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Authors Posts by Whitney Ellison

Whitney Ellison

Whitney Ellison

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On being met where we are.

Last week was a tough one for me. Tough is relative – I know everyone has their stuff. I know my version of tough is nothing compared to another’s. All the same, for me, it was a tough week. My childcare fell through in the afternoons, so as soon as naptime was over, my work time was over. My husband helps immensely but he has an employer and works full-time. His hours are limited during the day. After the pandemic started, I chose to pivot, leave my employer, and start my business, Wellison Enterprises, allowing time and flexibility to navigate raising 3 young children. I had always wanted to do this and given the nature of the pandemic and balancing having a career, this seemed like the best time to jump because my family needed me more than ever. It has had a lot of benefits. It also has its days. 

Last week probably would have been more tolerable but for the fact that my daughter is amid 18-month sleep regression, so we are averaging about 3 hours of sleep per night, right now, again. The compounding effect of a lack of sleep on the lack of help that I deeply rely on to get things done was a lot – even for someone like me who has a lot of emotionally therapeutic tools in her toolbelt to navigate these situations. Sometimes tools are unmatched compared to a screaming, fussy, growing 18-month-old, who wanted to either be held, or completely left to her own devices, which included tearing through every possible cabinet, learning how to climb onto the dining room table, gravitating toward the fire poker, and when that was taken, sitting in the ashes of the fireplace, among other things. Dinners did not get cooked. Cleaning did not happen. The older kids had a lot of screen time when home. And yes, I got to that place. The one everyone dreads. The one nobody wants to admit to. 

I felt sorry for myself. 

I think the level of pain I had last week was amplified by a collective pain for all the mothers who were able to rely on fluid and functional childcare until the pandemic hit. Yes, this is a place of privilege. Yes, it implies access and financial security. In case nobody has noticed, it is also a huge reason why almost 3 million women have left the workforce. There is a collective grieving happening right now because there is a lot of loss. Last week hurt deeply, not because the babysitter cancelled, but because lack of childcare now for me, is a triggering event. Not having childcare has created trauma in my life. The new way of navigating parenting children and working as a mom – even a mom who started and owns her own business now – looks quite different than it did a year ago. It has uncovered that what we believed to be true, was never true to begin with. Yes, I received more time with my children, and I am grateful for that. And I am sad because that part of trust and access in my life died. It is being rebirthed in a new form – a much more honest form. But there is grieving to this process. 

It was a learned belief that my husband and I had access to paid childcare when we needed it, until we did not. And when we did not, I was the one who had to really step up to the plate at home – and this is while I had a full-time job too. That experience has instilled in my mind a limiting belief that I will experience loss every single time a childcare-giver cancels last minute (and stuff happens – this is not a critique on my amazing caregivers). It brings back the panic and invisibility I felt a year ago. I am still very much in the grieving and the figuring out of what the hell happened. I fully intend to move past this belief and recover from this trauma, and I am doing the work to get there. But it is very raw right now. I imagine it is for so many others as well. 

And you know what? It is ok. It is ok that I cried out of frustration. It is ok that I felt alone and like quitting everything. The really hard part is that I did not feel like I could talk to anyone about this. It seems as though this narrative is becoming played, and folks are tired of hearing about the squeeze women experience daily at the loss of childcare – even other women. Even other mothers. Not feeling like I could be received where I was made me feel very alone and invisible. It revealed something to me – and this is very vulnerable for me to say – last week, I needed and was looking for sympathy.

Sometimes sympathy helps us feel seen. And yes, I am referring to sympathy. Not empathy. Empathy implies the person has been there or can imagine being in the shoes of another. Sympathy implies that they have not been there, and cannot imagine being in the situation, but that they see there is a hard time going on, and then they gently acknowledge this. A simple “I see it’s been a rough week. I hope it gets better soon,” goes a lot further than an “at least you’re not …” or “You got this! Just push through.” Reframing can be helpful in a lot of situations, but it is also a defense mechanism that communicates to the other, “I can’t be bothered by this. Or your discomfort is a drag,” and it’s used to avoid having to deal with uncomfortable emotions. It has nothing to do with the person feeling the pain, and everything to do with the person prescribing the reframe. Reframing can actually perpetuate the pain of the other by making them feel less than or not entitled to their own emotion. It’s a good thing to watch out for because it is easy to do. 

