Everything changes when you believe you matter.
That’s the inspiring motto of Meg Kissack, an amazing shero who is working to bring self-care into the lives of women all around the world through her website, That Hummingbird Life. I got the opportunity to talk to Kissack, learn more about her work, and hear about the awesome things she is doing for the world!
Tell us a little bit more about yourself and your journey getting to where you are today. What inspires you?
MK: I’m Meg, and I’m the one-woman-show behind That Hummingbird Life and The Couragemakers Podcast, a movement to encourage mission-driven doers, makers and world-shakers to believe they matter. I’m currently living in London with Mr. Meg and in August we leave for a nine month round the world trip adventure! I divide my working life in two, between That Hummingbird Life and my graphic design work, where I create gorgeous brands for small businesses.
The journey to getting where I am today, like most people’s, has been a rocky one. Along the way, I became a massive advocate and activist to end violence against women, trained as a laughter yoga teacher, worked with lots of communities planning and developing projects and getting funding, fell in love with the love of my life on a PenPal website aged 12, became really disillusioned with the world and burnt out in my early twenties and somewhere along the way, decided it was about time I showed myself the same compassion and kindness I showed other people.
It’s been a long journey, working through and continuing to work through perfectionism, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and the idea that I can put good stuff into the world that serves and sustains me as well as other people. I started That Hummingbird Life in 2014 originally to help other passionate women who struggled with burnout and self care, and it has since grown into a movement for unconventional passionate women who are choosing themselves.
I’m inspired by the ordinary acts of everyday courage, people who stand up for what they believe in and the idea that you can use your own unique skills and strengths to leave your mark in the world that only you can. Sunny breezy days, bright colors, foot stomping country music, dogs and Macklemore are also pretty high up there!
What does your website That Hummingbird Life mean to you? What are the different components of it?
MK: That Hummingbird Life started as a way of working through and sharing my own lessons when it came to burnout, feeling disillusioned with the world, and self care. I wanted to create a space that challenged this idea that self care is selfish and you always have to put other people in front of you, no matter what the personal cost or sacrifice to yourself.
The inspiration behind the hummingbird came from a story re-told by environmental activist Wangari Maathai. The hummingbird plays the role of believing that small things can make a big difference, conviction in the face of adversity and shining bright.
That Hummingbird Life is the hub for all of my work. There are mainly three different components right now, my blog, weekly emails and the podcast. I post once to twice a week on my blog about courage, creativity and dream-chasing. Every Sunday I send out self care check ins to my mailing list which act as a reminder to make sure you keep yourself a priority. On Mondays I release a new episode of my podcast – The Couragemakers Podcast – where I talk to mission driven and unconventional women all over the world about their stories and what lights them up as well as what monsters hide under their bed. In the next couple of months, I will be releasing Ebooks, online courses and coaching packages to help women choose themselves.
What have been some of the highlights of your work so far? What about challenges you’ve faced?
My main highlight has been the podcast. It was huge for me, in terms of actively making myself more visible which I struggled with for a long time and I’m so proud of it. I absolutely love getting to talk to women from such a variety of backgrounds, hearing their stories and I’m so honored to share them. It’s great to feature stories of women just like you and me, who are working to find their dreams, struggling with the many things life throws at them and are in a place where they’re choosing themselves. I think storytelling is so important – everyone wants to tell their story and to be heard, and getting to witness that is beautiful.
The main challenges have been around managing my perfectionism and expectations while working for myself. It’s so easy, especially when you’re working on something you love and are really passionate about to let it take over your life. It’s essential to establish boundaries around your time and not to let it take over your life but that’s a lot easier said than done!
What advice would you have for a dreamer looking to start a movement?
My biggest piece of advice would be just to do it! It’s so easy to get caught up in over-thinking, researching and planning that it never happens. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was to start before you’re ready, and that’s something that I’ve found really helpful. It helps you move away from the self doubt and instead focus on practical things you can do.
