EP 26: Leading an Integrated Life Over a Divided Life with Stasia Savasuk, Creator of The REVEL-YOU-TION

divided life May 07, 2021

 It is time to stop living a divided life.

When your life is divided between home and work, personal and professional, you're vulnerable to all sorts of relationship troubles and everyday friction.

When you separate yourself from your values and see your business and life divided instead of integrated and unified by your purpose and values, you will break from the pressure of it all.

You feel out of alignment with what matters most–your health, your values, your most important relationships–and feel at the mercy of responding to every need like it is an emergency, further sacrificing your clarity and confidence.

My guest today has done the work to get clear on how she leads herself and others and not letting fear divide her from what she values and who she loves most.

Stasia Svasuk is an entrepreneur, mama, speaker, adventurer, thrifter, and science-of-style expert who thinks bodies are just about the coolest things on earth.

She is the founder and creator of THE REVEL-YOU-TION––an online community of crazy-brave women who are using their closets to heal their shame, flex their brave muscles, cultivate their creativity, and create some wildly fabulous outfits while they’re at it.

Stasia has inspired many thousands through her Tedx talk, her wildly popular (and now retired) Stasia’s Style School, her numerous podcast recordings and guest speaker gigs, and her ability to cultivate a community where collective braving and collective healing are the name of the game.

We cover some incredible territory in this episode around work, life, and family integration.

 

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How our closets are a Trailhead for doing deep, meaningful work about how you feel in your body
  • How Stasia realized that teaching women to turn down the temperature on their body shame wasn’t enough and how she’s changing her business to do it
  • How she’s learning to feel into her boundaries and take ownership of the consequences, good and bad
  • How her relationships with her clothes let her know when she’s out of alignment elsewhere in her life

Learn more about Stasia Savasuk:

Learn more about Rebecca:

Resources:

Scroll Down for The Full Episode Transcript:

Stasia Savasuk: My business is my business, my life is my life, but where can I successfully integrate them to make it work so I’m not living these different lives?

[Inspirational Intro Music]

Rebecca Ching: It is time to stop living a divided life. When your life is divided between home and work, personal and professional, you’re vulnerable to all sorts of relationship troubles and everyday friction. Now, life is challenging enough, and feeling so divided on top of all we are navigating is breaking us from the pressure of it all, and I know so many people are feeling this right now, right? When you're showing up as one person at work and another at home, your relationships inevitably get strained, your attention is pulled in different directions, and it’s hard to focus or even know who to trust.

Burnout results when you try to appease competing expectations that make everyone else happy but leave you feeling spent, and you feel out of alignment with what matters most (your health, your values, your most important relationships) and feel at the mercy of responding to every need like it’s an emergency, further sacrificing your clarity and confidence. A divided life delegates your power to the opinions of others. This way of living feels fear, and you’re left at the mercy of pleasing others as all the things that matter to you feel like they’re slipping out of your control.

I'm Rebecca Ching, and you're listening to The Unburdened Leader, the show that goes deep with leaders whose burdens have inspired their life’s work. Our goal is to learn how they’ve addressed these burdens, how they rise from them and become better and more impactful leaders of themselves and others.

We’ve been living divided lives long before the pandemic put those divisions up front and center. Author Parker Palmer writes about this phenomenon of modern living in his book, A Hidden Wholeness. He explains that fear is the chief reason we divide our identities across different spheres (work, family, friends, self).

0:02:02

In the process, we end up concealing our true identities, our whole self, and we’re afraid of so much, and, gosh, for good reason, right? Getting sick, not being able to provide for our families, being misunderstood, creating conflict, missing out, not feeling satisfied with life or work, and our fear causes us to never quite show up and lead from our full, whole self.

Now, fear is natural and is an important emotion that guides and protects, but when your fear moves from fleeting to being constant or chronic, it leaves you in a hypervigilant state where protective behaviors like perfectionism, avoiding failure at all costs, and decision making from a sense of urgency become the norm, and we’re always wearing whatever protective mask is appropriate for the circumstances we find ourselves in, [Sighs] and switching in and out of those protective masks is exhausting.

Now, I don't believe the solution to living a divided life means we should kill or cure our fear as many teach and preach. Getting rid of fear is not possible, but numbing fear is, and this is a dangerous practice that cultivates a divided life and moves you away from living connected to your important relationships and meaningful work. It also moves you away from feeling connected to yourself and all your inner system is carrying and doing for you. Leading with fear means you avoid being truly seen in your struggle and furthering the divide in how you do life. The impact has left us feeling confused about who the heck we truly are, overthinking every aspect of our life and wondering if we can ever trust what we see. When we don’t trust our instincts and our hard-earned wisdom along with the ability to set and maintain boundaries, it further perpetuates the divided life, and it’s also harder to lead with courage and conviction.

0:04:01

My guest today has done the work and continues to do the work to get clear on how she leads herself and others and not letting fear divide her from what she values and who she loves most. Stasia’s an entrepreneur, a mama, a speaker, an adventurer, a thrifter, and a science of style expert who thinks bodies are just about the coolest thing on earth, and I’m with her. She’s the founder and creator of the REVEL-YOU-TION, an online community of crazy-brave women who are using their closets to heal their shame, flex their brave muscles, cultivate their creativity, and create some wildly fabulous outfits while they’re at it. You can see why I had Stasia on the show, right? She has inspired many thousands through her TEDx Talk, her wildly popular and now retired Stasia’s Style School, and her numerous podcast recordings and guest speaker gigs, along with her ability to cultivate community where collective braving and collective healing are the name of the game.

We cover some incredible territory in this episode around work, life, and family integration. Pay attention to when Stasia talks about how our closets are a powerful trailhead to what we are dealing with in our lives and notice what led to Stasia’s big shift in her signature offering. She walks through this in a way that I suspect will lead you to a big aha, so pay attention, and listen for the very nuanced point Stasia made around boundaries and taking ownership of them.

Now, please welcome Stasia Savasuk to The Unburdened Leader podcast. I’d like to start, first, going back to when you moved to your current hometown, (let me see if I say this name right) Brattleboro. Is that right?

Stasia Savasuk: Brattleboro, yep! Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: Brattleboro, Vermont.

Stasia Savasuk: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: Your original plan back then (from what I understand when I was doing my research for our interview today) was that you were gonna be there for a couple years while your husband attended school and then go back to working and living overseas after he completed his program. 

Stasia Savasuk: Mm-hmm.

0:06:03

Rebecca Ching: Well, you’re still in Brattleboro, Vermont several years later. What happened?

Stasia Savasuk: Fourteen years later. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Fourteen years later! What happened that altered that dream and your professional path?

Stasia Savasuk: You know, I had a baby who had complex medical needs, and that was the biggest disrupt and pivot of my life. My husband and I had just finished the Peace Corps. We lived and served abroad in the country of Moldova and really loved that international work. So my husband came back, decided to go to school and study conflict transformation to do peace work. I had gone to Costa Rica and had gotten my teaching English as a second language (as a foreign language) certification. I had gone to Nicaragua to do a Spanish immersion program because I’d learned to speak Romanian - not a super helpful language unless you’re gonna go to Romania or Moldova. There are two countries where that language is useful, but it was a romance language. So I figured I would go do a Spanish immersion.

