Bracken Jelier is the founder of Brazen Guide and also a PR consultant and content writer. She attended the Shine at Lyme in March where she discovered that the way she was feeling was shared by women all over the world – and that was ok. Here she discusses what she did about it and how she managed to hone her bigger game.
I’ve always seen myself as someone that likes to get what she wants. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t spoiled as a child. In fact the opposite. But I have always considered that I am pursuing a goal. Or at least I thought I was.
I am only here today because, at the age of 17, I wrote eight hand-written letters. Letters address to the ITV Westcountry Head of News that begged him for a work experience place for one week in their newsroom. One day, whilst I was at school, he phoned my Dad and asked him to tell me to STOP writing and come in for a chat. My Mum drove me down and we planned that she would wait for me for an hour or so. Three hours later, after a rather terrifying set of screen tests, writing tests and interviews, I emerged as the new ITV Westcountry ‘Weather Girl’ and a trainee journalist; I had not yet finished my a-levels. My Mum’s fury at my tardiness soon dissipated into mouth-open shock!
I had my 18th Birthday in that newsroom – and many, many more. I can safely say that if it wasn’t for my determination to get an answer to my letters, I wouldn’t doing the job I love today, because a redundancy from ITV 15 years later, a job offer in their PR department, and then another redundancy finally propelled me into working for myself.
So there I was. Sitting on the Shine HQ sofa – proud of myself for being a woman that was running two businesses, a PR company and Brazen Guide, a single Mummy to two gorgeous teenage girls, renovating an old cottage, paying the school fees (just), being a daughter, a sister, a friend, a dog-walker, a cleaner, a cook….yep, you know the thing.
I was too pleased with myself to be honest – and it was exhausting. Then Anna and Cal began the Shine course. Suddenly I realised that I was like every other woman there; trying to be everything to everyone and never really doing my best at everything; cue the cliches – ‘spreading myself too thinly’, ‘jack of all trades, master of none’, etc!
I wasn’t actually really being ‘me’. I was always being things to others and wearing hats that didn’t always fit properly. I always felt as if I was fire fighting and never catching up with myself. Sitting in Rhode Hill House I was calm and able to think more clearly. Being surrounded by some amazing women who all had such similar issues was liberating. We could talk and laugh and cry together and it was ok.
One exercise involved us going into the beautiful grounds (in the snow that day) and talking non-stop to one of the other women. I talked and talked and then she helped to precis the stream of shit that had poured from my mouth. Actually some it made sense!
Here’s a precis of the precis! I’m proud to be a working mother but I realised that my work had started to tip the balance and setting up the new business was taking over the time I had left. Young teenagers move so fast! They’re growing quickly towards the time when they won’t want to spend so much of their time with me.
So, I made the decision to cut down to four days a week. I planned some special days out. I raised my fees with my clients – and even finished with a few that were piling on the stress. I allocated a few home tasks to the children (hmmm not sure that’s going to last long) and tried to learn to say ‘no’ occasionally. Shine had injected me with a big boost of energy and clarity.
But it wasn’t just me that made some big decisions. In fact, mine were minor in comparison to some who decided where their path should lead them, what they had to give up, and what they wanted to ask for to create the next bold move within their company.
At the end of the 2 days at Shine we were told to write a letter to ourselves; something that could remind us of the ‘bigger game’ we had planned and the decisions that we had made. Mine was more of a pep talk rather than a list of plans. It was great to receive it three weeks later to remind myself of how far I had come.
So, this is another letter to myself. It’s a small reminder that life is not always easy. But with a little time to myself it can become clearer and I don’t have to head to Rhode Hill to do it. I’m part of the great Shiny Army that Anna and Cal are building and I have them and all of the other women to call upon at any time. I’ve learned that a short walk, or a 20 minute stare at the sea, or even a coffee on a window seat is really all I need to refocus on those goals. So I give myself permission to take some time sometimes; for me and for the sake of the little women that I share my life with.
If you’d like to attend the Shine Open Course held at Rhode Hill House in Lyme Regis, then contact email@example.com.