EP43: Exploring the role identities of parenthood w/McKenzie Rueger
Being a working momma is tough; being the sole provider of your family adds in another level of complexity as well.
This week, we meet McKenzie Rueger who has recently taken on the role of main provider for her family of 4. McKenzie chats about the role identities of mother and fatherhood, generational differences of parenthood, and how working moms can truly go after what they want in their lives. Additional topics covered in this conversation include breastfeeding struggles, being a woman in the workforce, and asking for help as a mom. You’ll love McKenzie and her story!
Connect with McKenzie on Instagram @rowdybuncharuegers @beingonthegulf and her website www.beingonthegulf and Facebook @ McKenzie Rueger.
I picture her as that young ambitious six-year-old sitting in the front yard at a lemonade stand. You know the one. The kid who had all of the elaborate ideas and wanted more than any typical six-year-old would have imagined.
Although I never knew her back then, Sarah Moore has a strong entrepreneurial spirit that I feel so lucky to get to know through this project.
A high school English teacher by day, momma when she gets home, and creative writer by night—Sarah is on her way to success as she pursues her ultimate passion as an author and blogger.
On defining passion…
“[Passion] is that one small voice that won’t leave you alone…and it keeps you going even when you don’t want to.” To Sarah, passion is an urge that, no matter how hard she tried—she couldn’t ignore. In fact, Sarah mentioned that she’s started three different novels before she got to the one that she wanted to really write about. “I’ve even tried to avoid it sometimes, because it’s hard…to get into that book especially with a toddler running around, and that’s the reason I have the blog…”
She goes on to say, “I am not in an entrepreneurial field, and I keep coming back to [the fact that] I want to do something more, and teaching is a real intense job…and some people think I’m crazy for adding another thing to that, but it just brings me to life….and it won’t leave me alone.”
At what point did you know you were passionate about writing?
For Sarah, being a creative writer has been like a calling. It’s what she was meant to do. “Since I was a kid, I use to write stories…I use to tell stories, even if it wasn’t writing—I was involved in a lot of theater, I always had a vivid imagination, I would come up with these wild [stories] on my own—so whether I was writing it down or a little radio show I did as a little kid…no matter what medium I was using, I’ve always been interested in stories and other people’s experiences.” Sarah’s experience as a high school English teacher has helped her be able to hone in on her true passion for writing. “There would be times when I was teaching and giving a test, and a story would come to me and I just had to start writing it down.”
Being a working momma and wife, pursuing Sarah’s passion hasn’t always been easy. As most would expect, life responsibilities sometimes get in the way of being able to chase that passion. For Sarah, it was no different.
“Finding time and being creative in that time is an obstacle because once I come home, I want to give my full attention to my toddler.”
The challenge of time and balancing work/life balance is the biggest challenge for Sarah. Having a small amount of time in between weekend naps and running the household would create limited time for Sarah to be creative and work on her novel.
Having a strong support system is important for when the challenges become too hard to bear. “The biggest supporter, biggest cheerleader is my husband because even with all the stupid things I’ve tried [in the past], he’s always 100% supportive of each one of those things.”
At your inner core—who are you?
Defining who you are at your inner core takes some reflection inwardly. When asked the question, Sarah did not hesitate to provide an answer that really sheds like into the type of person she truly is. At her inner core, Sarah is a dreamer and creative thinker. “I am always somewhere in my imagination to think of a new idea trying to [make] a difference.” She goes on, “I want to make a difference. I want to help people and I dream to do that…I think my passion helps me with that.”
A novel in the making…
Sarah’s passion revolves around putting her creative imagination to work in a fictional novel that she is currently working on. Without giving away too much about it, the story will involve suspense, intrigue and a bit of history. “It’s weird when you put it out there—that you are writing—and it’s going so slow, but I am still sticking with it. It’s kinda like, ‘I’ve gotta do this,’ but it keeps me going…keeps me writing.”
Staying focused and intentional, Sarah has been working towards a lifetime dream of magnifying her creative side. While the future is never promised, Sarah embraces the pathway she has taken as a working momma and creative writer. “Just because I’m choosing right now to write this novel, to work my job and then blog—that doesn’t mean that’s where it’s going to stay.” Indeed, Sarah is headed down the path of truly chasing and living her passion.
