It’s a challenge to keep sane with all the toxicity in the world that surrounds us, pandemic or no pandemic. Tune in to this episode to learn how you can practice self-care, optimize your bliss and achieve a balanced and stress-free life. Joining Moneeka Sawyer for this is the power couple of life optimization, Francois Braine-Bonnaire and Dr. Maegan Renee, co-founders of ToBeOptimized.com. Between the two of them, Francois and Maegan possess a wealth of knowledge and experience in counseling, consulting and life coaching. Among other specializations, they are also experts on social media detox, for which they have created a method and written a book, both of which are covered in this episode.
We have our wonderful friend, Francois Braine-Bonnaire, and his incredibly lovely wife, Dr. Maegan Renee. Dr. Maegan Renee is a Licensed Professional Counselor and holds a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision. She is the Owner of M.R. Counseling and Consulting and Cofounder of ToBeOptimized.com. She has presented on topics of mental health at national conferences around the country. She has publications on topics such as social isolation, early childhood mental health, and social media detox. She has many years of experience in the field of counseling, working with children, adolescents and adults. She also is the social-emotional coordinator for Florida Atlantic University.
Francois is a real estate investor and an international serial entrepreneur and certified life coach. Born and raised in Paris, France, he holds dual French and American citizenship. He is the Cofounder of ToBeOptimized.com and co-author of 21 Day Social Media Detox Journal with Dr. Maegan Renee. He’s also a contributing author of the book, Real Estate Investing for Women: Expert Conversations to Increase Wealth and Happiness the Blissful Way with me.
With the Turnkey Real Estate business founded in 2010, that continues to grow. He has helped more than 200 families from 15 countries around the world to successfully invest in more than 600 rental properties in the United States. He has a passion for helping people through both real estate investment and life coaching. He comes from a place of the heart. I love this transition that he’s making to also help with life coaching, because you could tell, even when he was talking about investing, he’s about empowering people to make their blissful lives possible. Welcome back, Francois and it’s nice to meet you, Maegan, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Moneeka. It’s great to be here and meet you as well.
Maegan, could you tell us about who you are and how you’ve gotten to where you are?
I am born and raised in Alabama. I grew up in a small rural town and grew up to two parents who worked at a blue jean factory. Growing up, we did not have a lot of resources, and the school I attended did not have counseling resources. It was quite a challenging experience that molded who I am. I’ll be talking about how I got on the path of counseling. When I was in school, I experienced a lot of bullying, low self-esteem. I don’t know that many people escape middle school without those experiences. With those adversities, I decided one day, “I wanted an education.” I was the first in my family to get a college education. I knew I wanted to help youth, teens, and adults that had gone through experiences similar to my own or other adversities in life. I started volunteering at a young age, working with individuals through therapeutic horseback riding. My path went into Special Education Counseling and my PhD in Counseling because I wanted to give back on a larger scale and work with our future counselors and training them.
I went through a huge amount of bullying also. My sister-in-law is blonde, gorgeous, tall, she was one of the popular kids, which I never had the benefit of. I had a conversation with her and she said to me, “High school was hard because I never felt like I fit in.” Even the popular kids have this same issue. It shows up differently in our lives, but it still shows up. I was a colored person in a white community. I got bullied because of that, but we’ve all had these experiences and it’s valuable. This work as adults. Success cannot happen unless we feel supported and we are able to lift our own self-esteem and because of that history for all of us, sometimes it becomes a little difficult. The work you are doing is important. Talk to me about that piece, mental health in business and in life. Why and how can that be important?
I like to use an analogy that seems to reach a lot of people when it comes to mental health and self-care. For some people, they almost feel guilty about self-care and doing things that are for them. I like to talk about the fact that when you get on an airplane, one of the first things they do, when they talk about the emergency procedures, they say, “If there is a need for a mask, put the mask on yourself. Because if you pass out, you’re not going to be able to help the person closest to you.” It’s like that in mental health and self-care too. If you’re not taking care of yourself first, then you’re not going to be able to take care of those closest to you. When we can reframe it that way, especially for women, we can realize that, “This is an act of self-kindness to myself, but also to those I’m closest with.”