So we were setting ourselves up to have this international life, and the idea was he would have the full-time employment. I would teach English on the side, raise a family, and teach English 'cause I love teaching, I love educating. That’s just something that I love so much. So it was this perfect plan, and then we have a child with these complex needs, and we were immediately married to a hospital. There was no way -- [Laughs] there was just no way I was leaving the support of Children’s Hospital in Boston. So we didn’t do anything local. We had all of her services over in Boston, and it was an unbelievable first three-to-five years of her life.

0:08:02

She had multiple, multiple issues. At one point, we had about 12 specialists that we were seeing. We averaged between -- and this sounds bananas, and I tend to be the queen of hyperbole. If you follow me online at all, that’s one of my things. But we actually averaged between four and nine doctor’s appointments a week for about five years.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, my goodness.

Stasia Savasuk: So it was a really intensive time for me, and I became so dependent on those providers and sort of the community that I’d built around taking care of this child, this incredible child. There was just no way I was gonna leave it.

And so, the transition actually -- you know, I sometimes look back, and I’m like, “That was amazing!” We just let go of that dream without even a thought because this love for this little child that we didn't know was going to survive or not, everything just went into supporting this child. I’m one that tends to struggle with change or with dreams that don’t get realized, and this was just -- there was no struggle. I almost can’t believe it, but there was no struggle in just being like, “Okay, that’s not our life. This is our life now, and it’s different than we anticipated, and, you know what, it’s kind of awesome.”

Rebecca Ching: Mm, so, for you, there wasn’t any tension. It was just almost like what was gonna be dissipated and this new truth, this new love and this new life was just -- it felt so true and present and real. There wasn’t any negotiating for you. It wasn't inner-turmoil, it was just truth and moving forward.

Stasia Savasuk: It was, and I don't think I had space for much more than that because it was such an intensive time.

0:10:02

For me, it was a radical acceptance. This is my new life, and I’m so fortunate to have this incredible child that’s going to teach me so much. When you're fighting for your kid’s life, [Laughs] I mean, I don't know. I feel like if I would have had a different experience and something kind of would have kinked up the way, there would have been more resentfulness, but I was like do I want my life of teaching English and living abroad, or do I want to keep my kid alive. This is…

Rebecca Ching: It’s a false dichotomy.

Stasia Savasuk: Yeah, you know what I mean? It was just radical acceptance. Like, this is it, this is my new life, and you know what? I signed up to be a parent. This is it. This is actually what I signed up for and all that, that means, and so, my other dreams -- that’s fine. I can realize them in other ways. So it wasn’t a hard transition for me.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, that’s powerful. I resonate a lot with what you’re sharing. Different circumstances, but with my own daughter’s diagnosis on the spectrum and the appointments and really just the interdependence, it felt like, of the team, we were supporting each other and this focus -- ‘cause I knew, for me, early intervention was everything, was gonna set her up for more choices and more freedom. It was like -- it wasn’t blinders. It was just a radical focus, and that’s the sense.

Stasia Savasuk: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: It just felt like this is the world but everything else was going on outside of me but our little bubble [Laughs] was in this zone.

Stasia Savasuk: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: What impact did the love and support of your local community during that time have on how you lead yourself and even your community today?

Stasia Savasuk: You know, the support that I received from my community -- so we moved here when Raisa was six months old, and I didn’t know a single person.

0:12:00

My husband was in grad school full-time and working full-time ‘cause I couldn't work because I was a “special needs” -- I’m gonna throw air quotes around that. I was a medical mother so the work that I -- I was so involved in only the medical care in the medical community. They were my people, right? And so, every week the typical therapies that we had for our child were we had a -- she’s hearing impaired. I don’t even know if that is the correct -- she has hearing loss, right? So right off as an infant, we started with a sign language teacher in our home which was super fun. Like baby sign language but to the next level. [Laughs] It was super cool.

Rebecca Ching: Right, right.

Stasia Savasuk: And we had occupational therapy every week, we had physical therapy every week, and we had a speech language pathologist every week for oral motor development stuff. They were all women, these providers, and I look back, and it was 10% their vocation and 90% supporting Stasia is really what it really was.

Rebecca Ching: I agree! Yeah. Yeah.

Stasia Savasuk: When you’re working with a mama who’s, like, a brand new mother in a brand new community that has no family support. My family, my husband’s family doesn’t live locally, and I was on my own doing some really intensive stuff. It wasn't long before we moved here, Raisa was in surgery. She was in a coma for eight days.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, wow.

Stasia Savasuk: I mean, she was on life support. I mean, we’d been through the stuff with her, and then tube feeding and multiple surgeries, anesthesias, blood draws. I mean, just the number of things, I was frazzled. I was raw. I was tender. These women would come over to stretch Raisa’s fingers and maybe they’re doing that, but mostly I’m crying on their shoulder asking, “I don’t know how to do this.” [Laughs]

0:14:08

“This is hard. I’m tender. I’m raw. I need somebody to hear my story. I need somebody to say, ‘This is hard. It’s okay you’re struggling,’” right?

If I look at the work that I do now with women -- you know, I taught Style School for five years. So you come in and you think you’re talking about the pants, and you talk about the pants for five seconds and then it’s the stories about the pants (what those pants say to us). That they should be this size and you go shopping and you can’t find a pair of pants so you blame your body or you grow and your pants don’t fit anymore, and then the stories, the hurt, the ache, all the stuff that comes up, that’s really what my work is, right?

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.

Stasia Savasuk: I can say my job description is: “Personal stylist! We’ll get you in the right pair of pants!” Whatever, that’s, like, 5% of the work. The real work is navigating the emotions that we create in our bodies and our pants and our clothes. All of that - that’s the work. I look at these women who were early intervention (birth-to-three) -- when we aged out of that program, I cried for a month because I lost some of my greatest supports, right?

Rebecca Ching: Oh. Wow.

Stasia Savasuk: And I had to graduate to these other women. There was this lack of -- this continuum of care is so important, not for the kid as much as it was for me, right? I mean, if you went through early intervention you know that. It’s so incredibly critical and, ugh.

So I look, and it’s like so much of the work that we do isn’t actually the work that we do, right? The vocation doesn’t end up being -- the vocation can be pretty narrow: personal style. The work that I do is way outside of that, but it’s connected, you know?

0:16:13

Rebecca Ching: Absolutely. Absolutely. Oh, my gosh. My brain is going a few different places and, on a personal note, just thinking back to some of Hazel’s providers back then, it was time to move on for everyone else but me. [Laughs] And I’m like, “But I need you?” And they’re like, “We can’t bill insurance for that. Hazel’s doing great.” And I’m like, “But me, because you get it, you get my story. You get her. What if something comes up?” It was like launching me to trust me in this aspect of motherhood, but the loneliness of that time combined with the fierceness of the time, it sounds like you get that. There’s this sense of clarity and purpose. For us, it wasn’t literal life or death like you were navigating as I’m sitting here empathizing with that and even feel emotional. For me, the tenderness was helping her be in a world -- like, how do I help her navigate a world that may not be ready for her? I think there are parts of that that was the aspect for you too.

Stasia Savasuk: Absolutely.

Rebecca Ching: I also just love what you’re saying and recognizing. I mean, I will always and still do -- occupational therapists and speech and language pathologists are in my heart. They're in my heart. We’re so much more than our titles, right? When we are with people, we are with stories.

Stasia Savasuk: Mm.

Rebecca Ching: The catalyst is our children. The catalyst is those dang jeans.

