Thank you for joining me your host Liz Clifton and my wonderful take34u Self Care Series: Creating Calm Confidence Guest Justine Schuurmans as we share selfcare secrets, top tips and stories of our experiences.

It's an absolute pleasure to support you with your own self-care journey as you take34u and enjoy our chat below:

Justine Schuurmans & Liz Clifton Interview

Justine Schuurmans
As a former Producer/Director for Nickelodeon and MTV, Justine Schuurmans (Founder of The Family Dog) has blended her love of dogs with her experience in music and kids’ TV, to create many groundbreaking dog infotainment videos for families. Her fun, creative and family-friendly techniques have quickly become the trademark of all her online dog training programs.

The Family Dog also has resources for dog professionals.  Trainers and educators worldwide are now using Justine's unique music video-based training programs, to help families everywhere live happily and safely with the dogs they love.

Justine Schuurmans & Liz Clifton Interview Transcription:

Liz Clifton: And welcome it is my absolute great pleasure to welcome the wonderful Justine owner and  founder of The Family Dog .com. Thank you so much for joining us today.  

Justine Shuurmans: Thank you for having me.  

Liz Clifton: Okay. So we will kick off. What does self-care mean for you?  

Justine Shuurmans: Self care, do you mean, what do I do for my self, care. Or What is the idea of self care care for me?  

Liz Clifton: Both, whatever it means to you right now.  

Justine Shuurmans: Okay. So the, the meaning of self-care for me, I think really means taking care of yourself first. And I know we just, we had a little discussion just preamble before this, meeting today, and I'm a big fan of the oxygen mask on yourself first. And so that's really what self-care means. If you're not looking after yourself, then it's really hard to take care of anybody else around you or to serve your clients, your family members, your partners, your friends, your tank has to be pretty decently full. and so what does that look like for me.  I keep wanting to be the person that, you know, wakes up in the morning and has the routine where I, you know, I write in my journal for a bit, or I do my stretches or I, you know, whatever. It's not like. So I haven't managed to master that.  

Justine Shuurmans: I really do need to get on that, but no, that's not what's happening for me. I think the way that I take care of myself is I have a very good, internal voice that tells me when I've had enough. that tells me when I need to socialize, that tells me when I need to stop and dip my feet in the pool. That tells me that I need to blow off work and what my dog's for much longer than I would normally. so that's how I am very impromptu. It's sort of, I guess it's the person sort of how I show up in my work as well. I'm not very good at scheduling and staying on track. That's just who I am. I'm still working on that, but I, but I can feel it. I can feel inside when I need to take care of myself and I'm really good at doing it when I need to.  

Liz Clifton: Amazing. I love that. So when you're kind of going into that inner voice within you, how are you checking on yourself? Are you checking like emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, or is that varying, you know, day by day?  

Justine Shuurmans: I would actually say, and this is probably a bit weird. I'm weird. That my inner voice actually talks to me. I don't, I don't talk to it as much as again, I probably should check in with it. It's quite loud. And so I, what I tend to do is instead of, taking moment to sit quietly, sometimes I will. But I tend to listen to books on tape or I listen to podcasts. And usually they're about things that are mentally kind of like challenging make you think outside of the box or spiritual or connecting with the universe. And sometimes listening to that helps me become much more self-reflective otherwise it just kind of pops up on me in quiet moments where I'm like making dinner. You know, it's a moment where I'm just like making dinner, that's it just chopping vegetables or, you know, whatever I'm doing, it's boring mundane kind of job. And then I'm like, wow. Yes, that was a moment.  

Liz Clifton: I love that. That's really beautiful. And so thinking about the things that you do that bring you joy. So when you think, do you know what I do need to do something I get to take some self-care you've mentioned about the nice, beautiful, long walks with the dogs. What else, what else is in there?  

Justine Shuurmans: I love to be in nature and I, and I really love to be, if I had a choice, I'd be on the farm. I love the smell of cow poo. There's something about cow poo. That's just, I don't know. It goes to a really deep sort of visceral place for me. I'm not the mountains person, ocean. Definitely. If I can get to a beach, put my feet in water, I've started walking without walking barefoot around town. That's like my new favorite thing to do. So I don't actually wear shoes when I walk my dogs anymore. no matter what the surface is. And I find that just the grounding makes me feel much more in sort of like the present moment rather than off somewhere else. And what else do I love to do if you, I definitely love socializing with my friends and I'm sure as a woman, you can relate.  

