#199 – with Gemma Mercer

ATK - Podcast Branding V02-02

One of my favourite parts of spreading matresence into the world is being able to talk to these Mamas a few years after we first connected and see the massive change and transformation in them, in their sense of self, their happiness within themselves. My guest today is no different. Gemma Mercer is a Mama Rising facilitator and shares her story of her own inner split and figuring out who she was without a corporate identity. Listen as Amy and Gemma discuss:

  • When levels of stress and anxiety in our career can mean struggles with fertility and our entire wellbeing.
  • How the transformation of matresence can begin the moment you contemplate motherhood.
  • The intensity of motherhood alongside the pandemic and when we don't feel like we have as much to strive for as we did within our career.
  • Making sure we are bringing some new parts back into our life from a place of rest and health first.

The conversation with Gemma is inspiring because it demonstrates how much matresence came into her ear and finally gave words to exactly what she had been feeling. Like so many of us, once we dive into the understanding it is a powerful shift of acknowledge and recognition that will change the world. To connect further with Gemma you can visit her website www.gemmamercer.com or follow her on Instagram @gemma_mercer.

If you would like a deeper understanding of matresence and how we support women differently, Mama Rising facilitator training opens just once a year. For early offers and to join the 5 days to a motherhood revolution event before August, please jump the link below to join the wait list. https://mamarising.net/mama-rising-waitlist/

Transcript
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Welcome to the Happy Mama Movement Podcast.

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I'm Amy Taylor-Kabbaz.

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I would like to start by acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Eora nation

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on which this podcast is recorded as the traditional custodians of this land.

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And pay my respects to the elders past, present and emerging.

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And as this podcast is dedicated to the wisdom and knowledge of motherhood, I

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would like to acknowledge the mothers of this land, the elders, their wisdom, their

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knowing and my own elders and teachers.

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Welcome back Mamas.

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So often the process of becoming a mother and giving birth those

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early first weeks and months are such a huge shift in our identity.

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It's the time when we realise we aren't who we used to be.

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We feel that inner split and we're trying to figure out who we are now.

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But what happens if that identity shift happens even before you become pregnant?

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What if the very experience of trying to fall pregnant begins to bring up

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questions of who you are, how you live your life, what you do, what your

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values are, what you're committed to.

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That's what the experience of matresence was like for today's guest, Gemma, Mercer.

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Gemma is now a Mama Rising facilitator, but when she first came into our

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world into my world, she was a Mama.

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Who was really wondering where she'd gone.

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By that stage she had two children, but really her matresence questioning began

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many years earlier when her lifestyle, her huge corporate career was a block to

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her falling pregnant, and she made the decision to step back from that life,

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even before she knew she was pregnant.

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That's what matresence does.

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And that's why I love these conversations.

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It brings us to our knees and asks us to think about who am

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I now and who do I want to be?

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You will love Gemma's insights as always with these conversations, I

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became emotional in parts, especially because Gemma really reflected on

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parenting at home with toddlers over the last two years of the pandemic and

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what that did for her sense of self.

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So for everyone, who's also been in that place and space over the last two years.

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I know Gemma's words and stories will soothe and comfort.

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And I hope inspire you to begin to speak up and say, hang on.

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What about me?

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Enjoy.

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Beautiful Gemma.

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Hello,

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am so exicted to have you on the podcast beautiful.

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Thank you for saying yes.

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And having this divine conversation with me.

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Amy, thank you.

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Honestly, I get chills.

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Just thinking about being able to do this.

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I'm completely honored.

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So thank you.

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Um, yeah.

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Thank you.

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Mm.

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I was saying before we started, I love these conversations with Mamas, with

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women like you, because it's both a reflection on what happens when we finally

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have this word and this understanding of matresence and it's also this call to

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action of what else we need to be doing.

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And other other conversations we need to be having, I just love

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these conversations so much.

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So let's start at the beginning.

