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How Multidimensional Women Are Redefining Work & Success with Mary Margaret Skelly

How Multidimensional Women Are Redefining Work & Success with Mary Margaret Skelly

Mary Margaret Skelly is a career advisor who works with women all over the world to help them do the work that they’re meant to do. Drawing on her background as an executive recruiter – from Wall Street to Silicon Valley – she’s here to share how to thrive after burnout, how women can become a living example of a better way to work, how the next generation can redefine what success looks like, and the intersection of spirituality and work culture. We also discuss multidimensionality as a way to happiness for women and the changing archetype of a “working woman”

Show Notes:

Full Transcript:

Shakti Sita:
Welcome back. Today I have a really awesome guest. Her name is Mary Margaret Skelly. Mary Margaret is a career advisor. She works with women all over the world, and she helps women do the work that they’re meant to do. Before getting into this field, she was an executive recruiter for 10 years and she worked on Wall Street and Silicon Valley. She’s brilliant, she knows her stuff, and above all else, she is just a total healing presence to be around, a healing person to work with, and be near, and I’m just so lucky to call her my friend. So Mary Margaret, welcome to the show.

Mary Margaret:
Thanks for having me. Thanks for that very nice intro.

Shakti Sita:
Yeah, of course. Can we talk about, you know, one of the hottest topics, I think, that I come across in not just my own life, but also my friend group, in our circles, is burnout and this idea that we hit overwhelm and, and it’s like, oh my gosh, it hits us in the career center and then it trickles out into every other area of our life. What do you do with women that you work with who are burnt out?

Mary Margaret:
Yeah. Yeah. And just to frame that a little bit, there are a ton of statistics out there. Something like 75% of all of Gen Z, half of millennials have left their jobs for mental health reasons. Now, those two generations are known to be more fragile, but I can say from working with the executive teams at Fortune 500 companies and some of the world’s biggest banks, that burnout is not limited to the younger generations. And we’re seeing it really kind of across not only generations, but socioeconomic status. Wealth does not protect you from this.

In fact, we’re seeing that some of the wealthiest people are working the longest hours. These rates are really no mystery to me. They make sense. Human beings need certain things. We need good food. We need time to exercise. We need real rest. We need enough money. We need a community of people who are like us. Not to say you should only hang out with like minded people, but a community of people we feel connected to. We need good relationships. We need creative expression. We need to feel like our work matters. And I would argue we need a connection to a higher purpose and a higher power.

Our culture makes it very difficult to get all of these things. And a lot of people try to muscle it out and they’re lonely. Their health is not great. There’s a lot of dysfunction in the way that we relate in the workplace. And it becomes almost like the family system and all of the dysfunction comes out. That’s fine. That’s normal. I’ve never seen a workplace that’s not dysfunctional. We can work with that. But you’re going to break down if you don’t have those things. And it’s just evolution at play when I talk about why it’s worth it to improve and to get those things.

People call my generation entitled, that’s fine. We need to evolve. We need to stop the cycle of dissatisfaction and regrets. And it’s worth it. And I’m not saying it’s easy to get all those things, but I’m saying we can get very, very close and that we really need to if we’re going to start to improve the mental health rates in our country and in the world.

So a lot of women do come to me and they do feel completely exhausted. And a lot of them think that they need to make a total career change, a total career like overhaul. And we find through our work together that that’s not often necessary. Sometimes it is and it makes sense, but there’s a lot that you can do right where you are in terms of giving yourself permission to kind of quietly create the life that you need to create. And a lot of us want to wait for permission. We want to wait for policies to change at our workplace. We want the government to do something.

And that would be very nice, but nothing … We can’t wait around for that to happen. And there’s so much power we have as individuals to own our own lives and to start to create a working life that works for us. And it has a ripple effect across society, because if you’re a woman who has a happy working life, you’re elevating all of your coworkers, you’re coming home and you’re treating your family right, and then everyone you touch is in a better position to do the same. So I think it’s critical and I think it’s very unselfish to get the working part of your life right.

Shakti Sita:
This is a beautiful picture that you’re painting, and I feel completely like … I’m like screaming, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, I completely agree with you.”

Mary Margaret:
The revolution.

Shakti Sita:
The revolution. It starts with working women and just women in general, but for the women out there who are in the throws of the burnout, and you can’t even see like five feet ahead of you, let alone the bigger picture of like, I’m going to elevate everyone else around me. Where do you start with them?

Mary Margaret:
Yeah. In my mind, the answers are simple and you know what they are. However, years of conditioning and other people’s opinions are blocking the truth that you inherently know. So a lot of the work that we do, or that I do with women I work with is around peeling that away and really asking questions designed to awaken women to their own self- knowing.

