Genevieve Clough was raised in a nontraditional “cult”—as some might call it. But even though she was an impressionable young child, she realized that her upbringing was different than what was “normal,” and she broke free. Today, she’s like the “rest of us”—but she has a hell of a story.
TAMAR: Hi, everybody, this is Tamar. And today I am with Genevieve Clough, who is going to share her stories that she has, she touches upon the three elements of the Common Scents podcast. She’s got a crazy career story. She’s got self-care. And she also has her rising above the ashes story. So, Genevieve, thank you so much for coming and for joining us.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Thank you. I’m excited.
TAMAR: Yeah. And at least feel free to share a little bit more about you and where you are located in the world and what you’re doing and all that other good stuff.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah. So, there is a lot to my story where I am right now. I was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, and I currently live in Boulder again. Right now, I work as an intuitive life coach. I help people to understand their intuition, to heal their intuition, but also heal the emotional patterning that they might be actively kind of just doing over and over again. So, it’s almost turned into a mix of kind of therapy. But with this, this intuitive intelligence that’s brought into it. So, I’m really excited about but I’m developing there. But that was not my life for like a really long time. I have this kind of a lot of different career trajectories that happened and a crazy childhood. So we can start my story wherever you want to start.
TAMAR: Yeah, I would immediately jump into how did you get into life coaching. But I think that there’s a probably a backstory to that. So why don’t we talk about your childhood and your ashes story, your overcoming adversity story? And then maybe it’ll bring you to this present day?
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah, that’s it. That’s a huge part of how I got to where I am now. So, I’m glad you asked about that. So, I was raised by two people who met actually through, I’m not sure if you or maybe the people listening are familiar with Osho. But there was a documentary that came out on Netflix a couple years ago, I think called Wild Wild Country, about Osho. And his followers were called the Rajneesh and my parents, how they met, is they were these youngish hippie people kind of dabbling in the Osho culture. And for those who don’t know, Osho culture is at that time in the 70s and 80s, was all about kind of free love and sex and just sort of personal freedom. So, a lot of kids who had been raised by kind of strict baby boomers or they themselves were the boomers, their parents were really drawn to it. Anyway, they met in that community in Boulder, and they were not super responsible, they ended up getting pregnant, my mom had an abortion. And then just a couple months later, they got pregnant again with me, which is kind of crazy to think about if it weren’t for her initial abortion, like I wouldn’t have even been conceived. And then I can only imagine the kind of initial trauma that would be for a new baby to be implanted in the uterus that just had an abortion in there. So, I’m sure my trauma goes back to like in utero. But they decided that instead of aborting the pregnancy with me they would put me up for adoption. And there was even a family in California that was going to adopt me. But I think just because of the feelings and emotions and the attachment that can come up when you’re pregnant with a child, they decided to keep me and try to raise money on their own. And that was in my perspective, that was a little bit of a mistake. But at the same time, a lot of the experiences and even the traumas that I’ve been able to transform and then help people now through that. So yeah, I was just raised by two people who really didn’t know what their own place in the world. They really didn’t know who they were, they struggled financially. We moved around a lot. We initially moved to San Francisco to try to join another Osho community, but my mom was from Boulder as well, missed here and we moved back. And yeah, it was difficult to be raised in a family like that. And I grew up feeling really insecure and really depending on two people who didn’t have any faith in themselves, they didn’t have their own healing in place. It was difficult and I ended had a lot of weight issues. I ended up gaining weight when I was about eight years old. My mom also had a lot of weight issues, and that was probably projected onto me. So, I was kind of overweight, awkward, like really insecure kid. I had a very small world, I felt like I was different from everyone, that I was uniquely flawed. And I didn’t understand that. My experience was actually semi common in that a lot of kids who are raised in kind of unsafe environments tend to feel that way. So yeah, that’s kind of where I started. Another thing I’ll say is that I saw success beyond them. Like both my parents came from families that were quote, unquote, normal, and had fairly successful parents themselves. And both my parents were kind of like the black sheep of their own families. I saw my extended family and like, “Okay, well, this is how it should be like, this is like they have it together, how come my parents don’t. And from a young age, I got kind of superficial ideas about what success meant because I was basing it on the way my aunts and uncles were all very fit and successful. I thought that’s what it meant to be happy. And all I had to do was to just sort of fit that mold. And then I would fit in, and I wouldn’t feel like such an alien. So that’s kind of the long story of my childhood. So yeah, there’s that.
