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choosing joy / messy middle / podcast / Season 6

How to Discover Self Love, Tenderness, and Transformation with Mackenzie Eason


In this interview, I’m delighted to be joined by life coach Mackenzie Eason. She is a love and relationship coach who specializes in helping her clients break free from toxic dynamics, develop emotional mastery, clear up communication, reclaim their power, and cultivate unshakable self love. In other words, she’s the most amazing person to have on to talk about how we look at love, how we can learn to love ourselves, and how we can talk about Valentine’s Day in a very different way. In this episode we are talking all about how to love yourself first, and looking at how COVID and shelter in place has taken a toll on existing relationships.

Kenzie and I met through life coach training, and it’s a real treat to have her on the show. She fully embodies joy and love and she’s one of the most genuine and lovely people you’ll ever meet. I love that she’s dedicated her work to helping womxn through the breakups, and that she holds space for them to find transformation and joy on the other side of those hard times. I’m so excited to have her on Jump Start Your Joy. 

On loving yourself 

A lot of our conversation is about how to love yourself, and be kind with yourself no matter what comes your way. Here’s what Kenzie has to say about it:

“Self love, and having a really loving relationship with yourself is so important. And doing it all with a lot of love and care and tenderness. That’s huge, whether you’re in a relationship or going through a breakup or a single, and having this really loving relationship with yourself.

Self love is not just like doing a facial at night, and feeling good about yourself when you’re having a nice day. Self love is the breadth of love and care. It’s the part that greets every part of yourself, even the parts of you that feel the ugliest and darkest and broken. It’s obviously very present in a breakup, but it’s essential to having a healthy relationship. 

Self love is also means knowing what your mind and your body want. Are you a tactile person who enjoys physical contact with others? Do you have a high sex drive and buying pocket rocket vibrator would help give what your body craves? Do you enjoy your alone time? Work out what it is that drives you the most and prioritize it.

No matter where you’re at during Valentine’s Day season, and no matter what’s coming up for you, work on the foundation. Be really sweet and tender with yourself in the challenges, and the confusion and the places that hurt. That’s really essential. Being harsh and critical towards ourselves only creates more gridlock. Softening things, and being gentle with ourselves creates space to get in there, and shift and heal. And it just feels better. It works and it feels so just feels better.”

Resources

Order Jump Start Your Joy, the book coming out February 16, 2021

Mackenzie Eason’s Website

Honey in the Heart Podcast

Transcript

Paula: This week on the show, I am so excited to be joined by Mackenzie Eason. She is a love and relationship coach who specializes in helping her clients break free from toxic dynamics, develop emotional mastery, clear up communications, reclaim their power, and cultivate unshakable self-love.

In other words, she’s the most amazing person to have on to talk about how we look at love, how we can learn to love ourselves, and how we can talk about Valentine’s Day in a very different way. We’re going to talk about cultivating our own self-love and learning to be tender and kind with ourselves can change the entire set of dynamics in every relationship that we have. I can’t wait to bring Mackenzie on the air.

Before we get to that, I want to wish you all a very warm welcome and say thank you so much for making Jump Start Your Joy part of your routine. It is such a treat to be able to do this show.

I’m also super excited because in this last week my very first book Jump Start Your Joy: Heart-Centered Ways to Find Joy in the Messy Middle came out, it’s released, it’s live. At the end of last week, I sent out all of the preorders. It was really exciting. When I announced that it was coming out, I opened it up for preorders and I sold four times the amount of books that I thought I would, even on a stretch goal.

Thank you to every one of you who bought one. It was such a treat to get to see your names come in, write you a little note, and send you out what I was calling a joy kit that included the book and some goodies. Thank you so much for purchasing. I hope you get as much joy from the book as I did in writing it.

If you want to buy the book, it is also now on Amazon, so you can find it there, or in the show notes, or on the homepage of Jump Start Your Joy. While you’re there, you can also sign up for the newsletter and you’ll get a little reminder every time there’s a new podcast episode out. You can also get the show notes for this episode, which will have all the links to Mackenzie’s website and some of the things that we talk about, and there’s also a transcript there.

