Comparison, judgement and anxiety have always plagued me with paralysis, and until recently, I always did what "I thought I was supposed to do" - what I thought others expected me to do. A family member once chided me saying, “ But, you’re on your path?! Why would you change your path!? You can't do that!” At the time, I was beaten down a bit, but now I know that was a reflection of his insecurities, his life choices and limitations.
I’m not a very vulnerable person. Even being vulnerable with myself terrifies me. It’s as if I know what I’m going to find down there, in the deepest parts of myself, and it scares me too much to dig into it. So, it doesn’t really happen that often, if at all – and remains a daily challenge. But I know that I’ve let fear rule for too long.
While I sat down to write this, a song called, “fear is a liar” came up on my Pandora station ( I don’t know what’s going on with my station.. ok??)…. and damn there’s so much truth to that. So, I wrote it down on a post –it to keep it top of mind.
Many of you reading this have probably been loosely following my “refresh, renew, recharge” journey – the journey that I started on maternity leave from my corporate marketing job ( to which I have subsequently returned). This post speaks to some of this journey and the why behind Frank + Cedar, why now, and seriously why the F not!?
As part of this journey, I challenged myself to just speak my truth.
If I felt I should do something or say something, I was just going to put myself out there and try it. It was scary as shit. Like the random Facebook videos I decided to do without any makeup and SO. MANY. SCREW UPS. Did you see the 3 or 4 that my Mom and I tried?
And I’ll tell you what.
Vulnerability is powerful AF.
It breaks down barriers, it creates powerful connections, connections and opportunity that you never would have imagined. It allows us to speak to God ( or the Universe… or whatever you believe about a higher power). Guys, can I tell you that things just started to connect? Pieces just fell into place once I started just doing it. God just started showing me signs - showing me the path, the next step. Things just started working.
Let me back up for a second and talk about why this journey in the first place.
I was stuck. I was stuck on what I can only describe as a hamster wheel.
I was just going through the motions.
I was lacking in joy.
My body hurt.
My mind hurt.
I had a headache EVERYDAY.
And I was SO TIRED.
I had this perception that life was something happening to me… .vs something I was allowed to create.
I was about to have a new baby ( one that I was worried as to how we would possibly handle ANOTHER little one), had just moved into a new house, had to say goodbye to our first “fur” baby, an immediate family member had recently suffered a sudden and very traumatic brain injury, my boss at work had just quit…..the future at my corporate job was murky as all get out…
I was dealing with WAY TOO MUCH STUFF.
I got to a point where I had to give it up. I literally had a conversation with God to say, I release this all to you. I need you to carry me through this. I need you to show me the way. I will follow where you lead. I know you’re there and we haven’t been speaking, but I am listening, I am ready. This is in your hands.
I also started practicing gratitude every day to notice and give recognition to all the abundance that I have in my life, because you guys, I am SO BLESSED.
And, let’s just say the conversation started buzzing. And looking back, I realize it had been there all along, but in my supposed busyness, I just hadn’t been listening.
To Inspire, Protect and Restore Dreams. This is the mission of the company where I currently hold a corporate marketing position. Pretty cool right? I mean, I get to figure out how to help people live their best lives – to propel the belief that a brighter future exists and help others protect and achieve it. I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to achieve a dream, that the mere pursuit ensures that we will be happier, healthier, less stressed and carry less regret, regardless of if we achieve it or not.
But given this time to pause alone with my thoughts ( yes, it is pretty quiet during those multiple middle of the night nursing and rocking sessions with a new baby), I realized that I wasn’t even doing it for myself. And, just how was I supposed to help other people pursue their passion and live their truth if I wasn’t working from a place of experiencing it first-hand? I couldn’t authentically create strategies against this mission if I, myself, wasn’t a living and breathing example.
Upon this realization, I heard a voice deep inside me (which I can only identify as God) say that it was ok. It was ok to just start. Just start pursuing something that you’re passionate about, and the next step will present itself. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect, if it’s polished, if it’s the “right” path. Just pick one thing that interests you, that you've been wanting to learn about, or experience and start doing something. Help will present itself when needed.
