I'm not supposed to be here. At least that's what the statistics said. According to all the studies, and the declarations of negative people in my life, if I did survive my gang-riddled neighborhood, it would be unwed with several children by my side, a dead-end, low-paying job, and a future that lacked hope. That's what the statistics said.
But I had a different ending for my story.
I've always known I was destined for great things. Don't ask me how I knew. I just did…it couldn't have been my environment. After all, the mean streets of Sacramento can shatter anyone's dreams. In fact, my Meadowview neighborhood was dubbed “Danger Island" and although it was nestled between the affluent Pocket/Greenhaven area and lower middle class, Mack Road, it was not a place you wanted to be caught outside after dark.
I never have settled for the norm. Even as a little girl, from a broken home, I knew that my destiny was greater than my existence. After all, I'd survived abuse, both sexual and physical, and my life had been spared more times than I could count.
While my story may be deemed a rags to riches tale, it's bigger than that. So much bigger. It's about an ordinary girl who decided she was capable of extraordinary things. It's about a woman who took all the obstacles tossed in her path of life and used them as stepping stones to bigger and better things.
I worked my way up through the rigors of corporate America, the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur, the frustrations of trying to maintain a proper work-family balance, I've learned many valuable lessons.
Now, as my company – which started from my kitchen – is a top selling, iconic natural hair care brand, I have singlehandedly changed not only my destiny, but my children's legacy.
Of course, creating a successful business doesn't come without a cost and if you're not careful, that cost can be your family.
Any successful entrepreneur will tell you, having it all is a lot easier said than done. Building a business, a thriving business, requires long hours and lots of sweat equity. Even if you have a plethora of cash, the sweat equity alone can take a toll on your family.
A support system is crucial in building a business. Whether it's your parents, siblings, relatives, friends or neighbors, if you have a family, you simply can't go at it alone.
There isn't a one size fit all solution to having it all, but I have found a host of common threads among successful entrepreneurial mothers.
It's about a woman who took all the obstacles tossed in her path of life and used them as stepping stones to bigger and better things.
Organization is key!
Nothing adds stress to your life more than trying to find an important file that is buried under mounds of paperwork. Or trying to remember what time the baby's doctor appointment is because you didn't write it down. You have to get and stay organized. Your work time is precious and not as dependable as it would be if you worked in a traditional workplace. You can't afford to waste time looking for files, sorting through junk mail or even finding a piece of paper to write on. Keep everything clean and organized from the start.
Whether you use an old fashioned organizer or rely solely on your latest gadget, you'd be amazed at how a planner can help balance your work life with their family life, manage your daily tasks, and help prioritize your lie. (My personal favorite is my iPhone and all of the amazing applications for business owners). Of course, being flexible.
is key because at some point, your sitter will call in sick, your child will have a meltdown and your spouse may get called in to work.
Include the kids.
Sometimes, our children just want to be in the same room with us. When your children are little, child-proof your office and bring them in. Give them their own little space, and their own little tasks, and you'd be amazed, the kids will feel like they've gotten some mommy time while you've gotten some work done.
It's good enough.
Let's face it, we all weren't meant to be Barbara Billingsley, you know, the “Leave it to Beaver" mom who made lunches and homemade cookies for snacks? So what you had to go to the store to buy cookies for your daughter's class party? Your priorities are your family and then your work. Don't feel bad about being a store-bought cupcakes kind of mom. Find your 'good enough' and be happy with it.
Focus, focus, focus.
One of the challenges many entrepreneurial moms face is managing tasks while trying not to get sidetracked by children, laundry, dishes, etc. Make a list each month of what you intend to get done. Then break the list down week by week, then day by day. If you stay focused, you can stay committed to getting things done.
Ask for help.
It's very difficult to succeed without help, be it from your partner, family member or someone you hire. Communicate with your partner about how he can help you - you both need to remember you're juggling two full-time jobs. Figure out how to parent and chore-share so you're both on the same page. I have had to outsource things (things that used to make me feel guilty), but I've learned that asking for help is essential to getting it all done. We have a housekeeper. I used to feel guilty about that. I had to finally tell myself that the amount of time it would take me to clean the house, given my daily workload and mommy duties, just wasn't worth it.
Don't forget about you.
In the grand scheme of trying to have it all, we often put ourselves on the back burner. It is crucial that you take care of you. How can you work out when you don't have enough time with your kids? How can you take a bubble bath when you need to make a presentation? Realize now that there will never be enough time in the day to get everything done. Your in-box will still be full when you die, so learn to accept that fact now. It may seem like a cliché, but in this case, it's the truth: You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of your family, your business and your home. If mama isn't happy, nobody will be.
My story can be your story. And if you walk away with nothing else, I hope that you'll understand my motto: When you wake up in the morning you have two choices - go back to sleep and dream your dreams, or wake up and chase your dreams.
I choose the latter. What will your choice be?
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."