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Nutrition isn’t what it was two weeks ago, with registered dietitian – Brianna Pilawski

I don’t know about you, but figuring out what to feed my family since the world turned upside down has been, to put it mildly, challenging.  I am not used to bulk shopping or cooking.  I have never put a ton of time into meal prepping.  On top of all of that, half of what I need isn’t available at the grocery store.

Thankfully, Brianna Pilawski, a registered dietitian, is here to help.  She shares some of her favorite tips and tricks to get even the pickiest of eaters involved in the kitchen.  She also shares the staples she is keeping on hand and some of her favorite go to recipes these days.

Oh, and if you are interested in knowing what it takes to be a registered dietitian, we cover that too.  🙂

 

Sample Dinner Ideas

– Pulled Pork in the Insta Pot w Bagged Salad & Strawberries
– Chicken n’ Rice – Cream of Mushroom Soup + frozen Chicken, minute brown rice, broccoli & cheese
– Whole wheat spaghetti, frozen meatballs, pasta sauce  + frozen broccoli cooked in the bag
– Fish On Monday Nights – Salmon – Fish Sticks + brown rice, Green Beans & Raspberries
– Taco Night is always a fav – ground beef – can be frozen, diced tomatoes (canned low sodium), hopefully lettuce, shredded cheese
– Trade Joes – chicken stir fry w/ veggies, chicken meals

Links to recipes

To find a registered dietitian nutritionist near you, use the Academy’s online Find an Expert service.

Mama Knows Nutrition – website

Mama Knows Nutrition – Instagram

Veggies and Virtue – website

Veggies and Virtue – Instagram

Sesame Street Cookbook Link

Easy Fried Rice Recipe Susan found online that her family loves

Curried Chicken Salad – Ellie Krieger

 

Transcript

Coming Soon

How She is Hanging in There, COVID-19 Edition

Learning how to navigate this new reality?  Me too!  In this episode I am sharing a few things that are working in our home (so far) and things that aren’t working at all.  We are talking all things limited scheduling, making time for self care and giving heaps and heaps of grace to ourselves and those we love.

 

Links: (Will be updated regularly – be sure to check back)

 

Links for Kid Activities

Cosmic Kids Yoga – YouTube (free)

The Best Kids Crafts & Activities Facebook Group – open to the public.  a quick scroll through and I am now following this group too.  Lots of neat ideas to do with stuff you already have around the house.  No need to special order.

 

Links for Parents

Managing Stress and Anxiety, COVID-19 (CDC Website Link)

Talking with Kids about COVID-19 (CDC Website Link)

Links for Arts and Entertainment

Metropolitan Opera – Streaming (some free)

 

 

Links for Education – Kids

ABC Mouse (not free, but not expensive)

Ms. Sydney’s Pre-School at Home (YouTube Channel Ages 3-6)

Scholastic Learn from Home (some free stuff)

School House Rock – YouTube Channel

Links for Education – Adults

Center for Action and Contemplation – Online Education

Life in the Trinity Ministries (Enneagram Work – Suzanne Stabile)

MasterClass – Online classes from experts in an array of subjects.  Everyone from Annie Leibovitz to Judy Blume to Shonda Rhimes to Anna Wintour. 80+ classes. Avg. 20 lessons per class. Avg. 10 minutes per lesson.  Pricing info available on their website.

Great Courses Plus – Think more academic style online learning.  Everything from Economics and Finance to Food and Wine.  1st month currently free. Pricing info available on their website.

Center for Action and Contemplation – The CAC, founded by Richard Rohr (a Franciscan) offers a plethora of options for spiritual seekers.  (Podcasts, Online Learning, Books, etc) Vision: Amidst a time of planetary change and disruption, we envision a recovery of our deep connection to each other and our world, led by Christian and other spiritual movements that are freeing leaders and communities to overcome dehumanizing systems of oppression and cooperate in the transforming work of Love.  Mission: Open the door for a critical mass of spiritual seekers to experience the transformative wisdom of the Christian contemplative tradition and nurture its emergence in service to the healing of our world.

Racial Reconciliation Recap

Even though we are wrapping up our series on racial reconciliation, the conversation is not over.  We will continue the conversation and do our best to include voices of those who have been marginalized.  When I launched How She Got Here the intent was to create a platform for women to share their stories in order to encourage and empower others.  We are doing that.  We will continue to do that. We are doing our best to include the voices of all women.

 

Links

Be the Bridge

The Cross and the Lynching Tree

The Liturgists

The 1619 Project

1619 Podcast

think with Krys Boyd

HER with Amena Brown

Evolving Faith

 

Transcript

Coming Soon

Racial Reconciliation: Judgment Free Questions and Conversations, with Catrina Berka

In this weeks episode in our series “How She is Doing the Work of Racial Reconciliation” Susan chats with her friend Catrina Berka.  Susan and Catrina have both been involved with racial reconciliation work since 2017, though it was different incidents that brought them together at a Project Unity event.  Want to be a fly on the wall while two white ladies sit around and chat about racial reconciliation and why you should care?  Have some questions, but not sure how or who to ask? Looking for a few resources to help you understand? This conversation is for you.

 

Links To Things Discussed

Year of Unity – Project Unity Website

We’re Different, We’re the Same – Sesame Street Kids Book

Be the Bridge

Latasha Morrison’s Book – Be the Bridge

White Awake – Daniel Hill

Pass the Mic – podcast

Truth’s Table – podcast

The Colored Commentary – podcast

We Are Threaded – resource page

Transcript

Coming Soon

Racial Reconciliation – A Beginning

Our series this month is “How She is Doing the Work of Racial Reconciliation”.  Susan recognizes that so often, as a white woman, she has left racial reconciliation to her sisters of color, not sure where she fit into the conversation and not asking where she fit either.  For this series, Susan is going to be in conversation with white women about the role white women can and should play when it comes to racial reconciliation.  Today, Susan is sharing her story of how and why she finally dove in.


Where to find what we discussed today

Be The Bridge

Be The Bridge – Public Facebook Group

Project Unity

My e-mail: susan@howshegothere.com

Transcript

I am both excited and nervous about introducing this series to you.  This series is entitled: “How She is Doing the Work of Racial Reconciliation”. In our first episode in this series I am going to share my story of how and why I got involved in this work.  My goal for this series is twofold: if you are not involved in this work already, I would ask you to have an open mind and open heart and open ears.  I know some of the things I say or my guests say will be hard to hear.  You might feel guilt, shame, confusion, disbelief and more.  All of this is normal and I have been there.  I still read or hear things and my first reaction is “No way!” Just stay with me.  If you have questions, concerns, would like resources or just to talk about it…you can reach out to me at: susan@howshegothere.com or dm me on FB or Instagram.

If you are already involved in this work, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  This work is not meant to be done alone.  You can e-mail me at: susan@howshegothere.com or dm me on FB or Instagram.

If you are a woman of color, you probably know I am a white woman.  My goal with this series is to talk with other white women on what is ours to do with this work.  Too often we have relied on you, our sisters of color, to do this work for us.  This is my humble attempt to speak up about racial reconciliation and why white women need to be involved.  If you can/want to listen.  Awesome!  I’m not going to get it all right.  You are probably going to be frustrated with how I say or tackle things.  If you want to reach out about any and or all of it.  You can also reach me at my e-mail address: susan@howshegothere.com or dm me on FB or Insta.  I am here to learn and listen.

I have been officially involved in racial reconciliation work since 2017, but have been mulling over it since June 17, 2015.  That was the day that a white supremacist walked into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Also known as Mother Emanuel) had bible study with, prayed with and then murdered 9 people for no other reason than their skin was not white.  There names are:

Rev. Clementa Pinckney
Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd
Susie Jackson
Ethel Lee Lance
DePayne Middleton-Doctor
Tywanza Sanders
Daniel L Simmons
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
Myra Thompson

As you probably know, I am from South Carolina. I have lived in Dallas, TX for more than a decade, but will always be a South Carolinian.  And while South Carolina has a very troubling past, not to mention that 40% of all those enslaved in the U.S. entered the country through the port of Charleston, I did not fully understand that past until I was a grown woman.  I will always love South Carolina, even with its horrific past.  Though it is HARD, I am finding it better to recognize the past, come to terms with it, and try to move through it.

I grew up loving trips to Charleston and its surrounding islands, so much so that we spend a week on the coast with family every year. I know exactly where Mother Emanuel is located and have walked past it countless times in my life.  So when this horrific evening happened in my beloved state and in a city I cherish I was shocked and horrified.  It had happened in my own backyard.  How could this happen?  In 2015?

Then, on July 7, 2016, a little over a year later, another mass shooting.  This time in my current city of Dallas, TX and not all that far from my house.  This time it was an individual targeting members of law enforcement that were white.  This man was angry over police shootings of black men.  This shooting followed a peaceful protest against the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

I am unsure what the community in Charleston did to begin healing from the murders.  In my research I did not find anything like what has been created in Dallas, so if you know of something…please don’t hesitate to reach out.  I would love to learn more about it.

What  happened in Dallas was that Rev. Richie Butler, minister at St. Paul UMC, created The Year of Unity project. I will go into Project Unity more in depth in our next episode, but suffice it to say this was how I got involved in the work of Racial Reconciliation.

I am grateful my own church has participated in Project Unity and one of the group dinners was at my church.  I wasn’t sure what to expect walking into that dinner, but I knew my church was a safe space and I believed a higher power would be present.  While this work isn’t always done in faith spaces, nor am I saying it should be, it made my move into the work a little (like a smidge) easier.

I think a good place to start, if you aren’t in Dallas and your area doesn’t have a “beginner racial reconciliation” anything is to look up Be The Bridge online.  There is also both a public and private FB group you can join.  The resources LaTasha Morrison and her team have put together are outstanding and regularly challenge my thinking and perception in a way that it needs to be challenged.  The private FB group has a curriculum you must complete as well as a silent period after joining.  You must complete the course work and the silent period before speaking in the group.  I have learned so much just by reading and listening and it has been tremendously eye opening.  Latasha also has a new book out with the same title, Be The Bridge, and I highly recommend it as a starting place.

Here is what I know.  This work is not easy.  I was taught a narrative and a history growing up that was incomplete at best.  It was a narrative written by and for white people.  Is that my fault, no.  Is it my fault that the system was literally set up for me because of the color of my skin, no.  Did my family own people? No. I have heard and in my younger years even used some of these excuses.  However, what I can humbly recognize now is that it doesn’t mean that I haven’t still benefitted from it.  I have absolutely benefitted from it.  By the luck of the draw I was born a white woman in 1982 in the United States of America to a white solidly middle class family and there is a benefit to that.  That can be hard to grapple with.  It is something I must grapple with though in order for my child and, God willing, his children can continue moving the ball of reconciliation forward.  I know racial reconciliation will not be complete by the time I die.  It is too big and there are too many nuanced pieces to it.  My best hope is that we can set up the next generation for success and that means recognizing a more complete history of our country’s past as well as acknowledging my own complicity.

 

Clarifying Your Path with, your host, Susan Long

In our final episode of the series “How She is Nailing the New Year” Susan reflects on the conversations with Rachael, Jessica and Lindsey. She then shares a few of the tools she uses that help her clarify and ultimately succeed in reaching her goals.

Where to Find What We Discussed

Emily Ley Simplicity Challenge

The Business Lounge – Prosperous New Year

Vision Board Examples on our Instagram

Shanterra McBride, founder of Marvelous University discusses purpose partners

Conversation with Business Coach, Caytie Langford

Transcript



Finding an Organizing System That Works For You, with Lindsey Taylor

In our third episode of the series “How She is Nailing the New Year” Susan chats with organizational guru, Lindsey Taylor. Organizing comes easily for Lindsey, so much so she is seriously considering it as a side hustle. Today, she shares some of the tools she uses to keep things straight and encourages us to try a few of her tips out for ourselves.


Where to find what Lindsey and I discussed

Container Store – Gift Wrap Organizers

Container Store – OXO Pop Containers

Container Store – Clear Plastic Shoe Boxes

Emily Ley – 30 Day Simplicity Challenge


Transcript

Susan: Okay, Lindsey Taylor. I am so excited to have you on my podcast. I think it was you who pointed out to me not that long ago, that this month January, we will have known each other five years because our children met when your oldest—gosh, you have two now—when your oldest was three weeks old or was it two weeks old? I never remember.

Lindsey: She was three weeks to the day.

Susan: Three weeks to the day. And Will, mine, was, what? Six months? Four months?

Lindsey: Four months, I think.

Susan: You know these things better than I do. You know dates and you know numbers so much. You keep up with that stuff so much better than I do.

Lindsey: I know. But now you’re going to make me like tear up before we even start chatting about my love for you.

Susan: I’m just so excited to have you on this show to chat with us about something you are very good at or something you have a passion for. I would call it borderline obsession, and it is something I suck at. And it’s organization. But before I share everything that I know about you, the good, the bad and the ugly—I’m just kidding—I’m going to let you talk about yourself. So tell us a little bit about who you are and share a little bit of your passion with us.

Lindsey: Well, I’m Lindsey and I’m married to Scott. We have been married for almost eight years. It’ll be eight years in May. 10 years that we have been on this journey together. And we met through running. So in my past life, I was a marathoner. And that might be something I get back into in the future. But then my world changed like you said about five years ago, and I became a mama. So I have Caroline Grace, and she just turned five. She was our New Year’s Eve surprise baby. And from that moment on, things have been on her timing and she has shown her personality early but she is a delight and a joy and she’ll be going to Kindergarten in the Fall. And then we have our second miracle baby Jack and he just turned one right before Christmas. God has a sense of humor with my babies’ birthdays. And Jack is all boy. And as you’re coaching me, I’m learning about how to be a boy mom and to let go of some of my love of organization that he does not understand quite yet.

But yes, I have a passion for organizing. And we can talk about when that started, but I love it. I love all things, but I love making it accessible and easy depending on who the right person is.

Susan: So let’s chat about that. Where did this passion for organization come from? How did you get this gene and quite frankly, how did it skip me?

Lindsey: I will tell you that it is definitely not genetic. I love you Lolly if you’re listening right now, but I’m anxious to get my hands on to my mom’s house. So it’s not something that I watched, but I can definitely pinpoint and kind of look back at how I approach things and interacted with things. So I probably didn’t really play with my dolls like my American dolls, for example. I had a wonderful dollhouse that my grandfather built for me and my favorite thing to do was to take every single thing out of the doll house, clean the doll house, and then put everything back in its perfect spot, and kind of reorganize and redecorate. And I didn’t really understand what I was doing. But looking back as an adult, I realized I was organizing my doll house or I would organize my dolls things and that would kind of be my playing with them.

