WHAT THE FUNDRAISING
EPISODE 3: What are you waiting for to do YOU? with Tamika Felder
“I wear a lot of hats, I’m your cheerleader. I’m not a fear leader. I’m also, you know, a non profit leader. I am an author and a speaker, but at the core of who I am, I’m a girl with dreams and I will be going after those dreams until the day I die. That’s who I am at my core.”
– Tamika Felder
In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…
I talk to Tamika Felder, speaker, author, cancer survivor, and advocate, but most importantly, a woman with dreams who is living them up every day. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer at 25, and ever since she has devoted herself to helping others build a more fulfilled, happy, and conscious life.
Tamika’s book, Seriously, what are you waiting for?, inspired me in so many ways that I just needed to have a conversation with her about energy, limiting beliefs, boundaries, and how to make the most of your one precious life.
Hop on this conversation for a real boost towards taking action and control over your life. I promise Tamika is a cheerleader, not a fear leader and her energy is contagious. Remember, you don’t need to ask for permission or wait for the perfect moment to do what you want!
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Mallory: Hi, and welcome. I am here with Tamika Felder. I am so excited for this conversation today. Tamika, I have been inspired by you for a long time. I was trying to remember exactly when I found out about you or started following you, but I feel like the first time I did I just gravitated towards you. I was just like “Her! Oh my gosh”.
Tamika: Thank you, thank you. I feel the same way so I’m so happy to be here. Thank you.
Mallory: I know you, but why don’t you just start by telling everyone a little bit about you and your story and what brings you to this moment in time?
Tamika: Hey, y’all I’m from South Carolina. So I do say y’all, so hello everyone. I’m Tamika, and I am someone who had dreams as a kid and I’m living them out loud every single day.
So my story is that I was working as a television producer, it’s been a dream of mine my entire life. And then when I was 25 years old in 2001 cancer came in and just really knocked me off of my feet and changed everything. So being diagnosed with cervical cancer at 25, I lost my fertility. I wasn’t planning to be a mom anytime soon, but it was definitely something that I thought about.
I think a lot of young girls or people dream about it when they are playing with their dolls and they think about “One day, I’ll have this real baby” and all this other stuff. So cervical cancer really took that away from me, but I’ve always been a resilient person. So even though this traumatic thing happened to me at such an early age, I was like, “Let me pick up the pieces, put them back together and just keep moving forward”.
Of course, that’s easier said than done, but one thing about me is I actively work towards whatever I need to do or where I need to be. Along the way, I founded a nonprofit called Cervivor, because I felt so alone and I didn’t want anyone else to feel that way because of the stigma and shame of cervical cancer, because of its attachment to the human papilloma virus.
As a storyteller, I just really wanted to shift that narrative. I didn’t want to change the truth about the cancer, but I wanted to shift the narrative and show faces and people who’ve experienced this. So you see one, it can happen to anyone, and two, it wasn’t an easy cancer. Couldn’t just get a hysterectomy or have a treatment and you’re done.
It’s one thing to experience the physical aspect of cancer, or anything really, but it’s another thing to have to deal with the emotional part of it. So silly me, I thought, “I’m done with treatment. I’m healed from my surgery and I’m just going to pick up the pieces of my life right before cancer”. That didn’t happen.
So a lot of what I’ve started doing is helping people, not just the cancer, but with anything that’s holding them back, move forward because we only get this one life. Coming face first with my mortality you wake up and you realize none of us are getting out of here alive. Death is imminent. It’s not something that we want to talk about, but the truth is none of us are getting out here alive. So what do we do with that time that we have here?
So you can exist, right? You can just exist and if that’s your jam and you’re totally fine with it, that is okay. But if you have things that you want to do before you leave this place, right? Whether you believe in a place that we’re all going, or some of us going someplace else, or you believe that we turn to dust and we’re just ashes, whatever it is, we’re all it’s over.
So what are we going to do with this time while we have this one body to live this life? I always say, “You can live an epic life and jump out of a plane or do whatever you want, or you can be the best Netflix and chill type of person” because life is whatever it is on your terms.
A lot of people are seeking permission, and for some things, I seek permission too. I’m constantly telling myself and sharing with other people that you don’t have to seek permission. You can go and be the things and do the things realistically, of course, but don’t wait because seriously, if you’re waiting, you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life.
