Balance & Beyond Podcast
#11 Embracing the Magic Within: Life Lessons from a Decade of Wisdom
What if we could find profound life lessons in the wisdom of our children?
This week on Balance and Beyond, in honour of my baby girl turning double-digits, I share 10 valuable insights I've learned from her that help us adults achieve true balance and happiness.
From embracing the magic of unicorns to embracing the power of a hug, these profound, yet simple nuggets of wisdom can bring so much joy into your life. They will definitely make you smile!
Join me as we celebrate the brilliance of our children and learn to apply their unique wisdom to our own lives. Embrace the magic within yourself and make every day a little more extraordinary!
In this episode, you’re going to discover:
- The parallels between unicorns and having it all
- The antidote to a world of beige and grey where everything we do makes sense
- How moving your body has benefits beyond your wildest dreams
- How a bower bird could hold the tiniest piece of wisdom that could make a big difference in your day
- Why hugs are more important than big, planned family days out and the shift you can make today to better connect with your kids
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INTRO: Welcome to Balance and Beyond, the podcast for ambitious women who refuse to accept burnout as the price of success. Here, we’re committed to empowering you with the tools and strategies you need to achieve true balance, where your career, relationships and health all thrive, and where you have the power to define success on your own terms. I honour the space you’ve created for yourself today, so take a breath, and let's dive right in…
This week, my baby girl hits double digits and anyone who's had a child knows what a big deal turning 10 is. Now, we all know that if you've had kids, or you've been around kids, they can be our greatest teachers. Not just when it comes to patience, and love, and joy. Of course, there's plenty of hard work. But I have learned over the years, that mine in particular, have given me lessons that I never expected to come. But also some that, once upon a time, I was possibly missing.
Too often in our life, we feel like we have to learn from someone who has letters after their name, or more qualifications, or more senior than us, because we still tend to be trapped in that teacher-child paradigm, where we first started learning, or we learned from our parents. It was all about: "Sit down.” “Sit up straight.” “Listen to the teacher.” “Pay attention.” And I completely get that, because how else would you keep 5 year olds under control? I have no idea how teachers do it. Hats off to you.
However, we still tend to get trapped in that paradigm, and it becomes really important for us to learn to step out of it and to find the gifts and lessons that life is giving us, no matter where we look And when we spend so much of our time with our head down trying to get through the to-do list, trying to get everything done, trying to be better organised. In this frantic chaos that is their lives, they, and possibly you, are missing chances to grow and to become your best self and to live your best life.
So, in honour of my little one, who's called Stella, I wanted to share with you 10 lessons that I have learned from her over the years. And these are simple, they are fun, and they involve poop, heads up because it's a 10 year old, but if you really embrace them and see what is here, they can do a lot for you. So she might be 10, but she is very, very wise. Alright, let's crack in.
Lesson Number One is that “Unicorns are real.” Do not believe anyone who tells you otherwise. Mermaids and superheroes also fall into the same category. I still remember the day she came home from I think it was the Easter show, and she said to me, "Mummy, I want a mermaid-corn.” I said, "What?” She said, “A mermaid and a unicorn.” I said, “They don't exist.” Well, lo and behold, at the Easter show we came across a mermaid unicorn. Unicorns are everywhere. And she said, “See, Mummy? I made it happen!”
So the lesson here for you, that I invite you to take on board, is don't believe what other people tell you. Particularly when it comes to things like having balance, or having the life that you want. You've got to believe that you can have whatever it is you want, with the strength of a 10 year old unicorn lover. She has zero doubt. She is 100% mind, body and soul aligned that these things are real. And you need to be the same with what you want! Or else you are not going to get it.
Now, Lesson Number Two is also around unicorns. And lesson number two is that a poopy corn can make everything better. Stella came home recently with a little squishy toy which seemed to be all the rage, and it was a poop emoji in the shape of a poop, and it had a horn, and a rainbow glitter top, and I looked at her and I said "What is that?” And she said, “Mommy, it's a poopy-corn." Now, first and foremost, hats off to that marketing genius who said right, we're going to take a poop and we're going to sprinkle it with glitter and add a horn, and suddenly it's a poopy corn, and it's cool. But if you can make poop into a unicorn, the lesson here is, what is the gift in your struggles?
Very often, when clients come to me, they find themselves in what we call "the poop hunt”, where life is a bit challenging, where things feel a bit murky, and things can feel like you're swimming in poop. But is there a secret poopy-corn waiting for you on the other side? Is there this beautiful, glittery, squishy-thing on the other side of what you think is just all poop? But actually, maybe you're just in with a poopy-corn, waiting for it to arrive. And very often that is where the greatest gifts are. The greatest gifts are in our struggles, they're in our challenges, they're in solving our problems. So the next time you're suffering, just ask yourself, "How can I turn this into a poopy corn?”
