Hello MBA Community,
This year at Mind Body Align we are embarking on an exploration into mindfulness and wholehearted living. We began the year by offering some tools for you to use in order to assess where you are at this moment. (see Annamarie’s wheel of wellbeing) Our intention is that each month we shed light on each area of whole living through our blog posts, podcasts, playlists, and even the resources that we curate for you in our retail shop. We kicked off the March topic with Coffee Talk guest host, Cindy Biggs. As an accomplished leadership and executive coach, we knew that she would be the ideal person to talk with us about this month’s topic, perfectionism. Be sure to keep an eye out for Cindy’s blog post called Perfectionism Rewired. It will be in your inbox next week.
So why are we talking about perfectionism if our year is focused on whole living? Why not just dive into one of the areas on the wheel of wellbeing? Sometimes we need to start with the obstacles. If we begin with them we can open up a dialog to find strategies and solutions. Perfectionism seems to keep coming up when we talk about issues facing our Mind Body Align community. The response to the LunchWISE Wednesday event last month, when we tackled the topic of Imposter Syndrome, truly struck a chord. I have never received so many emails after an event. The idea of being perfect can be a huge stumbling block when it comes to living a life that is fully engaged. For many, trying to be perfect is a way to avoid the fear of failure and, just to be clear, we are talking about perfectionism as opposed to setting standards or striving for excellence.
Back in October 2018 our guest blogger, Kym Lamb wrote, “I’ve found that Bravery Over Perfection comes when you are willing to inspect your strengths and weaknesses. It’s the willingness to question what you believe and why consistently…Bravery emerges when we embrace failure as taking that one daring step past fear and it’s when we recognize that excellence comes not in being flawless, but fearless.”
I love this! “Taking that ONE DARING STEP past the fear.
So how do we use and apply the practice of mindfulness when it comes to silencing our inner critic?
Begin with awareness.
Notice and pay attention to the words and tones that you use with yourself. The voice in our head can work to keep us safe but there are times when we need to simply recognize it and release it especially when it is telling us things that are negative or untrue. Would you speak to a friend the way that you speak to yourself?
Notice what is happening.
When we recognize that the voice in our head (our inner critic) is at work or we realize that we have set a standard that is beyond realistic, Mind Body Align founder, Annamarie Fernyak, says you should ask yourself the question, what’s happening now? What do I see, hear, taste, touch, and smell? What thoughts, physical sensations, and emotions are present? What do I “sense” or intuit is happening in the world around me?
Move into the present moment.
Once we have done a check-in with our heart, mind, and physical sensations we can begin to release judgments and embrace curiosity. Our thoughts pass by us like clouds in the sky. We observe them rolling past without becoming attached or engaging them.
Develop a practice.
Meditation is a great tool for learning to live mindfully. Like most things worth pursuing, it takes practice and training. Mediation can be done in the amount of time it takes to brush your teeth but it does require regularity. It’s a workout for your brain and the benefits of setting aside the time are so worth it. You would never expect to go running once and then sign up for a marathon expecting to complete it. Mindfulness meditation works in the same way. You’ve got to train the brain.
Surround yourself with people and things that support your commitment to living fully. It is essential to your success. Be aware of who you are spending time with, what you are reading, watching or listening to, and curate those things with intention.
As we move through the month of March and adjust our clocks internally and externally for Spring, our team at Mind Body Align invites you to join us with curiosity, self-compassion, and mindfulness as we explore perfectionism. We look forward to connecting with you at one of our classes, events or conversations on social media.
Sending you joy!
P.S. Be sure to keep an eye on your inbox for fresh new content to keep you inspired.
Mind Body Align’s Director of Operations is Jennifer Blue. No stranger to small business, Jen is a community leader, an entrepreneur and a published author who has led several successful startups. Responsible for overseeing the creation and implementation of all programs and events offered at the historic Butterfly House, home of Mind Body Align, as well as overseeing all operations for the company. Jennifer has worked alongside entrepreneurs and visionaries in various industries and positions over her 30-year management career. A Mansfield, Ohio native, Jen returned to Ohio after living and working in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as South Florida. She studied political science at Otterbein College and the University of Louisville. Adventure, creativity and new challenges are “musts” in her life; these drives have led Jen to work as a freelance writer, chef, and abstract artist.
