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Dolce far Niente is an Italian saying that means “the sweetness of doing nothing.” Frequently something done alone and often misconstrued as a term for laziness, the phrase actually champions the pleasure-grab of idleness.
Think meditating at sunrise, afternoon people-watching from an outdoor café, deep-breathing on a nature hike, swinging in a backyard hammock, or strolling a beach at sunset. Yes, please, am I right?
Although sitting with yourself doesn’t seem productive, worst-case scenario, it leads to a relaxation and self-restoration that’s hard to come by in our hustle culture. And best-case scenario, it provides the grace and space for clarity and growth — so, doing nothing ends up doing quite a whole lot.
This week, it’s my pleasure to welcome global health and wellness specialist Sumali Ray-Ross to tell her transformation story. Sumali’s a certified life and leadership coach with remarkable credentials, including a Master’s in Public Health and International Affairs from Columbia University.
An advocate for women and a lifelong fighter for diversity and inclusion, Sumali’s portfolio spans over 20 years across multiple countries. Her expertise addresses colossal topics like gender analysis, gender-based violence, women’s empowerment, family planning, HIV/AIDS, and more.
Sumali shares with us how she leverages the family values and work ethic from her upbringing to guide her purpose. She’s proof that you can make an impact regardless of your circumstances.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- Life lessons from the streets of Calcutta
- How a coach helps you articulate what you want
- When you’re a natural connecter without a community
- The responsibility to not look away from inequalities
- Accepting the badge of trailblazer
Listen to the Full Episode
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Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Featured on the Show:
Wallow, then get up. After nearly two years of cosmic smacks, you still have the power to decide that YOU WILL RISE and make the next 12 months about your transformation. No one will give you what you really want for your life, so take my hand right here and let’s go get it for you.
“She is phenomenally good at what she does. I feel like she really knows me, knows what makes me tick, and uses all her knowledge, skills and resources at her disposal to make everything personal to me. I am always filled with ideas and motivation after one of our sessions.” — Carol El Hawary
- Join Year of Transformation
- Sundae’s Facebook Business Page – Sundae Schneider-Bean LLC
- Sundae’s Facebook Group – Expats on Purpose
- Sumali Ray-Ross – Bio
- Sumali Ray-Ross – LinkedIn
We’re delighted by our nomination to the global Top 25 Expat Podcasts!
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Full Episode Transcript:
Hello. It is 9:00 am in New York, 3:00 pm in Johannesburg, and 8:00 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-orientated coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations. I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
That expression, “Sometimes you just have to bow your head, say a prayer and weather the storm.”
I think that is something a lot of us can identify with right now. But what about when the storm is relentless? What does that mean to weather the storm? How do we stay on purpose when that storm doesn’t seem to end?
This entire month on Expat Happy Hour, we’ve talked to amazing individuals who have stayed on purpose despite challenging circumstances. And this episode, we’re going to speak to a woman who says she was hit by a cosmic slap over and over again. I don’t know about you but abrupt transitions are one of those that throw you off of your feet. So, how do you get back on your feet and stand strong in the storm?
This is why I’ve invited Sumali Ray-Ross with us today. This is a woman who has deep experience in situations where resilience is called for. She’s a seasoned health and development professional with over 20 years of experience in the US government, United Nations, Global Fund, and more. Her technical expertise includes really big topics, like gender analysis, and integration. gender-based violence, women’s empowerment, family planning, HIV/AIDS and child health, and more. All of this has been done from corners of the globe, including Indonesia, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Kenya, El Salvador, the United States, just to name a few.
So perhaps it is no surprise that she’s taken these experiences that have created or tested resilience alongside what you’ll hear in this episode, some personal experiences that have put her resilience to the test. And now she is a Life and Leadership, and Health and Wellness Coach. It is my absolute pleasure to welcome Sumali Ray-Ross to Expat Happy Hour.
Sumali: Thank you, Sundae. It’s a pleasure to be here and I look forward to being on this podcast.
Sundae: So I have had the pleasure of knowing Sumali since 2019 and I’m just going to brag on you a little bit, Sumali. What I know about Sumali is, I was doing some thinking before our call and I wrote down, “She’s a truly outstanding person.” And when I say that I’m not being hyperbolic. I mean that because it’s humbling to see how committed Sumali has been to living on purpose and living on purpose through even the toughest transitions.
