Transitioning to Self-Care

a road that runs between two small hills

Ten years ago today I started a private practice as a nutrition therapist in Austin, TX. I remember the excitement I felt just thinking about the lives I would help shape, the confidence I would help my clients build as they made better choices about nourishing their bodies.

But before I could even focus on my real work, I had to first traverse the reality that all health care providers face: navigating the system. Applying to be a Medicare provider, signing contracts with insurance companies, obtaining malpractice insurance, and complying with the ambiguous laws and regulations that relate to protecting personal health information–that’s what consumed most of my time.

To say the process was easy would be laughable; to say the process was simple, even more hilarious.

At one point, after many unsuccessful attempts at finding an answer to a question about the provider enrollment application with one of the major insurers, and after being unable to connect with anyone by phone, I drove to the regional office and waited at the entrance for an employee to arrive at work. Little did I know, the office wasn’t open to the general public, and although she was a bit surprised by my presence, one kind employee did answer my question.

And then there was the time I had a claim denied because I had forgotten to include the “plus 4” zip code on the form, something that wasted another 30 minutes of my work day.

And another time, I remember receiving a phone call from a man who sounded very concerned about his family’s health. He explained he’d been gaining weight, and that his wife and son had too. He was ready to make a change. He didn’t want to continue down the path he was on, and he didn’t want that for his loved ones either. But after completing the hour-long process of contacting his insurance company to determine his coverage details, and after discovering that his visits would only be covered for a diagnosis of diabetes (which he did not yet have), his response was that he would have to wait to schedule an appointment until he or one of his family members had a qualifying diagnosis.

Sure, you could make the case that each of us should value our health enough to find the means to care for ourselves properly. But the reality is, we pay a lot for health care already. And unless we get really, really sick, we rarely see a return on investment. The high cost of insurance and non-covered medical expenses make paying out-of-pocket for preventive services nearly impossible for most Americans.

And being a Medicare provider meant that I was legally bound to charge all of my clients the same fee, which also meant I couldn’t offer a discounted rate to cash paying clients. For obvious reasons, this didn’t sit right with me, and I eventually found other ways to reach those who weren’t able to access my services via the conventional health care system.

But I quickly began to see that a single provider practice, especially as an allied health care professional, in a system that doesn’t recognize the value of preventive care, was anything but viable as a business model–at least, not for the kind of provider I wanted to be.

And after realizing that many of the people who needed my help the most weren’t able to access my services, I began to consider new possibilities.

At the time, there was a new buzz word swirling around: coaching. A local organization that focused on helping individuals manage diabetes had begun using this approach successfully, and I started seeing more peer-reviewed studies reference things like “motivational interviewing” and “health behavior change.”

I began reading more about Martin Seligman’s work in the field of positive psychology, and the next thing I knew I was working for WebMD as a corporate health coach at Dell, working with employees at the company’s onsite clinic and fitness center.

I’m so thankful that I listened to my inner wisdom and transitioned to a path that is more aligned with my heart. It’s my mission to remove the stigma that’s often associated with self-care, and help more people see and feel the power that comes from taking ownership of our health and well-being.

When we remain open, we provide the space for amazing things to happen.

I’m currently in the process of developing a training program that’s designed to guide clients through the process of creating a personalized self-care plan, and my heart is absolutely overflowing with joy.

Are you transitioning to a lifestyle that includes more self-care?

Would you like to?

To learn more about this upcoming program that will be launching in early May, and to stay connected to Living Upp’s news and events, sign up to receive our periodic Warm Upp.

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Choose Joy with Rebecca Butler

woman doing yoga poses

Have you ever felt the powerful energy of someone who lives unapologetically true to who they are? Those who live boldly don’t ask for permission to do so – and they don’t try to hide their imperfections. Instead, they embrace them and learn from them.

Meet Rebecca Butler. You will immediately be inspired by her optimism, drawn to her positive energy, and humbled by her candor. Rebecca shares her love and wisdom through yoga and writing, where her authenticity shines. Through her own personal life struggles she was eventually able to begin loving and embracing herself exactly the way she is.