I’m really excited to bring Mackenzie on. She and I met through life coach training. As you probably remember, I am a trained certified life coach. It’s such a treat to reconnect with her and also have her on the show. This episode is so much fun because she and I both talk about past relationships. It’s not something that I usually share, but I talk about how I put myself in time out for a year after a very bad engagement gone wrong and how it was really meant for me to give myself the time and space to reflect about what I was doing and why. It was just an interesting time in my life. It was fun to go back and think about it with her.

I also love that she has dedicated her own work to helping women through breakups and she holds space for them to find transformation and joy on the other side of really hard times. Of course, that’s something that I just love in any story. I’m also super honored that she is sharing some of her own history and how she got through some of those difficult times herself. I really hope you love this conversation.

Welcome to the show, Mackenzie Eason.

Mackenzie:  Thank you, Paula. I’m so excited to be here and just to have an hour to chat with you.

Paula:  That’s so great. The first thing that I like to ask everybody is what brought you joy as a child and what were your earliest sparks of joy?

Mackenzie:  As a child? Okay. I’m just going to trust whatever came up here. What first came to mind is I loved being outside and hanging with my homies in the neighborhood. I strangely loved peeing outside. I loved just sneaking out of my house with a little toilet paper and peeing outside. It brought me so much joy. I would get caught, my dad would see me sneaking outside with some TP and be like, “What are you doing?” That’s just what popped into my mind. I got so much joy being outside and peeing outside.

Paula:  That’s awesome. It’s a podcast first, too. It’s so good. That brings back stuff for me as well. Not me personally so much, but I was a camp counselor for a really long time. We would sleep out overnight under the stars and have to dig a latrine. Leading eight little girls outside for the night was always funny. Then there was always something that happened with the toilet paper and there was poison ivy. There was always hilarity, really.

Mackenzie:  For sure. It’s an adventure.

Paula:  Yes. That’s awesome. Thank you.

Mackenzie:  I’m just going to trust that’s what came up. So…

Paula:  I’m going to stop giggling. Then the segue is…

Mackenzie:  Where to go from there.

Paula:  You got me real good with that one. I needed it. Of course, for listeners, Mackenzie and I know each other from coaching, and we’re part of the Courageous Living Coach Certification Program, which is highly recommended if you’re looking for that.

Now you work with people who are going through breakups and learning to love themselves. I thought it would be a real treat to have you on to talk about that during this Valentine’s season. I know Valentine’s Day has all this pressure around it and love is always hard, but it’s always such a quagmire of things. It’s a really difficult holiday. I would love to maybe talk about some of your own journey and also how you help people.

Mackenzie:  I love that you’re highlighting that. Valentine’s Day has all this pressure and expectation and emphasis on couples. Especially with social media, it can be a day where you’re just like confronted with these images of couples in love and it can create such a very strange experience if you’re not in a relationship, and often when you’re in a relationship, or if there are challenges in it. It’s just a tricky one. Relationships in general, the landscape of the heart and connection is nuanced and a wild frontier of sorts.

Most of us often grow up with the opposite of a manual and modeled relationships in different ways, some healthy, some unhealthy. Over the years in my own journey, I’ve started to feel where relationships, if you show up for it well, including breakups and challenges, can be a really powerful vehicle for growth and healing and transformation that is unique. The part I love about it is that it’s very – I guess embodied is the word. It’s hard to really bypass or ignore stuff that is coming up in your relationship, including the relationship with yourself. It’s such an interesting whole frontier. So, I love that we’re highlighting it.

Paula:  How do we become people who are ready for a healthy relationship? What does that look like? The relationship piece of it means you have to know yourself really well. Where are we falling down in that space?

Mackenzie:  Yes. Good question. Big question, but I love it. I think the big part is it is so much around the relationship we have with ourselves and our awareness of that. In every relationship, every person has different challenges or things that pull them astray. But I would say a lot of it is that foundation of a relationship with yourself.