And what I mean by that is doing the deep work to stay committed to what is most important to you. So Sumali I have so much respect for you, and I’m just delighted to have you here today to talk about your journey. And how that’s connected to purpose. So welcome.
Sumali: Thank you. Thank you, Sundae.
Sundae: So tell us a little bit about how you got to do what you’re doing right now.
Sumali: So Sundae, maybe I can tell you a little bit about who I am. And I think my identity has so much to do with who I am and the important role models in my life. So I am Asian, I’m Indian, of Indian-origin, I’m American, I’m a Woman of Color. And all through my life, I have broken gender, racial and cultural barriers in work and in life. And I think that this stems from having very, very strong role models in my life and a belief that my mother gave me that I can dare to dream with purpose, intention, and passion. And as my journey hasn’t been easy, through many transitions like many other people in their life, but I think the insights and lessons that I have learned and that I’m now using in my coaching has really helped me to build resiliency, navigate change, enable people to find their purpose, and to really enhance one’s emotional intelligence and responsibility for one’s wellbeing.
So, I think I’ve been very fortunate from a very young age to know that I was born for a purpose and I was born to have an impact and I think that has really guided my work currently as a health and wellness coach for girls and organizations both at home and abroad.
Sundae: Can I just ask you here, when I hear you talk about: you feel like you were born, so with purpose and to make an impact, did that also give you a sense of pressure?
Sumali: I really never had any pressure because my parents live very purposeful lives and service and working to make a difference was just part of, I think are the glue of both my parents. And so it was something that was just part of our family values and belief systems. So it was never — there was no pressure that I had to have a purpose in a certain area or you don’t have to achieve something or not to be a doctor or have those stereotypes associated with it. It was just that I needed — all of us needed to live with a belief to make a difference and to have impact in that world. And we were left to just find out and identify for ourselves what our purpose was.
Sundae: One of the things that I found really incredible when I learn more about your background, is how you’ve been able to make an impact around the world regardless of the circumstances. When I look at your profile, the countries that you’ve been, the contributions you’ve made and the organizations that you’ve served. I can’t imagine what kind of effort that must have taken. Do you mind sharing a little bit about your background and how you came to serving women around the world over the last 20 years?
Sumali: Yeah. Sundae, I was born in, I’m originally from Calcutta in India and I grew up seeing inequities and inequalities in both health, poverty, and in women’s status. I was very fortunate to come from a culture and a society where I was not part of that, but I was part of it. So I witnessed it from the time. If you grow up and you see the streets of Calcutta, there is no way you can get away from those inequities. But I think I was also blessed by my parents. Like, my father was very close to Mother Teresa. My mother was a film critic and journalist and wrote about women in Indian Cinema. So I think I was very fortunate to be brought up in a family that enabled me to have the lens to look at those inequalities and iniquities, and then also the passion and the belief that to make the difference.
And I think that really governed who I am today. And I have always wanted to be serving in a capacity and I think that goes back to just who I am, what I saw, how I was socialized, and what my family values were. And then with that realization that how fortunate I was to sort of be part of that very rich rubric of Calcutta and India, but having opportunities that other women and girls didn’t have really drove me to, one: Do an undergraduate in Psychology because I thought I wanted to understand better. And then to be able to come to the United States and to pursue a higher degree in Public Health and International Affairs where I could then take both my insights as a child, my values, my beliefs and combine it with my academic training. And service and wanting to make a difference for women and girls has always been something that I’ve been passionate about.
Sundae: You kind of seem like a trailblazer. Don’t you think that fits you?
Sumali: *laughter* Again it goes back to family values. I come from a humble family.
Sundae: *laughter* You’re not even letting that land. I can see that you’re not going to accept that title.
Sumali: I think that I am at a very different point and a lot of it has to do with the work I’ve done with you, Sundae as well. I do feel now that I am and I was a trailblazer. I was ahead of my time. I was one of the few Indian women at the public health school in Columbia, and people wouldn’t talk to me because they didn’t think I spoke English. I was such a newbie in the field.
Sumali: And I think I broke that barrier. I broke the barrier by being hired in the US, on a student visa and then marrying somebody out of my culture and being in a bi-racial relationship and then being able to find work with Catholic Relief Services, which was the first organization that I worked for. So when they looked at me, they would always ask me, “So how long are you here for?” And I wouldn’t say anything initially because I was young and I didn’t know how to maneuver the waters. But once I realized they had never seen an Indian in their headquarters, so it was assumed that I was international staff. So I think when I look back in my life, and I look back at what I’ve done, the places. I’ve gone the jobs. I’ve had, I do think I’m a trailblazer. I mean, it’s hard for me to say it.
