Welcome and Introduction
Who am I and things you might want to know about me:
I’m Olive von Topp (she/her), Burlesque Performer & Empowerment Coach.
I support folks, primarily women, to re-establish loving relationships with themselves so they can live & love their big, bold, beautiful lives. I work with folks to practice self-compassion, boost confidence, increase access to pleasure, build better boundaries, and unlearn harmful systemic programming through a combination of mindset, mindfulness, movement & embodiment work.
My mission is to take down the patriarchy, by building women up.
I have a Masters of Sociology, am a certified life coach, and have over a decade of experience in the mental health and sexual health field. I believe most of our challenges are systemic failings, rather than personal ones. Though I am trauma informed and have undergone many trauma trainings and certifications in my work, I am not a trauma specialist (nor is this course intended to be a trauma course, but I digress).
I am a recovering people-pleaser and perfectionist and subsequently, have a history of poor boundaries. As mentioned, I had a really difficult time saying "no", making decisions, prioritizing or even asking for my own needs, and was constantly feeling overcommitted and overwhelmed. And I still have challenges when it comes to this stuff. It has gotten a lot easier, but there are still things I get tripped up on (as I imagine will be the same for you as you do this work).
It is my belief that my own trauma history and years of overriding my own needs has led to the multiple chronic health issues I experience today.
My own experiences and challenges with boundaries, as well as my learnings and “successes” with building better boundaries over the years are what motivated me to create this course. I believe there are systems that benefit from us having poor boundaries and therefore prioritizing our needs and working on better boundaries is an act of resistance.
I am continually working on my own healing, unlearning, and growth, as well as better serving & being in community. Though I have experience, I still get shit wrong. I make mistakes (and I believe failure is a necessary part of growth). I welcome feedback and constructive communication, so that I can “do better” and continue to make my courses and spaces safer, more accessible, and more valuable.
I am a sarcastic, sassy, creative, empathetic, “too-much”, soft, pleasure-slut.
I swear. A lot.
And I am so fucking delighted you are here.
Location & Privilege
I hold a lot of privilege as a Canadian-born white, cis, able-bodied, queer woman who has primarily been perceived in the world in heterosexual long-term relationships. I’m university educated and grew up lower middle class in a small town in Southwestern Ontario. Right now, I’m still lower middle class. All of these factors have greatly influenced my experience in the world, my relationship with boundaries, and how I created this course.
I also acknowledge that privilege affects our ability to set and maintain boundaries. If you are struggling with boundaries because of your identity and position in society, this could perhaps be a place you could offer yourself some compassion; knowing you face particular systemic barriers that can make setting and maintaining boundaries more difficult.
I am also a settler and currently reside on the ancestral and treaty lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation of the Anishnawbek Peoples.
I have been influenced by countless people and have learned and benefited from the (often unpaid) labour of countless racialized women, many of whose names I will never know.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of my influences:
- Terri Cole
- Nedra Glover Tawwab
- Jen Sincero
- The Life Coach School
- UnFuck Your Brain
- Audre Lorde
- Adrienne Maree Brown
- Brene Brown
- Rachel Cargle
- Wild Body Somatics
- The Trauma Witch
- Luna Dietrich
- Che Che Luna
- Layla Martin
- Resmaa Menakem
- Sarah Baldwin
Who is this course for?
Anyone who struggles with boundaries. While I do primarily work with women and non-binary or gender non-conforming folks, this course is for anyone who struggles with fluid or porous or loose boundaries. However, because of my experience working with mostly women, some of the discussion around boundary struggles may focus on pressures society places on women. This doesn't mean you can't also get critical about some of the influences and pressures you have experienced that may contribute to your challenges with boundaries, regardless of your identity.
Additionally, while this course is very much designed for folks who have loose boundaries, it can also be helpful for folks who have rigid boundaries and many of the same questions and activities will apply.
