• 07
    May 2015

    A very important Mother’s Day lesson

    A few months ago I was sitting with my dear friend Michelle Long, founder of Bloom Retreat and Becoming Grace talking about motherhood.  Michelle’s children are 19 months apart (mine will be 18), and I have been leaning on her a lot for support and advice.  Michelle revealed to me that her mother passed away in the midst of having her children, and I just couldn’t imagine. My mother has been my number one support around becoming a mother myself, and I couldn’t imagine doing this without her.  Michelle told me about how her mother has shaped her work in the world, what she taught her and the beautiful moment she had with her Mom when she listened to a recorded conversation they had that Michelle had been avoiding for years.  I knew that I had to share her story with you because the lesson she left behind is critical.

    FROM MICHELLE:

    It’s almost Mother’s Day – a day that is bittersweet for me. It’s sweet because all day my kids (now 6 and 8) will shower me with their love. I will get breakfast in bed, sweet homemade cards, hugs and kisses, flowers, snuggles, and most likely the two will fight over who gives me their present first. My kids teach me about unconditional love. They have such adoration for me that when I really sink into what that means, it can overwhelm me and bring me to tears. It is the best.

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    But Mother’s Day is bitter for me too because I lost my own mom to breast cancer more than seven years ago. She was an incredible mother and a best friend to me. I think of her more as a soul sister. She loved me like no one else has, and saw me for all that I am and all she knew I could be. My mom has been one of my greatest teachers, and today, I want to share with you what she taught me, because we all need to hear it.

    First a little background. The year my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I got pregnant. It was unplanned and I did not feel ready to have a baby. My whole world was rocked. I felt like I needed my mom then more than ever, but right as I was becoming a mom myself, I was also nursing her and trying to be present with her during her passing. She died when my baby was only 8 months old.

    There was something I learned during that intense time that I will keep with me forever. In the end it became clear that my mom struggled with something her whole life – something I see a lot of women struggle with, including myself.

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    You see, my mom was the kind of woman who gave everything she had to everyone else. She was the PTA and swim team president, she volunteered time at a homeless shelter where she served food to people in need, she would take teens into her home who needed support and love, she had tons of friends who she would do anything for, she was a devoted wife, and an incredible mother. She gave and gave, but growing up, I never saw her give back to herself.

    I know this was hard on her. She was overweight for much of her life. She was unhappy in her marriage, she battled with depression, and while her life looked good on the outside, she really wasn’t very happy. Looking back, it was like her soul had been dimmed. I whole-heartedly believe this was part of the reason she got so sick.

    Interestingly, in the last two years of her life, when she had been diagnosed and knew in her heart she didn’t have much time left, my mom started to wake up. As Sarah would say, she started to “live more.” In those last two years, my mom came out of her shell and started to live in a way that I didn’t recognize. She started wearing leopard print clothing, she dyed her hair purple before going into chemo, she was interested in spirituality, and she became a different woman — a vibrant, fun, deep, amazing human being who I didn’t really know growing up. My mom found her roar and became herself in the end, and I am grateful to have witnessed her coming out. She was awesome.

    Right after the birth of my first baby and six months before my mom died, we were both feeling really raw and emotional. We knew the end was near and I wanted to somehow freeze time. I recorded a conversation with my mother on an old cassette tape, where we talked about cancer, healing, motherhood, and hardships. She was open and candid with me and I was grateful that I was able to save that little piece of her. I held onto that tape for the next six years without ever listening to it. I missed her too much. But last Mother’s Day, I brought it out and heard her voice for the first time since she died.

    I sat alone and cried as she spoke. It had been so long since I recorded it that I didn’t remember anything we had talked about, so it was like having a brand new conversation with her. And the amazing thing was, it was like she was speaking to me about what I am going through today.

    You see, today I have a husband, two kids, two cats, a house, and I run my own business where I hold space for a community of women. My life is very full, and sometimes I catch myself getting caught up in the pace of everything and I don’t remember to take care of myself. This was the theme of my recorded conversation with my mother. On that old tape, she spoke directly to me about how to live a fulfilled and meaningful life in the midst of all the busyness.

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    Her words felt like a gift, so I wanted to share some of what she said. We were talking about what she had learned through having cancer. There were three things that stood out to me:

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    ONE

    She told me that “fulfillment in life comes from finding your spirit.” My mom realized that she had to discover who she was beneath her roles as a wife, mother and career woman in order to feel whole.

     

    TWO

    She said that cancer taught her to “slow down and watch the sunsets.” It taught her to enjoy back rubs, warm blankets, slow conversations, and chocolate chip cookies. She wanted me to “keep enjoying life – every single moment, even when things are crappy.”

     

    THREE

    Finally, she told me her secret to healing her spirit: “Build support around you because it keeps you strong, but also know that, in the end, you are the one that has to heal your spirit – don’t wait for people to heal you.”

