Resting When It’s Hard

Resting When It’s Hard

If you’ve been reading my work a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about internalised capitalism: the equation of our worth with our productivity or with what we produce.

You see, capitalism is built on three principles:

1. The pursuit of infinite growth on a finite planet (#climatecrisis).

2. The artificial creation of scarcity, to drive said growth.

3. The devaluation of beautiful, living, complex systems to lifeless resources. (Think jungles, or the forest, or even our own bodies).

When we live inside a system where these principles are normalised, we internalise this message in a myriad ways… one of the most obvious being that feeling of never doing enough, and struggling to rest, unwind or take time off.

I got a friendly reminder of this the other week when I woke up a few hours before my 26 hour flight to Australia, horribly unwell with Covid.

Now, I was lucky.  My airline was willing to cancel my flights and give a full refund, and I was able to rebook for a few weeks later.

So all I had to do was rest… simple, right?

Except – like many of us – those thoughts crept in…

All my emails! Surely I could send a couple today.  

I haven’t written a newsletter! I was going to do that on the flight.

I need to reschedule those meetings! My diary has completely changed.  

OMG, resting is boring. Also, the house really needs cleaning – I could clean, right?

It’s so unprofessional to change all these bookings… what will they think?

Round and round and round.

Different variations, some more anxious, others more sad, all telling me that there was work to be done, and yes I’m sick, but not that sick that I couldn’t do the things.

Once, I would have believed these voices. (I remember years ago, on my fourth bout of tonsillitis in as many months, chomping down painfully on steamed broccoli and hitting the gym because no sore throat and fever was going to keep me down! Besides, I was doing healthy stuff right?!)

This time, I offered myself the grace of rest.

I’ve spoken a lot lately about how the work of “Getting Free” is a practice. It’s not a one time event or single moment, but the active choosing of who and how we want to be.

It’s letting go of all those “shoulds” and stories of urgency, and honouring the truth of this moment.

I heard those voices, those stories, those “shoulds” telling me that things are urgent! And aren’t you bored?! And are you even that sick?! and chose to offer myself the medicine I needed.

It wasn’t that I didn’t hear these stories… it was that I chose not to invest in them.  

I know what happens when I do (#burnout #illness #exhaustion)

Instead, I chose to offer myself the rest and ease I want for all of us.

To stay on the couch, under the duvet, and leave my out of office on a couple days longer than I even needed.

Now, not all of us have the privilege to be able to do this.

I was raised by a single mother who for a long time did not have the resources or support to take a day, let alone a week, off.  But I also know that so often even once we have the privilege to do so, that we struggle with the practice.

There is no virtue in ‘keeping busy’ or ‘pushing through’ though. Morality, goodness and worth are not attached to how much we do.

And as changemakers, whatever it is that we want for the world, we must be willing to offer it to ourselves.

This is how we seed change into existence.

So if you’re in need of a little rest this week, or this virus creeps up on you soon too, here are a few reflection prompts for you:


1. What does your body want right now? Sleep? Water? To stay inside or go out? Note, notice your bodily sensations and feelings when asking yourself what you want. There’s a difference sometimes between what our mind wants, what we desire, and where our body is at.

2. What’s the worst that could happen from putting on the Out of Office this week and just being?  Is this thing truly more important than your health and wellbeing?

3. Can you offer yourself the grace of being human? Of being a living, breathing being that needs food, water, sleep, care and rest?

Love & courage,


Asking for What You Want Can be a Revolutionary Act

Asking for What You Want Can be a Revolutionary Act

How old were you when you stopped asking for what you want?

As children, we know how to ask. We see something, desire it and express that.  But somewhere along the way, we often learn the idea that it’s bad.

I was about 5 or 6, and remember asking for something and being met with a response containing a lot of fear about our family’s financial situation.  It was a moment of stress, but as a child I internalised the idea that expressing & filling my desires would mean a lack of safety.