A quote that I played upon a little bit from Lemony Snicket’s, “But you really do have to do the things”. It’s never going to be perfect. It’s never going to be the perfect time. It’s never going to be perfect financially. If it is, awesome! But in most cases, everything is just not going to line up perfectly.
You have to decide, “Do I do it now and shift things a little bit so I can still do it?”, and maybe I won’t do it the same way that I had always dreamed about, but maybe you do it and you get to check that thing off of your bucket list or your living life list if you will, and you go forth and you do.
I wear a lot of hats. I’m your cheerleader, I’m not a fear leader. I’m also a non-profit leader, I’m an author and a speaker. But at the core of who I am, I’m a girl with dreams and I will be going after those dreams until the day I die. That’s who I am at my core.
Mallory: Oh, my God. I’m just tearing up a little bit over here, listening to you talk about all of that. I’m curious, before you dealt with cancer, before that came into your life, what were some of the things that you felt like were really holding you back? Or what were the stories at play there?
Tamika: A lot of the things that I felt were holding me back were… Working in the media world and broadcasting it’s all about looks, it’s all about physical. I’ve never hated how I looked and I’ve always been a confident person, but being in a profession where you always have to be on, you’re constantly looking at the way you look and the way that you present yourself.
When I left South Carolina and moved to DC, that’s when I saw the shift that people didn’t have to be a certain cookie cutter to be on television.
And, there’s all this body positivity now, and it should have been there forever, but it wasn’t. I love what’s going on, if you’re body-conscious and body-positive, it doesn’t mean that you’re unhealthy and care about being unhealthy. It’s loving the skin where you’re in now.
One of the stories that we all tell ourselves is, “When I’m thinner or when I do this, I’ll do that”, right? That is one of the things that we have to stop letting hold us back. I always tell people, “Travel now! Don’t wait until you’re small to do whatever”.
There are some things you can’t do. If you are over 300 pounds, you can’t go to iFlyer or something like that, find some other places.
I remember when I went to go zip lining, that was one of the things I was like, “I bet I can’t go because I’m over 300 pounds”, which I’m under now, so that is definitely back on the list. But it is like “Okay, so I can’t go zip lining. What’s something else that I can do to get that kind of zip lining feel and do these other things?”.
That really is part of what I love to share with people, that being the size that I am, I’ve never really let it hold me back from doing anything. You have to get a seat belt extender on a plane. Can it be embarrassing? Have I ever felt embarrassed about it? Yes. And usually, it’s because other people made me feel embarrassed. Sometimes, flight attendants fold it up all nice. I’m always swinging it around like “Here is my seatbelt extender, so what?”.
And for people who were like, “I don’t want someone taking part of my seat”. Dude, I don’t want to take your seat either, I want to sit in my seat. But that’s a whole thing with planes and restrictions and things like that.
People don’t come in a cookie-cutter size. People don’t come in cookie-cutter personalities.
And so yes, there are things in life. There are things that we tell ourselves. We tell ourselves that we’re not worthy, we’re not smart enough, we’re not cultural enough. We tell ourselves that we don’t have enough people that we’re connected to, to achieve our goals. We start telling ourselves this story, and a lot of it is because of what we see. Or perhaps we feel that we’re not pretty because our hair isn’t straight enough, or our skin isn’t light enough or our booties are too flat.
We get caught up in a lot of this. So a lot of what I do when I first start working with people, is I ask them, “Tell me something that you love about yourself”. Sometimes I’ll start with a like, “Tell me something that you like about yourself”. There are some people that are like, “Oh, I love this. I love that”.
But there are always people that are like “Can you come back to me? I don’t know”. It’s amazing to me that we are in these bodies, these vessels that we get, that are uniquely us. No one else has them unless you’re a twin. So in that case, you have someone else, right? We even then, there are little differences. We have to love ourselves.
One day, this woman who was really on body positivity before her time, I remember I said something about my belly and my thighs. Especially because I had over a hundred staples, and you can still see every little staple because they keloided.
I know your audience is probably like TMI, but I’m seeing my kind of girl.
There’s someone out there and they need to hear this. My message is for everyone, but there’s always that one or two people that need to hear this. And so I remember telling her, and we were just girlfriends having a casual conversation, and I was just like, “Yeah, cause my belly something”. And I was like, “Yeah, when it gets smaller or when it does this”, and she just matter of fact said, “Why would you wait to love yourself when it’s a part of you?”
