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Be an empowered educator: Encourage your students to reframe and adjust their perspective to inspire compassion towards others with Amy Dickinson.

As an empowered educator, how do you shape the minds and hearts of your students?
In this world that can seem chaotic, we all want them to grow successfully, but also to be kind and compassionate towards others.
Encouraging them to reframe and adjust their perspective a tiny bit will help them become the best versions of themselves.
Welcome to episode 30 of Take Notes with Jen Rafferty podcast! Today, I’m joined by Amy Dickinson. She is an advice columnist, bestselling author and radio personality.
Amy talks about the power of reframing our thoughts and the way we see things.
When bad things happen, we often look at it negatively. But embracing a kinder and more compassionate mindset will help you live more freely and happily!
Tune in to this very insightful episode and let compassion grow in your heart.
Stay empowered,

Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Linktree
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
Facebook: Empowered Educator Faculty

About Amy:
Amy Dickinson writes the syndicated advice column, “Ask Amy,” which is carried in over 150 newspapers and read by an estimated 22 million readers daily. She is also author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, “The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Story of Surprising Second Chances,” and Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things.
She is known not only for her wisdom but her wit. Since 2006, she has been a featured panelist on National Public Radio’s comedy quiz show, “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” She is also a sought-after speaker, delivering her inspiring and comic stories of her adventures and misadventures to groups around the country. After living in New York, London, Washington DC and Chicago, she moved back to her hometown in Central NY, married a local contractor she had known since childhood, and is now mother to five daughters.

TRANSCRIPT:  Sometimes we are just so close to our problems that we can't see the forest through the trees. Everything seems so big and wrapped up in our face. However, if we shift our perspective, even just a little bit or go high, as I like to say, you start to see things differently. And now there's space for real creative problem solving. Today, I'm speaking with Amy Dickinson, who through her correspondence with her readers, encourages them to reframe their problems and adjust their perspective a tiny bit to help them become the best versions of themselves. This conversation was truly lovely, and I am so happy to share it with you. And as a side note, we talked about Abbott Elementary and at the time of the interview, I had not seen it. And I know I know, I was definitely behind the pop culture eight ball with this one. But since then, I have watched them all. And yes, it is a great show. And if you haven't seen it, make sure you watch Abbott Elementary. When you're done listening to this episode 24 ways to find calm in your busy world is now available to podcast listeners for free and empowered educator.com/ebook. Here you will find 24 ways to feel more ease and joy by noticing all of the things that are all around you that are usually out of sight. I did all the work for you and it's yours for free. So download your copy today and empowered educator.com/ebook. Remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world. Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids. We need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy and fulfillment. This is education 2.0 where you become the priority. Shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee and grab your notebook. It's time to take notes. Hello and welcome to another fabulous episode of take notes. I am here with an incredible guest. This is Amy Dickinson who of course writes the syndicated advice column as Amy which is carried in over 150 newspapers and read by an estimated 22 million readers daily. She's also the author of The New York Times Best Selling memoir The mighty queens of freewill a story of surprising second chances, and strangers tend to tell me things she is known not only for her wisdom, but her wit and since 2006 She has been a featured panelist on National Public Radio's comedy quiz show. Wait, wait, don't tell me. And she is also a sought after speaker delivering her inspiring and comic stories of her adventures and misadventures to groups around the country. And after living in New York, London, Washington, DC and Chicago. She moved back to her hometown in central New York, married a local contractor she had known since childhood and is now mother to five daughters. Hi, Amy. Hey, Jen.

Boy, that's crazy. You know, what do you hear your bio read LS like, Whoa, did I do all that? Yeah. Amazing. Yeah,

it is amazing. Thank you so much for being here. Although I have to say like I were just saying before you recorded you did leave something out. That was very important. Very talented. Alto.

Thank you. And thank you for recognizing when I sing for your choir, thank you for recognizing I love this one session where you pointed out how different like the stereotypical soprano is a certain way and this year and I really love that I it's sort of like when you first discover that you really do match your sign of the zodiac. I was like Eliane such an alto. Oh my god.

Yeah, and for those listening who are not musicians, go ask your musician friends and ask them what we're talking about with Yeah, sopranos have like certain personality that is fully me. And like your delta solid alto Ami.

Well, I'm daring to harmony. Yes. And

so for some context, I had directed an intergenerational choir in Frey Ville and it's a beautiful organization. Honestly, I think when we talk about lifelong learning, for me as a music teacher for so long, that choir was the missing piece for me because we spend the 10 months of the year teaching the K 12 kids and then it stops and for me that intergenerational choir having kids as young as one eight right eight are not Yeah, let me in with three generations sometimes a families or people in their 90s Coming to sing

Jen in acquire. I sat next to a 94 year old woman who had been my teacher in high school. But incredible. And you know, for me as glorious as it always is to work with children and sing with children and watch children and enjoy children. For me, the elders, it was all about them. I just, I don't know, it was such a special experience, somebody should make a film about it. And can I just say, just this week, I got a question for my advice column. I couldn't believe it. It was from this madder grouch. Who said, What do you think about this? Amy, I was at a community band concert. And a baby was crying, disrupting what what? And I was like, I literally Jen, I pushed up my sleeves. And I was like, Okay, I'm going in. I'm going in. And because of course, the whole idea around groups like this is the idea of community. And I loved the way I ended this. The person gave me a rant, I sort of gave them a rant in return. And the way I ended, it was basically reflecting that a lot of us have been shut in for a long time. And we're out and about, and the world is noisy. And that, in my opinion, it would be great if this person could see babies is making beautiful music.

Yes. Isn't that interesting? Good timing. Yeah.

And I know you do this in your work, how often it helps to just reframe, reframe, just adjust your perspective, a tiny, tiny bit. And that's not to scold this person who wrote to me, but just to try to inspire that person and other people to think for a second like, Well, wait a minute, that noise is all about humanity is about it being a human being in a community. I mean, the irony that this person kept going on about this community community, I said, Yes, this baby is part of your community, you know?

Yes, sure. Well, and I think this is a nice segue into some of the things I wanted to ask you today, about a lot of what you do in your advice column is about reframe. Oh, yeah, definitely. Can you talk a little bit more about what that means for you, and how people can actually get into this elevated perspective of what their situation is. So they can be in a place to even think about a reframe.

Some of it has to do with compassion. As I get older, I actually, I was in a rough patch in my own lives, where one of our daughters got pregnant in high school, and I was in a brand new marriage, and I freaked out, I just lost my perspective completely. And we so overwhelmed. And I just, I really did some deep thinking about really reflecting online reaction to this, because I wanted to, despite my reaction, I wanted to behave well. You know, I wanted to model good behavior. And so I did a lot of really deep thinking and just try to center more on my compassion. I think it it doesn't always come naturally. And I just tried to imagine this girl in this household, and what she might be going through. And I really started to alter my perspective. And what I've learned is that if you just shifted a tiny bit, I mean, some of the old cliches like walk around in somebody else's shoes, those things actually can help to just change your perspective, even slightly. I have a friend who visualizes it by she puts her hands up in front of her face like a little signposts, and then shifts it just five degrees, it can make such a huge difference. And now as I get older, I've been doing the column now for 20 years, and I feel like my own perspective has shifted and I am much more compassionate in my column despite the scoldings. I occasionally feel compelled to offer and I urge people to reframe, and I do something that I know you and your sister were modeling in one of your podcast episodes, which is I provide for readers a script. A lot of times people, they don't know what to say, now. I think, actually, they don't know how to feel. And sometimes if I give them a little script, it can coach it can urge a person into feeling a certain way. You and your sister talked a lot about something like how to apologize. I love this too. I do this a lot, how to have a difficult conversation. And the suggestion to buy suggested this In my column many times I've done this in I mean, I suggested it my column, then I thought, Oh, now I have to do it. already hate that. Advice, right? Yeah, starting a conversation by saying, this is hard for me. I'm not sure. If the words are gonna come out, right, just hang in there with me. And I just hope that we can talk and do an understanding. But just starting by acknowledging that something is difficult or challenging. I think that can really help.

Sure. And that requires vulnerability, which I think people are not comfortable with, because it doesn't feel safe for people to feel comfortable. And there are tons of ways you can go with some of the things that you're saying. But I want to stay here for a little bit and talk about this script. Because it is really important. Because even in psychology, we talked about like heuristics of you get into a certain situation, and your mind kind of plays something out for you of the way you think it's supposed to go based on what you've seen before. But if you're in a situation where you want to make a new choice, you don't have a script anymore. It's off the books. And so having something as simple as a reframe for the situation. And kind of a guidebook is a beautiful way to start having that conversation. And transparency for me is always the best way through because then you're talking person to person always and not problem to problem. Would you agree?

Yeah, that's a great way to put it. I have sound that it's interesting. You came at this or you do come at this from an academic level. It's funny when I started sort of doing little scripts for people suggesting, here's what you can say in your condolence note, here's how to apologize. I'm shocked that none of the advice columnists I grew up meeting ever did that. And I think it's because I got the job after a very long career as a writer, and writers write their way out of things. So for me, scripting came very, very naturally. So it was less an academic or cerebral approach and more of a, I'm gonna write your way out of this pickle.

Yeah. And it ends up getting to the same results, which is super cool, because at the end of the day, I think people, we need to rulebook we need to be some guideposts because when we're walking into uncharted territory, which is I imagine where most people are, when they write to you and reach out to you. I don't know what to do here, I am feeling lost, I need some guidance. Having that script in that guidebook, at least is essential for them to at least feel a little bit of safety as they walk in to the unknown.

Also, people really, really crave validation. And they write to me and they want when I choose to publish their question, they most often want to know if their issue is legitimate. The deal with a crying baby, not legitimate. But yeah, so they want to know if the dilemma or the conflict they're facing is legitimate. And I think they want to do something about it. Some of the questions I get involve long standing estrangement, for instance, in a family. And I feel like by the time somebody writes to me, they're inspired to some sort of action, they actually want to do something.

Yeah. And then they reach out, and then we get the yes, you're on the right path, or maybe think about it this way. Right. I mean, I think each of us wants to be seen to feel seen. And I really believe that that's an important aspect of the work that I do in my advice column is to see somebody and validate sometimes legitimize their issue sometimes disagree with it, I almost only rarely suggest that anyone walk away. Because, like I said, I feel like often these people are at a Nexus line where they are inspired to try to do something. And so when you're in a position to give somebody advice, whether it's in a column, or whether you're a principal, or an administrator, or guidance counselor, or someone who's just in a position where people go to, you had said earlier that the best place to come from is compassion based. And you also said you want to be able to honor your feelings. He didn't use these words, and also knowing that you do want to have good behavior in this right. So there's some sort of like moral compass, also that that you're using here. I think that, especially now, a lot of people are confused as to like, where north is on that moral compass. Would you agree? Yes. And so I'd love for you to talk about that. Because that I think, is a lot of the root of where some of this conflict lies when we're just looking through this lens of our own moral compass.

Yeah, when I was much younger as a child and as a young adult, and in my early career My early days in a career in broadcasting, I've always been very outgoing, very mouthy. Quite the wit, sarcastic all of it. I've just always been out there with my comebacks. And I have learned as I've gotten older, the power of love, first of all, behavior is vital. And I don't know, if children are really learning like, Well, no, they are learning how important behavior is. I think sometimes as we adults, we forget how important our behavior is, in my experience, there's a lot that you can't take back. So I do believe that there's a right way to behave. And I also feel really strongly that sometimes in this is hard for someone like me, doing more listening is vital. And two, as my mother used to say, your big mouth is gonna get you into trouble some day, I don't want to ever make things worse for someone else. I definitely don't want to make things worse for me. And so I've really learned, I've had to concentrate on being quieter, a better listener. And that's been incredibly valuable in terms of my own behavior. And yes, I do believe that there's a right and a wrong. I mean, I am somebody who I receive huge volumes of mail, email, Twitter, like social media, huge, huge volumes. And I used to be very thin skinned, and I get a lot of I wouldn't call it hate. Now, as much as I mean, people can disagree with me, that I've always felt like that is what makes the caller robust is like, Oh, you're mixing it up a little bit. But I receive a lot of really hateful messages. And I just take it and they're always from a lot of time from elderly people. Really, I mean, some awful stuff has come my way from elderly people. And I don't know what that if there's a filter this disappearing or why. But I do think that we've lost our compass a little bit. And it has to do with, I grew up in a dairy farm and a really small town. And if I was out and about as a child, and I put a foot wrong, I remember once I was riding my bike down the wrong side of the street, I was riding facing traffic. And the next Sunday at church, a woman at church who lived nearby, mentioned that to me. I was like, nine years old. And I'm like, dang, I can't even like excuse me, I can't even I'm being spied on and corrected. But I really had the benefit of growing up in a community where adults would give you a quiet correction, a gentle correction. And I think that is incredibly valuable. And I don't know, one of our daughters just moved into this massive subdivision in Orlando. And I think it's gonna work out great. But the first thing we just went to visit and the first thing I was looking for was, Are there bikes in the garage? Like, are there people out walking on the sidewalk, like I want this family to be in a community where people know who they are, where if the kids, I have two grandchildren, like if they go astray, they're on the wrong side of the road, whatever is somebody can gently offer them some direction. I think that's incredibly valuable.

Yeah, well, and I think it also comes back to what you were saying at the beginning to have just compassion that I think really that kind of guides our moral compass is this idea of human connection, through compassion, where when you see someone a child not doing something that is safe or inappropriate, that just out of humanity, you can quietly correct, because that's a way that we can elevate together. And I think people have shied away from that, because it all of a sudden seems very scary. And make comments on someone else's behavior.

Jan. Absolutely. And this is the thing about living in a small place because these people love your parents. And but no, I think that a lot of people wouldn't dare offer a correction to it. And in fact, I get a lot of letters about this about other people's children. Can you correct them when they're at your house? I mean, and the answer is yes. Yes. I say yes to that. Yeah. Yeah. And frankly, someone like experiences as a child. Some of my best experiences happened and other people's homes because I was in the situation and my household was pretty it was on the Your farm was failing, my father left with like, pretty sad and lonely sometimes. But I had these girlfriends in a winter their houses, especially my one friend, her parents were just such great models for they were so nice to each other. They were really, really into children. And I still know these people, and I'm close to them. And I've told them many times how influential their household was, for me. It gave me a way to look at things that felt positive, reassuring. But no, people don't want to do that. You know what I liked about teaching that I'm aware of the children. Now, teachers talk a lot about kindness. Jen, when I was in elementary school, you didn't talk about kindness. You weren't praised for being unkind. You really weren't. And I think that's an incredibly positive, very positive and fairly recent style. I don't know it children are, I think, encouraged to understand their feelings more than we were. When I was young. It was like, stuff that down, it'll go away. You know, what, the legs? Yeah, well, and it's so important. And because when children grow up, recognizing that they have VLANs, they then learn to manage them to modulate them. And I think that's where compassion grows.

Yes. And as you're saying this, I just want to underscore what you're saying, because it is really important. And being in the classroom, as some of these like kindness initiatives are coming up, it's like very easy as an adult in the space to feel cynical and jaded about it, right? Because you're doing all of these things. And all of a sudden, oh, now there's gonna be this kindness campaign. There's like other thing I need to do. Right? Right. And it's a go back to this shifting of your paradigm a little bit. And this reframe is this is actually something that is an opportunity that you get to practice yourself as an adult, because let's be honest, the kids are not learning to be kind by getting blue ribbons of how kind they were at the end of the week. They're really watching the adults in these spaces and seeing how is this playing out? Because even as you were describing your story about your friend's house, you were describing what you observed, not the number of compliments you got for how kind you were at their house. It's, you know, what am I experiencing? What is the culture like? So these kindness campaigns or whatever social emotional program you might have in your school is not just about the kids, this is about having an opportunity for you as the adult in these spaces to embody the practices, which is then how we teach the kids?

Absolutely, yeah. And I assume that these campaigns are met with a lot of citizens have in the break room?

Sure, no. Oh, they are? Oh, yeah.

But I will say, as an observer, and as a grandparent, and I spend a lot of time around children. It's working. I think it really, really matters. I spent some time at my little village school where I went to school, and I've done some literacy programs there. And I'm really impressed us very impressed by how kind the children are to each other. To me, honestly, when you time traveled back, right, if you're an adult, I mean, have you ever taught in your elementary school? I have not. Okay, Jen. It's crazy. It's crazy. Yeah. Can you imagine because you had the smells, you're like, Oh, the principal's coming around the corner. Like you have all of the feelings that you had as child and all of these feelings and impulses as a child. And I assure you, so being in the exact same space and teaching, I assure you, we were never as a well behaved, considerate and kind of as these children were, we were like less. That was like crazy. So I like it.

Yes. And I think that's the thing, right? Like, we have to start with the adults in the spaces. Because like you said, it is working in the places that really embrace this idea. Even before the kids get out of the car when I dropped them off in the morning. It's like Bye, love you have a good day be kind. And at night to at our dinner table. We do some gratitude, sharing whatever, but like, how are you kind today, and keeping that at front of mind is really, really important. And I really do think that's how then we kind of move that needle back to true north of this moral compass,

right? Being kind is different for being nice. When I was a kid, we're trying to be nice, yet you were taught to be nice and oftentimes being nice. I mean, it's just on a whole different level being nice. It means you're being accepted by the group. It's I don't know it has a different quality kindnesses. It has a very deep quality. And for instance, I mean, when I was due her children's age no one ever mentioned kindness to me. And I go, but uh, you know, despite what I said about my own household, it was a really cool fun. I had an amazing mother who was like, very, very, very dialed in. But the conversations were not about that. It was more about winning. Yeah,

yes. Tell me more about that. Because that resonates with me.

Yeah, just the importance of winning. And that's another thing that seems very different to me from now, is the model we had was sports, sports, music, I participated in everything. And that was your venue to express yourself. And winning at that, at whatever I was doing. It was certainly important to me to feel like it was winning. And by winning, I mean, excelling. I can't remember ever been praised for a good effort. But lots of accolades for excelling.

That resonates a lot. And I'm thinking to now with this shift in this direction of kindness and what even you were saying before is people want to feel validated. Right? A lot of times that validation comes with what we call like achievements, like what are we achieving? How many like good job gents, how many A's do they get? How many gold stars you know, for me as a performer to its to the audience applauded? Do they been loud enough? Did they give me standing ovation? You know, what are the critics say, they know the next day and the paper, those sort of external validations of things were metrics of like you said, it was like winning and achievements. And that is what I thought was really important. And truly, until COVID, kind of like squashed everything about everyone's reality, but particularly mind because we're talking about me right now. I had to reframe what being successful actually looked like and felt like and what I found was the metrics that I really wanted to start using was my connections with people and how I felt because like, achieving didn't always feel good.

Well, when you look back, as I seem to be doing a lot in this conversation, nobody I said this to one of my nephews recently, who had just graduated from college, and someone was ragging on him about his grades. And I was like, Dude, I am here to tell you, no one will ever ask you what grade you got in that class is never going to happen. But what I did say, pivoting back to you is that, for me, certainly the college experience, in fact, because they live in my hometown, the whole educational experience was about connecting and feeling safe as a child to connect with other children, other families. Yeah, that's what it's all about. And it's, you look as a musician. I mean, if you're rehearsing hours a day, and then I'm on this live radio show, that's we perform before a large audience, sometimes huge audience sometimes is huge. Okay, here's the story about winning. The second time I was on the show, as a new panelist, I spoke with a producer and I said, I just don't feel like I can. No, I don't feel like I'm doing very well. She said, why is that? And I said, Well, unlike not winning the quiz, and she was like, Are you kidding me with this? She said, Amy, this is not about winning the game. The idea? She said, I'll never forget she said wasn't what Paula Poundstone does. She has literally never won. She lies herself on fire before she goes down and is you are brave enough to go down in flames. You are going to love doing this. And they're gonna love you. What a lesson.

Yes. And so how did you then go into your next show? What changed for you?

What change was I decided to have a lot more fun, less focused. And because it's a trivia show, I had gone in sort of wanting to ace the quiz. And what I realized was the most enjoyable parts for the audience's it's like on SNL when people break and the most fun for the audience is when your ad libbing when you're laughing when you're an another thing. I think this I am unique as a panelist on the show for what I do. I am very, very generous to the other performers. I laugh because it's all stirred up to mediums and me. I like I have a day job, if any, I want to you and ask but I'm not a professional comedian. But stand up comics. You get them together in a group and they're not they're not going to laugh at your bit. I feel like I have a pass because I'm not a stand up kind of like and I really I think I'm generous as a performer. I really enjoy what other people are doing and let them Have the spotlight and let them win. Yeah, it's fine. It's all about like having fun. It's an audience experience. I love it when the audience I mean, it's so much fun. It's a radio show jam that people come to watch. And we're like, you know, you could just listen for free this weekend, but they pay money, and they come to watch. And it's really glorious experience performing like that. It's wonderful.

Yeah, what, uh, you know, I think that is a really beautiful lesson, right? I mean, when you stop thinking about the outcome, and the end results, and you're just in the moment, having fun being authentic, that's when the magic happens. Whether you're on age, or in the classroom, or at home with your partner. That's it,

Jen, dare to Vale, we need t shirts.

Let's do it. Because at the end of the day, there's really no such thing,

right. And it's like, I think your your sister quoted this in a previous episode, that it's like, the person who's thinking the most about you is you, other people, like you're in your head, night and day, this stakes, that's not a thing that really helped me honestly, in my career in my personal life, understanding what the stakes are having a clearer view of what the stakes are, sometimes the stakes are very, very big, lots of times, they're not. And so when the stakes are low, I permit myself to fail with grace, light myself on fire trip over this sidewalk. I just allow myself to be human in that way. And I really started enjoying my sales

a lot more, you just reminded me of something too, because whether we're on stage or whether we're in for me, I experienced this even more. Even with my experience as a performer. I felt this more as a teacher as a role as being a teacher of this performativity of what I had to show up as because I thought, I created this persona for myself based on what I thought other people expected of me, right. And so what happened was, I would pretzel myself into something that was so uncomfortable. But on the outside, I looked put together, I looked like I knew all of the things I needed to know like, you know, you want someone solid go to Jen. But what happened was, and yeah, of course, it was dependable and reliable. But all of that stuffing inside of me was so uncomfortable was is the only word I can think of to really describe that. And until I had that moment where my world imploded during COVID. And I realized that actually coming to the same conclusion, which was what you just described as my faults, my missteps, my humanity, my mistakes are actually part of the process and in sharing it, and being transparent, is actually how I'm able to make more connections to people because it's real,

right? It's real. I mean, when I get praise from my books, or my column or whatever, it's often in those terms that end when people meet me in person at a book event, they'll oftentimes only that they like my work because I'm so real. I've written two memoirs, nothing tragic. I just put it out there about for innocence crying on the bus for a year after my I still cry about my divorce, by the way, and it was like 30 years ago, but I've come to realize that a lot of people are very uncomfortable with their own humanity, their own reality. I'm like, Oh, I'm not writing about anything that I can't own. There's a lot of stuff I don't want to own I probably won't write about but being out in the world and being a bumbling stumbling human is honestly, I didn't realize people thought that was brave. But it's the kind of bravery that I like. Yeah. And it's way more fun. Yeah, way more fun. It's,

yeah, get into community with people who also recognize their own humanity, we get to actually have fun with that together. And in my world. That's what my hope is for everybody to just wake up to their own humanity. So we can do this without all the pretense and get back to really that compassionate connection to each other. So we can all be human and stumbled through. Jen,

can I ask you as an educator? This is silly. Maybe but what do you think about the show? Avid Elementary?

Oh, I haven't seen it. Okay, I want to know, what do you think about Abbott Elementary?

I think it's really amazing because a lot of the qualities you and I have been talking about today are on full display with the teachers at that school. The main character is this sort of Liz Lemon, like love with women. It's so endearing because you really see how brave it is to be out there. And I think how good it is for children to see adults being real, being making mistakes and then cleaning up their mistakes. And I just think it's all of the teachers. It's an incredibly positive show about early education. It's wonderful. Well,

I will be starting that tonight. Thank you because I needed something to watch tonight. I ended my, my other TV shows. So new series starts tonight. We've been doing that one. Yeah, I need to ask you. Of course, the question that I asked everybody at the end of the podcast is, what is your dream for the future of education?

As a parent of five and a grandparent? I guess I would like to see education opened up, if that makes any sense. For instance, I'm very happy to see that standardized testing is less well, at the college level, the SATs are a lot of colleges are looking at that. And to really educate the whole child, look at the whole child, teach pro social behavior, get children into community. Yeah, this is what I want to see. That's what I want to say, you know, Jen, when I went to my little elementary school, talk about this time travel experience, I said to them, they had been primed. They were like, a really famous writer is going to come la blah, blah. So I went in, and I said, Okay, I have something incredible to tell you. And they're like, why? And I said, I went to this goal. And they were like, I then understood, you know, children's book, authors love doing school events. I see why these kids were so so thrilled. But anyway, my choice to sort of reveal that in a way like I really made them pay attention, there was this build up and that they told them and they were floored. So yeah, that's connection. That's connection that really

is, you know, that's beautiful. And I to see schools as an incubator for the community. And making that connection explicitly is part of the job.

Yeah, Jen, and I think we're wrapping up. But I want you to know that a couple of months ago, I bought a building on Main Street, you're afraid now. And I am going to open a library. I really wanted to have a place where kids could go after school, do their homework, do puzzles and games hang out. And that's really, my mission.

And heart got very tingly when you were describing that. I need to learn more. And after we stopped recording, I want to learn more about how I can help in that endeavor as well. Because that feels all the good feels.

Yeah, I just really, I feel very strongly about providing a safe space where kids can just be themselves, hang out, do what they want. And adults will be around like, I'll be there. Other adults will be there. And I'm very, very excited. I'm very excited.

Yes. And that what a beautiful full circle. Yeah, totally. I love it. Amy, thank you so much for your time and your talents and for just sharing your expertise with me. And with the take notes audience. I really appreciate it.

Thank you, Jen.

So if you enjoy today's episode, make sure you subscribe and tell friends. And I will also make sure that I link all of the things that Amy has, for example, her books. And wait, wait, don't tell me as well as the podcast episode that we kept referring to because that's important for you to listen to also. And we'll see you next time on take notes. Incredible, right? Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible. And it's all here for you right now. Let's keep the conversation going on empowered educator faculty room on Facebook.

Transforming mindset, knowledge and skills: How to build a bridge for students to achieve success through change in adult behavior with AJ Crabill.

Let’s be honest, empowered educators, aim for a bright future for each of our students. We want them to succeed, not just inside the classroom, but also in the real world.
And when you think about it, we guide them to bridge the gap between how our students see themselves and how they act and behave.
As their teachers and role models, we must understand the power we hold when we show up for our students. We are their mentors and setting a good example is important for them to hone their future.
Welcome to episode 29 of Take Notes with Jen Rafferty podcast! Today, I’m speaking with AJ Crabill. He is an advocate and public speaker on education reform.
AJ believes that student outcomes don’t change until adult behaviors change. And he shares the importance of transformation of adult mindset to encourage our students.
You get to be the change you want to see in your students.
Stay empowered,

Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Linktree
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
Facebook: Empowered Educator Faculty

About AJ:
AJ Crabill serves as Conservator at DeSoto ISD -- where during his guidance, DeSoto improved from F ratings in academics, finance, and governance to B ratings -- and as Governance Director at CGCS. He served as Deputy Commissioner at Texas’ Education Agency and Board Chair of Kansas City Public Schools.

Connect with AJ:
Website: www.ajcrabill.com
IG: @ajcrabill7

TRANSCRIPT:  As educators, we hold a very important role for our students future. But when there is a problem with behavior in the classroom, we often point fingers at the students and build in consequences without ever taking a second to meaningfully look at your role as the adult in that situation. My guest today believes that student outcomes don't change until adult behaviors change. And he shares the importance of transformation of adult mindset to encourage our students, we are the variable in every situation. So you get to be the change you want to see in your students. The way forward most often happens when we look at ourselves in the mirror. And look, that's not always easy, but it's truly the most important work that we do in school or anywhere. Here is where you get back to your agency and feel empowered. I'm really excited to share this conversation with you. And this work only works within community. So if you are listening, it is time that you join the Facebook group empowered educator faculty room, because if you enjoyed this podcast, you will love the Facebook group where you'll get live workshops with me giveaways, insights and where we can celebrate you throughout your Empower journey. You belong here in the Empowered educator, faculty room on Facebook. Remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world. Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two, and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids. We need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy, and fulfillment. This is education 2.0, where you become the priority, shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work, and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee, and grab your notebook. It's time to take notes. Hello, everyone. And welcome back to a another wonderful episode of take notes. I am here today with an incredible guest AJ kraebel, who serves as the conservator at DeSoto Independent School District in Texas, where during his guidance to so to improve from F ratings and academics, Finance and Governance to be ratings, and he also serves as governance director at Council of the Great City Schools. He has also served as deputy commissioner at Texas Education Agency and Board Chair of Kansas City Public Schools. He believes that student outcomes don't change until adult behavior has changed. And changing adult behaviors requires new mindsets, new knowledge and or new skills. And his intention is to transform student outcomes through the transformation of adult mindsets, knowledge and skills starting with his own. So clearly, you can see why I wanted him as a guest on the show. Thank you, AJ so much for being here today with us. Thank you for having me, Jim. I'm excited to just get this conversation going. So can we just dive in a little bit about why have you come to this realization and discovery that children's outcomes don't change until adult outcomes change.

This is actually kind of intuitive for a lot of us. So many of us have had that situation where we had a student whose behavior in this group of class was one way and then their behavior in this group of classes with a very different way. You know what I'm talking about? Have you ever been, I know

exactly what you're talking about? What do y'all get into meetings, and we're like, Wait, he doesn't act like that way for you, you know, what's happening here.

I certainly reflect on my own journey. And I can think of years where I performed at a level that even I didn't know I could perform at in these teachers classes, and was just a an unholy terror in these classes. And at the time, I certainly didn't have the capacity to be reflective on what's going on here. But with the benefit of hindsight, like it's clear to me that the adult behaviors that I experienced in these two sets of classrooms, which is fundamentally different than that in one classroom, there's this mindset, you know, little AJ doesn't want to learn and so we're just gonna just gonna figure out how to get through to how to survive this drama and, and maybe even we'll just get rid of him and his other classroom. The mindset is, you know, he he wants something for himself and we want something for him and, and he's got the goods to make good on that. What am I going to do as a teacher to help be the bridge between where little he is and where he wants? To be in that mindset, I was blessed, and I've thrived. I think my story is probably everybody's story. We've had this experience of these two ways that people showed up in our lives. And that is young people. Often we were responsive to that. I take that as incredibly encouraging news. Because if there's any validity to this idea that student outcomes don't change until adopt behaviors change. The blessing in that is that we don't have to wait for the right children to come along. We don't have to wait for the right teachers, we got to wait for the right. Parents. We don't have to wait for the right school budgets, you know, for the right legislative environment, that what's possible with this, for the children in our orbit can emerge immediately from my willingness to change my adult behavior. Oh, 100%.

And that's, I think the best part of recognizing that you're the problem, because you're also the solution that right? Yeah, totally the solution. Absolutely. Yeah, that is good news. That's the best news because we don't have to wait, we can actually start like right now. I have a sense of agency. Oh, 100%. Yes. Because if we're always gonna be waiting for like, like you said, the right group of kids or the right legislator, the right administrators, or the right school board, we are just gonna be waiting and counting down the years, you gotta be waiting for a minute, Jen, we will be waiting. Yeah, it would have been done years to retirement, because you can't wait to get out of there. Because it just never happened for you. And that's the reality for a lot of people.

That is not the day to day grind that I want for any of our teachers, what folks show up at work, just kind of treading water getting through waiting for the world to change. I want people to be able to live their passion, why they came to the classroom to begin with, like, what, what are we doing here, that here to be angry and frustrated and broken, we're here to live in to our own greatness, and through us to cause your greatness in the lives of the children that we interact with. That's why we all showed up. That's what we're doing here. That's what we want. And I see this, at least for me, as an inspiration that challenges me to stand in the place not necessarily instead of truth. Like I'm not putting this out there. This is the truth for the ages. Because on a whole nother angle, someone might argue, are you saying that young people can't be the architect of their own learning? Absolutely. I'm not saying that. And so the point of this isn't to D agency, are students and saying, Well, they can't create their own educational improvement, but as to rather create a sense of agency for me, it will like in whatever role that I'm in, what is it that I can be doing? How can I modify how I'm showing up and who I'm being in the moment in a way that can really be transformative for our students.

But I think that that is truth there, AJ, I think that is capital T truth. Because when you understand your own power and your agency and feel empowered in those moments, from moment to moment, there is an actual ripple effect that happens because when you show up differently, everyone around you shows up differently to give permission to everybody. Right? So while No, you are not 100% responsible for the children in your class, and the choices that they're making, in being responsible for your own choices, that 100% And that is truth affects the outlying environments, wherever you go,

the way I talked to, we're going to visit with teachers, education leaders, the term I use is parallel process, this phenomenon that whatever the leaders are doing, that in that moment, we are silently and subconsciously often giving permission to those who subscribe to our leadership to do the same. And so if we have a PLC, if I'm leading the PLC, and I show up exactly on time to the PLC every week, then I am silently permission others to do the same. If I roll into the PLC five minutes late every week and have the word leave the PLC I am silently giving permission to everyone else to do the same. This idea of parallelism is this parallel process, though, that the leader is doing and permissioning others to do I absolutely believe that that's powerful. Just as much so in the boardroom as it is, in the principal's office, it is it in the classroom, that how I show up is more likely to be echoed than just the demands I make them. Well, you all should treat each other respectfully, dammit. Well, how I'm showing up is more likely to permission the behavior than the things that I'm giving as an instruction.

Yeah, you know, and I'm laughing because what you're joking about, it's true. It's just there are people and it doesn't matter in which role you are in in the school, right there is this drip effect that happens. And so when you are wondering, why aren't people showing up on time, and you're the one who's also doing the thing,

rolling up minutes late, right,

you know, and but that goes for everything that goes for kindness that goes for respect, that goes for communication that goes was for expectations and agreements that we have with each other to create culture in a school district, that as a leader, you have a responsibility to do this internal work and really figure out what is my role here because you are the home of the energetics, you know, and how everything kind of aligns and is attuned to creating some sort of progress, whether it's the progress that you want, or not, that a lot of it depends on how you show up and do this internal work

absolutely reminds me, I was doing a classroom walkthrough once I was visiting the building and wanted to do some walkthroughs, because the building was really struggling. And as I went to one particular classroom, and I saw some of the most appalling instruction I hadn't seen in a while, it's like, there's no sense of connection or engagement between the educator and the learners. I'm not clear on what the lesson is. I'm not clicking anybody else in the room. Is any two people in the room? unclear what the lesson is just so many things. Yes, no questions rather than open ended questions. I'm not hearing academic language. Students are being engaged. Just I saw some of what I found just just horrible instruction, but these children are not receiving the blessing of their hate receive. And so I left that classroom finished doing the walkthroughs. Fast forward, a year later, I'm in a different school. And I noticed that the same teacher that whose horrible instruction I saw the year before, is now at this school was like, whoa, what, why is this person still here? And I immediately go into this kind of confused, like, I believe this was horrible structure. But why not? We need to go in here. Have you been in here that you're you're the principal, why haven't we go into there? It's like, well, Lil, let's watch and see. So the principal guides me into the classroom. She's standing right next to it, we watch. And I sit in the back of the classroom for 15 minutes and watch some of the most amazing instruction I have ever seen. All the students were engaged. Everybody knew exactly what was going on. Folks, were excited about the learning fired up about the lesson. The teacher was busy, you know, providing guidance, you know, not the sage on the stage situation here. But you have students working there different groups, and folks, you know, we're demonstrating autonomy, like it was just this really beautiful classrooms edit. And we step out in the hallway with the principal's like, what, this is not what I saw for this person last year. And the principal she hit me with. Yeah, that's because principal last year didn't believe her. But I do. And something about just how that principals showed up differently for that teacher, made all the difference in how that teacher showed up for those students. And so this idea of parallelism, that as a leader, whether a pure leader or formal leader, or you know, that informal leader in the building, who everybody looks up to, but even though they don't have the official title, that I have real power and how I show up for people in the work that I've done, in my own mind, that who I'm being in the moment really creates a safe space for them to be the best version of themselves as well.

I'm so glad you shared that story, too. Because I also imagine in that year where that teacher was struggling, there were moments where they must have questioned what they were doing, should I even teach because that they felt it. And I think that's where a lot of teachers are right now, because everyone's so activate. I mean, we're still just coming off the pandemic. We're not out of the woods yet. And I think that there's this big questioning process of what am I even doing here? And I think everyone's activated,

then to make matters worse, you have some knucklehead, you know, muckety, mucks come to a walkthrough and see you I'd probably your legitimate, where's the day of the good, and I certainly was not breathing possibility into that teacher in the moment. And so yeah, I absolutely get in that moment, in part due to my behavior and how I showed up in the walkthrough a year one versus year two, like in that moment, we run the risk of losing an absolutely amazing educator, because the leadership behavior is and see how it can modify itself to be of service to that particular educator and to through her than open up what's possible for a classroom of students children suffered in that day. And the difference maker was adults, in this case, district leaders and building leaders changing our behavior to really open up possibility for the teachers we serve.

Absolutely. And I think that is what's happening now is that we're losing a lot of our best and brightest because of just that. And you know, we talk often about you know, we have this beautiful analogies of the flowers in growing we don't blame the flower we change the environments, right? We have all of these like stories around this but the thing is, we are the environments that the people who are in these places or these other people, we are the environments we are bringing no

sunshine whatsoever that the people out here We'll

wait. And we wonder why, like what's happening, right? Why isn't my garden growing? Well, because you're not nourishing it. In fact, you're giving it more of what it really doesn't need. And so looking at ourselves in this way, as as being part of this environment, I think is a really important perspective to take.

Yeah, I'm out here sprinkling pesticide on the garden front to figure out why in a row. And the problem is,

yes, and the thing is, to a day, I'm sure you've discovered this, in your own journey is that looking at a mirror doesn't always feel good, it's painful, sometimes always best to blame the others first, it seems like But how's that working for us. But it is painful to look in the mirror, because you have to really dig deep. And I think circling back to what you were saying before about what your own beliefs are about what's possible, about how you think about your self efficacy, and your ability to show up the way you want to all of that impacts how you're going to be interacting with the kids in your classroom and your colleagues. And really taking a look at that mirror is asking yourself some really hard questions, which is painful. But when we all do it together, there's this beautiful community and then sticking with this garden metaphor, our garden grows. So I have a question now I want to shift a little bit is, you know, you have an incredible amount of experience with school boards. And I really do want to talk about this and highlight this a little bit. Because I think sometimes when you think about the school boards, it is a little bit like this group of people on this mountain who make the decisions. And we need to ask permission to talk to the people

bring the tablets back down, chiseled.

Yes, we only go there when there's a big emergency and everything's on fire. So can you talk to us a little bit about really what the role of a school board is, and how we can work with a school board to reach this common vision that we all have?

Yeah, so the work of the school board is quite unique and separate from everybody else in the school system. So the board's job is to represent the vision and values of the community that to really listen to what happens you have a community, but there's just too many of us in the community to all sit around a table and make decisions about things that the school should be doing. And so at some point, somebody said, instead of having the 100,000 of us sit around a table and make decisions, why don't we get people who represent our vision for what should happen, which shouldn't, you know, be able to our values are non negotiables. Let's hire some folks who are going to represent us and Aboriginal values and have them do this on our behalf. We refer to that group that the community hires to represent its vision and its values on its behalf, we refer to that group as the school board. So that is the job school board is to represent the vision and values of the community, the vision that describes what we want our students to be able to do. And the values described, what are the non negotiables that have to be honored on the journey, then the job of the superintendent and everyone else in the organization is to implement the vision and values of the community. It's actually not teachers, job principals, job and superintendents job to decide what the community wants for its children. It's not those folks job, the job is to hear what their vision is as distilled from communicated by the board, and then to figure out how are we going to make that happen? In reality, this is a hard distinction to maintain, because you simultaneously have teachers, principals, superintendents, who probably live in the community as well do have their own ideas about what the vision of value should be. And you simultaneously have school board members whose sole job is to represent the vision values, but not to implement it constantly trying to figure out how can we get more and more involved in the day to day implementation. And so this can be a tough separation to maintain the value of maintaining atones because then you segregate expertise, the expertise of individual school board members, is listening to the community, understanding the community's vision or values and writing it down. And by the way, the written form committees vision and values. That's what we mean by policy policy is nothing more than the codification of the community's vision and values. That is the sole expertise. So even if you have a board member who has been a teacher, they're not on the board, to bring the expertise of a teacher, certainly the perspective of a teacher, but they're on the board to represent the vision of values of the community. And when we hire staff, we're not hiring staff who need to have expertise and going out and listening to the community vision and writing about the policy. We're hiring staff who have expertise in taking a set of vision about what we want our students and are able to do, and operationalize that on a daily basis. That is the work of our staff. And so we need both, but they certainly do different jobs. Like you hear the old adage it takes a village to raise a child. This is certainly the case. What is often missed is not all the villagers have the same job. Add, some villagers have the job of actually working with the students. Some villagers have the job of just listening for and synthesizing the entire villages vision and values, and then passing that on to the teacher to say, here's what has to get done, you go figure out how it gets done.

So can we pause here for a second? Because I want to just say what's on my mind. All of that sounds so beautiful, and practical and valuable. And for me as a community member in the school district that I worked into, I think what I have observed in that experience and other areas that I've been at, is there is a breakdown in the communication of what those values are, and how they're being implemented. Is that like, the biggest breakdown that you've experienced?

That is essentially the crux of the book I just wrote.

Great. So yes, because we need things like that. Because, you know, I'm thinking like, Okay, I'm hired as a new baby teacher, and I've got bright eyed and bushy tailed, and I'm, like, ready to go to teach my content and change the world with my students. And here I go, and I have no idea what the role of the school board is, until all of a sudden, I mean, I was a music teacher, there's a problem, they want to cut my program, I might not have a job next year. And that is my first relationship with the school board. That's crazy to me.

What's odd about that is, generally speaking, when the school board is really doing its job, well, you're probably never going to hear about them at all, even when your program has shifted. Like, ideally, those type of decisions aren't decisions that the board's making are involved in at all. That's the implementation layer. And so where I often see things go really sideways. Some of the failure modes, the school boards, entertain, winds up being when boards are actually showing up at schools and trying to engage themselves in decision making, well, we should keep this program we should cut that one. I don't think she's a very good teacher. I've heard people don't like her. And so we should do something about that. Well, you know, he's a really good guy, he goes about church, so we should keep him when boards get involved at that level, then you do hear about them, for good reason, because they're creating real harm within the organization. But generally speaking, if board members are really, really doing their job, well, most of the time, they should be really impossible to run into, because they're very much behind the scenes.

So tell me more about the crux of your book about this communication breakdown. And then how do we navigate it and in a way, so we can make it work, because we are talking about the adults here again, because in order to serve kids, we need to talk about the adults in

the book, essentially, if we want to see improvements in student outcomes in the classroom, that's going to happen largely by the teacher just getting stronger and stronger, and aircraft day in day out, just continuous improvement. And it's a really simple formula, you know, be clear about what exactly it is we're trying to accomplish in the classroom today, actually deployed, do some measurement to figure out what works reteach where necessary. Wash, rinse, repeat, it's this is really tight, continuous improvement cycle. And as long as we've got the appropriate short cycle assessment, and we've got some coaching, preferably, but not evaluative sort, that we can just make it a really tight, we're just week in week out, I'm just getting stronger and stronger and stronger. And the next year, when I come to this exact same content, I'm gonna be on fire because we really hold and hug and hold that continuous improvement cycle is the almost the exact same thing that boards need in the boardroom. And the step one is we got to get clear about why we're here, I refer to that as a focus mindset. And this is where the train often leaves the tracks very early on in the process is that it can be very easy for board members to get off into believing that their job is to be the ombudsman and appease the needs of those who are privileged enough to be connected to the board members. That's actually not the job of the board. But it can feel that way. But it's not. And so the first step is a focus mindset. Why does the school system exist? And what I offer is the school system exists for one reason, one reason only, it's to improve student outcomes. It's to cause improvements in what students know and are able to do to cause improvement and what students know and improvement to what they are able to do. Because when children walk out of the school house for the last time, the only thing they're taking with them is what they do and the ability to do without giving them they don't get to take a teacher with them when they leave, we're probably not giving them a stack of textbooks when they leave, we're probably not giving them a laptop when they leave. When they leave. They leave with what they know and they're able to do the job of schools is to cause an increase in what students go and are able to do. That's step one, in the continuous improvement process for school boards. Is it going to focus mindset to be very clear that that is The work in that our access in the boardroom to causing that is through changing our adult behavior. Focus mindset is step one. Step two is getting clear about the priorities. And this tool is where many boards completely fail. And they can't tell you Oh, what the priorities I frequently walk into a board meeting where I've been invited in to provide some coaching for the boys say, okay, what are your priorities? Are you all clear about your priorities? Yes, absolutely. All right, well, pop quiz everybody. There's a pad of paper in front of us pit, everybody write down the priorities for this board? And we're gonna call it Yeah, no problem. We'll write that down. You can guess where this thing is going. Alright, folks read above. I have $100. Bill for any two people who work the exact same.

Have you ever given away that $100? Bill, I need to know

all my buddies about pocket. But the challenge is the board's not clear about the priorities. But just in and among itself, there's definitely no way there's going to be clarity between the board and the rest of the school system. Part of the reason this is particularly dangerous is because then if the board says, Oh, well, we need a shifting of this direction. And then they look at where the school says, Well, how come what you're doing is in alignment with what we're doing? Well, you need to hurry up and get alignment, because we're going this way now. And in that context, you see, school systems do really wild things, to try to be responsive to this kind of Herky jerky, non clarity of priorities. And often this is where programs, programs change. And this is where the flavor of the month concept comes from, oh, well, this week, we'll go in this direction this week, we'll go in that direction. All of this emanates from failure to get clear about what the priorities are. That's step two, after that, it's just the same implementation stuff the teachers got to do. After we get clear about the priorities, then it's monitor progress, align resources, and communicate the results and then wash, rinse and repeat over and over again. And so like I say, the the fundamental continuous improvement cycle is pretty similar between the boardroom in the classroom, they look a little bit different. But the key thing is that the board's not doing it. It has powerful ripple effects throughout the entire organization.

Sure. And the way you just kind of laid this out in this framework, it seems so simple. It's not easy. Not easy, but very simple. It's very simple. And one of the things I think that complicates it a little bit is this perceived power dynamic between superintendents, and the school board. And I'm sure this comes up a bit for you. Can you talk a little bit about those power dynamics, and how that can potentially complicate that process that you just laid out for us?

Well, a common misconception, you actually asked the question correctly. A common misconception, however, among board members, is a misinterpretation of the question you just asked. And so my way of getting at this, I'll ask a board that I'm newly working with, went to seven number school board, a lot of school boards across the country of five, seven or nine members were mostly usually around seven. I'll ask them how many bosses in the school board have? And people think how do seven, and that's completely wrong, that is 100%, wrong about the superintendent is not have seven bosses, this is a complete misunderstanding of the role. The superintendent only has one supervisor, and that supervisor is the school board, collectively as an entity, none of the seven members of that board have any authority whatsoever over the superintendent or any person on staff. And in fact, in most states, the law is very explicit that individual board members have no authority. They can't tell the superintendent to tie their shoelaces. They have no authority whatsoever is an individual board member. Now when acting in collective in collection with their colleagues on the board, then absolutely the board collectively, does have final authority over most things in the school system. But a common mistake is made his folks think that Oh, well. I'm on the school board now. So you vote for me, I'll show you how to fire this coach. And you know what, this music teacher, she's not very good vote for me, I'll show you you're gonna cut her, but I'll get rid of her. And people speak like this as if they individually represent the vision of values of the community. This is arrogance of the highest order that the board collectively represents the vision values in the community. No individual board member can lay claim to that.

I'm so glad you said it that way. And it is confusing when it's not that way. For the people in the ecosystem of the school districts and the community.

It's incredibly confusing. And I would be lying if I said that I wasn't guilty of this myself when I first joined my school board, like even if you were trying to honor that. It takes a whole different way of thinking about things and a whole different way of showing up to honor it. So when I first got on my school board, well the first thing is I went off to one of our Montessori schools and I was really curious about I want to learn more about and so I went and did a walkthrough I thought was a really interesting visit. hopped in my car drove away If I'm not 10 minutes down the road, and the superintendent called me, why the hell did you go in here and start telling people everything was wrong with their school? I'm like, Whoa, what are you talking about? I didn't do any such thing. What happened was, while I was in the building, must have made some offhand comment about one of the display boards that wasn't complete or something yet, whatever I did was triggering for folks, because a board member who served before I joined the board had a habit of going into buildings, and yelling, literally yelling at staff and telling them what was wrong with their display boards. And like, what you need to get this right, and this is, of all things, like, if we get the display boards, right fit, everybody's gonna be literate. I mean, so of all things to focus on, but this is apparently what she would do. And so I made some offhanded comment, it was super triggering for this, like, Oh, my God, now we've got a new board member. And now we got to fix all of our display boards. And so apparently, the principle that Snapseed like, I've had enough and called superintendents like, I want to grieve, or I'm angry about this person coming down and yelling at us, and the superintendent that probably picked up the phone, gave me an earful. There was a moment I realized a couple of critical things about school board. One is it is really, really hard to be clear about what my intention is, in the context of there are other board members currently serving and board members who have served before me that it's not enough for me to be mindful of what I'm communicating, I also have to be mindful of what I'm communicating in the context of the folks who come for me, if folks have experienced trauma before I got here, I have to be mindful that whatever I'm doing is going to be experienced through the lens of that prior trauma, not through the lens of my intention.

And can we just pause here for a second too, because that's true also for everything and every one and every other interaction that everyone's doing all the time. So that's like, big picture capital T truth. That's another one. But yes, in this context, right now, in school boards, that is also particularly true, yes, yeah.

And I didn't know that. And I wasn't respectful of that. I wasn't mindful of it. And even though my intention was to be uplifting, and loving and supportive, what was happening in the school, my impact was anything but and I had to do the work to clean that up, I had to do the work to earn the trust and confidence of our educators, I was not outed, I had to earn it. And basically what they were the job, I was going to the exact opposite direction. That was the first takeaway from that. But the second takeaway is I had an opportunity to spend more time and reflect whatever I'm focused on, is what other people got to disproportionately be focused on as a board member and as a board. And so if we spent all of our board meetings, talking about display boards, if we spent all of our board meetings talking about the color of the astroturf on the football field, or what color should this hallway be, or all of these things about facilities and buses, like to the extent that that's what we spend all our energy on, we are obligating our staff to spend energy on that I spent energy talking about display boards, they didn't hear anything else I said, that whole school visit, all they heard was great. Now we got to fix artists, play boards, among all the other things I've got to do for children today, whatever I'm focused on, I draw the focus of the entire school system in that direction. And so this is a critical area of failure for school boards, is that you could be forgiven for having watched a school board for a full year, and never had an idea that they were governing a school system, because they never talked about student outcomes and never talked about what is it that we want students to know and be able to do? And what is current performance relative to that community expectation. And so there's this sense that I have to be incredibly focused and dialed into, what is the thing that I want most, and also means have the discipline, to not focus on things that might actually be really worth focusing on like that objectively, hit it up themselves are really important things and vital things. If somebody calls and says, Hey, my kid didn't get picked up at school, they stood on a bus stop for three hours today, what are you going to do about that? That's a really important thing. But to the extent that I make that the focus of the next school board meeting, which probably not the focus is when that kid to get to school to actually learn something. And so that's the really hard part about any leadership role is that I've got to be disciplined enough to while they're all these important, all these urgent things that are popping up around me, I've got to constantly weigh the cost benefit of focusing on them, rather than focusing on the things that have already articulated to the priority.

And that's just it getting really clear, like you said, on what your purpose is, and what the priorities are, because that then becomes your Northstar and everything else while might seem important in the moment, can that be delegated to someone else? And does it align yes or no? And if it's no then we don't talk about that at this meeting. And that's just how it is. And it is discipline because it takes intention in your not just your behaviors, but your thoughts about audit of which thoughts you're actually going to be attaching to, to align it then with the language you're using when you speak not just to other board members, but to other members of the school community and the greater community, you have to be hyper vigilant about making sure that when you are speaking, you are speaking as that role, and it needs to be aligned.

And that's tough transition, especially as I go from educator to a board member go for being a parent to a board member, it takes a lot of intentionality to remove, the educator had to remove the parent hat and take on fully, here's the hat that I need the my students need me to be wearing right now.

That's the question, isn't it? That's a great question. What's the hat that I need to be wearing for my students right now, because then it takes you out of the equation. A lot of this, you know, we're talking about you were talking a lot about your personality. And underlying, we haven't really talked about explicitly, but like ego, right, and like, what's important and your own personal priorities. At the end of the day, this isn't about you. This isn't about any of us. This is about the mission, and the purpose of why we're here. And once you take yourself out of the equation, and things actually start to get a whole lot easier.

This is the discipline that comes with time and practice and trial and error, but it's a critical journey. But ultimately, it's what gives rise to my ongoing assertion. Do not commit don't change at all adopt behaviors change, starting with me.

Yes. And me, and you for whoever's listening. So I have to ask, before we wrap up, what is your dream for the future of education?

The thing that I dream most about is actually about the future of our society. When I say our society, I mean, the species level society at the moment, but perhaps a multispecies society very soon with the advent of AI is seemingly at our doorstep.

Oh, that is another podcast episode, we put a pin in that one.

Back, I definitely have thoughts on that one. But I dream about what's possible for our society. And my sense is that anything that is possible for us as a society, writ large, is lives or dies, inside of our ability to create really great educational opportunities for our children, that if we are not creating a space of aspiration and possibility and hopefulness and joy and learning and hard work and trial and error, if we're not creating that in a really powerful way, in our schools, I question whether our society one will be long lived at all, is that collective technology surpasses our collective wisdom. But even if somehow survival? What does that survival even look like in the absence of folks being able to live choice filled lives where they can really pursue meaning for their selves, on their own terms in a way that makes sense for them and their families like that. That's what I think about when I think about what's at stake. And that's what animates the work I do to be constantly looking at, what's the thing that we can do to improve outcomes for

all of our children? Yes, it is too important to mess it up. And that fire that I'm feeling in my belly, as you're saying these words is the thing that gets me out of bed every morning, because this is too important to be complacent. It's too important. And it's going to feel messy and difficult, clearly, right? Because change is messy and difficult. And it needs to happen in order for us to become something bigger and better than what we already are. Otherwise, what are we doing?

There's more than it's possible for us as a society. I wouldn't say a step into that possibility. And the thing that I can do to most support that is to help accelerate the transition from adult input focus to student outcomes focus.

Yes. And that is one of the reasons why I love having this platform and connecting with people like you who do the work in this world that you do, because we're stronger together. And I really believe this is how we change the world change ourselves, you change the world. Amen. Yes. Well, so before we go, I need to ask you, how can people get in touch with you and learn more about your work,

feel free to reach out AJ crable.com Just AJC are a b i l l.com. And feel free to just drop me an email AJ, AJ credible.com. Especially if you're working on something, and you're really seeing amazing results. You just want to visit with folks who can help identify how can we can we share that story? How can we spread it to more places? You know, one of the benefits of the work I do is I can just put a lot of time week in and week out with leaders who collectively are educating about 8 million of our students across the country. I have a real platform to bring to their attention things that are working. Now. These needs to be evidence I want to hear what You enjoy or what you feel passionate about. I need those things as well. But I need data that says and here's the evidence that we know this is making a difference for children like it is people have that. Like there's amazing things that are happening all around us. I'm loopy honored to be a conduit that helps spread that. And so to the extent that that's true, folks, please don't hesitate to drop me a line.

Fantastic. And I will put those links to your website and your email address in the show notes. He thank you so much for spending your time with me today. It's been really great talking with you. Thanks for having me. And if you've enjoyed today's episode, make sure you subscribe so you don't miss a single episode and share it with your friends. And I'll see you next time on take notes. Incredible, right? Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible and it's all here for you right now. Let's keep the conversation going at empowered educator faculty room on Facebook.

Is stress causing your teacher burnout? How to start healing yourself from hormone issues and have a better quality of life with Dr. Beth Westie.

Do you feel burnt out, tired, and sluggish at times?
Sometimes this can actually be because our hormones are a little out of balance.
Working in a fast-paced environment, you sometimes don’t realize that your daily habits can be extremely exhausting.
It’s easy to chuck it all up to your stressful work. But the truth is, knowing how your hormones work can help you understand how your system changes throughout the month.
Welcome to episode 28 of Take Notes with Jen Rafferty! In this episode, I’m speaking with Dr. Beth Westie. She’s an amazing author, speaker, chiropractor and the host of Female Health Solution Podcast.
During our talk, we cover the importance of knowing about how your hormones work in maintaining good health and lifestyle. Dr. Beth aims to provide the best tips and tricks that you can start implementing to help you be more productive and energetic in your work.
As an empowered educator, it’s really essential to get your body to a state of optimal functioning to serve your students better.
Today is all about the power of knowledge towards a healthier lifestyle!
The power is in your hands, are you ready to claim it?

Stay empowered,

Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Linktree
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
Facebook: Empowered Educator Faculty
About Dr. Beth:
Dr. Beth is the author of the Best Selling book, The Female Fat Solution, the creator of the 12 Week Female Hormone Solution, the Eat for Your Cycle™ Method, and the host of The Female Health Solution Podcast. She has made it her mission to change the way women view their health. Working to educate and empower women to take their health into their own hands, she uses nutrition to help women work with the natural cycle of their bodies to achieve lasting weight loss results.

