Are you Playing Small?

Today I was reminded about the choices we make, and the possible lives we could lead. When we leave school, it’s a time when we are probably the happiest. We get to be independent but without all the responsibilities that come with being an adult. It is the time where we choose our path, mould our identity in the form of a career and get to have a lot of fun. It doesn’t occur to us that at some point in our future, we may choose to play small.

After school I went to university. I really had to fight and be patient for the privilege of going away to university. I knew that I would have a lot more fun studying in another city from my dysfunctional family so I persisted. And eventually I got to go. It was the first time in my life I got to be young and irresponsible. My childhood didn’t allow that, so I really let my hair down at university. I didn’t do as well academically as I could have, but it was a worthwhile trade off for being able to be reckless and carefree.

I know someone who suffered a great sadness around this time. Someone very smart. Someone who everyone expected to excel in life. I’m wondering how she feels now about what could have been. That event seemed to break her spirit and she never recovered. It looks to me that she made the choice to play small, and I don’t think that serves anyone. I don’t think it’s what God wants, and it doesn’t make you noble or humble. In my view, it’s a lost opportunity to offer gifts to the world. Unique, special gifts that we all possess.

Play small

The definition of success is certainly not the same for everyone. Being a successful mother is a very difficult thing to attain, and I’m not sure there are many who feel that they will ever reach that success. I value being a good parent and offering my children all the love and support I feel I didn’t get in my childhood. But it is not everything.

Being true to myself means that I want to achieve professionally. I have things to do in this life and they are big, scary and exciting. I don’t want to look back with regret. I don’t want to feel that I never lived up to my true potential. I want to die knowing that I did something great in my life. Something I’m really proud of. I want to know that I stretched myself and that it was worth it.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s better to push myself, or to learn to accept life just as it is. It’s no wonder I suffer from fatigue with all that driving towards success and obsession with achievement. But I believe that life is for living. I am an advocate of packing life full of experiences. I want my existence to make a difference to the world. I want to leave it better for me having followed my calling and given my absolute best.

Play small

That’s the example I want to give my children. Psychologist Carl Jung said that “nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.”

My children wont have to worry about my unlived life, that’s for sure. I may suffer and struggle a great deal but I will have a life that is lived, as fully as I’m capable of. I will not play small.

Smell the Roses

Lately I’ve needed a reminder to stop and smell the roses. I’ve been so focused on getting well and preparing for a new career that I am failing to enjoy life fully.


I’ve been really focussed on stepping up the exercise and a bit annoyed that I have to step up the rest as my body adjusts to the new normal. I remember my running days when I could run five kilometers easily in half an hour. Now a five kilometer walk takes me an hour. And I can’t even run one kilometer. That’s not because I’m unfit. It’s because I am recovering from burnout.

Instead of trying to beat my body into submission, I took the advice I received recently. We live near a river and last week I decided to take an amble next to the river. There are risks in walking near the river as you can encounter the occasional vagrant and some criminals hide out in hard-to-see spots. We have better security than we used to so I thought it reasonably safe to take a walk at a leisurely pace for a change.

What a different experience than pounding the pavement, dodging traffic and begrudgingly greeting runners (out of jealousy of course). It was as if I was deep in nature. I noticed birds and butterflies, the sound of water flowing over the rocks and a sense of calm came over me. The traffic melted into the distance and I didn’t feel that I had to beat my previous best walk any time soon.

Sometimes a shift in perspective is all we need to have some sort of breakthrough. I now find the walks peaceful and enjoyable. The frustration I felt before is no longer there and I’m being a lot more gentle on myself as I acclimatise to exercise again. I also had some new insights on what to do for my work opportunities. I’ve realised that I want to work on sales and marketing, using what I learnt in my business. I can apply many of the same lessons and tools I used there into my new career. Now, however, I have to brand and market myself which will be a new experience.

It is hard to explain to someone what it feels like to experience a burnout. There are those who think a short run will sort me out. I tried to jog 300 meters a few weeks ago and I slept for hours that afternoon and slept right through my alarm clock to fetch my daughter. The recovery requirement from physical exertion and stress is significant for me at the moment.