Stasia Savasuk: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: That’s a whole other story being 5’2” and curvy back in the ‘80s as a child. They did not make a diversity of sizes like they are today! Today, I mean, it’s like choices! I’m so happy, but, you know, the story wasn’t about the jeans, it was about -- not even about how they fit, but it’s not finding something that fit and feeling left out or feeling like my body was wrong because the story didn’t have it.

0:18:05

That experience set you up to be able to sit with these stories and not just stay focused on the J-O-B at hand, right?

Stasia Savasuk: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: That’s just so powerful, and this is a great question, too, ‘cause I know I had some big reckonings over the last few years. So often entrepreneurs and business owners polarize their work and their family against each other, and I noticed that was coming up a lot in my own life, and I’m like, “This feels odd. This doesn't feel right,” and I have some thoughts on that, but I want to hear yours first and how you approach all of your work loves and all of your family and personal loves without pitting them against each other.

Stasia Savasuk: That’s an ongoing practice, right? There are times when I feel like I’m nailing it and I’m able to do this beautiful kind of integration, and then there are other times where the whole thing is blowing up in my face, and I feel like I’m just sucking at everything - “I’m a terrible parent, I’m a terrible wife, I’m a terrible housekeeper, and I’m a terrible worker.” When the polarization happens, everything seems to fall apart.

Rebecca Ching: Yes.

Stasia Savasuk: It’s when I can gracefully integrate it that everything seems to be able to find a flow, and I think that that’s something that I’m still -- you know, I’ll have it for a while and then, oh, I don't know, there's a pandemic that happens. [Laughs] You find a flow, and then there’s a pivot, and then it’s trying to keep up with that pivot and pivot with the pivot, right?

Rebecca Ching: Whiplash pivots some days, yeah. Right?

Stasia Savasuk: Yeah, and it’s hard. So much of what I’ve been trying to do is sort of my business is my business, my life is my life, but where can I successfully integrate them to make it work so I’m not living these different lives.

Rebecca Ching: Yes! Yes.

0:20:04

Stasia Savasuk: When I first started my work, it was all about the style. Style, style, style, style, style. Everything was about the lipstick and the pants and the dresses, and then my life shifted, and we started doing more adventuring together as a family, right? We’d pack our Prius, all four of us, with a tent and a couple of pairs of underpants, and we would take off for two months without a plan, so how do I incorporate that into my business? How do I change the definition of the work that I do, right? I do style. Actually, I do Inside-Out Congruency. What is it - what are your values and how are you living them? Who are you, and how do you wear it? How do you have that Inside-Out Congruency from the inside out where there is a flow? So it’s really about this constant disruptive pivot. When something shifts, how do you shift the other thing with it?

But there’s that kinky place where things get hitched up, and it’s messy until you find the flow again, and then it’s like, oh, I found it, and then me, anyway, I’m like, “Oh, this is so great! I’m so smart,” and then it happens again, and you're like, [Laughs] “But I just figured out how to navigate this pivot. What! I need to pivot again?” So it’s sort of always being prepared for that pivot. When my life shifts how does that then shift the business? When my business shifts, how does that, then shift my life and how do I do that in some kind of unity, you know? It’s tricky, and it’s constant, I think.

Rebecca Ching: It is. For me, I appreciate the integration piece ‘cause I realized I breathed in these rules of what’s okay and not okay for parenting and work, and that was jamming me up. I love what you said: “Oh, wait. How do I get my life to fit my business and my business to fit my life? Together, how do we work this in? We’re gonna go hit the road for two months. How do I -- ‘cause guess what, I’m the boss of this business.”

0:22:06

But there are so many expectations that we put on ourselves and also, too, that maybe others have of us because of how we communicated things or we’re unintentionally colluding with these rules so, for me, whenever I feel like I’m pitting work against family, I have to pause, and usually I’m out of alignment with my values which you referenced.

Stasia Savasuk: Yep. Yep.

Rebecca Ching: I see that as a data point now because they’re both my loves. I love what I do, and I love my family, and that’s just how I’m wired. I’ve had messages of, “Listen, as a parent, they need to be number one all the time.” They are, [Laughs] and there’s a negotiation because to give them the life I want, and also to be the best mom, this is part of, again, my wiring. I remember my husband saying, “You have to work and be a part of something that’s outside of this family. You will be miserable, and that’s just you.” Again, there were so many rules about what it meant to be a mom. I came into parenthood knowing more what I didn't want to do and who I didn't want to be than what I did. So it was this windy path, and that integration piece you said is so personal, right?

Again, for me -- I don't know how that lands with you -- is when I start pitting them against each other (resenting family or resenting work), that’s when I do the hard pause and go what’s out of alignment? What needs to shift, whether it’s internally, a belief I have, or a pressure I’m putting on myself, or something in either of those areas, and usually I regroup with my husband. He’s one of those few people that can just speak through the noise and I hear him. [Laughs] I’m like, okay, what’s going on. So, yeah, the integration, and it is such a pivot, but there is so much pressure and there are so many shoulds on what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a parent, what it means to be a working parent. Yeah.

Stasia Savasuk: Yeah, and I think with the supposed-tos and the shoulds so many of them, for me, have come from my own lack of confidence in being an entrepreneur.

0:24:08

I would have said, “This was not part of my plan,” you know? I never had dreams of being an entrepreneur. There’s no entrepreneurship in my family. So me starting a business, I mean, that was kind of bananas that I did that anyway. That’s not what I would have expected of my life. I couldn't have predicted that ever, and so, for me, in the beginning especially, there was a lot of hustle for worthiness. I mean, imposter syndrome up to my eyeballs.

Rebecca Ching: For sure.

Stasia Savasuk: It’s, “I’m the boss, and so, I have to be the best, and I’ve got to do this, and I’ve got to do this, and I’ve got to prove myself, and if this business doesn't succeed, it’s all on me,” and all of that. And, now, I’m like, “Wait, I’m the boss. I can take a few weeks off if I want,” right? [Laughs] So I think with the business maturity also comes my own personal maturity as an entrepreneur, but when I was a new entrepreneur, man, I was hustling for worthiness like you wouldn't believe, doing those 60-, 70-, 80-hour weeks, all-nighters, really just trying to prove myself, prove myself, prove myself, and I think there’s this natural evolution, too. As you build your confidence in the work that you do, you don't have to hustle for worthiness as much, and you're able to create more of that integration, but in the early days, that was a real struggle for me because I kind of went all in on business, and then I had to peel back. I find it to be -- for me, I like to use the analogy of being a tightrope walker where there are some days I’d be like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Heading to the left. Heading to the left.” Then you're like, “Okay, I’ve got my balance.” Then, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. I’m heading to the right. Heading to the right,” and then finding that balance again. You might get five or six good steps in where you're in alignment before you pivot hard left or you pivot hard right. You’ve got to find that center again.

0:26:03

Rebecca Ching: Normalizing that kind of wobbliness is not a sign of failure or inadequacy or weakness, it’s just that’s part of the gig is you’re wobbling. 

Stasia Savasuk: It’s part of it.

Rebecca Ching: We’re wobbly! [Laughs] We’re gonna stay on the rope, but we might wobble, and it’s not because of flaws or a lack of anything. It's because we’re on a tightrope sometimes, and that’s life.

Stasia Savasuk: And that’s life, and if you know you're on the tightrope, you anticipate.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah. Yeah.