Connect with Dr. Beth:
Website: www.drbethwestie.com
IG: @drbethwestie

TRANSCRIPT:  Your physical well being is essential in the work that you do, because you can't show up and be your best self for your students if you're feeling burnt out or tired or sluggish. So my guest today, Dr. Beth Westie walks us through how our hormones actually affect our body and can cause some of the feelings that we feel, and then what we can do about it when we aren't feeling good. This is about leaning into the natural cycle of our bodies instead of fighting against it. Our hormones are a part of our chemistry and when we learn about how they work, we can feel empowered, and how we navigate all of the ups and downs. Get out a pen and a notebook because you are definitely going to want to take notes for this episode. And my book 24 ways to find calm in your busy world is now available to podcast listeners for free at empowered educator.com/ebook. Here you will find 24 ways to feel more ease and joy by noticing the things that are all around you that are usually out of sight. I did all the work for you, and it's yours for free. So download your copy today at empowered educator.com/ebook. Remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world. Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids. We need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy and fulfillment. This is education 2.0, where you become the priority. Shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work, and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee and grab your notebook. It's time to take notes. Hello everyone and welcome to this fabulous episode of take notes. I am here with the incredible Dr. Beth Westie, who is a chiropractor, author, speaker women's health and nutrition expert and founder of eat for your cycle and nutrition for your hormones. Dr. Beth is the author of the best selling book the female fat solution, the creator of the 12 week female hormone solution, and the eat four year cycle method and is the host of the female health solution podcast. She has made it her mission to change the way women view their health. And she works to educate and empower women to take their health into their own hands by using nutrition to help women work with the natural cycle of their bodies. Hi, thank you so much for being here.

Thank you for having me. I'm so excited.

I am excited. I came upon your work through Tracy lit and her work. I was at one of her events and you spoke there and kind of took back the curtain on what I thought was like typical normal health issues and rocks my world in a way that was like very uncomfortable. But it was beautiful because it made me really ask some very important questions. So before we kind of dive into the crux of what we'll talk about today, I really want to know what got you really interested in doing this work, particularly with a man of the first place.

Yeah, that is a great question around this. A lot of people who do this type of work I know have their own struggle that they went through. And I'm the same by quick background on me if you can hear it from how I talk. I'm from Minnesota. So I grew up on a goat farm in Minnesota, and I was an athlete in high school, went to play volleyball in college in Michigan. And then I went to graduate school, went to chiropractic school, I had my first two kids in primary school and then graduated, bought a clinic started in practice couple months later found out I was pregnant again, right like and then my youngest was born. Actually, seven months later, she was a preemie. So at that point, I had had a lot of stress. I was less than a year into business brand new, really struggling in business really struggling overall, had a two year old a four year old and a preemie. And that stress just was the max one of the most stressful times in my life. And my body's response to that was to start creating ovarian cysts. I had never had cysts before. And for women who have had cysts, they understand like holy bananas like it can be really, really painful. Really, really awful. Like it would put me on the floor. like it'd be one of those things like eye pressure and I'd be like, Yeah, this is uncomfortable. I'm sore, I have kind of a cramp. And then all of a sudden it would be like a searing knife pain that I would just drop. And we'd be on the floor for several moments like not being able to move until the pain subsided. And there wasn't a whole lot that I was given in terms of recommendations, going in making appointments, all these things where they're like, yep, Mensa says like, Yup, your sis burst. I'm like, Oh, okay. But like, I didn't understand, like, I didn't have these before. Why do I have them now. And my solutions were, oh, here's some birth control. Here's something I couldn't, like I was supposed to be just doped up on pain meds my whole life, and just take birth control my whole life. And I was like, I'm not a candidate for certain types of birth controls, I get really bad side effects from the pill, all that stuff. So I was like, this is not the best option for me, I want to take care of this. I want it like I didn't have them before. I'm having them. Now. How can I reverse this process, and I wasn't really given a lot of assistance there. And I'm also licensed in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. So what I did is started diving into doing more work with the Chinese medicine background, started getting more trainings and everything else and dove into hormones, fertility, a lot of stuff for women, and then started working. And doing the same thing for myself, like I started really working on regulating my hormones, encouraging to have a normal hormonal output each week of the month, your hormones are different every week of the month, all these other things. It took a while, right? It didn't happen overnight. But after a couple of months, I stopped having cysts like they stopped birth. And it's been just over a decade now. And I haven't had a cyst. And so when people say, Oh, you had PCOS, or if I phrase it like that I had PCOS. Technically the way that they go through this, it's something that I am at risk for. Still, if I let my hormones get out of control, or if you know, if I'm under a lot of stress, and I don't manage my health, I have the potential to having more cysts moving forward. But with managing my hormones was making sure my stress levels are under control. I haven't had assessed in that long of a time. And that's what I teach other women how to do is how to work with their hormones, how to take these issues that they're struggling with and really work with your body, your health, your hormones, and a big piece of that is really just learning more about how our body functions, and then working with that instead of fighting against it.

Yeah, I think that was one of the most eye opening things that you had talked about was that our hormones was something that that we really need to know about. I mean, saying this out loud now seems so silly, because I've been working with you and knowing your work for so long. But we talk about hormones when you talk about puberty. And if you're somebody who wants to get pregnant or has been pregnant, that's another time where you talk about them. But other than that, it's like oh, well, just PMS. And hormones actually isn't part of our natural way that we talk about our bodies ever. So the fact that we don't know really anything about them was mind boggling to me. And so high level, what's important to really know we're moving forward that people can say, Oh, wow, okay, that's something that's interesting that I just didn't know before. And well, in the I think,

to your point here, like you're absolutely right. I honestly think it's a huge disservice that we're is done for us that we don't understand more about our physiology and unlike the benefit of having our hormones shift and change. So when we talk about this, I'll split it into like two main categories, because it's easier to understand essentially, like your when you have a cycle, right day one is the first day of your period, then up until day about 14 that's when you would ovulate. That phase there are your hormone levels actually start off are actually really really low while you're having your period. Your estrogen and progesterone levels are the lowest during days like one through three. And then after that estrogens tune really starts to rise and peaks right before ovulation. Then after ovulation that flips ovulation triggers if you're having a good healthy ovulation, it triggers progesterone. And then progesterone rises, and it's elevated and more dominant than in days 15 through 28 of the cycle. Now, these hormones do completely different things in your body, estrogen is going to help give you more energy, you're going to have more mental clarity, you're going to have a better memory even it improves your digestion improves your body's ability to process carbohydrates, it improves your muscle recovery, all that other stuff and improves your metabolism like your metabolic rate is higher at this point too. So that that's estrogen oftentimes a lot of people feel fantastic during the first you know, couple of weeks of their cycle, and then they ovulate and then they're like, you know, things are starting to go downhill. I feel different. I don't feel as wonderful. And that is very common, especially for people who have access estrogen or estrogen dominance. And then after ovulation, progesterone should elevate and be more dominant. And you're going to notice Yeah, my digestion is slowed down. I feel a little more sluggish. I go to the gym and workout and I just don't feel as energized as I did two weeks earlier. My memory isn't quite as sharp as it was before. Just little different things that you can notice. And that increases up through You know, week four, though, you know, having the most PMS symptoms that women experience are usually days like 24, or 25, all the way until their period starts. So that is where oftentimes we are just not eating enough fueling enough, your system is going to need more nutrient, more protein at that point, to really lean into what your body's doing at that time with progesterone, and the fact that it's going to shift how your body chemistry works is that I feel like I just word vomited a lot. You

know, I love this word vomit is the best kind of word vomit, because as I'm listening to you, there are two things that I wanted to touch on. The first is understanding that you have you said the benefits of hormone shifting and changing. And I think hormones, colloquially get a really bad rap. Because it's like, oh, we don't want to be too hormonal. But in fact, this is just part of our chemistry that we really need to embrace and lean into. Right?

Yeah, absolutely. Like our system changes throughout the month. And that's it's not a bad thing. It just is the way it is. But that also just knowing that information. And the example I use a lot of the time is like going to the gym, because so many women can relate to this where they're like, Yeah, I go to workout sometimes. And I show up and I feel like I kicked but I just like, oh, I nailed that workout. I lifted heavier, I feel fantastic. And then you're thinking, wow, I'm getting so fit, I feel great. I recovered really well. Whoo, like Go me. And then just a couple of weeks later, you'll go to the gym, you could do the exact same workout, you could have slept the same number of hours, ate in the same thing for breakfast had the same thing for hydration, like literally everything else in your life is the same. But you go to the gym, you do this workout and you feel like holy crap, these weights are heavy. Why, oh, I feel so tired at the end of this workout. And then you feel like you don't recover as well. And you're like, oh, what's wrong with me? Nothing. You took a different body hormonally to the gym that day. So it's going to respond different. And just to understand that and lean into like, Oh, I'll give myself a little more rest time in between sets, or make sure I'm getting extra nutrients for recovery. I don't need to push my heart rate as high during this phase, because it's going to be harder for me to recover, if I'm getting my heart rate super, super high during my progesterone phase,

right? So how else can we lean into this cycle.

So besides the exercise piece of it, there's also the nutrition piece of it, I talked about eating for your hormones in your cycle, and it does match with your basal body temperature, too. So this is the Eastern medicine part of it. So it sounds a little a little out there.

No, bring it bring it.

But this is where you would be eating, cooling and warming food. And this is just a different way to look at the classification of the food that you're eating. And it's easy. And I do talk more about this stuff sometimes where it's like, oh, like, Is this good or bad to eat? Like, oh, is it banana bad to eat? Because it's fruit and it's sugar? And it's like, no, it's not bad. It's just a banana, you know, but it's what else is that doing in your system, right. And when we look at specific foods, a lot of times when you're looking at Eastern medicine, they have a certain tone to them. And they can be classified as either warming, neutral or cooling and the cooling foods, we would want to eat more of those during the estrogen phase during days one through 14, that's going to help work with that lower basal body temperature and help the production and maintenance of estrogen in your system because you're working with that phase, then after you ovulate, then you switch over to the progesterone phase and you're actually going to be incorporating warming foods. So cooling foods are going to be things like chicken, turkey, fish, any raw fruits and vegetables, seasonings that can be cooling would be rosemary, mint, thyme, cilantro, dill, just, you know, stuff that is probably in your kitchen right now. But it would be beneficial to utilize more of that during the days one through 14, and then days 15 through 28 just switched over eating more beef and bacon that's very warming after when you're in the progesterone phase there spicy foods, adding peppers using hot sauce, great. ginger, cinnamon, you know, cooking fruits and vegetables, especially because at that point to your digestion is just slower naturally, which is fine, right? So you can do things to help it along. But this is where sometimes women realize, Oh my gosh, I eat a salad for lunch every day because it's healthy. Great, right? But sometimes I have a hard time digesting it or I feel like it upsets my stomach. It's usually during the progesterone phase because your stomach digestion is just slower. So you'd have to do things either to help your digestion more and or not eat them any raw veggies, then, you know, if you're going to eat leafy greens, like saute them cook them, you know, I would not be quite as fibrous, right, help your stomach out. Yes, but it's just a very different way of looking at how you eat and again if the basis of what you're looking at is talking about basal body temperature lower during the estrogen phase higher during progesterone phase, and leaning into that, which again is like huh, I didn't think of that. I don't know Okay, and then sometimes the thought process of, well, if my basal body temperature is lower at some point and higher and other points, would I want to have it be the same all month, sometimes people may think this, they're like, well, if my basal body temperature is lower and estrogen, one, I want to eat warming foods to lift it up. And that's actually the opposite of what we want to do. Because our body is cyclic, because our system goes through these different phases. It's beneficial to lean into that natural shift, go with that lower temperature, help cool things down, you'll see and feel the difference. Oftentimes, people do that. They start noticing, oh, my gosh, yeah, my body is just a cooler temperature or when they're like, oh, yeah, ovulated. And I just feel hotter overall, like, This is crazy. My internal temperatures higher. Yep.

It really, right. And you know, it's just understanding this knowledge of our biology and our chemistry is so important. My kids now are eight and 11. And they come home from school, they talk to me about the digestive system, and my son just brought home a thing about the brain. And you know, I also love learning about brains. And that's great. And we can also like, understand where the parts are, and say the names of all the things. But if we don't really understand the actual application of the functions of these systems, we're really not learning the thing that's going to make a difference.

Exactly. And so many of us feel out of sorts with our body, just like you wake up, you don't feel as energized, you move through your day, and you're like, oh, what's wrong with me? Or oh, why can't I this, that or the other like, oh, and you just feel like you're fighting yourself. And that's where it's so nice to just realize and understand, Oh, of course, you know, I'm with Dave my cycle, of course, I'm gonna be like this, when I really started leaning into this work. And again, starting with myself and I started working with the patients in my clinic at the time doing this, one of the things I started to recognize was, I have certain days of my cycle that I just, I'm a pretty easygoing person overall, but there's a day or two, where I'm just like, a little more like, I just need a little more space. I just need a little more when my husband has a very touchy feely person just wants to snuggle, like, if we're sitting on the couch watching a movie, he's like, right next to me, like right there. And I'm like, can I just have an inch of space? Please, sir, come on. Anyway. Most of the time, I don't mind it's fine, whatever. But there's like one day visually, every month I started tracking them. There's sometimes I'd be like, Why are you still close to me some like you're right here. Just take a step back, please. And then like two days later, I wouldn't care wouldn't mind or whatever. And it would be funny, because I could feel the reaction in myself. And so I started marking down on the calendar. Okay, what day is this? And for me, it's day, 21. Day 21. Right around that day. So it's just one of those things. Sometimes if you track some of these things, you'll realize it with yourself where you're like, oh, you know what, yeah, during a certain day, I just tend not. So if I feel like I'm getting irritated, I'll be like, okay, just give me 24 hours. And I'll probably find tomorrow, but for right now, today, back it up, sir.

Yeah, I love it. And then, you know, also giving yourself grace that, you know, doesn't have anything to do with your being good or bad, or in something or out of something. This is you being just beautifully human, and understanding and embracing that.

Yes, yes. Oh, my gosh, yes. And that's the thing, too, I feel like there is this whole mental spiral that we go down oftentimes. And again, it can be stemmed, you know, I mean, you've done lots of mindset work. So this stemming from, you know, shame, guilt, whatever that's from or feeling like you're wrong, or you have to be a people pleaser all the time, or whatever, that anytime your physical body reacts differently than you feel like it should. It's an internal fight or struggle. And then that was one of the greatest gifts, that tracking my own symptoms, hormones, all that other stuff gave me was little things like that. And it continues to where I'm giving myself grace, saying, Oh, my gosh, yeah, I am a little more tired today. I didn't sleep well, last night, I am going to do some movement today. But I'm not going to do this heavy workout because it's not going to be good for me, I am going to make sure I have all the personal space I need today, day 21 or whatever. And just to honor that and work with my system. I am way more productive way happier, healthier, balanced overall. And it's never a fight. And it allows me to communicate what's going on internally, with myself and with others just that much better.

Yeah. And it's getting quiet enough to listen and know enough to understand what to listen for. Yeah, so a lot of this also, then we're gonna go down the spiral for a little bit here. That brings up a lot of stress, which then also has an effect on your body and your hormones. So teachers and educators who whatever role you play in right now, if you're listening, you are under an incredible amount of stress pretty much all the time So let's talk about that. Dr. Bat, can we get you talking about stress and what that's actually doing to our bodies? And why it's kind of counterproductive to some of the efforts that we think that we're making to live a healthier lifestyle? Yes,

yes, we can. Stress is a huge piece of this. And there's a few things that I want to say about the profession, because one of the toughest jobs to have overall. And that being said, like, I have never been a teacher, but I will say this, like, I have had a lot of friends that are teachers, I work with a lot of women that are teachers, and my mom was a teacher for 43 years, a high school chemistry teacher. So the schedule that you have to keep you know what I mean? There's so many times where I've heard people say that, Oh, you're a teacher, or you get the summers off, blah, blah. And it's like, Are you kidding? Do you have any idea how many hours teachers spend in the classroom in the summer, setting up things My childhood was spent in the high school chemistry lab, cleaning beakers, cleaning test tubes, setting up the lab, setting up the storage room, all that stuff? That I mean, it's not just like, oh, you know, fall school starts, there you go, No, it is a year round nonstop, early in the morning being available before school for kids doing things that you don't you know, during the day where you don't even get a lunch break. I remember my mom talking about so many years that she would have to cover lunch duties and all these things. And her way to eat lunch was that she would have to eat during a study hall when she did like, watch the study hall. That's not the

right word. Yeah, sure. You have, like, you have like your duty, right is the study hall.

That's it. Yeah, like teacher duty was the study hall, that's when she actually got to eat her lunch. And then doing things after school being available after school for kids that needed to make up a test or wanted extra study time or wanted extra assistance or things like that. People who work a nine to five often have a much easier schedule than teachers do. That's not even including, again, the other work that you do outside of that to prep for your teaching hours. So it is a very stressful job that shifts and changes year round. And it can change again, as well stress wise, with a batch of kids that you have that you have in your classroom, it can change with administrative sayings, or if something changes in the school district or funding changes, or all this or that, right, like the stress can come from so many places. And when we talk about the impact of this, and nobody goes into the teaching profession to become a millionaire, you know what I mean? They go through, they become teachers, because they love it. And they love teaching, and they love kids and the education process and want to share that with others. So the hard thing I see with a lot of this is that people who love aspects of their job and love the work, but the stress of the environment, and the schedule, and everything can really wear you down. And it can be really damaging to your health, to your hormones to your adrenals everything. It's all it reminds me to have that the frog in the pot of water. Do you know I'm talking about share it ill? Yeah, yeah. Where it's almost like the water is boiling before you realize there's a problem.

Right? Yeah, it's that slow boil? Yes, yeah.

So the stress that I see from people is usually something that's been going on for a long period of time, it's been chronic stress, which is some of the worst stuff to put up with. It's easier for the body to recover from stressful events, if there was a big stressful event and say the stress level gets to be like a nine out of 10. But it's for a short period of time. So then your body can recover and move on from it. If you have stress levels that are like a six to seven out of 10. But on a daily basis, every day, your stress levels are six or seven out of 10. You might be thinking, well, it's not that bad. It's not as bad as that one day. But if that's still a really high stress level, and then if your stress levels are like that every day, for years, it wears on your system so much. It will impact how well your digestion works. Your digestive system is not going to work and function as well. It's not going to absorb nutrients, you're more likely to be nutrient deficient, you're more likely to have a fatigue issues, you know, adrenal insufficiency, or adrenal fatigue is what people call it. It can be hard to get up in the morning, where you're going to be relying on caffeine to just make it through the day. There's a gal I worked with. This is one of my favorite things. Oh my one of my favorite stories is somebody I work with that was a teacher. She was a teacher. It was 19 or 20 years that she had been a teacher and she taught in an elementary school, like fourth or fifth grade or something like that older elementary school kids. And we had started working together over the summer, because she was really like she had taken the spring and then the early part of the summer and was like, Okay, I'm going to get healthy. I'm going to feel good. I want my next year to be like the best year of me all this stuff for the school year. And when in her school years started, she was like, Yeah, Joan, okay. I know there's a lot different, though I'm not sure. You know, it's just really doubtful. And then several weeks later, we touched base again. And she said, Okay, I have to recap what I said on our last call, because like, I didn't even realize she goes, but my husband said something about how I must be feeling better. And she goes, I didn't, I didn't even notice she is. But he said that with his work schedule, like he would normally come home from work. Later in the evening, she would leave for work early and would come home at like 330 or four or something like that. And then he would come home a couple hours later, so she would be home before him. And normally at the beginning of the school year, every year again for like 19 or 20 years, every time in September, when school would start. He would come home and she would be asleep on the couch. It's tough to go from summer to all of a sudden, the early mornings and all this stuff, right? She was exhausted, she was exhausted, he would come home, she'd be asleep on the couch, and he'd have to wake her up. And then they'd make dinner and all the things whatever. Well, she had started school. And he said, Yeah, you must be feeling better. And she's like, what, what do you mean? And he goes, every day for the last three weeks that I've come home since you started school. He goes, you've been awake. You haven't even been sitting on the couch, like, I come in, and you're doing stuff. You're in the kitchen, you already prepped dinner, or I came home. Remember that other day I came home, you were out for a walk, like, you gotta be feeling better, right? And she was like, Oh, my gosh, I didn't even realize but yeah, I come home, and I'm not exhausted and then fall asleep on the couch anymore.

So what kinds of things was she doing to get her to that place?

Yeah, so one of the first things when she's eating a protein, you know, he doesn't nutrient and getting enough protein because again, being a busy teacher, she didn't have time to eat during the day. And so she just kind of had given up on it. She'd eat something in the morning, and then would literally go her entire school day without eating your blood sugar crashes. Cheryl, it's so hard. So one of the biggest things we did as I was like, You need to keep snacks in your pocket. I was like, even if you're walking from one end of the building to the other during this timeframe, I was like, get a snack and get some bytes of a protein bar something. So she had a couple of different points during the day where she could shove some good interface. Again, she wasn't sitting down when she was doing it. But she goes, Oh my gosh, I definitely feel better on days where I'm eating. And I'm like, yeah, yeah.

Wait, can you? Can you just say that again? For the people in the back?

Should I feel better on days that I eat? And I'm like, Yeah, I mean, is it optimal to like, sit down and have a full meal for lunch and all those things, for sure. But a good teachers don't have time to do that. You know, so I was like, even if you have a bar, a snack, I mean, it was literally, it was protein bars, she had these little individualized packs of nuts. And you know, it was like trail mix type of thing from Costco that she'd keep in our pockets. And then oh, and then she'd make these little like oatmeal protein balls that she really loved. That's what she would throw in her face. And it was just a matter of like keeping her body going. And she's like, I can't believe that I went this many years, you know, and thinking it was fine. Just because I could make it to the end of the day on nothing. She's like, Yeah, I drink coffee and water throughout the day, just to keep going.

Well, that's a lot of it. Like you said, that is the boiling water. Right? We make it through the day. So we're like, check. We did it that was successful, I guess because I didn't die. Right. But like for me, and the people that I work with, I say this a lot if you'd like not dead is too low of a bar. Right? We need to do better than that.

Not dad. Will love have a bar? Oh, no.

Yes. I'm laughing because it sounds so silly. But honestly, I was there to like I was that also. And I think just I'm going to digress for just a second. Because this weekend, I was actually talking with a lot of pre service teachers who are in collegiate programs. And I think it even starts then because you're overloaded with the schedule and you go, go go, you're often taking a full course load of 18 credits, perhaps even taking some credits for free. Your student teaching experience is actually an unpaid experience for the most part of I'm starting to change right now. And so we kind of live in this world right from the get go of this is just the way it is here. And you're not only going to dedicate your passion and your purpose, but you are also going to sacrifice in the name of selflessness and martyrdom, your physical being for the sake of the kids and your passion and your purpose. And that's just bullshit like I get so angry about it because you can't actually serve the kids that you want to serve. If you are not taking care of your physical body. We as a prioritizes differently.

Yes, the oxygen mask has to go on you first before somebody else.

Yes. So that's I mean, what you're describing right now hits in a place that is very near and dear to My heart because that's just in the air that we breathe that water coffee narrative Israel.

Yeah, again, I watched my own mom do it for years, for years. I mean, I will share this as well on here because we talk about hormones and things like that I remember very, very vividly, when I was younger, I was maybe eight or so. And I remember my mom wanting to have another baby. And she had a few miscarriages like it was just not. But I remember at that time, too, she was as a teacher, she would drink a pot of coffee every day. That was how she functioned. That was how things went like, was adipose thing. You know what I mean? Like, what the heck, she drank a pot of coffee every day for decades, decades. And it impacts your health, it impacts your body, it impacts all this stuff. But again, you just keep going just to make it to the end of the day, and everything else. And so that's the other thing is when people realize, like, oh my gosh, I'm busting it through the day. But then who are you outside of that? Like when you go home? What do you have leftover for your kids, your significant others, or even for yourself? Like, do you have hobbies or things that you love to do that you just have zero gas in your tank to dive into? I mean, that was the thing, this gal that had been a teacher for 19 or 20 years, and then for her to come home and not need to sleep for two hours on her couch. And not only that, not just not to not sleep, but to be up and about doing things not just like doing chores at her house, but to be out for a walk like she's enjoying her life. Yes. But one of the biggest changes was just eating throughout the day. And even if she didn't have the time, but just to have that strategy of getting some protein pasting in getting that fuel, and then that way outside of her work hours, she could be herself. Right be her best self.

Yeah, you know, in my worlds, you know, with my rose colored glasses on that I refuse to take off, by the way. What I really want to see are organizational structures in the school systems that promote teacher health and well being that prioritize lunchtime for teachers, just like we will many schools prioritize recess for their kids, you know, we are all humans living in this space together. And we're also modeling for these kids what it's like to be a functioning adult or dysfunctional adult in this world. And we can do better. And that's really what this is about, too. So can you share some other besides eating and throwing some protein in your face every once in a while? What other things can we do to actually make sure that we get through the day and not just like slowly make it through the day on caffeine and water?

Yeah, so besides eating and protein, specifically, because it does provide so much fuel and nutrient for your body, really hydrating. So and using electrolytes and minerals, things like that are going to be really important. And then the other thing is adaptogens, using herbs, things like that to manage and mitigate your stress response. That's one of the biggest things overall is that, you know, stressful things will happen. If you do not have your nervous system regulated or you do not have a good stress response going on. It makes it that much harder. You know, it makes it that way. And again, it with schools and the like with kids and other people involved. I mean, you never know what's going to happen for the day. You know what I mean? Oh, yeah. So what's that phrase? The best offense is a defense. No, I'm not saying it right. The best.

Yeah, the best offense is a good defense. Yeah, yeah. Or the best debase? Good. I don't know. I don't do the sports thing. Yeah, that's like outside of my realm of expertise.

We're gonna call it into this right now. And they're screaming it in their car. They're like.

Yep. Apologies. Yeah.

But then it's like, every day you walk into a building where there's an unknown number of things that can happen and to be there to serve small humans. And to be there, it's like, you have to have this amazing capacity to be a sponge for whatever. And the more you can do to help your own nervous system and stress response, the better. And so their meditations and deep breathing and only the first year for sure. Adaptogens are just another tool like that, that can really help your system, manage and mitigate that stress response.

Tell me more about that. What exactly are adaptogens? Tell me what

adaptogens it's a group of herbs that are Chinese herbs or Vedic herbs. So there are the Eastern medicine classification of herbs that actually help keep your stress response within a certain window of tolerance. Stress sometimes gets a bad rap because we think stress is bad or cortisol is bad. It's not bad. Like you should have a cortisol response of some kind. It just it's not great if it gets to be too high or too low. So we want to keep it you know, it's like the the three bears. We don't want to be the papa bear or the mama bear. We want to be the baby bear right in the middle. Right in them. It'll write in that window of tolerance. So you have normal reactions to things when our stress levels get to be too high. That creates a lot of anxiety feeling in our bodies, racing thoughts, some people get heart palpitations, some people have excess sweating, that also is a trigger for throwing off your hormones, things like that, that disrupts your sleep disrupts your digestion, a lot of things like that. So adaptogens are great because they actually help bring that down, and help calm your system. Adaptogens are really unique. And again, they're in Eastern medicine are most of the things from our western medicine mind, we think about if I have this thing, I have a happened to me, I need something that deals with a if I have B happens, I need something different to deal with B. So if you know if a is too high, B, it's too low, I need two different things. The cool thing about adaptogens is that they actually work with both, they keep you they bring down high cortisol and help your body manage that. But they also bring up low ones. So if you are too low, if you have a hard time getting out of bed getting going if you feel like you're just sluggish, sluggish and slow responses to things. Sometimes people feel like just very mad, very low mood overall, like not feeling like yourself, you can be completely burned out and have really low cortisol adaptogens will help bring that up.

So when you say that, that makes me think of you know, having someone have this chronic stress all the time is that sixth and the seventh and then build up, build up build up, then it kind of flipped over to the other side. And that's really where the burnout happens. And it's overload and then all of a sudden, it's depleted. Is that kind of an accurate way

to describe that? 100%? Yes, okay. Yeah, there's I feel like that, like math is kind of where, where most of the people that I'm talking to, you are feeling right now. They're like, I'm not like, I don't feel like myself. And some of them use words like burnout, and depletion, but you know, explaining it that this is kind of a low cortisol timeframe is an important context. And then my other question, then to kind of circle back to what we were talking about before? How does cortisol interplay with your cycle? Yeah, so several different ways when your body has an improper cortisol response. And again, this can be too high or too low or so it's not at the level it should be. It can cause your body to utilize more nutrients, when your nutrient deficient things like that, it's going to mess up your cycle. That's an easy way to phrase it. Cortisol can also impact your body's ability to ovulate regularly. So your body just won't ovulate won't ovulate on time. There'll be early, it'll be late. So that can cause a lot of irregular cycle things that feeds into that whole estrogen dominance piece. So then, a lot of times the tricky thing about this is that it doesn't necessarily happen overnight. Right? It's just like it you'll think back to Yeah, over the last six months or last year. Yeah, my stress has really, I've been fried, and then my cycles have gotten heavier and heavier. I've had more clots, I've had more pain, I've had more issues with this. I've you know, and you'll realize like, holy cow, yeah, my hormones have become more of a problem. But it's from that cortisol response and how it impacts the ability, it's like your body cannot ovulate on time. So you're not going to create that progesterone level. Sometimes people describe it as it like steals progesterone doesn't allow that creation to happen. That's an easy way to kind of think of it. So that feeds into that estrogen dominance more and more every single month, little bit worse, little bit worse, a little bit worse. The other thing I see a lot with women when we talk about stress, and chronic stress, is the ability to create maintain enough testosterone. And testosterone is you know, mainly a male hormone. But it is really important to have an appropriate amount in the female body. Because it does impact your body's ability to have energy to have stamina, to have a metabolism, to have muscle repair, to have a libido the number of gals that I look at that I've said yeah, that their adrenals are terrible, their cortisol levels are bad, and then their testosterone is low. And then they'll be like, Yeah, I just don't feel right or whatever. And so many times they're like, Oh, I didn't even realize my testosterone was bad. And like, yeah, yeah, like things have been going on so long for you. It's not just your cortisol, it's like the cortisol has now impacted the estrogen and progesterone and that balance, and that is totally off. And it's now impacted your testosterone levels. And that is really depleted. And so there's a lot that we have to build back from. It's like you're in a deeper hole now, because it takes a little longer to climb out of it with that, but those are some very specific direct things and how it can mess up your other hormones.

Sure. So I'm always looking for like, what are the tangible markers of awareness? And if it seems like even though we might be sitting in that boiling water, we might not be aware, noticing what your cycle is doing is actually a really good indicator of your stress level. Is that a fair thing to say? Okay,

And yeah, yeah. And so if you're thinking, gosh, like, is this what I have going on? You know, oh, I have a cycle every month like, Okay, would you say it's a great cycle? Do you feel like you have? Like, do you have a lot of pain? A lot of problems, a lot of symptoms there or not? Do you have a heavy cycle? Does it disrupt your gut? Or any other things that you know, along that line? Okay, important to recognize what are your energy levels around this? What's your stamina? Or like, what's your libido? Like? Those are all things that are actually related to how your body responds to stress, or just how long it's been under stress. Right? And I can't tell you how many people that I talked to that they're like, you know, I don't I don't feel that stressed. I don't know. Like, it's fine. I'm like, okay, but like, if you were to rate it a zero to 1010 being the worst, and they're like, Well, maybe it's a six or seven. Okay, how long has it been like that? Well, maybe five years, maybe eight years. Okay, that's too long.

Yeah, it's like that meme with the dog in the room that's on fire, right? And it's like, this is fine. This is totally fine. You know. And as much as we want to, like wish it to be. So I think it's extra important for your longevity, for your legacy, for your impact for yourself, and overall well being to really take a look in the mirror and get really honest about where you are. And wherever it is. It's beautifully. Okay. And there are steps to make it better for you, if that's the choice that you want to make. Yes, absolutely. So with all of this being said, because we've covered so much in a short amount of time. And you know, it's funny, because like, I've been working with you now and I was at when he came on, I was like, Oh my gosh, where do I want to take this because we could just have like, several parts to all of this. But I want to encourage people to listen to your podcast, because that's really where all of the juicy information is. And I will make sure that that link is in the bottom of the show notes too. But regarding, you know, teachers, and overall well being and from where you're coming from and your perspective in this world and your work, what is your dream for the future of education?

Yeah, there is. I want to say like just so much that I would change about this. And this is i People ask me this all the time, like, you know, oh, like Are your kids in public school? Yeah, my kids are in a public school. They do really well. I do think that there's so many great things about having a school organization, things like that. That being said, I do think there is a lot of room for improvement. And I think the main area to improve is the support of the teachers and letting the teachers do their jobs. However, that happens, from what I have seen, from what I have observed from what I have heard from people is that there are so many other things that get in the way of teachers doing their best work. And a lot of it does have to do with the schedule, that they're forced to run the schedule that they're forced to run the timing. And I know like it's so easy to say, Oh, well, this is financially and this and this and this and blah, blah, blah. And it's like, okay, then like figure out the fight, like have somebody else figured out that it works. But if teachers are like, imagine a school where teachers got to come in, they had support, they were allowed to have an actual lunch break. They were allowed to go to the bathroom when they needed to go to the bathroom. Right?

Yeah. Oh, yes. Oh, yes, you're nodding.

Nods over here. Yes, a number of teachers I work with that have said that they've had bladder infections, because they literally could not have the time to relieve themselves is to me just terrible. And that teachers, like I said, they get into this profession, because they love the art of teaching, and reaching out to young minds and all these other things, no one's doing it, too, just to make it rich, or whatever. I mean, out of all the things that you could do in the world, that is not where you go to make the big bucks, you know what I mean? It's you do it because you love it. And if you can take people like that and support them in their health and in their own missions, it would literally change the scope of education, I would say that it would change it in a very short span of time. Like imagine five years that a program was introduced, that teachers got their health was important what they said they think they needed food, to bring the day hydration, bathroom breaks, all that stuff. Even decompression time, between classes, even if it's five minutes, where you're not forced to rush and have that stress response just be kicked off again and again. It would change so much, I think,

Oh 100% Well, and that's my mission and the work that I do. And you being here today is a big part of realizing that mission for me and giving that to the educators that I work with. Because if we are not taking care of ourselves, we're not able to have the impact that we want to make in this world. And the most generous thing we can do for our students is take care of ourselves.

Yes. 100% 100%. Yeah, so

let's let's change the world. Yeah. I'm in love. Yeah, let's do it. So how can people learn more about you and get in touch with you?

Yeah. So I am on In the interwebs, Dr. Beth Westie on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, my website, YouTube, all the things is Dr. Beth Westie. And then my podcast is just called the female health solution. So and I do cover a lot of topics I talk about hormone testing, I talk about nutrition, eating for your cycle, all the things I talk about, you know, menopause, and all that stuff. So kind of wherever you're at in your phase of life, we talk about

things. Yeah. And on a personal note, I have been working with you now for a while, and it has been a joyful confronting experience. Perfect, it was important for me to get a kick in the pants about really where I wasn't my health as someone who I thought was very healthy to begin with. And the ride that I've been going along in learning more about me has been incredible. And even just as a mom being able to pass that along to my kids, and them just witnessing me making these changes has been instrumental as well. So it's been really wonderful to learn with you. So thank you. And it's been a pleasure to have you here and talk with you today. So thanks for being here.

Yeah, thank you so much. That's so nice of you to say and yeah, yeah, I love this. I love this was like the fastest.

All right, and by here, I know. And so if you're listening and enjoyed the show, please be sure to subscribe and share it with your friends and we will see you next time on take notes are incredible, right? Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible. And it's all here for you right now. Let's keep the conversation going at empowered educator faculty room on Facebook.

Bullying prevention: Cultivating communities to fight against bullying and building a better environment for our children with Dali Rivera.

It’s unwanted, hurtful, and aggressive.
One out of every five students reports being bullied in schools around the United States. While it’s a rocky territory to navigate, it’s important to empower students and strive for a better future for them.
So, how do we stop it? How do we turn anger to compassion?
Welcome to episode 27 of Next level Greatness! In today’s episode, we are joined by Dali Rivera who is a parenting coach specializing in bullying. She’s an advocate for the kids and aims to help families thrive and promote equality in their communities.
Dali gives us a glimpse of how she started her mission to educate people about bullying prevention and awareness.
Ready to stand firm and strong against the bullies? Listen to this insightful episode and learn how you can help yourself, your friends, and families to fight against bullying!

Stay empowered,

Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Linktree
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
Facebook: Empowered Educator Faculty

About Dali:
Dāli Rivera is a parenting coach specializing in bullying awareness & prevention education for parents of middle school-age kids. She helps parents learn how to advocate for their kids, and get them through the experience in a healthy way.
She is also the creator of the Diversity & Anti-Bullying Academy (#DABA) and owner of DaliTalks, L.L.C.
Dāli is a U.S. Army veteran, speaker, parent to two teen girls, and wife of a U.S. Army veteran. Dali earned a master’s degree in Women & Gender Studies from Towson University.
Dali’s passion to stop bullying comes from her own personal experiences as a bullied child and from having become an advocate for children, including her own. She has dedicated herself to sharing her knowledge to help families thrive, and promote equality in their own communities.

Connect with Dali:
Website: https://www.dalitalks.com/
IG: @dalitalks
YT: @DaliTalksShow
Podcast: The DaliTalks Podcast

TRANSCRIPT:  I remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world. Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you, it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two, and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids. We need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy, and fulfillment. This is education 2.0, where you become the priority, shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work, and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee, and grab your notebook. It's time to take notes.

Hello and welcome back to another episode of take notes. Today I have a really perfect guest to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart. And dolly Rivera is a parenting coach specializing in bullying awareness and prevention education for parents of middle school aged kids. She helps parents learn how to advocate for their kids and get them through the experience in a healthy way. And she's also the creator of the diversity and anti bullying Academy and owner of Dolly talks LLC. Dolly is a US Army veteran speaker parent of two teen girls and wife of a US Army veteran. And dolly earned a master's degree in women and gender studies from Towson University.

And her passion to stop bullying comes from her own personal experiences as a bullied child. And from having become an advocate for children including her own. She has dedicated herself to sharing her knowledge to help families thrive and promote equality in their own communities. And I am so glad you're here today dolly to talk with me and the rest of the take notes audience. So thank you for being here.

Thank you, Dan, you made that bio sounds so amazing.

Isn't it interesting when you hear someone else read your bio, and you're like, oh, that's me. Right? Yeah, I do those things. Yeah. Well, I'm honored that you wanted to spend your time here with me today. Because bullying is something that everyone experiences it in some way or another or in our lives. We are human, we grow up and everyone, especially in the middle school ages. It's like everyone says this is such a hard time of our lives. But bullying happens at every age, from young childhood all the way through adulthood. And many adults are still dealing with bullying and bullies and how to navigate this kind of rocky territory. So I'm really looking forward to diving into this with you. So can we start first with your story as to how you even got here? Why are you having this mission of bullying prevention for kids?

That's such a great question. I actually started the whole thing years after this particular event. So my child, she's always been very confident and just enthusiastic about education and everything. She was five she started elementary school was riding the bus. And she came home one day and told my husband I that she was being bullied. She said a certain child who had asked her out to be her boyfriend started pulling her hair kicking her calling her really vulgar bad words. How old was she? She was fine.

Yeah. So then I asked her to be his girlfriend's boyfriend. Yeah. She rejected him. I'm assuming to

she's sure did yeah. She was like, No, I'm five. So you don't need a boyfriend. And you know, the kid was really nice. They actually even played together the summer before school started. And so that happened. She said, No, started going to the bus stop. And we started noticing this is after she told us what was going on. My husband, I started noticing that the boy had two older brothers that were about seven and nine. And they would get very aggressive with him. And they would tell him things to like, just try to reel him up. And they'd say things like you got a man up. You got to show them you got to show her that you're the man that you're the boss. So I think what happened was that because they knew that, that their little brother had been rejected by my daughter. They had this idea of masculinity in that they have to prove that Yeah, well, she turned him down and she should regret it because this isn't the man but that five year old. So obviously these ideas don't come from this anywhere. This means they were either watching something or maybe somebody was role modeling these behaviors and these ideas at home. Maybe it was somebody like a neighbor that they look up to who knows.

So it will get very aggressive. And one day in particular, because this happened over time, and my husband and I reported the bully to the bus driver, because it was happening at the bus stop, right, the bus driver said, I can't do anything because all the kids are scared, they don't want to speak up. And that year, we had a whole bunch of five year olds starting school. So a lot of these five year olds just didn't want to say anything. And one day, these three boys, they're doing their usual thing. And they start messing with that five year old, the little boy. And the older two brothers, one of them grabs the little one, his arms and holds them behind them, while the other brother punches him in the stomach repeatedly telling him to man up. And it was like one of those moments where the little boy and I locked eyes for this a split second, but it felt like it was like Time stops. And I truly saw his pain. And I understood then that all those horrible behaviors that he was practicing and using to hurt my daughter was really like pain of his own that was being caused by his two brothers.

And I remember seeing like his eyes really watering, he was holding back from crying. And I remember I can still hear him saying like, stop it. But he didn't want to sound weak when he said stop it. And he was so angry. And I felt really, really bad. And you know, that experience allowed me to have compassion for bullies, because now I understand that a lot of times these children are just trying to survive. And that right there is what motivated me to start doing research on bowling, not just on, like how to help my daughter, because, you know, when I went to the bus driver, and they said, I'm sorry, we can't help, then I went to the school principal, because you know that naturally, that's what you do as a parent. And the school principal said, I'm sorry, but it didn't happen on a school campus. So I can do anything about it. And I was furious because I like what the heck, what do you mean, you hired or your school hired the bus company, therefore, in my opinion, you're responsible just as much as they are, you need to do something about this. And of course, bullying moved on into the school.

So what's happened to our school, most have been on a bus and it was on and off, on and off for the entire school year. Every time I go and talk a school principal, they give saying we have to follow protocols, we have to follow policy, we have to try this, we have to try that before expelling suspending kicking them off the bus. And I was like, This is ridiculous. Let me see this policy. And I was at the time in my master's program. Ironically, my concentration is Social Policy and Leadership. So I was in that nerdy mode of research. And and

I fully feel that yes, and you're like me, you are talking to the wrong person.

Let me go see what policy you're talking about. Exactly. And, you know, I started researching that. And then I learned how to use their own policy against them to get what I wanted. And it worked. But it took a lot of research and a lot of just like learning not just what the policy said, but also how was implemented the school culture, the mentality research from like institutions that actually do bullying research, not just in the United States, but in other countries. So it's been very interesting. I started with back then she was five, she's now 16. And I haven't stopped researching since so fast forward a few years later, in 2019, is when I created Donny talks, LLC, I had all these workshops that I continuously provided for free to PTA friends, and my husband one day, he was like, hey, you need to sell this to the schools. And it was like, No, you know who we are. We're like pilots, you know, that's what I do. And he convinced me I went to a school districts Family Engagement Center. And I asked them if they'd let me pilot the program. They said, Yes, we did it over the summer. And I was like, no parents gonna come in the summer at 9am to learn about bullying. But let's see what happens. And much more surprise, I had, like a packed room. And they brought their kids which was something I was not expecting, because in my mind, I just wanted to work with the parents because I felt like I was a new parent. Bullying is not one of the things that you think is going to happen to your child, especially at the age of five. When you think of bullying, you think high school, you think Mean Girls, right? Like Junior High High School. And it was just very surprising. They brought their kids every morning, we had a series of workshops, and they loved them. And that's how I pretty much got started in created that diversity and anti bullying Academy which consists of like now over 20 workshops and courses on different and yet from cyber bullying. And I include diversity because one of the things that you know, when I had that moment with that little boy were we like locked eyes, my nerdy self, because my master's is women and gender studies. So I remember telling my husband is like, Oh my God, I need to teach kids or the parents how to not teach toxic masculinity. He was like, Girl, nobody's gonna listen to you. Like people hear those buzzwords. And number one, they're politicized. People hate that. Number two, it's very, like, rejected because it feels like an attack on patriarchy, you know around manhood. So it's like, you gotta go ahead and add it another angle. And it was like, okay, so yeah, there was a lot of learning through this experience on just knowing how to deliver the message, and also tying in the importance of eradicating stereotypes and misconceptions and unconscious biases, and how that aids or like, reinforces bullying. Sure. Yeah. Well, and

the messaging, I think, is important, especially with the gender studies to, you know, yeah, we need to smash the patriarchy. And my nothing to do with your masculinity is about how do we reframe what is in front of us, so everyone can get an equal chance and opportunity. And I'm sure from what you've described as the success of your business, and the amount of impact you've had on so many people, it has been very well received.

Yes, I am so grateful for that. Because you know, originally thought it might be just a few schools here and there. But no, I've actually been hired by universities to give PD for teachers, and after school program coordinators and stuff. I've been hired by schools, rec centers, libraries, private organizations, and I also do you know, like coaching, consulting, one on one with parents. So I have those where I work with this organizations, and then I work with the parents one on one, it's been so rewarding, and of course, tough to because there are a lot of people out there that have these misconceptions of bullying, they think these kids are just sauced, these kids just don't have as good social skills, or this is just conflict resolution tools, they'll be fine.

But then you do the studies on the effects of bullying of any type. And then you find out that there's a correlation between crimes, violence and bullying, there's a correlation with negative mental health impacts. There's a correlation with dropout rates, even attendance before the pandemic of proximate studies show. And you can look this up on Stop bullying.gov 160,000 kids were missing school, you know, just not going to school every day, just to avoid a bully. And when you think about economics, right, like how that impacts not just you as an individual, as a taxpayer, but your school, if schools get paid.

And this is something parents also don't know, schools get paid, sometimes approximately $120 per child per day that they attend. So if I had that in 60,000, kids are missing school from just every day, that's 160 times $100 list is rounded down to 100. That's millions of dollars outside that are being taken out of the education system, which happens to be your tax dollars, that are not being put to work. So when people say it's not a really big deal, it's not a big issue. Yes, it is a huge social issue. And it actually is a financial economic issue. And people just are not educated. I'm not

sure I see. We are not educated about that, which I think is why the work that you do is so important that the implications are just what you're seeing in front of you. They're they're far greater than that. So I've so many questions about what you introduce to everyone at the beginning here. And I actually want to talk first about when you mentioned, bullying, and having compassion for the bully, so that to me, I would love for you to dive into that because as a victim of bullying, to then have compassion for the bully. There's a lot of stuff that needs to happen there. And I don't know if that's the only equation. Right. So can you talk more about that?

Yeah, definitely. That's such a good question. It's something that I get a lot of resistance from when I talk to parents about it. Because the mentality is the heck with that bully, they need to be punished. But we have to look at the root causes. These are children, these are somebody's babies. And something's going on like that little boy, that five year old. He was such a sweet kid, until that stuff started happening at the bus stop.

And what I've found with research is that there are several reasons why kids bully, sometimes the victim bullies, so they're trying to survive because they have tried to use the system that is set in place that is supposedly going to keep them safe. So say reporting at school, and the children go into their their report, according to them, and nothing's done. And they see the bully getting away with stuff over and over and over and over to the point to where they're like the heck with this. Nobody's helping me. So I'm going to become the bully because nobody messes with the bully. And then there's the children who have and they live in an environment where bullying behaviors are practice every single day. Is this a toxic home, and then they come to school and they're repeating those behaviors because that's what they have for a role model.

And they don't realize it until somebody teaches them the hard way, right? Sometimes it's throat fight. Sometimes it's going to the principal's office, so many reasons. The other thing is, too, that I feel like the media sometimes glamorize this bullying, when you have movies, where the bullies is bad, like, absolutely. And he's mean that the man and you know, people are like, yeah, look at that, I want to be like that. Nobody's having these conversations with children, when they're watching those types of scenes. Somebody's not saying, Hey, okay, let's talk about that. That was funny, it was cool. But in reality, that's not good. It's not accepted behavior, then there's children who just go through stuff that have not been taught how to manage their emotions. That's why so many schools, the last what decade or so have been focusing so much on social emotional learning skills, which means pretty much teaching children how to recognize their emotions and have self control. And that ties in a lot to bullying and many other type of things that happen, right, not just at school, but overall in our lives.

So if we're not teaching kids that it's okay to have anger, but it's not okay to use that anger to hurt themselves or others, then we're not going to stop bullying or any type of violence. So these are all the different type of I mean, there's more reasons why kids practice those behaviors. But you know, the other thing tool that I notice, not just by having focus groups, with teachers and parents, but also being at school campuses observing, I see that the language at schools needs to change. For example, when a child does something that's not acceptable, they are sent to detention, they are labeled as the troubled kid, or the bully, in so the schools are reinforcing that stigma. And when kids feel stigmatized, like they're tied to that label, and they can get out of that, then they lean into it and go like, Oh, yeah, I'm the bad kid, I'll show you, okay, because they start to accept that I'm like, This is what they expect from me, therefore, that's what I will be.

And I remember many years ago, when I was starting, I went to a principal. And I knew that at this school, they had a bullying problem. I had a conversation with him. And I suggested, would you consider instead of having a punishment, like having them go to detention, maybe having a meditation session? And he laughed about that? And he was like, why would I reward a kid who bullied somebody? What are the parents gonna think? And I thought, you're not thinking it through because what this child needs is reflection. And meditation helps with that, right? So then, a couple of years ago, actually, my kids middle school principal, I was having a conversation with him. And he was telling me that he had this room called OCI.

 I can't remember what it stands for. But when kids do something not acceptable. Instead of detention, they go to this room, where they have reflection, writing, they have a conversation with a school psychologist or with a social worker that works at the school, they have journaling, they even watch sometimes like some type of like moral the story short movie, just to help them understand why they did what they did, how to avoid it next time and how to make it right. How do you get to that point to where you are sincerely apologetic, in you convey that to the person you hurt? And then how do I help you as the offender to not repeat that offense. And also, they had, like tools that they give the parents on for the victim on how to help the victim. So I still see that there's a big lack in providing the tools to the kid who exhibits the bullying behaviors, and there's a need to change our language like, don't call somebody the bully, say this child is exhibiting bullying behaviors. And I still have that problem.

Because the difference right between behavior and then the label, I think so what you're saying and correct me if I'm wrong, it's less about in the moment victim having compassion for the bully, this is really about the other adults in these spaces, understanding that the behavior is a symptom of a greater situation that's going on to get curious about that, and, and separately, handling the victim of the bullying, and then eventually, perhaps getting to a point where there's some sort of reconciliation.

Yeah, definitely. And you know, this is something totally achievable. We just have to change that mindset as adults, because we do we come from like a history of spanking your kids, putting them on timeout, because they you know, making them do like something harsh, like even the military today. To this day, if you do something that you're not supposed to what do you do you go out and like, do some type of hard labor as punishment, and instead, we need to just give teaching tools so that people recognize where they went wrong, how to make it better, how to sell I'm pregnant pretty much. And also, too, when it comes to kids to let them know that your mistakes, do not define who you are. Because that's how self loathing starts,

which then it's the bullying, move on,

and more and more some people, man, when you look at the statistics of like the juvenile detention system, and there's been studies where they did just research of like, how many of the kids who were incarcerated or imprisoned, were bullied before the age of 14? And then how many after the age of 14, and how many were bullied both before and after? And the studies show a significant increase, comparing them to kids who were not bullied before the age of 14. I mean, it's crazy, because so many people are like, Oh, no, this is just a behavior issue. This is just a discipline problem. This is just the parents didn't teach them, right. And it could be that, but studies are showing that it's also being victimized. And studies also show that everybody involved in bullying behaviors, and incidents tend to also have negative impacts and mental health. So we've got to look at it from that standpoint, instead of just like, let's punish these kids.

And I'm thinking of this too, as the role of, of the adults in schools, we also have been victims of bullying have been bullies ourselves, you know, and looking back at my life, especially when I was a teenager, there are moments that I cringe about where I did not treat somebody the way that I'm proud of. And I've also been a victim of bullying when I was a kid. And I think that we carry those stories with us and those memories and those feelings with us. And now we're in a position where we are helping kids navigate their own lives.

But those stories are still there, those traumas are still there for us, which then affect the way that we handle these situations. So I think, how do you talk with the adults about handling their own bullying situation, even when there's bullying that's happening within the schools? I hear this a lot, you know, because now I work pretty explicitly with the adults in schools. And, you know, there are situations where it doesn't feel safe to be authentic, it doesn't feel safe to use your voice. And unfortunately, what happens is a lot of complacency of that we just don't do anything. And we just kind of ignore it and sweeping under the rug, and we don't talk about it. So can you speak a little bit about how to maybe course correct a little bit?

Yeah. So I mean, if you're talking from like what the teacher can do in the classroom, or go from that ankle, the teachers have so much power because you create the environment that you want, right? So having many like, say, every morning, you give one simple little tip, I mean, basic foundation tips about kindness, about not hurting others, or yourself about inclusive language, just like observe your class. And then take note on what you need to educate your classroom your students about. So if you're hearing a lot of like stereotypes being shouted out at somebody, then you find either like during reading time, a book that teaches something that dispels that stereotype.

 But also, just doing this every single day with microbes habits, pretty much like I've seen some teachers that are super creative with starting with, say, like affirmations wet before you enter the classroom, or where you always have to say simple things like thank you, or excuse me, they're so basic and people's, like, that's just homeschooling, that's this home training, you will learn that at home. But not everybody does. Because some kids are not being role model those behaviors. And then literature is so huge, because the kids are already in school, right? So be more than intentional on the type of books that you choose for reading time, especially when it's leisure time. And I have a huge list because I'm always going out and check it out books, especially in new releases, that can teach about kindness, empathy, but also teachers need to also request support.

And I know that this is a big issue. And I know that there's lack of funding. But imagine if all the teachers in the school or the majority of them are asking for this one type of training consistently, then eventually they're going to be hurt, right. But the other thing too, is teachers, I think could take the opportunity with a short little email or maybe a one on one conversation during school pickups or drop offs with parents to let them understand too that they parents have an even more powerful voice than the teachers when it comes to requesting resources.

And this is one of the things that I always teach in my workshops to the parents is like hey, you actually can help the teachers more than the teachers can help themselves because the administration is going to listen to you before They listen to the teachers, because you're the ones who hold their feet to the fire. So if you feel like your teachers are not being provided with the right training on how to manage bullying at schools, and the studies show that most of bullying happens in the classroom, when people are present, then obviously, there's a need for that. We just need to educate our parents and our teachers, right. Yeah, and as far as parents go, micro habits, oh my gosh, they're so important. And when I mean micro habits, I mean, to build confidence, because confident children, number one are not going to become targets.

Because bullies want the weak link, the one that they know is not gonna say anything. And number two consonant kids will also not feel the need to bully others. So these micro habits can be practice from oh my gosh, so, so young, with simple things, like using the power of your voice, like when, you know, if you have a very shy child, and they're afraid to ask for a drink of water, when they're like, Can I have a drink of water, encourage them to say, Take me have a drink of water, they've very caught, and you've had to role model it. And when I was looking for studies that can indicate anything about a successful bullying program, or anti bullying program, I looked not just in the United States, but worldwide.

And UCLA found a study, they did a study, and they found out that the programs that are using Finland, are super effective, and the most effective, for one reason. And that is because they have role model, the behaviors, the positive behaviors, which is funny, because I've been teaching that since I started this. And when I tell parents, you got a role modeling, you got to play it out, like a scenario or something, you got to have your child stand in a power pose, you know, like that Superman, or Superwoman, or Wonder Woman pose, with their chin out, their chest puffed out, you know, their shoulders squared, and how you have them use that power of voice, you know, with not shouting, but just inflict it, you know, very steady and strong.

And they're like, I'm gonna kind of do that I'm like, well, they're little, and little kids will most likely go along with it, if you make it fun. And it doesn't have to be like a one hour class. It can be simply like, as you're coming out, as you know, out of your home to walk to the bus stop. Just have them say their goodbyes in a very assertive way. These micro habits like what my child one of my kids, she has been very shy most of our life. But I have used micro habits to help her, you know, shed that shyness. One of the things that I've done is because she's scared her speak to people is every time we'd go to the store, I just have her go do a price check.

I didn't need the price checked. I just wanted her to go and practice her power of voice here. Go to the cashier and ask her to give you a price tag and then come back and let me know. And at first she was very adamant. She's like, No, I'm too scared. Will you come with me? Okay, will you stand behind me? Will you stand beside me? Will you whispered in my ear? Sure. But you're gonna do it to the point to where we did it over time, so many times, you know, and she does just she just does it on her own. Now,

I learned all of those micropower habits, I still use the power pose. That's something I do. If I walk into a situation, and I just noticed my body is just like not my mind's there. But my body isn't coming along with me. I will stand in that power pose like this. This is when I play this for as long as I need to in order to feel it.

Yeah. And I want to remind people that power poses and not just when you're standing there, even when you're sitting, and if anybody wants to get a better idea of the concept of Power Poses look up. Amy Cuddy's TED talk on Power Poses. She was a Harvard professor who did research on the Power Poses. Here's a controversial study. Now some people are like, No, it's not effective. But you'd be the deciding person if it works for your child or not. But even when they're sitting, you know, like taking up space, the whole study of like how girls are taught to close themselves in Sure. And that gets you very introverted and not self assured. versus boys are encouraged to like, hey, take up space, sit back, lean back, but you're not slouching.

You're leaning back assertively, I guess you can call it you know, take up space. Don't be afraid. Because you're owning your own power. You're owning yourself when you do that. In those are the micro habits. So we need to teach our children to just speak with confidence, ask questions with confidence, sit with confidence, stand walk all of that such tiny little habit. So if you know your child has a certain challenge, like for example, they're afraid to be the first one up front in line at school to go to lunch or whatever, if you're volunteering at the school was challenged your child to go up to the front.

