Vulnerability is…

“ She threw away all of her masks and put on her soul” ~ anon

Being open and honest is something a lot of people struggle with. Vulnerability is not for the faint hearted. It’s scary AF but what I’ve realised is that without allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in certain situations we are always going to be holding back. Not being who we really are.

The need to be seen is increasing all of the time. People want to be noticed, want their voices heard, their wins to be applauded, and their pain and suffering to at least be acknowledged if not understood. The whole world is screaming ‘but what about me?’. Has it always been like this or is it that we are all so busy in our own lives to even notice what’s going on around us?

Vulnerability probably means something different to everyone. For me it’s opening myself up to hurt and ridicule. Which sounds bloody ridiculous because on some level I consider myself an open book. But I also think that comes from years of therapy and my empathic need to help others. As a child I was very much the opposite, no one knew what was going on in my head. In fact, I was so shy I barely spoke. Go figure!

Now I share a lot. On my social media, through my blog and with friends. And yeah it’s personal stuff and some people don’t understand why I feel the need to do this. Am I over sharing? Is it attention seeking? Or am I just trying to be real? To be honest, I hadn’t thought that much about it until this week when I was listening to my new audio book, Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (obsessed!). The whole book is about vulnerability; what it is to be vulnerable, the ways in which it shows up and it’s necessity.

Do we really need to bare all? Well of course we bloody don’t. Everyone has the right to be as private as they like and people don’t need (or want) to hear all about your dirty secrets. But if you want people to really know you, I’m afraid you’re going to have to open up a bit. But being vulnerable is more then just opening up. Being vulnerable is going for your dream job knowing that there’s a chance you might not get it. Telling your best friend that you want to be more then friends without knowing if they feel the same. It’s telling people you no longer drink alcohol because you mostly drank to drown out the demons screaming in your head and those demons were getting louder and required more drowning out as time went on. All of these things are you putting yourself out there, letting yourself be seen but knowing that the potential to get hurt, disappointment, judged or worse…dismissed is there.

So how do you know what to open up about and what not to? I think it comes down to knowing why. What’s the purpose behind you sharing? Is it to help others? To improve your life? Of course you can share what ever you like but that doesn’t mean you are being vulnerable. You need courage to be vulnerable so if you’re just sharing something and it’s not affecting you emotionally I’d say you’re probably just trying to seek attention. And I’m not saying that’s bad because there are times when we need to be grabbing peoples attention. But that’s not vulnerability.

I think vulnerability also comes from caring a lot about what it is you’re doing or how you are showing up. For me this blog is me being vulnerable. I love to write, I think my written word is more powerful than when I talk on video for example. I try to write about things I think people will relate to, things that make people feel less alone in the world. While at the same time just simply writing about my thoughts and experiences. The truth is I’d love to write professionally but the thought terrifies me and I’d have to step even further into the vulnerability arena to find out if I’m good enough…and I’m not ready to do that just yet!

Basically I think vulnerability is taking a leap into uncertainty. It’s baring your soul not knowing how it will be received. It can be the biggest and best game changer ever. Or could leave you so badly bruised you recoil once more. All I know is that despite me having spent so much of my life recoiling I know that I have to keep trying and putting myself back out there because if I don’t, well I may as well just stay in bed for the rest of my life. And I just don’t think there’s enough on Netflix for me to maintain that kind of lifestyle, you know?

Em-proud

Yes it’s a word. Look it up if you don’t believe me. Okay don’t, it’s clearly not a word but I couldn’t decide between proud and empowered so I went with both.

I can’t remember the last time I felt genuinely proud of myself. Not just an ‘I did good’ or pat on the back type proud. But a fuck yeah, bring a tear to your own eye proud. I think maybe when I got my last ‘proper’ job there may have been a little internal jump for joy but not like this.

