Communtiy Changemakers: Sharon Arthur, Lotus Baby and Mamma Massage
After writing a series of profiles on all the amazing women who are joining us this International Women Day (IWD), I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the range of reponses to the same questions asked of each. Each one is uniquely different and a joy to read, and yet they all seem to draw the same conclusion. In the moment that you decide to take a leap of faith on yourself, your true sparkle begins to shine. It is not always easy. It is often stressful. But there is a real satisfaction when you put your blood sweat and tears into something that you believe in. And THAT is where being BOLD for Change begins!
Be BOLD for Change for IWD is specifically drawing attention to the fact that it is predicted that it will be another 170 year to gender parity! "Gender parity", in case you aren't quite sure, is a "measure the relative access to education of males and females" 170 years! Isn't that terrible! With this in mind, it is up to each of us to put our focus into what it is we really want, and then work bloody hard to get it. It is about cheering each other on because united, we will have more strength to close the gap. And it is about setting examples to others through our actions (both men and women) that teach and demand respect in whatever it is that we choose to do. And it is about standing up for those that need a voice and helping them to reach those same goals. Through our actions, we are our childrens greatest teachers. And our children are the next leaders of the world.
It was only one short month ago that the seed was planted that with IWD approaching, perhaps I should hold a morning tea. In a very short space of time, that seed grew into a full flourished plan to unite some of the most BOLD women I know within our local community. They are BOLD, because they have faced life head on, made a decision that they were NOT simply going to take the easy road, taking up or sticking with a job they did not love, or had outgrown. Instead they focused on their hearts desire, took a BOLD risk, and simply just TRY!! Day after day, they try! They have set an example to to their children, their community and to me. And the crazy thing is, when you choose to follow the path of what you truly believe in, you begin to be very good at it. It still comes with hard work, but it is never so tedious in that you love what you do. And you become a success. You attract to others that make those same choices, and you inspire others TO make those choices. You begin to be an examaple in your community. You are a "Community Changemaker!"
It was a short leap to ask Days for Girls to join us as an organisation that's focus is to bring about undertanding and support for women for what is one of the most natural and important things that happen to us (if the human poulation wants to continue that is). Their aim is to educate communities and empower women that they should not be put aside or hide in shame because of a natural event that every single woman experiences. There are no cultural or demographic boundaries here, we all experience a preparation for life and we should be thanked for process. It often comes bundled with pain, bloating and emotion and, for us, here in the Western world, an inconvenience. But for some women, it is complete shame and lock down. Days for Girls are battling gross gender disparity because of the most natural process of life! Their aim is to educate, embrace and manage. To change the mindset of cultures world wide to accept rather than shame what is just nature. Days for Girls ARE Community Changemakers!
I thought it would be interesting to close this series by 'interviewing' myself. When I type/write, my conscious mind switches off to some degree and I let my thoughts and hands fill up a page. It can take some editing later to make full sense at times. but I find that by writing, I can help untangle my random thoughts and and find a focus of the chatter in my head. And so follows my own slant on the Be BOLD questions for this years IWD.
Tell us a little bit about who you are, and who is your business.
I am a mum of 2 beautiful girls. Once upon a time BC (Before Children), I was a chef and a carefree soul who used that career to travel the world. How blessed am I to have had the experience. But then I worked bloody hard to save the money, and swallowed my fears about heading into the unknown. So I guess in my actions, I kind of blessed myself. I eventually became very tired of hospitality and yearned for something...else. Fast forward many years and random life paths later in search, I found my something.
I am a Remedial Massage Therapist, a Practitioner in Pregnancy Massage (almost. 2 days off results!) and a Certified Infant Massage Instructor (not too much of a stretch from the world of hospitality). I am more aware of the importance of caring for my health. Body, mind and soul, and that the triangle of three depend greatly on each other. If one hurts, the others will be impacted.
Lotus Baby & Mamma Massage (LBMM) came about to find balance between being there for my girls, and a strong pull to provide more support to mothers (and parents) in a society that is sometimes too busy to notice that support is needed. LBMM is just the beginning of something bigger.
What made you choose this path? Was it always in the plans for you or something you kind of fell into?
LBMM grew from the realisation, as a mum of 1.5 babies (one still growing in my belly), that there was a massive gap in access for mums (and dads) with babies and little people. If there was ever a group of people in need of remedial massage treatments, to see them through their pregnancies, to help repair and bring their bodies back post natally, and support them through years of the physical and mental challenges that come with becoming a parent, this was my group. I wanted to help time poor parents that cannot always be kid free, are generally sleep deprived, stressed and in pain. And as there are not so many clinics with creches to leave the bubs in, I decided I would instead bring my treatments to the parents.
This years theme is Be Bold For Change. What was your bold moment that convinced you to take the plunge and trust in yourself?