And if you had to tell the teacher Hey, on this one, I'm trying to do get your teacher involved, because that's a tiny, tiny little thing that doesn't really take much time or effort, right? And so like just have your child be the line leader because once they feel the power of being the line leader, guess what? They're gonna feel like oh, wow, that wasn't so scary. Number one, and, hey, I'm good enough to do that.

Yeah. Right, yes, yes. And that goes back, of course, to just you know worthiness. And I love this idea of really combating bullying with offense, instead of defense, you know, we're building tools for kids to not even have to go there, instead of just playing catch up and clean up once it's happening. And I feel like we're always behind the ball in that regard. And while a lot of the social emotional learning programs, I think that is one of the results of it, that this you know, what people really want, as a result, I think the things that you are talking about the target bullying behaviors are a little bit more pointed, and serve a very clear outcome where it's not just, we're all going to feel good, which is amazing.

We want to feel good. We also want to feel safe, internally within our school environments. but confidence is something that I think is totally a bullies kryptonite, both as the bully and as a victim of bullying is that confidence to speak up, use your voice, say, No, tell someone when it's happening. And again, not just for kids, you referred to many times that the role of the adults, and the role modeling of the adults is crucial to get these messages across. So ultimately, while these programs generally focus on kids, again, we keep going back to this introspective work that has to be done first, because at the end of the day, if we're teaching these things, but then the way that the kid notice that the colleagues are talking to each other, or the culture of the faculty is not aligns with what they're saying, those are actually the stronger messages that they're receiving.

Definitely. And you know, kids are watching you.

Oh, sure. Sure.

I remember volunteering and overhearing conversations, or sometimes when I would do my own little reading group with the kids, you know, they're innocent, and they say things that they should meet they overshare and they're like, oh, yeah, Mrs. So and So Mrs. So and so don't like each other. You know, it's like, she's very mean that she's called her this and like, oh, wow, this is not good for them to know that there's conflict going on there. But of course, they know it, right. And the other thing, too, is how a child is, I guess you can say dealt with when they do something incorrectly, is oh, man, it's kids are like watching like a hawk. Because they're like, Oh, is that going to happen to me, and what's going to happen to that person, and they actually care, they actually care, because that's their peer, right? And they want to feel like they're a unit.

And I mean, if you notice, there's so much like classroom pride. And that's why it's very effective when you have like competitions with one class than the other. So you can use that to your advantage. And if you have anything, like any question in regards to how to teach kids to not bully, is always make it pro kindness pro cousin. And I use the word anti bullying, because people understand what that means normally, but I think my method is more pro pro kindness, pro teaching kids to be a good citizen.

And that's why the whole changing the language like okay, we're going to correct this action, not we're going to punish you, or like, we're going to make this right not, we need to discipline you, we're going to work on what happened and how we can correct this or how you can get to the point to apologize instead of like, you have to you know that you have to demand because when kids feel like they're being obligated when they're especially when they're not ready, it's not going to happen, and they're going to feel resentful, they're gonna feel like it's a punishment, they're not gonna learn their lesson, it's not going to be sincere, then the victims not gonna believe them. So, think about those things. You have to be patient. And you have to always think like, how is this positive? Let's take the the negative feeling and the negative language out of it.

Yeah. 100%. So with all of this being said, What is your dream then for the future? This is such

a personal thing for me, not just because I had to go and defend my kid. And let me tell you, it wasn't just when she was five. It's happened after that. But I experienced it as a kid and I was pretty bad. I came to the US from Nicaragua at the age of seven. And for some reason, all these years, you know, like you get older, you're thinking well, I was a target because I was the immigrant. I was different. I didn't know English. I had to speak it. And it was all choppy and stuff. People used to make fun of me. Even Latinos didn't really know what I was or where I was from. The studying was education. Like I would tell people or from mica, where they were like, Oh, well Carter Mikiko is that for him? I'm like, What? No, oh my gosh, that's so sad. You don't know geography, both in Central America. So all these misconceptions, the fact that kids are not taught diversity opens the door to bullying and many types of discrimination. So if you can create an environment at schools With the parents, that allows you to learn from one another, I think that can create an NFC in one school in particular do this.

So so well, well, it was incredible where all the parents used to go to most of the activities, events, function celebrations, assemblies. I mean, it was amazing, but it was the administration that just put a lot of effort into making them feel inclusive. So if the population at the school was majority like Latino, then guess what the menu was for their activities, something that those Latinos would most likely instead of forcing them to do something that is not, you know, in their culture, the music, they had a mixture of not just like, quote, unquote, American music, but also like Spanish or dawn, you know, like all the other stuff. So my dream is to be able to create Thai communities, because that's really where it starts. And the reason I work with parents is because, well, there are some schools that have bullying prevention programs, they're teaching the kids, right. But how, if you're not teaching the parent, how is the parents supposed to reinforce that? A lot of parents have never been to a workshop that teaches you them what bullying is, when I ask at every single workshop that I've ever had? I started off by asking them, can you clearly define what bullying is? And it is so rare for a parent to get it right. Because most of the times, they're describing teasing, and some of them just flat out say Nah, not really.

And when I started talking about the different types of bullying, the different types of cyber bullying, there just in charter, like I didn't even know that there were more than 10 different types of cyber bullying. I didn't know that there were four types of bullying that they teach at school there, there are more, I didn't know that every school district has a different or might have a different definition of bullying, than a different policy on how to report and how to investigate new incidents. Think I went off on a tangent here, but my dream is to have a very cohesive community and need school where bullying is not really the main reason why kids end up having that scar as a child in school, you know, because you talk to a lot of kids or adults today.

 And then they're like, so did you get bullied at school? You're like, Oh, yes. And then they have like this, you can feel their pain. Even as an adult. I remember, I spoke to the 64 year old man. And he came to the workshop because he brought his grandchild. And we just had this conversation. And he said, You know, I was bullied and he started occurring. And he's like, you know, that still haunts me. And I still knew all my life, I did this or didn't do that, because of what happened to me. And when you start having these conversations with adults, then first off, say, not really, I didn't have any experiences like that. And then they start thinking more about it, or like, oh, my gosh, either witnessed something or something happened to them. And you know, that's completely preventable. Is is that society thinks it's such a huge task. And like, No, you just start at home. You just start at home, or start with your classroom. That's all and start with the basics. But the basics are so underestimated. It's crazy.

Yeah, for sure. Because we don't know. And that's why the work that you do is so important. So I how do people get in touch with you and learn more about you and your worlds?

Oh, thank you for that question. So I'm very active on Instagram, but I'm on on social media at Valley talks is my handle. But at Danny tux.com? It's my website. And yeah, I have a blog. There's a free information. I have a podcast that only talks podcast, which you've been on?

Yes. Yeah. Well, yes. Works to talk with you.

So yeah, I'm here for people if they have a question and have courses, consulting workshops, and I can also go to your schools or your business, because everybody, yeah, I feel like this is something so basic, that is not just about kids, because the other two questions I get almost every single actually every single workshop that I've done, whether in person or online is how do I manage bullying at work? And the other one is, how do I handle a teacher bullying my child? So there's definitely work to be done?

Absolutely. Well, we are in the works. And it's really exciting. And I really looking forward to continuing this relationship with you and empowered educator because we certainly go hand in hand and it's just very exciting. So thank you for the work that you do in this world. It's been great to have you on the podcast today.

Thank you so much, Dan. I appreciate you.

I appreciate you. And if you enjoyed today's podcast, make sure you subscribe and please leave a five star review. And we'll see you next time on take notes. Incredible, right? Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible. And it's all here for you right now. Let's keep the conversation going at empowered educator faculty room on Facebook.

Cultivating self-awareness: Pause, connect and celebrate through the reflective process with Selena Woodward.

If I know one thing about you, it is that you are a dedicated teacher.
Despite all the hardships you endure, being an effective teacher is, undoubtedly, a priority for you.
Now, when it comes to challenges and triumphs, do you ever wonder why some things work out and why some don’t?
One of the most important tools for being an empowered educator is the reflective process.
By reflecting on your experiences, you can align your purpose, understand what makes you happy, and develop an awareness of why things work out or don't.
This reflective process also helps you tune into your body and create a culture of celebrating even the hard stuff. Which is why I’m excited for episode 26 of Take Notes with Jen Rafferty!
Today, I’m joined by a special guest Selena Woodward.
Selena is a teacher, mentor, mother and the voice of The Reflective Teacher Podcast. She will be sharing her insights on the importance of reflection, especially for school teachers who want to build a fulfilling life and career.
Here’s a reminder to pause, notice, and reflect on the things around you, even if it means leaning into the difficult emotions. By doing so, you can enhance your effectiveness as a teacher and ultimately achieve a more rewarding career.
Stay empowered,

Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Linktree
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
Facebook: Empowered Educator Faculty Room

About Selena:
Selena is the voice of the Reflective Teacher Podcast, a university Lecturer and an English and Drama teacher who coaches Educators around Australia through the Accreditation process. With years of experience working with the AITSL standards, she is well known for her clear, helpful and easy to implement tips and tricks for making the process of evidence gathering and reflective practice easier. Her mission to give teachers the perspectives and tools that they need to get the most out of the reflective process. She strongly believes that reflective practice is all about helping you to connect with what you already do everyday, to see your impact, to celebrate that impact and to share that with your students.

Connect with Selena here:
IG: @edufolios

TRANSCRIPT: I remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world. Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you, it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two, and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids. We need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy, and fulfillment. This is education 2.0, where you become the priority, shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee, and grab your notebook, it's time to Take Notes!

Hello, and welcome back to another fabulous episode of Takes Notes. I'm here with Selena Woodard, who is the voice of the Reflective Teacher Podcast, a university lecturer and an English and Drama teacher who teaches and coaches educators around Australia through the activation process. She is well known for her clear, helpful and easy to implement tips and tricks are making the process of evidence-gathering and reflective practice so much easier. And her mission is to give teachers the perspectives and tools that they need to get the most out of the reflective process. And she strongly believes that reflective practice is all about helping you to connect with what you already do every day. So you can see your impact and celebrate that impact and to share that with your students, Selena, Hello

Hello, How are you? thanks for having me.


Yes, I'm so glad we get to reconnect Selena and I met close to a year ago actually when I was a podcast. Everyone, need to listen to that one too. It's it was so much fun. We lost it out.

So I'm so glad you're back. And I would love for you to share a little bit before we dive into the nitty gritty of reflection. You know, why was reflection something that you wanted to even pursue the way that you're pursuing it right now why? Why was that important for you?

I think for me, it's the way my brain is wired, I have a magic power of being able to connect dots really, really quickly. I suspect that I am a bit neurodivergent and possibly a bit gifted. And my brain works really quickly. And so I also have a naturally curious brain that likes to understand everything. So reflective practice has been a huge part of just who I am in my head. And I'm sure there's others who can relate to that. Some might call it the strict critic at times, it can be a little bit mean that boys but I've always been really curious. And teaching for me was always about curiosity. I remember when I was studying to be a teacher at uni, I told myself, I wouldn't bother teaching for longer than 10 years, because it will get really boring because as an English teacher, that meant 10 years of teaching the same texts over and over again. And that was kind of what I understood it to be. And then when I became a teacher, and I realized that teaching had very little to do with the content and more to do with relational leadership, more to do with the how we deliver, it became such a glorious puzzle for my brain. I was like, right, I've got 32 different kids, five sets of 32 different kids every day to work out. And so reflective practice just became my way of understanding my impact. Because for me, what really matters is the difference that I'm making and how enthusiastic the kids are not just about English, but about themselves. I used to work in a lot of low socio economic schools, originally in the UK. And I used to work with a lot of kids who were very down on themselves didn't really see the world in a very exciting way. So I became like this. I'm a type two Enneagram. So I'm a helper and I have to solve the world's problems. And the only way to do that is to see and understand what's going on. And so reflective practice just became a part of what I do. And I used to do that by writing on a blog. And that's kind of how my whole business came about, because I ended up learning how to reflect and then here in Australia, we have teaching standards that we've been able then to use to dive deeper into the what and the why of what I'm doing. And it's just become a huge part of who I am as a professional who I am personally, I just think it's incredibly powerful. Absolutely.

Yes, it is powerful because we can't change but we don't notice. So reflection really is the noticing in all of that right?

Absolutely and that's it and often, particularly in teaching It's an incredibly busy job, right? We hardly have time for a wee in a day I used to say, you know, like, so I actually had to practice like meditation like anything else, I have to practice pausing and noticing, pausing and reflecting. Because otherwise we make assumptions about our practice, we assume that what we're doing is right, because it worked last time. And often we're wrong. And working with educators here in Australia, I often find the teachers are quite surprised when I take them through my processes. They go, Oh, my goodness, I was planning to like, for example, this year, I was working with a brilliant teacher in New South Wales. And he was working on preparing kids for an exam we have here called NAPLAN. And he had planned this whole unit. And then he was working with me. And I asked him to plan for measuring impact to reflect during his lesson and to do that with the kids. And within half an hour of his lesson, he realized that these kids were moving way faster than he thought they were. So if he hadn't have paused, hadn't planned to include that measurement of impact in his lesson, he would have carried on with this unit, and he would have slowed them down. And he would have wasted that time. And he was like, blown away by that, you know. So it's so important that we don't tell stories in our head about what we assume is happening. And so you're that puzzle, the part of that, but as you say, noticing it slowing down planning to see the impact, not only to understand the reasons why things are going well, and why they're not going well is just a part of the fun of teaching really, isn't it? A part of being?

Yeah, being an effective teacher. And I think that there are so many of these external evaluations or external variables that are placed on us to determine whether or not we're being effective. Whereas I think that the most powerful tool for being effective is the reflective process.

I don't know. And that's kind of why I've ended up with doing what I'm doing. Because we do have these teaching standards, right. And here in Australia, you have to prove that you've met certain levels of these teaching standards. There's the ones you do it uni as people see them, you kind of should be learning new things all the time. Hey, so but you know, there's the graduate ones, then there's the proficient ones that prove that you've ticked the boxes. And that's unfortunately, how it's been presented. It's a piece of paperwork, it's a hoop-jumping exercise is kind of that kind of culture behind it. And my mission is to just turn that around and go, actually, we got to do this stuff. Because it's a hoop-jumping exercise, it's part of our career progression. But we can make it really meaningful. And I haven't yet met a teacher who genuinely cares about the teaching standards, or the accreditation paperwork, what they actually care about is the kids, they're working with the colleagues, they're coaching, the community they're impacting on right. So if we can change our mindset, look at it through a slightly different lens, those tools that we've we feel like I've been thrust upon us can actually become really cool ways to help guide us through that reflection. So that's, that's kind of a huge part of what I do is a mindset shift, where we basically change it up and turn it around and say, what what do you care about? What is your purpose here? We know it's not tick the boxes do the paperwork, right? So how can we change the lens so that you can get that paperwork done, because it has to be done, but in alignment with who you are and what you believe, as a practitioner, and in a way that will spark you and actually inspire you.

So I actually get teachers telling me they're quite addicted to the process, because it becomes a bit game of bide, right. Okay. We've got 37 focus areas across this career stage. Oh, let's see what I can do. You know, and it helps you with that structure in it, it helps you become really aware. I don't know, Jen, I talk about the shadow side and the light side of a teacher. So bear with me. Okay, so this is No, I haven't told Jen about that. So when I work with educators, and we use the standards, and we use it in our way to help inform our practice, we usually discover that there is a light that we like to stand in. And it's really comfortable, and it feels really good. And there are certain areas of our practice that we run away from, there are shadows, that are things that we haven't done the professional development in, there are things that feel really hard, and we're a bit frightened to going towards. And so it's really good to know that. So for example, I know in my practice, I'm obsessed with education, technology, technology integration. That's what I lecture in at Flinders any year in South Australia. I've written books on that. And so as a teacher, I'll be like, can I go to this big conference in Sydney called edgy tech and someone will pay for me to go to that. But as you do I need to go and do more PD on the thing I've written books about sure I want to I want to go network and see my friends and I want to have the lunch and I want to find out what's new, or do I need to look at myself as a holistic practitioner.

Are there areas and I know there are that I am scared off. So as I said, I'm British, right. And I moved here 12 years ago to Australia. And one of our standards is Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, I had no idea about that stuff, and so that I will happily avoid. So using reflective practice in line with a framework that allows me that enables me to go okay, so yes, you're allowed one fun conference in technology, and you can read all the books, but I also need you to go and address this thing, because it's actually really, really, really important. So I think, for me, those who've jumped in paperwork, things, it's about mindset. And it's about aligning that back to your purpose, so that you are meeting the requirements of whatever government body, you know, is currently in power, but you're doing it with style. And you're doing it by setting those hoops on fire, because like, you ain't doing nothing, you ain't got time for anything, that's not going to make a difference to you personally, or your kids. And I think a slightly practice is a huge part of that for me. Yeah.

Style and fire. I like where you’re going for.

Okay, good. You know where to go?

Yeah. So I would love for you to walk us through a little bit of the process, because I think that reflection can become this very big, heavy meta idea. Whereas reflection can happen in those small moments in those interactions that you have with students, or colleagues, right? Or even at home with your family, right? Because you're the same person, whether you're at work, or it's yes, or at home. So can you talk us through some of those places and the processes of what reflection even looks like?

Yeah, so I guess for work purposes, I have lots of different strategies, we can do different lenses. So let's think about this. So if I'm a teacher, and I'm looking to just reflect on my practice, in a really informal way, I'm not currently trying to tick a box. I'm just here to show up for myself, show up for my students and lean into that curiosity. I actually talk a lot about professional spidey senses in my work. So really channeling spider man here. All right, you know, we all have, you know, we've seen spidey senses tingle. And I don't know, I'm sure everyone can relate that, as a teacher, we have the same ability. And it comes over time, you know that you plan this amazing lesson, and you've spent hours on it on Sunday, you might have laminated some things off, you've gone crazy. And then you rock up on Monday morning, and it's a full moon last night, it's high winds, it's raining, and probably some insect slash pigeons flown into your classroom, you know, like, sudden, why don't all of those days, you know, doesn't matter how much time and effort you've put into that lesson, it ain't going to happen the way you thought it was, the kids are up on the ceiling, game over because there's a wasp, or pigeon, you know, like all these things happen.

It could be as dramatic as that, or as simple as you've got 30 Kids in front of you. And there's just a group of kids in one corner, or one or two who are just not aligned to what you're doing and are vibing they're not getting it, maybe their behavior is not quite right. Something there'll be a sense that this isn't working, you'll get a gut feeling, I really feel that it's a real that's why it's relational in our classroom, right that you'll get a feeling like Oh, and you can either just keep going stick to the plan. Or, as we get more practice, we start to I guess, pivot, you could use the business center, pivot and go, right, okay, this is not working, what will work and you pull out another resource, or you try something different. And in those moments, you're already in the process of reflection. And what's happening is you're actually, if you can be aware of what your body's telling you and tuning in, you'll begin to be aware of how you do it automatically. You'll be like, Okay, why did I just have it that? Why did I change my plan. And so what I get my teachers to do, is in their planner, I get them to write emojis in the corner. So if we felt great again, to draw a smiley face, and just one word next to it about something just to remind them of what it was. And if it felt like oh god, this is all going to crap. They can draw a pigeon if necessary, right? I like a sad base that that or sad base and a question like a word in a question.

And then once the lesson is over, I asked the people I work with to schedule just 15 minutes a week, it's all into their day. So we have met times and noncontact time on our timetables, and we make sure there's 15 minutes to pick a smiley face incident or spidey sense incident and just dive into it. And I think the really important thing about that, well, it's twofold. One, if it's happy, we need to pause and connect with that and celebrate that because my God, we are so tired. Right now the world has been bonkers. And when we focus on the difference we are making, that's our purpose. That's our y that recharges us that makes us feel good. That makes our brain go, Hey, I like this. We should do more. It helps us keep going You're right, and helps us focus on the path we want to go on. That's really important. And the other thing that's really important is to lean into the sad face. Because the sad face represents what I like to call our metaphorical rock. I don't know, Jen, have you ever taught a lesson where it's gone really crap, and you didn't address it? And you know, you've got that class again next week. And you maybe you have a cup of coffee before it's coffee break or whatever. And you're just reading them arriving? Because you're still in the energy you were a week ago. Has that ever happened to you?

Oh, yeah, for sure. Absolutely.

Yeah. And that is the rock. Right? That? Yeah. Yeah. And that's the sad face. That's the rock. All right. So sometimes, and this really freaks out the teachers I work with, because they think when they're reflecting, they've got to only talk about the good stuff, because they need to show up and show the world that they're amazing. And I'm like, but the way you show you're an amazing educator, is to show you're an amazing learner. And I Oh, yeah, that's a good point. Okay, so if that went wrong, what can you learn about that, that means you could put that rock down and not carry it to the next lesson that you have with those kids? Is there something you can take away from that. And then when you've learned that lesson, your brain will let it go. If you spend all term just adding rocks to your rucksack, by the end of the term, you're just so busy carrying all that you haven't, you know, one of the resources that you know, let's say the power of that, just that simple practice of 15 minutes and just tuning into your body and going okay, do I need to drop a rock? But that's terrible. Robert, Robert, doing Oh, do I need a break? You know, how does that sound?

That's a really informal, one that I do with my teachers all the time. And that's gonna be a conversation with leadership, too. If you're listening to this as a leader in a school, creating a culture of celebrating the hard stuff, and making space for teachers to admit it was hard, and it's safe, and they can be vulnerable. And they can listen to each other and say, Yeah, I had that as well. You know, like, it's amazing what we can learn from each other. So I'll give you an example from my practice, if you like, I once had a ye eight class, I was always given the tricky classes. I love puzzles, right? So tricky. Classes are my favorite thing. So I had this great class and I couldn't crack them in terms of they were just all over the place shiny. Now. I'm also very shiny. And I had to be aware of that. So I was trying to dull my shiny down and or shiny up over here, like get there. I tried everything you know, like, right, I'll increase the pace of my lesson.

So they keep moving in the car. It's so time to move I'll I'll or I'll try classical music. And we'll come in and we'll come tried everything and nothing was working. And I was reflecting on is trying different things, tweaking and pivoting all over the place. Still, still not quite got it. And one of my colleagues, Alistair, his name is Alistair had them once a week. So we kind of had a slip class. Now Alice does a very different teacher. I'm very loud and big, and I have lots of energy. Alistair is that teacher who walks down the corridor with the clipboard and everyone runs, you know, I know. But that's his performance, right? And I was like, okay, and he's like, I don't have any issues. I know what you're talking about. I'm like, Well, of course you don't. But um, alright. So eventually, I decided to go and observe my class with him. And you know, I tried everything. And I'm telling myself stories at this point, because I'm running out of ideas. And you know, what he did differently? One thing he did differently was he closed the blinds in his classroom. And that meant that the interactive whiteboard screen at the front was the shiniest thing in the room. And it changed the energy. And I was like, Are you kidding me? And I have spent all term like, pedagogy, their strategy. And sometimes being in a culture where it's okay to say to a colleague, dude, help me, he can come and observe me and he can just draw my blind spots. You know, like, just being able to do that and reflect together is probably one of the most powerful things you can do for your kids in your community. So yeah, so having that informal way of doing that is really great in a sort of, on the fly kind of way. But I also have a bit of a ritual that I like to do at the end of term as well. Do you like to hear about that one?

Yeah, sure. These are great.

This is this. Yeah. Cool. So I have a little ritual that I like to do every quarter or every term however, it kind of rolls with you guys semester, whatever word you like to use when you're feeling like okay, sometimes those rocks sneak in, and you're like, feeling like crap about this bit crap about that. Can't reflect on everything in 15 minutes a week. Okay, so you set aside an hour, and I make two lists. I make a list of everything that felt awesome and let me up and everything that felt heavy and I just regret and I wish it would go away. And there's like, for me, that's usually shame and embarrassment, and oh my god, I'm not good enough fives in that column, right? That's usually that column. And I just list them all. Put some music on, have a coffee and just get it all out. I like to call it vomiting on the page, but Do it with words. Okay, do it with with just let it all that happy face column sad face column. And then you get a different colored pen. And you write why.

So not just the what but why I always start in the sad column because that's just how I like to torture myself. But this is clearing. All right, so Okay, so that lesson that was a complete disaster. Why? What happened? Was it that I didn't have the resources? Was it that I had tried to too much, there was just too much. And it was, you know, what was it and I'll just make notes in a different color. So what I'm trying to do here is connect with the why I'm trying to let my brain move away from the emotion that the emotion is my signpost I need it. It shows me that the thing is a rock. It was an uncomfortable heavy emotion, write down what triggered it. And then I write next to it, why I think that happened. And then I look in the happy column. And this is a really real doozy for me, or I go okay, here are all the things in the happy column. Is there anything in here and this is that word? Should?

Is there anything in here that I feel I should feel more excited about than I am? And it's really interesting this column, because this is where it reveals my values as an educator, usually, okay. So for example, I might have written, there was an X percentage increase in attainment in this class, right? I could have written it like that. And I'm like, I should feel like, wow, the school thinks that's a huge thing. And they wanted that grade or, but for me, it wasn't really about that with that class. Alright, and then I'm like, Okay, so let's lean into why I'm not as excited as I should be. What's going on there? Is that a block for me? Am I not able to say you did something amazing there? Is this something coming up in me that I need to look at around a block? Or is it that that doesn't really belong in this smiley column, that's somebody else's, that I'm now accepting your projection of, doesn't need to be there. And that helps me stay at alignment with what I actually care about next term. And it helps me learn the lessons that I need to learn and let go of the things that I don't want to do. And I actually learned that from a guy called James Wedmore, in a business podcast about looking at what you've been doing in your business every quarter. And I tweaked it. And it's so powerful, because it's exactly the same practice. It's not deep reflection, that one, it's not like, let's dive into the detail of what teaching strategies I choose. It's just connecting with where your body is showing your emotions, learning what you need to learn. So that next time you're not carrying all of that, and I'll be honest, like some types of rock sneaks through now even. And they recruit showing up because you got to practice. That's right, you got to practice it is reflective practice, it takes practice. But if you don't show up for it, and you know, practice, that you get more rocks, that's my experience, like it is true, two different ways.

No, that's kinda, and I think, you hit on two things that are really aligned with the work that I do and share this idea of constantly looking for that alignment, we are so good at projecting, like you said, and what we think we should be doing or what we're supposed to be doing, what we should feel excited about what we should feel, maybe embarrass or shame about or guilt about. But at the end of the day, once you are able to get it out of your head and onto paper, it becomes more objective. And you can start to think about it consciously and separate from the stories and the narratives that have become a part of who you are. And decide, is this serving me or not? Because if it is, if you like your Banda rocks, cool, like live in love, if you

need them, okay, sometimes they aren't serving you. And that's usually a sign that you probably do have some work to do. But you know, like, you could carry that the water?

 Absolutely. I don't actually want to carry these rocks anymore, then that's a moment of beautiful growth. And is it going to be uncomfortable putting them down after you've been so used to carrying them all the time? Absolutely. That's why I think doing this with somebody who can walk you through the practice or in community, like what we've been talking about, even before the podcast started recording, we were talking about community building, you know, yeah, to do this individually within community. Absolutely.

And it is really important because the schools that I work with, where I've got one teacher, and they're on their own, they say come to me because they're feeling isolated, and they need that community connection. And I run eight week programs and we connect in zoom and we're from all over Australia usually, you know, and I want to add as well go back to what you were saying around the whole stories and taking it personally thing and I want to bring it back to the paperwork because I know we all hate the paperwork right and the teaching standards in every country. We all resent them when we feel that we told her to do our job and and that is often honestly for me came from a place of fear because they represent a judgment. That's how it feels. They are there to judge me. And I'm scared of that because I don't want to fail. It's important to me that I'm really good at My job, but if I get practice that reflection, it's important to me that I learn I get the data, the information about where things aren't right, and I am leaning into it, right. And then that means that instead of seeing it as judgment, I'm seeing it as an opportunity for growth. Now, a lot of people will be listening to that, oh, yeah, whatever. But lean in with me here, okay, because it's proven, it works time and time. Again, if you flip it right, and you start with your story that's really important. Do not start with the standards, whatever they're called when in whatever area, do not start with the paperwork. Start with the curiosity, start with the emotion and write it out. So if you're doing a smiley faces in your planner, and then using that 15 minutes format on the page again about that thing, don't worry about how formal it is, or what someone else is going to think when they read it. None of that is relevant. Just get in here, get it out. And then use the paperwork, right? Use the frameworks to ask questions. Because what that does, if you're on your own, and you don't have a community around you to do that for you, is it gives you a kind of scaffold a way of diving deeper into your practice. So you know, if you've written about an assessment, look at what the standard say about assessment and ask yourself. So here in Australia, we've got one that's ridiculously long. That's something that uses a range of formal informal summative, they're like, oh, there's really ridiculously long standard about assessment. All right. And so maybe I look at that, and I go, Okay, this assessment was crap, it didn't work I got, I didn't get the data I needed, let's have a look at the standard. Or maybe what I actually needed was a formative assessment, not a summative one. So the standards become a friend, they become a completely impartial guide on the side. It's really powerful. And it's a real mindset shift. And I know it does mean that you do become quite happy with those pieces of paperwork. But you know why? It's because you're owning them. And you're using them in a way that fuels you and is again aligned with what you're doing. And you're not letting them lead anything. You're asking them to be the guide on the side to you as the hero learning how to do your job. Amazingly, they are your Yoda.

All right, that's who they are. I've seen them that way. And take them with a pinch of salt. And then if you don't, eventually you will end up being able to guide other people in that way. And what tends to happen is because they're not no longer about judging you negatively, they're about leaning in a beach curious and identifying, oh, my God, I've done all of that. I'm amazing. Or, oh, that's curious. I've been avoiding that. A lot of people who come to me here in South Australia or in Australia, they want to do the we have four career stages. And two of them are like the highly accomplished and lead teacher status. And a lot of teachers come to me wanting to do ha ha highly accomplished because they feel like they want another certificate, it's time for them to prove themselves. And then by the time they're finished with me, they don't want the certificate. Because what they've actually realized is there's plenty of fun to be had. And I do say fun playing with those standards and exploring themselves as educators. And eventually once they've done that they will have their evidence. And if they fancy submitting it to get the certificate cool. They've got it right. There just got to obviously they got to package it for the assessor but it'll be easier. They know what the joy, and they're having so much fun using the framework as their Yoda. It's helping them dive in a creating it in a way that means it's not personal. And if you're mentoring a trainee teacher from uni, it's the same thing. Did you have a crap practice? You have an awful prac when you were a practicum, when you were training to be a teacher, everyone I know had that one mentor that made their life miserable. Did you have that? That? Feels so I had a really hard Lucky. Lucky. Okay, good. Well, I'm very proud of that's very good. People I know of her Yes.

That's good.

That's wonderful. Well, you know, like, if you are mentoring a pre service teacher, it can be really hard to guide them and say, Look, actually, this isn't working. And so if you can go back, you go back with this, this what you did,

let's have a look at the standards, how to use it, you can use that you can use your sub Yoda, you can be chief Yoda. And the standards can be many. I don't know, Greg, who is that work that will work. They can send us can we grow goo in that instance. All right, and you can use them to help guide the conversation and keep it really professional and not let it go. She doesn't like me or anything like that. You know, like, it's amazing. So even if you're working in a mini community where you're mentoring somebody, using the standards like that just keeps the conversation really healthy. It's really cool. See, I get very passionate about it. No, I passionate about rubrics.

i Well, I think that's why I always so you know, drawn to your energy and other things that you share and do and even when we first met because it's that passion and that it's very clear and evident in what you share and how you share it that it's not about the word. It's very clearly about the why for you and yes, that's Yes, really. I think why we Both aligned in love having these conversations, I was one something that you said that I think is really important too about ego, you know, our ego wants to make everything personal. And when that happens, it sabotages the reflective practice, because you're no longer looking at objective data, all of a sudden, you are trying to protect your ego from being hurt, and from being wrong. And so it gets in the way of real learning and expansion. And when you start to practice dropping your ego, you start promoting the pieces of yourself that are curious. So you can actually have the space to expand and be open to new information so you can grow. But that, I think, in my experience, and what I've observed and correct me if I'm wrong, that's usually the biggest saboteur

it is. And that's where self awareness becomes really important. And for me, I'm going to be a bit nervous might come across as nuts that I don't care, I guess I had, like, lots of voices. In my head, I had lots of different kinds of egos. My ego was very split into different personalities, they were all protectors from different phases of my life, you're off of them, I had no idea where they were coming from some of them, you know, as anyone else, you might hear mom's voice in your head, or you might hear and you realize, oh, that's my mom, that's weird. Or teacher, as a teacher, you know, you hear your teachers voices in your head, you compare yourself to your favorite teacher, or you desperately don't want to be that teacher, you hate it, you know, like, there's all these thoughts, and they're all running in your unconscious, you're just not consciously aware of them. And so I think self awareness is a really big part of it. I think reflective practice is a great way to start becoming self aware. And the more you practice it, you start to see patterns emerging. And then you're like, that's the interesting pattern. Do I want that pattern? Where's that pattern coming from? And I know, for me, I tie my professional life and my personal life very closely. We were talking before recording about that in terms of business. But that's very true in teaching, too, because it's a very relational space. I've said that lots of times you are there as a human with other humans, every human in that room sees the world completely differently. So there can't be perfection, because every single person has a completely different view of what perfection is. So that's a completely stupid game. Don't play that one. And so yeah,

yeah, no more perfection.

Don't buy that game. Yeah, it's pointless. Yeah. If you interviewed everyone in that room and ask them, even if they're for what's the perfect lesson, they'll all have a different idea about what that looks like. That's part of the puzzle, right? And you're trying to create some learning activities and some learning experiences that tap into as many things. It's exhausting. It's so fun. I love it. Like my brain loves it. You can hear that's what my brain does. It's these patterns. And yeah, you know, it's amazing that as you do that, I remember in my early career in England, we used to get observed every year and graded with a number. And I would be devastated. If I was satisfactory. That was failure. As far as I was concerned. I'm a Hermione Granger, by the way, Harry Potter. So I needed outstanding. But then I would work so hard to get the outstanding I would sabotage myself because I was so busy trying this is how I've learned my lessons and got to where I am now. Right? I was so busy trying to tick all the boxes, I actually forgot that I was actually there to teach children really, to be honest. I remember I had a role as a technology lead. that'll surprise everyone. No. So I've always coordinated technology across several faculties. And I was being observed by my line manager. So I prepared this amazing lesson. I was in Birmingham in the UK, it was travel writing, I had teachers from New York, ready to answer my kids questions in a chat room that was all fully vetted. I had Time Square, beaming live on my interactive whiteboard. I was going for it at the end of the lesson. And the teacher went, This was great. It was so exciting.

Lots of great, cool stuff. But I'm gonna I can only give you satisfactory and I probably should fail you. And I'm like, What will your learning objectives were about sentence structure and creating in creative writing. But they just seem to spend a lot of time talking to teachers in New York. And I was like, shit. Oh, no. Yeah, like, I got so upset. We're trying to prove to this guy that I was a tech genius. And I had all this network Look at me, because that's what I thought he wanted to see. I completely lost sight of the fact that I was actually there to teach them travel right. I know the kids had a great time I even saved them New York bagels at the door. I did the whole sensory experience, noodle bagels at the door sound and I was going for the full sensory experience. It was a brilliant lesson, but I didn't teach him any English, unfortunately. So you know, like it was a great that was a God moment for me, in reflection of how far I was willing to go to try and please somebody else, not my Kids. And as I say, if you're into Enneagram, I'm a type two Enneagram. So it's really important to me when I'm in an unhealthy place that everyone loves me and appreciates me. So I will work really, really, really hard until you tell me that I'm fabulous. I think a lot of teachers might be a type two, we love that.

I think you're right. Yeah. And you know, it's funny, I've interviewed so many people who have shared those oshit moments with me, you know, you are sworn to poker? Oh, that's totally fine. And because it's, it's real, it's important. You know, this is something that every teacher goes through at some point, if you're paying attention, right, so you're doing your thing, and then all of a sudden, you're in this world, and your eyes all of a sudden, are open, and you are swept into being in like the middle of a mud puddle that is also in a desert, and you're in outer space, and you have no idea of where you are because you lost sight of maybe the thing that matters, right? Or yeah, you've become so disconnected from perhaps the objective or the purpose in an effort to follow tradition, to people, please to be a perfectionist, or the list goes on and on and on and on. And all of

that is my ego, right? It's my ego, because my ego is trying to protect me, it's like this guy wants you to show him this. And that's not what that guy, I've made that story up. Well, my ego has made that story up. Because he thinks it's helpful, and it's trying to protect me, thank you, we go, thank you very much, right? It's an old panic come, it comes from my childhood, I'm trying to please the older figure, I'm trying to doesn't matter whether they know, I probably knew way more, it didn't matter. That doesn't matter. Because he's been around longer. He's in a position of seniority. Therefore, these are the rules. And these are the things I have to do. And that's not who I am. That's not self that's protector, or firefighter. If you're into internal family systems. It's like, yeah, it says me risk.

We can talk about that. And we're gonna put a pin in that.

Watch out watch as we do, no doubt. So yeah, like, so like, it's parts of me that are doing a beautiful job. They're parts of all programs, though. And you know, that protector might have appeared when I was four. And at that point, I was 30, something like, I don't need the same little person to pop up. So for me, with all the reflective practice, it does come down to self awareness. And then I'll start to see these patterns in my ego. And then I can then move to a place where I can get someone to help me unpack that and pull those away. So that and this is not just about me, as a teacher, this is personally too because you start to see the same middle over there on my hand, that's what I do. My therapist, there is no, they wouldn't be like a pop up, I have a chat with them. And I integrate them back. Because it's usually a conflict when that happens. Yeah, like at the end of that lesson, I'm like, Oh, right. So I listened to you. And this is what's happened. And this part of me wants to be really successful. And that means making sure the kids are learning for this job, have and growing and developing their skills personally and in English and Drama. And this person really, really wants to impress the boss, and thinks that then they're probably doing both the same thing. But they've just got different ways of doing it. And it's about letting four year olds with whoever this one is integrate with the one who actually knows the real world and the present, and that in them come together so that I can actually do what I need to do without being sabotaged by a part of me that is no longer that helpful isn't serving me anymore. Yeah.

And that's when you start to really do the introspective work. It's just data. It is all daily, and there's nothing wrong with you. And there's nothing broken. We're all beautiful, human, and we get to be on this journey of exploration and self discovery. And I think that is the most exciting journey to be on.

It is an if you are a practitioner of reflectiveness or reflective practitioner.

So you get to lead into that with curiosity, right? So you learn, you kind of learn to be okay in those uncomfortable spaces, because your brain learns and understands that you stay there for a little time. And then it drops and it's okay again, because you put the rock down, right. If you don't practice that, then the uncomfortableness feels really limited scary. And don't get me wrong. Sometimes there are some scary rocks and I don't want to go near them, like you saying they're serving me in some way right now. And I don't even want to go there because they're too scary. And that's totally okay. There has to be a level of resilience in you as well. I think that's really important. Don't go and cover in rocks when you're not in a good place to uncover a rock. You know, like you got to have the support which you know, is coming back to that community professionally, and it could be professional help. Personally, I think I personally have been journeying this year with neuro linguistic programming that has been amazing for doing that my my practitioner that I work with does parts work as part of the end They'll pay as well. That's the little people and the integration. And that has been really great. And that takes my self awareness to another level now, because I've been doing that for about a year. And so now I'll rock up to session, I'll be like, Hey, I noticed this thing. It was really interesting because things are popping up in my life. And I be like, this happens. And then I feel like this, and I just shut down. And she's like, there was a sore. What did you think before you shut down on it? Oh, nothing, I didn't think anything, I just shut down. She's like, that's not how it works. You got to slow this down. And that's what I mean about the unconscious subconscious things that you're doing so fast, you actually genuinely have no conscious awareness of them. And the first part of the conversation is always is that awareness, right? And so when something like that happens, and I don't understand why I've shut down so like I maybe I'm in a meeting, someone said something and the shame monster has consumed me, I tend to go into my shame cave, I'll shrink inside and go very, very quiet. I don't want to do that. I'm a powerful, informed educator. Like, I don't need to go into the shame case. That's not who I am. Right. So I'm like, an amped up like, Well, what did you think? And I'm like, nothing. So I had to become really conscious of what was happening before I went into the shame cave, like what was the thought? And then once we had the thought we could work with that and explore what that thought was, what emotions were attached to it, and then just pull it away. It's really interesting. And it's not like a lobotomy, but it feels besides strings. Yeah, basically. Well, my brain, overfond, 42. Now, so I've got 42 years of very wacky wiring going on in here. And there's 42,000 protectors and the voices, I used to call them the voices, and they all had different opinions. Sometimes they argue with each other to say, I hope everyone's relating to this, and they'll go, Who is this completely insane

woman hanging out with me and empowered, educated, and we're all this is familiar target. Okay, good. We're going to Okay, cool.

So there's all these choices, you know, like, but I want to be listed y'all, but you must please this person. And then there's another one over here. And so I can take that once I work out what my body is doing, how my unconscious mind is kicking in those pathways, I can see them, I can unpack them, and I can choose to remove them. It's as simple as that with the help of a practitioner. And that is amazing. And really, I'm going to use a really weird word. It's really discombobulating. Oh, because I remember saying to her, it's like, I've been driving the car with the mirrors adjusted like this. And now you've pulled that away, I need to adjust my mirrors and everything looks different. Like the way I show up is different. The way I see that person's behavior is different, because it's no longer about me, it's about them. And that gives me the power to hold up a mirror. Sometimes it was with love and compassion, and let them learn that thing that they need to take forward. Because if I keep taking it all, they're never going to go on their journey, right?

They're never going to learn what they need to learn. So I it's been amazing. And I think yeah, reflective practice is definitely the beginning of that. And the more you practice it, as I say, that leads to patterns. And that leads to real freedom. And that's what it's about. For me, I want to be me, I kind of see from an internal family systems perspective, their self and myself, Selena, she's very chilled, she likes to sit down under the cross legged and just chill, she laughs a lot about all the crazy things going on around us. She finds it very amusing. And then there's all these other versions, there's all these other protectors who think she's Why is she relaxed like that, like they're anxious, they're anxious, they're busy, they're very high energy. And, and she just has to have a conversation with them fairly regularly. And I now know by feeling into my body when I am self, and when my ego or these parts are showing up to sabotage me. And that's so powerful. Now that's taken years of practice. But that's incredibly powerful to know what it feels like call it when you're in alignment. And when you're not, you know, what happens? What do I do, I will giggle a lot I'll say something really serious and then giggle because I'm scared. You know, like I'll be I'll have giggled over something that's really not funny. That means you're uncomfortable. Okay, just take a breath, you know, like little tics, little things that show up in my body. It's really interesting. And it all begins with learning to slow enough to reflect professionally. And of course, personally, chi, they all very tied together.

 Yeah. Well, wherever you go, there you are. So yes, yeah, exactly. No, is going to be the stage of entourage. Areas versions of you, however, yeah,

it's still last question. I know, because we can go on forever. And I would love to actually continue this conversation in some other capacity. But for the purpose of today's podcast, what is your dream for the future of education?

I think for me, education is always about learning. And everyone will be like, Well, duh. But weirdly, I think education is not always about learning when it comes to the way the system is currently set up. It's about political agendas. I said it you know, like, I've got to be able to track these numbers. So I look good. And I can say and let me again, there's always some kind of strange thing for me edgy Patients should be a relational for me education is about removing all of this hierarchy and understanding that no matter how old we are, or what journey we're on, it's about community and about sharing knowledge and wisdom. So as an English teacher, I can nerd out about William Shakespeare and go into loads of detail. And I want to share that with kids so that they feel excited about the history and the culture of the arts, you know, I don't and if they get an A in their exam, awesome, but you know, like, I want them to be to learn what they want to learn, I want to light them up. So for me, education is about lighting buyers, it's Prometheus, I guess it's lighting fires, and allowing kids and teachers the freedom to experience their fire and nurture that. And that does mean sometimes exploring the things that are putting out the fire. And that can be systems that can be processes, and it can be ourselves. So for me, education is about alignment, I want my dream would be that people are free to be vulnerable in their jobs in their spaces, and educator vulnerable with the kids and vulnerable with each other, so that we can all grow together on that journey. Because I can tell you now, I learned so much from my students and from my colleagues and from teachers that I work with. It is all a reciprocal energetic exchange, you know, like, it's all about learning and swapping knowledge and wisdom. And I think if we could make education focus on what lights us up, I think the world would be a much happier place. Rather than all this pressure on things that don't really matter to most, you know, yeah. That went deep. Sorry, that was

No, I love it. I'll tell you being surrounded by people who are gonna fan your flame. Absolutely.

Protect and fan it. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, yeah, part of my job is that we've I've been up we haven't. Exactly, this is what it should be. This is education, right? We're learning from each other. We're swapping stories. We're sharing wisdom. And we're lighting each other up. And we're very excited. Yeah, that's it. That's it.

So how can people learn more about you and get in touch with you?

Yeah, sure. So my business is called edgy folios. So I actually have a business where you can reflect on your practice very geared towards the Aussie market, but you're welcome to come and join us. And that's edgy. folios. That's Ed U F O l i o s.org. And I have a podcast to gents on it. And I talk about reflective practice all the time. So if you want to learn more tune in to more of the stories and the interviews that I have to then head to add your folios.org and just shove podcast on the end. And you can connect with me there. And feel free to have a wander through all the resources. I also have some online courses, you can come join me on, it's all at edgy folios.org.

And her podcast is pretty fantastic. So check that out because you'll learn some really great stuff. So Selena, thank you so much for your time and your talents and sharing them with the world of take notes. I still appreciate you.

I appreciate you. But back at you my friend. Thank you for having me.

So if you enjoyed today's podcast, don't forget to write a five star review and subscribe and we'll see you next time on take notes.

Incredible, right? Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible. And it's all here for you right now. Let's keep the conversation going at Empowered Educator Faculty room on Facebook.

Creating change: Understanding human giver syndrome and how you can unlock your true joy with Amelia Nagoski.

Do you find yourself constantly giving your all without expecting anything in return?
While it's admirable to prioritize others and hold space for them, this trait can also lead to teacher burnout.
Also, it's crucial to remember that prioritizing your own needs is just as important as thinking of others.
As a valued and empowered educator, creating a healthy work environment is essential in providing the best possible learning experience for your students. That's why I'm excited to introduce you to episode 25 of Take Notes with Jen Rafferty, featuring special guest Amelia Nagoski.
Amelia, an Associate Professor and Coordinator of Music at Western New England, is an expert on the human body and a celebrated author and conductor. She's here to share insights on a range of topics, from human giver syndrome to the effects of oppressive social systems on individuals.
It's time to remind yourself that you deserve happiness and fulfillment in your life. By taking care of yourself, you can continue to be the best educator you can be. So join us for an inspiring conversation with Amelia Nagoski and start prioritizing your well-being today!

Stay empowered,

Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Linktree
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
Facebook: Empowered Educator Faculty Room
 About Amelia:
Amelia Nagoski is the co-author, with her sister Emily, of the New York Times bestselling book, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle and the Burnout workbook. She has a Doctorate of Musical Arts and her job is to run around waving her arms and making funny noises and generally doing whatever it takes to help singers get in touch with their internal experience. She lives in New England with her husband, one cat, and two rescue dogs.

TRANSCRIPT:  Sometimes teacher burnout comes from holding space for others all the time and prioritizing others regardless of how much you need to take care of yourself. However, empowered educators know that they need to make themselves a priority in order to build a healthy work environment that is nurturing for both you and your students.

Today, I am talking with Amelia Nagoski, author of Burnout, The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle which by the way, the link to the book and the workbook is in the show notes. And we are discussing understanding human giver syndrome and the impacts of oppressive social structures within our school systems.

I hope this episode serves as a reminder that you have permission to be happy and find joy in your life. So you can move the needle forward and leave this world in a better place for the next generation. And here's the thing, we can't do this alone. This work only works within the community. So if you are listening, it is time to join the Facebook group Empowered Educator Faculty Room. And if you enjoyed the podcast, you'll love this Facebook group because you'll get to have live workshops with me giveaways, insights, and a place to celebrate you throughout your empowered journey. You belong here in the Empowered educator, faculty room on Facebook.

Remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world. Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two, and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids. We need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy, and fulfillment. This is education 2.0, where you become the priority, shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee, and grab your notebook. It's time to Take Notes.

Hi, everyone. Welcome back to another fabulous episode of take notes. I am here with the incredible Amelia Nagoski, who is the co-author with her sister Emily of The New York Times best-selling book Burnout, the Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle and the Burnout Workbook. She has a doctorate of Musical Arts and her job is to run around waving her arms and making funny noises and generally doing whatever it takes to help singers get in touch with their internal experience which I can completely relate to what my mother thought I did for very many years. She lives in New England with her husband, one cat and two rescue dogs.

Thank you so much for being here, Amelia.

It's my pleasure.

Let's just dive in. Can we just get in it because we have such a short amount of time and so much I want to talk about can we talk first about giver syndrome? And how teachers, especially teachers, who are women and teachers who are women and also parents that's like the trifecta, right? Experience this idea of givers syndrome, what is it and what does that mean?

It comes from a book called Down Girl the Logic of Misogyny by a moral philosopher named Caveman. And Dr. Mann is a moral philosopher posits a world in her book where there are two kinds of people, human beings who have a moral obligation, because she's a moral philosopher, they have a moral obligation to be their humanity, to live it, to express it, to acquire whatever resources are necessary in order to accomplish that goal. And the other kind of people are the human givers who have a moral obligation to give. Their humanity their time, their lives, their bodies, to others, but in particular, the human beings who are entitled to everything that human givers have to offer and even more than they have to offer. And it's from a book called Down girl, the Logic of Misogyny. So can you guess which group the women are?

Of course, human givers and this is like a feeling that rings really true. And a lot of people respond to this by going I mean, I like giving, I feel like it's my purpose in life to share and to support the people around me. And yes, indeed, that is, as a default state for humanity. Ideal. What is not ideal is existing as a giver in a world with beings who feel entitled to your time and life and energy and body. So they make it clear that you have a moral obligation to squeeze yourself empty like a tube of toothpaste to be discarded once you have nothing more left. So that dynamic resulting what Emily and I call Human Giver Syndrome. It becomes toxic when you start to internalize the belief that you have a moral obligation to be at all times pretty happy, calm, generous, and attentive to the needs of others. And that if at any time you fail, in your own moral obligation to be at all times, pretty happy, calm, generous, and attend the needs of others, then you are a failure. And that since you are a failure, you deserve to be punished. And like, if nobody's around to punish you, we just go ahead and punish ourselves.

And finally, the last sign of human giver syndrome is, if you think that this has just played a role is it's just normal and true. Of course, I feel a moral obligation to give until I have nothing left. I don't deserve resources for myself, that's selfish for me to have a full night's sleep, eat a nutritious meal, sitting down at a table among friends, I only deserve whatever I can stuff in my mouth while I'm driving my kid to soccer. That's all I deserve, because I should be giving all the time. So that's this system is an ideal way to burn out half the population. And of course, I mean, being from a book called Down Girl, the Logic of Misogyny, this is a lot about gender dynamics, but of course, the power dynamic that exists across all the intersections of power and oppression. So even as a woman who feels this from men who are in a position of power above them, even if they're not, like hierarchically systematically, men are told by the universe that they have the privilege to lord over and to absorb the resources, even if they don't believe it consciously, deep in their brains, they've learned based on just what culture has shown them must be true. And the other side of that, like for the people who are told that they must be in power, they must be in charge, they must be at all times, brave and ambitious, that's also toxic and dangerous for them. But the truth is that for teachers in particular, even men who are teachers are working in a field that is historically dominated by women is considered women's work. It is not often that a man teaches in a school and does not experience the same kind of like misogyny based demands, where parents think you're a teacher, you owe me everything that you are, you need to put your maternity leave on hold, so that my child doesn't experience the dystopia that would be a substitute teacher, right? So human giver syndrome is the belief that you have a moral obligation to give until you have nothing left. And it does not exist because generosity is dangerous. It exists because there is a dynamic in the world where some people genuinely feel entitled, and will teach you that you only deserve to give resources and you don't deserve to take any for yourself.

Yeah, and this is so loaded. And there are so many places we can go with this. But first, I just want to say this is in the air that we breathe.

Yes. Right. I mean,

It is in the messaging that we get in the interactions at the grocery store, from our parents, on TV. And so this is a generational idea that has been perpetuated for, since the beginning of time. Right? And so waking up to this one day and realizing oh my gosh, and having confusing and conflicting feelings about that. That's a totally normal thing.

Oh, yeah, you're gonna have feelings about having been kind of indoctrinated into human giver syndrome, and part of who's going to be like, but I love giving, it feels so good to give. And then you're also going to have feelings about like, no one has protected me from this. And there's gonna be some rage and some resentment. And you're gonna need help. You're need other people who care about your well being as much as you care about theirs, to share this experience with and to remind you that you deserve sleep, and food and have space to cry, and also permission to laugh your ass off.

Yeah. And we don't prioritize that because we think we're not worthy of it.

Not consciously, people are going well, I know, I'm worthy. But like, all the books you've read, every TV show you've seen, like, the nature of the the the office of the presidency of the United States, teaches us that women don't deserve power, that they're not capable of holding power. Yeah, it's so deep down and we have to spend some time unearthing it.

We do in community for sure. As you mentioned before, this is not a solo job.

Not a solo job. Yeah, we actually say over and over again in the book that the cure for burnout is not self care, the kind of like stress that like eats away at your physical health. That feels like burnout is the cure is all of us caring for each other. None of this can be done alone. It's not possible. It needs to be done in company and with care.

Right. And that is something I also very much believe and foster in the communities that I work with to where we all need to do this introspective work to wake up and realize, okay, what's possible for me, but it can't happen alone because of all of these feelings that we need to process through. We're human, and we definitely need each other and it's messy. It doesn't always feel good.

Yeah, I'm so glad you said that. There's way too much messaging that as you heal, as you become less of a human giver, as you take up your own potential and believe in your own power, that you're gonna just start to feel so much better. Like right away. No, man, healing hurts, right? Once you break your leg, your leg does not feel good again, until it's whole. And you need help every day between the day you break your leg and the day your leg is fully healed.

Yes. And I'll digress for a minute talking about my own healing journey here. This is like an ongoing process. It is not like one day you wake up and say, Oh, got it. I'm good. Now. Every time there's a new thing. There's a new growth point, there's a new expansion. There's a new wakening or realization. You kind of go through this again. And so now I for me, I'm at a point like okay, Jen, we're gonna cry for a while we're gonna go to the rage room for a little while, and it's gonna feel like shit. But afterward, I know that there's light at the end of that tunnel. Exactly. Right. Yeah, that's, that's also totally normal. So can we talk for a minute about moving from kind of giver syndrome to this idea of self care of like, what it is, and what it isn't? Because self care has been like this very triggering word that has been bastardized, especially now after COVID. I could see it's like physically doing things to you right now to like self care. So let's talk about it. What is it? What is it not?

Self-care, the phrase self-care comes from a community of psychologists who are dealing with people who cannot keep themselves clean and fed, because of mental illness because of cognitive challenges. But self-care is keeping yourself clean and fed, taking your medication, paying your rent and all your other bills, that is self care is maintaining yourself. It is not like oh, my pedicures, snow, when it is it has been commodified in this way to sell soothing products to white women basically, on Instagram, like comfortable pants and scented candles and bath bombs and stuff like that's not what that is. Keeping yourself actually physically supported is self-care, getting enough sleep, eating enough nutritious food, and moving your body to the extent that is comfortable and helpful. This is self-care. It has nothing to do with pampering or indulgence, or luxury.

And I think, I'm glad to use that word. Because when we conflate taking care of yourself with indulgence, that's confusing and mixed messaging, because then we start to feel like oh, allowing myself to take time to move my body in a way that's healing is now indulgence. Girl. No, your body just needs to be a body body's built to move. So it's a primary human need, oh, people, I've lost track of the number of women who have told me they feel guilty for sleeping. And sleeping is not an adult, it's it's not a luxury, it's a basic human need. We have to do it. And that's not self-care, like in the self-care sense of, you need to have like the past sheets, in order to get a good night's sleep. What you need is to live in a system that doesn't treat you as a commodity to be sold. That doesn't treat your energy as something that you owe to other people. We need to have a system that includes people who will stand in front of our bedroom door and guard it so that no one disrupts our sleep because they prioritize our well-being the same way that we would prioritize theirs. They tell us, thank you for all the days that you've given up sleep to care for us, we will now do whatever it takes so that you get the sleep that you deserve.

That's powerful, and needs to be said out loud. These are the conversations that we need to be having. Because I think sometimes there's like inklings of thoughts right? Where we're like, Wouldn't it be nice if we're like, I wish or that family over there. And we get into like this comparison mode too, right? So people are kind of like wondering about this, but having this conversation can feel dangerous sometimes because you're opening up a big door to a mirror. And looking in a mirror isn't always pretty, but it's necessary to make change because you can't change things you don't notice

Exactly. And because we are living in a system, and it's a system that's reinforced aesthetically by social media, that tells us not only do we have a moral obligation to give until we have nothing left, but that includes conforming to aesthetic beauty standards, that includes never offending anyone else. Because I'm not gonna get into the whole cancel culture like fears. But the point is, that human beings require belonging, and social media is a place where we can feel like we belong. But more often it is used as a weapon to make us feel like we need to change we need to conform before we are worthy of belonging. And that's just not true. Like you're worthy of belonging and love and care, just as you are right now, it doesn't matter what color your kitchen is, doesn't matter what color your skin is, it doesn't matter what kind of hair you have, or what color it is, doesn't matter if you finish school, or if you come out or if you don't, if you get married, if you have kids, you don't change anything, who you are, right now. is worthy of love, and care and resources and sleep, and food and safety. And the world is going to tell you that that's not true. And by the world, I mean, Instagram and the parents of your students are, they're not going to believe it, which is why the cure herself, the cure for burnout, is all of us caring for each other, because it requires you to have a bubble around you made of the people who care about your well being as much as you care about there's so they can remind you that you deserve those resources, and that those other voices who tell you that you must change that they are wrong, and that they're predators who are trying to reduce you, and to disempower you and to keep you in your place. And then if you want to create change long term in the world, you need to stay well. And that does not involve sacrifice until you have nothing left,

So let's stay there for a minute. Because that's kind of where I was going to about generational change, because that's what I'm interested in, things are fine, right? Now we can make changes for us now. But the real change happens when the kids that are around us watch us make change. And so what kinds of things can we explore here, when you're talking about generational change, you know, the way I look at it is, it's cliche, because it's true, you need to be the change. And when you change everything around you creates this ripple effect of change. So you have an increased capacity to actually serve the people in your life when you are taking care of yourself. And you're enjoying that more because giving, giving, giving giving giving when it doesn't feel good, is not helpful for you or the receiver. So can you talk a little bit about that piece to really big changing the world by changing yourself stuff.