About Sarah Moore
Sarah Moore is the blogger behind The Marlett Manuscript, an Ohio-based blog intended to highlight her love for non-toxic beauty and inspiration. Sarah is a full-time high school English teacher and military spouse with one 2-year-old daughter, Emilia—who is her “miracle baby”. After years of infertility, Sarah and husband became pregnant after IVF treatment and were even given low probability of a successful pregnancy. She uses her blog to document her journey as a mom and provide tips and things to make life easier as a working/career mom. You can find Sarah on Instagram @themarlettmanuscript and the blog at www.themarlettmanuscript.com
What are YOU passionate about? Share some thoughts in the comments below!
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It’s a little after 4:30 on a Wednesday morning, and while the rest of us are sleeping comfortably in our beds, she is heading into a lake to swim and train for the next few hours. Never mind the fact that she just overcame a panic attack minutes before her first few swim strokes. She is focused and committed to preparing her body and mind for the biggest and most intense athletic competition she has ever done.
It’s been a year since she started training and completed her first half Ironman triathlon, and now Breann Meyer has begun round two of her training as she journeys toward completing a full Ironman competition.
You might be curious to find out just HOW and WHY she stays committed…. Spoiler alert: It’s her passion.
How would you define passion?
Passion clearly is the driving force behind Breann’s motivation for what she does when she trains for and completes the Ironman competitions. Breann describes passion as something that “energizes everything in your being.” When training for the Ironman half triathlon, Breann discovered that passion is a requirement for the sport. There are mental and physical challenges that one cannot get through without that clear passion.
“[Passion is] something in you that just makes you have that much love, that much feeling, that much drive and force inside of you….that it just makes you continue on doing what you’re doing.”
At what point did you realize that you were passionate for the sport?
Breann originally thought to herself, “I could never do that.” Having run a few smaller marathons here and there, Breann never really had her sights set on the official Ironman Triathlon. However, one day a work friend challenged her with the possibility of doing the competition. “I threw out all excuses when Jake approached me and I said, I’ve never done a triathlon, I don’t have a bike….” But the undiscovered passion deep inside Breann gave her the courage to take action.
It was October 2017 when Breann completed her first half Ironman triathlon, and the possibility of a full Ironman triathlon became even more of a reality. “When I woke up there after the half, and I was just laying there- like “I’m not sore at all…and if I just do this on my training and change this on my training…I’m gonna make it through the full…I’m gonna do even better and I’ll be able to finish the full”
She goes on to say “…after you’ve been through it, it gives you that passion to get out there and do it…if you felt the way you felt and you want to beat this time—that give you the passion to go out and push even harder, and train even harder, and run more miles and don’t give up and just keep going…”
Of course, there were some challenges that got in the way of Breann pursuing her passion. For instance, not being a morning person and having to wake up between 4:30 and 5 in the morning to train when the rest of the world was still sleeping. Additionally, having a family and balancing it all out. Breann attributes a lot of her success to the support of her husband, Matt, who helped take care of their 6-year-old daughter while Breann was away to train.
Then, there were the mental and physical challenges. “Having mental and physical breakdowns and trying to recoup from that to overcome it and push forward, and knowing that you can do it and go out there the next day to do your swim…[was a huge challenge].”
During the training process for the half, Breann suffered from knee problems that made it even more difficult to push through. She spent time in physical therapy and had to have her knee wrapped in order to compete in the competition.
It’s no secret that there were also mental challenges that Breann had to overcome. A fear of the lake was one of them.
“It’s crazy because your body can handle more than what your mind thinks you can…your mind goes against you constantly…”
An anxiety over swimming in the lake posed a problem for Breann while training, and she had to face her fears as she succumbed to panic attacks and mental breakdowns while preparing for the Ironman competition. So, while Breann was training her body physically for the triathlon, she was also training her MIND to ignore the doubt and anxiety that came with certain aspects of the competition.
“I had to get past my excuses [and challenges] for why I can’t do it…once I got past that, I was like—I can do this….I WANT to do this!”
“I went from ‘I will never do this again—no way—not a chance—this is not happening’—to waking up the next day, and being like, ‘I’m doing a full…I want to do this, I can do this’…and that’s just the passion in that”
Breann’s biggest support is her family and specifically her husband. Additionally, Breann surrounded herself around a support system of friends and peers who were on the same journey as her—training for the Ironman competition. “Going into something you’re not comfortable with, something you don’t know anything about…having the support of Jake to help me—how to change a tire if I get a flat and show me that, ‘cause I would have no idea…but having that support made it that much easier to help me out.”
