Amy Molloy has always been notoriously open and outspoken. From her breathtakingly honest account of life after losing her partner in her first book `Wife, Interrupted’, to her candid columns in Grazia magazine and that, now famous, Daily Mail article in which she admitted ‘Being successful is lonely and joyless’, Amy has never been shy of disclosure.
“I wrote that article for the Daily Mail shortly after leaving Grazia Australia, where I had been editor.” explains Amy. “The end of that job gave me the opportunity to take a step back, look at my career and really consider what I wanted to do next.
“I’ve been lucky, in the fact I’ve had a very busy and accelerated career – from intern to editor in just six years. But that kind of ambition and drive can be exhausting if you don’t balance it out with fun and friendship (two factors that I let slide through my twenties). I decided that moving forward, I wanted to combine my two passions for writing and healthy living.”
Amy now is a mum living in the south coast of NSW and she’s written numerous books and writes for multiple outlets. It’s fair to say she’s busier than ever. Her signature honesty is still evident when she writes about herself. The difference this time around is the majority of articles are now focused on emotional and physical wellness.
“It encourages me to practice what I preach, and lead a well-rounded life myself,” she said.
And practice she does.
Amy is a devout yoga enthusiast. She also encourages women to boost their mental wellbeing with `journaling’ techniques via her Storytelling for Healing Facebook group.
In this interview we quiz Amy on the theory behind writing for therapy; how a 140km run across Tasmania’s Tarkine rainforest changed her life; and her three top tips for women looking to achieve balance in health and career.
When did you first discover yoga and how has it changed your life?
I didn’t actively choose to do yoga – it appeared in my life when I really needed it. In September 2010 I was working at Grazia in the UK as a features writer and my editor sent me to India to review the Ananda spa in the Himalayas. In hindsight, at the time, I was dangerously close to burn out. I had been widowed three years before, when my husband died of skin cancer three weeks after we married, and my coping mechanism was to go, go, go. I had an ill-advised theory that if I exhausted myself with work and exercise then I wouldn’t have any energy left to feel sad. So I worked 24/7 and started to run marathons.
At Ananda, during my wellness consultation, I remember their ayurvedic doctor telling me, ‘You have to stop running.’ He didn’t mean just physically, but also emotionally – I was running from my past, running from my feelings. I was terrified of dropping the intense fitness regime that I based my life around, but he introduced me to yoga as a substitute. It helped me to reconnect with my body and reconnect to people. I’ve met my closest girlfriends in a yoga studio.
Can you tell us more about the journaling techniques you use to boost mental wellbeing? Sounds intriguing.
I always find it funny when people say to me ‘I’m not a writer’. Unless you’re illiterate everyone is a writer. In my opinion, the only cause of writer’s block is self-consciousness and the fear that what we write might be deemed ‘wrong’. That’s why, on our retreats, no one shares what they write with the group.
As humans we are natural performers and people-pleasers and sub-consciously filter our words if we know someone else will read them. The techniques I teach are really a written meditation; they encourage people to break through their conscious thoughts and delve into deeper truths. I also teach ‘positive-constructing daydreaming’ techniques to help people tap into their purpose and move forward in their lives.
You are a big supporter of women, encouraging them to reconnect with their bodies and learn to love everything about it even the bits historically we don’t like – why do you think this kind of `sisterhood’ is so important now?
If you’d interviewed me a year ago I wouldn’t have been able to answer this question. Throughout my twenties I certainly wasn’t part of the ‘sisterhood’. I was an island and, if I’m totally honest, I didn’t see the ‘point’ of female friends. How wrong I was!
I’m in my thirties now and, in the past year, suddenly woke up to the healing and empowering benefits of being around strong, loving women. I used to see the stereotypical female characteristics – compassion, gentleness, sensitivity – as a weakness. Now, I surround myself with women who teach me it’s okay to be vulnerable. As a consequence, I’ve learned to be more forgiving of my physical and emotional flaws and even embrace them.
I spent years burying and living in a very male energy… and my periods stopped for seven years.
I’m a member of a group called Responsible Runners, which is a not-for-profit initiative that runs weekly rubbish clean-ups on beaches across Australia. The idea is that, whether you’re running, walking or doing any physical exercise, you pick up garbage as you go. To me it’s the ultimate feel good workout, because you’re moving you’re body and helping the environment.
In 2014, a group of nine Responsible Runners decided to supersize the concept and ran 140km cross the Tarkine rainforest in Tasmania. It was an awareness-raising mission because, despite being one of the world’s largest tracts of temperature rainforest, less than 5% of the region is protected as national parkland.
Over seven days we ran with all our equipment on our backs – averaging 25kg with drinking water. The adventure gave me a whole new respect for my body. It also taught me the importance of balancing exertion and rest. You haven’t felt real rejuvenation until you’ve napped in a hammock in the depths of a rainforest.
What are your three top tips for women looking to achieve balance in health and career?
Don’t be afraid to say no. When I left Grazia I was offered a job as an editor at another magazine but I knew that I really just wanted to write. It was scary turning down a well-paid job to become a freelancer but what I lost in salary I gained in the currency of health and happiness.
Find joy in exercise I used to be a vigilant gym-goer, with a spreadsheet stuck to my fridge where I’d recorded my running times. However I started to dread my exercise sessions, because I was so self-critical. A few years ago I quit the gym, started learning to surf and swapped my bike for a skateboard. I’m rediscovering how fun fitness can be.
Meditate your own way. Some people have a misconception that all meditation involves sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed. But meditation is anything that makes you connect to the ‘now’. I meditate by focusing on the feeling of the wind on my face when I’m jogging on the beach, or the warmth of the water on my hands when I’m washing up.
I’m very lucky that, as a journalist, I have access to the latest fitness classes, super foods and experts. I also live in a city where there’s a health food shop on every corner. But I’m very aware that not everyone can financially or geographically access resources like these. That’s why I try to share as much information as possible. I’ll be offering insight into the therapeutic journaling techniques we offer on our retreats.
I’ve been lucky to have worked with wonderful life coaches and therapists over the years and I now want to share the techniques that have enhanced my life so greatly.
You wrote your first book `Wife Interrupted’ in 2007. Why did you decide to ghost write one?
I love the experience of ghost writing books for other people. In most cases, this means that you interview a celebrity or expert on their life story or a topic, which is then published under their name. I sign a confidentiality agreement saying that I’ll never reveal that I wrote it.
To some people this doesn’t make sense – why would you write a book if you can’t take the credit? But I find it incredibly liberating. Because no one will ever know you wrote it, you don’t write it from your ego or a place of self-consciousness. This allows your writing to flow. I think my ghost written novels are some of my best work.
With so many incredible achievements already at such a young age, what other boxes are left to tick? What’s in store next for Amy Molloy?
I try not to over plan my career – or life – anymore as the best opportunities seem to come when I least expect it.