If you read Sunday’s post, a continuation of our “Women in the Trenches” series with Elaine Hamilton, you know that Elaine has experience and expertise that speaks to showing up and getting well. Man, I so appreciate her voice. And you’re so lucky because you get a bit more of her . . . Part 2 of Elaine’s interview . . .

You recently started your own business. Tell us a little about it and a couple of the key things you’ve learned from this giant project? I’m not going to lie, there were days before launching my own private practice, The Soul Care House, that I was terrified, half hoping our funding would fall apart so I wouldn’t have to do this big thing.  But a year into it, I’ve been surprised by my own resilience and strength. I’m seeing that all the years of “mommying”, of having to constantly adapt, problem-solve, multi-task, push through when I’m exhausted, have left me with some serious muscles!  I’ve learned that I can rely on myself, that I can be counted on to figure things out even if initially something feels overwhelming or way outside of my skill set.

I’m learning a ton about leading others too.  I’m seeing that my need to constantly collaborate must be balanced with my teams’ need for me to be the keeper of our vision. This means regularly re-visiting that vision and re-directing when we get off track. When I make decisions to keep people happy or to avoid conflict, or because it’s easier, I move us away from our big picture goals. My team needs me to be clear about what is and isn’t “Soul Care”, whether it’s what kind of experience clients have when they walk in our door, or who we invite to partner with us, or how we handle conflict.  I have to be willing to bear the tension of continually pushing us back to our mission and values in order to flesh out what I believe God is calling us to.

Any secrets for making time to fit all of life in? How do you order your life for work, play, rest, family time, exercise, etc? I think the idea of a balanced life is a bunch of whowee.  For example, when you have small children, your life will not be balanced.  You will not have the time, money or energy to get to the gym 3 times a week, plus run 5 programs at church, plus throw fabulous diner parties, plus read and/or write an inspiring book all while running a non-profit from the trunk of your car! People who can do this must be on coke, or blessed with recurring manic episodes!

I think there are many phases of life like this.  Phases where you have to pick an aspect of your life (like raising your kids, or a health crisis, or launching a business, etc.) to devote yourself to and accept that some of the other areas will get a little less attention for awhile.  I think that’s okay.  I think this is a balanced perspective, the understanding that I can’t do it all at the same time.

That said, I admit that I am not good a taking breaks and the things I put on the back burner tend to be my health and my sanity. Maybe because I’m German.  “Work till you fall over, then work a little more”.  That’s our motto.   So, I am learning the hard truth that while I can work like there’s no tomorrow, the quality of my work is more important to me than the quantity of it and so I am practicing, more and more, to value and protect a little time to rest and center myself.

What helps you to stay centered, connected? Paying someone to clean my house!  Maybe it’s silly but if my house is a wreck, so am I. I need my house to be clean in order to relax in it.   Other things that work for me: cuddling with my kids or my husband, my girlfriends, great books, candlelight and a hot bath, a walk in the woods, and, my favorite, a creative project that requires a hot glue gun or modge podge.

Where do you find God? I find God in all the same things that center me.  Anything that brings me back to myself reminds me of his presence.  Books, music, the sound of birds in the morning, being surrounded by trees, candlelight, twinkly lights.  Beautiful things connect me to Him.  In my family, we joke that Anthropologie is my church.  But honestly, when I walk in there, the creativity and beauty, the artistry in the details, centers and calms me.  It’s a reflection of God’s creative hand and it reminds me of his constant invitation to me to do my own creative work.

Being with people I love, sharing, laughing, eating together.  These moments make God feel almost physically present.   Their love and grace help me believe that God delights in me.

What is one product or item you use all the time that you love and think everyone should know about? Deva Curl hair products.  If you’ve got curly, frizzy hair like me, this stuff will save your life!  And it smells delicious!

What is your favorite book and why? Well, I do love me some Anne Lamott!  Nobody lays it down like she does.  When I read Travelling Mercies for the first time, I felt like I had found someone I had been looking for.  She taught me that being a mess sometimes is more normal than tragic and that life is more enjoyable if you don’t take yourself quite so seriously.

What is your one wardrobe staple? My Steve Madden boots.  They make me feel like that girl I used to be is still in there.

What’s one thing that helps you stay married? Perhaps it’s kind of dark but this is what I do.  When I’m having a really, really bad day, when we are really distant or angry with each other and I’m wondering if I can do this forever, I ask myself, “Are you really going to leave him?”  And I picture what life would be like for me, my kids, my husband if this family fell apart.  I picture how painful Thanksgivings and Christmases would be, how lost all 4 of us would feel.  And then I ask myself another question, “Since you are staying, what do you need to do to move forward?”


Yowz. That last one is a zinger. SO good. On Thursday, I’ll be sharing some of my personal reflections from Elaine’s interview. Be sure to stop back by for my debrief.

What is one insight you’ve gained from Elaine today?

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