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As I often say, when you entered motherhood, when you were preparing

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for motherhood and that first experience of motherhood, what

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did you expect it to be like?

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I didn't expect.

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I didn't, I didn't give any thought to how motherhood was going to

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be for me for anything more than the physical needs of my baby.

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Buying the lovely travel system, which car seat we were going to come home in.

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You know, it was very much all about what baby needed.

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Um, And it was a thing.

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It was, it was an honor.

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Don't get me wrong.

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It was something I was excited about.

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And I mean, it's part of my story.

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You know, it took us two years to conceive our first baby.

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So it was something that I had longed for for a really long time.

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But utter naivety, you know, the greenest in the most innocent, innocent way.

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I hadn't considered anything more than just what she, or, yeah, I

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knew, I knew it was going to be a, she what she was going to need.

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But it was just being a Mum was what I did next in life.

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You know I'm a privileged white middle class girl in England.

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You know, you go to school, you go to university, you get a job, you

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try and get up the career ladder.

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You get married and you have a baby.

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It was the next thing that I did, that I would be very lucky to do and all of

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the amazingness that would come from that, but it was at no point did I

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stop and think, well, what, what does that mean for my relationship with my

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husband, me, myself, anything like that?

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And what was your identity at the time?

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I know you had a corporate career, you had a very strong sense of self

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that was formed through your career.

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Mm.

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Yeah, it was.

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And I had prior to being a Mum I had worked my way up the corporate ladder.

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I was in a very high profile marketing role, very stressed.

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And actually when the addition of the fertility struggles came into play,

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my husband and I, we were in a very lucky position financially for him to

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say, yes, it'll be a stretch, but let's stop you working and see whether we can

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get your health on a more even keel.

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So I actually had been in this really high profile corporate role,

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but had stepped away from that.

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And as a result, found ways to look after my stress levels and made myself

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better well again, and did conceive very quickly after doing that.

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So I was, you know, amazing the most amazing privileged situation to be in

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that I was able to sort my health out.

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We were able to conceive.

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And as a result, this baby that we had desired for so long, we thought,

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well, actually, let's take a, hold on.

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You know, we are in a place where Leighs job was going really well.

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And we decided I didn't go straight back into that job.

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So I found another way of, I actually, strangely I trained in reflexology, which

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is this, um, holistic therapy, which your listeners may or may not be familiar with,

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but that was what had helped me de-stress.

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So I trained in that when I was six weeks pregnant, cuz

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that's the kind of person I am.

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I can't just sit and do nothing.

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So, um, so yeah, interesting to think back.

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It is isn't it.

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And.

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First of all, let's just pause here because I do know that there is a

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lot of women who their career, their level of stress, their health meant

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they really struggled with fertility.

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And it's not an uncommon story when you step away from that environment,

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things change quite rapidly.

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I know it's not always the solution, but it is often I've

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heard this story many, many times.

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On reflection now I know we have a lot to explore, but I'd just love for you to

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reflect now on what that means to you.

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It, it means everything I have lived personally.

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And I now see in my clients the effect that stress and anxiety can have

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on our health, our holistic health, you know, our entire wellbeing.

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It impacts every part of us.

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And for me, I am a living example now to my clients because I

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still do practice reflexology.

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And I do an awful lot of work in the fertility and pregnancy space.

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So, you know, I spend by days trying to get ladies to slow down and to embrace,

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you know, listen to what their body needs.

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Um, but yeah, it, it does it it's, it really is something very real.

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And you're absolutely right now that I've gone through it.

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We suddenly become aware of everybody around us that's had a similar

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experience and I'm, I'm not alone.

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You know, my IVF drugs arrived, they were this huge box within our kitchen.

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And I was waiting for the first day of my period to start injecting.

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And that day never came once.

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I had started to slow down, you know, it gives me, it gives me tingles

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now just saying it, but it's real.

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Yeah.

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Sometimes it is more complex of course.

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Um, but it's a huge part of it.