During all this reflection, I reconnected with a former high school basketball teammate of mine. We had never been very close, but she invited me to try out a nutritional program that had completely transformed her life. Although severely skeptical, I gave it a go ( I was in “try it” mode after all), and while I didn’t want to like it, giving my body
optimal nutrition helped lift the tired “Mombie” fog that new moms experience when they’re up all hours of the night. I felt so much better, my mind was much more clear, and I scolded myself for forgetting to feed my body right for a long time. Plus, I lost all the baby weight without really trying.
Additionally, I became a part of a health/wellness community that reignited a passion for well-being that had since been forgotten, and brought to light the realization that I had been de-prioritizing my health and well-being which had once been a cornerstone of my existence .
I had forgotten just how much that mattered. About 10 years ago now, I pioneered the creation of a formal wellness program and quiet meditation room at the advertising agency where I worked. We brought in experts from nutrition to Reiki and I learned a lot.
Developing it, I truly felt, alive.
During this time I met several graduates of The Institute For Integrative Nutrition. At the time, and subsequently each time the new class started, I had felt like this was my path. But for some reason, I never enrolled ( I even started my first blog, Refresh, Renew, Recharge…… yes, that was literally the name. I probably still own the Blogger domain… remember Blogger?!).
Ok, let’s be honest, the main reason was the cost. I could never seem to justify the expense. And, because of that, I felt as though that passion, that part of myself, was for “someday” – not for today. I even got a call from admissions, seriously, you guys, like the same exact day all these thoughts were swirling through my head.
But I still didn’t enroll.
Instead, I started to think of ways that I could generate the additional income so that when the next class started, I could enroll and not worry about the cost.
But this story doesn’t end with me saving up the money and enrolling in IIN ( I likely still will). But for now, it goes in a slightly different direction. It led me to create this little empowering and educational brand: Frank + Cedar.
Another gift from the Universe and also my company’s CMO was a reflection journal from the Holstee Company. If you haven’t had a chance to check them out, I HIGHLY recommend (Seriously. Go.sign.up. for their daily emails. Did you do it? Done?).
At the end of the journal is their manifesto. And, while I’d always admired these words, I never really internalized them, until now.
Guys, this is YOUR LIFE! YOURS! You are in charge of what it gets to be! How awesome is that? Once you let go of of the judgement, the fear, and the shame, etc. - it can truly be anything.
I started to think about how much better I felt now that I was feeding my body right and also a lot about the folks in my life who no longer have their health and what that means for their existence....
WHY DOES IT SEEM LIKE EVERYONE IS GETTING/HAS CANCER???
Being up all hours of the day/night feeding a small child also gives you ample time to read ( or watch Netflix ;)). I learned A LOT about hidden toxins and chemicals that in no way shape or form should be entering or being put near/on our body. I learned about how our traditional food pyramid and big commercial agriculture is helping to make us sicker. I learned that our skin is our largest organ and that 60% of what we put on it, get's into our bloodstream..... and I started to get mad. Mad at marketing, at companies and big business for fooling us into thinking that what we buy is safe and good, if it says, " pure," "simple," and "natural" ... especially since I work in the marketing profession.
I also felt compelled to challenge the notion that “self-care” is for Sundays. How did we get here? This idea that we should only be caring about and taking care of ourselves for just ONE DAY a week is completely asinine. Being able to properly care for a new baby and be present for your other children and family members, meant I had to be caring for myself as best I could.
Self-care is an everyday priority.
We can’t exercise our own unique magic or awesomeness if we’re not at our optimal health. Without it, we basically have nothing. If you’ve flown anywhere, it’s the same as putting on your own oxygen mask before you can help anyone else put on thiers.
We are all meant to do such great things in this world, but if we’re not taking care of ourselves, we’re letting the universe down. We’re letting our unique magic fizzle out. You are letting EVERYONE DOWN!
You want to experience magic in the universe? Start prioritizing your health. Your well-being. FEED YOUR BODY, FEED YOUR MIND, FEED YOUR SOUL. It’s here that I feel compelled to insert the cliché’: You are what you eat…. but not only that. You are what you read, what you think and what you choose to surround yourself with.
“I am not what I think I am. I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.”
