It’s a new year! What in the heck does that even signify? No matter what your approach to this time, it seems worthy to spend some energy reflecting on what went well over the past 12 months and your vision for the next 12 months. The ability to prioritize your time and energy, while setting goals will indeed impact the trajectory for years to come. And not every journey starts out “once upon a time.” I know mine didn’t, but as I reflect, I’m grateful for the experiences that have brought me to today.
So, let’s start with a story.
It was 2012, I had recovered from a devastating miscarriage while camping on the Alcan Highway and I was pregnant again. Well, I guess “recovered” is a bit of an overstatement as it’s now 9 years later and I still feel the occasional twinge of pain from that experience and loss.
Nonetheless, I was pregnant, living in Hawaii and thrilled about my future. I was working as a midwife at a hospital and attending home births as well. I was teaching childbirth education classes and I had a home-based franchise I had dabbled in for a number of years. Then, there was a reality check: give birth and then go back to 24-hour shifts attending births, while someone else cared for and raised my child….”Hell NO” I said. I put on my “big girl panties” and got to work creating a home-based franchise income that would afford me the ability to work from home and be there for my child’s firsts.
As I reflect today, I was there for the first lost tooth, the first steps, the first nose bleed. Yes, I was there for school drop-offs and pick-ups. Yes, I created a great life that continues to get better. I also created a scenario in my body that led to adrenal fatigue, my thyroid crashing and at one point feeling like my marriage might fail.
In 2014, after 3 years of “balls to the wall” working and caring for others, my life began to come crashing down. My son had not slept for more than an hour at a time until he was 20 months old. My adrenals and thyroid crashed. I was exhausted beyond anything I had experienced before, fatigue was the name of my game and doing anything beyond 3pm was painful. My body ached, in weird places, especially my feet. Depression was real, I felt sad and my affect was flat. There wasn’t much zest in my life or pep in my step. I had a total loss of libido and honestly didn’t want to be touched. I think there were many days I didn’t really “see” my husband, we were just going through the motions of life. I suffered from lack of motivation, well kind of… I kept working lots of hours, caring for everyone else, being the perfectionist and the over achiever, but I never thought to care for myself. My mood in doing my work became more and more irritable, resentful and I continued to care for everyone else before myself.
What I have realized is that we have to prioritize our goals, we also have to prioritize our time and OURSELVES.
I was simply doing too much, too much of all of it, and not enough of “me”. I now have more vitality, libido, connected relationships, financial success and total enjoyment of my career, not to mention a super happy marriage. And, I prioritize me and my time. I ask for help. I am expressing my zone of genius daily and my future is frickin’ exciting!
Fight/flight/freeze: Adrenal Fatigue
Here’s the deal, imagine yourself driving down the road. The sun is shining, you’re going to be on time. The mountains are beautiful, the scenery is inspiring and you have your jam playing in the car surround sound. You are feeling high on life and happy to be alive. And then…..dun, dun dun…you see the lights in the rear view mirror. You had been so high on life that you forgot to pay attention to your speed and you are being pulled over. Do you feel your heart start racing? Do you feel your palms sweat? Do you feel your breathing increase and the knot in your stomach? You’re all of a sudden angry and frustrated, you’re now going to be late to pick up your kids from school and you can see the disappointed look on their faces yet again, and you’re scared you might have forgotten to renew your registration or pay that parking ticket from three months ago. You pull over and wait for the police office to walk up to your window and you feel sick, like you might actually be getting the flu.
That is called “fight, flight or freeze”. It’s what a zebra experiences when it’s being chased by a lion, about to be eaten. It’s what you just experienced imagining that yucky scenario. Because whether we are actually experiencing being chased by a lion, imagine it happening or hear a story about it happening to another person, our physiologic response is the same. Our adrenals kick in and we go into survival mode.
What does this have to do with setting empowering priorities in 2021 you might ask? Well, if your choices are adding stress to your life, your body is actually in the stress response, whether you feel it or not.
While the body is in the stress response:
- Your heart rate and respiratory rate goes up
- Your palms sweat and blood flow goes to the parts of the body needed to run fast and flee or fight
- Your digestion is shut off
- Your immune system is shut off
- Your sex hormones are not needed
- Your mental clarity and cognitive reasoning is not needed
- And more….