Many people talk about life as being in balance or, more commonly, “out of balance”, and yet, I’m curious, how many of those same people have defined what balance is, or means, to them? Have you? Are you happy, fulfilled, “living your best life?” Would you consider yourself successful, or “living a life of purpose?” These are very popular questions in an age where more people than ever before have food, shelter, time, and money; enough of each to consider the finer points and purpose of life. And, whether acknowledged or not, the answers to these questions are likely fueling your goals and resolutions for 2020. So, before you dive into creating your goals, resolutions, and intentions for the new year, I hope you will consider the following things I’ve learned about happiness, fulfillment, success, life purpose, and balance (aka “these states of being”).
- These states of being are all subjective. They are based on personal desires, interests, expectations, habits, beliefs, and each individual’s unique way of experiencing the world. You may think this is obvious, and yet it is easy to forget this very important point when reading and learning from experts who are charismatic, articulate, and learned. Always “check it at the door” as I say to my clients and students. Check everything the experts tell you (and I tell you) with your own heart and gut. You’ll know when a particular piece of advice is right for you by how you feel when you begin to incorporate it into your life. If it doesn’t increase your joy or contribute to your sense of purpose, it probably isn’t right for you.
- “Everyone walks their own Camino.” This is a phrase spoken over and over again while hiking the Camino de Santiago; a 400 plus mile hike that my husband and I walked from France through Spain to Santiago de Compostela. Another way of putting this is, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” a well-known quote by Teddy Roosevelt. Your best life can’t and won’t look like anyone else’s best life. In fact, your best life today is different than your best life yesterday and tomorrow.
- These states of being are dependent on whatever is happening in your world at any given moment. Your ability to manage the things life throws at you will change based on factors you CAN CONTROL (nutrition, exercise, sleep, mindset, self-talk, how you treat others, and your choices) and things you CAN’T CONTROL (past, future, weather, change, other people’s minds, other people’s happiness, and traffic). One of the keys to finding joy and fulfillment is to invest your energy and time on things you can influence; make the effort to control the things you CAN CONTROL and let go of the things you can’t.
- I’m a big fan of the Peter Drucker quote, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” If you have never defined what a fulfilled, happy, successful, and balanced life is to you, how do you know how to navigate and when to recalibrate? Use tools like vision boarding and Wheel of Life to create personal understanding and support you in living your best life.
- Gratitude! Really, appreciate it, all of it – even the yucky stuff! This is the essence of life.
Socrates or Plato (both are credited) said, “The unexamined life is not worth living?” I disagree. I do believe, however, that the examined life 1) makes it possible to understand your unique self, 2) provides you with information you need to set fulfilling and purposeful goals, 3) allows for compassion when life gets tough, 4) offers structure in order to recalibrate and learn, and 5) encourages gratitude and a joyful approach to everything life offers you. One morning when I encountered an acquaintance on the street, I said, “Isn’t this a beautiful day to be alive?” His answer still resonates with me, “every day I wake up is a beautiful day to be alive.” Welcome to one more beautiful day friends!!! Sending you love and a great big new years hug! Annamarie
Annamarie Fernyak is the founder and CEO of Mind Body Align LLC based in Mansfield, Ohio. She is a certified life coach, mindfulness meditation teacher, and serial entrepreneur. The development of the MBAwareness Education Program was conceived while Annamarie was volunteering to teach mindfulness in a local middle school and found that the teachers and students were struggling to grow calm for their guest teacher, students seemed unable to pay focused attention, and the teachers were growing frustrated.
Annamarie’s focus was to create a program that would transform the lives of the students. She focused on hiring a licensed teacher to create and instruct the mindfulness-based social and emotional learning curriculums to elementary and secondary school students and teachers. Due to the challenges associated with global health concerns, Annamarie’s mindfulness education program is further now evolving into online mindfulness education focusing on teaching tools that reduce stress and support a life where people can feel more at ease. We also teach as a part of corporate wellness programs.
In 2017, Annamarie launched Align Mindfulness which is a FREE app downloadable from your app store that sends prompts a few times a day, bringing attention to what’s happening in your world. Intentionally simple, these reflections help you build a well-rounded “mindfulness” muscle by offering variety in where you place your awareness.
