Live Your Best Life: Elizabeth Davies
In this series we focus on living the life you want, contributing to the world in a way that feels right for you and focusing on being the best version of yourself each day, whatever that looks like. The inspiring women I talk to here aren't striving for impossible perfection, they're simply doing what they can to live the best life they can.
Thank you for being here, Elizabeth, can you share a little about yourself, what your life is like and the path you took to get to where you are today, please?
I’m Elizabeth; mum of two, wife, lawyer and owner of The Mummy Coach, which I launched at the end of 2017. I live in south west London with my family and our French bulldog. As a teenager I wanted to be a barrister and I worked hard to realise that ambition, going straight from school to university to Bar school to pupillage with no break, qualifying as a barrister in 2006 at the tender age of 23. My career went well and I climbed the metaphorical ladder but, on returning to work after my second maternity leave in late 2015, I found something had shifted. My passion for law had dampened. People congratulated me for having it all, saying, “I don’t know how you do it!” But I felt conflicted. Outwardly, I had it all, but inwardly I felt quite empty. I felt like a sub-optimal mum and a sub-optimal lawyer. I missed my children but I was constantly snapping at them when we were together. After several months of letting all these feelings sit, I left my full-time job in at the end of 2016. I accepted a consultancy role, picking up law projects on an ad hoc basis, and threw myself into family life. It was a busy time: endless nursery runs; sandwiches cut into triangles not squares; wiping snotty noses; staying on top of piles of laundry… But, for the first time in years, I had mental space. And it was from that space that the idea for my new business, The Mummy Coach, was born. My life now is split between being a mum and building my business. I spend my time predominantly in sports clothes, often with a snot stain or similar at hip height. I feel excited about this chapter in my life.
What inspirational quotes or mantras that hold meaning for you?
There are two which are particularly meaningful for me. First, “this too shall pass”, which I think was said to me about 5000 times in my first few months of parenting, to reassure me that whatever challenging phase I was living through wouldn’t last forever. This mantra reminds me of the impermanence of everything, not just the challenging phases but the lovely ones, too. It helps me to remember to drink up and savour those lovely moments.
The other one that I keep coming back to is “perfect is the enemy of the good”, popularised by Voltaire. I have always been a perfectionist and, while this has benefited me in many ways, it has also held me back. The running race I wouldn’t enter because I didn’t think my anticipated finish time would be impressive enough. The violin piece I didn’t play at my sister’s wedding because I worried my recital wasn’t polished enough. The cupcakes I didn’t make with my children because I didn’t know how to make the sponge from scratch but considered it cheating to use a pre-mixed baking kit. Now I remind myself often that good is enough. More than enough.
They're both great quotes, So, how do you recognise when life’s getting on top of you?
My warning signs are very predictable. I may get a general feeling of overwhelm and anxiety, but without being immediately able to pinpoint the cause. I may get snappy or irritable with my husband or children for no good reason. I may start to compare myself unfavourably to others around me, even if doing so is to compare apples and pears. I may start to become particularly anxious about social media, obsessing about why posts did well, why posts did not do well, why people followed me, why people unfollowed me…
And what do you do to get back to how you want to feel?
I pause and take some deep breaths. I prioritise movement – a walk or a run or some weightlifting. Movement quietens my mind and soothes my soul. I ask my husband kindly to disregard my snappiness and to give me a cuddle. I cross-examine the shit out of the voice in my head which is telling me I haven’t achieved enough or will never be good enough, making a concerted effort to focus on the evidence to the contrary. I WhatsApp my closest friend or sister. They always seem to know the right thing to say. I take a break from social media, to put an instant stop to the cycle of scrolling, comparing and feeling anxious. I make a list: having a plan helps me to feel grounded.
What plans, hopes and dreams do you have for the future?
I would like to continue to grow my business; it is a real privilege to support and nurture mums and mums-to-be, and I want to do more of it. I hope to expand my offering before the summer to include workshops. Longer term, I would absolutely love to launch a The Mummy Coach podcast. With a team of other talented women – we affectionately call ourselves the Pelvic Paw Patrol – I am pushing to start a national conversation about what is and is not normal postnatally, and to improve access to appropriate support for women. I dream of a society which is less focused on superficial bounce backs and aesthetics – shedding baby weight and squeezing back into pre-pregnancy jeans – more focused on restoring solid postnatal foundations and full physical function. Last but not least, I plan to respect this chapter in my life. I left my full-time law job primarily because I wanted to be more present with my children, because I missed them. Sometimes I get frustrated that my child-free mornings whizz by too quickly and that I don’t have longer windows to take on new clients. I remind myself that in a year or so, both of my children will be at school and I will have much more time to devote to The Mummy Coach. Until then, I want to continue to drink it all up. The nice bits and the not-so-nice bits, because none of it is permanent.
Finally, Elizabeth, tell us what living your best life means to you.
Living my best life means recognising that best does not mean perfect. It also means acknowledging that my best is changeable based on so many variables, and being at peace with that. Living my best life means staying mindful of life’s impermanence; focusing as much as possible on the stuff that matters most to me and having the confidence to identify and step away from what doesn’t.
Elizabeth is a specialist personal trainer and a postnatal doula. As The Mummy Coach, she empowers women to prepare for and adapt to the world of motherhood. She supports mums throughout south west and west London, as well as further afield on request. Find out more at themummycoach.co.uk and follow her on Instagram.