THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 87: Betsy Ames, Founder of Mindful Style

Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious—and maybe a little obsessed—about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us all feel a little better. I hope the conversation will be steered toward that reality rather than toward the flawed and dangerous assumption that we should try—or even want to try—to perfectly do “it all.”

BY THE WAY…

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  • The Balance Project interview series recently celebrated its first birthday!
  • Fortune ran a feature about The Balance Project.
  • Want to be a part of The Balance Project? Complete the interview.

No. 87: Betsy Ames, Founder of Mindful Style

Where I live: Maplewood, NJ
Job:  Founder of Mindful Style
Kids: Two daughters, 14 and 20, and two sons, 18 and 22

me close up colorIs the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
No it’s not the same job. My previous jobs were as editor of Glamour Magazine and as a former stylist and personal shopper for celebrities and high profile customers at Bloomingdale’s. I got tired of fashion being only about the outside of a person and not considering the inside. I work from home now. No one else is doing what I do so I needed to start from scratch. A year ago I founded Mindful Style. I am a closet curator. I enter your closet and assess what no longer serves your inner self. I rid you of the 100 pairs of black pants and leave you with 5 that you will wear over and over again, then I mix and match what you already own, without buying more. It is my purpose now to educate and enlighten women that balance comes from clearly seeing what you own and how to wear them as opposed to having a closet full of clothes and having nothing to wear.

Have you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
I created a business that allows me to be home after school in the afternoons I have my youngest daughter and work on the days I do not. My business came to be because I see that for many women the first thing we do in the morning is walk into our closets and we are instantly thrown off balance by the amount of stuff we own that we cannot clearly see what is in front of us. I clear the clutter and leave my clients with space to breathe. I restore balance in their closets.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I think there is no such thing as “having it all.” It is a myth similar to the fairy tales we were fed as children. For some having it all may mean being the richest person in the world, for others it may mean giving back to a local charity or cause. I believe the new definition of “having it all” is being grateful for what you already have.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
I can’t figure out balance at all. Balance comes and goes like my thoughts and that is okay with me. It has taken time to realize that the media sets the bar high for what women and men “should” feel and do these days and I try to disregard any “shoulds” and “musts.” When I am in the thinking mode of what people should be doing, how people should be acting, that people have more than me, she’s jetting off somewhere warm, then my monkey brain makes me feel off balance. When I reflect on my present moment awareness that things are as they should be in this moment, then everything comes into balance. The hard part is to be in that state every moment of every waking day.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Balance is an ideal. I am practicing balance when i don’t judge my thoughts. Now that three of my four children are grown, I can center my thoughts on what my needs are more and on my youngest daughter who is 14. For the past 20 plus years I have been juggling so many of my children’s needs and desires that often times mine were put on the back burner, which I believe many women feel. We give to everyone but ourselves. In order to gain balance you have to get on the balance beam with your arms outstretched and your feet firmly on the beam carrying them, but not letting yourself fall off.

Studying the art of mindfulness and what it does to our brain is helping me to achieve balance by not constantly judging what my brain is telling me and going back to what is at the present moment. I truly believe if we all did that, we would be kinder, gentler human beings. We have to start by not being so hard on ourselves, then we will be less hard on the people around us and with the ones we love most.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance?
From a mentor/co-worker? “Pause, take a breath, and respond, don’t react.”

If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
Sleeping. Its the ultimate regeneration.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
Relax, it will all work out. I didn’t need to push so hard!

What do you hope to know by the time you’re 60?
People do the same things over and over until they take the action to change.

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Ahh all of it. Not my favorite part of the day after years of raising four kids!

Whose job do you wish you had?
A birth coach.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Plumber.

Favorite books?
Gift from The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

What are you reading right now?
The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir.

Biggest vices…
Activity? 
Watching past episodes of TV series and not wanting to stop until I am current.
Food? Strangely enough I don’t have one right now.
Website? Instagram.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
6.

What do you read every morning?
A daily meditation.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: have come a long way baby.
I wish I: can support myself to be able stay in my current house for another five years until my youngest graduates high school.
My kids: are my greatest blessings and my greatest teachers.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” and “The right side of your brain buys what the left side sells.”

Anything else you’d like to add?
I love your website!

mindfulstyle-logoAbout Betsy:
I’ve loved fashion all my life. Right after college, I was thrilled to work at Glamour Magazine with experts who spotted and put together stories about trends. I stayed in fashion as a personal shopper at THE store of the 80s—Bloomingdale’s. I kept celebrities, wealthy socialites, high-powered executives, and the wives of Wall Street moguls stylish and on-trend. After I married and began a family (I have four kids), I kept up with other stay-at-home moms in my upscale suburb. My closet burst with designer clothing, handbags, and shoes. My perspective changed when we decided to move and I saw all I had accumulated. One broker was amazed by the 30 sweaters arranged neatly on shelves by color. At the same time, the media was focusing on decluttering. And I became mindful of fashion’s huge negative environmental impact.

As I cleaned out my closet, I realized I was trying to define myself from the outside in. Exploring spirituality, I began to apply the concepts of mindfulness and detachment to my wardrobe. Today, I am mindful of trends yet not driven by them. Shopping now is pretty simple, because I know what looks good and makes me feel good. I know I’m not alone in wanting to be stylish yet not a slave to fashion. I started Mindful Style to share my expertise with women and men who want to get off the fashion merry-go-round and make wardrobe choices based on inner values. I’m excited to help my clients develop their own Mindful Style.

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Find out more about Betsy:
www.mindfulstyle.com
Facebook: Mindful-Style
T
witter: @mindfulstyle
I
nstagram: mindfulstyle
Pinterest: mindfulstyle

WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT WORK-LIFE BALANCE? CHECK OUT MY NEW NOVEL THE BALANCE PROJECT!

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