TAMAR: So okay, I guess, first of all, I don’t know if this is an offensive term, but based on the way you describe it, I guess an outsider’s perspective would be that it could be like a cult. Is that a fair assessment?
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah, if you watch the Wild Wild Country documentary, it was culty for sure. Luckily, though, it was my dad that was really into it. And my mom was just sort of dabbling in it just for whatever things she could get out of it. I guess. So luckily, I always felt uncomfortable in that community. It’s a strange community, for sure. Definitely called Z. And I always in me felt like this is not right. Which was also hard for a kid to be in that position of knowing this doesn’t feel right. And I cannot be in it because my parents are doing it. But luckily, when we moved back to Boulder, like by the age of five, I probably wasn’t forced to be as involved. Like, I definitely was dragged to a lot of meditations and stuff till and probably throughout until middle school, but the one thing I had going for me is that I’ve always been able to vocalize my dislike for that community.
TAMAR: Yes, it’s really interesting that you actually had a sense of this isn’t right. Because when you’re born into it, just in different cultures throughout, I’m not specifically isolating or identifying any particular person here, but or any type of culture. Yeah, but if you’re born into hate, you go to hate. If you’re born to a cult, you don’t really know better, but because you had, your parents, siblings, your aunts and uncles who clearly had a different upbringing, you have been able to kind of see, this is not something here in my life. I’m not sure what it is. But looks like my uncles and aunts are doing okay, so maybe what my parents are doing isn’t normal.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah, exactly.
TAMAR: Yeah. So how, what was your exit, your escape? I’m not even sure what the right term is here. And like how you got out of that? And just curious, where are your parents today? Are they involved in that kind of lifestyle anymore?
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: That’s a really good question. So, a really important key I should mention is that I was lucky enough to have an amazing grandmother, my mom’s mom, and she was an amazing influence for me. And I ended up as I got older, my parents when I was 14 actually gave her like parental rights, and I lived with her full time for high school. And that was a big shift for me. I was still really insecure, didn’t know what I was doing. But just having someone really love me and take care of me and really see me for who I was, was a really big shift. So that was a huge thing for me. I think I’ll also say that at that time when I was leaving middle school, about 13 years old, my mom actually became homeless. And she remained homeless until just a few years ago. So, my parents did not stay together, obviously, because they kind of realized after they started to raise a kid together, they were like, “Oh, we actually really don’t even like each other. Like we were just kind of hoping to have some casual fun and now all of a sudden, we’ve got to be responsible.” So, they separated, I think I was four when they officially separated. So yeah my dad remained with the Rajneesh people, probably until about middle school but since then he’s not involved anymore. He loved the documentary when it came out on Netflix and I totally encourage people to go watch it because it’s still on there. And it’s really fascinating to watch about the way those people lived. But neither are involved. But yeah, my exit was definitely having my grandmother really step in and became my new parent. And unfortunately, I have a younger brother who that didn’t really happen. So I feel that might be a big part of why in some ways, as adults, I have been more successful, and he has still struggled.
TAMAR: Is he a full brother?
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yes, he is a full brother. So, my parents had me first and then three years after, they just kind of kept being physical because that just happened. He was born. So, we’re full siblings. And as adults, he has struggled immensely because for whatever reason he didn’t take to my extended family members as much as I did. Like he was always a little bit more sensitive. Like there was something in me when I was born that had a natural, kind of fight back tenacity or something. I’m not totally sure how to describe it. Whereas he was always a lot more kind of compliant or just complacent, I should say he didn’t fight for what he needed. And so, it’s interesting that now, I’m 32, now he’s 29, he still struggles a lot. Like taking a similar path that of my parents, have not been able to find his place in the world. So, it is kind of fascinating. And to me, it’s kind of cool to see nature versus nurture argument there where I had the nurturing I needed. Just enough of it, I think, to help me get just enough confidence to take some risks and to really go for what I needed. But at the same time, like I said, I had a personality that was different than his so it’s kind of fascinating to look at the difference between us.
TAMAR: So yeah, when you said your grandmother really took you in around the age of 14 and he went to high school, was that an option to him?
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Well, I don’t really think so because he didn’t really want to. I really fought to be with her. And we had built this really good connection because I was so drawn to her. And we have this mutual relationship. Whereas my brother, his name’s Jeremy, he just didn’t care. So, I guess it wasn’t an option in the sense that he didn’t want it as much. He seemed just complacent to keep living with my dad because by that point, my mom had also become homeless. So that was an option to live with her. But he seemed okay. And so, it just didn’t happen for him.
