We had the good fortune of connecting with Louisa Rocque and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Louisa, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
If I told you that I have 7 different full-time jobs, would you believe me? That’s roughly 280 hours a week. No… you don’t believe me? Well, what if I told you, that you also have more jobs than you think?
I was sitting in a yoga class, when I heard the teacher say, “if you’re constantly racing to the next moment, what happens to the one that you are in?” And it was in that moment, that it hit me.
I realized that I have 7 different “jobs” that I juggle daily. For my career, I am an Executive Director of Greater Los Angeles & Central Coast, for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In addition, I am a mental health and suicide prevention advocate, a wife, a mom (of twin boys that are 4-years old), a family member, a friend, and my own self-care. If we think about them as “jobs,” there is absolutely no way, that I could dedicate 280 hours a week to each of those full-time jobs. So that means that there are times that my priority shifts in how I order my focused attention. There are many days, where I must dedicate more than the normal working hours to the position as an Executive Director. On those days, I generally tend to place myself lower on the list of priorities, and often, even last. However, I know that there are certain days where I must put myself first- whether that means dedicating a little extra time to my workout, and leaning on the support of my husband, or taking the day off from my work. Which, I truly believe that mental health “sick” days, should be just as normalized as any other “sick days.” But that is a whole different conversation.
I also realized, that if I want to be fully present with my kids, in whatever moment we are in, then the duties of cleaning up, or my work to-do list, can wait. Each of those “jobs” are equally as important to me, so I must find different times to fully dedicate myself each of them. This realization has taught me a couple different things- 1) that this is a balance that gives and takes and that I am not benefiting any of these “jobs” if I try to divide up my attention equally, and 2) it has allowed me to be more present in the moment, without my mind being side-tracked by all of the other things that are waiting after the moment is over. Think about it- if you are constantly focused on the next moment, how does that impact your participation and enjoyment in the current moment. What are ways that you can better juggle all of your jobs, and allow yourself to be truly present in the moment?
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
While the pandemic came with challenges and hardships for many, the positive side effect has been the emphasis and spotlight on many important topics, such as mental health and suicide prevention. As a culture, there is a more global understanding that everyone experiences mental health, and that no one is exempt from it. With the rise in these conversations, our organization and chapter, has been able to expand. Just recently, our organization has established it’s seventy-third chapter, in Puerto Rico, and we are currently expanding our staff across the nation.
Previously, I was 1 of 1 staff, who relied heavily on the support of our volunteer Board Members and chapter volunteers to spread awareness, resources, and fundraise – to support all the efforts that help us serve our mission. I have recently transitioned into the position of Executive Director for Greater Los Angeles & Central Coast and am in the process of hiring a Special Events Manager and Programs Manager. With the support of these new positions, we will be able to provide more resources, more prevention education, more support to survivors of suicide loss, and increase the overall awareness, while decreasing stigma.
This is an effort that takes all of us (staff, volunteers, Board Members, advocates, community members, etc.). We can all play a role in preventing suicide, and mental health should be taken just as seriously as physical health. Together we can change the conversation about mental health and put a stop to this tragic loss of life.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love playing tour guide when friends or family come to visit the area. There are so many great things to do, places to eat, drink, hang out, explore outside, etc. For the first day. I would most likely start off with morning hike, then drive down pch, enjoy one of the beaches (probably Zuma, since I grew up going there). I would recommend that they stay at the Surfrider Hotel, and hopefully they would let me sneak in on their reservation for the rooftop.
I would also take them to Santa Monica for some shopping at Third Street, head to High Rooftop Lounge in Venice, eat lunch at Gjelina’s on Abbott Kinney, or Scopa Italian Roots in Venice, and walk around at Abbott Kinney for some more shopping and people watching.
Other activities would include more hiking, stand up paddle boarding and in Marina del Rey and riding bikes along the beach paths.
We would explore Culver City, Manhattan Beach, and Downtown- heading to brunch at Perch, Bottega Louie for some macaroons, Seven Grand for a good bourbon cocktail, and some more drinks at the Varnish and The Edison.
Hopefully, there would also be a good show lined up at the Hollywood Bowl, or some of the great smaller venues in Hollywood.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people who contribute to my efforts, my support system, and my inspiration to keep going. However, in the last year especially, none of my achievements would have been possible, without the dedication support of my hype man/husband. He has provided so much encouragement throughout my efforts, he shows up and volunteers at any every event, and reminds me to believe in myself when I am filled with self-doubt. Looking out at the audience on my first Ted Stage, seeing the proud smile that he had on his face, is a moment that will continue to fuel me, even when times get tough.
Instagram: @louisa.rocque and @afsp_lacentralcoast
Other: Watch my TEDx Talk- Lean Into Empathy: https://youtu.be/nV9Q3TZaSlk