She also found support in her family and friends during the competition when things got physically and mentally tough for her. “When you run past friends and family…it pushes you… but that just helps you because your mind is over it…your body is over it. But, when they cheer you on, it’s 5 seconds…but those 5 seconds means the world and it makes you feel like ‘alright, If I make it through the next 6 miles, I’ll get to see them again,’ you know…and that pushes you even more…that was a big support.”
Why do you compete in Ironman competitions?
At first response, Breann’s answer was “for myself, accomplishment, to challenge myself.” However, when reflecting on WHY she really does it, her answer landed on her daughter Maddie. “..You know you want to be a role model, right? So, whether it be school that you finish…this is also something big [that I’m doing] for her to see…she sees my dedication and sees my hard work and then she sees me finish…and she can see an outcome to all of that.”
Breann said it best—
“Your body can handle more than what your mind thinks you can.”
Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and winning the battle over your inner voice’s negativity and doubt. It takes drive, intention and passion to really go after your dreams…whatever they are. When it comes to getting started in a physical feat like a triathlon, Breann has figured it out. Your body is stronger than you think…ask Breann.
About Breann Meyer
Breann Meyer is a Phoenix-born and raised working momma in the Banking corporate world. She has a 6-year-old daughter, Maddie with her husband and reside in northwest Phoenix. She is an avid photographer who loves being creative and expressive during any down time. During her downtime and when not training, Breann spends time with family, taking Maddie to her extracurricular activities and being an awesome friend! You can follow her on Instagram @bresimjourney or her YouTube channel HERE.
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One day in the near future, I will stand in my truth and proclaim that “I am worthy. I am enough.” The road to that day will be paved with challenges, triumphs, self-realizations and truths that I have to be willing to acknowledge and embrace. It’s going to take courage and belief in myself that I am doing what is best for me. I have to trust myself and trust the process, because Lord knows there will be challenges.
How can I expect to give my daughter the best of me if I myself am not whole? It’s a question that I was afraid to ask myself for the first 4 years of my daughter’s life.
Somewhere deep inside of my soul, was a longing to resolve anything that might stand in the way of giving my daughter 100% all of me.
The thing is, I had no idea what those unresolved matters were…but they were there. Like a shell’s hard layer, the unresolved issues were just one layer below.
They were there every time I refused to look myself in the mirror and love the woman I had become. Curves on my body that weren’t always there, wrinkles that would appear out of nowhere and a smile that I had a hard time accepting. It was there when I had second guesses about my own happiness and worth in my marriage with her father. It was there when I would cry myself to sleep in the middle of the night because I felt alone and dark. And it was also there when I would feel panic about my daughter finding out the ugly truth of my past…Those unresolved issues where there all along, but I was unwilling to accept them.
Instead, I spent the first 4 years of my daughter’s life ignoring the unresolved issues in my life. Blissfully unaware of the pain and ugliness that lived inside my soul.
Until the moment I realized that I was broken.
It was the night I crawled into bed with my daughter after an argument with my husband. I was upset. For so long, I thought the unhappiness came from my husband’s inability to show me appreciation. But, laying in the bed with my daughter and crying to her—I realized that it wasn’t my husband’s inability—rather MY own inability to love myself. Because, here I was crying on my four-year-old daughter’s shoulder—seeing the look of concern and worry in her little eyes while she was trying to console ME. I was broken. My daughter could see it…and that night—I could see it.
That was the night that I began the ascent into my awakening. My journey to finding out what was bothering ME. And why was I so upset and angry. I took pen to paper and began writing….
I started with my story. From the very beginning… and unleashed years of regret, anger, hurt, and pain that I had been ignoring since my early childhood.
It was empowering to recognize the feeling and emotions that I had not named before. I dove into hours of books, podcasts and genuine conversations to help me begin to become whole again. To fix those broken parts of me that were angry and upset all the time…
Since that night, I keep talking about my discovery of truths and emotional healing. When I was able to face my past and have the courage to question why I was hurt—a rush of relief washed over me.