And when we stop asking for what we want, we disconnect from our inner wisdom and desire.

What fills the gap are messages from the dominant systems around us: mostly, white capitalist patriarchy.

Systems made of scarcity, domination and control.  (#dietculture, amirite?).

Systems that call women angry, bossy, controlling, a b&*#! if she becomes too powerful or disrupts the status quo. 

And so as women and femmes, we learn to place our needs and wants second or last, whether through kin-keeping, emotional labour or work. 

And a person guilty or afraid to ask for what they want is not a person standing in their power.

This sometimes gets further coopted into spiritualist-capitalism with messages of ‘leaving it up to the universe’ or ‘it’s a sign’.  These messages have value (I say them myself),  but if we say them without *also* asking & expressing what we want, then we’re outsourcing our power.

In turn, we also stop questioning the system, and asking for the world and community we want:

“We can’t afford that”. “That’s just the way the world is”.  “You can’t have everything you want”.  “You can’t trust any politician”. “They’ll never change”.  “What’s the point of voting? My vote doesn’t mean anything”. “I can’t do anything, I’m one person”. 

The result of all of this is 1) the perpetuation of the status quo (which is slowly killing us and thousands of other species), and 2) feeling resentful, drained and burnt out. 

Because if we can’t ask for what we want in our own lives, we can’t ask for what we want in the world.

Self work is world work. 

Asking for what we want, believing we can have it, creating the conditions for thriving in our own lives, plants seeds that allow us to do this in our wider communities. 

Ask yourself these prompts today:

1. Where & how do I hold myself back from asking for what I want?

2. What messages have I received that taught me that asking for what I want is wrong, bad, or that I’m not worthy?

Laura x 

The Burnout Myths

The Burnout Myths

The Burnout Myths

Burnout is a system problem manifesting in individuals

Have you ever felt burnt-out?

I hit my peak burnout about three years ago.

It started with jaw pain & insomnia, a creeping feeling of cynicism for work I cared deeply about.

Then came the anxiety, the exhaustion, irritability and a sense of being always on-edge.

I felt completely lost.  I knew something needed to change, but everything was so overwhelming it was hard to see a way out.

This time has deeply informed my work with burnout now.

Changemakers & activists (along with caregivers & healthcare) disproportionately suffer from burnout.

It derails our goals, careers, relationships, movements & of course our health.

But despite how common it is, there are still so many burnout myths that we hold.  Here are a few of them:

#Myth: That we can heal burnout with a vacation or weekend off.  We think “I’ve just got to get through till the weekend/semester end/holidays” or “I just need a week off and then I’ll be fine”.

#Truth: Burnout will return – probably worse – if we don’t address the underlying causes & ways of working.  Time off is great, and probably necessary, but it needs to be part of our healing, and not just a bandaid.

#Myth: Burnout is a sign of weakness or a personal failing

#Truth: Burnout is the result of ways of working that do not support us.  It’s a system problem manifesting in individuals and so there is work to do at two levels.

First, within us as individuals – our bodies, hearts and minds. Secondly, within us as a community, in how we come together, the working styles we embody and our relationship to conflict, scarcity and belonging.

#Myth: Burnout & stress are a part of life… and part of being a changemaker

#Truth: Stress is natural & healthy to a degree, but chronic stress, which leads to burnout is not. Stress & burnout do not make you any more impactful as a changemaker, and in no way is burnout part of ‘adulting’ or ‘life’.

You can view more burnout myths over on Instagram.

Starting October 10 is Internal Revolution: Ending Burnout Cycles & Culture. This is a four-week online course for changemakers & activists.


How To Stay Motivated When Change Doesn’t Come

How To Stay Motivated When Change Doesn’t Come


Changemaking is a long game.  Whether we’re working through a social enterprise or business, or we’re an on-the-ground activist or community organiser, it can be hard to stay motivated when change seemingly doesn’t come. We give our hearts and souls to a particular outcome, and when the results are slow to see, we easily become demoralised.

