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Maria Leonard Olsen On The Self-Care Routines & Practices Of Busy Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders

Uncategorized Jun 05, 2023

An Interview With Maria Angelova

I have learned to let go of what I cannot control. Sometimes, writing something down that worries me and putting it into a box allows me to release it. When I read some of the things that worried me, I see that that energy was wasted. None of those things were within my control, and none came to fruition. Worry detracts from the quality of our lives.

All of us know that we have to take breaks in our day to take care of ourselves. “Selfcare is healthcare”, the saying goes. At the same time, we know that when you are a busy leader with enormous responsibility on your shoulders, it’s so easy to prioritize the urgent demands of work over the important requirements of self-care. How do busy entrepreneurs and leaders create space to properly take care of themselves? What are the self-care routines of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders? In this interview series, we are talking to busy and successful entrepreneurs, business leaders, and civic leaders who can discuss their self-care practices and self-care routines. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Maria Leonard Olsen.

Maria Leonard Olsen is an attorney, TEDx speaker, journalist, author, mentor to women in recovery and host of the “Becoming Your Best Version” podcast. She is based in Washington, D.C., but spends a great deal of her time as a digital nomad. Learn more about her work at www.MariaLeonardOlsen.com.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is an honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you please share with our readers your personal backstory; What has brought you to this point in your life?

Ispent much of my life as a people-pleaser, considering outside affirmations as a barometer of my self-worth. It took me a long time to change that negative story I was telling myself. I grew up biracial in the D.C. suburbs, in a white neighborhood, where I always felt out of place. I have since learned how to embrace my uniqueness and authenticity. That journey, like those of everyone else, included many challenges, such as alcoholism, divorce, sexual assault/abuse and eventual redemption. I bared most of my skeletons in my last book, 50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life. In that book, as well as in my TEDx Talk, “Using Life’s Challenges as a Force for Good,” I talk about my path, and how I used difficult experiences to enable me to grow and to help others with the lessons I learned and the compassion I cultivated.

What is your “why” behind what you do? What fuels you?

I want to believe that every negative thing that happened in my life was for a reason. That reason, for me, is to help others not feel so alone and to learn how to move forward. During my talks, people frequently approach me in tears saying how I have helped them. That makes everything worth it.

How do you define success? Can you please explain what you mean from a personal anecdote?

Success is using my life’s challenges as a force for good. Often people isolate and stay mired in the weight of their secrets because they believe no one else has faced what they have faced, or that others will negatively judge them. The fact is that we cannot control what others think. We can only control ourselves. I made myself sick trying to get others to like me. Now I understand that, as perfectly imperfect humans, we will not like every other person. I accept that now.

What is the role of a growth mindset in your success? Can you please share 3 mindset mantras that keep you motivated, sane, and propel you forward?

I am a very high energy extrovert. It used to hurt my feelings when I was too much for someone. Now one of my mantras is: If I am too much energy, go find less. I have found my people, who accept me for who I am and encourage me to keep growing.

Another mindset mantra is to put down what is not mine. I try to stay in my lane because it makes my life simpler and gives me more time to focus on my passions.

I also remember that, at age 59, I have lived more life than I have ahead of me. So, I try not to waste whatever time I have left in this life. I lost many friends during the pandemic. So I am mindful that our lives are happening right now!

You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I frequently write articles for such outlets as The Washington Post, AARP’s The Ethel, Parents Magazine, KuelLife.com and CrunchyTales.com and, of course, this publication. I try to share my experience, strength and hope with others. I also attend several twelve step programs where we share and pay it forward. I am working on several new books based on my experiences, and hope to do another TEDx Talk soon. My public speaking events can be found on my website in my bio.

Can you share a mistake or failure which you now appreciate, and which has taught you a valuable lesson?

I do not wish alcoholism on anyone, but alcohol abuse ruined my life at one point. Entering the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon helped me learn how to be a better human. The programs are about developing healthy boundaries, believing in something bigger than oneself, working on one’s character defects, making amends to those we have harmed and paying it forward in service to others. I think such things should be taught in all schools. I certainly could have used this guidance earlier in life.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

I am resourceful. I don’t think I am particularly gifted intellectually, but I know where to find answers. I graduated from a top ten law school with Ivy League classmates and initially thought I was out of my league. But being able to find the answers and get help if needed led me to success in my professional career.

I am also persistent. I do not give up easily. If you believe you can do something, you likely can. If you don’t believe you can do something, you definitely cannot. Success often starts in one’s mind.

I can get along with all types of people, and maintain a diverse group of contacts. Diversity expands our horizons in thought. I seek out input from people in different industries and from different walks of life. This informs my work and keeps my perspective growing.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting new projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I am writing a book on the unintended consequences of consumer DNA test kits. More than seven million Americans have tried these kits, and most are not prepared for the Pandora’s box they open via the tests. I got the surprise of my life from one of these, and discovered that the father who raised me is not my biological father. I have interviewed hundreds of people who have had DNA discoveries that rocked their worlds by uncovering family secrets about parentage, ethnicity and other issues. People often give these test kits as gifts and do not understand the legal and other consequences of taking one of these tests. I hope to raise awareness and to help people not feel alone in their discoveries.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview about Self-Care. Let’s start with a basic definition so that we are all on the same page. What does self-care mean to you?

