Leanne is a well-known guest on this podcast as one of the roundtable participants and I am super happy that Leanne agreed to be my guest once more! We talk about Leanne’s own story, about how you can find yourself and we also talk about the balance between knowing what’s going on in the world and keeping our joy. I’d say you listen to this one first and then go back and listen to all the others as well. : )
Leanne is a trauma counselor and a NICU mum, her son was born 9 weeks early which «catapulted me into tying these two worlds together», Leanne says. She has an online resource for families and organisations and offers workshops for hospitals around the world to bring self-care to the staff, «so they don’t get psychic trauma and can be their best selves in their work with our angels that come either too soon or need special care».
I ask Leanne my favorite question: How do you create joy?
«I don’t take joy lightly, especially in times that can be overloaded by the very opposite of joy. For me it comes down to «catching yourself in perspective», to be thoughtful with joy and to know yourself enough, so that you can turn a situation into something else when you don’t want it to be a heavy situation», Leanne answers.
Leanne’s husband, their three-year-old son and Leanne were living in a city, when they decided about two years ago to leave their life as they knew it and to start all over somewhere else. «We looked at each other after a long commute and he was like «let’s get out of here»», Leanne recounts. She loves the country but was worried about what they would work and how they would manage financially. «As we took one step at a time it got more and more joyful but the challenges actually got harder and harder the more we tried to disconnect ourselves from what was weighing on us». Leanne says that it took a lot for both of them to get out of the heaviness of the city but eventually they bought a truck and a small caravan camping trailer and took off right after the house was sold. «That brought us so much joy, taking that big step».
People say that I live with rose colored glasses in unicorn glitter land, but in my opinion, you can live in the real world with both feet on the ground and deal with whatever comes your way whilst having your head in airy fairy land. It’s the combination of both that makes it lighter from the beginning. You can fall and be sad or angry but stand up again and ask yourself «what do I need to get back to fairyland again».
«When we get into the emotion, when we’re angry or when we’re overwhelmed with frustration, annoyance or fear, that takes us out of our true selves», Leanne
«Being able to create joy is connecting with the fairies or the unicorns», Leanne
Leanne says that when you’re doing what you love, when you get your hands dirty, when you get into the garden or read a book it’s all about finding you.
I ask Leanne how she found herself, how she found that feeling of being aligned and what she tells people that don’t know where to start.
«When you can find little moments of being able to connect with how you take care of yourself, then you can start learning who you are», Leanne
Leanne recently wrote a book called «Loving Myself Again» and it’s all about self-care in mini chunks. As a mum entrepreneur and a NICU mum, Leanne doesn’t often encounter a lot of spare time, so she’s all about the moments you can find throughout the day to take good care of yourself. 5 seconds a few times a day, connecting a thing like for example putting your shoulders down when they are really stiff and realizing that you’re holding stuff in your shoulders or in your neck.
«The baby steps last the longest», Leanne
Many people buy a gym pass and are excited about going daily to the gym but then they go less and less and feel more and more guilt about it. «We want to break our habits, the way you talk to yourself is the way you should take care of yourself too».
This is actually the topic of my last blog post (at time of recording): How you talk to yourself! I’ll link it down below, because this indeed is such an important topic!
Leanne says that the society we live in wants results right away and this almost catapults us in getting confused: You should know yourself and you should do all these things…
«When we get to know ourselves and when we’re exploring new things or a new job or moving or starting a family; it takes time», Leanne
It’s about allowing yourself that time and acknowledging that it’s all part of the path and that you have a choice. You can have the perspective of taking something on the negative side of things or look at it in a positive way. It’s not always easy to get into the full positive view but getting into a neutral state of mind saying «ok, what are my options here, I don’t have to be super excited that I lost my job but I also don’t have to be super depressed because maybe there’s something better than I’m hoping for, that I don’t know I’m hoping for that’s out there».
For me it’s always about the question: What do you want? What I hate about our society is that we go to school, and everybody tells us what we have to do for years and after that we don’t know what we want ourselves.
«In baby steps you can do things you like and find out what you like even more», Ronja
If you’re in a job that you don’t like, connect with the things that change the feeling within you. If you’re at home and you think about going to work and then you turn on the tv and watch a cooking show that really excites you, follow that feeling, connect with your body, ask yourself what am I feeling right now. Leanne adds that sometimes we get an answer right away and sometimes we don’t, because we’re disconnected from our own emotions often times. Give yourself some practice, do it a few times, you might see it in a book, you might see a billboard and think that that’s interesting for you.
