It’s the new year and as a mom, magazine editor, and the founder of this platform, I thought it was the perfect time to reiterate my thoughts on the importance of self-care. After all, I’ve always been passionate about helping people. Maybe that’s why I became a journalist. As a writer, you can give a voice to those who don’t have one in ways people never imagined. It’s invigorating to see people’s faces when an interview turns out better than expected—and they heal from the experience—or when a published article tugs at their heart strings. It fills my soul. Makes me smile. Gives me hope in humanity.
However, as all public figures experience at some point in their professional careers, the pressure to be perfect in front of an audience has admittedly caught up with me more than once. Physically and figuratively. Here’s a brief look at what happened almost a decade ago when I was putting way too much pressure on myself to be everything to everyone. During that time, I didn’t understand how much the power of self-care would ultimately benefit my life.
“Why Self-Care is My Super Power”
When I was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition at age 39, doctors said that stress was most likely the culprit. My heart’s electrical system literally gave out — and my internal “spark plugs” needed recharging. My physical health issues derailed me for a period of time, which resulted in surgery, but ultimately it was my mental health that pushed me to re-evaluate my life.
Ironically, I had always planned on writing a book to help women balance their work and home life. The commute to my magazine job at the time was gruelling; 4 hours a day to and from. There was no other option. Day in and day out, I felt the grind weigh more and more on my body. But, my mind told me to keep going. I know now that it’s engrained in women from a young age to always keep going no matter what — despite what they’re going through, ie. health implications, emotional hardships, stress indicators, or relationship statuses. I guess I learned the hard way.
Turns out, this self-imposed pressure that I was putting on myself was doing way more harm than good. When I look back now, I’m not surprised that this incident took over my life.
Making the move
After my husband and I made the tough decision to move from Toronto, Canada to Denver, Colorado to raise our boys near the mountains, I instantly became a full-time entrepreneur. I left my professional network, family and friends behind to see what else was out there.
Keeping in the theme of writing and editing, I eventually managed to enlist a group of global clients to work with on various corporate initiatives — including creative content and editing solutions. I also continued my work in the women’s health arena by booking speaking engagements on the importance of self-care and listening to the body.
I was extremely lucky to be given a second chance; and knew that I had to start making myself a priority. I changed my entire way of thinking about self-care. Not just doctor’s orders, but also my own. And, I knew this message had to be included in my pending book…
Life gets busy
I have always worked hard to make an impact in some form or another. From running a number of health and lifestyle magazines to mentoring writers, editors and creative teams. As a seasoned journalist turned women’s wellness author and advocate, I love being a voice for people who may not have one. No matter what happens, I will be forever grateful for my time working in media because it has allowed me to grow as a storyteller.
But despite the long days at the office, various freelance jobs, and keeping up with my portfolio branding, my life revolves around my kids. My youngest (12) plays AAA hockey and my eldest (17) is a high-level motocross racer. The stress is real. Not only financially, but once again, mentally. Needless to say, we are always running around.
My heart story
As mentioned, I had cardiac surgery to fix an electrical issue in my heart before the age of 40. This was a HUGE wake-up call for me on many levels. Not only was it a life-changing event that made a significant difference in the way I was treating my own self-care—it was also when I started to recognize how much daily stressors could negatively effect my health. Moreover, I started realizing the importance of self-care and what it would mean to me and my family.
I realize now that my health scare was meant to happen in order to help me dig deeper on a personal and professional level. Hence, this is why today I want to make an even bigger impact.
To a lot of people’s surprise, I had spent the better part of my early journalism years as the editor of a health and fitness magazine, so you’d think that I would know a thing or two about the symptoms. However, the warnings signs didn’t phase me. A lot of us ignore the signs.
Read more about my personal heart health journey in this exclusive 3-part series:
Writing my book
The book that I wrote shortly after moving to Denver is a reflection of my unexpected heart event; as well as what I experienced as a new transplant in the Mile High City. I had time to write while we settled in and built connections, so I gathered up all of my journal entries and spent most of my days and nights writing and editing… writing and editing… I basically compiled everything that I had been penning on my commute into the city back in Canada and poured my heart and soul into my book.
After launching on Amazon and landing some great press interviews, a few years later I decided to evolve my heart brand into an exciting new digital platform for women. A big part of my motivation behind this website RedLilylIfe.com was all of the positive feedback from readers who had read my book initially and who shared their own stories of stress and hardship through letters and emails. I knew I had to keep going to do something more to help.
Today, my story has helped women around the world reconsider their mental and physical health in relation to stress. We ALL need to take a breather once in a while and I often remind MYSELF to read my book again, and again.
I wrote and self-published my book entitled, “My Heart, My Self – A Heartfelt Guide for Women Who Do Too Much” to help educate others about the importance of self-care and looking after your heart health. My guidebook is a reflection of what I went through personally. It includes “10 Signs You Need to Slow Down” as well as practical tips for women at any age.
The tools in my book are practical and real because I wanted the book to be relatable. Even if you’re not experiencing heart issues, you can relate to my book. I was growing and learning when I wrote “My Heart, My Self” and my goal is to continue to push the envelope in the storytelling space for women around the world.
My heart message to you
My storytelling platform has now grown to over 100 contributors an counting—and it makes me proud to think that it has made an impression on readers around the world. Yes, it took a little while to pul together, but I’ve learned to show my own vulnerability and at the same time offer a unique opportunity for women from all walks of life to share their journeys as well. Learn more about why I do what I do. It’s my way of giving back and creating a safe space through camaraderie.
Sharing stories is all I’ve ever wanted to do professionally, and now my desire to share stories on a personal level has come to fruition. The only difference is that instead of writing everything myself, I provide a place for women to write their own stories in their own words.