You and I kinda came from a similar background. We were both swimmers, which teaches you a lot about endurance and discipline. And then we went to demanding … We were so lucky to go to demanding colleges, and that sets you up for a certain kind of success. It adds the pressure of, okay, well, what are you gonna do with that, that privilege and success? So I think we both took on very demanding traditional jobs, which we were so lucky to. I mean, look at what they taught us, the professionalism and just discipline and excellence that you learn.

I think one thing millennials don’t always get right is, there is a lot we can learn from the generation ahead of us. And the work that those generations have put in does deserve respect and their seniority does deserve respect at a certain level. So I think we got the opportunity to learn that from our environments. But what those environments also do is show you a one-dimensional way of working, a very linear kind of industrial revolution way of working that requires a woman to either completely numb out to her own needs or break down. And then the problem becomes, well, I have a problem because I can’t hack it.

And what I want women to know is that that’s not true. You’re not weak. Women work differently, and you can call this, I’m speaking in a very heteronormative way. As we know today, there is a spectrum here. So if you identify primarily with the feminine principle, you work a different way than somebody who identifies primarily with the masculine principle. It’s not weak. It’s different. And that if I have any message, that’s what it is, is that if we can evoke the genius of the feminine principle without driving that person into the ground or driving that person crazy, our whole world is going to move forward when we unlock that and untap a different kind of working.

And so a lot of the work I do with women is focused on, well, why do you think you need to be at your desk from 7:00 to 7:00? Did somebody tell you that? And if they did, what’s more important to you? Are you brave enough to carve out your own life despite the opinions of others? A lot of women come to me and they want to make change in their workplace, which is beautiful. Some of us are called to go start our own businesses. Some of us are called to make change from within, but it doesn’t come from demanding it or getting aggressive about it. It just simply … It won’t work in a long-term way.

What I work with women to do is to become a living example of a better way, and I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying we have to be strategic about it and a little bit more subtle about it and unapologetic about it, but also become somebody who’s so well-respected, so good at her job, that people are going to listen to her and people want to know what she’s doing. And again, the argument could be, why do we have to do it? Why does it have to be our responsibility? Which I understand. But once you get over that, then you can actually make some change.

Shakti Sita:
And you are such a living example, to me, of embodying this and actually executing on that, that kind of feminine principle. So thank you.

Mary Margaret:
Thank you. Look, like I said, it’s not easy to get here, but if you put one foot in front of the other, it will happen.

Shakti Sita:
Yeah. Yeah. Can you talk a little bit about what makes you so passionate about all of this? Because I know personally some … I know some of your background story around this, but what happens when you do ignore this feminine principle and what happened to you individually, personally?

Mary Margaret:
That’s such a good question. Well, I think my story has actually becoming quite common, which is that I burnt out spectacularly. And you can’t really blame anyone else. Now, I didn’t know any better because that is our culture, but I was working in New York City and working for Wall Street firms as an executive recruiter. And you keep the pace of your client. And so we did. It was demanding. And then I was recruited to a large Silicon Valley technology company and I did something similar there.

Throughout that time, the external voice was really weighing heavy on me of any time you’re not working, you’re being lazy. Nothing you do is enough. And I think recruiting too, it really nothing … You can never do enough. There’s always more you can do. It’s one of those kinds of jobs. The job’s not actually done. There are always more people you can speak to.

Shakti Sita:
Always.

Mary Margaret:
And I didn’t have a way to shut that off in me and say, “No, the job’s done for today.” And I did. I got very sick. I had a number of autoimmune illnesses, which you know are so rampant today. And it took me a while to recover. I spent eight months on my dad’s couch, which in your late 20s is not exactly where you think you’re gonna be. And I know you know that too. So of course I went through it, and I always think lik we go through these things so we can help other people through them. So no harm done.

Aside from that, I also, I have interviewed hundreds and hundreds of executives all over this country and all over the world. And especially in this country there is … The corporate life can be brutal. I mean, it can be very, very dehumanizing. And when you’re at the top, you’re working even harder. I mean, do CEOs need to make 20 times, or whatever, 100 times, whatever the number is, what the most junior employee does? No. But that’s not to say that they’re not under just insane amounts of pressure.

I actually think, and The Wall Street Journal had an article about this just this week, about law firms. It used to be if you make partner or you get to a certain level within a corporation, you can sit back a little bit. You’ve got some security, you’re going to be there for life, the people under you have to still hustle, but the promise is you get to this certain point and you can relax. That’s dead. That does not exist anymore. Partners are hustling for business. And I think this is the case across all professional services. So executive recruiting, law firms, accounting, so forth.