Yesterday marked 6 months since I last had an alcoholic beverage. Before that I was the lush of the group (the boozy kind not the fancy kind). Not that I was really part of any groups per se, more just the one who was always first at the bar, cracking open the first bottle or the first to finish her drink in most social situations. Those who knew me well though knew that I drank not just for merriment, but mostly because I was sad. The self loathing, you’re a piece of shit kinda sad.

For me, sobriety was always lurking; in my mind and in the hopes of others. Did I think I’d get to six months? Actually, yeah I didn’t think that would be a problem. What has surprised me is how easy and stress free I’ve found it. Now I’m not one for complacency and I know that sobriety becomes more challenging when you actually leave the house and surround yourself with ‘normal’ drinkers. This is not something I’ve actively avoided but lockdown has obviously made socialising difficult. And most of my good friends don’t live local to me. But in an effort to not become a hermit I need to find some sober people to hang out with.

So em-proud moment number 2! I joined a group called Bee Sober and I’m now the Ambassador for my local area which means I pretty much get to start my own group of likeminded ex-lushes and you know, do sober stuff together. I’m really excited about it, mostly because it means I’m getting braver. I’m feeling confident enough to say ‘yeah, I can do that’. I’m taking the lead on something because I want to and know I am capable. Look at me go! And it doesn’t stop there either!

Em-proud moment number 3! What do you do when the toxic energy in your life is coming from a source that encourages the removal of toxic vibes? You remove it of course. I stepped away from something big in my business last week. It was something I was led to believe I needed and wouldn’t succeed without. But as time went on I started to realise it was holding me back and having a detrimental affect on my business mindset. So I dug deep, found my empowerment spray, gave myself a quick spritz, got the backing of my coach (I’m still learning ok?!) and I waved goodbye to the toxicity. And wow did it feel good. So of course I was clearly buzzing and as the 6 month anniversary was rolling in I decided to take a few more big steps.

I’ve been toying with an idea for a few months now. Its something that has only come about because of my Arbonne business, my sobriety and from the massive personal growth spurt I’ve had. I’ve been through a lot of shit. I’m not trying to compete with anyone else and their shit, I just know mine pushed me to my limits on several occasions. And despite the attempts to give up on this one life I have, I’m still here. And not only here but I’m now not taking anymore shit. Or at least I’m trying not to. And that shit includes outside pressures, expectations, energy stealers, all that kind of BS that messes with your head. AND so for my em-proud moment number 4, I’m going to help the Shaena’s of the world, the lost souls who thought they’d done everything right only to end up hopeless and confused. I’m going to help women like me find their way, live life on their own terms and not take any shit. I’m going to make them em-proud!!! Although first I have to go do a course which starts in a few weeks, but yay me!

And yay to me being em-proud.

Be a voice, not an echo

I’m trying to listen to my intuitive self more these days and it’s been telling me to speak my truth about this, so here goes…

It’s coming up to a year since I joined the network marketing industry, specifically Arbonne. Before I go any further I just want to say I have no regrets for joining, I love what I do and I’m fully behind the ethos of this company. What I do want to do though is share my thoughts and experience so far. And it’s going to be a no holds barred type of post. Honest and raw, but also 100% MY voice, sharing MY view point. These are purely my thoughts and no one else’s.

I feel like this industry is very much like marmite; you either love it, or you hate it. There are probably some who plod along in the middle of the road like clients or beneficiaries, but the majority are very much anti-MLM or ‘this is the best industry ever and I can’t believe it took me so long to jump on board’. So clearly I’m Team Love. But not for the reasons you might think. And not without a few sticking points which I’m going to share with you.

Like I said it’s been almost a year since I first heard about Arbonne. Although I got started towards the end of last year my mental health wasn’t the best so I had to put my venture on hold for a few months. At the time I had mixed feelings. I was relieved that I could step back because the intense excitement within my team and the community, although motivating was also a bit overwhelming. But I was also worried that I was going to get left behind. Which is a ridiculous thought to have because there is no behind or ahead; everyone is just on their own journey.

