Words by LaKay Cornell
One of the first personal development courses I ever took was all about teaching high-achieving women how to slow down, say no, and live with ease. I listened to the whole 50-minute talk with a friend. When it was over, we both kind of looked at each other, and I said, “Hmm. I don’t think that was for us. I’m pretty good at slowing down, but I want someone to teach me how to be over-achieving while still enjoying my life.”
This is just one in a long line of examples I’ve encountered about how important self-care is for women and how we have to learn to say no, enjoy a bath, and find time for a date night with our spouse. In fact, when my sister and I launched The Perpetual You magazine a year later, the theme for the first issue was “Create Joy by Choosing Indulgence.” The article titles included a wide variety of things you should indulge in to create joy, such as “nothing,” “a bath,” and “a book.” We had done all the work to get clear on our target market and we knew that they needed to give themselves permission to do nothing, take a bath, and read a book – and that if they did – they would find a new joy in their lives.
Typing “Self-Care for Moms” into the Pinterest search bar will fill your screen with women who are lying in bed, lounging in the bathtub, and staring off aimlessly into space. Typing #selfcare into the search bar on Instagram brings back 14 million posts (literally) and will fill your screen with the same images, plus quite a few of women drinking wine.
Back to that first course. I kept thinking and discussing with people how I feel like self-care has to be more than just baths and books (or wine!). Living intentionally and mindfully must include taking care of business, right? In November of 2017, Brianna West, author of I Am The Hero Of My Own Life, Salt Water, and 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think, wrote a piece for Thought Catalog titled, “This Is What ‘Self-Care’ REALLY Means, Because It’s Not All Salt Baths and Chocolate Cake.” Finally, I thought! Someone else agrees with me!
Ms. West says, “True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.” She lists things like creating a spreadsheet to take care of your debt, getting rid of toxic friends, and becoming someone who knows that enjoying chocolate cake and salt baths are part of enjoying life, not escaping from it. She talks about becoming the owner of your life and deciding which goals to let go of and which ones to go all in on. And my favorite part? “It is sometimes having a dirty kitchen…” It’s not a dichotomy of work hard/rest hard – it is the blend of both of them that makes us balanced women.
You know how people say it’s easier to listen to the masses telling you that you aren’t enough (good enough, skinny enough, successful enough) instead of the one or two people who know you are (even when one of those two people is yourself)?
Yep, that’s how the true camaraderie I felt from this article got lost in the reality of my life.
Every time someone said, “Well, you do frequently take long leisurely lunches…” in response to the fact that I’m struggling to find clients, every time someone said, “You can’t be successful if you don’t get up before 9 a.m.,” and every time someone said, “You should just suck it up and get a job,” the voice inside of me that said it doesn’t have to be all or nothing got quieter and quieter.
2017 and 2018 were tough years for me. Probably two of the most challenging years I’ve ever had. But, as with many things, from great struggle came great clarity. As we moved into the end of year proclamations in December of 2018, I saw a post by a person I follow and respect that shared how her theme for 2018 was RELENTLESS FOCUS. She went on to detail how she finished her book and people are buying it and how she increased the revenue in her business in massive ways.
And so, I, always being one to trust the words of others declared to my 17-year-old daughter that RELENTLESS FOCUS would be my theme for 2019. I was done struggling and ready to do big successful things.
As is common in our interactions, Emma wasn’t buying it. She said, “Really? That’s the plan? After years and years of therapy, life coaching, spiritual coaching, reading everything you can get your hands on, and preaching to people about blend over balance, you’re going ALL IN for one WHOLE year? That’s both unrealistic and hypocritical."
Before I could argue my point or try to convince her it was both possible and not inauthentic, the Imagine Dragons song, “Whatever It Takes” came on my Spotify playlist.
…I do whatever it takes because I love how it feels when I break the chains…
…Always had a fear of being typical / Looking at my body feeling miserable…
…I was born for this…
…Don’t want to be the parenthetical, hypothetical / Working onto something that I’m proud of, out of the box…
…And when I am deceased at least I’ll go down to the grave and die happily …
…I do what it takes.
We started talking about how doing Whatever. It. Takes. is so much more powerful than limiting yourself to relentless focus. Sometimes doing whatever it takes to change your life IS allowing yourself time for relentless focus. Sometimes it is taking a nap. Sometimes it is unwinding with friends at a favorite hangout. Sometimes it is saying no to the party and working on the next chapter of your book. Sometimes it is going back on your ADD/depression/anxiety medicine and not feeling guilty about it. Sometimes it is meditating before pitching a huge client. Sometimes it is blaring Mumford and Sons on full blast while you knock things off your to-do list.
Sometimes it is sitting on the floor crying and surrendering for the whole seven hours your kid is at school because you are losing faith… Well, at least it is for me.
I declared to the Universe, God, my family, and anyone else who would listen that in 2018, I was going to do Whatever. It. Takes. to create the life I am called to live.
We’re only a third of the way through the year, but I gotta tell you, so far so good. Here’s what I am already celebrating at this point in the year:
- writing three-fourths of my book
- manifesting the money to attend a HUGE conference that has been on my vision board for years
- partnering with some superstars who are running an amazing program in my state
- creating four signature talks and four coaching packages that are authentic and powerful
- connecting to 40+ changemakers and interviewing them
- making more money in my business in Q1 than I did in all of 2017 or 2018
OH – and also:
- many nights at my local craft brewery feeling connected to my community
- the wedding of two long-time friends
- a ridiculous birthday party (for myself) with 30+ people
- more tacos than you could actually wrap your head around
- buying my daughter’s first prom dress and dealing with the fact that she is old enough to go to prom
- being outside eight hours of every day working next to my mom’s pool
- and definitely more than one long leisurely lunch.
I am trying to approach my life the way you interact with champagne. We are always super excited when someone opens champagne; we are almost always celebrating something, the more of it we drink, the more joyful we become, and many times, it leaves us with a bit of a headache the next day. I’m looking at the things I need to get done (to move along my desired path) with excitement and celebration. I’m allowing myself the giddiness of completing even the smallest tasks. And when the hangover sets in, I’m attaching it to the life of someone who loves every minute and not the guilt of someone who over-indulged.
Then I’m taking a hot bath, grabbing a book, and doing nothing until my head feels better.
Click to Read Next: 10 Stories About the Necessity of Self Care
About the Author:
LaKay Cornell is the founder of Champagne Hippies, which helps entrepreneurs, small business owners, and corporate leaders increase profits + impact by incorporating their values into their business decisions. She is a speaker, consultant, advocate for conscious capitalism, serial collaborator, and soul-level lover of tacos.