As women, it’s very easy to measure our worth against the standards and expectations of others, especially if we’re finding ourselves in a leadership position. We lead a life full of insecurity, of the anxiety that we might stumble and fall short of those expectations. We think of life as a journey towards something worthy. What we don’t realize is that worth has been riding with us all along. We are whole and worth already lives inside of us, without any need for validation from anybody. Designer, author, podcast host and personal growth coach Elaine Turner is on a mission to help other women leaders realize this truth. Listen to her empowering insights as she joins Alicia Dunams today to talk about this journey to self-worth – a vulnerable and self-compassionate journey back to the self.
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Know Your Worth With Elaine Turner
Welcome to episode 21. I’m super excited to have Elaine Turner here. Elaine is a bestselling author of Breaking the Glass Slipper. She’s a women’s coach. She is in fashion and she is a speaker. I’m excited to jump in speaking into how can we know our worth as a woman. Elaine, it’s great to have you here.
Thank you. I love being with you. You’re my mentor who helped me.
I love being here too because you mean so much to women. You did break the glass slipper and show how we as women can be vulnerable that our life behind opening the kimono and behind the scenes may not be that perfect. Kudos to you. I want you to jump in. Why did you write the book?
The book has been a catalyst for me and what you spoke of that whole vulnerability of opening that kimono and telling the truth. The book began when I met a woman in one of my stores who had told me in a nutshell what I was making, how much it meant to her. I had a bright, colorful collection and she was diagnosed with stage four cancer. She was talking about how the colors gave her hope. She’d come in and buy these pieces that she can afford, that she felt good in her body and her body image, but she was dealing with this serious disease. I had this moment when I met her, that I realized I’ve never thought of fashion as meaningful enough. I always thought, “I’m in fashion,” but I never lifted it up in the way I should have and honored what I had built and what it could mean for other women. That led me to now.
I have been believing a lot of lies about myself. I want to write a book to other women talking about these lies that we attach ourselves to that we’re not good enough. Maybe I underplayed fashion. I don’t think I ever owned it. When I met her, I was like, “This is real. This means something to people.” I don’t need to sideswipe it. That’s what led to the book of talking to women about all the lies that we believe, that women are rivals, that fashion is frivolous, and that the myth of having it all that we believe in these credos and ideologies that are almost impossible. That’s where I went with the book. The process of writing the book was one of the most fulfilling part of my life. I truly loved it.
I know that a lot of authors that I support, whether they attended Bestseller in a Weekend, whether they write their book on their own or what have you, it’s very much a catharsis. Speak into writing a book and what that meant to you.
It was a catharsis. I was in a difficult time, which is ironic. When I wrote the book, I was at a crossroads with my business. It was almost subconscious at that point. I was thinking about, “How am I going to set up my life?” I was almost 50. My child is leaving for college. In a way, that’s more sustainable and that works for me. The book was a way for me to work through this transition in my life and speaking to other women about the truth of what life can be, how complex it can be, how imperfect it can be. The book was this channel and this avenue for me to explore all of these things and pour my heart out to other women and say, “We don’t need to lie anymore. We don’t need to act like that it’s all great when it isn’t.”
There is beauty in the struggle. Click To Tweet
It doesn’t mean that there’s not this beauty in life. There’s a beauty in the struggle. I believe that. I felt like the book was this gateway for me to transition into the second act because I was at this point where I thought this isn’t sustainable, having 12 stores and 150 employees, and retail was under such a huge transformation. I was a retailer. The book was that true catalyst for change for me in my life. I’m glad you asked me to be on because you’re a big part of that change and the catalyst for my transformation.
That’s powerful because you said there’s beauty in struggle. I know when you’re writing the book, and having that responsibility, having the stores and as we see, it’s almost like you made that transition before. Retail is struggling in #COVID. I want you to share a little bit, if you’re open to that, what beauty you have found in your own personal struggle.
One of the foundations of my work is we need to redevelop our relationship with pain, struggle, and suffering. Our society, our culture in particular, chooses this runaway attitude towards struggle. Keep going, keep doing, put it in a box. The reality is that suffering and pain is our greatest common denominator in humanity. As a collective humanity, we all suffer. No one gets away from it and no one alive is free of suffering. It doesn’t make sense. It’s contradictory. Not that we can’t feel what we feel, but let’s embrace our pain together, be courageous and vulnerable enough to speak to it. My work is founded on this idea and I’ve had many challenges in my life, not just my business going through that huge shift and transition, but I have a special needs daughter.