The phrase ‘stay in your lane’ is not uncommon in Arbonne. We are reminded that comparing yourself to others is nothing but detrimental to you and your business. Which of course is pretty obvious but we all know that society has conditioned us to keep checking to see where everyone else is at. Comparison is the thief of joy as they say. I’m so bored of hearing that phrase. I’ve said it myself many times I’m sure but ffs, we know!!! But we just can’t help it!!!!!

So with my blinkers on I did what was required during my little ‘career break’ to get myself back in a good head space. After which I jumped right back in with all four limbs, like a frog and this time I stopped looking sideways and focussed on the path ahead…for about a month before the sodding blinkers fell off I started looking around again. But that’s clearly something I need to work on.

So I was back in business (quite literally) and this time I was armed with a load of personal growth and valuable life lessons. I was also 3 months alcohol free which allowed me to find my own brain and think for myself, which is handy when you’re trying to build your own business. I also paid more attention to other people in the business, not for comparison but to observe and learn in order to figure out what kind of mentor I wanted to be. In this industry you can only reach a certain level of success on your own. In order to get get promoted further ‘up the ladder’ you need to build and lead a team. That’s why I’m not overly a fan of using the phrase ‘be your own boss’ when talking to potential consultants. Because yes you can decide your own hours, your working location etc but you are guided by your upline and you have to follow the company regulations. Now don’t get me wrong, this is no bad thing. In fact, it’s pretty brilliant if you think about it. It’s like you’re building a business without the hassle of figuring out all the back room stuff. You literally just have to talk to people, place online orders and the rest is taken care of. So why is it so simple and why do people earn lots of money for doing…not a lot? Well, what I’ve learned is, yes it’s a simple process but it’s definitely not easy. And the reason that consultants have the potential to earn so much money is because the organisation doesn’t pay out for high end advertising using celebs who don’t even use the products. They create the marketing material, send it to us and then we use it to give new and existing clients the lowdown on the products. We also use the products, so you’ve got real life people with real life results. They also don’t have to pay out for brick and mortar stores because everything is purchased online. And the difficulty comes from getting people to listen. For many reasons this industry has been tainted. By dodgy companies, people who haven’t been successful and those that just simply either don’t understand the business model or that think it’s ‘wrong’. But also and I hate to say it, a small percentage of consultants who work their business in a not so attractive way. I’m going to explain what I mean by that in a second, but here’s what I have to say about all the bad press in general. Nothing is perfect. Nothing. Every organisation has good and bad in them depending on who you listen to. I’m not saying ignore everything you hear. I’m saying listen, and then do the research before deciding for yourself.

Now back to the not so attractive ways of working the business. Firstly, a reminder that these are my perceptions and my perceptions only. There appear to be a lot of what I like to call MLM-robots in the industry. Because so many people join without any experience they rely on their upline/mentor team to show them the ropes. Which is fine, part of the deal is we get ‘on the job training’. The problem starts when the training, guidance and/or ‘how to’ examples are repeated over and over. People will only join you as a client or team member if you are genuine. And why are people going to believe that you’re genuine when you are spouting the exact same words as all of the other consultants in your wider team? I’m not saying what we are taught is wrong, far from it. What I’m saying is that the hunger for success is so strong that some consultants see how well their mentor has done and think they have to literally replicate to be successful themselves. That’s where the cringey messages and tactics come from. Now I totally hold my hands up because I was one of them at the start as well. I’d like to take this moment to apologise to everyone that had spammy Shaena in their inbox. I’m so sorry for being that girl. I’m sorry you had to suffer my ‘pass the vomit bucket’ messages. I just didn’t know back then, I was stupid. I was an idiot.