When I was asked to do this blog my first thought was, I don’t want to strip my label. I don’t think labels are always bad. I am a librarian, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a 29-year breast cancer survivor- all labels I am proud to have. Each one defines a part of my life. Some labels I wouldn’t mind losing, like being a procrastinator, judgmental, or stubborn. I am working on those.
It is a normal human behavior to label things and people to help us understand them. If you consider how a child learns to talk or read, the first things she learns are labels for people and things. Mama, Dada, milk, cookie…. As children have more experience they get a more complete understanding of each thing. In some ways, it’s the same for adults. When we meet someone new, we ask them for their labels. “What do you do for a living?” “Do you have any children?” “Where do you live?” We are looking for a connection or a way to know the person better. The problem comes when we think if we know the label that is all there is to know.
We need to be willing to take the time to get to know the real person we have just met. The labels we identify are just a starting point. Find out what other experiences or feelings have shaped the life of your new acquaintance. You may find you have made a lifelong friend.
Many labels are rooted in stereotypes. I am proud to be “The Library Lady”. My license plate even says, “SHHH”. As a librarian, many people think they know what kind of person I am just because of the profession I have. I am thought to be a quiet person who reads all day, and who is really interested if you have overdue books. I can’t count the number of times when I mention I am a librarian that the first thing a person tells me is that they have overdue books or fines.
I can be a quiet person sometimes and I do like to read when I have time, but you might be surprised if you saw me at a party. I am usually the first one on the dance floor and often the last one to leave. I am a country music fan, which surprises some people who know me. I love cars and often go to car shows with my husband. I prefer driving a car with a manual transmission, but they are hard to find anymore.
Labels can be limiting, not only in our relationships but also in our own minds. I am happy to be a breast cancer survivor, but when I was going through treatment I decided I wasn’t going to let this change my life any more than absolutely necessary. I continued to work and care for my young children. I wore a wig cut to my regular hairstyle so it wasn’t obvious to those who didn’t know me well that I was undergoing cancer treatments. I did as much of my regular routine as I could, with a lot of help from my husband. I didn’t want cancer to define me to others or myself.
Labels do help others get to know us, but we have to get beyond the stereotypes to really get to know one another. To make a true connection we have to have real conversations that explore our values, our feelings and how we see ourselves and each other. We need to be willing to let others see us as we are.
It is difficult to be open with others, especially those who are new to us. We feel vulnerable when we don’t know how someone will react to what we reveal of ourselves. But we have to be brave enough to be vulnerable if we are to live authentically. We also need to examine our own values and live in accordance with them. Do we act differently because we worry about what a certain person or group will think of us? If we try to live consciously, working toward the person we want to become, we can be open to others and let them see our real selves. It isn’t easy and it takes time and work, just like any worthwhile endeavor.
Deborah L. Dubois is the Outreach Coordinator at the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library where she has worked for 34 years. Deborah enjoys taking the Library out into the community and sharing what a wonderful resource we have in Richland County. She loves to dance, travel, take photos, and of course, read. She is married to Deacon Tom Dubois and has two daughters, two sons-in-law, and two grandchildren.
I’ll admit it; this particular topic was difficult for me at this point in my life. You see, for the last several weeks I have felt more un-amazing than anything else. I dragged my feet on writing this knowing I’d have to fess up to the terrible way I’ve felt about myself recently. So… here it is: after losing my job I felt like a giant failure. I was certain everyone could see that failure on my face. But you know what? Now that I’ve said it out loud, I can see how awful it really is.
It’s ok to feel un-amazing for a while
Why did I let that statement make me so miserable for literally months?
We all go through these cycles of feeling bad and then getting better but we greatly undervalue a certain part of the process: the part where we dust ourselves off and try again. Why do we give such weight to the negative and yet, without blinking, completely undermine the strength and courage it takes to overcome our darkness?
That journey, the one that only you know, it’s special and there is amazingness in having lived it. So let me share with you some lessons I’ve learned along the way to help me get past these negative feelings and start again with sincerity towards my own amazingness.
