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The Unbearable Awakening Of Covid-19

The Unbearable Awakening Of Covid-19

In the wake of Covid-19 and everything that entails, we have been brought to our knees.

No one prepared us for a pandemic. The moments vary from highly uncomfortable to downright panic and fear. For many, it has become a daily struggle that we endure on so many levels; we no longer know where one discomfort begins and another ends. Survival on one hand; mental health on the other.

The things that would have previously sent us in a full-blown tirade (effective immediately: all schools in America are closed indefinitely) are now just a blip in what has become the first modern pandemic. (For the record, who ever thought we’d participate in an actual pandemic?!) And if you happen to be a healthcare professional, your place of work has now become a war zone that lacks basic protection, support and adequate supplies – and yet the sick people will come in droves, and you must serve them.

Over the course of a very short time, we are learning how to adjust to a world that no longer includes the basic services of daily life – including daycare, restaurants, places of worship and recreation of any kind.

Life under these new rules, specifically “shelter in place”, which sounds like a WWII reference, has become our new reality. And since most of our professional offices are closed as well, entire families are now “sheltering” together, while simultaneously eLearning and remote working.  Even as I type this, I laugh because it sounds like the most outrageous movie script ever written.

In my city, we are asked to stay home and only interact with immediate family members that live in the same home. We leave the house only for neighborhood walks and essential errands – groceries, medicine, etc. We wave to friends from the window and take Zoom calls for work and social meet-ups. Our entire social network has evolved to support social distancing. This new adjustment is a sad replacement for personal contact.

Over the course of the day, our minds alternate from the things we have to get done (eLearning, our jobs, never ending kitchen clean-up), the things we wish we could do (a spa day, a workout class) and oh yeah, the things we hope won’t actually happen (medical complications for our loved ones, fears around money and the recession and, most importantly, Will I ever leave this house again?!) Make no mistake – what you are experiencing is HEAVY STUFF.

We are tired and scared and overwhelmed.

If you live alone, you may be lonely. If you don’t live alone, you may be the opposite of lonely. We sit at home waiting for the next wave of bad news to hit us. Will it be as bad as the last round? Worse? Better? Waiting around, literally, for the virus to hit can make you crazy if you let it.

But remember that fear is not our teacher.

Fear is a survival skill that, taken out of context, may keep you safe but also creates anxiety and ultimately prevents healing. As a spiritual seeker for the past decade, I have inadvertently invited some challenging experiences into my life. A child’s health scare, uncertain economies, and fears of the past resurfacing have become some of my greatest teachers. “Walk through the fear and there is much beauty to be found on the other side,” has become my motto. I certainly did not invite the Covid-19 pandemic into my experience intentionally, but I know it will be a great teacher if I allow it to be.

You must feel a new energy . . . to become something greater than your body, your environment, and time.

We are heading into week three of shelter in place. My husband and I are both at home working, while simultaneously managing eLearning and basic care and management of our four children. My personal space is extremely compromised. These tight quarters have left me feeling vulnerable in moments when I need a break and that’s just not possible. At the end of a long day recently, I broke down and cried.

My youngest sons, 8 and 12, not fully understanding why but seeing I needed support, walked over and hugged me and told me they loved me. Had I not allowed that vulnerability, I would not have experienced the miracle of the rare reversal of my children’s caring for me. That kindness reminded me that it’s okay to falter, we are not robots. Our vulnerability allows us to evolve to support this new system that is entirely foreign to us but necessary for the indefinite future. As Glennon Doyle often reminds us, we can do hard things.

What you resist, persists.

For me, this experience has become an epic reminder than we’re not in charge. When you find the courage to surrender, even in small ways, you begin to see the light just outside the shadows. Allow these moments, especially the uncomfortable ones, to guide you through this. There is no “Pandemic 101” rule book you should follow. Let your heart guide you. Smile at a stranger on a walk, shed a tear when needed, text words of support to your healthcare friends, hug your people tight; remember that in today’s socially distant world, human touch is a privilege we will appreciate so much more in the future.

If you feel like you need additional support during these uncertain times, remember you are not alone! Check in with your healthcare provider, your friends and family or click here for more information.

Be well, friends. xoxo

Colleen Cooney is an independent marketing consultant and owner of Sanctuary Brands. She lives in Chicago with her husband and 4 sons.

What is the shelf life on your dreams?

What is the shelf life on your dreams?