So I guess I would say that that’s where it started. And then some of it, I don’t realize that that’s what I’m doing and that I am organizing, that’s just kind of how my brain works and how my brain thinks. But there are other things that I definitely do not do as well. I shift a lot so when I’m in the process of organizing, I might move things from one room to another, in piles, as my husband calls them. And they were even in our wedding vows that I would work on my piles. So I definitely don’t want to give people and impression that just because you love organizing means that everything is always neat and perfect, because that is not how it looks in my house.
Susan: So you have a passion for organizing but maybe not taking pictures and posting all the pictures that you do have your organizing on Pinterest.

Lindsey: Correct. I use Pinterest sometimes as an example of things that I could do or to get ideas. But I think Pinterest can be a tricky place. So, I’m good at organizing so I could look at a picture of a closet and I could say “I could do that,” and I can use kind of Pinterest as my roadmap. However, something that is not necessarily my forte or my passion is arts and crafts. And so if I were to look at Pinterest and think that that was kind of the attainable goal, and it needed to look like that I would fail every time. So I think you have to be careful with Pinterest depending on what your strength is, are to recognize what your strengths are, to be able to truly see if that’s something that’s going to make you feel successful or not.

Susan: That’s a really good point because as a One that is something that I struggle with is I would see something on Pinterest and go, “Oh, it’s never going to look like that so thus, it’s never going to be good enough so why even bother trying. “

Lindsey: And I think that’s where organizing is kind of a four-letter word to people. And, you know I’m working with…We’ll talk about goals, I think later, but one of my goals for 2020 is to kind of turn this passion into a potential business or something where I could help others. And I think the one thing that I want to get across to friends that I’m helping or to future clients is that there is no right or wrong way to organize. And I think that just because your closet doesn’t look like the container store when you walk in, or just because you know, you can’t make your pantry look like that perfect Pinterest picture, doesn’t mean that it’s not organized. It just might mean that it’s not organized in that way.

I have been playing around with the idea of a beautiful mess because I think that, and maybe this is, you know, my love for my piles. But I think that messages aren’t bad, whether we think we ourselves are messes or you know, we’re looking at our closet and thinking that it’s a mess. I think you can make beauty from that. But you have to be open to making it work for what’s best for you and using the right tools for you, not the right tools because that’s what and society or that blogger that you love, or that beautiful home that you saw on the neighborhood home tour says you’re supposed to do.

Susan: That’s such a good point that inspiration doesn’t mean exactly. Does that make sense? Like it’s supposed to inspire you but you don’t need to replicate it to a T.

Lindsey: Right.

Susan: That’s really helpful.

Lindsey: And I think what trips people up is, you know, you kind of talked about how I have this gene and how I was born with it, I guess, and so some things just come naturally to me, and I’m learning as I’m researching more, and I’m talking to friends that not everybody thinks the way that I do. And so I have to really, I think, what’s a challenge and what makes me somebody that can really help someone is to figure out okay, what is that right system for you, Susan? Because even us being close friends, it may not be the right system for me.

And I think that in the world of organizing, people get caught up in, there’s only one right way. And here’s the road map. Here’s all the tools you’re going to buy and here’s all the money you’re going to spend, and it’s going to look like this. But if that’s not still kind of wired to how your brain is working, then you’re still going to fail. And it’s going to look nice for a few days and then it’s going to get messy again. And I don’t think that people need to continue to pay professionals to come back into their home. They may need somebody to help them at the start. But if you can figure out kind of the best tricks or if you can set smaller goals to help you, I think that in the long term, it will be longer lasting.

Susan: That makes sense. You think this is something people can do on their own. They don’t have to call in for help. Am I understanding your thought process on that well?

Lindsey: Yes and no. I definitely think that this is something that I encourage people to try. And it may be something as simple as trying to tackle a closet. I think that I am guilty of this. Especially as we start the New Year and the holiday decorations come down and it’s kind of a fresh start in your home and in your mind and so you want to tackle everything, or maybe it’s just the obsessive organizer in me. But that is not usually something that is a good idea. Because I think that focusing sort of on one room, or even one drawer is something that I think everybody can do by themselves. And I recently had a client that I helped and I was doing her kitchen and /or her pantry and she had a junk drawer and she was so embarrassed. “Oh, I have this junk drawer in my kitchen,” and I reassured her that everyone has a junk drawer in their kitchen because where else would you keep your post its and your breath mints, or, you know, for me, we have a lot of wine openers in our junk drawer.

And so I sent her a picture of what mine looked like. And before I went back to her home to finish the project, she had actually done the junk drawer by herself. And I had given her just some ideas and some tips of some tools that I use to kind of help hold my things in place. And like I said, a beautiful mess. And it still had “junk stuff” in it. But they all had their spot and their place to live. And she did it all by herself, and she was so proud of herself. And I almost think when you do it yourself, and you kind of put that hard work into it, it’s something that you want to keep that you have that pride behind it, and so you want to make it last longer.

Susan: I think you’re absolutely right on all of that. We all have a junk drawer, and we all have to go through it from time to time and I love that you’re junk drawers has junk in it and you just kind of make it, you make it work and you make it work for you. And that’s what’s important. It’s not about making it look pretty so you can post it on social media. It’s really about making your stuff and things in your home work for you. And I know that when I walk into a room, I can have a pile of books in the corner, and it’s not going to bother me because I know that those are books have trying to get through. But if I walk into a room, and there are Legos all over the floor, I’m like, “Oh, this isn’t working for me.”

Lindsey: Yep.

Susan: So what are some of your favorite organizing tips and tricks that you feel could benefit some of us working moms or work from home moms? What are some of your favorite? Especially in the stage of life that you’re in right now, that I’m in right now. We have young children. What are some of your favorite organizing tips and tricks that have really worked for you?

Lindsey: I love clear plastic shoe boxes. Mine happened to be from The Container Store. But I hit it up a few years ago at their annual sale and I think got 40 for 50% off or something crazy like that but you can even find them at the Dollar Tree. You can find them at an Ikea if that is local to you. But plastic shoe boxes have so many different uses. So I use them obviously for their main use as I put shoes in them. And because they’re clear, my shoes are put away and they stay dust free. I live in an old charming house but it brings in a lot of dust and so they stay clean, but you can visualize them.

And so that’s also what I use in my kids playroom a lot is I organize everything into a clear plastic bin. Now, what’s inside the bin is not necessarily organized. So if we have a bin for all of her magnets, they’re just all dumped in there. Because she’s five and that’s not going to be long term for me to put all the magnets kind of into a different little compartment. But I do have a space that she knows, okay, these are where my magnets live. They’re easy for her little hands to pop the lid off and put them back in and then she can put the box back into the cabinet where we keep those things. I would say plastic bins are my number one favorite.

My second favorite organizing tool is I love drawer containers and or drawer organizers. And so when I say that, once again, it doesn’t have to be from you know, whatever fancy organizing store or brand you have online or in your town. The dollar store will have them or I love going to Home Goods or what Garden Ridge used to be. At Home Now, I think is what it’s called. And just simple usually they’re branded art is desk organizers, and I think you have to kind of get your head out of what if I don’t have a desk, and that’s okay. That’s what I have my wine openers in. That’s what I have my post its and my Kleenex, all the things in my junk drawer. I might even use them in my little girl’s bathroom drawer so she has a bin that just has all of her hair rubber bands in it and a bin where her hair brushes go and it’s not to make her kind of anal and OCD but it just helps her know when she needs a hair rubber band she knows where to find them. I’m trying to teach independence.

And I would say my third favorite, or kind of my third favorite thing to organize is probably pantries. And I love using myself as an example because I don’t have a pantry. In this old charming house, we have just simple cabinets and the cabinets are what serve as our pantry. And so as much as I look at and pin all this beautiful walk in pantries that I dream about, as long as I live in this home, I’m not going to have that. And so I’m finding tools to kind of help organize. I think Oxo containers are every mom’s best friend. I personally have the Oxo brand but I found them recently for a client as an off brand at Home Goods. And they are just simple plastic containers that you can put your Cheez-It’s in or your Yeggie Straws or Wheat Thins, Oreos you know, sorry for all my friends on Whole 30 right now, but put all those in you can see how much you have, and your kids can see what’s in there and it keeps things fresh longer.

Because as a mom, I don’t have time to go to the store all the time and I don’t have time or the money to waste by having food go bad. So I think good storage containers in your pantry and then having baskets in your pantry. Or you could go back and use those plastic shoe boxes that we talked about at the beginning, and having a shoe box that has all of your gummy snacks or all of your granola bars in it and kind of having a designated snack area for your kids and family. When you come home from the grocery store, one trick that I like to say is take everything out of the box. So you bought granola bars, you bought fruit snacks, recycle those boxes and put them somewhere where you can truly see how many you have. Otherwise you might be guilty and you know, I’ve been guilty of it before too. I buy five things of oatmeal because I can’t see how many I have. And so instead I just have five half open boxes versus being able to kind of see the quantities. Those would be my kind of favorite organizing tools.

Susan: You know, as we’re talking about this, that is definitely something I do in my pantry, but I’m thinking about a place that I could do this that I don’t do this, and that’s in my fridge. Do you do this in your refrigerator too?

Lindsey: I do. So I don’t use the shoe boxes I use…I found them at Bed Bath and Beyond. And that’s kind of a side note. So I’m kind of naming all of my favorite places to find things. And that’s where I think using a home organizer or using a friend that has a passion like I do, because if you’re already overwhelmed about organizing, then sometimes walking in to a Home Goods is not going to help you feel like you can tackle your bathroom cabinets that day. Because there’s a lot of digging and there is a lot of trying to find the match of what it belongs to. Versus, you know, if you really are wanting to do this on your own and kind of start by yourself then I do recommend a place like The Container Store you are going to pay more, but it’s going to be less overwhelming. And there’s going to be somebody there that can kind of help guide you and show you the right areas of what you can buy.

Susan: So walking into the Container Store is helpful, because there’s somebody there who can guide you but if you’ve already got that person who can guide you and /or you don’t feel overwhelmed, hitting up the Dollar Tree or a store like that would work perfectly as well.

Lindsey: Absolutely. And I think it depends. So if I was going to come and help you organize your home office, let’s say, one of my favorite tools—I have a lot so I couldn’t fit it into my top three, but I would say my number four favorite is kind of unique to the Container Store and it’s part of their Elfa system and it’s my beloved gift wrap drawer which you have seen and that is a tool that they utilize that helps you get all those bags and tissue paper and gift wrapping ribbon all in a neat and organized way. And I’ve not seen something like that at other places.

However, the shoe boxes, or I love to use the cloth kind of pop up storage boxes. You can find them at the dollar store, you can find them at Target, you can find them at IKEA. And obviously, where you choose to find them the quality may be a little different. So it depends on kind of what you’re using them for. If you’re using them like I have them in my guestroom closet from IKEA. And they’re flimsier, but they’re not used all the time. And they help kind of keep that closet clean. But in my kids rooms, I use sturdier ones from Target because we’re constantly every day, getting the handles and going in and out of those, and I need them to last.

So I think you kind of have to weigh quality versus pricing. But I would say a plastic shoe box is a plastic shoe box, no matter where you get it. And so to be smart about where you want to spend your money and spend that energy of looking. I think they go kind of hand in hand.

Susan: And I appreciate you really thinking through—and I know you do this personally, you’re much better at this than I am—thinking through what is worth spending dollars on when it comes to organizing and what isn’t. I think sometimes it’s just easy to go, “Oh, I’m just going to go get that off Amazon Prime,” or “Oh, I’m just going to run The Container Store because I know they have it,” and just not think twice. And sometimes it’s okay, because that’s what you have to do because you have a child who’s cranky or whatever, you just need to get the errand run. But then there are other times where you can take more time and be a little more cost efficient and effective. And I appreciate that you do that regularly. And I think that’s something else that you do really well.

Lindsey: Well, thank you. Or you can have somebody help you. So, a client that I had, I purchased all of her things from Home Goods, because I live in a big city where I have access to one in my neighborhood, which is good and bad, and then from the Dollar Tree. And so those were the two places like I said we were doing her pantry and we were doing her kitchen cabinets, and I was able to kind of fulfill everything we needed. And we did make a few Amazon purchases where I kind of wrote down and she wanted to be able to pick some things out and to kind of have her personal hand in that.

And I think something too…And once again, maybe it’s my love for organizing, but I tend sometimes to get into that instant gratification where I just have to do this closet now and I’ve got to have everything. And so I find myself going to that one stop shop, whether it’s Target or Walmart. And I feel like so many different places have stepped up their game in kind of the world of organizing. But if you can be patient and sort of make yourself that roadmap, then I think you will find it to be something that’s not as scary when it hits your checkbook if a budget is important to you. It depends on kind of who the customer is. At our house, it is, and so sometimes I have to kind of slow down and not be so ‘I want it now’ to make sure that I am finding the right price of things.

Susan: Well, I think having that ‘I might want it right now, but I don’t need it right now,’ I think that’s something we could all do a better job of incorporating into our lives. I mean, one of the things we keep hearing about with using Amazon constantly and hey, I’m not dogging Amazon, I am as guilty as using Amazon as anybody. I used it this morning. But it’s how that affects our environment as well. And I know that’s like a whole different tangent we could go down. But when we think about things, it’s not just your pocket book that’s affected, it’s the environment as well. So I think everybody should definitely look at this from one side or another, no matter…I mean, it affects all of us. What are some of the tools that you incorporated in 2019 that you’re going to be carrying with you into 2020? Because 2019 your life changed yet a little bit again. Well, no, it was in 2018, I guess when the little guy was born, but 2019 was kind of crazy.

Lindsey: Yes.

Susan: So what are some things that you incorporated in 2019 that you’re carrying with you into 2020?

Lindsey: I think the two big things is, I would say, the courage to say no, and the courage to walk away and be okay with that. And that kind of goes into 2020. And I’m not usually somebody to have a word, but courage keeps kind of popping into my head, because I think those are both examples that might bring up negative connotations. But also, you know, to have the courage to start an organizing business or to have the courage to try something new, whatever that looks like, fill in the blank. But I would say kind of organizing my life, and I don’t mean through plastic shoe boxes and through a really fabulous planner, but I also highly recommend Erin Condren or Emily Ley’s life planners. I’m an old school pen and paper girl.