So, if you are making choices that add stress to your days and nights such as eating inflammatory foods, allowing toxins in your body, keeping the news on in the background, surrounding yourself with toxic people, taking care of everyone else before yourself, doing all the work rather than streamlining your time and asking for help, and not prioritizing the activities that actually light you up, you are actually in fight/flight/freeze whether you realize it or not.
What are you consuming? Through your mouth, your eyes, your ears, your mind and your skin? It’s all relevant.
Because here are things I hear from women who do not shift their priorities, they report feelings of:
- High stress and anxiety
- Constantly doing but feeling exhausted and inefficient.
- Struggling with insomnia, weight gain or feeling like their hormones are out of whack
- Irregular menses, infertility
- They feel like their life is dull, lacks inspiration, zest or vitality
- They go all day and do all day because if they sit still they’ll crash or their thoughts will simply be a spinning anxious mess.
- They suffer from having a slow body, they’re cold, have slow hair growth, slow digestion, slow weight loss. They need coffee in morning to have a bowel movement or energy to get going
- They suffer from brain fog… in a haze… easily set off… patience is low… can’t get energy for workouts… immune system off and getting sick more often.
- They have a lack of vitality or joy in their life, look in the mirror not feeling happy with what they see
- And their success at work is not what they want it to be
- They simply feel unfulfilled.
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise Hay
Yes, I am actually saying that the laundry list above of all the horrible symptoms that many of us experience daily are a direct reflection of not taking care of ourselves and not making the right empowered priorities, ourselves as #1.
That’s why I do the work I do!
I help women move from exhausted to energized, balance their hormones and feel turned on by their life, their lover and themselves.
I say do what lights you up, because you are worth it!
I love the book The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. In his book, he helps us become more clear on how to set empowered priorities and get clarity on what activities to do each day that light us up. He also walks us step by step how to break through our limiting beliefs that are somehow getting in the way of seeing ourselves as worthy of doing what we love.
The more you feel tuned in, tapped in, and turned on, the more likely your life will be abundant in all things: health, love, wealth, career, creativity, community to name a few.
Yes, the suggestion is to actually spend less time, or not do, the activities that you’re either not good at or you are good at but someone else could do a better job at. When you do these activities through the day, your spirit does not soar. Instead you feel depleted, run down and often your self worth goes down rather than up…hence increased fatigue and stress and actually turning on the fight/flight/freeze response. This is an easy way to get caught in the trap of the “disease of unfulfillment”. When we are not expressing our full potential, we do not feel turned on by our life or ourselves….this leads to a loss of libido and an increase in depression/anxiety, illness (especially those symptoms that our healthcare provider has a hard time diagnosing).
Instead, spend more of your time during your days, weeks and months doing activities you do extremely well and they light you up.
The activities that you can do for hours and it feels like minutes- time stands still. And, more specifically to not get caught in the seductive trap of staying in the activities that bring you a good living but are actually keeping you from what Gay Hendricks calls your “zone of genius” where truly extraordinary things happen. If you have consistently tuned out the calling to do these activities, then things like depression, illness, excess weight, injuries and relationship conflict start to sneak in.
If you want to live an extraordinary life, it’s ok to be an ordinary person doing extraordinary things… and extraordinary is different for each person. What are the activities and tasks and priorities for you that get you more into your zone of genius, the activities that draw upon your special gifts and strengths?
Actually make yourself a priority!
Who taught us that “putting our kids first” means being a good parent? Meaning, take care of others before we take care of ourselves? It’s what women do and I say it’s time for change.
Acting out of guilt, shame, judgement, or expectation simply does not make us feel vibrant, energetic or fulfilled. As a healthcare provider, I can tell you this wreaks havoc on our physiology. As a business owner I can say it creates a culture that will NOT lead to success.
We are all our best selves when we’re rested, happy, feeling centered, well fed, hydrated, fitting in rest and movement, doing the things that we love and feeling cared for and seen.
Why do you think airlines say: “Put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others.“?
Why apply this to life and the way we relate to our family, friends, co-workers and selves?