That’s a chronic daily awakening for me to rise to the occasion of being her mother and making sure her needs are met. For me in my work, I want to be a door that’s open to women to say it’s okay, that things don’t always go the way that you had planned. There is a huge opportunity for growth in that window. Walking through that window and knowing like this isn’t exactly how I saw it going for me, but if I have the courage to walk through it, to process it, to feel it, then I can rise up my level of growth and evolution as a human being. I almost become something stronger and better than where I was before. Women struggle with that.
They see it as a weakness or like, “I failed. I’m showing too much of my vulnerability.” In reality, you’re showing your strengths and your evolution by meeting it. As a society, we need to do to better about that. Let’s walk through it. Let’s feel it. With COVID and also the huge conversation around racial inequality, we’re all called as this collective humanity to feel our pain, to feel it together, to empathize with the other, to walk in the other shoes. We’re in no better time in our history to say, “This is what people feel. This is what they’re feeling. They’ve been stuffing it for generations.” It’s like these generational women that needs to come out. We all need to share in it. It’s happening. It’s hard, but the work has to be now. We have to talk about our pain
It’s so important as you were saying that stuffing down, all that leads to is an eventual uprising of the breaking of the wound, and what we’re looking at in terms of racial injustice, in terms of health care and everything. As I woke up with news of this, even something for myself, being a mixed-race black woman and being in this place that is to be black in the United States can be so exhausting. I’m half exhausted because I can fit in. I can feel black one moment and realize that I have the privilege of being a mixed-race, being light-skinned. That’s this constant dance that I’m in and it’s exhausting, feeling like, “I can sit this out.” I don’t want to say that’s my guilt because I do no good by feeling guilty. I only do good when I’m in an action.
With that, it’s a day-to-day. Living my joy and we were talking about the leadership training that I do and supporting people on the conscious climb because the conscious climb is us climbing. It’s sweaty, it’s tiring, it’s exhausting. We fall down and we continue in awareness and we continue in informed action. Some days it’s emitting like, “Do I want to do this,” not feeling guilt if you ask yourself that question. It’s a constant. I want to acknowledge you because I see you in the witnessing of it. I see you in the, “How can I do better?” Knowing that we’re on this earth for a reason and a purpose. I don’t see you taking anything lightly.
I take life seriously, but I try not take myself too seriously because there’s the balancing act with that like humor. Humor is a huge antidote of mine, but I’m very empathic. I have ability to pick up on pain and suffering maybe a little more easily than others. I have to also be careful with boundaries and figure out where I fit into that matrix. For me, this whole racial inequality rising, I’ve felt like I was proceeding it and ready to hear. There was so much a part of me who felt that there were many, especially the young people talking about, “Of course, I’ve had that conversation with my parents about police. Of course, I have to look at when I travel or I drive or I do all these things.” I feel totally different than you.
I was so ready to hear that because I knew it had always been there and we weren’t speaking to it. In some ways, as painful as all this is, it’s also this massive sense of empowerment that we’re all talking and speaking to it. Everybody is standing there absorbing it going, “We’re missing this huge. We’re missing the mark here.” I could go on and on. I have a twenty-year-old son who’s telling me about the NBA right now, “What do you think?” We’re having these long texts back and forth. It’s incredible. I’m like, “It takes so much courage, and that’s exactly what we need.” That type of movement. I don’t like using the word power, but powerful people affecting the economy, effecting rights saying, “No, we’re done.” It’s interesting because I have this twenty-year-old who’s trying to understand it. It takes a lot of courage, but my morning’s already been exhausted.
I appreciate you for being in this place where I see that you’re super receptive and it’s, how can we do better? With that in mind, I know that through this process of speaking and empowering women about self-worth is what’s next for you in terms of empowering women. As you said, rising to the occasion. That’s so important. How are we showing up in this time in human history? We can cower in the corner or we can stand up and rise. What is next for you, Elaine? How are you rising to this occasion?