Justine Shuurmans: We kind of work out a lot of our mental load when it comes out of our mouth. So as we're talking, we're like, oh gosh, that was a great idea. I didn't even know I had it until I just said it. whereas I find that men tend to sit quietly and think about things and try and solve their problems. And then they only share those results to the problems or solutions to their problems when it's all figured out. But I think we figure things out in emotion. And so I, if I don't see my friends for a while, if I'm not talking to them on the phone or like my mom, I talk to my mom and dad regularly in the UK. I feel massive withdrawal symptoms from that. And I, and I know that I need to check in, I love to go horse riding.  

Justine Shuurmans: That's another big one for me. I loved to do yoga, but my back and my arm are giving me trouble. So I can't do that as well as I like to. I love to dance. I'd do a dance class if I could. And then my last favorite thing to do where I think I lose myself the most is I love DIY. So if I can paint or use some kind of power tool, it doesn't matter what it's, my, I've got a chop store and drills and all sorts of things that, yeah, I love to make things. I just made a bench in my house, like a kind of a booth, a table and lift up bench chairs. I could do that like forever. That would be my second job.  

Liz Clifton: I love it. So super creative. Yeah.  

Justine Shuurmans: And I think it's because it takes your full concentration. You can't phone in, you know, especially if you're using power tools. You really have to be, you know, thinking about what you're doing. Otherwise you end up without a finger or an arm or something. So you don't have chance to be thinking about other stuff at all. You're completely in the zone. So I really do enjoy that and painting to really just kind of getting into the details of it.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. That's beautiful. And like you said, it's having that intense focus on something. Sometimes just frees us from the other stuff that's going on in our mind.  

Justine Shuurmans: Yeah, exactly. Cause if you're doing something where you can multitask, you're not fully in it. And so your brain is still like going, going, going. But I think that there's, that, you know, I definitely tend to have some music on, in the background. So I have my, like, you know, my like nineties hip hop music and then like, you know, my, my chops are I'm in heaven. That's unique. That's my wind down for the week.  

Liz Clifton: Ooh. I love it. Yeah. That's really good. It's whatever works there. Isn't that like, you know, self-care for everybody is so different. Yeah.  

Justine Shuurmans: Yep.  a hundred percent.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. It's really interesting. And you said, you mentioned about, you'd love to be able to do like the journaling and things like that. Have you had any experience with journaling or is it something that you just, you feel you'd like to do at some point?  

Justine Shuurmans: I've I've I want to do it so badly that I've bought those, you know, three minute nightly journal things to try and help them do it. And I've done it for a little while and then I stopped and then I write out, started writing sort of like my gratitude, my three gratitude, like little things. And then I stop, I tend to write if I'm struggling, if there's something really hard going on in my life. Then I find putting it on paper and just again, giving voice to the things that are really bothering me that is helpful. But then you've just, I find, I write really depressing stuff.  

Justine Shuurmans: I very rarely write when I'm really happy. So if anybody ever found my journals, I'd be like, wow, she really, she should have got some help that lady. Luckily they're just like little snapshots. Yeah, I, yeah, we do actually. When I eat dinner with the kids, we always do a gratitude every single night. So I like to make sure that they're present to the fact. I mean, I grew up really with no money at all. And my, we live a very, very blessed life now. And I, well, that's a wonderful thing. I'm always concerned for my kids that they don't understand what it's like to come from nothing. So, we always do, regret something that you're grateful for and then something that you're struggling with. Because otherwise it just looks like, oh, we're all happy. And it's all sort of fun and games, and you're never supposed to actually have any issues with anything. So we do talk about that stuff. So that's my kind of mental check-in I guess, as well. Oh  

Liz Clifton: Yeah, that's beautiful. And I think, like you said, it's so important to be sharing that with the kids. Because It's not, it's not covered in school and it's, we've moved so far from that kind of, you know, the oral history, like you said, you know, especially as women, we tend to process everything through speech. We've moved so far from that in the society that it's really important to have that grounding with them on a, on a daily basis.  

Justine Shuurmans: Yeah, absolutely. And find out what's going on in their world. Otherwise, you know, you can become so parallel in your lives. Especially with devices and stuff like that. You have to be really careful to bend devices at the table. Otherwise you just never talk to each other, you know, you'd just be texting.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. I've, I've had that moment before. And I remember, you know, my brothers and sisters were younger. They'd have like their phone there and they just be messaging my mum and we were all sat in the same room. Like just, just say "Hi!"  

Justine Shuurmans: Yeah, wild. It's wild. I don't want to ever be like that. I always kind of, if I ever see the family that always sitting on devices at a restaurant or wherever, I always just hope that's not going to be me. Cause it's so antithetical to who I am. I'm such a communicator. I love connecting with people. And that to me just feels just the opposite of, you know, Nirvana for me. Yeah.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. We get to be head and we get to yeah. Communicate and connect. That's what life is, isn't it?  