There are others who tell me not to do any exercise, but that doesn’t work either as my body needs to move to be healthy. I’m working on this inflammation in my back which is assisted by yoga and biokinetics. I think the main lesson for me is to take it slow and to be gentle with myself. Slowly, I will become stronger and my body will become accustomed to exercise again. I look forward to a time when I can do a run without major recovery needed. But that is still in the future and there is much to learn in the meantime. Like how to brand myself as a writer, speaker and workshop host.

The Struggle is Too Great at Times

Today was a difficult day for me. I’m starting a new career in my forties, leaving behind things that I know and am good at. Since my burnout, I have had to make drastic changes to my life. My body collapsed and it was a message to change. At times the struggle feels too great and today is one of those days.

I have worked really hard on healing my body in as many ways as I can. I tackled rest: I schedule recovery time after something demanding (physically or emotionally), I nap some afternoons if I have been taking strain and I try to get to sleep earlier than I used to. It makes for a rather boring existence, all this resting and sleeping. Not much time for achievement and that is difficult for someone who likes to achieve.


I have worked on my diet. I have given up gluten, some dairy, peanuts, cabbage, caffeine, alcohol and I have reduced sugar. I make a green smoothie everyday which is tiresome and makes it trickier to get my children to school on time. I eat every three hours which is also a pain and interferes with getting things done. I try to eat real food and I cook a lot. This also takes time and often I just feel like caving in and eating a chocolate chip cookie. The vigilance to eat well is exhausting.

I have worked on the emotional side of healing. I have sought out the help of a variety of healers and I have done my own work on letting go, forgiveness and meditation to calm the stress. All of this also takes up time, and I often feel reluctant to spend the twenty minutes emptying my mind when there is so much to be done.

I have two small children who also require my time and attention. I am trying to help my oldest foster good relationships. She is an introvert and I haven’t spent much time accommodating play dates and suggesting sleepovers while I have been recovering. I also like to be fair and ensure that my little one doesn’t feel left out. I try to spend some time with each of them to help them know that they are both loved and accepted by their mother. Of course, there is also keeping them healthy, cooking for them, buying them a variety of things for school, homework and parties to organise.

I have addressed my hernia, and my thyroid function is improving enough to visit my endocrinologist again. My adrenal glands are recovering slowly and I’m hoping it is a month or two until they are up to normal function. One of the few things remaining to address is my weak back muscles. My shoulders are compensating for the weak back muscles which is causing inflammation, and inflammation is bad for anyone with an autoimmune disease. But I am really struggling. I am trying to do the push-ups but it is so unbelievably difficult for me that I collapse after about four of them. And the motivation to do something that I’m struggling so much with, is really tough.

I entered a Toastmaster’s humorous speech contest on Thursday. It was a stretch for me as I prefer to do speeches that are more around motivation, and less about entertainment. I participated, and I got a good few hearty laughs. It was enough for me to participate and not to win, as I am new to speaking and there are many who are far more experienced than I am. But I still felt that I’m not an expert at it and that is difficult for me.

I submitted a few proposals last week for some workshops and speaking opportunities to corporates. It was an excellent experience for me to talk to people to understand what they ask, what they want, and to see how I can offer something to meet their needs. I got a few tough questions which were hard to answer. I felt quite out of practice being in a corporate environment, with politics, procedures to follow and hoops to jump through. I cannot lean on my reputation as I used to.


Someone asked me what was so special about me that they should choose me to work with. I have started to wonder the same thing myself. I really wanted my book to be published first, and then to seek all the other opportunities as a published author. But that hasn’t happened as is often the case in life. I was banking on leaning on that accomplishment so that I felt worthy.

All of this has left me with feelings of doubt and fear. Is there anything that I have to offer? It’s hard spending so much time struggling. I have moments where I want to just do something I’m good at. I’ll even do it for free. Just to feel competent. I’m a new Toastmaster, struggling my way through contests and speeches. I can barely manage to do a few push ups or a yoga class where I can’t quite keep up. I am fumbling my way through promoting my services to organisations I used to be in. I used to be someone capable, who felt on top of things. I liked that feeling. How long will it take before I feel like that in my new career? Years?