I think where we get in a lot of tricky situations and challenge and hurt comes down to a place of what I call our wholeness. Where if we’re in a more codependent thing or we have a tendency to abandon ourselves or our own heart, or outsource our partner for our sense of authority or validation, or they’re the sole care provider to take care of our emotions, or things like that, it creates a dynamic where it can feel unbalanced and scary. I would say that’s the thing that is coming up the most that creates the most challenge is where we’re not fully holding ourselves and having a really fulfilling deep loving relationship with ourselves, where we’ve got our own hearts.

Yes, let’s use our partners and coregulate with them and find delight and soothing and co-create your life together and share love. But it gets really wobbly when we plug into them to meet all of our needs, emotional, the full spectrum.

Paula:  I can see where there’s a lot of messaging and modeling out there. I love Disney and it’s problematic, because even the messaging as women that we receive from princesses is that someone else completes us, or the destiny somehow ends with a marriage. There’s never really much of a story past what happens with those people afterward. There’s the bells ringing and then the kiss. We don’t know what’s after that, because there’s not a lot of modeling for it.

What would be a good place to start if someone is saying, “I really wish I could find the right person, but I don’t know where to start. It feels like each of my relationships has been problematic and I don’t know why they fall apart or why I can’t find the right person.” Where does that person start?

Mackenzie:  There’s a couple different places to start. Back to the Disney piece. There’s such a storyline there of culture and how that impacts us. I think that also leads to a space of feeling like if a relationship ends that we’re broken, the relationship was a failure, we’re a failure, something is wrong with us. That whole narrative is really common.

To answer your question, I think that’s a powerful place to start. Number one, holding a lot of sweetness and gentleness with yourself. Holding your past relationships as a grounds of learning in what was there. Really starting to look at, “What did I learn there? What was my part?”

Then also getting really curious. Relationships are 50/50, it’s not all just one person. It is important to look at be curious, especially if there’s a pattern of how certain relationships keep going, and starting to look at what’s the root of this, or where was this in me even before I connected with this person, what’s really mine to have ownership over and what’s not, and what has been the other people I’ve related to.

I think that’s a really powerful place to start. It would be unique to each person and situation, but I think that’s an entry point. Then starting to look at where can I fill my own cup with a lot of love and get out of that dynamic of searching for someone else to complete me, so that when I connect with someone it’s more of an overflowing space.

When we haven’t looked at some of those things from our past and our patterns, or what emotional places we’re blocked, or what parts of our heart are just really asking for our attention, when we haven’t connected with that in ourselves, it’s easy to kind of in the interesting way the universe can work like here’s a person perfectly to help you play that out and extract it up. It depends how you meet it. It can be a healing thing, or you can just keep replaying.

When you start to really look inward and hold all of those pieces for yourself, you’ll start to magnetize and attract and relate to people who aren’t so much being sent as like a representative to help you play something out. You’ll start being drawn toward people who are a healthier match.

Not that we’re like, “Oh, I’m perfectly healed now.” It’s not like a sense of trying to be unbroken. There’s a way in which we start to shift how we show up in relationships that are just healthier and that create more space in a healthy healing container for stuff to come up.

Paula:  As you were saying that, I was thinking there really is that fine line between what is the work I’m doing for myself and internally doing, not on myself, but maybe that’s the best English word for it, and then the piece of because what I either believe about myself or how I feel about myself who I am truly attracting. I think there is an interesting thing there. When you look at a pattern of what is coming in, if you’re the constant…

Mackenzie:  The common denominator.

Paula:  The good news is looking at those patterns you can probably see where is it that I could dig in and do a little work around this, or do I need to become more comfortable with this aspect, or am I asking somebody to fill a piece of what’s missing from me when I’m the one that should be filling that or digging in, or whatever it is. So, there’s a lot of really interesting territory there. That’s not part of the princess storyline.

Mackenzie:  Yes. They don’t process her childhood.

Paula:  There’s just perfection.

Mackenzie:  Exactly. That would be nice though if the fairy godmother comes in and does a coaching therapy session with her, “This is what you need to work out a little bit.”

