Rise & Shine Interview: Tamarisk Saunders-Davies

Today, I’m pleased to announce that Tamarisk Saunders-Davies (a connections catalyst) from London, UK, is sharing her thoughts on perseverance with us.   One of my favourite things about blogging is the people you randomly connect with from around the world.  Tamarisk and I have so much in common, and I'm blessed that she is sharing her lessons with us!

I have interviewed many people for my #FuelPersistence series about how they persevere through many types of obstacles.  After Tamarisk reached out and shared her story with me, I had to ask her to be part of this series.  She is a brave indidivual who perseveres despite the challenges she is presented with in life.  Tamarisk has really inspired me, and I thank her for talking about difficult subjects.  It was really fitting to hear from an individual who is at high-risk of developing cancer, as many people in my life have been affected by cancer. As Tamarisk describes herself: "I’m a Connections Catalyst. Awesome title, right? Yeah, I made it up because ‘life coach’ doesn’t remotely sum up who I am, what I believe, or how I show up in the world. My purpose is to help you get more of what you want by showing you how to create the foundation from which to get it. We’re talking: greater confidence, clarity, and commitments around your emotional and spiritual well-being."

Thanks, Tamarisk, for sharing with us the lessons you have learned throughout your life! Read Tamarisk's interview below and feel free to leave comments afterwards :)

Providing some light in your life today from London, UK (c) Arianna's Random Thoughts
Providing some light in your life today from London, UK (c) Arianna's Random Thoughts

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Who did you receive it from?

The best pieces of advice are deceptively simple, I find. While I’ve had countless superb pieces of advice in my life, the piece that’s stuck with me is this: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got."

One of my counselling supervisors said it to me in a conversation where I was discussing my client cases. It’s obvious; it’s simple; but man is it true!

How important is mentorship in terms of your success?

Crucial. One of my values and one of my strengths is a love of learning, so having mentors (both formal and informal) has always appealed to me.

What has been the best moment in your life so far?

No way am I picking just one! Moments that seem the most precious either involve lots of laughs with my loved ones or moments when I’ve been able to be of service to someone else. Being a coach and a therapist means I’ve been blessed with some amazing moments of having nothing more than luck to ask the right question at the right time. Being the person who facilitated someone’s light bulb moment never gets old.The thing about my best moments is that they’re pretty ordinary…they’re the moments when I’m either deeply connected to the people that matter to me or when I feel like I’m being of service in the world. I think lots of our best moments are like this, rather than being Hollywood-glossy with can-can dancers and fireworks. It’s the ordinary moments of beauty and connection that are the most special.

What tips would you have for living a healthy life?

(c) Tamarisk Saunders-Davies
(c) Tamarisk Saunders-Davies

Always attend to the fundamentals! The fundamentals in my life are eating healthily, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and reflecting on my life by journaling. I am conscious of making those even more a priority when life is busy and hectic. Usually when life is crazy-busy, the tendency is to abandon all the self-care basics. You’ll tell yourself that you don’t have time, start eating too much processed food because it’s convenient, stay up late trying to get it all done, and convince yourself you don’t have time to work out. All of that results in feeling much more stressed out because you’re not attending to the basic elements of caring for yourself. They are even more important when life is stressful. I also think we don’t prioritise pleasure, play, and fun. I work with so many clients who feel like they’re running on fumes and when I ask them when was the last time they had fun just for the sake of it…they can’t remember! Playing is a crucial part of living a healthy life, I believe!

How do you motivate yourself to persist despite setbacks?

First, a word on the word “setbacks." Something about that word feels disempowering to me. The language we use in our own self-talk and out-loud matters which is why I am tireless at rooting out words such as can’t, must, have to, should, and ought. They immediately make me feel constricted, deprived, guilty, or without choice. So instead of setbacks, I’m using “challenges."

Now, how do I motivate myself? Massive amounts of self-compassion. When challenges happen, we can slip into some pretty negative self-talk…blaming and shaming ourselves and saying things to and about ourselves that are really unkind.

Once I’m back in a place of being kind to myself, I remind myself why doing what I’m doing is important to me, what it’s in the service of, so that I can recommit to it.

What has been your biggest setback? How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?

I’ve had plenty of challenges in my life; it’s hard to single any one of them out as the biggest!

The challenge that has taught me the most has been discovering I’ve inherited the breast cancer gene from my mother. It resulted in her getting breast cancer at 24 and dying of ovarian cancer at 41. Carrying the gene puts my risk of developing an aggressive cancer at a younger age at around 85% and my risk of developing ovarian cancer at 40%. I’ve got a legacy to leave behind, and I don’t want to go a day before I have to. So, I chose to mitigate my risk of breast cancer by having a double mastectomy and reconstruction. But more than that, my gene has become one of my biggest teachers.

It became the catalyst I needed to step up and be the best patient I could possibly be. My surgeon and his team may have had six hours of work to do on my first surgery, but so did I! It was my job to be as fit and healthy as I possibly could be during the surgery and after to ensure I gave myself the best possible chance to recover fast and recover well.

My gene has also been the clarion call I needed to take my health seriously. If you let it, food CAN be your medicine. I’ve modified my diet to make sure I’m giving my body the best possible chance of beating my genetic destiny. That means cutting down on processed food, dairy, gluten and sugar and making sure I have a diet that’s rich in vegetables and lean protein.

And of course, it doesn’t just stop there…exercise and being mindful of the negative effect that stress has on my life is something I am constantly paying attention to.

How do you deal with critics?

I’m with Dr. Brene Brown on this one. In her new book, Daring Greatly, she shares that she’s only open to feedback and criticism from people who are in the arena getting kicked around by life too. If I’m getting feedback from critics who are sitting safely on the side lines of life, who are too afraid to show up for life and are cowardly criticising those of us who are doing our damnedest to live with courage…then I simply ignore them.

I want to hear feedback from people who’ve been in the trenches, who try and fail and get back up. I’m all about shortening my learning curve, so hearing from people who’ve done it before me and are generous with their wisdom is what it’s all about for me.

How important is social support in overcoming obstacles?

Objectively, my answer to this question is “very important." But it’s never as simple as that, is it? Asking for and receiving help from others is hard for lots of us. It feels SO vulnerable to ask. I have a strong independent streak and my default position is to figure things out on my own, so this year I started a mastermind group with the express intention of practicing asking for and receiving help.

What advice would you give others about goal setting?

Stop doing it the way 99% of the population tells you to do it.

Ask yourself why you want what you want. Why do you want to run a marathon, why do you want the corner office? If you ask yourself ‘why’ an annoying amount of times, you’ll eventually get to a feeling. All of our goals are ultimately about wanting to feel a certain way. Once you actually get clear on how to want to feel, you begin to realise that there are ways to get that feeling today…now. Not at some far-off future date.

What life lesson have you learned that you would like to pass along to others?

Advocate for your own health.

Stop eating dairy. Seriously.

Laugh often.

Make 'cultivating compassion for yourself' your top priority.

Once you get better at feeling your feelings, you’ll start feeling better.

Thanks, Tamarisk, for sharing your "random" thoughts and life lessons with us! We really do think alike, and it's wonderful to connect with such a like-minded soul. Keep writing, inspiring, and sharing!

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!