Tell your story
In her 2015 publication, “Rising Strong”, Brene Brown says, “vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
By owning your experience and sharing it with others, you become the narrator of your own history. It’s your story, so make sure you tell it with conviction. For example, leaving my former position was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. There are still days when I am not sure it was right but what I do know is that in the wake of that decision, I’ve pondered new ideas and pursued things that I never thought would be a reality for me.
I’ve become more attuned to my strengths, due in large part to my moments of weakness. I am more comfortable in my abilities than I might have ever realized had I stayed where I was. To me, this unexpected realization is pretty amazing.
Find your tribe
What’s cool about finding the right group of people is you really recognize their importance in your life when you feel the least awesome about yourself.
Moment of truth coming up: I haven’t always been a good friend.
I rarely make dates to get together and if I do, I often have to reschedule because of my job or kids or some other pressing issue. But let me hear that a friend is down on hard times and I’m there. No questions asked. This is what I’ve experienced recently but on the receiving end.
The women and men who I call my “tribe” really stepped up and helped me through the dark parts by saying all the nice things to me that I wasn’t able to say to myself at the time. You see, if you surround yourself with people who will jump in and be champions for you when you are unable to climb out of the pit, you’ve got yourself something seriously amazing there. Even better, when you have true and loyal supporters who lift you up, you’ll start to see yourself the way they see you and soon afterward, you may even start believing it, too.
Free your mind
If you come to my home and it is really, really clean, you’d be witnessing the aftermath of some mental tornado. Like so many others, I clean when I am stressed or depressed or need a moment to gather myself. The act of physically placing things in order can have tremendous metaphysical benefits for our internal journey.
As Albert Einstein, said, “Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
When we release the weight of things which no longer serve us, whether in our careers, our homes, or our hearts, we open up space to carry the things we didn’t have the strength for before. Sometimes, the simplest things can bring amazingness to the surface—you just have to prepare your mind to accept it—which you can’t do if it is filled with too much unnecessary junk.
For me, I found this in good old fashion exercise. Not only did I get the endorphin high from the physical activity but I also started to see results, which helped me let go of so much of the negativity I had toward myself about my appearance. Just physically feeling better helped clear my mind of the awful and hurtful things I would think about myself on the regular.
It’s OK to know you’re amazing!
When the time comes to let all that negativity and self-loathing go, you’ll know.
One day, suddenly, you’ll realize that you’re stronger than you were the day before. You’ll remember how hard you’ve worked and you may even get mad at yourself that you allowed this sad state to go on for so long. But don’t get distracted here. Now is the time to own your experience by sharing it with others and reaching out to your tribe. Soon you will begin to clear the clutter and start again.
The moment when you decide to live with our un-amazingness and keep going anyway, this is the most amazing part that we often overlook. So next time you find yourself in this place, where you have to choose to stay the same or to live in your un-amazingness, recognize that what you’ve done, what you have, and where you are going is actually pure, golden amazingness. Let this be the part of you that shines.
Mary Cabrera Kennard is a self-made dreamer, a global citizen, and a pogonophile who resides in Mansfield, Ohio with her husband, Blake, and their two young sons, Griffin and Phoenix. For over 10 years Mary served the non-profit community in Mansfield as the Education and Outreach Director at the Mansfield Art Center and most recently as the Deputy Director at the Ohio State Reformatory Historic Site. Mary is a graduate of Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelors of Arts in Art History with an emphasis on visual culture. As a Richland County native, Mary returned to the area after receiving her degree in hopes to grow roots in the community where she grew up. Mary contributes to the areas’ cultural landscape through her efforts as a fashion & lifestyle influencer on Instagram and as a self-taught makeup artist through her business, Ohio Style Vibe. In addition to her own ventures, Mary acts as a brand style-strategist for Black Forge Creative, a multi-media design company owned by her brother, Dennis Cabrera.
One of my favorite “save myself” lines that I say to myself after a failure is, “Oh, it is okay as long as I have learned something from it.” But who am I kidding? It is still a fail and learning doesn’t typically prevent it from happening in the same way again. That is an example of one of the rumble discussions Brene’ Brown refers to in her book, “Rising Strong”. It is a term to describe honest discussions with yourself.