It’s been a journey, but since I’ve closed my stores, the book was a huge catalyst and impetus for me to think about what I wanted to do, what I wanted to build, and what the second act could look like for me. I believe in also being vulnerable about second acts and transitions. Everybody’s career is not a straight ladder. It’s more of a chess match. We’re trying to figure out how to build our life in a way that feels whole for us. What was coming to me was after writing the book, I realized I have so much I want to say. I have so much I want to represent and model for other women who might be feeling the same things I have felt in my life.
I have this very old wound story of not feeling enough in my life. There’s a lot of different reasons why. I think that’s cultural. Being a woman, it’s easy to fall into that because we’re the first generation of women who had it all. We have education opportunities. Our mothers are telling us, “You can do this. You can get married. You can work. You can do all these things.” In reality, there’s this huge sense of anxiety of how do I structure this? If you want to have children, which I totally believe people who don’t want to have children, I’m saying I did. How do I model being an entrepreneur, a wife, a mother to a special needs, and also a daughter to elderly parents?
How do I be all these things? There was a huge part of me that kept thinking, “If I try harder, if I strive harder, if I prove more, I will find that golden egg within the center of the universe that tells me I’m enough,” and you don’t. It’s about being honest with yourself about who you are and knowing that your wholeness and your worth never has anything to do with anything outside of you. As a society, we’re trained that it does. We’re on this achievement culture of more is better. It’s resume building and it’s all these things, but in reality, your wholeness regardless of all of those things is always been there. It’s inherent and it’s your birthright as a human being that you’re whole. That’s what I want to talk to women about. Once you accept that perspective of abundance that I was born whole, not from scarcity, then everything feeds off of those roots.
It’s like everything feeds off. I know I’m whole, so that means I can stumble, fall, fail and rise again knowing I’m whole. It’s that journey. Especially women, we start from a place of scarcity and we’re doing all of these things thinking we’re going to make up for the loss, when in reality is the other way around. It’s like a paradigm shift. The self-growth industry talks a lot about manifestation, which I believe in. I love visualization and your thoughts and all of those things, but if you start with manifesting your goals and your ideas and not working on the source of who you are, all of that will naturally happen for you if you know you’re whole as you are.
Your worth has never had anything to do with anything outside of you. Click To Tweet
This program I’ve developed, Know Your Worth, is a sequential course series where I go through three separate courses and how I see, not that it truly is step-by-step. Nothing in life is, but I did my best to give a framework for women of how you could go through these steps to reach that understanding of your wholeness. I can walk you through what that looks like. The first course is called Discover. It’s a four-week course. I taught to women and we start at the very beginning. We start at how we process our thoughts, emotions, feelings, and beliefs because through that lens of how we have taken in the world is how we have perceived our circumstances. We’ve perceived those limited stories that we held onto as a child and how we’ve looked at everything that’s happened to us in life.
It’s important to understand your tendencies of how you’ve taken in your world, how you’ve taken in your feelings and your emotions and how you’ve processed that. Much in life is what’s happening inside of us, not so much outside of us. That’s the first step we take. The second course is Awaken. That’s also a four-week course. That’s all about self-excavation of digging deep and unraveling the limited stories that you’ve attached yourself to. Mine being, I never have felt enough. From a little girl, I was always trying so hard to compensate. I go through a custom guided process of how I get women to get there. As painful as that might sound, it’s super empowering to name it.
You’re able to detach a little bit from it and see it for what it is. We end that course with self-empowerment practices of self-compassion. I believe self-compassion is one of the most foundational practices that you can take on in your life for a sense of worthiness. It’s truly redeveloping a relationship with yourself from kindness. We are so hard on ourselves. That’s where we get into the fun. We go from the I to the we. What are my values? What are my motivations? What am I here to offer the world? How can I be a part of the community in a productive, constructive way? We all want to belong. We all want to be purposeful. We all want to be productive. The whole program is very customized, but a guided custom process of figuring out what goals and habits would work for you, your tendencies, and your profile.
Even though I go through the manifestation, I do it super custom. I don’t want you to adopt my lifestyle. I don’t want you to say, “I’m going to do what Elaine does.” We’re going to walk you through what’s right for you. In a nutshell, that’s the program. I’m launching it. I’m going to do a beta test with 10 to 15 women. I’m going to send out an invitation to certain ones to see if they want to do it. I’ll launch it to the public after I do that to get feedback and understand. I’ve already built a course and I’m excited. It’s a new phase for me.