«Sometimes it’s the glimmer of interest that gets people wondering about what would actually be exciting for them. Following that feeling of joy or excitement can bring more to you without you even trying», Leanne
Leanne tells me a story where she once said: «I wish I would find New Zealand’s Manuka honey here at a decent price» and then her husband went to the grocery store and he came home saying: «I don’t know who you talked to but your angels or so must have figured it out because there was Manuka honey on sale in the grocery story» and Leanne goes: «YES». : ) «To be aware too of these things, have your mind open, have your heart open and again just mini movements makes all the difference…», Leanne adds.
«People are so afraid to open their heart, if you do open up, the reward is more fun, more joy, more flow and feeling more alive», Ronja
But, how do I do that?
«It’s all part of the process, I think. Even though we wear different hats in our lives, we are still this one being, we’re still this one person. To open one’s heart is very personal just like the way we take care of ourselves is personal, the way we feel is personal, our trauma is personal, our joy is an individual personal thing. So, if someone is struggling even with that concept, start even further back.
If you are a researcher, do some research; what does a feeling feel like, what are emotions? Going back to basics», Leanne answers. «Or think about what made you happy in your childhood. My mum gave me a box with things from my childhood and almost all of them had rainbows on them. It’s not a secret anymore but I used to keep it very close to my heart that I liked unicorns and rainbows because I was worried about what people would think, «oh you’re in your thirties and you like unicorns and rainbows» and now I’m in my forties and I’m like «hell yeah I like unicorns and rainbows». It’s building up, it’s starting small, starting however you need to, because you’re the expert on you.
When you have to ask someone what they think you like, then that’s an okay place to start if that’s where you’re at. It can almost plant the seed of you thinking differently just hearing a different perspective. Sometimes when we’re so stuck with society on top of us or whatever it might be that we need someone else to pull on us or poke a little bit. This gives us a little bit of a window that we can start opening ourselves and then become a door and then a beautiful barn door and so on, with time».
That reminds me of a coach I visited here in Zurich 16 years ago. I didn’t have a big issue, I just wanted to sort out my work-life and find out what I want! I enjoyed doing these coaching sessions with her so much. I also love that in my own coaching with my clients now: I see my clients, I see you, I see your whole glory even when you don’t (yet) and I hold the space for you until you see it. Step by step you get there and all of a sudden, it's like booom, I didn't even think that this would have been possible!! Coaching is magic to me!
Leanne says that you can also get that initial start through means of your own. Think about if there is something you’ve been avoiding because you think it’s too much or because you think you’d be judged, like reading a sort of book or reading a blog of something. You haven’t started doing it, although you’re interested in it and you’re pushing it away because of something that is happening within you. That’s also a good way to open the window for yourself.
You can also journal, listen to podcasts or audiobooks, watch videos on Youtube, there are so many inspirational things out there, I like to just go with the news feed and be open. You don’t have to go to the esoteric book store and hope that nobody sees you, you can do that at home. It doesn’t have to be esoteric anway. : ) What I really, really, really recommend to everybody that wants to find themselves do it with journaling. It’s not like «Dear diary, blabla…», it’s about «what do I want and ooh that’s exciting, it’s about collecting things and having fun.
«The whole journey has to be fun, it’s not a chore or a job, it’s a lifelong journey», Ronja
«Whatever comes naturally», Leanne adds. «If you don’t like writing maybe type it out, I also like pen to paper, but I don’t always give myself time to do that so sometimes I just have to type out what I’m feeling and sometimes I’m driving and I’ll have the voice app on my phone and I just speak what I’m feeling. There are so many ways to do things these days».
«That which brings joy opens something within you, it releases something. Journaling actually gets it out of your body so that you’re not holding all of the energy of it and then you can actually process it differently, you can feel it differently, you can see it differently», Leanne
What I really like is to write things down to get it out of my system and then burn the paper in a big fire or in a tomato can on my balcony. Take care if you do it :). It doesn’t have to be a big ceremony, just write it down, burn it and enjoy that these words are gone and that nobody will ever read it – if it’s something you want to let go.