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It is such a huge part of it.

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And it really makes me think of, you know, we say matresence, that

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transformation through motherhood begins the moment you contemplate motherhood.

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And that whole transformation began for you at the start of

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your fertility journey, didn't it?

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It wasn't once you peed on the stick and realised you were pregnant,

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that transformation began all the way back two years earlier.

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Hugely.

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And I would say that what motherhood and matresence has taught me now, which I

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didn't appreciate then was that I have got this huge need to avoid failure.

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And overachieve in all that I do.

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And, um, I work, you know, I, by say I'm a recovering perfectionist,

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superwoman addict every day.

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I, you know, I'm working on myself with this even now, but I look back at

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those days and becoming a Mum was the first thing I really couldn't control.

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I had no control over it.

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And that was the beginning of it all, you know, because as, as you

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and I both know, this is, this is how motherhood then goes, isn't it.

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It's not something that we are fully in control of or can,

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uh, guess what's coming next.

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Mm, and I love your story so much because the becoming of a mother

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is closely linked to you not being that corporate career woman anymore.

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And so I often talk about the inner split within me and my experience of

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becoming a Mum of trying to marry this very strong corporate, ambitious side

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of me with this new part of motherhood.

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And that was that inner split, but what is it like to to have the internal story,

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I guess, that you could only become a mom when you didn't work like that.

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How does that play out?

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Because that's a very clear message, right from the beginning that your

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workplace, your work environment, your working conditions do not allow

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motherhood even within your body.

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That's a big lesson to hear first off.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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And hearing it now sitting with the lens of matresence I can see that, but

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Amy, I couldn't see that at the time.

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You know, it was, I was letting myself down, not being able

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to get back into that place.

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And, um, You know, the lady, the women I talk to now are, are

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sometimes in this exact same space, but for me, I, I didn't realise it.

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It's so fascinating, isn't it?

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To be able to look back with hindsight and see these things.

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Because it, it was just, it was something that, I was putting this

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constant pressure on myself about, you know, why can't I do that?

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I should be able to do that?

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You and I, and your, you know, everybody will know your story.

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This is exactly what so many of us come up against that we want to just get

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straight back into doing all the things.

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And yet, I still have this way about me that if I don't hold

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myself, connect with what I need, I will run straight back into that.

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That is my default, trying to put this level of pressure on

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myself and I couldn't do that.

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So, that in turn for my story comes out a completely different side, because

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what happens then when I didn't have that corporate identity to fall back on and

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that way of managing my expectations on myself, those external achievements that

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somebody, you know, metaphorically patting me on the back to say, well done at the

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end of the day, I didn't have any of that.

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And for somebody that has lived their life wanting to strive for the

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next thing, that that then led to a whole new realm of unraveling for me.

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Um, because so much of my identity previously had been wrapped up

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in, in that corporate place.

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And so what did that unraveling look like?

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How did that unfold?

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Oh, this is why talking to you now is such a privilege to me.

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Because before I knew matresence and when I was at my lowest point,

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I was four years into motherhood.

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Because of course, after I had my first baby, I fell pregnant very

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quickly unexpectedly with my second.

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So I was four years into motherhood with a four year old and a nearly three year old.

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And staying home at the beginning of a pandemic because the little

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bit of work I had been doing with my reflexology practice, of course

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there was no close contact services.

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So I was quite literally like so many of us will understand this at home with the

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children, trying to keep them occupied.

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And my husband being the only person in the family bringing in

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an income was in his hole in his office, locked away from everything.

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And the intensity of motherhood just came wow, for all of us so much, didn't it?

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But for me, it ended up with me needing to seek help.

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I had to go to the doctor after screaming at my husband, a very heated

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conversation because everything that had been building inside of me for four

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years just suddenly came tumbling out.

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Where had I gone?

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What was I doing?

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The resentment, I can't even put it into words.

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It was all aimed at my husband whose life seemingly was able to continue on.