I love how you are entering this next act and with grace and discovery and even being in that place of open to feedback. An important part of life is that iteration. Thank you for sharing that. The question I have for you in this beautiful journey of discovery, awakening and self-compassion. Am I going to be in this self-inquiry process in my 70s, 80s, and 90s? Will there ever be a point where I’m good because it feels like I’ve evolved? I was even reading some Buddhist texts and I was like, “I’m going to be detached and witnessing energy.” That’s the easiest way for me to navigate life is to be witnessing, to be detached and that’s something that supports me. It requires me to check in and read books and to be realigned because then I’ll go off into default and then I’m like, “I get to come back.”
We all do it. We fall into default mode.
Is this something like when we’re 80 years old and when we’re doing our Instagram Live, are we going to be coming back?
The answer is yes. You continue to evolve and grow. It’s a choice and it’s a practice. The older we get, our lives get small. We feel more limited and a little bit more superfluous. It’s a true, active, intentional choice to continue to grow. This right now in my midlife, this worthiness thing is a huge thing for me. Five years from now, it could all about the purpose for me or how I’m reigniting community or activism. It could be something different. I believe that we are on this constant evolution. Each soul has where they are. What I see, especially in the elderly, that is sometimes tragic for me is a give-up thing.
“I don’t even need to read that. I’ve already figured that out.” No one’s figured anything out. We’re all trying to be better. Most of us are trying to figure out how do I continue on this journey to be the very best human soul I can be. My goal is to always continue reading and grow. What’s my next program? Who can I help? What can I offer? What has God put me here to do? I don’t want to end up small and resentful because of my age either. America and the culture we live in is tough because we can become disposable at a certain age. We can be like, “Your voice doesn’t matter,” but it’s so untrue. The wisdom that I’ve obtained from my older mentors.
My godmother is 80 years old. She’s taught me more about life than almost anyone on the face of the earth and still does. She still does. It is a constant growth and it’s each soul doing the work to figure out what they need. I’ll go back to feel whole and worthy, to feel a sense of I know that I’m here for a reason, for a purpose. I believe in my wholeness. I believe that God has put me here for abundance, but I have to do the work. It’s not a crutch. You have to do the work. You have to figure out what you’re giving off to the world and what you’re receiving to that energy. I’m a huge believer in energy like you are.
It’s the conscious climb and it’s a conscious choice moment by moment, day by day. Who do I choose to be in this moment? How will I rise to the occasion? I feel as humans, we’re in this almost pendulum swing where we can get off sidetrack and be influenced by some of our tendencies. It’s like being in the noticing, “That’s curious I responded in that way. How do I get back on track?” It’s this constant, “How do I get back on track?” That’s one thing I appreciate about this particular time is we are seeing the underbelly. We are seeing the things that we pushed to the side that we did not want to deal with. Now they’re saying we get to deal with this. People are reacting and responding in different ways. People are angry. People are using it as a time of hope. People are all along the pendulum fear and then opportunity. We get to be kind to ourselves in that self-compassion. It’s like, “How am I responding at this particular time?” We can respond with the covers over our head and we can respond in standing in the moment and somewhere in between. It’s that self-compassion.
It takes a lot of work, like you’re mentioning. To consciously continue to self-evaluate, why did I respond that way? I’m in this moment in my life where if I find myself going into some insecurities or I’m not good enough. I catch myself like, “What’s happening right now? What is behind that? How do I start deconstructing that and detaching from that?” That’s my brain doing what it does. The lizard brain is saying, “I’m protecting you. Don’t put yourself out there.” It sounds crazy. The lizard brain is like, “No, don’t do it. That’s high risk.” If you can see it for what it is and detach from it, you can start to slowly become who you’re truly meant to be, but it takes work.