Dr. Brown details three easy steps to “Rising Strong” including paying attention to what you are feeling emotionally and physically, writing down the story you are telling yourself – whether it is real or not – and taking insights from the “rumbling” talk with yourself. She says, “the goal of the rumble is to get honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggles, to revisit, challenge and reality-check these narratives.”
Learning simply to notice our true feelings takes hard work! We first have to give ourselves permission to feel and be vulnerable and to ask, “why” we feel a certain way. It takes courage.
Keeping it real
Keeping it real with yourself means asking yourself some questions. I LOVE THIS! The story that you are telling yourself? Wow! That hits home! We tend to know when someone else is telling us their version of a story and we allow it. Gut check.
When I was given the assignment by Mind Body Align in early January, I was to write a blog on the topic Rising Strong. Following the steps that are outlined in the book, I determine the story that I’m making up is that “January is the worst month of the year for me. I am not ready for a new year to begin as the previous one is not over yet. Surely, I know people are planning, filling out their schedules, and they have closed the books on the previous year. Nope, not me.”
I check in with my emotions and they tell me that I have had so much to do on my own. It is hard running a business, a household, and raising a 17-year-old daughter by myself. I have been too busy to catch up. I will get there. No one understands.
My body is feeling as though I am running on empty. I am hurried and going in circles. I have so much I want to do but so little time.
Next, the book suggests that I assess my thinking. I feel as though my thinking makes sense. It is rational of course to feel this way. I am justified and “no one knows the trouble I’ve seen.”
Lastly, I observe my actions and say to myself, “Let’s just ignore the inner self-emotions. I do not have time to stop and think! No time for planning, meditation, or sharpening the saw. Just keep going! Do not stop to think.”
Hearing the truth
The point of her lesson is to clear the rumbling, come out with a clearer result and to “add positive changes that create a new revolutionized result.” Interestingly, the truth is I DO THIS TO MYSELF. Cheryl Carter’s January blog quote said it best for me, “But in the stillness, I began to see truths that had eluded me.” It was all so clear. By going deep into my own feelings, I was able to hear the truth. I had forgotten to stop and observe!
In truth, I have had a few tough years that have continually taken twists and turns from good to bad to worse to KEEP GOING. I have lived in a self-proclaimed bubble. It was created years ago (without having a rumbling self-discussion technique to rely on.) I was very proud of it too. Hiding from my own self. Not feeling failures deeply because I was learning something from them so – “let’s just keep riding them out.”
My 20-year marriage ended and I moved back to Mansfield, my hometown in 2010. A couple years later, I was fired from working as a consultant for a whole food nutritional company. It was a commission only based position so I was devastated. The next year in 2014, I lost a very close friend.
2015 brought many changes. I lost my mother in law during the same month I was diagnosed with thyroid disease. My RED VW Passat Turbo car was totaled and I was without a vehicle. So to hide more, I started caring for a 90-year old Purple Heart Veteran. September 2015 I opened my Healthy Transformation downtown Mansfield office.
I lost my biological father on February 18, 2016. For the majority of 2017 my Dad was in and out of the hospital with major health issues that continue today. There are no words to describe the feelings of trying to RISE STRONG in spite of not being able to help with his pain.
Yes, I have had opportunities of wallowing in fear and failure. The potential that can be realized when you allow learning to arise out of challenges is amazing. I am no different than the next woman who is learning how to RISE STRONG. I have learned that paying attention to our true emotions allows us to get to a place within ourselves that guides us to a better tomorrow. Even after we fail.
Next time you feel down about something, go through this exercise – asking yourself about your own story, checking in with your body, your emotions, thoughts, and actions. You will see how observing your truth can actually bring you out of the trap you set for yourself.
“One day at a time – this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.” Ida Scott Taylor
Renee M Schambre is first and foremost a Mother to her extraordinary daughter, Reagan. Renee is a Homeopathic Practitioner, an empath, and a Corporate Wellness Coach and Holistic Health Advisor. She founded Healthy Transformation in 1999. She is pursuing an advanced nutritional certification. She is a 15 year experienced Young Living essential oil educator. Renee has been a Nationally recognized BioScan MSA trainer for the past 13 years.
Her professional experience comes from her God-given ability and intuition to help teach people how to live healthy lifestyles, her commitment to ongoing education, formal training and clinical work.