However, well-intended sympathy can equate to grace. To holding space for another in grief. An acknowledgement. Not pity. It’s about saying, “I meet you where you are. I see a brighter day ahead, but you take the time you need. It’s ok to feel this way.”

Think about it in this context: when people are grieving the loss of a loved one, people often offer sympathy – not empathy. They offer sympathy because they have not gone through the tragic situation and are not the ones in total grief, but they want to acknowledge the person who is – that they see them and that the hold space for them. Most of the time, it is not pity that founds sympathy, it is grace and understanding that life is hard in this season for another, and that it is ok for them to be where they are. It is letting them know this. When you think about the mass exodus of working women, and of the ones who specifically left because they had to become primary caregivers after it became clear the system was hollow, understand they are grieving. They are grieving their freedom to work and raise kids in the way that they chose. They are grieving the part of their identity they so strongly held onto after shifting into motherhood – the one that said, “I am still a person too.” They are grieving the fact that they were told the institution had their back, but when push came to shove, it had nothing to offer them. 

So sometimes if you don’t to know what to say, sympathy will do fine. “Sym-” means “together,” and “-path” means “emotion.” I think that there is value in that. Meet us where we are.  

Whitney Ellison is a thought leader and coach of the Enneagram and Quantum Energy. Learn more about her by visiting her website, and following her @wellisonenterprises on Instagram where you can find all of her Enneagram series interviews and other comings and goings.

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Click here to understand how the words we use are a sign of the internal work that needs our attention.

I met with a spiritual teacher last week. It was powerful. There were a handful of times that I used the word “hate,” and when I did, it was fueled with emotion. She would pause me after I would say the statement, “I hate it when that happens.” Or “I hate malice,” in the context of when I suspect people of have ill intentions toward me (a discussion for another day). I consider myself to have some strong tools, so you can imagine the shame and sadness that hit me when I realized this truth about myself. Darn it – there it is again: that ever-present and gently uncomfortable reminder – I am still work in progress.

We talked about the word “hate”. About how we can choose freedom from that word and the burden it presents. Hate does not serve us. I reflected on this. I believe and teach that forgiveness is the ultimate freedom: for and from ourselves. It unshackles us from the thing that happened to us. It is an action not meant to unshackle the other person- they were never shackled by our pain to begin with – only by their own. The effect of the pain we harbor, caused (accidentally, subconsciously, or intentionally) by another only holds us hostage – and if we do not reckon with it, it comes back and comes back and comes back. Even when we try to block it and control it with words like “hate”.

Hating something or someone makes us feel small and is the opposite of freedom. It returns us to the wounded child who desperately needs our love and affirmation of worthiness. It cycles until we reckon with it – by identifying the source or the roots – and extracting them. Words like hate are simply flags that there is internal work to be done.

I have found work to do.  And thank God, I suppose. Because the day I stop finding more spiritual work to do might be the day I depart from this Earthly plane, and I am not particularly interested in leaving too soon. 

What I learned from this conversation is that there are places, things and people that have triggered a pain so deep, I have only been able to label my response and beliefs grown from that pain as hate or other low vibrational emotions. This allows a continued assault on myself. Allowing hate in – even if just in semantics – really means I have allowed the pain to settle and fester. If I want to continue to lead and help others rise, I must also continue to help myself rise by unloading the weight that holds me back.

Hate begets hate. Love begets love. I choose love. It was love that brought me to this conversation, love that helped me see I have work to do, love that will support the processing and love that will allow me to forgive – both myself and others. It is love that makes way for freedom.

That is my truth. What is yours?

Whitney Ellison is a thought leader and coach of the Enneagram and Quantum Energy. Learn more about her by visiting her website, and following her @wellisonenterprises on Instagram.

