Keeping It Real On Highlight Reel — Authenticity in Business and Motherhood

Authenticity is a collection oftoday that your future self will thank you for..png

With the announcement of our new licensing program, I’ve heard from many old friends. It’s awesome to hear how people have kept Mama Beasts on their radar over the years, and been quiet cheerleaders even from afar. 

One friend and very original Mama Beast wrote an email to me saying she was impressed with how much the business had grown, and that I had remained “authentic and awesome.”

This felt like the best hug. 

And I have to say – I felt really proud. Not that she recognized the growth of Mama Beasts, but that she saw and felt that I remained true to myself. Even in the highlight reel of social media. Even in the pressure cooker of a competitive industry where you better do all the things and look damn good while you document it, too. (Cry/laugh emoji here. But also crying because it’s true and tiring) 

Being authentic is freaking scary. 

This friend was someone who knew me as an overwhelmed new Mama, a new instructor, a new runner, new to social media, just new at all the things – but passionate. But even new, I knew what I wanted to create and why. I always thought moms were unsung super heroes. I loved building their confidence, their strength, and seeing them succeed. I loved giving them an hour that was about them, showing what that were capable of, and providing a community of support. 

From my own life and from the genuine friendships and sharing at Mama Beasts, I also knew motherhood was messy. Not the blow-out diapers or stomach bugs – but the mess from the emotional warzone that overtakes you. And leaves behind confusing pieces of who you used to be. I didn’t think this should be left to ugly cry fests alone in your car. As Mama Beasts grew, I felt stronger that the darkness should steadily creep out into the light. I could be honest. I could be vulnerable. And I have been so lucky to have had an audience to be honest and vulnerable with. 

At first, this honesty was in the mission and message of Mama Beasts. Shirts from one of our early 5Ks read, “I workout to burn off the crazy”  – so fun and silly. But also, so true. We aren’t working out because we gained weight; we are working out so we don’t lose our damn minds. It may have been started as light-hearted and joking, but this became a battle cry at Mama Beasts. At class, I encouraged Mamas with “this is your hour” versus “let’s get summer ready” and the like. The clear intent resonated with moms. And that intent carried over into our highlight reel on social media. 

It was soon after a pretty brutal struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety (during which, I often coped with light-hearted posts about my third son’s antics) that I felt a little unauthentic. Even though I was sharing the shit show that motherhood could be, it was certainly only part of the picture. It was funny and self-deprecating, but wasn’t the darkness and heaviness that encapsulated me. When it was time to launch our new website with my first “bio,” I decided to use it as a chance to share the real version of that period of my life since it was very much experienced as Mama Beasts grew. This rawness started to feel more natural and I worked a mental health and self-care component into a bigger role of our popular challenges. It was a way to take on some of the harder issues in an approachable way. And now in the Mama Beasts’ Metamorphosis personal training program, I have the opportunity to delve into the emotional side of “getting in shape” as a mother when I work with moms in small groups. Because dear lord – the burpees and protein are like two percent of it.  

Anyway, I think I still I represent what that new Mama and instructor was about. The one my friend knew years ago. I’m just braver now (thank you age, frat house, and tribe) And if we are keeping it real – thanks to some success, too. 

I guess what I am trying to say that even with a trademark, a lawyer, bright new logos, more locations – I try to remain real. And vulnerable. I find it easier these days to do it as a mother. From a business perspective, that vulnerability can be a risk. But I’ve made a decision that being a vulnerable leader is better than wasting energy on trying to be something I’m not.

Motherhood and starting a business have so much in common. They are hard in a way you can’t be prepared for. But there is an expectation (though I think the tides are turning) that it should be easy – or made to look easy. 

Consider the pictures you see on social media. For every cute baby photo, there is some degree of pain and sacrifice behind it. A million different stories. With every big, exciting step for Mama Beasts, there is so much stress and effort behind it. A million doubts and late nights. I like to think I share both sides. It’s a hard balance – I mean, who doesn’t love a good highlight reel, a good success story, or some adorable baby photos? I don’t want to take that away from myself or anyone. But can’t we share both? 

I intend to share both as I work with moms to bring Mama Beasts to their communities with our licensing program. I think that is what makes working with me and the overall program different. I will lead moms to big wins and celebrate with them – but I will also have advice, solutions, and just commiseration when things get challenging. 

On the same day I received the email from my friend, I saw this quote from Brene Brown. 

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

 A choice. It’s work. I think (and my friend confirmed at least) that over the years, I have done that work. And while scary, it’s been critical in the success of Mama Beasts. And it’s a choice I will encourage my licensees to make during their journeys. 

 As I start interviewing moms interested in our licensing program, I am excited (and a little nervous!) to keep the authentic conversations going. To talk about the possibilities, but also the fears. To talk about the splashy marketing side, but also the nitty-gritty details that make bigger dreams a reality. I truly believe it will be a business and personal experience like no other. 

If you are want work where you are respected and successful because you are authentic, then Mama Beasts is the place. That’s a choice I will continue to make everyday.   

