If you do not know who you are, the world will tell you who you are.
And If you lead from a place of who you think you should be instead of who you truly are, it will take a toll on you and those around you.
There is immense effort put into editing instead of owning your multiplicities, leaving you exhausted and confused.
You also give up your power and give up what is most sacred in you when you do not make room for embracing the beautiful multiplicities in you and in all of us when you filter yourself.
But when you begin to unpack the burdens you carry that impact how you show up in the world, you can embrace all of your multiplicities instead of trying to fit into a mold of what you think the world wants you to be.
It can take a lot of effort sorting through the noise and the baggage you carry to figure out who you are and to embrace all of your identities.
My guest today hit a wall in her own life and found the power of embracing all of her multiplicities instead of trying to fit into a mold that never really fit her.
Reverend Sarah Heath is an ordained United Methodist clergywoman. Originally from Canada, Sarah attended Duke Divinity School where she earned her Master of Divinity degree in 2005.Sarah currently serves as church consultant and one on one life coach helping people through transitions in faith and in life.
She is the host and creator of the podcasts Making Spaces and Sonderlust, and co-host of Your Favorite Aunts and REVcovery She is also the author of two books What's Your Story? Seeing your Life Through God's Eyes and The Authenticity Challenge.
Sarah’s work challenges people to tell their story, invite everyone to the table, find restoration instead of demolition, and connect the spiritual within the ordinary.
Listen to the full episode to hear:
Learn more about Rev. Sarah Heath:
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Scroll Down for the Full Episode Transcript:
Sarah Heath: I am a person who lives with ADHD and OCD which is, like, a super fun brain to be in all the time. Part of that means that I get overwhelmed by all my multiplicities. It’s just, for me, this idea of me being enough just by being me has been very overwhelming and, I think, helped me understand, like, real belonging.
[Inspirational Intro Music]
Rebecca Ching: If you don’t know who you are, the world will end up telling you who you are. I see this phenomenon on repeat, where you’re clear on who you should be versus embracing who you truly are, and, gosh, many of us don’t even know who we truly are. If we lead from a place of who you think you should be instead of who you truly are, it will take a toll on you and those around you. There is immense effort put into editing instead of owning your multiplicities, only leaving you exhausted and confused. Your tendency to exile and edit who you are in your wholeness is rooted in the primal need to be connected and safe, and for those of you with identities that the world sees as less than or regularly dehumanized, this is understandably connected to your survival.
Now, it makes sense your reflexive response to exile the parts of yourself you do not feel are acceptable or right works in overtime, but this way is unsustainable and leads to burnout and a crisis of identity. To move from exhiling to befriending all aspects of who you are requires you to commit to a lot of deep and important work, and when you begin a serious inquiry to unpack the burdens you carry that impact how you show up in the world, you can embrace all of your multiplicities instead of trying to fit into a mold of what you think the world wants you to be.
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.
It can take a lot of effort sorting through the noise and the baggage you carry to figure out who you are and to embrace all of your identities. Now, you're not a monolith, but instead, full of complexity and multiplicity, yet, we’re told over and over again who we should be. I’m learning more and more how I see myself and how I see the world has been impacted by dominant culture and not the global majority. Now, I think these terms “dominant culture” and “global majority” are important to name, especially in a time where we’re seeing people drilled down on identity and culture in ways that are based in fear and division. [Laughs] Now, this is a big, big topic and one that deserves its own show, but it’s worth referencing as we acknowledge the challenges we all face in really owning our identities with confidence and clarity.
Now, dominant culture’s the group who holds the most power and is, often, not a majority of the population. For those of us here in the US or in Europe, this group often holds white, male, Christian, middle-class, straight, educated, tall, thin, neurotypical, able-bodied identities, just to name a few, and when we look at who makes up Congress, who leads businesses, churches, and educational institutions, this is only reinforced. Though, we’re slowly seeing some much-needed changes amidst a lot of pushback. I know I breathed in these messages that to belong and to be safe meant molding to these identities, and I can see now how I viewed my body, success, along with my sense of belonging and enough, took the brunt of these messages. Now, these identities do not define someone as good or bad or even enough, though, we’re seeing the dangers of how dominant culture influences our sense of identity along with our worthiness, safety, and opportunities.
You know, and one thing I’m learning in my somatic abolitionist training with Resmaa Menakem who’s the author of My Grandmother’s Hands along with his amazing team, is that those of us in white bodies are hyper-focused on doing what dominant culture says is right and avoiding wrong at extreme costs. I’m seeing now how when you get caught up in the dangerous binaries of right and wrong and good versus bad, you’re on a path to quickly lose your sense of enough. You also give up your power and give up what is most sacred in you when you do not make room for embracing the beautiful multiplicities in you and in all of us when you live by these insidious right, wrong, good, bad binary ways of filtering yourself.
Now, my guest today hit a wall in her own life and found the power of embracing all of her multiplicities instead of trying to fit into a mold that never really fit her. Reverend Sarah Heath is an ordained United Methodist clergywoman. She was originally from Canada, and she attended Duke Divinity School where she earned her Masters of Divinity degree. Sarah currently serves as a church consultant and is a one-on-one life coach helping people through transitions in faith and in life, and she’s also a serial podcast host and creator. You know, she’s a part of Making Spaces and Sonderlust and is a coach-host of Your Favorite Aunts and just launched REVcovery. She has authored two books, What’s Your Story and The Authenticity Challenge. Sarah’s work challenges people to tell their story, invite everyone to the table, and find restoration instead of demolition, and connect the spiritual with the ordinary.
Now, pay attention to the many identities Sarah has come to understand and embody as burnout was taking hold of her life. Notice Sarah’s nuanced rumble with her relation to risk and listen for how renovating an Airstream is helping her get clarity on meaningful work and learning how to receive.
Now, please welcome reverend Sarah Heath to The Unburdened Leader podcast. Sarah, welcome.
Sarah Heath: Thank you so much. It’s so good to be here!
Rebecca Ching: Oh, well, we’re gonna cover a lot of territory today, but I really wanted to kick off our conversation talking about, like, you’re, like, living a metaphor right now.
Sarah Heath: Yeah, I am a walking metaphor.
Rebecca Ching: You’re in the middle -- you’re a walking metaphor. [Laughs] I think a lot of us can feel like that these days.
Sarah Heath: Yeah, yeah.
Rebecca Ching: So for you, your metaphor is you’re in the middle of a literal deconstruction and reconstruction with your life, but also with an Airstream that you’re rebuilding right now.
Sarah Heath: With my hands. With my hands, yep.