When you see highly fear-driven people who are black and white, I believe people, the more they think they know, the most fear-driven binary people that lived and they think they know it all. No one knows it all. That’s the point. It’s embracing the mystery, the growth, that journey of the unknown, of the uncertainty. You see those fear-driven humans that are very black and white. This is what this says. This is why. You see that they aren’t on that. It’s like you and I are working so hard to wake up every day and figure out who we want to be. Sometimes I look and I think, “Do they ever take a step back and say, ‘Who is this?’” It’s like taking the easy way out, but it causes so much destruction.
It is easier to be in reaction. Walking up the conscious climb requires stamina and rigor. You’re going to get sweaty, fall down, dust yourself off, get back up, and be on this conscious climb day-to-day. It is constant self-awareness. What we’re talking about now because I know I was at the point where I’m like, “I wonder if there’s a spiritual retreat somewhere where I can disappear.” Someone told me about this place in California called Spirit Rock. That sounds about right. Let me go to Spirit Rock. Where’s that rock? As you help support women navigating through this time, I’m curious, what can you share with our readers about if they’re at this place of there’s something more? Can you give us words of advice?
The greatest journey you'll ever take in your life is the journey back to yourself. Click To Tweet
If you’re a woman and you’re thinking, “I’ve done all these things. I feel like I’ve tried all these things. I’m trying so hard, but I still feel a sense of emptiness and lack,” which is very common. People don’t talk about it, but I do. It’s time to step back and be courageous enough to do that self-discovery, self-awareness work within yourself of unraveling what that means. Why at a certain age, you’ve maybe ended up with that conclusion? What’s hard is getting somebody to go from the awareness to the work. There might be an awareness. I was talking to a good friend. She said, “I think I have anger issues. I resort to anger when I’m fearful. I’m real fearful right now with Corona, and in our area, we had a hurricane coming, all this stuff.” I said, “That’s awesome awareness. That’s 80% of the work. You’ve got the awareness,” because she’s talking about that she is down on herself of yelling at her kids.
All that fear and over-reactivity, in reaction mode. I said, “There’s the awareness.” She’s like, “I’ve been aware of it for years, but I don’t change it.” As women, we’re so busy pleasing, doing and trying, that we lose that sense of, “I’ve been in default mode for many years trying to do it and be at all and be perfect that I’m now in these patterns that are so unhealthy for me and my life and my family. How do I bridge that gap?” How do I walk over that threshold, that chasm and say, “Now it’s time to start to unravel what the root, what is going on here?” That’s where many people get stuck. They can get that awareness, but they stay. My program is saying, “Let’s do the work together. Let’s do this with each other.” It’s like group coaching. Let’s do it together. I guess my advice is don’t be afraid to do the work.
What a wonderful place to be in. Can we do it together as a community? That way, we’re not lone wolfing it. We’re being in community to each other so we can hold mirrors up to each other. That’s the way for us to grow. I love how you created that community. Where can people find out more about you and your book and Know Your Worth?
The website gives you all the information. It’s www.ElaineTurner.com. It gives you all information about the program. It gives you all the information. If you want to read about it and absorb it and you can get on my early bird list. We do discounts for early birds. It’s a great place to go and see if it’s something you think could serve you in your life and then I’ll do the beta and then I’ll launch to everyone later in the fall. I’m excited.
Where can they find out about your book Breaking the Glass?
It’s online on Amazon.
It’s the number one Amazon bestseller. Any parting words of advice to our audience, Elaine?
I feel like my lens is always speaking to the female, but it’s knowing that the truth of who you are has always been there. Even if you feel like that you’ve abandoned it, it’s okay. Give yourself grace and wrap yourself in self-compassion like a self-compassion chenille throw. Know that you can always reclaim that sense of worth. You can always return to yourself. That’s the greatest journey you’ll ever take in your life is the journey back to yourself.
I love that, Elaine. Return to self. That’s what we’re here to do and give back.
I’m inspired by you, Alicia, all that you do. I read all your posts. I love everything that you’re doing. Your spirit of activism is very courageous. It takes a lot of courage and heart to do the things that you do. Thank you.
Elaine, thank you so much for being here.
Thank you for asking me.
Take care, everyone.
About Elaine Turner
Hi I am Elaine Turner- I am so glad you are here!
For those of you who don’t know me, I owned a fashion retail business for almost 20 years called Elaine Turner Designs.
I have recently transitioned into the personal growth industry and am now launching a program I created for women in leadership called– Know Your Worth.
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