I received an email today from the domain registry website I used to purchase Sanctuary Brands. They wanted to wish me a happy one year anniversary. Wow, I had no idea it had been a year! Although I just officially launched my website recently, I purchased the domain name a full 12 months ago. Which got me to thinking about how important it is to keep plugging along on your dreams. Your timeline doesn’t dictate the success of your dreams but your continued passion will. Here’s how long I’ve been working towards my dream:

13 years ago, after the birth of my second child, I left my full-time career as a Brand Manager. I knew I wanted to keep working but I wanted a better work/life balance for my young family. I had a dream that I could find a way to do that.

I had a dream that one day I could be more thoughtful about the types of projects I took on and take a more active role as a creative thinker and leader.

Colleen Cooney

12 years ago Kraft Foods hired me for a 3 month project (which extended into a full year). I was way outside of my comfort zone, working for the giant of all CPG companies, with two babies at home. But my dream of “having it all” propelled me forward and I successfully completed the project, working in a part-time capacity, and was recognized by the company for showcasing “Retail Excellence”. From that experience, I developed a dream that I would find a way to keep doing what I loved but on my own terms.

Don’t give up.

8 years ago I had my 4th child. In the years that followed I somehow managed to juggle 4 kids and hold down part-time (sometimes more like full-time) work that gave me a creative outlet and allowed me to help support our family financially. I had a dream that one day I could be more thoughtful about the types of projects I took on and take a more active role as a creative thinker and leader.

2 years ago I started dreaming about starting my own marketing agency, to share my passion for connecting with like-minded people and companies and help them to find a unique voice for their brands.

1 year ago, after many hours of convincing myself I couldn’t possibly develop a business plan, or run an agency, or put myself out there, or take a risk…I bought the domain for

Your dreams don’t expire.

Today I sit here with a a vision for the future that is evolving every day and I can’t wait to watch it unfold. My new dream is to be so successful that I’m able to inspire other women to harness their own dreams and create something personal and beautiful, that lights them up from the inside out!

The benefits of evolving your personal brand.

The benefits of evolving your personal brand.

Wishful thinking is the first step. #startdreaming

Many times I have listened to friends and colleagues complain about their jobs – covering a plethora of issues from general disdain for the company or the work itself, to more specifics like commuting time, long works hour and/or low-pay. I would nod in sympathy and tell them I’m sorry. Possibly offer a reasonable suggestion. But in the past several years as I have done the work on my own “mindset”, I have come to realize that establishing and committing to the evolution of our own personal brand is likely the key to happiness in business. How so? Keep reading…

Did you know that complaining can be healthy?

Complaining about your job or career is the first step to potentially making a positive change. The contrast of being unhappy allows your mind to explore new possibilities. Once those new ideas begin to form, more will continue to follow. It’s the benefit of momentum! Great ideas often evolve from daydreaming. There is no reason to believe that what you started out doing 2, 3 or even 10 years ago is what you are destined to do forever. Your #personalbrand should continue to evolve as your career progresses. If you feel stuck in your career, it may be time evolve your thinking and get moving in a new direction.

Evolving your brand doesn’t have to be hard.

I’ve worked with fabulous marketers that originally trained as engineers. And tech founders that were medical doctors. The only thing standing between you and your dream is…you! I know that leap can seem overwhelming. Choosing authenticity in a day or age where every photo has a filter and memes are how we share our feelings can feel scary. But there is no better way to connect with your intended audience than being authentic. Your story may be exactly what someone else out there in your digital network is waiting to hear.

Not sure how to get started? That’s where #SanctuaryBrands comes in. We can help you finesse your personal brand story, tweak your social media footprint and even update your website to better align with the future you. There is no better time than the present. Start dreaming and get started today!

The Sanctuary Brands story

The Sanctuary Brands story

It started with a mantra, something I used to say to myself all the time: When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. It was my go-to line when I needed to reframe my thoughts, or when I felt stuck, uninspired. Sanctuary Brands evolved with intention when I knew I was ready to take the next step.

In retrospect, I’ve always been a professional helper. Companies hired me to lend a hand when they were in transition, short staffed or needed to outsource a specific project. I happily jumped in to get the job done. Over the years, all those small (and not so small) projects gave me expertise in a wide range of industries: healthcare, consumer products, non-profit, commercial real estate. When I took a step back and started to add it all up, I realized it didn’t matter what industry it was, it was the personal connections that motivated me. The people I met and the companies I worked with allowed me to cultivate a unique set of skills.  Changing the way I looked at things showed me that I hadn’t just stumbled into this line of work on accident, I was thriving as a professional helper and I was excited to start the next chapter.