TAMAR: Right. That’s basically goes back to what I was saying earlier, you’re born into some sort of environment that seems normal to you, that might be normal to you. And you wouldn’t necessarily want to deviate and break free from those bars, those invisible bars that are holding you. Yeah, if you’re in a cult, you don’t necessarily know that the rest of the world is normal. So, it sounds you had an interest you were perceptible, you saw something different than most people would think. What you’ve done is actually you. You’re kind of like a trailblazer in your own right.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Thank you.
TAMAR: Yeah. Well, if you just really think about it, how many children born into these cultures really break free from their cultures? Like, they don’t. And a lot of them are normal. So, I’m looking for something that’s a little more extremist than I would like to think. You say that your dad is actually excited about the documentary, which is interesting if I think about a documentary on something that I would consider cultish. First, put it in the most positive light, but if it’s representative of the lifestyle, and he identifies with it, maybe that’s because he’s still hidden by those invisible bars.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Exactly. I mean, he was in it for 25 years. He loved it for whatever reason it did for him. And he even talked about the reason he loves that community so much is because he felt that they loved him in a way that he’d never been loved before. I don’t know if he would be able to say it quite as intelligently as that but he talked about how he had never felt more accepted by a community before. And that’s really how cults kind of get you. If you’re a vulnerable person who is insecure, who has not felt accepted. The cults will manipulate you to feel that and for some reason, I was just not having it so that I didn’t buy into it.
TAMAR: It’s very interesting because you’re very impressionable, but at the same time, you recognized that there was something that was a little bit off of that.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah, it’s interesting.
TAMAR: Yeah. I mean, I kind of hear your dad’s coming from because in my particular instance of my own personal trauma, I also felt that there was something that was lacking and that there was some that was being filled. And yet I didn’t realize that specific filling of that void wasn’t a normal situation.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah.
TAMAR : At the same time, that’s what I kind of went through, something effectively emotional abuse without realizing that I was in that vulnerability caused me.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah, yeah.
TAMAR : So, let’s talk about where you ended up professionally. Talk about your trajectory of where you’ve been brought because you’re clearly in Boulder, now. You’re in Boulder for a while. Tell me a little bit about that.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah. So, once I graduated high school, something in me kind of clicked, which was awesome in that I talked about how I was an overweight kid. By the time I got into high school, I was really overweight. I was over 200 pounds, and I have a small frame. I was big. And something clicked in me. And again, it was motivated by this desire to be accepted and to be successful. And to fit a certain image, which is not a healthy motivation. But at the same time, it did get me somewhere. And then I became obsessed with losing weight. And I did lost 90 pounds in my early 20s. And it actually turned into like a semi eating disorder, which is why I say it was one of those things, I needed to lose weight. But I was doing sort of the quote unquote, “the right thing for the wrong reasons” and it became kind of a warped thing. And me became really skinny. And I went to CU, that’s the University of Colorado at Boulder and able to get some grants and stuff, which was great. And I graduated with a degree in international affairs. And I really wanted to work for the UN or in international politics. That’s what I was really interested in. So, after I graduated, I got an internship with a local Colorado senator named US Senator Mark Udall, who was no longer in office. He was a democrat for Colorado. And so, I was just interning for his state office in Denver. And I was really lucky. And they liked me enough that there was an opening for staff assistant position in DC and his official office in DC and I moved out there. I should also say though, before all this happened, during my time in university, I deferred my graduation and kept taking time off to travel in Europe. And that was hugely important for me. I learned so much just through the experiences of being an au pair. That’s how I would be able to afford it. So, I was first an au pair in Paris, France, when I was 21. And I lived with a family there and worked with them. And that was actually probably the most eye-opening experience in terms of realizing like how small my world had been. And also, like how I had so many behaviors that were actually really not acceptable for a normal family. So, this Parisian family had to kind of coach me on things. Like for example, there was one night where we all had dinner together. And afterward, I would always just take my own plate and come to the kitchen and put it in the dishwasher. And I would never offer to help clean up the rest of the table and stuff. And the mom finally pulled me aside and she was like, “You always take care of your own stuff but you never offer to help us.” And it was eye opening because we never had family meals. Like that was not a thing. And I was never a part of a community where we all help each other. It was just I took care of myself and I did my own thing. And I had never been taught how to contribute.
