Melanie Wood: Going Against the Grind
Corning businesswoman Creates Podcast to Explore Balancing Professional Success and Personal Bliss
Melanie Wood, owner and licensed practitioner of Corning’s Soul Ease Medical Massage and Mind Body Therapies, and a SUNY Corning Community College Adjunct Professor of Psychology, recently started the Going Against the Grind podcast to explore how area professionals achieve a healthy work-life balance in the hustle and grind culture of successful entrepreneurship.
Photos provided. Corning business owner Melanie Wood, center, hosts a podcast that explores how successful locals achieve a healthy work-life balance.
“It’s hard to be a small business owner,” she says.
In her job as a medical massage therapist, Melanie is in a unique position to hear people’s deepest concerns and stresses, as she coaxes those emotional and mental traumas from their physical manifestations within the human body.
“We hear a lot on the massage table. People are talking about how much stress they have. Every minute of their day is filled up.”
Melanie, who’s also a member of several networking groups, has heard other small business owners talk about the physical and mental toll working towards success has had on them and their loved ones.
In mid-March, Melanie premiered her podcast “Going Against the Grind”, in which she speaks with area professionals about how they strive for a healthy balance between work hustle and self care to avoid burnout.
“I, admittedly, used to wear that badge of honor that productivity meant that I was worthy,” Melanie says. “So, my badge of honor was ‘I’m busy,’ and that makes it so that I wasn’t doing the hobbies I loved. It made it so that I wasn’t spending time with friends – I had to say ‘no’ to friends a lot.”
Melanie says she’s surrounded by people who were in a place where they’re under the influence of social media.
“So, it looks like everybody is pushing themselves really hard and not stopping. In reality, when they finally lay on my massage table after eight months of trying to get in, they’re collapsing because they’re exhausted, they’re tired. They’re not able to remember why they’re even doing what they’re doing anymore.”
The personal pressures we put on ourselves, as well as the perceived successes we see around us, amplified by social media, can increase the pressure and anxiety we feel.
“I just saw … where people don’t give themselves permission to be who they really are anymore in favor of hustle culture, in favor of working – and they get stuck in a grind that’s going to lead to two things: either them feeling like a failure and burning out, or they’re going to keep going and they’ll start suffering from health problems, relationship problems, money problems, and the whole mental health side of things, as well,” Melanie explains.
Her observations of some of her clients’ stress combined with Melanie’s own quest for better work-life balance in order to get back to some of the hobbies she’d enjoyed, previously, and take on new adventures, was the impetus for the podcast.
Going Against the Grind has eight episodes, so far, and features interviews with local small business owners and well-known area personalities who’ve recognized the need for, and importance of, self care. Not just for themselves but, also, for their employees, customers and clients; implementing business practices such as paying a living wage, and providing health benefits and sufficient personal time off.
Melanie’s learned some key nuggets of wisdom from her interview subjects.
“First of all, it’s OK to give yourself permission to put yourself first,” she says. “Even if you’re a solo person in a job, whether a small business owner, or you’re in a job where you’re climbing the ladder; putting yourself first, above and beyond the job – sometimes even before family, so that you fill your cup first, is okay.”
“Giving yourself that permission is wonderful. Doing it in a creative way, knowing that if you DO take breaks and you do things that you love, and you do allow a sense of humor to come in and you take the “work blinders” off, then you’re going to be even more successful.”
The podcast’s latest episode, posted May 11, features fellow Corning businesswoman Angelina Templar, who owns Your CBD Store, and shares her acknowledgement of the importance of taking time off as a business owner, and the struggles she’s had with delegating responsibility so that she can do just that.
Noting her own weakness for succumbing to the unsustainable hustle of juggling a small business and all of the work that entails, with her position as an Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Melanie began rotating her days off.
“So, it looked like I was available every day for people, Monday through Sunday. Then I started adding another day off, and another … and, finally, even though I have a little office admin. work to do, I’ve gotten to where I now have more than 150 days off a year,” she says. “That’s my new badge of honor. I’m so proud of that!”
Preparation helped Melanie attain her 150 days off.
“Part of planning out all those days off means that I know what I’m doing for my year,” she explains.
Actually, Melanie’s schedule is currently planned out for the next three years.
“So, time management, knowing your priorities and knowing WHY you do things, are important,” she says. “I know that what I do I feel passionately about and, if I don’t, then it’s time to let it go.”
Accepting our own humanity is another trait that successful people seem to have.
“There are times that I don’t meet my goals, and I’m okay with that,” Melanie says. “We’re human and adopting the attitude that you don’t have to be perfect or … super human, is a beautiful thing.”
She also points out that we tend to internalize our own negative and unrealistic expectations, projecting them on to those we think will judge us.
“People will understand if you don’t want to go to a social engagement because you just worked all day and you just want to go home and take a bath instead,” she says.
In order to manage the natural ups and downs that come with successful work life, Melanie suggests setting small goals to engage in a method of self care that works for you. For example, she says that she’ll sometimes take the 15 minutes she has between massage appointments to meditate or stretch as a way to mentally and physically recharge.
Podcast interviewee Dusty Hewit, owner of Long Run Communications and co-owner of Card Carrying Books & Gifts, both in Corning, describes in Episode 7 of Going Against the Grind that one way he mentally and physically rejuvenates from “the grind” is by taking a 10-minute walk from one business to the other.
Melanie notes that, even in the midst of a pandemic, with over 150 days of personal time, she runs a successful business with five other people, teaches at SUNY CCC, and now she’s also started a podcast and has a YouTube channel of her hiking adventures (how she spends a good many of those 150 days off) in the works.
Even with all of that, Melanie does find time for what she calls “do nothing" days.
“I don’t make a plan,” she says. “I do have several morning rituals.”
Although, she begins every day with two to three hours of journaling, meditating, visioning and yoga, Melanie lets the day unfold from there.
“My primary focus right now is, I hike mountains. I hike BIG mountains,” she says with a gleam in her eye that reveals how passionate she is about her latest hobby.
Photos provided. Many of the 150 days off Melanie Wood has finagled for herself are spent climbing mountains and enjoying nature's beauty.
“I spend a lot of time either preparing my body to hike or recovering from a hike,” she laughs. “So that looks like yoga, stretching and receiving massages.”
Melanie’s business is the perfect complement to her personal passions and she’s sure to take advantage of her partners’ professional skills and Soul Ease’s equipment.
“Our business is just about to put in a new wave float tank in the next few months, and I’ll be in it when it gets set up!”
She’s found that taking things in “bite-sized chunks” makes tasks more manageable.
“And, if you don’t feel inspired to do it, don’t do it.”
“Everybody that’s come onto the podcast, they’re not perfect at self care,” Melanie says. “They’re not perfect at creating work-life balance. They just have the intention and desire to.”
Melanie is excited to continue the podcast and share the knowledge she gleans from her interviews, as she strives to pursue her personal passions while strengthening her successful business ventures.
Check out the Going Against the Grind podcast on Apple or Spotify and, if you’re interested in sharing your methods for self care, email Melanie at email@example.com. And keep your eyes open for more information about ways you can follow Melanie’s hiking adventures!