I don’t have the option of giving up, however. I can’t go back to the job I had that burnt me out. I want to share my message and to feel that I have something valuable to offer. I want people to be inspired by my message, to find my book meaningful, and to see me as someone worthwhile. I suppose the first step is for me to believe that I am worthwhile so that others can too. I’m just not sure how to do that amidst the struggle of sucking at everything I tackle.

I’m Reaching a New Normal

Things are changing for me at the moment. My functional medicine doctor has confirmed that my health is improving. My third infection has finally disappeared, I need fewer medications and I must now reduce the frequency of check ups to him. It is also time for me to return to my endocrinologist for validation of the improvement in the form of blood tests.


I have healed my hernia with homeopathic medicines and biokinetics. I am very pleased with this achievement as I avoided surgery which would not have been good for my health. Inflammation is to be avoided as much as possible when you have an autoimmune disease, not to mention the risks and recovery time associated with surgery. Now, I’m working on strengthening some of my back muscles so that my shoulders do not compensate. In that way, I’m removing the last area of inflammation in my body.

My intestinal tract also appears to be healed from my strict diet. My doctor says that it may be possible to reintroduce some foods into my diet soon which would improve my quality of life a great deal. It has been difficult to maintain a diet of green smoothies, bone broths, no gluten, alcohol, caffeine and limited dairy. But it has helped me to heal.

I have also been working on my new career, looking for opportunities and spreading the word. I have new business cards which I am distributing far and wide. I am hoping to co-author a book with a friend, conduct workshops and talks at corporate organisations and follow through on my quest to teach people about burnout.

In the last week, my calendar started filling up. I have had some fun meetings in the past week that fill me with hope about my future. My book will also require a lot of time and effort over the next few months so I need to make space for it. I will need to gain a lot of knowledge around launching and marketing a book.

I am still repairing my body from not being active and I’m trying to gain some strength and fitness. In doing that, however, I expend quite a bit of energy. On days where I exert myself a lot which means a long walk, by the way, I need to sleep in the afternoon. That means I’ve spent two hours exercising and recovering, which takes time from my work.


I also need time for my family and to keep up with show and tell, library books, dress up, charity initiatives, heritage day eats and the range of things schools expect from us. It is difficult to adjust to a new state of normal. In time as my body becomes more accustomed to exercise I will no longer require the afternoon naps and I will reach yet another level of recovery.

It is difficult, however, to gauge just how much I can take on. I don’t want to turn down opportunities but I also need time to recover from stressful events and the increased exercise. My husband is away this week and I have had some meetings and a speech to deliver. I am learning how to schedule time for recovery from stressful periods. I don’t want my health to slip backwards but I am ready to take on more. It is a really exciting time for me and I do feel full of hope for the future.

Courage to Speak my Truth

I am pleased to say that my book is taking shape again. The truth is, I always knew that the process might be challenging, particularly for the first book. I knew that I would make mistakes and I was really afraid of what I didn’t know. But I gathered my courage and I took the plunge.

I wrote the book when I was in the midst of burnout. I am now on the other side, mostly recovered and things look different from here. From the feedback of friends and my editor, the background chapters were not good. I could not remove them because they were the story of how I became burnt out. It’s not good news and it’s not pleasant reading. But I had to explain how I got there. However, I didn’t want my reader to give up on me and miss out on the seven principles of self-preservation that come later in the book.

Courage truth

It took me many months to realise it but I needed to rewrite the opening chapters with a bit of perspective and distance. When I originally wrote them, I felt angry and confused about getting sick. I was still grappling with the fact that I have a lifelong health condition that will forever need to be managed. Now, I’ve made peace with it, and I’ve reached a stage of acceptance. I am now grateful for everything and everyone who contributed to me burning out, because it created such a positive shift. My life is better, my career is in my hands, and I have everything I need.

The opening chapters now feel like an explanation of how I got there. They don’t feel like I’m defending myself or wallowing in misery anymore. I did, however, include more stories from my childhood that explain more in depth how I felt so alone and unsupported in life. The stories involve both my parents now, instead of just my father. That brought about another problem however, that my mother would be hurt by it.

