I honestly had no bloody idea just how much my sharing about burnout would resonate.
I thought the pebble would fall into the lake with nary a ripple or acknowledgment.
Instead, I got a tsunami of:
Yes, me too.
Sometimes I think it’s just me.
And then I write and share about it… because that’s what I have to do… it’s in my DNA and it’s how I’ve always lived my life and was first writing poems like this:
My name is Leonie
I live in the country
I ride on a pony.
And while that poem has a fairly clearly defined target market of one… I forget that I’m not alone in the universe… I forget that what might be happening to me could be happening to others too.
And of course, it makes sense. Life gets faster, so much to do, so much to keep pace with, no downtime, no detachment… no quiet place. We care for so many, and our own needs are subjugated, both by others and ourselves. Of course we’re fucking burnt out.
I wanted to give you an update.
On how I am, how things have shifted, what I’m doing to heal.
And of course, as soon as I wrote that post… as soon as I wrote out the journey I was on… as soon as I voiced it… as soon as I said:
… things changed.
In divine timing, my team were on a US-based work retreat together… consequently I suddenly had a week of relative quiet and few meetings.
It was just the quiet and stillness I needed.
I started recovery in ways that didn’t look like recovery.
I cleaned my office.
I sorted through a year’s worth of papers in my neglected inbox.
I started a thrilling obsession with a label maker.
I put my financial papers into order in beautifully labelled folders.
I organised my bookcase.
Finally, in my most magnificent triumphant act, I organised all of my journals and papers into chronological order spanning 20 years.
I marvelled over my journals from my teenage years… in exactly the same blank paged A4 journal I use now… same handwriting… same art… same musings.
And I remembered:
This has been me all along.
I found my school report cards and I cried over how kind my teachers were to me, how much they believed in me even then.
I sent a package of my books to my favourite Year 4 teacher to tell him that even if he didn’t remember me, I needed him to know his work mattered and he was such a source of kindness and inspiration for me.
He wrote me back:
Of course I remember you. You were filled with joy and positivity and art even back then.
I started remembering that even though I’ve had some seriously shitty things happen to me this year… where I’d been treated horrifically by someone in my inner circle… that all along my life… now and back then… I have also been surrounded by angels too.
As I took stock, wrote letters, rearranged my life and personal history, soaked in the quiet…
the insights started flying fast and quick.
Within a few days, the exact prescription I needed had failed upon my mind. The prescription I would give myself to heal from burnout, and what I needed to do to create sustainable creativity going forward.
Because here’s the thing – I didn’t just want to take 3 months off and go on sabbatical.
I didn’t want to move away from the work.
I didn’t want to not be creating and sharing…
because those two things ARE the remedy for me.
I intensely wanted to find a way I could do this work for the rest of my life.
(That’s not to say this prescription may not need amending and adding to from time to time. It’s just the right script for me for right now.)
In order to be able to reduce my hours, I’ve had to re-evaluate all my tasks and decide:
do I delegate this to someone who already knows how to?
do I train someone up to know how to do this?
do I hire someone who already knows this?
do I automate?
do I delete it all together?
My staff already have access to tens of thousands of dollars worth of training in our training library.
I’ve also started creating LDI-specific training.
I invite my team to a team-only webinar on a date
I have to get the training complete by that date (deadlined tasks… the only way things get done! Ha!)
I record it with slides
We make it into a video that gets popped into our training library for future staff to use.
Examples of LDI-specific training we have made or will make:
I also made time in my schedule to have monthly meetings with some of our team to give them really clear feedback, guidance and direction about the future of the company and where I want to take various parts of it (i.e. design and copywriting). This has made a huge difference!
What’s more it’s a win-win-win for everyone… all my staff love it… the results are instant… and it reduces the workload on me! YAY!
I had some parameters set for how many meetings and calls and interviews I would do each week.. but invariably I would get overbooked anyway.
Instead, what I did was just block out time in my calendar as unavailable, so nobody could book me in for shit even if they wanted to. Ha!
Now, three afternoons a week, I have scheduled UNavailability. It’s time just to work, reflect and create.
It’s already revolutionary.
This is taking my scheduled unavailability to the NEXT LEVEL.
I got the idea from someone at my women’s circle, who shared they were having their yearly GOLDEN WEEK.
