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Pressing refresh with Marie Richer
Marie Richer, co-founder of PRANA, shares a recent road trip in Nova Scotia with friends and how it has since become a catalyst for making more time for herself. When I met Marie at her Ville St-Laurent headquarters for the interview, she insisted that the questions I had prepared were difficult ones to answer.
What do you think of when you hear the words “me-time” or “self-love”?
There was a long pause after I asked this one. She admitted that even in her “me-time”, she still thinks of others.
“I’m hard on myself because I want to do it all and sharing with others is how I express my love. I also feel a very deep sense or responsibility that shapes my state of mind. I identify myself with the busyness of the day-to-day, but doing that is totally unsustainable.”
She went on to tell me that when she left on that road trip to Nova Scotia last summer, it was actually the first time she had slept away from her three boys in three years.
Do your friends take up a big part of your life?
“Maintaining my friendships is a way for me to be closer to myself. Because when I’m with my friends, I’m not Prana, I’m not fronting a persona. I can just be me with my flaws. Friends can make fun of me, point at my mistakes, make me laugh about it and help me to be a better version of myself.”
She also talked about certain cultures, like that of her partner’s, having very powerful extended family bonds. Marie thrives in that tribe-like atmosphere in her own home where friends are constantly dropping, staying over to eat, sleep and just enjoy time together.
How easy was it to walk away from your family, your work to explore Nova Scotia?
Marie said that her fear of going was what convinced her that it was something she needed to do.
“Packing my bags, putting on hold my partner, my team and business, trusting my kids with friends and leaving for 3 weeks was a hard decision to make. But allowing this to happen showed me that I could actually do it and left me feeling so much more productive when I came back.”
How did this road trip change you?
Marie explained that this trip was so much more than exploring the Nova Scotian coast, witnessing nature’s wow factor and beachfront barbecues with friends. Back stage, it left her with a renewed sense of awareness that her life as a whole meant so much more than the perfection that could be achieved on any given day.
She said that the trip planted a seed of self-discipline that has helped her since to incorporate more me-time in her schedule. Simple actions like grateful meditation and breathing exercises right when she wakes up and before bedtime, escaping for a jog during her lunch hour and consciously making time to rekindle her love for yoga.
Do you have side-projects that feed your creativity?
“Well I think it’s clear that I’m genuinely passionate about wholesome foods and I love to be creative when making lunches for my kids. In the past, pottery has also been a highly creative outlet. Right now, I’m invested in a social venture in Costa Rica where my partner and I are enabling a bean-to-bar business model to empower locals with the skills to make chocolate bars from A to Z—as opposed to sending raw resources to Switzerland, for example, for production.”
When does helping others become self-neglect?
“I think counter-productivity is definitely the red flag, like when I try to help but it just makes things worst. I know I need to take time to rest when I feel intolerant, an overall fatigue, no power to fight for anything or when my eczema kicks in. Stress is a very insidious thing. I don’t think I’m stressed. I feel totally normal. But my body is living it and always finds a way to let me know.”
What are some rituals you practice to block out time for yourself?
“I’m proud of myself when I actually get out of bed a half-hour before everyone else and the world is calm. That’s when I make time for an early-morning yoga session. Cooking alone is also so rare, yet so freeing for me. I also find peace when I’m walking in the city streets and no one knows who I am. I’m just alone and here and it feels good to just breathe sometimes.”
Who is your biggest inspiration when it comes to putting yourself first?
She laughs before answering.
“Hands down, it would have to be my partner. He really knows how to administer self-love and takes it when he needs it. I admire him for being able to just drop everything and do what he needs to do to feel balanced. And then he comes back fresh and available for everyone around him. He definitely creates an equilibrium in our team, especially when we’re dividing up tasks and working together on a common ongoing objective, like raising our kids.”
Sitting with Marie, I got a sense of how it would be like to work on her team. Lots of direct, honest communications and a sense of purpose that permeates all spheres of her life and touches the lives of everyone along the way.
In many ways, Marie openly points to the fact that pressing refresh has a lot to do with practicing to take the time to observe the struggles going on within. Here’s my favourite takeaway from Marie:
“Feeling happy through helping others is a kind of happiness that doesn’t last. I feel like I need to create it in a deeper place where the source of happiness is not bound by circumstance.”
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