Exhaustion as Fuel for Expression & Expansion

April 9, 2020


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Have you ever felt exhausted & wondered how (with this) you were possible ever going to contribute your fullest expression & expansion to the world?

That was me last week. 

Tired (as mothers of 8month old) tend to be. 

Yet with this deep imperative to express and to move my passions forward. 

The two realities seem to collide inside my body. 

I wasn’t sure how to resolve them. 

Was I destined to never realize my own passions & desires because of this exhaustion?

Was it time to just nap & put everything else to bed? 

What wisdom did my body have for me? 

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m a BIG fan of resting & listening to when the body needs to slow down. 

But in these times, when even our GLOBAL ECONOMY has decided to take a pause from its relentless and exhausting pace… I wondered what the new medicine & possibilities might be?.

In this podcast we’re speaking about the fickle tricks of exhaustion: 

  • why avoiding exhaustion doesn’t work 
  • the interplay between exhaustion & productivity
  • how to discover the truth your exhaustion is really capping 
  • the difference between healing & transmuting your exhaustion
  • the dance between exhaustion & expansion (hint: they CAN both exist)

If you’re a tired woman – and yet your heart yearns for more – this is an episode for you.


Welcome, if you have been feeling exhausted and questioning how you’re going to bring your fullest expression and contribution through the world despite having so much on your plate and being so tired… 

This podcast episode is we, I’m Jenna Ward. This is the School of Embodied Arts. 

And today we’re exploring and navigating a quite complex terrain of personal exhaustion, collective exhaustion and how we can move through it to allow ourselves to express and to expand. 

Thank you for being here, welcome to The School of embodied Arts podcast, I am your host Jenna Ward feminine embodiment coach here for our weekly explorations of living leading and coaching as emotionally empowered centrally alive and magnetic women. 

Last week we had a community call and I asked many of the women from all corners of the globe, how they were feeling and the sentiments were really similar, there was overwhelm and concern at this time around the globe, Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted, personally, economically, health-wise for many people in many different scenarios. 

I’ve also been feeling the touches of overwhelm at times, particularly when we consider the impact of this kind of event on those who may not have the privilege to self-isolate, who may not have access to healthcare, who may not even have access to running water, to wash their hands, which is one of the key strategies here in my country that is a minimum expectation. 

And this, combined with, for me, being the mother to an eight-month-old rocket of a daughter has led to a lot of exhaustion. And so today on the podcast, I’m excited to have a conversation around exhaustion and how it can be a fuel for us as women. 

A fuel for expression and a fuel for expansion. 

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed or exhausted if your recent disruption to your regular routines has revealed perhaps, a deeper lingering feeling of tiredness that maybe has been there for a while if you’ve had to take on more duties and responsibilities within your work or specifically at home, it’s more of your family, being at home or if you can relate to just being pretty exhausted, this is the podcast for you, and I’m really glad you’re here. 

So, I’ve been feeling exhausted for a few days and also a few months other mothers warn me that around seven, eight-month mark with a little babe… There can an accumulation of sleep deprivation that begins to really get to you… And I might be experiencing that but lately, I was feeling really exhausted and I couldn’t get my energy, couldn’t get my excitement together, there was something within me… That I really wanted to enjoy life, meet life fully enjoying my child express through my work move my passions forward I wanted inside, of me to do all of these things to really meet and to live life fully and yet I felt exhausted and at that time, a few days ago, the story that I was telling myself was that I couldn’t do all of those things. Pursue my passions, enjoy my child, fully et cetera, et cetera. 

Until this exhaustion was over. And I’m curious, Are you a woman that has been feeling exhausted, lately? 

And what conditions, have you put around your ability to strive and enjoy life even in these challenging times because of that exhaustion. 

I had been telling myself that I couldn’t express, or speak up or contribute my full quarter to the world because I was exhausted. 

And look, there is truth in that statement but there’s another perspective, a perspective that I wanna share with you today a perspective that invites our exhaustion to not be the enemy, but instead of collaborator to more full expansion, and that’s what we’re here to explore today. 

