Compassionate Conversations with Ailsa Robson

#PeopleMatterThingsDon’t

If you agree that people matter the most in life, then this interview is for you. Fiona Shilton is Your Estate Lawyer with a powerful purpose and personality to match.

We discuss how her death chats with clients are transformative, as thinking about death puts their present life into perspective. She speaks of her own personal growth as she’s learnt to change her lens, and accept herself and others for not meeting certain constructed expectations.

Fiona, a self confessed ‘recovering lawyer’, has invaluable insights into perfectionism, compassion and LOVE for those who matter to you.

We had a beautiful conversation and reflected on various topics including: 

  • People First
  • Perfectionism
  • Self Growth
  • Being Enough
  • Family
  • Death Chats

 

Find out more from Fiona:

Click here to read transcript of the interview...

Ailsa
Hi. I am so pleased to welcome Fiona Shilton today from Your Estate Lawyer. She has been very kind to lend her time to chat with me today. Thank you so much for joining me today and having a conversation about perfectionism and compassion.

Fiona
Thank you. I’m looking forward to it. In the most perfect way, that’s sort of the base.

Ailsa
Absolutely, absolutely. Well, you have been kind of double daring me that I’ve asked you to have a conversation. So do we need to, like put a warning sign up or, you know, maybe some expletives or you know, a bit of cussing that could potentially happen within our conversation?

Fiona
I can make no promises that I won’t, but because it’s your show, I will behave myself because our listeners will get scared. I already want to… You’re daring me now?

Ailsa
We’re starting off, on on an imperfect page. But maybe I’ll give you a bit of background as to, like – I met Fiona through friends a couple of years ago. And now we’re also in a similar Business Network, S.A Woman Business Network. And, it’s been really fantastic. Watching your business grow, my business grow. And to share a lot of this conversation.

Fiona
The thing about that is that every time we catch up, it’s never small talk. It’s never small talk with someone like me around. It’s just straight in to the nitty gritty stuff.

Ailsa
Yeah, yeah, I think that’s why we hit it off straightaway when we first met. Yeah, so maybe we’ll start off and I’ll ask a little bit about like, what fills your days in your life?

Fiona
Yeah, sure. So I got caught up on the the idea of busy. That’s not me. I’m not busy. Anyone asks me, are you busy? It depends on what you mean by busy. Am I making money? Yeah. Am I spending time with people that I want to spend time with? Yeah. Am I am I saying no to things? Yeah, I am.

I am a Recovering “Proper Lawyer”. And I have five children, and a husband and pets and things like that. So I spend my time, I’m quite like, I’m a… I work in death law these days. I’m talking to people about, “What does that look like in the event of your death?” So I’m very mindful of just being. And I make decisions about how I spend my time, because it’s not going to be forever.

I’m not anti busy. I’m not anti hustle. I understand that people are at different phases in their life. But at 44, and I have a 23 year old, 21 year old, 11, nine, and an eight year old… I’ve been there, so I don’t celebrate busy.

And I spend my time doing things that matter to me. I often describe it as Retirement Living, I’m doing things these days that I will be doing until the day I die.

You know, mobility, you know, permission, you know. I read and I hike, and I spend time with my kids and other people that matter to me. And for the first time in my life. I actually really love deep. I take proper care, you know… if I lose a pet, I am like devastated and I can’t say I would have been like that 10 years ago.

If you don’t love yourself, you don’t love others. If you don’t think you’re worth it, you don’t give it to others. And you’re just busy rushing through that thing called life. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m getting a lot of shit off my liver these days. Because I have death chats with my people every day in the process of doing estate planning. So yeah, I spend my time spending my time.

Ailsa
Yeah. And wisely and purposefully and and lovingly.

Fiona
Yeah, I think so. I have a lot of should’ve or could’ve or could be or – like everybody else. But I’m quite mindful of regrets. Because like I said, like, this whole chat is going to be about death. Life Coaching is about death.

If you think about death, it gives gives you a better life, I believe. So I’m quite mindful of what would it look like? If I read out my eulogy? If I wrote my eulogy today? Would it matter? Would the people, the things, my successes, whatever? Would they matter if I read them out in front of a group of people? How creepy if I’m already dead, by the way, I’m reading at my own eulogy.

Yeah, but it’s just changing my lens. I haven’t changed, me as a person hasn’t. I’ve not really changed. Everything is in there. But I’m hoping I’ve pieced that together like a jigsaw or a Jenga or something. And you get in the best version of me these days. Yeah.