I disagree with one little part of your premise,

Tell me

Which is that we can make a change in the world right here right now. I'm deeply pessimistic person. And I mean, like, at a fundamental personality level, like optimism and pessimism are personal traits that tend to be constant for your whole life, according to like research psychology, and going through the process of writing the book, like I mean, I took all the tests, right, and I am the most pessimistic person any of us has ever met. So it seems to me that the world is a dark and dangerous place where bad things happen by default. And the only reason good things happen is because we make good things happen, which I think is healthy and a good way to exist. Because it empowers you, you can take steps to make things better. But the world will always be fighting against that. But turns out that you are more that are poised for good well being than I am, because people who are optimists who believe that the world is essentially a good place. And all we have to do is kind of like unlock its potential, you are more likely to enjoy personal wellbeing over someone who is pessimistic. But my pessimism does mean that I don't think that we can make the world good for us right here right now. I don't believe that I am going to experience a world that is more just equitable and safe for more people. I believe that it is my job to throw myself under a bus, to lock myself to the tree or whatever the sacrifice metaphor is, it is my job to stand in front of the onslaught of bigotry and misogyny that everyone will have to experience. But if I serve as a shield between my students, the generation who's coming after me, then I can help make space for them to stay strong enough and healthy enough, and maybe break down the enemy a little bit so that I will make the world a better place for the people behind me. But I don't think that I am going to experience improvement or change. Okay with that. I mean, it's a hard truth. To face but I don't think that I'm going to be the recipient of my own actions care. However, I am the recipient of the care of the generations before me. They stood in the crossfire so that I could take a few more steps than they did you know, the feminist, the Betty Ferdinand, Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Audrey Lords of the world, sacrificed and stood as active proponents, against the forces of oppression and toward the good of everyone for social justice, calm safety. And they did not benefit when they did it. But I am beneficiary now. And that gives me an obligation to stand where they were a few steps further than they got so that the people behind me can stand a few steps further than I get.

Does that make sense?

Sure does. So I have a question now for you. What does that shield look like?

Bravery, willingness to be harmed, which I think God have the capacity to do because I have learned, I mean, like I was hospitalized 15 years ago for stress-induced illness. And in that past 15 years, I have focused on learning what the impact of oppressive social systems is on the well being of individuals. And I have learned how to keep myself well in the face of the white supremacists heteronormative exploitative Lee capitalist patriarchy. And because that gives me so much resilience, I have the capacity to be that person to answer the question, or did I lose track?

You answered the question as to how you can be that person. Okay. But I want to know, like, what is the shield look like? Because when you use the analogy of like tying yourself to a dream and standing in front of the bus,

I'm starting to talk about like social justice actions that people have taken.

Yeah, but you know, it's all connected, it's all the same, you know, we are waking up and moving forward in a way that is standing against the oppression, whatever that looks like, even human giver syndrome, right? So I'm with you. And I want to know, if you're standing in front of that bus, it's not just you, Amelia, here, it's you and your abilities, your skills, your knowledge, your information, and what you do with it. So my question is, what does that look like? What is your shield? Here you are, as Amelia Nagoski, who have like, had all of this lived experience, who has done all of this work? Who has gained all of this knowledge, who is now sharing this out to the world? Is that your shields?

There is definitely a place where it's just me doing the work I do. I talk to a lot of corporate audiences about burnout, and suppose it's self care. And I do preach freedom to the oppressed. I mean, I talk about the necessity and the power of unionization, the role of government plays in actively suppressing individual protections, the social safety net like I definitely talk out loud and do not mince words, when I talk to the employees of a large corporation that is openly taking anti union steps, and saying out loud that the cure for burnout is not self care. It's all of us caring for each other. And as Cornel West says, justice is what love looks like in public. So like honest to God, unionization is part of the revolution that will create safety and reduce the health impacts of stress in the population.

That makes sense. You know, the reason why I ask is that if you have a shield, and you are clearly so passionate about it, and in knowing what your shield looks like, how do people then create their own shields? That's really the question is here, you are so passionate about like, Okay, this is my role here I am literally standing in front of a bus. And with that comes with, it's got to be very intentional things. And maybe that's not intentional, maybe it's just you being you. And this is the role that you are in and have embodied. But if there are people who are listening, who are like, Yeah, I feel like I want to shield to because not only do I want to wake up to my own power and feel empowered in my life, but I also want to be able to stand against and protect those that are coming after me. What does my shield look like? That's why I ask the question,

That is a fantastic question that's gonna vary so widely among people. Because the most important thing is that whatever you do for the world, it has to be something that fills you with joy, right? That feels meaningful to you and connect you to something larger than yourself. So there's a quote from Howard Thurman, which is Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. That's it. I think that's your shield.

That's your shield, too.

Yeah. Oh, for sure. And maybe I just forgot how I hot here because I think you're right that a lot of it is, I have fewer inhibitions than a lot of people I my personality has some intensity that kind of cuts through and resists being blunted by social expectations, which is, I know is unusual, I'm actually autistic. So like, it's definitely related to that. And so for other people who feel more of like a connection to the wider community, in the sense of belonging, and the need to, like, fit perfectly into the system that they're part of, they enjoy that. Whereas I've never felt that and I've always only pursued the things that made me feel like I've come alive.

But I think that's the secret sauce, right? Really, like, when you find the thing that brings you joy, and makes you come alive. That's everything. And here's, I think, this interesting part that feels dangerous sometimes, because we keep coming back to this word belonging where yes, we are inherently belonging to each other as a human race as just person to person, we are connected. But sometimes finding your joy and coming alive and waking up causes fear because the folks around you have not yet. So can we talk about that a little bit, too?

Yeah, that is exactly right. Because especially for women and other people who do not conform to the socially constructed ideal, which is a very narrow ideal that almost no one belongs do, we are told that as human givers, the thing that makes us come alive, is only worthy, if it is of service to other people, if it is supporting other people. If all it does is make us feel good, then that's selfish. But that social pressure is enough to keep people from recognizing or engaging with the thing that they find feels meaningful and important and fills them with joy. Because then they feel ashamed of the joy because it's selfish, and how dare you How dare you spend money going to a Star Trek convention, that's not good for anyone. Do you know the carbon footprint of the flight you will take to get to that Star Trek convention, all that polyester you'll be wearing? How dare you, except that when you're there, you feel connected to this community, who believe in this hopeful story where it's problematic, but the hope that's behind it, is of a universe of equity, and justice, and limitless boundaries, like that is good for you and for the other people that you connect with.

And as you're saying, when you feel joyful, and nurtured, that means that you're going to take home with you that feeling and you're going to be able to spread it to the people around you, who will then be able to spread it to the people around them. And that's how the world changes if we give people permission to indulge in joy. And again, it's not really an indulgence, I'm framing this as we might think of it with the current dominant worldview. But I mean, if we allow people access to joy, there's a poet Toi Derricotte, and one of her poems has the line. Joy is an act of resistance. Yes, exactly. Yeah, I think like for musicians and teachers, a lot of times the kind of like sharing of art and teaching students is very joyful, until the system interferes with our ability to actually do that by imposing these kind of political structures on top of what the actual act of teaching is, which is so beautiful, and so powerful. And then we have to like, conform to a very specific and arbitrary curriculum that was decided by a politician who has never been in a classroom since he was 18, who has never thought about who a teacher is, except from the perspective of being a student, or being the parent of a student. And therefore, they see teachers not really as people or as educated, or they see them as like oppressive authority figures who don't deserve to have that authority. Like, again, I think I've lost track of the question, but the point is, yes, Joy. And we need to allow people

Yeah, no, I'm tracking with you. It's a lot and what I'm getting at, and I love how articulate you are. And I love how you're bringing in a lot of these other philosophers and writers who have studied this and in all these other areas outside of teaching, because it's so relevant, that it's not one thing. This is not one thing. This is such a complicated amalgamation of generations of crap, and intergenerational oppression, and not just misogyny and politics, but family dynamics and value systems that have been set just because of where your parents, grandparents and their parents were in time. And so now we're kind of this product of all of this drip edge, millennia, which millennia drippage, sounds gross but true. I have like a nice visual happening right here. Right. But this isn't just one thing. And I think that goes back to what we were talking about earlier of. This is the reason why you can't just wake up one day and be like, Oh, I figured it out. I got it now. Yeah, exactly. It is in our DNA. And there are things that going to happen in your life and your interactions, both at the classroom and at home, that are going to be confronting to the joy to the wanting of the joy. And that's, I think, a part of an acceptance of this process. That's an important piece of moving through it.

And you may very well wake up one day and be like, Oh, I got it. And then you encounter the world. And the world says, No, you don't? And you're like, Yes, I do. And so it's, it's this constant, you will never be left alone, by the wider world telling you. No, you don't. And you don't deserve this. And so you always have to keep fighting. I mean, so we say in the book that wellness is not a state of being it's not a state of mind, wellness, is the freedom to oscillate through all the cycles of being human. And that means from Independence, to connectedness, from effort to rest, and from like fighting to kind of like going with the flow from resisting to taking a break and letting others take up the mantle for a moment while you just chill out quietly in your room. But yeah, you may wake up in the morning and be like, Yeah, I got this, I understand. But you're always gonna have to keep facing the system that says, No, I am now picturing Wonder Woman in that scene, from the first wonder Moon movie where she like, leaps out of the trench and like, takes all the bullets on her cuffs, I imagine that scene a lot.

And she's guarded and protected by her superpowers. But like that fight never ends, the movie goes like two steps further beyond that, to like, where she finally reaches an opponent, she can just barely beat and the only reason she beats him is because of love and the protection of the people around her and the care of the people around her. Which is not because she's weak. It's because that's what humanity is good for. So yes, you may well wake up one morning, but because we live in a system that's coming and going. And the other thing about the system that's constantly ongoing, is that your own mind will hide pain from you until you're ready to face it. So you may wake up when you're in your mid-40s. Having had a nightmare about your eighth-grade bully, because only now that you're in your mid-40s Does your mind feel like okay, you're ready to deal with this pain that happened to you 30 years ago. So you're like, I already talked about that in therapy. I thought I was done with this. Stuff comes back stuff resurfaces. And now it sounds like I'm saying that like life is never-ending suffering. And I'm not. No, it's not. It's just it's lifee.

It's lifee. It's completely lifee. Yeah.

And you know, if you can lean into some of these things as part of like, that's the contrast, right? It's pain, and it's joy. And it's love, and it's hurt. And it's exciting. And it's scary. And because we have all of that, that's what makes it so beautiful.

And you might be like super mad at your brain that night. You're like, why did you give me that stupid dream. But like, how amazing is it that your body or memory held on to that for you until you were safe, and is in touch with your power as you need it to be in order to confront that pain, and heal a little more like, that's an amazing miracle. I practice Tai Chi, which is exactly what you were saying about life and death, pain, suffering, yes, but also joy and feeling alive, like these things are all part of a single entity, which is the universe existence itself is made of these opposites that interact. And we live in the moment of interaction, this is getting super woowoo I know

I am with you. And people who hang out with me know that my woowoo scowl is a little higher than some of the other educational spaces. So we're good. I'm with you. Let's go there.

Even if all you recognize is that we live at the point of intersection between the past and the future. They're happening right here right now. This is the intersection of the past in the future. And then if you can kind of extrapolate from there and recognize that this is the intersection of pain and pleasure, this is the intersection of bliss and loss, right? That it's not damaging or permanently horrible that something's hard. It's just part of the cycle of the freedom to oscillate, which is also known as wellness, according to me.

Yes. Well, and I love that definition of wellness because it's active. We often think of wellness as what we were saying to at the beginning of going for the massage and just laying there or sleeping which is just like a fundamental human need like wellness is actually an active piece of your life and needs to be prioritized in order for you to actually do it.

I want to tell you something I've learned about massages, being autistic, I did not like being touched by strangers for a long, long, long, long time, until a member of my choir was a massage therapist. And I had this like shoulder pain that was impacting my ability to conduct the choir. And she was like, come here. And what I learned is that a massage is not passive. Like when you get a really good massage, it is a partnership, you and the massage therapist, moving your body and finding like where the points of tension are, and working together to move and breathe and release whatever the tension is. So even like our understandings of what sleep is sleep is not static either. Sleep is it comes in cycles, it comes in deep sleep, light sleep, REM sleep, and during REM sleep, your mind is so active, you might as well be awake. But what it's doing is processing what you've learned that day trauma from the past, like it is giving you a new opportunity to learn something from what it is pulling out of the deep, dark dungeons of your psyche.

Yeah, no, I'm so glad you said that, actually. Because now that I think of it, even in looking at those activities that I mentioned as being passive, it's actually again, buying into this thing, if I'm going to sleep or if I'm taking a massage, I am being passive. And that just kind of falls right into those old stories of being lazy about doing that. And not being worthy of doing that, that really all of the things are always active all the time because we're alive.

Yeah, except the times when we're completely passive, which I am going to say that during this just sometimes, like if they're working on a part of me, that's not like an active issue. I often my brain wanders, and when you're kind of in a deep, forgetting kind of place where you're not thinking about now, you're really letting your mind wander. Turns out, there's very new research, that's there's a group of areas of your brain that come online, when your mind is just wandering, it's called the default mode network. It's an area of brain regions that only work together in a very specific situation, which is, you're not choosing what to think about. Your mind is just wandering, like, sometimes you have really great ideas in the shower, right? Because you're not thinking about what you're doing, your mind is just wandering. And for me, it happens during massages to when I'm not actively trying to like heal a specific wound. That default mode network state of mind is really, it's also active, but it's not consciously active. But it is also an important kind of rest for you to go into that mental state and allow your mind to just wander as a break. But also, those are the times when you have those brilliant insights that you would never have thought of. If you hadn't just let your default mode network make connections that your conscious mind might have taken much longer to get to that make

Sure does. Oh, yeah, I could talk about brains. That's like another podcast episode. We can talk about brains for another whole hour.

Emily's better with the brain stuff than I am.

But no, yes, I am with you. But like even as you said that is also it's different active. But wellness isn't passive. Yeah, even rest isn't passive.

Right. I do appreciate that reframe. Because I think even the way I was thinking of it wasn't as inclusive as I think it actually is.

Okay, first, I want to like backtrack on your own, like feeling of relief. Because, wait, hold on, you're saying that it's not just passive. But I feel like now I have tried to make things like rest and static and as feel like, you know, you're saying that it's just like, No, I am not saying that. Like it's lazy to be passive or that it's bad to be passive. being passive is part of the cycle. Like you're built to oscillate and like, I don't want to make it seem like I'm saying, No, nothing's passive and it's in passiveness is inherently less valuable passiveness is also valuable, and valid and good for you.

I think that's important to talk about, because there are all of these other ideas of what even that word passive means, right? Because laziness all of a sudden gets associated with passive.

Right or disempowerment. You're passive, so you're not empowered. And that's not true.

It's all just part of the tai chi.

Yes. Yeah, and then oscillation, which is just a natural cycle. So you know, sometimes we get stuck in the semantics because it is associated with other words that bring up some other connotations.


Which is why talking about things is so hard. Stupid words, and they're stupid meanings. So many words, I know. Just everything needs a rebrand that's what we'll do.
Every word will only mean one thing and will not be associated with any other things. And therefore no one will ever misunderstand or misinterpret what we say ever. That sounds like a great idea. And no one will feel insulted because we didn't say what we wanted to clearly enough because there's and then there'd be no art.

I know. I know.

Then then music and like all the nice things and good conversations but stupid humanity so inconvenient and inconsistent.

But this is what makes I think having these conversations on this kind of a platform so important to to at the very least, make it safe to have them.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. We have to say the words we just do. That's how we create bigger shields.
Some people don't like talking. Some people find their joy in the talking. You know, it's important that the people who feel alive when they do the talking, it's important that they do that, so that the rest of us can be like, yes, thank you for saying that thing that I already knew. Or thank you for introducing me to a topic I've never considered before. It's important.

Thank you for doing this work, by the way.

Oh, thank you for saying that I received that. It is something that brings me immense joy. Perfect. So now, I need to ask you the big question. What is your dream for the future of education?

Justice, and equity, specifically for teachers, so that they are paid what they're worth, they are paid like CEOs. I mean, like, remember, when the pandemic first started, and the parents like Shonda Rhimes was like, every teacher should be making a million dollars a year. After that, what happened to us appreciating what teachers did. And basically, for teaching to lose its stigma as being women's work or the work of people who don't know how to do anything else. Or rather, that is a highly skilled job. That also requires an intense amount of labor of the heart, as well as the mind. And the body. Jesus, teaching is exhausting. Here's a political issue. I think that education should be the basis for all government decisions. I think that with good education, all the other problems solve themselves, because you've got an educated, thoughtful population, people who are media literate, people who are critical and analytical and use their higher order thinking and are less likely to like, misunderstand and miss, communicate, or be closed minded about ideas that are new to them.

So I think education should be the guiding principle of all government, I think teachers should be paid more than well, more than they are now about four times what they are now at least, and that they're protected and valued and honored and treasured by parents, the way that parents felt on day 74 of quarantine. The suffering that parents were feeling that day. And the gratitude, they remembered about teachers, I want them to hold that every day. Thank you, teachers, I can't believe you do this work. I can't even imagine doing it myself. It's amazing. And I want to take down all the boundaries that make that difficult for you feel like that was a very wandering answer. And yet, maybe I got the point across.

It was beautiful. Yes to all of that. That's the thing. Because my feeling is and the reason why I asked this question is when we are able to articulate our dreams, and I am an optimist, all the way on the other side of that continuum, by the way.

I can tell yes.

My rose colored glasses are on unapologetically all of the time. When we do say our dreams out loud. That's a big step and actually actualizing them.


that is such an optimist thing to say, I know. And you are undoubtedly right. Feels weird, to me. Doesn't feel like a thing. That would be true for me. But based on the research I've read, that seems very true for the population at large.

Yeah, I think so. So we're gonna continue to do that. And I think that's a great plan. Yeah. And if we move the needle even just a little bit, I've done my job. So that's my shield.

That's perfect. Amelia, thank you so much.

Thank you. Yeah, it is perfect. Yes, this was really wonderful. I really enjoyed having this conversation with you and sharing it with the Take Notes audience. So thank you for your time.

Thank you.

If you enjoyed today's episode, please share it with a friend because there was really juicy stuff in here, and subscribe so you won't ever miss an episode. And we'll see you next time on Taka Notes Incredible, right? Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible. And it's all here for you right now. Let's keep the conversation going at Empowered Educator Faculty Room on Facebook.

Effective leadership through growth conversations: learn, communicate and grow as an empowered educator with Darrin Peppard.

Are you ready to take that next step as an empowered educator and become a school administrator?
Does your vision include improving school quality and cultivating communities?
Jumping from being a school teacher to an administrator is a big step. It's easy to get overwhelmed by fear and pressure and forget how important it is to get feedback and clarity in your school administrator duties and responsibilities.
But with the right support and guidance, you can navigate this transition and succeed in your new role!
Welcome to episode 24 of Take Notes with Jen Rafferty! In this episode, I’m joined by Darrin Peppard who is a professional speaker, leadership coach and consultant who helps leaders on their journey to gain clarity, walk in purpose and find joy in their professional lives.
Darrin is here to give us an insight on the realities of being an administrator and leader of the school. He tackles topics such as imposter syndrome, hierarchy in school and the fear of taking that next level of responsibilities.
This week is all about the power of feedback and getting rid of judgment! We can embrace both things and use it to grow more.
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About Darrin:
Dr. Darrin Peppard is a leadership coach, consultant, and speaker focused on organizational culture and climate, and coaching emerging leaders. Darrin is the best-selling author of the book Road to Awesome, and is the host of the Leaning into Leadership podcast. As a ‘recovering high school principal’, Darrin shares strategies and lessons learned from 26 years in public education to help leaders gain clarity, find joy in their work, and walk in their purpose.

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TRANSCRIPT:  Hello, and welcome back to another episode of take notes. I'm here today with an incredible guest. This is Dr. Darren Peppard, and he is a leadership coach, consultant and speaker focus on organizational culture and climate and coaching emerging leaders. Darren is the best selling author of the book rode to awesome, and is the host of the leaning into leadership podcast. As he calls it, a recovering high school principal, Darren shares strategies and lessons learned from his 26 years in public education to help leaders gain clarity, find their joy in their work, and walk in their purpose. Darren, thank you so much for being here and chatting with me on take notes today. Yeah, absolutely. Jim, thanks for having me. And I gotta say, when you when you read it that way, 26 years, man, it seems like, wow, that was a long time. And I guess maybe it doesn't seem like it. It actually was a long time. Yeah, it is. Right. It's a lifetime and how wonderful now you get to share your beautiful wealth of knowledge and experience with other people and school leaders who are going through some things that you can help guide them, right. Yeah, absolutely. That's a big part of why, you know, jumped into this work. I mean, I am neither old enough nor wealthy enough to just retire. But I did feel like, you know, what I want to be able to do is to really help those early career leaders. And and let's be honest, right now, across the country, even our schools that have the best culture and climate can use additional support on school culture and climate. So yeah, I love that I'm able to share, you know, experiences and things that did wrong and a few things I did, right. And that kind of thing with schools around the country. Yeah, well, I think that's the thing people often consider needing help as a sign of, like, lack, or that they are not doing enough or they're not reaching a certain level. But the truth is support, especially in any place, like culture needs to happen all the time, as just part of what we do here there is there doesn't necessarily have to be a need for remediation. This is just about being able to survive in a changing world that sometimes changing faster than we can even turn our heads. And so I think what you do and what other people like you are doing in this world, is really important to just maintain a steady level of growth for our school districts across the United States. Yeah, absolutely. And you know, what it really does to on top of everything you just said, which was spot on, is, what I do is I provide that third point, perspective, you know, I'm not right in the middle of it. And so often, you know, in leading our own schools are leading our own districts or leading our own classrooms, we, you know, we get so deep into the work, and just so, you know, like, engrossed in it that we end up with blinders on, and it's not intentional, it's not even a bad thing. It's just sometimes really beneficial to have that outsider perspective, who can mention, you know, hey, I noticed this or, you know, ask questions, like, you know, what, you know, what is your strategy here? Or, you know, what is, you know, what are you seeing as progress in this particular area, or, or whatever the case may be that, that third point perspective, you know, that coaching perspective, I think, is just so valuable. 100%. And, you know, it's funny, I think, when we get to a certain level in our career, there sometimes is this belief that, like, I'm good, I don't, I don't know that I need any reflection back at me, or if there is an opportunity for observation and conversation. Often what I've observed, and I've heard from other people's experiences is this can be a very high stakes, uncomfortable conversation. And it really doesn't have to be. I mean, having these growth conversations can be a beautiful opportunity for both parties to learn, and communicate and grow and essentially, do what we want to do better, which is having have an impact on the kids and the communities that we serve. Yeah, you just hit two things that were just boo, I'm gonna try and unpack both of them. Let's do it. Oh, there we go. Um, I'm not the host of the show. You are but you know, we yeah, this on your? I know, we do. Great. Yeah. So So two things that I want to hit there. You know, first and foremost, is it's just that coaching piece, you know, everybody, everybody can benefit from a coach. And you're right. It's not, you know, this, you know, you're in a lacking situation. I mean, in some cases, you know, among my clients around the country. I have a superintendent who has been in the role since October, kind of thrust into the role and is also running an elementary school and just trying to keep her head above water. So that, you know, the feedback and the perspectives that I'm going to share with her are a little bit different than say, a high school principal that I'm working with. It has a really good team and a really well oiled machine, but he's new In the role, bit the feet, the feedback and the input for everybody is a little bit different. Both times. Well, in all cases, I can't remember what the second point was that I was going to unpack. So it must not have been too huge. But I guess there you go, right. Yeah, yeah, I guess that's where I'm at with that one. The other one, and then we'll come back to it. Sure. Well, I think something that I want to talk about a little bit before we kind of move into the nitty gritty of what it means to be a coach and why it's important as an administrator, or really, at any level in your career, in education, or even if you're in another industry, as someone who's been on both sides of coaching now, I see the incredible value in having somebody talk with you through things, right. But I do want to talk about this idea of moving up and doing like air quotes here moving up into administration, right? Those people who really excel in the classroom, we're often told you be great, as an administrator, when are you going to move up to being a principal? When are you going to get your administrators certification? I was one of those people. And I always was confused as to why that was the next perceived step in a career path. And sometimes people move into these places, because they think that's what like their next level is supposed to be. But from your perspective, now, both sides in and out of the classroom and in and out of the school system, as an administrator, what do you have to speak to about that kind of thing? What do you really need to know about yourself to make the decision about whether or not you want to go into administration, besides what other people are telling you you are supposedly supposed to do? Right? You know, it's, it's interesting, it's such a great question. And it, it puts a bunch of thoughts in my head, and I'll try hard to hang on to him this time. But I think first and foremost, you know, as an individual, when you're considering taking that leap out of the classroom into, you know, whatever administrative role, you know, maybe its principal role, assistant principal role, something like that. Or, you know, taking the next leap, like I did, from high school principal, to Superintendent or something like that. Number one, you've got to, you've got to be real clear with yourself what you value, and what's important to you. I had, I didn't do it the right way, I did exactly what you just described, which is, you know, people said, oh, you should do this, you should do this, you should do this. And therefore, that's what I did, because I just believed that's what the career path is supposed to be. And the next job will make me even happier than I am in this role. And the reality is, you know, and you've said in my introduction, I identify as a recovering principal, because to me, that's the best job I ever had. I absolutely love being a high school principal, not that he didn't love being a superintendent. Man, there's something special about being a high school principal, and we can chase that later. But I did, I had this belief that I got to chase the next job. And instead of looking, you know, within myself, and identifying what I really, really cared about what I really valued, and that was being able to make a difference with my students right there on the ground. Now, I did have this belief that moving into a superintendent role, I would have the opportunity to coach and grow more leaders, as a high school principal. You know, I had three assistant principals, you know, big the leadership team instructional coaches have in the whole bit, that I a big part of my job was to groom them. I love that, you know, and a handful of them have gone on to the building principals. One is a superintendent. I mean, it's it's exciting to see where they've gone. But when I moved into the superintendent role, I discovered No, you don't have time to do that you really don't. I think the second thing, you know, beyond first identifying what, what do you really care about is is number two, you've got to think about your skill set. And what it is that you're going to be comfortable doing what you're going to be comfortable stretching yourself to do, because as you mentioned, Jim, you know, people are successful in the classroom, and therefore, people say you should be an administrator. The skill sets are completely different. There's a belief that it's just the same thing. And this is where the coaching piece comes in. You know, you know, school districts throw the keys to the principal's Hey, good luck. This skill said so different. And that's why they struggle because as a classroom teacher, so much is about pedagogy. So much is about building relationships with your students so much is about being able to grow those little individuals in your classroom, whether they're kinders or seniors, they're still little people. As a school leader, now your role is to lead people and you You know, to be able to be clear on a vision to be very clear on the action steps and the the work you're going to do to bring everybody to that vision. It's a whole different skill set. And I don't say that to scare anybody away, but I think people should go in, eyes open, because I didn't. And looking back, that's where my coach made such a difference for me, you know, we will tell I know, we're gonna talk about coaching constantly. But when I was provided an executive leadership coach after my second year as a principal, and I struggled mightily in my first year, I realized the difference between the job I had over here as an assistant principal, which was, which was very task oriented, discipline, or, you know, leading PLCs, or, you know, curriculum or whatever the case may be, to as the building principal, you're a leader of people. And that as a high school principal, especially Jen, you're like the leader of the community. I remember when I got the job, my wife was like, I can't dress down when I go to Walmart anymore. She's like, it's like, you're the mayor now. And Jokes aside, that's very true, especially in a single high school town. And you it's like a political role. So I think that's something that people need to be really aware of, when they're looking at, you know, do I take the leap to the next level? Do I go ahead and pursue that administrative position? They're wonderful jobs, please don't think I'm trying to talk anybody out of it. Just be conscious and cognizant of the difference between being a classroom teacher and being an administrator? Sure. Well, I think it always comes down to alignment, right? It's, again, something that you mentioned a little bit is what feels good to you. And it's really easy. And I, I observe this to throughout my career is when people tell you these kinds of things, you feel important, right? And you're like, oh, wow, I, I'm expected here, this is, Oh, you want me to have more responsibility, that stuff feels good. But what I have now come to realize is that that feeling is different than alignment, that sometimes that feeling is actually connected to an emotional addiction to pressure and stress and busyness and overwhelm, which may feel exciting, but it's actually not aligned with who you are, and who you want to be at that time of your life. And you really need to take some time, look inward, so you can go in with eyes open as to exactly what you're doing when you decide to make that next step, if you decide to make that next step. I didn't I didn't want to do that. I thought it was capable. But it just didn't feel aligned to me. So I didn't want to to make that particular step. I do want to ask you a question too, because this kind of ties into something else that you mentioned, is imposter syndrome. And I'm sure that you deal with that a lot, especially as people who are, you know, with with people who are coming into these new roles, from being in the classroom to now all of a sudden being a leader of people, as you described? How do you coach people through those sorts of feelings? You know, that's Oh, man, that's such a great question. It makes me think actually, of a principal that I'm working with right now, who had been an athletic director prior to becoming a high school principal. His classroom experience was as an inclusive, special education teacher, and his imposter syndrome, his imposter that comes out is how can I go into a calculus class? How can I go into an AP chemistry class? How can I go fill in the blank? How do I go in there and provide any quality feedback about instruction when I taught special education, and a lot of how we defeat that imposter is through repetition. It's through being you know, honest with ourselves confronting the the pieces that caused that impostor to come forward and starting to stop rationalizing, you know, this, this deficit mindset, in this particular person's case has spent a lot of time in his school. And luckily for him, he I mean, I'm really proud of him for this, but his focus is on growing as an instructional leader in his school. And so we're spending lots of time in classrooms, which, that's how you overcome that. Get in the classroom. If you're going to stay in your office, your staff won't see you as that instructional leader. Get out there. Have those conversations and just be genuine with people? You know, I mean, tell me, tell me this, Jen. I mean, what is the perfect classroom experience in order to give somebody feedback? Is there one I mean, real? No, there's no such thing. Yeah, but but I think a lot of times administrators fall into that, you know, I have If I have one that I'm working with that taught at the elementary level taught at the high school level, as a middle school principal, staff will say, well that you teach middle school, that doesn't matter. Good instruction is good instruction, you can give quality feedback on instruction, regardless the level you've been at. You know, that's that with him in particular, that's how we've really addressed that imposter. Now, the reps that I talked about that repetition that's getting in the room, that's having conversations with staff that's asking good questions. I think a lot of times administrators, especially early career administrators, they fall into this belief, and I'm chasing the instructional piece, because this is typically where people have the impostor come up the most. They fall into this belief that they have to have all the answers when they go in the classroom. Like, I have to tell this PreCalculus teacher who was the State Teacher of the Year how she could do something better. No, you don't. You take the third point perspective. And you come in and you just ask a good question. You know, in the the administrator that I'm talking about, in his case, we talked a couple of weeks ago about just asking good questions, like, he has a staff member that he'd like to push them a little bit, but he's been teaching for 30 years. And so the strategy that we're using is, hey, you know, can you give me some advice on this particular strategy? I have a first and second year teacher who are using something similar. I'd like to see them grow it a little bit more. What advice can you give me, when we're asking our veteran teachers for advice, they are going to lean into us because just like you said, a few minutes ago, they believe in you, they trust you, they want you to have this additional responsibility. And if you ask for advice, they're going to give it they're happy to give that. So I think there's a lot of ways to address the impostor. But number one, address it head on, come right at it, don't hide from it. Because if you do, it's just going to continue to linger. I mean, it's gonna be a shadow over your head all the time, it gets bigger. And you know, I think the the last piece of it, I think is really important is that when you come from a place of curiosity, always, it is going to be more effective than anything else you can possibly do in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. Because when you are getting rid of the judgment, which sometimes when you when you come into these conversations, or these interactions that we're talking about with these observations, or conversations with teachers, there's this idea, like you said, our belief that I need to know all of the things. And that's really about self judgment of yourself, you shouldn't have to pay anything, right. And so when we replaced that judgment with curiosity, and just think to yourself, Well, what questions do I need to ask this person sitting across the table? What questions do I need to ask myself, all of a sudden, now, the conversation shifts, and everything moves towards a place that moves in the direction of progress, instead of I think, feeding the imposter? Yeah, absolutely. You know, that that that gives me one more thing. Just really quick, I want to add on to that. What you were just saying there, kind of, you know, repeating back, and I appreciate you did that, you know that you don't have to have all the answers. I fell into that trap my first year. And you know, what I discovered? And this is, I guess another way to address the imposter is, remember who sat in the hot seat when you interviewed for the job? You did? It was you? Not only that, remember who answered the phone when they called to offer the job? That was you remember who said yes, that still was you? I fell into this trap of I call it Superman syndrome where like, I thought I had to be everything to everybody. Like I had to be the smartest guy in the room. Always. I had to have everybody you know, answer everybody's questions solve everybody's problems. And oh, my god, Superman did not sit in that chair. When I interviewed. I did. They called me and offered me the job. I said, Yes, not superman. You got to be yourself. And yes, you do have to be willing to look yourself in the mirror and be comfortable with your shortcomings. And be willing to say, hey, I want to grow and get better here. Tell your staff, man, get vulnerable and be honest with your staff. Hey, I'm not very good at this. I'm really good at this, this and this. Your staff already knows that by the way. When you tell them hey, I know I have to grow and get better here. That's when they really start to lean into you and start lifting you up and saying hey, you know, have you thought about this or hey, come to my classroom today. I've got something going on. I want to I want to I want to share with you and you know before you know it what you said which was absolute dynamite absolute gold was it starts to become conversations. It's no longer about judgment. It's no longer about eval. uation it's about conversation and how do we be the best we can be for those little, little people that come into our building every day? Yes. And that's how we elevate that this is how we do it. This is not a secret. You know, it seems so simple because it is, we get so caught up in judgment and ego and suppose tos and tradition, and that we lose sight of what's really important. And what's really important is making an impact on the communities that we are serving. And we can only do that when we rise together. And the only way we do that is by talking to each other as human beings. And this is something I have to pick up, but you just put down for me, because I know you planted it there for me to pick up was the Superman syndrome. So I'm grabbing the bait for me, Darren, you know, that narrative, which we've talked about before. And you know, what I've shared in my TED talk is that, you know, we are not superheroes. And it's that narrative, that does get very dangerous, because while it plays out for different people in different ways, what you just described is another one of them is feeling as if you need to know all of the things and be everything to everyone. And that is a recipe for failure. And what happens is when you as an administrator take on this persona of a superhero, your staff looks to you that way. And what happens then, is that when things aren't going well, you get all the finger points, and all the blame for everything that's going wrong in the schools. And that's just simply not true. And this humanizing of educators at all levels, is really important. And again, we'll start to open up doors for conversations between humans, instead of this hierarchy that seems to be perceived in how we operate schools right now. Can you talk a little bit about that as well? Oh, yeah, absolutely. Uh, you know, I'll start with the hierarchy. You know, I think this gets back to you said the word tradition. And traditionally, that's, you know, you go into administration, and therefore, this is what you do. People get, you know, really wrapped up in the job description to of, oh, this is what I'm supposed to do in this role. And, you know, a part of it is I'm going to evaluate my teachers. And you know, I'm in charge of the budget, and I'm this, and I'm this. But the role of the administrator has changed, I think, certainly in the last 10 years. But definitely in the last three or four years, in so many ways, the leader of the school needs to be the champion of the school, not just, you know, the manager of the school. And when that transition took place, and we moved away from the principal just being the disciplinarian, by the way, as a principal, I did basically zero discipline. You know, I had an assistant principal for that. Principals, I mean, that they're the champion of their schools, that's what they need to be, they need to be the chief storyteller. The person that crafts, the narrative of who our school really is, they need to be the person that is able to stand up, and kind of maybe pull back the shirt a little bit and let the Superman symbol come through. When that hard criticism comes from the outside, they have to be that person who's willing to deflect that from their staff, to protect them and keep them feeling like they are doing the right work. You can't do it forever. But sometimes as a principle, you have to be that person. Sometimes you have to be the mentor, you know, that person who's growing people. There's so many different responsibilities for principals. That traditionally, that's not what they did. You know, to me, that's one of the biggest struggles I see, you know, people, people are running into administrative roles, especially right now. There's like this vacuum, and in leadership roles, that not that there aren't people to fill them. But this vacuum was created at the end, the end of the line, if you will, where superintendents, you know, like myself, who stepped out or retired and principals who have stepped out and retired a little early. Now there's all these positions, and all these people have come charging into the roles. They're not ready yet. They need the support, they need the guidance, they need the coaching and that kind of stuff, because I think they know and they see what the role of the principal can and should be. But so many other schools and their communities are stuck in that tradition of No, the principal is, you know, basically the manager of the school. I think I scrolled a little bit away from what your question was, but no, I think he did hit on something that's so important because, you know, for those who've been listening for a while, know that I generally like to think of tradition as peer pressure from dead people. I mean, we are living in a world that's different from where these traditions started. And you know, traditions can be great if they are serving us. But when we do something, because of tradition, for traditions sake, we are actually doing a huge disservice to our communities. And like I said, you know, just a minute ago, we live in a different world, and we need to work and live and love and care for each other and learn and grow in this world. And that means that we need to shift our paradigms a little bit. And if people aren't getting on board, well, then we need to start having those conversations by asking really good questions. Yeah, so and so I'm gonna go somewhere that you are either gonna love or hate. I don't know, we're gonna find out, given you've said tradition, you said tradition enough. And I absolutely am over here laughing with, you know, the dead people reference because where it takes me as back to my master's program, and I don't think I learned a lot in my master's program. But I do recall. Dr. Mike Ford was was the instructor for this particular course, I don't even remember what the course was. But we got into this conversation about tradition. And he turned and looked at somebody in the room and said, Tevita, you just need to let it go. And almost no one in the room got the reference. Oh, he made us watch. Yeah, he made us watch Fiddler on the Roof. Yes. And that's I mean, every time I end up in a conversation like this, where we're talking about these traditions, we won't let go of I think of Tevita. Because that's, that is the that's like the plot of that movie. It's tradition for the sake of tradition, my God, let it go. So yes, we have to let go of some of the traditions that we've hung on to it. I think it's part of why we face so much outside criticism right now in education, because we think we've evolved. But we really haven't. Not enough. And yeah, let it go to havea let it go. Yes. Well, you know, you're speaking to a former music teacher and a Broadway aficionado. You'd love it. Yeah, and if you haven't, you know, seen Fiddler on the Roof. Please make sure that that you go do that. Right after this episode. Yeah, so that is the only time I will probably ever talk about Debbie on a podcast. So save this one, folks. This is gold. Yes. Well, not the last time for me, though. I'm sure. You'll think of me every time you mentioned to have Yeah. 100%. But you know, it's true. And I think you're absolutely right is, you know, many people. Let me rephrase this, I think that there are pockets of beautiful evolution happening. And COVID provided us a brilliant opportunity to start fresh, I'll be totally honest with you, Darren, when we have that time period between March 2020. And the start of school in fall of 2020, my rose colored glasses were on. So super tight, I was like, Ah, this is, this is going to be great, because we're all going to realize all of the things that are going wrong. And we're going to be able to fix them. Finally, because we can start fresh. And we can have these beautiful conversations with each other. And I was having conversations with educators all across the United States. And we were talking about pivoting and how we were going to be creative and did it. And then what happens, fall of 2020 came around, and there was zero changes regarding the progress of where education could go. And instead, we were trying to fit the square peg in the round hole now, with all of the limitations that needed to happen for safety procedures, right. And now we're back to where we were, and not very much has changed. And I think part of why I'm on this very serious mission is so people can stand in their power in a way to take what they've learned from that time, and actually generate some action that will move education forward to align with this time that we're living in right now. Well, it absolutely should be like a golden age for education. And you know, another one of those things that that has, I guess anchored progress from from getting out of the dark, if you will, is this awful, awful phrase. One I just can't stand this learning loss. You know, because Because kids weren't in in school, and didn't learn whatever I mean, participles or the quadratic equation, or who cares? They learned it the next year. It's not a learning loss. It's think about everything they did learn, or the opportunities they had to learn. And some schools, some schools, Jen did a brilliant job with this. They embraced it. They said, here's a golden opportunity. And they took it. Unfortunately, so many school boards and legislative bodies and that kind of thing as we started to move, you know, back into getting school going, got just focused on things like masks and social distancing. And yeah, those things were important. But, you know, I remember telling my, you know, my leadership team, guys, we need to focus on teaching and learning. I mean, that's what we're here for. And I'm not saying let's focus on the things they miss, let's focus on what they did learn. Let's focus on where we can go from here, because hey, this is a great opportunity to innovate. We can do so many cool things. But then yeah, there are schools that just didn't take advantage of it. I mean, even simple things I had a conversation yesterday with, with a girl I went to high school with who was a conversation on Facebook, she's a teacher in my hometown, fairly large district, and they've done everything they need to have remote learning in place. So you should never have a snow day. Right? You know, I mean, that's an easy thing. They're making kids come to school, when it's 25 degrees below zero, and the winds blow and 40 miles an hour, I grew up in Central Wyoming, by the way, and which it does that all the time. But here, they have this opportunity to say, Hey, this is too cold, it's not safe. Let's just do a remote learning day and they won't do it, they won't pull the trigger on it. Because they face some political backlash from people in the community. If it's what's right for kids, why wouldn't we do it? Eventually, people will see, oh, yeah, this is what's right for kids. But they're stuck in tradition. And I don't want to pull us back into the tradition conversation. But that's what it is. Oh, that's what it is. I said, that's an important theme here, because that's the thing that's holding us back. But I want to actually go back to something else that you said earlier, because now as a, as a role of a leader, as you said, You are the chief storyteller. So how do you use that platform, as a leader, to move your school forward in a direction that is keeping us where our feet are, right now in the present, moving towards a future that we cannot predict, while maintaining your integrity as as a district regarding your vision? And what you stand for? How would you? How do you coach people to do that? That's a big role. It is, it's very, very big. And I would tell you that first and foremost, the most important thing is you've got to have a clear vision, you know, you've got to have that vision. And you have to start to build that groundswell of support from within your staff around that vision. This is what I'm talking about, when we go back to the role of the principal isn't to be the manager, you know, a big part of what you do. And even when we talked about the skill sets, this is a skill set that is way different than than what you need in a classroom. Not that some classroom teachers don't have that skill set, they do. I'm not downplaying them. But this is that part of the skill set, where you have to be this great storyteller of this vision, and you have to tell it to everyone, and you don't tell them once you tell them over, and you tell them over and you tell them over and you tell them over? Because the longer you speak life into it, the more likely it is to become a reality. It's just like, you know, chasing a goal, or, or anything else for that matter. You know, if I said, you know, hey, I want to run a marathon. I don't just say it once and hope it happens. You know, there's work that goes into that. There's training, there's dedication, there's planning, and there's accountability. So when you're crafting that, that compelling narrative of your school, yes, you're starting with that groundswell of the people right around you. But you don't leave out the other stakeholders. It's getting your your community on board. I'll tell you as a high school principal, I talked about it all the time about the benches that were in, in our high school and how I spent most of my time on a bench. I was either talking with students or I was talking with some of my staff, or if I had parents in the building, I would sit and talk with parents. I mean, you never pass up an opportunity to talk about the great things at your school. But it isn't just about being out having coffee with people and go into, you know, the Kiwanis Club and go into this luncheon and that I mean, those things are important, but it's also what you said. You said it's so well and I don't know if I can recapture it. but being aware of where your feet are, and your feet need to be in the classrooms, too, because that's part of the narrative that you want to be sharing, you know, the more great things I'm talking about in the community, about my teachers, the more great things I'm sharing, whether it's social media, or even, you know, print media, I mean, whatever, about the great things my kids and my staff are doing, you know, that that speaks life into it. Jen, I have a good friend who he's an assistant, or assistant superintendent now, but he was a high school principal in Virginia, brilliant, high school principal. And part of his compelling narrative was that they were the greatest High School in America, and are the world's greatest High School. Sorry, it's the world's greatest High School is what he would say, North Stafford High School, Stafford, Virginia. That's how Tom Nichols would refer to a school. Hey, we're at the world's greatest High School. It reached a point during Tom's tenure, where people, you know, people would say, you know, yeah, Tom's over there at the world's greatest, they stopped calling it North Stafford it was just the world's greatest. That's what they called it. It's an incredible high school. But they did a lot to breathe life into that, you know, people started taking pride in that. And people would ask him, you know, Hey, Tom, how can you prove to me it is, and his response was always, how can you prove to me it isn't? How can you prove to me this, it, you know, everything we're doing here is to be the world's greatest High School. And now, what's wrong with that? You know, so, again, have that compelling vision, and speak life into it constantly. You don't have to be, you know, a big frontman, like, you know, like I can be I mean, I love that role, by the way, doesn't kind of shouldn't come as a surprise. But you don't have to be, you know, like, super, you know, flamboyant, or you don't have to be, you know, always the person on the mic. But you do have to live your values out loud. And when you do that, other people come along, and they start to live it to and fro, you know, it isn't just your voice. Everybody's telling your story. I'm so glad you shared that example. Because that really underscores the power of the vision, and then the collective vision, because while you might be the chief storyteller, what you're doing is you are empowering others to tell their own stories within this greater vision. And that's really the magic of vision. Absolutely. It's a vision that belongs to one person isn't a vision, right? It's a hope. It's a dream, you know, and that's how it starts, right? It starts as a whole, it starts as a dream, you know, my high school, and we were on the road to awesome, I mean, that was our thing. And obviously rhodopsin was just become who I am. But that's how it started. You know, hey, we're all on the road. Awesome. We're all going somewhere, why wouldn't we go somewhere? Awesome. That's what we kept saying, as we kept saying, and before you knew it, we were pretty doggone awesome. Because, you know, it went from, you know, my vision to and my dream to everybody taking so much ownership of that. And, yeah, that's what it's for. I just get chills telling a story. Yeah, wow, that's cool. I got chills through the the zoom camera, for sure. It's, it's powerful. And I hope those of you who are listening can really appreciate the the value in what Darren is sharing right now. And, you know, this vision idea has so many layers to it. And I truly believe, you know, this is how we change the world as we visualize something that doesn't exist yet. And we, like you said, live it out loud. I think that's beautiful. And get the people around us to rally. And so it's not just you anymore, it's you and your community, whatever that community looks like. So thank you for sharing that and highlighting that beautiful. Let me let me put a bow on that, too. Here's what happens when you do it. Here's what happens when you do it. You know, over time, over time, over time, it just becomes its own thing. And now, that's how we've always done it here. becomes that and not that old tradition. Yes. Yes, that's it. I like how you tie that back around. I love that. So before we go, I do want to ask you the question that I asked everybody, which is what is your dream for the future of education? Oh, I love this question. And you know, I think I think first and foremost, the dream. The future education for me, is every student has an opportunity to chase their dreams. I know it seems kind of watery to say that but what I don't think we should be doing is continuing to keep kids in a box and there was a point in time when the this was when I was a high school principal when our state had adopt Didn't was happening across the country, this whole career ready thing? You know, and it was the way they phrased it was career or college ready. So in other words, you had two boxes, you know, we're either preparing you to go to college, or we're preparing you to go into a career. Newsflash, Jen, everything you do in school is about preparing kids to go into a career, they might go to college, but you're preparing them for a career, their career might be stay at home mom, their career might be, you know, somebody who works from home, but you're still preparing them for a career. If we, if we can get to a point where students have the opportunity to have their own dream, their own vision, like we just talked about with a school, if each individual kid can have that dream, and had be able to put a path together to take them there. It's a wandering path, you and I both know that, I mean, the dream that you might have as a six year old is going to change when you're 10. And when you're 13. And when you're 17. But as long as you understand and know, as a child, that you have control of that path, that you are your navigator, and that you have all the support around you to get there. To me, that would be the dream of what education should be going forward. Let's let's stop putting them in boxes. Let's stop even even the meme that says things like, you know, you know, let's normalize, you know, going into career technical skills. I think we did that. Let's stop sharing that meme. All that mean does is is reinforced the two stupid boxes. You know, let's normalize kids being able to create a path that takes them to the dream that they have for their future. That's what we should be doing. I would love to be the chief storyteller for that one. You want to be? Yeah, well, coach? No, I'm with you. 100%. Yes. Yes. So, so good. And I would love for you to share with my listeners today. How can people learn more about you and your work? And your book? Tell us? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So it starts with road to awesome dotnet. That's the website that'll tell you everything about me. Everything about the work that we do here at road to awesome. Everything from the coaching and consulting that you and I have talked about during this, the speaking that I do at conferences and in schools and all that kind of stuff. And even the work we do on the publishing side here at road, awesome. All of that at row dawson.net. Actually, there's an awesome dotnet backslash books. And that's where not only my book, but all the books that we have published here at road to awesome can be found. My book, as of when we're recording, this is going to be dropping here any day. It's a second edition of my book rode to awesome. This one. This one's kind of fun. It's it's the journey of a leader made some made some pretty significant updates and changes to the original book. And I'm really super excited about that. So yeah, everything at the website on social media on Darren M peppered everywhere. And you can always email me it's Darren at road to awesome dotnet Thank you. And all of those links are going to be in the show notes as well. So it'll be super easy for people to get in touch with you. Darren, thank you so much for your time and sharing your talents with me and the take notes audience today. Really appreciate it. Well, thank you so much, Jen. I appreciate you giving me the platform and just sitting down and having this awesome, awesome conversation today. Yes, and for those of you who are listening if you liked today's episode, please share it with a friends. Give it a five star review and don't forget to subscribe and we will see you next time on take notes.

It's time to prioritize yourself! Avoiding teacher burnout by building your routine from tiny habits with Julie DeLucca Collins.

Do you frequently feel burned out at work as a school teacher? Are you eager to set clear boundaries and prioritize your well-being so you can finally achieve work-life balance and set a good boundary between school and home?
Putting yourself first should be a priority. But sometimes making a change can be challenging because of the time, commitment and repetitions you have to make to build a routine.
Welcome to episode 23 of Take Notes with Jen Rafferty podcast! In this episode, I’m speaking with business and life strategy coach, author and speaker for women, Julie Delucca Collins. She talks about the influence of tiny habits in our daily lives.
Julie believes that it’s important to create growth for yourself. She understands that many empowered educators are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and burned out. Through the power of a positive feedback loop, you’ll be able to build the confidence you need to make a change in yourself and regulate your emotions.
Today, it’s all about showing up and being consistent in your tiny habits. So, join us in this conversation so you can get the momentum going!
Stay empowered,


Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:

Click here to learn all the ways you can work with me:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Linktree
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
Facebook: Empowered Educator Faculty Room

About Julie:
Julie is a Business and Life Coach, Speaker, and Author. She helps entrepreneurs increase confidence, transform lives, and gain clients. She’s passionate about helping women and organizations find success. As a seasoned mentor and coach in the professional field, she supports women in creating a vision and setting goals. Her framework uses the Tiny Habits method to ensure that you create lasting behaviors to help you succeed in your business.

Contact Julie here:
Website: GoConfidentlyCoaching.com
Instagram: @julie_deluccacollins

TRANSCRIPT:  I remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world. Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you, it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two, and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids. We need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy, and fulfillment. This is education 2.0, where you become the priority, shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work, and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee, and grab your notebook. It's time to take notes.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of take notes. I'm here with the fabulous Julie DeLuca Collins who is the founder and CEO of Go confidently services. The host of the popular Casa DeConfidence podcast and her weekly radio show Confident You featured on a global talk radio network. As a business and life strategist coach, Julie helps women business owners launch or grow their businesses get clients be productive and achieve their dreams. Julie helps her clients create simple habits to achieve goals and change their lives. And she is also the number one best selling author of the book confident you.

And Julie is a sought after public speaker, a trainer and course creator and is a certified coach in cognitive behavioral techniques, holistic coach and tiny habits which are going to be talking a lot about today. And she's also a certified social emotional learning facilitator and has completed her 200 hour yoga teacher certification. Julie, I am so glad that you are here today to talk with us on Take Notes.

I am excited to be here. Jen, I loved having you on my show. I loved having you as part of my universe.
And I can't wait to talk and dive deep into everything.

All the things, all the things. Yeah, let's start. I would love to know more about how you got here. I mean, I'm familiar a little bit with your journey. I know we overlap in our fields of education. But I would love for you to tell our listeners you How did you get from where you were to where you are now?

Yeah, so for the listeners, I started as a humble Pre-K teacher in a preschool in, I always knew I was going to be a teacher, honestly, I was doing our future educators of America in high school. And I came from a family of educators and I loved it. I loved working in schools with kids. And I started to really burn out really quickly.

I'm not going to lie, I hated the hours. I hated the pressure, the lesson planning. And I just felt like there had to be something more but I wasn't sure what that meant. And I was offered a job at my church to oversee the religious education for middle school students. And I had volunteer and I thought, Well, I'm not certified as a teacher for middle school. And as a young 20 Let me think how old I was. I was 23 years old 24 I took over the religious education program for a church that had over 600 middle school and high school students.

And I had to do all of the talking about not lesson planning. But I had to do all the programming for the year for the years curriculum, and align everything to the confirmation, to the confirmation curriculum. And I loved it. I loved working with students in certainly I didn't know that I was not going to be doing that forever. I just knew again, I burned myself out really quickly four years in and I was burnt out. And at that point, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. So I went to work for retail, because I thought I need to make money. Right.

And eventually, in New York, I was recruited to do some grant writing. I had done that in college, my dad worked for an agency in DC that did a lot of grunt work for the government. And I had that experience. And then I was recruited by an educational company, an educational company in New Jersey that is a nationwide company. Many people know them. I was recruited because my teaching experience my ability to supervise, my ability to be able to create programming meet with parents, but also my retail experience.

I thought well this is interesting. And sure enough, I loved what I was doing because now I saw that I was really making an impact on the lives of students who were struggling in school, the families that we were working with. But more importantly, I could also create great support for teachers, in which many of them again, the teachers that came in to work and to tutor students were the ones who needed that part time job, and needed to be able to support themselves. But I thought, can we make this easy and fun.

And of course, I started working with this company, I was the center director for one of their centers. In after the first year, we went to a convention for all the center directors. And I was like, wow, there's a lot of centers that are very successful, that are making a lot of money. Then I went to the head of the company, and one of the founders, and I said, How do I get on that stage? Because to me, yes, it was about the center being successful because of the revenue. But what I was seeing is the number of lives that were being touched, and said, How can I get on that stage next year. And she said, I'm going to tell you the secret, you need to go in, connect with your local school, do school visits, get to know them, get to know what their struggles are, and find out from them, how you can serve them. And that's exactly what I did. It got to the point in which teachers or guidance counselors or principals would have parents in their office and say, Oh, let me call Julie.

And I'm going to send you to Julie, and she's going to help you. And that's really how it started to happen. And to the point that the following year, I was one of the top producing centers, and revenue, but also in the keep rate of students that were stayed for the programming, and I loved it. And then I got promoted. And that sort of got me into the start of a corporate career in the education industry. Over the course of the year, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time for the organization, I would represented the company in Capitol Hill at the beginning of No Child Left Behind, and went through all of that I learned a lot in the company as far as what does it take to be able to work with school districts how to partner with them how to be able to, most of all, provide services.

But for me, I always came at it, not only from the business perspective, which I learned, and the company was very good at mentoring all of the executives on, but I really came to it from the teacher perspective, once a teacher, always a teacher, and I always understood the struggles that teachers have when you're in that seat. So that was one of the things that continued to help me grow and become successful. By the time I left that company, I was at the VP level. And I went to work for another company, again at the VP level helping them expand out of New York City into several different markets.

And I was there until the beginning of the pandemic. And at the beginning of the pandemic, I got a call in and it's funny because I sort of should have known but I didn't know we were hit very hard. The company with all the schools shutting down, we couldn't really continue to do services at the school district level. And I got the call saying we need to separate you're an executive, we cannot afford to keep half of our executives. And I thought nope, absolutely. It makes 100% sense.

And I had already been doing some work on my own. I went through a coaching certification for holistic coaching, mainly because for myself, I also had been working at several colleges and universities here as a volunteer in a leadership mentoring program that we had and is still going strong. So certainly I knew that I wanted to be more in the space of mentoring and coaching individuals being able to provide them with a support system that they needed. And that's how I got here. So three years in almost three years, and I have great business. But most importantly, I am helping women really grow and launch their dream their business, whatever it is that it might be. Because when I was in corporate, everybody would say oh my god, you're gonna get another promotion. You're so good. You're so confident.

