I absolutely love the hospitality industry and everything about it. Yet, it took me 30 years to learn how to love it and still thrive in it without burning out every two years.
As entrepreneurs, we know how draining building a business can be, especially being people-pleasers with perfectionist tendencies. When the pandemic hit in March, my business came to a screaming stop. Clients who had existing agreements with me and already paid asked to pause.
I was six years into my company, where I had worked second jobs for the first couple of years until I could do consulting full-time. Then my daughter came through adoption, with a phone call on a Tuesday afternoon. I had a full plate of business that I needed desperately to cover the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) bills and final adoption payments. I lived with friends three hours from my home in Bend, Oregon. I woke up at 5:00 a.m. doing coaching sessions for an east coast client five days a week and then went to the NICU to be with Chela for another 10–12 hours a day. My husband came for two days a week, when I then met with my other clients on the west coast. I did this for two weeks, feeling the adrenaline that came from the excitement of finally being the mom I had dreamt of while waiting in the adoption pool for four years. The year she was born was my highest revenue-producing year to this day. I called her my Irish lucky charm and did not say “no” to anyone who asked for my services. The next couple of years were still very busy, but I was getting tired and ready for a break.
Then the pandemic hit.
I embraced this time and knew business would resume at some point. I decided I would make the best of this time and see it as the maternity leave I never took. I leaned into self-care like I never had before, and it has been amazing and transformational!
At the beginning of the pandemic, I met with Matt Landau for a podcast. He asked me, “Who is Ali Cammelletti?” I literally could not answer his question. I knew who I had been, yet I did not know who I was about to become. I felt like a caterpillar who was spinning a silky cocoon. I had goals of working on my book (that I still want to make happen), spending time with my daughter, and really being present with her.
Little did I know that I would lean into my resilience and take self-care to another level.
Like with any change, I struggled at first. Being home 24/7 with my daughter sounded fabulous, yet she is a strong-willed toddler, and there were days where we watched TV all day. Nothing like the 45 minutes a day of screen time that I strive for. Fortunately, I had a good foundation of self-care already that included the following:
1) Exercise: I know that if I increase my heart rate with a two-mile jog each morning, I feel amazing. It improves my energy and mood like nothing else does. I sprinkle in walks with girlfriends throughout the week, where I get to connect and talk.
2) Food allergies: Over the last eight years, I have cut out cow dairy and gluten. I found cow dairy was making my brain foggy, and my stomach nauseous. A few years ago, I had headaches every morning along with nausea, and I could not get the extra weight off that I had built up. It was gluten, darn it!
3) Vitamins: I do a half-shot of apple cider vinegar every morning with some B12 and then vitamin packets of fish oil, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, along with oregano oil.
4) Essential oils: Lavender and peppermint on the back of my neck are my favorites when anxiety is building up. I have others, though, for muscle pain and digestion that are always on hand.
5) Massage: I get a massage once a month because my body needs it! It is not always relaxing since I go to a sports massage therapist. He works out different areas that come up for me, such as my neck from a past car accident and my back from lifting and twisting due to being active with a toddler.
6) Gratitude journaling: I do 30 days of gratitude twice a year when I am starting to feel negative. I write down one thing I am grateful for every day for 30 days. Research shows it is searching for something new to be thankful for that changes the brain and is like taking an antidepressant. In the end, I love everything I see and feel so much gratitude.
7) Therapy twice a month: I see a therapist who does EMDR therapy to assist when past traumas come up. She helps me with everything, though, from raising a child to processing a childhood that didn’t resemble Beaver Cleaver’s family.
8) Woman’s Al-Anon writing group: I have been doing this for a year now, and it has been a game-changer for me. My family has addiction issues, and I have learned about controlling behaviors, perfectionism, boundaries, emotional triggers, and so much more. I pushed back on Al-Anon all my life, even though I was a perfect candidate. I have recently just completed a year. I attend almost every week and love this group of women like no other. I still enjoy a nice glass of wine. Yet, I know when I am numbing with emotional eating, alcohol, or Netflix binging. Having everything in balance is my goal.
The steps above have been an excellent base for me as I have navigated being a new mother, business owner, and friend. When on Sarah and T’s podcast recently, they asked what a day of self-care looked like for me, and I said, “A six-mile hike, a float down the river, and closing with my women’s writing group.” During the last six months, I added in more self-care to navigate the loss of my marriage. I have camped in nature six times so far, floated fifteen hours on water, and added the following:
• Being present with my daughter. This looks like dance parties, playdough, coloring, reading books, building fairy houses, doing puzzles, and anything else she is craving.
• Guided meditation. I enrolled in a guided meditation via Zoom that meets twice a month. Meditation has been something I always wanted to do yet struggled with significantly. I am the woman in Eat, Pray, Love! I think about what I need to get at the grocery store, how I will build this tiny library, and what I promised to do—and forgot. You name it, my mind spins on it. I have been attending twice a month since May, and it has been amazing. I usually fall asleep, yet the instructor says deeper healing happens that way. I am hoping I will be healed in a year! Wouldn’t that be nice?
This pandemic has had different effects for everyone. For me, it has been a time of transformation like no other. I have chosen to not numb through this time. But lean in, feel, and heal so I can emerge from my silky cocoon like a beautiful butterfly who will show her daughter how to love herself, her career, and love her life to the fullest.