TAMAR: Wow, that’s crazy. So yeah, but it sounds like the Parisian family you worked with were pretty understanding and happy to teach you and I assume it sounds you probably had a good relationship with them. You were receptive to that. And she was particularly keen in making sure you understood that you learned those things that a lot of us take for granted.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah, totally. I mean, there were definitely tense moments because I was 21 at the time. It was also my first time really leaving the country, even. And I was being as insecure as I was. I was like defensive. It definitely was tense at times. But at the same time, especially the mom, I really did appreciate, especially in hindsight, all the things that she did for me and I loved the kids. I had a great relationship with the kids. And I love just being in Europe and seeing that a lot of the things I take for granted is part of my American culture that I kind of build for myself. Like, there’s so much more to the world and to people and to culture. And that was really important for me. So that just felt like something that I shouldn’t mention, and also why I loved international politics. But still it brought me to graduate from CU Boulder and then get that internship. And like I was saying earlier, I was just lucky enough to be able to be promoted to a full-time staff job in DC. I remember when I got that call that they wanted to hire me like a real, full-time staffer. I was on my knees, crying. I thought I have arrived. This is all I’ve ever wanted. I can’t believe how lucky I’ve gotten, that I’m actually going to be able to move to DC and do all these things. And I kind of fantasized about the life that I would have. And when I got there, I did achieve that life I had. I went to glamorous events and I liked my job. And like my coworkers, I made some great friends. But there was also this deep nagging.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Almost this feeling of anxiety and depression that was happening in me that I couldn’t explain. Actually, it got so bad at one point, I couldn’t sleep because I was just feeling so intensely anxious. And I had no idea what was going on with me because I thought I have all the things that I want. Like, this is what I thought would make my life so much better. And I felt terrible. Like I didn’t even know who I was, it felt like I was kind of going through the motions of a person playing out a role. I wasn’t inside, I didn’t know who was Genevieve. Eventually we had an election and lost that election. So, I lost my job. And I got a new job with a lobbying firm in DC. And that was even worse because I realized, “Oh my gosh, I am so not into, I do not care about lobbying” for it was for a technology trade association. So, they were lobbying Congress on behalf of big, big companies like Google and Amazon. And I just again, seemed like it would be very glamorous, but it just didn’t resonate with who I really was. And it felt like empty, empty work for me. So yeah, that was about five years ago, and I decided to pack everything up and leave that job and come back to Colorado and restart. And it was really so painful and so scary because I had no idea what I was doing. And then my family was even scared. Like I mentioned, my extended family, especially my grandfather, my mom’s dad, had been a very successful lawyer. And so, when I went to DC, they were so proud, like Genevieve really knows how to be successful and do what she needs to do. And then when I left that and just came home, I think they were worried. I was worried too because I didn’t know what I was doing. But I just knew that wasn’t going to work for me. So, I came home. And that’s when I really threw myself into this deep healing journey, where I finally felt like I integrated all these different parts of me and now I feel like it’s good to be successful. Like, it’s not a problem to want to be a highly successful person. But for me, the problem was that I wanted that without knowing who I was first because real sustainable success doesn’t actually come from just doing the actions of success, it comes from that feeling that you’re doing something that really sets you on fire and really resonates with who you are as your own unique being. And I wasn’t doing that at all. I was just going through the motions. So now I feel like I’m in this totally different place where I’m definitely an entrepreneur. It’s scary to kind of rely on yourself and you have to be your own self-starter in many ways, but at the same time, I’m doing exactly what I have always wanted to do. So yeah, that’s that.
TAMAR: You talk about how you were anxious when working in your life role. Do you feel that because you were in the DC area? Do you feel that because of your parents, I can’t imagine what their careers were like when you were a child? What a job is like when you’re working. I don’t know what to call it. I don’t want to keep using the word called, I do feel like there’s a potential derogatory offshoot of that. But when you’re in such a religious, cultural type of environment, I think everybody’s kind of just helping themselves and kind of building their little enclave or whatever it is. They’re probably not focusing on the internal. I mean, when you talk about your au pair thing, it was everybody for themselves. So, I wonder when I say makes any sense, but your parents probably didn’t work in that professional capacity at all. So, all of a sudden, you’re like, “I’m paving this new way.” But the guidance was lacking. You didn’t really think so?