And I thought, “Yeah, I can’t hate myself. I love myself, I love all of me”. Are there things that I want to improve about myself? Absolutely. But I love me, every inch of me. I am uniquely me. Everything about me is what makes me. So I can’t hate myself, but we’re taught to hate ourselves. We’re taught to dislike ourselves. We’re taught to constantly improve on who we are.
There is some truth to that, right? I feel like we should constantly be evolving to be better versions of ourselves, but not necessarily physically, just better humans in the world because we all make up this wonderful world that we’re in. Your uniqueness matters, right?
We shouldn’t be the same, our uniqueness matters, but what should be the same is that we want to be good humans and we want to be a part of this good that is in this world. A lot of what I want people to really truly understand is: Own who you are, own your uniqueness, own who you are! I feel like that’s, what’s missing from a lot of people, that they don’t own who they are because they’re looking at reality shows or Instagram and looking for something that may be Instagramable, and we need to start loving who we are.
People used to tell me “Oh, my God, you talk too much”. I remember on my second-grade report card and I still have it, I pull it out. And it’s funny because there’s this meme that says “Here’s to all the girls who talk too much in class” and I’m like, “Hello, that’s me!”, and now I’m paid as a speaker.
My mother when she was alive, she just laughed her butt off about that. Because she was always like “Be quiet!”, as this southern woman. So now she would laugh. She was like, “I cannot believe you get paid to just run your mouth for a living”. Like here I am with you! just to grab it away, running my trap.
Mallory: I love it! That it’s such a good point, that like that’s only possible because you embraced all of you.
You didn’t sit there saying “I need to be quieter just like so and so”. You’re like, “Okay, this is me, I talk a lot. What does that mean for my life? I love sharing my story. I love talking. So what does that look like for me?”. There was something else that you said that just really triggered a thought in me and I’m forgetting exactly what it was.
I think what’s so beautiful about what you talk about … I’m someone where My God, if I could go back and redo anything from high school, it would be like, “Get in that bathing suit, get in the lake, get in whatever”. The amount of things I didn’t do in my life because of my body is crazy. I think what you’re talking about is you are inspiring people, you’re a teacher, but a lot of what you’re doing is unteaching.
It’s, “Listen, you were born exactly how you were meant to be. You’ve been told all these lies about that not being good enough or that not being right or that not fitting into this box. Now it’s time to unteach that, to rewind those limiting beliefs”.
Tamika: What you said is so true because I always tell people if I get a moment, or something happens and your life flashes before you, you want to feel good about it.
You want to be like, “Okay. All right, fine. I’ll go, it was good.”
You don’t want to be like “Oh my god! I haven’t done this or I still want to see this”. I was talking to my husband, he put one of the cars to be serviced, we had to take it to the shop and I ended up having to pick it up. And there was this person who was there, he’s the person that checked me out, and he was from Korea. Somehow we started talking about masks because now it’s like CDC thing, you don’t have to wear masks, all that other stuff.
And I was like, “I don’t have a problem with masks. When the world was open and I was traveling, especially in Asia, you used to wear masks, all this other stuff”. And he said, “You’ve been to Asia?”, and I was like “Yeah, I’ve been to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Tokyo…” Someplace else, I can’t remember right now. But I was sharing with him about it and he was like, “I love that you travel”.
He was like, “And did you try things?” I was like, “I didn’t try the scorpions on a stick”. But I did try a lot of other stuff, because it’s like, “How many times am I going to be in Beijing?I may come back, but if not let me try all the things”.
Part of life is not only doing the things that you want, but seeing how other people live, which is why I love traveling, and I can’t wait to do it safely again. Because we make up this Earth.
We are all just so wonderfully made and so unique. It’s boring when you talk to someone who thinks like you and eats everything you eat. My husband and I, we’re totally opposites. He’s the quiet one unless he really gets to know you, but one thing I love about him is he knows his limits.
So we were in the Caribbean, and I couldn’t swim at the time. Since I’ve taken some lessons, I’ve still got to keep going, but that’s a problem and then the next thing swam! I was on jet skis, I was snorkeling.
I was like “This weight will help me float”, and he was like “Dude, you are crazy”. They give you this life preserver jacket and I was like “Come in” and he was like “No, Tamika, I’m good. I’ll take pictures of you for the boat. I know my limits”. And I thought, “You know what? It’s good!” because you have to be open, but not to where it makes you so uncomfortable that you can’t enjoy the experience.