Rebecca Ching: With your hands and some power tools. So you left pastoring, a hundred-year-old congregation that you helped rebuild --
Sarah Heath: Yep.
Rebecca Ching: -- and to go move to Bend, Oregon to rebuild an Airstream. So catch us up. What led up to this seemingly big shift for you?
Sarah Heath: [Laughs] I don't think it’s seemingly, I think it is, arguably, it is a big shift. I don't actually live in Bend, Oregon. It’s even weirder than that. I commute between Bend, Oregon and I’m still -- so the congregation that I served is in a cool city in California called Costa Mesa, and I love the area, and so, I haven’t completely left the area, I just spend chunks of time in Bend, Oregon, and I have to say before we get going that part of this story is a little bit of -- well, I had been in ministry, full-time ministry, for 16 years. Part of my story is that I never wanted to be a lead pastor. That was never a goal of mine. When I came out of seminary, I just knew that I loved working with youth and young adults, and so, I started working with youth and young adults. Next thing I know, I’m running my own worship service. Next thing I know, the bishops are calling and saying, “Hey, could you consider being a pastor at a site,” so a campus pastor. I said, “Absolutely, as long as I don't have to be a solo lead pastor, I’ll do it.”
In the midst of this, I was spending a lot of my time in Costa Mesa since. So about five or six years ago -- seven years ago, I guess, I was asked to be -- I had already been serving on a team known as The District Planning and Strategy Committee, and we had been talking about this adorable church -- and adorable makes it sound small. It’s a big building, and so, it’s this really cool old building, but they only had 17 to 27 in worship. And so, I was sent in as a district planning and strategy person to come in, and they actually voted to close. It was such a bummer but also, like, okay, well, what could we have happen next?
I just met with a bunch of community leaders, and I’m like, “Hey, I need to come up with a creative idea for what to do with this old building. Like, we can do anything in ministry,” and here I‘m hoping they’ll be like, “We’d do, like, a pub.” You know, this is what I’m hoping for. I’m like, “Come on, guys, what do you think? Give me your best,” and they're like, “Yeah, we think you should do a church.” [Laughs] I was like, “What?” And they’re like, “Well, Sarah, your ability to make space for people, those who are both conservative and those who are progressive,” -- one girl said, “The only way I know how to say it to you, Sarah, is that my dad is a gay man, and my mother is a conservative Christian, and I want a place I can worship with both of them.”
She ended up becoming part of this community when they eventually -- so I turned in my proposal which was I would like to make a church inside of this church. And so, they ended up asking me to do so. It was great, and if you're anyone or a person of faith or a leader at all, what you should be paying attention to is the red flags in this which meant I was a parachuted-in person asked to redevelop a community that didn't ask to be redeveloped. [Laughs]
Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] Wow, that’s a really --
Sarah Heath: -- Right?
Rebecca Ching: That is a flag.
Sarah Heath: And I should say my first Sunday, like, literally our power had been stolen. Someone stole all our copper wire, so, like, new pastors often say, “I didn't have any power when I started.” I literally didn't have any power when I started. [Laughs] We had no power.
They had been worshiping in the lobby because someone threw a brick through a window. I mean, it was the craziest story, and here I am, like, you know, I’m gonna save this thing was my hope.
So people are really asking the big questions and needing space to ask the big questions. There’s a lot of obligation. There is a lot of expectation. There’s a lot of need for right belief. There’s a lot of people acting, particularly in church spaces, out of fear, and so, we ended up growing quicker than we should have, which was great, except we didn't have a lot of leaders. So, again, leaders that are listening to this podcast, you're hearing all the red flags. So we’re looking great, and I’m being crushed. Again, you're dealing, too -- something that I think you would particularly understand, Rebecca is I’m dealing with people who are traumatized and they don't even know what’s traumatized them. So we’re talking every sunday I was preaching to at least six people who have Masters in Divinitys which is my gold standard for folks who work in my career, and so, I’m trying to lead a group of people who are, at best, waiting for me to say the thing that will finally let them leave, right? Just waiting for one more heartbreak for a church.
Rebecca Ching: No pressure.
Sarah Heath: No pressure. We’re also dealing with a lot of LGBTQIA folks who have been literally rejected from the communities they were coming from, and so, again, you're holding space for people who are in extreme trauma. All of this is going on. I’m also in the midst of, all right, like, I’ve been serving in ministry for 16 years. I’m not married. I don't have a family. I kind of had this sense of, like, my whole life was this work which, when it’s good work, becomes, you know, it’s kind of like a noble distraction, right? Like, oh, yes, I’ll figure out what my life is going to be about later once I’m done doing this thing.
Again, those of you who are listening with a keen ear might hear, if you're anyone who’s ever done anything with the Enneagram, I am a giant Enneagram three with a giant Enneagram two wing. Didn't know that was my story, and it was an incorrect placement, I think.
It wasn't just me. I can't take all the credit for making it an unhealthy space for me work-wise. I think the folks above me were really excited about our success as well, and so, just continuing to, like, well, if it’s not broke, let’s not fix that. So I just kept working so hard. We’re talking there were financial issues, there were buildings that needed to be redone, and in the midst of all of that, late at night when everyone else is looking at, I don't know, dirty pictures or whatever, I’m looking at Airstream renovations on Pinterest. Just, like, scrolling through to the point where for one of my birthdays, my friends took me to a winery that had a bunch of Airstreams on it. For vacation -- when I wrote my second book, I wrote it from within an Airstream that I was, like, staying in, and I have no idea why the tin can. I’ve since done some processing about why I love them so much, but yeah, I think it’s this idea of a home that is mobile.
So in the midst of all of this I’m burnt out, and then a pandemic hits. I don't know if you guys have heard about it. [Laughs] And that just -- so I’m already telling my bosses I’ve got, like, a year left in me, and they're saying well, where are you going, and I’m saying I don't know, but I can't stay here. Then, in the midst of it, as well, a dear friend passed away who was a writer and just someone who meant a lot not just to me, but to other people. We had just started becoming pretty good friends because we both kinda speak around the same stuff, around deconstruction and what does it mean to look at faith differently. You know, she’s the first person to push me to ask for more money to speak at an event.
Anyway, all that to say, her husband and I both have a passion for reconstruction and rebuilding and restoration. And so, he contacted me and we started talking about -- you know, he does a space for coworking and all this sort of stuff, and he ended up saying hey, I found this Airstream for a great price in Tennessee.
