When I met Gret, it was back in 2009 at my last year with Anya Hindmarch, A beautiful American tall with good physic girl came and sat next to me. I liked her instantly with how she composed herself and her passion and attitude towards to her work was something you couldn’t miss, I did not spend enough time to get to know her as I was leaving but I knew we would meet again.
Years went by, through our mutual friend, I heard about Gret and her sustainability obsession which was close to my heart after years of working like a dog and want to simply my life.
Conscious life by Gret Batchelar immediately drawn my attention. Both me and Gret had big fashion career, and then I am so intrigued hearing what made her leaving her amazing SVP position at Michael Kors and working for herself, here are the 8 big questions.
- Please tell us what inspired you change your career from high powered fashion executive to a wellness coach.
Short answer, the reason I changed was because after 20 years in the fashion industry I started to get unwell – not major illness, but I suffered from an ongoing immune issue for almost 2 years and when I finally got it checked out the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong and put it down to stress and a low immune system. What I realized was I was unhappy and that was because I was not doing something aligned with my values and my passion…
Longer answer, now you get to hear my full story! But it’s broken down into 3 areas that had a major impact on my passion for wellness, as well as my desire to help other people improve their own wellbeing.
Firstly, I was always very sporty growing up – swam competitively throughout teens and into university. In fact, until last year I still held the Dartmouth pool record for the mile freestyle. After university, I started running (couldn’t afford a gym and running seemed the easiest option). Because I was competitive I ended up running a few marathons. Yoga was becoming a trend at this point in NYC so I started to take a weekly vinyasa class (which was really my day off from exercise) and found myself really enjoying the flow aspect of it. Fast forward and I was living in London, still running daily and putting a lot of pressure on my body. We decided it was time for a baby, but because I was so hard on my body it took us a long time to conceive. I finally realized (truth be told, admitted to myself) that I needed to stop running to give my body rest and get a regular cycle (which I’d never had because of my rigorous exercise routine plus a few other factors). So I stopped running and started doing more yoga, which had a really healthy impact on my body and mind.
Second, I was also raised with a very healthy mother who cooked real food every day – at a time when most of my friends were raised on take-away or ready meals. We had family dinners every night, my mom packed our school lunches… she was that mom. During my swimming career in my teens my coach told me I wasn’t swimming well because I was fat. Not something a 17 year old wants to hear and I took it to heart. So despite my super healthy upbringing I ended up being so focussed on losing weight that my whole relationship with food changed and it took me years to correct it and make peace with it….. This poor relationship with food was another reason for my irregular cycles and difficulty conceiving.
Third, I was raised to work hard, be successful, achieve and took this to heart in my career. I have worked in fashion for almost 20 years, grew up doing Sales, was used to travelling for fashion weeks, as well as client meetings. It was just a normal existence. When I started at Michael Kors almost 6 years it was during rapid growth and I was in charge of creating a department to support a €350M business. I was then promoted multiple times. All very exciting and it all felt right…. Unfortunately, I didn’t read the signs early enough and recognize that the right feeling was changing and I was stressed for almost 2 years straight trying to juggle a young family whilst doing a job I didn’t necessarily love… During this time I put in place lots of different tools, rituals to help alleviate the stress and attempt to create balance…. At the same time, I was starting to get much more educated on the environment, climate change, sustainability and realized that I was not working for a business that was aligned with my values and my immune system was starting to shut down to send me a message.
I was raised to work hard, be successful, achieve and took this to heart in my career. I have worked in fashion for almost 20 years, grew up doing Sales, was used to travelling for fashion weeks, as well as client meetings. It was just a normal existence.
Taking all those factors together I realized that my passion is in the wellbeing space, wellbeing for people, the planet and community at large. I get so much joy out of helping others live their best, fullest, healthiest, purposeful life and it starts with paying attention to their own wellbeing.
2. Could you share your experience of being a working mother and if you were a CEO/ Wellness & Hr director, what you hoped to change in a work place for mothers.