Because we are nicer, better, more productive, kinder, more functional members of the community when we do. When we don’t? We’re irritable, unproductive, crabby and the work we do shows our lack of enjoyment in our life. Plus, it’s about basic survival- oxygen for me, so I can be around to help many others also get their oxygen.
For me personally, I want to create a big life for myself and for my family, not just big in regard to finances and things, but big in regard to connection and love, quality time and lots and lots of fun. In order to have the energy and excitement and passion to create that reality, I have to prioritize myself.
OK, I get it, I am asking a lot here. There might be all sorts of thoughts going through your head about why that’s not possible for you or that you were taught otherwise. Well, that’s simply your upper limits talkin’.
You see, our identity wants to stay the same, safe, in the conditioning of our upbringing and ancestral lineage. When we attain higher levels of success, we often create personal dramas in our life that cloud our world with unhappiness and prevent us from enjoying our enhanced success. This can be in love, money, health, creativity, career progress. Sometimes we will create great success in one area (say love), and the upper limit effect sets in in a different area (health as an example).
Gay Hendricks says we all have hidden barriers that are based in fear and false belief. These barriers are what trigger the upper limit. We unconsciously take them as true and real and that is what holds us back. So, if you want to do a deeper dive into this journey of self exploration, I suggest you read The Big Leap. Here is a quick summary of the four hidden barriers he talks about:
- Feeling fundamentally flawed. Something is wrong with me so how can I possibly be this happy, rich, fulfilled and creative. This belief tells you to play it safe and stay small. That way, if you fail, at least you fail small
- Disloyalty and Abandonment: I cannot expand to my full success because it would cause me to end up all alone, be disloyal to my roots and leave behind people from my past. You might feel like your quest for fulfillment is at the cost of others, at the cost of your roots. The guilt you feel makes you put on the breaks, holding yourself back from ultimate success and also keeps you from feeling the happiness and fulfillment from the success you already have.
- Believing that more success brings a bigger burden: I can’t expand to my highest potential because I’d be an even bigger burden than I am now. Did you feel like a burden to your family? Your success took more of their time? Your exploration of your passion took their money and effort? Can you wake up and realize that most of the guilt you feel was from crimes you didn’t actually commit?
- The crime of outshining: I must not expand to my full success, because if I did I would outshine ______ and make him/her look or feel bad. So, often you turn down the volume on your genius so you don’t feel threatened, or you shine brightly but turn down the volume on your enjoyment of it. If you can appear to be suffering, they can get empathy and sympathy from others instead of jealousy.
It likely won’t take much time to spot where the upper limit problem is coming from. Once you see it, you’ve turned on a light to a long-dark room. It’s time to clean up but you have the light to help and it’s not too hard.
Let’s get to solutions! What do we do? How do we set empowered priorities?
Self worth is the name of the game. You are worthy of greatness my friend and you are worthy of prioritizing the activities that bring you closer to that greatness.
Yes, that also means stopping filling your days with things that don’t light you up and start asking for help. I’m not suggesting you stop putting away your laundry or wiping your own rear, let’s get real, some things still have to get done. I am suggesting that you allow yourself to feel deserving of greatness, stop the martyrdom, allow your adrenals to feel safe by doing the non-inflammatory activities. Do what lights you up and all areas of your life will light up along the way. Celebrate your wins, big and small, write them down. Give yourself permission to rest and rise and break through those limiting barriers you have allowed to get in your way. For more on permission this is worth a quick read!
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson
- Keep your body out of fight/flight/freeze by eating well, mainly plants. Everything in moderation, even moderation. Yes, this helps keep us in the state of calm and safe. Drink lots of clean water and stay away from things like gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol and caffeine. An easy lifestyle shift is something called the Shred10, but don’t do it for just 10 days, make it a lifestyle.
- Keep blood sugars stable, don’t skip meals. This helps the body once again know it is safe and does not have to be in survival mode. Imagine a zebra, head down, grazing, ears relaxed as compared to tense, anxious, alert, head jerking up quickly with ears erect…afraid of what’s behind the bushes….Also keep in mind that “alert” state and what it does to the herd. Keeping blood sugars stable through the day keeps the adrenals calm. Yes, I am saying feed yourself before you feed your children, gasp!