Of course, there is nothing that is untrue in the stories. Anne Lamott, the novelist, said this about writing our stories: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” 

Courage Truth

I have lost a great deal through my illness. I have ended the relationship with my father because it was truly harmful to my health. I don’t regret that in any way and in fact, I think it was one of the major steps towards recovery for me. With so much lost, I didn’t want to lose my mother too. So I was in turmoil last week about what to do. I took my lunchtime medication before my afternoon nap and woke up with my throat burning. It seems that the medication got stuck and burnt my throat. I see a direct correlation between having my throat injured and swallowing my truth.

So I called my mother and I told her that there are some childhood stories in my book that will be difficult for her to read. I told her that I am not trying to hurt, her and I do not act out of spite or revenge. I need to tell my full story of my life so that my readers can understand how it transpired that I collapsed so fully. And if I had not collapsed, I would still be there. So the outcome is good, but she will not enjoy reading about how she disappointed me as a mother. And it will be stressful for her when other people read about it.

My mother was, and still is upset by it. I do wish I could do something to change that but I cannot. I need to tell my full story and it is a story about me and my struggle. Warning her was far better than her discovering it by reading the book herself, or hearing about it from someone else. I spoke my truth and it took great courage. Both in the book, and to my mother. It had to be done and I’m glad I did it.

I’m hoping that our relationship will survive. People make mistakes in life, especially when they are desperate. I have certainly made many mistakes as a parent. When I do, I ask my children for forgiveness. I have forgiven my mother, mostly for my benefit.

My book is at a higher stage of quality now and I’m pleased about that. There will still be a number of iterations for editing but it’s in a better condition now than when I started. I want to release something that is high quality, preferably with no flaws or mistakes. I want to be proud of what I’ve written and I do feel safe in the hands of an outstanding editor. I step forward into my new career with courage and honesty.

Beliefs: Diet, Exercise and Recovery

I have done a lot of research into dietary effects on autoimmune conditions, particularly thyroid disease and adrenal health. Of course, it is driven by improving my quality of life as I recover from burnout. From this knowledge, I have developed my own beliefs around what I need to do to recover.

Many people have created a career out of what they have learnt because it does take some time to collect the information, and they can offer others the opportunity to learn more about how to improve their health.

I have read Dr Amy Myers‘ book, The Autoimmune Solution. I would love to read Dr. Izabella Wentz‘ book Root Cause Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I do follow her closely on social media, however. Dr Alan Christianson has some great videos and blog posts for adrenal health, if you can get past that silly giggle. I have seen a few other online personalities talking about how they quit sugar and those that provide recipes for the Autoimmune Paleo diet.

Believe-RecoveryIt’s quite a confusing environment for anyone wanting to know the ‘truth’. Diet is particularly relevant for anyone with a thyroid disease because metabolism is affected by the thyroid, and weight management can be an ongoing struggle. I am not yet hypothyroid but I am at very high risk to get there.

There are those who say that too much exercise is harmful, and others who say that a sedentary life is more dangerous to our health. With so many opinions and many of these experts guaranteeing that their approaches are scientifically based, what do we do? This blog contains my opinions, not based on science, just based on what I think. I don’t claim to be an expert on diet, or health, or anything for that matter.

I think that heavy exercise is harmful for me while I struggle to recover from burnout. My adrenal glands have taken a hammering and I would probably do myself more harm than good to undergo heavy cardio exercise right now. I miss running, but for now I’m doing walking and strength-building exercises with the help of a biokineticist. There may be a time in the future when I can run again and that may also not be possible. For now, I work with what I can do, and build towards getting stronger.

I’m suspicious of anyone who says that fruit is bad for you. Yes, the pesticides are worse than they used to be. And yes, if you only ate grapes for two weeks you would probably have some health event. But putting a banana and some blueberries into my morning smoothie feels just right to me. I remember going to a dietitian who told me to count the strawberries and not have more than four at a time. I fired her quickly. She also told me to have a quarter of an avocado at a time. I gleefully eat a whole one every morning, and smile in defiance as I do it.

I have recently learnt that the liver uses sugar to convert the hormones that the thyroid makes, into hormones that the cells use for energy. That means that the body needs some sugar, and if I’m getting it primarily in fruit, that seems healthy to me. Of course a diet of only sugar or very high in sugar can’t be good either. I limit my sugar but I’m not sold on anyone who says that no sugar is the answer, or that fruit should be avoided.


