In the aftermath of spending several days with a few hundred powerful women in the container of Emerging Women Live, I am focused and energized. What is alive in me is the distinct awareness of possibility in a way that didn’t exist before the conference. I have a clear sense of the space into which I will emerge. It is calling me. There’s a chair at the table with my name on it.
Several months ago I hit a wall. I was exhausted. Flat-out, bone-weary knackered. Drained, depleted, beat, wasted, spent. You get the idea. I had been on a bender several months, giving birth to a batch of new programs and reinventing the way I did business. This is a good thing and as a result, I am fulfilling on my purpose. I am aligned with my passion. I am showing up in the world, climbing into the arena, playing big. I’ve been manifesting like a mad woman. BAM!
As a single mother, writer, coach, speaker, editor, entrepreneur, I play many roles. My hat rack is jammed full, and I wear all of those lids enthusiastically. I often say I am the most competent woman I know. I even changed a tire in my flip-flops one morning on the way to drop my son at school. I got this. I’m a badass, and I know it. And yet somehow I find myself in the familiar place of dragging my badass around wondering why this often feels so hard.
I’m not alone in this. I know a ridiculous number of equally badass women with whom I have this conversation on a regular basis. We are simultaneously inspired and tired. My most desperate moments of energetic decimation have brought me to this realization: there are two varieties of exhaustion.
PHYSICAL EXHAUSTION: The kind of fatigue that shows up when we haven’t fed, watered, moved, or rested our bodies in the way that sustains our wellbeing.
Symptoms: sleepiness, brain fog, headache, muscle weakness, short-term memory loss, difficulty regulating mood.
EXISTENTIAL EXHAUSTION: A syndrome that occurs at a certain point in the downward spiral of compounded physical exhaustion when there is no clear path out of the current paradigm.
Symptoms: overwhelm, depression, lack of motivation, loss of purpose, disorientation, hopelessness.
The question that characterizes the state of Physical Exhaustion is, “Can I really do it all?” Once Existential Exhaustion sets in, we find ourselves asking, “Can I really HAVE it all?”
The answers to these questions are largely determined by how we define “all,” but one thing is certain, if the answer is yes, it cannot be at the expense of our wellbeing. The cost of being a badass cannot, by definition, be our badass-ness.
Looking at the essence of what powerful women have in common—what it takes to show up in the world at full-volume, to look for opportunities not just to survive but to thrive, to maximize the potential of experiences and relationships towards a more conscious community, to move through the world with grace and compassion, and to navigate conflict by repeatedly choosing love over fear—I find it can be distilled down to a number of core principles.
If we want to be badass, we must adhere ruthlessly to these eight rules. No slack.
1. Your own wellbeing is a priority.
You don’t pretend that everyone else’s needs come first. You’ve renounced martyrdom. You might take care of others first, but you never go without eating or sleeping or making everyone wait for a few minutes while you put yourself in time-out.
2. You have a strong statement of purpose and anything that isn’t in alignment with it has to go.
You have determined what it is you are up to here on planet earth and you use that vision as a guiding force in your life. You do not indulge anything that is out of integrity with who you are and you are ruthless in eliminating distraction. You are a living example of what you are bringing forth. You walk the talk. You are the change you want to see in the world.
3. You have cultivated a relationship with your feminine essence and do what it takes to tend the fire.
You recognize that we are navigating a culture that values our rational minds and celebrates linear, problem-solving, masculine energy. You know that as a woman, you have an innate, intuitive nature that is fluid, expansive, and grows wild. You have developed the tools to access this creative life force to fuel your existence and fulfill on your purpose.
4. You realize that saying no can be an essential expression of love.
You have a handle on your co-dependency quotient and feel secure in enforcing boundaries as a means of being able to sustain your loving presence in the world. You also know the importance of teaching people to fish for themselves, and that in doing so, they not only develop their own self-sustaining skills, but often discover and innovate in ways that serve others.
5. You have developed a support system and you’re not afraid to use it.
You have let go of the idea that you have to do it all and fully embrace the vulnerability it takes to ask for help. You even enjoy creating opportunities for others to show their love for you through acts of service.
6. At any given time, you can answer the question: What do you need?
No matter what the situation, you have developed a set of criteria by which you check-in with yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually—to determine your needs, for which you take responsibility, and act accordingly.
7. You are willing to be alone.
You acknowledge that we are born alone and we die alone. While you choose to be in the company of others, you never do so to avoid confronting your own self. And you don’t pretend to have the right to mandate others’ thoughts, feelings, or behavior. In fact, every morning you release the ones you love, graciously, to their path.
8. You are willing to tolerate uncertainty.
You relish the state of “not knowing” because you know that’s where possibility lives. You have cultivated a practice by which you are able to disconnect from your controlling mind and embrace the natural flow of the universe.