Stasia Savasuk: When it happens, I know I’m gonna get back to center, and there’s a chance I’m gonna head the other direction. I’m gonna have to get back to center again, right? But it’s when I thought that I owned the rope and I needed to be steady all the time is where there was so much conflict and tension so really allowing it to be a more fluid, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, time to pivot. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Time to pivot,” trying to shift the balance, that has really been the vision I have. Always being to see the rope out in front of me, there’s no end to the rope. I don’t see the cliff that it’s tied to, it just goes on forever and ever, so I know that that’s part of the journey for me, and it’s constant.

In the beginning, I was like, “Hard left! Hard, right! Hard left!” I mean, there was no balance. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] Right? I’m so tracking with you. Something just hit me, and I don't know if this will land. I’m just working this through in my mind real time right now of going through with our children in such intensity at such an early stage and what we were able to hold and the capacity. I think anyone listening who’s been through a lot (whether it’s in their own personal life or with raising a family or some other crisis) that almost becomes homeostasis, right? That's the norm, so then being able to downshift and not have everything -- when you talk about the hustle for worthiness, I’m wondering sometimes if we conflate surviving with that hustle for worthiness and that intensity. I know from my own understanding of the nervous system, downshifting can feel dangerous. Relaxing, trusting, and not anticipating the ten things that could go wrong and being prepared, that’s what sets people up to be great entrepreneurs, right?

0:28:10

It’s usually a lot of difficult life experiences, but what can burn us out is not being able to downshift and help our bodies go, “We don't have to be so hyper-vigilant,” and navigate the wobble and recognize that we don't have to control the rope, but we’re where our agency is. So I don't know if that makes sense, but shifting from that crisis-intense mode, sometimes we translate that to our work.

Stasia Savasuk: One hundred percent. I mean, you saying that, I’m just [Laughs] nodding a big yes. I went from intensive parenting -- and, really, what happened for me too is I went from intensive, intensive, intensive, intensive parenting for five-to-six years where I did nothing but parent Raisa and navigate all the medical stuff that we were navigating. So that was so intense that I became a little burnt out, and I needed something different. So that was also part of my swing. So I swung towards starting something new, but I started it with the same intensity in which I stepped away from.

Rebecca Ching: Yes.

Stasia Savasuk: That’s what you're saying, and it’s landing for me real good, [Laughs] I’ll say that.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah. Yeah.

Stasia Savasuk: That’s it. Yep.

Rebecca Ching: Just speaking through that, and it was like, “Oh, wait. I’m not in the same place,” and that’s bringing it back to that integration piece and that there are parts of me that didn't realize we were in a different season in life so I love that rumble.

I’m curious for you (this is a good segue), how has parenting your kids helped heal burdens from your own childhood?

Stasia Savasuk: Parenting is hard. [Laughs] It is so hard. Right now, I have a 14-year old -- Raisa who was, 14 years ago, my child that was born with all of this stuff.

0:30:05

So I have a 14-year-old and an 8-year-old, and my big learning right now is we have to parent these different children so differently. It’s just unbelievable to me how the tactics that you use for one child and you learn and you think this is what makes sense, when you try to distribute them evenly, it doesn't land. It doesn't work, and so, I mean, I suppose I look back -- I don't know. I look back at my childhood, and I grew up in a very different kind of family than the one that I lead now. I grew up in a Fundamentalist Christian family, so I took a hard swing, I can tell you that. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Really?

Stasia Savasuk: Yeah, I grew up in a Fundamentalist Christian family going to Christian school. I had body shame. I mean, I was shamed starting at a very young age. My fear in life was burning in the fires of hell and suffering eternal damnation. That was the first part.

Rebecca Ching: So purity culture type of things?

Stasia Savasuk: Oh, Pentecostal, Christian, Christianity was the way that I grew up.

Rebecca Ching: Got it.

Stasia Savasuk: And so, in my early, formative years, my childhood was laced with fear. I was terrified.

Rebecca Ching: Wow.

Stasia Savasuk: I was terrified. I mean, and that was a scripture we learned in, like, kindergarten - burning in the fires of hell and suffering damnation.

Rebecca Ching: That’s really not trauma-informed Sunday School.

Stasia Savasuk: So I look back at that, and I look at the times I was sent home from school for wearing a short-sleeved shirt because it was too provocative as a six-year-old, right? Early on in my life I was trained to fear my body, that my body was a sin, right? It was a -- I mean, that was my original learnings about my body was that my body was a sin, right?

0:32:02

Rebecca Ching: And your body was gonna be the catalyst to eternal damnation if you didn't hide it, judge it, whatever it is. 

Stasia Savasuk: Yep. Yep.

Rebecca Ching: Wow.

Stasia Savasuk: Yep, so my childhood was very much within the structure of -- at least, where I grew up, my church was curiosity was the devil, you know what I mean? I would be like, “Well, how did Jonah live in a whale? That doesn't make sense to me!” It was, “Shut up and have faith,” right? That was very much -- no questions asked, blind faith. And so, I look back at my childhood, and I, at one point, think that I was curious. I was a curious child, and then curiosity became this thing that was what made me bad. Curiosity was bad. Creativity was bad. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.

And so, my years through elementary school, middle school, high school, when I eventually switched over to public school, were torture for me because I still had these foundational beliefs that curiosity was bad, don’t ask questions, we learn about evolution. By the time I was in fourth grade, I had severe hives. I was getting gray hair. I mean, the duress on my body was so intense when I switched from Christian to public school because the paradigms were so different and I didn't know how to navigate that. I don't think I really started learning how to navigate that until I was into my thirties, right? This was something that really kept me stuck and was a story that I had in my head for a long, long time.

And so, the way that I parent now? Holy buckets. [Laughs] It is so different, right? Because I don't want my kids having that kind of fear. I want my kids to appreciate their bodies for what their bodies do, these incredible vessels that house their soul fire and their spirit, ask questions, get curious.

0:34:08

We’ll talk about anything and everything. Nothing is taboo. Nothing is off limits. Let’s talk about it, right? So, I mean, the difference between the way that I was raised and the ways that I’m raising my children, they couldn't be more different, in my view.

Rebecca Ching: How has that been healing for you in releasing burdens from that time for you?

Stasia Savasuk: I still -- that’s a good question. So the healing that I’ve done -- I think my healing had to happen outside of my parenting to be able to affect my parenting, right?

Rebecca Ching: Yeah. I love that.

Stasia Savasuk: And so, to be able to change that narrative of, “You're not creative. Don't be curious. Don’t ask questions,” or, “Your body is a sin,” I had to do a lot of work to build a relationship with my body because my foundational belief, even though, intellectually, I knew it wasn't true because I’m a new-age liberal woman, that is still embedded in my body, and so, to come up against that over and over and over and the years of work that it’s taken for me to build a relationship with my body, to be able to say the thing that I value the most is curiosity, right? The work that I had to do to get there to be able to parent my children in this way has been immense.

So I don't know if the parenting itself has been the catalyst of change, but the catalyst of change had to happen for me to be able to parent the way that I do.

Rebecca Ching: So to be the parent you wanted to be, it required that deeper work.

Stasia Savasuk: Mm-hmm.

0:36:02

Rebecca Ching: And maybe being a parent was the catalyst - realizing I don't want to repeat that. I know, for me, that’s definitely been the case, and I think there’s also been opportunities and moments where I’d have memories of how I was parented or things that were said or done and then I get to do it different real time, and there was just something kind of in those little subtle moments of, “Yeah, we’re doing this different,” and it’s scary, and it’s exciting, and it’s empowering. Even in work, too, I mean, even in my community, just doing things differently and slowing down with some of that stuff. I do believe some of our biggest pains and our biggest burdens do inspire our life’s work and I didn't know this part about your story from my prep work, and, my gosh, it makes so much sense about the work that you do. So I want to talk a little bit about that.