“Choose Joy!” is her personal mantra – and one that is contagious. Some might argue that joy is like love, in that it isn’t something that just consistently happens on its own. It’s a conscious choice that takes effort and attention. I asked Rebecca to share some of her strategies for deliberately living a life filled with joy, and here are some of her thoughts.

Q: The words “Choose Joy” are very powerful. What led you to adopt this simple mantra (or do you even consider it a mantra)?

Rebecca: Choose Joy is absolutely my mantra. The words came to me in a dream in 2012. My mom passed early that year and that summer we were visiting some friends at the beach. My husband and I had a particularly grueling argument one evening. During my dream that night my mom visited me. She was a brilliant, zooming being of light. She was intertwined with another, whom I instinctually knew to be her best friend, who is also deceased, and they were chanting “Choose Joy, Choose Joy, Choose Joy, Choose Joy, Choose Joy…” Over and over as they zinged and bounced all over the room. I could feel their exuberance and jubilation. And the message was intended, not explicitly said, but rather, I just felt it: Honey, you can leave him; you can stay with him. But either way, Choose Joy.

Q: How do you personally choose joy in the context of day to day life (examples)?

Rebecca: When I am tempted to go to a dark place, snap at my children, berate myself for eating a cookie, argue with my husband nonsensically, I stop, take a deep breath and look to my wrist. My students have bestowed not one but two silver bracelets upon me stamped with the message, Choose Joy. Often times, I am then able to make a better choice, a more loving choice. However, I am not perfect. Sometimes I still slip and behave in a less than kind way. The important thing is that I always pick myself back up, eventually, and try again.

Q: How do you overcome the world’s tendency toward negativity?

Rebecca: The world is negative? Hmmmm, didn’t notice. What’s funny is that is only a half joke to me. Over the years, I have become very cognizant about what I consume, and I don’t just mean in a physical way. I mean from an energetic perspective as well. I am careful of what I ingest from a spiritual perspective. So I watch very little television, read very few newspapers/magazines, listen only to music that uplifts me in the moment (I put no parameters on what that might be) and read only things that inspire me. I spend time each day creating my life vision and what I want my life to feel like. I see myself in a loving home with my family feeling joy and kindness. I feel myself exhilarated with my career and my daily pursuits. I make a conscious effort on a daily basis to connect with the Divine and offer my services. One of my favorite questions is, How may I serve? I work to keep my chakras (7 main energy centers within the body that connect us to the spiritual and the Earth) aligned, free of constrictions and healthy so that I may metabolize Universal Life Force without struggle, therefore allowing me to freely manifest the Divine. My world is not negative. Not in the slightest.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who decided to begin choosing joy, but isn’t sure where to start?

Rebecca: Listen to Energy Anatomy by Caroline Myss. It’s an audio lecture. She is one of my greatest teachers. The lecture itself is 9.5 hours long. I’ve listened to it many times over. She is remarkably witty and funny. And still she knows how to empower you to make choices in your life that will lead to meaningful and sustainable change.

You can follow more of Rebecca’s inspiring wisdom at www.rebeccabutleryoga.com and Twitter (#choosejoy).

Modern Lifestyle Redesign with Jefre Outlaw

Lifestyle redesign is such an intriguing topic, and Jefre Outlaw is without a doubt leading this concept by example. If you are ready to start living with intent, then you’ll definitely want to read about his journey.

Q: What prompted you to embrace the concept of modern lifestyle redesign, which eventually allowed you to realize your vision of being a world traveler?

Jefre Outlaw: I had cancer for 5 years and then I died in the hospital during a transplant operation in May 2009. I had a near death experience (NDE). On the other side three angels told me I was cured and I could go back and finish what I came to do here on earth. After that I became a student of life redesign and completely redesigned my life under divine guidance.

Q:Did you ever have any fears and how did you overcome them?

Jefre Outlaw: A lot. I eventually learned to trust and let spirit guide me. Knowing that death was not that bad and that heaven is amazing I was eventually able to let go of the fear.

Q: What was the biggest factor that allowed you to take the risk and pursue your dream wholeheartedly?

