Lately, this question has been popping up all around me: How exactly do you do all that you do?
I love this question for two reasons: 1. I often wonder the same thing about other people and 2. It opens up a wider conversation around what I would consider a spiritual practice, which is the practice of protecting our time.
There is always conversation happening in my world with my friends around burnout, doing too much, creating balance/harmony, and the hard practice of not over extending ourselves.
It’s a conversation that happens on the regular both in my external world with friends, and in my inner heart world, too. I often have to remind myself of why the struggle is constantly relevant, why it’s always popping up, why it’s always right there on the surface despite the endless attempts to sustain a sense of harmony. And the reminder is this: We are women. Creative women. Women who run with inspiration. Women who want to live bravely. We are mothers. Caregivers. Teachers. We are expert task-masters, heart holders, kindness and optimist warriors. We live inside the hard, the messy, the unendingly heart break of beautiful, gorgeous lives. We are pulled in precise, countless directions, daily, hourly even. We send our babies off to school while simultaneously holding each moment we’ve cherished with them since their birth while also holding space and prepping for the next appointment, dinner that evening, the conversation we really need to have with our partner – all while this while we wonder how we’ll get through the piles of stuff not just layered on our desk, but on our hearts.
We hold so much. We do so much, too. We are capable, strong containers of love. And we use that love wisely: for our work, for our people, for our creativity, for our kindness, for our families. But what I’ve learned is this: If we’re not super intentional and FIERCELY protective of our time, we simply run out. We get to the end our thoughts, to the end of our days, to the end of our giving without having given OURSELVES our own brilliance. We’ve given it all to other people and other things. And now we are depleted. We are maybe resentful. Definitely tired. Possibly sick. But perhaps worst of all we are confused. Haven’t I lived bravely? Haven’t I given with kindness? Haven’t I followed my heart and inspiration? Haven’t I accomplished so much despite being afraid?
The small yet powerful truth whispers back, “Yes, yes, you did all of those things, and you gave all of those things, and your heart is good, but you forgot one big thing: to give yourself the bright light of your own brilliance. And now it is so dim you can barely see with any clarity. And you are tired and cranky and confused because it’s dark in here and you don’t have light to guide you home.”
We must give ourselves our own brilliance. And by brilliance I mean the literal bright energy of our own light – the one that was born from a light greater than ourselves. Everything on planet Earth needs light to grow. And in order for our own growth and transformation, we need our own sacred light. We need our own brilliance. And that’s why I think protecting our time is a spiritual process. Our time becomes a sacred space in which we can provide ourselves the energetic current that is needed to keep our light ON. That’s when awakening happens. When REST happens. When harmony happens. Time is everything. It is air and breath for our light. It’s is how we get to our own brilliance.
A couple of years ago, after yo-yoing in and out of low-level burnout, I found myself in a harrowing place that I couldn’t shake off. I had constant infections. Constant low energy. And despite all sorts of exciting things happening in my life, all I wanted to do was sleep. For days and days and days. Sleep, sleep, and sleep. Please don’t make me wake up and be a mother. Please don’t make me wake up and work at the job I created and love. There was no light, no energy, no brilliance. I wondered if I was depressed. I wondered if something was wrong with me. I wondered if I’d ever make anything ever again. I went to my doctor and after some hormone and lab tests, the verdict was in: my cortisol levels were totally off and I was experiencing full blown adrenal fatigue. I had filled up all of my time with family and work and the little “self-care” I was sneaking in here and there wasn’t cutting it. My light was out. My brilliance, martyred.
It was a sllllooooowww, very deliberate road to feeling better that included stress hormone management, acupuncture, and a whole ton of consciousness around restructuring my entire life. This ultimately came down to one thing: Fiercely, and I mean FIERCELY protecting my time. It remains, to this day, a spiritual practice for me. I know now that I must choose, every single day, despite whatever is pulling me in a million direction, to come home to myself. I must go in the direction of my own light. And that means protecting my time so that I can do the things that make my particular electrical current of brilliance flow: creating, reading, noticing, thinking, connecting. Time is everything. It’s is how we get to our own brilliance.
So nowadays when people ask me how I do it all, I can answer from a place of knowing what intense spiritual and physical burnout looks like and how I work really really hard now to not get to that place again, because not only is it not good for me and my health, but it’s horrendous on my marriage, my family, my business. There is NO glory in hustling, no awakening in a full schedule, and no divinity in spreading ourselves thin.