And I would say, No, not really, I don't always have it together. And I wanted people to know and normalize for others, that it's not about being perfect. It's not about having it together. It's not about everything that you're doing. But it's about the showing up even when you don't feel like it. It's about surrounding yourself with the right resources, the right support, and also being willing to be in that level of discomfort chest for a little bit. Because then that's when really you start to grow. And you really start to, again, assess yourself and say, Oh, how can I do that better? Or just like we do with our kids, right? That feedback model is so important and giving that feedback model for ourselves is key.

So that's why I'm doing what I'm doing and I love it. I love the opportunity to be able to serve others who have a dream in their heart for whatever it might be, but don't have have the know how when it comes to business, the nitty gritty of business, don't have the confidence and I can share my confidence with them until they start to see their own gifts and start to see how they can start to grow only if they take that chance in themselves. So small answer, long answer, but that's it. Right?

Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing your story. And, you know, I think the thing that struck me is, at the end, you said, how do we show up and do the things that make us uncomfortable, because that's truly where your dreams are, it's going to be uncomfortable, because they're not here yet.

We go for something that we don't have evidence of being safe, it is going to feel uncomfortable. And I think there is this idea, especially now with social media, right? We all tend to posture as having it together. And we posture as having a certain kind of a lifestyle. And some of that, I think is this idea that everyone has it all together all the time. And everyone is feeling that confidence all the time. And it's that confidence that what drives you. But I think that does a disservice because it creates this idea of imposter syndrome, which is like kind of a false thing in my book, I talk about that another time.
But you know, this whole idea of well, I could do that only if I had the confidence. But the truth is, keeping it together is a lie, that is not actually a thing. And so I'm curious to know, and I'm wondering if your training in tiny habits has kind of led you in the direction of also realizing that we don't have to be born having it all together. And to figure it all out that this is Oh, constant process.

Absolutely, it is a constant process. And I will tell you that you talked about and you share the different certifications that I have. And this is the one thing that I want to leave the audience with. If there's one thing that you can really take away from that. There might be a lot of certifications under my belt, but I got them mainly for me, mainly to create the growth for myself.

Because I am my best client, I am the person who needed to learn the tiny habits, how to use that cognitive behavioral techniques, I needed to be able to know how to process in question my mindset, we are all programmed with thought errors in our world typically is teaching us to beat ourselves up for the judgment that we do have ourselves. We are always so prone to think that we're broken but the reality is that we're not we're not in all it takes is doing the work when I started tiny habits specifically. That's one of the things that it's the secret, right, to me becoming more confidence, because yes, I don't always have it together, I don't always feel confident. But I am an extrovert. I am your typical first born leader in my family. So I do have a level of confidence.

And when I create evidence that, hey, I did that, then it gives me the ability to keep programming myself to continue to do it and become an automation, as opposed to not seeing the evidence that I did it and then beating myself up for not doing it. I'll give you an example. Pre pandemic, I was doing right when it came to my physical health, and I was going to the gym. And of course, like many of us, that train sailed for me, I stopped going to the gym, I have an autoimmune, I couldn't do it. And of course, I'm not in the best shape or in the shape that I would like to be in as I started to reevaluate my health, what are my priorities? What are my values, when it comes to my health, I realized that I do want to be fit not so much for a number in the scale, but just I want to be strong and fit as I grow older.

But the thought of getting on the treadmill like I would do before and maybe run for 20 minutes, or even do weights or as a certified yoga teacher do a whole hour of yoga, the motivation is not there. And this is what tiny habits it's about, right? When we think we need to go big or go home, we're going to fail. Because when your motivation, when things get hard, when it becomes very difficult and challenging, then you're gonna like I don't feel like doing that so much, right? Where as if you give yourself the ability to one, create the tiny habit, and you pair it up with something that you're already doing, right.

So for instance, for me, my new tiny habit so that I can work myself up is I am coming into my office, I can do every day. I'm already doing that. And then I'm going to check my email. I'm already doing that. But I take my laptop from my desk and I go up there to the treadmill. And all I'm going to do is check my email for two minutes and walk on the treadmill for two minutes. Right. So that's a lot of tiny habit and you're like oh my God, two minutes on the treadmill. Yeah, because guess what? I'm gonna celebrate that I did the two Minutes, that's all I was setting up to do, if I'm going to do more than two minutes, uh, yay for me.

But I'm always going to yay me for doing the two minutes. So then my brain is like, Oh, this is just automatic what we do. And then you continue to create that evidence that you do the work that you're successful that you can do it. And for many of us, that's where we're struggle. We haven't seen ourselves do the thing. We haven't to continually celebrated that even if we did it, right, we're in that gap thinking that we did it. But we're like, Oh, but I didn't do it enough. Stop doing that we need to really focus on I did it and look how well I did it for the two minutes. And you'll never setting up yourself for failure if you're taking small manageable chunks that way.

That's such a beautiful way of looking at it. Because I think, again, people look at other people. And we fall into this comparison trap, which nobody wins in that comparison trap, you know, that is just the thief of joy, right? That's how that thing goes to her isn't is the thief of joy, because you're looking at someone else's stuff, and only seeing what they're presenting and only really one angle of it. And I think people even look at my journey. And they're like, Oh, you went from being unemployed, staying at home, homeschooling your kids not knowing what you're going to do to giving a TED talk. Okay, well, it's really easy for you to see those two things.

But truthfully, if you were to use a microscope, there were 1000s of microscopic choices that I had to make along the way. And if I wasn't able to make those choices and celebrate those wins, there's no way that I would be able to get to where I am today. So it's this idea, like you said, Go big or go home isn't really serving us, it's actually setting ourselves up for failure.

And by the way, the thing that we don't realize is that expert level requires 10,000 hours or more of practice. And this is the thing that we think that in between you being a stay at home mom homeschooling and where you are now you have been putting in your hours you've been struggling with through the things that you didn't know, but you figure them out.

Why because you kept showing up. And my favorite saying that I tell people all the time, and it really needs to go on a Tshirt is consistent action gets you traction. So I like that this tendency of showing up, even when we don't feel like it. But if you make a tiny, it's easy to show up. Because you're not like my water, I drink water because my action is not that I'm going to drink a gallon of water daily, my action is I'm going to let my dogs out existing action. And I'm gonna pair it up with my new habit or my habit of how to fill my water bottle. And then I'm going to cheer myself on for getting my water bottle filled.

 And then when I start to drink it, every time I go to the bathroom, I celebrate like, yey, went to the bathroom, and I refill my water, right? And I keep drinking and it creates this momentum. And the days that I drink all my water, great on the days that I don't I never failed, right? But I can go back and say, Oh, how come? I didn't drink my water today? Let's be curious about that. Because that curiosity is the curiosity that allows you to course correct, yes.

And it's creating that positive feedback loop for ourselves. We're wired for negative feedback loops. That's just how our brain is working. So we have to work extra hard to create a positive feedback loop. And before I go into asking you about like, how can we practically apply this to everyday lives as teachers, I want to ask you about showing up, you say, Well, you got to show up. And I think part of the issue for some people is how do you know what to show up for? And I think especially in a service profession, where you know, I've said this a million times we are indoctrinated to think about our profession as it only being about the kids.

And when we do that we ignore ourselves. And we don't give ourselves enough worth to even create any sort of idea that that we need to do anything for ourselves. It doesn't, we're not worthy of it, because it's really all about the kids. So when we say we have to keep showing up, I want to just highlight this for a minute, because this is really about showing up for yourself. And in turn, you show up for the people that you serve, particularly the students and then the communities that we're all a part of. But what is that process like for you? How did you know what to show up for? What did it mean to show up for you?

You know, one of the things that and it doesn't matter whether you're a teacher, whether you're a mom, whether you're a business owner, a wife, a friend, a daughter, we are programmed to define ourselves by the role that the world gives us. And it's difficult to show up for ourselves. When we don't even know that we have to show up for ourselves. Many of my friends are still teachers and I have a friend in particular who has been struggling with a lot of anxiety this year, debilitating anxiety. But she's putting the needs of her students, the needs of the school the demands of the school, the needs of her husband, her kids, always her friends me as a friend always first. And that's why you're not showing up for yourself because she's never learn to create like, I am not, Jane.

I mean, I am not Jane, the teacher, I am Jane. Jane, who has anxiety, what is Jane need? What is going on and in? When we start to really analyze in this happened to me, I think that when I started to say, well, what is Julie need? Forget Julie being defined as. My last role was in the sea level of the company. And there was a level and the in which I still define myself by the role. But we have to separate ourselves from the roles so that we can clearly see, hey, the teacher needs to give, the mom needs to mother, the wife needs to wife. But if I am a woman who is feeling tired and anxious, and what do I need to give to that person? What does that person need, because we can identify everybody else's needs so quickly.

And we do it under the hat of the role that we are wearing. But if we take that hat off and really focus on well, you know what I need rest. It happened to me yesterday, and I had a big event Saturday, as you know. And Friday I High Achiever wanted to have everything perfect and didn't sleep very well. Then, of course, I we went to dinner later on Sunday, I said I'm not doing anything except sleeping, reading, sleeping, and having a glass of wine. And I'm gonna just recharge. But sometimes we forget to do that.

Yeah, you know, as you're, as you're saying all of these things, it reminds me of this just very interesting time in my life after the divorce. And before I where I am now, I was dating for a little while. And what was so interesting about that, for me, was I was just Jen, that the people that I would go out with didn't know me from anybody. I wasn't Jen the teacher, I wasn't Jen the mom, I wasn't Jen, who had this background, who was from this place who you know, and I could just be who I was.

I think my favorite part about that experience, because you know, sometimes dating can be a little bit wonky and weird. But for me, I loved it because I felt as if I was being reflected by somebody else in a way that I wasn't used to because I was so connected to my identities. And I'm so glad you said this in a different way becauseI haven't been able to really articulate it the way that you just did so well besides sharing my dating stories, which we won't get into in this podcast.

But that is something that is so important. And if you are able to find a way to really go inside and remove all of the hats that we've not only chosen, but then have also been given to us and really sit and ask yourself with a mirror for yourself. Who am I? What do I need? That really will allow you to go in the direction of Well, where do I now need to show up?

Yeah, the other thing too, you know, as you're speaking and this is something that when I would go into schools, and I would train administrators or or teachers on social emotional learning skills, many of them had the thought that I was there to teach them curriculum that they can then go and turn teach their students. But what I was really there to teach is a practice, because the most effective teachers are the ones who embody the work.

It's not the ones who are reading from the prompt or the curriculum. And if you are not embodying the work, then you're not modeling the behavior. Yeah. And it at the end of the day, it's what happens in our life, we have to embody. And really, this is the other thing that I love about tiny habits, tiny habits allows you to do what you already want to do. The desire that you have, is there.

You just don't know the way to get there. But it allows you to create the identity. So for instance, for me, getting on the treadmill for two minutes is not that I am going to work out it's becoming that person that 2.0 version of me. And this is where if we start to practice then we are becoming that person.

Yes. So can you walk us through an example that might be relevant to someone who's teaching right now you know, I really want to be able to have more me time that's something that I hear a lot is you know, I'm so stressed I'm giving all of my time and energy and attention to everybody else. And they're just like craving me time. And a big part of that is I'm afraid to let anything go. Because if I don't pick this up who's going to do this? So this is a very common scenario, can you speak towards this about how can you practice tiny habits to maybe move the needle forward?

Yeah, so I'm going to teach you the framework. So Dr. Fogg, who is the founder of the Behavior Lab at Stanford, who wrote the book, Tiny Habits, and that's who I got certified through. One of the things that he has found in all his years of research is that in order for you to create a behavior, there's three things that need to be present, the motivation, the ability in a prompt, so for the person that says, hey, I'm really stressed, I want to get more me time, right? That's the behavior that you want. Obviously, you need to have the motivation, which we talked about, it's not always present, right? If something is very hard, specifically, you're not going to be motivated to do it. And if you haven't been doing it, your brain is gonna say, Oh, my God is so hard, and you're never gonna get time, you're gonna have to figure it out. Right? So you can't rely on motivation. So then that means that you have to find the ability to do it, and a prompt to do it.

The first thing that I will say is, look at your behavior already. Look at the things that you're already doing. So take, for instance, my habit of wanting to drink water, right, or wanting to be the person that's hydrated, right? If I said, I'm going to drink that gallon of water, of course, motivation goes away, because like, Oh, my God, so hard, I'm what am I going to drink that water, but I had to find the ability. So when am I going to be able to write break it down into the smallest piece, if I need to have the water bottle fill? What am I going to do it right? And I needed to be able to find the opportunity to fill my water bottle. So yes, I need to come to the kitchen, there's so many times, especially in my house, you have to go through the kitchen to come in, go out, come into the office, etc.

But I needed to have existing behavior that was already automated, something that I was already doing daily that I did, one of the behaviors is I let my dogs out every morning, because if I don't, I'm in trouble, right. So that's something that's always going to happen. So if I put the water bottle next to in my I'm lucky enough, again, my back doors in the kitchen, and it's right next to the sink. So at night, I leave my water bottle there. So when I let the dogs out, immediately I let them out, I turn around, I fill the water bottle, so you have to have the ability to do it.

So let's say someone that get wants to have time for themselves. So maybe you're coming off from a teaching and you're coming into your house, in the first thing that you typically do is you go into the kitchen and open the pantry to grab a snack. So maybe what you're gonna do, you're already have that automation, then maybe you do grab a snack, maybe you grab a healthy snack, whatever automation you have, as I come in the door and put my keys my purse down, then I will go put my purse down in the chair and sit for two minutes and listen to a meditation or just read a page in a book, or just write something that I was grateful for for the day at school.

One thing that stood out that I'm really grateful for just little things like that. And then it's not hard, it's not going to take you that long. It's already something that you do.. So maybe you're sitting in your kitchen and you're having the your after school snack, then write down a sentence or something that and really think about what's going on, do it for three minutes less than two maybe, and get started with that. And here's the key to the tiny habits framwrok in the process. After I write you have your prompt when I do this, I will do this. And the last part is I will celebrate. So as soon as you write your sentence as soon as you do the thing, like celebrate Oh god, me, good job, Julie. Or I give myself a thumb up. Sometimes I do my little dance that I filled my water bottle or it was on a treadmill or whatever it is I'm trying to do.

Those things are the things that keep you going. I'm starting a new tiny habit is every time I cook, I am adding vegetables, more than just a side dish, but into the main dish. So every time I add the vegetables to whatever I'm cooking, I give myself a thumbs up. And guess what, and we're eating a lot more vegetables now than we were a couple of months ago. So that's the key to really being able to automate behavior is finding the moment to be able to do it. Finding the automated behavior, the prompt and then adding the behavior to it and celebrating it.

And I want to talk about that celebrating thing for a moment because this is something I talk a lot about to with my work and it is massively uncomfortable for so many people to celebrate because this is something else that has just been in the air that we breathe that we don't want to boast. We don't want to be too big we don't be too loud. We don't want to toot our own horns because humility is more important. And I think that that's crap. I think that that is another incredible disservice.

Because even just at the biological level, we need to create evidence that what you're doing and changing is not just now comfortable when it used to be uncomfortable, but it's something that you enjoy. And you need to be able to release all of those beautiful neuro chemicals in your body, that's going to make you feel good that it's again, going to create some sort of craving that you're going to do it again. So it's not about necessarily only being boastful and showing off which, by the way, I don't think there's anything wrong with either of those things.

Another conversation, I think, but like, even just on a very basic, you know, neuroscience level, we need to create opportunities that feel good when we're moving through something that makes us uncomfortable. So yay you all the time. Yeah, one of the things that I love to say, and I talked about it on Saturday at the CEO retreat is if you don't toot your own horn, nobody typically will. So take action toot your own horn say Go me. And by the way, celebrations, we make such a big deal about celebrations. Oh my God, I don't want to do that. I coach the Tiny Habits Program almost on a weekly basis, anywhere between 10 to 15 people that I coach through, and that is probably one of the things that no matter what career, what walk of life you have people struggle with.

So we've actually put together a list of 101 ways to celebrate yourself. And they're so easy to do that. Honestly, you could just think of yourself, you know, when you get that email that tells you like, Oh, you're in or this happened and you're like, Oh, hey, replicate that as you're doing your action? Oh, look at me, I did that good job. Or ooh, I made the shot when I throw that paper in the wastebasket. Right? Yes, feeling. That's what you want to replicate. Because that's going to make you feel good. And your brain is going I want more of that. So therefore, you're gonna keep doing the thing.

Yes, it's the dopamine ding, and different kinds of dopamine ding that you get from scrolling on Facebook or scrolling on Instagram. That's cheap dopamine. This is right, which ends up being a lot more expensive in the long run. But in the long run, absolutely

Yeah, it's happened to all of us. Right? Yes. And so this is the really good kind of dopamine that you get to create for yourself. Because you're right, Julie, no one's gonna give you a yay me for sitting your butt on the chair after work for a minute, the only one that's going to do that is you. And here's another beautiful opportunity for you to take complete personal responsibility for the way you are navigating through your life. Because even just doing something like this, it's so easy to again, say like you said, there's not enough time, I can never do it. Everyone else is putting all these pressures on me. Well, here's a beautiful spot for you to say, Nope, I'm going to be sitting down for one minute. And I'm gonna celebrate myself. Thank you very much.

I know. And honestly, the people that are going to benefit are the people that you are trying to give to from an empty cup. Yes, that's the bottom line. Yeah, we hear it all the time, put your mask on first, you can't pour from an empty cup.

But we really don't hear it. And we really don't practice it. And that's what creates that momentum in the direction we don't want to go, right? I think about, there's two things that can happen, right, you can have a snowball effect in which there's a snowball that's coming down the hill, and it keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger and becomes an avalanche and it creates destruction or you can come down the hill with the momentum of what you're building. And really beautifully skating. If you ski right you can ski or snowboard down the hill and have just this exhilarating experience and fun that you're like, Oh, look at me, and you really enjoy the outdoors and the time that you're outside. So there's two different experiences but choose it every day that we don't choose to be proactive or intentional than we're choosing the avalanche.

Yes, it is always a choice, we forget that we don't realize that that it is always a choice. Because even when you show up the way you've always been showing up. That is also something that you are actively choosing.

 For sure. And that's the one thing that I hope your listeners walk away. And by the way, if you're walking away feeling guilty, that you're not doing it, you're not hearing us. When you're in that state of feeling bad about what you did. The ability to actually change is harder, and it goes away. That's right. And feeling shame and guilt is actually also a choice. Yeah, for sure. Absolutely. Yes. And if you find yourself getting stuck in that reach out to me or Julie

We will get you right back into shape.

We just need two minutes for that. Give us two minutes. Well, you'll be absolutely. And we sabotage ourselves so much, Jen, did you do the Positive Intelligence course?

And so what is that?

Oh my gosh, you really should. I think they're starting a new cohort. Shirzad Chamine, he used to be CEO for the ICF, International Federation of coaches, or anyway, so he wrote a book called Positive Intelligence. And he created a course for coaches. And he's actually given a $1 million grant for coaches to go through a six week certification program on mental fitness. I think he's starting a new cohort, and it's free, it's $1,000 Worth of course, I'll find the information and send that to you, Oh, that'd be great. It's phenomenal. It really is phenomenal.

And in, one of the things that we learn through that is that you have an inner judge, and our judge, everybody has a judge, but our judge obviously varies from person to person based on your experiences, how you grew up, and that internal voice differs. However, we have these cast of characters that are supporting actors to the judge, and they're the saboteurs. And depending on who you are, you may have different saboteurs. My saboteurs tend to be the controlling saboteur. The high achieving saboteur, the one that says, oh, it's not perfect, you can't do it. It's right. The other saboteur that really trips me up is my restless saboteur, the one that says, Oh, my God, it's gonna take too long go to the next thing Go to the next shiny object.

But some people in this is the other thing that people struggle with some of the other saboteurs and really trip them up are the people pleaser saboteur, the one or the one that is hyper controlling, or hyper feeling loss.

Anyway, that's actually not the name of the saboteur, I'm really getting lost myself. So there’s 10 different ones in that makes a big difference.

And it really knowing this about yourself, the more that we can do the introspective work and hold up a mirror to ourselves, again, the better we are going to show up for all of the people around us that we really want to show up for especially our students, and make the impact that we said that we wanted to make in the first place. So Julie, this has been wonderful. And now I need to ask the question, I asked everybody, as you know, what is your dream for the future of education?

 I love this question so much. You know, one of the things that I believe in education is that education is not just about what happens in the classroom. Education is about the experiences and the relationships that we can forge outside of the classroom and create communities where it's not about, you're going to school to get a skill that will get you money, it's about the evolution of knowing that the classroom can be everywhere in anywhere. And that way, it's really time for us to also start seeing education and practicing education in new innovative ways.

 As opposed to an I know it's controversial to say this, but an antiquated system that doesn't fit our in modern society, and the way that students learn. So my vision is that we understand the world differently, we understand that not everybody can show up in the same way and have the same skills and etc. But that there's also ability to learn and grow outside of the traditional stuff.

Yes, yes to all of that. And you're absolutely right. That is something I say a lot, you know, the way of schools are now some model that was built in a world that we just don't live in anymore. And you know, the more that we can share this message and our dreams, the more likely they are going to come true. So thank you so much for sharing that.

And so for our listeners want to know more about you, Julie, and the work that you do in this world, what's the easiest way that they can get in touch with you?

Well, you can find me on my website, and that is goconfidentlycoaching.com and I am Julie DeLuca Collins on all the social media platforms. So feel free to connect with me in any of them. And let me know that you found me through Jen, I'd love to get to know you better and talk about all things. Fantastic. And all of those links are going to be in the show notes as well.

So Julie, thank you so much for spending your time with me this afternoon. It's always really great to talk with you.

It's always so fun to chat with you, Jen, continue doing what you're doing and don't forget, Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.

Thank you, same to you and same to all of our listeners. Thank you so much for joining us in our conversation today. Don't forget to like this episode and subscribe to take notes and we'll see you next time on the take notes podcast.

Incredible right. Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible and it's all here for you right now. Let's keep the conversation going at empowered educator faculty room on Facebook

Unlocking the inner work: How to become an empowered educator through self-regulation and awareness with Amanda Bolzau.

As an empowered educator, do you focus on the inner work it takes to help create a better quality of life?
Being a teacher and creating a space that is accepting, healing and nurturing helps cultivate community- not just inside your classroom, but for society as a whole.
Welcome to episode 22 of the Take Notes podcast with Jen Rafferty! In this episode, I’m speaking with trauma informed subconscious mindset coach, Amanda Bolzau.

She's a mentor and advocate who works with women on the rise who want to self actualize, grow, and live a more expansive life.

I'm so excited to delve into her expertise on trauma, neuroplasticity, metacognition, and various somatic and subconscious modalities that really help break apart old conditioning, in order to live a truly free life.

Her work empowers people to peel away the layers of inauthentic versions of themselves and reclaim who they were always meant to be.

As we dive deep into this conversation, Amanda shares the importance of doing the inner work in efforts to disrupt your old way of thinking and free yourself- because you have the power- ALL OF IT!

Today is all about raising the consciousness of the world, by unlocking your own power!

If you’re ready to gain that freedom in your life, join us in this insightful conversation!

Stay empowered,


Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:

Click here to learn all the ways you can work with me:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Linktree
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
Facebook: Empowered Educator Faculty Room

About Amanda :
Amanda is a Trauma-Informed Subconscious Success Coach, Mentor and Advocate working with women on the rise who want to Self-actualize, Grow, and live a more Expansive life. Amanda's expertise in trauma education and processing, neuroplasticity, metacognition, and various somatic and subconscious modalities helps you break apart your old conditioning so you can live a truly free life. Her work empowers you to peel away the layers of inauthentic versions of yourself in order to reclaim who you were always meant to be. She partners with you on your deeply personal journey to freedom, wherein you gain access to the most valuable lesson you'll ever learn... YOU have all the power... all of it... and you always have.

Connect with Amanda here:
Website: TheLittFactor.com

TRANSCRIPT:  For those of you who have been in my world for a while, you know that I talk a lot about the inner work. But what does that even mean? What is inner work? Well, I spoke about this with an incredible mindset coach and my good friend who describes it as the work of you. The inner work is about choosing to heal and to grow to become your best self, and at the same time become an expander for other people, showing other people what's possible as you move through your newfound discoveries of how to human in this world, and what a gift to give to our students. Again, we're just taking a mirror and holding it up to ourselves in order to take better care of others around us. This conversation is juicy, and I am so excited to share it with you. And if you're feeling stressed, my book 24 ways to find calm in your busy world is now available to podcast listeners for free at empowered educator.com/ebook. Here you will find 24 ways to feel more ease and more joy by noticing the things that are all around you that are usually out of sight. I did all the work for you. And it's yours FREE. download your copy today at empowered educator.com/ebook. Remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world? Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two, and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids, we need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy, and fulfillment. This is education 2.0, where you become the priority, shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work, and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee, and grab your notebook, it's time to take notes. Hello, and welcome back to another fabulous episode of take notes. Today's guest is incredible, obviously, because she's here on this podcast. And I only have incredible people on this podcast. But this particular person is someone I've known for quite some time. And I'm so excited to start this conversation and share it with you. Because Amanda is a trauma and Forbes subconscious success coach. She's a mentor and advocate who works with women on the rise who wants to self actualize, grow, and live a more expansive life. And I just want to pause here for a second because although she works pretty exclusively with women, you just like separate that word, just put the word human in there. Because I would like to think that as teachers, we get to do this too for our kids. So this is why I'm so excited about having her here and her expertise in trauma, education and processing and neuroplasticity and metacognition, in various somatic and subconscious modalities really helped break apart old conditioning in order to live a truly free life. Her work empowers people to just peel away the layers of inauthentic versions of themselves and reclaim who they always meant to be. And helps people understand that. You have all the power, all of it. And you always have, huh, yes, that is so juicy. Menza thank you so much for being here.

Thank you for having me that is juicy when you read it. I'm like, what? That's amazing.

Who is that? Right? It's you? I do. So I would just love to start with what brought you to this work. I feel like this is very much a part of my life right now. The people who come to empowered educator are ready to do this work. So it seems very familiar, but it wasn't always familiar. So what brought you to this point where this was something you really wanted to pursue and then share?

Yeah, so I mean, at the core, what brought me here was my own deep inner work as I leaned into parts of myself, like the flashing neon sign over my head that I had my whole life that said, like come tell me all about you and your problems and let me help you like I always had that neon flashing sign. And as I leaned into using that and recognizing that about myself, it really kind of started to open my eyes to the deep inner work journey that I really needed and wanted for myself. And as I went there, I found myself really, really, really wanting to increase that work with other people and create my actual life around what it means to do your own inner work and teach other people how to do their own inner work, and really raise the consciousness of the world. So for me, that's really a big part of the journey that brought me here.

And that neon sign is something I think a lot of people can relate to, you know, oftentimes, I've observed, especially teachers, you're the person that people go to, for help, you're the person who people go to for support or advice or whatever. And in coming to this space of raising consciousness, understanding our brain, we know that in order to serve, we have to actually do the work ourselves. And when you say inner work, I would love to just explore that a little bit on unpacking, what does that what does that even mean, in our work in your worlds?

Okay, concisely, we would subject it, we would title it the work of us so that the beliefs you hold the way you feel, the way you think the way you learn the way you emit your energy, the way you manage your own energy, the way you experience the world around you, then inner work is the core, the root of every single thing that you experience throughout your entire life. If you are a constant learner and worker of your own inner environment, then you continue to actualize and experience things externally, that are elevated and expanded and bigger and better. And so inner work means choosing to heal choosing to grow, choosing to expand so that you can then become someone who is an expander. For other people, who is somebody who can take what you've done with yourself and drip it all over the people who are around you. That's what I call inner work. I love

the visual images that I'm getting here big, expansive, almost paint, like drips on people who are in your world. But as someone who has also been doing this inner work for several years, and you know, that's really part of what empowered educator is all about. It's holding up a mirror with compassion, with the intention of understanding, you need to go deep in order to grow up, you know, you can't see me right now you're listening. But I'm kind of like doing this opposite hand motion with my hands growing up in one way, but going deep in the other way, you have to do both. And if we really want to show our kids, our students that really the next generation the way to live this highly conscious life, we have to do that ourselves.

100% the deeper you go, the higher you go, like it's correlative,

right. And so for those people who are just coming to this work, it can sound very heavy and daunting. And I think even now, a lot of that stigma is getting taken away about even seeing a therapist, right? No one thinks twice about joining a gym or having a personal trainer are going to nutritionist. But up until very, very recently. I won't even say COVID was probably the shifting catalyst for this change in conversation about oh, yeah, like we've all gone through this collective trauma. Of course, we're all seeing a therapist, therapists are booked out until 2025 right now. So it's coming around. But even just being comfortable saying, I would love coaching support guidance on some of those things that you were talking about, just like I would go to see a nutritionist or a personal trainer. So how is your experience been? or what have you observed in just that shift of that conversation?

Because I imagine people listening are either like, yeah, or they're like on fitness. Because if your your Heck no, you're probably listening to this podcast.

Right? I was just gonna say that audience is not here. Right? And so my observations are, number one, we are in a consciousness revolution, no question. The amount of waking up that's taking place, gives me goosebumps. And with that energy that's in the collective energy in the world right now. We're growing our self awareness we're growing our awareness of other people and with that comes the ability to be more compassionate, less judgmental, and there are certain stigmas that are breaking down organically because of that, because the more aware we are becoming, the more we are are open, the more we are accepting and non judgmental, the more we are increasing our own consciousness and the consciousness around us. So I really feel like it's similar to like a domino effect, the more people who are waking up and who are in like engaging in this new way, the ripple effect is starting, it's starting to dismantle all that stuff.

Yeah, for sure. And you keep coming back to this phrase non judgments. And I guess I want to start there. Can we talk about non judgement, because that is definitely one of the biggest obstacles that I've observed. People have when they just either first start getting this work, or first coming to this work or when they're in the process of doing it. It's quieting that voice of judgments. Can we talk a little bit about that? And how do you approach that with the people that you work with?

Absolutely, I could talk about that for days, if you'd like. The way to non judgement is true, choosing curiosity instead. So as a natural byproduct of people waking up, and opening to more possibilities and more ways of doing things, that breeds curiosity, which then naturally starts to erode judgment. So non judgment is, from a place of non judgment, anything is available to you, the moment you begin to experience judgment around things, is the moment you start closing doors, closing opportunities, closing options, so it's a massively important part of the inner work that we get to do is to become that non judgmental observer of ourselves so that we can lead our own life and our own learning journeys with curiosity and teach in the same way.

Yeah, and that is a place to unlock a whole new worlds of existing. And what I've also seen, and, you know, I just feel like we just kind of, we're gonna keep creeping down these rabbit holes over here, you know, once we have this non judgmental space, and we open up to new possibilities and curiosity, well, then that starts to lead to desire. And that's a place that can be really scary, because if you are living in this world in this role in a way that you've always been, perhaps, because that's the only thing that was available to you, or perhaps you're living with expectations placed on you, either explicitly or implicitly, when we start to get rid of this judgment, and we live in this land of curiosity, and then we start to think about, well, what do we actually wants? That can be really scary, especially when we start questioning things like what are my values? What's important to me? It might even worthy of wanting more, right? So yeah, let's I want to talk a little bit about that.

Okay, yeah, totally. First of all, I'll keep down rabbit holes with you anytime. Next on the list. I love that you use the word desire, because, and desire and want. And all of that goes hand in hand. And what would likely surprise people is the frequency of people with whom I work, who say they want things and say they want like, for example, freedom, that I'm going to go with freedom with the big one in the work that I do. And once they recognize that's available to them, that becomes incredibly scary, because with freedom, there are no more of those safety conditions that you grew up with right now. Everything is available to you now, you feel more responsibility for claiming the things that you say that you want, and all of your desires, the way you start thinking about what you want and desire changes. And what we know about the brain is that change is unfamiliar. So the moment we disrupt that old way of being that kind of like cocooned conditional way of being we are in the unfamiliar, and the second we get there, the brain is starting to shut it down. So when we look at wants and desires, freedom, whatever to that same lens, it's important to remember we're gonna go down a rabbit hole if I if I say this, I know we are because I know you know this, when we start working through the unfamiliar and we get into that space, then we get to start working with our nervous system, because then it's important to start making it safe to have everything that we want and to hold the freedom and the space and the wants and the desires and the new ways of being. So this type of thing starts to stack you know everything is connected, and wanting and desiring through the lens of a more open more aware space. isn't always as amazing as we would want it to be. But it is so so worth it once you start to do the work.

Yeah, you know, self regulation is one of The most important integrative tools that we do in Empower educator because it's one thing to be inspired. It's quite another thing to integrate the practices when you're actually living your life, right. So that self regulation piece is essential. But I want to go back. So can we kind of go through a scenario together, because one of the things that is something that keeps popping up is time. And from time to time, and never enough time. There's always stuff to do get up at 530 in the morning and make the kids their lunches, and we're getting everybody breakfast and dress and finally in the car, and they're dropped off at school or on the bus, and then we get to work. And then everyone comes in. And then already it's 330. But I have papers to grade. And then I pick up the kids and they have violin practice and soccer and then it's making dinner, and then all of a sudden, it's getting everyone ready for bed and I have to go to bed, and then I have to do it up again morning. That's the thing, which even saying those things out loud. I feel like I need to take a breath myself. So I would love to just go back and use that example that you gave about freedom. And talk about that scenario, which I know so many listeners right now can resonate with. Right?

I'm regulating myself right now. Because as you were doing that I was like, Okay, calm down, calm down, calm down, right, because what's so interesting about the concept of freedom and how we think about the things that we want and desire. And all of that is when you have a list like that, and that is the way you are thinking about the things that you need to do in your day, right? That's the running on list like that is how it comes through. What if I said that the reason it comes through like that is not actually because it's like that. But it's because that's how you believe about it. That's how you think about it. That's how you view it. And therefore, the result of that is that's how the day plays out every single day after day after day after day. That is one of the biggest moments that goosebump moments is what I call them awareness moments that people have in this type of work is, wow, I can create a completely different experience based on how I think about things, how I perceive things, how I believe about things, what I do with things like a task oriented day, right? So when you are running through that list, and I was over here, tapping, that is one of the most common things I experience when people first come into this work is that's how they truly believe that that is their reality, when in fact, their reality is a product of how they think about what's going on. Simply put, simply stated,

yeah, so let's dive into that. Because this sounds so real, because that was me, right. And I know that throughout all of the people that I've worked with, through this work, so many of these task oriented days, and structures come through as the reality. And it's pervasive, and then everything. And part of the reason why this work is so important for you as the teacher in the room, is because you're not only able to experience your day differently, but your students are experiencing you differently. Your partner is experiencing you differently. Your kids are experiencing you differently. Your dog is experiencing differently, right. So this is the work, this is the work, that's the lifelong journey work. But to kind of just crack the door open a little bit. Where do we start? Where's a safe place to start? Every time

I get asked this question, I answer it in the exact same way. The answer always is awareness, non judgmental awareness, preferably that will come but awareness. The truth is that we can't do anything about what we can't actually see. And notice. So anytime we look at okay, what's step one step one is always, always always awareness, noticing, and not noticing, outside of ourselves noticing, inside of ourselves, noticing what we may be producing what may be coming through us out into the external, noticing how we feel when we run through a task oriented day like that. Versus if we imagined and chose to imagine running through our task oriented day with more ease with more flow with more breathing with more relaxation involved. noticing the difference in how we feel noticing how we feel when we are doing things in that old chaotic way, right. Noticing how we speak, noticing how we react, how we respond, awareness and metacognition, the self self awareness and meta cognate shouldn't go hand in hand in, in life in the world and in the classroom, including kids, two parts of the same thing, self awareness, and metacognition, they rely upon each other. So step one, awareness, preferably non judgmental awareness.

Well, that's a huge piece of everything, building blocks to everything else has to be that because like you said, you can't change what you don't notice. And something that you talk about that I talk about is data, right? We're just kind of collecting data. And once we start looking at it like that, that's when the Curiosity can come in, because we're not making it mean anything. So I got home from a busy day, and I snapped at my kids. Hmm, that's interesting. And it doesn't have to mean, I'm a bad mom, it doesn't have to mean, I'm fill in the blank, whatever. But that is a moment where you can pause, reflect and just get curious about, okay, well, what am I feeling in this moment? Are my needs being met? What's happening here?

Is that kind of that's, that's it? Yes. And I want to add to this, and something that oftentimes, it's not talked about as frequently, but it's super important to what you just said, in the example that you gave, like, I came home and I, you know, snapped at my kids, huh, that's so interesting, when we talked about curiosity versus judgment. And the importance of self awareness is the first step. What I want to make sure that your audience hears around this is when we approach something with curiosity. And we notice it, if we turn around on the other side of that, and judge it and make meaning that must mean I am such and such kind of parent, that must mean I'm blah, blah, blah, we have removed our own visibility, our own awareness into what we need to see in order to shift and change it. The second week, judges, we closed the door on what we noticed. So it's very, very important to use the data analogy, it is information, it is awareness, it is what we need to know, in order to be in a different way. And

what I want to just highlight here, too, is again, this work. While yes, it's about you, it's also about the kids in your worlds, who are developing their own sense of self, their own sense of self concept, their self identity, developing their self efficacy in different contexts. And when they see the adults in their lives consistently, I mean, this is I could cry, just talking about this, you know, consistently looking at their actions as data so they can learn and be better. That example, is so much stronger than any social emotional learning video, you can stick up on YouTube. I mean, like, that's the stuff that just drives me crazy. Like, that's not it, that is missing the mark. This work that we're talking about right now serves such a greater purpose that goes beyond you, it goes into the people that you interact with, especially the kids. So I know that you do work with a lot of women, you work with a lot of moms, a lot of people who have children in their lives. Can you talk a little bit about the impact that this work has, as that ripple effects?

I absolutely can and would likely go on for days if you let me. So as you mentioned, I do primarily work with women, but I have all boys, all sons, right. And I grew up with all boys in my house. So when we talk about this is the goes into the drip effect situation that I talked about earlier, when we talk about the children, we'll just say the children the next generations, right, whether they are hours or hours in our classroom, or hours, whatever. Being a highly conscious expander for them, is the way we don't really recognize or understand and this is in large part because of of where we come from. It's the it's the historical ways of being that has taught us that things like Do as I say, not as I do, right? That's one of the things that will send my my rooftop ablaze, right? It's very frustrating here, but it's okay because it comes from where we come from. And it's our responsibility as adult humans in the consciousness revolution, to embody what it means to be highly conscious and non judgmental, and be the example that we want our children to then take for into the next generations beyond them. Change is not coming because of what we say and it's coming because of what we do. And whether you are being a highly conscious teacher or a highly conscious parent or a highly conscious therapists or fill in the blank, if what we want our children to do is learn how to optimize their own trajectory through this human experience and how they experience it internally and externally, then we need to model what that looks like. In the end, what that looks like is choosing to continuously do this inner work and raise our own consciousness level and elevate our self awareness and become the example of what it means to be highly conscious. I could go on about this for days, I'm going to stop there. So we can like put a pin in this and you can ask a question if you want. But I could talk about highly conscious XYZ thing for the rest of this podcast and whatever else is left in your episode dark.

Yes, and that sounds wonderful. And I think maybe we do need to continue this conversation. But I want to clarify something because I know what this means. And you know what this means. But I want to make sure that everybody listening knows what this means. What does highly conscious mean? What does living consciously mean?

highly conscious, I'll take it in the direction of highly conscious parenting is blind by to talk about most. And so as I'll use that as an example of how to explain what it really means highly conscious parenting, for example, means recognising the importance of self regulating and self growing and self expanding, in order to impact an effect outside of you beyond you, you are the cause of the effect you are the drip, you are the expander everything flows from you, and to be someone who is highly conscious, whether it's parent or teacher or whoever means that you recognize the distinct difference in what it means to tell something versus do something. And that you recognize that while we all have separate trajectories and paths, that there's still a connectedness, that means what we do is what matters most not only to our own experience, but to the experience of literally everyone and everything around us, it is a higher level way of thinking about where we contribute and how we contribute, are we contributing to the increase in enlightenment and consciousness and things like that? are we contributing in the opposite direction, being so self aware that you can make new choices for your own self, that you become someone who is inherently aware that what you do ripples out from you. So it is about making sure that you choose to demonstrate what it means to do what we have all been sent here to do in this human experience, which is heal, grow and expand for not only the benefit of our own soul and our own souls divine journey, but that of the other humans who are here sharing this experience with us?

And correct me if I'm wrong, but this is what you mean, when you say that you

have all of the power, you always have 1,000% Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. Everything flows from us everything. And that's a big responsibility. It is a big responsibility. And therefore I'm sure I'm triggering all the people who are like, Okay, well, I thought that I wanted to be highly conscious, I thought that I wanted to do this work, right. But this isn't, it's important to like the where we went in the beginning of this conversation, like come becoming aware and understanding things like desire and one freedom and how big of a responsibility that feels like so as the same with highly conscious anything. But here's the cool thing, when we just co regulate everyone who might be listening, here's the cool thing, when you lean in to what it really means to be highly conscious and do the work and become more highly conscious, you begin to open up the spaces and around things like freedom and wants and desires. And that becomes a lot less big and a lot less scary. the more open you become as a highly conscious person. So you're going to choose one thing to go after and become super self aware about. Let's go for highly consciousness, highly consciousness, high consciousness.

I think either those work yeah, because that's it, you either are there or you're not. And that big responsibility, I think at first can feel heavy, but as someone who has done the work herself, and the people that I surround myself with and empowered educator touches on these things like this is highly conscious education. This is about making informed choices and being self aware and understanding you self regulation and knowing this higher purpose that you have all of this is connected. That is where the freedom is. Sometimes this false sense of freedom because it feels comfortable. But if we really sit with that, we can see where our limitations are until we start to open this door. And we realize those limitations are always self imposed and As we get curious as to what's beyond them, and what a beautiful example to set for that next generation.

Yes, absolutely. And I love the way you said that because it opens curiosity further, we get more serious about how good can it get? How much can I actually expand become from this very, very, very myopic set of paradigms and conditioning in the world and our upbringing, but the truth is, is that because everything flows from you, when you are becoming a highly conscious, XYZ are everything from that lens, everything really, truly is available to you, right? Because if you correlate that everything flows from me, great, then I get to choose literally anything and everything that I want, and I can then from me, create it. It's an incredible journey to be on. And freedom takes on a whole new meaning. It's not as scary things like freedom. So yeah,

so to bring it back to that example of that task oriented day, in this right now, if we kind of peel the layers a little bit, and we start to look at that same day, through the lens of a higher consciousness, what can that look like? And it could really look like anything, there's no reason why it didn't say, what does that look like? What can that look like? Because it looks like something different for everybody? But what can that look like from a higher conscious perspective?

Yeah, well, the general answer to that is it can look like like abundance, there's an abundance of time, there's an abundance of minutes in between everything, there's an A, but you know, it can look like that it can. But really, ultimately, what it comes down to is it can look like choice all over the place. That's one of the things that we lose inside of a task oriented day in the way that you described it, right. So in that description, we don't, we are not at choice, anywhere in that we are at the effect of, and when you're at the effect of including a day, or, or a set of tasks, you are living through victimhood energy unintentionally. And that is a very low level of consciousness. And so when we look at how it can be becoming more aware and approaching it through a higher level of consciousness, the very first thing we gain is choice, we gain our choice back, we gain our ability to choose to delegate to choose to take things off the plate to choose to slide in moments of breathing or meditation in between things that would shock you as to how much time you would feel like you gained if you actually took away the time from the task oriented list and used it for breathing or meditation. Instead, when we gain our choice back and we are approaching things like that from a higher consciousness, everything expands because we expand. So the time doesn't feel the same way. The tasks don't feel the same way. Be minutes in between don't feel the same way. Because we are not feeling the same way. So that's for me, the most significant shift in looking at something like that task oriented day through the lens of higher consciousness is the ability to regain your agency over choice that changes everything.

Yeah, agency is everything. And that's really also one of the fundamental things about being empowered. You know, it doesn't feel very empowering, when you are feeling victim to your day. And seeing it through the lens of where in this day, do I have agency or were in this day, can I reclaim my agency that in and of itself is a game changer and your right can certainly have a huge impact on what your day feels like, which ultimately, is the entire goal is how you are feeling?

Yes, 100%. And when you do that, the way that everything else around you is experienced by you and because of you changes so we when we talk about like teachers in the classroom, for example, or parents who have a massive task list, or a combination of both. Let's take the teacher parent with a massive task list. In that scenario, the options that you have things like stopping every hour, and taking a breathing break with either your classroom kids or your children, or before you go into the grocery store with your kids. We're going to sit and we're going to regulate for a second we're going to make sure that we walk in there feeling how we want to feel not feeling how we feel because of everything else that's happened today. Right? So yeah, the point is to do everything Feeling exactly how you want to feel. And that is something that people, I think, really underestimate. People really underestimate the fact that not only is that important, but it's 100% possible, you can become someone who chooses how you move through your day, feeling how you want to feel. And the result of that is you're teaching the people around you, that the same as possible. So when we do this work, when we prioritize these things, when we expand, it changes everything that comes behind us, in our wake. And that just gives me goosebumps.

Yeah, same. And that, again, just reinforces that you have all the power, always, all the time. I love that you keep saying that. It's so so true, you do have all of it. Maybe I'm saying it, because I also need to hear it today. Moments of vulnerability there, you know, and I think that's important. I wanted to share, you know, in that moment, I suppose, because this work is never done. These are practices that you and I practice every day ourselves. Because every time we reach a ceiling, it then becomes our floor. And the process starts all over again. And I think this is one of the most beautiful pieces about being human is this work. And I'm grateful that I found it. I'm grateful that you are here as part of my world and all of this too. And I'm grateful for the folks who are totally on board being like, yes, yes, this is really the way we change everything.

Yes, I received that and saying, watching you do this in this area of the world is when I think about it, it makes me emotionally happy. Because the access that educators have to the little humans who are going to be coming after us and living in the aftermath of the consciousness revolution. Like this is the time, this is the time for everyone who has access to little humans to become what it like what they want to see for those humans, you know that to to model to expand to start that ripple and make it louder and make it bigger. So yeah, 100% Yeah.

Which leads me of course, to the question I asked everybody. What is your dream? I know, I get all choked up to you. I mean, this is the stuff that fuels me to what is it? What is your dream for the future of education?

Oh, boy, that more amazing humans like you, and those who you serve, will choose to do their own inner work. So they become a highly conscious drip source for every student everywhere every day, because that, how we send the ripple effect deep enough to really see it return a massive wave in the consciousness revolution.

Yes. And I know, personally, I have already seen it with my own children. I know you've seen it with your children. I've seen it through the stories that my clients talk to me about with their children, and not just their students, their students also, but their children, too. They're watching us very closely. And if we're going to live this life and leave it better than how we had it, this is really, this is the good stuff. This is the way. Yes, manda thank you so much for your time, and your gorgeous talents. This has been spectacular. Thank you for having me. It's been a blast. So if there are people who want to know more about you and your work, or how to get in touch with some of these new ways of experiencing this journey, how can we

do that? The spaces and places that I'm in most is through belief factor, which you know, because that's where we hang out. So that's the easiest, best, most relevant place that you can get in contact with me that is where I am doing this work on a daily basis, living and breathing it into every single human who comes across my path. And it is the coolest way to become what it is that we've been talking about today, in my personal opinion. So yeah, get in touch with me go to lift factor.com That's where you can find all of

us. Amazing. And yeah, I will put all of those links obviously in the show notes too. And yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes to all of it. So thank you again, thank you everyone for listening today. If you enjoyed today's episode, be sure to leave a nice written review and we will see you next time on take notes. Incredible, right? Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible. And it's all here for you right now. Let's keep the conversation going and empowered educator faculty room on Facebook.

Finding hope & healing when going through a divorce: Navigating divorce grief with Sharri Freedman.

Going through a divorce can be one of the most emotionally draining experiences a person can go through.
It's filled with a range of emotions such as anger, resentment, grief, and regret. The demands of managing these emotions can often feel overwhelming, making it difficult to manage everyday tasks and obligations- like showing up for your students.
But, with the right guidance and tools, it’s possible to take back control of the situation and move towards a more peaceful future.
Welcome to episode 21 of the Take Notes with Jen Rafferty podcast! In this episode, I’m speaking with juris doctorate, certified divorce coach, and a certified Mind Magic practitioner, Sharri Freedman.
She helps people manage the difficult emotions of dealing with divorce.Through her work, she provides clients with tools that create a sense of peace and calm that regulate the nervous system so they can transition from simply reacting to the situation to being able to respond in a more constructive way.
Divorce stress is real, and it's all encompassing. It’s not about “just showing up”, whether it's by distraction or compartmentalizing. Because, pushing through and keeping it together is not what we do here.
Today, it’s all about highlighting the real feeling of loss associated with divorce in a way that normalizes the grief you feel with the same space and mass as the loss of a life.
And, most importantly, to let you know that you are not alone.
Stay empowered,


Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:

Click here to learn all the ways you can work with me:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Linktree
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
Facebook: Empowered Educator Faculty Room

About Sharri:

Sharri Freedman, JD, CDC, CMMMP is a family law attorney with almost 30 years experience as a divorce professional now practicing exclusively as a divorce, co-parenting and relationship coach. Using a trauma informed lens, she combines her legal wisdom with mindset and somatic practices to help women ditch the drama and do divorce differently. Sharri helps clients strategize the next best steps, improve communication and begin to heal, before, during and after divorce.

Connect with Sharri here:

Website: potomaccoaching.com
Email: Sharri@potomaccoaching.com
Instagram: @yourdivorcecoach

Referenced in this episode:

The Choice: Escaping the Past and Embracing the Possible, by Dr. Edith Eva Eger

Going through a divorce sucks. And the amount of emotional energy required can often feel debilitating, everyday stuff can start to feel extra challenging because the baseline is a rocky Foundation. And teaching and going through a divorce requires navigating the anger and regret, resentment and grief that comes along with it on top of finding a way to show up for the kids in front of you. Now, for those of you who have been hanging with me for a while, you know that pushing through and keeping it together is not what we do here.

Which is why I invited Sharri Freedman here today. And she is a divorce coach, and helps people ditch the drama and do divorce differently by giving people the tools to manage their emotions, and get out of the constant feeling of activation to get into a place of peace and calm, which yes, is very possible. So if you are thinking about divorce or going through a divorce, maybe you've gone through a divorce or even if you are supporting a friend who is going through it, you're going to want to listen up and take notes on this episode, Sherry brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will pave the way for a new perspective and going through this very trying time. And if you're feeling burned out, make sure to download my free resource 10 ways to beat the burnout for strategies that you can start today. So go to empowered educator.com/resources.

Remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world? Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two, and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids, we need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy, and fulfillment. This is education 2.0, where you become the priority, shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work, and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee, and grab your notebook. It's time to take notes.

Hello, everyone. And welcome back to another fantastic episode of take notes. I'm really excited to share this conversation with you today because this is something that is near and dear to my heart and something that we don't often talk about. So I am here with the incredible Sherry Friedman, who is a juris doctorate, a certified divorce coach and a certified mind magic practitioner.

And she is a family law attorney with almost 30 years of experience as a divorce professional now practicing exclusively as a divorce co parenting and relationship coach. And she uses a trauma informed lens to combine her legal wisdom with mindset and somatic practices to help women ditch the drama and do divorce differently. And Sherry helps clients strategize the next best steps to improve communication and begin to heal before, during and after divorce. So Sharri, thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for having me here. I'm really excited to dive in to this conversation because there is a lot of stress, shame, judgment around divorce and being in a professional setting, especially around kids.

There is always this feeling of just showing up. You have to just show up whether it's by distraction or maybe compartmentalizing, but there's all of this underlying stuff that happens when you're going through a divorce that makes doing the everyday stuff really difficult. So I'm really excited to dive into that today. So just thank you. Thank you again for being here. I want to go first before we even dive into that stuff. Why divorce coaching? Why is this something that you were interested in? So as you mentioned, I have been a divorce professional for almost 30 years. It's crazy, right? I practice family law for over 17 years.

I'm trained in mediation, I'm changing the collaborative practice. But there was a point in my life several years ago where I was kind of at a crossroads I had been working part time I was taking took a step back from actively practicing and I was figuring out what to do next. As I was my children were getting older and I was getting ready to re enter into the world of working full time and I discovered divorce coaching and when I became certified as a divorce

As coach, I realized this is the missing piece for pretty much everybody who is going through divorce and beyond divorce, and even thinking about divorce. Because if you are not able to manage your emotions, if you're not able to regulate your nervous system, if you're not able to sort of step back, you're constantly being activated, you're constantly reacting instead of responding. And you will never have that sense of peace and calm. That is possible when you have the right tools in your toolbox. So peace and calm and divorce.

In the same sentence, still actually do something physically to my body, you know, and I am somebody who has gone through divorce, I've gone through the mediation process, you know, this is something that I consistently work on. But can you talk a little bit more about that missing piece, as you explained and how you can even think about peace and calm in a time that is so chaotic and emotionally driven, I would argue that it is essential to be able to find that neutral, write that peace and calm.

Because if you aren't able to get there, like I had mentioned before, you're constantly reacting. And so when you have to interact with your student to be x, or your co parent, and someone that you really don't like very much, or someone who activates you triggers you constantly, if you're not able to get to that place of calm, you carry that activation that trigger with you, wherever you go. So while you're parenting your own children, when you show up at work, if you open up your email, and you notice an email from your send to be x or your co parent, and you automatically go into like, oh my god, what does he want now? Or you get a text write a text message, and you try to ignore it. And you get another one and another one and another one. And your whole system is just like oh my god, like why can you just leave me alone on that work? Doesn't he realize I'm at work.

So disrespectful, he doesn't respect my boundaries, all the things and here you are spiraling, spiraling, spiraling, spiraling down the rabbit hole. But when you're able to recognize, oh, nothing has meaning until I give it meaning. And oh, I don't have to respond to that unless it's truly an emergency, which most of the time it's not. So being able to step back and say, I don't have to open that email. I don't have to respond to that text is huge, especially when you have to show up and be teaching or co parenting your own children. Right? If you're constantly in that state of chaos and anxiety, you're not showing up as your best.

Yeah, completely. And I'm being very aware of my own body as we're having these conversations, which is so interesting, because even as someone who is far out and have been doing all this work, this is a practice, right, this doesn't ever go away. And I just want to highlight that too, that this is something that is a continuous part of your life. Because like you said, it's so easy to get triggered, and activated, even when we're having these peripheral conversations about it. Right. So I want to go back, there's two things that you said that I would love for you to talk about a little bit more at first is neutrality.

And can you explain a little bit what you mean, when you say that nothing has meaning unless you give it meaning? And how do we get to a place of neutrality because again, this is so emotionally driven, right? And there's there's so much backstory and narrative that comes along that with every interaction, it just brings up this wave of all of it all of the time. So how do we even get to a point where we can say, Okay, this thing has happened, and I am neutral about it. What does that look like? And how do we get there. So like you said, it is a practice, and it is ongoing. And I'm so glad that you brought up the fact that you're far out like you're several years out from your divorce, but yet you're still doing the work and you're still get activated.

And this is why working with a coach post-divorce is as important if not more important than actually while you're going through the process. So there's a lot of value in working with a coach while you're going through the process. But there's also a benefit to working with a coach, even if you're already years past divorce, because it is a practice. All right, I kind of got off track and yeah, I was asking you about neutrality. And so you know, it's even as someone who has been doing all of this work for so long, keeping that neutrality and not putting meaning on it is challenging. So I'd love to know, what does that neutrality look like and how do we even get there? So it's being aware. Noticing, right noticing, oh, that email came in and I odd

manically went down the rabbit hole, and then not beating yourself up about it, just being aware and then putting into place the tools that you will have in your toolbox to say, Okay, what do I want to do about it now, if I don't have to give that meaning because truly nothing has meaning until you give it meaning. So when you come into it with your biases, your backstory, your narratives, you give it all this meaning when in fact, it may mean something totally different. And so it's just not easy.

But you can choose to just let it be neutral, have no meaning. Because when you don't assign it, meaning, that's how you can remain neutral, when you start to give it that backstory, the biases, the narratives, your old default emotional triggers, right? When you bring all that in, that's when you give it all that meaning. And that's when you get pulled away from your focus, which if you're working, your focus is on your work and your students. And when you get activated and triggered, you get your focus gets pulled away. Yeah. And I think the thing that you said that hit the hardest for me was the choice, it's a choice.

And we forget, right? We give away our power so easily because we were overcome by emotion and the story, that the idea that you can choose how you want to respond to any situation seems so far gone. And that moments because you're so activated, so I think you're spot on with getting in touch with yourself noticing the activation, so you can come from a place of conscious choices, and take back your agency. And so you know, the other thing to that which what you said before that I want to ask for a follow up about is when he said you know, you don't have to respond. And I think there seems to be this urgency, right? So something happens, and then you want to just take care of it right away. But even in that time, then it seems like you're giving away your agency there too, because you don't realize you actually don't have to.

So I imagine this kind of falls under the category of like boundaries or something it's you know, so can you talk a little bit more about how you can create some of those things when you get that text message, or you get that phone call, or you have an interaction where you have a moment where you get to say, Do I need to respond to this right now or at all? Yeah, absolutely. And this is something that again, takes practice, and that I do a lot of work with my clients on just recognizing you have a choice, do I respond right away? Or do I put it aside and come back to it later, because unless it is truly an emergency, it doesn't need to be responded to.

And in fact, when you give yourself that pause, it allows you to respond instead of react. If you respond right away, you're reacting, you're reacting on what you're reading, you're reacting from emotion. And it usually doesn't go the way that you would want it to go in, you're responding. If you're trying to get a certain point across or you want your son to be x or your co parent to do something and you're responding in a reactionary way. It's also filled with emotion, and it's likely to trigger and activate them. But when you're able to step back, and either not respond at all, not even read it right away. Or if you read it and you're like, I just felt that like you said, you know, when I was talking about it, you just felt it in your body, you feel it, you're able to say okay, I'm not going to respond to this right now. And I'm going to come back and read it at a later time.

