Just so you know, I have an embarrassed look on my face right now.
I’m aware it’s been AGES since I last wrote a blog post.
I do apologise.
But, in my defence, there was a good reason for my silence.
I fell off the wagon in both life and business (again).
Instead of being all negative and down about it, I’m calling this time my ‘Fertile Void.’
I wasn’t sure if this was something that you wanted to hear about but I created a little poll on instagram.
Surprisingly, 100% of voters said they want to know what’s been going on BTS in my life + biz over the last 3 months….so I thought I best flex my writing muscle once again and share about this tricky little transition I’ve been facing.
WARNING – this is a very long post.
I plan to break my ‘Fertile Void Voyage’ into a series of posts, so I don’t overwhelm you.
So grab a beverage of choice, sit back and have a little read of this first instalment.
Why am I sharing this?
I’m sharing this for two reasons:
- I like to be transparent and I think it’s important to share the good times AND the not so good times (especially in this age of seeing everyone’s perfect social media show reels),
- I hope that some/all of the things I share may support you or provide you with some inspiration, especially if you’re going through any kind of life and/or business transition.
How I fell into the Fertile Void
Ok, so the best place to begin is probably the start.
You may remember my Business With Heart Collaboration that I launched at the start of the year? Well this was a huge success, both personally and professionally and as we were closing the doors to our program, I was jumping on a plane to Thailand with my little family.
What I thought was going to be a relaxing, celebratory va-cay turned into somewhat of a disaster thanks to a teething, ‘I REFUSE TO SLEEP’ toddler! (She even hid James’s credit card and we were just about to cancel it when we found it shoved in the DVD player – thanks Xanthe!).
Anyway, as parents of babies and toddlers are aware (or probably kids in general) going on holidays isn’t that relaxing, especially when you’re already sleep deprived.
Don’t get my wrong, our trip to Phuket and Bangkok was great, (the purpose was to look at places to live in Bangkok), but this intense stint of sleep deprivation which was piled on to a long stretch of sleepless nights (at least 5 months), resulted in my husband and I returning to Hong Kong simply exhausted.
The sleep deprivation continued as my husband kept travelling for work, which meant it was me getting up every single time Xanthe woke. In resistance, my body slowly started to break down.
But instead of taking my foot of the gas, I ramped things up. I decided I needed to get fit again and what better motivation then knowing you’re going to be on stage, as an awards finalist!
So I decided to do a 30 day Barre Body challenge and complete 30-60 minutes of high intensity workouts every morning. What a brilliant idea Ainslie!
The first 10 days I felt great. My energy was increasing and I was feeling strong and toned again (something that alluded me after having Xanthe 18 months earlier). But when day 11 came around, the idea of exercising made me feel physically sick.
So I stopped. In my mind I felt I looked good enough to be on stage and the plan was to fly to Melbourne (child free!) and have a weekend with my mum and sister…and I could get some much needed rest!
Did that happen? No.
Melbourne was a blast. It was amazing to catch up with all my friends and colleagues at the Beautiful You Coaching Academy Awards and it was fantastic to spend quality time with my mum and sister (and spend a fortune on clothes, shoes, makeup and scrumptious meals + coffee).
But again, I returned to Hong Kong completely wiped.
Motivation for my work dwindled and I could barely drag my butt around town. I was questioning everything.
Why the heck do we live in Hong Kong? And when are we going to move?
Do I even like coaching? Am I even good at it?
Why am I spending so much time on my business (for little reward) when I could be at home with my baby?
Maybe I should get a job? Or maybe I’ll embrace being a stay-at-home mum?
Or maybe I’ll send Xanthe off to school so I can lie on the lounge all day and watchKeeping up with Kardashians?
I recognised this heavy, physically flat, anxious feeling.
I had experienced it at least twice before in the last few years.
It was adrenal fatigue. I had pushed and pushed and pushed my body until I realised it was time to pull back big time.
Adrenal fatigue is common among business owners as well as new mums. And when you have your own business, plus a little one in your life, you’re an amazing candidate to take on all the shitty things that adrenal fatigue offers.