So, how do I do it? I stumble and fall again and again in my practice of protecting my time, but I work at it. Like, tons. And I want to say, too, that it’s really become a practice to me, not unlike any other spiritual practice. I say no to what doesn’t serve me. I trust. I fall. I forgive myself. I try again. Sometimes I fall back into a not-so-healthy pattern of not protecting my time and sometimes I’ll hang out in a state of ease and harmony for weeks. As with everything, I’m going for progress, not perfection.
In the last couple of years, I’ve put some practices in place that help contain my life (and biz) inside doable systems that leave spaciousness for the time I need to keep my light on. For those of you who are curious, here’s what that looks like for me:
Support for my biz:
I hired Betsy, my amazing biz and brand manager. She is part therapist, part accountabilty partner, part licensing agent, part legal expert, part holder of a million little pieces. I also hired Nichole, my lovely community care + engagement manager. Like Betsy, Nichole has lots of little parts, and she is critical to my being able to focus on the heart of what I want and need to do: creative work. I also have several other folks that I pay who help run my business vs pre-massive burnout when I would insist on saving money and doing it myself. Verdict? I’m make much less $$ than I’ve ever made (hello, payroll!), but I’ve never been happier. Time is everything. It’s is how we get to our own brilliance.
Bottom line, if it’s not a HECK YES (to a social invitation, to a biz opportunity, etc), then it’s a very firm no. I trust that my firm ‘no’ will be someone’s else’s ‘heck yes’. The universe is happy and I have more time. Time is everything. It’s is how we get to our own brilliance.
When I’m with my family, I’m 100% with my family. They have my full attention and I’m devoted to them. When I’m with my work, I’m 100% with my work. It has my full attention and I’m devoted to it. I treat my time with myself the same: I’m all in. No soaking in the tub while instagramming. No checking my emails while painting. Devoted, intentional time is everything. It’s is how we get to our own brilliance.
I’m on one gig: Instagram. It fills me up. It’s creative story telling. It’s documenting a life in progress. It’s interaction with my people. My instagram is linked to my Facebook account, which means I’m not on Facebook, except rarely. I have a feeling this alone protects my time. Time is everything. It’s is how we get to our own brilliance.
The connections I have with my dearest friends sustain me and INSPIRE ME. Lately I’ve been asking my friends this question: How’s your heart? I’d love to know what you’re creating + how work is going, but really what I want to know is this: What kinds of things are you doing to nurture yourself, honor the stillness that I know we all need, and protect your time? Time is everything. It’s is how we get to our own brilliance. Tell me how you get to yours.
Lately I’ve been promising myself that I will do two out of three things every single day NO MATTER WHAT: sweat, paint, or write. That’s my mantra lately: Create + sweat. Create + sweat. Everything else, and I mean everything else on my to-do list for work comes next, including emails. I have a love/hate struggle with this. I love when I ignore my email for creative work but then I hate getting behind in email. But, when I put emails first, I lose my time to create and that’s when the fierceness and the practice comes in. I choose my own brilliance and light (creating) over emails. I am happier this way, and when I do get to my email, I will make a cup of tea. light a candle and proceed with ease, damnit! Time is everything. It’s is how we get to our own brilliance.
We got rid our cable, which means no more wasted time trying to find something good to watch. Instead, I love the ritual of watching really amazing television on Hulu and Netflix a few times each week. There is so much more intention in this kind of indulging. I love it, actually.
Each quarter of every year, I use some of my protected time to go and see my healers. They include my acupuncturist, my energy healer, my massage therapist, and an intuitive who connects me with my angels and guides. This is critical to tuning into my original light and the medicine it provides. I create time for these healers. Time is everything. It’s is how we get to our own brilliance.
If my practice of protecting my time is on point, I feel at ease. I can always tell when I’m doing well, because I’ll make my bed each morning and really enjoy that process. I’ll take a bath in the evenings, candle lit (no lie) and not rush the soaking. I’ll notice things on my walks. I’ll say a list of gratitudes as my prayer before falling asleep. I’ll find myself inside a rhythm of spaciousness where I can simply hang around and enjoy whatever moment I’m in. This is the time of my life. And I’m here for it. My energy currents are flowing, my light is on, my brilliance radiating, my life full.
Again, it’s a practice. Some days are downright harder and the practice then becomes to let go and try again tomorrow. All okay. All learning.
But I DO know it’s possible, sisters. Start small, but true. The world needs our collective lights. Take the time. And give yourself your own brilliance. Let’s do it, together.
PS: I made a soul care manifesto for us. My gift to you: use code BRILLIANCE at check out for 30% off this print. It comes in three sizes, including small poster size. Check it out.