Healthy Transformation’s Mission: Education for those passionate about educating our communities and future generations through the use of Homeopathy, Whole Food Supplements, and Essential Oils.
Afraid of everything… that was me growing up. I was always scared of the monster under the bed or in my closet. I never wanted to be out in the dark… fraidy cat.
As I began to think about my life and ponder how to approach the topic of “Getting Unstuck-What is Holding You Back,” I discovered that I have addressed this issue many times and have come a long way!
I was divorced and on my own for the first time at 41 years old. Surrounded by memories and not sure how I was going to move forward, I made the monumental decision that I was going to leave Mansfield, my best friends, my home, and my parents to create a new life for myself. Excited, petrified and determined, I found a job and an apartment and began a new life in Columbus not knowing anyone but determined that I would make it. So, my puppy dog, Jasper, and I moved on April Fools Day to begin our new life!! Many people told me I was crazy to do this, but the fear of “Being Stuck” was more significant than fear of failure!
Adapt and succeed
Being the only person I could count on to keep a roof over our head was frightening at times but also pushed me to work harder and succeed. My first position was with the Placement Service I enlisted as a means of securing a job in this new city. It was fascinating and I met a lot of really nice people. About 18 months in, the company announced that we would no longer be using paper files. We would have everything on a computer for easy access. Panic set in! I had never used a computer and had no idea how to do so. My dilemma was to either learn how to use the computer or get a new job. I learned so that I could continue with this company. I never realized that this knowledge would open up a whole new world for me!
I was at my first position in Columbus for almost three years, when introduced to the General Manager of a company where a wonderful new friend worked. They were looking for an Administrative Assistant. I got the job and proceeded to work my way up. As our division grew, my responsibilities changed. When downsizing closed our division, I was the Divisional Office Manager and the “right hand” to the Division President. I loved my job, and at eight years, I would have stayed forever! So… here I go again. Terrified but determined, I decided to try something totally out of my comfort zone (which seems to be the place that I find myself in most often). I was hired as the Showroom Manager for a blind and drapery company. What was I thinking?
I had no experience, no idea what I was doing, but was determined not to allow fear to hold me back. (Noticing a Theme in My Life?) Four years into this position, a wonderful old friend called me to ask that I come and work with her. I became the Assistant General Manager for a Co-Working Company. When she left the company, I took over the helm which was way out of my comfort zone, but, with support from my boss and clients, we moved ahead.
Fear was weighing me down
Let me share a secret; I had this enormous fear of walking into a room full of people and not knowing anyone. I wasn’t much better when I knew I had someone waiting for me. My dad always encouraged me to go into sales, but I knew that would never happen. Fear is a powerful deterrent.
Six months into my position as General Manager, the company decided that I would be required to go out into the community to make our company name known to all! I was determined that I could not allow fear to hold me back. So, I walked into the Hilton Polaris; a networking event with 500+ people, not knowing if I would recognize anyone. The moment I pulled open that door and stepped through changed my life. I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. A weight, I carried most of my life.
20 years later, I moved back to Mansfield and became involved in the downtown area and all the exciting growth taking place.
Confidence overcomes fear!
As my life continues, I still have to walk through doors not knowing what I will encounter, but now I have the confidence to handle anything that comes my way!
So… Getting Unstuck, What is holding you back? Mine was fear of the unknown. What is yours? Once you face that fear and realize that it does not control you any longer, there is not going to be anything you cannot do. Believe in the Power of You!
I retired in 2010 from a General Manager’s position in Worthington, Ohio to continue caring for my parents in Galion.
In 2011, I moved back to Mansfield after being gone for 21 years and purchased my home. I found a part-time position with Chuck Hahn as his Marketing Assistant. Through my work, I have become involved with many non-profits and have met so many truly amazing people in downtown and the surrounding areas. In 2015, I met Annamarie Fernyak and became involved with her new venture, Mind Body Align. Again, another amazing experience!! Now, I am also working with Renee Schambre at Healthy Transformation in Marketing.
I have two sons, Christopher and Scott, and I have 2 granddaughters, Chalee and Camille.
I am truly blessed to have found such a fulfilling life!!