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Exactly.
TAMAR: I guess that was probably what it was, looking back.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah, that’s a really good insight to have because I think that was a big piece of it. I was highly anxious because I still felt so insecure. There was a part of me that I have no idea what I’m doing. I didn’t feel like I deserved it too. It felt I definitely was having some imposter syndrome symptoms where it was like, “This isn’t really me, I don’t really fit in here.” I’m just trying to fit in, and eventually, they’re going to somehow find out that I shouldn’t be here because you’re right. So, my dad worked as a bus driver for the city bus system since I was born. And my mom has been a house cleaner off and on. And that’s partly why she became homeless as she just wasn’t able to get enough jobs to support her. She also really struggled with her own mental health issues. And she really struggles with being around people, she’s highly sensitive to the point of being paranoid. She was constantly losing jobs because she would get into fights with the people that she worked with, or worked for. And that was my example of working, seeing two people struggling with the sort of chop wood, carry water type jobs, and they never became professionals. My dad had his bus driving job and he still does, and it’s very stable for him. And he actually claims to enjoy it, but it’s not seen as like this professional, go getter type of job. So yeah, I didn’t have guidance at all. That definitely fed into the anxiety that I felt. And I totally think that if I, in the future, doing some sort of consulting work, or some sort of highly professional type job that you would see in DC or New York or something like that, I would definitely be a lot more confident being put back into that professional environment. Whereas when I was initially put in there, I just hadn’t done the personal work yet to really know where I fit in to be confident about my skill set because the people who hired me, obviously saw something in me, or else they wouldn’t have hired me. But I didn’t see it in myself. I thought it was dumb luck that I got that job. And I just “Yeah, I did not feel I had my own support or any other support.” So that’s really good insight.
TAMAR: Yeah, I totally felt that I had a lot of imposter syndrome in general, like, how did I get this job? And sometimes, because of that feeling and you take that with you, you never succeed because you’re really putting yourself up on this. You never believe that you can even just like, how did I get here? How did I get here?
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Exactly.
TAMAR: That permeates your existence, and that permeates your day and your workday, and all of a sudden, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, it’s almost like you need to power pose and you need to believe that you’re better than you clearly deserve it. And I’m actually at the point where I negotiate with people when I’m trying to do specific contracts with a client or something like that. And I’ve been low balled every single time I come up with them with this quote, and I’ve been low balled every single time. I have to say it is super uncomfortable for me to defend my value and my worth every single time I do it every single time and no one ever hesitates. Because at the end of the day, I know that I’m offering that great value, but if I didn’t, and if I accepted them, first of all, it would hurt me a little more, maybe it wouldn’t, I don’t really know.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah.
TAMAR: If you start off on this element , I don’t believe that I can maybe in there clearly proving it to me, then you’re not performing. And I feel like every time I have defended my worth, it’s been more beneficial for me in the end, and it’s more beneficial for them and the relationship is better because I’m clearly more confident and able to deliver.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Exactly, yeah, you really do become what you believe. And what I have found in my work to be so empowering is that a lot of us feel like we’re victims to the way that our lives turn out. And it’s like you can learn where you need to stand up for your values and for your boundaries in your work. That’s when you transform, feeling like a victim into empowerment. And so yeah, it can feel difficult, because we want to be liked, and we want people to work with us. And we’re worried a little if I value myself too much, then people will be turned off or something. And we have all these like crazy beliefs about what other people are thinking about us. But you’re so right that all the times that I have like stood up for myself and said, this is what I offer, this is what I’m worth. This is what’s going to happen. People respect me more, and the value increases all around. So yeah, it’s so true.
TAMAR: Yeah. And you shouldn’t feel like you’re inconveniencing somebody because at the end of the day, you’re really hurting yourself. And if you really think about it, when it comes to any type of business negotiation, contract negotiation, especially like employment negotiation, they’ve invested in hiring you. But if you think about HR in general, I can’t imagine when you’re thinking about the job that is really your focus. And if you’re scared of breaking the focus into like, the employer’s investment and your investment, I feel that for me, it’s like 90%, me and 10% of them, like they’re out there. They have other things to focus on. But at the end of the day for you, this is literally what you’re focused on, you might as well be completely upfront and show that this is what I’m offering, take earlier, because at the end of the day, you got to be true to yourself.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah, exactly. And that’s sometimes a tough lesson to learn, but it’s always scary. It’s scary to face yourself and be like, “Oh, my God, am I really worthy.” And then when you just say it out loud, it’s like you become worthy, just like the act of standing up for yourself.
