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I’m Really Struggling

ego quote

I’m really struggling…

It’s difficult for me to write those words. As a Type A personality, I’m used to crushing it, succeeding in most things that I do, generally winning.

But the last 18 months have been a little different.

On 19th May 2017 I gave birth for the first time. If I’m honest, the journey was not like I planned it. My daily meditation promised a gentle, painless, joyful birth. Not 42 hours of frustration, extreme pain (baby was posterior ~ ouch) and scary interventions (all of which were on my ‘I DO NOT WANT’ list.)

And so herein lies my first failure. Not in life (I’ve had others), but in this particular run of failures.

Don’t get me wrong, little Winston was absolutely perfect. Perfectly perfect. But the process, not so much. Luckily I had a beautiful Doula with me to ease the transition.

I’d like to say I handled it graciously, but I didn’t really. Inside I beat myself up for having such grandiose expectations and for being so naïve. I mean, pain-free childbirth…with a first born! Who was I kidding?

My second failure was my very unrealistic expectations around running a business while tending to a newborn.

As a type A, I’ve always been able to ‘make things happen’, but I’ve come to realise this has partly been due to an excess of time. Or at least a non-shortage of time.

Beautiful little babies devour your time like nothing else. And so they should. But this leaves a tiny shred of time for you to use on other things…like work and business. And that shred has to compete with other essentials like sleep. Life really is boiled down to the necessities when you become a mother.

Not that I didn’t try. I did. I attempted to work here and there, but if I’m honest, my mind wasn’t really focussed. And so the results didn’t really come.

I stopped writing emails. I stopped checking comments on my blog. I stopped checking my analytics. I got lazy really. Well that’s what my critical self tells myself.

The truth is, it’s hard to be a mother and run a business at the same time. I thought I’d be able to crush it like everything else, but I didn’t. And it’s been a painful process of self-forgiveness. One that I’m still navigating now.

I feel terrible that I let you down. The other day I came accross an old blog post I’d written. There were 20 comments waiting for approval. I wept when I read them. There were beautiful souls with their hearts wide open in those comments. And yet I hadn’t even given their voices time to air. Here are a few of them. Ironically the post was called ‘What to do when you feel like quitting’.

Strangely, these open-hearted comments gave me some kind of hope. And a glimmer of remembrance of why I started this business: to actually help people. And little did I know an old post I wrote years ago was doing that in it’s own little way.

The funny thing was, when I came across that article (‘what to do when you feel like quitting’) I was actually considering quitting. Closing down shop, doing something else for a while. But seeing those comments re-ignited something in me.

I guess for me the journey is one of self –compassion. Learning to love myself when I fail as-well as when I succeed. It’s also the realisation that we are all the same. We all have struggles. We all fight with the voice in our heads day in day out. Sometimes we win, other days we lose. And it doesn’t matter how much ‘work’ we have done on ourselves (because trust me, I’ve done a lot).

If I had to pick one person though, it was Brenee Brown who had the biggest impact on my journey. And it’s 100% because of her that I’m sitting here, tears rolling down my cheeks, being vulnerable with you right now. I’m tired of pretending. I just want to be real.

In her book Tears to Triumph, Marianne Williamson talks about how as a nation we have taken the concept of a business model and applied it to all aspects of our lives; emotions included. And I kind of feel like that’s what I did with my journey to motherhood. My ego had it all mapped out perfectly. It just didn’t work out that way.

Our resistance to feel what we label as ‘negative’ emotions is another thing Marianne talks about in that book. How we avoid feeling sadness, when sadness is a perfectly appropriate response during certain times in our lives. Sadness is a part of being human. It’s not only OK to be sad, it’s a beautiful, sacred time to be treasured. That really resonate with me.

And so as I sit here, trying to be ok with my own sadness, I hope maybe you can be ok with yours too. We can be ok together.

Don’t get me wrong, the last 18 months haven’t been all bad, they have been filled with the most joyful moments of my life for sure…becoming a mother has most definitely cracked my heart open wide and I feel honoured and blessed to have this opportunity. My son lights up my life completely and I know that I chose my him over my business during this time, and I know I won’t regret that.

As the dust has settled I’ve realised two things:

Number one; I didn’t fail at childbirth. It’s just that success sometimes means things not turning out the way you want them to. He was born healthy and that’s enough for it to be a success.