In the midst of my exhaustion, the other day I was wondering how I was ever going to gather enough energy to meaningfully express to meaningfully do anything in the world again, and I realized that I had to make a decision I had to decide whether I needed to first get over my exhaustion before I could do anything of meaning or a hand of number two, if I simply needed to embrace my exhaustion and express myself fully anyway. And as I came to that realization it was a real epiphany for me because I believe we live in this world where for many of us exhaustion is kind of the enemy. When we’re exhausted, we can’t or we perceive we can’t be productive, we can’t contribute. and it’s true when you’re exhausted, you can’t often go and be the workhorse. you might not necessarily be able to put in long hours or do lots of manual labor because your body is asking you to rest and rest is important. I’m a huge advocate of rest. But when we feel exhausted what we’re really feeling is very unique to us constellation of textures and sensations, thoughts and perspectives that we bundle up and that we label as exhaustion as a way to easily communicate to other people how we’re feeling. For me when I feel into what the actual texture of exhaustion is like inside my body, I get a heaviness in my eyes, a sense of tightness in my wrists, a lack of “alive-ness” circulating inside my body and a constriction in my throat. And that’s just today! If you ask me tomorrow, it will probably feel a little different again. But I think it’s really interesting for us to actually break down the idea of what is it actually like when you feel exhausted and to get a little bit more somatic data, because when we drop beneath the labels of what any state exhaustion or excitement depression, or elation, is we gather so much more bodily somatic data, and this helps us to create actual intimacy with what we’re feeling. 

So yes, I am exhausted but I’m actually all of these subtle textures and subtle feelings. 

It’s also really interesting another perspective on exhaustion is that there’s a lot of collective exhaustion occurring at this time, right now, many of us have had our routines disrupted and we’re having to find different innovative ways of operating within our family, community, and working units. All of the regular habits and habits are energy-saving modes of operating. all of our regular habits are being disrupted and we are requiring more decision-making energy to bring to each unusual circumstance that we find ourselves in, in order to navigate it. That can be exhausting. 

That’s going on for many people on a personal level at this time on the planet. And so then when we think about this globally, there’s also a global exhaustion which is coming about if we think from a whole kind of a whole world perspective, we could even consider that globally our economies are kind of exhausted ’cause they’re deciding to take a rest to go into hibernation. and even though it’s incredibly challenging and upsetting so much of the economic turmoil that is happening around the globe right now from one perspective, what’s going on at the macro level, this economic exhaustion and need for rest is also what’s occurring for many of us, at a personal level. 

So I’ve been considering all these things as I’ve been considering exhaustion. Exhaustion as the enemy, economic exhaustion. 

Decision-making exhaustion, and it’s really led me to believe you know, do I just need to lay down, take a nap and never get up again? and the answer, there’s truth in that answer in part. when we feel exhaustion or whatever the texture of exhaustion is for our body absolutely, we have to listen to what the body needs and rest more. 

I’m a huge advocate of rest, and actually there’s an awesome woman that I follow on Instagram. She’s… 

I’ll pop the link in the show notes for this. But she’s from the nap ministry and she’s a nap Bishop she’s also all about resisting the patriarchy through embracing our ability to not one. 

So yeah, I’m a huge advocate of Let’s Go nap when we feel exhausted. But and here’s the but… I, as a human being, also want to contribute my full quarter to the world, and I still want to experience, I still wanna move my passions forward, I still wanna be of service. I still want to be in alive-ness even if exhaustion exists. 

And so how do we do this dance of honoring exhaustion and our bodies’ need to rest while still pursuing our passions and still allowing ourselves to express fully through the way that we spend our time and the decisions that we make. 

This is particularly relevant for me also as a coach, as an entrepreneur, and as a businesswoman because my livelihood is dependent on me showing up to express. 

And so, a few pondering on this point. I think that when we experience something that collectively is deemed undesirable, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to assume that many people would label exhaustion as an undesirable state because it does not feel comfortable. there can be a real easy assumption that we need to then avoid that undesirable state. for a lot of us, when we feel exhausted and we don’t want to feel exhausted, we avoid that exhaustion by pushing on and marking harder. we avoid that exhaustion by taking stimulants like coffee or alcohol, maybe not alcohol maybe more coffee or coke, or sugar into our body to hook us up and keep us going. 

There are a lot of systemic reasons why we want to avoid exhaustion because often when we allow ourselves to embrace that exhaustion we have to slow down and thus we become less productive and thus we don’t output as much and thus we become less valuable in a society that says “your success is equivalent to your output.” 