And he says, “Hey, I just want you to know I bought this Airstream with -- you have two weeks to decide if you wanna buy it or not.” And he’s like, “No problem. I’ve got other buyers lined up, but Sarah, this is your dream. You're risk averse. You've made everyone else’s dreams come true. When are you gonna make your dreams come true?” Like, he called my bluff, and I was like I am afraid of everything, right? Because, theoretically, redoing an Airstream, sure. Have I watched all the videos? Absolutely. Did I belong to an RV repair club which I did not own an RV, not even, like, a vehicle that could tow an RV, and I was weekly watching RV repair things. Why? It was, like, the weirdest thing. I don't have anywhere to put it. I live in California. We don’t exactly have, like, plots of land. There’s nowhere to put this thing.
So I have this Airstream now. Where am I gonna put it, and I have two weeks to decide whether I’m gonna do it or not, and she says, “Hey, what if you brought it here?” Then a dear friend of mine sent a picture of her yard, and her and her kids had already cleared it out -- of, like, the side yard and said, “We measured, and it is exactly the size of your Airstream. Would you come and work on it here?” And so, she actually said these words without knowing what they meant to me. She said, “You always make space for other people, why don't you let us make space for you?”
Rebecca Ching: Oof.
Sarah Heath: And, at that point, it’s like I get it, God. Like, okay, Divine One. Whatever -- you and I might not be in the greatest place, but I get it. Like, I had to do this thing. So then I tell some of my other friends, and I notice their reaction to me saying I got an Airstream was both not surprised and then there was something behind it because I found out, for about a year, my friends had been raising money to help me buy an Airstream without me knowing -- behind my back.
And so, for my 40th birthday, I was handed a check, and it was just like a bunch of people, you know, coming against me. And so, all of that happens, and, obviously, I wasn't planning on living in the Airstream, but I realize that the way my heart was -- I love this church so much. I love the community. I knew that if I kept serving it, I would get -- I was starting to get bitter, and that just wasn't me. I’ve always loved people, but when my phone would ring or I’d get a text message, my body would react ‘cause I was overwhelmed with other people’s needs.
And so, I knew I needed to put my hands to work, so I eventually actually did resign and said, “Hey, look, you’ve got this amount of time to find someone else.” Right after that, I set myself up for two months just straight working on this Airstream. So it’s been a year that I’ve owned the Airstream, but I left my full-time position in July, and that was a really long answer to your question. [Laughs]
Rebecca Ching: Well, yeah, I mean, I knew that there was a lot that led up to this big shift, so I’m really glad that you took the time and shared that. There’s a couple things you said that I want to just point out before I go to a follow-up question.
Sarah Heath: Sure.
Rebecca Ching: You quickly, at the beginning of that, pointed out that yes, you're the one that’s doing this rebuilding and renovating of the Airstream, but you're not doing it alone, and I appreciate that, and I feel like, especially, in this world of social media and image-oriented, there’s so much on a representation of what supports we have behind us, so I think that’s so important to know that, and I’m glad that you acknowledged that. You also talked about how it sounds like your support circle really knows about your fears. Like you said, you're really risk averse.
Sarah Heath: Oh, totally.
Rebecca Ching: But I don't know.
Sarah Heath: [Laughs]
Rebecca Ching: And I don't know you as well as your friends, but I’m --
Sarah Heath: Well, I was gonna say I think we are friends. I think you do know. [Laughs]
Rebecca Ching: Well, I don't know you as well, maybe. I haven’t known you as long as some of these other folks in your life.
But here’s what makes me curious because there’s the things that maybe would cause many of us fear, you would dive in.
Sarah Heath: Mm, right, right, right.
Rebecca Ching: A toilet needs to be removed? A door -- I need to design and hand-design a door to church -- this historic church and get all the permits for it? No big deal. So can you go a little deeper, though, on what specifically are you risk averse around, ‘cause I don't think it’s a generalized thing for you.
Sarah Heath: No.
Rebecca Ching: So what were your friends naming that you’re risk averse of?
Sarah Heath: I think they were naming that I’m risk averse when it comes to my own desires.
Rebecca Ching: Ah, ha, ha, ha! Oh, I feel that. I feel that.
Sarah Heath: Right, yeah, and so, I think particularly for those of us who were socialized as females, we have been --
Rebecca Ching: -- the good girls.
Sarah Heath: Right, we’ve been the good girls.
Rebecca Ching: Mm-hmm. The good girls.
Sarah Heath: So an example of that --
Rebecca Ching: -- well, speak for yourself, maybe. I don’t know if I’ve been so good.
Sarah Heath: [Laughs]
Rebecca Ching: But I’ve felt the pull for it. [Laughs]
Sarah Heath: I’ve tried really hard. So, like I said, I made a weird discovery, so if you're not an Enneagram cult member, don't even worry about it. But, like, a three is sort of someone who wants to achieve, right? They're all about achievement.
Rebecca Ching: It’s in your DNA.
Sarah Heath: Right. Twos are all about service, right? Service, service, service, two. So the reason I say that I was sort of unaware of my own desires or unwilling to admit my own desires to myself or others -- which might sound really weird, but when you get detached from those things, when you get detached from your own desires, and if you're within a religious sector, particularily within Judaism, Christianity, Islam, we are sort of taught to almost look at our own desires as problematic, right? Even Buddhism, actually.
Rebecca Ching: As bad.
Sarah Heath: Like, don't have them. So there is this sort of, like, separating yourself from your desires which -- and sometimes you even get rewarded for your ability to do that. Like, how far away from knowing even what you want, right?
Rebecca Ching: Well, yeah, I mean, think about professional development and, like, how do you shut down and bifurcate your humanity, your emotions, your mental well-being. I can take anything.
Sarah Heath: Right.
Rebecca Ching: That’s a badge of honor, if you want to jump in.
Sarah Heath: Right, and I love that. So right as, actually, this pandemic was starting, I was on the phone with my friend Jen Hatmaker. She’s a writer. She’s so funny if you haven’t had her on, you should. She’s just a joy. And so, she said, “Sarah, I think you thought you were a two, because you have to remember that you moved to the south where women are taught that our value and ability is to care for the other, but then you have an entire part of your brain that goes “and succeed.” So what I did really well was marry those two things together, and I was like oh, I can care for other people and be really good at it, right?
So am I caring for other people -- again, this is making it way too simplistic, but I think my risk aversion is I’m afraid of what other people will think of me. Will they think that I’m still a caregiver? Will they think that I’m still a caregiver? Will they see the value of what I’m doing? Because as I’m just learning to hold hands with my three and be okay with the fact that like yeah, I actually have wanted to achieve -- I mean, I think about the little girl who started acting so young, and I was in sixth grade, and I really wanted to role of Maid Marian, and I learned how to pretend I didn't want that role because oh, they chose me? Of course they chose me. I worked my butt -- I was going to get it, but I learned very early that to express my needs or express my desires made me -- and my fear was it separated me from community, and all I wanted to do -- the question all of us ask all the time is do I belong in this space, right? So if I had these desires, it separated me.