But I would say, organizing my feelings and my relationships. And so that’s where it came the courage to be able to say, “No, I’m not going to volunteer for that this year.” Or “no, I’m sorry, I can’t have that position at church or at my kids school.” And the courage to walk away from some friendships. I did that this year. And it’s scary and it’s hard, but I think that I needed to kind of reorganize my emotions, and that involved that.

Susan: That’s excellent.

Lindsey: And I think a lot of, you know, I used to think, when we talk about the Enneagram, I used to think that I was a One because I love to organize and well, the One is the perfectionist and so because you know, my shoe drawers are perfect or I am one of those people that my personal closet is color coded, and it makes me very happy to have a rainbow in front of me. But you look to the left where my husband’s clothes are and they’re not and he doesn’t even have all the same hangers and that really drives me crazy, but that’s okay because those aren’t my clothes. I don’t have to worry about that. And I’m certainly not going to color coordinate Caroline’s closet because It would last for about two seconds and would give me unneeded anxiety when I could focus that in other areas.

But part of my tools of having the courage to organize my life and my relationships and how I want them has helped me realize I am an Enneagram 2, and wanting to be liked and loved and needed. And that can be a really positive thing, like, it can help me in a business of helping people be organized. I just have to make sure I have the right motivation and intentions behind that.

Susan: That is such a good point, the right motivation and intention. It’s something that I struggle with as well, as an Enneagram one. Like, why am I trying to perfect this specific thing right now? Yeah, so I really appreciate that. And I love your word for the year that it’s courage. That’s a great word.

Lindsey: Well, and I think that you know, my heart for wanting to help people organize or you know, my hopes of somebody can listen to this and walk away and think, gosh, I can tackle that one drawer in my master bathroom. You know, it goes back to resolutions and goal setting, and I am somebody to say it’s okay to not have a new year’s resolution or it’s okay to not have a goal. I’m going to have to kind of look back at the last five years of my life and I’m, you know, I really resonated with your infertility podcast because that was a big part of my story and going through treatment and then ultimately having the baby and then going through postpartum depression and being treated for that. I would set myself these New Year’s resolutions that you know, when I fill in the blank or if I fill in the blank, whatever that looks like, then I’ll feel, be, look, etc, better or somehow feel whole. It can be a whole slew of things. And I’m not dogging resolutions at all, and I’m not dogging saying, hey, if your resolution is when I lose those 10 pounds or walk the 100 miles that I’ll feel better, because you probably will. There’s validity to that, but I see the kind of approach goals in the New Year similar to organizing and for me…

Susan: Don’t beat yourself up.

Lindsey: Well, becoming a new me or, you know, I think I saw a quote, and I’m going to butcher it about how tomorrow is January 1 and I can’t wait to meet all of these new friends of mine because everybody says, like, you know, I’m going to start this new year. And I’m becoming a new mean instantly on January 1 isn’t sustainable to my personality, just like I don’t want somebody to beat themselves up because they try to do that master bath drawer and it doesn’t work. That’s okay. Maybe that wasn’t the best place to start. Maybe go organize your china cabinet and your dining room that you use once a year. And so you can fix that cabinet, it can be perfectly organized and you’re not going to touch it again for 12 months, but hey, it stayed organized. And that should be something that you’re proud of.

So I think that having your whole house or your whole life or all of a sudden using a paper planner, when you’ve never used one before, “Oh, you forgot to write that doctor’s appointment down, paper planners aren’t for me.” Give yourself grace. Because if somebody were to tell me that I had to 100% use a digital calendar, I would have a complete heart attack, and I could not do that. And that’s okay. We’re all different and we’re all wired differently. And so like we talked about the beginning, organizing is going to look different for everyone, but I think it can be a really freeing and a really liberating thing w you kind of do, let some of that stuff go. And that doesn’t means that your house has to look like Marie Kondo says it does.

Susan: I love that. And I love everything that you just said,.That is fantastic and so helpful. And just the way you said it was so peaceful and so kind, because I think as women, we’re so bad, just about beating ourselves up all the time, that nothing that we’re doing is enough. And just the way you said that just gave me such peace of mind going into this year, because it can be so stressful.

Lindsey: Absolutely. Well, and I think people might be laughing at me that I might compare organizing to a scale. But as somebody who has kind of been through a whirlwind of five years, you know, to me, it’s like you don’t make that one gym class, or you can’t lose those last five pounds and you might get into your head, and this might be a little enneagram one in me, “Okay, I’m never going to be in shape again.” So just because you can’t keep your shoes organized doesn’t mean that you can’t have an organized life. That just might be not the right place for now. I know shoes are a silly example. I probably as a mom, I want all the moms kind of to hear that where you are in this stage of life, like, yes, my daughter knows that the magnets go in the shoe box. But if you were to look at my house, at the end of day, I work from my home and so my kids are with me a lot and things go everywhere. But because we have an organized system, then when my husband and I do attempt to tackle the mess after bedtime, it’s easier to pick up because we know where things are supposed to go. But that doesn’t mean that my kids don’t make messes or that things don’t get out of hand. And I have to decide like, hey, at one point, I had all of her Barbie shoes together and they’re not anymore. And I’ve got to let that go. That might have to do with my word of courage, is deciding where to pick my battles. But I think just taking baby steps and organizing. And maybe it is hiring that professional to help kind of get you a kickstart just like people might hire a nutritionist, that nutritionist isn’t going to eat every meal with you but they’re going to help give you the right tools that hopefully when you are making lunch or dinner or choosing a snack at the store, that you know the right ones to choose. That’s how I see kind of personal organizing.

Susan: That’s awesome. I’m going to ask you one more question, and it can be as short or as long as you want it to be before I let you go.

Lindsey: Okay.

Susan: And that is, what are you reading right now? And what are some books that should be on our list for 2020?

Lindsey: And I’m laughing at myself when I talked about my tools, my courage to say no, and to walk away because ironically, the book that I’m reading is called How to Walk Away. And it’s by Katherine Center. It was actually recommended by you. So I’m reading that. And next on my list is a book called A Woman is no Man by Etaf Rum. And I know that it’s going to be a heavy book. So I’ve kind of been putting off of when the right time to read that. But I highly recommend and from the reviews that I’ve read for any woman who’s listening to pick that up, especially in the political climate that we’re in this day and age, it’s about three Palestinian women living in America and their story. So I will have to report back after I read it.

But kind of books that I think should be on everyone’s list. I loved 100 Summers by Beatrice Williams. She writes historical fiction about things that you may not necessarily have known happened in America and there’s always romance and there’s always a little bit of drama. But 100 Summers would be my favorite book of hers. I loved, you know, The Great Alone and Where the Crawdads Sing. I think those might be cliche answers because the books have been so popular, but don’t be scared to read them because they are. And then I would say my last two if y’all can’t tell I’m a reader. And if somebody is planning a beach vacation this year, I think you should read Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn Dingman. It is just a light hearted, fun read, but actually does have a little history in it. And then if you’re wanting a book to stick with you, It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover has never left me. I read it in 2017 and it’s about domestic abuse and how it really can happen to any of us. So it was a really powerful fiction book for me. I love to read. So that’s my escape from organizing, is to read.

Susan: I love it. And I hope you’re enjoying How to Walk Away. I didn’t realize you were still reading it. I hope you liked it as much as I did. Thank you so much for being here today. This has been so much fun.

Lindsey: Absolutely.

Susan: I know you have a ton to get to for the rest of your afternoon. I think a little certain somebody I can kind of hear him in the background.

Lindsey: He’s not too happy.

Susan: I love that he joined us because one day he’s going to hear this recording and he’s going to go “What is that?” And you’re going to go, “That was you, you little stinker.”

Lindsey: Refusing to take a nap.

Susan: Sweet baby.

Lindsey: Yes.

Susan: Alright, friend. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it today.

Lindsey: Thank you for having me.



Everything Is Not Important and Everything Is Not Urgent, with Jessica Weidman

In our second episode of the series “How She is Nailing the New Year” Susan chats with Jessica Weidman, Senior Manager of Development at the Texas Women’s Foundation. Jessica understands what it’s like to wear many different hats, both at work and at home. She shares some of the tools she uses to keep everything flowing smoothly and encourages us to evaluate if what we are doing is helping us achieve success.

Where to find what Jessica and I discussed

Texas Women’s Foundation
You Tube Videos on Time Blocking
Half Breed: Finding Unity in a Divided World by LeTesha Wheeler


Transcription

Susan: Jessica, I am so excited to have you on the podcast this week. I have known you for a little while at this point. And it is just so nice to be able to sit back and kind of continue through January talking with folks that I know, that I love, that are amazing women who are doing really fantastic and amazing things. So before I sit here and talk with you all about you just from my perspective, how about I let you speak for yourself and share with us a little bit about who you are and what you do? 

Jessica: Oh, you are so sweet. And I was simply honored to be here, number one. You’re such a dear friend. So thank you so much. Yeah, so I guess…Hey, I’m a woman who wears many different hats. As you know, I’m a wife, a mother, a hard worker, a servant leader in so many ways, because I really just love serving others in every aspect of my life. And the way that we know each other, which I know you’ll probably touch on this too, but it’s through Texas Women’s Foundation, which is formerly known as Dallas Women’s Foundation. 

I’ve been working on the development team for three years. And just like you, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting incredible women who are just as passionate about uplifting women and girls like I am. Of course, today I’m not here on behalf of the foundation. I have to say that. But I’m here as a friend, and I’m really looking forward to our conversations. So I hope that’s a good kind of explanation. 

Susan: No, I think it’s perfect. This whole conversation came about because of a previous conversation we literally had at lunch. And while we were sitting there, I said, “Jessica, we should be recording this.” This is some sort of attempt to kind of get at the nuts and bolts of what that conversation was. And what we were talking about was, the foundation had literally just gone from the Dallas Women’s Foundation to the Texas Women’s Foundation. 

So you guys had gone rebranding, but a pretty significant expansion when you think about going from Dallas to Texas. And so, shortly after that had happened, you kind of took on…Well, you got a promotion, and you took on a new role. And you were already wearing a few hats, but I think you started wearing more hats. And so tell us a little bit about that and what that transition was like for you. 

Jessica: Yes. Yes. So, I remember that conversation like it was yesterday. And like you said, for me at Dallas Women’s is Foundation, then Texas Women’s Foundation. And really, I feel like anyone who works in a nonprofit role can relate to me when I say that you really juggle a lot of different responsibilities just across the board, just to be sure that we’re, you know, staying on target with our goals. 
And in a lot of ways, you just kind of fill in, right? Where where you need to fill in and, and so sometimes, you know, of course, many working moms can relate. You know, there are always new responsibilities when you start the new day. You know, what is my day going to look like? I’ve got all of these new tasks, because somebody’s got to do it, right? And, and that was no different for me and my new role. 

And so just like you said, you know, having to learn how to manage my time more effectively, more efficiently, you know, that was something that was very difficult for me. And I got to a point where in a lot of ways, I felt overwhelmed because there’s so many responsibilities in a day and, and how do I get it all done? And I think the best thing for me, and, you know, I shared with you that I went to… Well, I did a training, it was a webinar, and it really helped me kind of just take control. I kind of got to a point where I was so tired of my calendar controlling me. I wanted to put the roles in reverse. And so that’s what the training allowed me to do. 

Susan: I really appreciate that you recognize that in yourself one, because I think so often… Well, I shouldn’t say so often. For me, sometimes it takes me a hard second for me to realize this is happening. Because I think it happens to all of us. And I think there’s, I shouldn’t say a constant tweaking, but maybe a regular reevaluation of what’s working and what’s not. 

Jessica: Yes.

Susan: So I think it’s interesting that you found this webinar and you were able to really zero in on what things would help you move forward in this new role. Tell us a little bit about that training. How have these new tools that you learned helped you going forward? How have they helped you in your personal life, in your work in your career? How have they helped you get that space that you need to facilitate growth? 

Jessica: Yes. I love that you asked this. And before I really dive into kind of the details of the training and the things that I’ve learned, I really want to take a moment also to kind of put that moment into context. I’m going to be a little vulnerable in sharing that. As a working mom, I often feel like I am failing at everything. Is there somebody out there that like feels that way? I think there are a lot of women. 

I can speak for everyone. And for me personally, you know, I’ve been living in North Dallas for nearly 13 years. My husband and I, we have two children, a seven and a three-year-old and, you know, that’s a loaded statement there, a seven and a three-year-old. So, you know, just kind of managing being a working mom. And the thing about Texas, we all know that everything in Texas is big. So when I commute to work every day, I feel like I’m going on a road trip. I really do.

You know, just the hustle of just my everyday life. It requires so much discipline when it comes to maximizing my time and to take care of my responsibilities at work and to take care of my family. And truthfully, whether you work in or out of the home, our lives are just simply overwhelming. There’s so much that I have on my plate and saying yes to every request that comes my way. What I realized in that moment is some of this is actually my fault. Is there anyone else out there guilty of just over-committing? 

Susan: Absolutely. 

Jessica: And so, I’ve been so guilty of this and I took a moment to, like you said, you did the same thing, take a step back, reevaluate. I realized that I was not making the best use of my time to set myself up for success when it came to my work, when it came to my family. Me and my husband, we serve in leadership at our church and I was just stretching myself so thin to help other people reach their goals that I was neglecting my own, and so I had to get real with myself and I had to say the same amount of time in the day is anyone else. And so I had to start protecting my time for the things that matter the most to me. And so about the training, I know that was a long kind of context there. 

Susan: No. That was so helpful because they all feel that way. And if there are tips and tricks out there that people can implement, I think the more that we can share with each other, I think the more that we can be honest and talk about these things out loud. I just think it’s going to be a huge help, especially when we’re talking about setting intentions for, I guess, in this case is 2020. So we can just say a new calendar year. 

Jessica: Right? I mean, this is a fresh start. And it really is a fresh start. And for me, I’m a very organized, nice person anyway, and so I’m so taking this webinar, it really made me think about my time management in a way that I could really get organized. The training webinar was offered through our HR vendor. And for me, the way that they kind of structured the webinar and the training was life-changing. I mean, it really was because it helped me find a method of organizing my days in ways that would ultimately set me up for success. 

And if I had to summarize the biggest takeaways, like the biggest principles of the training, I could actually sum it up like this, you know, everything is not important, and everything is not urgent. Okay. And even just that principle in itself was mind-blowing for me because I used to be the type of person that if you asked me to do something, I just drop everything to help you right then and there. I’m also, that type of person that has a really, really, really hard time at telling people no. 

