“Founder Jeanette Schneider shares her lessons as a new mom with Influencer Academy during their Female Disruptors event.”

In this time of great uncertainty we are being faced with aspects of ourselves, our relationships and our fears that we’ve previously been able to avoid, ignore and explain away. We’ve numbed ourselves, gotten lost in our work, our HIIT classes, and the daily grind that kept us focused on anything other than what hurt. These facts and realizations are now directly in front of us and we have nowhere to hide, no distractions, no options other than to be fully present with ourselves.

This is an opportunity, but it doesn’t come without pain.

It is a hard thing to meet yourself fully and with open arms, but it is a beautiful time to get to know both your shadow and your light, and not for the purpose of shame or denouncement. No, for the purpose of self awareness.

True leaders must know both their weaknesses and their strengths to be effective. I argue that every human should know these things to arrive at the door of their next partnership, job or friendship fully aware of who they are, how they show up, what triggers them, what brings them joy, and resolute in what they will create from this space of forced evolution.

Who will you be when you leave your house again?

Will you rush for the distractions, or will you learn to sit still within your own presence, enamored with your own divinity and, in equal measure, the etchings on the glass of your life that make you flawed? Could you spend this time understanding and accepting yourself? Acceptance doesn’t mean that we languish within our survival tactics, our control dramas, or our fear, but that we see it cleary when it is happening and choose again.

We often make passive choices through our inaction and triggered behavior. We allow our automatic minds to take over, as opposed to observing our own behavior and choosing differently. Acceptance includes self-regulation, utilizing our tools to turn reactivity and blind behavior into productive choices.

We can do this by finding the way back to ourselves, and creating from a more aware vantage point.

1. Observe. Become actively aware of your thoughts and behavior as an observer. Do not assign anyone else responsibility for the way you feel, but instead name the emotion and ask yourself why you feel this way before you allow it to become a thought or an action. Utilize “I” sentences with yourself as opposed to “they” sentences. Blame is not a good look.

2. Be Curious. Think of the aspects of your personality as neutral, neither good nor bad. Your traits are simply part of the whole. Spend time reflecting on those you are not as proud of, and the aspects of yourself you may hide from others.

3. Take Responsibility. Take radical, active responsibility for the faults and flaws that you push into the back of your mind or try to ignore. Don’t allow for blame or excuses. Accept your responsibility for where things have gone wrong, resolutely.

4. Forgiveness. Actively forgive yourself for anything that has happened prior to this present moment. It no longer has to be a part of your story. You can choose each morning to remake your life and your relationships. You will simply choose better.

5. Find gratitude. Find reasons to be grateful for all of the traits that make you who you are and why they have served you in the past. Many times we will find that some of those traits we may have called negative have also kept us safe in troubled times and can many times be attributed to our need for survival and fight/flight.

We have been given a landmark opportunity to know ourselves without distraction. To offer ourselves grace for the happenings of our past, and to leave this situation with a new vantage point. This doesn’t have to be the time you create your new business, learn a new language or read a book.

But, as we are all alone with our thoughts, let’s take the time to restructure our relationship with them… and ourselves.

Sending so much love and healthy germ-free vibes to you and those you love.

Now, more than ever, the time we spend managing our thoughts, is of utmost importance. It is no longer “good enough” to calm the frustrations of the office grind or deal with a fight with a spouse or partner.

Today, as we deal with a global pandemic, we realize we manage our mindset because it will support a healthy immune system, decrease cortisol levels, and it provides perspective in an uncertain time.

The first step is to turn off the TV, put your phone on Do Not Disturb, and step away, whether that is out of doors, or created mental space. You must create distance between yourself and the vicious news cycles, pundits, and fear-based storylines.

Once you’ve created space between yourself and the external, it is time to greet the internal.

Here are a few suggestions:

Write. The great Julia Cameron has said that free writing “makes you known to yourself.” Allow your anxieties, your sadness, and the inner workings of your subconscious to bleed out of you and onto the page. No editing.

Pray. You don’t have to be spiritual, faithful or religious to send up a note and connect with something bigger than yourself. Faith is a gift. Lean into it.

Move. Yoga, HIIT, weights, dancing, jumping jacks, you name it, it is available to you. Cardiovascular exercise decreases anxiety within four weeks and yoga calms the parasympathetic nervous system.

Meditate. Find the space between thoughts. If you are new, start with a counted breath meditation (there’s one for free on LIV Pocket Coach on Apple), and feel your way into it. Many argue that they can’t calm their minds and they “don’t do it right,” however, most yogis will tell you it isn’t the quality of the time in meditation, it is the quality of your life outside of it where you find the results.

Listen. Music calms and soothes, excites, inspires. It is emotion set to beat. Start building your own playlists based on your moods. One for calm, one for energy, another to just chill with your loved ones. Have fun with it and if you want inspiration, we have some amazing Vent playlists within LIV Pocket Coach.

Laugh. Whether it is a Zoom call with your bestie or the wide-ranging list of comedic specials and sitcoms on streaming services, allow your entertainment to create positive emotions, rather than fear or worry.

Feel. Seek out sensory moments that allow you to be fully present. Smell the tea as it steeps, watch the wine loll on the side of the glass as you swirl, taste the decadence of chocolate, feel the warmth of a salt bath against your skin, listen to the sounds that rise up while you sit in the silence.

Our mindset is ours. We control input and response. It is wise to remain informed, to understand how we can help the world, and create change, but it shouldn’t also dash you of your hope and your zest for life.

We have a lot of life yet to live.

Dear Liv:

How do you balance work and family? I feel like I’m always failing someone.