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And I felt suffocated.

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I feel awful saying it, you know, even now, and I hear are the women

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saying this and you, and I think, no, you've got to be honest with yourself.

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These are so natural knowing what I know now.

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So natural to feel this, but Gemma had gone.

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Completely gone.

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And I love my kids more than anything, but I also have needs

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myself and I didn't see that.

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I didn't see that.

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And I knew that something was missing.

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So he ended up saying, you need to go and get help.

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Talked to a doctor, had some C.B.T.

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I remember the doctor vividly saying to me, you, you need to have a sit down and a

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hot cup of tea and some space on your own.

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And I thought, uh, and the reality is, is that I didn't have postnatal depression.

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He could see that, but equally there wasn't anything more to give me.

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Um, what it did do, what the C B T did do was give me the, the

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knowledge that I needed the space.

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And, and this is where me learning about matresence came from because

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my husband and I agreed that I would.

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I say, run, start plotting again, you know, getting out there.

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Cause I hadn't really exercised.

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It always been a huge part of who I was, but I hadn't been doing

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any of that, which obviously will have played its part as well.

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So yes, the going to the doctor and the seeking that help

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initially gave me the ability to say to Leigh,, I need to get out.

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And getting out, made me listen to podcasts, start hearing and

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researching things and your beautiful voice was the first one I heard.

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And it was like a light bulb, like lightning bulb hit me.

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It was quite magical.

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Um, yeah.

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Can you explain why?

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Because this is what I think.

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I mean, anyone who listens to this podcast knows this by now, but I don't know

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if we can fully understand the impact of this word and this understanding

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it's, especially if you're only new to it, especially if it's something

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you're just beginning to explore.

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But there is something profound in finally hearing what it is you've been feeling.

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Can you explain what it meant for you?

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What did it do?

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Hmm.

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I, it gave me I could breathe.

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Somebody in my ear was saying exactly what I had been feeling and I hadn't

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been seeing it from anywhere else.

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All of the women who have been in my close, you know, community,

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all of my Mum friends, when I then told them about matresence,

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they then breathed this same sigh.

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But up until that point, not one of them would've ever uttered that this was

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a conversation that needed to be had.

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It was like, I mean, you and I have had this conversation before, but I, you know,

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I, my reaction to it, Amy was visceral.

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Like every part of my body suddenly felt like this noose

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had been taken from my neck.

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I burst into tears.

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And I ran in COVID.

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I mean, I ran faster than I'd probably been running on my run, but

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I ran and belted on the back door.

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We weren't allowed in people's houses, belted on the back door of my Mum's house.

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I went home to my Mum.

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She lives in the village.

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I'm not suddenly a marathon runner, but belted on her door.

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And she was like, what's going on?

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And obviously keeping distance.

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I said, Mum I'm okay.

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Honestly, Amy, it makes me want to cry now.

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I'm okay.

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I'm I still, you know, it's normal and I love my kids, but that's,

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it's okay that I feel this way.

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It's huge.

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And everything has changed since then.

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Amy.

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Everything has changed since then.

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Can't

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I've heard that story before.

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Oh no, I'm crying too.

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I've heard that story before.

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And that, that image of you just running to your Mums and knocking

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on that door and saying I'm okay.

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I think that's the thing.

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It's, you know, you are not okay on some level.

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You know, it's not meant to feel like this, you know, that, that resentment and

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gosh, the way you describe that resentment of the start of that of, well, anytime in

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the pandemic of the last two years, that resentment, that so many women have held.

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Towards their partner whose life may not have changed as significantly was so

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profound as well, but to really be able to say I'm not okay, but I'm also okay.

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Because what I'm feeling, I now understand that's what it is, isn't it?

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That's why you can breathe because ah, instead of this internal,

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why, why, why what's wrong?

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Why, why we can anchor into an understanding of it.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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And, and, and, and for me it was, it was, it was you actually, the interview I first

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heard you talk about was the inner split.