With my 1st son, going back to work was actually fine and I had great support from a full time nanny, as well as my husband. The challenges came when we had our 2nd and I was promoted to an exec role at the same time. We still had our nanny, who I have to admit was our life saver. Plus my husband who was more of the primary carer during that period. Unfortunately, the stress really had an impact but it was something that I could have controlled better. The issue was I didn’t set boundaries. I said yes to everything – at work, at home, with friends. I was taking everything on, but not giving myself enough time to rest.
3. Please share your 3 tips for mothers who want to be zen and want to be over achievers too.
My old self would have said exercise (running, pounding the pavement, sweat) number 1, then healthy eating and maybe a massage as 3rd to pamper yourself but that’s totally changed. By the way, I do believe each of these have their place and should be incorporated, but they aren’t the top tips!
1. Be Still. I meditate 2x daily, 20 minutes each. I practice Vedic meditation so I have a mantra, a sound that my teacher gave me based on my physique, lifestyles, current time etc… I repeat it to myself and it draws me down to a very deep state of being. If you aren’t ready for these type of meditation practice though that’s fine. There are so many ways to Be Still, the important thing is to give yourself that time daily. I recommend starting small. Set your alarm 5 minutes earlier and practice 1st thing. When you wake up, maybe refresh a bit, have a drink of water, and then just sit with your eyes closed for 5 minutes. You can even start with 1 minute and build from there. The important thing to remember is that our minds are trained to think so even when you think you’re doing it badly, you aren’t. The practice is about catching yourself when you find your mind wandering and then coming back to the present moment.
2. Daily movement. For me, it’s yoga. I love my yoga practice for what it gives me both on and off the mat. My regular practice is Power Yoga and when we can be in a studio it’s a HOT one, 35 degrees. My body is challenged physically, but I also learn so much about myself and how I react. Whilst I love the feeling I get from the dynamic flows, I’ve realized that my body also needs some more passive movements so I do a weekly yin yoga class. If you don’t know Yin, check it out. It’s the complete opposite of a power yoga class. Most postures are done seated and you stay in it for at least 2 minutes allowing the muscles to relax, open, go deeper. That said, if yoga isn’t your thing don’t force it. Find something even if it’s just a walk in nature. Do it daily.
Even though I’ve always been an early riser I love my mornings even more now knowing that those rituals are in place and I have some quiet before the craziness of the day starts.
3. Create rituals. Since changing the routines into rituals I have so much more enjoyment and appreciation for these activities. For me, the day always start with a set of rituals from my skin care routine, to making my lemon ginger tea, self-yoga practice, meditation, gratitude journal and a little reading. Even though I’ve always been an early riser I love my mornings even more now knowing that those rituals are in place and I have some quiet before the craziness of the day starts. What do you do daily that you can create a ritual around? In doing so, it brings you into the present moment and sparks joy in this simple act. So next time you make your morning coffee treat it as a ritual. Like meditation, start small, don’t try to change everything at once. Start with one thing and evolve from there.
4. What are your top 3 tips for busy people who always have no time for exercise, any quick yoga positions that can be helpful despite lack of time for exercise?
Yes, definitely !!!
- Ok so my number one tip for everyone, especially if you are rushed in the morning, but feeling super groggy… I call it the Morning Hang, but it’s usually known in yoga as Ragdoll. Stand hip distance with feet at 12 o’clock and fold forward over your legs, grab opposite elbow with opposite hand and use the weight of your forearms to pull the crown of you head towards earth. You can keep a slight bend in the knees, sway from side to side or bounce a bit. Just let gravity pull you down. So many healthy benefits – including flushing your brain with fresh oxygenated blood which helps fight fatigue.
- Goddess Pose because I love the name, but also find it super strengthening. Stand in a straddle with feet out and heels in. Take a generous bend into your knees, tucking the tailbone. Arms out to the side, palms up and active fingers and hands. You want to be as flat as a pancake. You can make it dynamic by straightening the legs, squeezing the gluts at the top and then bending into the knees again. Do this for a count of 20. Or just do simple pulses up and down, squeezing the muscles to bones in the gluts and legs. You’ll be a goddess in no time!