Number two; my perceived failure in business has been a huge ‘motherhood success’ in disguise. The main reason I didn’t achieve the results I wanted over the last 18 months has been because all of my efforts have gone into being a mother. And truthfully, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Of course hindsight is a bringer of clarity and wisdom and if you’d suggested any of these aha’s just 6 months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to see them for what they are. It’s only as I reflect, that things seem to make a little more sense. It makes me think of the speech Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University about connecting the dots. I love that speech. We can only connect the dots of our lives when looking back.

As time marches on, I’m slowly getting more time to get back into things with work. You’ve probably seen I’ve been trying to do more Facebook Lives, and write more to you. I hope you’ll let me back into your life after my absence.

I’m focussing on small things as I get back into it. One of my first things is a short course I’ve been putting together for people on a budget, looking to change careers. I’ll let you know about it when it’s ready.

If you’re open to sharing, I’d love to know what you have struggled with in the past, or are struggling with now? What have you learned from those struggles? Let’s re-connect 😍 in the comments below. Maybe if we stick together on this one, we can share the pain and the lessons a little.

Sending you love and light,

Zoe B x

PS – here’s little Winston…cute isn’t he? Bless his ❤️ I love him so much!

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17 Comments. Leave new

Dear Zoe,
I find myself in a very similar situation. 6 months pregnant with everything set up for a natural childbirth but now struggling with high-risk complications and the probability of a c-section. Not my plan at all. Still navigating staying positive and letting go at the same time.
Then I have a business launch that was planned for the same month I am giving birth which I am only slowly realizing will have to be put on hold. There are certain things I can relegate to later others not so much.
Self-compassion and being able to feel the negativd emotions instead of making a project out of beating them is the only way I will get through this.
I thank you for your honesty, for not pretending and for making the internet a platform to connect instead of blind people with our best selves only.

All the best to you on your continued path of motherhood and entrepreneurship. I will see you on the other side;)

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Thank you Evelyne. We cannot escape the struggles, but timing is everything. I have no doubt you’ll make it. My favorite line from a course in miracles is this: ‘those who are certain of the outcome, can afford to wait, and without anxiety.’ x

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Thank you Zoe! I am slowing down and finding purpose in that 🙂

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Aww Zoe, I really hear you. My 2nd baby was born 14th June 2017 and it was my second (and last ) chance to prove (to myself, no one else minded) that I could DO this birth thing well. This much wanted second pregnancy and child. Pregnancy was tough, c-section was scheduled. I’d failed again!! My darling boy and my 5 year old first born have put everything else on hold this year. Physically I have a lot of healing to do too. You aren’t meant to use the word ‘can’t’ but really, there’s lots of things I ‘can’t ‘ do at the moment. And I think it’s been a hard thing to let myself admit. I’m not perfect and I take on too much at times. But I try and be as present for my kids as possible while planning my future projects and that’s (sometimes) enough for me.
Good luck on your return and good luck to the previous commenter on her upcoming birth and beautiful journey into parenting ❤️

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Thanks for your support Anna. It means alot x

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Mariana Rodrigues
November 27, 2018 10:42 am

Dear Zoe,

We never meet personally, but I felt like I do. I have been reading your emails and watching your videos for 2 years ago. You had given me all the strength I needed to realize I was not made to be sitting in an office all day. Since then I have finished my master degree and now I am starting my business online. I don’t know if it will work, but I am trying to make it so, and I will not give up.

So, I have to thank you for all this, because, although we do not know each other, I always feel you give me comfort and strength to keep going on. So, thank you! Thank you so much! And make what you know it feels better.

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Thank you Mariana 🙂 I’m so happy to hear you pursued what you really wanted to do! x

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Dear Zoe,
I almost don’t know you, but I applaud your courage to share all these thoughts to completely unfamiliar people. Sometimes when I watch endless coaches (and I am an aspiring coach myself) I wonder are they all so all perfect? Do they apply their own rules and advice in their own life? If so, then they are boring and oh so perfect that it makes ordinary people feel bad that they are not… And so your message is showing your human nature who has her own struggles and uncertainties, and this is real… we are just human, not saints, we are all vulnerable and emotional and that’s the beauty of life. You are doing great Zoe, being a mom is the biggest gift a woman has and you must savor it, enjoy it and be grateful for ups and downs, because this time when the kids are little and need their mom is precious and passes so quickly. You will always be able to reconnect with others, and you by no means should feel guilty for not “liking” a few comments. Virtual world is endless and we give too much of ourselves to it… when really we just need to enjoy here and now in our reality. All the blessings to you dear. You are doing just great!:)

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Thank you Nata. What I know is this: no one escapes the challenges of life, not the Dalai Lama, the Queen or Beyonce 🙂 We all must face hardships. Thanks for your support x

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That’s such a coincidence. I watched Brenee Brown’s ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ last week from a YouTube suggestion. I’d never heard of her before. I really like her, too. Winston is really cute. Thank you for being honest, and also with your insights into career change. I hated my last several jobs in the UK. I’m currently teaching English in China which I’m enjoying, writing a lot and working out how I can get a job I enjoy back in Scotland.