 Are you ready to show up and be real? And have a tribe of Mamas benefit from it? Learn more or apply here. And if self doubt is weighing you down, I got a blog for that, too (wink, emoji) But really. 

Thanks to all you real Mamas out there, making the choice day in and day out to show your authentic selves. I see you.

What's In My Bag?

Do you have too much stuff? Is clutter and your to-do list overwhelming your life? Do you want to get organized and on track? 

 I can’t help. 

 This is not that blog post. It’s a blog post about what to do when you are avoiding those types of terrible things. 

 So, here’s what you do. First,  I need to take you back to 2004. When I had just graduated college and had a really difficult life of living on a beach house in Marshfield with my now-husband and friends. I did work fulltime, but I also spent a lot of time on the beach. Alone. With US Weekly. In a two-piece bathing suit. I even had a full lounge chair. Why sit when you can lay? It was glorious soft, mesh material – not too heavy. My husband would carry that baby down over the rocky jetty for me and bring me iced coffee before he went to run errands. We would likely see each other in a few hours to take a nap. I know, I know. I hate her, too. 

 But my point is that perusing US Weekly every week was very important. There was an especially compelling celebrity feature – “What’s In My Bag.” Truth be told – I did have to check and it see if this still exists (it does)  because it’s been a while (almost 11 years. My olderst is almost 11) since I’ve examined the contents of a celebrity bag. You know – things like silky eye masks for planes, their own brands of lip gloss or their favorite book they happen to happen carry everywhere. Hey, I am not hating. I would spend my abundant free time reading about this type of thing. 

 The other night, my husband asked my son to grab keys from my purse. I watched as he gingerly put hand inside the back and winced. “I think there is something sticky in here,” he said, eyeing me judgmentally. 

 “Mama’s purse is always scary,” my husband responded quickly. 

 No. They. Didn’t. 

 Listen, I am not ashamed, boys. I will spill those contents and show the world. Or the few Mama Beasts who read this blog. In fact, instead of doing your laundry, I’m going to break it down US WEEKLY style. 

 Antoinette Hemphill: What’s in My Bag? 

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Antoinette Hemphill is a mom, Mama Beast, and keeping her kids alive is generally her top priority. This includes making sure there’s always snacks and electronics when they’re on the go. Or whenever, really. Here’s what else she totes in her Baggallini.

So Sweet

I always have some kind of melted or frozen candy (season dependent, but always disgusting) in the bottom of my bag. It could be my kids asked me to hold something and I tried not to eat it, or they didn’t like something, so you obviously stick partially chewed candy back in your mother’s bag. Sometimes, it can be salty! Like these sunflower seeds from..baseball season? Yes, it’s March. So, last baseball season. Correct.

 

One of a Pair 

Mitten, sock (in this specific case, it’s an Elf on the Shelf sock), air bud. If it comes in a pair, I always have one in my bag. I also find it helpful to always have one part of a charger in there, too. 

 

Basically a celeb

I always carry my Beauty Counter lip gloss in “poppy.” And one day, I am going to wear it. And a sensible 100-calorie snack pack. That is absolutely not just what’s leftover. 

 

Memories

I like to carry little trinkets representing fun memories – a ticket stub to How the Grinch Stole Christmas (this was the weekend I almost broke a rib coughing and everyone got strep! Ah, the holidays) and a tampon with a cardboard applicator, fresh out of the bathroom from Great Wolf Lodge. If your period is going to surprise you, it’s going to be when you are at Great Wolf Lodge in a Tankini and half your family has the stomach bug. (Don’t ever stay in room 404). 

 

Anti-Anxiety Meds 

See above memories (or read my story

Hello Brilliant Ideas

I always have cute pens ready for when exciting ideas or fun class plans strike me. Just kidding! This is really odd, actually. I have no idea why there are pens. They’re likely “borrowed.” But I do keep brilliant ideas in my head. 

 

So, if you’re looking to avoid being productive, I definitely recommend dumping out those bags and exploring the glory that is peek into your life . If it feels a little sticky and disjointed – I would argue you are living it right. And to my slightly horrified 2004 beach sloth self – please note there were some cute sunglasses in there. 

 

What’s in YOUR bag? 

C U Next Tuesday -- but not in 2019

Eight. I haven’t worked out in eight weeks.

Not exactly a beastly end to 2018. On paper, it’s all perfectly reasonable. I sprained my ankle during a half-marathon the last weekend of October during a Nor’easter. Damn those many miles of puddle jumping. It was one painful week, followed by three limp-filled weeks in a brace. With an awesome team and lots of Motrin, we managed to get through the first half our session at Mama Beasts. Then, a cold struck. But that turned into an epic cough, apparent asthmatic reaction (especially during movement), three trips to urgent care, and one shiny new inhaler.  All to say, I could barely give verbal directions during class without coughing and wheezing – never mind run or workout on my own. Add in some sweet strep throat, sick kids, a husband awaiting back surgery, and this Mama Beast was a de-conditioned, grumpy Grinch with a Robitussin problem. Basically - it was a pretty legitimate rough two months, and I know there wasn’t much I could do about it. 

