Real Update: Interview with OneMama founder Siobhan Neilland
The Interview that Explains Siobhan’s Latest Break From Social Media.
Siobhan Neilland, founder of OneMama and so much more, and I sat down together this week for a quick interview to check in and hear about what has been happening with her the past few months. During the interview, Siobhan was able to share the inner and outer progress she’s made during her small break from social media. This is our conversation.
Interviewer: How do you balance all you do with all that is going on in the world, as a public figure in an arena for change?
Siobhan Neilland: The world is changing rapidly around us – politically, environmentally, in business and the corporate world, in the non-profit world. It takes a toll trying to move with the changes while holding such a strong responsibility to target these issues happening in the world. Unfortunately, I can’t be a voice for everything as much as I want to be and honestly, I am trying to find my balance to stay in the long game.
Interviewer: You shared how you have had people reach out to you lately wondering why you’ve being very quite on your usually busy social media accounts – which is how most people connect with you.
Siobhan: I’ve had to pull back and people have definitely picked up on it. I had to ask some very important questions lately – “What can I do and what can’t I do – emotionally, physically, and spiritually?” Asking these questions affects OneMama, ShaBoom, staff, and everyone that follows me. But I’ve had to make space for putting on my own oxygen mask on first and the same goes for the organizations I run so we can all be moving forward for the highest and best for everybody.
“I just talked to one of my venders that we have a great partnership with and that loves what we do. I felt very guilt talking to them because I haven’t shared all the stories and all the great stuff that has been going on. Its hard on my heart to not be able to give everything all the time yet I know that this is what I need to do.”
Interviewer: How do you take time to sort these types of questions out when you have people who are so interested in your life and all that you do?
Siobhan: People feel invested. They are all part of the work we do. They are in this family too. I’ve come to terms that I cant share it all, all of the time, but I also know by sorting through what I can and cant do, I will in the end, be able to focus more on what works and what matters to my own healing and the overall betterment for the people and organizations I represent.
Interviewer: So what would you say sparked these questions in you, and why do you think they’ve come up now?
Siobhan: As much as people say they are invested in this work with OneMama, the donations are just not here… I have to go work jobs just to make basic ends meet so I think when that happens you begin to question things. Specifically, it started when our generator was stolen from our fashion truck in June. I was preparing for my trip to Africa, I was travelling a lot for events, I was meeting my partner’s parents, visiting my mom, exciting things, then the truck got broken into and all the while donations were down.
Interviewer: What was your first response?
Siobhan: I asked myself, “What am I doing with my life?” It was then that I had to make the choice to cut back on things, what can we do and what can’t we do. Plain and simple, there are not donations to keep doing everything. A common theme in all this (and so important) is to take the time to be quiet and to listen to the still voice inside so I can make sure I am making the right choices for all those that depend on me.
Interviewer: So, how do you sort through such big decisions?
Siobhan: I wasn’t going to make decisions till after Africa and New York Fashion Week… that time is here now… from the time the generator was stolen till now has been three months. I never planned being “away” that long but in that time I’ve taken inventory of what seemed to be working better then other avenues, but also personally I needed to find answers to some bigger, internal, questions too.
Interviewer: What are some of those internal questions?
Siobhan: Personally, I can’t keep up at the pace anymore. It’s so much more then what I can post to get donations. For me, its about what voice do I want to have with all the things happening in the world? Like, Women’s Rights issues, I feel like I should be in the trenches going full ahead… instead I’ve held back and really tried to make calculated decisions on how I want to move forward. How I can help to change policy with my relationships at the United Nation, for example… but in a way I can stay healthy and strong for the duration rather then fading out.
Interviewer: Your health has always been something you’ve been open about your struggle with, how does your health affect your bigger picture?
Siobhan: From the constant flu to malaria to ailments that leave the doctors stumped, they take their toll on me, yet I’m trying to go full steam ahead to be a strong voice of action.
“I want to be on the frontlines, I need to win the war, not just the battle. I am feeling like a General, how can I win the war on peace and not getting caught up on the battles! I don’t want to be part of the noise. I want to be a part of the solution….for my body, mind, and spirit.”
Interviewer: How do you believe the wars are won?
Siobhan: In Uganda, thousands of people are looking to me, depending on me to be a leader, to be a voice of action for them at the United Nations, to create policy changes that will help them. To do all that, my goal is always to find ways to do this for the long term and not the short term. I always have that mindset when making decisions for the Clinic. Like I shared earlier, cutting back and taking better care of myself means my focus and energy can be spent on the things are are working for the long term goal. We are here for long haul.
Siobhan: I’ve mentioned that I believe the world is changing economically and the climate, politically – things are happening in the world. How do we continue work? I’m someone who doesn’t usually talk about politics, I will do political things…
…but we have to stop making it about a political party and ask the better questions, “What rights are we losing?” and “Do we want to lose those rights?”…
…The current times have encouraged me even to do the work I do… this is a world issues, not just a Ugandan issue. How do we quit blaming each other? How do we quit being paralysed by fears?
Interviewer: So moving forward…
Siobhan: We, at OneMama, will spend more energy with our partners and spend time developing new ones. Continue down our vulnerable path. We continue to use our voice for the greater good. Having a solid voice and taking right action on the betterment of values that are based from kind-hearted action and not a particular political party and/or financial situation.
Interviewer: How are you doing now, three months after the generator was stolen?
Siobhan: I am in a relationship – my life-partner – he treats me so well. It had really shed light on how I work with others, which is huge. I’ve been really taking time to be in love. Overall my health is good. I just need more time to rest. Dr says less stress. I currently have no infections, which is amazing. And I’m taking the time to learn how to be physically responsible – plenty of rest.. less stress.. and less travel.
Interviewer: Lastly, what do you want to say to all the faithful followers of you and the OneMama cause?
Siobhan: I just want to apologise that I didn’t announce that I was taking a temporary step back. People have reached out to me. My silence seemed to speak volumes to some, especially in a time of such complicated times. Though it was not my intention to cause hurt feelings I know when people pull out of my life like that it makes me very uncomfortable and sometimes it really hurts. I am sorry if I created those feelings by my lack of connection. I didn’t plan for it to go on this long. I consider this my world family. I love my OneMama world family.
Siobhan: In closing, I am looking forward to creating a new way in being with each other in this world and creating change together. That is not just a few of us on the frontlines, but us together as a world family moving us all closer to a joy filled life in all areas.