Sundae: I can see it in your face. You’re like blushing right now, but ahead of your time, ahead of your time, is probably a more comfortable way of you saying, but that’s how I see you. But wasn’t it hard? You’ve picked an area that as a woman I think is extremely painful to look at, right? And from psychology when we’re looking at pain, what we want to do is look away but you’ve chosen to stare it down. What is it that kept you going when you were working in tough contexts?
Sumali: I think, Sundae, I just felt that I had been given a gift to be able to be privileged to be able to see this — to observe the inequities, the inequalities, and the disparities. And on an everyday basis and I felt that I had a responsibility to make a difference in the world. And it isn’t easy. It’s gut-wrenching working in some of the countries that I’ve worked in and also knowing that you’re there for a limited time and that you’re going to move on. But I think it’s just that — it’s just an inner drive in an inner belief in a purpose that made me believe that this is what I came to this earth for and this is what I need to do.
And as tough as it is and I’ve had tears in my eyes when I’ve seen those who are working in areas that they shouldn’t be working in or they’re being trafficked or, some really, really tough things. Because related to my reproductive health work, I’ve also worked on issues of FGM, anti-trafficking, and some really tough human rights and social justice issues. But I think what governed me was that if I can make a difference, In any way in any capacity, whether it’s at a strategy level or at a funder level, or at an implementer level or at a human level, just to do the right thing, has always governed me.
Sundae: Yeah, right. Did you ever just want to give up?
Sumali: I actually have never wanted to give up. I never wanted to give up because I always believe that, it’s like that every drop in the bucket makes a difference. Is that every — It’s in my DNA. It’s in my DNA. It’s in my socialization. It’s in my belief systems. That and it’s my passion. My passion is to work with women and girls. And previously, it was in marginalized communities, to give women and girls visibility. I think that not having that visibility even when I look at inequities, is not just inequity of resources. It’s inequities of visibility and being able to pursue their dreams.
And I remember an assignment that I did in a rural part of Northern India, where I was supposed to go in, it was looking at on protection issues and one of the things that I had to do was to ask these young girls on what their dreams were and I just had tears in my eyes because I felt it wasn’t my job to be asking their dreams. It was their mothers or their fathers. It was a gut-wrenching experience because I really struggle with the philosophy of really being the outsider asking them their dreams. And yet I went ahead and did it and it made me believe that everybody has a dream. You could be sitting in an absolutely remote desolate part in a village without having any hope, but everybody has hope. And I think that just motivates me to work harder and harder at what I believe. That every human being and every woman and girl has the right to dream and the right to follow that passion, and purpose. And I think that’s what pushed me harder and harder to work harder and harder, however tough it was.
Sundae: So there’s this question that keeps going on in the back of my mind about passion and purpose and what you’ve done. I mean, I have tears in my eyes right now just thinking about it because I would have to create such an emotional protective field around me to do that work. I think it would just demolish my soul to be so close to that kind of work. So I’m grateful that that’s what you’ve been doing because I don’t know if I’m built for that. But you’re talking about passion and purpose and everybody has a dream and there’s this dialog in the back of my head where I’m saying, “I work with a lot of women who don’t know what they want, and they’re looking for purpose, and they feel like, they don’t even have passion anymore.” It just seems so innate to you. I’m wondering, based on all of your training and the things that you’ve seen and other people’s journeys, what your thoughts are on that?
Sumali: Sundae, as you know that when we met I was very clear about what I wanted to do and we’ll get into that, I know later on so I won’t get into it now. I just do believe that deep down we all know what it is that gets to us at our soul level. It’s just, we aren’t able to articulate it or we were socialized. And this is what I’ve learned about women and gender, when I first met you, I was in South Africa and my goal was to work with expat women. But coming back to the US and working with women here, both in the US and overseas, I realized that women are all the same. We are often — and it doesn’t, it doesn’t have to do with the color of my skin. It’s got to do with the color of our souls. But often, we aren’t given permission based on the society we live in, the family we’re from, the culture that dictated, to articulate, what is it that drives us?
And I have this fundamental belief that everybody has something that drives them. It’s just so buried down that we don’t know what it is.
