WHAT DOES A SUCCESSFUL WOMAN LOOK LIKE
As a woman in the Western world I feel we do not get taught the importance of resting, relaxing and bringing relief to ourselves in order to thrive in a balanced state. We get shown images and lifestyles of successful career women, we get taught predominantly that success means lots of money and beautiful things. However, when we power ourselves on overdrive in order to keep up with the fast paced life of Western success, we pay a price, potentially a price we never bargained for, and specifically a price we were not aware of. Let’s even things up and make this game more fair by educating ourselves on what our price might be.
Rewind to my mid twenties, I graduated from a degree in fashion and textile design, I had part time jobs fit modeling for a few powerful Australian fashion labels, as well as modeling for e-commerce fashion shoots, and simultaneously setting up the foundation of my own denim label. Fashion school made me very familiar with no-dose caffeine pills (ouch!), I knew how to push myself through a night without sleeping (in order to finish projects to the level I thought good enough before the due hour). I had heard that sleep and rest were important, but my drive for success, and naïve perspective of being ‘young’ thought I could handle having a handful of hours sleep most nights and catching up on ‘normal sleep’ at a later date. Little did I know I was digging a grave for myself, my immune system was incredibly low, I was catching every kind of bug and virus that went around the workspaces of where I was fit modeling, my digestion was so messed up – literally to the point of not having a happy tummy 90% + of the time after eating, I was eating healthy organic food but my body didn’t seem to absorb much of the nutrients, I was the skinniest I had ever been during that final year of university and the following three years. I tried to find time to see friends which I only really managed to once or twice a week, I didn’t let myself go to the beach too often even when I really wanted to, I purposefully ignored texts from men who I liked and wanted to see, in order to not get too distracted, I would constantly run late to most things, and in hindsight although I had moments of inspiration and gratitude for hitting goals, I reached a point where I felt like I was chasing my tale.
When my brother said he was heading on a two week road trip to the Simpson Desert and invited me to go, I over-packed a bag, bought myself a light pop up tent, and quickly learnt how happy life can be with the simple necessities covered, and that having too much was actually a burden at times. My sense of time slowed right down, I learnt to lay in Nature and just be, without feeling bored or guilty, rather feeling inspired and satisfied! I had spent my last two weeks before leaving on little sleep working on launching my latest collection for my fashion brand, in order for a friend to launch it on social media while I was away, my final night I pulled an all-nighter once again in order to have enough material organised before going off-grid. The first few days of my trip I spent sick, nursing myself back into health which forced me think about what I was actually doing, and how much I valued the lifestyle I was living.
That trip made me realise how much I adored being out in Nature, and spending time with loved ones! The trip through the desert re-birthed me, I no longer had the desire to run around in the fast city pace, I realised I valued my health more than money (I had to spend money nursing myself back into good health, so what was the point in earning extra money if I was depleting my immune system by overworking anyway), I started saying no to modelling jobs if they were requested last minute and would cause any kind of stress to my already mapped out weekly agenda, I learnt to prioritise sleep as it was the most important instrument in keeping a balanced immune system – by doing so I missed deadlines with my patternmakers and sewers (for my label), and pretty much allowed what was not serving me for my highest good to drop off. I stopped saying yes to social events I knew would cause me to rush or get to bed too late when I had an early start the next day, or had been working lots. I started listening to my body, when it was tired I rested rather than pumping it with caffeine or sugar to trick it. I started looking into cleansing techniques to help sort my digestion out. I pretty much did a big cull, took a break from the previous lifestyle, re-evaluated my values and then started inviting back in what served me and released what did not (this sounds simple, but in some moments it was a process of two steps forward, one back, dipping a toe back into my past lifestyle because it used to light me up, and it felt familiar, but as soon as I experienced and was reminded of why it no longer served me, I decided to move forward into change again, each time I went back it strengthened moving forward!)
Fast forward a year and a half since the desert trip, and I really have learnt the value of my health and balance over anything. I have learnt that success means fulfilment for me, and abundance is a combination of vibrant health, companionship with like minded souls who give me their gift of presence and awareness and value mine, time alone (all-one) in Nature, a balance of both growth and self-nurture. Sleep, food and physical exercise are all medicine for vitality, as well as living a preventative lifestyle of seasonal detoxing in order to maintain vibrant health and (potentially) longevity. I found the cleanse work that I needed in order to restore strength to my digestive system, and ability to absorb nutrients and minerals, it was tough work that took time and commitment, but has been more than worth it now that I am reaping the rewards! If I was aware of the severity of havoc unfolding inside my body from the lifestyle choices I was making, I highly doubt I would have taken that path, however without the awareness or ability to comprehend how crucial rest and relaxing really is to our immune systems and ability to function let alone thrive, my naive idea of success was teamed with a heavy, uninformed price.
I have now understood that what I was doing during my mid-twenties was exhausting my adrenals, and keeping me in a constant state of stress (fight or flight mode) which no doubt disturbed my hormones and general wellbeing. I was not honouring my feminine energy, my yin which is fluid and beautiful, which needs rest and nurturing in order to tap into its intuitive (and maaaagic) powers. I was living so fast that I was missing the gift of presence and the experience of moments that bring joy to my overall life experience. I was listening to what my mind thought I should be doing, rather than what my heart (/and body) wanted to experience. That was the unknown price I was paying for the kind of success that was in my mind rather than in my heart. Don’t get me wrong, I had moments of joy and a fun ride, but the ride for the price I was paying was only worth a moment, not my entire journey.
My desire is to plant seeds of thought for other women to check in with how they feel about their life? Are any of you working towards a goal with blinkers on, are you telling yourself that once to get to that goal then you’ll be happy and/or successful? If so, how will you measure that success if the price you are paying is either your health or potentially your lack of awareness of each present moment? How happy are you, and what memories of joyful moments have you recently been creating alone, or with like-minded companions?