Rebecca Ching: So, for you, there were parts of you that felt like if I own and express, communicate my desires, I’m at risk of losing my community.
Sarah Heath: Right. Correct. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, and I think many female leaders have experienced this moment. Some of us choose to bury it. Some of us choose -- the only word I know for it, and I don't know if it’s quite correct yet, is coy. We learn how to be coy about our achievements. We learn how to -- oh, I don't know. I’m just trying to whatever.
Rebecca Ching: I don't like coy. I’m having a physical reaction to that word right now.
Sarah Heath: Right? I know.
Rebecca Ching: Don't do coy.
Sarah Heath: Don’t do it!
Rebecca Ching: When I see coy, my trust level goes down.
Sarah Heath: [Laughs]
Rebecca Ching: Then, like, my therapist parts are like what’s going on with you?
Sarah Heath: Right, it’s a manipulation that we’re doing without meaning to.
Rebecca Ching: Ooh. Well, it’s a protective feeling.
Sarah Heath: It’s a protective --
Rebecca Ching: -- It feels manipulative, but it has a protective root for sure.
Sarah Heath: Right, and that’s why I want to be careful when I say -- the trust is you're right. I have spent most of my time working on my Airstream alone, but I think the surprising thing to me is the number of people who have sort of come along with me in the journey, and, for me, someone who no longer wants to be separated from community -- because I think the experience I had of being the lead pastor was great, and also incredibly othering, and I think I don't ever want to be othered again. I don’t ever want to have my achievement or my position make me feel separated from the very people that I’m trying to be of service to.
And so, I think the surprising thing for me is I thought I was going to go into the wilderness of a tin can alone, work with my hands, and people have been showing up. I mean, I’m talking about the number of people that I literally only know from Instagram who have shown up to put my plumbing in, to fix a hot water heater.
A friend of a friend who, like, has become so close to me is someone who redid my floor. All this stuff is, like -- I couldn't have predicted this, but I had to let go of what I thought was gonna happen. That was also my lesson in redoing the church as well and flipping that community. I think there is some -- for those of us who are threes and we wanna, like, know the outcome, like what’s the point of this if I don’t know the outcome, this has been a giant journey for me of deconstructing my enoughness. I would have all these goals for what we were going to get done in a day, and when I tell you it was my eighth trip to Home Depot that I’m like, “Well, I guess today is not gonna end in this being done.” I mean, if you had asked me when we had started this project, where would you be January 2022, and I’d be like well, probably, I’ll be, like, putting the walls in. No, friends, like, we just have a subfloor in and she still has a giant -- she’s, like, probably a year out, and that’s great. What she’s becoming is really --
Rebecca Ching: She is Gidget. The name of her…
Sarah Heath: Oh, yeah, sorry. I have given a pronoun to my Airstream. She is officially named, actually. She’s registered with the official Airstream vintage collector. Her name is Gidget. Gidget the Airstream.
Rebecca Ching: Gidget the Airstream. So I wanna jump in. You touched on this follow-up question a little bit as you addressed connecting and reconnecting with your desires.
Sarah Heath: Mm-hmm.
Rebecca Ching: But what else are you deconstructing and what else are you rebuilding inside of you?
Sarah Heath: Yeah. Yeah, so I think part of it -- and this is the part I’m learning how to get really honest with. I had, I would say, an unhealthy relationship with my spirituality. When you have been a professional Christian --
Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]
Sarah Heath: -- which is what I was. I was a professional Christian and still am. I still speak at events and all that sort of stuff.
I became a performative Christian, and I don’t mean that in, like -- I’ve never been the super Evangelical -- except for when I was in college and was trying really hard because the boys were cuter. I’ve never been an over-the-top whatever, but I think I had lost my connection to the divine within myself, and I had some images of God that were quite painful and harmful. It felt like every one of the things I’d prayed for, the opposite had happened. All the hopes that I had for my personal life had fallen apart, and I saw myself as a bit of a martyr, if I’m honest. Like, oh, I get it, God. As long as I’m serving you, it doesn't matter that I wanted whatever it might be.
So I think there was a healthy separation, in some ways, from my desires because it felt too painful to admit, like, I’m really disappointed that I don't own a home or the things that I thought everyone else around me was having. When you have this divine belief that God loves other people so much, and you can see it, you look at their lives and you think oh, man, I wish you could just see how beloved you are, but you can't sit with your own belovedness because it’s almost too painful, but then why does my life look like whatever? Meanwhile, everyone else is going through the same thing, so I think part of my deconstruction (and if we want to call it renovation, or one of the words I like to use is reformation, like, a reuse of things that were already, a transcending and including) for me, is getting a little bit clearer about what is my relationship to the divine that is not boss and person who is working really hard to matter.
Rebecca Ching: So this segues to what I, next, want to talk to you about if that’s okay.
Sarah Heath: Yeah, totally.
Rebecca Ching: You hold many identities. Some you claim and others the world has put on you. The ones I know that you claim you’ve mentioned actress and pastor and speaker. You’re also a designer. You’re a writer. You’re a self-professed science nerd.
Sarah Heath: [Laughs] True.
Rebecca Ching: I’m curious what identities have left you feeling boxed in and restrictive.
Sarah Heath: I think the one that I’m enjoying redefining is what is a pastor because I think the pastor one was that I was trying to take you somewhere, but it wasn't somewhere that I --
Rebecca Ching: An agenda.
Sarah Heath: Yeah, and that has never been something I’m totally comfortable with because, I, myself, have landed so many different places, and I am comfortable with people along their journey. And so, I think it’s not that I’ve rejected or -- but I felt really boxed in by this idea of pastor to the point where I’d go to a party and people would play the game guess what Sarah does, and I love that no one would ever guess pastor which is not a healthy relationship to have with your job.
And so, I think that’s the one that I’m sort of redefining because I have begun to recognize that people have seen me as their pastor and even, know you, it’s taken me a while to understand the influence that my voice has, and I don't say that, again, to be manipulative or coy. It has taken me stepping away for people to come and say, “Hey, I just want you to know, like, what you’ve done or what you have done in the past has really mattered to me.” I think I’m getting more comfortable with seeing myself as a pastor who doesn't need to save your soul and isn't failing by not “saving your soul,” quote, unquote, right? I don't really need you to land on anything, but I would love you to know that you are beloved. You know, that’s where I would love for you to land.
