After a first career minding music artists and rap stars (including a stint with Kanye West and surviving the Taylor Swift Hooplah by his side), Nova Browing Rutherford is now a personal development coach and speaker. She’s carved out a career that’s better suited to her desire to help others, however she admits that her three-year-old twins, Solei and Solara, can often test her well-honed skills.
Her pregnancy, delivery and recovery period was anything but ideal and included severe swelling or edema (“I was like a walking water balloon”), a nightmare induction, two botched epidural attempts, followed by an emergency C-section and then, a post-op incision infection which kept her from bending or lifting for three months. “I felt beat down but knew I couldn’t stay there. I reflected about the many challenges I had overcome before in my life and I leaned on that storage of resilience. It’s amazing the reserves we have to tap into even when we’re confined to a bed,” she says.
A trauma survivor, Nova possesses an inner strength that she’s relied on throughout her journey and she’s depending on what she knows—the art of self-love—to help her through motherhood’s hiccups and the sometimes soul-zapping routine of endless diaper changes and laundry. “Weeks before I had the girls, I made a point of creating a gap between this ‘old and new’ me. Journaling about wild days, letters to my young self, that sort of thing. I still mark their birth as my birthing day and make sure I honour my growth in this process.”
How to make the transition from working, to working mom easier on yourself
TTMFP (Trust the Mutha F&@kin’ Process) “My girls have re-introduced me to myself. I forgot that I could have laser focus and tenacity in a challenge, that I’m relentless when I want something, and sensitive and empathic in ways I couldn’t have fathomed. I’m more flexible and patient than I thought, and my negative self-talk that had megaphone status in my twenties, has now been dimmed to a whisper. Full of surprises this life is! It’s amazing when I see pieces of me in them and they keep inspiring me to smooth out rough edges in my personality that could use some extra work.”
Smile Even When It Sucks “Because my career was a lifestyle more than a job, I used to set so many boundaries when it came to my personal time and I would get pissed when people crossed that line. But now with my twins, I’ve got to ebb and flow with all that. With my schedule I had to surrender to the fact that my time isn’t my own anymore. A poo or two can throw me off by half an hour! But how many times can I get mad about it? Now, I deal and quickly move on. I don’t stay frustrated for too long because everyone feels it and that’s just no fun for anyone. When I hear myself talking to the girls in a clippy tone, I catch it, note their response to me and talk in my ‘nice voice’ which is basically me on helium. Can’t help but smile after that.”
Know That Motherhood Is A Work-In-Progress “I’ve stopped assuming that I know everything about being a mother, especially to twins. This is the first time I’ve ever worked with a family so I give myself a break and am letting myself learn as I go (and that means making mistakes). I’ve also stopped comparing myself to other mothers. People would say to me, ‘How do you do it with twins?!’ and to that I respond, ‘It’s hard for all of us.’ Any unnecessary pressure or comparison just makes the whole process more difficult, which is pointless because it’s moving faster than I could have imagined.”
Check In With Yourself. All. Day. Long. “I need a work-life mentality. So in between changing diapers or being the person in the laundry room, I find the space to be the person I was before I had kids. I create small self-care buffers when I wake, eat, work and before I sleep, which is often meditation or simply taking a few breathes. Sure I could try to do everything, but not well. Instead, I aim to be present 100%. This way when I’m in work mode, I don’t feel guilty about being away from the girls and vice versa. Do the world’s bleed together at times? Of course. When they do, I pause, take a moment to check myself and figure out what’s most important to deal with first—and it’s usually the girls.”
Remember to Bring Work Home. “Rediscover the things that come naturally to you; things that you may have lost because of work and family by tapping into what I call ‘transferable life skills’. Different job, same skills. Different life experience, same skills. For example, when I graduated and started looking for a job I was tenacious, resourceful and persistent. I need those skills again, but now I apply them when looking for a family doctor or good pre-school. I remind myself of all the challenges I’ve been through and I’ve simply been training for this big one.”
“The Courage to be Yourself is a fantastic book. I advise all my clients and women in my life to read this. It explores self-acceptance and a big part of that is knowing what you’re not and she helps you do that with grace.” A picture of Muhammad Ali, who she met when she was a toddler living in Edmonton, offers a daily reminder of his bravado: “He was the master of positive self-talk. He named it and claimed it: ‘I’m the greatest,’ and that’s true for all of us.”
Nova has won the honour of being the best campus keynote speaker for two years running. “I bring a lot of my personal experience when I talk about topics like transitioning to college life, self-esteem, self-care and toxic relationships. Even when my 2-hours are up, if the students want to keep talking, I stay. I’m all about fostering dialogue and not just talking at them.”
“This is a photo from Ansel Adams. It’s a tangled, messy tree growing out of a rock at the side of a mountain. It keeps growing even under harsh conditions. There’s so much beauty in that.”
“My husband gave me this meditation gong for my 30th birthday. I’m a Buddhist and I meditate twice a day for at least 10 minutes and if I have the time, up to 3 hours. I started practicing when I was 25 years old and it helped me come out of a long depression; it gives me a chance to check in with my spirit.”
“The white rock is from near the Joshua Tree. I loved living in California. I miss being in nature and near Yosemite and the ocean. It was where I trained as a personal coach and where I got to meet and mentor so many amazing young girls who have evolved into strong, young women.”