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On taking that first step.

Start where you are.

Creativity is one of our birthrights as humans. This may surprise some of you. I have heard many folks with limiting beliefs who declare, “I am not a creative person.” I can relate because I am in recovery from that exact limiting belief! Let me help you figure this out quicker than I did. You are a creator by the sheer nature of being. You create every day – often without even knowing. Your mind creates thoughts. Your thoughts create choices. Your choices cause your body to create action. Your action creates ripples that impact the world – even the tiniest of actions are a cause that will affect an outcome. Maybe you have yet to be taught to consciously harness this power into something; or maybe you were taught to create and then life got in the way, so your creativity was silenced as a means of survival. You are not alone. Just because your creativity is dormant does not mean it never existed. It is still with you. I promise. 

After starting my Wellison Enterprises Enneagram and Quantum Energy coaching business, I sat with this one specific creative idea for a long time. Finally, one day, I headed to my mudroom, where I had noticed earlier there was good lighting. I curated a decent zoom and live background on the wall behind my laundry counter with some pictures and things, set my light ring and phone stand on top of my washing machine across my background, found a barstool, and got started. I created an Instagram Live series interviewing moms about their journeys with the Enneagram. I had no idea how it would do, but I had to do it. As a mom, I knew the importance of being seen and heard – especially during these pandemic times. In my business and life, I am passionate about spreading the word about the importance of the Enneagram – and having a holistic understanding of each type. I married these two things and created a series of interviews with 24 amazing women, called The Enneagram Mom Interviews.

Photo taken in the mudroom, July 2020, by Tasha Pinelo Photography

I did not attach myself to the outcome – just the process and experience. Since the final episode in December, the series has received over 5000 views. Throughout the journey, hilariously, I tried my best to keep the shelf of cleaning product above me out of the image. It was comical, but I made space in that tiny room, for myself and 24 other women. It brings tears to my eyes to think that this space impacted over 5000 people who watched these women talk about their amazing and precious lives in the context of their Enneagram types. 

From this creative inception, everything in my business began to fluidly expand. I met people who want me to grow and succeed, who have connected me to clients, or shared their platforms. It helped me feel empowered to claim more space in my home for an actual office, and I generated enough income through new clients and opportunities, to rent monthly co-work space at Impact Cowork in Newport, to have affordable access to conference rooms and a recording studio where I filmed my first e-course. It inspired my second and current series, the Enneagram Entrepreneur Interviews – same idea, except with female entrepreneurs. Now both series are also housed on YouTube and will soon be made into a podcast. So much is happening now, and so many have felt the love I wished to spread with my creative idea. Continuously, every single day I wake up and start where I am. And every single day, I am so much further than where I started – even on the slower days of rest. 

I heard an interesting opinion on a podcast the other day: that it is selfish to hold onto your gifts and keep them from the world. “How dare you do that?” they said. It was a bit righteous for my taste because I hesitate to assume any power over tying someone’s narrative to the judgmental word “selfish.” I will say this though: it will always be a huge loss to the world to live this life with our beautiful gifts and never release them for the sake of living in our true authentic spirit. Your spirit is here for a reason. It assumed your earthly body with the sole (and soul) purpose of experiencing life. All of life –the good, the hard, the tangible – whole-heartedly with eyes wide open. We do not experience life sleepwalking. We do not experience life with limiting beliefs. 

I wrote this piece because I know someone out there needs to read this. They need this final push. I see you. I am you – I am you 6 months or a year from now after you take the first step. Please let this be your sign. You need only one thing to start where you are: the desire to create what is yours – right now.

What one thing can you do to today to take a step toward your creative dream? Remember: the magic is in the process, not in the outcome. Let the outcome unfold and it will do so beyond your wildest dreams. Embrace all of it. Start where you are.

Whitney Ellison is a thought leader and coach of the Enneagram and Quantum Energy. Learn more about her by visiting her website, and following her @wellisonenterprises on Instagram where you can find all of her Enneagram series interviews and other comings and goings.