that supports your dreams is amazing. So I really want to create a place where people, wherever in the world they live, can come together and connect with me and also with each other and get support for their life journey, not just for, you know, one change, but actually life’s ebbs and flows and a place they can come back to for that support as they go along. So we are creating this society of freedom seekers which is going to be an amazing membership site for people to do that. There's a lot of work behind the scenes going on, but that is really my big dream to kind of bring the book to life because often…
B: … a book goes out into the world and you have no idea what happens to it and I would love to continue that conversation with people and be able to support them, you know, with… directly through that.
J: Hmm, that sounds wonderful. Well, we'll have links for everything you talked about, including those books at jenriday.com/59. Now, our big question, if you had to create a 3 to 5 part formula of things that make you happiest, what would you include?
B: Such a wonderful question. For me, the things that make me happy, I love adventure and freedom, but I do think that actually happiness is something that happens kind of on the side when you aim to feel free. Like, if your main aim is to feel free and that you go after that, you just become happier; that is what happened to me. So rather than trying to be happy, I think it's a side effect of choosing your own path and experience in your life as your true self. So if you make daily decisions based on what's going to make you feel free and be present in your life as much as you can, I think you've got as much chance as anyone of feeling happy.
J: Nice. And a challenge for our listeners.
B: To ask yourself today, “What it is that is making you feel trapped?” and to take yourself to a place when you have felt free in your life and… and look at the difference and think about, “What can you do right now in this moment, whatever is your current situation, to feel more like you did that… the last time you felt free?”
J: Okay, that's excellent advice. Well, thank you so much for being on the show, Beth. And that freebie you're offering is that bethkempton.comlivemore… /livemore.
B: … /livemore, yeah.
J: Okay. And then on bethkempton.com, they can do that quiz to find out the freedom key that will help them the most; so, perfect.
J: Thank you so much for being here, this has been amazing. And, everyone, be sure to go out and grab Beth's book, ‘Freedom Seeker: Live More. Worry Less. Do What You Love.’.
B: Thank you so much for having me. Bye.
J: Take care, Beth.
Be sure to head over to our show notes page at jenriday.com/59 and you'll find a link there to Beth's book. I have a copy of it and I am loving it. It's one of my all-time favorite self-help books in fact, because we all feel trapped at times. Again, that's at jenriday.com/59. Also, be sure to head over to the Vibrant Happy Women Facebook group where we'll be discussing Beth's interview and sharing our thoughts about freedom. Finally, be sure to join me next week when I speak with Ananta Ajmera; she wrote a book all about Ayurveda. I love Aryurveda because that's kind of the root philosophy behind yoga and meditation and healthful living, but it encompasses everything. So she wrote a book about 108 tips that will help you live a more balanced life, and we talked about some of those tips in the interview next week. I will be back on Thursday with a happy bit, and until then, make it a great week. Take care.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.