Paula:  I love it. I know you work a lot with people who are going through breakups. If I recall, I think that the holiday season itself, starting December through the end of February, tends to be a time when a lot comes up and sometimes you realize this wasn’t what I thought it was. If somebody is in that space maybe right now, what do you have to share with them about their heart, and what do they need to know? Especially because of COVID. What the hell is going on? We’re already in it, so how do you see some of that?

Mackenzie:  In terms of if you’re going through the holidays, you’re in a relationship and there are some challenges, that sort of scenario, or you’re recently in a breakup during the holidays, or just the combination. That’s such a common thing. I find weddings can be like this for couples, too. Going to a wedding can bring up all of that. It really is like a pressure cooker, is how I would describe it.

I think the biggest thing is to really be aware of what you want to take on and what you don’t in terms of what relationships mean to you and how you define a healthy love life and what that looks like for you.

Around the holidays and then Valentine’s Day, you’re confronted with your Aunt Susan talking about when are you getting married, or maybe a Zoom meeting because of COVID with the holidays. But you’re confronted a lot, you’re interfacing a lot with your family ties and some of their opinions, perspectives, values, and relationships, and where that meets you, and then building up to the holidays.

I think the first place I would begin is really looking at your beliefs around relationships, what you make relationships mean, the symbolism, and starting to tease through what that really truly means for you. That can be different than even the partner you’re with. I think that’s a powerful thing to keep in mind.

In terms of questioning a relationship, you can harness the holidays as a powerful time to really work with. If you’ve been in a space of questioning or having some challenges in your relationship and it’s been like an undercurrent or a little bit under the rug, you can bet the holidays are going to bring it up. If you can do your best to work on your communication and lean into it, trust that it’s coming up, have those conversations with your partner.

I think it can be a powerful time for reflecting, processing emotions, and getting really clear on what I call your relationship pillars. What are these core things that are essential? Like I need to be met in this way. Not that my partner has to be perfect, but at least they’re willing to work on things or meet me in this foundational way. The type of things that if they’re not present it’s not a healthy relationship for you, basically, or really not aligned with the life you want to create.

It’s different for each person. A simple one is having children, that would be a really big pillar. For some, it’s a certain level of communication. It’s really nuanced for each person. What are these core things? This is beyond just I want my partner to play golf and be 6’5″ or whatever. I’m not talking about little traits, but these core things. It can be helpful to think about past relationships around what was the breaking point, what really didn’t work, where were the gaps. That can help inform you of what’s really important.

Once you get clear on that for you, not your family’s version of relationship or what’s important, but you, sift through and tease through what’s trash, what you don’t want to take on. Then from there, being clear with yourself and what’s there and having those conversations. There are so many pieces along this process, but I think a lot of being devoted to truth within yourself and honoring that and honesty with your partner will go a really long way.

Through all of it just be so tender with your heart. A lot of our pain that comes up in relationships, it goes so much more smoothly if we’re willing to run up and hold our own hearts within it and just be there with ourselves, in the innocence and the pain, and really do our best to show up for the parts of us that are asking for a lot of attention and TLC.

That was a long answer.

Paula:  It’s so wonderful. It’s been admittedly a little while for me. For context, I’m married, so I’m not in that place where it’s new love, so there’s a different set of things that come up.

Mackenzie:  For sure.

Paula:  After the Disney movie. I’m just kidding. For some reason, this keeps making me laugh today.

In thinking about past breakups, knowing when a relationship didn’t feel right. It could be either that you find yourself just angry or really frustrated. At the time, it was very difficult, but it’s an invitation to say, “But why?” This is showing for a reason. Is it because I have this expectation of what a family member said I should do or should want and maybe that doesn’t align for me, or is it just this person maybe isn’t meeting me in a way that is right for me?

So, breakups are horrible and also you learn a lot.

Mackenzie:  Totally. I think that’s the thing. I was just talking to a client about this the other day. There are two pieces that you just mentioned. One is so often our fear of failure or our fear of loss or the unknown can keep us in relationships much longer than what’s healthy or stay in one that is clearly not aligned for partnership or marriage, things like that. Sometimes that fear of loss can keep us just holding on super tight.