Justine Shuurmans: Absolutely. And we lose so much if we don't.   Yeah, yeah.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. And, and that brings you back actually to your inner voice. So I guess the points at which you hear it when it's speaking to you loudly is where you've perhaps come away from that self-connection?  

Justine Shuurmans: Yeah.  No, exactly. And sometimes you just get really, I mean, it's so easy to get on the treadmill of life, you know, your work. Or your, I mean, having kids, it's just, it's always just, it's a full-time job having children. And then you, if you have a job on top of that, that's another full-time job. And then you've got friends, partners, commitments, you know, all this stuff. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the doing that. I'm really grateful that my inner voice was like, whoa, sister, that you just pushed yourself a bit too far now. Exactly. and so I, you know, I, I definitely do fulfill to that. It's not like I'm every night I'm sitting with myself saying, are you okay? How are you doing today I don't do that. I just kind of, I don't know it, as I say, it's a loud voice. It's very, very clear when something's not going way it speaks up. So I'm glad that it does that. Otherwise I probably would just be like bulldoze right past that crap.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. No, I love that. That you hear it as well. Because I think for a lot of people, you know, like you've just described, we, you know, we do forget. We just ignore like the little signs and then it's when it's like, whoa, actually stop that's enough. I'm like, oh wow, I didn't notice.  

Justine Shuurmans: Sometimes it takes me to get sick. And sometimes it takes for you to not be able to get out of bed because you feel mentally and physically exhausted. And then you realize that you weren't paying attention. And then it's like, well, I was trying to tell you, it's like the dog. You know, the dog was like, I gave you sixty signs lady what more do you need?  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. And it is, I mean, it's so similar. and, and that's one of the things they say actually is that we get to be more dog. So we get to kind of be more in that present moment just as they are. And actually when you're, you know, like you said about when you're walking barefoot, you're grounding yourself in that moment. And when we're in the moment, we are connected with ourselves because we're in the moment.  

Justine Shuurmans: Have you ever seen that Luckily there's that really lovely visual that's been circulating around social media, social media. About, I think it's a guy taking the dog for a walk and I, I can't remember. Have you seen it. And they've got the little thought bubbles above their heads. It's so unbelievable. And the person is thinking all the different things they've got to do and where they got to be another dinner they got to make and the jobs they got to do. And then the dogs got you know that lovely picture of just the exact same picture of them just walking in the woods. And I think that that, that resonated with me so loud. Cause it, and it reminds me to do exactly that when I'm out walking. Cause again, it can be very distracting. I also tend to, because I'm the only one out with my family.  

Justine Shuurmans: That's in the states and I've been here for 20 years now. So all of my family and all my cousins and my closest school friends are all in England. So that is quite a job to keep up with everybody. And because I'm the person that moved, I feel a lot of that responsibility is on me. So I'm really good at keeping in touch with people. But what I've noticed I do is I use my dog walk sometimes to connect with people. So then I'm not in the moment. I'm in the moment of talking to the person, but I'm not actually in the forest smelling the trees, you know, and looking at the sky. But I do tend to try to, you know, not fill my entire walk with that. But to, yeah, it takes some time to really notice where I am taking pictures as well. That's another thing that I love to do is I'll, and I do that, did that with my kids a lot in lockdown. We had like a photographic challenge that we'd go around town and take pictures of like the most beautiful thing or the most ugly thing you've ever seen. And make it look beautiful or the brightest thing or the craziest car. Or, and, and that really helps kind of bring you into that space as well. It's a fun challenge.  

Liz Clifton: With the girls over the holiday.  

Justine Shuurmans: It's really fun. You just come up with a list of 10 different things and then you use your own town to just like wander around together, you work together and do it together. And then you just kind of run off with your phones and then, you know, yeah. How old are your girls?  

Liz Clifton: So the littlest is four and then I've got a nine year old and then like 17 and 18. So they probably won't necessarily do it. But maybe the 18 year old depends. Depends on the day we tend to do like a walk every day.  

Justine Shuurmans: Yeah.   Yeah. Mine are like 15 and 16. And so it was last year. So I was, yeah. And sometimes, I mean, in lockdown, I was like, sorry, you got nothing else going on. You're coming with me, not let's sit in your room, playing video games or face on your friends all day.  

Liz Clifton: Oh, bless them.  