And so this training, it really helped me learn how to prioritize my tasks in a way that helped me focus on the things that would best help me fulfill my responsibilities at work. And it gave me freedom to say no, and not allowing other priorities to get in the way of things that were important to me like spending time with my family. There were times I said no to meetings after work because I plan this time to cook dinner for my family and nothing’s going to get in the way. 
Or taking time to rest and reset, taking time for me and do the things that are most fulfilling for me. And so being able to just kind of take these tips, it really helped me organize my life and prevent the over-commitment that we are all so guilty of. 

Susan: Yes, we all do really need to work on over-commitment. What is one thing…? This is totally off-topic, but what is one thing that you have been able to say no to that you didn’t think you’d be able to say no to? Yes, three on that one. 

Jessica: I can’t think of anything really specific that stands out right now. But you know what I will say like I can be more specific. You know what I mean by prioritizing and like protecting my time. Like, for example, Mondays for me, are mostly like my administrative days where I focus on the most important urgent tasks that I have for the week. So if I have deadlines this week, I’ve already blocked off Monday afternoon to start on those tasks that are deadlines because I don’t want the entire week to get away from me before I even start. 

And so even though responding to an email, how many of us allow our emails to just take over our day, especially on a Monday, right? You come back, you’ve got this whole just litany of emails and every email is not urgent. Every email is not important. Remember those two takeaways. So there are times when I get an email, if it really needs an explanation, if I really have to plan something out and if it’s not really urgent…You know, I’ve actually blocked off time on Tuesday. 

Okay, I’m going to get back to you on Tuesday morning, right? Because I really don’t want my Monday to be spent on catching up on emails all day. Because guess what, my Monday, I have urgent things to do. I have deadlines this week. And my Monday afternoon is, is where I have this full block of time where I can get it done. So for me, I had to do that because otherwise my whole Monday will get away from me and I really don’t feel like I’ve accomplished any of my priorities. 

And so building in that consistency, like I said, that’s my every Monday, my every Tuesday morning, I’m getting back to all of those people I didn’t get to on Monday, and maybe there’s some more. And so it really helped me just build in these routines. In my role, like I said, I wear so many different hats and I really had to narrow down the tasks that I absolutely must do in order to be successful in my role. For example, I’ve got to get out of the office and meet with my donors. I’ve got to network and meet new people. I need to take time and thank people and check in with them and make sure they’re doing okay.

The funny thing is, these are things that really are, they come very naturally to me, and things that I love to do anyway. So prioritizing this as a part of my calendar, not only set me up for success in my role, but it brings me like the greatest sense of joy, you know, being able to focus on the things that I enjoy. And so, like I said, having that time already prioritized, it just really empowers me. Because guess what, my calendar is already full. I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I don’t have time because I’ve already prioritized my time for these specific things that I must do. So does that kind of make sense? I’m sorry I couldn’t give you like a specific, but in a broader sense, that’s how I was able to really get organized. And really, like I said, set myself up for success just by making sure that I was using my time to do the things that I know I need to do. 

Susan: Well, and I think you touched on something and you didn’t lay it out exactly like this. But there are metrics that we are all measured by, and we know what those are, and whether they are set for you, or you set them yourselves or you set them yourself. And it’s one of those if you have those metrics, if you have those things in place that you know, at the end of the day, this is what I need to accomplish. For you, you need to be meeting members  and making sure… I mean, it’s a revenue thing for you. For some people, they need to have a certain article written by a certain day. I’m thinking of myself. It’s things that you have to do specifically to meet your end goals for either your… I don’t know. Everybody has different things. Year end bonus, whatever… Maybe you’ve got something you’ve thought yourself that if I hit X, then I’m going to get myself Y. Whatever those goals look like, we have to figure out a way to meet those goals. 

And I think that’s one of the other things by prioritizing your time, you’re also able to meet your metrics and whatever your own personal goals are. I mean, you could set this up, however you want to. I think what you’re facilitating here is, “Hey, this is what I’ve implemented in order to make X happen.” And I think it’s really incredibly helpful. 

Jessica: Absolutely. Absolutely. 

Susan: What are some things you found with this new format that might have surprised you? Was there anything that just surprised you that you weren’t expecting? 

Jessica: Yes, just like I said, being the person that can absolutely just say no. I have never been that person. It’s very hard for me because, you know, we did a Strengths Finders actually this year and I found out that I’m that type of person where I like to empower the people around me to be successful at what they do best. To me it’s about really helping others achieve their maximum potential. But where does that leave me? If I’m busy helping, everyone else, where does that leave me? And the fact that I have actually transitioned to be that person, to really let my no be no and not feel guilty.

Sometimes as women, when we say no, that guilt kind of, sets in and you feel like,” Oh, no, how is she going to get this done if I don’t help?” Or I don’t know, “I’m missing, I’m missing this function or I’m missing this birthday or I’m missing this meeting.” Or, “What’s going to happen if I’m not there?” And I had an epiphany. I actually last year, December I got to listen and hear Michelle Obama when she came to Dallas, and one thing she said is she does the same thing. She protects time on her calendar and for her family, because you know what she said. Get this. So the First Lady of the United States, you know, the former first lady says that she’s just not that important to be here. And when I thought about that, I said, “If Michelle Obama doesn’t feel that she’s as important then who am I to feel like this function is just going to crumble if I’m not there?” I’m going be okay. And for me to say no, let my no be no and not feel any shame or guilt about it. I mean, that was the surprising thing. It’s actually very freeing you. We should all say no a little bit more often. 

Susan: But I liked that you added we should say no, and not feel shame or guilt around it. Because that, I think is the trickier part. I’ve said no to people and then I feel awful about it. Because, “Oh my God. They really needed me and I could have gone if I have been there and yada, yada, yada.” But it does get back to the, “Who am I?” And it did. Okay. And could they have used you? Absolutely. They would have found a way to use you, but it doesn’t mean you have to be there. That is so good. Oh, that’s good. Don’t feel shame. 

Jessica: Thank you. 

Susan: Do you read Brené Brown at all? This is way off-topic. She has whole books on shame and dealing with shame and you need to pick up one of her books. I’ll just go back now. What are some of the tools 2019 that you learned that you’re taking into 2020 and then vice versa? Was there anything that you learned in 2019 that really was maybe helpful, but you didn’t have to take into 2020? 

Jessica: Yeah, there were actually… I would say if I were to look back on my year, the three kind of key takeaways of things that really helped me. You know, like I said, when I think about, you know, what was really, really the most helpful, I would say, there were three things: being able to focus, to stop the multitasking. I actually remember having this on my resume that I was a master at multitasking. 

After, like I said, this, really, like, I was proud of it. After I did this, I was like, you know what, I’m taking that off. I literally went and I took it off my resume because when we multitask… Do you ever feel like you’ve done everything and you’ve done nothing at the same time, right? I mean, I realized that I just was not very effective at you know, marking things off the list. So, staying focused is key. And it really helps me with my just own, mental well-being. 

I have to focus on the here and now. What do I have to achieve today? That’s it. Once I think about the big picture, anxiety sets in, and if I can just focus on this one thing, I can rest assured that the steady grind of what I’m doing today then tomorrow and then the next day, it’s helping me. It’s helping me accomplish that big plan or that big goal that I’m working towards. I mean, I don’t call it slow and steady. I call it small and steady. Small things add up to big things. And keeping that in mind, like I said, staying focused and focusing on the small things. That’s one thing I absolutely am going to take into 2020.

The second thing, self-care. I have to be honest, I am the worst at taking care of myself. The time that I set aside for myself is at five o’clock in the morning when my kids are in the bed and no one needs me so I get up I actually pound the parking lot doing burpees and push-ups and laps with my Camp Gladiator friends and taking some time for me is essential to my sanity. 

It’s easy to burn out so you’ve got to build in those breaks whatever that looks like for you. For me, it’s fitness, it’s working out. That’s when I can kind of get out all of the jitters and all of the frustrations. That’s how I start my day. Another third thing that I definitely am going to take into 2020 when I look at my calendar and the things that I prioritize is for me is actually prayer. 

Prayer for me is really big. I like to sit down with my tea and my journal, just me and God and I can always rely on him to give me peace. So, I was actually just talking to my husband last night about how challenging it is for me to live in Dallas when you most of our extended family lives in Mississippi. And so funny, I bribed my mother a million times, I kid you not, to come here and move in with me. Like the struggle is really real. 

So, like I said, three things for me, focus and taking better care of myself, prayer. Those are the things that for me, that I prioritize that really help me stay on task, kind of building in that time. I think for anyone listening, whatever that looks like for you, do that and make it a priority. That’s what’s going to help you succeed in every area of your life when you can be sure that you’re whole and you can show up 100% every day.

Susan: That is very good. That is amazing. I love what you’ve incorporated and I love those three takeaways. That’s fantastic. And I also really appreciate because we don’t have family that live here, either. So, I really appreciate you saying how hard it is to live far from family and figuring out how to do that with kids. It’s not easy. And I think so many people live far, far enough away from family where it’s not like mom, or you know, aunt so and so can just come over at the drop of a hat and go and help out. It’s a lot. It’s a lot to take on. So I’m glad you mentioned that. Okay, three fun questions before we end. This has been fantastic. But I know you… 

Jessica: Me too. Thank you for inviting me. 

Susan: How do you like to start off a new year? And some people I’ve realized this is the first year for me where normally I’m very school calendar-based. So I’m very academic year focused. So like I kind of kicked off at the beginning of the academic year, and now I’m kind of, six months later and I’m going to do it again. So I kind of like doing it twice. But how do you like to start off your new year? Is it Are you a goals and resolutions person? Are you a word person? Is there what you want to read before the end of the year? What does that look like for you? 

Jessica: I’m so glad you asked this. I usually am a goals and resolutions person because my husband is too. We usually do it together. We’re a little bit behind the ball but we’re going to set some time. Like I said, I’m block out our calendar right when our kids are in the bed and focus on those things. And we’re going to do it. We love to sit down and number one, like our goals start with finances. What can we do this year? Like last year, we were big on giving, like we really wanted to give. 

We really wanted to be able to support the organizations, the people around us and whatever that looked like, financially, we wanted to be able to set some money aside for that. We wanted to save, we increased our percentage on our retirements last year because we want to be more aggressive in how we’re saving for the future, or for our kids, you know, with the 529 plans and things like that. I mean, we really sit down and get detailed about, okay, what are we going to do with our money this year? 

And then also, what are we going to do with our time? Like I said, we both like to serve together in our church home. And this last year was awesome. We became marriage coaches. We are working with a ministry called Renew at our church, where people are really just taking their marriage either first, from surviving to thriving or from thriving to just amazing, incredible marriages. And so that was something that came about, and the fact that I said, no, I said no to some other commitments. It actually, when this one came around, I was able to say yes, and I love that. God has his way of doing things like that. It was very wonderful.

And so this year, you know what, we’re pairing down. The fact that we took on that new responsibility, I’m thinking about okay, what am I going to take off my calendar this year? What responsibility am I going to let go because I started to feel a little bit of burnout towards the end of the year. And you never want your commitments to feel like what we were talking about that feeling of overwhelming. You definitely don’t want that to set in. 

And so, yes, like I said, money, time, hopefully we’re going to go on some vacations this year and I can plan that out. As far as me personally, I am so bad. Like I like I said, I’m a mom, I work. When I really think about me personally, what I want to do, just me, I love photos. I really love taking pictures and videos. And for me personally, I want to start setting aside some time to make photo books. 
It’s so funny, my son, he’s three years old now. And so he’s aware of the fact that I made this really nice, special baby book for my oldest daughter back then when I had one child. I had all this time. I made her book. And now he’s like, Mommy, where’s my baby book? I’m like, “Oh my gosh, it’s been three years. I haven’t done his book.” 

Susan: You are not alone.

Jessica: No pictures. 

Susan: They’re all on my phone and I’ve got stuff stuffed in the box. 

Jessica: You’ve got all this stuff, don’t you? 

Susan: Yes, but it’s not put together. It’s that last step. 

Jessica: No. We’re going to hold each other accountable. We’re going to take a day on a weekend. And we’re going to tell our families that hey, we’re ghosting, we’re out of here. And we’re going to get together at Starbucks and we’re going to do these photo books together. How about that? That’s the resolution there. 

Susan: Yes. That’s amazing. Yes, let’s do that for sure. 

Jessica: But anyway, I mean, yeah, I’m a resolutions person. And I do like to think about… I’m always very forward-thinking and so planning ahead, you know, kind of what we’re going to do collectively as a family, you know. Even at my job, we sit down… We are in our third quarter and so we’re thinking about what do we need to do to get to goal by the end of our fiscal year. 

So, I mean, in every area of my life, we’re sitting down and we’re strategizing and we’re really thinking about the future and I love it. I love that people do that because the beginning of the year is a great time to just reset, reevaluate, just kind of have a fresh start. And so, yes, that’s what I’m doing. 

Susan: Well, that’s awesome. I had one more question. What are you reading right now? Is there anything that you are reading that either my listeners need to put on their shelf for 2020? Is there anything that you are reading that you have read that you’re like, in 2020, this is a book to read? 

Jessica: Oh my gosh, I see. We talked about goals. I need to read more. I need to stop all the scrolling on my social media. That’s what I read. I’m that person that’s just reading all the updates, you know, on my Instagram and my Facebook and I’m so bad. I really have not been reading but that doesn’t mean I don’t have books on my bookshelf. I actually have a friend and her name is LeTesha Wheeler and she goes to my church and I think it’s awesome. She has this book called Half Breed and it’s a biography. 

She is a mixed woman. And her book is a great story about her life. But in a lot of ways, it’s very unifying. Her message about race relations right no in this day and time. Both of us, we go to the same church. Our church is very diverse. I think it may be one of the most diverse churches in the Metroplex and to be able to come together on a Sunday morning with everybody black people, white people, Asian, you know, Latino. I mean, everybody. For her, that’s where the reconciliation begins. And like I said, I’ve got her book on my bookshelf, and I’m going to read it and next time we talk, I’ll be able to tell you all about it. How about that? 

Susan: Well, tell us the name of that book one more time. 

Jessica: Yes, it’s Half Breed

SusanHalf Breed. All right. I’m looking that up. That sounds like a fantastic book to read that we should all be reading right now. 

Jessica: Yes. Especially going into this political season, we need that. We need to be unified. 

Susan: Yes. But just with everything that’s happening, that’s surrounding that with just the way people…Well, not that people haven’t always been mistreated. Don’t hear me wrong on that. But it’s an uptick in this. And it’s not getting better. And it is breaking my heart when I turn on the news, or just open my Reuters or AP app, and it’s like, and something else has happened. And it is a breaking my heart and I feel powerless about it. 