    When she passed away, it was as if my mother’s roar – her strength and power – entered me and began to push me on my own journey into myself. I began to go deeper into my own self work, I stepped in front of my fears and started my own business, and I challenged myself to become all of who I am. I began to understand what it means to take care of myself and truly love myself.

    It’s because of my mom that I am committed to living the very best life possible. And I don’t mean eventually, when my kids are grown, or when things slow down and I have more time or more money. I mean now. This includes setting boundaries and giving back to myself.

    It’s now my mission to take everything I’ve learned (and am still learning) and bring it to other women. I believe it is time that we as women start advocating for ourselves and living lives that we feel good about, right now.

    So, on this Mother’s Day, I invite you to slow down – to enjoy your kids, the quiet conversations with loved ones, and maybe even watch the sunset. I invite you to ask yourself what your spirit needs in order to thrive, and to start going after those things. I invite you to reach out to your sisters and friends, and build a cheer team around yourself so that you can heal your spirit and thrive. I invite you to bloom.

    If you have your mom with you today, I hope that you talk to her and have a good laugh and cry. Absorb every minute. Hug her. Thank her. Love her up.

    xoxox

    Michelle Long

    A note from Sarah: What struck me most about this story is that as women we are driving to do so much for other people because we deeply care, and on some level, although we hate to admit it, because we want to be liked, feel worthy and like we are pulling our weight or contributing.  Michelle’s Mother shows us so clearly that we don’t need to do all those things to feel loved or to be admired.  Does it mean we have to give ‘all the giving’ up?  Of course not, but we have to stop doing it at the sacrifice of our happiness, health and well being.  There is a space in between of taking care of others and taking care of ourselves.  If you are struggling with this I would strongly encourage you to visit Michelle’s Retreat Center, Bloom Retreat here in the Bay Area or check out her online program, Becoming Grace.  And of course, make sure to sign up for our summer challenge where I will be walking you through a small activity everyday to nurture yourself.

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    P.S. Sarah Jenks International, Inc. is hiring a Project Manager to serve as the conductor in our rapidly growing virtual company. Our dedication to providing exceptional customer service to our community and commitment to executing cutting edge marketing strategies to launch our programs allows us to deliver our message to thousands of women around the world. As a member of our team you will work alongside our company’s CEO, Sarah Jenks, and existing team of extremely driven, dedicated and highly motivated A-players to help keep the ship running.  Interested? Click here to learn more.

  • 30
    Apr 2015

    Waiting to buy clothes when you lose weight? Why that is the worst idea EVER….

    I have a very special treat for you today:). People are always telling me how fashionable I am — just kidding, no one ever says that, haha. Even though I don’t strive to be a fashion icon, my clothes are very important to me. Slipping on jeans that fit me just right and having that perfectly casual, yet cool shirt in my closet just makes me feel like I could take over Google. But this wasn’t always easy or available to me…

    I spent many years feeling like I had nothing to wear. I either felt like my clothing was so last season or was convinced it would look perfect if I could just lose fifteen pounds. Every morning I would open my closet and would feel like my clothes were saying, “lose some weight you fatty!” Of course, I never considered going out and buying new clothes, why would I when going on a 21 day juice cleanse seemed so much easier? Well, you know that story… I never lost the weight because as long as I was spending my days feeling uncomfortable, unconfident and uncool, I was a grumpy a–hole. And Ben and Jerry were the only friends who could soothe my bad mood.

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    When I decided to start living more to weigh less (instead of the other way around) I did all the things I was waiting to be thin to do and a big one was to invest in my wardrobe. A few weeks ago my personal stylist and dear friend, Melanie Kluger, founder of The Confident Closet and the popular style blog, Head Over Heels with Melanie came over to help me clean out my closet because I still had some lingering pre-baby clothes I had a death grip on that were taunting me daily. I knew that in order to fully embrace my new body, I needed an intervention.

    Today, I invited Melanie to walk you through how to clean out your closet and create a great wardrobe with what you already have, so you only need to spend money on a few keys things. Don’t worry, this isn’t about going out and spending thousands of dollars, it’s about finding the gems in your wardrobe and creating an environment in your closet that promotes feeling confident in your clothes and falling in love with your body.

    Look, I totally get how you could feel like spending time on how you look is a waste of time right now, I’ve totally been there. However, from personal experience, and coaching hundreds of women through this exact conundrum, I know that spending some time cleaning out your closet and curating a small wardrobe that makes you feel amazing is the best investment you can make in your health.

