I know it’s been a long time in between blogs. Heck it’s been a long time in-between any true online interaction, but I really needed the time away. If you are in the business of stress like I have been, you will appreciate how overwhelming running a business can be. We get sucked into “just one more thing” and suddenly you are in over your head. This pace ended up sending me to a very scary place. I lost my inner balance and my body forced me to stop and listen. It’s time for change.
I don’t need to tell any of you how stressful life is. We are all busy trying to row our own boats, which sometimes feel like they are loaded with rocks. In my case, I seem to have too many boats, each with its own excessive weight and responsibility. I have my family, which is my number one priority. Admittedly, while I have been maintaining my responsibilities for my family, I haven’t been great in being present the last six months. Overloaded by Astara Creative work, building The Vault Mastermind with my Co-Founder/business partner Tanya and meeting the needs of a third company that I “inherited” Directorship of a few years ago as taken its toll. I was always on the go, stressing, stretching, on alert and it became evident that I had given control of Me to others so long ago, I really needed help gaining back that control. I was so concerned about what others thought of me, it was wearing me down. It was time for change. So I did something I can’t recommend highly enough- I got myself a fabulous Psychologist. We immediately started working on my self-worth, resetting distorted perceptions of myself, changing the stories I was telling myself about Me etc.
Fast forward to May and the onset of social media fatigue. I mean REALLY stressing about having to be on there ALL-THE-TIME. Constantly being glued to a screen, trying to create fresh, valuable and interesting content- the struggle is real when it comes to turning up. I should also point out that my social media presence is merely about brand awareness and education. My clients are generally through word-of-mouth. It suddenly hit me- did the ends justify the means? Well, I can now tell you it really didn’t. And you would probably do well to take stock of your ROI on socials too. More and more I am finding that new clients are coming to me stressing about their follower numbers on Instagram not growing to which I point out- are you an Influencer? No. Then those numbers don’t mean a thing! Perhaps it’s time for change for you too?
When you feel it coming
I started switching my screen downtime mode on my phone. It basically shuts down the majority of my apps at 7:30pm and turns them back on at 7:30am. About 4 weeks ago, I was sitting down on a Sunday night watching a movie with Tark (my husband) when I went to lean on him and something didn’t feel right in my right breast. I can’t describe it, but it was a strange sensation. Was it tenderness, burning or pain? I touched it and felt a lump. I suddenly had a matching one in my throat. OH SHIT! WT? So I sat upright, switched my screen downtime off and did what every woman whose cycle has synced with their girlfriend’s cycle does- I Messengered Tanya. “Tan, when is our period due?” (I should point out that I knew the answer and I even have the app that confirmed it but I was really hoping that my app and I were wrong. Spoiler Alert: we weren’t!) Tanya replies back with “in 8 days”. OH F@ So I reply back with “Umm.. I just found a lump in my breast”. Our lives and sleeping patterns collectively went downhill from there. My son sat there next to us and Tark kept asking me “what’s wrong?” and I would say “nothing” while my eyes said “Don’t ask me anything. I can’t say in front of him.”
All the sleepless nights
I was fortunate that I actually had an appointment booked with my GP the next morning to get results for my recent blood test checking my iron but there was no sleep that night. The first of many sleepless nights. You see I am one of those people who have “lumpy breasts” so self-examinations are very difficult for me. I usually have to get my GP to do my exams and compare to past mammograms and ultrasounds. The next morning my GP confirmed “Definitely a lump. But the upside is it’s mobile. So don’t panic yet. But of course we need to be sure so you need another mammogram and ultrasound.” Off I went and of course the next available time wasn’t until the end of a VERY long week! At this point I was busily trying to keep it together so my kids didn’t find out and trying not to make eye contact with my husband, who was obviously struggling with waiting for answers too. All those negotiations we start with God, the Universe, your conscience.. “I get the message. Please don’t make me go there and I PROMISE I will be a better person, living a better lifestyle. I will change everything. I will even eat less sugar.” So already, deep down, we all know that it’s time for change.