Sundae: That’s exactly what I just wrote down. I wrote down — you said,
“Deep down at the soul level,” and I thought it’s just buried under cultural expectations and conditioning and negative thinking and all of those things that we have to pull through, at least it with the work that I do. It’s like, trying to dig that out so that you can even hear that. That’s amazing. So, do you mind telling us more about your clarity that you have about now, shifting your attention if you want to say your purpose into really supporting people with health and wellness?
Sumali: Right. So for me, I maybe can go a little bit back into my purpose because even though I’ve always known I’ve had a purpose and I’ve lived my purpose in serving women and girls in terms of their health and wellness. It was something that I really felt very passionate about and I did it working both at the individual level and at the organizational level. But then I think I realized that what I really want to do is work with women and girls and empower them. Empower them to be who they can to dare to have those dreams to live their purpose. Not purpose that is dictated by other people. And I think that it was an automatic move and a shift especially when I came back to the US and I was looking and trying to find who I was, what my purpose was because of just the life transition that was unexpected. And I think as you know, oftentimes when you have the unexpected cosmic smacks, it’s a way of waking up and finding out where you are with your purpose. First, you don’t even think you have a purpose but then just trying to come back and have that visibility and trying to find work. I realize that in life. We are so focused on the doing and not on the being and that in life, especially for women. Women’s lived experiences are not valued.
And I think it was a changing “Aha” moment while I was working with you sort of dealing with my transition and trying to really get grounded. I think and trying to get back into the workforce in the US, repatriating, that I sort of came across these issues repeatedly where I wasn’t appreciated or respected. It goes back to that whole point that you talk about when you talk about purpose, is that self-worth.
It made me realize how important my own health and wellness was and a realization that I was really sad and I had really gone from being at a positive 10 when I met you in terms of my mental and physical and soul level well-being, to being at a minus state.
And I think that realization made me realize that I really need to get up, I first need to wallow in it. I think that’s one of the most important things I think, we need to give ourselves that space and grace. We need that quiet time to reflect on what’s going. Because as you know, Sundae, through every transformation, it’s like starting all over again.
I really felt I had lost my purpose and my purpose is linked to my health and well-being.
But for me, purpose it’s got everything to do with feeling healthy and well. And so I think falling in my own health and wellness, really got to think about, “This is what I want to do.” And my bias would have been initially to go into health and wellness coaching straight away, but I really felt that for all of my life, even though I was born with purpose, I can say and lift workers. Because I lost my parents very early on and because I come from an Asian culture were taking on their responsibilities is part of my responsibility and nothing that I really plan for. But I weighed, we all do, what we have to do. I really decided to focus on working on life and leadership and figuring out what my value was, “What is my purpose?” To go back to the basics. To go back to my roots because I felt that I needed to be grounded in who I am to be able to do what I want to do, which is to work with women and girls and to empower them in their journey of health and wellness.
Sundae: So there’s something that I really appreciate that you’ve said that I’ve seen in the many years that I’ve been coaching is, people will come to me and they’ll want to, let’s say, find their purpose. And if you know my work, that I don’t say, you find your purpose, you focus on impact, right? There’s another way to look at it, but I always say, “Well, let’s start with your physical health and mental health first,” right? Because that has to be solid before you start doing the thing, which would be making the impact. And I love that you’re connecting health and wellness which then leads to purpose. I think that’s really beautiful.
I also really respect, this is what I meant at the top of our call and this goes back a little bit to our work together, that I can’t — how should I say this? I have so much respect for how you call it “A cosmic slap.” How you had — I’ve had abrupt transitions in my life abroad, other people have had unplanned abrupt transitions. You had one as well. They’re so destabilizing, right? Especially when you’re feeling a plus 10 and all of a sudden you feel like you’re a negative 10. What I’ve watched with you is even from a place that brought you to a negative 10, you were like, “All right. I’m going to surround myself with the right support. This is what I’m going to do.” And I can’t I can’t explain how amazing you’ve been every step of the way to really understand, what is the best way to move forward? I don’t know. I think this might be a good time for us to talk about that abrupt transition that you had in terms of how you learned more about yourself in that process. And how you learned more about how that influences who you work with because we met what 2019? Is that right?
Sumali: Right, right, right.
Sundae: And yeah, we met at a party, right? Everything was good. Everything was planned out. Do you want to say more about what you thought we were going to work on when we started working together?