People used to just knock on your door, you’d wait for the phone to ring. And now all of those partners are still hustling for business and the business development becomes a big part of what they do. And there are multiple reasons for that, but I think we all thought technology was going to somehow help us. And it has, but it’s actually made it so we’re always on. I mean, I think there’s the famous millennial complaints, but we’re the first generation that has never been able to sign off. If we’re not working, we’re worried about it or the phone is pinging and we need new tools to deal with that new reality.

Shakti Sita:
Yeah. What kind of tools do you recommend for your clients and what kind of tools work for you, if any? I’m speaking and it’s like, I have like things lighting up on my screen, my dog’s barking, my phone’s pinging, the focus is so … I mean it, in Kundalini we call it info-dementia because there’s just such an overload of information that the brain is just like, whoa, what’s happening? So what do you do with that?

Mary Margaret:
Well, that’s a good question. And I think as women, it’s tenfold. I mean, think about it. Men throw on a suit or whatever they throw on these days, jeans and a-

Shakti Sita:
I see one every day.

Mary Margaret:
Yeah, right. I mean, if you’re showing up at an office or for clients, you’ve got to, whatever you’re going to wear that’s professional to you, it’s got to fit right. And then women’s weight, it’s like we fluctuate throughout the month, we’re changeable and that’s okay. But I can just remember I’d have like a tailored pencil skirt with my suit and like some days it’d be too tight and some days it’d be too loose. And it’s like, this is just annoying. It’s just another thing that we have to deal with. And you’ve got to do your hair and your makeup, or if you don’t, you’ve got to own it because that’s the expectation.

I will say, I actually think we as women would be bored without all of those things. My advice and my challenge is to embrace the craziness of it all because we’re multitaskers and if you can turn that around, the whole game is to get more energy to deal with everything. If you can turn it around, enjoy the fact that you get to dress professionally for you, whatever that means to you, whatever you’re evoking. Enjoy all the information being thrown at you.

I think we all, we’ve got this fantasy, or at least I did, when I’m working on the, whatever it was, 22nd floor of the Grace Building in Bryant Park, if I could just like lay on a beach somewhere, if I can just … And I actually got, my fantasy came true because my boyfriend worked in the Caribbean and I moved there for six months. And a couple of work opportunities that I thought would pan out didn’t, and I was sitting on a beach for six months and that’s not as fun as it sounds. We want purpose in our lives. We want to matter. We want to have an impact.

So my suggestion or challenge would be to embrace everything that’s being thrown at us. I mean, it only gets crazier for women. You and I don’t have families yet, but we’ve observed how that changes. I mean, you and I obviously find Kundalini Yoga to be such a helpful tool. And the reason for that is because as you know, it’s fourfold, it’s breath, it’s physical yoga, it’s meditation, it’s mantra. That whole body system gives you … I mean, I could go on and on and I could rave about it.

But what it gives you is something that if you’re not going to do Kundalini Yoga, you need to look for it somewhere else because whatever discipline or system you find, it will make you physically healthy. It’ll make you emotionally healthy. It will filter out the subconscious BS that’s basically making your life hard and the thought horn that you picked up in childhood or whatever that tell you that you’re not worthy unless you’re working around the clock or your voice doesn’t matter or whatever, whatever, whatever, whatever.

And that’s how I manage it. And we, in the Kundalini Yoga tradition, you get up, you throw yourself in a cold shower and you do a sense of sadhana, a morning practice. On one level you can say, this is my phrasing. It’s terrible so the rest of your day isn’t terrible. You sort of like, you throw yourself into this really … You start your day with a challenge and then the rest of the day it’s like, what, throw anything at me, I’m up for it, I’m physically and physiologically and emotionally strong enough to handle it and enjoy it.

Shakti Sita:
That’s beautiful. Yeah. You’ve already conquered yourself.

Mary Margaret:
Right.

Shakti Sita:
And then-

Mary Margaret:
And things aren’t going to slow down.

Shakti Sita:
Things aren’t going to slow down. And the thing is too, you’ve had a chance to connect to a higher purpose. And your connection to that. I mean, that to me, if I can speak personally for a moment. I just remember commuting. I was working overnights at Fox News, and I’d be walking to the train. So I’d wake up at 9:30 PM and I would eat dinner, but it was breakfast, and then I would walk to the train at like 11:15 or something like that to catch the train so that I could be in the city by midnight.

And I’d just be walking to the train and be like, “What the heck am I doing with my life?” And then I would just get really existential and I’d be standing in Grand Central, like, “I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go over there. I can’t do this.” And I’d just stand there. And it would be like and everything … Like life would all of a sudden have no meaning or purpose or anything. And then it would just be this crushing weight of like existentialism.