Ok, where was I? Yes so the robots, some of them are successful, some are not. What I don’t want to be is the person who is so desperate for that success that she loses her identity and forgets why she’s even doing this. I don’t want to be a sheep. They say this business is a numbers game and that after so many no’s, rejections, ghostings, verbal abuse etc you will get a ‘yes’. I believe that’s true but I don’t just want any yes. I want the right yes. I want the people that say yes to see me for who I am. I want my clients to know that I’m here to help them with their health and well-being. I want my consultants to know that I’m the kind of mentor that will help them play to their strengths, support them through the good and the bad and 100% respect their decisions and choices in terms of how they run their business. You’d think this was a given but believe me, it’s not!

This industry is tough because of the negativity that surrounds it, the robots and the fact that society like comfort and tradition. To a lot of people this isn’t a legitimate way to earn a living, they don’t trust buying from unconventional sources and it’s just not what they’re used to. Fear is what makes it hard for us, for me. People are scared of different so they won’t take a chance. My job is to educate them and show them a different way.

Many consultants are a lot further along in their business building venture than I am. Like I said each consultant is on their own journey. Obviously I am keen to progress and there are times I wish things were moving quicker. But then I stop and remind myself that for whatever reason THIS is my journey. The duration, the obstacles, the highlights, the breakdowns. They all have their purpose and I’m learning to accept and embrace that now.

But most importantly I’m learning that my voice is the most integral part in all of this. If I don’t speak my truth, if I don’t own my journey then I’ll just be a number. And I’ve been that number before, in organisations where you do as your told and you follow the rules. It’s suffocating and it can be soul destroying. The whole point of me doing this was to become my own person and do the things I’ve always wanted to.

I want to be the consultant that helps you become better. In which ever way you need to. I want to help you be happier, healthier and more hopeful. I don’t just want to be the girl that helped you order some skincare or got you a decent discount on ethical beauty products. I want to be more.

I want to be a voice. Not an echo.

Connect with me

“Social connection is such a basic feature of human experience that when we are deprived of it, we suffer.” ~ Leonard Mlodinow

No, I don’t mean send me a message. I mean, actually connect. Let me explain…

As a species we are not meant to live like lone wolves, we are hardwired for connection. The need to be social is in our make up. But I’m not talking social like going out with your mates on a midweek bender. No, I mean on a deeper level.

We want to be seen for we are. We want to be understood. And that only comes from a true connection, a meeting of minds or better still a meeting of souls.

When we lose someone in our life whether it’s at the end of [any kind of] relationship or saying goodbye forever it frickin hurts. Or does it? What is that feeling? We’ve all felt it at some point in our lives and we call it pain or hurt. But it’s not the same as feeling physical “my finger has fallen off” type pain is it? Turns out social pain is a thing…a real thing. So if you have to take time to heal from physical pain then why is it any different when you suffer the loss of a human connection?

Now I think there’s a whole heap of shit that needs exploring here but I want to go back to the ‘need’ rather than the ‘loss’. I think our need for connection is underestimated. I always used to think I was over reacting when I got jealous of people hanging out with friends or partners even if they were technically ‘staying in’ or ‘doing nothing’. For me, who was going home to her dog (momma loves you Louis) their none plans were still better than mine. And yes, I know it sounds pathetic. And yes, there were tiny violins everywhere. But it doesn’t take away from the fact I felt shit.

But now I know it was more than me just throwing myself a pity party. I mean, of course it was mostly that. But It was also my need as a person to have that human connection. Like we genuinely need it for health reasons, it’s been proven! It reduces anxiety, depression and low self esteem. Those who lack human connection are said to be prone to inflammation, heart problems, ageing and devastatingly, suicide.

And it’s more than just having someone to spend time with or talk to. We emanate those we connect with, consciously and subconsciously. So not only is it important to make and have connections, it’s important that we be aware of how those connections impact us.

Anyone keeping count of how many times I’ve used the word ‘connection’?