He will try different foods, but he’s not getting in an ocean where sharks live and he can’t swim. That’s not his thing, and so I respect that. There are different levels to living the life that you, that’s the key, that you always wanted to live.
I had great parents, my parents were so awesome, but from birth we’re told “Don’t do that, you can’t do that. Don’t touch that”. I remember a high school teacher I told her I wanted to be a lawyer or a child psychologist, and she told me that I would never be those things. Part of the reason why she told me I would never be those things is because I was black and I knew it immediately, and it hurt.
She was all apologizing the next day. I guess she had a bad day, but she showed me who she was as a person. Part of me is always thinking back to that moment, not to hold me back, but to remind me why I always have to do me. I tell my girlfriends, I want to do something like I did the squat challenge and one of my friends, she was like, “I’m not doing that. I don’t want to upset you cause I know you’re on your fitness challenge, but I don’t want to do it”. And I texted her back “Do you, boo!”, and that really is my theme.
If nothing else has taught you to do you boo, 2020 taught us “Do you, boo!”. If you want to start a podcast, you want to write a book. You want to have a baby. If you want to climb a mountain, if you want to do whatever, do you boo! Like it’s time.
Mallory: I love what you’re saying about the story about your husband and the sharks because I think it’s you are just the epitome of like conscious choice.
Something I talk about a lot is like the action that someone takes is not what’s important. People will be like, “Is skydiving fearless?”, and I’m like “I don’t know. What was the intention? Did someone push them out of the plane or guilt them into doing it?” because it’s really about the motivation or the intention behind the action.
I love when you’re like, “If you want to be the best Netflix and chill person out there, go be that”. People are always like “Bingeing Netflix is bad”, and I’m like, “Says who?!” What’s bad, and I don’t even really do like bad and good. But the thing to consider is what is the reason that you’re binging Netflix. Is the reason that you’re binging Netflix is because it really relaxes you and you are giving yourself permission?
Like you said, you were giving yourself permission to sit down and binge that show on Netflix and you feel great after? Great! But if you are bingeing Netflix, not consciously, but to hide from something else that you’re afraid of, that’s where to look. Bingeing Netflix is just the thing. But it’s like, “What was their conscious choice in doing the thing?”
I think that’s what you’re talking about. Even with your husband, and the jet-skis. We all have to set our own boundaries. We all have to do our own thing and us having different boundaries, doesn’t mean anything. It’s all about “Did we bring in conscious choice being our true selves when we set that boundary? When we did that thing?”.
Tamika: Absolutely. And it’s funny because I was like, “He’s so boring. He’s up on a boat while I’m seeing all this coral and all this stuff you see in National Geographic”.
And then, I get back to the boat, he’s had a great time. He loves it, he had his non-alcoholic drink… We have to learn these things.
My stepdaughter, I find that when I talked to her, I think it’s natural that we revert back to whatever we know that we saw as our parents. And it’s funny, she was telling me some of the things that she wanted to do, and I was like “Maybe this will be better for you”.
Now I can mold her and encourage her when she wants my input, or if I feel like I need to give my input. But constantly my husband and my stepdaughter are like “Stop Oprah Winfreying us, stop the motivational speech”. It’s hard for me to turn it off, but I’ve learned “Let them be who they want to be”.
What I preach to other people I definitely have to do it in my own house. It’s that balancing act of remembering “Let people be who they’re going to be and you do you”.
Mallory: There’s this other point that I feel like you’re making, or at least it’s like coming up for me as you’re talking about this, and your whole story actually, everything that you talked about.
You have this way of being like “Okay, this is a thing that happened. This is a particular circumstance. It is what it is, but I’m not going to create an entire story about this. That then dictates my next behavior”. You’re like, “This is a thing. So what else is possible?”, and you consciously stay there.
Tamika: I don’t know why that happens. I was talking to a friend recently, we’re the same age, we’re in our forties. And she was talking about a teenage love that she couldn’t get over. I’m like, “We are going to be fifty in a couple of years! What happened?!”
Because I don’t have that where I’m stuck. I don’t know why, and I’m grateful for it. Do I have pity parties¡ Yes I have pity parties. Do I get down? Do I get sad? People always ask me that. It’s funny. They’re like, “Do you have bad days?”. I’m human, of course I have bad days. The difference with me is I don’t get stuck in those bad days.