It was the week of the year they had off work while their kids were still at school. She would basically have a week long TREAT YO SELF:
Massages, movies, champagne at 10am, shopping.
And I loved the idea of Golden Week SO MUCH.
And I decided I wanted one. Not just one… but one… OFTEN.
So I booked out my calendar for the next 18 months.
Three weeks on, one week off.
My week off will be totally free of any appointments, meetings and tasks. I will work with my team to make sure we forward plan enough that no “work emergencies” or “urgent tasks” come up during that week. They either get it from me beforehand, wait until afterwards, or develop the skills to execute themselves. It’s enforced training! Ha!
They will be my little creative sanctuary… where I learn and read and reflect and journal and dream and strategise and make art.
I need to build in these buffers so I have the space to do the truly important work that both builds the company and delights my heart…
not just the work that is reactionary.
I cancelled all live events for the rest of the year.
The only one I’ll be doing in the future is our annual Shining Biz and Life Academy conference/retreat (only for Academy members) here in Canberra in February 2017.
As I shared in the last post, my public profile has risen quite a lot, and speaking at events can become fairly intense. While I love meeting peeps face to face, the sheer numbers end up being overwhelming. I love giving and being fully present with people… and it also comes at an energetic cost. Live events can leave me on the couch for days/weeks/months to recover.
I’m more comfortable with running my own events. Our event in February was actually fairly easy to navigate for me on an energetic and practical level – my team ran it brilliantly, and we had great boundaries established. I could set up rest times and control the environment. I also had a green room I could decompress in and get centred in… all things I need in order to turn up and speak and teach. It’s more difficult to control the environment when I’m not running an event.
I’m truly sorry if this disappoints you. I’m sorry.
I wish we could meet too.
But for me, it’s the decision to do that and impact my ability to do the rest of my work.
My priority is always to be able to help as many as people as possible through my work – my courses, group coaching and weekly Q&A in the Academy, and through my workbooks.
My first love has been to create things that help people. So I’ll be returning to focus just on that.
There’s nothing like the salt and sea to heal and reinvigorate.
That, and large bags of books and journals. Who needs changes of clothes or anything else vaguely practical?
We ended up using them as decorations around the house.
Be warned: if you’ve got kidliwinks, they won’t look as perfectly put together if they help.
And that’s okay.
Also: they probably won’t last a hugely long time.
Ours ended up with roofs torn off to accommodate baby toys inside.
Again: that’s okay.
It’s totally Christmas spirity that way 😉
2. Make advent calendar
There’s buttloads of cute ideas out there of how to make advent calendars in all shapes and sizes.
Last year, I attempted to construct an advent tree like this. It ended up being a DIY disaster for this lil kitten.
Instead, we ended up using a tiny purple tree and made advent activity cards. I let Starry loose with some paint on watercolour paper, and after it was dry, cut them up and wrote the advent tasks on them.
I think we’ll end up continuing the tradition!
3. Have a tree + decorating partay
We make this into a family fiesta… put on Christmas music + have a little decorating party.
This year, we listened to Wiggles Christmas album (HO HO HO!). My parents-in-law joined in with us (it’s so great having them live just down the hallway!) and we ate chocolate and tried to teach Starry how long she needs to wait before opening presents.
We’re not going The Full Tinsel this year – I’m still too ill to tinsel every surface or handmake more decorations or all the other crafty Christmas plans I had.
But this is enough. Simple is good too.
4. Read Santa books
We’ve got some kooky Aussie Santa children’s books that we read together with Starry. I can’t even find them on Amazon they are that kooksville.
Might end up getting some more… this one looks adorable + kind of Eric Carle-ish!
5. Make Christmas cookies
My philosophy is this:
If you have the time + want to go full Pinterest homemade, go for it.
Otherwise, don’t. Go with what is doable and FUN for you (not stress-inducing!)
We grabbed a cookie decorating kit from the supermarket.
A tops time was had by all. Muchos icing and sprinkling fun!
6. Make wreath
Continuing the tradition of handmade and sorta lopsy, here’s our wreath.
I live in the tropics. It’s blazingly summer hot. We have a couple of pine trees on our property, but I wanted something that actually felt like a summer Christmas.
So enter: the wonky palm frond wreath! Hurrah!
May you always know your crafting doesn’t have to be perfect. It can just be fun and easy-going!
(Especially when you have tiny hands that love to help!)