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And so that I think was why for me, it was so significant because

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matresence is one word, isn't it?

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We talk, you know, all of your listeners know this.

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The one word is fine, but it's when you put that into context and that's

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where for me, the inner split becomes so massive because it was no it's okay.

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It's all right.

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That you love your kids and still miss that woman and don't get that sense of

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achievement anymore from other things.

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And so suddenly it was like, okay, it's alright for me to miss that part of me.

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And I hadn't grieved her, I hadn't, I hadn't at no point it had all been.

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Because I mean, let's be honest.

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I do recognise how privileged I am.

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You know, there'll be lots of women listening to this that don't get the

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opportunity to step away from that career.

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But that, then that with it brought so much guilt because you are

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so lucky to be able to do this.

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Why aren't you finding it easier?

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Why aren't you making the most of this opportunity?

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Um,

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Yes.

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and so, yeah, that's why it was like this noose had been

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taken off because it was okay.

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It was okay to miss that woman and to strive for more.

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Um, so again, obviously then, I mean that, this was, I think the April time.

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You hadn't opened the Mama Rising training, I think until

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the August, maybe September.

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And it was like, there was no doubt.

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It was instant.

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I, I think I even messaged you on Instagram.

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It was just like, when are these doors opening?

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This is what I'm doing now.

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This is, this is what I'm doing now.

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And it, and it, for me, it not only gave me that freedom to have that

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knowledge about myself, but it was like, no, this is your purpose.

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You're gonna find, your new, the version of yourself that's going

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to suit motherhood is you're gonna take this ambition and run with it

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to help other women and it's yeah.

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Game changing.

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Hmm.

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And how, how have you brought that inner split together?

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What does it look like now to have the ambitious Gemma and the

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deeply reverent of her body and her boundaries and motherhood Gemma?

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How does that dance look like on a day to day basis?

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It's an interesting one.

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It's a complex one.

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It's fabulous in as much as it's enabled me to connect

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back with myself and my values.

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Because for me, I don't let go of that amazing situation, I

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can be present with my kids.

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So when I'm with them, I now enjoy them.

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And I honor and make the most of my time with them, but I also

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get to say, no, it's my time now.

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And I will, you know, build time into my day to be able to, to

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make the most of what I need.

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Um, and, you know, as, as a, as a holistic therapist, as well as I now

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coach women in this, but as a holistic therapist, it's not, I, I, you know,

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it's not just about me telling people to go for reflex treatments or massages.

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It's about what does your body need in that moment.

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And I have the ability now to be able to say my body needs this and

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it might, it might be five minutes just lying still or it might be,

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you know, exercising, or it might be doing some work on my new business.

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But I have that ability to be able to swap and change, but to recognise when

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it needs to be one, not the other.

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Thats it.

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And it really is reclaiming part of that identity, isn't it?

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That, as you said, you can be both that Gemma and this Gemma, and I know that's

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what you do with Mums now, the ones that did have a very strong sense of identity

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in their previous life, whatever that was, career independence, travel, whatever.

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And then they've stepped back from that to honor the season of motherhood.

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But again, there's something missing.

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There may be resentment.

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There's this lost sense.

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And it's about saying I can be a great Mum.

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I am a great Mum and I can still claim this old part of myself in a small way.

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Even if it's this hobby, even if it's a podcast, even if it's a book, it's

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something that honors that part of you.

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That's right.

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And what I've found Amy, because you know, not enough of us know

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about this amazing word yet.

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Definitely more, so the work that you're doing is definitely

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reaching far, far wider.

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But so many of the women that I first meet, they don't let themselves

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do that because they don't have the energy to add anything else.

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And that is the, the biggest hurdle I think for all of us is, you know, I was

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given that opportunity because of my doctor speaking to me in the way he did.

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But for so many of us finding the space or the time to do

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something else, add something else.

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This is the lens that they come from is it's another thing on the, to do list.

