When Self-Help Can Self-Harm

I have a love/hate relationship with the self-help industry . . .

On one hand - I’m in it. So there’s that.

On the other - I think it can be a WEEEE bit out of touch.

There are coaches and healers putting out content that’s boasting perfection masked as “freedom,” and I’m not buying it.

What women need is not yet another thinly veiled standard of “perfect” to live up to.

What women need is not yet another woman to put on a pedestal where they can comfortably judge her or idolize her.

What women need is not yet more filtering of a human experience that is so out of touch because of the internet we literally DO NOT KNOW how to be ourselves or think our own thoughts anymore.

You know what else we don’t need? People talking to us with words and concepts we don’t yet understand.

TALK TO ME LIKE A REAL HUMAN.

Give it to me straight. 

Trust me with your real human struggles and triumphs, and trust that I am smart enough to know that has nothing to do with your ability to help me.

I became a coach because I spent about a decade of my life in pain while putting on a facade to the outside world that EVERYTHING IS GOOD HERE. And it wasn’t. It really, really wasn’t.

So yeah - I feel qualified to teach and talk and write about things BECAUSE I had such a toxic relationship with my mother for a decade. Because I was with my 17-year-old brother when he died. Because I used to mistakenly believe my siblings were my children. Because I laid awake in bed at night and listened to my parents fight for most of my childhood. Because I zombie walked around college campuses in NYC and then Charleston in a despairing and crippling state of depression and have been on anti-depressants twice (from 21-23 and again as a brand-new mom with PPD). Add to this my experiences living in developing countries in South America twice after college and how I’ve been actively trying to educate myself about my own privilege for the last couple years, and BARTENDER, POUR ME ANOTHER.

And so I think it’s my job as a coach with that history to give it to you straight and talk to you in words you understand and likely even use in your daily life so you can pick up what I’m putting down. So you can see that the biggest difference between my transformation and the changes you’re wanting in your life is not this enlightened brand of perfection but experiential GRIT paired with uncomfortable action.

Coaches can see our blind spots. One of my coaches told me that once. #caseinpoint

So I’m going to share the part of the transformation conversation most people are tactically omitting . . .

I’M STILL WORKING ON ME. #gasp

Vulnerability is freeing. You should try it.

Why? Because I believe my life’s biggest asset is ME (and honestly, I think it’s kind of weird if you don’t).

You know how they say with money - that as you make more, your problems don’t go away, they just shift into rich people problems? (Which sound and ARE wayyyy better than poor people problems, for the record.)

I think being human is like that.

My experiential grit got me from “A” to “P,” and the farther down this path of self-help I get, the more my “struggles” evolve and look differently than I ever thought. But mark my words I’m still working. Coincidentally, everyone starts at “A,” so hell YES I can move you along this life alphabet, sister! It’s all relative.

Let me tell you something, you don’t go from someone with all that experiential grit to someone who never has a bad day. I PROMISE YOU. New demons pop out from under the bed and new fears show up to be worked through and life happens. I am constantly gritting my teeth through new human lessons to feel better, be better, parent better, wife better and coach better. My “P” looks/feels LIGHT YEARS better than my “A” but it is still a process, my friend.

So you can imagine how paralyzing it was for me as a new coach to look around at my self-help peers to find, to my astonishment, that *most of my peers were not speaking of this human struggle on their shiny social media accounts. Their experiential grit was a story about their past and it stayed there. Where it belonged. Because real experts only struggle in the past. Real leaders have put all learning behind them.

And the subconscious message that sends to their tribes is harmful. That our “P” actually stands for perfect and you can have it, too. And when you don’t (because. you. won’t.), you will make that mean something about YOU. And it’s all based on a lie.

Let me tell you something: life coaches are not a magic bullet. There is not one thing I can do for someone that would magically transform them from the inside out, and so it’s really annoying to me that there are coaches out there saying THEY ARE the magic bullet. But I also didn’t create multiple communities, online and off, and repeat clients because this isn’t transformative. It can be “and.” You can be both a real human who is constantly working on herself and a killer mindset coach for moms. Yah?