Often what can happen as well when we have loose boundaries is that we can swing the other way towards rigid boundaries once we start doing this work. It can feel like a lot to hold and understand the nuances around boundaries and relationships, so some of us might move from loose to rigid boundaries; almost sort of all or nothing. If this is you, I encourage you to continue to get curious about what is happening for you, notice what is happening in your body when you are becoming more "rigid", continue to do your thought work, and ask yourself if there are places you can soften in your boundaries and make space for more nuance and conversation. And of course, continue to offer yourself patience and compassion as you do this work. It is an ongoing process for sure and the gentler you can be with yourself as you stumble through it, the easier time you will have.
A few things to keep in mind:
Stretch Yourself, Don’t Stress Yourself
You’re certainly invited to try things that may feel new or uncertain or maybe even slightly uncomfortable, but please do not push yourself to a place where you are stressed, activated, overriding your needs or enduring. You’re encouraged to honour your own boundaries with yourself as you do this course. This is where the work begins.
Your body, your pace, your depth
You’re invited to go at your own pace in this course and only as deep as you want to go. There are lots of opportunities to go deep into the work, but this is only advisable if you feel you are ready and/or have necessary supports in place. There are some embodiment or somatic experiencing exercises that invite you to be in your body, because this is where we learn what boundaries feel like, begin to build self-trust, and practice meeting our own needs. Our bodies communicate a lot to us, including our boundaries or when they are crossed. We feel our boundaries before we think them. But please know that not everyone’s body feels like a safe place to be and if that is the case for you, that’s okay. Start with where you are at and what feels okay.
Because I cannot be there to support you, or assess your nervous system/if you’re getting activated, I caution you to only go as deep as feels okay. If something feels off or triggering, don’t do. There is no need to do everything in this course. Do what feels accessible and right. You will get something out of the work, no matter how deep you go. Take what you need and leave the rest. You will have access as long as this course remains active, so you can always come back to things.
Having supports like therapy or a coach or even a good friend who is willing to chat stuff through is great, but not absolutely necessary.
This is not therapy
This course is not intended to be therapy, trauma work, or take the place of therapy, though perhaps you will find healing or therapeutic elements. It can certainly be done in conjunction with therapy, though that is not necessary.
It won’t magically fix everything
Boundary work is WORK. It isn’t easy. It takes practice and dedication and continual paying attention and observing yourself. And self-compassion. But it does get easier. I swear. It may not magically fix all your boundary issues, but it will give you some tools to begin implementing to start to see real and lasting changes.
Perfect was never the point
This course isn’t perfect. It’s not even exactly as I had hoped it would be. But if I waited for that, I would never put it out into the world. And I know it can help people. Releasing it when it isn’t exactly as I had hoped, but is something I can feel good about is my rejection of perfectionism. Perfect does not exist. It keeps us small and unhappy. The world needs our talents.
After you complete this course, my goals are:
- You have a better understanding of what boundaries are and how to set them
- You are better at identifying and asking for your own needs
- You have strengthed your connection to your body as a way to identify and meet those needs
- You understand and can utilize the basics of mindset work
- You understand where your challenges around setting boundaries may come from
- You have more vocabulary for articulating your boundaries
- You have a better understanding of emotions and how to process them
Things you might want for doing this course:
- A quiet space
- A journal where you can take the work deeper & use the journal prompts
- Something that grounds you
- Time - as much as you need to do the work and come back to it if you want
This is a self-paced course; you do it on your own time, as much or as little as you like. You can revisit the material as often as you like.
You are also invited to join the Facebook group where you will have opportunities to ask any questions, post ah-ha’s, connect with others, have access to me and live coaching calls. Once enough people join the Facebook group, we will have regular coaching calls, so stayed tuned (via the group) to find out when they will be.
Facebook Group Link - https://www.facebook.com/groups/530886425720400
You are also welcome to book 1:1 coaching with me if you want more support to go deeper into this work.
You can email [email protected] for any technical support.