God, if I’m depressed and sad for over a year, that’s a year of time that I won’t get back. That doesn’t mean that people don’t have real problems. But that is just a part of my coping mechanisms. I’m really good about talking my feelings out to myself, to a therapist or to whoever my positive people are that I need to help pick me up. Because I believe in pity parties.
I hate when people tell you, “Suck it up, buttercup”, “Cry on the inside, like a winner”. Yes, we need those things, but we need to give people grace and be real about them needing time to grieve, whatever thing happens to them. Whether it’s a traumatic experience, an injustice, whatever people need to have, or they’re just having a bad day.
We don’t give people enough grace to do that. Being the positive person that I am, I do reinforce that I’d eventually like for you to come out of that.
Mallory: But I think you giving space to it… Because I talk about this a lot too, and I totally agree with you, I think giving space and intentionality like “Go have that pity party, just go in that bathtub and cry. Just completely break down. Let it all go, say all the things that are not fair. Get it out, write it down.” I think even just the allowance of that space actually does propel you back into being like, “Okay, I’m done”.
That’s what I do with myself. If something bad happens, I’m like, “All right, pity party, breakdown. Just go there, Mallory”. And then I’ll set a timer even sometimes on my phone and I’ll be like, “I’m going to have a 10-minute full-on meltdown”. I say all the things, the timer on my phone goes off and I just am like, “Am I done?.
Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes the answer’s no, but most of the time it’s yes. It’s okay, I’m done. Then I just move on and different things of course need more space for grief and need more space for really going there. It’s not always going to be a 10-minute timer, but I think sometimes when we are triggered into that, you’re allowed to be there.
And again, it doesn’t mean anything about who you are.
Tamika: My husband and I have known each other for a very long time. We’re one of those people like we dated and we broke up for years and came back together years later. One of the things he was just like “I don’t understand how you’re upset. You get mad and then you’re just fine and you move on.”
To him it’s insane, crazy. But for me, it is lost time. Again, part of that for me is being a cancer survivor and having to deal with my own mortality, the death of my parents. The work that I do in the nonprofit world, dealing with a lot of deaths, people who are losing their lives, people who… it could go either way for them.
So I want to make my time here count, and even if I’m just bingeing out on Netflix, to me it is doing the things that I want to do. Yeah, you’re absolutely right.
Mallory: In your book too, you just so naturally walk people through it. I’m holding the book right here and we’ll link it below, which it’s amazing.
Seriously, what are you waiting for? And it’s 13 actions to ignite your life and achieve the ultimate comeback. It is like facilitating a lot of reflection throughout the process and a lot of growth opportunities. I’m curious about you, because you talk about energy in the book. It’s your number one thing, which I told you, I’m obsessed with.
I feel like even me, I’m so guilty of this. I hide the word energy sometimes in what I do, because I don’t want people to think it’s like too woo, woo. But you start with it, and I think it’s brilliant and I love it because I agree that it is the foundation of everything.
So tell me, from your work and life, what does energy mean to you and why is it number one?
Tamika: It’s funny because I grew up Christian and down south going to church constantly all the time. And I’m also into woo woo things. I’m very much into energy. I pick up on people’s energy, people pick up on my energy. And energy isn’t just from people, but also living things. People are always just running around and I’m like “Just stop for a minute and just pay attention to the energy around you”. Even if it’s just the sun on your skin, your feet in the grass… just pay attention to what happens to you while you’re doing that.
In the book, when I’m talking about energy vampires, I’m really talking about the people who not only suck out, but they literally are stealing your energy. It could be from them just thinking “You’re a good person And I want to share some things with you and get your opinion”. And then next thing you know, you’re like unmotivated and you left feeling like, “Uff, that was a lot”.
You feel like you don’t have anything left to do whatever you need to do, even if it’s just having a meal. So those energy vampires are also, a lot of times, fear leaders. They’re fearful of moving forward in the direction of their dreams.
So if you share your dreams with an energy vampire and you’re thinking, “This is a friend or this is a good coworker” and that they’re going to cheer you along. But if they’re a fear leader and an energy vampire, they’re not going to cheer you along. They’re going to project on you. You’re going to share this thing that you’ve been wanting to do, and they’re going to share why you shouldn’t do it and why it’s stupid or why it sounds crazy or why it’s too late.