So, please, can we cut the BS? 

Please, my fellow self-helpers, have the courage to walk your talk and remind your raving fans that while, yes you are SO qualified to help humans along their path, that the path for ALL OF US ends on our death bed.

A Real Mama's Recap of The Champagne Society at Maris DeHart

On a brisk Friday night 80 mamas (and some not-yet mamas!) got dolled up and braved the cobblestone streets in stilettos for a night out at Maris DeHart. The bubbly (the good stuff!) was free flowing and so was the girl talk. Just like me-- so many ladies were there to explore new friendships and connect. Coming from someone that immediately changes into pajamas after work and a rockin' Friday night is Netflix with a bowl of cereal, this did require some effort for me to be out on a Friday night. I'm seriously that meme "I'm so busy this weekend", and then "Me at 8pm on Friday night"-- the image of the dog in bed with a shower cap on. Legit!

I did, however, make a conscious decision earlier this year to get out more, invest in people, and find my tribe. This can be hard when it's so much easier to opt out. It requires effort and energy to powder your nose and pull up those Spanx to head out to meet new people. Can I get an Amen?!! BUT-- awesome ladies aren't going to arrive on my doorstep begging to be friends. I have to go out and FIND them. I had met Gervase a few times, and I really went to support her and see what this whole "society" was all about. Boy did I hit the jackpot!

In one word, the evening was "magic." Gervase has created a judgment-free environment with welcoming smiles, a pretty backdrop and plenty of bubbly.

We heard truths from Savannah Guss, the fabulously chic founder of @bohoandbows, and Leva Bonaparte, developer extraordinaire of @bourbonnbubbles.

 All photos by  Shannon Oleksak

All photos by Shannon Oleksak

These ladies gave it to us straight! I loved hearing their stories about transitioning from Chief Pooper Scooper in the town of Momdom to following their dreams. We've all been there, and I love hearing reinforcement that we're not alone. Though my "littles" are now 9, 10 and 12—I still struggle with being the best CEO, best wife, best Mom—you name it! It's a daily challenge that I don't always get right. When the kids were younger, I used to default to the fact that they don't come with an instruction manual. Maybe they won't know if I screw it up as they have no one to compare me to! Right?!! 

It was refreshing to hear other Mamas talk about their struggles -- especially as we live in this superficial space of perfect highlight reels on Instagram. There was a real sense of camaraderie in the space, and there were some real nuggets in what these ladies shared:


1) Don't allow yourself to be a doormat

2) Half-ass is the new bad ass

3) You can't "kill it" at anything when you're sleep deprived

4) Even mamas are allowed to dream big

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#2 resonated with me the most as what I do for a living is all about beautiful objects and perfect images. It can feel very superficial and drive a need for perfection. I legit like want to get a t-shirt that says “#halfass is the new #badass”! Because in reality the only pressure on me is the pressure I put on myself. It's like that movie Picture Perfect with Jennifer Aniston-- "Gulden's Mustard....Number 2, and that ain't bad"! I might be aging myself, but you 40-somethings know what I'm talking about!!

You know how some events you go to, and you think "this was a waste of a good outfit"? Well, not in this case!

This first time "society member" left feeling joyful, content, and excited about some new friendships. I even left with a bag loaded down with the most ADORABLE ornaments from Maris DeHart. It was totally worth all of the effort and energy it took to get there. Because in the end, all of us mamas are worth it, don't you think?!

So in channeling my inner Gervase, “that's what J said!

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Written by the incredibly sweet (and bad-ass) Julianne Taylor

JULIANNE TAYLOR STYLE IS A LIFESTYLE BRAND WITH LICENSED COLLECTIONS THROUGH MITCHELL BLACK AND OLIVER GAL. Follow Julianne on IG.

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A super heartfelt thanks to our host, Maris DeHart, and all of our incredible sponsors: Teacups and Trucks, Shannon Olesak (who takes all our fabulous photos), Snyder Events, Ash and Vine Botanicals, and Bourbon N’ Bubbles, the hosts of our fantastic afterparty.

