Woman across Canada are kicking butt in the workforce, all while maintaining their cool and doing the things in life they enjoy. “Motivation Monday: How she does it” is a news series where we profile notable women working in various fields to find out how they juggle work-life balance. For this installment, we chatted with Lisa Brookman - a psychotherapist and the co-director of the West Island Therapy Centre, in Montreal. She is also the co-founder of Wise Women Canada.
Can you describe what you do?
My day job, I’m a psychotherapist. I own a center in the West Island of Montreal called the West Island Therapy Centre. And my job there is to work with individuals, couples and families who are dealing with various issues such as anxiety, depression, infertility and other difficult issues.
And you also have a number of side projects?
I do! I am the co-founder of Wise Women Canada which is a Canadian lifestyle blog and I am also the co-host of Wise Women Radio on CJAD 800, which is a spin off of the blog. I’m also a regular contributor on Breakfast Television Montreal and I write regularly for Huffington Post Canada. I’m also really excited because we just launched a Wise Women Column in Best Health magazine! I'm passionate about mental health and breaking the stigma, so it’s so rewarding to be able to take what I do in my private practice as a therapist to now have this platform where women are helping women, and empowering each other.
So what does a typical day look like for you starting from the moment you wake up?
I love being busy. During the week, I’m always on the move running between my office, meetings and interviews. I often forget to eat Lunch. I wake up quite early in the morning reluctantly because I would love to sleep in a little bit. I wake up usually around 6. My house is often very hustle and bustle at that time with my three kids getting ready for school, and lunches, and showering, and just getting them off. So three days a week I work in my private practice. I usually start to see clients around 8 in the morning and I usually work with my clients throughout the day until about 4. It’s really important for me to be at home after school with my kids and that has been a number one priority for me, so I can do homework with them, make supper and talk with them. Then I’ll go to sleep really early usually by 10, because I can't function on less than 8 hours of sleep.
And when do you find the time to maintain your blog?
So the two days a week when I’m not at my practice, I work on that. On monday and fridays usually, and a lot in the evenings and sometimes on the weekend. What’s nice is that my partner for Wise Women Canada, Elizabeth Wiener, is also my best friend, so we’re already on the phone 50 times a day anyway to discuss things. I try to make it a bit more leisurely. It’s us in front of our computer and it’s really something we can do from anywhere. Sometimes we’ll go to Starbucks or I’ll even work from my bed.
What are some challenges you face as a career woman - personal or professional?
I think the biggest challenge has been getting over that mommy guilt. You’re juggling so much, but I don’t want to not be there or let down my children. I have worked really really hard trying to balance things and probably one of my main focuses when my career took off was to focus on my career and make it what I wanted it to be, without sacrificing the time, or energy that I want to spend with my children.
How do you overcome these challenges?
I am able to be in charge of my own schedule, which is really wonderful for me. Supper time in my house is also mandatory. So we eat supper all together at least five nights a week and that gives us the time to reconnect and laugh a bit. Even if I have an event at night, we’ll eat an early supper and we’ll make it happen so we have that family time. I'm also in constant contact with my kids. We always text and check in during the day. My middle son calls me everyday at lunch. I love social media for that reason.
And so what are some of the ways that you juggle work-life balance?
The nice thing about my private practice is that the co-owner of the company is my husband. So if there’s a lot of extra responsibilities at the office, it’s nice that he can help me and give me a little bit more free time. I love to do yoga, I love to read, I love to take time for myself, and just being in my own thoughts is really important to me. And if I have time which I try to do at least once or twice a month is to go have lunch with a girlfriend. To just sit down, catch up and laugh is important and helps when i'm running on empty a little bit.
Well my next question was how do you like to unwind, but i think we covered that.
Well my absolute favourite way to unwind is to go up north on the weekend. A couple of years ago we bought a country house and we said that this was going to be a retreat, and we almost go up every single weekend. Just going up and being in the nature - we don’t have wifi, we don’t have Netflix - it’s really about connecting with my family and being outside in nature. It really recharges my battery and that is my favourite favourite thing to do. I'm also very big on self care. I am obsessed with getting manicures and try to have one scheduled every two weeks without fail. It's my guilty pleasure, along with chocolate.
It sounds like your down time is an important part of work-life balance.
Absolutely! As a psychotherapist this is what I preach to my clients all the time about making ‘me time’, so it’s something that I work really hard to practice everyday. I think it’s so important as women who have so many responsibilities to really make sure that they take a piece for themselves and really take the time to feel good and replenish. It really makes all the rest of the work you do, much more quality.
And when you do go out do you choose wine or cocktails?
The truth is and my friends make fun of me all the time because of this, but I’m not a big drinker! I would much rather choose a Perrier with lots of ice and lemon, and lime. It makes me feel so refreshed! Once in awhile I’ll go for a Mojito, but alcohol just isn’t a big part of my life.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
The best advice I have ever received comes from my husband who is my biggest fan. We’ve been together for almost 25 years and he’s the one who’s constantly giving me the advice that I can do anything. When there’s a big challenge ahead of me and I’m just not sure if I can accomplish it, he’ll just tell me that he believes in me and that he knows I can do it. Those words are really enough to propel me forward and help me get my groove back, and start working hard again.
How do you define success?
I define success by what type of role model I am for my children. Everything I do, everything I say, everything I accomplish, in the back of my mind, I think what would my children think of me, or is this something that they would be proud of. That is the most important role out of all of the jobs I have, it’s to be there role model. It’s really about believing in yourself, being proud of the person you are, and being able to make a difference and have a strong voice - to me that’s what success is. When I wake up, that’s my mantra, to go out and make a difference, and hopefully be the greatest role model to my kids.
Do you know someone we should feature in this segment? Send an email to Jennifer@picoum.com