I mean, some people just like numb out to that, but I just like went deep on it. So I did end up quitting that job, because that wasn’t going to work. It’s a lot. It’s a lot to deal with. And I think one of the things that I realized for me is that if I didn’t connect to the greater energy that’s kind of moving our lives here. If I don’t do that daily, and if I don’t acknowledge that, then it does come into through the side door of existential dread and overwhelm and complete crushing fatigue. So it’s interesting-

Mary Margaret:
And I will say-

Shakti Sita:
… I actually have the theory that I don’t voice out loud that much, but that if I were to go back and work in a newsroom right now, I would crush that-

Mary Margaret:
You’d be fine. I have the same theory. Yes.

Shakti Sita:
It’s unreal. It’s uncanny and weird for me to even say it because I actually, I really feel that strongly, that if I ever did want to return to that type of world or environment, that I could actually not only handle it, but I could thrive-

Mary Margaret:
Yeah, you could thrive.

Shakti Sita:
And I can change it and I can impact it in a meaningful way. And it’s a very circular movement if I ever did something like that. So I mean, for me, if anyone’s listening and they’re like in the throws of the like burnout, like I had to quit in order to get out of it. I was too sick. I was too in it. I was too depressed, down, all of it. But it’s unreal for me to be able to say that three … No, I’m five years later, five and a half years since I worked at Fox News. But I never would have said that even three years ago. So it’s amazing how much we can change and evolve.

And then also, that’s part of the reason why I feel like I’m able to get behind what you’re saying about we as women, we can be in these environments and then we can impact the other people around us because of the energy we’re holding.

Mary Margaret:
I love that. And to your point, for some people, I mean, there is a point where you may need to sit on a couch for a month. I mean, my mission is to make that need to happen less. But absolutely. I mean, there very well may be a point for people. And if there’s any way that you can do it. I mean, sometimes you have to. It’s almost like declaring bankruptcy. Sometimes you have to absolutely start from the couch, but don’t spend too much time there because it builds on itself.

And if you’re waking up and telling yourself that story of I’m exhausted and burnt out, I do think there’s something to be said for sleep and Netflix, but often our creative projects are the most rejuvenating. And to get going on something, even if it’s just for yourself, can be very healing.

Shakti Sita:
That’s beautiful. And for the people who are kind of coming up through the system in the similar way that we did, where it’s like the hardcore college experience, the rigorous job process, and then actually getting into these high level careers, I have hope that we can be the type of people who can give them the tools to not have to end up the way … That kind of burnout route. And do you have a feeling that there is a way for the cysts start younger or if you had access to some of this in college or high school even … How do we get to the root of it versus … You’re helping people who are in it, you’re treating the wound. How do we prevent the wound?

Mary Margaret:
Yeah. Wow, that’s such a good question. And that’s also where women come in because we’re giving birth to the next generation, whether literally, or in just our influence on the next generation. And it does have to start very early with a sense of sort of self-confidence and sovereignty to be able to check in and … It’s a fine line because you’ve got to, I think, having never been there, but just having been a kid, I could be angry at my parents for making me swim when I didn’t want to, but at the same time, the endurance and discipline that I learned was very helpful.

So I think there’s a fine line between encouraging discipline and sticking to it. Kids sometimes want to give up on things. But also we kids are, and we learned this in the Kundalini Yoga tradition, they’re not furniture, and they’re not people, they’re fully formed people who are just adjusting to the earth. So we have to stop denying their opinions completely. And even if you’re going to take a hard line, talk to them like they’re human being, “Listen, this is why I think you should do this. This is what we’re going to do.” But talk to them and tell them why.

And I think if we’re not listening to our kids and we’re not allowing them to, to have an opinion, to share what they want to, maybe they don’t want to swim. Maybe they want to play basketball, whatever, they want to make play a sport or whatever. But I do think kids, unfortunately, are learning younger and younger to just shut down their needs and they hear from elementary school about what success means.

Some of the kids just opt out entirely. And then some kids … You almost have to look at it with a sense of humor because you can look back at your 16-year-old self and just what a stress case she was. And it’s like the weight of the world was on our shoulder. We have to stop doing that to kids without letting them off the hook. And that’s a whole other conversation. And there are other experts and so forth. But certainly we have to start right there.

And then I almost think there are only a certain number of elite colleges and at this point you can be a genius and not get into an Ivy League school. I almost think there’s something a little bit, that could be healing about that for the 18-year-old who’s done everything right and then has that “early failure”, to realize like I am actually okay. There are other ways to go about this. And so I think encouraging kids early on … The graduation speech is always follow your passion, but by the time you’re 22, you’re like, I have no idea what my passion is.