Why self-care is important
My mission to marry traditional journalism and personal storytelling to create a place where women can share their stories is important. Every submission is heartfelt and has a positive message about healing and growth we can all learn from. Pain to purpose reflections fill various categories spanning life’s major areas from wellness to relationships to passion projects to life lessons, and more.
RedLily® is for women who crave more from their heart’s core. My goal is to highlight the “realness” in our lives. The highs. The lows. The coming of Jesus moments. That’s because I truly believe in bringing life lessons to light that come from experiencing those dark moments. We all have them.
At the end of the day, I am an advocate for personal development and giving women a voice when they feel they don’t have one. Anything you want to discuss or get off your chest is welcome.
I will never get over the fact that my heart once gave out. Unbeknown to me, self-care has since played an important role in getting my life back on track. In fact, it’s been my life saver. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that listening to your body is imperative. How do you do this? Decrease your daily stressors.
Note: My book touches on this with a retrospective “10 Signs Your Need To Slow Down” overview. I’ve written about my heart story many, many times over the past few years. I have also spoken at events, schools and conferences. In fact, you can join me at the Botanic Gardens next Friday, January 21st for a talk on Self-Care Strategies. Let me know if you want more info.
Carving out the time
One thing that’s not often considered is how self-care may be important, but it isn’t necessarily free. How much should you budget for personal care? What are the best ways to save money on self-care expenses? Here’s a resource guide that breaks down five expert-recommended self-care practices for 2022 and how to finance the costs of self-care.
For practical tips about self-care and some of the real-life tactics I implemented into my daily routine while recovering from my heart event, visit Amazon to pick up my book. Drop me a line and let me know what you think. With Heart Month coming up next soon, it’s a good time to “check in” with yourself and monitor your own stress levels. Which brings me to my mission with this storytelling platform you are now reading.
Why self-care is YOUR super power
You’ll never have serenity if your task list is so long that it does not allow for a little downtime. A lack of self-care causes stress. People often feel unworthy of self-care and many people are proud that they don’t need self-care. However, as I’ve learned first-hand, taking care of ourselves is extremely restorative.
When you take care of yourself you are happier and have more stamina to get more accomplished. So, ultimately, you ARE being more productive by practicing self-care and your ability to spend more quality time with loved ones will increase. It’s a win-win.
What’s sad is that a lot of people think self-care is a waste of time. Primarily because we grow up learning that the proper way to get ahead and become successful in life is to keep accomplishing. But, I’m here to say keep pushing. If we were taught that sitting in the park and relaxing for two hours was praiseworthy, we would be proud of taking care of ourselves in that way. However, our culture is working against us, and we feel guilty for doing what we should be doing.
We need to give ourselves permission to do less. Make your ME time your super power and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. This is something I wish I had of done before my heart attack. No one else who can do this for you. Remember, your super power will set you free. Self-care is here to stay.
Strengthening your self-care muscle
When you start to implement self-care exercises into your life, you may find it hard to stick with it. Making self-care a regular part of your day is crucial. Get out of the accomplishment mode every moment; and get your family on board. You may need to explain to your loved ones that you want to take better care of yourself, so you can take better care of them. The more support they provide you during your self-care journey—the easier it will be for you to actually incorporate it into your life.
Try this “Brain Break”:
Make a list of self-care activities that resonate with you and shorten the list to 10 things. Keep the list within and take at least one mini-break where you incorporate a self-care activity from your list.
So, why share my story?
Much like my book, I wanted to create something that would:
- Help me get through my own physical and emotional scars.
- Help others understand that if it can happen to me, it can happen to you.
- Encourage others to tell their story because we all go through something teachable.
Whether you’re reading my self-care guide or perusing my website, the premise is the same. I intend to help as many people as possible by learning from and sharing their stories.
Self-care is the epitome of recognizing your self worth. Knowing your limits and catering to your mental health is something that no one can do except you.
If you’d like to submit your story please reach out to me. I promise this will be an easy, calming process that will only make you stronger. And on the flip side, if you’d like to write a book, I can help you with that too. After all, storytelling can be for fun, to keep memories alive, or to heal. Which one you choose is completely up to you. You can find “My Heart, My Self – A Heartfelt Guide for Women Who Do Too Much” on Amazon. I hope you’ll pick it up.
Advocating for your self-care
My health scare was so unexpected, and at first, I felt ashamed to share it publicly. But, once I decided to tell my story, I immediately knew it was going to be a game changer for others. My journey also continues to be a reminder about making myself a priority. With that being said, I hope my personal experience helps you in your own journey.
Our move to Colorado after my health scare made me re-evaluate my priorities in life. I can only hope that my words become an inspiration in some way to my friends and peers.
Today, all I can do is be honest and vulnerable. After all, you learn to adapt to new environments just like you learn to become new people when you’re placed in new environments. We learn, we live, we grow, and now we share. If you have any questions or want to learn more about what I offer in the self-care arena, please contact me anytime.
You’ve got this!
About the Author:
Kerrie Lee Brown is a heart-health advocate, business coach, speaker, mom, and the creator of RedLily® storytelling platform. To read her full heart story which includes “10 Signs You Need to Slow Down”, check out her book on Amazon.
Also, find out why she created this platform for women just like you! She is also the founder of RedLily Media where she helps small business owners, influencers, and publishers develop integral messaging for their brands and books. For services such as book writing, author mentoring, coaching and book publishing, connect here.
P.S. If you’re in the Denver, Colorado area next Friday, January 21st, I will be a guest speaker at a special Mental Health Awareness Workshop in conjunction with ZeroGround and Mrs. Denver 2022 at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I will be talking about the Importance of Making Yourself a Priority and Self-care Strategies. For more information, email [email protected]. I hope to see you there!