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Wanna be in the know and have FIRST DIBS on #ChampagneSocietyCHS tickets? Opt in to the Insider Email List.

FOMO? Can’t be in the room but need to get in on the fun? Holiday-edition ANNUAL VIRTUAL VIEWING PASSES available through January 1st so you can still get in on all the #truthbombs! There are only 20 of these limited viewing passes and this offer expires in 2019. Gift a tribe to a mother who needs a night off.

Show Up For Yourself Every Fucking Day

Repeat after me: "I show up for myself every single day."

I write these words in a note on my phone or in my journal every single morning and I feel something shift as they appear on screen/paper. "As you think, so shall you become."

You know what feels really shitty? When you make a promise to yourself and then break it because you're so busy making everyone else happy or self-sabotaging because you're scared that there's not enough time, money, resources, energy. You just can't, won't be able to, it's hard, etc.

These are called excuses. You use them to back up your actions.

I caught myself making an excuse as to why I couldn't do something JUST LAST WEEK. This work? It's not a one and done. It's not a fix-it-and-forget-it recipe. It's changing your daily habits so they become second nature, from the way you think to the way you "be."

This tough love pep talk is me inviting you to choose to show up for yourself every freaking day, especially when it's hard, even when it's scary, accepting that that will look different day to day. Show up for yourself instead of giving YOURSELF excuses (because you are the one you need to convince) that feel warm and safe until one day you realize you used that excuse one month too long and you can't even convince yourself at the most surface level that it's true anymore. Because it's not.

Do this until it's a habit. Until you wouldn't know how to NOT say yes to yourself and your dreams.

Because the people who show up for themselves mentally, emotionally and physically - they have the lives of the people you're comparing yourself to. And they did that by strengthening the habit of saying YES to THEMSELVES repeatedly until those thoughts inspired different actions which created different external realities.

This shit isn't just fluff. "As you think, so shall you become."

This is your life, your dreams, your relationships, your body we're talking about. Stop getting in your own way. Time to show up.

A Skeptic Lets Go of Control

“Resist nothing,” she mentored me.

I clearly understood the subtle implication in my mentor’s advice, but something inside clung so so tightly. Holding tight to the logic I had armored myself with long before this adult moment. Holding tight to the self-imposed responsibility of seeing something through to the end. Clinging to who others wanted me to be and holding myself accountable to expectations weighing me down like iron chains. 

Our logic - the way of being we create in the world - we develop it because we are so freaking smart. It’s a defense mechanism. Survival and all that.

My logic is often this voice inside my head I gotta break bread with. She’s kind of a B.

“Resist nothing.”

“Okay,” I thought. “What would that look like? Who would I be if I resisted nothing in this moment?”

I heard the answer (I always hear my answers): “You’d be free.”

“Oh sure - FINE - let’s try it,” I thought sarcastically. And I dropped the metaphorical oars and let go.

I let go of my illusion of control.

I let go of my responsibility for other people.

I let go of the lie that I could prove my worthiness by being perfect, right, liked, whatever.

I let go of the misunderstanding that I could calculate my path to being the perfect mom.

“We’ll just see what happens,” I figured. “Nothing to lose at this point, as I’m already miserable.”

And there it was - Right where I left it: my freedom.

The real kind. Not the kind I had been deluding myself into believing I had.

I was not FREE when I only said, wrote and acted in ways that would be pleasing to other people.

I was not FREE when I clung to my role as mom, terrified work might “steal” my time.

I was not FREE when I acted out of fear or not enoughness.

I was not FREE when my husband and I sat side by side in front of our laptop, reconciling the numbers in our bank account and making a backup plan for our backup plan because my business was coming up short. Again.

I was in control, though—my logic was. And on a deep level, that felt victorious. I was in charge of what was happening (pats self on back like a dumbo), and I had built my castle with playing cards.

So I got brutally honest with myself.

What can I do to commit to my freedom?

What does freedom in motherhood look like?

What does freedom in relationships look like?

What does freedom in my business look like?