Lesson Number Three is that “Life should be lived in colour.” Rainbows, pink, sparkles, glitter make every day more fun and they should, without question, be an essential component of any outfit. I still remember the day we took Stella shopping for her first black school shoes, and we had a tanty in the shop because she said, "Why are they all black? Black is boring!” I want rainbow shoes. And I looked at her and thought, “Hmm, you've got a point. They are all black, and they are all boring.” And so many women I meet are wearing black and beige and grey, because they're a bit scared to wear colour. They're a bit scared to stand out, they just want to blend into the background.
So my lesson, or the question I have for you today, is where can you add some colour or brightness into your day, when it is often surrounded by grey and neutral tones? Can you be a bit brighter for those around you? Can you put on some nice big earrings? Can you find a nice tree? Can you bring in some colour, or some sparkle, into your life? And you'd be amazed.
I've had clients who I've shared these lessons with. Then, they've decided that they're going to go out and buy some sparkly earrings. And every morning they put them on and they say, "Thank you, Stella!” And those earrings can be the simple shift for them to now be open, to feeling a bit more sparkly, to being a bit more cheeky, to being a bit more playful. So life doesn't always have to be so serious!
Lesson Number Four is that “There are values in the classics.” Some of Stella's favourite songs over the last few years have been Footloose. We've had some Michael Jackson, there's been some Elton John, and lately some Tay Tay. I don't know if you could call Taylor Swift a classic, just yet, she's not quite old enough. But there is beauty in teaching kids what the classics are. And I promise you, I do not miss Baby Shark. That was the favourite for a while. And oh, I'm so glad those days are gone.
So my question to you is: "What old fashioned piece of you that perhaps you've left behind?” Maybe there's a secret New Kids on the Block or a Backstreet Boys fan here that you need to bring back into your world. But what's a piece of you that seems too simple, that perhaps you've given up on? And if we bring this to one thing most women need the most, is there a simple piece of self-care that's a classic that you've forgotten about? You're going for a walk for five minutes? Can you light a candle when you take a shower, or a bath, or sit by your desk?
Sometimes the classic ways to nourish our body are actually the best, and we think that it has to be fancy, and complicated, and require all this time which we don't have. So what's a classic way of looking after yourself? Of having fun? Of doing something you enjoy that is going to make your day much better? Listen, number five is to have more dance parties. At the slightest hint of a beat, Stella is up, and she is grooving like nobody is watching. In the car, she boogies. She walks past a shop and she hears a beat, and she makes it a shuffle. She knows that music makes her feel good, and she knows how to get herself out of a funk.
So my question to you, and the lesson you can take from Stella here is, "How can you bring more movement into your day, to groove a little more, to get you out of a slump?” Hacking your physiology is actually one of the fastest ways to change your mood. You can't think your way out of grumpiness. You need to move. You need to move your arms, you need to move your body. And when it's very easy to spend our entire day slumped over a laptop, or at a desk, feeling like we've got to punch out XYZ stuff before we can ever do anything.
But jumping up, putting on one song, and having a bit of a boogie will elevate your mood way better than a glass of wine, or some chocolate. Or perhaps, some of those other things that you're going to try, to make you feel better. And, yeah, struggling in the mornings with the kids. Stick on some tunes before school, get everybody to have a boogie, and it will completely shift how you get to start their day. So let me just recap what our first five lessons have been: unicorns are real, poopy-corns make everything better, life should be lived in colour, there's value in the classics, and have more dance parties! So, let's move on to the next lessons!
Lesson Number Six is "Stuff the weather.” If you want to wear a summer dress, you should be able to. I was told recently, "Never mind the fact that it's now winter, and raining, and cold. Stella decides what she wants to wear. First, based on how she feels, and then she checks outside.” It was a few years ago, on a family trip in Palm Springs in the US in July, where it was 45 degrees outside, and she put on trakkies, and a jumper and said, "This is what I feel like wearing. Likewise, in winter, she's put on a leotard and goes “This is what I feel like wearing now."
As a grown up, sometimes we have a parental responsibility to make sure that our clothing is weather appropriate. But the lesson here for you is, "How different would your mood be, if it wasn't impacted by the weather?” And while Stella may be looking outside, I know so many women check their inbox first, or check their calendar, and then decide how they want to feel. "Oh my God, a day of back-to-backs." “Oh, I'm going to be so tired." And then, that sets their mood.