You talked about Style School, and you recently launched an updated program. What inspired you to sunset Style School and then create your newest offer, REVEL-YOU-TION, is that right?

Stasia Savasuk: REVEL-YOU-TION. Yes, REVEL-YOU-TION.

Rebecca Ching: REVEL-YOU-TION. [Laughs]

Stasia Savasuk: [Laughs] So it’s a little play on words, right? Not revolution, REVEL-YOU-TION where you’re reveling in yourself, in your body, in what your body can do, in your you-ness, in your soul fire, in your spirit, your essence, your beauty, all the amazing things. And so, I taught 20 sessions of Style School. I taught it for five years, and it was incredible. My business has been Stasia’s Style School, and I’ve loved it, and it’s been important work, and they were five-week sessions, and women would come in thinking about the pants, and they would leave asking much bigger questions, right? When they were like, “Oh, it’s actually not about the pants?” No, it’s actually not about the pants. [Laughs] Your closet is a gateway into some really deep meaningful work, but work that can be really hard too.

0:38:05

Rebecca Ching: Okay, pause here for a second. Just pause here. Your closet is a gateway to deep, meaningful, and, very likely, hard work. I just want to hold that thought. Whoever’s listening, thinking about your closet right now. I love that - looking at my closet as a trailhead.

I’ve made some big changes this year. I’ve decided not to buy any clothes this year. [Laughs] For me, I’m of the personality I enjoy purchasing things, but I realized I was tipping, especially after -- I have a whole new pandemic wardrobe which is badass and awesome. I’m supporting great businesses I love and are doing great work, but there was something deeper there. And I told a friend, I said, “I’m gonna do this for a year.” She said, “Well, most people do a fast for 30 days, maybe 90.” I’m like, “Nah, I feel this in my soul that I have to do -- there’s something deeper. I moved half my closet. It’s stored away. I put just what I’m wearing, and I’ll shift it around, and I’ll shop my spring wardrobe, and I’m a little nervous. I’ll confess, I’m a little nervous, but I unsubscribed from all of my emails, and I remember feeling like [Scared Breath In] and then I’m like, “Rebecca, you can subscribe --,” and I muted all of my social media ‘cause I love these companies, I love their mission, and there’s something exciting about them, but there’s something I’m still teasing out. We’re wrapping up Q1 here during this conversation, so I’m just really -- I will be using this in both my clinical and leadership work about the trailhead or I’ll be bringing you into some of my work like, “Let’s talk about your closet as a trailhead. What’s going on?”

Sorry, I just wanted to give that statement a moment. I’ll be thinking about that for a while.

So you sunsetted Style School. Tell me about the why for that, and let’s hear more about your new offer.

0:40:04

Stasia Savasuk: The why was because I started to get -- I don't know if the right word is resentful, but I was teaching to the paradigm of -- so, essentially, when we get dressed, we get dressed to look good, right? So that’s essentially what we want as women. Mostly as women, we want to: “Do these pants make my butt look good? Is this flattering?” The flattering word. Ugh. The flattering word. It kills me. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Why does it kill you? What bothers you about flattering?

Stasia Savasuk: Because, really, flattering is how close do I come to the ideal? Here’s the apex of beauty; Flattering is how close am I to the apex of beauty. How close am I to meeting the standard, right?

Rebecca Ching: So most people that ask that question that you’ve worked with really were comparing themselves to culture’s ideal of beauty and enough?

Stasia Savasuk: Yes, culture’s ideal of beauty. Yep.

Rebecca Ching: Okay.

Stasia Savasuk: Yeah, so even when we talk about balance and proportion. “So I’ve got wide hips and a narrow torso. How do I make my hips look more narrow and my chest look a little wider,” so that I fit the ideal, so that I’m closer to the standard, right? I taught this. This is what I taught. I taught, “If you're self-conscious of your hips, here are some hip-minimizing visual minimizing tricks, and it’s the idea of balance and proportion which goes into sort of, like, the art and science of style. The tricky part is I still value some of that, but I needed to create a program that said, yes, this, but really what’s important is how does it make you feel because the way that I was teaching it was to say something like, “Oh, if you're feeling this way, why don't you wear black pants on the bottom and a white shirt on the top, and that’ll visually shift the balance a little bit.”

0:42:01

So I had all the tricks, and I got all the -- I knew how to look at a silhouette and style it so that different features could be enhanced and other ones would be sort of pushed into the background, right? [Laughs] I even have shame just saying that, but that was how I found my way back into my body, right?

So, personally, when I was -- I had hated my body, had a terrible wardrobe, only had beige yoga pants (a disaster). You know, I had really broken up with style, and I found my --

Rebecca Ching: Beige yoga pants? There’s a…

Stasia Savasuk: Beige cropped yoga pants. They were terrible.

Rebecca Ching: That’s a thing? [Laughs]

Stasia Savasuk: I had two pairs! They were so terrible I had two pairs because it was important that I proved to myself how disgusting my body was that I’d wore the most --

Rebecca Ching: Oh. Gotcha.

Stasia Savasuk: Because I had to make sure I held up that storyline, right? So, anyway, I found my way back into my body by learning how to dress my body. So, for instance, my body is shaped like a triangle so I’m narrow torso, wide hips, and so, I learned that if I wore more snug things on the bottom and boat-neck tops that created more balance, what I was doing was wearing oversized things on the bottom half of my body and really narrow things, and I was sort of exaggerating that lack of “balance.” I’m throwing quotes around balance. So I was able to create more balance and then that brought me into relationship with my body to go, oh, so my hips aren’t really the problem. I’m just wearing clothes that are over-emphasizing them so that when I look in the mirror, all I see are my hips, but if I flip my formula a little bit, I can actually see my whole body.

So, for me, it’s been an incremental -- it was phase one to bringing me back into relationship with my body and to say, “My body is not a problem, but when I dress to hide my body, I over-emphasize the parts of my body that I feel shame about, the ones that are the farthest away from fitting into the culturally-acceptable beauty standards,” right?

0:44:15

And so, I used it, and then quickly was like, okay, now that I’m in relationship with my body, I don’t actually need these rules because now I know my body isn't the problem. So it was phase one and it was my jump to phase two.

Style School was really a phase one teaching. Okay, first, we’re gonna do this, and then once gals start to get it I’m like okay, now, throw the rules away. Now we don't need them. Put them in the garbage, burn them, but they got you back into your body, and now that you know your body’s not a problem, let’s let that go, and let’s move forward, right? You're like, “Yeah, but I finally fit. I’m finally there. I’m not letting go of this to save my life, are you kidding me?” So, then, there needs to be a longer process to here is how you stop hiding, and we can use these concepts of balance and proportion to bring us back into our bodies so that we see ourselves differently because we judge ourselves by what we look at in the mirror, right?

And so, by shifting that a little bit we can start to look at ourselves without being, I don't know, for me, I was disgusted. I’d look in the mirror and I was disgusted, and that was shame, right? So I did this little external tweak that helped me lower the temperature gauge on the shame so that I could start to deal with the shame, but when it was up here, I couldn't deal with it. I had to lower that temperature gauge a little bit, and that was the way that I was able to lower my shame temperature gauge so that I could approach it in a different way. 

