Oh universe, you wily trickster

This week something crazy occurred to me. Like, mind-bending, the universe is a trickster, cuckoo-crazy. I want to share it with you.

But first, the context part. Last year I shared a very vulnerable story on Instagram. I titled it 2022 and kept it in my highlights reel if you want the full backstory. It speaks of the decision to close my business ‘Phhnix’. That decision was made in May 2022; our family hasn’t earned any money since.

Scroll back, and you’ll find it.

Dreamboat and I decided to use our savings (set aside for a home deposit) to live on, sell our share portfolio to keep my business ‘Lauren Bath Services’ afloat and lean on government support through family assistance and parental pay. 

This perceived fall from grace had staggering consequences on my mindset. The financial pressure I felt was almost solely responsible for the huge growth I experienced last year. Pressure has a way of dislodging old stories, patterns and beliefs and shining a glaring spotlight on them. 

But amongst my grief and shame came so much clarity and a great undoing of my ego. I hadn’t realised how much of my sense of worth was derived from my ability to provide, that is, to earn money. Money had become a core driver for me, and it had kept me in a loop of bad decision-making that came from my head, not my heart. 

It wasn’t always this way for me. If you’ve followed me on Instagram for a long time, you’ll know I came into the world of influence, business and entrepreneurship from humble beginnings. As a chef, I was lucky to earn $700 a week in hand, and sometimes I was at the top of my game. 

I didn’t get into business for money. I intuitively fell into business from a place of passion and heart. I followed my gut, fully in flow, and tried everything that came my way. And I was so GRATEFUL for the opportunities. Money was a side effect of this wonderful state of being, not something I was actively chasing.

And the money did flow! Within a few short years of business, I was turning over 300-500K a year in revenue, a huge amount considering my business model. (I.e. exchanging my time for money as an influencer and creative.) Don’t worry; I spent it as fast as it came – business class flights to New Zealand, holidays to the Canadian Rockies, and takeaway every night. 

But something changed when I fell pregnant. That was in June 2019. The 14th of June, to be precise. Before finding out, I had been leading my first tours to Zimbabwe. I was arguably in the best state of my life. I was filled with fire to do good work. I was fit and healthy. My purpose felt very clear. The tours were a culmination of so much energy, passion, heart and hard work. I knew exactly what I had been put on earth to do, and I was doing it! I fell pregnant on the last day of the tour and found out in Canada a few weeks later. (I peed on a stick, but perhaps I should have known two days earlier when I ate 1kg of five-layer dip on the way to Jasper.)

It really happened. RIP 1kg of dip.

From that day on, it was like someone flipped a switch inside me. Rather than making my decisions from that place of passion and flow, I was making them from a place of logic. But that logic was not mine; it was an inherited story. Inherited from society and a culture that has our lives mapped out for us from the moment we’re born. Go to school, choose a career, get a job, get married, start a family. Repeat. 

There was a reason why I had resisted the lure of the status quo for so long. I didn’t believe in it. But seeing those two lines and realising I was about to become a mother scrambled my brain. Instead of coming at life from a place of what is possible, I started coming from a place of what isn’t. 

Humans, at our ultimate core, are storytellers. We learn about the world, ourselves and others through stories. Some stories are unique to small family units, like my family’s story of how to celebrate Christmas. Some stories are national, like the story of eating sausage sandwiches on the 26th of January (it’s an Australian thing.) Other stories are global, and we can’t escape them no matter where we look. The story of what it means to become a mother is a global story. Sacrifice. Money. Pain. Consistency. Mothers are expected to be the heart of the family, providing a safe and stable home and unquestioning love and service, even at the expense of themselves. At least, that’s the story of motherhood that I learned growing up.

Stop having fun; it’s not meant to be fun.