And then even if you're still activated when you read it at a later time, what I suggest is writing the response, not sending it sitting on it for at least 24 hours. And then going back to it again. And I work a lot with clients on a method called this B I S F which was created by Bill Eddie, who is the high conflict guru I studied under him I trained under him for his high conflict for coaches. And the F stands for brief, informative, firm, friendly. So all correspondence with your co parent or your soon to be x, it should fall under that category. Right? Is it brief? Is it informative? Is it firm? Is it friendly? And then there's three A's that you look for as well. Am I giving advice and my admonishing and where am I apologizing because those three A's will also create activation or trigger in an especially high conflict situation. So if you are assumed to be extra co parent is a high conflict personality. Those are the things you want to try to avoid when you're corresponding via email.

I wish I knew those things.

You know, my divorce happened during COVID. So even besides the fact that we don't talk about this, this is not generally something that you want to share all the time.

I'm and for me, I'm a highly compartmentalized person. So work is work and my emotions are something that I'm dealing with at home is over here, and this is over here, and I'm getting better at weaving those things. But on top of that, there was the isolation to have the pandemic while I was going through this thing. And I didn't even know these tools were out there, right? These are things that are available, that when we're so in it, we can't really see pastor knows. Right salutely That's one of the things that when you're so in it, and you can't see, like you said, past your nose, it's like you're in the basement, you're in this dark basement, and you can just see like, what's right in front of you. And so when you're able to, and this goes back to getting to neutrality, when you're able to so it's dark in that basement, right? No windows, no hope.

That's where all your low level energy lies, your fear, your frustration, your anger, your shame, your blame, your embarrassment, all of that, right that within that dark basement. But when you're able to come up to the ground floor, where there's a little bit of light, a little bit of hope. It's still it's peaceful, it's neutral. And that's where I try to get teach clients how to get there. Because sometimes we want to go all the way up to the rooftop, where we have 360 degree view, and there's perspective, and there's light, and there's hope. And there's all of the wonderful, beautiful feelings that we feel.

Sometimes we just need to get to the ground floor. And that's where that neutrality is, Hmm, yes, that resonates completely. And so when you are having to do work, being a parent, going through divorce, juggling all of these things, while dealing with a very significant traumatic and life changing event, what are some of the things that you suggest, I'm even hesitant to use the word self care, because when people said that, to me, when I was going through this, I just wanted to punch him in the face.

So I don't want to call it self care. But this is, I think, a better way to describe it. How do you make yourself the priority, so you can show up as the person you want to be in all of those spaces. So my suggestion would be to allow yourself to feel what you need to feel and not try to push it away. Not try to say I need to put on a brave face, it's weak to feel sad or angry or frustrated. giving yourself the space to feel your feelings to maybe not punch someone in the face, but maybe punch a pillow, right?

Or maybe do a little screaming, scream release. And there's proper ways to do that. And working with a coach or even a therapist right will help you with the proper ways to do this. There's a rage room, which I know you're familiar with rage room love the rage. And I think it is genius for people going through divorce, especially if you're feeling a lot of those feelings of anger and rage and hate to go to a rage room and just release it because once it's released, right, there's this heavy weight lifted off of you.

So those are in in and of itself, forms of self care. Yes, you know, you can take bubble baths, and you can take walks and drink water and exercise all really important when you're going through divorce. But also finding ways to release the emotion and not beating yourself up. If you are feeling sad, if you are crying, if you go home, and you're just like curled up in a ball sobbing, and you know, want to eat a pint of ice cream, and then allowing yourself permission to do that. As long as you don't get stuck there. As long as that doesn't become your go to. And you're only right, that's where you live, you don't want to live in those feelings.

But we want to be able to release those feelings so that we can move up to the ground floor to the neutrality and then eventually all the way up to the rooftop. Yes to all of that. And the thing that comes up for me and then I've heard from other people going through divorce going through loss, you know, several other areas of kind of this can relate to, it's when you open up the door to the feeling and the crying if you have not been a person who has done that in the past, there is this fear that okay, I don't know what's on the other side of the door.

 And so if I open the door, then I start crying in the middle class, I start crying to my colleagues, you know, when someone asks, How are you doing, then the tears just start to come? How do you navigate that in relation to wanting to release but wanting to do it appropriately in a way that makes it feel safe? Sure. So one thing would be that if you do allow yourself to release in a private space, it lessens the feelings of release when you are in a public space, like in front of your classroom or with your co workers.

but not always, because this is an emotional time. And divorce is painful. And Pain is inevitable. But suffering is optional. And so when you think of it that way, can you just repeat that for the back? That was? See, I want to just want to date on that for a second. Yeah, absolutely. Divorce is painful. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Yes. And what I mean by that is suffering is when you allow yourself to bathe in and wallow in and cover yourself in the pain. But when you allow yourself to feel it, because it is a grief process, divorce is a death. It's a death of your marriage. It's a death of the life that you envisioned.

Even if you're the one who's initiating the divorce, it's still a loss. If you have young children, you no longer are with them. 100% of the time, that's a loss. Friends that you thought were friends might no longer be your friends. That's a loss. Family members who are your inlaws may no longer spend time with you. That's a loss. There's so much loss associated with divorce, not just the dissolution of the marriage and the loss of your partner, but so many other pieces. And so it's important to understand that and to allow yourself and give yourself the space to grieve not only while you're going through the process, but also after because what I have found is that people will say, Well, I've already grieved I've already cried, I've cried, I can't cry anymore.

And then a year later, they might say, Oh, my God, I can't believe why am I feeling like I'm grieving all over again. And it's because they cried, but they were releasing, but it wasn't in the context of all of the loss that was yet to come. That makes sense. Oh, yeah. And so there's, you know, mourning is a huge part of this. And again, at least going back to my experience, there was mourning for that. But at the same time, it was literally the same weekend that the world shut down. So then the morning of the life that I had the day before the job that had standing in front of all of my kids in a choir situation directing that and homeschooling all of a sudden, so the tremendous losses that happened, we don't look at those losses generated as a society as sort of having the same weight as an actual death.

And I think this is maybe one of the reasons why I wanted to have this conversation on this podcast to to highlight this loss in a way that normalizes grief, of divorce, with the same space and mass as the loss of a life. Because we don't treat them the same way. And it's why do they feel the same? Absolutely. And it's arguably, more difficult because when you have a loss of a life, people come around you, right? Food is brought, flowers are sensed, people want to help you people want to spend time with you, to help you through the mourning process. When you go through divorce, it tends to be the opposite. People run away.

People don't want to be associated because of fear that maybe their marriage isn't as strong as they thought it was, or whatever the thought process may be. But you tend to be alone and feel very lonely. And that is something that I agree with you there needs to be a shift a change as to how society perceives divorce. And one of the things that you mentioned earlier that made me think about failure, and how people think of divorce as a failure. And it's embarrassing, and there's a lot of shame around it.

But there doesn't need to be because it's not a failure. Yes, your marriage may have failed, but you are not a failure. And what I have found and why I am so passionate about the work that I do is that the people that come to me, their self esteem is in the toilet when they're going through divorce. And it's so important to understand that regardless of what happened in your marriage, whether you were the one who initiated it, whether your spouse is the one who initiated it, you are enough. You have always been enough.

And divorce doesn't change that. Yeah, that is very powerful. And an important lesson to learn through that because it's not always easy to find it through. It's not. And that's why it's what became very apparent to me is that the people who I have worked with, it doesn't matter whether they are super successful entrepreneurs or business people or whether they were a stay at home mom, everyone who comes to me, feels less than you

feels like they are not deserving. Feels like they are no longer worthy. And that breaks my heart. Because these are beautiful, smart, loving people who deserve and are deserving of everything they want, and everything that they dream about. And yet they feel as though they no longer are worthy of wanting those things. Yes. And that I think, brings me to this self forgiveness piece. Right? Can we talk about that a little bit? Because that has been an ongoing process for me as well. Because even after the initial, okay, younger Gen, you made decisions based on the information you had, and the best decisions you could have made at that time.

And the reason I'm here right now, in this moment, and context and time and space is because younger Gen made those decisions and whether or not they always felt good, is kind of besides the point, right. But there had to be an active dialogue that went on between me and my younger self regarding that forgiveness piece that even with all the work still comes up to this day. So how do you walk through your clients through that process so they can forgive and then understand that they are worthy of everything they want? So first, they have to be open to even the notion of self forgiveness.

Not everybody is and not everybody's ready. So you actually Yeah, can I pause you right here for a second too, because this came up something too. I thought for a long time, I had to forgive my acts. That was something that was really I was like, I'm angry, I'm resentful. And I thought I was resentful at him. But it was really actually about younger versions of me. So I think being open to doing something like that you're right is really important asking those questions, because otherwise the doors shut. Right, exactly. And you're right. A lot of people think, well, I could never forgive. And forgiveness isn't about the other person has zero to do with your axe. Zero. Yes, you know, there are benefits to forgiving that person, if you can get yourself there.

But really, the forgiveness has nothing to do with them. It's all about you. Because when you carry around that bitterness, that resentment, that anger, that hatred, it doesn't hurt them at all, but it's killing you. Yep. It's that quote about drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Yeah, you're feeling yourself it's digger a long time ago, right? We're thinking like, damn, they read me big time. Yeah. Because the stories that you're telling yourself those narratives, and if you're not willing and able to let go of them, you're going to remain that anger, bitter person. And if that's not who you want to be, then something has to change. Because you can't continue to tell yourself the same stories and expect yourself to change. It's impossible.

So we have to figure out a way to rewire to rethink to formulate new beliefs, so that you can begin to heal and you can begin to change. Yes, I want to go back to something that you had said earlier, too, about, you know, changing our societal view about this last two, because I think because of a lot of these pressures, it makes things like self forgiveness difficult, because then we have to look in a mirror of something that's not necessarily looked highly upon when people around us and one of the things that prevented me from feeling comfortable and open to sharing my stories that people say really stupid things.

And like, I'm not interested in hearing your opinion, or judgment or advice, necessarily. And so we don't talk about it. And I think that's one of the things that keeps us quiet is because we just don't want to have conversation and interact with someone who's not actually giving us what we need. In fact, they're giving us more of what we don't need. So how do we navigate that? And if you are someone on the outside, how can you interact with someone who's going through a divorce that is helpful and productive?

Okay, so going to how do you if you are going through divorce, how do you interact with people who are not providing you with the support that you want, or are sharing views that maybe you don't agree with? And one of the things that it's really important to understand, but not always easy to understand is what other people think is none of my business. And when you can really lean into that. It won't matter if other people are judging you, or what other people are thinking about your situation. It will matter because truly it doesn't matter what other people think about you and your divorce and your marriage and how your co parent

Doing and the agreements that you're making, the choices that you're making, the only person that it matters to is you and your children and the family that you have now together, which is, you're no longer a family and one home, you're a family and two homes. And this is if you're if you have young children, but even if your children are grown and Slone or if you've never had children, being able to hold on to what other people think of me, or my situation is none of my business will allow you to rise above whatever it is they're saying.

The other piece that I also wanted to mention is when you start to get into Oh, my God, I can't believe they said that, or why can't they understand my viewpoint? Or I don't understand why they don't understand my viewpoint. Recognize think that you're judging their judgment. And getting really curious maybe about well, isn't it interesting that they said XY and Z, A, B, and C? I wonder why that is. And perhaps it's because whatever it is, like they're coming in at it with their own baggage, their own trauma, we don't know what goes on behind closed doors. So understanding and being able to go oh, okay, right, I get it, their parents divorced, or they're flailing in their own marriage, and this is their way of reassuring themselves that it's not going to happen to me, has nothing to do with you. Yeah, so that's huge. And that takes a lot of practice, right? It's like, I think of those moments in the work that we do in our own arenas. And we're like training for these moments, right?

As if we're going to like this mental emotional gym. And we're training and training. So when that interaction comes, you actually get to be in a place of what I'm going to take it back to what you said at the beginning of neutrality of totally being unaffected by what another person responds with when you're sharing your story. That takes a lot of practice. It does. And you're right. It is like a mental gym, I think you said it is that it's like when you go to the gym, and you lift weights, to tone your muscles, and you get toned and then you stop lifting. And then you're wondering, Well, where did my muscles go, right? It's the same thing. You do the work, you do the work, you do the work, and then you're like, I'm good.

And then you stop. And three months later, you're like, holy crap, why am I back in the basement, down the rabbit hole, it's because you have to constantly be working the mindset muscles, and the rewiring of your beliefs and your thoughts. Because your old default programming is so strong. And it's so easy to slip back into those old patterns, those old beliefs because those old patterns and old beliefs were planted in your subconscious at a very early age. And so they've been there a really long time. And this new work, this new thought process, this new way of being and thinking and doing is in infancy, basically.

Right, compared to all of that programming that goes back to when you were a child. Does that make sense? Oh, yeah, it absolutely makes sense. Yes. So constantly working the work, and also taking responsibility for how you show up. That's a big piece of this also. And that can be confronting in of itself. And I'm glad you brought that up. Because taking personal responsibility for your choices. And recognizing that every single thing is a choice, even the divorce itself. And a lot of people say well, how can that even be like, I didn't want this divorce, this is not a choice, like I have no option.

And I would argue, while you may not have an option with regard to the divorce, because the laws allow people to get divorced, even if only one of the parties wants it. But you do have a choice as to how you're going to show up how you're going to approach that the divorce. That's where you have the choice. That's where choice can be made. Because when you say this wasn't my choice, you become the victim, you put yourself in victimhood, and you're powerless. And so when you can get to a place where you're able to say, okay, maybe I didn't want this, but there are options and choices that I get to make now.

And you choose them with information and thought around what your choice is going to be and then you decide and you take personal responsibility for that choice. All the power comes back to you. Yeah, it's so important to recognize that, you know, at every step of the divorce process and beyond, every single thing is a choice. There is nothing where you have no options. Now the choices may not be good, right? It may be choice A which sucks and choice B which is even worse, but you still have a choice. When you say I don't like either one. So I'm just going to do nothing. And the choice gets made for you. That's where you become the victim again. Yes, and

then this, of course reminds me of the book The choice which have you read that one? I haven't. But it is on my list. I know I need to read it out. It is a life changing book. I will put that in the show notes as well by Dr. Edith Eger, who is a Holocaust survivor and just brilliant woman. But that's that's exactly what she talks about is everything being a choice, and finding your power. And that is how we get through and survive. So I want to bring it back. Before I ask you the last question about if you are a person on kind of on the periphery, and you're watching someone go through divorce, you know, how can you show up and do something supportive instead of putting your foot in your mouth? So first, recognizing that you might put your foot in your mouth, and just being open to saying, I don't really know what to say in this moment.

But I just want you to know that I'm here for you. What do you need? I think that goes a long way to just say I'm here for you. What do you need, rather than assuming or presuming, I think that could be really helpful. Also, if you do know, if you're close enough to the person to just show up and be there, be there for your friend or your sister or your mother or brother, right? Your family member, like just be there for them and not judge them. So. So really get curious about your own judgments like oh, right, am I judging the marriage and the fact that they're getting divorced? And can I get curious about it? And be like, Oh, isn't it interesting? And I wonder what they were thinking or feeling? And how can you come at it from a place of compassion, as opposed to a place of like, like, I can't believe you, whatever it is that you can't believe, right? That you're breaking your family apart? Or what? Like all the things right, and I'm sure you've heard, like, I can't believe you're breaking your family apart, or it wasn't that bad, right? There. no broken bones, he didn't hit you, right. So there's a lot of shame and blame around that, too, because there are many marriages that fall apart.

And there really is no big like, Oh, my God, right, there was no infidelity, there was no domestic violence, but there might have been some emotional abuse going on. But there doesn't even have to beat that though, it could just be that you're just no longer compatible as lovers, you're no longer compatible as a team together in one house. It doesn't mean you can't be better as a team for your children, if you have children in two different households. And sometimes you're actually a better team, if you are in two separate households. Yeah. And you know, I chuckled there because it hits home. And it's interesting too, because again, like you said, it feels really lonely. And because we don't talk about it, it seems even more isolating.

Whereas if we were able to talk about it, there are so many people going through the exact same thing, which is what I really wanted to highlight this, because whether you're listening and you're going through it yourself, or you know, somebody who's going through it, you know, talking about it is going to change the way we interact with each other around this loss, and support each other and humanize it in a way that we can all grow and move forward together. Because you know, these, there are only so many themes, right? You're not alone. And this is sometimes part of the human experience, which is okay.

 It's what makes us human. Absolutely. So in regards to the conversation we've had, and how we want people to show up, especially in a place where interacting with colleagues, we have this work family, but also we're in front of kids all the time. I asked this question to everybody. And so I'm curious to know, through the lens of what we just talked about, you know, what is your dream for the future of education and how teachers can show up? I don't want to say despite what's going on at home, but as a complete person, right? This isn't about compartmentalize, well, this is home stuff. And this is work stuff, like leave your BS at the door. It doesn't work that way.

Wherever you go, there you are, how do we do that? What is the dream there for you? And I love how you said wherever we go, here we are, because it is so true, right? You are who you are, and you can't as much as you try to compartmentalize, right things are going to seep in wherever you are. And so when you ask me that question, I think that as an educator, if you are able to feel what you need to feel, believe in yourself, and believe that it's okay to feel your emotions, to have the tools to regulate your nervous system, like breathing, tapping, which we didn't really talk about, but these are all ways to, you know, regulate your nervous system. You can carry that with you into your classroom, because your students have also can gain insight and perspective from you. They're looking to you. And I want to give an example because it's something that I can relate more to as a

practitioner with individuals and their families. Many of my clients use the tools that I give them, the breathing, the tapping the regulating the nervous system, the being able to get to neutral with their children. And so your students may also be experiencing divorce, and they're home. And so if you are able to share tools for them to be able to regulate their nervous system to get to neutral, what a gift. And so many of my clients have come back to me and said, I shared this with my child who was really struggling and we breathe together, we've punched pillows together, we've done all these things, and it has helped with the transitions.

It's helped with that them to release their emotions about the divorce. This is such a gift, like this is my dream for people in divorce and families. And so it can translate to you as an educator in the classroom as well, for your students who may also be experiencing traumas at home. Divorce, trauma, separation, domestic violence, all the things. Yes, yes, yes to all of it. Yes. That's kind of the whole thing. That's why I do what I do. And that's why you do what you do. This is really how we make change.

That doesn't just affect us, but the generations after us. Absolutely. Remarkable. So I can't thank you enough for being here. Sherry, people want to know more about you and your work. How can they find you my website, which is Potomac, coaching.com or they can email me at Shari sh A R R i at Potomac, coaching.com. Fantastic. And all those links will be in the show notes as well. Thank you for this very important conversation. It was really great to talk with you today. Thank you.

If you enjoyed today's episode and know somebody who could benefit from it, please share it. And make sure you subscribe to take notes so you can get all of the new episodes downloaded right away as they come out. Stay well, everyone. We'll see you next time on take notes.

Incredible write. Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible. And it's all here for you right now. Let's keep the conversation going and empowered educator faculty room on Facebook.

Transform your life: Self-coaching tools to help you reconnect with your authentic self with Abi Mallick.

Have you ever felt lost and disconnected from self?

Do you wish you could tap into your inner power and trust your instincts again?

In today's society, there’s intense pressure to suppress your emotions and not show your true self, which can lead to burnout and disconnection from yourself and others.

But what if we could talk about our emotions? Not only in therapy, but in all aspects of our lives?

Welcome to episode 20 of the Take Notes with Jen Rafferty podcast! Today, I’m speaking with researcher, social worker and personal development coach based in Austin, Texas: Abi Mallick!

Abi’s journey into this field began as a public school teacher, where she taught bilingual kindergarten and first grade. Her passion for research led her to delve into the world of social work, where she worked with young people dealing with trauma and substance abuse.

Now she works with adults to replace unhealthy coping skills and improve relationships with themselves and others.

Today, Abi and I are discussing the research based self coaching tools she uses to help individuals and groups overcome self doubt and self sabotaging beliefs.

So, let’s empower ourselves and take control of our lives!

Because, we can only deepen our connections with the people around us (especially our students) when we are in tune with our gut feelings, authenticity, and humanity.

Stay empowered,


Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:

Click here to learn all the ways you can work with me:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Linktree
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
Facebook: Empowered Educator Faculty Room

About Abi:

Abi Mallick (She/They) is a researcher, social worker and personal development coach in Austin, Texas. She teaches research-based self-coaching tools to individuals and groups, so that they can heal self-doubt and self-sabotaging beliefs.

Connect with Abi here:

Website: The Existential Coach
Instagram: @theexistentialcoach

TRANSCRIPT:  Do you trust yourself? I mean, really trust yourself. My guest today talked with me about how she believes we are all born with an incredible ability to connect to our instincts and intuition. But as we get older, we seem to unlearn that in her work, Abby Malick teaches people how to trust themselves again, so they realize that they have everything they need inside of them already. It's about learning the skills to have a better relationship with yourself.

And when we are more in tune with our gut feelings, we make a strong connection to our humanity. And of course, as a result, we get to model it for our students, and have deeper connections with the people around us.

So after the show, make sure you download your copy of my ebook 24 ways to find calm in your busy world, which is free for podcast listeners at empowered educator.com/ebook. And here you'll find 24 ways to feel more ease and more joy by noticing the things that are around you already all of the time that are usually out of sight. I found them all for you did all the work for you. And it is yours for free to download your copy today at empowered educator.com/ebook.

Hello, and welcome back to another fantastic episode of Take Notes. I have a very special guest with me today. She is a researcher, social worker and personal development coach in Austin, Texas. She teaches research based self coaching tools to individuals and groups so they can heal self doubt, and self sabotaging beliefs.

Abby Malik, welcome to Take Notes. Thank you so much for being here. Hi, Jen, I'm so excited to be here. I would love for you to share how you came into this work. Because some of the things that got me really excited about learning what you do in the world is teaching people how to self coach is really important. Because I think a lot of times we have this idea that we need to always depend on someone else to help us.

But we really have all the tools we need within ourselves and in coaching people to self coach themselves. You really empower people to do that. So I'd love to know how you came to even start this work in this journey in this world. Yeah, absolutely. A little background on me. I started out as a public school elementary teacher, I taught bilingual, kinder, and first grade here in Austin, Texas. But then I fell in love with research. And I moved into social work, where I was working with young people with trauma history and substance abuse. And I loved that job and trying to advocate for kids. Because unfortunately, a lot of treatment centers and schools and juvenile court systems are not functioning in a way that's in line with current research when it comes to helping our most vulnerable kids.

A lot of places are using old old methodologies for kids and teens from the 80s that have plenty of racism and classism showing. So I had to fight hard to say, hey, let's try a different treatment plan that's based on actual current data. And then eventually I got a master's of science and social work because I wanted to do more research. And I got really into happiness research and positive psychology and what is actually good for people and what are the ways that our current society functions that is not that great for human brains and how they actually work. So right now, I am still a researcher and also a personal development coach.

Now I'm working with adults on replacing unhealthy coping skills that no longer serve them and having better relationships with themselves and others. And as you said, a lot of that is through self coaching tools through learning these skills to say, Okay, here's this pattern that I have. Let me figure out how I developed that and why has it served me in the past, is it serving me now, then it's really fun, exciting concern about being seen as overly emotional work for just advocating for their needs. So there's a lot of pressure to not be emotional, and not kind of show your humanity at work. And that's really unhealthy for us in the long term. And it's part of what's leading to a lot of this burnout. Oh, I totally agree. It's interesting that you said that, because just yesterday I was doing a workshop and with teachers when we started getting to feelings, and one of them said, you know, I feel like I'm in therapy right now. And we kind of had a moment of isn't that interesting?

Because we have been taught that the only spaces that are appropriate to talk about our emotions are once a week, twice a week with a therapist, where here we are, in this space, trying to normalize our humanity, normalized talking about emotions, because that's part of how we exist in this world, that it is something to be celebrated and honored and is a strength that we have. Exactly, exactly. And that's also how you end up building relationships and building coalitions. And making big changes to the system is by sharing your emotions, sharing your struggles and your triumphs with other teachers and other people in the educational community so that you don't feel like you're isolated and you're this lone crazy person who's not able to do this impossible job of working in underfunded schools and advocating for yourself and advocating for your students all alone.

When you do share and get vulnerable. That's how people start connecting and start saying, Oh, we're all in this situation together. And we can build some changes together. Yeah, that's where the magic happens. It's Very powerful. And when we deny that it actually perpetuates problems. Yes. So interesting. So I want to get back to what you said about self trust. Because as you were talking, I was picturing my own two kids, right? When they're little, when we're all little. That's all we have is self trust. That's all we know. We follow our instincts, we follow our intuitions, our emotions are what guide us. And we are taught not to trust ourselves as we get older. And coming back to this self trust can really be a game changer for how everyone shows up in the world.

So how do we start even approaching this idea of trusting ourselves when we have been taught explicitly and implicitly that we really can't? Yeah, that's such an important question. And I think it starts with just looking at investigating, how did you lose yourself trust and I think with for people who have kids and who work with kids, they definitely see that they see some of the ways that self trust gets eroded, either through pressure to conform peer pressure, bullying, you see it through the way people talk to kids about not showing certain emotions, you know, which is oftentimes gendered. Oftentimes, boys are told not to show sadness, weakness, vulnerability, girls are told oftentimes to not show anger, not be too confrontational, not upset anyone.

And you see kids, especially little kids, like toddlers, they're very comfortable saying, when they're tired, when they're grumpy, when they're overwhelmed, they show it they're big, you can't not notice when a toddler is overwhelmed and wants to go home. But we slowly start teaching our kids, no, you have to stay in this situation, even though you'd rather be doing something else, you have to be polite to this person even hug this person, even if they make you uncomfortable. So I think that for adults, looking back at your own childhood, how did your parents talk about emotion? How did your parents talk about rest and taking breaks or working hard? Or whether it's earning food or earning play time or earning a vacation? And look at how did you build those ideas about whether or not it's okay to show certain emotions, whether or not it's okay to rest and listen to your body when you need to.

And I think that listening to your body piece is really the gateway to all of that, because we can feel what's happening in our body, you know, when you're in a situation, and you are being asked or expected to do something, or even if it's in your own head, and you feel like you should be doing this or should be doing that. But there's some disconnect with your body, you feel that dip in your emotion and your energy, that knot in your stomach that's like Something about this doesn't align. But more often than not people who aren't familiar with this work yet, push that aside, and just do the thing anyway, without really acknowledging or recognizing something's not quite right here. This doesn't feel right. Exactly, exactly. So that's kind of where you get to the next step, that first step is looking back at how did I lose my trust in my body, and in my natural right to rest and experience joy?

And then after you've done that kind of examination of the past, looking at your life now and really thinking about what emotions do I feel at different parts of my day? What parts of my day energize me or drain me? Who are the people who lift me up? Where are the places where I can be vulnerable and open and honest. And if there aren't a lot of those places, especially at work, try to kind of build those places, find your community, find your people? Sure. I'm trying to think of just a really good example here. We take us through some sort of example, either like perfectionism or people pleasing, or something that we can kind of walk people through. Here's how this could have gone down. And here's how it presents right now in your life.

Yeah, absolutely. People pleasing is a great one. Because I think that teaching is very female dominated. A lot of women struggle with self advocacy and being open and honest about their feelings and their experiences when it can create a conflict or make people uncomfortable. So say you have someone who acknowledges that they have a lot of trouble having healthy conflict, they tend to please people pleaser, to avoid conflict, smooth things over. So first of all, look at the family you grew up in and look at the culture you grew up in and try to figure out where that people's pleasing habit come from?

Was it from watching adults around you? And kind of passively learning? Was it from things adults specifically told you about how you were expected to act? Was it how people reacted when you did try to set boundaries as a kid or speak about your feelings? So once you've looked at that, then look at your current life. Are there places in your life where you can have healthy conflict? Are there certain relationships where you can be more open? Even if it's uncomfortable and difficult? So kind of looking at? Where is it worse? Where's it better, and other places in your life where you can slowly in a way that feels comfortable for you work on healthy conflict and healthy confrontation.

So for some people, it might start with the people who are closest to them who know them and feel safe. For others, it might feel better to start with strangers with people they don't know very well. For some people, it's easier to start with your personal life. For others, it's easier to start at work, but try to figure out where are the places where I am being drained or not being able to be my authentic self, or not being able to advocate for myself or my students or my co workers? And what are some small things that I can do there to just gently take those small steps.

Yeah, we're kind of looking at our lives through the lens of investigation and curiosity. So we can uncover some of these things. So we can make different choices that lead us to a place of authenticity. Exactly. I love the way you phrase that because there's so much shame around these different patterns to whether it's people pleasing, perfectionism, procrastination, there's this idea of like, oh, there's just this thing wrong with me. And I'm just a screw up. And I need to fix all these things. Because I don't have good relationships. And I'm not happy. But part of that self investigation is really removing the shame, right?

You learned these patterns for a reason. And there was probably at some point, when these patterns were helpful to you and made sense in your life, right? If you grew up in a family, that where you weren't able to express yourself, where you weren't able to have healthy conflict, it makes sense that you develop some people pleasing patterns. So be gentle with yourself, and then moving slowly and gently and acknowledging that changing these old patterns is going to be emotionally draining, especially at first, that's really important too, because another part of our wellness culture is kind of glorifying these huge breakthroughs. But the truth is that breakthroughs happen with lots of small steps generally, and not in these huge leaps and bounds 100%. And first of all, I want to go back and highlight what you said, you were not broken.

Nobody's broken. Here, we are products of our upbringing, which is nobody's fault, because our parents are products of their upbringing, and so on, and so forth. So is this our wiring, and when we do this investigation, we get to uncover where the wiring came from. So then we can make these changes. And like you said, for me, the amount of change that has happened for me personally in the last two and a half years is unreal. And in doing all of those many steps to reiterate myself, and reiterate myself and reinvent myself and recreate new things, it didn't always feel good. Because this work is sometimes painful. But when you zoom out, and you understand that in going deep, you get to go high, you get to grow, all of those emotions that you experience become part of this beautiful journey of growth and expansion, which is kind of the whole idea about our humanity and being here.

Because if we're not growing and expanding and learning and like, what's the point? Yes, exactly. That's so important to remember. Because if you're used to not advocating for yourself and not standing up when you see something wrong, and then you start to do it, you might imagine, oh, it's gonna feel so good to be my authentic self. And I guess it totally will eventually, but many steps along the way, will be exhausting and hard and you'll need to kind of emotionally recover from that. And even when we talk about perfectionism and overwork, and this glorification of not getting enough rest and working all the time. If that's something that you know, you kind of learned those ideals growing up and you want to work on it and you want to have more rest and more joy in your life.

At first, it might not feel good, right? It might not feel good to stop checking emails after 5pm. If that's not what you're used to, it might not feel good to say, Okay, I'm not going to do any work this weekend, it might be hard on your nervous system to adjust to a new pattern. And that's okay. That's a normal part of the process. Yes. And leaning into that process, knowing that's just part of our biology of how we rewire your brain desperately wants you to stay the same. So anything that you're going to try to do differently, you're going to get some resistance. And in my experience, the smarter you are, the smarter your resistance is, it'll come up in all sorts of sneaky ways. Yes, your brain loves habits and patterns and routines.

Which is why even if it's not good for you, even if it's exhausting for you, even if you're burnt out, I absolutely did that when I went from teaching in an underfunded public school, and I was working all the time. And I thought, Okay, I gotta try something else. And I went into research and social work, and I was doing the exact same thing. And that's part of the reason why we start slow. Because in order to rewire your brain, you have to create those pathways first, and then strengthen those pathways. If you just go really big, really hard all at once, you won't have a path to travel you right. And then it's self sabotage. Exactly. Right. So I want to ask you about something that's on your website, because you said what you do is coaching based in neuroscience and informed by justice. And I love that tagline. Because as a fellow neuroscience nerd, I'm like, Yes. And then I would just love for you to expand a little bit about what does that look like for you? Because it's so powerful? That is such a great question, Jen.

Thank you for asking. Because I do think that when we're looking at self trust and healing and growth, we absolutely have to have a justice, informed focus, and a systems informed focus. Because we live in a culture, we live in a society and everything that all these habits, we've learned all these expectations on your life, the things you're told that you're supposed to want, that comes from the culture that is all around you. So when we're working on healing and growing, it's not something that you necessarily need to do completely alone. There are some things like journaling and meditation that are wonderful practices for healing and growth. But we are social creatures, we need community, we need to find people that we can heal with and process our emotions with. And it's not a coincidence that having community building relationships is good for your immune system, it's good for your nervous system. It's good for keeping your brain from getting overwhelmed.

And it protects you from burnout during times of stress. So I think that working on healing and growth from a justice informed space means looking at how your growth happens in a community and how it's impacted by the systems around you, and how you can positively impact the systems around you through your healing and grow. That's tremendous. And I think that's one of the most important pieces. When we look outward, it's so easy to point fingers about who's to blame, and what's wrong. But until we point the fingers at ourselves, we're not actually able to make any of those changes externally. And I love this idea of the lens of justice. You know, we hear a lot trauma informed lenses and safety lenses and neuroscience lens.

But this idea of justice is, I think, really profound, because we don't exist in a vacuum. We developed our belief systems and these ideas about how we are supposed to operate in this world because like you said, the communities and cultures which we came from, and without acknowledging that those greater systems that we live in, we're missing a piece. And so I think that's really profound. Yeah. When you work on yourself, when you advocate for yourself, you're giving other people permission to do that as well. And when you get together and advocate in a community, that's how cultures change. That's how these unhealthy norms whether it's work norms or social norms,

And up changing is not through individual work, but through individuals talking about their collective traumas and collective stressors and working together. That's beautiful. And that is really how we create change in this world. Yes, exactly, exactly. We get our trauma and our unhealthy coping skills, from family, from community from other humans. And we heal and grow in community and with other humans and for other humans. Yes, yes, yes. So if there's someone listening right now, and they're like, all right, Abby, like I'm picking up what you're putting down? Where do I start? What's one thing that you can share today that can maybe make a difference in someone as they're first approaching this kind of work?

Remember that you are not alone. And it's not your fault. But there is something you can do about it. Right? If you have these unhealthy patterns, or coping skills, or relational skills that you're just really frustrated about, and you have shame about, remember that these came up for a reason that they may have been protecting you at some point or helpful at some point. And that is really, I think, one of the big keys to eliminating shame. And then the other one, as I said before, is finding other people who are dealing with the same issues, find the other recovering people pleasers, the other recovering workaholics, the other burnt out teachers, and share with them and be vulnerable and talk about how it's not okay, but it's not our fault.

And we can grow together. And we can change these systems together. Yes, I love that. So I'm going to ask you the same thing that I asked all of my guests at the end of our conversations together. And that's really, what is your dream for the future of education, looking through the lens of the things that we've talked about today? My dream for the future of education is a place where teachers, school social workers, administrators, everyone is treated like whole human beings, and has enough workers rights and room for expressing their emotions and advocating for themselves that they can listen to their bodies and lead with their values, both in the classroom and in school leadership, when that'd be a great world. work, you know, everyone's journey is different. So it never gets boring. It's the best work. I couldn't agree more. And I want to put a pin in the learn skills for a second, because that's important, I want to get back to it.

But something that just gets to me is these organizational structures that exist, are using outdated information. And the current data is out there, the research is happening, there are researchers actively creating studies to provide qualitative and quantitative data for people to use and make policy, but they're just not.

Which is, I think, what makes the work that you do in the world, the work that I do in this world, so important, because we are looking at the most recent information, and that's what's informing our practices, which can hopefully inform other practices. And I'm just always amazed by how outdated everything is. Yes, absolutely. And especially when you look at some of our current crises and education, you have teachers burning out, or quiet, quitting, or just actual quitting in droves. And we have all this research on what's best for workers and how to help people avoid burnout. And schools are not using that research to treat teachers like whole human beings, right.

And then, of course, that filters down to the kids who see all of the things that are happening around them, and then it just perpetuates this cycle. But we break the cycle by doing what you said, of teaching these skills. And I think it's important that I want to highlight you said, these are skills that we need to learn. Sometimes we come to this work, and we think, Well, shouldn't we just know this already? No.

We're not born knowing that we're not our thoughts. We're not born knowing how to process through our emotions, these are things we have to learn. So what are some of the processes or strategies that you guide your clients through as they're first coming to this work? So I think that's interesting that you say, there's a lot of skills that we're not born knowing. And that's very true. There's a lot of social emotional skills and self advocacy and healthy communication skills that can and should be taught. But also, this aspect of self trust that I really talk about is something that I think in many ways we are born knowing, and our society and our culture kind of does a lot of things to chip away at that self trust. And particularly in professional settings, where you're supposed to be completely unemotional at work.

And you're not supposed to be seen as showing weakness or showing too much of your personality, you're just supposed to go along with the motions, because that's what we consider professional. And especially for women, for queer folks, for people of color, people with disabilities, there's a genuine concern about being seen as overly emotional for just advocating fot their needs.

Yes, that's the dream. That is the dream. I love that. So for those people who are listening, how do they get in touch with you or learn more about you and your work? I am a researcher and personal development coach in Austin, Texas, but I work with folks all over the world on healing unhealthy coping skills. And you can find me at theexistentialcoach.com. I'm also the existential coach on Instagram. And I love talking to people. I love talking about this work. I love talking about the intersection of wellness and social justice.

So please reach out to me, that's fantastic. And all of those links will be right there in the program notes will be super easy for people to get to know you and your work. So thank you so much, Abby for your time and your talents today. This has been a really fantastic and important conversation. Thank you, Jan, for having this conversation with me. This has been great. Yes. So if you enjoyed today's episode, please leave a five star review. And then nice comment, and we will see you next time on Take Notes.

What's the best way to avoid teacher burnout? Discover how to prioritize yourself and find joy in the journey. A conversation with Elizabeth Andreyevskiy.

We all have those days.

You know, the ones where you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and ready to snap at the slightest disruption in the classroom?

But let's face it - being a teacher is tough work, and caring for others is no easy task.

Welcome to episode 19 of the Take Notes with Jen Rafferty podcast! In this episode, I’m speaking with stress coach for moms, Elizabeth Andreyevskiy. She’s sharing her journey of discovering how to prioritize her own needs and taking care of herself so she could become a more patient and grounded mother.

I’m excited to have Elizabeth on the podcast today, because while you may not be a biological parent, as a teacher, you are taking on a similar role of caregiver to your students.

Elizabeth believes that taking the time to prioritize yourself is essential in order to avoid teacher burnout and become the most effective educators you can be. She understands that many of us are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted due to our unmet needs and wants to provide support to normalize self-care. By taking the time to care for yourself, you can be better equipped to support your students and energize your teaching.

Today, it’s all about sharing practical tips for identifying and addressing your unmet needs so you can better regulate your emotions and avoid reacting to difficult situations.

So, let go of the guilt holding you back from putting yourself first, and join us in this conversation to find more joy in your teaching journey!

Stay empowered,


Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:

Click here to learn all the ways you can work with me:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Linktree
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
Facebook: Empowered Educator Faculty Room

About Elizabeth:
Elizabeth is a stress coach for moms. She is the host of Emotionally Healthy Legacy podcast and a mom of 4. Elizabeth is super passionate about mental health and emotional wellness in motherhood. She helps overwhelmed moms reduce the mental stress so they can respond with patience and calm towards their kids. She teaches proactive ways to be less stressed, prioritizing moms' needs without guilt and ways to regulate emotions when feeling triggered.

Contact Elizabeth here:

Website: Emotionally Healthy Legacy
Instagram: @emotionally_healthy_legacy

Sometimes when our kids and students are in the middle of a big emotion, it can cause us as the adult to react instead of respond. And underneath that knee jerk reaction is usually an unmet need. When we focus so much on the needs of our students and our kids, we often forget about our own needs, which is usually in the name of selflessness and martyrdom. However, when we start to make connections with our own emotions and prioritize our own needs, we can show a better for everyone around us. Even something as simple as asking yourself, What am I feeling right now? Am I hungry, my thirsty, am I tired, we usually can't make rational choices if our basic needs aren't being met. And my guest today talks with me about how we can prioritize ourselves, and how to drop the guilt so we can hold space for our kids, especially when they need us most. And we are going through a lot of very practical strategies that you can start today to learn how to respond instead of react. And after the show, go ahead to empowered educator.com/ebook where you can download my free book 24 ways to find calm in your busy world. And here you will find 24 ways to feel more ease and joy by noticing the things that are all around you that are usually out of sight. I did all the work for you. And it's yours for free. So download your copy today at empowered educator.com/ebook.

Remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world? Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two, and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids. We need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy, and fulfillment. This is education 2.0, where you become the priority, shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work, and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee, and grab your notebook. It's time to take notes.

Hello, and welcome back to take notes. I cannot wait to share our conversation today with Elizabeth Andrzejewski. She is a stress coach for moms and is the host of emotionally healthy legacy podcast and also a mom of four. She is super passionate about mental health and emotional wellness and motherhood and really helps overwhelmed moms reduce the mental stress. So they can respond with patience and calm towards their kids. She teaches proactive ways to be less stressed prioritizing mom's needs without guilt and ways to regulate emotions when you're feeling triggered. And I cannot wait to dive into this conversation, Elizabeth, because while some of the people who are listening might not be biological parents, we as teachers certainly use this role that we have and take on this role of parents sometimes to our kids, so I cannot wait to dive in.

So thank you so much for being here. I'm so glad to be here. I'm excited for this conversation. Yes, yeah. So I would love to know, how did you come to be a stress coach? What was this path that led you here to where you are today? Yeah. So my story started a few years ago when i At that time, I had three kids and my youngest boy, he was just one of those that you constantly had to keep an eye on. It seemed like he was like a Curious George on steroids, you'd possibly get into trouble. And so one of my friends suggested for me to go to counseling like parenting counseling. I did. And I was introduced to a whole new world of parenting. There's a big shift right now. They talk about it a lot on social media, but it's a gentle parenting approach.

I was raised in a traditional type of parenting home and that's what I was doing with my kids until that point. And I've never heard of gentle parenting before. So this was like the first time I came across it. And it was a lot about allowing our kids to have emotions, but teaching them safe ways to express it Focusing on emotional connection with your kids, therefore cooperation, co regulation, staying calm when the kids are having emotional outbursts and I tried a lot implementing it at first and I kept like I was failing more than I was succeeding. I kept trying to come alongside my kids when they were struggling.

I kept being triggered, I kept feeling like their emotions would suck me into it, I felt so reactive, instead of like being calm and patient and present. Around the same time, I ended up buying a course that taught me how to prioritize my needs and take care of myself. without guilt, I ended up getting up in the mornings before my kids. And using that time to set myself up for success, I started incorporating healthy habits that would call my nervous system down that supported my mental and physical well being. And I noticed a significant change throughout the day that I was able to be a lot more calm and grounded, I felt a lot less triggered by my kids, I felt like I had more tolerance room when things weren't going my way.

And I was just a lot more patient and able to actually have the mental space and energy to implement the parenting strategies. I was learning in counseling, I was kind of thinking about it. I'm like, Oh, my gosh, more moms need to know this. So many moms feel like they're failing at motherhood because they're reacting, raising their voice, maybe experiencing mom rage. And the root of that is they have unmet needs that are completely running an empty, they're so exhausted, and all they need is extra support, instead of beating themselves up with mom guilt. Wow, that's huge. And I know that that resonates with so many people, especially people who are listening right now, because I think it's even more exponential as moms. But you could even just take away the word mom and say, teacher, and really all of that is true. And I want to talk something about unmet needs. You know, something that I talk a lot about in empowered educator spaces is that the most generous thing we can do for other people is take care of ourselves. And I love that how you're saying that when we're feeling reactive, when we're feeling triggered, or we're feeling that rage or that overwhelming emotion?

A lot of the root of that comes from our unmet needs. And we often don't think about it in that way. So I'm hoping Can you talk a little bit more about how do we discover some of our unmet needs? Yeah, so with my clients, we start out with the basics, like basic basic, and we go back to getting enough sleep and eating meals. Why? Because when you're sleep deprived, your brain literally doesn't have the energy to make positive choices, it shifts to the emotional part of the brain. And you're going to be more reactive. Just like when you have a baby and you haven't had a good night's sleep in a while, you're so much more triggered, you're so much more snappy are so much more frustrated. And it's not because like you're bad mom or anything, you're just struggling, your brain literally is focused on your unmet need and has a hard time regulating your emotions.

Same thing when you're hungry, you're hangry your kids are hangry, right? When they're hungry, they're so much more likely to get into a fight with their sibling, everything seems to bother them when they're tired and they're hungry. So we oftentimes as moms kind of don't even notice that like well just get up in the mornings we go go go make breakfast, we drop the kids off, we come home, we rush, rush, rush rush, we just had one cup of coffee, a handful of games, gummy bears, and it's 4pm. And we're yelling at our kids and not even recognizing that we literally had no food all day long, right. And so I always start out with the basics. And I also teach my moms when you find yourself reacting, like you're getting all frustrated, if at all possible.

Let's take a moment and take a break and remove yourself from the situation. Yes, if you're driving in the car, that's not possible. But if you're at home with the kids, you're making dinner, everything seems chaotic, you feel like you're getting all tense and frustrated and raising your voice. That's like a sign for you that something's going on. We got to address it. Okay, so you might be overstimulated, right, like with all the noise and chaos, because you haven't had a moment just to like breathe, you might be hungry, you might be just exhausted, you might be just pulled in so many different directions at the same time, right? So if you can remove yourself from a situation and tell your kids hey, I need a minute or like five minutes, Mama needs to take a break and go to the bathroom. Go to your room. If you need to turn on screen time for them. I do that with my kids and like, I take that I lay down on my bed and close my eyes. It takes some breath and I'm like, Okay, what is going on? I'm feeling really overwhelmed right now. What am I feeling overwhelmed? I feel like so overstimulated. There's so much noise happening. What is going on?

I feel like I've been in a conflict with my husband and I haven't had time to just like process it. It's just all sitting up inside of me. And my kids are like triggering. I didn't feel seen or heard by him. And that's the word you know, you It's kind of like go backwards and work through it. Or it's like, I feel like I'm pulled in so many different directions. Why? Because I said yes to too many things. Why? Because I'm a people pleaser, okay? We gotta like, work through that. So what can I do? Right? That's what I help you figure out what is going on? What's the root of you being so overwhelmed? And so triggered, there's always an underlying thing. And we get to it, and then we address it, we take action, right? It's like if you're hungry, Okay, grab yourself like a granola bar, or some protein or something like that, to just fill you up a little bit. Are you just thirsty? Do you need to put the kids to bed a little bit earlier? So you can go to bed a little bit earlier? Right? Do you need to take some things off your plate? Do you need to ask for more help, right?

Like, there's always a reason why you're reacting. Always, always. You know, I love that you took us through some of those scenarios, because that makes it so real, you know, you can certainly identify yourself within those stories or kind of fill in the blanks Right? And, and fill in your own stories there. Because it's so real. And we don't often talk about it, because there's so much shame and guilt that goes along with this. But you know, when you said when your child is acting in a certain way, you go through those questions did they eat? Are they hungry? Do they need to poop? Like they these are all things that we asked about our kids, right? But we don't often take the time to be reflective about how we're feeling because taking time for ourselves, opens up a door for needing something. And because of this world that we live in, right, this patriarchal world that is just in the air that we breathe, needing something is often times more often than not associated with shame, guilt, self judgment, as in, I should be able to do it all, I should be able to have everything together. What's wrong with me?

So how would you go about walking your clients through giving themselves permission to have needs and to ask for what they need. So their needs are met. So here's my view on this. Technically, you could try to do it all. But what happens when you do you get overwhelmed, you get stressed out, something's gonna give right? When you try to do it all something's gonna give and it's going to be you your mental, physical or emotional well being, it's always going to be right, if you try to do it all. And technically, some people do. But they get to a point where they are completely burned out completely exhausted, it creates so much tension with their family, their physical health is suffering, like it will come at a cost, eventually, it's going to get to that point.

So see it from that lens, that yes, technically, I could do it all. But is it sustainable? It's not? Is it actually serving me and my family? It's not. So think about the moment you try to do it all. When you put that pressure on yourself, when you put that expectation, what happens? You get so overwhelmed, you get so stressed out, I heard this analogy, and I thought this was great. There's no CEO of a company that is truly successful, that does everything themselves. They always have help. Like, they have people on their team, they do designated things. If one person tries to do absolutely everything, they will eventually burn out, okay, and they're gonna crumble. And if you don't take a time to rest, your body's gonna pick it for you. And it will be at a very inconvenient time. I'm so glad you said that. Because you're right, your body talks to you all the time.

But we're not very good at listening, because we have this idea that we can get by or function without acknowledging what our body is trying to tell us. But my question there is, is just getting by good enough. Is that good enough for you? Is it good enough for your family is good enough for you, the people in your life? So what kind of ways can you start to listen to your body because you're right, if you don't, your body is going to tell you what it needs. And it's going to smack you across the face and make sure you are in bed resting, whether it's from a backache or a headache, or illness or something more serious. It's going to make you listen if you don't so how do we even start that process of becoming aware of what we need? I think what helps to do that is like reflection, and you need to kind of pause.

Oftentimes what I work through with my clients is like we need to see what are things in your life that are not serving you some commitments that you took on that we need to kind of release and just like go up for this season and that will give you some space in your day to just have a time to reflect because if you go Go, go, go go, you can't even realize what you need. Because you're just constantly going, you don't have the room, like the physical time or the mental time to like, reflect. So we do work through, like, what is not serving you, what can we delete out of your life right now? Okay, what are we going to focus on? All right? So what are some things that we can do today to support you? So I teach my clients to journal all the time journaling really helps you like process and figure out kind of like, what is going on? I've been feeling so depleted, I've been feeling so overwhelmed.

I feel so bitter at my family. Why? Because I feel like I'm doing everything, and nobody helps me out. And everybody keeps asking me to do stuff. And I'm just one person. Okay, so we kind of go through it like, Okay, well, maybe we need to delegate things to your kids, right? Maybe we need to hire some help. Like, we kind of like go backwards and work through all those things and figure out what is the root? And how can we actually address something to create change that will trickle down into the rest of like the family? Yeah. And I think asking for help in those concrete ways, you're really important giving your kids jobs, I guess, when you fall into this role, we just like do all the things because that's what we think we're supposed to do.

But as soon as you give your kids jobs, or you ask your partner for help, or you hire someone to clean your house for you, so you have time, so on a Sunday, you're not spending your day off cleaning your house, you can spend it with your family. These are really important life changing choices, it's going to really affect how you show up for everybody in your life. Because when you're good, everyone's good. Yes, for sure. I think a lot of moms don't realize that when they're struggling. And the energy that kind of comes out when you're frustrated and snappy, like it seeps into the rest of the family, like have you ever had a day where you're just in a bad mood, and it just seems to radiate through the house, and then like, everyone's in a bad mood, and then everybody's reacting. But what if like, you wake up and you feel good, you feel grounded, you feel supported, you feel like calm and peaceful.

And even when your kids wake up in a cranky mood, you're able to come alongside them and just share some of that calm with them, instead of getting sucked into their energy or like, give negative energy to them. And so that's what I teach you. Those are the things that I teach moms to feel supported, to feel grounded to feel calm. So then the rest of the family benefits from it. It's not just you know, it's the rest of the family. And you get to teach your kids so many positive examples, how to prioritize your needs, how to set healthy boundaries, and say no to things that are not serving you right? How to get over some of the mental blocks that were like, well, I have to Well, I should be able to do it all. But who said that that's just something that you've put on yourself, like, we choose to let go of that you can choose to shift the way you think, and it's gonna completely change the way you do life. Oh, 100%. I think that's something that was so interesting to me about about you.

And the work that you do in the world and really aligns with what I do here in my work with educators is that we have so much more agency than we realize that we are truly in the driver's seat and can decide, yes, no, I want to attach to this belief, I don't want to attach to this belief, this thought is serving me this thought is not serving me, this expectation that came from my mother that came from her mother that came from her mother does not exist in this world that we're living in right now. I'm going to let go of that one. And until we start taking the time to do any sort of reflection, like what you were saying that pausing that questioning, we're always going to be on this autopilot default, which is going to keep us safe, the same and same old doing the things that we're not actually working towards. We're saying we want something else.

But the things that we're thinking, doing, believing aren't aligned with that. So everything that you're saying is so onpoint and one of the things I would love for you to talk a little bit more about is the boundaries piece. Because while it can be really easy sometimes to say to your kids, okay, I'm tired of picking up after you. You need to pick up after yourself now. And if you don't, these are some of the consequences when we talk about boundaries with the other adults in our lives. With the people we have emotional connections to that can sometimes get a little bit tricky. So can you walk us through some of that process of how do you know that you need a boundary and then how do you communicate it so that you can uphold it?

So I retagging but like commitments if somebody's asking you to do something, or Yeah, okay, that's something that people have a hard time with boundaries. is because they feel guilty or feel bad saying no. So if somebody, let's say, your plate feels full, and then somebody comes up to you, and asks you to plan a baby shower, because while you're good at it, right, like, that's just something you're good at, and they're asking you, but when you think about it, they asked you that and you're like, oh my gosh, another thing to do, and you feel like this heaviness and dread, that is a sign from your body, that there needs to be a boundary there. If somebody asked you the same thing, and you're like, oh, my gosh, I'm so excited.

Like, I can't wait to do that. And like, you truly feel that and you feel expansive, and you feel like light about it. Because you do have the space in your schedule to do that, then that's a sign for you that it's a good thing to do. So there's a saying that every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else. Okay. So keep that in mind. That is really, really important.

When it comes to like commitments, when people ask you to do something, and you want to say no, it makes me think of Phoebe from friends in the first season. She's like, you know, I'd love to, but I don't want to. But like, no, so if somebody asks you to, like be committed to something, and you can't fully say yes, you can't say yes, 100%, that's a sign for you to say, No. And you can say thank you for thanking me, I appreciate you asking me at this time, I cannot fully give it the time that it deserves. And that's it, you don't have to explain more, if they try to push it, you say, I appreciate it. But I'm done talking about this topic, it may seem rude, but those people were benefiting from you not having boundaries, if you say to a commitment that you don't fully feel passionate about, and that is truly draining you. It's taking time from your family, it's taking time from you to connect with your kids after school. It's taking time from your family dinners, right?

It's taking time away from your self care to actually refill and feel restored. So then you can show up to your family like I am a person that I have very little commitments, and it's on purpose, because I know that I get drained quickly with things like that. And whenever somebody asks me something, I need to truly want to say 100% Yes, otherwise, I say no. And it's uncomfortable at first. But the more you practice it, the easier it does get and less uncomfortable, I guess it's kind of hard. It's uncomfortable to make other people not like you're not be happy with you, especially if you're a people pleaser. That's definitely something that a lot of us, I think struggle. And that was one of my things that I had to work through. Like I like when people like me, I don't want to disappoint them. But saying no is really, really important. It's really important.

Well, you're either putting other people's comfort before your own, or you're deciding No, my comfort is more important. And the reason that your comfort is more important, not because you love that person any less because you love them so much that you want to be able to say yes, 100% Because in that scenario, let's say you're planning this party, and you're resentful about it. What kind of party are you throwing when you're coming from a place of emotional resentment? So because actually who I need to say no right now, because I can't give it 100%. And I'm happy to Yeah, help you in this way or not, you know, there's so many different things. And like, God, you're placing your value in someone else's hands, when you want to please them to affirm your own self worth.

That's where the boundaries become really uncomfortable. But like you said, once you start practicing them, you get so goodness, you get better with practice. Yes, every time you start out something like this, it's uncomfortable at first. And there's this quote that I really like, I don't know who said it, but it's like, if you don't prioritize your life, someone else will do it for you. This is your life, and you get to live it once. Right? It is really important for you to pick what is important, valuable to you. Because if you don't, other people will pick it for you. And then that's when you are resentful and better and overwhelmed and burnout and stress that and end up yelling and screaming at your kids because you haven't had any time to yourself and you're completely stretched thin and you feel like a complete failure. Well, let's kind of go backwards.

Sometimes it's like people pleasing. We just have to work on that and it's gonna take care of everything else, right 100% And the good news about all of this as well, you might be the person who is causing all of your effects in your life, you are also the solution to making it best. And that's when that empowerment comes in. When we feel empowered to again be in the driver's seat of our own life. That's when you realize like anything's possible. For sure you get to decide I love that. I heard this phrase from the influence through that really transformed my life. But she says this phrase, you get to decide this is your life, I get to decide what I take on what I say no to what boundaries, I said, I get to decide because this is my life, okay?

And I'm telling your listeners, you get to decide this is your life, you get to decide what's important to you what your values are, what really matters to you, and you can create a life around that. That's beautiful. And something else I want to just touch on that you said that it's so important to highlight here is that that moment when your body shifts, you know whether or not it's an all in Yes, or a no. But when we think about boundaries, and communicating, oftentimes, we go to our mind, but what's our bigger communicator is actually our body. Because when someone's asking you that thing, you will know what this feels like, you sense that body shift. That's the thing that we need to be listening to, not the justifications in your mind. And like, you'll figure it out. And I love this person's I'm gonna make it work. It's your body giving you those messages.

And it's finding that time and space to practice listening to your body, that's really going to make all the difference. Yeah. And what you said was great. And if you like, somebody asked you something like that in person, you feel uncomfortable, too uncomfortable, or you freeze and you can't say no, you can say thanks for thanking me, I'll think about it. And I'll let you know. And then the next day, send them a text message. Thanks for thinking of me, I appreciate it. Right now, I can't commit to it. I can't give it the time that it deserves. That's it, you don't have to explain. And if that person truly loves you, and respects you, and they're going to respect that answer, they're not going to be pushy. And if they are, they're manipulative, right?