Sumali: So I think Sundae, I think when you asked me, am I a trailblazer, I think I know that I am at the present moment or when we met, I’m a very grounded person. That I am a very authentic person and an intentional person and I think that these are important elements when one looks at transformation. And I think, what really helped me was that I had decided that I wanted to be a coach. I didn’t know at that time, whether I wanted to be a full-time coach, the kind of coach. But I also realized, and I think that humbleness is an important aspect of that. I am not ashamed or fearful to ask for help. So, in fact, I sought after you because I heard through a common friend, Angie, that there is this lady called Sundae, and she’s a life coach, and I tried through other people to get a hold of you. And then, when it was International Women’s Day and Angie invited me, I was like, “This is a cosmic sign!”
And I think that my goal as you know, from the beginning, was to know what it’s like to be coaching or a client. I wanted to have both sides so that when I get into my own coaching profession that I am now, and I’ll talk more about that. I will know what it’s like to walk in the shoes of my clients.
And I think what I came to you was for, I didn’t know you at all. I mean, what I knew was that I wanted somebody who was living the life that I was living, who was an expat, who was a woman, and who would be able to help me articulate what I wanted to do, but also give me that experience of being a client. So I came to you at that point with a very clear vision and a purpose of what I wanted to do. I mean, even at that point, I didn’t know what I would work, full-time or part-time as a coach or how long it would take and I think that most people and I’ve heard a number of your podcasts and I’m always so inspired by you and the people in the podcast because it’s an amazing journey for each of one of us. But I think in my case, I came to you in a situation which was so positive and stable. And, I was like even a half an hour away from you. It was just different, the proximity and stability were different.
Sumali: And none of us plan for family emergencies or nobody wishes for that. And I think like any other transition it just happened so suddenly that I wasn’t prepared for it. And I didn’t even really have a chance to say goodbye to you when we left South Africa. I think I sent you a message and then I was just in that space, where I needed to deal with whatever was going on with my family and coaching was far from my radar. In terms of, I knew you were there and I knew you were there for support and I think that’s the other thing. It’s not just support during the coaching sessions or support during the Year of Transformation and those sessions. It’s just knowing that your coach is there for you.
And even though we didn’t talk and I think we exchanged a number of messages. I just didn’t have the bandwidth to engage in conversation and I think when we finally did talk, it was a couple of months and I really appreciate that. And that is what I will carry in my coaching practice is to give space and grace to the client you’re working with. To understand. I mean, none of us, I’m sure you didn’t expect that when we started working either. And I think as we’ve talked, I learned from it, you learn from it. And as I’ve mentioned starting from a plus 10 and then going to a minus 10.
I’ve heard you talk and I was like, “Why can’t she give me the answers to what I need?” Firstly, I didn’t know what I needed at that point. I know that I needed to grieve what was happening, and I needed that time. I needed the help, I needed to support. I needed to get my family grounded and I needed to get stabilized.
But I think what really helped me was knowing that you were there. But you weren’t there. And that I really worked hard. There were times where I would just feel like giving up. They were times that I would try and get under the covers. I came to the US after 15 years of being abroad. I’m a real community person as you know and a connector had no community. Nobody would talk to me. It was just a very, very tough time. I had a son, who had five months left of school to finish and then COVID hit.
But I think what I have found so important at this is what I would say to anybody who wants to go to a transition or wants to work on transformation. It’s important to sit with yourself. It’s important to be in that quiet space and to wallow in it. It’s yours to wallow. It’s not anybody else’s place to tell you to wallow or not. Sit in that silence, cultivate that peace, figure out what it is that you need.
And I think what I figured out was firstly, I was lost because I thought I’d lost my purpose, and I never lost my purpose. It may have shifted because of the countries are being in and I’d need to re-engineer myself.
But I think what I did was I sat I reflected and I realized that the two things that really ignite me is to learn and to serve. And soon after we got here, COVID hit. And so, there wasn’t really an opportunity to serve, and I wasn’t in the mental and physical wellbeing space to serve anybody. I needed to serve myself first before I could even serve my family. And I started looking for courses, I did the science of wellbeing out of Yale. I did another course on gender-based violence out of Hopkins. I started looking at opportunities where I could learn. And I think that that really helped me and then really realizing through that that my purpose wasn’t lost. It’s the same thing. It’s to serve, it’s to empower, it’s to grow people, it’s to inspire people I am around. It was just that it was like a diamond that was very deep underneath that I couldn’t find and I think that’s where you came in, is to give me that support. I think a lot of it went from your trajectory of, “I’m going to be doing this. I’m going to set up my coaching practice. I’m going to go to coaching school. I’m going to do this,” focus on the doing.
