Stacey Robbins is an award-winning author, speaker, and coach. She wrote the first-rate books You’re Not Crazy and You’re Not Alone and An Unconventional Life: Where Messes and Magic Collide. Stacey coaches women all over the world with Hashimoto’s and helps them to live the power they have within as they see this condition as their opportunity to rise to who they’re here to be — and gives them practical tools for living life well with this autoimmune condition.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in an Italian and Jewish neighborhood in the melting pot of New Jersey before moving to Connecticut when I was 15 and then Southern California when I was 18. My childhood on the East Coast was rich with my Italian culture — food, family, religion, superstitions, grudges — it was all so intense. Never a little bit of food — always a feast. Never a little bit of hugging or pinching cheeks– always a smothering amount. Never a little bit of worrying or yelling or emoting — always an Academy Award amount.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

That it was okay to be me even if someone else wasn’t okay with me. I ask big questions, think deep thoughts, and have visions beyond what the eye can see. I see fields of flowers where someone else sees seeds and dirt. I have always been a visionary and philosopher. I have a gift for knowing things that no one tells me — call it psychic or prophetic or a forecaster — whatever word you choose — but with that gift, you know things that sometimes people don’t even know about themselves. It makes me a great coach and parent now, but as a child, it often felt like “the cheese standing alone” in a world where everyone is paired up with someone else who gets them. I wish I had made peace with being unique in my perspective and remembered that even if I was alone for a time, there was a very special gift inside of me and a special place in this world for me.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

I hear people say to multi-gifted people, “If you don’t use it (your gift); you’ll lose it.” I don’t buy that — I think when you’re a renaissance person, you will have seasons where some of your gifts are more highlighted than others. Believing that they are always available if you want to draw them forth, is a much better way for me to see the many gifts I have rather than coming from a fear that if I don’t use them I will lose them. I also hear people say, “You have to start at the bottom and work your way up.” I also don’t buy that… I believe you start at the point you have a belief for and opportunity for and you move from there. I think we limit each other with adages that are really options instead of hard and fast rules.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

Well, I’ve been through a fair share of darker periods. Whether it was being told that I was dying at 27, or when my marriage hit a wall a few years before that, or like in 2015 when we hit a perfect storm of hardship and ended up creatively homeless — I have to live in a bigger vision inside of me than the one I see in front of me.

In the case of 2015, my husband’s division was sold during a time when our 11-year-old was in a wheelchair from a sports injury and our 13-year-old was healing from bullying issues. Everyone was looking to me for solutions since that’s my jam — so, I went up to my bedroom and laid on my bed upside down — I put my head on the foot of my bed (since my life felt upside down, I thought I would look at from that angle) and I asked myself, “If time, money, and opportunity were unlimited, what would I choose?” A vision came to me: Selling almost everything, piling the kids in the car, doing a book tour and speaking events across the US and then, buying one-way tickets to Europe to hang there for a while. I figured that you don’t have to live down the street from where everything fell apart — you can heal with gelato and wine in Italy and get perspective. So, I shared the vision with my family and worked on a plan with a new energy that inspired me. We took off for what I called “Our Magical, Healing Adventure.” A year later I wrote about it in my book An Unconventional Life: Where Messes and Magic Collide.

Out of the many lessons I learned on that trip, I realized that in trying to reframe this hard time for my children, I also reframed it for myself: We are powerful to create the future we want — not dependent on the circumstances we’re in — but from the ability that lives within us to create it. I hope that my children walk their path remembering that we did what we did — not because things were perfect but because we had vision followed by diligent actions in the direction of our dreams.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

Believing that anything is possible, that I am able, and I am responsible to make my dreams come true.

What is your morning routine?

My morning routine goes through seasons but generally comes back to my main values. Most of the time I am an early riser: Between 4-6. But dealing with an autoimmune condition and mid-life changes means that sometimes I have a wonky middle of the night and need to sleep in a little more. Surrendering my FOMO by allowing myself more morning rest is one of my biggest spiritual practices. Not kidding. My most thriving morning routine is when I start my day with a stream of consciousness journaling (as outlined in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron), do a practice called “36 breaths” from Jin Shin Jyutsu, do about 20 minutes of yoga, and head out for a walk by the beach where we live. When I return, if my teens are still asleep, I like to ‘eat the frog first’ and do whatever is hardest for me: If I’m working on a book or a blog or something like that I will try to do that first while sipping on a drink made of blended lettuce, water, and lemon to get some deep hydration. It sounds gross but I crave it!

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

The 100-Day Gong. It’s a Taoist practice I learned from Dr. Pedram Shojai. Gong just means “period of time” and the original Eastern practice is all about meditation and Qi Gong, but the West adopted it and adapted it to mean “Do anything for 100 days straight. If you miss a day; start over.” So, for 100 days I will take on disciplines like yoga, book writing, eating a certain way, or meditation practice — whatever strikes me — and since 2014 I have completed 11 gongs, led thousands of people through them in my programs, and they have dramatically up-leveled my life, health, happiness, and peace. Health conditions have resolved, weight was lost, books were written, strength and opportunities were gained, relationships shifted…The 100 Day Gong is an incredible container to grow, heal, and thrive.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

My strategies for being productive are about the long-term vision that inspires me, short-term goals that support the vision, and directing my day instead of reacting to things like news, emails, and social media. I can get lost and wander in social media since it rides the fine line of business and pleasure. I will limit my social media to an hour or 90 minutes a day and that always serves my focus best.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

Since I was a teenager, my answer to this question has always been: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I admire deeply when someone like Atticus Finch sees through commonly held, cultural misbeliefs sees the humanity as well as the injustice and can hold them both — and at the end of the day cares to stand for what is right in a way that is honorable for everyone. I also treasure the character of Scout — the child who wrestles to understand what is going on and is brave to ask questions when she doesn’t understand. I admire people who ask thoughtful questions. I also love the hero’s journey type books like The Alchemist and Way of the Peaceful Warrior where people are searching outside of them to find what they are seeking only to ultimately realize that what they are looking for, lives within them.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

“To find the beautiful we must carry it with us” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I am responsible for my experience in life and if I want to experience something beautiful, it’s on me to bring the capacity, the willingness, and the unattached openness to encounter it wherever it may be.