Shakti Sita:
What is passion?

Mary Margaret:
Exactly. I mean, I chose the hardest major, whatever, whatever was going to get me a job. So that’s tough. But I think … And look, there’s value in any job that you’d get right after school, if you’re learning what to do, what not to do. So, I do think out of school, like be patient and look around and be grateful for what you’re learning. But throughout that time, if there’s a book you want to read, a class you want to take, those are all clues and you should follow those.

And maybe that won’t turn into a day job, but it’ll turn into something that you do maybe on the side or that you infuse into your day job that just gives you a reason. Not all of us have to save the world. You can work in standard Fortune 500 corporation, but you’re improving the life of everyone you work with, all of your clients simply by your presence. You can be a lawyer and you’re absolutely making life better for people. They’re entrusting you during an extremely stressful time. So there’s meaning and purpose that can be found in any profession.

I think when you talk about getting at the root of the problem, it really is a societal acceptance, and it starts with every individual, that there’s value in the things that you enjoy. You talked about every night you would have this feeling like, “What am I doing? Why am I here?” And I can remember that feeling right after school when I worked in Chicago, I would cross the same bridge to work every morning, and every morning I would just think, “I don’t want to go in. I don’t want to do it.” And that is a signal that something needs to change.

And like you said, I mean, maybe you can stay in the same job or maybe you need a hiatus or whatever, but we have to listen to those voices. They’re telling us something, and it may not be obvious right away, but you’ve got to listen.

Shakti Sita:
Yeah, we do. We do. And we need everyone to be listening to it, not just a couple of people. It’s a community problem, not just an individual problem. And one of the things that you’re saying is we need to find meaning and purpose and meaning and purpose, but a synonym to that to me is spirituality.

Mary Margaret:
I personally agree with you.

Shakti Sita:
And we’re spiritual beings. We’re spiritual beings. Now, this is a little bit of a taboo word within the career Fortune 500 scene. Some companies have a true depth of spirituality embedded in their company culture. Interestingly, there’s something about Steve Jobs. He actually had only one book on the iPads when he gave … He gave them out to the employees or something, or maybe it was his iPad. The only book on the iPad was Autobiography of a Yogi.

Mary Margaret:
Wow.

Shakti Sita:
I mean, that’s the only book that he … That’s the one that-

Mary Margaret:
I didn’t know that.

Shakti Sita:
This is fascinating because if you actually look at the companies that are doing things in a big way, and the CEOs who are real visionaries. Look at Tesla and look at like … I don’t know. I mean, Tesla, Apple. And then there’s so many interesting startups out there now. These cultures that these companies are fostering are built on spiritual principles.

Mary Margaret:
Wow.

Shakti Sita:
And I’m fascinated by that because I think that personally, successful companies of the future have to be built on spiritual principles, whether they call them spiritual principles or not, or that they call their employees spiritual or not, it doesn’t really matter. And maybe we just need a new language for it. Because I mean, you were in executive recruiting. It’s not like you could like … Would you ever even talk to anyone about spirituality or their beliefs in that sense of like-

Mary Margaret:
Not at all.

Shakti Sita:
Yeah. I mean, you can’t, cause it’s almost too much of that like live wire because we’re taught like, don’t talk religion, don’t talk politics don’t … And somehow spirituality got looped into that, which is like, okay, we’ll just ignore the fact that I’m wearing glasses. Do you know what I mean? It’s like, how are we going to ignore this? We can’t ignore this. It’s actually completely inappropriate to ignore it. And I think that that’s … It’s just this massive elephant in the room. What do you do with that?

Mary Margaret:
I can understand the reluctance just because of religion and how it’s been divisive and used just against each other. Also, we’re seeing huge numbers of millennials leave the church and leave religion and they’re looking for a replacement definitely. Which is why I think soul cycle and fitness classes almost become that. Somebody who would never miss their weekly soul cycle class, which is fascinating, but won’t go to church with their parents.

And listen, I’m with you 100% because that is my purpose, is the spiritual principle of serving others. So that’s actually the language that I would use, is service to others. Now, I have been involved in purpose-driven business associations and companies that want to have a purpose and it has been watered down and dissatisfying to me personally, even though I appreciate the gesture. And it becomes tricky because I think people think that means you have to be nice and that you can’t … Oh, well we’re purpose-driven, we can’t fire this person.

Shakti Sita:
We have to talk in a really nice face.

