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For those of you who haven’t heard, the past two weeks have been challenging ones for us sisters. Our Grannie (one of our biggest Red Tent Sisters’ supporters) went into hospital on the fourth of this month with a fractured hip. On Wednesday she had hip surgery and has not been recovering well. When you’re an entrepreneur, keeping all the balls in the air when something unexpected and emotionally distressing happens can be quite difficult. But we have both observed that so far (knock wood!) we’re actually handling the whole thing with more grace than we would have a few years ago. There are six major changes in our approach that seem to be enabling us to avoid burn-out and stay fully present. We thought it might be helpful to share these with you, our community. Here are our top tips for staying sane when life throws you a curve ball:
- You don’t have to be a superhero. We live in a culture that glorifies busyness and it often seems like it’s a competition to see who can cram the most into a week (“I work 90 hours and I’m a Mom and I’m training for a marathon!) But the reward for overextending yourself isn’t a shiny trophy, it’s burnout. And when you’re burnt out, you’re not any good to anyone. So, we can’t stress this enough – you need to recognize your limits. Last week we both had moments where we totally hit a wall. Our instinct was to stay at the hospital (we’re both over-givers by nature), but we knew in our gut that we just couldn’t do it. So we listened and headed home for some serious self-care – hot bath, home cooked meal, journaling. Those few hours made it possible for us to recharge our battery, fight off the colds we could feel creeping up, and return to the hospital feeling calmer and more present. While setting limits on our giving (especially when someone else is suffering) can feel “selfish,” the truth is that taking care of ourselves is one of the best ways to ensure we can continue caring for others.
- Accept help. We’re fortunate to have a truly phenomenal support network of friends and family. When they heard about our Grannie, we received a flurry of beautiful messages with loving words and offers to help in any way possible. On Saturday, a close friend of ours was getting married. We were all invited, but we didn’t see how we would be able to go without someone available to watch our Grannie. So, we called a family friend who happens to be a retired nurse to see if there was any chance she could cover us for a few hours. Her response? “I’m so glad you called! I really wanted to help, but I didn’t know how. Just tell me the time and I’ll be there!” It can be difficult to speak up and ask for what you need, but you might be surprised how often people want to help. Rather than being an inconvenience, you’re actually making it easier by taking away the guesswork and letting them know the best way to support you.
- Fast food sucks. We’ve both made huge changes to our diet in the last few years in an attempt to feel better, both physically and emotionally. It’s become pretty obvious that wheat, sugar, and overly processed foods make us feel bloated, lethargic and generally icky. Knowing that, it didn’t seem like a great plan to be chowing down on the Wonder Bread sandwiches and pop being offered up at the local cafeteria (especially when we were there for three meals a day). Although it can be hard to think about food when you’ve got a million other things to worry about, we highly recommend making it a priority to eat food that will make you feel better, not worse. Whether it’s packing some veggies in your purse, or taking a few extra minutes to find somewhere else to eat other than a fast food joint, try to resist the urge to choose convenience over health. Better yet, refer to point #2 and ask a friend to drop off some dinner – it’ll save you thinking about what to bring and will give them something tangible to do to be helpful.
- Be quick to cancel things that’ll drain you and make time for those that will replenish you. When we realized we would be spending most of our time at the hospital we had to make some pretty big changes to our schedule. It was tempting to cancel all the fun stuff and just force ourselves to make it through the “must do” list. But it was clear that would quickly lead to burn out (good old Point #1). So, we listened to our intuition about what really had to get done. It’s amazing how much shorter that list is when you’re brutally honest about what constitutes a ‘necessity.’ And then we thought about what things would help keep up our energy. Kim had signed up for a “Self Marriage” workshop with our good friend Danette that she’d been looking forward to for weeks and Amy’s husband was visiting from England and had planned a lovely birthday dinner. So, while there were lots of things that we did cancel, we made sure to honour the commitments that were the most nourishing to our spirits, and found a way to make them happen.
- Make your own sanctuary (even if the rest of the house falls apart). When you’ve suddenly got way less time on your hands and you’re dealing with lots of emotional stuff, cleaning feels pretty far down the list of priorities. That said, when your whole life feels upside down, it’s important to have somewhere that feels calm and “put together.” While no one’s going to fault you if there are dishes in the sink, it can be helpful to make sure that at least one room in your house feels like a mini sanctuary. In our family, meals and food preparation have always played an important role so we made sure to keep our kitchen clean so that when we went to make ourselves a cup of tea, the room felt peaceful and inviting.