Rebecca Ching: Style School is shame triage.

Stasia Savasuk: It’s shame triage.

Rebecca Ching: It was phase one: stop the blaming. Let’s stop the blaming.

Stasia Savasuk: Turn the thermometer down, and after 20 sessions I was like I can't teach this stuff anymore.

0:46:02

I don't want to talk about the belts anymore: “I’m really concerned. So, for my shape, should I wear a narrow belt, a medium-width belt, or a two-inch belt? I’m really stressed ‘cause what if I do it wrong?” [Scared Breath In] Like, I worked in that phase one, triage, turn the temperature down for so long I got a little burnt out in that place, right? I wanted to do the, okay, and then what’s next. How do we navigate the actual shame? How do we talk about that? We can still use our closets because it becomes a trigger for us. And so, it brings some of this stuff to the surface so that we can navigate it in community, talk about it and hear other women say, “Me too.” “You too? But I always thought that if my hips looked like yours then I would be happy, but you have those hips and you have a thing.” Then you start to see that the game is rigged, and we’re chasing this unrealistic ideal that even if you have the ideal, you gotta hustle to keep it and then you’re terrified of when your boy’s gonna change or when the ideal’s gonna change because we all know [Laughs] what shifts, right? Even if you happen to fit the cultural standard today, it could shift tomorrow, and you're not gonna fit anymore. Your body could change. Holy crap. So you’ve got to hustle to stay in the box, you’ve got to hustle to meet that standard.

So that’s the work that I feel really compelled to do now is to navigate the bigger picture, right? The cool thing is within this new platform of the REVEL-YOU-TION, I can say, “Let’s talk balance and proportion real quick,” right? “Here’s how it works. Some days you’re gonna use it. If the temperature gauge of your shame is high, let’s turn the gauge down a little bit. Let’s get ya balanced so you can look in the mirror and not hate yourself, and then let’s have the conversation about the shame because changing your body, it might be turning the flames down a little bit, but it’s not putting the flame out, right?

0:48:09

So we’ve got to still navigate that flame because tomorrow it could crank right back up again,” right? I can still kinda do that phase one work, but I also have more capacity and space to do the other work which is the essential work.

Rebecca Ching: The gateway is how do I change my outside so I feel better and then people realize, oh, wait, if that’s my primary focus to feel better, I’ll be chasing that the rest of my life, And you're offering, then, okay, here’s the triage. here are some things for you to kind of heal your relationship with the outsides of it, and then let’s do some inner work to sustain that change so that as things fluctuate with you and culture (‘cause culture always changes its mind on what’s enough), and we breathe that in, and then you get to do that deeper work to build, what I call (‘cause I’m stepped in and practice Brené Brown’s shame resilience work), and shame doesn't go away. It's part of the spectrum of emotions. We think we can kill it, but we can’t exile, but we can help heal the wounds that shame’s caused, and so, is that part of what you're doing in your new program?

Stasia Savasuk: Yes, yes. It’s the maintenance work. It’s the maintenance work.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, that’s so good.

Stasia Savasuk: It’s the maintenance work because I can get to the -- you know, I can do five weeks of work, and I can figure out my today body (that’s the language that I use), and then six months go by and your body shifts, and you're like, “Holy crap. I hate myself again.” You know what I mean?

Rebecca Ching: Oh, yeah.

Stasia Savasuk: Like, I hate my body again. My body is betraying me. My body’s doing this terrible thing to me, and it’s like, no, your body’s job is not to stay the same. Your body’s job is actually to change [Laughs] despite what you’ve been told, right?

So, really, it’s the shifting of paradigm away from my body’s worthiness (which is there for my worthiness) is dependent on how tightly I adhere to the beauty standards, how closely I sit or don’t sit, right, to saying, “That’s crap.”

0:50:14

It’s still the standard that’s used and that we have projected on us all the time, and there’s another paradigm where we value what our bodies do. So I can be mad at my thighs for having cellulite, but holy crap they hiked 14 miles the other day. What about that? That’s awesome.

Rebecca Ching: Okay, I’m with you. I mean, you’re familiar with my lens, and I’m with you 100%. I also know it’s really hard to move past that phase of all I’ve got is just to want to feel a little bit better here, that deeper work. I don't know about that yet, I mean, ‘cause that’s scary, right? It’s not efficient work. It’s not quick work either.

Stasia Savasuk: No.

Rebecca Ching: But changing the belt is quicker, right? I think that’s why I see a lot of folks, whether it’s in, like I touched on earlier, focusing on consumption culture and whether it’s media, whether it’s stuff, whether it’s clothing, for me, I’m paying attention to, but now I’m like I want to decorate everything. I’m like, nope. Easy. Easy.

Stasia Savasuk: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] And I think there’s something about this that’s connected to consumption culture and the newest and the best, and you’re really passionate about thrifting.

Stasia Savasuk: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: Just briefly, I’d love for you to talk about some of the common misunderstandings and stereotypes around thrifting ‘cause I’ve had to tackle some of them myself. Like, my daughter, she will not buy anything new now. She wants everything from the ‘80s. I told her, “You can’t get bras and underwear from the ‘80s,” and she’s mad. I’m like, “That’s nasty.” I told her it was illegal. “It’s illegal to sell bras and underwear from the ‘80s, and I will not break the law.” We do hyperbole here, too, Stasia.

Stasia Savasuk: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: We do hyperbole, but I’m like that’s stank, that's nasty. But we’re gonna get ‘80s style, and I can definitely hook her up there.

0:52:07

What are some of the common misunderstandings and stereotypes around thrifting that you share with your students?

Stasia Savasuk: So there’s a lot. There are things that I used to be ashamed of that I’m no longer ashamed of. Like what if I buy something at the thrift store and the person that donated it sees me? [Scared Breath In] The terror!

Rebecca Ching: Oh, interesting.

Stasia Savasuk: [Laughs] Right? So that’s a thing. What if people see me wearing their throw-a-ways, right? So, to me, it’s just a matter of a reframe. I live in a small community of 14,000 people, and it happens where I’ll be walking down the street, and somebody will be like, “Did you get that sweater at Experienced Fits?” “Sure did!” “That was mine!” And so, there can be this really cool exchange. In my small community where I see people wearing a dress that I donated, and I’m walking down the street with a handbag, and she’s like, “Did you get that at Experienced Goods?” “I did!” “That was mine!” “Oh, my word. I loved that I got it. Here’s the story.” I think, if you celebrate it as it still had life, it just didn’t fit me anymore whether it be because we’re dynamic women and we shift and change and something no longer works for us, you know? It’s like, no, it expires. That shirt? Still in great shape, but it expired for me, right? So I passed it on. Now somebody else gets to enjoy it and feel beautiful in it, and they got it for four bucks. What a treasure, right? So I think that is just a matter of a reframe for a lot of people.

I hear this all the time. “My thrift store doesn't have anything good.” I hear that all the time, all the time, all the time, and I think when you come back to consumerism, with consumerism, I walk in. There are a million things. I can find something. I should be able to find something. You go into a thrift store, and it’s a crapshoot. I mean, I can walk into a thrift store and not find anything for eight trips.

0:54:04

I can literally go eight times and walk out with nothing, but I’m not going to write a story that says my thrift store doesn't have stuff for me because I know thrifting is different than your mall consumerism.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, mindset.

Stasia Savasuk: Right?