So I think that’s the one that’s really taken a shift. I think actress has been on the back patio for a while, and I’m still trying to figure out what -- I miss acting. I don't know what that looks like in the future because I think I don't want to just be performative in my work.
I think writer is an interesting one too. I have a lot of insecurities around self-promotion, and so, I have two books out, and I had a publisher who was not super great at promoting, and so, I just kinda let it go and now the publisher is no longer publishing my books. And so, now I get to choose what happens to them, and so, again, it’s this, like, whole redefinition. The word I’ve been using a lot in this season is invitation. What’s the invitation in that? I find it really funny, all the timing, right? Like, oh, that’s interesting that, like, the moment I step away from being this United Methodist pastor, this is what that looks like, and writer, and writing for The United Methodist Publishing House which had a certain scope. Certain people know to buy my book. In fact, I have an appointment -- appointment, I have a call later for a church that’s using it as a study, and that’s great. I actually really like the writing that I did, and I want to kind of share it more. I have to figure out what does it look like to maybe be a self-publisher now. There’s all this stuff. So I think yeah, those are the things that are being redefined for sure.
Rebecca Ching: Where do you find true belonging today as someone who, at least to me, it seems is most free when you’re embodying your multiplicity?
Sarah Heath: Oof, I think it takes time. So July, right? It hasn’t even been a year. It’s been half of a year. It’s been half of a year which is only really funny ‘cause three months in I told my friend, “I don't know what I’m doing with my life, and it’s six months since I left my job,” and she was like, “I want to tell you that it’s three months, and who the hell thought you would solve all of those in three months other than you?” You haven’t rested. So I think I’m finding belonging in the surprising way that other people have shown up for my dreams.
Rebecca Ching: In receiving? You’re finding belonging in receiving?
Sarah Heath: Mm-hmm. In receiving, and with people who didn't know Pastor Sarah, and them loving me beyond what I can do for them or how I can comfort them or feeling like I’m a bit needy and having people say no, this is the correct level of neediness. Those moments, I think, you know, where I’m trying to figure out, like, oh how can I be a little more -- I need to find one thing, and then having friends reflect to me exactly what you just reflected. Sarah, I don’t think you’re a one-thing person; I think you're always going to have these varied interests, and they all filter into making space for people, and it’s going to be different and unique, ‘cause I have a lot of friends who are, like, a nurse. Whatever, they have, like, one title, and I think sometimes when you’re someone who wears a bunch of hats you feel like you should have one title, but the times I’ve tried to fit myself -- like, when I tried to just be a pastor, I felt like I was dying on the vine. And so, yeah, I think the places of belonging I’m finding most connected to are places where people are just sort of showing up for me, and I’m not performing for them. I’m not bringing them anything. I’m receiving. I’m letting them help me with stuff, and then I find myself trying to do things for them and they're like nah, I just wanted to hang out with you, and that’s enough.
Rebecca Ching: Well, I think that’s something really powerful. I think a lot of people, at least a lot of the entrepreneurs and leaders that I know and work with embody a lot of multiplicity of their interests and their gifts and their talents, but they conform to the world that wants them to have one thing ‘cause it makes other people feel better. I also get a sense that you’re really understanding what it feels like to be in relationships that value true reciprocity.
Sarah Heath: Mm-hmm.
Rebecca Ching: I think it’s something that a lot of people struggle with.
You're giving back to those people showing up and helping with Gidget, they're getting by just being in your presence and enjoying. That is enough. There is still reciprocity there.
Sarah Heath: Yeah, yeah.
Rebecca Ching: That feels weird. That still feels weird in our very transactional culture. Yeah?
Sarah Heath: It feels so weird, and one of the things that I continue to kind of fight is that, like, you need to have -- I downloaded a book that I haven’t listened to yet called, like, The One Thing, how you should have one thing, and I was like yeah, yeah! ‘Cause that feels very sexy to me. So I’m trying to figure out, like, oh, is there one thing or is there one way that I can sort of filter all the stuff that I’m doing?
Rebecca Ching: Wow.
Sarah Heath: But I think there is this way of being open in the world, and Glennon Doyle does a great job of talking about this idea of just doing the next right thing.
Rebecca Ching: Yes.
Sarah Heath: I am a person who lives with ADHD and OCD which is, like, a super fun brain to be in all the time. And so, part of that means that I get overwhelmed by all my multiplicities if I don't stop and focus on one of them at a time. It doesn't mean they’re not all there, it just means okay, the next right thing literally --
Rebecca Ching: Such a good point.
Sarah Heath: Yeah, it’s literally the way I have to live. It’s like I have to respond to this next invitation. I have to do this next thing because I can get all of them in my head. And so, it’s just, for me, this idea of me being enough just by being me has been very overwhelming, and I think helped me understand real belonging. So why do I keep going up to Bend? I think, in some ways, because when I was in Bend for the first year, very few of my friends up there know Pastor Sarah at all. Most of my friends here in California have, at least, brushed up against her, and not that I was trying to be two different people, but there’s a different expectation, and I know you experience this as a therapist.
You walk into a room, and there is a thing that people expect, and they might not even know they expect it from you. People make the joke, I’m sure they do it with you, like, don’t therapize me or don’t listen to what I’m saying. I know this must be whatever. People come around me and they, like, stop cussing which makes me laugh ‘cause I’m Canadian so I’m like a sailor. You know, I feel like there’s this, like, adjustment or people start explaining to me their spiritual lives, and I’m like hey, I just want to be here. Again, I appreciate and love that for so long people have given me that trust, but at some point, you’re right, I was always -- the relationship could only go so far, even in friendships because I was afraid of letting so many people down and instead of being honest with myself and them like hey, I don’t know what I want.
The other thing, I think, that we don’t know what to do with yet and we’re gonna have to figure out, especially with this great resignation, is I don’t think people have shifted into that we are capable of being different things in different seasons.
Rebecca Ching: Hello!
Sarah Heath: Because even my parents were one job their entire careers, right? That’s getting less and less and less and less, and people, I think, are sticking it out. I’m seeing it in the pastoral world. A lot of people are very bitter within their profession, and I don’t think our jobs should be the thing that completely -- I don’t believe, necessarily, that for everybody your job is the thing, right? I think we’ve shifted and made it not so great that our job -- I think more so after we’re all coming and going into year three of this pandemic or whatever it might be, we’re starting to see that maybe our relationship to our work has been really, really unhealthy.
Rebecca Ching: Oh, I think that’s loud and clear, and it scares people a lot.
Sarah Heath: Right.
Rebecca Ching: Yeah, grind culture. People are still clinging to grind culture which is such a powerful connection to supremacy culture.
Sarah Heath: Yes, yes.