Now I’m a ‘fixer.’ I fix things myself and I often don’t need help. But the big realization I had was that I couldn’t pull myself out of this ugly big hole alone.
Yes, it was my job to take action but I needed the support, guidance and wisdom of others to help make this happen.
What I did during my ‘Fertile Void’
Now, we can dive into the BTS stuff.
I’ll share what I actually did to pull myself out of that shit place so I could feel the happiest, most fulfilled and energised I’ve felt in a loooooong time.
Energetic + Digital De-cluttering
You’re probably thinking, ‘De-cluttering. How predictable Ainslie.’ Yes, I get it. I did the usual things of cleaning out my wardrobe, tidying my desk and clearing out the pantry.
But I also looked at other aspects of my life + business that needed clearing.
++ Dream Board
The first one was my shared dream board I have with my husband. As I looked at the images I just wasn’t vibing with them anymore, so I swiftly removed all the pics and it’s been bare for 3 months now.
I needed lots of white space and seeing as though my guiding word for 2018 is ‘Spaciousness,’ it made sense to resist the urge to re-pin pretty pictures and instead, take time to ponder.
Slowly my new dreams for the future are flowing in and I know I’ll re-pin with purpose very soon!
I also took stock of my website. I removed a heap of content, including my FREE RESOURCES, because I knew it wasn’t aligning with where I was in my business (or where I thought I wanted to go).
I removed my copywriting coaching program, stopped selling my Copy That Connects + Converts online course, changed my title to Writer, Online Business Strategist and Certified coach and updated my bio across all platforms.
Even though I knew things weren’t clear as to where I was going in my business, I knew where I DIDN’T want to go (often a good start). Making these small changes made me feel like I was wrangling my business in the right direction.
I worked with a coach
I’ve always worked with coaches and Amy Mackenzie is someone I’ve worked with multiple times (because she’s THAT GOOD!). . I really can’t recommend her work highly enough.
As usual, I went into the coaching series wanting to focus on my business but it was my mindset that needed a major overhaul.
Amy really taught me how to look after the woman within the business (that’s me!) and as a result I realised that my boundaries sucked. (Well they were pretty much non-existent…which is kind of embarrassing when this is what you help your clients with too!).
As a result of this major lesson I wrapped up a number of coaching series with clients who weren’t a good fit, I said no to working with new clients, I turned down freelance writing gigs that didn’t pay me my full fee, I ended my contract with the co-working space I’d been working from and I just took time out to focus on ME!
The Psychic Reading
Around the same time I was working with Amy, I actually had a psychic reading.
I’d never had one before simply because I didn’t like the idea of them. Why? I learned all about self-fulfilling prophecies as a part of my psychology degree and ‘No one was going to dictate my life!’
But I had this niggling feeling that it would help so as Sheryl Sandburg would encourage, ‘I leaned in’ and went ahead.
I won’t go into too much detail but the key things that came out of my reading were:
- The big message = I needed to pull back in my life and business BIG TIME in order to be propelled forward BIG TIME (I was hating the idea of pulling back, WTF)
- Energetically my body isn’t meant to be in Hong Kong. Bangkok is a bad idea and we should move to Singapore instead (still waiting for that to happen!)
- I’m highly sensitive and intuitive and I’d benefit from doing some psychic and spiritual development work (noted, with thanks)
- I should change my surname to my husband’s so we are more aligned as a couple and a family (I’ll do that whenever I move back to Australia…way too difficult while living abroad!)
I literally sat up and took note, (copious notes actually), from my psychic reading and I took the ‘pulling back’ message as gospel.
Getting Crafty and Creative
Now I’m an ‘all or nothing’ kind of girl and the idea of ‘pulling back’ was doing my head in. So while I was ‘taking a break’ from my business I decided I wanted to take up knitting!
My fine motor skills are horrendous and I can barely thread a needle. So the idea of knitting was quite hilarious and my family was out right shocked.
However, I had really great goal to motivate me. My friend and coaching buddy Kate Caddle was going to give birth to her son and she had crotched Xanthe a beautiful rug when she was born.