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, mall mindset doesn't translate to thrifting mindset.

Stasia Savasuk: And it’s quick and easy. I have 20 minutes, I want to be able to go in, and I want to find something.

Rebecca Ching: Yes, which is American culture, yes.

Stasia Savasuk: You've got to throw out all your expectations and all of a sudden you’re an explorer, you're heading on an expedition, and you don't know what you're gonna find. You might not find anything, but you might, right? So it’s a completely different mindset. You’ve got to drop all typical standard shopping expectations. You’ve got to leave them at the door because stores do -- so long as there are people in your community that donate to this -- I’m like, “Do you donate to the thrift store?” “Well, I do.” “Do you donate just shit or do you donate good stuff?” “I donate --.” “Well, see? Other people do too. You just might not be hitting it. How many times have you been?” “Twice.” “There’s no data there. Go to the thrift store 45 times and then report back. That’s the appropriate kind of data,” right?

Rebecca Ching: It’s a high-volume practice, and it’s almost part of the detox of -- I mean, you brought up mall culture -- of this lots of choices and quick and fast.

Stasia Savasuk: Yep.

Rebecca Ching: This is not efficient, but efficiency sometimes is more costly and does -- for me, realizing how so many of the things I’m really caring about are in conflict with ease, the ease of consumer culture, I should say. And so, I’m like, “Dangit!” ‘cause I do love efficiency. [Laughs] I really do.

Stasia Savasuk: But efficiency at what cost, right?

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.

Stasia Savasuk: So if you went back and you look at it through a sustainability lens --

Rebecca Ching: Yes, that feels --

0:56:03

Stasia Savasuk: -- there are enough clothes on this planet to clothe us right now, right? So I will say, “I’m looking for a white sweater.” I don't go and buy a white sweater. I will look for a white sweater for six months, eight months, eighteen months, and I wait. And so, it’s also developing this -- it’s pulling me away from quick-fix mentality --

Rebecca Ching: Yes.

Stasia Savasuk: -- and saying, “You don't need it. You want it, and at what cost? Are you gonna really go to h&m and buy this synthetic thing just because you want it now?” I want it now! I mean, that’s from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, you know?

Rebecca Ching: [In British Accent]: “I want it now!” Yeah. Oh.

Stasia Savasuk: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] A really bad accent. My friends in the UK are probably cringing. So, yeah, that’s actually really interesting because if we sit with the discomfort of not getting it right now, then other stuff comes up and that’s not fun.

Stasia Savasuk: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: But that’s the work.

Stasia Savasuk: That comes up, right? Then, you hold onto what you do have even if it doesn't work for you because what if you can’t replace it. So when I thrift, I am stepping into a mindset of trust and the universe will provide.

Rebecca Ching: That’s really vulnerable. That’s really vulnerable.

Stasia Savasuk: It is. It is especially if you grew up with money issues, you grew up in a place of lack which I did. We grew up very poor, and it’s a practice for me, right? I will wait sometimes. I have waited. I remember, I was looking for a down vest. I looked for three years and then I finally bought one new ‘cause I couldn't find one, but I waited three years.

0:58:02

Rebecca Ching: I remember that. [Laughs] I remember you posting about this.

Stasia Savasuk: I waited three years, and I finally found a sustainable brand, and I waited for it to go on sale, and I spent $119, and I’m so proud of this vest that I own, and I wear it, and it’s like a treasure for me because I waited a long time, and then I saved my money, and I bought it from a Certified B company with --

Rebecca Ching: Certified B Corp. 

Stasia Savasuk: Yes, Certified B Corp, and they’ve got good ethical practices, and so, then it felt good to me. So if I’m going to live this life of congruency, and I vote with my dollars, I’m going to make sustainable choices with the way that I purchase, and, for me, thrifting keeps me away from fast fashion, keeps me away from the environmental impacts of fast fashion which are absolutely devastating. You watch one documentary and it’s terrifying, right?

Rebecca Ching: It is.

Stasia Savasuk: It breaks that habit of I want it now, the Amazon mentality now. “What? I have to wait 48 hours, are you kidding me?” I’m like I waited three years to get a vest. [Laughs] You know?

Rebecca Ching: I’m thinking of a lot of my mom friends and a lot of other parents that are just barely keeping everything together, juggling, and they're like, “Oh, now you're telling me I have to go do all this stuff?” That’s not the message at all. I want to make sure I just jump in there and say it’s about staying curious, and I do think it is about slowing down and picking and choosing. I think everyone I talk to is like, “I have too much stuff, and I’m over it.” We don't know the options.

Stasia Savasuk: Yeah!

Rebecca Ching: We don't know the culture of thrift. The culture of secondhand -- but you know what I love (and people are catching on) is those Facebook groups. It’s the buy nothing groups.

1:00:03

Stasia Savasuk: The buy nothing groups, mm-hmm, yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Those buy nothing groups are catching up, but there’s a part of me that still just doesn't trust something unless it’s brand new. I don't know where I’ve internalized that so I’m playing around with that. I’m noticing if it’s not new, why is it less than in my mind? There’s a little something I’m negotiating with, but I just want to make sure, too, some folks that are so full with work and kids and keeping it together, sometimes Amazon or Target is my BFF, and, I mean, we still do Amazon because I also don't want this to be a righteous endeavor that impacts --

Stasia Savasuk: Absolutely.

Rebecca Ching: -- our mental well-being.

Stasia Savasuk: I still use Amazon. I mean, when I need batteries, I use Amazon or whatever. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: It isn’t about shaming that or being righteous. It’s about getting to the root, though, of how we may be colluding with things that are out of alignment with what matters and that maybe some of the stereotypes around, especially thrifting and secondhand, might be holding us back from contributing. So I love this conversation. I feel like we could go on.

I want to touch on something else that I feel like you do really well (at least you're committed to) is boundaries. You're constantly rumbling and negotiating with that, and I want to just touch on that. What boundaries and practices are essential for you to be the best human and leader?

Stasia Savasuk: I mean, in terms of boundaries, I think, for me, where I have to set my boundaries -- one is I have to set my boundaries.

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] I love that. Yes!

Stasia Savasuk: Number one. I think there’s a lot of pressure out there to go here’s what your boundary should be, here’s what I think your boundary should be, (you know what I mean?), and really saying, but what feels good to me and trusting that I can set my own boundaries that are built within the foundation of my own integrity.

Rebecca Ching: So good.

Stasia Savasuk: I think that’s actually one of the hardest things in a world where we’re receiving so much information. Especially where I struggle is when it’s something I’m not sure I know how to do well. “I don't really know how to do this. Can somebody please tell me what my boundary should be?”

1:02:12

Rebecca Ching: Ooh, yes. I get that. Oh, my gosh, that so lands. Yes.

Stasia Savasuk: I’ve done this, and then I do it, and then it doesn't work for me, and then, oh, how easy it is for me to say, “But you gave me that boundary. That’s not my fault,” right? So it’s an easy way to escape ownership of your own decisions. And so, for me, the big work with boundaries is owning my boundaries and getting input and then saying, “What is my boundary that works for me,” because I’m gonna have to deal with it no matter which way this turns. I may establish a boundary that is a healthy boundary. I may establish a boundary that isn't a healthy boundary that’s determined by pain and hurt and trigger and rawness, right? Then something goes kerfuffly with it, and I have to own that, right?

Rebecca Ching: Yes!