Jefre Outlaw: I think getting past the biggest fear most all of us have. The fear of not being good enough. Once I could feel that I was good enough and had that validation from the divine the rest fell into place.

Q: How would you describe your life today, compared to what it was 5 years ago?

Jefre Outlaw: In the last 4 years I have traveled to 103 countries, over 500 cities and more than 1,000 sacred sites on all 7 continents. Before that I had never left the US/Canada/Mexico and had never traveled alone. I am now a global world citizen and have friends in at least 50 countries.

To learn more about modern lifestyle redesign, you can reach out to Jefre directly at outlaw@theoutlawlist.com.

On Sabbatical with Bill Hendricks

Bill HendricksThinking of quitting your job? Well maybe you should.

Bill Hendricks has done the impossible – twice now, in fact. Intentionally unemployed as a thirty-something – really? Yes, and we could all learn a few lessons from his experiences too.

Whether you call it a sabbatical or a mini-retirement, taking a break from employment can be both liberating and productive. Have those long hours finally taken their toll on your health? Is the stress negatively impacting your relationships with friends and family? Are you no longer challenged and find yourself wishing you had chosen a different path in life? A sabbatical could be in order.

Except here’s the kicker. Even if you are considering drafting a letter of resignation, you probably won’t turn it in until you find another job. Instead, you will likely allow fear, or the well-intended advice from others, talk you out of actually doing it. Why? As a culture we place a high value on employment. We see it as evidence of independence, stability and success. It’s the American dream, after all. And most Americans will do anything to avoid entering the terrifying world of the unemployed, including accepting an equally unsatisfying job. The safe way out isn’t always the most rewarding, and being unemployed doesn’t mean that you have to struggle financially.

So before you throw in the towel on the idea of throwing in the towel, take a moment to learn from someone who has done it successfully.

Q: What triggered the realization that you needed a break from employment?

Bill Hendricks: It was a culmination of things in both my personal & professional lives. My job paid me well, but most other aspects of it were increasingly unsatisfying. I was working long hours and bringing the stress home with me at night. Personally, the biggest impact was a dear friend falling quite ill. In addition to wanting to spend more time with him, it made me consider my mortality in a way I’d never done before. It’s cliché, but I decided that “life’s too short” to continue doing something that didn’t make me happy. So I quit.

Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of taking a sabbatical?

Bill Hendricks: I’ve been lucky enough to take 2 sabbaticals in my career. The first one was 6 months, and this more recent one was around 2 months. The most rewarding aspect of both was the time off to travel. In the recent one, my wife and I spent 3 weeks in Europe, visiting places neither of us had been to before. Another pleasant outcome was the impact on my health! Getting out of a high stress, long-hours corporate environment makes it much easier to eat better and exercise. I dropped over 20 pounds during each respite. Thankfully I’ve been able to continue my good habits during my new business venture and at nearly 38 years old I’m in the best shape of my life.

Q: What do you feel was the most important factor that allowed you to take the risk of leaving the workforce?

Bill Hendricks: The most important factor was my self-confidence in my ability to get back into the workforce when I want to. I’ve been fortunate enough to have built a great resume, I’m a strong interviewer, and I have a great network of influential colleagues I can leverage. Secondly, I am extremely lucky to have a very supportive wife. Roxanne has a great career and she’s been willing and able to hold down the fort for both of us during my breaks.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is contemplating turning in their notice without having another job lined up in advance?

Bill Hendricks: DO IT! It will be one of the best things you do, both professionally and personally. Of course, don’t be irresponsible, though. Examine your financial situation closely. Determine how much money you can invest in yourself (because that’s what you’ll be doing) and define a monthly budget. “Practice” that budget for at least a couple months before quitting and see how it feels and how realistic it is. If the numbers work out – go for it! If they don’t, then you have a goal to work towards. Tighten your belt now and build up that “eff you” fund until it’s big enough to walk out the door.

Curious to know what Bill is up to now? As you might have guessed, his most recent sabbatical allowed him more time to focus on something more meaningful. He recently co-founded Common Form, a software company that allows customers to do their taxes in minutes from any connected device.