And everything shifted, from the inside out. The cards collapsed, and beside them was a tree with deep roots. Strong, trusting, resilient, no longer susceptible, and instead committed to its growth without obsessing and attaching. A tree is not proving its right to exist or racing other trees—it just grows, because, well, it’s a tree and that’s what trees do… You know where this is going… BE LIKE A TREE.

Growth: It’s the natural order of the world. We evolved from cells, after all. It’s not so outrageous to recognize our own inherent propensity towards evolution and advancement.

Trust that.

Nourish your beliefs about yourself in this logic-obsessed world—those are your roots, sister.

Climb high like that tree and help make this world more bad-ass and beautiful.

To get access to more resources allowing you to feel more freedom (the real kind), flow and fun along your journey as a Mom Boss, check out our virtual community, The Champagne Society. As soon as you join, you’ll get immediate access to a portal of trainings empowering you to juggle motherhood and entrepreneurship like a boss AND an authentic and exclusive Facebook community of real moms growing like the tallest freaking trees you’ve ever seen. They’re all waiting for you inside.

Recap of The Champagne Society SWEAT at Soul Yoga

This past Sunday morning, a group of roughly 25 mamas (and some not-yet mamas!) started filling the cozy studio of Soul Yoga. As they checked in beside a very Instagrammable wall of sprawling green plants, they looked everything from a little nervous to bubbling with excitement to hungover from Halloween parties the night before. #mypeople

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They went straight to their mats for a warm Vinyasa flow class taught by Jennifer Hess Mitchell, co-owner of Soul. The class was all-levels and there were mamas doing handstands and others who hadn’t practiced since babes were born and an overall sense of “I came here for sanctuary, not judgment or perfection.” We giggled while we stretched for our neighbor’s foot and supported it. “This is a chatty, bubbly group,” commented Mitchell.

Why, yes, of course. We are The Champagne Society. All kinds of women at all kinds of stages who know the power of a BREAK from real life, mom life or careers.

After class, we broke for Melon Magic (watermelon, mint and lemon) and Green Dream (kale, cucumber, raspberry, mint, apple, ginger, kiwi), donated by Huriyali and freshly brewed coffee by Classic Coffee, paired with healthy bites. Because we believe in balance, we mixed our juice with champagne and mingled a bit. Soon the room was buzzing as women were encouraged to introduce themselves to each other and chatted for 15 minutes as we all moved our mats to form one tight circle in preparation for part 2.

Going around the circle, I asked each woman what she came for. “Connection, a break, and inspiration” were the most common answers. Then we began the Honest Conversation with panelists and business partners, Jennifer Mitchell and Amanda Cunningham, owners of Soul Yoga. We talked about the concept of “having it all,” and how sometimes abundance shows up in forms besides money—dream homes, business opportunities, happiness, friends. Both panelists shared how their idea of balance always involves moving off center. Losing yourself to find yourself. Saying yes to other people over oneself too many times in a row and then BAM - suddenly you’re overextended, half a bottle deep and aware you are way out of alignment and have another chance to come back to center. A life practice that mirrors a meditation practice, for example.

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Jennifer casually dropped how she frequently takes “Awareness breaks,” and Amanda honestly shared what it looks like for her once she “reaches her limit.”

We stayed on that topic a while—hitting our limit. Falling apart. Judging the mess. Mamas in the circle shared their experiences of reaching the burning out point and, at the society’s request, the panel shared self-care tips for mind, body and soul.

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It was a special morning carved out for us as women outside of our roles in society, and such a different vibe from our nighttime Champagne Society events (and equally rewarding!).

Thank you again to our sponsors, Huriyali and Classic Coffee, for being part of our very first SWEAT event. To stay in the loop for our next SWEAT event, make sure you’re on The Champagne Society Insiders Email List, and you’ll be notified when new dates are released and tickets go on sale.

You Think Mothering Might Break You, But You’re Wrong

Today it nearly broke me—trying to mother.

I was not exceptional.

It was not my most shining performance of mothering while also being a mother.

