Tag Archives: personal development

What’s Your Story?

As my husband and I were listening to sports radio while making dinner the other night, the host asked this question at the end of the segment “what will be your story in 2018?”  Hhhmmm, what an interesting question.  I never looked at the new year in this way before.  It made me think, what will be my story?

As I pondered this question, so many ideas flooded my head.  Will it be a new career?  Move to a different city?  Change someone’s life?  It was a bit overwhelming. Then I realized that I don’t need to figure it out instantly.  My focus right now at this moment is myself.  Selfish?  Maybe.  I think it’s important to make yourself the priority sometimes.  With work, relationships, and families, it’s so easy to lose yourself.

The last couple of years have been an emotional roller coaster with several miscarriages, moving, unemployment, deaths, and depression.  I vowed to take care of myself which meant getting back in shape, eating right, evaluate my career, accept the things that I can’t change, and just getting back to me.  My own happiness will be my story in the beginning.  We’ll have to see how this story unfolds, but I’m determined to make this year a positive, knock it out of the park year.

What will be your story in 2018?  Let’s go Eagles!  Fly Eagles, fly!

-Mai Bruneau

About Mai

Mai may or may not have been absolutely delighted by the Super Bowl outcome. You can ask her yourself and reach her here

Our Own Stories

I’ve alluded to a rough summer and a rough year, but I haven’t necessarily gone into details. As a site built on sharing stories and building connections through shared experiences, I find myself wondering why I haven’t gotten more specific. I suppose it would be easy enough to say that it’s my business and I’m just not ready to share yet. But that’s not really it. I’ve never had trouble sharing details about my personal life (just ask my friends and random strangers who’ve been on the receiving end of my over-sharing). The more I think about it, I think there are a few reasons I haven’t shared more.

One – I’m still very much in the thick of it. I’m coping better now and healing, but I’m still in the middle of this particular story. I’ve learned some lessons and have figured some things out, but I know I’m nowhere near done processing everything my brain and heart are working through. And I personally like to share stories with a beginning, middle and end. I like to share how I was feeling, what helped me and what I understand now in retrospect. (That said, sometimes the story does end with “and so now it just kind of sucks.” And that’s okay, too.)

Two, and more importantly – I believe the details can often get in the way of our connecting with other people. It’s too easy to distance ourselves by saying “That’s never happened to me. I haven’t lost a parent. I haven’t had a marriage end. I’ve never gotten fired. I’ve never had a miscarriage. I’ve never lost my home. I’ve never been diagnosed with a life-changing illness.” (Just to clarify – these are not all things that have happened to me this year. The universe would have an exceptionally cruel sense of humor to dump all that on me at once.) And even when we have experienced those things, we can’t relate exactly because each loss is different. Each disappointment is unique. Every life change is a new combination of stress, uncertainty and newness. The only thing that really is universal are our emotions. No matter what the situation, we’ve all felt overwhelmed. We’ve all felt joy. Helpless. Lonely. Resentful. Hopeful. At different times in our lives, we’ve all experienced these emotions, and connecting with people around these emotions rather than the specifics of a situation is what makes empathy so powerful. You may very well not be overwhelmed by what I’ve been dealing with. It may have been too much for you earlier on than it was for me. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that the stress all became too much for me, and we’ve all been there, regardless of how we got there.

And finally, I haven’t shared all the specifics because these stories aren’t just mine to tell. They involve various people who may or may not want to share as publicly as I have. And Good for Her Soul is about so much more than just me. It’s about a community of women, all supporting and celebrating each other, but ultimately owning their own stories. And while my voice and my story are important here, I’m just one of many. But I’m grateful for your indulgence in reading so far and continuing along with me. I’m looking forward to sharing more as I process. And even more than that, I look forward to hearing from you about your stories as well.

Have something you’d like to share with a non-judgmental ear? Catherine is the founder of Good for Her Soul and you can reach her here.

The Power of Quiet

So it turns out we at Good for Her Soul are a little European. At least that’s the story we’re going with since we kind of disappeared in August, thinking a European August shutdown sounds better than “wow, shit got crazy.” Because of course we’re all busy. But seriously, 2017 has been a lot, and the summer was impressively epic in the amount of shit coming at me. So epic, that our August shutdown has also taken up the majority of September. We’re clearly overachievers. No big deal.