Often in a lot of my work, going back to that sense of truth and feeling mad, it’s a lot around alignment, who I am, who you are, what we want in the world, how we meet each other, and is that aligned for life partnership. Maybe it is to a certain point and then so often if it starts to shift and things are really changing and it’s really not sustainable anymore and not a good fit, if we hold on super tight for a long time, it does actually start to tarnish the connection and love.

Often, if we can recognize that, and again it’s not just a quick decision, it’s a really deep process, but if you get to that point, you can restructure how you relate to that person as a friend or whatever, and you can maintain connection and care. But so often if we stay in it for way longer than is healthy for either person, it just starts to bring you both down and it can start to really tarnish the connection.

There are so many reasons why we stay in relationships longer than are good for us. There are so many layers to it, of course, and there’s a lot of pieces. I think if we can start to grow. Courage is definitely part of it.

This returns back to that self-love piece of just, “I’ve got me. Even if it’s intense and hard and scary, if this is what’s really true and needed in a way that really honors and doesn’t abandon my own heart and my needs, then I’ll be able to navigate all of the changes and the transitions and the grief. I have resiliency, I will get through that.” If we hold that, it really changes how we show up for different relationship processes.

Paula:  That’s beautiful. It’s also really hard.

Mackenzie:  It is hard, yes. Way easier said than done. It’s deep, hard stuff. That’s why I’m such an advocate for support during these time periods, because there’s so much that comes up. Like we were saying before we started recording, breakups do just crack your heart open. Heartbreak is intense, but it does open you. There’s a lot of richness there, but it’s intense.

Paula:  Yes. Are there some stories you have of the other side where somebody has made the powerful decision to be like, “This isn’t it. I’m choosing me for now,” what happens?

Mackenzie:  This reminds me of a client that I worked with. It was really speaking to that process of relationships and things were really off, how do I show up for it, and then going from there. We worked a lot on helping her get clear on what was off for her and the needs of hers that weren’t being met, just these core things. We got really clear on that and helped her have those conversations with her partner.

She gave it her 100% all, all that she could control and bring. That’s part of it, you can’t control how your partner reacts or responds or shows up. She just gave it her all. Through that process, it was a really interesting experience for her to see where she had neglected a lot of her own needs and joy for the relationship. So, through the process, she did get clear this is time to transition out of the relationship. Through that process, she reconnected so much to her own sense of self and authority in her life and what she really wanted. For her, the relationship had gone a certain way in which she had just taken on a lot that really wasn’t hers. It was this powerful reclamation.

I really love the word reclamation. I feel like it’s a really powerful thing that happens for many of us in a breakup. We start to gather and reclaim parts of ourselves. Soon after, she really experienced this intense feeling and waves of grief and processing what happened there, and at the same time, both can be there, she was having that and just big openings, joy, and rich friendships, and feeling alive in a certain way that she hadn’t.

Through that process, with all of that and her getting clear on what she wanted, we worked together for a while, and towards the end she had an old friend that was kind of there the whole time that they had a powerful connection, and she just wasn’t ready for it or aware of it, just timing and all of the inner work she had done. They’re in a really beautiful prosperous rich relationship now.

I’ve had my own personal versions of that, and I think that’s part of why this has become my work is the breakups have become really powerful catalysts for healing and delight and rebirth, and all of it. Breakups, like we said, are freaking hard and intense, and I think we so often forget, especially when we’re in the midst of the transition and all of the big feelings, that on the other side of it is also a lot of goodness and delight and rediscovering joy, play, and parts of yourself.

Paula:  That’s so interesting. I don’t know if you heard me kind of squeal there for a second, because this little bit, and it’s not little, it’s the biggest thing, that dance between the fear and love, I would guess. That’s the powerful catalyst and why this show is around. It’s like what’s that dance between ultimate awful mourning and grief and then the ability to find and feel joy on the other side of it. The hardest thing ever is that transformation. You have to be able to be courageous enough to say, “Yes, I don’t want to do whatever this is.” Sometimes you don’t even have a choice. If somebody is facing an accident or something else, sometimes you don’t even have a choice to go through that life event. But when you do, on the other side, the healing and the whole thing, everything that opens up after that is just breathtaking. I think our fear will hold us back every time. I will start crying. That’s what that squeal was. Gave me goosebumps.