Rebecca Ching: Because it’s just known. It’s known, and there’s still desire to go back to that. All right, I want to shift gears a little bit to about what you do.
Sarah Heath: Sure.
Rebecca Ching: One of the things I love that you do so well is you help see people see the beauty in their own lives and the space they're in. As I was writing that question, beauty is such an interesting word, right, especially for those who identify as women in modern culture. And so, I’d love for you to share what your relationship is to beauty and your body, and what do you see in the mirror in the spaces that you’re in?
Sarah Heath: Gosh, yeah. So I think, again, another part of my story, discovering that I had OCD happened in college, and it was around eating disorders, disordered eating. I have really accepted a lot of the narrative that my body is bad, and if you grew up in a space that was religious, perhaps, you’ve heard this: sort of, the flesh is weak, the flesh is bad, women should cover. You know, I think I bought into that in a way that I already thought my body was something that needed to be policed. What I put in it, how I worked out -- I was an athlete, and so, I look at so many of the people that I respect and love do a great job of just accepting beauty for what it already is, and beauty, to me -- I love that word because beauty, for me, brings about this idea of wonder and awe. I can tell you a sunset is beautiful, and I have told you nothing, right? Because beauty really is in this eye of the beholder. What brings you wonder and awe?
We were driving from Bend a couple days ago, and the sunset, and I just kept interrupting and saying, “Wow!” I said, “There will never be a time in my life where I won’t find beauty in a sunset.”
I will drive off the side of the road because I am so in awe of this thing that happens every freaking day, and yet I don’t have the capability of looking at my body in the same way. I’m starting to get there. As I’m aging, as I’m really understanding the amount of hatred I’ve sent her way (and by that I mean my body) and I love to see what’s already there. I’m really careful when I’m working with -- so I work with churches as well as people. So I coach people as they’re making transitions in their life, whatever it might be because hello, that’s my specialty. Then, also, I work with churches, and I always say, “I’m not asking you to do something new, I’m asking you to discover what already is.”
Rebecca Ching: Mm.
Sarah Heath: That’s my theology. I’ve recognized at a very deep level I believe that the work of a church or a community or whatever it might be is just helping people discover what they already are. It’s not a change; it’s a return. I think the same way with my understanding the beauty of my body. It’s been there the whole time, and I grew up trying to police something that never should have been policed. Now, can I take care of her in ways that give me energy? Do I feel better when I’m eating better? Yes. Do I love running because it gets me out of my ADHD brain? Yes. Do I continue to do that? Yes, but I want to love her on the days when I wake up like today and my nose is running and I can’t fit in my favorite jeans ‘cause I haven’t been able to run, and I want to have other people see the beauty of what already is.
Rebecca Ching: So I’m hearing that your relationships with beauty you really identify as a word of awe and wonder, and I feel that in my body as you say that, but when you look in the mirror -- because I think it’s one thing to have that for others, but we really struggle with having that for ourselves.
Maybe our reflection, maybe our place in life, where we’re at. So how are you doing receiving the beauty of you? That sounds really cheesy, but I mean it.
Sarah Heath: No, I know. Totally, and I think it’s interesting ‘cause we joke around about how I’m a walking metaphor or whatever it might be, but in the same way that people -- when I got Gidget, this thing had dents in her everywhere. There was no one who looked at her and thought wow, that’s beautiful. I mean, there was literally a tree growing out to her.
Rebecca Ching: Oh, my gosh, really?
Sarah Heath: Yeah, her backside had fallen off.
Rebecca Ching: Oof.
Sarah Heath: We found a dildo in the wall. There’s so much that happened to this poor thing.
Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] Oh, my gosh.
Sarah Heath: Yeah, it belonged to somebody who murdered their business partner. Like, there’s so much.
Rebecca Ching: Oh, my gosh!
Sarah Heath: There’s so much. This thing is…
Rebecca Ching: You have to do an exorcism of Gidget, dear Lord.
Sarah Heath: Oh. One hundred percent, but there was no one who would have said…
Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]
Sarah Heath: Like, and it’s 1970s, so it was, like, weird fabric.
Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]
Sarah Heath: It was so disturbing.
Rebecca Ching: Yeah, I’m feeling that.
Sarah Heath: Yeah, yeah. There’s no one who would have let their children play in her, but I saw what she was going to be, which is a podcast studio and a place for people to sleep. It’s gonna be a nice -- I’ve got all these visions for what I see in her, and I feel the same way when I’ve regarded other people. One of my friends always says, “Oh, shit. I’m turning into you. I see the potential in people now and I hate it, ‘cause I used to like being angry with people.” I’m learning how to turn that gaze inward.
Rebecca Ching: Yeah.
Sarah Heath: I’ll be honest, it is something I verbally have to do audibly. I have dear friends who have been great. They have walked with me through my disordered body image stuff, they’ve stood with me, they get frustrated with me, and they’re still able to say, “I want you to see what I see, but I know you can’t right now.”
And so, for me, I had a friend who used to make me tell her one thing I liked about myself a day that was visual. I understand that within society’s understanding of beauty I hit the mark, I get that. I get the privilege with which I walk around. I’m a small adult female who, you know, has the standard markers of beauty, right? Yet, I still struggle to embody it, and I feel like I’m at a better place than I’ve ever been with it, but it is harder for me. I think, as I look in the mirror, I do see this person who has worked so hard to own that, to own that yeah, I know that I’ve got a big, huge smile and big, white teeth and beautiful eyes, and it comes from -- I grew up in a family where my mom and dad were so afraid because people commented on the way I looked all the time that that would become my identity. And so, as a kid I remember asking my dad, “Dad, am I pretty?” ‘Cause I overheard someone saying that I was, and my dad said, “Well, kid, you got nice eyes.” Right? That just is like such a practical family, but I think I’m learning to -- I love that I have smile lines, you know? ‘Cause I smile all the time, and I had -- when you live in Orange County -- I went to a dermatologist who told me that I had overactive smiling features. [Laughs]
Rebecca Ching: Shut the front door.
Sarah Heath: And I thought yeah, that’s fine. So I think I’m learning to see beauty in the things that, perhaps, once would have bothered me, and I’m learning how to turn off the voices that say I have to be this or that or this. It’s hard. It’s so hard.
Rebecca Ching: Yeah, thank you for all of that, and I want to acknowledge, too, obviously, for those who know me, my clinical crew’s been working with a lot of folks who wrestle with their relationship to food and their body, and, you know, often, there’s a connection with obsessive compulsive struggles and neurodivergence and the capacity to have a healthy, positive, meaningful, connected relationship with food and your body.
Sarah Heath: Mm-hmm.