So I’m sorry to have left you for so long – it was never my intention. And while it’s been quiet on the blog, I’ve had to work really hard to carve out the quiet in other places in my life. And in doing so – sometimes really poorly, it turns out – I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past few months. Some were new lessons and some are lessons I think I’ll continue to relearn for as long as I’m on this planet. Like trust my gut. Even when things sound like they should be restorative or in the past it’s been a good idea, if you don’t feel like it at the time, for the love of everything, DON’T DO IT. Sure, there are things we need to do to ensure we have shelter, food and safety. Do those things. But the rest? Fuck it. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. You truly don’t. And the people who love you and are important to you? They will always be there for you and will understand when you need to bow out to take care of yourself.

I need more time to myself than I used to. This is a hard realization for my extroverted self. When I’m stressed, it is often helpful for me to be around others and refuel off their energy. And that really does help most of the time. But when I get to the point when I feel like I’m holding it all together with scotch tape and a piece of used chewing gum, I need to lean into that feeling and just shut down. Totally and completely shut down and retreat to the solitude of my house. Ignore calls and texts. Sleep. Cry. Make sure the inside of my shower is dry for a couple days in a row. Take a mental health day. Binge watch Parks and Recreation because it’s the television equivalent of a security blanket. Cry again. It’s my own version of an exorcism, I suppose – get all the shit out of my system at once.

It doesn’t happen often, but this sort of overwhelming stress seems to hit me every few years, depending on what’s going on. And I continually try to power through – work out more, see friends more, get more sleep, focus on work, take on new projects, get back into a therapy routine – all the things that often work, but also fill up my calendar and make it hard to find any unscheduled time. But when I find myself taking out the tape and desperately looking around for chewing gum, I hope I’ll remember next time to cut myself some slack, head it off at the pass and prioritize the quiet for myself. Everything I truly care about will be there when I feel stronger and ready to rejoin the world. So thanks for welcoming me back, world. It’s good to be here.

Catherine is grateful for the ability to disappear into her music collection and reconnect with some oldies but goodies. She’s currently reliving her youth through Janet Jackson’s 1993 album, Janet. Man, that album holds up. She is the founder of Good for Her Soul and you can reach her here.

Personal Identity

What is your personal identity? Over the past several years, this question has been so very hard for me to answer; to express or define who I am. A wife? Yes. A mom? Yes. But do those titles really define who I am? No, not by a long shot. Somewhere along the way, I feel I lost my grasp on who I am – of the things in life outside of my roles in life that bring me joy. Back in my single days, I’m certain I would not associate my personal identity with my job title. (Don’t get me wrong – I’m not equating marriage and parenting to a job title, but they certainly are work!) However, I have a difficult time looking back on those single days, even married, pre-kid days, and remembering the things that defined me then and undoubtedly define me now – because the fact of the matter is, that woman is still me, just a little lost at the moment.

I’d like to think it’s a temporary blip in the personal identity radar. Babies and young children require a lot from their parents and the early years are exhausting, frankly. I honestly don’t feel I gave up the things I enjoyed, but rather took a hiatus from them because my role as a mom has taken priority. And that is okay! But as the years slip by, it becomes harder to recall those things I enjoyed, and finding the time to make them a priority seems like an exercise in higher math. Motherhood is one of the greatest joys in my life, but at the end of the day, I don’t necessarily want to look back on my life and realize that so much of my identity was based on my role as a mom. I want to pursue my dreams and interests. I want to focus on other areas that bring my life joy outside of being a wife and mother.

A recent blog post I read, How Not To Lose Yourself In Motherhood, resonated with me and made me realize I’m not alone in my struggle. It also gave me a bit of a kick in the pants to start spending some time focusing on me. In the post, Maryea notes that on the journey to regain your personal identity you should try to maintain your personal interests, set and work towards personal goals, insist on time alone, and avoid isolation. While none of these key points are newfound revelations, they do serve as important guidelines and reminders. I’ve been making a concerted effort at trying to focus on these areas of my life lately, and it feels good! Some days/weeks/months are easier than others and I’m learning to be okay with that. I’m taking the time and making the effort and those are both steps in the right direction to redefining me.