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There are no coincidences 🙂 x

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Zoe,
This post is beautiful. It’s my first time on your site, and I really, really appreciate your honesty here. My son is now 12 and I have two beautiful step kids, 14 and 16. I was only 23 when my son was born, and after a bout of severe postpartum depression lasting for a year, I sort of fell apart. All I could see through my lens of sadness and insecurity were the “successful moms” – ones up early in the morning with a full face of makeup and a coordinating outfit, always on time and able to keep their kids in a million activities while still spending time with their husbands. Some of them stayed at home, but some managed to do that with full-time job! I was at a complete loss. I felt something was fundamentally wrong with me, and that feeling still lingers 12 years later, even with therapy. I lived in a world where Sheryl Sandberg was telling us to “lean in” (which she tellingly took back partially in 2016 after her husband sadly passed away) and if something didn’t work, it was because I didn’t try hard enough. Then I became a single mom and things got even harder. I’m now 35, happily married a second time, but I’d lie if I said everything was perfect. I’m catching up after almost a decade of being lost and thinking I could never succeed and it’s tough to compare myself to women who actually achieved things in their 20s. I’m learning to be gentle with myself – gentle with the scared and insecure mom I was at 23, giving up the most important years of my career to raise my kid. I’ll finally get where I want to be, and it may be years after it seems like “everyone else” got there already. I’m learning to be OK with my journey and to not crave someone else’s (with mixed success). I wish more women were honest about parenting and how much it changes your life. We’re doing a disservice by keeping the hard parts to ourselves. Thank you for sharing!

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Thank you too for sharing! We must stick together and tell the truth about motherhood 🙂 x

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Thank you so much for your beautiful, open, and honest post, Zoe. It takes such courage for you to allow yourself to be so vulnerable in public, and I applaud you very loudly for it! You are not alone. Even as a man, much of what you said resonated with me. I’m 48 now, but I met my now ex-wife at 30, at a time when my career was taking off. Soon after meeting her, my focus shifted from work to her. I couldn’t do both really well, and chose to devote myself to my relationship. A few years later, my son was born, and then two and a half years after that, my daughter was born. Both beautiful and healthy. My son just turned 13, so for the past 13 years, I have been a dedicated father, at the expense of my career, and ultimately, my marriage. I have some very dark days now, trying to find a balance, trying to find “success” as a man, but because of the beautiful relationship I have with my two children, I wouldn’t change a thing. Doesn’t make it easy though! Keep on keeping on, Zoe!

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Ah thank you Michael! It sounds like you have a beautiful relationship with your children. So amazing. Sending you much success (on your terms) 🙂

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Hey it is great that you have opened up and admitted you are struggling when so many do not, yet they try to push on when they are sinking inside
I do not have kids but am a workaholic and sink under the pressure of it all…
Keep going you are doing an great job

However, I have to comment on the photo of cute Winston who has a babycino in his hands. I have just arrived back in Oz after 8 mths working overseas and have seen so many kids with these take away cups with the plastic lids, often a mashmallow on top pretending to be mum or dad with their takeaway coffee… but what are we all doing to the kids, adults and the planet. Those cheap plastic tops leach nasty toxins into hot drinks… why are we using them ? please please buy Winston a bamboo cup that he can have his babycino, and he can have this babycino in then it can be washed it up and used again for other drinks. PLASTICS are destroying what we call earth and we are the ones destroying it with our plastic wastage. We are all educated and should use our knowledge to reduce our plastic use for the generations to come after us, such as Winston!

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Thank you Polly! Yes you’re 100% right. Even though I don’t drink coffee, just chai, it is not a good message to be sending to Winston. I agree and I won’t buy him these again (he’s actually only ever had them about 2 or 3 times). I’m sticking to juices, infact we shared a delicious Jamu from the markets this morning (Indonesian health tonic) and I thought to myself then, this is a much better option than sickly sweet chai.

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