As changemakers, one of the quickest ways we burnout is by confusing our goal and motivation.  A goal is a clear outcome we want to achieve – maybe it’s a policy change; net-zero emissions by 2030, or the end of corporate political donations.  Maybe it’s more of a culture change, with stronger representation of queer and BIPOC people in media, or communities that feel like they belong to one another.  Maybe the goal is for your social enterprise to deepen its impact and create new opportunities.  Whatever it may be – the goal has a clear outcome.

Motivation is what gets us to do the work.  It’s the feeling we have that tells us this is what we need to do, and why.

Often though, we confuse the goal and the motivation.  We do the work assuming that the reason we are doing it is the goal we seek – and when there are setbacks or our work takes longer than planned we begin to burnout.

At this point it’s easy to become that little bit more jaded or angry.   Feelings of tiredness and apathy are common.  We might continue to do the work, but the spark we had before is gone. The work feels heavier. Our hearts are heavier.

Understanding our deeper motivations can help us to move through this.  We cultivate our resiliency in part by building solid foundations within ourselves that call us to the work.

To understand your motivations, think back to when you were first inspired to create a change in the world.  What did you feel called by?  What feelings arose in you?  Take a few moments to really feel back in time, and write down what comes up.  Was it an extrinsic motivation, arising from something outside of you? Was there any internal, or intrinsic, calling that brought you to the work?

And importantly, is that motivation still working for you today?

Our motivations change as we change, and most of us have multiple motivations within us, we just need to know which to tap into.  Below are some strong, renewable motivations, and tuning in to the ones that drive us can help us to stay the course.

  • Service Service is about connection to something larger than ourselves. Maybe it’s to God or whatever you believe to be divine. Maybe it’s to humanity. Maybe it’s the love letter to what you feel we humans could be.  Service is less about the destination and more about the journey. It’s an attitude we can embody in all of our actions and interactions.  How can I serve? How can I serve? How can I serve? This question has such different energy and intention to one of How do I fix this?, and it’s not reliant on external change to exist.
  • Pain-transformed.  Pain-transformed becomes compassion. It is the foundation of empathy, of deep listening, of holding space.  If our pain has been given the space and healing needed to transform, we can use it as our motivation to change the world – to not have others experience what we did, to offer compassion to those who are suffering. Pain-transformed is also what allows us to begin exploring transformative justice and other forms of accountability. Pain that hasn’t yet healed though is not a sustainable form of motivation; if it’s still running the show and driving our reactions, it isn’t transformed enough to drive the work of change.
  • Vision. We all have a vision of a more beautiful world. What would yours look like? Can your vision be your inspiration? Can your vision sustain you with enough hope to keep going, even when it feels that we are a million miles away from it? Can your vision adapt and evolve to co-create with people around you? Can you ground the feeling of this vision in your body, even before you see it with your eyes? Vision motivation needs regular watering, a feeling of being alive in your heart and body in order to continue to do its work.
  • Love: Often we hear people say they are doing the work for their children. What they really mean, is they are doing the work because of love. Love for our children, love for our shared humanity, is a strong and sustainable motivation.  Our desire for those around us and those after us to live in a more just and beautiful world, as well as to honour those who came before us.
  • The Arisings: a more nuanced approach to motivation, subject to change at a whim.  The arisings are those little voices that whisper to us, that tell us we need to do something even when we don’t understand why. It’s our intuition, our gut sense, our connection to something deep within us.  Choosing to regularly check-in and listen to the arisings can be a helpful source of motivation, an intrinsic connection that tells us if we are on the right path, even when we can’t see it.  The difficulty here is in honouring them when they change, and knowing how to listen.
  • Values: When I talk about values in this context, I’m also referring to our sense of what is ‘moral’. Moral obligation is subjective to people, but it means there is something in our values that says this is important.  That we must do this because it is just or right.  This is a more sustainable form of motivation because the desire and foundation of it is within us.  Even though our hearts may ache at how long change takes, we know that our conscience demands we continue.
  • Belonging: Belonging is a powerful motivator. We all crave some form of belonging, no matter how rebellious and independent we may be. True belonging is a space we can be radically ourselves, yet also be part of something larger than ourselves. Belonging helps give us purpose, solidarity and meaning.  We show up, because others show up for us.  We rise, because others are rising with us.  We do the work, because what we co-create together is more magical than what we can do alone.  Tending to the community is form of love in action, and when we’re feeling hopeless, it can help to remember to water the seeds that are in front of us.

When our goals seem impossibly far away, come back to what is true for you right now.  Go within to find your deepest source of motivation. Ask it what it needs to be activated, listen to it, follow it.  “Let us be the ones who plant, even on the days that feel like the end of days” – Omid Safi.

A note on fear: fear can be a useful motivator, in the short term.  Fear activates our fight/flight/freeze response, and sometimes these ‘primal’ responses can be of great benefit. It can encourage us to say yes to opportunities we might miss out on, or our fear for the future may fuel a call to action within us.  However, stress and fear have detrimental long term effects.  Our bodies are not designed to have stress responses permanently activated without some sort of consequence, whether that be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.  Fear can however be a transformative emotion if use it well.  Can we feel it in its fullest experience, and watch it transform into freedom? Watch it transform into power? Watch it transform into spaciousness?

A further note on mobilisation: the motivating tools we use to mobilise others may be different from what sustains us in the long term, though I believe in a healthy-change-ecosystem our reliance cannot be solely on tools of fear or ‘othering’ to build a movement.

Notes on burnout and the body

Notes on burnout and the body

Notes on burnout and the body

How well do you listen to your body? Do you understand what it is telling you?  Are we over-extending? Are we under-extending but so afraid of over-extending that we tell ourselves otherwise? Are we being called to serve somewhere new or old?

The body is a site of truth. Our emotional, mental, spiritual bodies all come together and speak through our physical body.  Our physical body can tell us the truth of where these other bodies are at. on burnout and the body

Sometimes we extend ourselves too far, we live in a culture that glorifies endless work after all.  When we listen, our bodies may tell us to rest, to be alone, to be in community, to sing, to dance, to sleep, to make love – when we learn to listen to the cues of the body, we’re listening to and understanding our needs.  Everything we feel, we feel in the body.

Sometimes, however, we feel we haven’t gone far enough.  And, so, we push ourselves in ways that are counterintuitive to what we want and where we are being called, because in the back of our mind is that voice saying we haven’t done enough.  In reality, it’s not that we haven’t done enough – it’s that we haven’t done enough of what matters, of what we are really called for.  We’re exhausted from pushing against all the wrong things. (note: the story of ‘I haven’t done enough’ can also be the sound of violence against ourselves, and distinguishing between what is a true calling and what is a violent mechanism takes time. Listening to the body as well as your mind is the clearest way to determine what is violence and what is not, but more on this later).

This is not to say that when we follow our callings the work won’t be exhausting, rather it won’t be depleting.  Burnout is what happens when we have depleted ourselves of our inner resources, when we have ignored the signs given to us by all of our various bodies and their needs.  We ‘pushed through’, we ‘carried on’, but we also ran out of fuel because we were depleted more than we were ever nourished.

One of the reasons we look at listening to our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical bodies in changemaker resilience course is that the more we follow our true callings, listening to where it feels right for us to be, the closer we are to doing the work that nourishes us.  It will still be hard, there will still be bad days, you will still need to look at other areas of your life, but the first step will have been taken.  And as our callings are an evolving thing, always changing, we develop the skills to listen throughout our lifetime, ending one part of the burnout cycle.

If you want to be the first to hear about the next Changemaker Resilience course when it launches be sure to join the mailing list here.

You can also read more on the culture of burnout in activism and changemaking here.