So, thank you for bringing that book up and thank you for bringing that to the forefront of this New Year. Because you’re absolutely right. This is going to be a year to seriously consider that for sure and your own role in it. I’m talking more. 

Jessica: Absolutely, yes. 

Susan: Okay. Well, I have had way too much fun with you this afternoon.

Jessica: Me too.

Susan:  And I just want to appreciate you for making the time to come and share with us about something that you kind of really undertook in a time or a season of change in your life. I think I always felt like you were really organized. So when you told me you were doing this at the time, I was just stunned. So I’m glad to know that most of the organized people that I feel like I know how to struggle with these things too. It just brings us closer together and makes us realize we are all human. 
Jessica: Yes. That’s it. You’re right. And I hope this is helpful to you and to anyone listening. So thank you for inviting me. 

Susan: Thanks for coming on, Jess. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Jessica: Yes, I’ll be in touch. Thank you. 

2020 Vision with Selfish Mom Project founder, Rachael Tapper

It’s 2020 and Susan is starting us off with a fun new series! “How She’s Nailing the New Year” is helping us kick off a new decade by chatting with amazing women who will help walk us through some of the tough questions we ask ourselves when it’s time for a fresh start. We couldn’t be more excited to kick off these inspiring conversations with the founder of Selfish Mom Project, Rachael Tapper. Rachael encourages each of us to determine how to live into our best selves for the season that we are in.

Where to find Rachael
Website
Facebook
Instagram


Transcript

Susan: Rachel, I am so excited to have you on the show with us today. One of the things that really drew me to you, or I guess we got connected a few years ago and was what you were starting with the Selfish Mom Project, we got connected through a friend and I just thought what you were doing was so needed for moms who are coming out of a time where they have a newborn or they have a lot that has gone on in their lives and are just looking for that next step and to figure out how to basically re-fined themselves and I think you’ve done that really well over the last couple of years and I have been an admirer from afar.

Rachael: Thank you.

Susan: So, for my audience who is not familiar with you or your work, would you tell us a little bit about yourself and then how Selfish Mom got started?

Rachael: Absolutely. So I’m a mom of three. I have a 10-year-old, a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old. So I am in those preteen and potty training days.

Susan: Oh, it’s that time.

Rachael: Yeah, they are long but they go fast. And we have a crazy chaotic life. But it’s fun. I never imagined that honestly, I would ever really be a mom. I have a brother that’s 10 years younger than me. I felt like I had been a mom most of my life and so I was never really interested in having kids. We got pregnant right after we got married. And I got thrown into this motherhood business very young. I was 24, almost 25 and decided a couple of years after that to have another child. So I was pretty content with two, went in to go get my tubes removed and found out that I was six weeks pregnant with our third child.

So, you know, we always say that if you ever wonder if God has a sense of humor, come talk to us because we think he does. But I struggled a lot with that last pregnancy, and not that it was a bad pregnancy. It was amazing, but just my mindset wasn’t really good. You know, I felt guilty that I wasn’t necessarily happy about that. And I’m so thankful I have my third baby, Max, he’s just such a blessing in our life. But I struggled really hard with postpartum depression after each one of my pregnancies, but especially with Max.

And we had friends over one night, and I had always kind of been in the health and fitness industry so I’d always run like a business online but I had kind of backed away from that because I was just in such a bad place, I was depressed, I had horrible anxiety, horrible overwhelm. I was really struggling to get back to myself and love myself. And we had friends over and you know, couple bottles of wine, and Rachael getting real raw and telling, you know, everybody in their place. I just was like, you know, I need to be selfish for like two months, like I just needed to be selfish for like 60 days. And I woke up the next day and had a hangover that I was definitely not proud of, but my husband kind of joked around and was kind of making fun of me that I was like, going to do this Selfish Mom Project, and I was like, “You know what, actually, I am going to do it.”

And I started a week later, November 1, 2017, I decided to start doing my own Selfish Mom Project, never expecting it to go anywhere or even remotely become what it has actually turned into. I really just thought I was going to have 60 days of honestly like mani, pedis, massages, ladies who lunch like, I just thought I was going to have fun. And I did have a lot of fun but what I realized was that it was never about all those things. It was about finding a different way to love myself and get to know myself again, and just really step into what my truth was. You know, I love my kids, but one day they’re going to leave me. And I kind of joke a little bit that every time you have a kid, it kind of like sucks a little bit of you, out of you because you have someone else to take care of and I was really struggling and that 60 days was exactly what I needed. And I just shared my journey on social media and outreach and support that I got was so overwhelming. To hear that so many other moms were going through the same thing that I was, and to be able to just be one step ahead and share how I was getting better, and getting a handle on my depression and my anxiety and my overwhelm and to be able to help other people. It was just, it was amazing.

Susan: I really appreciate that rawness and I really appreciate how you were vulnerable online and had the willingness to talk about it in public. And I think it’s one of those things that to one degree or another, all moms deal with this. It may not be all the way to postpartum depression, but we all deal with some sort of struggle of reconnecting with ourselves and finding who we are again after we’ve had a child. I think you’re absolutely right. And the more we talk about these things, I think the more out of the shadows things like this are, and I think the more we can grow together is just better for everybody. So I really appreciate you doing that. And really just putting yourself out there and, and sharing with others. I know it has made a difference in so many lives.

Rachael: Thank you. I really think it’s important. You know, I’ve always been real and raw nearly for the fact that like, I was raised not to lie, and I needed so many people to be honest with me about how, you know, that there are the great moments that we get to see. But it’s the behind the scenes moments that shocked me when I became a mom. Like, I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be, no one told me that. And I was the first one of my friends to become a mom and I just wish that somebody would have told me that and so I’ve just always promised that if I found myself in a position where I could, I would share that.

Susan: Absolutely. And I think the community you’ve created also helps with that struggle. And by community I mean, it is an online, and I know you do some stuff locally as well, but it’s also an online community on Facebook that you have put together, and I see women talking about these things and you blog about these things. And I just think that connection alone and not feeling alone, what you’ve created is something that women just really need. And I think the more who can find that, just the better, quite frankly. So, a little bit about how that piece came into fruition, like you started The Selfish Mom Project. It’s rachaeltapper.com. Am I correct?

Rachael: Well, you can do rachaeltapper.com or you can do selfishmomproject. com.

Susan: Okay. So you started the blog, you created this platform. How did it keep going? Like, where did it go from there after your 60 days was finished?

Rachael: So this is actually a really funny story, and I have not told this story very often just because it is such a vulnerable piece of a really bad day that I had. But I finished The Selfish Mom Project. I did my 60 days. And every day that I did it, I did a hashtag like, day one, Selfish Mom Project, day two, you know, going on to 60. So I shared it every single day. I was very open about every aspect of my journey. And like I said, the emails and everything just like poured in, like text messages, random people from literally all over the world. And January 1 rolled around, and I knew there was something like in me that just kept telling me to keep pursuing it, but I didn’t know where to go. And Max my, you know, surprise, he still does not sleep through the night at two years old.

Susan: That’s hard.

Rachael: But he definitely didn’t when he was younger. He’s just not a good sleeper. He’s not a good napper. It was just, this particular day was just bad. I was not like a good mom moment. I was not a good wife this day, I was just having a crappy day and sat down. And Max was in his room crying. And I was like, “Well, I’ll just let him cry it out four and a half time, hopefully we’ll go to sleep. I’ll give him five minutes.” But I was like in tears, and I just, you know, had finished a book, a Gabby Bernstein book that I had re-read. She’s an amazing author, I love her. And she said, you know, when she’s in a time of need, she just gets on her knees and prays. And I realized that it had been a long time since I had hit my knees and really just prayed and I sat in this chair in our house and sobbing, crying, begging God to just show me what I needed to do next. Like, where did I need to go next? Do I need to just walk away from this project. Was it done? Was there something else and I literally… It’s kind of like that what’s the baseball movie? Like, if you build it, they will come.

Susan: Field of Dreams?

Rachael: Yes, I had like that Field of Dreams moment. You know where it was I literally heard a voice in my head that said, “If you build it, they will come.” And so I quit praying and I went upstairs and I got Max and I put them on the floor, I got out my laptop, and I was like, “I’ll just start this private group.” I had done private groups for years when I was in the health and fitness industry. And I was like, “I’ll add one person,” and it was a girlfriend of mine and I texted her and I said, “Just let me know what you think about the group, I might like try and promote it.”

So she messaged me back the next day. And she’s like, “I love it, let’s share it.” And in two months, the entire process, I’ve added one person to this group, and in two months, it grew to over 1200 moms. And I just have always been proud of it being an organic growth. And you know, like any Mom, I go through seasons, where I’m in the group a lot and seasons where maybe I have to take a step back from just posting in there, but it’s always been like a steady stream of just moms supporting other moms and just really opening up the conversation and not putting any stigma on what we should be or who we are, who you have to be, if you have to be one particular kind of mom or not. It’s just a place for us to all, you know, whether you need to vent, if you need help and growth, or you just need somebody to talk to. That’s what that group is for.

Susan: Well, I think it’s great. And I think especially kicking off the New Year, it’s always helpful to find like-minded people who are in the same things that you were in, the stage in life, but also who are wanting a little bit more from that stage. And I think collaborating with others, and just bouncing ideas off of people and just being a support group. And all of the above, I think is really beneficial. I know when I’m, and I know you feel the same way, when I’m stuck in a rut, it’s my crew around me, that helps pull me through the weeds sometimes.

Rachael: Totally.

Susan: And I think this crew is really helpful with that. Share with us a little bit about your…I know this past year has been another big wellness year for you. How did you—and I mean 2019—how did that kind of…Did it fall into your lap? What were you looking for when you were looking to build either on The Selfish Mom Project or was it something totally different? Share with us a little bit about how that came about.

Rachael: Well, my wellness journey I think it’s definitely 2019, and me just physically healing and a lot of you know, emotionally healing and always growing. If we’re not growing, we’re not alive. And so the physical side really started years ago, but I kind of, you know, because I was taking care of my kids, I just kind of put everything on the back burner, which is not something that we should do. I use the example that when our kids have like, their stuffy noses or they’re coughing or their throat hurts, like we are so quick to make a doctor’s appointment for them because we are the advocates for our children. You know, we want to make sure that they’re safe, and they’re healthy and they feel cared for, but we don’t, you know, we always put our self on the back burner.

And so I had done that for many years, I had put my physical health on the back burner, and just started doing some research. I had implants in for like 15 years. And when I started doing the research, I realized that you know, there was this breast implant illness out there that a lot of women were struggling with. There’s a Facebook group for that as well if that’s something that anybody is interested in. But I just started doing a lot of research and realizing that I needed to put my health both physically and mentally, like on the front burner, it needed to be like the favorite burner, the one that you always put your…That you start first.

And then I was really, you know, it started to affect me being a mom. We would go on vacations, I couldn’t stay awake during the day, I would have to take multiple naps, I really wasn’t able to fully commit to my work and what I really wanted to do because I was so sick all the time. And we decided, you know, my husband and I decided that it was time to remove the implant and just move on. And it’s been an emotional journey because I’ve, you know, this is something that I’ve had in my body for 15 years. It’s been a physical journey. I wasn’t, you know, the hardest thing ever is to wake up and you’re not allowed to lift more than 10 pounds for like 12 weeks.

Susan: Wow.

Rachael: And you have a two-year-old. So, you know, it’s been a lot, but I just…You know, and whether it’s…You know, like the fact that it was an implant means nothing. But the fact that, I guess that what I really wanted this year was to share with women, that if something doesn’t feel right, that you have to fight for your health. And whether that is mentally or physically, you really just…No one is going to fight for you. You’ve got to step up there and do that. Your health is just as important as our children’s. If not more, because without our health, we can’t take care of the family in the capacity that we want to. And that’s really where I found myself in September and then had the surgery in September. And I have never felt better, physically and mentally. I feel amazing.

Susan: That is such an empowering story.

Rachael: I mean, it was scary. It’s totally…It’s always scary to go through surgery. All my anxieties came back out and I will tell you, you know, we were talking just before this about surrendering. And four days before I had surgery, my two-year-old broke his nose doing things that you tell your two-year-old not to do.

Susan: Of course, that’s what happened.

Rachael: Yeah, I know. I didn’t have surgery. On the day before my surgery was like ripping his cast off his nose twice. And it was just so stressful that I just had to… I had to surrender and be like, hands up, white flag is raised. This is, you know, I’ve just followed wherever God’s told me to go. And yeah, I mean, it was scary, but it was so necessary. I feel like so much has changed just in the last month. You know, once I took a handle on my health, everything else in my life improved. You know, I wrote a book, and it wasn’t the book that I had previously wanted to put out. This was like a completely different book that I was able to write in 30 days because my brain came back and my health came back, and I was forced to recover in a bed and sit down, which I had never done before because I’m a mom of three, me binge watching anything on Netflix just isn’t the way that I work. So I opened up and I started writing. And it was just amazing that this all came out when it did because I had I not had that surgery, I never would have gotten my health back. I never would have been forced to sit down and just work. And my business since then has exploded. So it’s just really, you know, once we can take control of that health aspect, whether it’s physically or mentally, so many other things can come into play in your life. It’s crazy how it unfolds.

Susan: And the book that you’re speaking about, is this the book that’s available now or the one that will be available in June? Because you actually have two in the…

Rachael: I have two. So this is the one that is out now. And it is a 60-day guide book. It’s called The Selfish Mom Projects, a 60-day guidebook to being selfish and finding yourself. And this is basically what I wished someone would have given me when I started The Selfish Mom Project. Like I said, I thought it was going to be mani and pedis kind of deal and just all like fancy, and it wasn’t. And this is everything that I learned in those 60 days and just kind of guiding moms through their own Selfish Mom Project for…You know, I’ve always taken clients on separately, but I wanted to be able to create something that will help everyone and be at a price point that everybody could have and I wanted it to be at the fingertips of the masses because there’s only one me to work with. But this, I wanted to be able to help… My goal has always been to help as many moms as I possibly could.

Susan: And it has journal prompts in there as well, correct or am I mistaken?

Rachael: It has journal prompts, you’ll find daily gratitude, what I call “The Four Selfish Mom Love Languages,” which are social, emotional, physical and spiritual and kind of how to hit those little points every day, a space for you to write an affirmation or mantra, I also provide them in the resources section of the book, and then it has a to do list with only three things a day to do. Because the whole point of Selfish Mom Project is to put down the overwhelm and anxiety. And what I have found is that placing more than three things on my to-do list every day, creates anxiety and overwhelm. And we talked about creating a bucket list and it’s just a really… I’m really proud of this book. I think it’s an awesome way to segue into this next book, but I wanted to start everyone off with this amazing 60-day guidebook.