Over the years I found there was nothing more rewarding to me than helping clients articulate, define and develop a comprehensive voice for their brand. If your brand was a person, what would they think, say, do? Giving space to that thought allowed me to connect with the song in my heart, quiet for so long, but suddenly ready to be heard. From that place, Sanctuary Brands was born.

My goal is to work with companies and people that are ready to make an intentional change. If something isn’t working, let us take a look and help you to evolve it. From a total brand overhaul to managing a complex project, we will work with you to get your brand and your business back on track. When you are ready to refresh your perspective, let’s connect!

Finding my way – a love story.

As I begin to wrap up 2018, my mind wanders to the accomplishments of the past 12 months. There’s always the expectation that life will move faster in the areas I want…from financial success to achieving health goals. On the flip-side of that I’m shocked and appalled by how quickly my children are growing! I see photos of my oldest son, now 14, just four years ago and it hurts my heart. Older women used to stop me at the grocery store and smile at my gaggle of kids and comment on how quickly it goes. I understood they were coming from a place of love and nostalgia but it didn’t make a dent in my desire to get those kids home and later that day, get them into bed in the in the most timely fashion possible. Nostalgia is funny is that way – I’d give my arm to go back to one of those days, even if it was the most exhausting day ever, and kiss my babies. But we can only wish for that kind of backwards travel from a future place – and that requires time. Evolution is necessary to appreciate the past.

So as I look back at 2018, I also give gratitude for the balance I have brought into my life. I’ve learned to appreciate the natural pace of life, even when my impatient self is willing things to move faster. I appreciate the smaller moments; the bedtime kisses and cuddles, the authentic laughter shared with my teenager, the glass of wine with my husband after a long day, the funny text message from a friend that sets me off into fits of laughter. Life’s not a race but more like a stroll. I challenge myself every day to take in the moments – the small, tedious ones and the big, happy ones. When you wrap them up together, they add up to ALL.

If I could time travel and go back to myself at 14, I’d tell her to ignore everything else and focus all her energies on feeling good. When you feel good on the inside, really good, everything else falls into place. Find ALL the ways to feel good and stay there as long as you can.  I wish I had known that earlier, or more consistently, in my life. It’s such a simple trick but it can feel impossible until we really commit to it. Just remember: practice makes perfect. 

There is something so liberating about stepping into the person I have become. To name the things I accept – and gracefully acknowledge that this is a process that will continue to evolve. I am certain I will not reach the finish line in this lifetime…especially since my route seems to change every day. But I am certainly going to enjoy the stroll, sometimes more like a frantic jog, and embrace my moments.

I wish the same for you. Namaste!

My inner child is so happy!

My first blog post! I’ve always loved to write. As a kid I used to write short stories, on loose-leaf papers that were stapled together. As I step more and more into myself, I’m reminded of so many of the things I loved as a child and am looking to recreate them now.

I’ve always identified as a writer.  I’m not a formal writer by profession but I’m passionate about the English language and choosing the words that fit together in the best possible way to convey the message or tell the story. I had a manager tell me once that my business emails were the best he ever read – that was such a compliment! There’s so much power in the words we choose and I take that responsibility seriously. 

I have adopted the belief that “thoughts become things” and our words frame our thoughts. So I try to be careful about what I say or write. #worstdayever may just become that. #lovemylife is what I’m always working towards, even in the moments I’m not feeling it. And when things aren’t going my way, I can probably find the words to work around that feeling. After a particularly stressful few weeks, I was inspired to write, “I am abundant in lessons learned”. See what I did there?!

I remind my children often to follow this rule. Before making a statement about someone or something else, first ask yourself: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?  Once you start filtering your words, you may realize the immense power they hold. Talk more about the things you want and give less attention to those things that aren’t making you happy. Soon you’ll be seeing more of the good stuff because you’re putting your focus there!

I gave myself the gift of this blog because writing makes me happy. As I step into the next chapter of my life, I’m looking to bring in more love, more light and more ways to feel good about the things around me. If you’re still reading this, wow…and thank for taking a moment to read the words I lovingly strung together. #Namaste