That’s a big one, right? That it’s too late. Even though as humans we’re living longer, we’re healthier, people will tell you that it’s too late for whatever it is that you want to do. Or if you want to shift careers, you almost made it to your pension and you’ve worked in government job or whatever for a very long time.
And people will say, “You can’t leave now. You can’t do that!”. Sometimes for whatever reason, we’re conditioned to listen to other people because we are seeking permission to go forward. That’s why you have to really be careful about energy vampires. If you’re anything like me, and I had to learn this the hard way, you can’t save an energy vampire.
You want to fix them cause you’re like, “My God, why are you like this? Who hurts you? What happened to you?”. Oprah Winfrey has this wonderful book that she’s doing, the name is escaping me right now, but it’s something like “What happened to you?”. And a lot of times something happened to us and it could be some big catastrophic event, or it can be something really tiny that someone said to us, a look they gave, and for whatever reason, we can’t shake it, we can’t let it go.
We live in this constant, “I can’t go forward. I can’t be, I can’t do”, because of whatever happened to us. So for me, that’s all a part of the energy that surrounds us. Part of you living in your light is releasing your energy into the world, letting your energy be fully on. When you hear people talk about “I deemed my light so others would be okay”.
Okay, so you dim your light so it doesn’t shine its brightest. But I think, what a tragedy that is for us to not shine our light as bright as we could. Now, you want to share the air. You don’t want to be the annoying person that’s like “Leave me, you’re sucking all the air out of the room”, but you do want to be the person that is living in your light.
When we live in our light, energy vampires want the dark, they want to lurk in the background. So when we’re out there shining brightly, the energy vampires they’re like, “No, I’m going to damper it out. I’m going to be in an eclipse. I’m going to eclipse that light”.
You have to be careful because energy vampires don’t always show. Almost like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. So you may not initially know this someone or is an energy vampire. It could be a loved one, It could be a friend that you’ve known for years. But maybe they’re going through something so now they weren’t an energy vampire previously, but maybe they are now. It’s okay to acknowledge it.
I’m a truth dealer, right? So you could do one or two things you could. Walk away close the door, or you can say, “Hey energy vampire I see you! Stop sucking the light out of me!”
It depends on the relationship and what you want to do because people are always taken by the fact that I say, it doesn’t matter if it’s a family member. Maybe you can’t cut a family member off, which you totally can, but I get it. But you can’t cut them back. You can limit their access to you. That is one of the things I think we don’t do enough of, especially in this social media-driven world, we don’t limit people’s access to us.
That is all about protecting your peace when you do that. You don’t always have to engage in everything. For me, I always felt like everything needed a response. And part of growing older and wiser and experiencing things in life, you come to understand that everything does not warrant a response from you.
I think the southerner in me thought it was rude, but that is a part of me protecting my peace. Everything does not warrant a response from me. It’s not that I don’t like conflict, or I don’t want to engage in that way because I’ll engage in something that’s conflict if I feel like it and if I need to. But I’m also very okay with walking away from things and not being the winner. I don’t have to win everything because in the end I win because I protected my peace.
Mallory: Yeah. I love that. And you protected your energy. I think that’s just such a critical thing. I’m going to start talking about energy a lot more.
Even just after reading your book, I was like, “This is such a critical concept for people to understand”. They are energy and other people are energy. Of course, if we’re having that moment where we’re like, “Okay, they’re talking about energy”. You can feel our energy right now. How do we know when someone’s mad at us, even if we’re not looking at them? Or that we are getting eyes across the room, how do we know that? Energy!
There are so many things that we perceive because of energy, but we are blocking ourselves off sometimes from either holding ourselves accountable to our own energy, or like how we are interacting or experiencing energy.
I love the piece around boundaries because I say a lot to my clients, who are experiencing burnout. All they want to do is look at their calendar and time. That’s all they want to do. They’re like, “Let’s talk about how I can fix my time”. I’m like, “Your time is not why you’re burnt out. Your energy is why you’re burnt out”.
If you are working 10 hours a week, but it’s all catabolic energy you’re tired, but if you are working 50 hours a week and it’s mostly anabolic energy, you are excited. So it’s not about the time, it’s about energy regulation. And I love what you’re saying too around access, Boundaries, access, influence, all of these things impact our energy. We are sponges, especially for the people who are on here, who are nonprofit leaders, real strong helper energy. You are absorbing more than you realize.
Tamika: Yeah. We have to really learn coping mechanisms to protect that.