Those are some red flags, right, that needs to be addressed. Absolutely. And I love how you created a scenario where you, again, are empowered to create space for yourself, you because you might not be comfortable just yet saying thank you. But no, thank you. There's more of a things we're thinking of you. Let me think about it. And then you have that time and space to figure out exactly how you're going to communicate this respectful decline of whatever. And the thing about those manipulating conversations when someone's pushing you. Oftentimes, this comes from within our family, right? When, for example, your mom has had this expectation of you all along, when now here you are as a full grown adult, making a new boundary.

Sometimes those family dynamics can be tricky. How do you navigate through that? Yeah, so I think one other thing is like expectation already coming in. And knowing that if a person like that who's maybe a little bit unhealthy emotionally has been like pushing your boundaries, they will get upset, knowing that they will get upset, the only people that can get upset for you setting boundaries are the ones that have been benefiting from you not having any, okay, so expect that they are going to be upset, expect that you're gonna feel uncomfortable. And I think what is super crucial in order for you to stick with your answer is having a support system, having like either another friend, or a coach, or a co worker, or a therapist, somebody that is helping you to make these boundaries, but to stay strong with your answer.

And the more you stick with it, that better it gets with time, like it's going to take practice, it's going to be uncomfortable, some people might get even angry and mad. And guess what, they'll just get over it. Right? Because this is how we create a healthier legacy with breaking some unhealthy patterns of the way things have been in our family for generations. Yes. And I'm so glad you said that about support and community. Because we need that we cannot do this in a vacuum. And that's why we have coaches, we have therapists, we have communities, like empowered educator like the Creating healthy legacy, like when you're creating as well we have these places and spaces where people who have woken up to their agency don't have to do this by themselves.

I say often, you can't read the label from inside the wine bottle. And yes, you need somebody on the other side to just hold up a mirror sometimes. And that is a sign of strength. It is a sign of awareness. It is a sign of acknowledgement of our humanity and how we get through this life through community. So I'm so glad that you said that. I had do need to ask like I just asked everybody at the end of our interviews together in your world and what you see in your dream for the future. or of what could be what is your dream for the future of education? i My dream is for I think, for moms to get in a better place themselves so that they can educate their kids, right and be role models for their kids. Because if we want our kids to grow up in like a healthier generation and have healthy boundaries and healthy mental health and emotional well being emotional regulation, it starts with us as moms because you want it or not, you're the CEO of your home.

And like your kids model and reflect a lot of things you do. So if you want the future generations to change, especially with your kids, or if you're a teacher in school, it starts with you from that inner work, and then it's going to spill out into the rest. Yes, yes to all of that. So how can listeners learn more about you, Elizabeth, and learn more about the work that you do in this world? Yeah, so you can follow me along and emotionally happy legacy at Instagram, that's where I hang out. Most of the time, I do have a podcast. Also, I give you a lot of helpful support over there emotionally healthy, like a C.

And then if you go to my website on there, you can find my course or free stress management call for 30 minutes, we can go through some things that are weighing you down, I can give you some tips and guidance. Or if you're looking for actually one on one support and you're ready to implement change and see the change in your life. I do have a one on one coaching program. Fantastic. And all of those links will be right in the podcast notes will be super easy for people to learn more about you, Elizabeth, thank you so much for your time today. Your message is so important and it's been a true pleasure just talking with you and getting to know you. Ah, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. Well, if you enjoyed today's episode, please make sure you leave a five star review. And we'll see you next time on take notes.

Incredible, right? Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible. And it's all here for you right now. Let's keep the conversation going and empowered educator faculty room on Facebook.

Unlocking the potential of social emotional learning in the classroom: Becoming the change we want to see in our kids with Kevin Huntting.

As an empowered educator how can you make an even bigger impact in the world?

What if teacher performance indicators were based on leading with curiosity and openness, rather than grades and test scores?

Everyone deserves respect and kindness, and this is an important mindset to have when connecting with others- especially students.

When we create spaces rooted in collaboration and discovery we gain new insights and experiences far beyond the classroom walls.

Welcome to episode 18 of the Take Notes with Jen Rafferty podcast! In this episode, I’m speaking with kindness coach, Kevin Huntting! He loves nothing more than connecting with people seeking their own personal growth, so they can make an even bigger impact in their lives and in this world.

Kevin supports lots of overwhelmed leaders and purpose driven organizations develop the emotional intelligence in leadership that is necessary to create greater ease, kindness, and inspiration.

We delve into how social emotional learning approaches have a significant impact on not only students, but also the adults around them. Because, ultimately we have to be the change that we want to see in our kids.

Today is all about looking inward with curiosity about ourselves so that we can become better leaders and fully appreciate the beauty and diversity around us all.

Stay empowered,


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About Kevin:

Hi, I am Kevin the KINDNESS Coach. I support overwhelmed leaders & purpose driven organizations develop the EQ necessary to lead with greater ease, kindness, inspiration and impact!

Connect with Kevin here:

Instagram: 2stepsforwardcoaching
Facebook: 2 Steps Forward Coaching
Website: 2 Steps Forward Coaching

There is so much beauty in the diversity of this world. However, people can be so quick to judge one another. And these judgments and limiting beliefs about other people can sometimes lead to life altering events, which can cause us to view ourselves and the world differently. It can happen in the grocery store, or going for a walk in your neighborhood, and even on the school ground. These events leave us asking Who are we as individuals? And what does that mean about this world? So today, I'm speaking with Kevin hunting the kindness coach, who talked with me about how we can cultivate more understanding, compassion and love for each other. By looking inward with curiosity about ourselves. Kevin describes himself as a humanist whose mission is to lead the way for people to live with reverence of each other as fellow humans, I'm so glad I can share our conversation with you. And after the show, my ebook 24 ways to find calm in your busy world is now available for you, podcast listeners for free at empowered educator.com/ebook. Here you will find 24 ways to feel more ease and joy by noticing the things that are all around you that usually are out of sight. I did all the work for you, and it's yours for free. So download your copy today at empowered educator.com/ebook.

Remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world? Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you, it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two, and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids, we need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy, and fulfillment. This is education 2.0, where you become the priority, shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work, and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee, and grab your notebook, it's time to take notes.

Welcome back to a another fabulous episode of take notes. I cannot wait to get started into this conversation with Kevin hunting, who is the kindness coach, and is a devout humanist kindness and compassion are two of his biggest drivers because he believes that every individual deserves respects for being human period. And his big why is to create a kinder and more compassionate world and he loves nothing more than to connect with people who are seeking their own personal growth. So they can make an even bigger impact in their lives and in this world. And he supports lots of overwhelmed leaders and purpose driven organizations and help them develop their emotional intelligence that is necessary to lead with greater ease with more kindness, inspiration, and of course, impact. So thank you so much, Kevin, for talking with me on take notes today.

Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

I would love to know your journey that led you to be the kindness coach and a devout humanist. How did that get started for you? Why are you here?

Yep, like to get all the way back, I can tell you that there have been very specific events in my life, I think that have helped shaped that part of being a humanist, and just sort of I do believe that every single human being deserves respect and kindness like period, again, regardless of all the other stuff that we want to layer on top in terms of our perceptions or the preconceived notions of who we have, or who we think a person is. And I can tell you that two significant I think things that played out when I was younger was I was bullied at a young age, I played a lot with the girls on recess, because I kicked ass on the bars, which is where all the girls played. And because they excelled at it, you know, I remember there was one guy that really stood out and actually started calling me names called new girl called me, I think that bag, whatever.

And at that age, I was just like, I'm having fun, right? I'm just enjoying my time playing bars with the girls. But it was the first time it was significant because it was the first time that someone made me aware of something that I was just, you know, having a good time but maybe start to question I think as a young child a what did that mean and what was behind it and I remember leaving recess crying, he made me cry. So I left and went back into the school. And that stuck with me that you know, that's one of those life events that sticks with you and certainly shaped the way that I was viewing the world I think and even doing myself but that was just one thing where I believe that had a big impact on me. Obviously, and then also just coming to terms with myself and my own sexual identity was a huge event in my life that really forced me to look at myself in a much more deeper way about who I was sexually, who I was attracted to, what did that mean for me, and even the coming out process was pretty heavy with my mom and my brother, who I came out with when I was probably about 20 years old.

And then I think the other piece that kind of has shaped me, and it's just, I grew up with my youngest uncle had Down syndrome. And so I was always around him as a young child. And I remember, again, not really, at first understanding that he had Down syndrome or that that made him different. And I remember that when we would go out as a family to either have dinner, or you would be in public with us, people would stare, they would balk. And it really set me off, because I was like, why are people being so insensitive? You know, he is who he is. He's my uncle. And he has Down syndrome, I mean, and I started to come to realize that, honestly, he taught me a lot about unconditional love, just the grace of giving, like someone who was always giving and sort of, honestly, to me, an angel on this planet, I was like, you know, what, you're such a beautiful human being.

And I feel like it's what I saw when I was younger. And growing up was I was just always drawn to understanding people, but also understanding people who were, quote unquote, different than myself, we really weren't different. But the we learn are different. We learn that says children, that it's through our parents that we receive a lot of those messages. And I felt like I was fortunate enough that it was always that sense of input, like curiousness, and being inquisitive and wanting to better understand people that I that's what I connected with. And then I studied sociology. So it really is what I study, I took gender studies, I took Latin American Studies, women's studies, horses, African American Studies, horses, and so I just did like, what this road is beautiful, like all the diversity that is out there. To me, it's just the beauty of creation.

And really, the it is creation. To me, that is what humanity is. And so that's just what I believe, wholeheartedly, and I know, it's really tough for me, when I see it, that people are so quick to judge others, it's just, there's so much beauty to be found to have a connection that at first maybe you feel a little bit uncomfortable entering into but once you do, it could be life changing. So I think that's where I'd say my, when I call myself a humanist, I just feel like we all are deeply connected in one way or the other.

I couldn't agree with you more. And thank you for sharing your stories, as teachers, which is mostly an educators that the audience that's listening to this podcast, you know, we are in a position to be there, when some of these interactions that you're describing take place. And these moments that matter. And these moments where we start to create meaning and start to be curious as Okay, well, who am I right, as you know, seven year old Jen or her 10 year old Kevin, right, you know, who am I?

And what does that mean in relationship to the other people around me? And then what do we learn about ourselves in those moments. And what's so interesting is educators try to set up structures that are comfortable for kids to safely discover who they are, as best they can listen, I'd like to think so I like to wear my rose colored glasses. However, at the same time, if we ourselves as the adults in these spaces are an actively practicing this with the other adults may spaces, those are actually the messages that are louder than anything you could possibly say to a kid. So I would love to talk more about the adults in these spaces and how we can essentially be the change that we want to see in our kids. And I love how you said curiosity versus judgment. How do we move from judgment to curiosity?

I mean, I think the first step is what you sort of touched on, which is, I think that it comes with awareness, you have to step into it really better understanding who you are as an adult, especially for Turkey, talking about education, people who are in the educational space, who are adults, I think it's understanding what you are bringing to the table. And I think it's understanding some of those preconceived notions or even the messages that you may have received growing up. It's only through awareness that you can start to better understand I think, what that means in relationship to understanding a child and then discovering for themselves who they are.

And I say that because I think many times like you said, it's that adults own message and their view of who they think this person is that's coming through. And so to me, getting to almost a place of emotional neutrality or like neutrality, in terms of judgment is where I would say like a young child is going to thrive with an adult because you're really just allowing the child to explore who they are or in be that maybe a sounding board or just someone who can listen versus maybe providing direction when it's necessary in cases where, of course, the child might be thinking about harming themselves or something like that to step down.

But what I'm saying is, is that I think for many adults, it's easy to want to go to a place where you immediately want to tell a child what to do, or what to think or who to be, versus the more emotional neutrality and judgment that you can sort of hold space for when you're with the child, but let the child just sort of express themselves in a way that allows them to either get clarity or say like, oh, wow, you know, I'm learning something about myself in that process, I think that would be sort of an ideal state, and that is looking at it through very rose colored glasses as well. But I also believe that it is a really critical space, like you said, for children.

I mean, from a developmental standpoint, right, they're spending more time bonding with the teacher than they may be with their own parents, and they're in school for such a large period of time. I mean, we spend how many years of our lives in total, with really influential people, and that there's a lot of power there, there's a lot of power and responsibility. And I think it's beautiful, when hopefully teachers can understand that about themselves, and maybe have the awareness of what they might be bringing, so that they can better understand how that might impact the child who is questioning themselves or just coming to terms with who they are and wanting to make sense of it. I mean, not to get off track, but I do live in the state of Florida.

And as you know, they passed a bill that was that's a you know, they don't say gay bill, which has been created a lot of implications for children who might be going through that period of trying to understand their their gender identity, their sexual identity, their gender expression, and a lot of that, imagine the harm that could be done tip, now someone really can't even be there, or that child or has to overthink what they're saying, or fear of litigation or liability, because of this law, that it's pretty ambiguous in terms of how the news and that's an example, of course, in Florida, and I'm sure this exists across the nation, but all your beautiful teachers out there that are connecting with your children and allowing them that space to just express themselves. I mean, I send lots of love to you, because I know it is such a critical role. It's a very important role.

Sure, and getting back to really the heart of what you are talking about. And there's actually a big heart, right. And behind Kevin, by the way, for those of you listening who can't see, yes, there's this beautiful graphic of this gorgeous heart. Getting back to that it's really about understanding who you are. And I like what you said about emotional neutrality. And when we're talking about interactions between the adults in these spaces, these are the examples that these kids are also watching. Because in order to provide spaces for inclusion, and kindness and compassion for these kids, you know, with that example, that you just use, many of whom are just trying to figure themselves out, we need to figure ourselves, that's the adults.

So this idea of what you were saying, we often come to a situation with an idea of what we want this other person who we're talking to what, who they should be, how they should be what they should say. And those two, like you said, come from our upbringing and the beliefs that we've had. And when we come to a conversation, a conflict and interaction with those preconceived notions, we don't actually see the person who is in front of us anymore. So can you talk a little bit about that communication piece that interaction? And how in learning more about ourselves? Can we show up for others better?

One example that I use all the time with a lot of people that I work with, is when the word getting curious to me. And curiosity is a very powerful place to operate from in any leadership role. And we're talking here about education. And when I say getting curious, I think there's sometimes more power, and either just listening, or perhaps asking questions that would help a child either gain their own clarity for themselves about what they need, versus maybe making statements, which is so easy to do.

And that's kind of how we talk, the language that we learn is one where I don't want to say it sounds absolute, but it's a lot of times, right, it's more directive, and typically might sound something like, well, you should feel this way, when maybe the child is saying something completely different about how their theory and just getting curious might be well, like why are you feeling okay? Or what is making you feel the way that you feel? And so that, to me, the idea of getting curious, it can be creates that space, and also creates I think the foundation for a child to be able to really fully open up and feel that they're able to express themselves and be listened to in a way where you're not making statements. You're actually just trying to understand better or understand more.

It's a weird thing because with the clients I've worked with, it doesn't come naturally. That approach doesn't come naturally. Because again, we're not really taught this. And we're also not taught you'll be I'd say as adults, I can say for myself, I was never really taught how to understand my emotions. There was no course that I took and faceful that was like how to make sense of your emotions, or building emotional intelligence. And what's that process of doing it. And I feel like that is another big step for adults is to start to understand what your emotions are telling you, and to really tune into them, because they are telling you something.

 And that's where sometimes you can get into more of that reflective piece and understand better what's going on and why maybe you believe certain things and by understanding the emotion that you're experiencing, I feel like that's something that shouldn't be in our educational system. Is it some coursework around, I don't understand what your emotions are telling

ya. And there are right now, which is great news, you know, there is a big push in many places, there are places where it's not allowed. But there are many places there are promoting social emotional learning, because that is part of our humaneness. And where empowered educator comes in is, I am very aware that a lot of these programs leapfrog over the adults. And so empowered educator is really about focusing on the social emotional well being the adults, so they can provide an incredible foundation of social emotional learning for their kids, because you can't teach something that you aren't fluent in yourself. So this is also your area of expertise, this emotional intelligence world. So how can people get started understanding their emotions and just kind of crack open the door a little bit to emotional intelligence, if they're not quite familiar, yet there's a very simple steps like three steps that you can take, or what I call power questions that can I think be a starting point for a lot of people in this may be through journaling, it could be through either some mindfulness type practices, if you're into that. But the first question that you simply could ask yourself is, what am I feeling?

And to be able to name the emotion that you're feeling first, but then to go a little bit deeper? And understand that? What are the thoughts that are resulting in whatever I'm feeling? So then you're able to connect the idea that there is a deep connection between our thoughts and emotions? Because emotions are happening? Because some something that we're thinking, and then you can take it even one step further? And understand in what ways are those thoughts either like, is there any evidence to support the thoughts that I've been telling myself that are resulting in what I'm feeling? And typically, a lot of times what we're hearing is those own preconceived notions of what we think it should be.

And when you typically will ask that question about, is there any evidence to support what I'm thinking? Nine times out of 10 answered, probably going to be no. And so then you can work on understanding how to maybe change that perspective, or come from a more empowering place where the person can start to operate differently than they normally would or what I call like our programming, sort of that wiring that we all that default programming that we all have, based on our own life experiences and growing up. So just simply asking yourself, like three or four simple questions is a great starting place to start to make sense of your emotions. And then of course, you can build on that, but that's a great place to start.

So can we put an example in there that I think is would be really helpful to just kind of conceptualize what does this even look like? I'll give you

an example. Like probably in relationships, because I know everyone has either family relationships, intimate relationship, whatever relationship, it could be. One thing that this could be a good example is your spouse, your significant other, whoever you share your life with, that you do, baby comes in, in a hastily fashion walks through the front door, and kind of makes a beeline for their own space and the room or whatever. And immediately, you might start to feel like, wow, like what's going on? You're getting to start asking, you know, this person seems so distant when they came in.

And now they're, they didn't even really say hi, like they normally do. And so our thoughts, probably our most logic begins to go to a place where we think we start to question, Hey, what's going on? But most people might even take it a step further and think was it something that I did? Like, what did I do that I accept this person, and so you start to immediately go to a place where you are making it about yourself. And that's that place where the thought that thought pattern is coming in where you can stop and say, Wait a minute, what evidence do I have to support the idea that I am somehow at fault for this person's state of being and typically there's nothing that you could probably come up with that you're like, why haven't done anything?

So it's a really simple example but it's like we go through these microseconds and those these types of things daily, where what's the possibility of what that thought that the to write? What if you grew up there, and you want to connect with the person and you want to be there in a way where you're caring, but you're thinking that so your first thing is going to be like, um, you know, what happened? Like, what did I do like what did you just verbalize that and the person then like, What do you mean what if you didn't do a damn thing like I just and then it's gonna give you the real story, the actual story which is Maybe they just got picked up by somebody in traffic. Or maybe they just had a horrible experience. If they just went to the supermarket and came back were a really crappy day at the office. And so these are examples that typically or seriously, they're bringing out all the time. And imagine the emotional neutrality ease to connect it back. Like if you just stayed emotionally neutral, what would that even look like then in terms of the thoughts that you would have? Because it has nothing to do it? But yeah, immediately our votes, you might be like, Well, I did something wrong, or what did I do? And that, that has huge implications?

Yeah, it sure does. And I love this idea of emotional neutrality in those moments, but you need to be aware first, which is the whole thing about your first step, and you're 100%, right, these things happen all day, all day. And when we're constantly making these narratives about us, and false rate, or name, or judgments, then we continue to think those thoughts and then feel crappy all the time. And then it of course, will affect how we show up in all of the spaces and places where we need to be. So if awareness is step one, what's step two,

I think step two is doing the work to understand how you can shift those perspectives and become really in touch in tune with, when you are telling yourself a narrative that is taking you to a place that's probably going to either create stress, self doubt, some worrying anxiety, or whatever it is that you're experiencing, because of it, it's understanding that that there is an alternative to that, that there can be an alternative to that, because what you thought that you were telling yourself were false. And so you then start to replace that with what might be a more empowering thought for me to use or to think in this particular circumstance. And in that one, the one that I just gave, it could be just recognizing that you're like, you know what, my thought is, that Will something happen. I don't know what happened. But what I am going to do is the narrative, I am going to tell myself, I'm going to show up like the loving spouse or partner or person that I want to show up as, and I'm going to go enter into that from that level, from a different perspective.

And so imagine what the conversation might look like and how different it might be, you went into it being that loving, caring, compassionate person, and to the person that obviously is upset, or something happened in these. I mean, in the educational system, there's so many things going on, I'm sure in every single moment that it's hard, it takes a lot of mindfulness and practice to be able to do that it doesn't just happen is just like you can wave a wand. And somehow you're able to step into a different space of how the thoughts that you're having that really takes practice. And that's where I think it gets challenging for people to do is to be able to a first be aware of it, but then start to challenge it and then work through it in a way that you it becomes it feels more normal versus always talking to people, we want to just make it about ourselves.

Yeah, and it is always a practice. You know, I would love if one day, we all just woke up and we're like, oh, we're empowered now. It doesn't work that way. And you know, these are practices that I practice that you practice every day, this is the work. This is the beautiful work that we get to do to create that impact. In that example, I just thought of, you know, something that happened years ago, I was in the office of one of my administrators, and another one of my administrators was in there, he looked at me and made a face and like, stormed out of the room. And then I was there with my other administrator, he had mentioned something to me that I needed to follow up on or whatever it was. And in my mind, the narrative was this other person was angry, but couldn't tell me the thing that this other administrator had to tell me. And I sat with that. And I remember thinking like, is this true? Is this is this actually true? So I actually went to that other person. And I sat down with him and they said, Listen, this thing happened. What was that about? If you have something to tell me, I would love it. If you could just tell me. It had nothing to do with me. But what did happen was that I was able to open a door to communication, where if there was any misunderstanding moving forward, we were then able to have a conversation. And that was safe. Now it wasn't scary. It wasn't intimidating. So awareness is important. But then it's like, okay, well, like, well, then what?

Right and funny, I said between mindfulness and practice and shifting sort of the way that we think is the next step. But one of the, again, tools that you can use, which I think you're also I hear you saying is is just get curious, because getting curious as you're getting the evidence that you need or the data that you need to understand where that person is, and so instead of maybe even going in with it with anything, you could just say, Hey, what's going on? I noticed that you were kind of came in and very hasty fashion and sort of made a beeline to your office or your room or whatever to have your own space, he explained what's going on, like, a simple question like that gives already creates the space where you're like, I don't even even I don't, I'm not going to tell myself anything, I'm not going to feed myself any narrative, I'm just gonna go get information that I need, because I recognize that I could feel that there was something happening here in this situation.

And again, it that does not come naturally to us. It's like that takes practice, that's where curiosity to me in almost any situation is so much more beneficial, because it eliminates the need for you to even have to think about whatever it is, you're just getting the real information from whatever the source, and then you can work with that. If it is, if it doesn't include you, hey, let's talk about it. Let's talk about this. Because I want to make sure that we're both in a great place or in a better place. So how do we work together to do that, and I mean, it sounds simple. But again, none of us I think, are really armed like this, we're not armed with this type of information, and that it's powerful leadership from a place of curiosity. As always, it's empowering. It is empowering by nature, because the curiosity is the place of empowerment, you're not making any judgments, you're trying to stay again, as neutral as possible, until you have more information. Rather than imagine how many people's right days are ruined, because they already had themselves a narrative that a there's no evidence to support. And people can spend hours stewing and like they've built this narrative up. And it's like a bulldozer, like it'll literally just take over your day. And as you mentioned, then every interaction or anything that's happening during that time period, you may not even be showing up in the best way that you know is going to be really represents you and who you are, it's representing a part of you that when you think about it's kind of crazy, you're like, well, there's, it's just what I'm telling myself, that's all it is,

right? And you know, instead of those rose colored glasses or prescription lenses, we both have this lens of this crappy story. And so how can you show up to a meeting to a conference to a class that you're teaching truly your most authentic self ready to hold space for other people, if your mind is clouded by this narrative? And in this example, to have a really getting curious, what a great exercise in finding your voice and using your voice. So often, we just want to shrink and be quiet and not be heard. But when we speak up in curiosity, and with compassion, that's when we really start to open doors to change culture, in the organizations which we exist in.

Absolutely. That's why it's so important. I feel like it's, you know, again, a lot of narratives are happening based on information that we're just telling ourselves the which, again, there's no evidence to support. And that's leading teams of people, groups of people, whoever you're interacting with a down a certain path. And is that optimal? No, that probably isn't optimal. Imagine if your conversations in any work environment, were kind of bound by this idea of curiosity and compassion more, what would you need to do? If you're listening out there? What would you need to do in order to step into that space where you, you can have more curiosity and compassion in your data thing? And the conversations that you're having?

You know, one thing that comes to mind right away is ego, you know, a lot of people and this is also just a human thing. This is the job of our ego, right? We just need to be right, because when we're right, then it's safe. And so how do you talk with people who are kind of navigating that? Because that can be an obstacle in curiosity is just kind of telling your ego to just take a back seat place?

That's a great question. And it's a tough one. It's, yeah, I mean, to me, that's the idea of ego is also a place where I think it does shut things down. I think it's rather than creating an open space where people can feel comfortable, safe, and open to be able to share what they want. That also creates, I think, cultures where you get into, you know, like, the guests type of cultures where people are just saying yes to people, even though they may disagree or have a differing opinion or perspective, but because you know that that person is so attached to what they believe it should be, or what you know, being right, this idea of being right, that's a false narrative as well, I'll tell you that because one question that you can always ask yourself is, well, what's your measure to know that you're right?

How are you measuring? And you know, with evidence that you're right, and in most circumstances, when you stop and have someone that it just sort of shuts it down? Because you're like, well, there is none. And so to me, then it's well, then it's just what you think you're saying is what you believe to be right. But that doesn't mean that it is it just means that that that's what you think, and that there's five other people in this room that may be thinking other things, and wouldn't it be beautiful to be able to listen to five or other perspectives at the same time? And so that we can choose what might be the best. Honestly, it's a very stressful place to operate from, if you're running around thinking that I need to be writing, I have to be writing, trying to control all of that. It's just, it's exhausting. I mean, it is an exhausting place to operate from. And there's a lot more ease and beauty.

And just sort of taking a step back. And being an understanding that I'm going to share my own opinion, because I do have an opinion as a leader. And so I'm going to put that forward. But I also recognize that that's exactly what it is. That's not that I'm right. It's just what I think. And I want to engage other people. Because in that sense, right, what do you think the stronger just one person always been saying what they think it is? And then that's it, end of story? How is that really moving things forward and creating a better culture or a better environment or a smarter environment? You know, I mean, I think great leaders in any area, recognize that they're like, You know what, I have amazing people that work with me, I want to listen to them. That's why they're here, too. And that builds respect, collaboration, all of these, the dynamic is so different, and the outcomes are going to be so different depending on like you said, if someone's just really attached to that idea of being right, there is no right just swinging thing.

Well, that's right. You're right. That's right. But you know, that is really fundamental to creating these cultures of kindness and compassion as going back to really what it is that you do in this world is helping leaders and organizations get there, that curiosity piece is, is really just the seedling to all of the things it sounds like

it is I mean, I think the other thing I would put out there is we talk a lot a lot about like the the scenarios that we're playing out in terms of this idea of what we think then also correlates to like what we feel it's really important that I think, you know, most leaders out there understand that it shouldn't be something that you're looking at in terms of your performance, like what you feel should be a measure of how effectively you're leading yourself and those around. Can you say that one more time for the people in the back? Yes. So one of the primary measures in any environment should be how you're gearing as it relates to your ability to effectively lead people. So you should be understanding what you're doing. And that should be a measure. And your weekly when you have dashboards are whatever you're using to measure your success.

And if you're out there, constantly dealing 60% of the time in a week that you're overwhelmed, stress, anxiety, there's all of those things that are going on in your mind. And that's where you're kind of operating from, to me, that would be a sign that I'm like, you know, what, what's the opportunity for me to actually be a better leader? And all of this because no one wants to feel that way all the time. I don't know when person that's like, you know what, bring it on. Like, I want more stress than anxiety. Just bring it on? I love it. But I can take it from 60% to 90%. No, most people are like, I'm tired. I don't want to feel this way. Yet. What they don't understand is they're the answer to their own prop conundrum, you technically are the one making yourself feel this way no one else is. And so I think there's also a notion of accountability there as well, you know, that did does take a pretty big person to be able to understand that that's the case. And to sort of step into that taking responsibility for themselves and what they really want.

Yes, and at the end of the day, that is social emotional learning that needs to take place. That is the social emotional learning that never ever stops. That is the learning that we get to use and provide examples for as the adults in the rooms to show our kids what it means to be human, and live a life feeling great. And when we're not how to navigate through that so we can feel great, and do the things we want to do in this world. That's it. It's simple, but it's not easy. It's that's it?

It is like you said, This just needs to be I think more people that they would allow themselves to step into it. That notion of accountability. There's just such a lighter place that you could be operating from more of the time, it's not that you're never going to not experience some frustration or anger or whatever, that's totally normal and human. But if you're living in that space, it certainly is going to have patience on how you're living your life and where you're at in your life.

Yeah. 100%. So I end every episode of take notes with the same question. What is your dream for the future of education?

I think my dream is based on my own experience, which is I wish that every child has the ability to really understand and explore who they are in an environment that is bound by kindness, love, compassion and respect, so that that child has the ability to a understanding embody that themselves and not feel like they're being judged, but to also be able to then understand better for themselves what that even means. I mean, what a beautiful gift to give a young child, which is the space and the beauty and the love that allows them to flourish, versus perhaps creating a different environment where the child starts to second guess themselves, or like you said, pull us back, where disengagements for, that's what's going to meet some really amazing, beautiful leaders in this world. And so I think that's my desire is that every child would have that hopefully ability to have that experience, yet the adults, you're a part of this equation. And so that's why your role is so powerful and critical. And all of this.

Yes, absolutely is. And this is really how we get started doing that. So thank you for sharing your time and your expertise with us. It's been a real pleasure talking with you today, Kevin, thank you for having so if you liked today's episode, be sure to leave a fantastic review. And we'll see you next time on take notes.

Incredible write together we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible. And it's all here for you right now. Let's keep the conversation going and empowered educator faculty room on Facebook.

Does health and nutrition feel like a roller coaster ride? Tips for teacher self care through a whole body approach with weight loss coach for teachers, Sonia Dhaliwal.

Where are health and nutrition on your list of priorities?

Does the idea of losing weight and getting healthy feel more like a roller coaster ride than a path to teacher well-being?

When you start looking at food through the lens of fueling your body and get out of the dieter's mindset of lack and scarcity, it starts to become an integral part of your well-being as a whole person.

But, how can you shift your mindset for good?

Welcome to episode 17 of the Take Notes podcast with Jen Rafferty! In this episode, I’m speaking with weight loss coach for teachers, Sonia Dhaliwal. She helps teacher moms lose weight through self-care and exploring how their unique bodies work- rather than a one size fits all approach.

Sonia believes in getting back to basics through learning which foods fuel AND help you shed some pounds. She feels that if you're going to be on your feet all day delivering engaging lessons and then run home to your own children, you need to figure out what's going to give you sustained energy!

Teacher self-care is incredibly multifaceted- and nutrition and health is a piece of the empowered educator puzzle.

Today is all about aligning what you say with your habits! We’re taking a whole body approach for the long term, no longer just worrying about losing weight- but truly taking care of yourself.

Stay empowered,


Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:

Click here to learn all the ways you can work with me:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Links
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
Facebook: Empowered Educator Faculty Room

About Sonia:

Sonia Dhaliwal, a weight loss coach for teachers, is all about helping teacher moms struggling with the weight loss roller coaster. She helps them lose weight for good with one-on-one coaching. She believes in finding foods that help teachers feel fueled, learning ways to sneak in some self-care, and exploring how areas off the plate can affect the progress of one's weight-loss goals. Sonia feels that if you're going to be on your feet all day delivering engaging lessons and then run home to your little cherubs waiting for you, we need to figure out what's going to give you your second wind. Teacher Moms deserve to be in front of students with all the confidence in the world and overhear their own kiddos say things like, "Mom is so much more fun now that she plays games with us!" Getting back to basics and learning which foods fuel you, but also help you shed some pounds are the go-to strategies in all of Sonia’s training and core philosophy.

Connect with Sonia here:

Instagram: @wildheartmommas

Facebook: Wild Heart Mommas

Website: Holistic Health Coaching | Wild Heart Mommas

Our health and nutrition sometimes get pushed super low on the totem pole of our priorities, and losing weight and getting healthy can feel a bit like a roller coaster. But my guest today shows teachers a new path to health and well being Sonia Dali, well believes that we need to look at food through the lens of fuel, because this is how we get out of a dieters mindset and take a look at nutrition as an integral part of our overall well being as a whole person, you are definitely going to want to take notes for this episode. And after you listen, be sure to check out break time, which is the monthly empowered educator subscription that gives you access to an incredible video library of self regulation strategies as well as monthly group coaching calls with me. So head on over to empowered educator.com/resources after the show.

Remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world? Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids. We need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy, and fulfillment. This is education 2.0, where you become the priority, shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work, and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee and grab your notebook. It's time to take notes.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of take notes. I am Jen Rafferty, of course, and it's so good to share with you this spectacular guests that I have today. This is Sonia Dhaliwal, and she is a weight loss coach for teachers, and is all about helping teacher moms struggling with the weight loss roller coaster, she helps him lose weight for good with one on one coaching and believes in finding foods that help teachers feel fueled, learning ways to sneak in some self care and exploring how areas off the plate can affect the progress of one's weight loss goals. This is such an important conversation to have.

Because there are so many of us who are on this journey to get really healthy with our bodies. You know, when we talk about self care and empowered educator world, it is so multifaceted nutrition and health is a piece of that puzzle. It's really easy to kind of get into a rut about what we're eating, I know that we oftentimes just eat the same things or we eat for convenience. And so while we say we want to lose weight and get healthy, oftentimes our habits tell us or dictate what we do otherwise.

So I'm really excited to have this conversation today. Thank you so much, Sonia for being here. Thank you, Jen for having me on. Very excited to be here. I would just love to go, you know how you got started on this journey. And what led you here to making this part of your passion in helping teachers getting healthy this way? Yeah, I have a background in elementary education have been teaching a little over 11 years, you know, kindergarten all the way through sixth grade, I loved working with them, but have always kind of in the back of my mind been playing a lot with health, especially in the weight loss realm, I would find myself driving to school listening to podcasts or books on audio, a lot about weight loss, trying to figure out if there was some kind of secret that's out there that I just didn't know about. It's been a struggle probably since I was back in elementary school, always very well aware of my body size, being a bit larger. Having kind of that background, even in our house of just always having dieters mindset going on, and just noticing that that struggle was kind of consuming a lot of my everyday activities.

My Wake Up Call was actually during my second pregnancy where I battled preeclampsia, just in the last weeks, you know, where you have the high blood pressure and the one way to deal with that is unfortunately inducing labor. That was the one thing I didn't want to go through again, I had it with my daughter, but they didn't suspect it would happen. So we didn't really prepare for that. And as I'm laying there kind of having these thoughts in my head, I said this is it enough's enough. This was not what you anticipated. And I feel like this was in my control to an extent even though I have doctors saying there's nothing you could have done to prevent this episode after I'm done.

and kind of having him and getting back home, it's time to do some research and see if we can kind of figure out was there something that could be done. And as I came home, I started researching a little bit about preeclampsia noticing that women who are obese tend to have a higher chance of having that happen to them, unfortunately. And that's where it just kind of hit home. It was like, Okay, now it's no longer just you now this is affecting your family, and what's going to happen in the long run.

And I started to hear it about heart complications that can come up after you've battled preeclampsia. And I sit down, like, I'm ready to be here for them forever. I want to see their kids someday, this has got to change. And so I started kind of looking around at different nutrition schools, I found the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, loved their model loved the fact that they were really trying to help people get out of the dieters mindset looking at true Holistic Health. And so the thought started, well, maybe I was never really, truly taught what I should be eating, what I should be doing to take care of myself. So I joined I said, Well, I'm home nursing him, the other one's going to be going off to preschool, I've got time. So I started studying really got into it started kind of playing around with the idea of health coaching.

And I said, You know what, there's women that need this, there's women that don't know these concepts. And fortunately, that I'm being taught a lot of people just see calories in calories out. And it's just that mindset shift that just kind of all of a sudden was like, we're taking care of the whole person here. And as soon as I started thinking that way, I didn't have to start measuring things on my plate any longer, I started playing with all these different ways of eating, and the weight started coming off, you know, I would journal but it was journaling in a new way. And as soon as I started thinking in this kind of whole body concept for the long term, no longer just worrying about the losing of weight.

But truly, what are you doing to take care of yourself, the pounds started coming off. And as I started thinking about that, I thought about educators, and I thought of a lot of the educators that I've been around my entire life, and the talks we'd have in the lunchroom, you know, we'd all sit down with our salads, and somebody's doing keto, somebody's doing paleo, everybody had their talk about that. And I said, we could use this, even an education teachers could use that extra support all around the place. And that's kind of what brought me full circle back into working with educators. Because I just feel like especially in the past couple of years, they've just been pulled through knot holes. And I said they need that support.

And so that kind of what led me back to working with teacher moms and helping them accomplish some of these goals and learn how to truly take care of themselves so that they can lose the weight and actually feel comfortable again, that's fantastic. And that's something that was immediately why I was kind of drawn to you and why I wanted to have you on this podcast is because you do focus on educators. And it's such an interesting spot to focus on. Because, again, educators need as much support as they can get, and community and a way for them to just feel as if they can lean on that community.

And we need to build that it's so nice to hear there are these pockets of people who are building community for educators to really focus on themselves. So they can show up as their best self to teach the kids and have the impact that they want to make. There are so many things that you said that I wanted to hit on. But the first thing is your mindset at the beginning of your journey of always thinking that there was this secret that you are missing. I think that's really an important thing to talk about. Because oftentimes when we're in this lack or scarcity mindset, we're thinking to ourselves, Well, if I just did this one thing, I just feel like I'm missing it. But you seem to have discovered that the secret was actually something that you knew, and you had in you all along. Is that accurate? Yes. I think it was just that, like you said, The Secret being is there one certain way to do this.

And I think just hearing it's going to be different for everybody was almost like a sigh of relief. You know, everybody keeps seeing these ads. And I'm going to try this. I'm going to try this. And I think just knowing that it's not like you do this kind of like it's my fault, unfortunately, game in your head. And finally realizing that No, it's not. It's just you haven't been shown in this way, was just a definite breath of fresh air to hear that. Yes. Perhaps the secret if we're going to call it that is that this is a skill set that needs to be learned explicitly. And you have to discover a skill set that works for you.

Yep, all about that we call it term I learned was bio individuality at IGN. And it's just this what works for you may not work for me and it's okay. Right. And it is all perfectly beautifully. Okay. You know, the other thing you talked about is this dieters mindset and I would love for you to just take some time to explain that a little bit because I think that's so much a part of the air that we breathe that we don't even know that we're in this mindset. To me, it's this idea of kind of the good food versus the bad food whether it's been counting calories for years, or porn

Eat, or even just growing up in a way where people would put food on your plate and say, Well, if you don't eat your veggies, you're not going to get your dessert and this clean plate kind of group that some of us grew up with this idea that these veggies this produce, these are the good foods, but you're not going to get that dessert because it's kind of termed because of the high calorie content or the sugar level to it. No longer is it just about the nutrition, but it's really about what's it going to do to your body, you know, it's going to plump us up. So we shouldn't be eating these kinds of things. And the more you hear it in the house, even just subtly, it's amazing how we pick up on that. And for years, we hold on to it even even on weekends, I'll still kind of feel myself thinking about well, should I have that little piece of birthday cake at the party? Well, what's it going to do to me? Yes, you know, you can choose to have it, but you need to be thinking about, well, what's it doing truly to me? Does it feel okay, after a habit.

And so teaching that idea of we're gonna start to kind of go more inward, and not so much just be thinking about this good food versus bad food mindset. Because we grew up with that. I'm so glad you said that. Yeah, I mean, all of that resonates with me, I remember being a kid and watching my mom either count calories, or points as a kid preteen, even before that, now that I'm thinking it was all of those things that you're saying are completely resonating, it was finish your plate, there was some shame or guilt about that too, right. And that just again, no fault of our parents, they grew up with parents who are the generation of the Depression, you didn't waste anything, you know.

So even those generational values about food are dripped down to us. So we inherit them whether we realize it or not. But you're totally right, that that affects the way that even now as I consider myself, someone who has done the work around nutrition and food, and I have like a whole team, I like my nutritionist, and I have my chiropractor, and I have my fitness trainer, you know, like all of these people, but even still, it's so deeply ingrained in us of the negative feelings that are attached to food. And I really like what you said is if you're going to make a choice, it's about going inward. And does this feel good? That's a huge shift. looking inward. Yeah, very much. So. So how do you teach that when you're working with clients? How do you talk about going from the external calorie counting, and points and whatever other system you're going for carbs, you know, whatever,

you know, to the list fat, right? And remember, the whole sat breathing? was a thing, you know, how do you then shift it to what's happening introspectively, I introduced them to a concept called crowding out. And I really, in the beginning, it's a lot of weeks focusing on instead of taking off of our plate, let's try putting some of these things that we know can be really wholesome, nutritious food for us on the plate, so really pushing for a lot more produce and saying, you know, it's okay, if you're gonna make that beautiful, cheesy, layered lasagna. But let's really focus on what's on this other half of the plate, let's get some roasted broccoli on there. Let's get some fruit on there.

I feel like we do it with our little ones at home. And we forget to do it on our own plates, unfortunately. And just this idea of, we're slowly going to get more of this nutritious food on our plate, and I want you to start paying attention to how do you feel after that meal. So I give them a little food journal where they can just kind of quick jot down, do I feel bloated after this? Do I feel energetic? Could I go get some movement? And after? Or am I so full, I have to go sit down for a long period of time. So really teaching them to kind of journal and I even in the beginning give them kind of more of a little grid that they put like little smiley faces or things that if they can't have the time, because some of us I know are so on the go and busy or have done who tracking for so long, unfortunately brings this whole negativity to it.

So shifting it and really focusing on how can we really quickly just evaluate how do we feel before the meal, you know, what's our hunger level? And then how do I feel after and if after I had that sandwich, I'm noticing I'm really tired in the afternoon, maybe we need to start swapping some things that are on that plate and I slowly get them to start doing some more healthy swaps. After they start to understand this idea of that crowding out just so just really starting with, we're not going to take stuff off, or we're going to really start to focus on what do I have, what can I add? And how do I feel after that is so important.

And I think that awareness is everything. Like you said, sometimes a new program or new initiatives seems really cumbersome. And there might be a past history with some negativity about it. Or it's like, oh, this is just another thing now that I have to do. But I think again, it's just changing that mindset, as you said of prioritizing that evaluation. Because if you're truly make your body your number one priority, there would be no question that you would take a moment after a meal. There's something that you were committing to, to evaluate what's going on and that's I think

Also the difference between being interested in something and being really committed to doing something. Absolutely, it is about getting that right cap on in the morning and thinking about, I am going to start to put myself first I am going to take a moment to pause and understand what's happening, whether it needs to be food wise, or even movement wise fitness people, I feel like start to tune in with that piece and realizing what should I work on today, because this feels kind of sore. And just really treating this as your number one priority, right. And it's again, living with that intention, which is really all about what empowered educator is about it's having this idea of who you are now, but more importantly, where you want to be, and then making decisions that align with your future self, not your current self. Because if your current self had all the things, you'd be there.

Yeah, you have to continue to make those decisions. And that means being really intentional, when you get up in the morning is waking up and being that person, what would that person do? That person would take a moment after an evaluate how I'm feeling and multiple times throughout the day. The other thing that I think is important here that I'm assuming here that you work on with your clients is changing that perspective of putting yourself first because especially as women, mom's teachers, and if you're all three, and of course, men experience this too, but women experience is at a much different level, shifting from being the martyr and being a selfless person to everyone else in your life to wait a second, I now need to shift my mindset to I am my number one priority.

That's a huge radical shift. So how do you talk your clients through that process? That's one of the pieces that we do probably kind of as they're starting to feel more comfortable with the food piece, we start talking about what I call the primary foods, and those are the things off the plate, what are the things that bring us joy? How do we feel about our career at the moment? How do I feel about the physical activity I'm getting in the day, and I explained that this is just as important as what's on the plate. And that's probably the piece that when I first start with the client, they're a little bit more hesitant on because they feel Hey, my circles complete, we do a little activity called the circle of lights.

And they evaluate how all of those pillars are and how do I feel in the current moment? Is it a complete circle? Or is it looking more like a fancy cobweb and there's some areas that I need to go back and look into, I think we forget just how much that affects what's coming on that plate, that motivation piece in the morning, you know, we just especially as educators have this, you know, gumption and this, I can do it all, I'm not going to do it, who else is going to do it, and it comes out in the home very strongly as well. And you know, it's great that we're go getters, but I think we're just so much into that we, like you said just kind of forget to take care of us and to put that cap on in the morning and say that we do need to start thinking about what's going to help us get through that day.

And I like to tell clients, I want you to imagine what it's going to look like six months from now, who is that woman going to be? Let's start being here today. Start thinking you're there. Instead of that, oh, I wish I could wear that dress. But I have this pear shape and the audit. It's that negative self talk that starts in, we do go through that circle of life tool one by one, I have them evaluate it. And then if there's a spot that they feel like, I'd actually like to look into this area a little bit more, we can dive into that together, you talk kind of generally about what specific things are a part of that, that model that circle of life model that let's see joy is on there, your career, your physical activity, spirituality, relationships, you know, do you feel like you're getting that social piece time and even that relationship in the home, if you're married to somebody, a lot of kind of a social emotional piece is what's really being tapped into. Right.

And that plays a huge role. You know, if even if you're eating all the right things, but you're feeling stressed out all the time, you're not metabolizing them in a way that is helpful either. So that's a really important piece. And again, super aligns you know, with what we talked about here, it's well being and self care is not just one thing, it's real, holistic idea of who are you in that present moment? How do you feel and where do you want to go and having all those pieces aligned is really important.

So I want to know, for people listening, what's something that you can share that they can do today? Well, one of the things I like to offer I do kind of a little short, call it kind of like an E course it's four little videos with a handout with a lot of this just kind of briefly introduced and in each of the videos I do go over I call it my pillars of the weight loss piece, starting out with the concept of what is the problem with dieting, kind of looking back as to where am I coming from before I want to start this journey. And then we look a little bit into I teach the hunger cues and it's quite a lengthy little almost like a number line. Right? Teach them to look at it your bodies can go all the way from the negatives all the way to the positive

If the positive 10 be a way to fool to more of a neutral, yeah, I could think about food right now or I'm okay to all the way to the negatives of I need to have something my body, my blood sugar levels going all over. Because a lot of us, I think, have that fear of being hungry, and I'm trying to help us understand it's okay. Sometimes when you're hungry, that's just your body's way of letting you know what it needs, I do teach the process of crowding out. So kind of walking through of what you can start to make your plate look like. So just these tiny little steps. So it's not feeling that overwhelm. And then even just that body check, and I have like a little chart on this cheat sheet, we'll call it just a little one page handout of how you can start to track that today.

So it's just tiny little steps I can implement, it doesn't feel like this big, heavy shift that you have to make. It's just tiny little steps today, we can do believe it or not, that will actually start to kind of cue you into what's happening. And you can actually start to lose, believe it or not, in your first couple of weeks just paying attention to these things. Yeah. So you know, you're someone who's like, Oh, I'm kind of feeling stuck. And I think there's this negative feedback loop that happens, you know, at least for me, my go to is when I'm stressed or when I'm feeling activated by something, even if my kiddos are like having a day and they're just like, ah, and then my go to is go to the frigerator or go to the freezer. But my awareness of that has been a game changer.

Because now even if I'm walking, even if the door is open, even if my hand goes into the freezer, there's this moment now of awareness that I can then make a conscious choice. Is this something that I'm doing? Because I'm feeling good? Because I'm hungry? Or is this actually a stress response? Right? I have a lot of women come to me and say, what do you do about these cravings? And it's not just a black and white? Answer it it is going back into what's causing this what's happening right before it like you said, you know, the kids are acting out or I had a negative teacher evaluation when she came in to observe me today.

And there could be something actually causing this to happen. We walked through the steps of even just, it could be a family foods that I've had for years. And all of a sudden, I've said nope, can't have that anymore, because it's too high in calories or fat, or even something you just even hormonally might even just need in the moment, it's just your body's way of saying you need this. And maybe you do need to give it just a little dose of it. But a lot of them come to me scared, you know, and always craving this at night. Even just a simple fix up. Why don't we throw some more fruit on in the evening and your plate, maybe that's why you need that chocolate. At the end of every meal. You don't give yourself something truly sweet. And your body's saying hello, you've had a lot of salty food, give me something else. Now, you know, it's just the founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition says think of your body like computer. And I said he's right. You know, it really does send you messages.

It's just slowing down to get in tune with that. Absolutely. Because you're right. Their body sends us messages all the time. We're just terrible listeners. Yeah, yeah, there's just too much on the go. Right. And no one ever taught us or modeled for us the importance of listening to our body, which is again, why I think serving teachers in this way is so important, because not only are you allowing the teachers to then have enough space to hold for the children that they serve and the other people in their life. But we're also modeling a different way for our kids, right? We're showing them that there's something else that it doesn't always have to be, we don't listen to our body. They see the adults in their lives making that a priority.

And that's truly as the game changer. Absolutely. I feel like it's easy for us, especially as educators to go in and do that talk. But if we're not really living in ourselves, they're not going to whether it's the kids in the classroom, even your own kids, especially your own kids at home, they get to see the background of that and absolutely being that role model piece. Yeah, that is huge. And so I want to take it back to the faculty room for the like the lunch room for a second because it's the place where you know, when you describe that we all know what that's like, we're all sitting there with their salads.

And, oh, I'm having a little spray dressing because the dressing is very too much or like this one or this one. We're comparing recipes and whatever. We're all so familiar with that space. So if there's somebody who is actively making changes in their lives and surrounded by other people who are immersed in this dieters mindset, what are some ways that they can communicate or navigate those spaces when they're changing, but everyone else around them seems to still be in that lack and scarcity. dieters mindset, I actually had a gal this week, say as they're going back in for all these peds, the admins bringing lunch and I want to make healthier choices, but I don't want the talk to start. And I said a lot of us if we're not familiar with this, we're all going to come in with their own background knowledge.

We're all going to come in with just you know, unfortunately what we know and you can go back added a couple of ways you can make your healthy swaps of what's brought in. So you're not bringing something completely different. You know, like, I know that a lot of times districts will bring in, you know, subway kind of sandwich things. And we talked about have that if that does feel okay to you and you feel okay, having those items. And then let's think about some things you can tweak with it or bring something on the side, so that you feel like you're having that same food with your colleagues. But you also feel like you need something more to keep you going in the day.

And so you know, don't be afraid to share with them, I've decided over the summer, some healthier shifts that I can make. And I realized that when I'm having a salad with no dressing, that I'm not feeling full, you know, within an hour, I hit a slump, and I'm hungry and cranky, and I've decided that I need to try these things. And I'll let you know how it goes. You know, just I think putting it on yourself that you're trying something is okay to share that I feel like we tell our kids all the time to kind of use those iMessages. And don't be afraid to share that with them. And you know, there is no maybe specific name for what you're doing or philosophy necessarily, you can just say, um, you know, I'm trying out these new ways, and I'll let you know how it goes. And there's a lot of power in using our voice in that way. You know, and when you say it out loud, it's declarative.

Every time we say the word that lever lips are always declarative and affirmative, whether we realize it or not, we underestimate the power in that. And if that's comfortable to share, it's more for you almost for that other person. Yeah. And they may take interest. It's amazing. We hear about it, and we say, hey, maybe there's something I'm lacking, right? Being willing to try it and maybe have a little buddy system is always awesome, if it does work out that way. But you are going to have those people that have done all these different diets and say, you know, I'll tell you exactly what will work. And you've got to just kind of, unfortunately tune that out sometimes Sure.

Because at the end of the day, what other people think is none of your business. Right? And yours is really the only opinion that matters to you. Right? That's the most important opinion for you is your own opinion. But yeah, navigating that is definitely something to consider and always do what feels good, even if not means maybe not saying anything. It's got to feel good. And like anything else that's new or different. There's going to be levels of discomfort and growing pains as you kind of shift and expand into this new version of yourself, even as you're going through the process. And leaning into that is where the joy comes in. Absolutely. Well, that's fantastic.

And before we go, I would love to ask you the question that I asked, everyone who comes on this podcast is what is your dream for the future of education? Well, I would love to see teachers not thinking of it as selfish to start putting their needs first, whether it be being okay with taking off the least 510 minutes after the kids leave the bells done. Not feeling this need that I have to stay here for this many hours, not comparing themselves to the colleagues who are around them. And just knowing that I'm doing what I need to be doing right now for the season that I'm in and just not beating themselves up.

So that when you do return to the classroom, you're in this mindset of this positivity, this joy is radiating from you know, that these kids are attracted to they feel it, they're learning even as a career standpoint, after I go to college, I can do this job. And I can look how happy I'm still going to be. And just this understanding that the light at the end of the tunnel is bright and just radiating. And that motivation is just coming out of you so much because you take in that time to truly learn what you yourself need and knowing it's okay, if it's different from that colleague next door. Yes, that is a game changer. So you mentioned a mini course that they can take but I'm wondering if you can share how can people get in touch with you if they want to learn more about the work that you do or want to work with you? Sure.

So I've got a website that's called Wildheart mamas, I'm the founder of that. So if you go to www Wildheart Mama's and it's M O M M E s, that can be confusing.com, you can find out a little bit more about me there. And you can actually download a little jumpstart guide. It's called Teachers objective losing for the last time because that's what we want to do is be losing. And that's the end of this story of the life long journey. But it's going to be the end of that. And you can click get that free guide and I will email that right out to you. I do have a little community on Facebook. It's a Facebook group called weight loss for teacher moms. And that's a great way to kind of be introduced to I know for some listeners, they've never looked into health coaching and it's just kind of a nice way to dip your feet in gently and do a lot of workshops, challenges, a lot of content that I feel like is very valuable.

And it just kind of gives you some ways you can start now and if it feels like something that will be worthwhile and that you want to dive into deeper then you can start. Leave just direct message me on there. Or you can sign up for a free discovery call. And in that is a good spot where we can talk a little bit about my program and see if you know it's a good match to work one on one together, just so you've got that kind of accountability partner, it's not just going to be me meeting with you saying,

Okay, you're going to do this and this and this, and then we're done and you're cured for life. But it's really walking through the steps of what you're already doing what you want to start doing. So you've just got that person in your back pocket to always reach out to and I do keep in touch with my clients just almost, if it's not a daily basis, it's definitely weekly, we meet once a week, but then we chat in between, and they're sending me photos and asking questions. And we've got kind of a little text messaging system going. And that was one piece that I really wanted to offer. Because I knew that in the past, when I did programs, I might have a health coach, but we met once a week, and then we had our 15 minutes the next week, and it just there was a disconnect.

I couldn't do things in real life, because I felt like I had to do what she said. And we would only meet once a week and you need that person you can go to and ask things along the way. And I love to be that for my teacher, moms, oh 100%. And that is so valuable, just again, feel supported, where you can really lean in to this and lean on someone and I love coaching. Like I said before, I have a whole team, you know, I just mentioned a couple of the people, I have coaches in lots of different areas too, because you can't read the label from inside the wine bottle. You just You just can't. And so you need somebody who is looking at it from another perspective, again, not to tell you what to do, but oftentimes just reflect back to you on the things that you're doing and saying, and whether that's in the arena of health coaching or something else.

This is how we truly learn and grow and expand is by again, I'm gonna say leaning on community that that we built for ourselves. And there's something that's incredibly valuable in creating that and modeling that for the people in your life too. Yeah, amazing. Well, I am so glad that we had a chance to chat today. And I admire the work that you're doing. And it's very exciting. And the healthier we can be the longer we can be around and maintain a healthy longevity, not just in our careers, but in our lifetimes for our kids and our grandkids. So thank you. Thank you. I enjoyed getting to sit and chat with you. Yes, I know this will not be the last time that we chatted. That's right. Fantastic. So if you enjoyed today's episode and want to learn more about Sonia, go ahead and check out those podcasts notes at the bottom. And we'll see you next time on take notes.

Incredible, right? Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible. And it's all here for you right now. Let's keep the conversation going at empowered educator faculty room on Facebook.

How Sharon Costianes leverages teacher well-being to create safe and courageous spaces in schools through art and creativity.

What does it mean to create safe and courageous spaces in school where students feel comfortable taking risks?

How can we encourage high achievers to use the creative arts to lean into the beauty of making messy mistakes?

Self care routines can come in many forms. But, few modalities help you tune into self trust and personal expansion like the arts.

Welcome to episode 16 of the Take Notes with Jen Rafferty podcast! In this episode, I’m speaking with Sharon Costianes. She has helped introduce freedom and mobility to people through her Feldenkrais practice at Body Song. She has worked with a wide variety of people: performers, athletes, elders, and children.

Sharon holds a Bachelor of Music from Ithaca College in vocal performance and sociology with a minor in theater and a certification from Feldenkrais resources in Manhattan, as well as a professional certification from the Feldenkrais guild of North America.

In this conversation, we dive deep into discovering the true value of wellbeing, how to get quiet, and empowering educators by reassuring you that it’s okay to give yourself permission to relax for a minute!

Today, it's all about breaking away from perfectionism, encouraging teacher well-being, and leveraging your own wellness to create safe and brave spaces for learning that support equity and inclusion!