Justine Shuurmans: Bless them. That's a good, that's a good phrase.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. It goes for animals. Children, actually, to be honest as well. Yeah. It's cute. And as we're coming to the end, so how do you celebrate your wins and your accomplishments?  

Justine Shuurmans: I don't think I do.  I don't think I celebrate them like formally. I don't, so one of the things I did just recently back in March. I hired an assistant and, which has just been so wonderful. And I realized that I haven't managed anybody for a really long time. So before, when I, as a dog trainer, I've always just worked for myself when I was working the dog training school. Or when I started my company, which is back in 2009, I would, I worked for myself. So there's nobody to manage. It's just me, myself and I, if I want to work, I work for don't want to work. I don't work and it's my fault, whatever. But when I worked in television, I did manage a massive stuff of people and you know, I had to motivate people and keep them on track. And I just realized that maybe I'm motivated, but what about my assistant, how do I help her feel like she's part of a team? She's only part time, how do we connect together? So one of the things that I do with my families when I'm working with kids and dogs is I have this brag sheet. So they can see all of the different things that they're going to learn. If they do a six week session with me. So it's really inspirational that they're like, oh my gosh, we're going to, actually, our dog will be able to do this. When they look down the bottom of the list. I'm like, yes, it's going to happen in six weeks. No, all this stuff. but also they like to, yeah, they like to show off. So when they come back, it helps them want to practice because we can look at the brag sheet and be like, this is I'm coming back next week.  

Justine Shuurmans: And I want to be testing you on this stuff. So do your homework. Cause I'm like, you know, so then it's like, there's some excitement around that. So it was like, why aren't I doing a brag sheet for my own business. Why don't I start to keep a, of all of the wins that I've had. And my assistant is having collectively and as a business we've had.  So that we can celebrate and keep stock of that. Otherwise one year slips into another year and you don't even know what you've done. You've been working, you're blooming socks off. And you're like, what, what did I achieve So I'm excited about that. It just actually, I've been talking about it for a couple of weeks and yesterday I just made it. So now I have to go back and start filling it in. Yeah. I'm pumped about that. And I almost want to give myself a reward and my, and my assistant a reward at the end of it as well. For maybe setting some goals and stuff that we can smash.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. I love that. Yeah. And you get to celebrate everything. So even the little tiny wins because it brings you that bit of joy into every day. Yeah,  

Justine Shuurmans: Yeah. Yeah. How, okay. Give me some examples. How can I celebrate my wins Give me some examples?  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. So one of my favorites, which is really small and simple is just to share it with other people. So that's like a really easy one. And especially when you're connecting with friends and family, you know, back over in England, that's a perfect opportunity.  

Justine Shuurmans: Yeah. Okay. I do that. 

 Liz Clifton: Well, that's good. Yeah. Yeah. So it's a little dance party. We were talking about music earlier and that's just a little celebration and it's just for you.  

Justine Shuurmans: Yeah.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. And that will raise, raise the whole energy anyway. Cause movement just does. and then going to like one of your favorite pieces. So it may be the forest, you know, when you're walking the dog and it may be actually, maybe you go on your own. Maybe it's just a complete moment for you just to take that time.  

Justine Shuurmans: No reactive dog to take with me and manage.  

Liz Clifton: No. You time. And then you're celebrating and itself care double.  

Justine Shuurmans: Yeah. That makes sense. No, I don't think I celebrate in that small way. I definitely share with friends. I'm not shy about that stuff if I don't something that I feel like is really good. I definitely will tell people. And I might say, Hey, does somebody want to come out and have a drink with me in the evening if I've done something really big. So yeah. I don't feel like I'm not taking care of myself necessarily. But what I'm not doing is tracking the things that I think are really good. They kind of, they're very ephemeral. They sort of come and go and then they're just sort of lost.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. Yeah. You get to do it like great big firework party, you know Woo.  

Justine Shuurmans: Okay. I've got that in the back of my mind now. That's it.  

Liz Clifton: Okay, amazing.  

Justine Schuurmans: Thank you. 

Liz Clifton: Keep me posted.  

Justine Shuurmans: I love celebrating. I have a friend whose birthday it is and it's her 51st birthday. And it happened last week and we are selling, we are doing a full on party for her on Friday because they did a full on for my birthday. It was 49. It was not a special birthday. And it was so to make somebody feel so special for just not really no reason. But like really make an entire day about them. And the amount of thought and planning and detail that went into this, I felt so loved. That it feels amazing to be able to give that back to somebody else. Aand now that's inspired me to do it like, well, I'm going to do a day with my kids as well and take them like on a magic day in the summer. Just like one magic day where we do something that is all about them. so I, that I get really excited about planning, celebrating other people.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. And you get to do it for you. So you get to create your magic day for you as well.  