Instead of waking up and saying well, "How do I really feel?” “How do I want to feel today?” “Okay, day of back-to-backs, right?” Well, there's a three minute break there for a dance party." You’ve got to stop looking outside as a reference point for how you feel. The world changes when you decide, "I'm going to be happy today, and stuff the circumstances.” Because that is actually all within your control. And the more we give away our power to circumstances and become a victim of them, then the more those circumstances are going to affect us, as you started to stuff the weather.
Lesson Number Seven is that “The little things make a big difference.” If Stella was an animal, she would be a bowerbird. Since birth, this child has been holding small, tiny, shiny objects in her hands. I'm forever fishing rocks, stones, buttons, spoons from her pockets, knowing that these things all make her really happy. I still remember one day, when she was maybe about 18 months old, she used to always walk around with clenched fists, because she had stuff in them. And we prized open her fingers as you went to put her to bed, and we counted 26 little tiny blocks of Lego. You know, "those little tiny ones”, as we used to call them, And they were all different colours, and some were shiny ones, and some had holes in them, and some were clear. And she had little flowers, little Lego flowers, in her hands. 26 of them across both her hands. She knows that little things make her happy.
So, your lesson here is "How do you switch your focus from searching for this big thing?” For this silver bullet that's going to make it all better? For this magic time management strategy, or tool? And suddenly life's going to feel amazing. Instead of actually recognising that small changes are really what makes a difference in life. It's three deep breaths, one minute of silence. It's one micro-moment of gratitude. It's taking a breath to respond, rather than react.
And this is something I see with all the women who come into my world. They're looking for a quick fix. They're thinking, "let me take a pill, and it's all going to be better." But the reality is that, it is the small, micro-changes. This is how we actually make the long term, lasting change. So, where can you find a small thing to make a big difference for you? Is it a breath? Is it looking outside your window? Is it standing up? Is it going to eat something? What can you do that's going to make the shift?
Lesson Number Eight is that "Nachos should be eaten every night for dinner.” Why shouldn't you be able to have what you want for dinner every night? Yeah, sure, you know nutrition, vitamins, and all that health stuff. But that doesn't stop Stella asking for nachos almost every night, because it's currently her favourite food. Last year it was burgers. Who knows what it’s going to be next year? Now, sometimes she does get nachos, if there's leftovers on multiple occasions, because you have permission to ask for what you want.
And so many women who I talked to feel like they’re not meant to have that thing, or they shouldn't be doing that thing, or it's not the right thing. How much fun could life be, if you occasionally let yourself break the rules, and did something just for fun? And how do you stop “shoulding” yourself? Because you shouldn't “should” yourself. It's something that you probably do a lot, and it makes life miserable. It induces anxiety, it pumps guilt and fear, and cortisol into your system. And who decides what's right, anyway? If I decide that I want the fun thing, well, what I choose for dinner is going to be very different to what is the right thing. By whose determination? The 1950s housewife? My mother's society? I mean we can never align to any of those. So stuff that. How about you start doing a little bit more of what you want?
Lesson Number Nine is “Feel deeply.” Stella is a highly sensitive child, and every day always gives me this constant reminder to tap into my feelings. She's, thankfully, become a lot more regulated lately. But over the last couple of years, she has had big feelings. I saw she had to write a letter to her teacher. She's in Year Four this year, and she said, "My name's Stella, and I'm nine.” And third on her list of 10 things you needed to know about her was, "I have big feelings.” So she knows that she has big feelings. There's no stigma around that in our family And of course, if you don't manage big feelings, they can very easily turn into meltdowns, which is what we used to have a lot. Thankfully, she's now regularly in those emotions. But she still feels them. You know, when she feels sad she doesn't just get a bit sad, she feels very sad.
And I've come from quite a long line of non-feelers. I've got English and Irish heritage, so maybe a bit of guilt, but that's about it. And I have been on this really fascinating journey of actually tapping into what's going on inside me, and not shoving it down. And I think one of the reasons Stella's been given to me, or Stella's chosen me, whichever methodology you want to say is that she's here to help me feel. She's here to help me tap into this beauty of learning to feel deep, and not just the guilt and the fear, and some of those disempowering emotions that they are, because whether you know it or not, you're feeling.
Sometimes, we just spend too much energy trying to actually numb it. Or, you know, eating our feelings is probably the thing that most people are doing more of. Or maybe drinking them. So the lesson for you today is, "How could you learn to better feel your feelings, and not numb them by being busy?" That's our favourite drug of choice. What if you could let go of the resentment, the anger, and start feeling more joy? Start feeling more bliss. And that's one thing this child can do. Man, when she is happy, she is delightful! There is so much joy, she radiates it out her heart like a Care Bear.