Mackenzie:  It’s exquisite, really. I’ve found in my own experience, and with my clients, too, but I can speak to my own really strongly, of going through grief and really being in a space of my own life where I’ve been able to not resist it as much and show up for it and really let it just crack my heart open. I’ve been so aware of that process. The grief and the love are so often of the same, they’re threaded together. That grief opens you up to how much love and care there is and was. It’s just this powerful process of how they’re together. I think the fear and the joy are so threaded also.

Something I use with my clients a lot who are moving through that fear and that threshold of leaving the safety net, even if was dysfunctional and painful, it was familiar perhaps, that relationship. It can be very intense to walk forward, even with the fear. Something that can be helpful is really reminding yourself of what you’re saying yes to by saying no to the relationship. That can be a guiding force to keep you centered. Not like eyes on the prize, but just with your vision clear of what you’re going through so that you can meet the hard stuff and know that it doesn’t mean something is wrong or bad, it’s just this will keep you on track.

Paula:  That’s also very powerful. I know one of my terrible breakups, I had actually been engaged to the person, but it turned out the relationship was just not a fit for so many reasons. Full transparency, I had said yes to the engagement and then realized this is the worst thing I could have ever said yes to. Then there’s a whole thing. I’m sure you kind of understand that.

Mackenzie:  Yes.

Paula:  The pressure was on and I was like, “but this is the worst.” After that played itself out rather dramatically, I told myself, “You’re on time out.” This was way before I did any coaching or anything. Literally, for a year, I was like, “You are not dating anyone, you’re being sent to your room, go think about what you’ve done,” with love. I said, “You have to decide are you doing these things out of love or out of fear?” It was that.

It’s become a very powerful practice for many things, really catching myself in a gap moment about anything, not just relationships or interpersonal anything. Am I making this decision because it’s resonating and it feels aligned and it’s lighting me up? It’s not one of those hell yeah things, it’s just is this right or am I doing do it for some fear-based reason, which could be fear of missing out, fear of somebody thinks I look stupid, it could be I fear I look stupid.

That was a really big learning. Here we are, sharing about my own love life.

Mackenzie:  I love that you lovingly sent yourself to time out for a year.

Paula:  Off the market.

Mackenzie:  Yes, off the market. Some of the women I work with have this knowingness, kind of what you’re saying, of this is not a good fit, but there is a fear of being alone. There’s the fear that maybe there’s nothing else out there for me, maybe this is as good as it can get, I should just stay in it. There can be so many fears, even with the knowing, so it can take a lot of inquiry and courage. It takes guts, for sure.

Paula:  It really does. I say all of that lightheartedly now about sending myself to my room, or whatever we want to call that, but it was heartbreaking. That was not a good time. I think if I had words to say to that person who was walking into that, it would have been like, “Hey, trust your intuition. You know what’s going on. You can choose to say no to this now instead of having to watch it all play out in front of you.”

Mackenzie:  I think that’s a huge part of the post-breakup process that I work with a lot of my clients on, it’s rebuilding self-trust, especially if there were elements within the relationship that made it challenging to do that. It’s such a huge thing of trusting yourself again.

Paula:  Yes. I think learning to trust yourself is the hardest thing and it’s the key to then being able to go into the next thing, if there is, or really being content and happy with being single for a while, because that’s also a really beautiful place to be.

Mackenzie:  Yes. That is such a foundational part, to fortify your relationship with yourself and your sense of trust, and your awareness when you have all this sovereignty and space just to really feel your own body signals and knowing without any other input in a particular romantic way.

Just on a personal note, that was a huge part of my journey was in a relationship that for me there was a lot of manipulation and gaslighting that happened in this past relationship, which really eroded my sense of trust because I so often took on their perspective and was in so many situations that inherently and purposefully for him made me question my own perspective and experience. It was such a huge part of my journey to recognize my own signals, basically what was mine and what wasn’t, and what I knew I needed and what I didn’t.

