One of the other things that has affected me recently is a book by Johannesburg author/speaker Kathy Mann entitled Avoiding Burnout, Seven Principles of Self –Preservation.
I discovered Kathy Mann online on a book site for authors and she happened to be coming to Cape Town in the next few days so we arranged to meet for coffee.
Not really being one for self-help books but having watched some of her talks and resonating with her message of ‘women trying to do it all’, I was slightly apprehensive but it was an instant connection.
Kathy’s journey of trying to do it all as a wife, mother, business woman, A-type achiever is a universal one, albeit it individually characterized and affected by historical issues of family life. Her story, I believe, is one which should be earmarked and read by women worldwide for it is the story which affects so many women. It should be read with the intention of understanding the dynamic of the modern women who believes that she is tough, resilient and can battle on- until she collapses from exhaustion and stress. In Kathy’s case her strength to try and hold it altogether resulted in compromising her own health to the point that she was not able to function at all on a daily basis. Eventually Kathy was diagnosed with an auto –immune disease which took her about three years to fully recover from.
Her book is written in two parts, the first of which chronicles her early family life and personal circumstances from a dysfunctional family (alcoholic father and absent mother) and the second deals with her own superb practical principles and advice for getting it right before it’s too late.
In her very personal journey she documents the disturbing manner in which her mother removed herself from her parenting duties (not even bothering to call her on her seventeenth or eighteen birthdays or being aware of her matric results, after she had taken up with another man after the divorce with Kathy’s father) and the theatrics of her alcoholic father and somewhat unsavoury character of his new partner, and the stress of then getting involved in the father’s business.
It seems to me a common scenario. And such a sad one. The ravages of alcohol and fraught families and the consequences which then ensue for the children who are affected thereby.
Where the hell has society gone wrong I wonder?
Fortunately Kathy had the insight and strength to tell her story in an attempt to warn others of the consequences of ongoing stress. She delved into tons of research to heal herself and in the process developed seven principles to help others.
The first one and one she feels is possibly the most important is to know yourself: to understand what your core values are and to align yourself with these in your work and in your life. It sounds so simple and yet it’s not.
And maybe that’s partly where we get it so wrong. As women and wives and mothers and educated beings, wanting to achieve and perform and be the best we can be, often, something’s gotta give.
And for women, this means either marriage, or children or incredible careers. For many, it is also ourselves.
And let’s be honest, if women are no more available to care for the world, we are going to be in deep trouble.
Thank you Kathy for sharing your story and for the passionate determination you have in helping others.
I salute you.
Here’s a quote on her book from one of her healing helpers:
“This is a book of triumph and grace that follows when one has suffered deeply and endured crises of such magnitude that our hearts and minds are literally cracked open and we recognise a power beyond ourselves that is always present.” Meryl Abrahams, Professional Specialised Kinesiologist