You can keep a slight bend in the knees, sway from side to side or bounce a bit. Just let gravity pull you down. So many healthy benefits – including flushing your brain with fresh oxygenated blood which helps fight fatigue. – Ragdoll
- Squat Malasana – separate your feet mat width roughly with toes pointing out and squat down. Adjust your feet so both heels are on the mat. Bring your hands to heart centre in Anjali Mudra (prayer) position and use your elbows to open deeper into the hips. Tuck the tailbone and activate the core. Stay here and breath, feel the stretch in the thighs, groin, hips, ankles and even torso. From here you can also try some variations… Twisting open to either side or make it dynamic by growing tall and then squatting down again. Remember to squeeze at the top for extra glut burn ! Besides stretching, this pose also improves the function of the color (and ultimately elimination), as well as increasing blood flow and circulation in the pelvis (which regulates sexual energy). So loads of benefits to Yogi Squat !!!
5. How have you (and your kids) coped through this pandemic? How do you explain to your children?
To be honest, we actually coped surprisingly well as a family and used lockdown as a way to really connect. It was also a chance to teach our boys some vital life lessons. Up until the pandemic, I had been working full time since both our boys were born and much of that time was travelling. All of a sudden, with lockdown, I was around! For all of us, it was quite novel and it also made me realize what is important, as well as helped me connect with what I really want to do and how I want to show up in the world. That said, of course we had some battles over distance learning, but once I took responsibility for my part in that battle things got a bit smoother and we relaxed into the reality of what we were facing.
6. When you are so busy everyday, do you cook? If so can you share your recipe that can make a dish under 30 minutes?
I love to cook and feel very strongly about home cooked food and family meals. We have most of our dinners as a family and always Sunday lunch. Throughout lockdown we had almost every single meal together, seated at the table, no TV, no phones allowed.
I love breakfast and my go to is overnight oats. Whilst no cooking is involved, I do prepare it weekly with slight tweaks:
Overnight Oat porridge
1 cup oats.
1.5 cups plant based milk – I usually use a mix of almond and coconut
1 grated apple
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Dash of cinnamon
Handful of pumpkin seeds
Any dried fruit – I love dried apricots
Optional 1 T maple syrup or honey (if you want to sweeten it)
Mix it altogether and refrigerate overnight. I then serve with a swirl of tahini and maybe some desiccated coconut and chia seeds.
If there is left over (or you want to make double) I like to put them into individual jars in case someone needs something quick on the go.
As for cooking, whilst I don’t identify as Vegan or vegetarian I am eating more and more mostly plant based meals. I also love pasta so my simple supper in under 30 is Courgette pasta with pine nuts:
2 courgettes roughly cut
1 piece garlic crushed
Handful toasted pine nuts
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Pasta – I’ve found this new spelt pasta in shell shapes and love it, but you can use any type you like
Parmesan as much or little as you like
Saute the shallot and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add the courgettes and saute for about15 minutes. Lightly crush with a fork.
Meanwhile boil the water, add some salt and cook the pasta as directed
Drain the pasta, reserve 2 Tablespoons pasta water and add into the courgettes with the lemon juice. Mix well.
Serve topped with pine nuts and parmesan cheese.
7. A piece of advice for your young self.
Wow, so much advice that I wish someone gave me when I was young….
STOP – which is a new little motto that I picked up from a Mindfulness course I took recently. Stop, Take a Breath, Observe, Proceed . Stop stressing about the future or being concerned with what happened yesterday and just be here, right now in this moment. I lived so much of my young life in my head that I missed out on some really special moments.
I would also tell her to stop being a people pleaser and please herself first !
8. Please tell us about conscious living and the services, the benefits, and how can we book you?
Conscious Living is a way of life. We all have an impact in life – on people, planet and society. I believe that we can choose to generate a positive impact by being curious and contemplating our purpose.
Through contemplation, we have the opportunity to create change within our sphere of influence, which sends out ripples to society. Ultimately, this improves the impact of our collective well-being on the planet.