Maegan, I love that analogy. One of the things that’s interesting about that is everybody uses it. I’ve heard that ten times on my show. Why? Because it’s relevant. Ladies, this analogy is given because it’s real. What happens is we hear that and we go, “Yes.” Instead of saying that, hear us. Your self-care is not selfish. It’s one of the most selfless things that you can do because it empowers you then to take care of the people that you care about most. You can give from an empty cup. Many of us women discover this, we can get from an empty cup, but only for so long, we collapse and we become a burden on the people we love. None of us ever want to do that. Keep yourself lifted and filled up so that you never become a burden on the people you most want to take care of. It’s imperative that you take care of yourself and that you get your oxygen first. In social distancing, many of us are going crazy. Let’s talk about self-care and how to keep ourselves sane in this circumstance and environment.If you're not taking care of yourself first, then you're not going to be able to take care of those closest to you. Click To Tweet
There are many things you can do. First of all, getting in touch with a life coach. Many are offering virtual counseling sessions. Telehealth is not a brand-new thing, but it has not been utilized in the way it’s being utilized now. I can speak about virtual counseling because I’ve done it before. Francois has done virtual life coaching. I feel that people can establish an authentic relationship with the person they’re working with even through Zoom or phone calls. People are feeling such a lack of control in their lives. If you are a perfectionist, if you are a hard worker, this does not go well. I can’t control imperfectionism.
Pausing for a moment and thinking about the things you can control, what are the areas in your life you have some control over? For example, what time do you wake up? That’s important. What did you eat for breakfast? How you’re spending your time throughout the day? Are you creating a schedule for yourself? Are you building in time to stop working? Are you putting some boundaries around work? It’s hard to do. For example saying, “At 5:00 on this day, I’m going to stop and that’s my time to go have a bubble bath or listen to my favorite podcasts or go on a walk.” It’s important to pay attention to what you have control of and how your boundaries are surrounding work, especially in working from home.
We can’t control what’s happening out there in the world, but we can always control how we choose to respond. This is a theory or concept and you grounded that beautifully about these are specific steps and there in choose bliss also. Your morning routine is imperative. I’m guilty of this also. I’m crazy about my husband. I love every moment that I get with him. When he’s home, I’m completely distracted. I want to sleep-in in the morning. I want to cuddle more, reading later at night. We have this beautiful life, but the reality is that we can have a beautiful life without disrupting everything else. He’s re-implemented his workout schedule at 7:00 in the morning. I’ve reimplemented my morning routine. It changes life to feeling like it’s more in control. I love being in the flow, but unless you put some boundaries around your work life, that flow starts to feel not as yummy. It starts to feel like interference and even you can start to resent it.
It is time to ground our work-life since we’re at home. Ground that so that then we do have yummy time with our lovely partners or our children or doing those things that we want. The morning routine is such a key part of that. When you wake up, make sure you do eat breakfast, make sure you do get those workouts in, plan time with your spouse. Even though David and I are in each other’s faces all the time, we still have a date night every single week. That’s the night that we do something special. I do dinner in a nicer way, I have a tablecloth, we watch a movie. Doing those things is important. The other thing that I wanted to touch on is this idea of getting counseling remotely.
Much of the time we think that we have to go into an office and we can’t do that. This whole idea of doing things on Zoom or the phone can feel uncomfortable. I see it all the time in my own coaching practice. Once you do the first one, especially when you’re talking to someone like Maegan or Francois who are kind and open, you’ll feel their energy right through the video. Once you have that connection, you do it once, you can then pursue it further and it can help to support your life. Like with anything else, the action is the key until you take that first step, nothing else happens. Make sure that you identify the things that are going to support you and then take action towards pursuing them.
Looking at that with the life coach perspective, I would say that even when we are experiencing, keeping in mind something that can be the backbone of your wellbeing is your life balance. For those who are not super familiar with the concept of life balance, it’s the fact of considering that in your life, you have seven different key compartments in your life. Those being your social and your family relationships. That’s one. One would be everything related to your career and/or education aspirations. Number three will be money and personal finance. Number four would be mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Number five would be health and leisure. Number six would be everything related to your daily life responsibilities, which are important. Number seven is contribution and giving back to society as you do well, Moneeka.