There was never one moment, but a series of them. FIRST, I had my confidence COMPLETELY shattered. I was really quite broken for a while. Lucky for me, I had the support of my amazing Village Mammas that helped me see my own value. I have always been an enthusiast for random idea though. Lots of those have come and gone,and I have seen some of them go on to do extremely well for other people who also have random ideas. But because of where I was at in my life, how I was feeling, the good and the bad, what I was witnessing, the beautiful, and the exhausting. All of it. I was in a whole new world AC (After Children), and I was both loved up and overwhelmed. I was also surrounded by the most amazing women that were raw and honest in their own experiences of love and sometimes overwhelm.
There was a whole combination of little moments that brought me to the realisation that LBMM needed to exist. Because parenting is HARD, and we all deserve to be cared for. What’s more, we all need to remember that we deserve that. My mamma’s reminded me. Then they backed me. And that gave me courage to just TRY. None of us should have to be BOLD alone.
Making a change and plunging into the unknown can be really daunting. Terrifying even. How did you do it? Both practically, and emotionally?
I was very lucky to have the support of my partner, my family and my friends. There were a lot of long days, and nights spent studying and my partner has worked his butt off as I have studied and slowly built my business. Massage, especially when you are entering somebody’s home and family, takes trust, and trust takes time. Time, when you want everything to happen NOW, that can be very frustrating. I have, with the support of my family and friends, learned first to trust in myself that “I got this”, and second, to be patient. I do not doubt that if I did not have the right support, I would not be standing here today. Trust and strength.
I also happen to have had some EXCELLENT business support, from help with IT to marketing (don’t even get me started on how hard this is for me), to mindset and business skills.
What motivated you to make the change?
My children. I don’t think anyone really knows how hard parenting can be at times until you are one. Amazing too. But there are tuff times. I don’t think there are too many parents of young kids that have not said a silent “I’m sorry” or “Thank you” to their own folks.
I knew, without a doubt that I would not go back to hospitality after my babies were born. I was already heading in the direction of natural wellbeing, body and mind. But if it weren’t for my children, the focus never EVER would have been on supporting parents. After all, “it couldn’t be that hard” says every expert ever in parenting that never had kids. (Guilty)
You are a mother too. There is no doubt that the 2 roles of business and family overlap. What came 1st? The kids, or the business?
Kids again. I had had my certificate in massage for a long time before my babies came on the scene, but I never took it too seriously or saw the value until I kind of stumbled back into it and viewed it from a remedial perspective where we actually treat a person to help a body find repair. Also, because of my children.
What difference do you think you have made to your life by choosing this path?
Wow. What’s the same? I am so much more in tune with myself. I have finally grown to know what is important to me. I have aligned my family and my profession, and both grow every day. I have grown to value myself, my life, and what I do to help others. I am more confident. Calmer. I feel comfortable within my own skin.
What difference do you think you have/can make to others?
Physically - I can help ease pain, increase movement and I have clients thanking me because they can now pick their children up and play sport, and be pain free.
Mentally and emotionally - Massage has been shown to help relax, ease anxiety and depression. Teaching infant massage offers parents tools to better communicate and connect with their baby, tools that set the foundations to healthy early mental health, and empower parents to feel comfortable and confident with their baby. How is that for stepping stones for improved mental health support all round.
How can others learn from your story? What message do you have for them?
For a long time, I did what I did because I loved it. Eventually, I just did what I did because it was all that I knew and everything was “too hard” to change now. At that point, a little part of my soul just started to deflate. I was plodding along happily enough in status quo. But I was flat, and I had no real interest. In anything. No confidence or trust in myself. I couldn’t make my mind up or stay focused. And I always had an excuse why. Why I couldn’t when others did.
My kids not only are the best things in my life because they are awesome human beings, but they also led me to my Village Mammas. A group of women, who were also finding their path. But they had drive. Passion. They worked hard and embraced their life. They made a decision to make things happen for themselves despite all the excuses that I used to NOT make things happen. They led by example. They inspired me. Once I had a spark ignited, once I was ready to take action for myself, they bent over backwards to help me, despite their own busy lives. Not just the ones in business. ALL of them.
My message is that being BOLD is not something you have to do alone. No one can do anything alone forever. We all need support and we all need trust. Trust your heart, trust your gut, and trust your peeps are there to help you. Lean in. Find your tribe. Love them Hard. There is always strength in numbers.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?
You get one shot at it. One body. One mind. One soul. One life.
But this doesn’t mean you don’t get second chances. Think of your life as a book. There are always new chapters, and to some degree, this book is a choose your own adventure. If you don’t like the chapter you are in, close it. Start the next.
Web page: http://www.lotusbabyandmammamassage.com
I will be donating a one hour massage, and one 5 week infant massage program to our International Womens Day raffle. Furthurmore, anyone who books a massage on the day will get $10 off for themselves, and I will donate $10 from each massage to Days for Girls. Come down and meet all our amazing women, prepare for a morning of fun and inspiration, and at the same time learn more about and help raise funds for Days for Girls.