Rebecca Ching: And so, it is an ongoing struggle, and I think sometimes, too, there’s this message of you shouldnt struggle, and I kind of am like if you like in Western culture and you're not in a cave, add you on any kind of media technology, television, you're going to struggle. Then adding to your own nervous system personality temperament, it’s almost like culture piles on those individual traits, and it’s one of the few things that we can control.
Sarah Heath: Mm-hmm.
Rebecca Ching: There’s so little we can control, but we can control, but we can control how we feed, how we move, how we talk to ourselves. It is an ongoing struggle in that if this is a burden in your story that, you know -- and I find that many people who carry this burden in their story have gotten really good at helping other people feel beautiful and feel desirable.
Sarah Heath: Yeah.
Rebecca Ching: That’s why I wanted to ask you where you’re at today, so thank you.
Sarah Heath: Yeah! You know, the audience can’t see but I turn red when I almost talk about it because I think part of the deconstructing that also has been happening for me is allowing myself to also be connected to my body, but I think my biggest realization is that, within, I may not have grown up in purity culture, but I worked real hard to become part of it, and by that I mean I moved from Canada to the South.
So in the South, you know, again, we’re really taught to disembody, and the body is bad. The body is the problem, and if you can just get that problem under control -- I think about that every year with New Years and things like that. How can I fix the problem instead of how can I partner with. And so, I want to admit that I chose, in some ways, a religious narrative that allowed me to be right about that my body is bad, and now I’m learning to rewire that connection and go no, my body’s kind of great. Like, it’s weird. Like, it made snot ‘cause I was sick, and that’s gross and weird, but also normal. And so, how can I start to love my body the way I love other people, and yet in my own self, I can’t give myself that space.
And so, I think sometimes the thing that we’re creating for other people is the thing we wish we had for ourselves, and I think when I turned 40 (which was a year ago) I learned okay, now I gotta be serious about this.
Rebecca Ching: Yeah, and, for me, the epitome and one of the qualities of Unburdened Leadership is really embodiment and being able to sit with the discomfort and still offer compassion to what we feel and what we see because it really does limit our capacity to how we lead and love others.
Sarah Heath: Mm-hmm.
Rebecca Ching: No matter how much we think we can separate the two, they’re absolutely connected. So you touched on, early in this conversation, this toxic -- this is my word -- this toxic kind of adulation of how successful you were, kind of, with this church and, kind of, bringing it up, kind of, from the dead. Obviously, you had more numbers, and you made the building functioning again.
Sarah Heath: Right.
Rebecca Ching: You had all these tangible things, and you were getting this praise which is kind of like a sugar high, right?
Sarah Heath: Oh, gosh, yeah.
Rebecca Ching: You checked the box, right? That further disconnected you from, really, your desires and your truth.
So I’m curious, how do you define success today?
Sarah Heath: [Laughs] Today. I think it’s funny because I actually have to say this every day to myself: what were you working so hard for, Sarah? You were working so hard for the affirmation that you already have. You were working so hard -- because the truth is -- my mom actually said it to me -- you know, I was working so hard to hear my parents tell me they were proud of me and they’ve done that, so what the hell am I still working so hard for? I was working so hard for people to feel connected. They feel connected. So I think success, now, for me, looks like me experiencing connectedness, me feeling like -- today was a good day.
So yesterday, I was so sick, and there was a little part of me in the back of my brain that was like, “You’re not moving the ball forward. You’ve got a new podcast that’s coming out in the middle of January. You need to record a thing.” Did I have a voice to record? No. No, I did not. My friend who’s quarantining with me who’s also sick, we sat on the patio and played Cribbage and laughed, and I thought about how different it was than the last time I had COVID and I was all by myself. I was running a church. I was still preaching even though I was very sick, very sick. People were still contacting me. I was trying to carry everybody’s burdens, and my body couldn't do it, compared to last night where I’m sitting on a patio, playing Cribbage, recognizing that okay, I got some of the things done I was hoping to get done, but I survived another day. So success, to me, looks like allowing myself to be present in a moment and not feel FOMO (the fear of missing out) or “you haven’t done enough.”
Rebecca Ching: Oof, yeah.
Sarah Heath: Because the truth is, I live around a lot of really wealthy people who don't appreciate what they have because they can’t experience it. So, for me, I felt wealthy as I sat -- and I’m poor-er than I’ve ever been [Laughs] asI sat on my patio playing Cribbage and giving myself the time to be present to where I was right then in that moment, laughing and just thinking yeah, I’m really sick, but I’m not alone like I’ve been before. I’m not carrying the burdens of everyone else like I‘ve been before, and I’m letting my body do what my body needs to do.
Rebecca Ching: So as you look around your life right now, you know, and your commute from Orange County to Bend -- it’s more than a commute. It’s like a full-on road trip, but when you look around what you’re doing with Gidget and some of these other things you’ve got with coaching and consulting, is this what you thought you’d be doing?
Sarah Heath: Heck no. [Laughs] No, no. It depends on what season of Sarah you’re asking ‘what you thought you would be doing.’ I think the truth is that I always have wanted to help other people. That’s the corniest thing you hear, but if you had asked Sarah what she’d be doing, first of all, I thought coaching was ridiculous and didn’t really help people, and now, I’ve got clients that I cannot believe the shift that they’ve made in their lives to the point where --
Rebecca Ching: Isn’t it powerful?
Sarah Heath: Oh, my gosh!
Rebecca Ching: Isn’t it powerful! Yeah.
Sarah Heath: Oh, my gosh. I love it. It’s the favorite part of ministry. Like, if I’m honest, it was my favorite part of ministry, getting people to tap into what was already in them. I love it. Consulting churches? I love it ‘cause I can problem solve really quick, and I love not having to be the one to fix it. I’m like here’s the problem. You guys came up with the solutions. How can I make steps to help you get there and not do it? That’s great! Let me do that.
Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]
Sarah Heath: So I love what I’m doing. Did I think it was what I would be doing? No. Did the people in my guidance groups think that -- I was in a guidance group which is, like, a mentoring masterclass kind of thing.
Did they think this is what I would be doing? Yes. So I think other people saw me doing this. I just didn’t see it.
Rebecca Ching: I see a trend in your life with other people seeing things before you saw them in you.
Sarah Heath: Oh, yeah.
Rebecca Ching: So it’s a good data point to check in with our circle on what they’re seeing. Okay, I want to wrap up with some quick-fire questions. Sarah, what are you reading right now?
Sarah Heath: Yeah, so I am, right now, starting to read The Body Keeps The Score.
Rebecca Ching: Oh, standard, foundational, so important.