Two years ago I had to constantly say, “I’m not upset with you”, because if I wasn’t engaging constantly and people would automatically think I was upset with them. I’m like, “I’m not upset with you, I’m just protecting my energy, AKA my peace. I’m just not dealing with this foolery.”
Mallory: I know! I saw this post the other day, it was like, “I’m sorry I did not meet the height requirement for your emotional roller coaster”.
Tamika: I love that!
It’s not because I don’t want to be there for people. Naturally I’m a sponge, I absorb that type of energy and it just all becomes too much. With everything that’s going on with COVID, you have to really truly be careful. It really is something that I’ve worked really hard to do, to protect the energy around me so that I can keep going forward because I know things that I want to do in this lifetime.
Mallory: Yes, exactly. It’s like “Eye on the prize, but also the day-to-day”. I think that’s another thing that the way you talk about is so inspiring to me is “Yes, move forward, fail fast, keep going, all the things, eye on the prize, have a meaningful life, build what you want to build, and don’t do it at the expense of being happy right now.”
I think in general, you are not like an either-or person, you’re a yes-and. Like yes and all these things. I just think that’s such a critical piece of the puzzle that people don’t often take that step back to reflect on. “Okay, maybe I’ve gone too far towards the dream around this thing because I’m sacrificing my day-to-day experience for it.”
And again, I don’t even want to put that judgment on that behavior. The thing I would say is to take a step back and ask yourself, “Do you want to make that choice?”. Because if you do want to sacrifice your day-to-day right now for that dream, by all means, do you.
Tamika: That’s what it feels like for me, for my weight loss because it takes another full-time job. But it’s a sacrifice for now, and not because I hate myself because I want to be healthier. For me getting off high blood pressure medicine, making sure that I get to maximize this body during this time here. That’s what it is for me, and I literally feel like it’s worth it. It’s worth it to put that investment of time.
Now that’s where people… this whole hustle culture. And yet it’s harder now, but there should be things that you’re enjoying about that hustle aspect.
I used to be someone that was team, no sleep, like all this energy and all these ideas came from it. But we need sleep. We really do need to normalize sleep and resting and recharging the body. Those are things that could be enjoyable experiences too. I got a new mattress, I got some new sheets with the extra thread count. And I’m just like, “What was I doing before?”
For me, those are those small things that are surprising. I knew that sheets would be nice, but when I actually got in the bed I was like “ Oh, nice!”
I have a little sleep lotion, I sprayed lavender… I made it the whole thing, and that was an enjoyable experience. Those are those moments of joy that don’t have to be fleeting, but those are the things that you have to work to have in your life.
Mallory: So first of all, I did the same thing during COVID. I was like, “Okay, we are not paying for hotels, so I am turning my bedroom into a hotel room and I’m just going for it”.
You talk about how it’s okay to reflect in your book, which I love. And I love that you actually use that sentence, it’s okay to reflect. Because I think just like with hustle culture, I feel like we’re being taught these two ends of the spectrum.
It’s like, hustle culture, hustle culture, self-care. And balance isn’t a word that I have always adopted because I’m not sure what I think about balance from a value perspective for me personally. But I think about self-care and I work a lot and people will be like, “I’m really worried about you. You have a two-year-old you’re working way too many hours”.
And I’m like,” I am so happy”. I love my job, for me being a mom is energizing. I think being a working mom and having a toddler is actually helpful for me because when one of them is having a bad day, usually, fingers crossed, the other one isn’t so it helps me actually. As opposed to creating a story like, “It’s so hard doing both”. I’m like, “Okay, what are the ways that it actually serves me to be doing both?”.
Tamika: We need to hear more stories like this cause what I heard over and over again is that you’re so happy. Which tells me that you’re fulfilled, which tells me that you’re living your dream, which tells me that when you wake up in the morning you have joy in your heart. There are some people that wake up and then dread the day. Not only because it’s a Monday, they dread it every single day.
I wake up and I’m like, “Oh my god I made it another day. Thank you!”.
It’s okay to go after the things you want and have a two-year-old. We’re seeing more and more people be okay with not having children, and that’s fine if you don’t want children. But we also see an uptake in people not wanting children, because they’d been told that you can’t be fulfilled in your career and have a family.
And that’s simply not true because it can be whatever you want it to be. You make it balanced, you made it work out for you.