I have read some crazy things like greens are not healthy for the thyroid. There are a range of people promoting a green smoothie in the morning – one of my rituals that I have introduced. I blend a range of greens that I pick from my garden with things like ginger, fruit and avocado. This is how I start my day. My health has improved dramatically since I’ve started doing this so I really can’t compute how green vegetables could be bad for you.

There are many who subscribe to the notion of cutting out entire food groups from the diet: grains, legumes, dairy, nightshade vegetables. I’m sure there are some dangers in there for some people, but I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone with an autoimmune disease to cut out such a vast array of foods. For example, I have no adverse reaction to brown rice which is full of zinc. Zinc helps the digestive tract to heal from the damage caused by gluten. I’m eating the brown rice. It does no harm and it’s helping to heal me.

I don’t agree with the blanket approach that is touted by many these days. What I subscribe to, is doing what is right for YOUR body. I had my body tested for allergies and food sensitivities. If anything didn’t show up on the test but still seems to disagree with me, I cut it out. Simple as that. I didn’t cut out ten food groups before I got to that point – thank heavens.

I subscribe to testing for parasites and infections because those can cause a lot of harm and cannot be fixed by dietary changes. I believe in customised treatment of the individual with a functional doctor (integrated practitioner). I believe in taking your medication as prescribed, but taking ownership of your own health. I believe in challenging your practitioner or changing if necessary in order to get the best care.  They are only people and people make mistakes and are often limited by their own beliefs.

The endocrine system in particular is really complex. I read recently of someone referring to ‘good’ hormones and ‘bad’ hormones. That is ludicrous to me since we need hormones to survive. I’m much more in favour of following someone who talks about balancing hormones than someone who labels them as good and bad.

In summary, I believe in eating a healthy diet of foods that support MY recovery. By this I mean foods like fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs and rice. I avoid processed foods as much as possible and gluten because of the damage it does to the small intestine. I take my medicine, I ask questions and I research to understand my disease and how to improve my quality of life. I do gentle exercise until I’m recovered to increase it. I also think that sleep is completely underrated as a means to recover so I prioritise sleep.

I don’t accept every suggestion that comes my way. Instead I use the knowledge I have accumulated with some good old fashioned common sense. And that is working for me.

Risk and Reward

This week I spoke to an audience of 170 people. It felt like the start of a new career for me and it was both terrifying in the week preceding the event, as well as completely thrilling. This feels like a turning point professionally in that I’ve gone out in public to take the risk of executing new skills learnt in my new role: Author, Speaker and Workshop host. And the reward was tremendous.


Public speaking has been a skill that I’ve been working on lately, and have not spent a lot of time on in my life. I joined Toastmasters and I got to practice snippets of my talk to my fellow club members. It is a wonderful place to practice a new skill – it’s supportive and many club members are also learning. It’s a place where you can fail and try again without any career or reputational consequences.

I don’t like to fail. I don’t like to be vulnerable and it was difficult to tell my very personal story to strangers. Both in the club setting, and to the audience this week. But it paid off. In many ways I feel that my story can’t be wrong because it is my story. I worried a little before I spoke that it would be boring for people. It is just my experience of burnout, what happened and what I did to correct it. I was concerned that it might not be appealing to people.

But the response was excellent. The audience was warm and accepting and they listened very politely to my story. And once I was up there, the nerves were gone. I enjoyed telling my story and the part I enjoyed the most was when people laughed at my humour. I felt that somebody ‘got me’ and what I was trying to say. I am still amazed at how much they laughed and that they enjoyed it so much. And I’m also amazed that I enjoyed it so much.

I need to integrate the lessons I learnt from the experience. From my reading about deliberate practice in books like The Talent Code and Talent is Overrated, I’ve learnt some tips. I’ve learnt that people who are world class do very small corrections to master their craft. They practice relentlessly and they tweak. I’m going to apply these principles to my own craft of public speaking so that I can keep improving.

Next time I need to allow more time for laughter in a bigger audience because I think I did overrun a little. Next time I will try not to get so stressed in the week before, especially if I have been practicing for months. And I will also continue to apply what worked well. The stories were well accepted and the humour was a real hit. That was really rewarding for me.