    And don’t worry, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, we’re going to walk you through how to do this step by step right now.

    meet-melanie

    From Melanie:

    Hello ladies! I’m Melanie Kluger Founder of The Confident Closet and I’m so happy to be here to help you with all your closet clean out woes. This is something that is near and dear to my heart. I have spent countless hours with women cleaning out their closets and helping them find new clothes they adore. I absolutely love how a new outlook and wardrobe can have such a lasting impact on a woman’s life. It’s preeeeetty awesome. I had such a blast helping Sarah, and I want you to know, I’m here for you too!

    Step 1: Defining Your Vibe

    Defining Your Vibe – Defining your look is one of the most helpful ways to gain confidence in your personal style. When you are trying to dress like someone else (sometimes even a younger version of yourself) it can be challenging to really know what your style is. Your personal style says a lot about you and gives you a really fun and interesting way to say “This is me.” Have fun with it, learn that it will change and grow with you, your lifestyle and the times. Otherwise we would all still be in Kelly Kapowski inspired dresses, and if that’s still your jam, you go forth and rock that side pony girl!

    “If you are looking for ways to learn how to define your vibe and feel a little lost, these three things will help.”

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    Step 2:

    Remove the clothes you don’t wear right now (don’t worry we aren’t throwing it away yet!).

    There are a ton of questions that will help you clean out your closet… but there is one question that beats alllll the others out, hands down.

    Do I love it?

    If you don’t love it, get it out! If it’s something like a t-shirt that feels functional and in good shape but it’s not a LOVE, think about ways that would make you love it? Accessories, layers etc. Also, do you love how it feels? Do you love the fit? There should be things you love about your basics just as much as your favorite special dress.

    Here’s the deal, when your body is going through a transition (gained weight, lost weight, had a baby, etc…) we have a hard time getting rid of our clothes. Sometimes we keep them for a loooong time just based on principle. We spent money on it, or we used to love it, or we even think we are supposed to like it! Whatever the reason is, sometimes we aren’t ready to throw these items away. That being said, it is REALLY important that you remove the items from your closet. Staring at things you can’t wear adds SO MUCH FRUSTRATION when getting dressed. It’s a constant reminder of a former self… and well… your new self is pretty rad.

    I talk more specifically about this in my free training series “The Top Three Mistakes Women Make in Their Closets (and what to do about it). If you are someone who is having trouble letting go, there are certain questions to ask yourself to help guide you through this process that I talk about in this free training, you can click here to see it.

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    Quick note from Sarah: these questions were super helpful for me when cleaning out my closet and helped me get really clear on what I truly loved, and what I was just holding onto because I spent a lot of money on it.

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    Step 3: Separate into 4 piles

    After asking yourself if you love every item in your closet, you are bound to have a lot of clothes that you don’t know what to do with. Take the clothes that have made their way out of your closet and categorize them. You can also do this as you go along. It’s up to you and how your brain works! Cleaning out your closet is a lot about instinct and what works for you.

    A very important reminder is once you make the decision I want you to automatically put it into a bag. No one wants a tough decision lingering and staring them in the face. Make your piles and then immediately put them into labeled trash bags for the appropriate place!

    Pile 1 – Toss    ||   Pile 2 – Donate    ||   Pile 3 – Sell    ||   Pile 4 – Give to a Friend


    Step 4: Create new Outfits

    There may be a few items that you just don’t know how to wear. You feel like you love them, but they don’t seem versatile or functional. I’d like you to step out of your comfort zone with these items. Maybe take a trip back to your Pinterest board and get the creative juices flowing. For example, Sarah had a green shirt that she loved the color of, but she couldn’t button it up. I asked her to try it on open as an extra layer (perfect for San Francisco!) and we created a few outfits based on her new opened up button down.

    I also helped Sarah style this cute “fancy sweatshirt” which still had the tags on it because she didn’t feel comfortable in it. You can see how we did a casual look with sneakers and a scarf, and a more dressed up look with fun accessories. If you feel totally lost about how to give clothes you’ve had forever a new look, you’ll love these videos.

    Step 5: Go Shopping

    As you are going through your closet, I’d like you to make a list. Every time you see an item that you want to get rid of, but you have held onto it because you need SOMETHING, I want you to write iit down. This will become your shopping list. I find it much easier to let go of old clothes if I know the goal is to replace it with something better.

    Once you have your shopping list, you’ll be much more focused in the stores. Also realize that depending on the season you may have to order things online or hold off buying them until there are more options. For example, you aren’t going to have a lot of options for new winter coats in the middle of summer… but that’s ok! You won’t need your winter coat in the middle of summer!

    Look, we both know this can be a lot. It’s like a mixture of going down memory lane and facing some difficult feelings around overspending, gaining weight and procrastination. In order to get through this, I’d like you to keep three things in mind:

    ONE

    Ask yourself: “How can I make this a party?” – By making the process more fun for yourself you are way more likely to enjoy the whole experience. Make yourself a snack you like, invite a friend over (only one who will stay focused with you!), or even create a playlist.