TAMAR: So yeah, and the difficult thing is, sometimes you’ll be like, “Oh, maybe if I don’t do this, I’m going to lose the opportunity.” I feel that things are meant to happen. If they’re going to happen, they’re meant to happen; and if they don’t have to happen, a lot of people are like, “Well, I’m not sure if I want to settle for that.” But when you are feeling in a positive way emotionally, I think your minds will be more amenable that there have been times where I’m just like, let me just take what it is even if it’s less than ideal, and you just end up not being as happy. But if you’re in a position where you’re able to stand, put your holds firm on what you believe, things change. And I think your mindset, your psyche changes, too. So really, this is something that I’m talking abstractly. It’s very difficult for people to identify with, unless they’re kind of in that state emotionally. And then I’m actually only realizing recently, like in the last couple of weeks.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah.
TAMAR: Hard to describe.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Actually, I know exactly what you’re talking about because I also recently, in the last few weeks, felt like I had my own leveling up around this very issue. And so, it’s in your right eye, it is kind of hard to describe because it comes with like a deep knowingness inside of yourself that sometimes there isn’t like human language for. And that’s how a lot of our biggest transformations happen, where it’s not an intellectual thing that you convinced yourself. It’s like there’s a deeper transformation that happens somewhere just inside of you. And it’s hard to describe because it’s like between you and God that this thing is happening inside of you and that you’re growing. And sometimes it’s hard to describe. So, I totally get that I am right there with you.
TAMAR: Yeah, it’s funny this last week, I did a podcast with Beverly Fey, which . . . Jen May. But two weeks ago, I did want Beverly Faye, and we were just talking and like I’ve mentioned a couple of books that I’m reading. Well, now I have another book that I could potentially refer to. It was written in 1991, which is actually really funny because everything there refers to timely stuff. Oh, this just happened with Gorbachev. Like, wow, this is so old. Anyway, it’s a Tony Robbins book, the Awaken the Giant Within. And he says that sometimes you can articulate things because you really need a metaphor for it. So, I need to figure out this metaphor for this particular thing that we’re talking about right now.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: That’s good. I like that.
TAMAR: Yeah, it’s a good thing. Like we need to find the metaphor to describe this because I don’t know what it is. But if somebody wants any listener comes in, and to give me a metaphor, by all means you can tweet at me tomorrow, or essences on Twitter and I’ll add it to the Edit of the post. So, it’s good with the details. But anyhow, moving on, I talked to you, I met you in a running group. A lot of people who have been my guests of the Common Scents podcast have come from an era where running has been your form of self-care. So, I would love to hear from you. You do coaching, which I mean clearly is therapeutic in some way. I’m sure it helps you, it also helps other people. So that’s like, professionally, what you’re doing for self-care. And I maybe if you want to expound upon that, by all means, but yeah, I want to hear a little more about your self-care regimen in general, and how running comes to play and what else you’ve been doing to kind of nurture your psyche?