I would like to propose an alternative model. I believe that success is not proportional to the volume of your output. 

I rather believe that success is proportional to the sincerity and the fullness of your output to the world. 

And so instead of relying on the sheer volume of what you’re producing in your life. The sheer volume of decisions that you’re making? For me, the sheer volume of content that I’m creating. rather, I would suggest that it’s actually how full that production is how much of you, how much of the essential, the essence of you, that you have put into that production that counts. 

And this is a much more embodied perspective, because if we consider that embodiment is inhabiting yourself, then success is allowing you to inhabit and to put the full quarter of you into whatever it is that you produce and I believe it’s okay for you to include all of your human flavors and emotions and textures and feelings into that, which you produce including your exhaustion. 

And so, instead of exhaustion being something that we have to resist or that we have to overcome through stimulants, instead of it being labeled as an undesirable or uncomfortable or unproductive state to be in, instead of us avoiding exhaustion or costs because it is the opposite of productivity. 

What if we could instead say How about… 

I meet my exhaustion and I learn what it is trying to tell me how about instead… We said… My exhaustion is not something to be ashamed of. Instead, it is something to be learned from and leaned into. 

Now naturally, that’s gonna invite you to slow down, which is probably a pretty good medicine. from an embodied perspective, there’s another aspect of exhaustion, another emotional and energetic aspect of exhaustion that I just wanna also expand a little bit further on so that we can re-lens this exhaustion as a feel for our expression and how expansion rather than a barrier to it. 

And it’s the idea that… Or it’s not actually an idea. In my coaching experience in my work with hundreds of women working with and through the emotional layers of their heart, I have seen this reproductively time and time again is being a truth. 

Maybe it is your truth, maybe not. you’re free to determine that for yourself, but I have seen many times that exhaustion is actually a capping emotion, which is very often protecting us from something that is more tender residing deeper in the heart and in these times, particularly in these times of anxiety and worry, often exhaustion can be protecting us from states that may be more vulnerable and overwhelming. Very often it’s easier for us to feel exhausted, then to drop into the deeper reality of what’s going on for us. Personally, for me, the other day when I was feeling exhausted and I paused to tune into, “Can I allow myself to embrace this exhaustion and to expand with it?” That enabled me to kind of meet my exhaustion and to drop one layer deeper into my heart and to realize for me actually what was there… Was that there was this question of, Do I even have something to contribute? 

And one layer deeper was that is, “Do I have anything of worth to say?” 

And one layer, a deeper was… That “is am I of worth?” This concept of worth, worthiness. Enough-ness, good enough-ness. 

We find so many threads of this. And so many of the uncomfortable states that we want to avoid within our body. Exhaustion is an uncomfortable state, that we take many measures around productivity and stimulation to avoid and so for some of us exhaustion may, in fact, be a capping emotion that is preventing us from accessing something that is living underneath something that is more tender. In the model of feminine embodiment coaching, we believe that the nature of all emotions and sensations in the body is that of Flow. and Mother Nature shows us this beautifully. mother nature is a personification, a representation of the feminine that exists within every human. And mother nature is constantly flowing she is flowing from day to night, she is flowing from the tide-in to the tide out, she is flowing through the seasons she is perpetually in a state of motion and this is the exact same at a reality that also exists inside of us in this temple that is our body. at every state, every thought, feeling, texture and sensation, every knowing inside of our body is in a state of flow, because that is our natural state. 

And yet when we find that we’re stuck with an uncomfortable reality, like maybe we’ve been stuck with exhaustion for days or weeks or months, and that exhaustion doesn’t seem to be flowing freely. we seem to be stuck with it, it’s a reality that just keeps showing up constantly in the model that I live with, that means that… And what that is representing to us is that, if the exhaustion is not flowing so put another way, If the exhaustion seems to be frozen and stuck in the system it’s because the exhaustion is not being embraced. 

And so, the medicine here, the expansion here is to realize and to practice that we can lean into experiencing and feeling our exhaustion. of going into the subtle threads of actually the specificity of how that exhaustion feels in our body and in acknowledging that and in allowing that we can take the cues for what medicine we need. Yeah, maybe we need more sleep, yeah, maybe we need to make different decisions. 