When it comes to starting a movement, and being mission-driven, remember not everyone is going to ‘get it’ and that’s okay. It can take some time, but find people who do support you and keep them close. Your movement will probably grow with you – when you start something you love, expect it to develop and change as you do because that’s part of the fun and the process. There will always be people who tell you that it’ll never happen, and try and pick apart what you’re doing. Thank them for their concern and move on, because you don’t need that in your life. Instead go with the feeling in your gut, your dizzying urge to make the world a better place, and find a way to combine your unique strengths and skills with your vision. Because you’re the only person that can do what you do.
On the practical side of things, every movement starts with a why. Why are you doing it? What is your inspiration? What is your motivation? Why does it mean something to you? It helps to turn your why into a story that will draw people in.
And lastly, remember yourself. Your sanity and well being is worth more than the cause you’re fighting for. You can’t help others if you’re not looking after yourself first. And if it means you have to change direction, then do that for yourself.
What does self-care look like to you? Why is it important?
Taking walks, listening to music that makes me feel alive, getting lost in a good book, having a one person dance party, feeding the ducks, getting hooked on a TV series, and writing. Self care didn’t used to be in my dictionary. I can remember up until the age of twenty-one, I used to look up the definition of ‘relaxing’ because I had no idea how to do it. I was just so busy and didn’t have time to stop – and I didn’t see the point. Even in school, I used to get really ill because I would over-work without a break, and get really stressed. Now I realize that self care is absolutely essential in order to have a happy and joyful life. It helps you be more present with your friends and family, it helps you to not get stuck in the little things, and it makes life a lot sweeter.
Self care looks different for everyone. If you struggle with self care, find the things that light you up and do them regularly. I’ve made myself a ‘Pick Me Up’ box. I wrote down a list of activities that make me really happy and some inspirational quotes, and whenever I feel too busy, stressed or down, I can go to the box and immediately find something to do that will make me feel better.
What does courage look like to you? Why do you think it’s important to highlight stories of courage?
Something that takes you out of your comfort zone. Some days it’s having a hard conversation, other days it’s leaving the house. Courage is something we’ve all got bucket loads full if we’re daring to dream and trying to make our dreams happen.
It’s important to highlight stories of courage because we’re so used to thinking of courage as being huge things, like rescuing someone from a burning fire, or jumping out of a plane. But we all have courage. For some people, having courage is getting out of bed in the morning, for others, it’s standing up to a friend, and for other people, it’s making yourself visible and approaching someone. Courage means something different to everyone and we don’t give ourselves enough credit for it. Life can be really hard, and going against the grain is especially hard. If you do things differently, it’s like climbing an uphill battle every day. It takes an enormous amount of courage to accept ourselves and show up every day. Ultimately, courage is trying to choose yourself every time.
Personally, what has kept you motivated to continue your work and push your mission?
I feel an innate urge to do the work that I can’t describe. It’s like all of my experiences being a feminist activist, a writer, speaker, creator have come together to form a beautiful jigsaw puzzle that fits together. As women, we are given so many reasons to listen to the voice in our heads that tell us that we’re not good enough, we’ll never get there, we’re not special enough, we don’t deserve happiness, our dreams are too big and our ideas are ridiculous. And I think that’s wrong. I want my work to be the megaphone that encourages you to be unapologetically, unashamedly, intentionally you. To find out who you are, and do it on purpose. I want women to believe that they are enough as they are right now. Because everything changes when you believe you matter. Because there are too many books unwritten, too many dreams unaccomplished and too many bright ideas that never come to life because women don’t believe they matter, or they’re enough.
Where can individuals go to learn more about your work and contact you?
My website thathummingbirdlife.com is the hub for all of my work and there you’ll find links to the weekly self care check ins and The Couragemakers Podcast. You can also search for The Couragemakers Podcast on the iTunes store or using any android app. I’m most active on Twitter and would love to connect with HelloFlo readers!