If someone is focusing because it’s all about work or money. Chances are that by doing so that this person is going to neglect. Also, come back to the amount of ease our lives, like personal life, personal relationship, staying in shape in order to get rid of stress, any physical activities, having a romance life. When if you focus on one compact amount of your life, your life is going to be unbalanced. Without a doubt, it’s going to be extremely detrimental to your wellbeing, but also to your success in general. Even during the specific circumstance we are going through, it is possible to keep your life balance in a good way to dedicate the amount of time that each compact amount of your life needs to feel well to succeed in your life.
I got a text from a close friend of mine and he said to me, “I’m at home.” The kids, one of them is at college and one of them is staying with her mom. He’s alone in the house and he runs his own business. He’s working 14 to 16 hours a day because he’s got all this time. For the first two weeks, he was like, “I got all this time. I can get caught up.” After four weeks of doing that, he wrote to me, “Something has to give, I’m feeling hollow.” As excited as we are about our work and our mission and whatever it is that we want to be doing out there in the world. It’s only one piece of who you are. Immediately, I wrote back to him to start running again.
He loves to run. It makes his heart sing. Get out there and start running. It’s something you can still do. Create some Zoom connections, whether it’s a therapist or what about, we’re doing game nights on Zoom every Thursday night, come join our game night. Have Zoom conversations with your parents or FaceTime. Maybe you can help them figure out the technology. Create some interactions that will fill you up because they’re important. They’re such a big piece of who we are and they take a little bit of time. They take your mind off of the work and they put you back into being a human being rather than a working machine.
People would benefit from limiting their exposure to the news. Figure out the day and make sure you’re checking a reliable source. Another thing is we can connect, not just through social media. A lot of people think, “If I’m on Instagram or Facebook, I’m going to have those genuine connections with my friends or family.” Those are passive interactions. Not only that, it also increases your exposure to sometimes false news about the pandemic and what’s going on. You can’t control what you’re seeing unless you’re removing people that you don’t like their feeds. A more active way to get engaged is to schedule a happy hour with your friends, schedule a game night, you go play Yahtzee over Zoom.
I used to be part of a lot of these happiness groups. I’m known as Miss Bliss. Everybody wanted me in their group when this whole thing started. The conversation was all about the news and what is feeling bad and, “My kids are freaking out.” Eventually, I would say something to the effect of as global leaders, we are responsible for the global conversation. That global conversation needs to be uplifting. There’s plenty pulling us down. Let’s focus more on what’s going right than what’s going wrong. I got kicked out of most of those groups. That’s okay. I’m still part of a couple of them.
I want to be part of groups that are engaged in the uplifting of our lives. One of the key factors that I say over again, watch the news once a day, you need to be aware and vigilant so that you know what you need to be doing. You also need to stay positive and blissful. How do you do that? When you’re watching the news, take the pieces that support you and let go of all those pieces that create drama and upset because that drama and upset serves no purpose. It brings you down and brings it into your home. Instead, take what serves you, take what’s important for you to know. For me, I do want to know the numbers in Santa Clara County because it makes me feel good that they’re going down, but when they were going up, I wasn’t checking that. My husband gives me an executive summary. Make sure that whatever you’re taking in serves you in what you’re trying to create in your life. If I can say, try to create bliss, it’s much more fun than fear.
I love that you have this perspective that in some ways, we can control what we’re focusing on and thinking about that. That aligns with what both Francois and I do when we’re working with individuals, it practices what’s called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. You can’t change the situation always, but you can change certain ways you view it. For example, taking what you can from the news that serves you and trying to let go of that doesn’t.
For many people, seeing somebody with a mask on, when they go to the grocery store, they’re walking down the street can be very scary and frightening. People have this thought of, “This is scary and this is so bad.” What if we reframed it and said, “Look at all these people trying to take care of their health and protect others. Look at us all coming together as a community to not think about ourselves, but I’m putting a mask on because there may be a person who’s more susceptible to this.” That’s a beautiful reframe that you’re still acknowledging the reality of the situation, but you’re taking a more blissful view on it.
I went to the grocery store and we realized that afterward, I was full of anger. I could visualize, it was like black, gooey, horrible anger that was completely taking over. What I was noticing is that I was wearing a mask because it was important to me that if I’m a carrier that I do not infect anybody else, but only 50% of the people in the grocery store were wearing masks. This is a place that we have to go to, we need to eat. Only 50% of the people are taking responsibility for whether they’re spreading or not. It filled me with anger because I’m about social consciousness. I sat with that and I thought, “What can I do about this?”
