Sherry talks about the importance of appreciating what is good about life and to honor, protect, and love things that are beautiful in response to the ugliness that is going on in the world.

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Episode Transcript

Sherry Walling:Hi, folks. This is sort of the season of Rob and I being here and there and everywhere. It’s just me on the podcast today. He is getting back from one trip, and getting ready to go on another trip, and so we are sort of passing like ships in the night.
 If you are at [Sastar 00:00:15] next week in San Francisco, then be sure to connect with Rob. He is there and I’m sure he would love to talk with any ZenFounder fans. Then I will be in San Diego in the middle of February, the 20th through the 22nd, for the Bureau of Digital Owner’s Summit. If any of you are heading that way, I would also love to chat and connect in person.
 January was a busy month for me in the podcast world. I got to be a guest interviewee on several podcasts, several of my favorite podcasts. I got to talk with Brian Clark of Copyblogger. He interviewed me on his Unemployable podcast and we talked about psychology and entrepreneurship. I also got to be on the Versioning Podcast and talk about imposter syndrome and then had such fun talking with Carrie Dils on OffHours.FM and Matt Inglot on Freelance Transformation.
 If you’re not totally bored of my voice and my perspective, then definitely check out those interviews, as well as check out some of the other episodes that those great folks are putting together for the founder community.
Sherry Walling:So, we just returned from a family vacation a little bit north of Cancun. We had a lovely time together as a family spending lots of time in the pool, in the hot tub, and the resort where we were staying had a swim up bar. Which, my kids thought was the most amazing thing ever. And they had a whole kids menu with lots of different milkshakes, smoothies, drink combinations for kiddos, and my kids were living in the lap of luxury.
 And we all had a really great time. I think one of the things that made it particularly good is that the resort really was really well-oriented towards children. And so, they had great programming for kids, which allowed Rob and I to have dinners alone, and alone time here and there. Allowed us time to work out, to do a little bit of work when we needed to, and also spend a lot of time with our kids. So, it was a really good trip overall.
 Although, I have to be honest, the fun for me got a little bit derailed by some of the political events happening in the US. Particularly the executive order about refugees. And my intention is not to be political here. I feel like there are lots of talking heads talking non-stop about all that’s happening in the US government. And so I don’t know that I necessarily have anything brilliant to add or to contribute beyond that, but, I think for me on a personal level, being in this beautiful resort, and on vacation, it just felt very dissonant with the reality with the kind of suffering that so many people are experiencing.
 And I didn’t feel guilty about being there, but it did certainly give me pause. I think the refugee topic in particular is very personal for me. I spent a chunk of my college experience living in West Africa in Ghana, and then as a graduate student, had the opportunity to go back and work in refugee camps in Ghana. So, I spent a summer volunteering in the Buduburam refugee camp outside of Accra. Which at that time, housed people who had to flee their homes because of the war in Liberia. And it was both a place of hope because people were a little bit more safe, and a place of tremendous desperation.
 So my job that summer was to work with teenage girls who’d been assaulted. Usually in the camp, or in the process of resettling, and who were now mothers to children through rape. So, lots of psychological difficultly as you can imagine. But, my job really was to talk with these girls about how to try to ensure the basic safety of themselves, their own bodies, as well as the children that they were caring for. I think it was very eyeopening to me as a young person to really be part of that community for the summer. To learn some of the songs, learn some of the catch phrases, to do my best to understand and connect, and be helpful. But also really face the reality that their lives are very, very different from mine.
 My early experiences in West Africa have kind of led me down this path of routinely going to places that have been affected by war, and looking for ways to be helpful, but also looking to learn from people who live there about how to recover and heal from terrible, overwhelming experiences. So I spent a lot of time in Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, a bit of time in China, and Vietnam, and these moments, these places have shaped my view of the world as a very inner-connected place.
 In the course of those experiences, I’ve seen tremendous suffering, and both personally and professionally heard stories of tremendous terror, and loss, and fear. And even though it is easy for me as highly educated, well-resourced person to be very comfortable in a suburban existence, it’s been really important for me over the course of my personal development to be someone who stays involved and aware of the places in the world where there’s suffering.
 So in the past year, I’ve been able to do some low-fee psychology work for the International Refugee Assistance Project. And this organization, I’ve talked about on the podcast once before at least, and they are really in the middle of providing the legal aid, along with the ACLU, to people who are in the process of seeking refugee status in the US who have been stalled in that process. And they particularly focus on providing legal assistance to the most vulnerable refugees around the world. So, people who are living under an eminent threat of death because of their work translating for US forces, children who are unaccompanied members of the LGBT community who are coming from countries where, that is not legal, and it’s not safe.