I’m willing to bet we all have things that we need to heal from. Past hurts, heartbreaks and experiences that we try to hide from the outside world.
However, the moment you step into your truth and face your deepest soul aches is ultimately what will set you free and enable you to heal…thus, becoming whole.
Until then, I will keep writing…and soul searching…and learning from my past mistakes. And looking forward to the day where I can say and believe with all my heart that “I am enough.”
What does becoming WHOLE mean to YOU? Share some thoughts in the comments below. If you enjoyed this post, please share with a friend to help spread this message.
My most favorite sound is the one that comes from right outside my bedroom window in the early morning. Sunlight peeking through the curtains in my room, and the sound of birds (even a distant lawn mower) can be heard in the background. It is the sound of the weekend. The sound of freedom. The sound of family time. And the sound of a day where I can purely focus on my passion.
Project: Passion came from an idea that I had as a result of creating A Musing Momma. My passion is more than my writing, rather it is the way words and stories can transcend connection and community. Truth be told, I began Project: Passion as a way for me to network and learn more about the topic of passion—but I also understand the power of a good story.
To begin, I’ll start this conversation and use it as a prelude to the stories that will follow.
Everyone has a PASSION that fires them up. My goal is to encourage YOU to find what your passion is.
There’s this warm feeling that comes from the pit of my stomach. I call it a tick. My heart races and my mind wanders to find all of the possibilities of the future.
It’s simple–passion is a feeling. It’s that tick that when started, I can’t stop thinking about.
I lay wide awake in the middle of the night with ideas and possibilities that seem endless. This tick fuels my intention on a daily basis, and keeps me focused on moving forward. It’s this feeling that keeps me going when I’ve hit roadblocks and doubt enters my mind. It’s what keeps me grounded, keeps me whole. When I began this journey of defining passion, I reflected on words that could be used to put together a pretty definition to read through. But, even the most articulately worded definition wouldn’t do the topic justice. Because passion is much more than words.
It’s a FEELING. It’s that tick that you can’t ignore.
What is my passion?
To pinpoint what my passion is, I reflected on what gives me the ticking feeling. When do I feel most energetic? What do I get FIRED UP about? I started by considering the last time I felt that ticking feeling. That was when I launched the blog A Musing Momma.
You see, ever since I’ve launched A Musing Momma, I’ve been consumed with the ideas that have come to me. What drives me is the feeling that I can add value to others like me. I have a unique talent that I am dying to share with a world who finds value in what I have to give. A Musing Momma fuels my passion…
In every position I’ve held within my career, I have been most passionate when I could inspire and positively influence.
When I could take a brand-new employee and help them realize their full potential. I light up to the opportunity to teach and inspire.
All throughout my childhood, I was asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” From my earliest memories, I remember the answer to that question being one thing: a teacher. Funny how fate has served up exactly what I asked for. Because, although I’m not a teacher in the traditional sense—I teach in the corporate sense and in a lot of ways, teach through A Musing Momma too.
My passion is to teach, motivate, inspire and empower those around me to be the BEST they can be.
What gets in the way…
It is hard for me to acknowledge that not everyone wants to be taught, motivated or inspired by me. There are people out there who are negative, and there are naysayers out there. One thing that keeps me grounded is to realize that everyone values different things in life, and not everyone will embrace the same path that I am paving.
I remember being a branch manager and sitting in my office after closing the branch and just crying. Tears streaming my face after a day with a team who didn’t seem to appreciate me or what I had to give. A bad coaching session, an upset team member, or a disgruntled banker who I failed to inspire. My downfall is that I take my passion SO SERIOUSLY that I take it personally when someone doesn’t absorb my coaching or guidance.
What gets in the way is my fear of rejection and self-doubt. What I have to remind myself every time self-doubt creeps in to my head is that not everyone will understand my passion. We are all unique in our own ways, and I am on the pathway of embracing differences as I face different challenges.
How do I embrace my passions everyday day?
Looking back, I have used my passions with every position that I’ve had in my current place of business. When I think about HOW I found that secret sauce for passion, I realize that it was by identifying my key strengths.
I’ve recently begun following Marie Forleo and studying what she does. I aspire to be just as successful as she is. I recently watched a video in which she was talking about finding your talents. She says that everyone is born with a set of unique skills that the world can benefit from. I believe that your PASSION is embedded in those talents. (You can watch more of the video I’m referencing HERE).