So tired,

Jessica

Hi Jessica! You are not alone. This is the most commonly asked question our coaches receive. If everyone and their brother is worried they’re failing someone, let’s look at the root of the issue.

Expectations.

We want to be perfect parents, employees, lovers, friends and many times expect the same of others. When we see the perfect IG mom who has it together, we don’t also realize that after she takes that pic, she deals with a toddler meltdown and likely cries in the shower.

Expecting that we can create perfection in each of our roles is simply setting ourselves up for failure. Have you ever spent quality time with a loved one, just to apologize as you check texts or emails, your mind at work or elsewhere? We are so afraid we’re not being who we need to be, we are failing OURSELVES. If we recognize that we are all doing the very best we can each day, and reset our expectations we can drop the pressure and create some structure. Get in front of your roles instead of reacting to them.

First, how are you taking care of yourself? You come first because you can not pour from an empty cup. Think of the things you do that recharge you mentally, emotionally and physically, and schedule those in to your calendar. No excuses. These are your dates with your mental health, sis.

Next, what big projects, goals or meetings do you really need to attend to this week? Time block both the time needed to spend on them and focus only on those items during those chunks of time. This will get you to Friday feeling accomplished and allow you to do the next part with more ease.

Block time to spend with your kids and spouse where you can be fully present. Phones off. Face to face. Whether that’s dinner together, a nighttime snuggle or a date with your partner, truly be present to the connection.

In short, let’s be aware of unholy expectations, get in front of our time so that we are really focused and work toward more presence and connection. That may mean some boundaries around access to you, and that, my dear, is gold. Prioritizing yourself, your goals, your family also means we say no to those things that don’t fit into your calendar.

You’ve got this.

Xo,

LIV

Originally published at mother.ly

I had to give up my desire to control what happened at Daddy’s house.

How I created a village with my ex and his new partner

The first time my daughter told me someone named Ashley painted her nails at Daddy’s house I thought I was going to implode. Another woman was loving on my daughter in the family I built. I texted my ex, “Who is Ashley and how long have you known her and why is she painting my daughter’s nails?”

What should have come next was, I feel replaced. I am jealous. I am competitive. I am angry. I am heartbroken.

Instead, I told myself it was my “mama lion” coming out; the woman who wanted to protect her child from a string of girlfriends and hold her little heart safely in my hands. It was partly true, but the hysteria and anger I felt signaled that much deeper hurt was bubbling its way to the surface and using “it’s for our daughter” as an excuse to play out my pain.

It took a full 24 hours of deep anger, soul searching, crying and finally surrender, to realize that my daughter would have other women in her life and I had no say in how they entered, behaved or left.

I had to give up my desire to control what happened at Daddy’s house. My only power lied in my influence over my daughter and on that day I chose to believe that she would be a much healthier human being if she was raised by strong women who came together to support her in life.

Women have been programmed to compete for jobs, security and partners in our patriarchal society. It is understandable that we feel competitive when another woman falls in love with the man we once did, and tucks the children that came from our bodies into beds that aren’t made by us.

It is programming, but that doesn’t mean it is permanent. It also doesn’t mean there isn’t pain to be felt, processed and released. You have to heal your wounds so you can approach the new members of your child’s life with grace and forge new relationships.

It requires a shift in mindset and a retooling of your previous relationship, a lot of confidence and respect on all parts, and a focus on the child first. You have to recognize the influence a stepparent will have on your child and that it is better to be teamed up and kid-centered, as opposed to stewing over past issues, sitting in blame, regret or jealousy. I had to discover who I was as a newly single woman and co-parenting mother without old stories.

Ashley only painted Olivia’s nails for a year or so, and her dad and I had great conversations about how and when we would bring people into our daughter’s life. When he met Jessica he called me, “I’ve met someone and I’d like to introduce her to Olivia, but wanted to talk to you about it.”

My only question has ever been, “Is she a good person?” We talked about Jessica, his feelings and certainty, and over time they met and we did too. I sent him a text after a brief and completely casual encounter, “I like her. Don’t mess it up.”

Jessica and I ran into one another at a yoga studio shortly after they all moved in together. She asked how I felt Olivia was handling the change and very sweetly offered, “You are always the mom!” I smiled, appreciative of the unnecessary gesture, and told her that Olivia loves feminine energy and that she’d thrive having Jessica in the same house.

Several years later I not only love Jessica, I love their son, Luke, as well. Our entire little blended family lucked out. Jessica treats Olivia as her own but is so conscientious about my role in Olivia’s life that I’ve never felt threatened. I am thrilled my daughter is supported by a strong, confident woman and that she sees us getting along as a village, as opposed to competitors.

Jessica recently called me concerned that Olivia was receiving poor messages at school about the importance of pretty as opposed to smart. We came up with a plan, laid down a few rules for messaging in both houses and in no time we had a little feminist running around with t-shirts announcing “Girls Are Smart, Strong and Brave.” We spend Christmas mornings together, Halloween trick or treating, and have deep respect for one another and our passions, relationships and careers.

When I recently vacationed in Tanzania I had to update my estate plan and asked Jessica if, in the extreme unlikelihood that both of Olivia’s parents were to pass while she was a minor, would she become Olivia’s guardian? It’s important to me that Olivia grows up with the brother she adores and a woman who loves her (almost) as much as I do.

There wasn’t a missed beat, “Absolutely. I want them to stay together.” While Luke doesn’t care for me as much since I keep Olivia away from him every other week, “Sissy mommy, go home,” we work.

We are blessed that each one of us, at some point, made a choice to let fears, ego, jealousy, blame and hurt go for the sake of one little girl and our collective family.

Excerpt from LORE: Harnessing Your Past to Create Your Future with permission from Balboa Press.