Mary Margaret:
Yes. Yes. And that’s not it. You’re not being spiritual by, by not giving somebody direct feedback or not letting somebody go so they can pursue what they’re actually good at. So there’s a real gap right now that I see, and I’m with you 100%, but I do think language that we could use … Because again, the spirituality and religion, I mean, people bristle at it and it might take some time and we don’t want to force our beliefs. That’s fine.

But one thing I think that hopefully people can connect with is … I mean, it’s such a tired story to chase money above all else. I mean, haven’t we … The trope of the person who chased money at the expense of relationships and community and whatever, it’s tired. And I live in Los Angeles where those people abound. It’s like, “Why am I not happy? I have everything.” So I just think like, we don’t have to repeat that anymore. We’ve had enough examples. And really, and I don’t say this because I’m Mother Theresa. I say it because it really, to me, it’s just the core of personal satisfaction.

You’ve gotta be doing something to help others, and not in a way where you’re saving them because that’s obnoxious and they don’t need to be saved. They can save themselves, but in the sense that you’re a living example of a better way.

Shakti Sita:
Whoa. I have chills. That’s really beautiful. One of the things I also want to ask you about is how do we … It’s a big vision for women in the workplace to be holding a certain frequency and archetype. Now, you do this series called the archetypal … Archetypical? Archetypal? Woman series. And you profile these women who are so multidimensional and they have so many facets of themselves. They are the killer lawyer in certain situations, and then they’re the deep spiritual practitioner, and then they’re the mother, and then they’re the … And they’re wearing so many different hats. What drove you to profile these women?

Mary Margaret:
I believe multidimensionality is the only way to happiness for a woman. When we burn out, it’s because we … Some combination of we’re living alone. We go to a job at the same time every day. We leave the job at the same time every day. We are expected to deliver the same amount of output every single day, be exactly as productive as we were yesterday, as we are today. We’re working in an extremely linear way where we’re not using our intuition. We’re not managing our energy in the right way. And we’re one thing. Like, that’s my identity. I am a lawyer. I am an advertising executive.

Shakti Sita:
Yeah. And on the other side of that, you’re also, I am a spiritual practitioner.

Mary Margaret:
Yes. Yes. Well put. Where, “Well, I do yoga, so I’m not going to have a 401k or like work in … I’m too good for the corporate world,” whatever. That’s well put. I believe women are happiest when they have a creative outlet, they have a creative expression and when they’re helping other people and when they’re juggling different things and able to kind of move between those things and let one inform the other. Let your work inform your spiritual practice. Let your spiritual practice inform how you show up at your day job.

The happiest women that I speak with, women who don’t come to me or they do because they want to manage the team better or grow their business or whatever. They’re doing different things. They see themselves like, okay, they’re a lawyer, but they see themselves as a poet and on the side they’re submitting their poems to a literary magazine or they love how they … They take great pride in how they dress and like they’re at drift stores and putting together these amazing outfits, which is not frivolous.

I mean, how we look and how we feel to ourselves totally informs how we show up. And so that’s not a frivolous thing. But, I think, and we learned this in Kundalini Yoga, you’re either creating or destroying, and there is a sort of entropy that happens. And when we’re not able to act on our creative ideas or come up with them or put them into practice, we start to self destruct. And so I wanted to highlight women who are doing this to inspire others to tap into their creative gifts.

Shakti Sita:
That’s great. Can you share one or two of the actual women that you have profiled?

Mary Margaret:
Yes. The most recent one, Dr. Sita Shakti. She’s somebody that we know through our Kundalini community, but she grew up in South Los Angeles in a gang violence. She went to medical school. She got sick herself. She did all the right things. She took the medication that her medical training prescribed. She saw a doctor and she got [inaudible 00:37:47]. And so because she’s smart and intelligent and because you don’t give up, she kept looking and she discovered Kundalini Yoga and acupuncture and herbalism.

And I don’t think we give doctors enough credit. We ask them to go into obscene amounts of debt and they get hazed for seven years and they’re exhausted and they come out and it’s kind of like, what the hell just happened? And by the way, if I’m going to pay off these debts, I have to follow the status quo and the party line and I can’t deviate, or I’ll get sued. And so for somebody like her to step away and say, “I learned a lot, but it wasn’t enough, and there’s more out there.” And to have her own practice, her own medical practice, but also her own daily Kundalini Yoga practice. I just, I admire her so much.

And then I think I admire all the women. I mean, there are several women who are in very corporate jobs and then they teach meditation on the side. And that’s not easy. I mean, we hear about mindfulness, but meditation and Kundalini Yoga, they go a little bit deeper. So these women are putting themselves out there to really share that with a corporate audience, which I think is going to have an incredible impact.