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And, um, I think quite often the reality is is that no, it's this

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chicken and an egg, isn't it?

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Do we need space and time, but I don't have the energy to find that.

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So, you know, you need energy to find the space, to do something for yourself,

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and you need the space to do something for yourself to find the energy.

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and I think that's the biggest hurdle at the moment with so many

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Mums out there is to make them actually slow themselves enough to

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see that, that this is a necessity.

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Definitely.

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Thank you for saying that this is about making sure we are bringing

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some new parts back into our life from a place of rest and health first.

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I think that's often missed in these conversations.

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When a woman, a Mama is feeling like parts of her have gone, as

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you said, where did Gemma go?

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When we are really beginning to explore, what else do I need?

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The very first step really has to be that acknowledgement of how depleted you are.

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And then from there, yes, you can start running.

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Yes, you can do these other things, but there has to be that space first.

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There has to be an acknowledgement of the grief of what you've

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been through and then rebuild.

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So thank you for pointing that out so beautifully.

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Wow.

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That's a pleasure.

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It's it's, it's definitely one of my biggest biggest values and biggest

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things that I talk to my women about.

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Because again, you know, the clients I'm working with now are women that

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are coming because, you know, I, I use the word in interesting, a lot.

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They've lost their purpose and they just wanna get going.

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They're like, they talk to me about, well, okay, so, you're gonna help me

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find what's gonna make me tick again.

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Um, all of my marketing is all about find your Mum spark your more than Mum purpose.

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And it's like straight away into when we have our goal setting

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sessions it's straight away into, well, what does that look like?

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And a big part of what I do is pulling them back to say, yeah, we'll get there.

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We'll we'll get there, but we have to find our starting point first.

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We have to look at, you know, what's making you feel so exhausted.

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Because otherwise it's going to be a short lived fix, isn't it?

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Um, because we're gonna straight away get back into those old habits.

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That's it straight back and matresences greatest gift is to break free of

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the old patterns and to redefine yourself through this period.

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Ah, Gemma, it's just such a divine full circle moment to

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have this conversation with you.

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I.

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It is such an honor to know that my voice in your ears on that run has now

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created such a profound ripple effect where you are doing this with other

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Mums, and then they will tell their friends, I mean, this is how we do it.

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It's so amazing.

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And it's such a feminine definition of success that I pass it to you,

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and then you pass it to the next and we just keep doing this all

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together, supporting each other.

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So.

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Oh, so beautiful.

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Thank you so much.

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Yeah, I can't say thank you enough because yes, it's lovely and amazing

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what you are witnessing, but for me, it's been completely life changing.

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Completely life changing.

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So thank you.

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And now you get to change other women's lives.

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And this is what we do.

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Thank you.

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I will put everything in the show notes for women to come and see what you do

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and reach out and connect and follow because, uh, you are creating such a

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beautiful community of women around this.

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So thank you.

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Um, thank you for everything.

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My pleasure.

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Thank you for having me.

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Oh,

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look, being able to talk to these Mamas a few years after we first

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connected and see the massive change and transformation in them, in their

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sense of self, in their happiness, in being a Mama in their happiness within

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themselves is the most divine gift.

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I love what I do.

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Gemma's story I know will connect with so many of you, please go

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to her website, gemmamercer.com and follow her on Instagram.

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All of the details are in the show notes and remember Mama Rising the training to

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be a coach and a facilitator to support Mamas through matresence in so many

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different ways is opening again in August.

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We only open once a year.

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If you're not on the wait list already, please do that

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now by jumping on my website.

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Because we will have a special offer for those on the wait list very soon.

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And tune in next week where it is my 200th episode of the

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Happy Mama Movement Podcast.

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Can't wait to share it with you.

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Hello!

I'm Amy.

I'm a matrescence activist - here to revolutionise the way you feel about yourself as a mama, and transform the way the world values and supports all mothers, everywhere.

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