But that damn C U Next Tuesday, who lives in my head. 

I know, I know. When my grandmother demanded I get back to writing, she probably wasn’t envisioning me busting out C U Next Tuesday in my first blog. I’ve never used that word in my outside life, and I know it induces cringes and offense. But this voice. This inner critic. This judge-y joy stealer. This bitch who lurks around even when things are going well and loves to chime in when they’re not. What can I say? She’s a real cunt. 

She’s obsessed with numbers. Eight. You haven’t worked out for eight weeks. What’s wrong with you? It’s a sprain; not broken. It’s a cough; not pneumonia. Do you know how much momentum your losing? Say bye-bye to THREE years of cardio stamina. Say hello to TEN pounds. Those size TWOS don’t fit any more. Are you working your way out of the FOURS now? Oh, and now you’re eating like shit, too. You’re a real sham. 

 ENOUGH, I interrupt. As I’ve gotten older, I have learned to not always take it. Sometimes, I talk right back.  I’m sick;  I’m run-down; and I won’t be stepping on the scale any time soon. I’m not scared of or defined by ten pounds. Or 20. Or any number. And by the way, bitch, here are some numbers for you. FOUR half-marathons in TWO years. DOZENS of other races. While running ONE business. With FOUR locations. While raising THREE kids. 

That feels good. But oh, C U Next Tuesday has a lot of opinions about the kids. She loves to whisper these musings after particularly rough parenting days. You have no patience. Way to yell at a three-year-old! They don’t read enough. The teacher said he seems sad. You’re missing something. How can you not know?!  You use screen time when you can’t deal with them. Lazzzzzzy. When are you going to start cooking real dinners? Their eating habits frustrate you - but they’re your fault! She can really rattle them off, depending on the day. They can be specific or once in a while, she just goes for generalized, but sharp dagger – you’re not a good mother. Sometimes, I am strong enough to overturn that outright lie on my own. That’s right - C U Next Tuesday is a liar. The problem is, she’s sneaky. She knows me too well. When she’s there — instead of a voice of confidence and reassurance — I waiver. And at my worst moments, I accept that she’s right.

When the frat house is finally quiet, I sometimes sneak into the boy’s room and I see my rebuttal. Sleeping, happy, growing boys, who are loved and supported in a way that makes me bone tired at the end of the day. I hear their light breaths and I can easily think of a moment from the day with them that makes me smile. A moment they were kind or funny, innocent or joyful. Or showed their love for me in a way that only goofy, awkward 8 and 10-year-old boys can. Maybe, there’s a 50 other moments during the day that were hard, but there was that one, too. I am doing something right.

I climb upstairs to my room – where my youngest is taking up my space in the bed. Another sweet boy who just needs his Mama a little bit more, a little bit longer. That’s what I tell myself as I struggle to find a few inches of the bed. Then, I’ll eventually pass out after running over endless concerns about each kid and things I will do for them the next morning. I always go to sleep wanting to do better the next day. Joey’s little snores help lull to me sleep. I awake to a big smile and tight hug. Who does this C U Next Tuesday think she is? 

 So, here comes the New Year. I would like to say that C U Next Tuesday will not be part of my 2019. But I know that’s not realistic. There’s still more work to be done. She’ll be around, but certainly not as loud as she once was. She was the most pronounced voice (and sadly, listened to) during my first years of being a mother and my first year of starting Mama Beasts. In a way, this makes me angry. Her criticism tainted times that should have been more joyful and pride-filled. I am grateful that I also now possess a more honest voice. One that reminds me of a kind friend who wants me to succeed – not a lurking critic waiting for me to fail.  That voice undoubtedly developed because of the people I have surrounded myself with over the last few years. And I am forever grateful for their impact on my internal dialogue.

Over the years, I have made resolutions that were about pleasing the C U Next Tuesday, versus things that will truly make me happy and healthy. Restrictions. Taking things away. Doing things I don’t enjoy to get a result or version of myself that I should want. Too many numbers; too much pressure; and too little living.

As the C U Next Tuesday felt more distant in recent years (again — age and those people who surround me), I focused on resolutions or habits and changes that excited me – running goals, travel plans, goals for my business, and new ways to help my tribe. This year, I am not even working on a “fitness” resolution. (Don’t worry, the C U Next Tuesday has already questioned how can I be in the business of health and not have one?) ENOUGH. I am writing again. Something, I used do quite frequently. Something I studied. Something I loved. Something that once again the SYNT almost squashed. You don’t do that any more. You don’t have anything to add to the conversations out there. It’s unproductive. It’s wasteful. It’s selfish. Instead of writing about your kids, spend more time with them.

ENOUGH. I told you this bitch was relentless. For 2019, I win. I choose a resolution simply because I love it. I am writing again. This is the start. My happiness isn’t selfish. My talent is not wasteful. I have plenty to give and say. Just not to her.

Anyone else got a noisy C U Next Tuesday in their life? How do you shut her down?