But then my 5yo begged me to cuddle her. And she wasn’t sweet about it. She was angry and crying and, frankly, pretty rude. And I looked at her face, and I wanted to win. I wanted to teach her a lesson about cause and effect.

Cause: You act like a 5yo shit all day and say things that hurt my feelings because you’re testing limits and learning to express emotions and opinions.

Effect: I deny you your nighttime snuggle.

Translation: I don’t give you my love. I show you the err of your human ways by leaving you alone in your bed to cry and feel the 5yo interpretation of a) my mother is cruel, mostly because b) she doesn’t love me.

I looked at my 5yo’s face and my stubborn will (also inherited by said daughter) urged me to flee, desperate to protect me from all this messy mothering discomfort. I craved space between me and her. To rebuke her childish display of demanding more of me. More. Always more. I felt her clawing through my wall of defenses—energetically, physically, emotionally.

I closed my eyes. I took a deep breath. I brought my attention to my thoughts.

“I know you don’t WANT to, but also WHY NOT, Gervase?” I could hear my truer self gently prodding.

“Who do you want to bring to this situation?”

I looked at her face. Chin quivering. Angry tears.

“Okay,” I said quietly, laying down in her twin bed cramped with 18 tiny stuffed animals and 3 decorative pillows. 

There is realistically no way for a grown woman and small child to lay side by side in a twin bed and still maintain personal space. The 5yo inherently knows this. Soon our noses were touching and I could smell her sweet breath on my cheeks. I kissed her forehead and laid there in the dark under her bed canopy in stillness, as I felt my heartbeat slow and my tense body soften.

I felt the current of energy traveling from her body, into mine and circling back around into her—cocooning us, now that my defensive wall was down. I think they call that connection. I waited until our breathing and heart beating was in sync. And in that moment, I suddenly recognized, I was mothering her and not just performing my role as her mother. There is a difference.

“Good days and bad days - I’ll love you forever,” I whispered.

Her eyelids became heavy and she nuzzled her whole face into my neck so my chin was above her head. She was so warm and soft.

I love her so, so much.

I love being her mother and I love mothering her, and still sometimes it feels like it might break me.

Sometimes I feel maybe I am not up to this test.

Maybe I will, despite every single attempt, repeat my mother’s cycle of being a mother but not mothering.

Or maybe . . . my truer self shakes me, I won’t.

Maybe - parenting is a blurry microcosm of good days and bad days. Giving when I feel I’ve got nothing left to give, by waving the white flag and lowering the bridge.

And maybe that’s the real difference between mothering and being a mother.

Because I can say from personal experience, not all mothers need to or will choose to mother. And that’s okay. I think growing up yearning for more from my mother shaped me into the kind of mother I am.

The kind who fights this good fight every damn day, without making that my kid’s fault.

Baby girl, my hope is that you feel my mothering in your bones. You know it in your soul, long after our season of nighttime snuggles has ended. I pray you never grow up to think you were not enough or are fundamentally flawed just because I had to work at it—this mothering thing. Because I love this work. It’s my favorite. And you are my greatest teacher.

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When You Give a Mom Advice But She Asked for Camaraderie

When You Give a Mom Advice But She Asked for Camaraderie

And while mom #1 didn't explicitly ask, "Can I ask you for a judgment-free space to express the human experience I'm having?" I heard the ask in her story.

I finally interrupted, "Hey, of course we know you love your kid and are doing what you think is best. Of course you're allowed to say that it feels hard and exhausting. Of course you get to feel those feels. We hear you. We've been there. This shit is hard sometimes. Sometimes I want to go to bed at 4pm and my girls are not even that wild. No judgment, girl."

Saying Goodbye to the Mommy Soul Tribe

Saying Goodbye to the Mommy Soul Tribe

Last night I wrote a goodbye post to the Mommy Soul Tribe Facebook group I’ve grown to 1,800 members over the past 3 years, mostly through referrals. It was bittersweet to string together words that could even come close to conveying what that safe virtual village has been for me AND for other mamas during that time. This decision had been on my heart for a while and I know, deep down, it closes a chapter in my business, but also in my personal evolution.

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