    TWO

    Focus on the end result. Omg… the feeling of a cleaned and organized closet full of clothes you love is HUGE. It’s a game-changer. When I have a closet that is easy to find things in and I like everything in it, I literally function better. It changes my mood, my whole day and my mindset. Let that be your motivation!

    THREE

    You aren’t in this alone. A lot of times we put off a task like cleaning out our closet because it brings up a lot of emotions. I want you to know that you don’t have to do it alone. I have tons of resources for you including a free challenge called The Confident Style Challenge which starts on May 4th, which will guide you through doing small things everyday to help you build confidence and discover your personal style. And as I mentioned, I have the free video training series The Top Three Mistakes Women Make In Their Closets (and what to do about it) which will help you to realize we all have these same habits but that doesn’t mean we need to be stuck with a closet we hate! If you are reading this post and you really want more support, I hope you use one of these free resources.

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    Sarah and I both know first-hand what amazing things cleaning out your closet can do for your self confidence! I hope we can stay connected, so I can give you that added boost you need.

    Love,

    Melanie

    Photos by Rosa Delgado

  • 24
    Apr 2015

    Why skipping your vacation could be sabotaging your success

    Today I’m going to tell you how sipping pina coladas poolside can save your life.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the past few months have been stressful.  Running a company, being the primary parent, bringing home the dough, being pregnant and never seeing Jonathan was really starting to wear me down.  I was at the point where I knew that if we didnt take some time for us, our marriage, my sanity and my work were going to take a huge hit.

    I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.  I’m guessing you’ve felt this way before, and maybe do right now.  Well, we’re going to handle this together.

    My family growing up was always great at taking vacations, even if it meant piling in the car and driving 3 hours to our friends weekend house in New Hampshire on a random weekend, so I’ve always understood the power of getting away.

    I also know how taking a vacation can fall to the bottom of the priority list.  How we can feel selfish doing something so extravagant for ourselves.  How it can feel too expensive or that we just don’t have the time.


    Did you know that 40% of Americans only take half of their paid time off?  And 60% of Americans work while they are on vacation?  If this doesn’t surprise you, please keep reading.

    Most people think that working hard and putting in the extra facetime will lead to greater success later, but the reality is that the opposite is true.  Today, I want to tell you why not taking a vacation is actually sabotaging your success (in work, relationships and your body) and what to do about it.

    While I was in Mexico I read Arianna Huffiington’s “Thrive”, a fabulous book that clearly shows through copious research how critical it is to tend to your well being when it comes to your success as a person and a business woman.  The statistic that blew me away the most was that women who have stressful jobs have a 40% increased risk of heart disease and 60% greater chance of diabetes.  WHAT!? That is crazy.

    She also goes onto to show how taking time for things like meditation, sleep and vacation significantly increase your overall earning ability, disproving the commonly adopted belief that the harder we work the more we will make.

    The truth is that, especially as women, the more rested and grounded we are, the more focused, productive and creative we are.  I bet as you are reading this you’re thinking, “Duh Sarah, of course.” But are you actually living by this truth?  I’m guessing no.

    I talk a lot about how to push the reset button by bringing in little breaks and bits of fun during the day.  I actually have a whole free challenge devoted to this practice, which you can sign up for here: The Live More Weigh Less Lifestyle Challenge.

    And today, I want to help you push a BIGGER reset button on your well-being: vacation.  As you know, I am completely obsessed with you and the other women here taking action, so grab a pen and a piece of paper and I want you to answer the following questions….

    Your-Vacation-Planner-Sarah-Jenks

    Now, going through this process is really important, because a lot us can start planning the wrong vacation!  Jonathan and I were supposed to go to Israel last week to see his extended family.  We were all set to go and a few months ago I had a full fledged panic attack.  24 hours of travelling pregnant with a toddler, a 10 hour time change and needing to deal with jet lag after the trip during the first week of Live More Weigh Less would’ve been debilitating.  I love his family so much, and if we could teleport there for a few days it would be amazing, but it was just too much for us, so we opted for a more low key week.  We’re excited to make the trip next year when work is slow, and we can have a few days after to sleep and introduce both of our kiddos to the Israeli pack.  So, I want you to take a second to make sure that the vacation you are planning is really perfect for you right now.  I know it’s not easy to cancel things and let people down, but we have to be so deeply committed to our own soul and well-being because no one else is going to.

    Here are some pictures from our trip last week:

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    So here’s what I want to know, what is the best vacation you have ever taken?  Share it below so we can all get some great ideas.  And I would also love to know what your dream vacation is and when you are going to take it, so we can help you figure out the details and hold you accountable.

    I can’t wait to hear about your big plans.

    Love,

    Sarah

     

Design: Jane Reaction. Development: Brandi Bernoskie.