I was determined that I was going to handcraft something for her baby too, so I signed up to a knitting workshop with the very patient Celine of The Knitting Room.
After many skype sessions with my mum, lots of swearing in between ‘knit one, pearl one, ’and my husband rudely suggesting I needed more knitting lessons (I didn’t need them) I knitted a pair of pom pom booties for Kate’s baby.
I posted them off to Australia and I was proud as punch!
I actually really enjoyed knitting. It was like a moving meditation. And to be honest, I got more pleasure out of the actual practice than the final product.
When I first moved to Hong Kong I took up art lessons (as I had absolutely nothing to do!).
Somehow I managed to choose a class where the medium of instruction was Cantonese, which made life interesting! But I loved those 8 weeks and I really loved the process of painting.
So when my friend Jasmine Mansbridge, a very talented Australian Artist, came to town, I knew I had to sign up for her painting workshop.
I enjoyed every second of the process. From making the first mark on the blank canvas to mixing up paint (well Jasmine actually did this), and learning how to paint into the corner to brushing the third layer of paint on…it was all so much fun.
But the greatest lesson I took from the experience was to ‘just start the process and let it unfold organically.’ When everyone was struggling to start their geometric drawings (me included) Jasmine shared some very sage advice.
Don’t overthink it and don’t plan. Just let it flow….and I did.
Getting Selective With My Work
If you follow me on social media you may be thinking, “Ainslie, it doesn’t look like you’ve pulled back!”
Many people have said this to me and I get it.
I didn’t completely shut up shop and follow my dream of watching the Kardashians all day, every day (joke, that is not my dream).
But I was very selective of where and how I invested my energy. For example, I co-hosted a sold out Business Mastermind Day Retreat and continued to run our in-person business mastermind group in Hong Kong.
Why? Because I crave connection, my co-host is one of my greatest friends and it was a lot of fun.
I continued to work with a few clients who I loved but I didn’t actively promote my services. Like I said before, I actively turned clients away.
I also didn’t stick to my routine social media sharing. I only posted when I felt called to. (Thankfully Xanthe always provides pretty solid content for me to share!).
It sounds easy, right? Wrong!
For me, this was extremely difficult. But I had to refine, refine, and refine some more and practice doing only the things that mattered and only the tasks that aligned with my ‘why.’
Because I was feeling so lethargic I knew I had to see a naturopath for my adrenal fatigue. I put this off for SO LONG! It was actually Amy, my coach at the time who pretty much made me go.
But thank god for accountability. Once I got the dreadful homeopathic tincture + Vitamin B supplements into me, my energy slowly started to elevate.
The naturopath recommended that I clean up my diet so I signed up to do a 5 day wholefoods cleanse with Shaira of The Wellness Lab.
The cleanse eliminated dairy, refined sugar, red meat, gluten, coffee and alcohol for an entire working week, but I was very diligent and disciplined and I got through it.
Once I got over day 2 of no coffee, I started to feel amazing and by the end of the week I was gladly receiving lovely compliments about how sparkly my eyes were and how glowing my skin was.
I’m also pleased to say that I’ve incorporated a number of healthy habits I picked up during the cleanse into my usual daily life, and I’m feeling more sustained as a result.
(However coffee is a morning must….how can I say no to my in-house barista (James) who lovingly prepares my caffeine hit for the day?!)
Seeing as though we are sitting at over 2000 words and we are only a third or so through my Fertile Void follies, I think we best wrap this instalment up.
Next week I plan to share more of the WOO! (And let me tell you there’s plenty of ‘woo’ and it has all been brilliant!).
Think Numerology, Akashic Record Readings, Psychic + Spiritual Development…..
I’ll be sharing exactly who I worked with, how each of these things have deeply benefited me plus what I’m working on next!
AAAANNNNDDDD if you have ANY questions about my Fertile Void, navigating your own personal or professional transition or you’d just like to say ‘hi’ and share something with me…..
…..I’d LOVE to hear from you!
Just comment below or send me an email 🙂
Until my next instalment, Hugs from humid Hong Kong,