So when I found out I was pregnant, I put aside my projects in Zimbabwe. I put aside my photography pursuits and goals. I put aside my love of travel. I wrapped it all up tidily and filed it under ‘The past’. And instead, I strove to create a business that I could run from home that wasn’t exclusively reliant on me. That’s how I came to go all in on The Travel Bootcamp and later Phhnix.

Those businesses temporarily gave me what I thought I needed – work flexibility, money and a glimmer of my purpose. And when that came crashing down, I felt like I was dying. I spent most of 2022 in a survival state. That’s when circumstances are so traumatic (wondering if I’ll be able to support my family) that you operate from a place of diminished capacity. Survival state can have you feeling unfocused, fatigued, foggy, emotionally reactive, impulsive and withdrawn, and self-care goes out the window. I ticked all the boxes. But, as you know (if you watch my Instagram stories), I showed up, faced my demons, did the work and clawed myself out of that state of despair in time to birth William so powerfully that it felt like I birthed myself too.

A mother is born.

I was thinking about money this week. Something that I do quite a lot. A money scarcity mindset truly is the gift that keeps on giving. I was running some rough calculations in my head – what we have left, what’s in the business, how much our budget is, what Centrelink is covering – when the mind-bending, cuckoo-crazy occurrence happened. 

I realised that we, four years later, almost to the day, have the same amount of money (almost to the dollar) as we did when I peed on that stick. Let me say that again. We have the same amount of money in the bank as we did when I found out I was pregnant with Makia. After 13 months of earning nothing, untold amounts of stress, deep soul searching and a powerful reemergence back into the world, I am exactly where I started.

The day I found out I was pregnant-  June 14th, 2019.

I veered off course, but not in a bad way. It’s like when you go on a road trip and decide to drive down that interesting-looking country lane only to discover a local market and find yourself on a wonderful adventure. 

I veered off course, moved out of home, scaled two businesses, earned a shit tone of money, became a Managing Director, led a team of twelve people, learned more about business than the eight years prior, learned more about relationships than my entire life prior, had two kids, got married, shone a light on my deepest fears, lost friends, gained friends, bought a Prado, moved back home and found myself. And I’m no worse off as far as money in the bank. (A few battle wounds, though, to be sure!)

The Prado; an important moment in time.

I’ve spent the last couple of days reflecting on it all. The many lessons. The untold amounts of avoidable pain stressing about money (I literally have the SAME AMOUNT). The painful growth. But above all, I’m thinking about my choices now that I don’t have that story about what motherhood means influencing my decisions. I don’t have the answer yet, but you’ll be sure to know when I do. 

I’ll leave you with a few other lessons I’ve learned about money.

  1. We don’t need nearly as much as we think we do. Rampant consumerism has us in its clutches. It’s never too late to end that cycle if you buy more than you need.

The tip of the iceberg of how much useless ‘stuff’ we accumulated living away from home. (It was all donated to the Salvation Army.)

2. Community living is everything. I shared the other day how much more I enjoy living with my parents than living alone with my family unit. And it doesn’t need to be family. Surround yourself with a community that supports you in the way it counts – hands to hold your children, a warm meal when you’re too tired to cook and shared stories.

Learning to accept help has been a blessing since having children, our beautiful friend Emmanuelle.

3. ‘Energy flows where attention goes’. This has been a favourite saying of mine for years, and the word for it is ‘Makia’ (sound familiar?). Earning less money has given me energy to put elsewhere- like into my children, finding joy in the kitchen again and showing up online with Instagram, blogging and these emails.

We named our daughter Makia for the expression, ‘Energy flows where attention goes.’

There are solutions to every fear you have. Moving cities, changing professions, downsizing, building a commune … (don’t laugh, I’ll do it one day!) 

Be vigilant with interpreting society’s ‘stories’, and don’t be afraid to make your own. 

And remember, you may veer off course. Many of us veer off course for our whole lives. But it’s never too late to veer back on course, bringing an abundance of lessons with you.

** Originally shared to my email database on the 22nd of June, 2023 **

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Posted to Personal on 5th July 2023