Instead of being a victim and being angry, I went on Amazon and I bought myself a full-face mask. What this does is it keeps my eyes, nose and mouth protected. I can’t send anything out but now, I’m also protecting myself so nobody can infect me. Certainly, if they’re standing closer than six feet, they cough on my back or whatever, I’m still exposed. The most important part is my face. It looks weird and people look at me strangely, but it empowered me in a place of being angry and victimized.
It empowered me, “I’m not angry, I’m protected.” I can stand as an example in a safe way or wherever I am of taking care of myself. I moved from anger to empowerment. As you’re out there and you’re seeing this and you’re feeling, “I’m scared.” It is a scary time, but we can reframe every piece of that experience to empower ourselves to feel better and it’s supercritical because I was focusing on the 50% that was not wearing the mask, I should and can focus on 50% that is, and it’s increasing all the time.
We’re seeing a great increase and people seem to be taking things more seriously. That’s a beautiful thing to see that people are being more socially aware.You can't change the situation always, but you can change certain way you view it. Click To Tweet
I would say that we can look at the situation in two different ways. It’s extremely helpful. I love to see everyday people being more respectful of what’s going on by being more self-conscious and protecting not only themselves but others. It’s evolving in a good way.
When we go into EXTRA, I want to do a deep dive into behavioral cognitive psychology. It’s one of my go-to, so I can’t wait for that conversation. Can you give some real specific tips that people can use to improve the bliss in their lives?
It’s a wonderful opportunity to keep on learning. We are all stuck at home with too much time in our hands. A life lesson that I’ve seen for all times, keep on your learning, all your lifelong, you can read books, you can listen to podcasts. With Dr. Maegan Renee, we have started to take online classes on different topics. It could be topics in which you want to become an expert in or it can be a brand-new topic, something you don’t know anything about because it’s rewarding to be always joyous and to keep on learning. It’s helpful to spend some time because we have too much time on our hands, but also, that’s something we should keep after what’s going on to keep on using our brain and in my opinion, that’s a wonderful recipe for wellbeing, but also for success.
It’s fun to do these things together. If you can’t, you can still do it on Zoom with somebody, but learning how to make homemade salsa. I have a few tips too. One, gratitude journal. There’s a lot out there that you can order online there. I love the One-Minute Gratitude Journal. It’s literally one minute, there are a lot of us who are and have busy schedules. There are also five-minute journals. You can create your own. There are apps out there, but I’d encourage people to step away from the screen and to write down or draw a picture or get creative, take a picture of something that makes you happy and to have that moment of gratitude and to start your day off that way.
Practicing with self-compassion. We are good at giving compassion to others, “You made a mistake? It’s okay. I made a mistake, let me beat myself up for half-an-hour mentally.” There is some great information out there. There are some great leaders in this field. A lot of people wonder like, “What is self-compassion?” It’s not self-pity, nor self-esteem, it’s acknowledging that you are human and you are going to have experiences that are not ideal, that are difficult and acknowledging that as a human, there are other humans that are going through this suffering with you.
You’re not isolated in this experience and being forgiving of yourself, especially keeping in mind, it’s not the time to be the perfect parent, spouse and employee. We’re living under conditions that nobody has all the answers to or knows exactly how to navigate. Putting undue pressure on yourself to perform better in any of those areas is not practicing self-compassion. It could be valuable to take a step back and say, “Am I being kind to myself? Am I talking to myself the way I would talk to a friend or am I being a lot harsher? If I am, maybe I need to try practicing talking to myself as though I would a friend or a partner.”
We are allowing grace for each other. I love the beauty of schedules are getting mixed up. Things are going weird all around us. We’re allowing grace for each other but we’re not as much allowing grace for ourselves. I love the way that you said that compassion for yourself is not weakness, nor selfish, it’s grace. It’s the same grace that every human being deserves and you deserve it too. Whether are you getting it from anybody else is irrelevant. It’s important that you give it to yourself. Are there any other tips you’d like to offer before we sign off on this part of the show?
