Thriving Amongst The Chaos
Written by Caroline Bellenger
There is hardly a person alive today who hasn't been impacted by the current pandemic. For women, this has been an even harder transition, especially for those trying to negotiate a world of working at home while homeschooling children.
Even those still working are undergoing major pressures in the workforce. It is easy and completely understandable that women around the world are feeling overwhelmed, overworked and completely unprepared.
While the feminist movement of the 60s finally gave us the right to vote and the right to be heard, as women we also got swept up in the 90s wave of having it all. Children, work and freedom. As Mumpreneurs I think you would all agree the feminist movement has given us amazing opportunities which have allowed women to fully recognise their potential. On the flip side, it also created an environment where many women sacrificed their health, their families or their work to try and balance an everincreasing load of responsibilities.
Bring on the recent decade and women have recognised the need for balance and self-care. The chorus of ‘having it all’ was replaced with women making themselves a priority while searching for meaning and quality in their life. Finding peace with their own choices. I have loved watching this transition for women, where they have become even more powerful as their life choices are directed from within rather than dictated by society.
Enter COVID-19! In less than a couple of weeks, or for some women, a couple of hours, we have been thrown into unimaginable circumstances where our responsibilities and pressures have doubled or tripled with no time to prepare or comprehend. It is exactly these chaotic circumstances that can undo the last decade of self-care and empowerment if we don’t recognise the need to continue putting ourselves first. During my twenty years of addiction and depression, chaos was the main factor that kept me trapped. What I have learnt in sobriety is the need to understand the destructive nature of chaos and find strategies to mitigate the risks and turn challenges into success.
My first piece of advice is to always, and I mean always, put your own physical and mental health first. Prioritise your exercise, your nutrition, your meditation, your alone time or whatever you individually know fills you with joy and peacefulness. That may mean letting the ironing build up, the house stay untidy or accepting that you are not a trained teacher and can only do your best when it comes to homeschooling. You being a happy and more relaxed parent will have a much greater positive impact on your children than any other environmental influence.
"Take this time to fully appreciate what is important in your life."
The next suggestion I have is to take this time to fully appreciate what is important in your life. Like myself, many of you have had to close or pivot your current business. There is no sugarcoating how devastating or stressful the impacts are financially. For me it is not just about the financial; it is also three years of my life invested in my gym business which has been ripped from under my feet. Putting my heart and soul into something I love and now living with the uncertainty that I may never reopen. My initial shock at all of this left me tearful and full of anxiety. But as the weeks have passed, I have begun to enjoy so many aspects of my life again. Prior to this was three years of getting up at 4 am, missing my favourite times of the day in sunrise and sunset and being in a constant state of busy and achievement. The reality is in the past few weeks I have begun to enjoy the downtime, to appreciate not being so busy and have loved having more flexibility in my life. The irony is not lost on me that it took lockdown to gain freedom.
I certainly haven’t stopped ‘working’ as while at home with more time on my hands, I have been able to focus on things that I love doing. Learning new skills, developing new online coaching programs, writing blogs and reading books. The difference is I am being drawn to the things that really matter the most to me. The things that don't feel like work at all. So, while the world is undergoing chaos I am thriving.
Thriving may have different meanings to different people, but for me, it means I am heading in a direction that is my true calling and gives me meaning and purpose. I remember when I used to attend AA meetings that I would feel guilty at being so happy in sobriety when everyone around me was struggling and depressed.
The difference now is I don't feel guilty that I am enjoying my life while the world is in chaos. This current situation has brought me to my knees and made me face my life from a new perspective. It is forcing me to make hard choices. I welcome having a choice and fully intend to ensure the outcome will not only benefit me but ultimately help others. Will you do the same?
So, amazing women, this current time will define us, and the coming months will shape our future. My challenge to you is this: do not succumb to the chaos, but rather use this time to create your ultimate lifestyle. Drop those high self-expectations and follow your heart. Embrace the opportunity you have right now to make positive changes in your life to thrive and lead you closer to who you were meant to be. It is okay and normal to struggle and feel defeated at times. It is during times of change and uncertainty that growth occurs so recognise that anxiety, frustration and overwhelm as a necessary part of your journey to greatness.
Caroline Bellenger is a passionate life coach, motivational speaker and creator of ‘Be The Impossible’ courses. From childhood sexual abuse to over twenty years of addiction and mental health issues, Caroline finally got sober in 2009.
Since then Caroline has gone on to represent Australia in triathlon, climb to Everest Base Camp, complete an honours degree, compete in national Surf Life Saving events, have a successful corporate career and currently operates a thriving fitness business. She achieved all of this as a sole single parent while volunteering over fifty hours a year to various community organisations, including being an active surf lifesaver.
Caroline is passionate about inspiring women to reach their dreams. Caroline emphatically believes that if she can overcome significant life obstacles, then any woman given support and encouragement can achieve the impossible. Her life purpose is to help others find fulfilment and happiness in their own lives.