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah, I’m really glad that you brought that up. Because yeah, I’ve recently in the past year, really learned how to love to run because I have talked about, have been through a lot of different weird beliefs about my body and I lost a ton of weight years ago. And so, I had developed a lot of weird beliefs around exercise and diet. And during my big weight loss, never liked to run; I always related running to being the fat kid in class, like the last one, like I wasn’t able to do a full lap, like I remember gym class, all the other kids also from Boulder, Colorado, it’s like a very fit place. I’m the one that feels like kids are doing great. But being the one kid who would get out of breath so quickly, I would have to walk. And so even when I quote unquote, got fit, I still didn’t like to run because I so equated running to those memories of not being good enough. And so, I don’t even know what happened like a year ago, but all of a sudden, I really wanted to start to run because I had honestly not done exercise for a while, like I kind of went the other direction where I was not going to work out anymore. I’m not going to work out to punish my body because like, we’re going to work out just because our body needs to be in shape. But all of a sudden, I was like, I think I want to run. So, I started a really easy program where it was like intervals where I would run for a minute, walk two minutes, and run for a minute, and slowly built that up. And I realized that running was so therapeutic. And I got to the point where I did a half marathon training, I didn’t even do a half marathon, I just did the training because I liked it so much. And I just loved it. I felt so free. I had no idea the kind of mind space that running could put me into. And it showed me that my body was much more skillful, and so naturally adaptable in ways that I never needed credit for. So, I just love to experience my body in a different way when I was working out, but not in a way that was punishing me, it was just freeing me. So that has definitely been a huge part of myself here this winter. Because I’m in Colorado, I’ve been just doing treadmill stuff which I don’t like. It hasn’t been my favorite this winter because I usually like to run outside. And I do still occasionally but I’ve been doing a lot of treadmill stuff. But yeah, that’s a big part of my self-care. But also, I would say, a really big part of my personal self-care, is taking space to just feel my emotions because I realized that I’m like so many people and that I am naturally drawn to distraction when a feeling comes up. Lately I’ve been taking really special practice if I can feel something stirring inside of me. For I notice that I’m in this place where I’m highly distracted and kind of on all my devices and I’m not really being present with myself well. I’ve been trying to be really mindful about separating myself from distraction and just feeling into my body, noticing where feelings happen in my body, where I’m carrying tension and allowing myself to feel whatever comes up and not being judgmental about it. Before, when I was feeling very anxious and depressed, I was doing whatever I could just to not feel bad, like whether it be stretching myself or drinking too much or eating. I would just do whatever to try to avoid the feelings because they felt so intense and so unmanageable. I thought I would just be like swallowed up, but I found that the more that I consciously just sit and almost get into like a meditative state around feelings that come up, they’re not as scary as I made them out to be like sometimes Yeah, it’s uncomfortable to feel a little anxious or to feel anger or all those things that we label as bad and that we don’t want to feel. But when I just sit with them and just allow them to move through my body, they’re usually more gentle and also not as long lasting as they used to be because I wasn’t feeling them. So, that kind of a big thing I’m doing is not just running, but then also like getting really quiet and unplugging and just feeling into what am I really feeling right now. And just honoring that and like a really deep, almost like a re mothering way is how I’ve been looking at it. So yeah, it’s been big.
TAMAR: So, just out of curiosity, how would you potentially tell somebody to do the same thing? How could you educate somebody to potentially receive that emotional touch point, those emotional touch points?
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah, I do incorporate that kind of work into the coaching idea with people. So, when I’m working with someone professionally, how we always start our call is I lead them through a 10 or 15-minute grounding meditation. And it’s a visualized meditation. I have them go into their intuition and visualize or see certain things that are going to support them. And I really focused on having them notice parts of their body. So, if you’ve been really in your head and feeling all that tension in your shoulders and neck because you’ve just been living in your head and been ruminating a lot, it’s really helpful to bring attention to your lower part of your body. So how I’ll start these grounding meditations, is I’ll just have whoever I’m working with, notice the way their feet sit on the floor. So, I’ll ask them like, notice how your left foot sits a little bit differently against the floor than your right foot, and encouraging them to be in a very, what I call a feminine receptive space, because all of us have feminine energy and masculine, it’s not a gender thing. But to be in your feminine receptive means that you’re just in awareness, you’re just receptive to whatever is going to show up. And there isn’t any judgment or effort, it’s just sort of noticing. So just making a small shift to coming out of your head and coming out of your analyzer, which is a very masculine place to be, and just coming into your body and just noticing small things like how your body falls against your chair or the way that your left hip sits maybe a little heavily more heavily than your right hip can just give you a little bit of a snap out of the space that you’re in. And when you continually do that, you’re trying to distract your ruminating, you’re sort of just in your head spinning. If you can, the more you can catch yourself and break that pattern and come into your body, the easier it is to stay out of that place and to repattern yourself. But that’s just a very small part of it, and you work with me, we can go deeper into it. But the first part is, it is important just to come into your body.
TAMAR: It’s really hard. I’ve been trying it since the beginning of January. January 1 was the day I started because my friend Chris decided to post in a Facebook group that we were going to start up a meditation for 30 days. Well, he stopped on January 30. And I decided, let me keep going.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah.
TAMAR: But I don’t think I’ve ever done it. Right. perfectly honest. But I still been trying. Ultimately, even though you’re not supposed to have any judgments, I ended up judging the reaction of thinking the idea of meditation is not judge your thoughts, because you have them. But then I judge the like, for example you saying like your left foot is different than your right foot. So, it’s a judge of those things. It gets very difficult. It’s a really circular it’s a very recursive in cars a lot. It’s, as he says on the car map. It’s named Jeff, as Jeff talks about in the comments, a calm app, that it’s like you’re basically working your muscle. Your brain is a muscle.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah.
