Here I am writing to you this morning from my sweatshop.
My sweatshop consists of my hammock with a couple of pillows, my doggie woggie Belle, who is nestled beside me keeping me warm on this crisp fall morning, and my Apple Mac laptop.
This is where I did a lot of the writing and editing on my most recent book, What Is Healing? Awaken Your Intuitive Power for Health and Happinesss (Atlanta: Total Fitness, 2013), which just recently went to No. 1 on Amazon.com in two categories, No. 1 in medicine and psychology and No. 1 in alternative medicine reference books
Many people try to achieve work life balance the way they think they can take allergy medicine and then go lie in a field of ragweed all day.
Obviously, that doesn’t really work.
Sometimes we have to go right back to the big picture and ask ourselves, “If I could create the ideal working conditions for myself, what would that be?”
There’s a reason that this is now my sweatshop.
When I first moved to Atlanta, I spent literally – no exaggeration – three hours of every working day in my car, driving from one appointment to the other. I did that for five years.
I remember a friend of mine who was studying to get her Masters of Business Administration degree offered to write a free business plan for me.
“How do you spend most of your time?” she began.
I almost started crying.
I didn’t really need a business plan to try to make my dysfunctional work life more profitable.
I needed to scrap the entire thing and start over, which is what I did.
Eventually, I moved my entire business to my home, and I have never regretted the decision.
I remember years ago I had a client who was a former CEO of a large, successful carpet company.
“Catherine, the key to business is low overhead,” he advised me.
I actually listened.
In this day and age, when personal training studios and yoga studios and all kinds of health and fitness businesses that used to be all around me are now either bankrupt or simply permanently closed, I get up every morning like I did today, walk downstairs, teach yoga first thing. Then later on I will lift weights with one client and do healing work over the phone with another in Philadelphia.
Once, I was at a conference of nutritionists listening to a lecture by Robert A. Rakowski a chiropractor, kinesiologist, nutritionist and world-famous expert on stress.
He posed the audience a theoretical question.
“You have a client who is being physically abused by her husband. You have two choices. Choice number one is to get her out of the abusive situation. Choice number two is to give her a lot of vitamins.
“Which do you think would be most effective?”
The answer is obvious: remove the stress.
If you were living in an abusive marriage, your solution might appear obvious, at least to others. However, many of us continue to abuse ourselves in all sorts of ways, including by punishing ourselves with ridiculous work hours and conditions, driving our bodies into the ground, depleting our brain chemistry with 16 hour days and wondering why we need either so many vitamins and supplements or so many medications, depending on your orientation in terms of alternative or traditional medicine.
Why don’t we just all start at the beginning and ask ourselves this simple question: “Is the lifestyle I have created for myself actually sustainable?”
Barely a day goes by that I don’t give multiple thanks for my mentor in healing, Sue Maes of Ontario, Canada.
“Only do what you can do with no stress,” Sue has advised me.
What if you only did what you could do with no stress? What would your work life look like then?
What kind of work life balance would you have?
Years ago, when I was in my mid-30s, I got off lithium and antidepressants after 18 years (I was 34 when I achieved that feat – and that was 20 years ago, by the way). I thought to myself, “If I devote only 10 percent of my intelligence to becoming happy and healthy, I could probably really achieve something here.”
If you are truly smart, figure out how not only to make a living, pay your bills and stay out of debt but see if you can’t actually manage a life that makes you gloriously happy.
Now how would that make you feel?