Mallory: Exactly. And you know what? They think they can’t have it because of a bunch of stories that we’ve been told and because of a bunch of guilt, they’re worried about having.I said to someone yesterday, “In my two years of motherhood, which I know I’m still very early , but I’ve never felt mom shame ever.
And I’ve certainly had people say things to me that could make me feel bad. People say “Oh my gosh, your daughter’s in daycare from eight to five, five days a week? Don’t you wish you had more time with her, is your goal to have it be three days later?”
And I’m just like, “No. It’s not, and you know what? She loves her daycare. She loves her friends. She wakes up talking about them. She is so happy there. and I’m showing her what it looks like to build whatever life you want.”
Tamika: And you’re also showing her what it means to socialize with other people.
Mallory: Oh, totally. But I hold no beliefs around that.
I hold the belief that the happiness of the entire family is what’s most important. So you’re right, keeping joy, front and center, keeping happiness front and center really does help create intentionality around actions. And it does take that reflection to say, “What does bring me joy? What does make me happy? If I did that thing, would I be happier?”
And so I just love that I feel like you just bring every kind of peace.
Tamika: How many stories have we heard like, “I remember my mom always barking and just not happy”, “I remember my mom or my dad, just going to work and just not happy”. Your daughter’s gonna remember you were happy. You are happy, and to me that’s important, having a life fulfilled.
Mallory: Yeah. I’m sure that’s for your stepdaughter too, seeing you that way is what allows her to dream, to be like, “I can try these things or do these things”. That’s going to be her north star in that process too, which is amazing
Tamika: That’s exactly what I want her to have. I want her to always feel like she can have it all. And you hear this thing like “You can have it all, but not all at the same time”. You can do whatever you want, however you make it then it works for you, because what works for you isn’t necessarily going to work for me. What works for me, Isn’t going to work for you.
But if we can inspire each other to say, “Yeah, you can have a two-year-old and still be happy, do your thing and be a good mom. You may not be able to zip line because of weight limitations, but you can go and do this or whatever you just figure it out, and we share our stories.
I’m always big on sharing your story. A lot of times people think it is to share what big, amazing thing you did. That’s not what I mean.
If we’re all in this social media experience and everything else, share aspects of your life so that we all can see what could happen. Because we learn from the bad, but we also learn from the good too and in more ways we’re inspired by the good things that happen in people’s lives.
Mallory: Yes. Yes. Yes. Okay. We could talk forever. I want you in a moment to tell folks where they can find you, and I hope for everybody who is listening to this, that you are just going to go and hire Tamika as your motivational speaker. I also just want to highlight that I’m so grateful for you sharing your energy and experience and wisdom with all of us.
I just want to highlight too for folks like, not only speaking about motivation and all the different things, but stigma. I just think you are so inspiring. We didn’t talk about that today, but that’s certainly something that you’ve done in your work. I’ve shared your information with a lot of people who I know are looking to talk about and tackle stigma.
So I just want to flag that for folks who are listening, like Tamika is your person. Okay. Tell us where everyone can find you and then I’ll ask you something else.
Tamika: Yeah. So you can find me at tamikafelder.com on social media. I’m boring, It’s @TamikaFelder everywhere. You can go check out things that I talk about, what I see. I have a YouTube channel, you can see more of my stuff there. Just reach out to me. I love saying hi, tell me that you watch this, you know what you learned about me. What’d you learn about yourself. Any “Aha!” moments, because I love people.
I’m a people person and I love knowing your story and what makes you tick? So say hi!
Mallory: Yes, definitely say hi. And then at the end of all of these episodes, I invite folks to share a nonprofit that they want to highlight, that we can invite everyone to go check out and give if they can.
Tamika: My favorite non-profit is the nonprofit that I founded for cervical cancer survivors and thrivers, and it is Cervivor.org.
It was created out of my own experience of not wanting to be alone and not wanting To feel that way. So definitely check us out and let us know what you think. we’re always happy to receive donations. if you’re interested in my book, it is not just for cancer survivors, it’s for anyone, you can go to Amazon and get it.
It’s a workbook you can write inside and it’s colorful and illustrated. It’s a reminder of all those things that we already know, but we need a reminder to live our lives doing us.
Mallory: Yes, and I will make sure you have links to all of this below. Thank you so much, Tamika. This has been such a fun conversation and I’m so grateful for you.
Tamika: Thank you, thank you . It was great!