Ailsa
That’s great. Well, I certainly see that people are drawn to you, and they’re drawn to your message, and they’re drawn to your work. So I think, you’ve certainly… now that you know that. That’s when people connect with you and your purpose, then you know that you’re doing something right.

So yeah, I think that you… this is why I want to chat. Why I want to chat with you today as well. Because I know that this conversation will be very interesting. Like perfectionism, like what we just spoke a little moment ago. Give me your take on, you know, on how perfectionism is kind of shown up in your life.

Fiona
Yeah, for sure. I want to say – I say this all the time. I’m on the radio once a week as well. And I keep saying, I haven’t done any research except life. I haven’t read up about it. I’m not a psych. This is Fiona’s view on how this works. Fiona is about the way the world works. I believe that perfectionism is a byproduct. It’s not, I’ve never really seen other people… It’s like a badge of honor type thing, I’ve seen the “idea” of perfectionism. But what it is, is a consequence of conditioning. It’s a consequence of being raised to be a good person or/and to be punished as a bad person.

I believe that mixed in with conditioning we also have something known as scarcity, there’s not enough for all of us to go around. And then that continues to condition, control and coerce us into seeing other people as our competition because we need to be the best. I need to be the best. For me to be the best, I’m then congratulated for being a good person. And it starts very young, I get a bit more ice cream in the bowl than my other sisters. I don’t get put in the corner and excluded if I’m good. But the good turns into the best, right?

So perfectionism to me is a byproduct of that because I’m not going to start anything unless I know that I’m the fucking best, right? Because the fear and shame attached to being the bad person or, not the best – only coming second or third or… on all the things. And I’ve got plenty of examples of in my own personal world where the audacity of a person at sports day to say that the runner next to me was first, when I know full well my nose is a lot bigger than hers, and I was first. The best. But the shame and fear I carried for not a winning that race. That’s is what causes – or the consequence is perfectionism.

I just think perfectionism is a state, it’s a place. And so how I pull myself up on that, it’s just a note that – it’s just your fear talking. I just need to show up. I am, I’m just glad to be here, I’m not dead yet.

And then tap into your why. So for me, my “why” is; I’ve got three small children. One of them a foster child with high needs and has only been living with us for a couple of years. So the, mind blowing, recognition that I need to change. Because I expect people to be like, schmick, before I’ll even look at them. When in the same breath, I think I’m like, kind and inclusive. But recognizing that, you know, I want to say a million criticisms, because I’ve got to get this kid up to speed about the way the world works.

When you’re with me, if you want to sit at the table with me, you must do certain things. But you think about that, I’m a prick. Like, I’m so results driven, you know, all the things, right? And when you recognize that all that kid needs to do is show up? Well, fuck me! Why haven’t I given myself that permission, just to give it a crack and to show up and to hold space for those weird idiosyncrasies to occur.

But to be the best, when you’re conditioned to be the best. There’s no room for those differences. I never forgave myself if something didn’t go right. So therefore it was very hard to forgive others. Because like, you’ve got in my way, and I’ve done all those things without even realizing. So that idea, that perfectionism idea, is literally to me, a byproduct of fear and shame around – I need to feel safe. If I’m a good person, I’m safe. And then that ties into success, competition, and all the things, right? And I’m here to say, just get off the wagon and just be.

Ailsa
That’s the whole point of these conversations that I’m having with people, is to offer these perspectives from different people about how to get off the perfectionism wagon. How to add more compassion, how to understand how shame has really influenced your life. And yeah, I think that you’ve just explained it kind of in a complete…

Fiona
I’m a lawyer! I’m a lawyer! So I’ve given you my problem, the solution, mixed in a bit of like, proof. And yeah, I have spent all my life on this trajectory. And because of my personality type, or whatever it is, I haven’t spent too much time thinking about it.

I actually have like, succeeded in the world of like… I have a law degree. I have several degrees. I have a couple of degrees. I have a husband, I have a family, like all the things. I have been miserable most of my life. Not just miserable, but frantic, afraid and frantic and all the things, like, right? So having a child with special needs, it’s made myself stop and focus, and has been one of the critical points of that. The excellent things in our life are because of him. A couple of the rubbish things in our life are because of him. But like, aren’t we all rubbish? You know, like that has been an extremely traumatic experience.

For me, just talking about me at the moment, I’ve managed to somehow not give up and also know that I actually – because I kept searching. I’m still searching for the answers. But what I did was, through a lot of it… not through my own thought, because I just kept…

I’m hashtag unemployable. I couldn’t get a job. So I had to out of – I’ve already got a toolbox. And then I already had the answers. And I can’t do family law. I just get too deep. I care too much about people. So I just found a way, I’ve found a way to take care of my family in a way that helps them. Actually matters. Because it’s not all about the money. It’s about time and flexibility and all that.

And also, though, my inner ability not to kill people has increased because I am forgiving myself and therefore forgiving others. I’m not suicidal, I’m not homicidal. I’m not trying to kill myself or anyone else at the moment, because I’m actually just recognizing that. I have very good intentions, I’m showing up. And that’s all that matters, you know? Yeah.

Ailsa
So the self compassion, the compassion for self is, heightened as much as your added compassion for others. And, Harry has given you that, you know, in spades?

Fiona
Yeah, exactly. It’s – I realized that I’m hard. I don’t, like, I was saying to you earlier, I recognize in the last 18 months or so that I actually love properly these days. Not because I’ve been hard arsed, just because I’ve been protecting myself my entire life.

Like, if you’re in survival mode, you don’t stop and love anything in case you lose it. You take things for granted. Like, yeah. And when you’re forced to stop and actually take proper care. Yeah. And also out of that process, though, it actually gave me permission to take care. It’s, like, they’re your values, right? Like everyone around me, “Give up, give up, give up!” What do you mean? Like, that’s not in me, it’s not in there. It’s a person like, right? And, and I have learned more. Like, more than he has, I’ve learned more. And, I haven’t changed, it was just there.

So that question about compassion, right? What I’ve done is, again, I haven’t changed. I’ve just realized, by changing my lens, right? Is that I needed to be somewhere. Now to be there, I must do these things. To do those things. You must get them right.

Now, if I have somebody in the team that gets one of those things wrong, well, I’ll smash them. But if I got one of those things wrong, I’ve smashed myself! I’ve said worse things to myself over the past 44 years, than anyone else can ever say to me. Because my need to feel safe is so high, like I’m hyper vigilant. I didn’t know any of these things until my whole world exploded. And then I’m just slowly creating something out of what I already have in me and around me. Yeah. And then that’s Your Estate Lawyer.

Ailsa
That’s exactly how I describe it, when I’m working with my clients, is that everything that you need, everything that you’re searching for, is already within you. It’s just that you just need to unpack it and you know, dig deep. But the work that I do is actually just witnessing their work. And it’s fantastic because you’re right, like, I feel very similar in lots of ways.

For me, I suppose my, turning point was probably when I started to engage with a different idea of body image and how I felt about my body. And I had to break down a whole lot of inner dialogue about what a good body was and what a bad body was, and where I learned that. And that there were other opportunities of being compassionate towards myself. And then, like, once I broke through that, then that led me to deciding to go back and do my master’s degree. You know, it allowed me also to be, like – parenting was, you know, mothering was really, really important as well.

So yeah, and then it led me to, just be braver, with a whole lot less perfectionism. And so braver, to make more mistakes, to keep succeeding, but succeeding is not even the right word. It’s just to live more purposefully.

And that led me to starting my business. And then deciding that I was going to do walk and talk therapy, and I was going to – I don’t know, do some other odd things within my practice that isn’t kind of the same as everyone else. And you’re the same. Like, your business is the same. They’re uniquely, authentically us. And then when people connect with what we’re doing, we’re on a roll. You know, the right people come to us, yeah,

Fiona
That’s the thing for me as well, like, lawyering or psychotherapy, accounting, all the things, right. There’s an industry. My industry is over here, I’m over here, somewhere over there. I meet my clients where they want to be met.

Estate planning and talking and planning, what happens in the event of your death, is a big chat. So I meet them there. Elsewhere, I meet my professional obligations over here. Of course, like that’s where we have a fenceline. But I’m just there. And what I’m doing is the same issue. You’re showing up for them, because we’re actually in the trenches as well. Like, I understand from a professional point of view, like, they don’t need to hear all my ins and outs. But they do. People do need to know that they’re not alone. We’re not alone.

Hey, every client teaches me something new. And this bloke said to me once, only a couple of months ago, and I’ve repeated it 100 times. He said to me, that Harry will be okay when he learns the art of living. What do you mean? What the fuck? What? What’s the art of living? Can you please – forget Harry!

Ailsa
Give me that knowledge. What is that?

Fiona
What is that? Even? That has completely blown my mind. Because this whole like, I’m here, and I’m alive. Yeah. And I’m not in high school. And I’m not living other people’s lives, or even that idea, right? The Art of Living. It’s just whatever you need for well being. And I’m here to say like, because doing this, right, hanging out with clients, man, I’m just getting shit off my own liver. I’m using my clients, I invoice them and I’m using them myself. But we’re thriving with this new lens. We’re just being. Well being, like that idea. And that means that my imposter syndrome and perfectionist… I’m arrogant enough to have imposter syndrome.

Ailsa
It’s arrogance to have input. Yes, I understand that.

Fiona
I am so good that I have imposter syndrome. But then I have to talk to my imposter syndrome, you know, because I’m actually excellent so go away. Well, that’s number two imposter syndrome coming after you there. You get double teamed by your imposter syndrome gang. And yeah, I just leave them behind me. And I just keep showing up. Yeah, that’s the way to do it.

And the only way to be brave, and the way I’m brave, is by having a really strong why. So it’s not about willpower or motivation or I don’t know… the courage comes from having a really strong “why”. And mine is a) hashtag unemployable and b) just like, walk in with good intentions. And if I say the wrong thing, that’s okay. Because I actually do mean well.

Obviously I have competence and care and I’m doing all the – kicking all the boxes around, being a good estate planning lawyer. But, like, clients don’t actually care about that which scares me because then I feel like a snake oil sales person. That’s also my imposter syndrome perfectionism coming after me though. God.

Ailsa
Yeah, well that’s it. And I agree with all of it! All of it! I agree about all of it. And I love how you have put so much thought into it. All of your your posts on your business are so personal and that you share with your clients – like I share with my clients. But you’re right, it’s sharing but it’s not about our stuff it’s their stuff. But you do need to have that common ground so they feel that you are walking alongside of them rather than up on a pedestal and telling them what to do.

So, yeah, I’ve got questions but the questions are – okay I’ll ask you a question. All right, well you gave me a beautiful long, like, you’ve spent a long time on my questions and and wrote them out. And I know that through that process, like, you’ve obviously been able to figure out what what perfectionism and compassion mean to you, but what do you think the gold is coming through for you from the questions? And also our conversation? What’s shining through for you just in this moment now?

Fiona
Good on you! Your questions beforehand, like, I’m talking about perfectionism. Perfectionism, and stuff actually gave me – it’s tying up all those loose ends. Because like I said, I’m seeing people doing estate planning five to 10 times a week, having death chats, you know, finding out what really matters to people.

What I am personally working on at the moment is deciding, really understanding, this idea of what’s theirs and what’s mine and even past past stuff, right? And it comes around to not just forgiveness, not that word, that’s too easy. I mean, deep seated, terrifying guilt that I’m a shit person. Like, because you know, out of my drama, there’s a lot of rejection around me. I’ve been rejected. So working out what’s theirs and what’s mine and where we’re at in life and and what they are, right?

So it’s grief and it’s loss objects and it’s also about knowing that I disappoint people because I don’t meet their expectations at the time. And that’s theirs, you know, because I can’t be everything to everyone. But, fuck me! Why don’t I forward other people that same gratitude? Grief and loss and boundaries and who you choose to spend your time with and all the things is disappointment. But then I’m not meeting your needs or your expectations at the time so that’s the big one right? Because I am excellent.

My whole month, the people around me that choose to be around me are doing excellent, but I got grief. I have lost objects and it’s really thinking about do I need them? Do I have anything to reconcile and that ties back into this stuff about – you think you’re that shit hot that you need all the, like, you know… I get to dictate who spends time with me or who comes near me? Do you know what I mean? Like, that’s the big one.

And it ties in to yeah, my safety. I have, you know, there’s a lot of social constructs out there that tell me what success looks like. Yeah, and family is taking care of each other. That’s all family is for me. It’s not necessarily biological, it’s logical. If you choose them. Family, it’s a verb for me; you’re taking care of each other. And if you’re not taking care of me or enough, we’re not family. And yeah, that’s my big…

Ailsa
The reflection from your clients is that some of your own grief and loss and your own experiences – is that kind of at the forefront of what your’re noticing at the moment?

Fiona
Yeah, for sure. Because I’ve sort of worked through the layers like perfectionism and compassion. That was a big one for me, really. I’ve read about it, I knew about it, but I hadn’t worked out how to actually change it in me. Because I wasn’t, I hadn’t actually – I’ve built a life now, right? We’ve built one. I’m standing my own two feet. And I get the best out of me. So I’ve sort of done that first layer. And then I’ve got this next layer out here.

Because ultimately, I’m a lawyer, I’m a fixer. I want things to be a certain way, even getting my head around that. If you are a puppeteer, you are to be in my world, and you shall behave a certain way, you know, like. Yeah. So I’d use that next layer, that next level out from, from me, it’s going, is there anything there? I need to reconcile? Is there anything there I need to fix? And the answer is no.

Because I am, like you said, I’m testing myself every day on that. Because the other point is narrative. Am I telling myself something to help me sleep at night? So, I test myself on it in different ways. But it’s also just acknowledging that it’s really really sad, I have some sad, I have sadness. I am very sad. It does not mean that I need to fix anything, though. So that’s the sadness.

Ailsa
Because I – often what we do feel we need to do is to, you know, to get past sadness. But allowing sadness to be part of our lives without being afraid of it. And without pushing it away, is actually really empowering. And it can be very healing when you embrace sadness, almost as a friend and allow yourself to be in that moment and to move through it. Because you know, there’s usually a finite moment it won’t last forever. Nothing lasts forever.

Whether you feeling angry or sad or hurt or disappointed it doesn’t last forever. And you spoke earlier about reading all about perfectionism and knowing about it, but not actually, I suppose, embodying, you know, embodying, like, what that means. Because we can’t think, you know, intellectually think, all this through and read books and get it. We have to do the gluggy crappy work, we’ve got to get in the middle.

Fiona
Another old bloke, I’m so disappointed. It’s been blokes the last couple of times giving me these gems, but I couldn’t make any changes while I was still living other people’s lives. Other people’s lives, right? So that means that I went to high school and got the best grades for my parents, or for whoever I got. The next choice I made is because that’s what you do. That’s what you do, you know, to get to where you need to be. And then before you know it, you’re living other people’s lives where most people are living someone else’s life. And so the things like those inner things.

Like, because perfectionism is an essential tool. If you’re living someone else’s life, if you’re working in a profession, that’s dog eat dog, or you know – and it can just be working at Coles – like we’re all covering our own arses, protecting ourselves because we’ve created a life that doesn’t belong to us. So that’s the thing. I’ll give you another Fiona ism. And this is actually, this has been for me personally, the biggest help. A lot of people are choosing to stay away from me because of my behavior. So my behavior has been the focus rather than the reason why I’ve behaved certain ways over the years. Yes.

And, I wish I could challenge anyone that wanted to be challenged because I can’t force this stuff onto anyone. But the behavior in children, teenagers, adults – look for the cause. Because I’m an unleashed, untapped whatever I am, right? So when I’m highly stressed, and don’t even understand why I’m highly stressed, I behave in certain ways. So my behavior has always been the focus in my world, instead of big things like child abuse, or, you know, I don’t know, whatever else – all the other things. Or dishonesty, hurting other people, like, because for me safety is so important and, I’ve got a, you know, I’ve got masking behaviors.

I’m articulate as heck, I’m loud. I can argue like – pull it all together, mate. But my hyper vigilance – I’m the eldest, all the things right, it just is the way I am. I haven’t yelled at anyone in 18 months, two years, I don’t. And when I did do it to a friend, I spent weeks working through that. Because I used to be like that all the time when you’re around toxicity. Living other people’s lives. You can’t see it, right? You don’t know, you know? Yeah. And it was about changing. And changing my behavior was the thing it’s like, not there’s some deep seated issues here. Yes. So, there you go. That’s my 101 for you.

Ailsa
I appreciate both those points about recognizing when you’re trying to live someone else’s life. And that is, I would say that’s 99% of the work that I do with clients, of course, and my own work as well. And the second point was about understanding that there’s reasons behind people’s behaviors. So by being curious, I would always use the word curious. Because then you are open to to learning more, you’re not judging that person for their behavior, you’re being curious about what’s behind it. And that doesn’t mean that you have to fix it. And that doesn’t mean that you have to understand it, it doesn’t mean that you have to agree with it.

Fiona
Put up with it, or put up with it. You don’t have to put up with it either. It’s not that.

Ailsa
You create your boundaries around what you’re most comfortable with about that person’s behavior. But the curiosity, hold the curiosity first and foremost in your mind and your heart and your soul. And you can’t go wrong, you can’t go wrong, because then you’re not making a judgement. And you’re being the kindest person you can be to yourself and to other people.

Fiona
For sure, and I think that’s exactly right. I used to use this saying like no one came up to me patting me on the head saying, “That’ll do pig, that’ll do.” You know, no one said, “You’re okay, it’s going to be okay.” It’s such a force that I have accidentally… I think there’s a psychotherapy word for it. It’s called post traumatic growth.

Every aspect of my life got smashed to little pieces. None of them related to each other. But when you’re the central point, you’re like, this can’t be just a coincidence. I’m a shit person and you know, this idea that you’re just completely naturally rubbish as a person. And then digging deep.

And I want to tell everyone too, I don’t feel like I chose to start a business. I never ever intended. I never thought I was good enough to be a lawyer. Yeah, it was because I went for four job interviews. I’m a 13-14 year veteran, veteran lawyer, and I couldn’t get a job in my local area. I went to five interviews and I was being rejected by them. And that’s a gift. Thank you. Thank you to all of them. Every time I have to write to them now I say thank you.

Because, yeah, I was still thinking that I had to be chosen by the employer. And then I had to somehow change my behavior to fit into their workforce into their workplace. And my values are not in line with a general law firm. Yeah, people first. Yeah. I care about the person, not just the legal problem, you know. It was out of complete and utter necessity.

Ailsa
I love that. And I remember when you were, you know, in that moment, when we met. And, yeah, it’s beautiful to watch. Like, watch you just fly? It really is. And I’m excited to be, you know, part of that with, you know, part of your, you know, network and around you. It’s intoxicating, and it’s inspiring.

And I yeah, and I’m really, really grateful that we’ve had this conversation today. Yeah, maybe what I’ll do is I’ll ask at this point about links to your website and social media, I’ll put them all in to the clip. But is there anything you want to, like, say about your business? And what you offer people?

Fiona
Yeah, sure. So as Your Estate Lawyer, I’m coming to you and meeting you in your own in your own space, and giving you as much time as you need to really gather your thoughts and think about, “What is it gonna look like if I lose capacity?” Like if you lost capacity, you’re unable to take care of other people rely on yourself? And and then the ultimate event of death? Like, what does it look like? How are you taking care of each other? Your Estate Lawyer recognizes that we’re working so hard every day to take care of each other. And so we want to be able to continue that in the event of our death. And I’ve got all the tools for that.

Yeah, my business has had a massive accidental, there’s a bit of a wave of something happening. Because there’s a bit of death coaching there, I call it death coaching, there’s plenty of life coaches out there. Because what we do is really recognize what matters and what doesn’t. And I find that my clients are making proper real changes.

So yeah, so you get your legal products, you get your wills, and doing your Powers of Attorney and Advanced Care Directive, we nail down your superannuation to make sure that a trustee of a Superfund doesn’t make that choice for your family after you’re dead. I do those things, the legal products. That is easy. That’s, you know, that’s the end product. But the process is transformative. It is better than…

This is a funny story. This is funny, I’ve had three marriages. During my business, I’ve only been up and running eight months, three middle aged people, three couples have married as a result of Estate Planning, because of the chats that we have. They for the first time look at each other and identify or recognize, you know, that you are my number one, because you’ve got a lot of white noise around when you’re on to the second, third, fourth, fifth relationship, you know.

So Estate Planning is really nailing down what are your values? And are we on the same page? And then I provide the legal solution to their objectives, you know, like, yeah, so it’s bigger. The other thing is to about you, you fit into… I have like, I’ve been calling it a death team, but I don’t think my marketer would like that.

Ailsa
Being part of that, yeah.

Fiona
Yeah, I’m thinking about I’m calling it like the care package or something like that, because I’m in people’s homes, and I meet people, I’m at all different phases. And I give out. Because I’m there and people love me.

I am constantly referring to like Counseling Service, my catering service, and physio type stuff, the finite finance guy and the personal concierge the organizer. But it’s just a team of people that in your community that care about you and are going to help you get where you need to be. Yeah. Oh and death doula. There’s a whole other story. Yeah, and funeral celebrate. A different – just funeral celebrancy as well as death doula, you know, because we’re not doing death real good.

Ailsa
We’re not. No, we’re not. Yeah. And we’re not gathering enough information around us about our choices and, you know advocating for ourselves. This is you know, advocating for ourselves and our loved ones. Yeah.

Fiona
For sure we’re relying on broken systems we’re relying on broken systems. And I took – another Fiona ism, right? We we are worker bees, because worker bees consume, consumers have to work. We hide our little kids in childcare centers so the worker bees can keep working, and we hide our disabled and our frail in nursing homes and rezi care. So that the workers – because if you see death, you might stop consuming. If you don’t take care of your little ones and your frail ones, then you stop working. So we’ve got this real consumer working thing and I’m not up against it. I don’t mind that.

But we’re not taking the time. We’re not taking time to take care of ourselves and take care of our little ones and take care of our older ones. Because we are afraid of missing out, competition scarcity, conditioning, all the things that make that happen. Right. And our lenses change as well. For me success is having time to keep my little one home from school today. Because she’s a bit unwell. That’s success. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Success is wearing whatever I want. I love it when someone says, oh, what are you wearing? What do you wear? I’m like, it’s called, none of your business. I do whatever I want.

You know, it’s like, it’s because systems are created to keep you doing certain things. And conforming. Conforming is a way to keep you in those systems. And you don’t actually take care of yourself is the big one and others.

So that’s Your Estate Lawyer. That’s what I’m doing every day. I’m here. I’m busy as too like this, obviously. How sad is that? There’s a need for it. There’s a need for a lawyer? Yeah. Like, who would have thought that a lawyer that cares is a tool, it’s my difference. It’s my point of difference.

Ailsa
I hear you, I hear you. It’s that heartfelt, genuine, authentic connection that you have with your clients. And you can’t fake that. You can’t fake it. So, but you know.

Fiona
I’ve been spending my whole life not doing that. Being told off for that, because my triggers and my behavior is because people have been hurt. So that’s the hilarious thing about all this, like, that’s why it’s so yeah. And back to that perfectionism thing – it’s still – and that compassion thing. I’m getting a lot of, I sort of go, “Oh!” That’s an old way. That’s an old thought, “Why am I still trying to take that with me? They’re old. That’s part of the infrastructure from the old system.”

Ailsa
That’s really great that you’ve been able to find that, to be able to externalize those thoughts and notice them, you know, outside of yourself. So yeah, it’s that curiosity. And that opportunity to reflect in the moment is, life changing.

Fiona
I’m lucky, it’s lucky. I’m lucky to be able to do it. Yeah. So hang out with me. And we’ll do it again. Come up with your next subject. And I’ll have another crack at it.

Ailsa
Yeah, absolutely. For sure. This is awesome. Well, I might finish up there, though. We’re like, it’s been awesome to touch it. Like, I can’t wait to see the transcript. Because it’ll be like, you know, beautiful conversations that was around and they connect and this, you know, there was an epiphany here, epiphany there and, and how they interwork and weave together.

But, yeah, thank you so much for your time. Thank you. Please, if anybody has any need to – well, everybody has an a to to catch up with Fiona. But just follow her on social media too, because there’s some gems in there. Absolute gems. Yeah. So thank you. I’ll say goodbye.

More From Fiona
#InHerOwnWords

 

What roles fill your days?

First up, I’m not busy these days. I’m just “being” and spending my time. As a 44-year-old lawyer and business owner, I spend my time with my husband and with my kids – 2 aged in their early 20s and 3 aged 8, 9 and 11. We enjoy pottering around our acres at Mount Barker Summit and hiking across other acres in the Adelaide Hills. Oh, and visiting coffee shops. Lots of coffee shops!

In the same way that I take care of my family, I take care of yours at Your Estate Lawyer. Your Estate Lawyer is focused on estate planning. In doing so, it involves talking a lot about death, planning for your death and taking care of yourself and the people most important to you. It’s focussing on what matters to you now and in your future.

It’s about noticing that you are working hard to take care of yourself and the most important people in your life. Asking, who you’d like to take care of your people after your death.

That’s Your Estate Lawyer.

 

What is our connection?

We met via a mutual friend and spent some time getting to know each other. After I started Your Estate Lawyer I have had an opportunity to natter with you in and around the SA Woman juggernaut.

 

How has perfectionism shown up in your life?

For me, perfectionism is a by-product of being conditioned to strive to do and / or be the “best”. Whether that be the best person, best exam result, best house, best holiday, best birthday cake. Being fixated on being the “best”.

I have spent my whole life trying to feel safe. It was striving to be the best that bred the perfectionism in my life. In our youth, it starts by being rewarded for being “good”. That can include praise, favour, trophies, notoriety and popularity. I also includes being punished for being “bad”. As a child, examples of such punishment may have included lack of attention, being disregarded or ignored. But it also may have included shame and ridicule, with or without physical punishment. As adults, we also fear this type of “punishment” – hence, perfectionism.

Perfectionism is bred from conditioning, control and correction, but ultimately stems from our childhood experiences. I am the eldest of four girls born in quick succession to parents who continued to grieve the loss of their first child, a son, while trying to effectively parent us. I learned that if I was the best at everything I did that I was going to be liked, respected and feel safe. Thus, I equated being the best with being safe.

Now, in the present – this is obviously not necessarily true. It is my view that perfectionism is a by-product of other issues in my life. It’s simply a consequence and it’s a way that I cope – so that I can feel safe. I don’t do things unless I think that I can do them the “best.”

 

When did you notice you would like things to change?

In March 2020, at the age of 43, I had been spending several years trying to piece together the life I wanted to live, rather than continuing to live someone else’s life. All the while, I continued to struggle with this concept. I was asking myself questions such as, “Who am I? Why am I here? Am I any good? Am I a good person?”.

In March 2020, numerous things came to a head including; the breakdown between myself and my extended family, the end of an important friendship, the deaths of my Grandmas, the outbreak of COVID-19 and on top of that my contract of employment was not renewed and various job interviews had not been successful either.

So, I started Your Estate Lawyer.

I have a big “Why”. I am taking care of my family so that I can take care of yours. I am standing on my own two feet. I am taking one step at a time and leaving the beast of Imposter Syndrome and Perfectionism a few steps behind me. It’s still always there – but it’s behind me now though. Not stopping me.

Knowing my “Why” helps remind me that it’s not about me. All the good things and bad things that make me who I am makes me the best person to sit with my people who are planning to die.

 

In hindsight, what do you think got you through?

I honestly don’t know. Spending 10 weeks at home during COVID-19 with my kids was a fucking brilliant circuit breaker for us. It settled and resolved so many issues each of us were going through. It helped us to really consolidate the decisions that I had made since February 2019. I also had an extra child, restarted my marriage, bought a new house, my children started attending a new school and I started a new business.

I am a survivor.

And in retrospect, I think that it’s known as post-traumatic growth.

 

How is compassion important to you in your life?

Compassion is a new concept for me, it is one of my recent learnings and I am practicing it. As a child who “excelled” from condition, control and correction, developing into an adult seeking “high achiever” results, I now understand that I was not able to forgive myself for my errors or forgive others – for that matter.

So, compassion has arrived in my life by changing my lens. I have changed my idea of success, and in doing so, learned the art of living.

And in that process, I’ve learnt that I want people around me to be able to depend on me. I want people to be able to depend on me as a leader – both financially, inspirationally and also, for kindness.

So I’ve changed my idea of success. Now I believe that success is taking care of each other first. All the other stuff comes later. We don’t celebrate busy. I’m not striving for “success” – we’re just thriving.

In learning to stop beating myself up, I’ve also learned to stop beating up those important to me. I’m not so hard on them anymore. I now forgive myself easier and forgive others easier too. Honestly, I’m just glad that they show up.

Other Episodes:

Episode 8: Conversation with Aerlie Wildy

Episode 8: Conversation with Aerlie Wildy

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Episode 7: Conversation with Denice Crowe Clark

Episode 7: Conversation with Denice Crowe Clark

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Episode 6: Conversation with Tammy Roche

Episode 6: Conversation with Tammy Roche

Compassionate Conversations with Ailsa Robson #enjoytherideEnjoy the gorgeous energy of fellow mental health provider Tammy Roche as she lets us in on her tips for boosting self compassion; including grooving to certain songs, adding gratitude and meditation and...

Ailsa Robson has a private counselling and psychotherapy practice in Adelaide and consults with clients in Stirling and Glenelg, SA as well as online. She has a Masters Degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy and is the author of Perfectly Imperfect.