Support is everything
Can I just jump in and acknowledge how lucky I am when it comes to support? My parents now live overseas and I didn’t want to worry them unnecessarily. I didn’t want my kids to know unless there was definitely something to worry about, so I didn’t tell anyone but Tark, Tanya, my girlfriend Mine and my girlfriend Emine (who lives in Colorado, so we went global for prayers people). This right here is a prime example of how quality will beat quantity EVERY-SINGLE-TIME! My team are the best! Now add to it that my 16-year-old daughter is too smart for her own good and figured out something was up the day I was heading to the mammogram. So I now had her there juggling VCE, support for her Mum and her own fears (which she kept in check beautifully, I might add!) Tanya did what she does best- kept us calm and ORGANISED! (Benefits of having a Neurocoach as your business partner.) She contacted clients who were expecting replies to calls and emails and explained that I was unexpectedly away and made arrangements for time. They were all fantastic and obviously know me well enough to know I don’t usually disappear so something was up. Tanya also insisted on taking me to my mammogram, while Adam (her husband) had the day off to be there for their kids and to pick up my kids from school if need be. See? I told you- my team ROCKS! Support is everything in life.
To cut a long story short, ultrasonographer was encouraging “It’s really big, but I think it’s a cyst”. The mammographer kept making strange sounds, giving me concerned looks and talking to the Dr in the hallway without closing the door. (Nothing like sitting there topless with a growing lump in your breast and hearing alarmed tones in the corridor, let me tell you.) I was later told they needed my old scans for comparison because they were unsure about what they were seeing. Dropped those off. Monday I call to see if I can make an appointment with my GP for results and I am told she is away this week with 2 sick children. Another Dr will be in touch if anything of concern comes up in the meantime, otherwise see her next week. Well that was 9am Monday. Imagine my anxiety when I get a call at 5:15pm that evening from the reception saying “your Dr would like to see you about your results at 10am tomorrow morning.” UMMMMMMMMM……. That doesn’t sound good. Didn’t feel good. Also, the lump seemed to have grown and was now extremely painful and protruding. It was waking me up as I moved in my sleep (apparently pain is a good sign.. but not when you are trying to forget it’s there in-between appointments.)
The storm before the calm
Tark took me to get my results where my GP told us the results were not conclusive. The lump needed to be removed for testing and she made an urgent appointment with my amazing Breast Surgeon. Only my breast surgeon was overseas for a conference so I had to wait another week. The anxiety levels in this time were mind blowing. If anyone was looking for me, I would have been sitting on a toilet somewhere. The following week came about 100 years later and Tark took another day off and took me in to get my now egg sized, painful lump removed. My breast surgeon was confident that it was nothing sinister so we are one of the fortunate ones. I now have to take supplements to calm my system down so I don’t feed the cysts with my stress levels. The conclusion my Drs came to was that for the lump to have grown so much, so quickly, I have been under immense stress in recent months. Guilty as charged! The need to do it all and please everyone has manifested as a physical wake up call.
It’s time for change
I have since made changes in my life. I am no longer in the business of stress. I’m in the processes of officially resigning as Director from that third company. It never aligned with my work and it was just a source of extra time and stress for me. I was stretching myself to make life easier for others and I can’t do that anymore. It’s time to let it go. I am also refreshing my services to remove those that I felt I had to do, but I didn’t enjoy doing. So good-bye social media management. I will continue to teach social media marketing and create strategies for clients, but I will no longer be managing the accounts myself. Removing the stress of expectation that I need to be on Instagram all the time has been liberating. I am working on a new SM strategy for Astara Creative on Insta and will slowly roll that out once my website refresh has been completed. We had already streamlined The Vault social media. That burden has always been shared between Tanya and I, so that’s fine. And my screen time is now strictly 7:30am-7:30pm unless I am out at a work function. Business is stressful but it is up to us to take control of it, rather than let it control us.
It’s an amazing feeling knowing that even people who you haven’t met IRL notice your absence and check in with you. I am grateful to my clients who have shown understanding over the last few weeks, my team who have had my back and especially Tanya, who was everything I needed, when I needed it. Thank you!!! And a special mention to the cheekiest golden lab puppy, Axel, who spent hours cuddling me when I felt so stressed, a little lost and lonely, but not up for human interaction. Somethings don’t need to change.
Today’s parting thoughts for you
- Check your breasts!!
- Take stock of what you give resources to in your life. Eliminate anything that you don’t need. It’s time for change.
- Only keep THE BEST people around you. The people you deserve and who deserve you.
- If you need support, find a good psychologist. There is no shame in seeking help. It’s life changing.
- Did I mention CHECK YOUR BREASTS!!!!??