And then one other woman I’ll share, [Isabel Barreto 00:39:06]. She is, for lack of a better description, a stay at home mother who also happens to be the embodiment of just a really profound leader. And she was sort of taking that title back and saying like society pays a lot of lip service to, oh, stay at home moms, yes, yes, so important. But really, we don’t value that at all. And we’re like, you’re either privileged or you’re lazy, or whatever, you get it from all sides.

And Isabel is taking that back and she is framing it as well, if the planet is going to make it, we got to work on the next generation. So this is actually the most important role and here’s how you can be a leader. And she’s teaching courses around being a leader as a parent. And so I think that’s really powerful too.

Shakti Sita:
I love that. I love that so much. You’ve also actually started teaching a little bit in the corporate world. I saw you posted a video teaching your brother who’s a lawyer, Breath of Fire, and it is so good. There’s something completely mesmerizing about watching you teach this because it’s like you’re completely like buttoned up and you’re like in your outfit, you’re just totally like in this environment. But then here you are doing Breath of Fire and it was only a minute of Breath of Fire, but I did it along with you guys and I was like, this was really good stuff.

I see where you can take some of these tools, get them in the door, and because you’re holding both … I said this to you recently about like, I just see this so strongly where it’s like you wear all the right clothes, you have the aura of the person who is in these Fortune 500 companies. People see that in your projection, so they trust you. But then you also have this super deep spiritual practice and energy that you’re carrying. And I just see you as this bridge from the Piscean archetypes and age and everything that we’ve been working with into this Aquarian, multi-dimensional, multifaceted, and just different archetypes of our world and what it means to be a working woman. So I see you as this bridge and it’s just so beautiful.

Mary Margaret:
Thank you. Thank you. I think that’s critical for our times. And the women I mentioned who I’ve profiled for the Archetypal Woman Series, they’re the same. They’re also that bridge. And I think a lot of us are. And I think our society has suffered from a split. It’s either science or religion or physics or metaphysics, or masculine or feminine. We’ve got to bridge the two and not into some bland, neutral middle where we’re all, we’re kind of in the middle. We don’t want to do away with. The extremes are fine and necessary, but I think we need the agility to you’re a scientist by day and then you realize like, actually if we go far enough with this science, it becomes metaphysics. Like the two are melding.

And maybe you’re teaching Kundalini Yoga class. And in a traditional full Kundalini Yoga class, as a teacher, you should be wearing all whites and you should be wearing your turban. That’s the paying respect to the tradition and the truth of like … That’s going to help you give the most powerful transmission cause that’s the technology. And then by day you’re wearing your black suit at your job. I mean, you’re not necessarily … That could be somebody too, who’s got the agility to bridge the two, but it doesn’t need to be something … You’re not sneaking off to teach that Kundalini Yoga class. My vision is that we can bridge all of these different things, and we can have a much richer and more enjoyable human experience.

Shakti Sita:
I love that. And then the companies also benefit from that majorly because it unlocks so much creativity in all of us as individuals that when it comes to the ideas that are actually going to make these companies the money that they’re so desperate for, it’s going to come through so much easier because we’re not all blocked up. Hiding anything blocks our energy.

Mary Margaret:
100%. And there’s a fear that if the power that be loosen their grip on us, or if the chair of the law firm or the CEO loosens his grip on, you’ve gotta be in your chair at this time or that time. The fear is that productivity goes down and that’s understandable. We’re in a very tangled web, because every CEO needs to increase profits every quarter, every single quarter. And if not, she will be fired. So I’m not saying this will be easy to untangle because there might be a short-term productivity drop or whatever. There will be growing pains.

But especially for women, given the cyclical nature of the feminine principle, I mean, there are, I would argue, four days a month where we should really be prioritizing rest and hibernating and can we work through that? Of course we can because we’re strong and we’ve done it for hundreds of years. So of course we can work through those four days, but is that going to give us optimal health? No. And that’s a very literal example. Every woman has to work it out for herself. But there are days where rest is important. And then there are days the next day you could go in and get done four times as much-

Shakti Sita:
Four times as much.

Mary Margaret:
… as you would on an average day.

Shakti Sita:
Yeah. And you’re not as tired.

Mary Margaret:
So we’ve got to acknowledge that.

Shakti Sita:
For me, one of the things like I’ve … I’ve changed a lot of my lifestyle and everything around, and a big component of it was like, well, everything I’ve done up to this point has gotten me so far. What’s the risk in trying something new? And I guess for some of these CEOs, the risk is investors and their quarterly reports and all of that. But on the individual level, like, what do you have to lose? Like, try it. Just try it.

Mary Margaret:
Yeah. Try it.