Recently, I have had some worries about public speaking being part of my new role. With my adrenal glands still recovering, I worried about the impact of the stress on my health. Am I slipping backwards towards illness if I do a lot of speaking? I think the stress is short term, and as long as I build in a few days of recovery afterwards, I should be okay. I will try some new techniques to sleep better the night before the talk, because lack of sleep does affect my health and my performance on the day.

I am now so pleased to have taken that risk and to have felt the reward: a sense of achievement. Right now, it’s not about money. This talk was an experiment for me to see if I am up to the challenge of public speaking. And I feel that I am indeed up to it. In fact, I relished it. I enjoyed the experience. This is something quite strange for someone who fears humiliation. But I’m so pleased that I took the leap and tried something new. Because I can enjoy my reward – a feeling of accomplishment. I haven’t felt very accomplished in the past two years as I tackled recovery from burnout.


In a way, I put a lot of things on hold to prepare for this talk. And now that it’s done, I have a range of exciting opportunities to pursue. I want to put workshops together, I want to finalise my book and I want to build a pipeline of leads through more networking. This is a very exciting point in my life where I feel that my illness is mostly  behind me, and an exciting career is ahead of me. One that wont deplete me into a state of poor health.

Peace is Found Within?

This week my husband and daughters are away at the coast. My husband ran a marathon this weekend so the dates were fixed, and I was worried about experiencing a set-back before a talk I’m doing this month. I chose to stay behind at home for the week to work on my speech.

The first night I felt panic and loneliness like I’ve never felt before. I walked into my daughters’ rooms and felt my heart tighten. I missed them terribly. And when I called to say goodnight, my youngest cried the whole time and kept saying ‘I want to be with you, Mommy.’  My heart broke and I wondered if I’d made a terrible mistake by staying home.


But I am getting lots of undisturbed sleep, which is hard to come by in our home. I am sleeping for nine hours every night, eating healthy food and enjoying the quiet. I am making sure that I’m being really diligent about doing the work that I stayed behind to do. And I worked through the weekend to make sure I don’t waste the quiet time I have.

As an introvert, living with two extroverts, I find the silence to be glorious. I have made sure not to play any music and to really limit the TV I watch. I’m just enjoying hearing the birds, and the complete quiet of our suburban home. I’m sure this alone time would cause many people a great deal of panic and discomfort. But in comparison with the usual chaos of our home, I’m really enjoying the peace.

I keep getting the message from things I encounter and cards I draw, that peace comes from within. So is the Universe telling me I should have gone along on the trip? I’m struggling to reconcile this with the fact that introverts don’t cope well in noisy environments. I’ve been wondering what it’s like for introverts who live in really crowded, noisy cities. Perhaps this is when people start meditating in order to find that peace inside.


But I’m not too sure how to get there when surrounded by noise and chaos. It already feels tough to allocate twenty minutes a day to meditation. Maybe those who find peace within didn’t have children. That was a joke, of course. But seriously, in a busy house with kids playing, squealing and fighting, I just can’t imagine myself with a supercilious grin, sitting in the lotus position. I see myself shouting at them to shut up or retreating to my sanctuary where I can insert ear plugs.

I do think, however, that life is a lot better when we spend time doing what we love. I somehow feel that I have needed meditation less in the past few days. And that’s because I’m doing work I love and I’m able to care for myself properly. Perhaps we can be more at peace by being in flow as often as possible, in pursuing our passions and in prioritising self-care.

Shame of Burnout

I wrote recently that I didn’t want to be the face of burnout. And it’s because I fear the judgement that comes with it. People will think I’m weak, they will think that I can’t handle stress. Digging a bit deeper and with some help of my merry pack of healers, I’ve uncovered that these are my thoughts and judgements of myself.


There is a part of me that thinks I was weak to have a health collapse from stress. There is also a part of me that thinks it was all in my head and that I have imagined this illness. And there is another part that wonders how on earth I took so long to collapse, and to wake up to what an unhappy life I was living. I have come to realise that it is not necessary for me to defend and to explain.

The collapse of my health has been a gift. It was the only catalyst I would have responded to, being the stubborn perseverer that I am. I have moments when I wish that things could have been different. But then I realise that I would not be where I am now if they had been. Things had to happen exactly the way they did in order for me to reach this place where I am now.