Susan: And I really cannot think of a better way to start the new year. I think this would be a great place for women who either find themselves in a rut or find themselves with a newborn, or just find themselves in those first couple of years. Like, I remember when I first started talking about the podcast, or whatever this vision was, it wasn’t a podcast at the time, but I was coming out of those first two years. So it would be how old Max is now. I was finally coming out of that, “Oh, he doesn’t need me as much as he did because he’s going to have school and he’s going to have all of this other stuff.” And I’ve put everything I have into this little Munchkin for the past, you know, 18 months, two years and where did I go? So I kind of hit that burnout phase as well. It sounds like you’ve hit it a few times. I think we all hit it a few times. And I think this guidebook would be a great way to start the new year if you find yourself in that place where you’re either at, I don’t want to say rock bottom, because that that seems a little too dramatic. It could be, but you don’t even have to be a rock bottom.

Rachael: Right.

Susan: You could just be sitting on that back burner, and not even realize you’ve put yourself on the back burner.

Rachael: Totally. And when I look back on it, you know, and just being honest here, I think that I was so frustrated because I always felt like I was just a mom. And I hate that thing because we’re so much more than that. Women, like, we are designed and put on this earth, yes, to be mothers. And it is an amazing opportunity to be a mother. I’m so blessed that I have it. But I also just, I felt bad for a long time for wanting to be more than that. And it was not okay. It took me many years to realize like, it’s okay for me to want to be a mom, but something else too. And because I had kids when I was so young, I think I never really got to develop that other side. And so I’m so thankful to be you know, that I’ve done the work, which is a lot that you’re going to, you know, you’ll do the work in this guidebook. And to just get to the point where I’m at now.

Susan: Absolutely. Well, and as a mom who had a child, when she was a little bit older, and we had infertility struggles, so on top of that, I finally became a mom. And then I was like, “Oh, is the rest of my life over? Is everything that I just did these last eight years, you know, in my professional life and in my social life and everything else, is that totally gone? Is that or not because now I’m a mom and that’s all there is, like, am I over?” And I think once you get out the newborn stage, because that’s a whole other stage in itself, and once you get on the other side of that, having the opportunity to kind of take some time to explore for yourself is really something that I think everyone should do.

Rachael: Totally.

Susan: Because you have changed, and I don’t think it’s a bad change, I think it’s a good change. I think it only enhances who you are as a person. But I think you need to go back and remember who you are as a person too. And I think that that’s hard.

Rachael: Yeah, and that’s what this guidebook does, it’s just kind of remind you. And maybe it’s not even a reminder, but it’s like discovering something new. And that’s what I think that I did i discovered something new about myself and my ability to go in a different direction or you know, I never thought that Selfish Mom would get to this point ever. And I mean, maybe it’s a reminder of who you were, and you can take those little nuggets back into this new life of being a mom, or maybe it’s just discovering something completely different, which is okay too.

Susan: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that is so well said. One of the things you and I first talked about when we first met, I’ll never forget, we were sitting in a coffee shop. And you were talking about the importance of vision boards. And at the time, I had just finished my very first one that I had ever done, because my own business coach had encouraged me, “Hey, you’re starting this new thing, this would be a great way for you to really visualize what you want to do.” And I know you’ve done some vision board workshops in the past. I’m sure you have some that will be coming up. I know in December, I think you did one or you talked about doing one online. Can you share a little bit about what your process is for vision boards? I know you love getting out the magazines and cutting and all of that type of stuff. Share with us a little bit about what that process has looked like for you.

Rachael: Yes, I’m a big believer in vision boards, or just in general finding vision outside of motherhood. I do the old school but I also do the online version and I you know, save that and it’s like the backdrop on my computer or my phone, places where I’m looking at randomly throughout the day. But I also think that finding vision is a process. And it’s one where you need to really just get quiet and you know, do some prayer, do some journaling, meditate, really finding out where you want to go.

I have a whole, you know, if you go on my website, selfishmomproject.com under the shop, I have a vision board course that is out. It’s seven modules, it just kind of goes through all of my steps. But one thing we talked about a lot, and this has really just come up for me in the last year is finding your vision in the season that you’re in. So I have three kids, all of them are in different seasons, and just really being open to you know, where can you fit in that vision? You know, if I’m struggling in the preteens and I’m struggling in the potty training, you know, my time is going into all these different people, I still need to make sure that I’m finding that course of vision in my life. And we’re doing the steps that it works through. So we go through a whole big long process.

At the end of this month, we’ll have in a Selfish Mom Project, the Facebook group, so if you’re not in that, go request to join, we’ll do an online vision board party, that’ll be like a virtual thing. They will just kind of go over my process and how to create the vision board online so you have that. But it’s just important for moms, I think, to find a way to have something outside of being a mom, whether that’s finding a hobby. A lot of my clients talk about how, like, I don’t even have a vision. And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, we’ve got to start from the very beginning, we’re starting at zero, then what do you like to do?”

Susan: Yeah.

Rachael: What do you feel like you’re good at? And I would say that is 70% of my clients and people that come to me say that they don’t even have a vision, they don’t even know where they would start with a vision, or a vision board. And so that’s what we do is we start at ground zero and just making a list of every single thing that you like to do, or things that you want to do even, just creating a bucket list is basically what it is.

Susan: Yeah, and it’s one of those things, I think there are times where…And I don’t know how this happens. But I have put things on a vision board that I didn’t even think would even be possible. It’s something that is like, some of the things are like, obviously very, very obtainable. And then some of them are kind of pie in the sky like, best case scenario, this is what’s going to happen.

Rachael: Right.

Susan: And it’s funny how everything on that board, every little image, every little saying, every little word that you put on there might not happen. But the things that do happen, and once you start looking at and go, “Oh, wow, that happened this year. Oh, wow, that happened this year. Oh my gosh, that kind of happened too.”

Rachael: Right.

Susan: It’s really crazy. And it’s almost like this weird, you’ve really sat down and you’ve thought about it, you thought it out. And then you’re really putting it, I think, on something tangible like paper or putting it on your computer and then even printing it out. That’s what I do. I do mine in Canva and I have all these images, and then I print it out and I physically frame it and hanging on the wall for the year.

Rachael: Yes.

Susan: And it’s just like this constant reminder of this is what you want, this is where you want to go. And it gives direction I think, especially on days where you feel like you’re kind of lost, or you’re just like not wanting to do it.

Rachael: Totally. And I think, you know, a lot of times what I tell every single client when we are doing vision, you know, we’re working on creating vision is that it’s okay if it doesn’t…Like, you really just need to be open to what could happen. There are plenty of things I put on my vision board that didn’t come true. But because they didn’t come true, I’m so blessed they didn’t come true because I got other amazing opportunities that did become available to me. For example, one year I put that I wanted to buy a gym and I found out I was pregnant four days after I did this vision board. And I was like, “Well, that’s probably putting a lot on my plate for next year. Like, that’s not going to happen.” But what did happen was that I was able to create a community and The Selfish Mom Project. You know, it was just I’m so thankful. So you’ve got to understand…So that’s why I talk a lot about, like understanding your seasons, and just really like giving this you know, up to the universe, up to God, whatever your higher power is, and working in alignment with that.

Susan: Yes, that is a great way to put that, “working in alignment.”

Rachael: Yeah, because we can’t do it on our own. And it’s really the stigmatism that’s been placed on moms that we have to do it on all on our own. We’ve got to be everywhere, do everything, you know, I’ve got to be able to snuggle you and wipe your nose. And then at night, I’ve got to figure out how to be a sex goddess. And maybe I don’t want to be either one of those things that day, right? You know, you can’t do it all on your own. And sometimes it’s asking your tribe for a lot of help. And sometimes it’s really just releasing that up to a higher power and being like, “I need help, like, what is next?” And that’s really gotten me through, you know, those two things, and just have really gotten me through a lot of really hard and bad times and made me been the ones that cheered for me through the great times.

Susan: And I think that that thought right there, “what’s next?” I think there are so many people who are coming into the 2020 and that is the very question they’re asking, “Okay, here I am. I want something to happen this year, I don’t even necessarily know what it is. So what’s next?” And I think your guidebook would be a great place to start. What are one or two other, for lack of a better word practices, that you might encourage women to think about taking on in this new year to help along with that guidance?

Rachael: So, two of my favorite things that I’ve been doing for years, even before I started Selfish Mom Project, I’ve always loved writing and I’ve always kept journals, and two things that I think…And the guidebook you do this you know, we do this every day. And I tell the readers and my clients to do this every day because this works, and one of them is a gratitude list, so finding gratitude every single day. I cannot tell you how important that is in the times of stress, overwhelm, anxiety. You know, when you have a kid that like won’t for the life of him won’t poop on a potty, I’m just thankful I guess, that I have hardwood floors. We forget all…We’re so focused as a society about looking at the comparison and it’s a such a thief of joy. That statement should just be tattooed on all of us, especially in the mom world, but just finding gratitude in like the simplest things ever. We have clean water. There are people out there that don’t even have that as an option. And there are people out there that, you know, I was joking about the stress of moving, but there really are people that like don’t know how they’re going to find a new house or where they’re going to live and they can’t afford it. And I try to always go back to…I do my gratitude first thing in the morning while my coffee is brewing, there’s a little notebook next to my coffee maker. And that’s where I start my day, and is in gratitude.

Secondly, the second thing that I think that every mom should kind of add in is I call it journal therapy. And it’s just spending 10 minutes writing down your thoughts every day, and it doesn’t…I say 10 minutes because I would say on an average day, I write for, I would say, 5 to 10 minutes. But I have talked myself through amazing things. I have literally written multiple chapters of different books. I’m that someday I’ll right, and I can go back through these journals. I’ve been angry in those journals, sometimes I cry in those journals, sometimes I just brain dump, but just allowing your head to completely empty all of its thoughts onto a piece of paper. Sometimes that’s cheaper. And it’s actually proven to be just as significant as actually going to a therapist. It’s just that second voice in your head, just letting that voice in your head all come out. And those have been like the two practices for me that I’ve maintained, and two practices that I think for any moms that you should, should start in this New Year.

Susan: I think that keeping the gratitude journal by the coffee maker or whatever that first thing is that you go to when you get up in the morning. Mine is also coffee. When my feet hit the floor, I’m just like, when the alarm goes off, I’m like just “Get to the coffee.” That is the first thought in my head every morning, just get to the coffee and then you go forward. And putting that gratitude journal by the coffee maker, I think is the smartest thing. I’ve never thought to do that. And now I’m going to do that because I also journal in the morning. And now I’m going to go stick it by the coffee maker just to get extra umph because I’ll be real honest, it doesn’t happen every day.

Rachael: Yeah, that’s okay if it doesn’t happen everyday, mine doesn’t either. I do try and plug into gratitude every day because someone’s usually irritated me to the point that I need to find it. And that’s the other thing too, you should never be under so much pressure that if you don’t do gratitude or journal every day, that it makes you feel bad about yourself. That’s not how this should ever go. The Selfish Mom Project should never make you feel like you’re not your best. It’s just something that if you can do it, and if you can really just take the…You might have to like find some pockets of time. But if you do find those pockets of time, you will feel better, like this process will make you feel better.

Susan: Thank you so much for saying that out loud, that you don’t have to do it perfect every day.

Rachael: You don’t and you’re never going to. I’m in no way… You know, I teach this but I’m so far from perfect. I still lose my temper. I definitely raise my voice. I’m definitely not a sex goddess and don’t make it to the PTA functions. I actually like, I’m in a season of saying no right now. And I highly encourage everybody to do that in 2020. If it doesn’t bring you joy and it doesn’t serve you in a positive manner, it’s okay to say no. You’re in no form required in this lifetime or any other lifetimes before after to be perfect.

Susan: All of the above. I’m just going to say yes to that.

Rachael: Yeah.

Susan: Absolutely. So before we wrap up today, I want to make sure that everybody knows where they can find your 60-day guide, as well as where they can find this vision course that you’ve got set up online for everybody.

Rachael: So the book is on Amazon and it is also on my website and anything that’s ordered through my website. I signed. So you’ll get your special little copy that way if you want a signed copy. The vision board course is also on my website, www.selfishmomproject.com and there’s also lots of fun swag all under the shop menu or the shop drop down that you can get a selfish mom t-shirt, you can get coffee mugs, wine glasses, start your day, end your day. Who am I to judge how you do that? So yeah, we have lots of…Everything’s available on my website and the book, you can also find on Amazon.

Susan: That’s great. And then they can find the Facebook group over on Facebook under Selfish Mom Project.

Rachael: So it’s just Selfish Mom Project. There is, I believe three questions that ask you. Just basically, it’s kind of my way of making sure that the people that are coming into the group are people. Real people, not robots, and that it’s a safe space for everyone.

Susan: Yeah. That’s awesome. That is awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time today. This has been so much fun and such a great way to kick off the New Year. I will make sure to post all of those links over on our website so that they can get to you. If they didn’t have time to you know, if the listeners didn’t have time to write anything down. And great, I will talk with you soon.

Rachael: All right. Thank you, Susan.


Finding the Wild Inside, with Marilyn Kay Hagar


Marilyn Kay Hagar is an expressive arts therapist and dream worker. She is also, most recently, an author. Her book, Finding the Wild Inside, encourages us to discover that wildly creative, place inside that knows there is more to life than we are currently living. Our society begs us to look outward for life’s meaning and purpose, but our inner lives are the true source of that deeper knowing.

Links

Marilyn Kay Hagar – website
Finding the Wild Insidepurchase link
Instagram
LinkedIn
Facebook



Transcript

Susan: Well, Marilyn, I am just so excited for you to join us today on the podcast. And I have read your book, and I have so many questions and so much of it, oddly enough, has resonated with where I am in life right now. When I read the first half of Life and then into the middle part of Life, I was blown away. And then finishing it, I said, “Wow, there’s just so much that I have to look forward to, both good and hard, I think.” But before I just go all over the place and jump in. I want you to share with my audience a little bit about yourself and who you are.

Marilyn: Yes, well, thank you. Thank you so much for having me. It’s just a pleasure to have this opportunity to talk and get my message out a little further than my little country home here up in Northern California. Most important things I want to say about myself, which may sound odd, is that I’m 74 years old so I have lived a lot of my life already. I was born in…Actually, my family roots are in rural Nevada. And I feel like those roots have kept me very close to the earth and very close to nature all my life. So I grew up in Southern California, went to school in Santa Barbara and college, kept moving north to the Bay Area, then moved way up here in Northern California to the little town of Mendocino about 40 years ago, and I’ve been up here ever since.