Justine Shuurmans: Yes. Yeah.  

Liz Clifton: I'm loving this. You see inspiration, with that is amazing. I'm so grateful for you sharing your time with us. Have you got any kind of parting top tips or, you know, anything that you would like to share with the audience?  

Justine Shuurmans: I think I've been reading a lot recently and, and listening to a lot of books. And there's like a huge central kind of point that keeps coming up in everything that I read. That especially as women, that we do not trust our own inner voices and, and I'm totally included in that. And I think that, and I'm not just talking about self care.  While self-care is really, really important because I think that is a place where you do get to listen to your voice and you get, get to respond to that. Before you get yourself in trouble, you know, physically sick or, you know, mentally sick.  But also finding your own voice no matter what the rest of society thinks of your own voice. And really trying to find your authenticity. I think is probably the best way of practicing self care on a daily basis. Stripping off the layers that are not you and trying to really be yourself and let other people be themselves and appreciate them for who they are. And I mean, the best way you get a baptism by fire is by having a teenage kid. You will learn that lesson pretty damn fast, even if you didn't want to. so, so I think that's my role right now. That is my big focus is to be, I believe if I can live in my authenticity as much as possible. When I put my head on the pillow at night, that's it that's success for me. And I'm good with that.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. Yeah. That's beautiful. And it's, it's actually, it's one of my sort of founding missions underneath everything that I'm doing is for everyone to be confident enough to choose, to be themselves anywhere with everyone, at any time.  

Justine Shuurmans: Which is not easy.  

Liz Clifton: No, no way.  

Justine Shuurmans: Why can't I be myself because we don't accept people's selves. We don't, we want them to be how we want them to be as we perceive them. And so, yeah, being not only being yourself, but I think if we all make an effort to accept other people for themselves. No matter how awkward or out of left field, we think they're being, we, if we take a step towards that. Then we will be able, we'll actually be empowering ourselves to be more ourself as well. Because the whole world will open up to be more receptive, to differences in people.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah, completely. And I was actually over dinner. I was talking to my 18 year old. We were talking about that. And I was saying, I don't, I understand that for many people being tolerant of other people is difficult. But for me, I, I don't, I've always been very open to anyone how anybody is. And I've always just kind of outpoured that love. And it's just moving people to a position where they can first loves themselves. And once you can do that, then you can spread that love outwards. And it's been accepting and tolerant and just giving and patient to everybody. And then we all get to be ourselves and we're all comfortable.  

Justine Shuurmans: Yeah. Otherwise we all just pretending to be something that we're not having a pretty fake experience of life. Which isn't, it's, it's almost like, you know, Truman show matrix, ask where we're not, you know. What's the point in me being Justine, and you being Liz. When we could just be, you know, the same person dressing the same, looking the same, having the same opinions. Like the, the beauty of life is to find out about all of the differences, isn't it. And see people with nuances. And, and sometimes they're not, they don't fall in line with what we're, you know, expecting maybe hoping. But that, I think that's the beauty. Yeah.  

Liz Clifton: And I, I think in every kind of surprise, there's like a lesson to be learnt. You know, for us, like who, why did we think that, oh, and it tends to kind of reflect back more about ourselves. Yeah.  

Justine Shuurmans: I keep saying to myself, I cannot believe I've got to this age being so stupid about myself. I just didn't think about any of this stuff, but you're right. Every single connection that you have with somebody is a reflection back on you. What do you, what are you bringing to that conversation? How you're reacting to them totally speaks about you. What kind of hangups do you have or insecurities or, you know, prejudice, prejudices, or whatever those things are. What does it say about you? Not what does it say about the other person. And if you spend all of your mental energy, trying to work on that, then really, actually it doesn't really matter what the other person's doing it's all about you anyway. You, you know, like working through this, that stuff yourself.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. It's beautiful. I could talk about this like forever.  

Justine Shuurmans: Well, I think it's one of those things. Once you've seen the light of it, then you can't unsee it. It's almost like dog, body language. Again, once your eyes have been opened, you see it everywhere that you know. What you're bringing to the party, what you're not bringing.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. And it's the one thing we get to control is just ourselves and how we show up.  

Justine Shuurmans: Yep. 100 percent. Oh,  that was so nice. Well done. Good job.  Thank you so much for inviting me.  

Liz Clifton: You are amazing. And thank you so much for joining and you know, spending this time with us.  

Justine Shuurmans: Lovely.