When I found my key strengths early in my career, I would gravitate towards positions that helped me hone in on my strengths—which in the long run, helped me fuel my PASSION.
A good story is cool and all, but what are some nuggets of knowledge that I can leave behind for you? Here are a few tips on what you can do to find your passion today and begin embracing it on a daily basis.
Identify your strengths. Spend some time reflecting on what your talents and strengths are. Remember, everyone comes with a unique set of talents. StrengthsFinder is a great place to start if you haven’t a clue what your talents are.
Reflect on what makes you TICK. Remember that “ticking” feeling I mentioned I get when I am working on my passion? Think about what fuels your excitement on a daily basis. Try to narrow it down to a few tasks, activities or roles that give you that ticking feeling.
Find your support system. Working on your passion CAN get lonely sometimes. Start surrounding yourself around like-minded people who will encourage you and be your support system helping you through challenges you might encounter. Consider joining A Musing Momma community for that support! ? Join the community by subscribing to the email list HERE.
In the coming months, I will be sharing a compilation of stories from other working mommas like me who have found their passion and work every day to embrace that passion. I am excited to share these stories with you and I hope you will comment, share, and connect within the stories that speak to you.
We aren’t alone in this journey. I look forward to continue adding value and support to you all!
Subscribe to the email list to get FIRST LOOKS on these stories AND exclusive details about the live series launch on June 2 in Phoenix, Arizona! Click HERE to subscribe
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Somewhere in the world, there is a woman who is conflicted in the friendships she keeps. She enjoys the friendships she maintains, but still isn’t fulfilled. She wants more than the typical “what are your plans for the weekend” chat and is longing for something deeper. She wants more than the surface-level acquaintance-type-of-friendship. She wants her tribe…
Your tribe. Your people. The ones who are in your corner to cheer you on, support you and uplift you. A tribe can be defined as “a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest” * In other words, your tribe is your community and your support system.
As human beings, we are meant to connect. We are emotional beings who thrive off of connection and support. It makes sense to want this close-knit community of support.
I’m a strong believer of surrounding yourself around like-minded people in order to build your tribe. After all, sharing common interests is one way that connections are made.
Attracting your tribe is a vital piece to success and happiness. Behind every successful person is a strong and selective group of people who are their biggest supporters and loudest cheerleaders. When you’ve got a strong support system in place, you get the encouragement and motivation you need to reach for your biggest dreams.
Your tribe fuels your energies and passions. Remember, they are your loudest cheerleaders. So, when you’ve hit a wall of discouragement or demotivation, these cheerleaders will help you get back off the ground and stand taller than you were before.
Surrounding yourself around a group of driven and inspired individuals also ensures that you are playing the game with your best, most intense effort. You are challenged, and inspired, and motivated to achieve greatness because you all are focused on being your best.
I was listening to a favorite podcast of mine (The Influencer Podcast), and the guest on the show talked about the concept of scarcity versus abundance. To summarize the concept, scarcity is the thought that success is limited, and only the select few will be able to achieve success. However, abundance is the belief that there is unlimited amount of success in the world and anyone who is hungry enough for success can and will achieve it. I believe in the latter.
There is enough room in this world for all of us to be successful, and my tribe knows and understands this very well.
I reconnected the other night with an old high school friend. We spent two hours in a deep conversation about our journey, motherhood and our dreams for our career. My soul needed that kind of connection. To have another momma share her story and journey through motherhood and the realization that I wasn’t alone in this… I now consider her a part of my tribe.
Mommas, find your tribe. Find those cheerleaders and supporters. Find those people who will be in your corner throughout every stage of your journey—whatever journey you are on. Be selective in your tribe, and when you’ve found your perfect tribe, as the saying goes—”love them hard”.
Think of a goal you have or an achievement you are pursuing…Who do you tell first? Who tries to give you excuses for why you CAN’T? Who shares your excitement? Who shows up? Who doesn’t? Who is truly happy for you? Answer these questions to narrow down on your support-system, your tribe. Who is YOUR tribe made up of? Share in the comments below!
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Also, join ME on IG Live every Saturday morning at 10:00 am PT/AZ for a virtual coffee date where we can chat more about this and other topics. Hope to see you there! You can access my IG feed HERE.