And I think we had to take a step back or make several steps back to focus on the being. Because how could I, if I’m not being who I am?
Sumali: I think that that really, really helped me. Reflecting, coming up with practices of self-care and with self-care, it is related to self-love and self-worth. But when you’re not feeling good about yourself, the first thing and I think you brought this up several times and I always use you when I’m like in that period that, “Self-care is directly related to your health and wellbeing.” And I figured that the place that I could come from and show up was in terms of my gratitude, which is the essence and the mantra of who I am.
Sundae: I have chills going out my arms when you say that because you have always had that and I think that has been a lifeline that is unique to you. That wasn’t for me. That wasn’t a coaching strategy. That was, that’s who you are. I think you also had very good practices around gratitude when we first met as well as as occupying a being space quite well before your cosmic slap and abrupt transition. I want to just pause for a moment to say something that I want to really thank you for. You are a strong woman. You’re a trendsetter, you’re ahead of the game. Right? And you have shared with us that vulnerability of going through a tough time, and I just want to say thank you for that because there’s often such a culture around doing that in private and not sharing it.
So, part of this whole purpose series has been pulling the curtain behind successful, women who are living on purpose. And what I want to make sure that the listeners get is that just because you’re seeing a successful woman right now, doesn’t mean that she hasn’t been behind the curtain doing the hard work, right? And you’re giving us a glimpse of that and it does take away that culture of hiding that and I want to just say thank you for that.
The second thing that you talked about is sitting in it, sitting in the hard sitting in the discomfort. I know I’m the first person who wants to jump out of that and I’m the first person who knows how important that is in terms of healing. I wasn’t taught that as a girl. I was probably taught the opposite of moving away from discomfort, but you’re right and that’s what you did so well. Even though it was probably the last thing you wanted to do.
And then the third thing I want to emphasize what you shared is you said that you had to serve yourself before you served others and that learning phase that you were in. I mean, oh my God, how many amazing universities did you get certified from. Your list of accomplishments is long! But what it emphasizes this Adrienne Dorison quote that I always use, that actually people think it’s clarity and then confidence and action, but that’s actually not how it works. It’s, “Action creates clarity and confidence.” And that’s what you did. You were just tested like, “Hey, I’m going to look at this certification. See how that feels. See how it resonates.” And that created clarity in what you wanted to do and built confidence. So you’re just living all of it, right? And don’t listen to what I say, you show people that right? And that’s exactly what you’ve just done. So I just wanted to pause on there and say, thank you because it’s important.
Sumali: Yeah, and I think, thank you for that. But I do think that as women and you know this better than — and living an expat life or repatriating back and living through transitions is tough. It’s seen as glamorous. We do it because we buy into it for whatever reason, either through our passion, through our spouses, through whatever reason, people have different motivations for why they do what they do. But one of the things that we don’t that falls to the wayside and you know that has fallen through my wayside as well, and I’m using a constant reminder is the need to do that self-care.
And for me as an Asian, as an Indian woman, it was okay to go and play tennis, but it was never seen as productive sitting with yourself and sitting with that space. So you’re absolutely right that we are not irrespective of our culture, we are not taught that. And what I really want my source of self-care, was really that meditation. And that mindfulness and that and prayer and I’m not really — I’m more of a spiritual person, yoga and meditation is what I had grown up with. But at the same time, I didn’t really grow up with it because it was associated with the Rolling Stones going to ashrams. *laughter*
So you learn these things. You realize life is stressful, transitions are stressful. What can I do? So I think in terms of self-care which then brought the self-worth and self-love came this — I sort of realized that I have to work on mind, body, and soul. For me, working on my mind, and soul was easier. And I have really integrated that into my life and that is what I really want to work with people on is how to be mindful, transitions are going to happen. And I think one of the other things that you mentioned and I’ve heard your podcasts and every one of your podcast is amazing people. If you haven’t heard it, Please go and listen.
Sundae: You’re so sweet.
Sumali: Something that you’ve said to me and I’ve heard from you is that transformation never stops, it’s an ongoing process. And just when I thought I had transformed after this cosmic smack and got used to it. And I was leading A diversity equity and inclusion workshop or social platform and getting into that space of community in life and getting comfortable, we had another huge cosmic smack with my daughter, which is being devastated in terms of our health and wellness.