This is a place where I no longer feel shame for experiencing burnout. I look back with gratitude on the events as they occurred, because they facilitated a new life and a new me. My new life allows me to explore opportunities with a lens of wisdom – the wisdom to know if the opportunity suits me, and is best for me right now. I’m not closed to any work that isn’t aligned with my calling. There may be a few pieces of work I can do to bring in some money and to learn, and meet new interesting people. And I trust that I am heading in the right direction to fulfil my destiny.

I feel that I have overcome the shame of burnout. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt that shame. According to Brené Brown, shame loses its sting if shared with a trusting person. Well, I’m not sure how trusting and supportive this community is, but you probably wouldn’t be, or shouldn’t be, following me otherwise.


So I’m naming it – I felt shame for a business that I couldn’t make profitable and I felt shame for buckling under the pressure. It’s tough for anyone to know the full depths of despair that I felt. No one else in the world will ever feel that exact thing under those circumstances in my body and mind at that time. I know that I’m not a weak person and I did my utmost to turn the business around. So it’s okay if people can’t relate or fully understand. Some people will relate. And that’s enough for me.

For now I’m willing to be the face of burnout if it helps others. I hope to help people who are approaching burnout, to not go as far down the rabbit hole as I did. I hope, through my book, this blog and public speaking to share this message. Even if I can simply help a few people to take a step back from their lives and take a good look, that would be useful. Awareness comes before action.

I so passionately believe that we can live full lives, enjoying our work and being happy at home. My hope is that more people take an active step towards building their lives on purpose, and not simply waiting to die. I aim to live this vision to demonstrate my point and so far so good. I am enjoying my life now more than I have in many years and I wish this to be true for many people in the world.

Surprise Flow

I have been creating a new career for myself as I recover from burnout. I see myself as a writer. I have learnt and accepted the fact that an income stream from books alone might be inadequate to support me. So, I have been making plans to supplement my income in other ways such as running workshops and possibly some consulting and writing for other people. But the writing was always a top priority and I try to spend some time each day doing at least a little writing.

The delay in completing my book is frustrating to me but I hope it will make for a better end product – something that I’m really proud of. One of the ways I want to promote my book is by public speaking. I’d like to do keynote speeches about burnout and how one could implement strategies to avoid it.

I don’t like to do things in half measures, especially as my brand means a lot to me. I got a speaking coach, I joined Toastmasters and I’m diligently applying the principles I’m learning into each new speech. I’m working on an area which I have not actively tackled in terms of skill development before. And it does feel like I’m stretching myself while I’m out of my comfort zone, and I do feel the learning happening.

surprise flow

I have never seen the speaking aspect as fun, or to be relished. It was almost a necessary part of the job to me. But lately I am so surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed this aspect of my work. I so enjoy choosing a topic for the speech and putting it all together. I enjoy practicing the speech, to see what works and what doesn’t seem to work out loud. And as much as I feel the nerves, I do enjoy delivering speeches. The feedback is the best part, however. I love to see trends, and to pick up areas where I need to improve. And I adore the positive feedback that makes me want to speak again.

I’m quite irritated if someone disturbs me when I’m busy preparing my speech or practicing it. I lose track of time and I’ve come to realise that I have found another source of flow in my life. What a surprise for something that I didn’t see as a key part of my career.

surprise flow

I chose not to tackle the speaking aspect of my work until now, because I was concerned that it would take too much out of me. The anxiety might affect my adrenal glands and slow down my recovery.  How surprising to find that it energizes me.

Many people have such a fear of public speaking and I certainly didn’t enjoy it at school. I think sometimes people are afraid to be seen, and that might have applied to me before I got sick. I was afraid of being judged, of looking foolish and of exposing my vulnerabilities. I’ve done a lot of work on myself in the past eighteen months and I’m no longer afraid of being seen. I’m happy with who I am, and I feel that I have a message to share and a right to do so.

So in exploring this new skill set, I’ve found something I’m passionate about. I’m growing and I’m loving it. How unexpected that I would find a new source of flow in something I thought I didn’t enjoy. It shows how important it is to stretch ourselves out of our comfort zones, into a space where things are more difficult and foreign. But how worthwhile it is to find something new to add to my list of flow-inducing activities.