All that to say just rebuilding self-trust has been a big part of my journey and I help a lot of my clients do that in the breakup process. It’s huge.

Paula:  It’s definitely powerful. I’m thinking another thing here that we could dive into is have you worked with people where COVID and shelter-in-place and the stress of all of this has taken a toll? How have you seen that playing out for people and relationships?

Mackenzie:  In so many ways. I feel like the relationships have just been hit hard with COVID. It’s so many different sides of the spectrum.

I know people who are in relationships who went from having your whole world open up to suddenly both people working from home and being quarantined together and so much time together. Even if there weren’t too many big challenges in the relationship, talk about a pressure cooker of a year, all that time together and lack of other community and connections. I’ve seen that be very challenging on that side of it for folks who are in relationships during COVID.

Actually, even a lot of interesting things coming up around different perspectives around COVID, what’s safe and what’s not. That can be such a tricky thing. Even if it’s slightly off, it tends to heighten our sense of safety and can feel very threatening.

Then different needs and subtleties. Maybe one person is way more extroverted, and they are really suffering, and one is more introverted. There are just so many different parts of your partner that are very present and intensified through COVID and quarantining and so much stay at home time and just navigating the stress of what is happening in the world and how we process that and all of it. That’s one piece of it.

Then on the other side of the spectrum, it has also been a really isolating tricky time to be single and/or going through a breakup. In terms of going through a breakup, it can feel extra scary. It would be so helpful to have your community and times with your besties or travel in that sense on the other side of a breakup. To feel that not as accessible, that sense of being alone and isolation can feel really challenging.

I know for some of my clients who have gone through a breakup this year, it has made it more challenging to keep their boundaries with their ex.

Paula:  Oh, that’s interesting.

Mackenzie:  It has been a lot harder for them to not send that text or backslide a little because they’re feeling a lot of loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection. So, it has taken a lot of really looking at that and getting creative and being in choice. We need to include the context of life we’re in and make choices from there. It’s tricky on that front.

Then it’s obviously tricky if you’re at the phase where you’re single or maybe wanting to date. Obviously, it’s a really tricky time to feel possibility and meeting new people. There’s a lot of communication that is heightened of dating someone right now. Normally, for a lot of people when you’re dating someone new, early on you may not be having a lot of conversations yet.

COVID has become like the worst STD ever, because you have to have these conversations with people early on just to hang out with them without masks, and have these intense safety conversations, “Who have you been around? Are you dating anyone else? Are you kissing anyone else?” All that stuff, which are these body-based safety conversations that you would have commonly like an STD conversation when you were further along, wanting to be exclusive, things like that.

So, it’s an interesting accelerator on that front where you’re communicating these big things very early on.

Paula:  It does put a really interesting layer on the safety question. That is fascinating. I had not even really thought about it from that perspective.

I know some people who are single and looking. My experience with one of those friends is that it’s heartbreaking in a different way, because she really wants to find connection and she really wants to find someone, but then exactly what you’re saying, even getting beyond the online connection of it seems like we have something in common here.

I love this idea that she came up with. She said, “We went and we sat six feet apart on the beach and had a conversation.” I said that’s amazing. She said, “Well, I had to meet him.”

I think it’s so hard because then, you’re right, there’s a whole different layer of are we going to even get literally closer.

Mackenzie:  Right. Can we hug? What does that look like? There’s a lot of communication that I think is thrusting a lot of us into getting more comfortable.

If communication and owning your needs and your perspectives has been a challenge for you, I think the COVID thing has really forced a lot of us into having those conversations and building those communication muscles, sharing what you’re comfortable with in a way where in the past maybe you have gotten away with not really taking a stand for what you needed or wanted.

So, yes, COVID has definitely impacted the relational front, that’s for sure. Big time.

Paula:  My experience is more of the longer relationship, kid in the house.

Mackenzie:  It’s nonstop.

Paula:  It is. I’m discovering that I’m much more of an introvert than anyone ever would have guessed. It’s just been interesting. I think you’re right, though. It does even on any level of wherever you are on the spectrum of in relationship or looking for relationship, it does push all of the boundaries of communication.