– Joanna Heilig

About Joanna

While not necessarily her favorite attribute, Joanna has a sweet tooth that also means she can direct you to some of the best cupcakes around. You can reach her here to share your own personal goody cravings. 

Being Resilient

Recently, I read the Harvard Business Review’s interview with Sheryl Sandberg on her book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. It brought me back memories when I faced a tremendous tragedy.

It was the end of November and my parents, my brother and I were going to travel to Paris to visit, for the last time, my dying aunt. The day I was to leave for Paris, my husband and I had an ultrasound appointment. I was eight weeks pregnant and after a painful miscarriage a couple months prior, we were excited. The joy ended quickly when we were told there was no heartbeat. One of the worst things parents-to-be could ever hear.

I got on the plane, heading to Paris, after that devastating appointment. I didn’t have time to process everything that just happened but I had plenty of time to grieve on that plane by myself. Then to add to the already dismal day, my parents and I headed to the hospital to visit my cancer stricken aunt who only had a couple of weeks to live.

Resilience – what does that mean and how does it help you during the most trying times? Nothing will ever prepare you for such heartache. Nothing. What I got from Sheryl’s interview is not the preparation but how to deal with the tragedy as it unfolds. Learning how you best cope and what you need in order to find happiness again. That could be crying or leaning on close family and friends. For me, it was being by myself to lament then lots of hugs from family and friends followed by intense sweat soaked workouts. No one can ever really understand the pain you go through but to understand yourself and what makes you resilient is the best thing you can do to face adversity. I, unknowingly, found my option b two years ago during my first pregnancy that ended in travesty during my second trimester.

Resilience is knowing how to survive.  

– Mai Bruneau

About Mai

Mai loves finding the perfect gift for any occasion and thoroughly enjoys a good custom bobble head. You can reach her here to share your great gifting suggestions. 

Hey, Jealousy!

Hey Jealousy isn’t just a catchy little Gin Blossom tune from 1989 (the actual year, not the infamous Taylor Swift album paying homage to the same year – oof, I feel old. But I digress…). It’s the recognition of a powerful emotion. “Hey, Jealously! Where the hell did you come from?”

Jealousy is a sneaky little feeling that seems most often to come out of nowhere and the poor guy gets a bad reputation. Last week, I was talking with a friend who was having a hard time admitting she was jealous of a colleague. In the telling of a story about this colleague, my friend hesitated and said, “I know it’s bad and I shouldn’t say it, but maybe it’s jealousy?”

But here’s the thing. Jealousy itself isn’t bad. None of the emotions we feel are – we can’t help it. It’s how we feel. It’s what we do about jealously and his fellow emotion friends that can get us into trouble. We’re taught early one to assign judgements to our emotions – it’s good to feel happy, excited or joyful. It’s bad to feel sad, anxious or jealous. And that’s really what gets us into trouble. Our emotions are powerful guides that can help us and we should really cut them some slack when they show up. We need to be less quick to assign a judgement to them and listen to what they’re trying to tell us.

Take our good friend jealousy. He shows up when you see something you want. A colleague gets a promotion. A friend gets married. A cousin takes a trip abroad. If we see these things and want them for ourselves, jealousy can be an exceptionally powerful motivator. What do I need to do to get the promotion? Did I know getting married was that important to me? Should I prioritize a travel fund more than a new car? If we allow jealously to fester and he moves in, gets comfortable and starts making us say mean things to our colleague, wish our friend ill or be outwardly gleeful when our cousin gets food poisoning on her trip, jealousy is bad news. That’s where we get into trouble.

On the flip side, harnessing jealousy and understanding that it’s a reflection of our own values and shifting priorities can be incredibly powerful. In talking about this with another friend, she shared she gets jealous when she’s out and about and sees parents and children having a good time together. She doesn’t get jealous when she sees nice cars or the newest and biggest houses. Having a child is important to her and she doesn’t have one yet – having a nice car and beautiful house are not important to her. She’s listened to jealously and let it help her focus on what’s she’s prioritizing now.

So the next time you notice jealousy popping by to say hello, pay attention to what he’s trying to tell you before you kick him out. He may have a thing or two to share with you.

Catherine just spent all morning trying to get the new Windows operating system to make the same notification sounds as the old Windows operating system.  She’s embraced her luddite status, thank you very much and is the founder of Good for Her Soul. You can reach her here.