Stasia Savasuk: I feel like where I’m working the hardest with my boundaries is owning them, letting them be mine, and whatever the consequence of that boundary (whether it be good or bad), not having it take me down and feel like a loser who can’t do anything, but to use it as a data point (you used that word earlier) to reestablish the boundary.

Rebecca Ching: Yes.

Stasia Savasuk: I am in a place right now where I feel like I can struggle with that sometimes. So this is where Inside-Out Congruency is so important to me and it’s something I practice in my closet that I’ve been able to tune into it in other areas of my life. If I’m wearing something and it’s not congruent, I can feel it. If I drink something and it’s not congruent, I now can feel it where I couldn't feel it before.

1:04:05

If I ate something that didn't settle with me, I didn't know because I didn't know what congruency felt like, right? So, now, it’s receiving messages - “That feels good to me.” “That doesn't.” Not, “Who told me because they're smarter than me, and I want everybody else to tell me what to do,” but really owning my work. That’s my work right now.

Rebecca Ching: It circles back to what you said at the beginning of our conversation about how your curiosity was crushed out of you and squelched and demonized, literally. Now, it’s like saying curious - “How do I feel? Where does that land? What am I noticing?” You're just bringing that all back to what did I learn from this experience.

I’m curious. Where do you see boundaries in your closet connected? How does your closet help you know that maybe you're in a boundary blender?

Stasia Savasuk: When something hurts my feelings. If my pants hurt my feelings, then I’m --

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Stasia Savasuk: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Okay. Keep going. I love this!

Stasia Savasuk: Yeah, I mean, how many times (unless you're magic) you’ve put on a pair of pants and you're like, “Ugh.”

Rebecca Ching: Yeah. For sure.

Stasia Savasuk: I don't love this or my belly or my butt or my crotch or my -- I mean, who knows -- my ankles, my kneecaps, something, right? You’ve been in a mood, and then you put your pants on, and it shifts your mood. That, if I let a pair of pants hurt my feelings, I am in a bad place, right? I learned that. If I’m gonna be in a relationship with a pair of pants and I’m gonna let the pants hurt my feelings, how am I navigating human relationships? If I don’t dare to stand up to a pair of pants or those underpants that you wear that give you a wedgie and you keep wearing them and they keep making you feel bad ‘cause you write a story in your head that your butt’s too big or whatever, right, if I’m gonna let my clothes bully me, then there’s a good chance of letting people bully me too.

1:06:12

Rebecca Ching: Boom. Holy cow. I think that is a powerful word to wrap up this conversation that could go on for hours. [Laughs] I said that to you before we started. I’m like, “We can talk all day!” Yes. If our clothes are bullying us, we’re likely allowing other people to bully us, and that is definitely a sign that we’re out of sorts with our boundaries. That’s a powerful word, and I love the integration and the relationship we have and how our closet can help be a place for us to feel deeper connected to what matters most and how it’s also a data point that we’re out of alignment and moving away from being safe and being loving towards ourselves let alone others. So I love this.

This was such a treat. I am so excited to have finally had a chance to talk to you. Thank you so much. Where can those listening to this show find you?

Stasia Savasuk: You can find me over on Instagram. My handle is @stasiasavasuk. Same thing on Facebook, and my website is the same thing: stasiasavasuk.com.

Rebecca Ching: And with REVEL-YOU-TION coming up, have you already launched it? If people are interested, how can they get more information about that or participate if they want.

Stasia Savasuk: I started with a slow launch. I thought I had to do this big giant launch, and then I was like, “Hey, I’m the boss. I can do what I want.” [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: You’re the boss.

Stasia Savasuk: I’m the boss. I don't have to do this big stressful thing, so I’m just kind of slow-launching it right now. I launched it to 200 women last month.

Rebecca Ching: Woo!

Stasia Savasuk: Yep, and 80 of them signed up so that was awesome.

Rebecca Ching: Congratulations!

Stasia Savasuk: That was a great conversion.

Rebecca Ching: Yes.

Stasia Savasuk: And so, now, I’m just kind of, like, cracking the door open a little bit at a time because I want it to grow organically. We started with a core group, and then you add a few and then the group binds, and then a few more and the group binds. And so, it is a membership community.

1:08:00

So you can come and go as you please, though people tend to stay, right? I had a similar membership community for eight months with my alum from Style School and many of them have transitioned in because the work is cumulative. We’re doing this same work and we’re looking at it through a different lens every month.

Rebecca Ching: I love it, and it is cumulative.

Stasia Savasuk: It’s cumulative, and so, I’ll be talking more about it on Instagram, on my newsletter list, on Facebook. So it’s just kinda all out there because it’s brand new so I’m still learning to talk about it, too, right? So, yeah!

Rebecca Ching: Wonderful. I’m so thrilled to be able to brag about it, and we’ll make sure to have links in our show notes to all the ways to connect with you and your very important work. Thank you for being here today. Thank you for your leadership and for your heart, and I’m gonna be buzzing about this conversation for days. So really grateful to know you a little bit better. Thank you so much.

Stasia Savasuk: Thank you, Rebecca.

Rebecca Ching: If you're feeling at odds with your daily life and relationships on a regular basis, there’s a good chance you can blame it on living a divided life, and rooted in that divide is fear, in particular, an unrelenting fear of rejection and being seen as not enough.

1:09:12 

If you manage this fear by hiding behind your protective masks, you’ll feel depleted from living this way. So how are you navigating the varied and sometimes very conflicting needs from work and personal aspects of your life? Would you say you're living a divided life, and, if so, what needs to shift to make it more whole. How do you respond when you feel fear around making mistakes or being misunderstood, and are these responses to fear moving you towards greater wholeness or a more divided life?

Stasia shared with us the power of integrating our loves in our personal and professional lives instead of dividing them. This has led to her having more clarity to adapt to the needs of her family and make big decisions about her signature offer that has been a game-changer for her and all she works with.

1:10:02 

Now, you can't kill fear nor should you try, but you sure can do the work to lead your fear instead of it leading you. You’ll have more energy and confidence when the protective masks relax so you can live a more self-led life that fosters an integrated life. 

Leading is hard. Leading is also, often, controversial as you navigate staying aligned to your values, your mission, your boundaries. Navigating the inevitable controversy can challenge your confidence, clarity, and calm. Now, you don’t mind making the hard decisions but sometimes the stakes seem higher and can bring up echoes of old doubts and insecurities during times when you need to feel rock solid on your plan and action.

Finding a coach who gets the nuances of your business and leading in our complex and polarized world can help you identify the blocks that keep you playing at safe and small. Leading today is not a fancy title or fluffy bragging rights, it is brave and bold work to stay the course when the future is so unknown and the doubts and pains from the past keep showing up to shake things up. Internal emotional practices and systemic strategies are needed to keep the protector of cynicism at bay and foster a hope that is actionable and aligned. 

When the stakes are high and you don't want to lose focus, when you want to navigate inevitable conflict between your ears and with those you lead, when time is of the essence and you want to make hard decisions with confidence and clarity, then Unburdened Leader Coaching is for you and where you deepen the capacity to tolerate the vulnerability of change, innovation, and doing things differently than the status quo.

[Inspirational Outro Music]

To start your Unburdened Leader Coaching process with me go to www.rebeccaching.com and book a free connection call. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Thank you so much for joining this episode of The Unburdened Leader. You can find this episode, show notes, stay connected to me, and find additional free Unburdened Leader resources, along with ways to work with me, at www.rebeccaching.com.

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