 And so, I’ve been intimately acquainted with these stories and to be honest, I’m kind of losing my mind about the administration’s policies. I won’t go on a rant here. I think those of you who agree with me know why, and those of you who don’t agree with me, I’m probably not gonna change your mind so that’s okay. But, it seems like the current state of the US government, will demand all of us to become a bit clearer about our convictions and the ways that our actions align with what’s important to us.
 So, many sources, many people are calling for action. For participation in protests and marches. There’s always agencies to donate to, to contact members of congress. All of these are really important activities and I think are gonna be increasingly meaningful. For those of us who want to have a voice in administration that’s feeling not particularly accessible at this point. But I also think it’s going to be important for me, and for all of us, to find ways to fight both apathy and fatigue.
 And I guess I would say as a ZenFounder psychologist, now more than ever it’s important to take care of yourself. Of your mind, of your body, of your soul. Even if your pretty head’s down, doing your business, growing your company, managing your family, spending time with your friends, this macro-level stress, this sort of stress that’s now out there in the environment, that’s an added stressor compared to what maybe some of us experienced a year ago. It adds another layer of anxiety that again, whether we’re paying a lot of attention to or not, it’s there. It’s there for each of us. So, over the episodes of the podcast, Rob and I have shared a lot of strategies for self-care.
 Obviously there’s the ones that your mom, or even your family doctor are gonna remind you about. Getting good sleep, eating healthy food, drinking enough water. That cleansing round of kickboxing or yoga. There’s also a need to dive into the topics and tasks that demand our attention with focus and action. So there’ll be what I often call these time-ins, where we decide we’re gonna go heads down about a certain issue. Or heads down on a certain task. And really discipline ourselves not to be distracted, not to check the newsfeed, to turn off all the notifications, and really allow for intense focus.
 And there’ll be times when we need to step away when it becomes too overwhelming, and we feel our anxiety rising, and we reach a point where our thoughts and actions are no longer productive. Where maybe we risk apathy, or we risk breaking something apart, or hurting a relationship. So, I think it’s a time where all of us kind of have to call on our deeper, most mature selves, to take good care of ourselves so that we can frankly, take good care of the world around us.
 One of the strategies that is most important to me, and in self-care that I thought a lot about when we were on vacation, is to be intentional about pursuing beauty. And I have a fairly broad definition of this, but for me, it often means getting up to watch the sunrise. Spending time at a lake, or in the trees, or near the ocean. Making time to stroll through a museum for an afternoon. Sitting down and really enjoying a good cup of coffee. Really tasting it, really letting all of my senses experience it. Or maybe you do that with a good meal. Your favorite meal. Sometimes it’s enjoying the color and the texture of a cashmere scarf as I tend to be doing here in Minnesota.
 So there’s lots of ways that you can pursue, or experience beauty. And I think the deeper meaning for me is that the pursuit of beauty honors what is good, for the sake of being good. It honors what is made well, or what is naturally occurring. And I think beauty, when we really let ourselves have moments of being immersed in beauty, we catch our breath. And we go a little bit outside the burdens of our lives. And maybe it’s even approaching a little bit of transcendence. Beauty takes us outside of ourselves. We get to float in the power, or the sensory experience of something else. But I think that beauty also invites us deeper into ourselves. It invites us into a deeper experience of ourselves by letting us dwell in what we love, or what we find joyful or pleasurable.
 So, you might have your own definition of this thing that I’m calling the pursuit of beauty. For me, it was incredibly healing to just be in the Caribbean and watch my children play. To watch them splash. To really take in the color of the water. And the taste of the salt and the sensation of sort of the noise of them playing. Their laughter. I also sort of to [inaudible 00:11:43] of my darling husband, made everybody in the family get up one morning and watch the sun rise. And it was a little bit cold and windy, but it was awesome, and just completely spectacular. And, whether they’ll remember it or not, I will remember it. and I think that it’s this defiant determination to appreciate what is good about life, and to protect and honor, and love what is beautiful. That is going to be kind of a secret superpower in response to the ugliness in which we now find ourselves. So that’s one of the things that I’ll be working on, and doing moving forward over the next months, years, is to practice good self-care and particularly as it relates to seeking out and enjoying that which is beautiful in life.
 So hopefully Rob will be back with me next week. We also have some great interviews lined up for the weeks to come. Corey Miller and I are on for our webinar on Tuesday, February 7th, at noon central time. So, you can find that link on the show notes. So, whatever your political persuasion, or how you feel about what’s happening in the US right now, I hope you find a few moments to dwell in beauty. To experience beauty, and to find some restoration and peace in that moment. Thanks for listening.