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Friday, August 30

Q & A Book Review: The Burnout Cure by Julie de Azevedo Hanks

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I'm so happy to welcome the extraordinary Julie de Azevedo Hanks as my special blog guest. We are practically best friends. She lives in my neighborhood & I do know her in real life. She is one of the most beautiful {inside & out}, talented people I've ever met! My life has been blessed by her wonderful talent on many occasions. 

Julie's book, The Burnout Cure was written specifically for Mormon women, but I think any woman of faith would relate to it. I enjoyed the book very much & it has helped me in ways I didn't expect! I am now asking my hubby to read it because I think a lot of the principles would be a help to him too. I also purchased a copy for my sis, because I want to share it with her. 
Here are some questions I had for Julie. I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did.
ML -  First of all, a confession. When I heard about your book - my first thought was, "Oh good, a lot of {other} women need that!". I've been in therapy a bit myself & didn't think the content of the book would really apply to me. BUT it did! And it helped me a lot. So thank you! Do you find that some of {ahem}"us" are in denial about being burned out?
JH - I'm glad that you found the book helpful! And yes, I think that many of "us" -- myself included -- are in denial about how overwhelmed we feel. Life is so busy and so full of good things that it's easy to tune out our own emotional and physical needs. 
ML - You're an author! How exciting is that. Did you always know you wanted to write a book & how long did it take?
JH - I didn't know that writing a book was in my life plan until about 10 years ago, and even then, it wasn't this exciting thing to look forward to. It was more of the sense that I would write a book but I had no idea what that meant or how it would unfold. The process of writing a book unfolded in a way that made it less overwhelming and more do-able. I started presenting workshops a decade ago and surveying each group ahead of time for about 7-8 years. A few years ago I had the impression that I should hire someone to compile the stats from the 3,000+ surveys.  About 5 years ago I started recording my workshops and those transcriptions served as the outline for my book. So when I had an interested publisher, it only took about a year to write and edit the book because a lot of the preparation had already been done. 
ML - One of the things I enjoyed the most is the chapter about "Feeling & Expressing a Wide Range of Emotions". I didn't realize how bad I was at this & how many times I've just refused to accept my feelings. Because of the book, I catch myself asking, "What am I feeling right now?".  Do you think we get better at this with practice? And do you think acknowledging our feelings can help with depression? 
JH - I'm glad you asked this question, Michelle! At least in my own life I have found that I've gotten better at identifying my feelings over the years. I've also have seen therapy clients who were totally unaware of their emotional life make incredible progress in tuning in to their feelings. From personal and professional experience I do think that having healthy emotional management skills can help with depression. I have worked with several clients who came into therapy with depression as the presenting problem. As we worked together we were able to tease out the different emotions -- including sadness, shame, grief, loneliness. Having a language to talk about our internal experiences and ways to get our emotional needs met makes them more manageable. 
ML - Another concept that stood out to me was "self care".  This is something I've been working on for a long time. I really liked the concrete suggestions you gave. You yourself already had a pretty full plate before the book was published. How are YOU doing with taking care of yourself during this busy time of interviews & promotions?
JH - Ha! You totally busted me with this question! It has been absolutely crazy to add book promotions events to my already full life. Last week I started feeling sick and realized that my body was telling me to slow down. I noticed that I was working too much, not sleeping enough, and feeling intense stress. This week I'm am practicing radical self-care. I've cleared a lot of things off of my plate so I have some time to breathe and think or just do nothing. I got a 2 hour massage on Monday. I've taken naps every day. I am going to a movie tonight that I've really wanted to see. I am going through my commitments and redrawing some boundaries about what I can and can't do. I am trying to practice what I preach.
ML - I really enjoy your music. Your song, "Make Enough of Me to Go Around" came to me at such an important time. I pretty much felt you had written it after watching me through  the window of my house. Do you feel that you have received divine inspiration in the writing of your music & your book? 
JH - Yes, I have felt moments of inspiration while writing. I have learned to tune in to the deepest yearnings of my soul and to honor the "calls" that I feel in my heart to make a difference for good. Songwriting is a primary way that I receive answers to prayer, to questions, to struggles, and writing this book is also a very personal part of my life's journey.  
{Here's the "Make Enough of Me to Go Around" video}
ML - I've had fun with the song, "Molly Mormon Died Today" & have even made up words of my own. But at first, her demise made me sad. She's the ideal I've always wanted to be. How do we let go of that dream? 
JH - I'm glad you saw the humor in "Molly Mormon Died Today" music video because not everyone has! ;) I don't think you have to entirely let go of pursuing an ideal as long as you realize that what you are pursuing IS an ideal and not something you can actually achieve! Too many women treat the "ideal" as an actual goal and then feel shame, and "never good enough" when they can't reach it! Part of my hope with the song is to help us think more about our tendency to treat cultural expectations as doctrinal teachings. It's so easy to get side tracked by the cultural expectations and lose sight of what we are really striving for  -- a heart bound to Christ and to each other -- to the appearance of external flawlessness.

ML - Speaking of ideal, if I didn't love you so much I could really hate you. You do seem to be able to do absolutely everything! You are blessed with a big brain that can analyze & solve deep problems. You are a business woman with a successful practice. You have a beautiful family. You are also creative, musically talented & have a wonderful sense of humor. I could go on, but I'm sure I'm embarrassing you. How can women bring out the best in themselves without feeling inferior to others who seem to accomplish so much?
JH - Wow. This is a great question and it stings a bit because I too have often felt bad, embarrassed, or shame about my life when I compare myself and my life to other women. Through the years I have wondered, "Why do I feel called to do so many different things all at the same time? What is wrong with me? Why can't I just be content to support my children's activities -- that's what 'good' moms do! Why do I have this intense desire to take on big endeavors while I have young kids at home? What is this intense desire for self-expression about? " 

The realization I've come to time after time is that the way I do my life means nothing about anyone else's life, and vice versa. When I look "side to side" and compare myself to others I lose sight of who God wants me to become and who I want to become. I long as I keep looking "up" for direction and tuning "in" to my authentic self, I can embrace my unique life missions, strengths, weaknesses, callings, gifts, and opportunities with joy and enthusiasm. And I can wholeheartedly celebrate the different choices other women make. 
Thank you so much, Julie! This has been really fun.

{Here's the "Molly Mormon Died Today" video} 


  1. Thanks so much for doing this interview! I have loved Julie for ever and ever and loved the great questions you were able to ask her. I especially loved her response to the comparison question

    1. I'm so happy that you enjoyed reading the questions & Julie's responses. I've loved her forever too! Thank you so much for reading & for taking the time to leave your sweet comment - that really meant a lot to me.

      Warmly, Michelle
      PS - So impressive that you are a mom to eight!!


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