It all begins with choices and commitment. By choosing to take a moment of ‘me time’, educating ourselves and connecting within, as well as with our communities, we see the impact of our behaviour and make more conscious decisions.
Using ancient practices of yoga and meditation as the backbone of my methodology, I’ve identified key areas for personal development around emotional balance, physical movement, whole food nutrition and a sustainable lifestyle. Loosely woven together to form a more conscious approach, these elements also distil into a purer sense of self and purpose, making life and its challenges more rewarding – at home, work and at play.
Further detail about Gret Batchelar Conscious Living, please visit her website https://gretbatchelar.com/
PS. if you like this interview and want to know more about my project, come and follow me via instagram @kfyangoconnor Thank you!
有意識的生活 – GRET BATCHELAR
我記得我第一次碰到Gret時候, 在2009年，印象深刻，她是一個身材高挑又苗條的美國人, 對於工作的態度非常的認真, 但是因為當時我已經快要離職了所以當時我們並沒有成為交情很深的朋友.
時間慢慢的過後,在我們朋友圈裡面常常聽到Gret 的消息. 我們兩個人的事業都蒸蒸日上, 成為所謂傳統的女強人就是算是蠻會賺錢的女生, 因為我們都是工作狂.
我和Gret 最近又重新聯絡上因為我們兩個人都對於永續性的這個概念感到熱情, 也因為我們兩個人都成為了人妻也是媽媽我們的友情又重新開始.
Gret: 比較簡短來說這個原因是因為我在時尚業做了20年後, 我慢慢的覺得自己身體常常不舒服, 並不是什麼主要的病痛但是我的抵抗力常常不好, 還有常常感冒之類. 慢慢的我也發現我的事業跟我的生活觀念還有熱情是不同的.
首先,我從小就喜歡運動, 尤其是游泳- 從青少年就開始練習到大學. 後來我也開始喜歡跑步當時沒有錢去健身房, 所以在外面跑是能夠達到健康又省錢的方式. 因為我自己的競爭力很強所以我也開始跑了好幾次的馬拉松. 後來瑜珈在紐約慢慢的成為了一個很時尚的運動, 所以我開始練習瑜伽. 後來我搬到了倫敦, 我還是有繼續的跑步我還是非常的注重我的身材, 給我的的身體壓力很大.
等到我們試著想要生小孩的時候, 因為我當時運動還有節食的方式把身體反而搞壞了. 我們花了很多的時間才慢慢地成功能夠受孕. 之後就發現跑步並不是對我自己的身體很好,所以我就開始變成比做瑜珈. 事實上這個是一個對於身心比較健康的運動方式.
第二：我的媽媽是一個對於健康很注重的媽媽, 所以他每天都是好好的煮飯給我們吃, 當時我其他的朋友都是吃速食或者是媽媽買東西回來吃. 我們家則是每天一起全家吃晚餐, 然後我媽媽會幫我帶午餐. 她是這樣的媽媽，所以在我特別游泳訓練的時候，我的教練跟我說我游泳的不夠好，因為我太肥了,那對當時17歲的我打擊非常的大。
第三點： 我從小的家庭教育就是要變成一個努力工作成功的人。這個對我的事業觀念後來影響很大。 我在時尚工作將近20年，一開始是做sales， 後來開始參加時裝週還有跟客戶開會， 這些對我來說都是家常便飯。 後來我在Michael Kors待了6年，成長的很快，光我的部門就是3.5億歐元的一個單位。但是我的壓力非常的大，而且我的孩子們都很小，所以在後來那兩年我光光要好好的工作，還要照顧我的家庭實在是太辛苦了，我也發現這個工作我也不是真的有這麼的熱情。