Sarah Heath: Yeah, I am really good at pretending I’ve read things that I haven't read. So I’ve read clips from that, and so, now, I’m actually reading it. Also, The One Thing, but I actually haven't started it; it’s just in my queue. [Laughs]
Rebecca Ching: It’s in your queue. I’m curious what you take away from that. What song are you playing on repeat right now?
Sarah Heath: [Laughs] I have a list of songs. So I’m only gonna tell you one ‘cause I’m such a music person.
Rebecca Ching: Me too.
Sarah Heath: There is a song called “This Must Be The Place,” and it’s by a band called Sure, Sure.
Rebecca Ching: Okay, I’m gonna check it out. What is the best movie or show that you’ve watched or seen recently?
Sarah Heath: Okay, I know everyone says Ted Lasso, but also Ted Lasso. Ted Lasso, great show. I think it is The Gospel, but I have been watching a show called The Expanse which is a Canadian show. It is so in depth. Have you watched it? Do you know it?
Rebecca Ching: I have, and my husband’s catching up, and I kind of faded off, but now I’m gonna get back into it ‘cause it’s [Laughs] oh, my gosh. It’s intense.
Sarah Heath: It is so intense.
Rebecca Ching: Yeah.
Sarah Heath: One of the things I love about it is my brother and I can watch it together. My brother is an electrical engineer, and his brain is, like, massive, and he loves this show because the science is correct which, for him, is really important.
Rebecca Ching: Ooh, oh, good to know. Okay, favorite ‘80s movie or anything ‘80s pop culture.
Sarah Heath: Oof, okay, I know we just left the season, and I wanted to say Goonies, but I’m gonna say Christmas Vacation.
Rebecca Ching: Okay, I mean, it is a staple.
Sarah Heath: It is a staple.
Rebecca Ching: Whether you like it or not, it just so embodied the ‘80s.
Sarah Heath: I loved it so much, and our family’s a little bit -- I think I thought that’s what every family was like.
Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] What is your mantra that you're saying on repeat right now?
Sarah Heath: It is enough. Over and over. I have a bracelet that says it. It says it on my wall. It is enough. That’s my mantra.
Rebecca Ching: Yes, yes. I’m all about an enough mindset. That’s awesome. What is an unpopular opinion that you hold?
Sarah Heath: [Laughs] I saw this question and I was like ‘that everyone should be vaccinated.’
Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]
Sarah Heath: But I get that it is a bit of an unpopular opinion. Another unpopular opinion is that gosh, I think that we don’t have to have one thing right now. That’s my -- and maybe I’m wrong!
Rebecca Ching: Yes!
Sarah Heath: Maybe I’ll read the book, and I’ll think I’m wrong.
Rebecca Ching: Follow up and let me know. Who or what inspires you to be a better leader and human?
Sarah Heath: Gosh, honestly, my relationships -- my friendships. I think I joke about it, but I mean it when I say I may not have a lot of money, but I have a lot of people, and when things got really hard, and I knew I couldn't keep going in my job, I was crying and saying oh, my gosh, how am I ever gonna keep going? I’ve had a successful career, and maybe I should just do the thing that I’m good at, and da-da-da-da-da, and my friend said, “I really want you to think about all the people who would let you live on their couch for, like, ever.” So I think the people that are inspiring me are my actual friends, friendships like the one I have with you.
Then to be a better leader, I really have enjoyed the work of Brené Brown. I’ve enjoyed the work of Glennon Doyle. That inspires me to be a better leader, but it also inspires me to just show up as myself and recognize the leadership that I already have within me and I can just tap into ‘cause sometimes I think I’ve been looking for external -- like you said, sometimes it feels like the external figures it out before me, but good leadership is really understanding that it’s already within you. So those are the things, I guess!
Rebecca Ching: Truth. Sarah, this has been a joy.
Where can listeners find you if they want to connect with you, your journey, your work?
Sarah Heath: Yeah, so I’ve got a couple of podcasts on the Irreverent Media Podcast Group. So we’ve got one called Making Spaces that’s gonna start recording again, actually, this month. REVcovery is [Laughs] for people who are leaving ministry or changing their career. There is also a really fun and silly one that I do with my non-binary bestie which is called Your Favorite Aunt, and it’s a weekly live podcast. Get ready for a lot of cussing and pop culture conversion, and it’s just a lot of fun. It’s really deep and also light. You can find all of this on revsarahheath.com. Please follow me on Instagram. That’s kinda my place where I connect with people the most. So if you're looking for me, find me revsarahheath.com, and also, a fun part of the Instagram is that you get to see flipping Gidget. So if you go the hashtag #flippinggidget, you learn all about my Airstream and how I’m brutally, probably, doing it wrong, but we’re trying.
Rebecca Ching: That’s pretty cool!
Sarah Heath: [Laughs]
Rebecca Ching: I have a deeper appreciation for the love that Gidget is receiving knowing their origin story. So yeah, I feel that. Sarah, this has been a delight. Thank you so much for coming on The Unburdened Leader podcast. So glad to talk with you today, and I know so many people are gonna get a lot of what you shared today, so thank you so much.
Sarah Heath: Thank you! So good to see you always.
Rebecca Ching: We are told over and over again who we should be. So much so we often lose touch with who we are and what it means to feel enough. We’re told by culture who we should be. We’re told by our family who we should be. We’re told by our places of work and education who we should be. When we prioritize who we should be instead of fully investigating and then embody the many multiplicities we hold, we end up exiling parts of ourselves while exhausting ourselves in the process. Our bodies are usually ground zero for these attacks towards ourselves and others.
We end up working in ways that are unsustainable and care for our bodies in ways that are unsustainable. So I’m curious, what identities do you exile or struggle to embrace? What are the influences that impact you seeing worthiness and enough in yourself and others, and what support do you need to deepen your capacity to embrace all of your identities even if it pushes against the messages of dominant culture?
Sarah shared the impact of embracing her multiplicities as a powerful part of addressing her burnout and disillusionment. She also gave us a window on how leaving her job and renovating a debilitated Airstream ended up as a much needed renovation of her own life too. I’m so thankful for this important reminder from Sarah as I suspect many of you can relate to aspects of her story. Committing to do the work to embrace your multiplicities instead of trying to fit into a mold is so needed. It is also the work of an Unburdened Leader.
[Inspirational Music Interlude]
Leading is hard, and leading is also controversial as you navigate staying aligned to your values, your mission, your boundaries. Navigating the inevitable controversy can challenge your confidence and 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.
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, sign up for The Unburdened Leader Weekly, and additional Unburdened Leader resources along with ways to work with me, at www.rebeccaching.com.