- Exercise (at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity). This can be as simple as two ten minute walks a day. I love the seven minute workout myself, I can always find a 7 min chunk of time to fit in some body movement. Body movement can be broken up into small increments throughout the week. It doesn’t have to be in long periods of time.
- Rest and practice in-your-body silence, slowing down breathing, feeling your body. Just 12 minutes a day, 6 days a week for 8 weeks has shown significant changes in brain activity and outcomes of joy, peace and efficiency. Once again, if you want to make empowered decisions, put on your own oxygen mask first and help to remind your body it is safe…consistently through the day, over time.
- Get clarity on what you want. What does success mean to you? What activities do you do that actually light you up?
- Choose who you spend your time with, who you follow, who you want to emulate.
“Those you spend the most time with have a huge influence on your moods, how you view the world and the expectations you have of yourself. When you surround yourself with positive people, you’re more likely to adopt empowering beliefs and see life as happening for you instead of to you. Just as you benefit when you surround yourself with people who make you happy, you suffer when those in your business or social circles are negative or narrow-minded” Tony Robbins
So, in summary, I hope you are clear on what choices you have been making that might actually be adding to your stress response, to illness in your body and to a lack of passion, vitality and joy in your life. Yes, that stress is actually affecting your gut, immune system, hormones, libido, fertility, mental clarity and overall wellness and vitality. It is also holding you back from success in your career and wealth as well as having deeply fulfilling and connected relationships with the right community.
If you’re ready to take this on with some hand holding and accountability, that’s where I come in. What does that look like you may ask?
I work as a womens’ health coach to help women move from exhausted to energized, balance their hormones and feel turned on by their life, their lover and themselves.
This work is mainly done through an 8 week online program and it all starts with a one hour FREE breakthrough call with me.
Now you have a choice. You can stay in the daily grind, doing the same thing, hoping the results will magically change. Or, are you done with all of that? I say it’s time to find someone with the expertise and the right program to take your health and future to the next level. I work with women who want to transform how they prioritize themselves, really want to heal their adrenals and want to feel totally turned on by their life.
I offer a breakthrough call to anyone who is serious about transformation. If I offer you a spot to work with me, it means I know you can create the transformation. I have set aside time to speak with you personally to start creating a monumental shift today. The cost is zero. Whatever obstacles you think are in your way-let’s digest them. Let’s go over what you’ve tried and let me point you in the right direction. I call it a breakthrough call and I promise it will be profound. I might offer you a spot to work with me, no promises. I hold these spots for the right women that I really truly feel like it’s a good fit. Like I said, the cost of the breakthrough call is FREE.
There is a caveat, only sign up for the breakthrough call if you have deep desire for change, feel ready for transformation that is deep and includes mindset shift. If you want a quick, do-it-yourself fix, prescription or diet or fad- that is not what I work with. I work with women who put skin in the game and want to change their lives. You must be hungry and committed to change.
So go to www.marayabrown.com and click on get started. You will see my calendar. I will personally call or zoom you during the time you choose. Book it now. While you’re there, grab my free Adaptogen Elixir Recipes to start giving your adrenals some healing from the decisions you have made in the past that weren’t’ so empowering.
I look forward to chatting and I wish you well in this amazing 2021 that you are creating, starting RIGHT NOW!
Maraya Brown is the co-founder of Beyond The Red Tent, has been working with women for 20 years now and currently works as an online Women’s Health Coach with her 8 week program that
helps women move from exhausted to energized, balance their hormones and feel turned on by their life, their lover and themselves.
She is one of our esteemed experts on our Hormones & Wellness Summit, a Yale Trained Certified Nurse Midwife, with her Masters in Nursing and her undergraduate in Marketing.
She has attended births all around the world and practiced as a CNM for 20 years. She has taught at the Chinese Medicine College on the Big Island of Hawaii and is in the process of getting her Certification through the Institute of Functional Medicine. She is also a mom of 3 young children.
Check out her website and grab her FREE Adaptogen Elixir recipes here!
You can also learn more by joining her smaller Facebook group, Women Rockin Their Energy, Hormones & Libido.