But in each of it, as tough as it’s been, it’s been a learning. It’s been an appreciation of what we have and that gratitude, that mindfulness, but to know that it never ends. It’s just a continuous process and I think this is how you and I decipher between change and transformation. It is a deep dive each time. A time to sit in that space the time to reflect.
But then with that self-care and self-worth and self-love and self-confidence, which is all linked to the way you work on purpose and that I think the way we should all be working on purpose comes that realization that you have those skills. You have that resiliency. You have that courage. You may be tired because you haven’t had time to rejuvenate from one cosmic smack before you get into another one. I mean, the honeymoon period is very small sometimes and sometimes very long. And that is what I’m so grateful for.
And I think working with you, even though it was not, it was more like a roller coaster, just in terms of my life challenges. We were able to get through that roller coaster with that queasy feeling.
Sumali: But at the same time, with joy and the thrill of being on the highs of a rollercoaster. I think that is what I’d like to leave, transformation is a process. That once you start, once you decide — sometimes you don’t even decide–
Sundae: I was gonna say, sometimes it chooses you.
Sumali: Yeah it chooses you, sometimes for a reason. The most important thing, I think, where I feel I’m a trailblazer is I push myself into uncomfortable spaces to get comfortable. And two, I ask for help. And as I have said and with that help and oftentimes, also, when you’re dealing with one transition or one cosmic smack, or one trauma, there’s a huge backdraft of other issues. So, it’s something that you just have to — you have no other choice, but to tackle it.
I wouldn’t have asked for these life transitions, but I wouldn’t be who I am. I wouldn’t be the person I am. I wouldn’t be living my purpose. I wouldn’t be the authentic and intentional person, and it’s not just in my coaching. It’s in who I am as a person, who I am as a client, who I am as a wife, who I am as a mother.
And the other part of it, in my situation. And I’m sure it’s for a number of people and not for all, a huge blessing is to have an inspirational and empowering family. I have not gone through my transition and my family’s transitions without an awesome husband and two amazing, inspirational TCK, CCK kids, who have didn’t ask, but who were taken to seven countries with us, gone through their own transitions.
But it’s the support that comes from you as my coach, a therapist, if you need a therapist, your family. We all come together to make it happen. And that is what I really want to leave with people. And if you don’t have family, you don’t have a coach, look for a coach, look for people to connect to it. Social connection, as you know Sundae, is so important when you don’t — and especially in the COVID world we live in.
Sundae: Absolutely, they say that resilience. Or at least, that’s what we know from the research, resilience is built in community.
Speaking of community, if you’d like to connect with Sumali, check out the show notes where I’ve got details on her bio and how you can be in touch.
Sundae: Thank you so much Sumali for all that you’re doing you just bring so much humanity to what it takes to really go through tough transitions and a role model for how to really show up so that you benefit and others benefit. So thank you so much for all that you shared today. I really respect that.
Sumali: Thank you, Sundae. A lot of my journey is attributed to you and to all the wonderful people in this world. It’s just, I couldn’t do it alone. I wouldn’t do it alone and I tell people, I would like to tell people you don’t need to do it alone.
Sundae: Yeah, absolutely.
Sumali: So thank you. Thank you so much.
Sumali’s story is such an inspiration because it shows you how life doesn’t always go as planned but it’s really how you face those challenges that matters. Now if you don’t face your challenges like Sumali, absolutely do not shame yourself because I think Sumali showed up in an exceptional way and she had a support network in place to help her do that. I’m deeply honored to have worked with Sumali through the thick and thin, and I really celebrate her and her efforts that brought her to where she is today.
You might have noticed this past month, how each woman’s journey has been different in the way in which they live on purpose. But what has remained the same is that commitment to what means the most, and support and accountability in place so that you don’t get thrown off course.
This is absolutely one of the things I love most about Year of Transformation. You can’t predict what is on the other side. But what I do know from doing this for years, is that on the other side is a you that you’re proud of. Someone who is living in greater alignment with who you really are and on your own terms, creating what is most important to you. So, if you haven’t applied yet for Year of Transformation, what are you waiting for? Stronger purpose, more meaning steadfast accountability, and dramatic results. Plus your “thing” is waiting for you on the other side.
You’ve been listening to Expat Happy Hour with Sundae Schneider-Bean. Thank you for listening. I will leave you with the thoughts from Haruki Murakami: “When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person that walked in. That’s what the storm is all about.”
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247: Cosmic Smacks with Sumali Ray-Ross