In the Joy Academy I talk about journaling on a full moon and burning that list. As the full moon gets smaller after that, you can imagine the stuff you want to get rid of getting smaller and fade away too. I like things like that, it’s easy, it’s free and I don’t have to tell anybody. It brings me joy to do it and I feel a little childish, it’s like a game. : ) It’s so awesome when the people in my Joy Mastermind and in the Academy post photos of their fires, especially with those people that were suuuper skeptical at first.
Leanne says that at the west coast of Canada it’s actually a way of honoring those who have passed and it’s traditional to do a burning. It connects us to those roots that we sometimes don’t even remember that we have.
«Another way of finding joy is reducing that which is opposite for you», Leanne says. «For me I have to be very particular when I read the news. I purposely don’t watch or listen to the news, I haven’t for years, because I don’t want to hold on to and carry those other people’s energy and feelings that they’re putting out». Leanne adds that she consumes the news in very small snippets and only when she’s ready because otherwise she’ll be weighed down. «The way that I keep my joy and keep myself aware of what’s happening is that I pick my moments and I make them very short, I only read one news story at a time and that’s fine, I know what’s going on and I can still be myself in all of it. Some people have said that it’s really ignorant, that’s fine if that’s what they think, I don’t think that way and that keeps my joy flowing. That’s what keeps my heart open because I can still send hope and love and peace out into the world, whilst still knowing what’s happening. I don’t always like it, but I can do my part by keeping myself going so that we can affect the little worlds around us which in turn creates the bigger ripple effects».
«I can do more good and work if I stay in my job bubble. I don’t want to be ignorant to causes that matter to me, but it’s a fine line between «what can I do» and not taking in all the news», Ronja
«Going back to your original question, how do you create joy, it’s minding the space that you’re in and staying in the now as much as you can so that you can generate things right now like feelings or the excitement or the connection with someone and then going with the feeling and things will just open up for you», Leanne adds.
«If someone told me two years ago that I’ll live on this amazing acreage with bears and moose and all sorts of other animals with my son and a huge garden, where we’re growing our own pumpkins and where we have corn and all this amazing stuff, I would have told them that they were crazy, «that is never going to come true, that’s a dream for me, how could I possibly have that» and all of the sudden just one thing happened after the other. We were aware and we let ourselves take those steps because you have to be brave in going into joy. For me it’s if you feel joy you’re going to feel the opposite and you have to figure out how to get back to your joy. You can’t have one without the other, light brings dark, dark brings light and all the beautiful stuff in the middle».
It’s amazing, I mean you can sit here and think about something really sad until you start crying (I can do that, I’m super emotional : )) or you can sit here on the same spot and think about something that makes you really angry or upset and – again on the same spot, without moving – you can think about something which brings you joy and you feel all those emotions without changing your situation. Just be aware that it’s influencing you and that your thoughts matter so much. It’s not about putting your head in the sand and not caring about the world around you, it’s about being very careful with how you spend your time and what you think.
Leanne says that she has a lot of friends that are black descendants. «Part of my journey is being a listener and a healer. I kept doing meditations and asking how else can I help, what more can I do». That’s when Premie World contacted her and said that they were putting together an alliance for black NICU families and that they were wondering if Leanne wanted to be part of it to change policy in hospitals and government systems.
«Sometimes when you want to do good but you don’t know how, keep your thoughts in that kind of positive way: «What can I do, how can I help people, how else can I help», if your eyes are open, something will come or it’ll have that ripple effect where you do something and the next person does something… we’re really all in it together», Leanne
Being kind to any person you meet is the first step. Wired as I am, I can’t understand how people can’t be kind to everybody and even more so because of the color of the skin, that drives me nuts!! Informing myself and being careful of the news is a daily thing, I have to dance that balance all the time.
Yes, start with being kind to yourself. I even kiss myself in the mirror mwah. You think that’s too much? : ) Try it, try it! You can train yourself to do it, but of course you don’t have to. I also have to say it's a pity that the mirror is so cold, even though you can't miss those lips : ) ; )
«Working in your zone of genius is just the best way to help more! Better than to do things you think you should do or that would be good to do. If you don't go fully in, then you better don’t do it», Ronja
This is where you can find Leanne:
Things we talked about:
Watch our conversation here: