Milspouse Spotlight: Leigh Hall
I’m a military spouse, Bowdoin College grad, an MSW student, a meditator, a daddy’s girl, a wannabe Anthony Bourdain food lover, traveler, and expat living in Japan. But most importantly, I’m a confidant.
Ever since I was a kid, I was the person friends and family would come to to spill their guts. They instantly felt that I was trustworthy and comfortable to talk to, so they shared their problems, dreams, and deepest desires. My business, La Confidente, holds space for women to do just that – unbox their emotions. Through virtual, 1:1 sessions, La Confidente provides a non-judgmental and confidential space for women to gain relief from stress, and develop coping strategies to restore emotional equilibrium. My mission is rooted in helping women regain the strength to thrive in their experience rather than just survive. The Vent, Validate, and Restore sessions I offer are like an emotional tune up. They fit into any modern, millennial woman’s self-care routine just like a spin class or green smoothie. VVR sessions are mental health boosters that prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. Instead, they help you evaluate what is and isn’t working, critically think about where your greatest points of stress are and keep your accountable to your mental wellness goals. In short, you are taken from feeling stressed to supported in one hour.
This business was initially born out of my own desire for someone to talk to and teach me how to deal with the stress of living abroad while continuing my graduate degree in social work, trying to have a successful marriage when my husband is deployed 75% of the time, and feeling too embarrassed to share everything I was feeling with friends and family.
The more women I talked to, the more I found I was not the only one. As I got deeper into my internship at the Community Counseling Program on MCAS Iwakuni, I realized experiencing stress, anxiety, anger, and grief throughout life is normal; and needing extra support during these times is expected. I learned issues arise when you try to do it by yourself. When we start to box our emotions up, isolate, and deny ourselves the opportunity to vocalize our struggle, we poison ourselves. Studies show that venting is a great way to reduce our stress level however, a positive venting experience versus a negative one has everything to do with who you are venting to. Are they engaged? Are they empathetic? Are they able to provide effective coping skills without belittling your experience?
I thought to myself, venting is really helpful, but then what? How do I prevent stress from having such a negative impact on my life? I was in search of concrete activities and exercises I could use to cope with my stress. People would tell me to meditate, be more present, journal, and talk to friends, but didn’t explain how to do those things. How do I sit still and not let my anxious thoughts take over? How do I think less about the future and enjoy the now? What am I supposed to journal about? How do I ask my friends for more support?
I started to use the theories and practices learned in my studies and my internship on myself. I began asking my mentors about stress-relief techniques, and enrolling in trainings that taught mindfulness. I even started working with a coach that focuses on female empowerment. After a while, my strategies started to work and my emotional equilibrium was being restored. I wanted to share my antidote for stress with other women.
Being a military spouse has helped me be an entrepreneur because I have learned to be patient but persistent. As an entrepreneur your business is a journey not a destination. It is ever changing and improving and will never be 100% done. You can’t give up on it even when you feel like you are getting nothing in return. Being a military spouse is also a constant journey. Deployments and just the general demands of the armed forces put strain on a marriage and family unit, but us spouses keep pushing through balancing patience and working hard in the background to make things better.
I haven’t found the perfect funnel to guide women to use my services but I have found participation in Facebook groups to be the most effective so far. The greatest challenge I have faced thus far has been marketing through social media. The constant pressure to get most followers on Instagram and drive more likes to your Facebook page is tough. It wasn’t until I started my business social media accounts that I realized how that was a job in itself and that social media managers are a real thing. So far, the best thing I have learned is that building a business takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight and just like there a tons of musicians who makes beautiful music but never “make it,” you can have a great business idea and not be profitable.
I am still working on juggling my business and self-care but the best advice I can give is to set boundaries. This doesn’t only apply to business, but to every part of your life. You only have a finite amount of time in a day and energy to expend. Self-care is not just about bubble baths and yoga, it is about the discipline of not letting one aspect of your life take over another. It is about making the difficult decision to choose going to sleep early rather than staying up watching TV until 11:00pm so that you can get that early morning workout in or telling a friend that you are unable to go to brunch this week because you are saving that money to take a cooking class that fills you with true excitement and joy. Setting boundaries is the easy part but sticking to them is when the magic happens.
The one thing I would tell a military spouse is to lean into what they are good at and no belittle their skill set. Know that you have value and you can make a career out of almost anything.
Rapid Response Questions:
A military spouse is: resilient
Transition: Is inevitable and tough, but temporary
Military life is: a dream and a nightmare and its okay to feel that you love it and hate it at the same time
Best tool that I use daily is: music; it has the power to change my mood instantly. If I am in need of some comfort and quiet time I put on John Mayer’s album Room for Squares because it is the soundtrack to all my summer driving from Annapolis, Maryland to Nantucket to visit our cousins. It makes me smile thinking about eating clam strips, playing the pool, going to the pharmacy for ice cream, and reading in rocking chairs on the front porch. If I’m sad and missing my husband, I turn on reggaetón to get me dancing or drake to make me feel like I’m a boss.
I couldn’t live without: My sister. She is the person that makes me laugh out loud and forget that I have any worries. A material thing I can’t live without is my straightener. When I get every hair frizz free and swishing for side to side I feel like a Victoria’s Secret model.
The biggest need for a military spouse is: a self-care routine and a person to talk to who won’t judge you or spread your business. Military spouses are often told to suck it up to support the mission. Well, sucking it up doesn’t help you support anyone. Instead voicing your emotions, putting activities in place to comfort yourself during tough times, and giving your needs priority so that you don’t feel neglected is key.
I wish I would have: started this business sooner!
Favorite quote or book: I would love to say “The Untethered soul” or “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” but really my favorite book is Crazy Rich Asians because sometimes a little escapism is needed.
Website and social media links: https://www.unboxyouremotions.com
@unboxyouremotions for Instagram and https://www.facebook.com/unboxyouremotions for facebook page