How to Light Up Your Life (In Whatever Way You Need Right Now)
I love following Rachel Friend on Instagram. She’s a professor, mindset coach and special needs mother who offers grounded inspiration for real life, especially on going inward to do the messy (but freeing) work on oneself. You may have seen Rachel and her family on the Netflix hit show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”. If you missed it, you can catch a little clip featuring Rachel and her family on Good Morning America.
All photos and quotes above can be found at Rachel’s Instagram account, @itsrachelfriend. You can also check her out on Netflix ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’ episode one, as well as her own YouTube Channel.
Polite As Fudge: Hi Rachel! We got a sneak peek into your home on Episode 1 of the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. What was that experience like for you and what were your biggest takeaways?
Rachel Friend: It was life changing! The KonMari method changed the way we view our home and everything in it. Marie Kondo is such a joy to be around, no pun intended. I think the fact that my husband was also on board to go through this process played a huge role in the success of it. We were both mentally ready, which was important as it’s easy to think of a ton of excuses NOT to get started.
The first takeaway is how everything having a place could bring so much joy! It was the biggest game changer for us! Everything has a home now and we know where everything is. No more junk drawers! It makes cleaning up (especially after kids) so much easier. We’ve been keeping up the method and I think that’s largely due to the fact that we did the entire process from top to bottom. It’s etched in our brains. ☺️
The second takeaway was how much more productive my husband and I became. It was as if the condition of our home was holding us back in other areas of our life. Finding joy at home has allowed us to focus on what really matters to us. For starters, we are more present with the kids and each other. Also, I finally launched my online business which is the reason for my IG account (something I wanted to do for so long).
Polite As Fudge: On your Instagram, you’ll share where you were in your former perspective and where you’re at now. I can so relate to that and it’s so interesting to look back on things I’ve done work on, whether it’s formerly worrying about what people would think about this or that...to being free from it. In your practice, how do you begin to help people overcome these human tendencies that get us caught up in negative (or just plain unhelpful) mindsets?
Rachel Friend: One of the first things I teach my clients is that their perception is not reality, but instead “their” reality. We often get stuck in these limiting patterns where we see things as “fixed” or “the way that it is.” This perception, created from our upbringing and personal experiences, limits our growth by keeping us stuck in mental patterns that don’t serve us.
Once you become aware that your perception is variable and not fixed, you can begin to step into the work needed to change your perspective and eventually, your habits. I offer several techniques and exercises to begin retraining the mind so we can start to engage in more productive habits. The results are life changing...according to my clients ☺️.
Polite As Fudge: What are the top things people come to you for and what are the most essential “things” to get a fresh perspective on?
Rachel Friend: Most of my clients want to become more present with their loved ones— especially their children. They’ve also reported wanting to have a more positive outlook on life and not let the past have so much control over them. This usually lends itself to worrying about what others think, fear of failure, holding grudges, and struggling with self care in some way shape or form.
Self care is a huge part of what I teach as there are many misconceptions about it. The biggest is that self-care is selfish which couldn’t be further from the truth. However, you can’t do better if you don’t know better so I understand why some people may see self-care in such a negative light—it was never something that was effectively taught or shown to them.
I aim to change other’s perceptions on self-care and educate people on its importance as it is necessary for growth and overall well being—something many people strive for. The issue is that most people don’t realize that much of their struggle has to do with lack of self-care in some way. This is because self-care embodies so much! It has to do with your mindset, your priorities, your habits, intentions, etc. All of these things effect how you think and feel on the daily. If you are unaware of any of the above, you won’t be able to give yourself what you need and in turn, can’t provide fully to others. This is huge for moms as we always want to give our all to our families, however we need to meet our needs first so we don’t burn the candle at both ends. I know, I’ve been there.
Photos and quotes from @itsrachelfriend on Instagram
Polite As Fudge: How does being a special needs parent change your view on life/parenthood?
Rachel Friend: Parenting a child with special needs has allowed me to really embrace all that life has to offer. Too often we take things for granted not realizing how difficult some things are for others to achieve. Every milestone my son hits is HUGE in our home because of what it took to get there. There is so much uncertainty with parenting in general, but with special needs there really isn’t a set path. For this reason, being flexible, accepting, & open to what comes our way is how we have found peace on the journey. We never want my son to feel like he is a burden, as his disorder was something we could have never controlled. We choose to focus on what we CAN control and that is making the most of every moment and embracing the path we’ve been given.
Our children follow what we do, not what we say, so being mindful of how we act with our kids is a big deal. While being a parent is chaotic & stressful, my husband and I don’t have unrealistic expectations of how we “should be.” We are not hard on ourselves as that would be unfair to us or my kids. Instead, we try our best, say sorry often, and share our feelings with our kids. This is how they learn. We must be doing something right since my daughter Ryan is so loving & empathetic to her brother. She sees him as an equal. That’s the kind of society we need to work toward—one that embraces differences and accepts all. I am grateful that we can be that example for others.
Polite As Fudge: What’s the best advice you ever received? Best advice you’ve ever given?
Rachel Friend: The best advice I have ever received was in the form of a quote from one of my grad school professors. He quoted Eleanor Roosevelt in class one night and it blew my mind. Her quote: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” It completely changed my view of life and is a big reason I do what I do. Knowing that we cannot control others, but can control our reaction to them has given me so much clarity.
I often have students tell me that the best advice I gave them was the KISS method, which stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. I use it in the context of not complicating things with our assumptions and over thinking. We do this too often and get stuck in negative thought patterns. Or we jump to conclusions and cause unnecessary stress. Instead, try to take a pause; a breath, and think about other possible interpretations of the same event—not take things so personally. Or ask questions for clarification. If you tend to get overwhelmed, choose to break things down in order to look at them in smaller quantities. These are all ways to keep it simple and spare our sanity & overall well being.
Polite As Fudge: Thank you so much for the interview, Rachel! This last question is very important: Do you prefer red wine, or white? Grilled cheese or mozzarella sticks?
Rachel Friend: White wine as long as it’s a little sweet! [and] Grilled cheese all the way! Extra toasted with tomato soup please ☺️.