Is there anything else that you feel you’d like to add about relationships and Valentine’s Day?

Mackenzie:  I think the big thing that’s coming up that has been sprinkled throughout our conversation really is around that self-love piece and having a really loving relationship with yourself. Even jokingly about your time out, doing that with a lot of love and care and tenderness. I think that’s really huge to keep in mind. Whether you’re in a relationship or going through a breakup or single, having this really loving relationship with yourself.

When I say self-love, it’s not just doing a facial at night and feeling good about yourself when you’re having a nice day. It’s a breadth of love and care, the part that greets all parts of yourself, the parts of you that feel the ugliest and darkest and broken, it’s cultivating the sort of relationship with yourself that you really show up for all parts of yourself. That’s obviously very present in a breakup, but it’s essential to have that to have a healthy relationship.

So, I would say no matter where you’re at in the Valentine’s Day season and what’s coming up for you, just the foundation is to be really sweet and tender with yourself. In the challenges and the confusion and the places that hurt, that’s really essential. Being harsh and critical towards ourselves really only creates more gridlock. Softening things and being gentle with ourselves can create that little space to get in there, shift, and heal, and it just feels better. It works and it just feels better.

Paula:  It does, yes. Even my tough love with myself felt better than the other pieces. Thank you for that.

If somebody loves what they hear and they want to connect with you, where can people find you?

Mackenzie:  They can find me on Instagram @_HoneyintheHeart_. That’s a great place to connect and build community. Then my website is KenzieEason.com, so that’s a great place to plug in. I have a free masterclass there, 60 minutes filled with content of how to take your breakup from tragic to transformative. There’s a lot of good wisdom nuggets in there and places to start. That’s where to go.

Paula:  I’ll drop all of that in the show notes, of course. The last question that I love to ask everyone is what are three ways that you can think of to jump start joy in your life, in the world, or in other people’s lives?

Mackenzie:  Three ways to jump start joy. The first one is dancing. I’m a huge fan of that, it cultivates so much joy. I actually suggest it a lot during a breakup, it’s just such a good way to process grief and move through and get your groove back. There’s just so much goodness there. So, I’d say dancing.

Two other ways to jump start joy… I get a lot of joy out of finding whatever little, especially around food and drink, that just make me so delighted. For me, it’s my special coffee in the morning. It just fills my heart. It’s such a simple thing that starts to overflow for me.

Maybe the third one is just to bookend it with peeing outside.

Paula:  That’s the best. I love it so much.

Mackenzie:  Find a private place and give it a try.

Paula:  Go with nature. Oh goodness. Thank you so much, Mackenzie, for being on. It’s such a treat to connect.

Mackenzie:  Thanks for having me.

Paula:  Thank you so much for coming on. It’s such a treat to have you on the show and for you to bring your unique perspective both about things that brought you joy as a child and, of course, how to look at relationships and breakups and all of those things in a new way.

If you guys want to find out more about this episode or about Mackenzie, you can find all the links in the show notes at JumpStartYourJoy.com.

You can also get the link to my brand new book, Jump Start Your Joy: Heart-Centered Ways to Find Joy in the Messy Middle, just released this week. I really hope that you’ll pick up a copy. It is a quick read and it will give you so many juicy ideas to look at in how you can find joy right now. Even though we’re in the middle of this very difficult time and this pandemic and all of that, I think it is also a time that we can find joy and learn to look for joy in new ways. Go check it out. It’s all new stuff, it’s not a rehash of the things that you hear me talk about here, but there are some very special guests included in the book. I hope you’ll go pick up a copy.

I’m thinking next week I’ll be back. I know I’ve been going every other week, but I’ll come back for a quick check in and to say hello. Then early next month I’ll have Heather Chauvin back. She was on a couple of years ago. She is a cancer survivor, and she is a mother, and she has written about all of it in her brand new book that’s coming out. I can’t wait to talk to her about her journey and how she has found joy along the way.

I hope you’ll come back for those next couple of episodes. Until then, I hope that your days are filled with so much joy.