And there's beauty in that. Kids don't know how to suppress their emotions. We don't really teach them how to do that, until they're seven to eight. So how can you look at your kids, if you've got them? Look at the kids around you. Look at nieces and nephews. And if anyone gives a toddler a banana that's broken in half, and you will get to see their anger, or their frustration, or their disappointment.
But you also know that, when you're not emotionally constipated, you can watch that episode, and you will actually feel more deeply, and you won't be as scared to do so. Because if you're a cup that's overflowing, and you're terrified of feeling, because it's all going to come out. I have people who say to me, “Oh Jo, all those feelings are behind a very large door. And if that door cracks open, then ooh, look out anybody who's in its way!” So how do you start feeling more deeply and open up to this joy and this fun?
And then Lesson Number 10, possibly my favourite, is that “The best way to start the day is with a hug.” The best kinds for Stella are the ones under the covers. She still creeps into bed many mornings. Although, as she gets older, I often now have to wake her up, because she doesn't want to wake up in the morning. And so I slink into bed with her, or she nestles her head into my neck, and has that beautiful sort-of waking-up-smell that kids have. And there is beauty in it for both my girls. We don't start the day without a hug.
Particularly for Stella, that's an essential ingredient of the waking up process. And we don't leave the house, generally, without a hug. We don't go to bed without a hug. And the lesson here is to never forget the power of a micro-moment, in connecting with the people around you. They say you need to hug someone for between 8-10 seconds, to be physically touching them, to have a release of oxytocin, which is the love hormone. And I see too many people kind of just going yeah, yeah, yeah, off, you go off, you go off, you go, sort of tiny little pat pat pat, and there's no real connection there.
Because, "Yeah, I'm busy, I'm busy”, and they're already running the next email or they're about to jump on the call. And I get that I'm busy too. But there is something magical in waking up in the morning, or seeing your child for the first time after you've picked them up for school, or seeing them in the evening, and actually getting down on their level and being truly present. Putting everything else to the side and saying, "Hello, how was your day?” “Give me a hug.” And actually hugging them, and feeling them, and feeling their breath on your neck, or wherever they are.
It doesn't have to be a four hour date night. It doesn't have to be this full “big-plan-family-outing” with the picnic, and Kumbaya moments, and whether this is with a friend, or a partner, or your kids, never, ever underestimate the importance of these tiny micro-moments. It's with your partner, as you're walking in the hallway. It's a butt slap, here and there. It's a peck on the cheek. And we are too often again, it's the little things.
This is one of the earlier lessons. How do you find those little things that make a big difference? And when it comes to connection, you don't go to the buffet. And once a month have this date night where you get a babysitter. And it's a big deal, and you fill up the tank, and that's the only time you eat out for the month. And the rest of the time, you're like ships in the night, who co-parent. Who don't ever actually connect apart from parenting. “You've got the kids.” “All right.” “You got the lunches.” “Okay, let's go here.”
Intimate relationships can, very easily, fall into transactional nature. And that's really tough, because then all the love can start to fade, and we wonder why we're here. So they are the lessons from Stella that I would really encourage you to take on board today. So unicorns are real. Poopy-corns can make everything better. Life should be lived in colour. There's absolute value in the classics. Have more dance parties. Stuff the weather. The little things make a big difference. Nachos should be eaten every night for dinner.
Feel deeply, and the best way to start the day is with a hug. There's a lot there, and next year she will be 11. There's probably too many for me to keep doing these lists. But they've been so much fun for me over the years to create, and cultivate, and update, to where she is, and what she's doing. So my takeaway, that I would love for you to have, is to choose one of this list, and I'll put them down in the show notes to think about what. Which one is mine? Which one do I want to take on board?
Today, you're going to have some sparkle, and put on some big earrings. Are you going to feel deeply? Are you going to give somebody a hug? And don't do all of them, because I know you might love all of them, but in my world we pick one or two things. Because that's all that we can actually integrate, and that's all that's really going to make a shift. So, pick one or two things. If you feel like life's a bit poo-pondy at the moment, maybe you need to go print yourself a picture of a poopy-corn, stick it on your laptop, and remind yourself that: "You know what? There is more on the other side of this, so enjoy this.”
OUTRO: Thank you for joining us today on the Balance and Beyond Podcast. We're so glad you carved out this time for yourself. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend who might need to hear this today. And if you're feeling extra generous, leaving us a review on your podcast platform of choice would mean the world. If you’re keen to dive deeper into our world, visit us at www.balanceinstitute.com to discover more about the toolkit that has helped thousands of women avoid burnout and create a life of balance, and beyond. Thanks again for tuning in, and we'll see you next time on the Balance & Beyond Podcast.
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