TAMAR: Honestly, I feel going to the gym is easier because you feel you’d be able to progress. I don’t know what I feel when I’m done with the meditation. Sometimes I just feel like “Oh, well, I just did 10 minutes of meditation. I’m glad I’ve accomplished it, but I’m not really sure.” Really.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah. It might be helpful to lower your expectations. Because I think that’s actually what trips us up more than anything, is we have this expectation that we’re going to be like within, just a few minutes we’re going to be a Zen master floating above our pillow and the change. It doesn’t come quickly. It comes like you said it’s from working that muscle over and over again. And switching from, like you said, from judging to just noticing. So that’s what I encourage people, to notice your body, not judging it, you’re just noticing there’s nothing right or wrong; there’s no wrong answer. It’s just a simple, quiet noticing. And that’s something that a lot of us aren’t used to. We’re used to figuring stuff out quickly. We live in such a fast-paced world. And we want the answers right now, we want satisfaction right now. We want everything to come like an Amazon next day order and it’s hard for us to slow down and to just be really present with this moment. And if my mind wants to keep having all of these thoughts, I’m just going to just notice, then also kind of gently encourage my attention to come back to the way I’m breathing the way that I’m sitting. But yeah, it takes time. It’s a muscle that you build over time. So, I’m proud of you that you’re sticking with it. But it’s also just taking off the expectation that I’m going into this meditation with absolutely no expectation of how this is going to turn out for me.
TAMAR: I want to feel that my expectation is that I want to feel I’ve actually made it. It never happens, so that I know that I end up judging my noticing, which is so weird. And it doesn’t make any sense.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: It’s okay.
TAMAR: But at the same time, it’s okay to sit there and just start thinking of how I’m breathing because sometimes that’s your home base. A lot of these sites talk that your breath needs to be your home base. And sometimes that focusing on my breathing makes me anxious, or it’s very difficult for some people. And it’s funny when you talk about the Amazon Prime people. I’m not an EMS, I don’t mind waiting three weeks for an hour, six weeks for an Ollie Express package. But sitting still is so difficult. For our world in this day and age, but I’m going to be consistent because that’s my goal these days, to embrace wellness in whatever way I can.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Exactly. Yeah. So that’s good. Yeah, you’re on the right track. All it takes is one little step in the right direction. And you just keep going in it. Things happen.
TAMAR: Cool, cool. Well, let’s wrap up. You probably know what the last question is going to be. So, if you could give your younger self, I think in your case, maybe your childhood self any advice, what would you tell her?
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: My advice to my childhood self? Oh, man, there’s so much I would say.
TAMAR: Guess you can narrow it down to three little things.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: I think the first thing would be to let her know that she’s more loved than she thinks. And then also the things that she believes about herself are not the way that her life will actually be, like the things that she believes are not actually true. That’s probably the biggest thing I wish my younger self realized. I just made a lot of assumptions about who I was, and my place in a world value that really lowballed myself obviously, and I would really want her to understand that those things are not true. And I’m not defined by my parents’ experience, or even the way that they treated me, that I’m a much bigger being and much more loved than I could give myself credit for. So, that’s the gist.
TAMAR: Okay, cool. Yeah. And I think you were brought here to do those things for a reason.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yeah.
TAMAR: To realize that. Sometimes traumas that we experience is really to kind of elevate us and to bring us to an area where we can help others. And I think, today you’re doing exactly that.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Yes, yes, I really hope so. What I aspire to do is help anyone else that has been through what I’ve been through and prove to them that you can overcome, like I’ve come a really long way when I look back at 22 to where I am now at 32. Now a lot of big things have changed in ways that I wouldn’t have ever expected. And so, it happened for me, it can absolutely happen for anyone. So that’s what I hope to spread more.
TAMAR: Awesome. All right. Well, I really appreciate it Genevieve. I really, really enjoyed learning about your very nontraditional upbringing. Where you are today is right where you need to be.
GENEVIEVE CLOUGH: Exactly, yeah. And the journey continues. So yeah, thank you for having me. It has been really fun to talk to you and share a little bit of my story.
TAMAR: Yeah. And it’s been awesome to hear it. So, thank you again.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 50:05 — 64.3MB)
Subscribe: Google Podcasts | RSS