Gret: 當我第一個兒子出生之後，我並不覺得回去工作有什麼困難，而且當時我有一個全職的保母，還有我的老公一起幫忙。但是等到我第二個兒子出生之後，挑戰就比較大。我當時被升職到高層經理，雖然我們還是有全職的保姆幫助了我們很多的忙，但是要成為成功的職業媽媽的壓力實在是太大了。我覺得真正的關係是因為我沒有自己把自己的界線分好, 我什麼都說好，所以在工作上，在家庭上，在朋友上，我全部都是答應去做好, 對於我自己反而是什麼時間都沒有。
Gret: 如果是以前的我我會說就是要運動尤其是跑步然後吃得健康然後偶爾去按摩一下, 但是現在我改變了，這些技巧我覺得是:
第一：暫停。我每天都禪修兩次一次20分鐘, 我的靜坐是Vedic meditation , 所以我會有一個口禪, 這個聲音是我的禪修老師特別給我的是以我的身體狀況生活方式給的. 我不斷的重複說著一個口禪那可以把我自己轉念到最深的一個概念. 並不是每個人都會想要練習這樣子的所以這還有其他的方式讓自己靜坐不要動。靜坐是一個個人的習慣, 你可以早上睡醒的時候喝ㄧ口水，練習把自己的眼睛閉起來5分鐘， 你可以甚至用ㄧ分鐘慢慢的加到三分鐘看看自己喜不喜歡。 靜坐是讓你自己的心靈感受到你個人的當下。
第二：每天動一動。 對我來說瑜珈就是最好的動一動. 我最常練習的就是動力瑜珈還有熱瑜珈. 這種的瑜珈挑戰我的體力, 我可以感受到我自己和我如何去面對挑戰, 即便我很喜歡這樣子的動態流動方式但是我也知道我的身體是需要比較被動的運動，所以我也會參加陰式瑜珈課； 這是跟動力瑜珈課是完全不同的，不知道的朋友可以去試試看, 大部分的姿勢都是以坐著的方式，每個姿勢長達約兩分鐘，就是讓你的深層肌肉打開放鬆。
第三：創造自己的日常儀式 – 自從把自己的常規改成儀式之後，我也慢慢的享受這些活動。以我來說，我的一天是從我的皮膚護理開始，之後我會弄一個檸檬薑茶，然後我就會練習我的瑜珈靜坐，還有我的感謝日誌。 我一直都是喜歡早起的人，現在我自己有這些儀式之後，我更享受早起的感覺。 在一天忙碌之前，我喜歡這樣子的安靜。如果你開始問自己要怎麼樣創造自己的生活儀式, 這能夠讓你更享受自己的一天，即便是一些日常生活的小事。例如靜坐，從短時間開始然後慢慢的發展下去。
我的一個要分享的瑜珈動作叫做ＲＡＧＤＯＬＬ，, 布娃娃姿勢, 也叫做晨掛 – 站著把你的腳和臀是平衡的姿勢 身體彎下來然後把你的手抓住你的手鐲然後就這樣子掛著讓地心引力把你拉下來這一個動作對於健康有很多好處比如說把很多的氧氣灌入到你的頭腦這可以幫助你抵抗疲勞.
第二個我要分享的是 女神的姿勢, 因為很喜歡這個名字
第三 – Squat Malasana。
Gret: 老實說我們全家對於倫敦封鎖 應付得很好, 我們利用這個時間重新聯繫我們家庭。 我們也利用這一個機會來教我們的小孩子很重要的生活知識。 在疫情開始開之前， 我還是全職工作的媽媽，所以對我兩個小孩相處時間不多，因為我常常都是出差。突然間有個封鎖, 對我們全家來說大家都很開心，因為我在家 。 當然我們也感受到了在家教學的挑戰，但是這個是現在疫情的現實面大家家庭有小孩的都要面對的。
Gret: 哇有好多的忠告我會想要告訴年輕的我. 但是只有一個的話就是
我還會告訴 年輕的我 不用討好別人討好自己比較重要.
Gret Batchelar – https://gretbatchelar.com/
喜歡這篇文章的朋友可以到我的網頁訂閱，有更多的訪談慢慢的會寫出來，還有不要忘記追蹤我的Instagram @kfyangoconnor 謝謝！
Thank you so much for having me kick off your #mysmartcookie series. What an exciting journey we are on Kuofi!!! So thrilled to be back in touch and supporting one another as we enter this new and exciting period.
Thank you Gret, what an honour to have you as my first Smart Cookie. Really excited for us and the new near future.