I raised my family here. I have three beautiful sons, and now I have four wonderful little grandsons. And so I am still working. I operate a creative retreat at my property in Mendocino at this point in time and do creative sessions with people. I still see a few clients and groups and workshops.

Susan: Yes, and I for sure wanted to dive in and talk a little bit more about that in a minute, but first, Marilyn, correct me if I’m wrong, but this is your first book.

Marilyn: It is my first book. And I’m very proud that at 74, I actually… I started writing my book seriously when I was 66. And it took five years of very intense writing and that’s something I surprised myself with. It was something I always wanted to do, but just didn’t find what it was I was writing about. I’ve done a lot of different writing. But yes, my first book at 74

Susan: Well, it is fantastic. And I am so glad that you put it out into the universe to share. There’s just so much that I identify with in this book with some of my own things that I’ve gone through in the past couple of years in creating this podcast, and why this podcast was created came from a time in life that was hard, and it was born out of something that was difficult. And this was the fruit of what came out. This was what was born out of that, I guess for lack of a better word pain. That sounds…It wasn’t as painful. But that’s the only other way I know to describe it and share with us. What is it that you most want readers to take away from this book because I have so many pages underlined. You talk a lot about flow and light and darkness within ourselves and not necessarily that light equals good and darkness equals bad. It just kind of is. I have been studying myself before I found your book, which I thought was quite fascinating, I found an old – he is older—an old Franciscan monk by the name of Richard Rohr, who lives in New Mexico. And so when I was reading some of your stuff from your book, I saw a lot of what I had discovered from him also coming from your perspective, and I thought your language choices were quite interesting. And when you said flow, I went, “Yes, yes, we are all connected in this way.” But I’m talking all about your book., I want you to share what you want us to know about your book.

Marilyn: Well, I’m actually really pleased to hear number one, that you read my book. Thank you so much for doing that. It’s really been a pleasure to me hearing how people are responding to my book. It came kind of wanting to gather the harvest of my own life after living all these years. I wanted to trace this thread of my inner life and cement for myself where it had taken me and of course, I mean, none of us enters the arts without some judge in there saying, “Why are you doing this?” or, you know, even, “who cares about your life, Marilyn?” And I just had to keep writing through that voice, knowing that we have so much in common. And in this day and age, that, to me is one of the most important messages that I hope people take from my book, that when we read about another person’s life, it triggers inside us similar processes, because we are not that different. In many ways, our differences are more on the surface, though we think that’s the whole story. So my book is about stepping beneath the level of the surface, and looking at that underground river that’s going on in each and every one of our lives and honoring that in a way that our culture doesn’t necessarily hold, as precious as I have found it.

I think, you know, in this culture, we are totally enamored with the light of the mind, our rational self. We want to look at everything and we want to examine it in detail. And we’ve gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from doing that. But there is this whole other part of ourselves that exists in the shadows, in the twilight, and in the darkness. And rather than seeing things in all their tiny pieces, this other part of us wants to see them as a whole. And our rational mind would just soon say that other part of us doesn’t exist. But you know, like the stars that still shine in the daytime, even though we can’t see them, that part of us is there and it’s affecting us in every way. And when we don’t pay attention, we are living on the half of our human potential.

So that’s what I hope people take from my book. I hope that it brings a conversation inside themselves that the stories that I tell about my life and the suggestions that I make at the end of the chapters, to my expressive arts therapy suggestions to explore these ideas from this chapter in your own life, I hope that’s what people take, and that it’s an offering and a gift that we all understand how much we actually have in common.

Susan: I agree with that. And finding those at the end of every chapter was very helpful for me. I don’t think that naturally I would have gone to expressive art in order to see some things that I think I needed to see in my life. I’m very good about reading and rushing on to the next book, and not even always contemplating what I have just read. It’s more…It goes back to that intellectual, just the more information, the more information and then just the taking and the taking and taking, and not always contemplating what I’m taking in, if that makes sense.

Marilyn: That makes total sense. I think we all do that in this culture.

Susan: And I really appreciate that your way, or one of the ways that you help us walk through in your book is, this expressive art therapy to me, reminded me of a practice of some kind in order to get into that depth within yourself. I know that is your main practice. And I hope that’s an okay word to use. I hope that that makes sense. Do you have other practices out there? I felt like there were a few that you kind of talked about in the book. One, besides the expressive art therapy was also the time that you spent with Keith.

Marilyn: Right.

Susan: Would you share a little bit about that? Was Keith a specific therapist? Was he also an expressive art therapist? Was he like a spiritual director, or kind of all of the above?

Marilyn: I would say in some regards, it was all of the above but by certification, he was a psychotherapist. However, his therapy had a great deal to do with body energy. So it was a somatic body focus therapy. It wasn’t so concentrated on the mind and the stories we tell ourselves with our minds, but rather what is our body trying to say to us. And you know, to me this the same thing, the arts come from the body, we do them from the body. And I would like to talk— I won’t say that now. But I would like to talk about the accessibility of expressive arts therapy, like when you say, “I wouldn’t necessarily go there.” So let’s talk about that at some point.

Susan: Well, let’s talk about it now. Let’s go ahead and get into that. I would love to.

Marilyn: Okay, but I don’t want to forget to say the rest about Keith. So, I feel like we all get alienated from the arts in this culture because we think of them as product and performance. And very early in our lives, I mean, by the age of five, six, seven, it can happen that early, that we discover that through our natural expression, you know, little kids just scribble on the paper, they don’t care what it looks like, and their imagination is flowing with what it is, whether it looks like it or not. And then there’s a point early, early, where an adult looks at it, or a teacher looks at it and says, “Hmm, what’s that? You know, it doesn’t look like that,” or “do it this way.” And it all gets focused on this accurate expression, rather than of what you know, like if it’s a boat, how does a boat actually look rather than this purple, flowing thing out there somewhere in the blue?

We lose our ability and we also become shameful about our attempts to express ourselves with the arts. You know, we get in school, there’s a kid who has a natural ability to the draw, and the teacher gives that child a lot of attention, their thing goes up on the board. And we very early learn that maybe ours doesn’t match the teachers expectations or isn’t as good as someone else. And because it’s such an essential expression that comes from us as human beings, when we get pressed down about that, like we’re not good enough, this whole realm of shame around it evolves, and we just decide that we will give the art making ability or the music making ability or the dance ability to the gifted few. And when we cut ourselves off from that basic human expression, we cut ourselves off from so very much.
So that’s been what I’ve dedicated my life to is, we are all creative because it comes with being human. And much of what I’m trying to teach Is that it’s, it’s liberating for an adult who thinks they can’t draw to start doing it. And I was one myself. I didn’t come to this because I was always an artist or a musician or a writer. I came to it because there was something deep inside me that drew me to express in those ways, whether I felt I could do with it or not. And it has been a major gateway to my inner self. So I just would recommend even that very first exercise in my book to open a, you know, have an art journal, open the page and scribble on the first page, and just start. It doesn’t take talent.
Once I learned that the art I was making was more about what the art was saying to me than about what it looked like, it became this open door to my inner self. So that’s really, really important to me. And I just feel like when we cut off our artistic self, we cut off a playful part of ourselves, we cut off a spontaneous part of ourselves. We cut off looking at our lives as a blank piece of paper and what wants to go on it. There are just so many things that we don’t know we’re cutting off when we think we’re not creative. So that’s my little speech about that.

But I do want to go back to your question about Keith, because that was so important to me as a woman. I feel like in our culture, I don’t know how many of you women feel really comfortable in our own bodies and own our energy, our sexual energy as our own, that somehow it’s so connected to relationship and the masculine. And the whole images of what of our society of what femininity is, what we should look like, what we should act like, what it means to be “sexy.” All those things are so repressive to women. I don’t know how many of us really own that that energy is ours, and it grounds us in the world.

And that was the great gift of that therapy I did for many years with Keith. It helped me to use my body to understand first of all, you know, through body sensation. It’s not intellectual. It was like, you know, say a sentence, what does your body feel like? Is it hot, cold, tingling? I mean, physical feelings? And then beginning to understand, you know, when I was angry, where is that anger in my body? A gut level kind of thing, you know? So that eventually, through that work, I came to accept my own body, the energy and, you know, feel like my body actually communicates things to me that my mind doesn’t really know. And it’s back to that rational mind being the most important thing in our culture. Our body is rich with messages for us, but we don’t know how to listen to it.

So that was the main thing for me. And I think I say in that chapter about how we women live with this split in our sexuality, we either have this virginal aspect where we’re not supposed to be sexual, or we have the slut aspect where we’re too, too involved in that energy. And we’ve lived with that split for centuries and centuries and centuries. So it was so important to me to finally understand my own energy inside my own body and that it’s mine, that doesn’t belong to anyone else, but me. And I can use it however I want to use it and it can communicate with me and I can communicate with it. And it is what grounded means. So that was really an important time in my life.
Susan: That is beautiful the way you just said. If I’m understanding this correctly, it really brought your mind and your body back together as one, instead of separating them like I think we often do.
Marilyn: Yes. And what I didn’t say there is that—thank you for saying that—It brought my mind and my body, and once my mind and body were together, my spiritual self became a physical thing rather than an eerie thing.

Susan: Oh, wow.

Marilyn: It is like heaven and earth coming together. And this is the feminine spirituality that was also split many years ago in our very early origins. You know, when a woman named Anne Bearing wrote a book, The Dream of the Cosmos. And in that book, she talks about how when we humans move from a consciousness where the Great Mother was everything. She was the earth, the sky, everything to humans at that period of time back probably in the matriarchal times. We moved from that consciousness where the Great Mother was everything to a consciousness where a transcendent God became the maker of everything rather than being everything. Nature and spirit were torn asunder. And we’ve been living with that. And as women how that came out, because women, because of our bodies, because we give birth, because we are the creative force that comes through, we women got attached with the nature part. And as the spirit part, the mind part rose, there was a denigration of women and of nature and all that is unfolding.

And so when my body and my physical self and mind made this healing, the heaven and earth coming together, my spirituality just became whole and material. It wasn’t split anymore. And that was such an incredible gift to me, and many years in coming. I mean it, you know, it takes a lot of living life and being able to move enough out of the cultural message for we women to really experience that and I am so grateful for that work that I did at that time that helped me come to that.

Susan: Yes. And I think, correct me if I’m wrong, but it was the thing—and I don’t want to spoil the book. But you had something happened in life that almost force…And I don’t know if this happens to everybody, I have found that this is how I have found myself there as well. And it wasn’t the same thing. It was just the way 2016 just kind of rocked my world and in so many different ways, not just the most obvious but so many different ways that I think I was forced to rethink some things in life and spirituality—not spirituality, I will say church was one of those things that I had already come to some conclusions. And then because of that, I was almost forced to make more conclusions, if that makes sense. Was that what moved you to the second half of life ,was that one rocking moment, or did you feel like it was a combination of other things?

Marilyn: Okay, so I am not worried about spoiling my book.

Susan: Oh, okay.

Marilyn: I just want my message out.

Susan: Okay.

Marilyn: So I would like to hear what part you’re seeing as that.

Susan: Was it your divorce?

Marilyn: Yeah, yeah.

Susan: Okay. And that was the breaking moment you felt that kind of pushed you into the second half, or the second part of life. Is that…?

Marilyn: Absolutely.

Susan: Okay.

Marilyn: Absolutely. You know, what was confusing me was the earlier story in my book of when I began to question my own spiritual roots and training. And so by the time I was divorced, near the end of my marriage, I had gone back to school and gotten my master’s degree in psychology, and was working as an expressive arts there. So at that point in time, I had already taken the arts back as a way to communicate with myself. I had taken you know, my body expression back, so I had a better relationship with this non- rational part of myself than earlier in my life, the first part of my life was all about how those non rational parts were taken away from me through different ways. And then the second part of my life how I took them back.

So by the time I divorced, and it was a completely devastating thing to me. While I was very into my work, and my mission life, I had really dedicated myself to family. I just could not imagine that even though there were divorces happening all around me in that period of time, I think that’s lessening now. But I never believed that mine was going to end in divorce, even though it was a challenging relationship. Sure, when that happened, it was like a death. It was an ego death. But it was like dying. It was like having to reform myself completely. And be very honest and true to myself. The art in that section of my book, I think expresses the complete fury at the time.

Susan: Yes.

Marilyn: Yeah. And that there’s one drawing of this Medusa haired, snake hair in the background and this little policeman in the front with his baton trying to control this Medusa woman. And she was just so full of feelings, you know, that’s where I saw myself; so full of these huge feelings of betrayal and just absolute rage, not just anger, absolute rage. And the other part of me this little policeman person saying “You can’t have all those feelings. You have to not have that,” and he was pretty ineffectual. He looked kind of small there with his little baton trying to…Yeah. And so as much as I could use my art and my body and my connection to nature to help me through that time, all those things don’t make the pain not happen. They just placed them in a larger perspective so it’s easier to hold the suffering.

We all suffer in one way or another as humans. And to me, spirituality is finding a big enough picture of who we are and why we’re here and what we’re doing here on earth, and the natural world around us to hold us as we have these experiences. And my divorce definitely set me looking more in an inner way of who am I and why am I here and what am I doing? And I took that energy out into nature because nature had always been a magical mystical place for me and it was the only place I could see that could hold the really primitive feelings that were coursing through me at the time. You know nature has earthquakes, nature has fires, nature has storms and wind and nature is always giving birth to itself, but it’s also always destroying itself. And it just was an intuitive thing to me that that was where I needed to take this wild energy inside myself at the time, and going out in nature, hiking by myself, even though I hadn’t done so much of that as a younger woman, was just vital to my healing.

I had to come to understand that in the circle of life, things are born and things die. And you know, not only people, which we know, but it takes a lifetime for that to really sink in. And this feeling that something even as precious as my family life could end. It was kind of a removal of the innocence of my earlier life where I guess I was invested in only beginnings and birth. And I needed to come to terms with the whole circle. And unless we put ourselves in that circle of life and accept the comings and goings and the birth and the death and the beginnings and the endings, we don’t really find our belonging on this planet because that is an important piece. And again, it doesn’t stop the grief when something ends, it’s important to go through the grief. But when it’s held in this bigger picture, that’s what I hope people will take from— is finding whatever it is for them that holds the big picture of what we humans are held in.