Withdrawal (otherwise known as the “pull-out method” or “coitus interruptus”) has been getting a lot of attention in the news lately, thanks to an article in New York Magazine by Ann Friedman discussing the use of it by many of her friends. As was highlighted in yesterday morning’s CBC panel on The Current, there are different ways to look at withdrawal depending on who is using it, why, and with what forethought. Friedman was referring to a specific segment of the population – twenty and thirty somethings in committed, monogamous relationships, who are not concerned about the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI), prefer the intimacy and sensation of sex without a condom, and for a variety of reasons, prefer not to be on the pill (reasons offered were similar to those we hear from our clients – side effects and a growing feeling that hormonal birth control is not congruent with the healthy lifestyle and environmentally-friendly choices these women aspire to). It didn’t surprise us to hear that this is a common birth control method among a certain sub-set of the population, partly because we have a lot of contact with that subset and partly because we belong to it! I myself have used a combination of Justisse (the fertility awareness method I teach) along with withdrawal, for over seven years. For those of you who may find this shocking, you may be equally shocked to discover that efficacy rates for withdrawal are actually as high as 96% for those who use the method correctly, according to Planned Parenthood. In fact, birth control handouts group withdrawal, in terms of efficacy, with barrier methods such as condoms and cervical caps. While my job as a fertility awareness educator is to instruct my clients on how to use the method “perfectly” (meaning to its highest efficacy of 99.4% by abstaining from vaginal intercourse on fertile days), many of my clients choose to pair fertility awareness with other birth control practices. As such, it is also my job to educate my clients on to how to use other contraceptive methods effectively. When my clients are interested in using withdrawal as an adjunct to their fertility awareness practice, here is how I help them decide how it best fits in:
- If you absolutely cannot fathom the idea of getting pregnant. Withdrawal can be used as your “safety cushion” during infertile days of your cycle, either alone or in combination with a barrier method. While sympto-thermal methods of fertility awareness like the Justisse Method I teach are 99.4% effective when used correctly, in practice efficacy rates can be lower because of chart errors, or much lower if a woman hasn’t received proper instruction. Thus, abstaining completely during fertile days, and using a combination of withdrawal and a barrier method on infertile days should get you in the range of pregnancy being virtually impossible.
- If you want to keep the risk of pregnancy, very, very low. For clients who want to engage in vaginal intercourse on fertile days but wish to keep their risk of pregnancy, very, very low, I recommend doubling up on other forms of contraception during fertile days. For some of my clients, this means choosing “the pull-out method” plus condoms or a cervical cap on fertile days. The risk of pregnancy among healthy adults is high on fertile days (about 75%) but if two methods are used, both with efficacy rates in the 85-98 percent range (depending on how well they are used), having both of them fail is quite unlikely and you have got yourself well covered. Withdrawal can be used on it’s own during infertile days if desired to continue to provide a cushion for error.
- If you’re more open to an unplanned pregnancy. If you can handle a risk of 4-26% (meaning of women attempting this approach, 4-26 out of 100 of them will get pregnant in a year), then you can opt to use withdrawal on its own during fertile days. This works well for couples (like myself) who are on the fence about having more children, or about having children at all. You don’t have to commit to getting pregnant, but you are keeping the ‘door’ open, so to speak! ;) In our opinion, this is a totally legitimate choice, assuming both partners know the risk they are taking, and are comfortable with it.
- Whenever there is a risk or concern about sexually transmitted infections. In this case withdrawal should not be relied on unless it is in combination with a condom.
- When a man is known to have poor ability to anticipate orgasm or react in time.
- When a couple has not established good communication around birth control and sexual issues. Communication is key to ensuring the method works, and to dealing with it if it doesn’t. (Ideally a male partner should tell his female partner right away if he suspects failure to withdraw in time, so she can opt to take emergency contraception if desired).
- Whenever a woman does not know her cycle well enough to use the method consciously (as above) in order to give her the highest degree of control possible over her body and her chances of conceiving.
Are you a budding entrepreneur with a passion for holistic women’s health? If so, read on! Red Tent Sisters is looking for enthusiastic, ambitious and dedicated women with an entrepreneurial spirit to participate in a four-month internship opportunity. In your role as intern you will contribute to the delivery of high quality services to our clients while getting the behind-the-scenes scoop on running a successful internet-based, holistic health and heart-centred business. One of the primary responsibilities of our interns is to fill the role of Client Care Sister. As Client Care Sister you will take ownership of the following key deliverables:
- Providing clients with an experience of being cared for and supported throughout their journey with us as a client.
- Maintaining and contributing to the “systems” that ensure smooth delivery of all program components.
- Responding to client inquiries in a timely manner (within 24 hours, Monday to Friday)
- Providing exceptionally friendly, professional customer care
- Registering new clients into our contact management database
- Ensuring clients receive their key deliverables
- Following up with client leads
- Booking group calls into our teleconferencing software program
- Managing scheduling conflicts, appointment bookings and reminders.
- How to build trust and relationships in an online environment
- Effective marketing strategies that are authentic and grounded in the values of the sacred feminine
- Business and client management software (Insightly, Timetrade, Instant Teleseminar, Adobe Form Central, 1shoppingcart)
- Delivering service components to clients in a timely and reliable fashion
- Delivering services online via teleconferencing calls
- Creating a “funnel” to help lead potential clients to the services they seek by providing lots of high quality, authentic content
- You are committed to helping women lead healthier, happier lives
- You have a keen interest in natural birth control, healthy menstruation and living green
- You excel at conveying warmth and friendliness even through dry mediums, such as email
- You are able to commit 0.5-1 hour a day consistently (Monday to Friday) to providing timely customer care
- You excel at following through with procedures and have a high attention to detail
- Learning and navigating new computer programs comes naturally to you
- You are NOT a current client of Red Tent Sisters
- You are a self-learner
- You are committed, hard-working, and above all, passionate