One final point on this subject which I’m now realising is HUGE is connections with a purpose. I worked 5 years in a job where I was surrounded by people all day. I made some very good friends there, but some connections weren’t as strong as I thought. But such is life. Now I’m self employed and with my business being an online one you might think connections are a scarcity. Well it’s actually the complete opposite. I may not be meeting people face to face every day but the connections I’m making are meaningful. They have depth because we are connecting over things like mental health, insecurities and sobriety. People assume that I just ‘sell products’, and you can call it that if you want. But it’s not really like that. My business is about making connections with people, getting to know them and finding out ways in which I can help them. It doesn’t always result in me selling a product and it doesn’t have to either. My aim is to help, in any way I can so if that’s just having a chat, offering suggestions or even signposting them to something else then that’s what I’ll do.

So like I said up top, connect with me. Whatever your reason I’m here to help you, listen to you, laugh with you and if you want to, put the world to rights with you! ✌🏽

Play the tape forward

I hadn’t heard this saying until recently. It’s commonly used in the addiction/recovery world as a technique to make you stop and think when you get an urge or craving to drink. It walks you through the likely stages that will follow on from ‘oh go on, one won’t hurt’. Because with all the good intentions and will power in the world, chances are it won’t just be the one!

I haven’t had that urge yet so I’m yet to play the tape forward in that sense. But it got me thinking that the analogy could be used in a different way. What if rather then play the tape forward on a night out with friends, we play it forward in life?

Let’s say the tape is pretty long, five years long. If you played your life tape forward from this exact point today, what would you see? Where are you? Who’s with you? What are you doing? If you made no changes to your life today, where would you be in 5 years?

When I was in my 20s I had one of those 5-10 year plans. When I got into my 30s my plan hadn’t quite gone to plan. In fact I may have hit rewind rather than play…or at least that’s what it felt like. You see, my plan didn’t materialize because I didn’t do anything to help it. I didn’t look at what I needed to do or what actions I needed to take in order for me to be living the life I desired by my mid 30s. Some things were out of my control but I can see now that most weren’t.

So here I am about to turn 40 but thankfully I have a new plan AND I’ve already set the wheels in motion.

So let me ask you a different way. Do you have goals, ambitions, dreams? Of course you do, everybody does. The likely problem is you might not think they are achievable and that’s not your fault. When we are born our mind is infinite, we believe that anything is possible. Then as we grow older society tells us different. Limits are put on things, doubt is installed and you resign yourself to the fact that you are just not meant for extraordinary. So you settle. Because it’s safer. Less scary. Yawn!

But what if you chose not to settle? What if you believed your dreams were achievable? What if you found a way of to make your life a little less ordinary? Imagine a vehicle sat in your driveway with the engine running and someone is handing you the keys and telling you that said vehicle’s destination is your dream life. Would you grab them, jump in and never look back? Of course you bloody would! But what if all the Karen’s and Susan’s of the world were looking at you with that ‘hmmmm, I’m not sure’ look on their face, telling you that it’s too risky and that you should get your head out of the clouds and just be happy with what you’ve got. What would you do then? Would you listen to them and turn off the engine? Would you let fear stop you? The correct answer here is that you would thank Karen and Susan for their opinion and kindly tell them to fuck off!

No one is going to hand you your dream life, BUT they might hand you the keys. All you have to do is the work to get that car moving. And you also have to dig deep and find that fearless inner child in you. The one who believed anything was possible, the one who wanted to grow up and be an astronaut (yep, me!) and the one who didn’t let the risk of failing stop them dreaming. Remember when you learned to walk? No, me neither. But I’m pretty sure we fell over many times, acquired some bumps and bruises all before we took those magical first steps.

If life continues as is and you play your tape forward can you see the life you hoped for? Now, rewind the tape and imagine being handed those keys. When you hit play this time, what do you see? Keep that picture in your mind, hold onto it and know that it is possible. But it starts with you. It starts with you making a choice. A choice to remain stationary or to start moving.

Nothing changes, if nothing changes *pause*