Susan: Oh, that’s so good. That’s so good, because I don’t feel like it’s the same for everyone. And I think that’s a good thing too. We don’t all see it the same way. Something that I’m realizing as you’re as you’re speaking, and correct me if I’m wrong, but you were already very well connected with your feminine side. And it seems like the times that you grew up in, your younger years of the 60s and the 70s and the women’s movement and your work through that. It seems to me that once you went through your divorce that you really stepped back. And I love how you did it, you really went and found your masculine energy that was already there inside you. And you’ve reconnected with that.

Marilyn: Right.

Susan: I feel like I’ve done that as a woman as well, where I feel like we’re in a time…And sometimes it’s easier as like this pro feminine woman to like, take on all of that energy and put the masculine energy aside and say, “Oh, I don’t need that,” or “I’ll deal with that later.”

Marilyn: Uh-huh.

Susan: Talk to me about that. And what is your experience been? Because I feel like you could offer so much wisdom in that area because you’ve kind of been there and done it already.

Marilyn: Well, you know, you have to put my day back to growing up in the 40s, 50s, 60s. In terms of my younger life, the 50s you know, I was born in 1945. So women, you know,

Susan: Wow.

Marilyn: So traditional in the…Well, I don’t remember that much about the 40s since I was only five but it was so traditional.

Susan: I’m thinking the old life magazines are popping up in my head.

Marilyn: Yes.

Susan: Yes.

Marilyn: You know, and my mom did not work until I was in college. And then she did some substitute teaching and home teaching, part time teaching to help get me through school, but she had no relationship to money even. I mean, my dad made all the money. And of course, the Women’s Movement came and the 60s happened. And that was an incredibly challenging time and I was there in the feminist movement. Early on, I read the feminine mystique late in college, and I considered myself a feminist. And once were little when I was having babies and my kids were little, I was part of the National Organization for Women and I was organizing consciousness raising groups in Palo Alto.

And what I laugh at, and I think I have that in my book, at the same time, I was still ironing my husband’s shirt and doing all the cooking, but I was a feminist and I was going to change things. And it’s a necessary phase that I had to go through. But it’s been a lifetime of trying to find a balance between the masculine and the feminine energy inside of myself. And my divorce, you know, I had not at the time of my divorce. I had not supported myself with my own money. I married right out of college; within weeks of graduating from college. And I guess I did support…One of my saying, I did support my husband as he was going through medical school in those early years, but I then started having babies one year before he graduated from medical school.

So I hadn’t really, you know, established a firm career for myself until I was in my 40s. And then it was supplemental income compared to what my husband was earning. And so when we divorced, it was like a crash course in now I have to support myself, now I have to take care of this seven acre property of forest land that I live on. You know, now I have to be completely in charge of my life. And I still had a son at home for three years at the time of my divorce so that was also single parenting, although he was in high school, but you know, it was a crash course and all those things I had turned over to my husband to at least help with or do the whole thing of. And it’s an ongoing work in progress to keep that part of myself going.

And certainly writing my book is a big piece of the outcome of that because it takes really a lot of discipline and focus to write a book and I did stay with myself. The earlier me, I don’t think I would have been able to do that. But what’s so very important to me, is balancing the two because this feminine part of me, this woman who gave birth…One of the most precious experiences of my entire life, was being pregnant and giving birth to my children. And this deep understanding that our bodies have as women. And also knowing that I can be in the world and do the things in the world. I sometimes think that part of the women’s movement that I was most involved in, sort of turned on that precious part of being a woman, which I don’t think is where we want to be in the end. I think we want to be in a more balanced place where we have both of these parts inside ourselves and we’re honoring both of them. Because every human being I think, has a feminine part and the masculine part, including men. And men, you know, are often having to pull forth their feminine energy and we women are pulling forth our masculine energy. But I just so want us to be in balance with that rather than one or the other being what is taking charge.

Susan: I appreciate how you said that “honoring both.” I think it’s hard. And I think our culture doesn’t help with that, either for women or for men, at all.

Marilyn: Right. Indeed.

Susan: We’re constantly fighting it. If we’re men, we’re constantly fighting the feminine and if we’re women, we’re constantly…Or it seems to be. I could be totally wrong. But it seems to be that we’re constantly fighting whichever one we’re not. Or giving it…Or maybe even…. I mean, I grew up… I don’t live in the south anymore. But I grew up in in the in the south, I grew up in South Carolina. So even just giving over to the masculine and forgetting our feminine or taking the feminine back to the 1950s feminine, which maybe that’s not always a good thing either. Balance is a hard thing to find. Do you have any recommendations on finding that balance?

Marilyn: Well, I just think being conscious…You know, I don’t want to act like I’m someone who’s figured it out completely because I’m clearly not. In fact, in my women’s group last night, I was talking about this aspect. I am a work in progress in this regard. And in some ways I my life, I don’t think it’s a problem I’m going to solve in our culture.

Susan: Sure.

Marilyn: I think it’s ongoing work, but to be conscious about where my masculine energy is and how its functioning and to be conscious of where my feminine energy is and how its functioning. And for me, that consciousness particularly often comes in my dreams. We haven’t spoken about that part of my involvement. You know, our dreaming self, we go to sleep each night, we all dream. If we turn our attention to our dreams, they have fabulous messages for us. But they’re all in metaphor and symbol, and story, and they need to be decoded. And for me, I often use the arts because I think they all come from the same place. But I worked for many years with a dream mentor, Jeremy Taylor, who helped me a lot in the writing of my book. And unfortunately, he died a little over a year ago so he didn’t ever get to see the end product.

Susan: Oh, I’m sorry.

Marilyn: He was such a dear man and really helped me use my dreams. I’ve been in a dream group with friends for about 30 years, which is a really long time. We meet every other week, and each person shares a dream and the people in the group respond to that sharing of the dream as if they dreamed that dream themselves. So they’re not telling the dreamer what their dream is about. But saying “if that were my dream, or in my event, imagine version of that dream, this symbol would mean this to me.” And we can offer each other a great deal of information in that way because we all meet on this simple metaphor level as human beings. We all share that same pool, and can bring important messages to each other.

So I watch my dreams about what are the women in my dreams doing? What are the masculine figures in my dreams doing? And that gives me the closest watch. I’m hoping I’m explaining that. Like, one time, in my dream group I was having a dream that I was on a basketball court. And I was dribbling all over the court and I was so skillful. And I just was so impressed with my dribbling and I was going around people and it was just masterful, and I was so proud of myself. And I finished reading the dream and a man in my group said, “My God, take a shot.”

So here’s a dream. Where the feminine part of me, you know, was being very skillful in all her maneuvering around the court. But she wasn’t taking the shot. She wasn’t scoring, she wasn’t making that mark in the world. So you know, I might not have come up with that myself but having people to share your dreams with… Jeremy used to always say we’re uniquely blind to a lot of our own processes. And that’s how we can help one another and come together with one another to understand these things about ourselves. But that dream has just stayed with me forever because my creative, feminine self dreams up and imagines all these things and is involved in all these relationships with women and men and friends and all of this. But there’s also this point where you make your mark in the world, and the masculine energy inside me can take this feminine energy and make it happen in the world. So I dreamed up my book, I went deeply into my creative self to write that book, but it was my masculine energy that made it happen in the world, but it’s out there as a book now, is my masculine energy.
And, you know, there is a… I don’t know, I think that book is still available. Clarissa Pinkola, the SDS book, Women Who Run with the Wolves, her chapter on creativity, it’s one of those books that I have underlined. I have read that chapter so many times in my life that, and each time that… I read it, I’m at a different place in my life so I underline different things. And literally almost every line in that chapter is underlined.

Susan: That’s beautiful.

Marilyn: Because she talks completely about this feminine dreaming up and envisioning and creating and all of this, you know, in the darkness, and then the masculine energy brings it out into the world. So I would recommend that book, in particular, because there’s other stories. You know, she uses fairy tales, and then talks about the underneath message of the fairy tale. And she has another chapter in there that I think is vital for every woman to read about the blue beard story, you know, where we all have this predator inside of us, and we as women need to learn to deal with that.

Susan: Well, I will look into that for sure. And I will link that in our show notes on my website as well. And I want to be respectful of your time, but I don’t want to forget to talk about your creative retreat that you hold called, I believe it’s called “For the Joy of it.” Is that correct?

Marilyn: Yes, in the last 10 years, thank you for asking, in the last 10 years, in working less and carrying less of a weekly client load, I decided to open my property here in the forest in Mendocino as a creative retreat, and host people in rooms in the upstairs of my house. And for me, this is an individual retreat, though I on occasion, do a group thing. But for a person to come by themselves, step out of their busy life and take some time to look into their inner world. I have an art studio on my property. And while people are here, they can have sessions with me. There’s a labyrinth on the property. We do dream work. If people are into their dreams. I create each retreat uniquely to the person who’s coming. But that’s been a great joy to me at this point in my life. I’m enjoying it immensely.

Yeah, I get a connection with younger people who are really busy in their career life. And I get a lot of people from the Bay Area, so a lot of the tech people, and they just come up in the forest here and everything moves at a different pace. And it’s an opportunity to drop in and discover a deeper part of ourselves, which to me is our authentic self and what we really want directing our lives rather than some outward thing that we’re striving for. How are we being directed from the inside, to move forward in our lives. So that’s what I’m doing in creative retreats, and nobody has to be skilled in the arts to come try that. That’s my main message.

Susan: Well, I think anytime that you can disconnect… I can’t even imagine being in the tech world and disconnecting. But anytime any of us now, in today’s world can disconnect and get into nature of any kind is a phenomenal experience. And I cannot even imagine just how much more fulfilling it would be to be with you and with the wisdom and everything that you bring to this, because you’ve already done so much work within yourself. It’s in your book. I mean, what you have done just it just flies off the page and it just hits you in the face of this is important stuff. You have to take care of your true inner self and you have to know who your who your true self is…As well as I think Richard Rohr calls it your false self. I don’t remember I get so many I read I’m reading so much, I can’t remember who says what. And you may have actually refer to it that way as well. I can’t remember. But just the importance of getting to know your true inner self and who you are, and how to connect with that. And you put it so eloquently, and you share it so beautifully in your book.

Marilyn: Thank you so much. It means a lot to me that that’s how it came across to you. And you know, the other person I would recommend a book called Belonging by Toko-pa Turner, is really on the same wavelength as I am. It’s an excellent, excellent book, so I would strongly recommend that book. And I love Richard Rohr. I read his daily medications, actually. So…

Susan: Oh, wow.

Marilyn: Yes. The language, as you say, is different for each one of us, but the important thing is for each of us to find our own language and talk about it. And by the other people and the way they see it. I just see it as a diamond with all these facets, you know, and this person sees it this way, but the diamond is still the diamond.

Susan: Yes. That was a beautiful way to say that. Oh, my gosh, yes.

Marilyn: Yeah.

Susan: That is so… Oh, wow. Yes, that is, yes. Wow, that just blew my mind. But yes, the diamond is still the diamond. Wow. I’m gonna have to sit with that one a little while.

Marilyn: Well, to me, there’s the power of image right there.

Susan: Yeah.

Marilyn: Well, that image struck in a particular way. And that is beyond…When you say “I have to sit with it for a while,” that’s beyond the rational mind. That’s where it struck in some way. That is beyond the rational, that some something in there goes, “Oh, yeah,” you know, that’s a gut level response. And so much of my work is based on that. And when I’m working with people with art, the images that come out on the paper, whether they can draw it or not, in an accurate way, those images come out. You know, a woman who doesn’t have any art, for instance, you know, can just get the image out, communicate something deeper, then “I don’t know what to do with myself.” Our arms are the part that do things in the world. And so, how to get underneath is what the images are really about to me. So that was a great example. I’m so glad when it struck.

Susan: Yes. Well, I really appreciate your time today. And I really appreciate your work and explaining to us what you do as an expressive art therapist. And it sounds like you are still just very much involved in your own practice, in your own figuring out things in life. So it sounds like even at the age of 74, the work just never ends as long as you’re still living life, and it sounds like you are, you are in it. And I love that

Marilyn: I do not want to work to end, actually. To me, the world is a mysterious magical place, and I want to just keep discovering as much as I possibly can about the world and myself until I am on my deathbed.

Susan: I love that. Oh, this has been my audience is going to love this this conversation but this has just been so meaningful to me. I have been looking forward to this since the first chapter I read in your book, and I thought, this is going to be life changing for me. And it really has been. It was really funny when I looked at the back of it’s listed as a self help/inspirational book. And you know, I think sometimes we think of the idea of self help, and we’re like, “oh, another one of those books,” like, but inspirational is definitely…It’s not the regular self help like, here’s step one, two and three years, it’s very much a memoir. And it’s a memoir, plus you tell the story of your life. And then you give people opportunities, and you invite them in to experience their own life in a different way. And I just found that so helpful, so, so helpful. And I think everybody should pick this book up. In fact, I’m going to be… I’m very lucky enough to have the advanced reader copy, but I will be buying a few more myself and giving them as Christmas gifts this year.

Marilyn: Thank you so much. You know, it’s just been a delight…You draw the best of me forward. And that’s a wonderful gift of an interviewer.

Susan: Oh, well, likewise.

Marilyn: I’ve enjoyed it. Am I did I

Susan: Before I let you go, are you active on social media at all? I know you have a website and I’m going to direct everybody to go to that website. But is there anywhere, besides your creative retreats, is there anywhere else people can find you maybe other interviews you’ve done that I can point people to?

Marilyn: I’m on Facebook at Marilyn Hager author. I’m on Instagram at Marilyn K. Hager, author.

Susan: Okay, great.

Marilyn: My website, you know, definitely has more information about everything I’m doing and that’s marilynhager.com.

Susan: Great. Well, I will encourage people to definitely go and check those out and definitely pick up a copy of your book. I think it’s one of those things it is, you didn’t write it earlier in life. You couldn’t have written it earlier in life. But at the time in history where we are in life, I feel like it is so needed now. So I think it came at just the right time.

Marilyn: Well, thank you. I’m hoping that it’s…I needed to harvest my life and I needed to offer some things I’ve learned. So I hope it’s useful. That’s my main thing. And I hope it goes out in the world in a synchronous way. Like you say, it finds people just at the point in time in their life when that’s what speaks to them.

Susan: Well, thank you very, very much for your time today. It has been an honor speaking with you.

Marilyn: Well, thank you really, I’ve just enjoyed it immensely.

Susan: Okay, thanks so much, Marilyn. Bye-bye.

Marilyn: Bye- bye