Shakti Sita:
All of these things. It’s like, just try it. And kind of like you were saying when you were talking about the younger generations, “Oh, I’m kind of interested in this and I want to learn a little bit more about that.” That’s the same thing as adults, especially adults like us who have maybe been shut down or out of touch with anything that we’re actually passionate about. That’s how we refine those passions. And again, what do you have to lose? Just try things. You don’t know, you might be a painter, you might be a dancer, you might be neither. But you’re probably going to have a lot of fun trying something new anyway, so.

Mary Margaret:
That’s well put. And what Kundalini Yoga or your system of choice will give you is efficiency. So you’re in the demanding job, but you become so efficient and then the culture in one of my old officers, which is hilarious, is if you left at 6:00 PM, if you left at a normal hour, you would leave your coat. So it looked like you were still there and just running to get coffee or something, which is hilarious.

Shakti Sita:
No, it’s not hilarious. I feel that so deeply.

Mary Margaret:
It’s tragic. But my invitation, if that’s your office culture is become, there’s a book by Cal Newport called So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and it’s been a few years, I’d have to give it a re-read to fully endorse it. But I love that principle, which is if you get so efficient, but the only thing people can say about you is, “Oh, she always leaves at 6:00.” We used to call those people, “Oh, he’s a company man.” That’s the worst people can say about you? Sit with that. What, they’re going to fire you? But you do have to be good at what you do to start to call the shots.

Shakti Sita:
It’s tough though. I vividly remember when I was working at a big PR firm in New York city that on Fridays I would duck out of there at 5 o’clock after working 60 plus hours that whole week because I wanted to make the 5:15 yoga class. It was the only yoga class that I can make-

Mary Margaret:
You’re a rebel.

Shakti Sita:
… down the street. And I’m not BS-ing you, when it came time for review, that was a major issue.

Mary Margaret:
Wow.

Shakti Sita:
What do you do with that?

Mary Margaret:
Well, that’s … Listen-

Shakti Sita:
And we know it wasn’t a quality of work issue. So we can eliminate that, the be so good they can’t ignore you. I mean, my God, the amount of money they gave me-

Mary Margaret:
Well, I would say … Here’s what I would say in that situation. And you have two options in that situation. You talk about what we just talked about, which is does that impact my work? How did that impact you? And then they’re going to say something about well, company culture and whatever. You need to set an example, whatever, stay strong. And then you try, you do everything you can. And then you realize when it’s time to move on. And you realize, there are other options out there.

Shakti Sita:
Which is where I got to.

Mary Margaret:
Yeah. And I don’t advocate moving around because I do think sometimes with our own patterns, we just recreate the same thing at the next place. But there is a point at which you have done the work on yourself, when you realize, this environment is never going to support me and I’ve graduated from it.

Shakti Sita:
Yeah. And some environments are just pure toxicity and it has nothing to do with you.

Mary Margaret:
Yes, I agree with you.

Shakti Sita:
So stick it out within reason.

Mary Margaret:
I agree, yes.

Shakti Sita:
Well, thank you so much. I’m so happy that we had this conversation and I just feel like we could talk about it forever. And I’m excited to see how people respond to this. And if you’re listening right now and you have questions for either of us, please reach out. Mary Margaret, where can they find you if they want to work with you and if they want to learn some more?

Mary Margaret:
I’m on Instagram @MaryMargaretSkelly. And that’s also my website, MaryMargaretSkelly.com.

Shakti Sita:
We’ll put that in the show notes. And just for everyone who likes the behind the scenes information, this was a very hard call to set up for some reason. When things like that are happening, I always take note because when there’s that kind of opposition forces that are making a call hard to happen either because of scheduling or we had technical issues as well. And I don’t know if you heard the baby crying, the dog barking, the lawn mower.

Mary Margaret:
On the floor.

Shakti Sita:
I literally heard the airplane at one point. I’m like, are you kidding me right now? All of these things, it’s just such an indicator energetically that there’s energy moving in a positive direction here. So I just want to call that out because I just see that as the things that Mary Margaret is talking about and doing, it’s groundbreaking, profound, important, impactful, it matters and it’s really breaking with the status quo. It’s really gonna scratch a lot of people’s subconsciousness and good, it needs to.

Mary Margaret:
Shakti Sita, thank you so much for having me. I’m so grateful for all the things you’re doing in the world and it’s really an honor to get to do this. So thank you.

Shakti Sita:
Thank you. I’m so grateful for you, and we’ll talk again soon.

Mary Margaret:
Sounds good. Take care.

Shakti Sita:
Satnam.

Mary Margaret:
Satnam.

Shakti Sita