Self-care for me has several aspects. I make sure that I practice spiritual self-care, physical self-care, social self-care, intellectual self-care and mental self-care. All are important to well-being.

As a successful leader with an intense schedule, what do you do to prioritize self-care, and carve out regular time to make self-care part of your routine?

Sometimes I have to schedule fun and creative endeavors! I am involved in so many things that it would be easy for me to forget to take proper care of myself. So, I learned how to say no more often. I only do things if I genuinely want to do them, not to please others. I do not owe others a full explanation when I decline events or other invitations. I frequently say that I have another obligation. That obligation may simply be to recharge my energy.

Will you please share with our readers 3 of your daily, or frequent self-care habits?

I journal on a daily basis. I listen to inspiring podcasts or Ted Talks when I am getting ready each morning. I feed my mind with positivity. Some percentage of happiness is attributable to choosing to be happy. I surround myself with people who uplift me, and avoid energy vampires. If I do not have time for an exercise class or to go to a gym, I build movement into my days. For example, I can do squats while cooking or doing chores. I can mediate when driving in traffic or take deep breaths when stopped at a red light. I try to use all available moments to breathe deeply and center myself.

This is the main question of our interview. Based on your own experiences or research can you please share 5 ways that taking time for self-care will improve our lives?

Meditation can lower one’s blood pressure. High blood pressure leads to heart problems, the biggest killer in the U.S. I do not always have time to sit in silence for long periods, so I practice deep, centering breathing throughout my day. And my blood pressure readings have gotten much better as a result.

I talk back to the negative thoughts in my head. We all have them. In many ways, society has conditioned us to be critical of ourselves and others. I now recognize this and tell such things as shame that they are not welcome here.

I have learned to let go of what I cannot control. Sometimes, writing something down that worries me and putting it into a box allows me to release it. When I read some of the things that worried me, I see that that energy was wasted. None of those things were within my control, and none came to fruition. Worry detracts from the quality of our lives.

I live my life with intention. I discard things and thoughts that no longer serve me. I surround myself with positive people. Studies show that we adopt the habits of the five people with whom we spend the most time. So choose wisely.

I expanded my view of spirituality. I grew up with the notion of a punitive God. I now believe that the universe wants good things for us and that our Higher Power is beyond human comprehension. I spend more time in nature and marvel at the beauty and bounty that surrounds us. I practice gratitude for these gifts and no longer take them for granted.

Sometimes we learn a great deal from the opposite, from a contrast. Can you please share a few ways that NOT taking time for self-care can harm our lives?

When I do not get enough rest, I sometimes can be short with others, or fall into unhealthy patterns. I now appreciate that I cannot do everything I want to do. I suffered from anxiety and depression in the past, but learned how to find help and to live a healthier lifestyle, with intention.

I am somewhat addicted to sugar. So I try to practice more mindful eating and ensure I get proper nutrients in my diet. I gained a lot of weight while Covid quarantining. This led to unhealthy high blood pressure. I have since worked to lose that weight, which alleviated my hypertension.

What would you tell someone who says they do not have time or finances to support a regular wellness routine?

I would challenge that statement. We all have time to put nourishing things into our minds and bodies. We all have time to practice deep breathing so that we can meet life with more equanimity.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

It is a dream of mine to meet Oprah Winfrey. She has inspired me to do better.

What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?

Please check out my website, www.MariaLeonardOlsen.com and follow me on social media at @FiftyAfter50. Please like my TEDx Talk and share it with others: https://youtu.be/nR3cM9aRjes. Many thanks!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.

About The Interviewer: Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher, and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl. As a disruptor, Maria is on a mission to change the face of the wellness industry by shifting the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike. As a mind-body coach, Maria’s superpower is alignment which helps clients create a strong body and a calm mind so they can live a life of freedom, happiness, and fulfillment. Prior to founding Rebellious Intl, Maria was a Finance Director and a professional with 17+ years of progressive corporate experience in the Telecommunications, Finance, and Insurance industries. Born in Bulgaria, Maria moved to the United States in 1992. She graduated summa cum laude from both Georgia State University (MBA, Finance) and the University of Georgia (BBA, Finance). Maria’s favorite job is being a mom. Maria enjoys learning, coaching, creating authentic connections, working out, Latin dancing, traveling, and spending time with her tribe. To contact Maria, email her at [email protected]. To schedule a free consultation, click here.

Source : https://medium.com/authority-magazine/maria-leonard-olsen-on-the-self-care-routines-practices-of-busy-entrepreneurs-and-business-5d5c21cac88e


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