7. Watch a Christmas movie
Honestly? My all time favourite movie is the Santa Clause movie with Dudley Moore in it. Dudley was just so perfectly elfish in it!
I can’t do “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” though. It’s just a bit too scary. I know. I KNOW. I’m a delicate petal.
8. Go to Christmas carols
Last year we went to a lovely afternoon session of carols at a friend’s store. We sang songs with ukeleles and drank champagne while the kidliwinks clambered about on blankets.
There’s just something about Christmas songs that gives me a funny gooey feeling in my heart. I get all teary. I don’t know why. It started happening after a baby fell out my vagina. I cry at Christmas carols. #confessionbear
9. Have candlelit dinner
Last year we even decorated special Christmas candles like this just for our dinners.
Kidliwinks adore having a special glow to dinner – it’s like an event!
10. Wrap presents
We defo treat this like a family event… squirelling away presents from each other and hiding out from the giftee to do it.
We’re still teaching Starry how to keep gifts a secret instead of blurting out what the present is to the recipient.
(“Mama! You’ve got a butterfly statue! Me and Daddy wrapped it for you!”)
If you’re wanting more inspiration, check and see if there are any local Christmas craft workshops for kids nearby.
Starry and I go to a nearby craft store to play at their workshops usually. Muchos fun!
13. Make tree ornaments
Last year I went to town on making handmade tree ornaments. I sewed some on my own, and Starry made plenty too. It was really lovely opening up the Christmas boxes this year and seeing all those creations again. It felt just a little bit more personal and memory-laden.
Mr D bought me this book for my birthday this year. It’s got some adorable Christmas craft projects to make out of felt!
14. Buy next year’s calendar
Dude, I definitely get my jollies on getting calendars for the next year. Everything feels so much more in control when you’ve got stationery for the task. Ha!
My favourites: Lori Portka’s calendars which you can find here (ummm… also… funny but true: one of the months has a painting of me that Lori did! I ordered it because I try and get it every year, and gasped when I saw that I was in there!). Also: Kikki K’s Inspire calendar. And you get free matching Life and Biz calendars with my 2014 Amazing Year workbooks too!
15. Go through your 2013 workbook + see where your dreams come true
That’s me. HELLOOO!
Honestly, I flipping ADORE reviewing my last year’s workbook and seeing what came true. Here’s my blog post last year in December how my goals went for the year. And looking forward to sharing with you my 2013 goals.
I’m also kinda stunned at how things end up working out… I know SO many more goals come true when I use the workbooks!
Once my 2013 workbook gets reviewed, then I’ll start moving into my 2014 workbooks. I do my life one solo, but each year we incorporate family goals. I ask my love what his goals are and include them in there, and we talk about what goals we have as a family too.
And then I will do the biz edition with my team. Once I’ve filled out my biz edition, I get copies made out of it and give them to my team so we’re all on the same page on exactly where we are going and what we need to do to get there.
16. Get Santa photo
So: my kid really doesn’t like Santa.
Scratch that: she’s not a fan of strangers either.
Especially not ones with a crazy beard and a funny costume.
So we get family Santa photos instead.
And it’s a kinda fun way of documenting our lil family each year.
It can be hard coralling everyone together for a photo… so this is a groovy excuse for it.
(Starry will still sit as far away from Santa as possible though. We’re cool with that. She thinks he’s a lark from about 50 metres away.)
17. Make gingerbread house
One day I’ll be brave enough to attempt one from scratch. In the meantime: I LOVE KITS FOREVER.
My ma-in-law started planning which kit she wanted to get in November and has asked if she could get one to do with Ostara.
To which I said OMFG I LOVE YOU SO MUCH YES PLEASE.
Gawd it’s great having grandparents just down the hall.
I’m still pretty ill so I’ll leave it up to the day to see if I can help decorate it too.
No matter what though, I will make an EXTREME EFFORT to partake in the licking of the bowl.
Because a girl’s gotta have priorities. Icing is one of mine.
18. Handmake gift tags
Another one of those: don’t do it perfectly, just do it the way that’s right for you.
We’ve done fully handmade decorations from scratch, and we’ve also bought kits like the ones above where you go to town gluing and glittering and pom-poming the shit out of shapes.
Do whatever’s doable for you!
19. Make a wax angel painting!
Here’s an oldie but a goodie from Le Leonie archives: