the power of radical self-care

How radical self-care flipped my life 180 degrees in just seven days

How radical self-care flipped my life 180 in just 7 days.
the power of radical self-care
How radical self-care flipped my life 180 degrees in just 7 days

Everyone has that empty cup moment at some point in their life. For me, it was in May 2021.

I was working full time as part of an innovation project in a large corporation. I was also supporting my partner with his small business — doing all the marketing, rebranding and admin support and I was working on another startup with a close friend and working towards my goal weight doing keto. I’d already lost 28 kgs at that stage and I’d just found a whole community of keto friends on the new social audio app, Clubhouse.

What 180 days of radical self-care looks like in just over a minute.

The empty cup

On the surface, life looked successful, but in reality, I was working 100 hour weeks, striving to be a good mum, a good partner, a good friend, and a good human amid a global pandemic and I didn’t realise I was standing on a house of cards.

Looking back, I could blame my circumstances, other people, and even the pandemic for what unfolded next, but the hard truth was I just wasn’t listening to myself. And when you ignore the signs and symptoms of burnout, it’s kinda predictable that one flick of the cards will send everything toppling over.

I felt under huge pressure because, at the time, I was the main income earner in our home.

The cards started to fall when my startup business relationship of 3 years ended suddenly and with it, a close friendship. Meanwhile, I heard whispers that the company I was with was planning to can the project I was working on. Suddenly, the certainty of my full-time job started to look shaky. In addition, my partner was having cash flow issues with his small business, so I felt under huge pressure because, at the time, I was the main income earner in our home.

We quickly sold the small business, and my partner went back on the road as a truck driver. It was great money, but he was still stressed because he struggled to sleep during the day. So, we were snapping at each other, and pretty soon, everyone in our house was snapping at each other.

In the midst of this uncertainty and upheaval, my anxiety went through the roof, my productivity rapidly went down the toilet, and I started to feel powerless to stop the cascade of doom. All of that occurred within a matter of weeks.

The final blow to my flimsy house of cards was when my department head called to say my contract was definitely ending.

It’s not that I didn’t want to live, I just didn’t want this, but I was so depleted I didn’t see how I could drag myself out from under the toppled house.

That same day, I was driving along the highway, and as I approached a bridge, I thought, just for a fleeting moment, “what if I just drove off it?”

That was it. Something had to change. No one was coming to save me. It was up to me to turn it around.

It’s not that I didn’t want to live, I just didn’t want this, but I was so depleted I didn’t see how I could drag myself out from under the toppled house.

On day 2, reading Glennon Doyle’s book “Untamed”

The flip

A few of my Clubhouse friends were doing 75 Hard. That was too much of a stretch for me at that time but I needed some kind of focus so I chose, instead, to do 75 days of radical self-care.

Taking that first step was the hardest part of all. The voice in my head was going nuts. “You don’t deserve this. You’re not enough. You’ll probably flake out. You never finish anything you start. You’re….[imagine all the negative self-talk you can think of].”

But I knew if I did nothing, nothing would change. So, I hovered over the enter button on my keyboard for about 30 minutes, and then I closed my eyes and clicked it. I had just booked myself into a hotel for a night so I could have some alone time and a long, hot bath. It felt super self-indulgent but also I was secretly proud of myself.

That first week was a bit of a struggle but I managed to find something every day. Then on the seventh day, I was sitting in a car park with a bunch of flowers in my hand. I had bought them for myself but I felt the urge to give them away. And so I found an elderly gentleman and handed my flowers to him. We had a lovely chat. He told me no one had ever done anything like that for him before.

Meet Almed, the man who doesn’t know that he changed my life by allowing me to give him a bunch of flowers.

When I got back to my car, I started sobbing. It suddenly hit me that seven days earlier I would not have had the capacity to even think about doing something for someone else. That was the moment I realised just how magical radical self-care really was. That was when I jumped onto Clubhouse and shared about this discovery with anyone who would listen and that was the day I met my friend and now mentor, Pete Cohen.

The rise

Everything transformed for me that day. I was offered new contract work right away. Our home was back on track to being a peaceful, joyful space and my partner and I were more connected than ever. How quickly things turn around when you create space for something new. Within just a week, my life had done a 180.

Suddenly, people started following my journey on Instagram and within weeks, I felt a renewed sense of purpose. Pete encouraged me to think about starting a movement. So many possibilities opened up for me and I knew this challenge was about more than just me.

#180selfcare is spreading around the world

Looking around me I could see I wasn’t the only one who needed a new foundation.

According to a recent study in the Lancet, mental health disorders were the leading cause of the global-related health burden even before 2020. Since the pandemic, rates of anxiety and major depression have risen by more than 25%.

I had stumbled on a simple tool that dramatically altered my own mental state. I felt compelled to explore how this could also serve others, so I created a brand, rejigged my challenge to make it 180 days and started to feel a new version of me calling me forth into something profoundly impactful.

The fall

What happened next nobody could have foreseen. I mean, things like this don’t happen to us. They happen to those other people on the news. You know, those people you never meet.

On day 26 of my challenge, two men from my partner’s truck company showed up at my house. My partner, the love of my life, had been killed in a tragic accident. The scream that came out of my body echoed through the entire neighbourhood.

The night before, he’d called to check he’d kissed me goodbye and tell me how much he loved me. We were planning a few days off to reconnect and spend some much needed time together. And now there was nothing but a huge abyss. I was in shock and completely overwhelmed by grief.

Most people would just stop doing life at that point, and I did. I couldn’t work. I could barely eat and those few weeks around his death are a big blur now. But in the midst of this, one of my close friends posted on my Instagram account: “Day 26 #180selfcare Cara is taking some much needed time to be off social media and with her family.” along with a picture on my fridge which reads “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten” (from Lilo and Stitch). Even amid everything I was dealing with, I couldn’t forget or ignore my extended virtual family.

2 days before my partner died in a freak accident.

A day or so later, a friend drove me to the local Theravada Buddhist temple to formally invite the monks to do the funeral service. It was a moment of peace in the storm. And on the way home, she said that I must be doing something quite profound for such a tragedy to befall me.

She believed that whenever you do good in the world, evil does whatever it can to disrupt you. She urged me to keep going because doing good deeds in the world would help send my beloved over to the Buddhist version of The Good Place.

It dawned on me that karma (or meritorious deeds) was about creating love in the world. That’s when I resolved to keep going. I wasn’t about to let evil win and I knew that my partner would have wanted me to fully live and keep making an impact, no matter what. That was the kind of human he was.

The anchor

I know it might seem crazy that I kept going with the challenge but it gave me an anchor I so desperately needed. Oddly, the last day of this challenge coincided with the 5-month mark since my partner’s death. It’s was a bittersweet day.

My 180th day was on the five month mark since my partner died.

I honestly think radical self-care has been the primary thing that’s kept me going these past few months. The discipline of looking for something to do as an act of self-care has become a habit. And aside from helping me be with the ebb and flow of my grief, it has caused massive breakthroughs too and led me to do things I never thought possible.

I want people to know how easy this is and why it is so powerful. I want anyone who needs this to feel like they have a beacon in the storm of life.

The transformation

Amidst my grief, those 180 days were the most transformative of my life. I am stronger, wiser, I tune in more, I listen more, and I know when to say “no” and when to slow down and stop.

Radical self-care is the key to loving yourself, others and our planet

I’ve made friends all over the world and started a club of like-minded souls who want to join me in inspiring 1 million people to beat anxiety and depression through the power and magic of radical self-care.

I want people to know how easy this is and why it is so powerful. I want anyone who needs this to feel like they have a beacon in the storm of life.

Now that I’ve completed 180 days (I’m now on day 312), my foundation is now firm and my house strong. And as long as I keep filling my empty cup and pouring from the overflow I feel empowered to keep going and keep anxiety and depression from sabotaging my life. That is the magic of radical self-care and it is a gift worth passing on. Will you join me?



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