I would say that on ToBeOptimized.com, one of our products besides counseling and life coaching is this Social Media Detox. That’s something very important because indeed that social media platform is engineered for you to get totally addicted to it. There’s no other word and to spend a lot of time on that. We wrote this journal in order to help people to go through the journey of making better boundaries with social media, but also, quitting for a long period of time or quitting forever, or using it in a better way. That’s something special. We are proud of it. We have done it ourselves. The benefits of not using our using social media, a component of your business, sleeping better, less anxiety, no social side comparison, they are complex. It’s beneficial.
What I wanted to offer to your audience is something special is that if people are visiting our website ToBeOptimized.com, they will be able to access the Journal that they can structure. It’s affordable. It’s $25 and they can buy it for themselves or their children or their best friend or even the employees. If you consider that you have no problem with boundaries with social media, that’s wonderful, but we are 100% sure that you know someone who has a problem with social media. You can buy the Journal and if you do that, we will offer a 30-minute free session with either Dr. Meagan Renee for the consulting part or if people want to work on life coaching, that would be with me.
We consider it to be optimized. There is no better investment than an investment in yourself. $25 and you get more than $100 value that you could use for you or for the people you love. Social Media Detox is a good start to optimize the life balance and because it’s taking so much time that you are not going to give to something else. If some people among your audience interested in starting the journey of consulting or life coaching, we are happy to offer that to them.
If you’re thinking about, “I need a little bit of support around this or that,” this is an amazing opportunity for you to take advantage of some time with some heartfelt professionals. Thank you for that, Maegan and Francois. That website again is ToBeOptimized.com. Thank you for all that you’ve offered in this portion of the show. It’s been fun.
Thank you for having us. It’s always a pleasure.
It’s fun for us too. It’s something we look forward to.
In EXTRA, we’re going to be talking about behavioral cognitive therapy and it’s a tool that I use all the time to stay blissful. You’ve got to check this out. Please subscribe to RealEstateInvestingForWomenExtra.com. You get the first seven days for free. You can go out there and hear all this juicy stuff. If you decide that you love it, you can stay in it. If not, at least you’ve got some good deep dive tips to improve your bliss. Thank you for joining us for this portion of the show. Remember, bliss is your birthright. Choose to live your bliss every single day. I’ll see you next time. Bye.
Dr. Maegan Renee is a licensed professional counselor and holds a PhD in Counselor Education & Supervision. She is the owner of M.R. Counseling and Consulting and co-founder of www.ToBeOptimized.com. She has presented on topics of mental health at national conferences around the country. She has publications on topics such as social isolation, early childhood mental health, and social media detox. Dr. Renee has 11 years of experience in the field of counseling working with children, adolescents, and adults.
Francois Braine-Bonnaire is a real-estate investor, an international serial entrepreneur, and certified life coach. Born and raised in Paris (France), Francois holds dual French and American Citizenship. He is the co-founder of www.ToBeOptimized.com and co-author of a: “21 Day Social Media Detox Journal” with Dr. Maegan Renee. He is also a contributing author of the book: “Real Estate Investing for Women: Expert Conversations to Increase Wealth and Happiness the Blissful Way” with me (Moneeka Sawyer). With a turnkey real estate business founded in 2010 that continues to grow, Francois has helped more than 200 families from 15 countries around the world to successfully invest in more than 600 rental properties in the USA. Francois has a passion for helping people through both real-estate investments and life coaching.
Moneeka Sawyer is often described as one of the most blissful people you will ever meet. She has been investing in Real Estate for over 20 years, so has been through all the different cycles of the market. Still, she has turned $10,000 into over $5,000,000, working only 5-10 hours per MONTH with very little stress.
While building her multi-million dollar business, she has traveled to over 55 countries, dances every single day, supports causes that are important to her, and spends lots of time with her husband of over 20 years.
She is the international best-selling author of the multiple award-winning books “Choose Bliss: The Power and Practice of Joy and Contentment” and “Real Estate Investing for Women: Expert Conversations to Increase Wealth and Happiness the Blissful Way.”
Moneeka has been featured on stages including Carnegie Hall and Nasdaq, radio, podcasts such as Achieve Your Goals with Hal Elrod, and TV stations including ABC, CBS, FOX, and the CW, impacting over 150 million people.