Each day we can consciously choose to build and be the best version of ourselves.
We are in control.
So frickin empowering right?!
All this said, I felt a push, a rise, something deep within me that said:
“Mary, this is your thing. You need to pursue taking more control over your health and wellbeing ( why did you stop?!) and you need to share that journey with others, in turn, empowering them.”
I had this sudden shift to start pursuing all the “someday’s” today. I couldn’t continue to be on what felt like a habitual hamster wheel. My passions weren’t something that should just sit on a shelf, only to be tapped into on rainy days, they should be exercised and shared everyday…. (ahem, the point here is SO SHOULD YOU!) And this is when the magic started to happen. And, while this may sound like common sense, it was extremely freeing.
This led me to spend a lot of QUIET time thinking about when in my past I had felt THE MOST ALIVE, the most true, the most real. Who was there, where was I, what was I doing, what was I NOT doing?! One of those places was at the lake, in the woods, being outside, experiencing nature ( this is a view from our new house on the lake).
Not only did this give me the clarity I needed, it reminded me how truly magical our planet is, and how nature somehow always has a way of taking care of nature - it moves forward, it survives, it adapts. We used to live much more simply, much more in tune with our planet and what it provided for us. And I started to wonder how to get back to that.
There is absolutely a time and place for modern western medicine, but there is a good body of research which indicates that the earth and nature have extreme healing abilities - that in our search for well-being, happiness and peace, we're rediscovering knowledge harbored for centuries around the world - somehow forgotten over the course of time. We've been trained and conditioned, it seems, to believe that what comes in a bright shiny package is better than something a little more rough around the edges.
It was then that I got out this box of magical oils that I purchased 2 years ago – which I rediscovered when unpacking and moving, and subsequently took to the hospital with me to help support positive emotions and relaxation during the birth of our second child. I had never used them prior to because they just felt too overwhelming. But now, what once felt overwhelming and "for someday", felt completely natural with recent connections and a supportive, educational community that just seemed to appear. And the future, the possibilities, started to present themselves.
People who I hadn't connected with in nearly 20 years appeared out of the woodwork. Articles, books and resources just appeared without any effort on my part. Though some special 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon magic, I also reconnected with one of the former IIN Grads I mentioned, and I teamed up with a girl I met trekking across Europe 18 odd- years-ago.
As I started experimenting with this little life changing box of oils, I also came across another insta post that was seriously, “singing my life with his words, ” where I knew that I was on the right path.
He posed these 5 questions:
1: Do I feel excited about it?
2: Can I stay curious for the nxt 3 yrs?
3: Will this challenge + push me outside comfort?
4: Would I do this for free?
5: If it fails, will I gain value from relationships, new skills?
I said yes to every single question.
Many of you know that I’ve “started” a lot of things before. I was a personal stylist (and still offer random style advice), fashion blogger, Stella + Dot Stylist, TV personality, Beautycounter Consultant, etc. But those things always felt like W-O-R-K. And also, somewhat limiting. Developing Frank + Cedar and empowering others to take control of their physical and financial wellbeing was just easy. You guys, SO EASY. Things just came, they just flowed.
I'm telling you this story because you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Each and every event in your life has lead and shaped your path forward and everyone’s is unique. I am dedicated to empowering each and every one of us to take control of our own wellbeing, prioritizing self –care (which doesn’t JUST mean, “fancy baths” (although it certainly can. Let’s be honest, I love me some salts and bombs)... no, what I'm saying is that it means listening to yourself and your body and DOING WHAT YOU NEED TO BE AWESOME. It means feeding and surrounding your mind, body and soul with the GOOD STUFF ( like nature, for example)!
The world needs your awesomeness. Take care to notice, really notice what your body is telling you. Listen and take action! Educate yourself and vote with your dollars. I want everyone to experience just how powerful nature can be, and it excites me to know that everyone - no matter who you are- can exercise its magic.
I hope that you'll join me and continue to check out this little space with the latest in self -care, wellness, education and products. Plan to see a range of voices and experts offering their unique perspectives and advice on how to care for our bodies, minds and souls in an effort to collectively exercise our awesome magic in this world.
Here's to a happier and healthier you! Let’s bring it!