And importantly, in allowing ourselves to be in intimacy with the threads of exhaustion that exist inside the body, we can be intimate with the threads of “alive-ness” and pleasure and how essential nature that is here to fully actualized equally. for me as I decided, yes, I can feel exhausted and I can still actualize myself. 

I found that both of these realities can exist inside of me, simultaneously. And again, Mother Nature represents this to us beautifully, on one side of the planet. It’s day on the other side of the planet, It’s night. These two totally polar opposite realities are existing in Mother Nature, simultaneously. 

And so, I can be exhausted, and I can be excited and energized and just… And absolutely expanding. and this is a very interesting perspective to take because it is the difference between healing what we perceive as wrong with us and transmitting what we are experiencing in our bodies as humans. Let me expand on this statement. one possible reality of exhaustion is that it’s something that’s wrong that needs to be fixed, it’s a wound that needs to be repaired. Nothing wrong with that perspective, but that is not the perspective that I as a whole human choose to take. the perspective that I choose to take is that as a human, at times, I will be exhausted and there’s nothing wrong with being exhausted. Exhaustion is not a personal failure. 

I can honor my exhaustion by embracing it, I can honor my exhaustion by trans-muting it, by merging into it, by loving it fully, and by realizing that I am also more than my exhaustion. 

And there is an important Asterisk that has to go with this statement. 

I as a woman have the privilege of working and living at this time on the planet within systems, and within a community whereby I’m not forced to become exhausted in order to live and to protect my family. and that is not the reality of every woman at this time on the planet. There are humans on this planet who are forced into systems that require them to be chronically exhausted as the only way that they can provide and thus live. I, at this time I’m not subject to that reality but it exists. And so, in allowing my exhaustion to be seen as something that I have the privilege to simply transmute and move through, I also want to be really clear in acknowledging that we all have a responsibility to making sure that this privilege and this benefit is not at somebody else’s cost. 

I don’t have all the answers on actually exactly the steps that we need to take in order to make that change, but it’s something that I think is an important and critical aspect of the actualization equation for those of us who have the opportunity to transmute exhaustion into expansion. 

And so for those of us who are living with this privilege, the question that we can ask our exhaustion is How can I love you? instead of how can I heal you? How can I love you? Because exhaustion can absolutely be a fuel for expression, it can be a fuel for intimacy within yourself, it can be a fuel for deeper connection, it can be a fuel for looking at how you want to do your life differently, it can be a fuel and an inspiration for asking How can we as an economy and as a community and as the global community of humans, do productivity differently and I think these are questions that our economy which is exhausted and which is taking a nap at the moment, are forcing us to ask. 

I do not have all of the answers for this but I know from the model of feminine embodiment coaching the two, most critical actions for us to take our number one to stop avoiding the uncomfortable and to instead embrace it as a way to liberate it and to let it flow… And two, to realize that exhaustion is a capping emotion and that there’s very often something much more tender, something much more true, something that’s going to ask more of you… And that’s going to demand that you allow more of the essential brilliance that you are to actualize through this temple of a body, and out into the world at this time. And that can be scary and sometimes it’s easier for us to just leave the cap of exhaustion in there or on there so that we don’t have to go into the realms of all of the beauty in the light that we are, but that doesn’t serve you. And that does not help our economy which is currently in a big reset phase to move towards a better evolution, which I think ultimately is what we all want. 

And so as we move towards wrapping up today’s podcast, I’m really curious to leave you with this question, this question that you can ask for yourself and that you might be willing to apply to your day and your week. want you to ask yourself first of all, how can I allow myself? How can I honor my exhaustion and still commit to my expansion? 

I’d love to hear your answer to that question, How can I honor my exhaustion and still commit to my expansion? 

It’s a question that I’m gonna be asking myself this week, and I’d love to hear your response, however we’re connected, whether it’s hitting me a reply in the email, leaving her comment over at our blog, at jennaward.co or hitting me up on the socials, Instagram is where I’m hanging out lately, and my handle is at Jennaward.co. Would love to hear how you are honoring your exhaustion while also activating your expansion. And maybe there’s a medicine for our global community that comes from that local action at this time. We can hope. 

Thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today. 

With love,


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