Stay empowered,


Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:

Click here to learn all the ways you can work with me:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Links
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
Facebook: Empowered Educator Faculty Room

Contact Sharon here:
Instagram: @sharon_costianes
Website: Flight Performing Arts
Click here for a special gift from Sharon: https://mailchi.mp/93fbb705d9fc/socialactiongift

About Sharon:

Sharon holds a BMu from Ithaca College in vocal performance and sociology with a minor in theater, certification from Feldenkrais Resources in Manhattan, as well as Professional Certification from The Feldenkrais Guild® of North America (2006). She has studied extensively and volunteers at the Clinic with Sheryl Field at the Field Center for Children's Integrated Development. She is also the founder and director of Flight Performing Arts in Ithaca, NY.

Sharon has helped introduce freedom and mobility to people with chronic pain, arthritis, as well as people recovering from injury, trauma, and surgery through her Feldenkrais practice at Body Song.

Sharon has been teaching private voice lessons for nearly 20. In that time, she has earned a reputation for being the “voice whisperer” helping each singer find their own unique sound. Possessing unique insight and skill into the physical organization of the singer, she can assess and correct tension patterns that hinder proper vocal technique quickly and effectively, allowing each student to find more power and ease with beautiful tone and sound quality.

Sharon has had the distinct honor of serving on the faculty at Ithaca College, and the Community School of Music and Arts, and as a guest lecturer at Cornell University. She is a regular theatrical director and music director with the Ithaca School District. She has taught classes and workshops for organizations such as local homeschooling groups, the Finger Lakes School of Massage, Bridges for Youth and Families Runaway and Homeless Youth Program, and Lifelong Senior Center.

She has worked with a wide variety of people: performers, athletes, elders, and children.

A graduate of Heartstone Herbal School she continues to work intimately with Kris Miller and Tammi Sweet where she regularly feeds the masses with healthy, delicious food. After 10 + years of requests, a cookbook is currently in the works!

Sharon has had the distinct honor of serving on the faculty at Ithaca College, and the Community School of Music and Arts, and as a guest lecturer at Cornell University. She is a regular theatrical director and music director with the Ithaca School District. 

What does it mean to create safe and courageous spaces in school? What does it have to do with self awareness? And how can we use the creative arts to process big emotions? Well, today I'm talking with Sharon cost Yiannis, and we address some of these very questions. We talk about how high achievers can lean on perfectionism and pressure, and leads us away from the part of us that can be creative and artistic. But leaning into learning into the mess in the mistakes provides an opportunity to create a sense of safety within these intellectual spaces. When we are truly embodied in mind, body and spirit. It is how we can perform and achieve as our best selves. And throughout her life experiences, she discovered a pathway for her own healing, and continues to light the way for others.

And if you're ready to move from surviving to thriving, head on over to empowered educator.com/thrive and sign up for the five week online course that will change the game for how you show up at work, and at home, start to feel less stress and more ease, less pressure, more calm, less frustration, and of course, more joy, it is time for you to thrive. So head on over to empowered educator.com/thrive. And I also want to mention that in this conversation, we briefly talk about some sensitive topics, including domestic abuse and suicide, please take care of yourself.

Remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world? Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids. We need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy and fulfillment. This is education 2.0 where you become the priority, shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee and grab your notebook. It's time to take notes.

Hello and welcome back to take notes. I am so excited to start this next episode and introduce you to a spectacular human. This is Sharon Kosta Yanis and she has a Bachelor of Music from Ithaca College where I also went to college in vocal performance and sociology with a minor in theater and a certification from Feldenkrais resources in Manhattan, as well as a professional certification from the Feldenkrais guild of North America and we're gonna dive into all about Feldenkrais and what that means and how cool it is and how helpful it will be for your overall well being. Sharon has studied extensively and volunteers at the clinic with Cheryl field at the field Center for Children's integrated development, and is also the founder and director of slight Performing Arts in Ithaca, New York. Sharon has helped introduce freedom and mobility to people with chronic pain or arthritis as well as people recovering injury, trauma and surgery through her Feldenkrais practice at body song, and has worked with a wide variety of people, performers, athletes, elders, children, and today, educators. And as a graduate of Hearthstone, herbal school, a cookbook is currently in the works, which I'm so excited to hear about that too. And as part of all of the things that she does do, we're going to talk especially today about how we can engage in self care, develop our own sense of self awareness and leverage our own wellness to create safe and brave spaces for learning that support equity and inclusion in all of our places and spaces. So thank you so much, Aaron, for being here with me today. Thanks for having me, Jen. I'm so excited for this conversation. And I'm so excited for the work that you do. Thank you. Yes. And it just let you know, I'm reading your bio, and isn't just cool. Just sit back and listen and be like, Yeah, that's me. It's true.

Right? I mean, you are a powerhouse. And I am so excited to dive into some of these things. You can share your expertise with me and obviously everyone listening. So I'd love to start with your journey into self awareness. I too have been on this journey of my own self awareness for many years. And everyone kind of gets there differently and at different times in their life. So what was it like for you and how is that really inspired the work that you do now? That's a great question. Thank you. I mean, I feel like my journey of self awareness starts a long, long, long time ago when I was a teenager actually.

My home life wasn't great. I grew up in an abusive home as something that I don't talk about much. I'm just starting to talk about a little bit more unrecognized for myself how connected it is to the arts for me as a person, and also the importance of safe space in the arts for kids as an educator. So growing up in an abusive home, I remember hiding under a blanket with my sister on the stairs, listening to my parents fight. At some point, my mom and my sister and I fled. And nobody knew. I was one of those kids who was like in gifted and talented programs and participating in every single music ensemble. I played the trumpet and the French horn and sang in the choir and in the Select choir and was a prisoner of the drama club. Like I was outwardly, this super high functioning kid with great grades who was involved in a whole lot of extracurriculars. And meanwhile, I was in a ton of pain. I was suicidal, I was self harming, and the arts was the place that was safe for me. In theater, I could explore a literally scripted version of how people work out issues, right, it was so comforting to know that there was a beginning, middle and end, and I didn't have to figure it out for myself, the playwright had already figured that out. And I could have big feelings on stage. I was incredibly therapeutic. And similarly with music, it was more about emotions, and less intellectual storytelling, I think as music is, it was my escape. It was how I didn't have to be home because I was involved in all of these other things. So I didn't have to face the pain at home. And so that kind of led me that's why, you know, I started therapy. But luckily, my parents knew enough to get me talking with somebody to help me stay alive. And so that was kind of the beginning of self awareness and a deep connection to the arts for me. I then went to study music at Ithaca College and studied with Carol McCain s who is also a Feldenkrais practitioner and an amazing hero. Yes. Got here eventually do good. Yeah, she's a magical human. And so I started doing Feldenkrais work and knew that like, oh, it's making me a better singer. Great. And it can be really transformative for singers. And it was for me, but it wasn't actually until I graduated from college. And I was like, any good musician with a music degree and performance, I was working as a barista, and waiting tables.

The gig, right?

Like, I'm a musician, I'm gonna go work in service. That's what we do. So I threw my back out. And I had a history of chronic back pain. You know, it was like before, people were still on their parent's insurance until 21, or five, or whatever it is. So I had no health insurance, I had no means of making money. I couldn't walk for like a week. And I panicked and called Carol and said, Is there anything I can do at home, tell me some movement that I can do. Help me out. She said, just have somebody throw you in the car and bring you down here. And so I hobbled into her house, I could barely move any of the joints in my low back. And I spent about a half an hour on her Phil and Chris table and walked out of her house. And I went, Whoa, wow, this is way more than just, I'm a better singer, something just happened. To me. That was pretty transformative. And it wasn't completely pain free. That took a lot more work. But it was a huge moment for me. And it totally changed the trajectory of what I thought my life was gonna look like as a 21 year old. So I went to study Phil and Chris work over the course of those four years. I mean, it's all self awareness. And that's the beautiful thing about Feldenkrais is that while it's a movement practice, and it looks like body work, it's really about neurology, and how it is that we learn to be in ourselves. So you can't like work on movement issues without working on all of your issues. Like it's all in there. I'm so glad you said that. Because that is the opposite of what I usually say in regards. You can't do mindset work without involving your body. And here you are saying you cannot do body work without involving your mind. And I just really want to highlight this, we so often forget, we have a body, we forget we have bodies unless they're in pain or with disease or illness, and then we're angry about it. But any sort of work that we're doing with the mind or the body has to be both. I'm so glad that you said that. Absolutely. And I think that as educators too, we have to create spaces in which our students can work intellectually, but also that their bodies feel safe. Right, if their bodies don't feel safe, they can't do the learning and vice versa. So it's huge. Yeah. So when I went into my Feldenkrais training, I had chronic back pain. I was severely overweight. I was also married to a man and got married right out of college to my high school best friend who was a dear human and I adore to this day, but in the course of these four years, I lost it.

80 pounds, discovered that I'm gay, got divorced, and feel my back pain. And so it was this like, all of life just shifted. Still in therapy, my mental health was much better. And I have to say that level of awareness, that self awareness and taking the time to be embodied, because I had to, because for my education,

it changed everything about the way I think about music, everything about the way I think about teaching how I think about interacting with other people. And it's the lens that I have looked through as a teacher for the past 20 years. It's the lens that I looked through as I created flight, performing arts and really expanding into all of the performing arts and supporting an environment for kids to be expressive, so much of that I can go so many different places with it, because there's so much juiciness. First of all, thank you for sharing your story, because again, I think we were talking about even before we started recording is that, the more we share, that's where the connections happen. And so I receive that, and I'm grateful that you shared here and with everyone, and how beautifully important that is even to just set an example of that being okay for other people to share. Thank you. Yes, that's huge. And then taking that pain and turning it into something beautiful, and discovering a pathway where you can not just heal yourself, but allow people to come to their own healing. That's huge. So flight performing arts, can you talk a little bit about that, and how you're able to do that through the vehicle of arts, flight, performing arts, my voice students, I'm primarily a voice teacher, I have voice students who are really were pre professional musical theater singers, and doing really high level work and auditioning for programs that have a two and 3% acceptance rate. And getting in, I'm happy to say I'm proud to say they did the work, they did it, but it's intense. And they didn't have ways to work in dance that supported them also being on stage and doing shows, they didn't have acting training, they just had voice lessons with me.

And so I went, Oh, they need this. So we created flight Performing Arts in 2017. And it's a space where kids can and adults can take dance class and acting classes and summer camps and voice lessons, pre pandemic times had masterclasses special workshops and wellness classes. And the idea is that it's a safe space, equity and inclusion is super important. training staff to be responsive and inclusive is super important at flight. And we're doing pre professional work and really challenging and trusting kids with hard work in the performing arts. And at the same time, saying to them, this is an environment where you can take risks, this is an environment where you can be brave. And we're going to find this high level of performance. But without perfectionism. Without this, like Dr. Of the teacher is always the expert. We know a lot of things and we can share a lot of things as teachers. And we also can learn a lot of things from our students. That's a huge part of flight. And so there's the teaching and the technique, and that is as high level of work. And then there is this environmental piece, which is very intentional, and creates learning in a way that I think is in some ways unique to the arts and also sometimes elusive for us in the arts. Because there is this history and this tradition of performing to a high standard like that perfectionism of you have to practice, practice, practice, and it has to be perfect. In order to be relevant in order to be competitive in order to get into that two or 3% acceptance rate school, the pressure of that level of performance can let us forget what it actually means to be creative. And we can override the parts of ourselves that we need to trust and have faith in and make space for in the creative space. So then we find ourselves really technically perfect, but not with a lot of artistry. Right, and we actually need both. So if we can get rid of the perfectionism if we can create safe space where mistakes are good mistakes, we learn from them, and we celebrate them. Sometimes we do the mistake on purpose actually, so that we can learn from it in a way that detaches it from self worth. Right? You're still a good human, even though you made a mistake. You're still loved, you're still wanted, you're still valued here. And then we'll just get curious about it. We'll play with it. And then ultimately, we're going to discover something that helps us get to that high level of artistry that we never would have known was possible if we just ran away from the mistake from the beginning. Girl I'm like welling up here because it's true. You're hitting on so many things that I hold dear and if we just took out the word art for a second

and use just general education. This is it, you're describing my dream for the future of education. Because when we say the words mistakes are okay. But when we define success in the classroom as you how many hundreds or A's that you get, there is a disconnect. So not only are we creating places of pressure and perfectionism, we either have learners that can achieve without heart, or we turn kids off completely to their own learning, we're not actually getting to the meat of it, which is, again, like you said, trusting yourself, trusting the process, creating a space to have kids discover a means to their own learning and use the word artistry there, but I'm gonna say learning. And here's the rub. It's us, it's the educators who are doing this, and it's not your fault. And that's okay. It's not our fault, because we are products of our own experiences that were touched by us, you know, and this is why this podcast and having these conversations are so important is because we get to expose another paradigm and another way to function and be so we make this transformative generational change, which is the magic behind all of it. And the purpose of empowered educator in the first place. Yeah, absolutely. I think you're 100%, right. I mean, I know I feel it in my own body. Sometimes, the anxiety that comes from I'm about to do something different from what I was taught, like, I'm about to take a risk. And I'm about to ask the student to explore something that is not in the learning that I gleaned in college or grad school, or whatever it might be, it took me a long time to feel like we can experiment a little bit, not to the degree that like students are at risk, right? Like, it's okay for me to change the paradigm. It's okay for me to change and explore some new way of learning with my students, nothing changes, if nothing changes. Exactly. And you're the variable like you're the one that gets, but that's scary. And it's just scary, because it's different. And that's, I think, the rub here, that's important that when we bump up against these limitations or boundaries that we've put on ourselves, that go out of our comfort zone, there is going to be that element of fear, because that's just our biology keeping us safe and alive, which, great, you're doing a great job, we made it we're alive, we're here. But it's also preventing us from reaching our dreams, trying something different becoming our fullest potential, or even just, you know, as you were describing your own journey, having the journey of becoming, right. So in your experience, have you navigated that fear, as you've been expansive in your own life and your own work to be perfectly transparent. Sometimes I'm more successful than others, right? Like, Oh, perfect. Sure, yeah. Cuz you're a human. And that's beautiful, of course. And at the risk of sounding like a felon Christ fanatic, like, honestly, the process that you go through in a Feldenkrais lesson is so helpful to me because it's exactly this process, right? Yeah, walk us through in like a group class, you would lie on the floor, and I can still hear my trainers voice saying, Please lie on your back. I'm like my whole system, relax, relaxes. And then you go through the series of like, you do a body scan, you pay attention to where you are in space and time. And then you're given this instruction to like, move your arm, slowly, in a certain direction. And then you're just asked to do these little bits of movement. And the question that I love the most in that process, and that I asked my students in lessons also is and what do you notice, without attachment to it being better or worse? Just what do you notice as you explore this thing? What do you observe in yourself? How does your body change in its contact with the floor? How does gravity interact with your body? Are you breathing? Are you nervous? Can you stay present while you move? And so just those little questions of awareness, help me not get attached to the outcome, right? I mean, sure, I want my back to feel better. Of course I do. But because it's not constantly like, if you move your arm to the right, your back pain will get better. That's not the instruction and a Feldenkrais lesson. It's just notice, just notice what this is. And as the teacher at leading that lesson, I know that eventually we're going to come around, right? And I can imagine some possible outcomes for the lesson. But here's the really humbling thing as an educator is that almost always there's an outcome that I never would have anticipated. And people have these transformative experiences that there's no way I could have taken aim at and brought them to, but the process of just slowing down resting. Here's another important moment is like you do 30 movement.

And then you rest for 30 seconds. And then you do another few movements. And then you rest. And you notice, right? It's this very meditative sweet process, that model. Sometimes I put myself on the floor, so I remember how to do it. But that's the process that I take myself through, when I don't feel safe. Like, Okay, where am I in space and time? What do I notice? Where do I have ease? And where can I reduce the effort? What can I simplify? And that's just the next step. Yes, so all of that. Now, there's a couple of things there too. You know, first of all, that noticing is something that I talked about a lot, it's like, we're just kind of strengthening that notice muscle all the time, because you can't actually change something you don't notice. Sure. And we walk around, not noticing most things. And I'm the brains are wired for that, right? Essentially, how we make sense of the world is to develop patterns and habits so that we don't have to be deciding things all the time. It's too much for us to be having to process all of that constantly. So we create patterning and habits, and sometimes they serve us and sometimes they don't. But the intention is always good. It's always our body's trying to keep us safe. And in that separation of I am not my nervous system, this is happening really allows you to then also separate your own worth about it too, because it isn't about your own worthiness or your own value. It's your back hurts because your body's trying to tell you something and we need to be better listeners and what's happening and we can only listen when we notice. It's funny because as a former Hustler, go neck upper. As you're describing Feldenkrais. It took me right back to when I was a senior in college taking curls class, and me being like, what is this doesn't have time? No, whatever this crazy crap is, I'm going to just like sit and breathe a little like, what is this? You know, right. And it wasn't until relatively recently, within the last couple of years that I have discovered the true value to my own well being amount how to get quiet, and to notice and making these small movements and doing the breathing and this and that, and having permission to relax for a minute. So can you talk to that someone who is potentially new to meditation is new to Feldenkrais? How do you even get to a point where you're like, if you're so afraid to just stop, because what's going to happen, if I stopped, the world's gonna fall apart, if I stop, I can feel like that for sure. And I would say, you don't have to be perfect at it. If all you can do is stop for 30 seconds and stop for 30 seconds, it doesn't have to be a half hour. It's like there I meditate every single morning. Some days, it's five minutes, some days, it's 20. But what I noticed in myself is if I don't do it, then I'm like in this anxiety, we all and I don't feel like myself. I wake up early before my child is awake before my wife is awake, like it's quiet. And I just take the time to do it. And I think sometimes what gets hidden in there in not wanting to take the time is not wanting to invest in or maybe I'll say this a different way. So we don't quite believe that we're worth the time. Yes, yes, say more. So I'm reading and listening. And I've read this book many times. Now, the body is not apology by samruddhi Taylor. And it's all about radical self love, and how that can be transformative and change the world in these amazing ways. But it's such a good reminder for me that taking the time for myself is not only transformative for me, but it's transformative for the people around me. And so that investment in myself helps everybody else. And I need that reminder. Because I think like a lot of educators and certainly like a lot of women, I take care of a lot of different people. I'm holding space for a lot of different people. I'm supporting my families through all kinds of things, not just their educational process, but things that are coming up in their lives. And as a mentor to kids, especially when you create safe space for them. They tell you a lot of different things, right. So it's a lot to hold a lot to hold. And when I'm in the right space for myself, then I can do it without sacrificing myself. It's not at my expense. And I can still show up for them. Well, let's just sit because you can't hold space, if you're not in a place to hold space, right? Unless you start doing some of this work. You don't even know what that feels like yet. There's a whole world that's available to you, in a way of being that's available to you that you might not even realizing this kind of practice is a gateway into understanding how that's possible. Right? Yeah. And I think that it's also fair to say that sometimes when we stop and pay attention, what we notice is that we're on pinion and that's hard to face, right? It's not like oh, it's all sunshine and roses every time I meditate, right? Sometimes I show up and I'm like, Oh man, I'm really pissed right now. Like this thing that's happening in my personal life is really painful. I

I don't want to sit with that. Like, I don't want to be with that any more than I have to be. But I think for me, what happens when I do sit with it is that I do start to recognize what's me and what's not me? Where do I end? And where does the problem begin? And how can I give myself the self care and love and compassion, that I need to then approach the problem and solve the problem, again, without sacrificing myself, instead of just reacting? I guess, right, because you actually can't do that, unless you're centered and calm, your nervous system is safe, you are able to solve problems in a way that's helpful necessarily, if you're activated. And sometimes we don't even realize we're activated, because it's just again, in the air we breathe, especially since the pandemic, people wake up and are activated. Yes, they're animated in their sleep, because they can't sleep or they're having all these stress dreams, right? You can't find that quiet unless you create that for yourself. And like you said, Before, I want to reiterate it, you are worthy of that quiet, because one of the most fundamental principles of the work that I do is most generous thing you can do for other people is take care of yourself. Yeah, which is a radical idea in a lot of places that I go into, because as educators and like you said, also, as women, we tend to take on everyone else's stuff. But that leaves us feeling depleted and consistently pouring from an empty vessel. And it's not sustainable. Oh, for sure. And I think with my family background, the message that I got, in this kind of toxic environment that I was growing up in was everybody else's comfort is more important than your own. And so do sacrifice yourself as much as you possibly can, so that everybody else is happy, so that you're putting out the landmines so that nobody has to yell, and everybody can stay safe. But what that meant for me is that I did take it all on. And it was so painful that it was hard for me to figure out whether it was worth living another day. And so raising my own child, my daughter is nine, it is so important for me that she gets this message that you are the most important one to take care of. Right, you're not responsible for anybody else's feelings, you're not responsible for taking care of whatever difficulty they're having your responsibility is to yourself. And then everybody else will also be taken care of, but do not sacrifice yourself, for everybody else. I mean, I don't know how much more painful it can get when kids are suicidal and self harming and just gotta change. Imagine that that was the message. It wasn't math class. It's not science class. Class. We're here to teach you how to be a human being. Because we are on that journey, also as your teachers. And we're going to do that today through math through science, because if we're not doing that, we are perpetuating these problems. And we're not looking at them in a way that's helpful. And is it confronting? Yes. Does it always feel good? No.

End of the day, we're not healing our wounds, and growing and expanding as human beings. And then what are we doing? What does math mean? If we're not able to be whole? What does music mean? What does art mean? If we're not able to connect with that part of our humaneness, which is often why it gets so frustrated with the social emotional programs, like we spoke about before we were recording, it's like, you know, you can't teach Spanish if you don't have conversational Spanish skills. We can't teach social emotional skills unless we ourselves as the adults are able to embody them not just speak the words of empathy and community and kindness. It's actually self love. Putting yourself first and knowing that that is the truly the most generous thing you can do for the people around you. Yeah. And we're not going to be good at it sometimes. Yeah, that's right. Right, because like, I can go to that place where like, I can get perfectionistic about not being perfectionistic. Like, it's so bad. Like, why do I need a feedback loop there? Right, exactly. It's like, okay, well, I really have to hold space. So am I doing a good job being a good human? And I'm, like, no, just being able to say sometimes I'm sorry, I just made a mistake. My bad, no big deal. And I also then can't beat myself up, right? Like if I'm trying to teach my students not to beat themselves up because they've made mistakes. It means that I can't indulge myself in beating myself up when I've made a mistake. But the beautiful thing is that then it gets modeled for my students, right, who then are like, Oh, Sharon just made a mistake. And look, she's fine. We're moving on and maybe she doesn't have the answer, but she's gonna find it or like, however it gets handled, it gets handled. Yeah. And then sometimes I get afraid that then the conversation amongst my students or their parents is gonna be like, Oh, Sharon doesn't really know what she's talking about. It

Isn't that interesting? And so right and that's like just some of that old programming, right? Because even that indulging, isn't you, it's your old programming of beating above about being a perfectionist, you know, and even separating that like you yourself as this spiritual being having this human experience from like your biology is really important in this process to and you know what I love talking about, you know, when you get into that kind of space, it's that spiritual wellness of us as humans, that is in the neuroscience research, like it's really important here, because when I talk about some of the stuff, it can get high on the woowoo scale. Same and that all my listeners are like super high on the hoosegow. So it's also super, it was just cool, like, you know, deja zone. But I also want to just grounded and like, this is actual science. This is about how our brains work and the function of what we are as human beings, and being able to even just have some levity about it. Right. I think when people work with me, too, they think I go around singing Kumbaya with my kids. But like, it's not that my kids this morning, like it happens because we're human. But again, it's making that conscious decision, like, Okay, I'm human, I made a mistake, apologize for the things, acknowledging to my children that I am also human, I make mistakes, too. And it's learning for everybody. Because how we show up is how we model for the people around us. Yeah, for sure. I'm a big neuroscience geek, because again, like Feldenkrais can feel really woowoo. And what we're learning because there's a lot we don't know about the brain, like, there's so much that we don't know about the brain. But as we're learning more and more, especially recently, the science is really showing us that, yeah, there's a lot of conversation happening in these different parts of the brain that like signals are firing and triggering, from one to the next and to the next. And so mind body is actually a thing, right? It actually happens in our brain, we're not a mind or a body, or a spiritual being, or an emotional being like we are all of it all the time. And all of those different parts of the brain trigger other parts. And they're all in concert with one another at all times, right. And so, I know that there's many educators listening, who are not musicians, but I can go a long way with music metaphors, right, then when you have an ensemble of people, and you have all these different parts of your brain, and everyone is working together to create beautiful music. Sometimes when there's that one little thing that just gets off, then everything else just, it changes the entire experience. But if we can just stop and hold space for this one little thing that needs to just kind of align with everything else, then beautiful things happen that like bring us to tears, right? Yes. Oh, and we can totally go down a rabbit hole there. So yeah.

To be continued, I want to just ask you this last question, because it's something I asked everybody, because I think it's important that we share our dreams out loud. So that's the first step for them becoming reality. What is your dream for the future of education? My dream for the future of education is that every child feel safe and seen, and the spaces that they're learning in our safe spaces, and also brave spaces, where they can be challenged and invigorated and held as whole humans. And educators can also be seen and held and acknowledged as humans and administrators can be seen an L that acknowledges will humans, and will have compassion for our humanity and more connection, less pain. Yes, we're that. So how can people work with you get in touch with you? What's new? What's coming up next? Yeah, so I'm in the process of developing an online course. And one of the things that's going to be coming up soon, is a very exclusive opportunity to work with me live via zoom, before the course goes on autopilot, there will be an opportunity coming up to be able to do some of this work is grounded and felt in Christ, and coupled with self awareness. So it's doing gentle movement, helping your body feel better, and also really thinking deeply about who you are as a human, and what superpowers you get from just who you are. So there is a link that I'll share with you where people can get a brief short example of what that might be like a little Feldenkrais lesson, it's 10 minutes, when they sign up for my email list, and then they'll be on the list and can learn about how to engage in that exclusive class once it launches. Amazing. And all of that will be put in the podcast notes too. So it'll be super easy for people to access. I am excited for you. I'm excited for just where this is going and your new venture with this. This stuff really is important and needs to be shared. So I encourage folks who are listening, go ahead and check out share and stuff because it is juicy. Thank you. Oh, yeah, I'm excited. Thank you so much for spending your morning with me. I so appreciate you and this beautiful conversation we had and I'm looking forward to hopefully connecting and

doing some more of this great conversation. I would love that. And thank you so much for all of the work that you're doing in the world. I think it's huge and it's needed so deeply appreciative of you. Thank you everyone for listening. And if you liked today's episode, go ahead and write a great review. And we will see you next time on take notes. Incredible, right? Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible and it's all here for you right now. Let's keep the conversation going and empowered educator faculty room on Facebook.

How does ADHD affect learning in the classroom? Practical strategies and resources for ADHD in the classroom with ADHD expert and parenting coach, Leslie Josel.

Students come into our classrooms with a multitude of different needs.

And, oftentimes you get an IEP or a 504- and then it's go time!

Problem is, teachers don’t receive any formal training on how to handle these needs in a way that fully supports the student and helps them flourish.

So, how do we come up with creative ways to teach self-regulation and executive function skills without it leading to frustration?

Welcome to the Take Notes with Jen Rafferty podcast! In this episode, I’m speaking with ADHD-academic and parenting coach, Leslie Josel. She is the founder of Order Out of Chaos, a virtual company whose mission it is to help parents guide their students to success in learning and in life.

Leslie is the creator of the award-winning Academic Planner: A Tool for Time Management®, the author of three books, weekly writer of “Dear ADHD Family Coach®” for ADDitude magazine, (the premier magazine for adults and children with ADHD), and speaks to audiences all over the world on the subject.

In our chat, Leslie describes her own experiences when her son was first diagnosed with ADHD- in a time when there was limited understanding and resources available to families like hers.

She shares how she made it her mission to “untangle” her son's world- and has been dedicated to defining systems and structures that would help other families do the same for the last 19 years.

Today, it’s all about understanding how the ADHD brain functions, and how to encourage purposeful action within your classroom environment.

The principles we discuss today are beneficial to all of us, and move us closer to students engineering their own path to learning.

Stay empowered,


Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:

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About Leslie Josel:

Leslie Josel, an ADHD-academic and parenting coach, founded Order Out of Chaos – a virtual company whose mission is to help parents guide their students to success in learning and in life - when her son was first diagnosed with ADHD.

She is the creator of the award-winning Academic Planner: A Tool for Time Management®, a planner that helps students develop time management skills, and the award-winning author of 3 books including the recently published, “How to Do it Now Because it’s Not Going Away: An Expert Guide to Getting Stuff Done.” (Lerner Publishing)

A respected resource on ADHD and Executive Functioning, Leslie writes the weekly “Dear ADHD Family Coach®” column for ADDitude Magazine, the premiere magazine for adults and children with ADHD. She speaks to audiences all over the world helping them utilize their resources to best navigate the task-driven world in which they live. Last year, Leslie’s line of student organizing products – a collaboration with Samsill Corp – was released.
And for the last six years, Leslie has been named by Global Gurus as one of the top 20 Time Management experts in the world.

teachers generally don't have much formal training on how to support neurodivergent students. And we also don't really have the supports in place in schools for the adults who are neurodivergent themselves. And while awareness is the first step in supporting everyone, we really need to do more. So today I'm speaking with ADHD academic and parenting coach Lesley Jo SEL, who is the founder of order out of chaos. And their mission is to help parents and educators guide their students to success, both in learning and in life. And lovely and I talked about her own experiences when her son was first diagnosed with ADHD in a time where there was really limited understanding and resources available to families like hers. She shares how she made it her mission to untangle her son's world, and has been dedicated to defining systems and structures that would help other families do the same for the last 19 years. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did. And after this episode, be sure to check out break time, which is the monthly empowered educator subscription that gives you access to an incredible video library of self regulation strategies, as well as monthly group coaching calls with me. So head on over to empowered educator.com/resources Remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world? Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two, and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids. We need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy, and fulfillment. This is education 2.0, where you become the priority, shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work, and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee, and grab your notebook. It's time to take notes. Hello, everyone. And welcome back to another episode of take notes. I'm so excited to introduce our guests today because first of all the content is going to be absolutely amazing. This conversation is so important. But even beyond that, when I first got to know Lesley, it ended up with a lot in common we grew up in Long Island. We both lived in Ithaca and we both have this incredible Los Angeles connection. So Crazy, right? First of all, I'm just thrilled that you're here. Thank you so much for being here. Oh my pleasure. I'm so excited to be here. I it was like in magic because it really was just meant to be So Leslie is an ADHD academic and parenting coach and founder of order out of chaos, which is a virtual company whose mission is to help parents guide their students to success in learning. And in life, when her son was first diagnosed with ADHD is how this all started. She is the creator of the award winning Academic Planner, a tool for time management, which helps students develop time management skills. And the award winning author of three books, including The recently published how to do it now, because it's not going to go away an expert guide to getting stuff done. And she is the weekly writer of dear ADHD family Coach column for attitude magazine, the premier magazine for adults and children with ADHD, and speaks to audiences all over the world. Lesley. Hello, hi. Well, I've looked into that sometimes I'm like, Oh, well, is that a lot?

Yeah, that bring it in. It's great. And I'm so glad that you wanted to spend your time with us today. Because this is something that continues to be asked of me. You know, Jen, can you talk more about ADHD? Can you talk more about adults with ADHD? And I was really excited when our paths crossed and able to have this conversation. I'd love for you to tell and share your story about how you got here. What is the origin story? So I'm gonna give you the Reader's Digest version, because we only have a certain time. And what I'm going to invite is Venezuelan is very curious about it. And I invite them to go to our website where they can read the story in its entirety. But if you go to the website, it says in big letters, it all started with my son. And I feel like that actually captures a lot of people's attention because I think what I went through is what a lot of people have gone through in all of the years that we've been in existence. I started my company 19 years ago. Fun fact today is our 19th anniversary, but when I want thanks

You but what I want people to know is go back to 2004. The Internet wasn't as massive as it is there weren't podcasts, there weren't conferences, there weren't telephone booths, there wasn't really even people talking about ADHD in a very user friendly way. There was really very little information out there. My son was newly diagnosed at the time, he was four. And I really had to rely on my guts and my instincts to I always say, untangle his world, that is the word I use. And I think that's a really good visual, both at home and at school. Now, what I did back then, was really, some people they would said, Wow, that was like incredible revolutionary are out of the box thinking, maybe not so much now, because we know so much and understand how to help students and adults in an ADHD world. But back then doing what I did like taking doors off closet, so he could see what was behind them. Because what you don't see doesn't exist, taking the dresser out of his room and lining clear bins with pictures of what went in there. And simplifying the steps of finding clothes and getting undress I labeled everything that was hidden in our house blue, because Blue was there soothing for him. And we recognize color before we recognize words. So as you know, now people go, okay, I get it, but go back 19 years ago, it was pretty radical. I want to say that, not that I'm so fabulous. But I spent a lot of time figuring this, trying to keep the claim figuring this out. True story, a friend of mine, who was a therapist, so what I did is that I have a family of four, that I work with all four boys under the age of 10, all with ADHD. And I was working at the time that I didn't do this. And she said, You've got to help me out. And I spent eight hours and goodness of my heart with this family, helping them we do everything within two weeks, I got four phone calls. I saw what you did at least this house, can you come to mind, I turned to my husband who has ADHD and there's a reason I said I'm because I'm such a Virgo, I'm such a type A like everything has to be a coordination like I like but I don't do this for a living. And he just kind of went you do now. And literally, I was working four days a week. So I was doing this on Fridays and Saturdays, going house to house door to door family family working with them to define systems and structures that would help them within a month, a month. I quit my job 19 years later. We are a online global virtual company. We have about 17 countries over 100,000 parents, teachers, related professionals and students who come to us for products, programs, workshops, webinars, coaching, and you read the rest. And it has been a wild ride. But what I still realize 19 years later, with the internet at our fingertips with more information coming our way people are still looking for connection and answers and figuring it out. What I find in our community is they want the how we all know the why. But they really want the how. So that's kind of what we bring to the table at oC is yes, we obviously have to do the why. But we are really bringing them concrete things that they can really wrap their brains around in a very user friendly way. And I think the fact that I bring to the table, I always say I wear three hats, obviously I wear a professional hat, but I wear a parenting hat. And I think that's really you know, there were many nights when I would stand on a stage at a local high school and go, I just let my son lying on the floor screaming, I get you, the guy live you, right. I mean, it's not that way anymore. But I wear the parenting hat, I wear the professional hat. But I also wear the student hat. And I spent all my days with kids. And I feel that we bring a very unique sensibility to what we do that others don't meaning that are in and that my family, I love my colleagues. We all work together on a lot of things. But I think that's what makes us unique. Absolutely. Having that lived experience is everything. Because I think exactly what you said people come looking for connection and community. And they find that with people who have those shared lived experiences, that is the thing that makes you you and yeah, I want to celebrate for a second this 19 year anniversary, because that's huge and speaks volumes as to the need for what you're providing. And there are some things that you said that I want to get back to you. And the first thing that comes to mind is the concrete steps that you just laid out. And you're like, Yeah, I get this. Now it's 2022. I got this, many of us don't. And I want to just put that perspective out there. And we'll talk about that a little bit more because as a teacher in the classroom, we don't have formal training on a lot of this, right, we get an IEP, or we get the 504 and then it's okay go. And they're like, Well, what does that mean? Right? Many of us are missing that how and I think that's part of what gets so frustrating sometimes is because when you're in the class of 2025, sometimes 30 And you have 56789 even more sometimes kids who are dealing with

A variety of things in their life to just function throughout the day and do well, these concrete things that you're saying. I mean, I've been teaching for 15 years, and I was super creative about how I did it. But I never even thought about those things. So can you talk more about that stuff that's so valuable here. It's interesting because I just so much work in the school. And I say this. And it's like, funny, you're a teacher. And it's a very interesting spot to be in when you are not a teacher by training, but your ADHD expert, or you're an academic life coach, and then you're asked to come into a school and tell teachers how to teach. It's a slippery slope, because I would never want to tell a teacher how to teach because I think what you do is like heroes work and never more than in the last few years. And to back that up, we actually had for art. So we are celebrating our 10th plan. aversary You mentioned that we have academic planners. And what we did this year in honor of that is we gave a $5,000 grant to a school in our community. Have you ever had a caste community that was not only doing heroes work for their children, or their students that were neurodiverse, but also all their students. So I love schools, and I love teachers. But I'm humbled to be told, like when I tell a teacher, here's what I tell teachers, and I'm going to share something with everyone that I probably shouldn't yet. But I know you said to me, like, I'm gonna ask you a question and what's your like vision for education. And my vision for education is actually what I work on now, day in and day out on a math and it's called universal learning. And I think that is exactly what you're talking about. So we all know what Universal Design is universal design is when they realized that there was a population of those that had physical impairments that needed curb cuts, that needed access into buildings, that would make it easier for them. Right. And it was specifically done for those that had physical impairments. But what they realized was all of us whether you had a physical impairment, or were completely fine, benefited from it. So if I was a parent with a stroller, or I was walking down a busy street with luggage to go somewhere, those curb cuts benefited everybody are those in the big print on the screens, we all need them, not just those that might have visual impairment. So I talk about universal learning, as very similar. What we are trying to teach teachers and schools is that all the methodologies that we talked about, for those that are neurodiverse are actually beneficial to everybody. So it shouldn't be that this is like, Oh, how do I work with those with executive dysfunction, ADHD, that really should not be the conversation, the conversation really should be? How am I putting in practices and multimodal learning that's going to benefit all of my kids in the classroom? So how am I making time visible? So all of my kids have their time blind? Or maybe they're anxious? Or maybe they How can I make that visible? How can I get my students to see time so they can learn to manage it? How can I modulate the effort level of my teaching? So those kids that struggle with effort, sustaining effort, how can I modulate my teaching, so I can sustain their effort level throughout the entire class period? That's not just for someone who has executive functioning impairment. That's for all think about it, can a 13 year old really sustained 45 minutes of the lecture? I mean, I can give you an example. What we talk about with teachers is we say you actually do it, but you don't even realize that you're doing it in a good way or why you're doing it. So when your student walks in the classroom, sometimes out on like the credenza is they do now, right? We all know what to do now in the do now drop your homework in the red bin, pick up your homework for tomorrow night in the white bed, you come and you sit down, you're asked to sit and do some work, but it's low level effort. Your student who might have executive dysfunction or cannot sustain effort does not have to be listening doesn't have to be processing doesn't have to be understanding doesn't have to have all of his working memory doesn't have to be on fire. low effort. Basically, it's looking around the room and going okay, if Michaels doing this now, I should be doing this now. So it's low level you get you're warming the brain up, then teacher might say, Okay, everyone time put it away, sign for lecture. Now all of a sudden, your student has to go on high alert, right? effort level up process, understand working memory is like snapping at all cylinders. All of that is happening for about 20 months, but then when sometimes a teacher will say okay, great now but what you can all do is finish questions wanted to by yourself, maybe work with your partner, and again, the effort level goes back, what we don't realize is wanting modulate like that. You're actually preserving that student's brain if we have to have that student on

High Alert for 45 minutes, put a fork in them, they're done. So we actually teach teachers this kind of method of teaching. Because that actually mat now imagine a student has that for eight hours. Imagine a student that has effort challenges. Sometimes, if the perception might be lazy, we always say there's a perception of lazy is really a hard time sustaining effort. When a kid comes to me and says, my teachers think I'm lazy, or my parents think I'm lazy, I will say you go back and you tell them, you just have a hard time sustaining effort. Those are some of the very practical things that we actually arrive say, wait, I bring to the table when I'm asked to work with teachers, to really explain to them what a child who has executive dysfunction looks like. But yet that teaching methodology that I just did for you, that benefits every kid in a classroom, right? That's just good teaching. It's just good teaching. It's understanding that no one that's there that sit down, I have teachers who say in the middle of class they get they make everybody stand up and move one desk over. Because we know that movement helps to lay down learning. Yes. And a lot of this, like you said, many teachers do this already. But they without maybe a full understanding as to why exactly. It's really important. It's so all of a sudden, like, I'll be working with teachers, and they'll go, Oh, my God, thank God. I felt like, that's amazing, like, but I never be like, why I was doing that. And even more importantly, what the benefit of it was. Right? So we really, I really spent a lot of time also working with teachers, helping them understand what executive functioning is, but not just executive functioning, is what executive agents, I'll just pause for a second intended three of them parent educator, it's all about brains. Teachers are brain changers, but again, don't have very much training as to how the brain functions. What executive function even is how you yourself can go about doing this. So yes, okay, it is. So I am going to give you what normally takes me four hours, I'm going to do it in two minutes. Here we go. Everyone will describe executive functioning differently. I like six pillars, because I think six pillars are manageable. And remember, I'm also speaking to students all day long, and parents, so I have to speak a language that's incredibly user friendly. How I describe executive functions has been towards purposeful actions. Two really good way of thinking about it. Before we do that, what people don't realize is that executive functioning and ADHD are not one in the same. Here's a fun fact, if you have anyone in your classroom who has been diagnosed with ADHD, they will automatically have executive dysfunction that go hand in hand. Because ADHD is an executive function disorder. It is not about focus, or hyperactivity, that is just too simple. It is all about self regulation, right? It's about doing the right thing. At the right time, purposeful actions, I want you all to remember that I think it is such a good way of thinking about it. But here's the difference. You could have a child in your classroom who has executive dysfunction, but not be diagnosed with ADHD. It does not go that way. Which is why we really spend more time talking about executive functioning than we do ADHD because executive functioning tells the story. It's super granular, it's super day to day, it's super brain specific. So your executive functions are I break them down into six pillars. So the first one is activation, and that actually is organizing and time management together. And yes, a lot of people will go but how is time management and organizing, like in the same category when I'm telling you is if you are time blind, or don't know where you sit in time, that is actually a disorganization of the brand. This organization doesn't necessarily have to be space and stuff. And that's the aha moment. Okay, number two is focus. I think we pretty much understand that one. distractibility bug number three is effort level, okay, and that's different than focus effort level is being up here all the time trying to, I'm just not I always say that's also we're overwhelmed lives. That's where the overwhelm lives. And I know all of you have overwhelmed kids in your classroom. We're overwhelmed. I just did a webinar I kid you not on the overwhelm student. We call them the T O students too much too big, too vague, too, are too loud. We had over 5000 people come to that webinar, because this is the topic right now that everybody is talking about is overwhelm a yes, sure is. Okay. Number four is mood regulation. I'm gonna get back to that one in a minute. Number five is working memory. Working memory is not short term. It's not like what you ate for breakfast. It's not long term. I went with grandma or ate it to Disney. This is how I described working memory and all you teachers out there you go, Oh my God. It's your kid at eight o'clock in the morning going. I'm good. I'm good. I got it. I'm all right at that moment and in that time your student is but let's fast forward to

Eight o'clock at night when your student opens and I'm not picking on your math teachers math and goes on alarmists. I got no idea what that is. That's working memory. It. Did he hear you? Yes. But did he remember not working memory is remembering to remember, information has this ticket, glue it to your brain, and then be able to take it out when you need. It's a two lane highway. Yes. I mean, I'm doing this in like record time, it's so impressed

that the last one is what you would own. That was impulsivity. I hate that word. So I describe it as self leadership. I love that. So much more empowering, more way more empowering. Now mood regulation, that because I'm this is not a science class, but mood regulation is all about. It's the emotion side of the brain. It's the limbic system. And what you have to understand about the right brain, the left brain, left brain has all the logic and linear thinking and reasoning and rationale, the right brain is all like your emotion and all that so of that limbic system, which holds all that is in play, reasoning things away, rationalizing things away, will never work, you have to connect to that right brain first, to bring that limbic system down. It's like a helium balloon, you have to fizzle it out. And then we connect, we always say that to connect to the right and then direct back to the left, you cannot rationalize a reasonable reason that way. But what that looks like might look like in a classroom is a quiet kid. doesn't always mean that explosive kid, it's a frustrated kid. It's an anxious kid. It's a quiet kid. Yeah, they all present in so many.

Sure. And you know, and I'm thinking about this too, from the lens of the adults in the room, who are also maybe reflecting on their own behavior and think wow,

relates, if it resonates with me, right? The self regulation resonates with me, this effort level resonates. And I want to share something that I was really looking forward to asking you one of the teachers who work with me and a power educator asked a question, and I'm gonna pass it to you. She says, I'm newly ADHD diagnosed in my late 40s. And now all my life makes sense. I hear that all the time. She said, I noticed a lot of overlap between burnout symptoms and ADHD and what kinds of things you have to help neurodivergent folks. And I thought with all the six pillars that you're telling me about, I feel like this ties in tremendously, because a lot of that overwhelmed like you were just describing. That's sometimes the first symptom we feel of burnout. But what kind of things do you like you said, we're talking about universal learning, universal design, universal language, just about how it is to be a human being in this world. All of this is relevant to everybody. This is my thing. I always say this, I love teachers. And I am very blessed that I get to travel the world. I've spoken to teachers in Kuwait, in Canada and Brazil, I am very lucky. And actually this webinar was sprayed, but our webinars are free for teachers. We tend to be a why not? Because you guys are doing literally heroes work. Trust me, I never saw it more than during the pandemic because I was on the other side of it. And I was like, whatever. We were giving webinars just for teachers, anything, all of our resources, I couldn't get hard products, but we were giving everything we could because it was just crazy. Anyway, I just want to know that. Yeah, but a lot of you understanding what is tapping into that overwhelm. So for some of my adults, they will come to me and say decision making. So it's interesting. I feel like decision making is like Cinderella, like she's the stepsister in the back. You never see her You never talk about her. But all of a sudden, we started talking about decision making in one of our webinars and it like it's bloated. Believe it or not, that's something you can do in the classroom, even for your kids or even for yourself. So for my adult clients who go I am so overwhelmed by decision making decision fatigue is very real. I am not neurodiverse I make a man 1000 decisions. So I work very long day. So I get it by the time I walk out my door and my husband benignly goes, What do you want for dinner? I'm like, I can't I'm not so I can imagine. So what is work, believe it or not with my adults is narrowing. They're filling out their columns is what I call it. Cubby sizing. We talk a lot in our work about shelves and cubbies. And teachers use that analogy because shelves are unwieldly. They're clutter, you can't see beginning, middle and end. Shelves are parameters. They have spaces on them. So limiting your choices. So what does that look like for my adult clients what it looks like as I get to magazines, not 10 I food shop in two places, not five, I make five meals and that's it. rituals and routines are really really important. Those that are particularly adults are neurodiverse because it takes decision making out of things. And therefore it calms the brain and it saves the brain for what it really needs to be doing which is preparing plans and grading papers.

All right. So all of those decisions that you can narrow down and not have. If you've ever heard Peter Shankman, I don't know if anyone knows who he is. He's this very famous entrepreneur has an ADHD podcast. And I was on it. And we talked about this and he's like, Leslie, that's actually brilliant. I only work out on peloton, I don't go to five different exercises. Now I'm talking about adults, now, I only read one newspaper, I only get two magazines, I only make six meals, like in my rotation, I eat the same breakfast every day. We know there are geniuses who were the same turtleneck every day, right? The same thing every day. They actually weren't neurodiverse or are neurodiverse. But that's how they said they were. That's a huge part of all of this. And huge, we don't talk about decision making. But it's huge, right? And it's finding your strengths. And you know, when we talk a lot about the accommodations that we need to make as adults, or a combination of these make as kids, there's a lot of deficit thinking. But here, the way that you're explaining it is you are taking something that can be completely empowering, for an incredible purpose, for sustaining throughout the day for doing amazing things for having the impact that you want to make with the students in the communities, you serve something like this one change to make those decisions like you just scribe one, day three, trimming fat, we're trimming fat. And what I like about this, and we do a lot of internal work is that it's sustainable. Because we're not going to make radical decision. We're not asking, make radical changes. We're not saying eliminate completely, it's going through your categories and saying and listen again. And this is very meta. But it's not just for those that are neurodiverse. We are a society of information that is coming out of AI for not neurodiverse feel so sensory overloaded in my life right now. Because just there's so much coming at me that I've even done this, because I just can't sustain that I can't sustain that effort of having to make 1000 of where am I getting my information from? Where am I shopping? Where am I doing this from? I know that sounds like we fly a lot back and forth, as you know, but just making things smaller. And so I have less decisions to me have freed up my brain and my clients brains to ever to use that energy for what they really need to be using it for whether it's parenting, your child teaching, creating plans, whatever it is, that's life changing, and it's sustainable, and you can't do it. Because it's not radical, these changes have to be that way. Because otherwise, that's where the self sabotage comes in. And because we do everything on balancing, then we can't do anything. And the other thing I'm going to say too, it's not directly to teaching, but your environment is so important to the overwhelm of your brain. And we don't talk about environment either. So I understand that when you walk into your classroom, that that's kind of fed for you. But whatever you can do within your classroom environment, to we talk a lot about, it's interesting, because when I walk into a school to teach teachers, I'm helping them understand their students. But ultimately what happens is the conversation turns to them. And I get that right. I'm stuck in this classroom all day, I have parameters that I can't change, fine, what can we change? Can you bring in things that change the environment for you. So like teachers will say that they do two things, they make sure their environment as best they can, really helps to engage their brain and sue that. So it might be you can see, it might be aromatherapy, and might be a diffuser going all day in the classroom. Because the sense I'm a set girl, there is a set in my house all day every day I work from home unless I'm traveling. So if it's not aromatherapy, it's a candle. It's not just because it's fun, it really helps do my brain like never thought of that maybe it's a cushion on your chair that really helps. Maybe it's fun colored paper and pencils that speak to you. I know the sound trade, but they're really not anything that you can do in your environment. Maybe it's flowers, fresh flowers every Monday morning to help you because environment is actually the number one thing we have to help us to motivate and feel less overwhelmed. So that's number one. And number two, the other thing we talk a lot about is what I call a work ritual. And I talk about this with adults as well as my students. So what you have to know about the brain is the brain is stone cold, you would never go and like play the big soccer game or you would never go and like be in this you know on the big theater show. I don't know if I said that. Right? You know what I'm talking about right? Without warming up. First, you warm up your muscles, whether it's your voice muscle to get on the shower, your body, the soccer whatever. Working requires muscle, your brain is a muscle so when you walk into a room and you start and you're Stone Cold

It is really, really, you're putting so much effort of your own to get to where you need to be to teach nerds divers are not mean as the teacher. So what we want is a work ritual in place. What do you do every morning to warm up your brain to get it ready to do the work you need to do? And I say that to my students, too. What's your work ritual? And everyone has their own? Some people have some people don't? Do you like I don't know, I just sit down and start. I'm like, Do you know what you're up against? When you do that? Maybe it is lighting a candle? Maybe it's coffee, maybe it's a walk around the blog, maybe it's conversation with your mother? Some people say absolutely not. That's not what I need. But what is your like work ritual that's going to open up the brain because the brain has to warm up. And when we see people doing that, adults in particular, they find themselves less overwhelmed, and able to give more and receive. Yes, that's the whole thing with the work that I do. It's priming yourself as the adult in the room. So you are regulated. So you are calm. So you are centered so you can give and receive because otherwise we're not able to have the ACA salutely 100%. So what are you doing? Like, what are you doing to do that? Listen, I coach all day Mondays. And I start very early, I get up very early on Monday. And I have a ritual that I do before I sit down at the staff so that when I see my students across for me, they have 100% of my intention. Now granted, by the end of it, I'm exhausted at the end of the day, because it's a lot of, but I make sure that I've had coffee, because for me if I do a small like not a big workout, but I have to stretch my body because I'm sitting all day you can't see and I have a candle that is lit I have my books ready to go. Not only is my phone off, it is nowhere even near me. That's research proven that even when you have a phone near you, and that's all your cognitive ability plummets. In other words, it makes you stupid, I hate that word. I'm deciding what they say. So now I'm sitting here at literally I am ready to receive I have warmed up my brain, and I've got ready to give what I need to give, and I'm not as exhausted because I'm not coming in, like, you know, oh my god, you know, I'm saying like, where's my pan, I don't have the books for each, like, I'm calm, I'm centered, and I'm ready to go. That's so important. And that morning time, it can be sacred, I remember when I get up, I press news a couple times, hop in the shower, get the kids ready, forget the instrument in the house, come back run and get the band instrument, go back, you know, get the red light and barely get to work in time. And then by the time you're there, you're already frazzled, you're fried. But here's the other thing. For those of you that are gonna say to me, this is something we work on with students a lot. We have a lot of kids who come home from school, follow me along, follow the bouncing ball, I promise, I have a point that I'm totally with you. Let's go. I wrote a whole book about students and procrastination. We call the tales from the trenches, because we went back and talked to as many kids as we could find that I had coached. So it's not only my stories, it's their stories. And one of the things that was resounding to my kids that Mike well, but you know, when I say my kids, you know what I mean, was we had to eliminate the barrier to entries. And I talked about barriers to entry. And everything I do, it seeps all the way back to where I started my company, when I took the doors off the closet, where I took the dresser out, that was a barrier to entry to my son. So what was a barrier to my entry for my students when they came home, whether it was in high school or college getting worked on, it was too overwhelming. So what we do is we separate the setup from the task, because the setup is a visual reminder of what we have to do. And it eases that it's almost like the bridge to getting it done. And I noticed that with a lot of my teachers, they actually globbed on to that idea for themselves. And what does that look like? So for students coming home, let's say in high school, maybe he sits in the dining room table, maybe it's his room, whatever it is, that's a different podcast for a different day. He lays everything out. He's got his books out, might make popcorn and put that next to it. He's got all what he needs, but he doesn't do anything. So that's what I asked them. I know you need time, but at least get set up. Now you can go off and do what you need fill your tank, but what happens now when they come back? They're not up again to the what do I have to do where they can ease into it. It's a visual cue and they've built the bridge and it really helps the procrastination thing. My college students will do it they even leave like tabs up. So I have kids that the night before will leave all their tabs open. So the next day when they wake up, it's right there. A lot of my teachers do that the night before before they leave their classrooms. Everything is out and ready. It's almost is that the minute they walk into there, so if you're not a morning person, you can actually do your work ritual the night before, to the point where I have what goes on I put my candle and the match right next to thing I have my paper

Ready to go. So like when I walk in, my planner is open things are already out on the desk. So that would I walk in all of those visual cues helped me ease into the day like this. I don't have to think I don't have to exercise my brain. It's kind of done for me. So there's that too, right? So I want everyone to think of it in those ways as well. It doesn't always have to be like, if you're sitting and going, There's no way I can get up at six o'clock in the morning to do all that you don't have to do. And what it does is, again, it takes that decision making out of the equation, I don't need to be asking him, what do I need to be doing right now? Right, and then you get overwhelmed, and and then you don't end up doing anything? I mean, exactly, we've all been there. And you know, again, really looking inwards. Because when we look inwards, not only are we able to show up better, but we're setting these examples for our kids who are watching us, absolutely, man. And in some ways. Also, we talk a lot in the school with teachers about visual cues. Like, are you still hanging analog clocks in the classroom, I'm sorry, I am the queen of analogs, your students need to see time mood to really know where they sit and the relation to the day and digital doesn't cut it digital only gives you one time. And that's the present. And you know, I'm a time management expert. That's really my wheelhouse. And what I explain to teachers too is, the more you can make time visible or visual, the less pressure is off you. And the only thing you're doing is strengthening their brain like we tend to be as coaches and teachers. We tend to be problem solvers, we tend to be fixers, we tend to answer questions, even when none are asked the big thing I ask teachers this all the time, I'm like, do you answer questions when none are asked? And they're like, What the heck do you mean by that? kid goes to you, because you could have little kids? I'm hungry, I'm tired, I don't understand. And we go off and we explain our answer. And I go, but did they ask you anything? No. So why are you answering them? If you truly want to strengthen your students brain? I always say you don't need to know the answer. But they have to be able to ask the question. And I don't know, is not a question, I don't know is a weak executive functioning brain. And that's okay. Your job as the teacher is to work it out is to give them two pound dumbbells. Because the brain has the muscle and to do that is to ask them a question back. So if you have a kid that goes through says I don't understand, or I don't know, I don't understand. Right. Can you tell me what you do now? So great question. That is a great question. And you tell me what you do now. They might have to lead them if they're younger. And when I teach teachers that they're like, Oh, my God, I love that. Because my first response is to go, Okay, let me because we did that. That's a good thing. We're fixers and helpers. And Virgos and our guys, yes. I'm sorry, I get it. But I have really my own coaching had to learn how to shut up. And I'm telling you to shut up, but to ask questions back. So if someone comes to me and says, I don't know, I'm like, Is there something you need? Is there something you need from me? What is it that you're trying to ask me, that opens the door? Because we want them to ask the question. We don't want them just to blurt out, I don't get it. Because when they're doing I don't get it, they're lifting a two pound weight. And we want to get their brains to three pounds and Batman and we want to get them to that their brain can lift and doing that is asking them to formulate the question. So that's a lot of what I teach with, I teach with teachers is is the right kinds of questions to go back and ask your students where have you seen this before? What does this look similar to? What do you think you need to do to get started? Because sometimes your kid is so overwhelmed by everything we want to bring it here. What's the first thing you might need to do? And then I could go on, and I know we have limited time. And think questions is probably the Biden's have come up with one thing that is universal morning, I'm going to you're not going to ask me that question. Because I'm going to keep saying it. Asking your students questions is empowering. You know, it's funny, like we talk about kids coming and saying the word problem. I always say I love the word problem. I start every session with my students going tell me about a problem you solved. I think it needs a makeover. I think it needs a rebranding problems are not horrible. They're not but we need to cast them in a way that shows students that they can problem solve that they have that skill that problem solving is healthy and smart and a good thing. But kind of how I don't know if this is making a lot of sense. It is totally on point I could talk about brains all day with you. I would love to. It's all about the brain and like

a lot of teaching teachers almost I learned from teachers how to teach and sometimes when a teacher will call me as you're teaching me how to coach. Yes. And they just have this visual of just like all of these bodybuilder brains. So what we do what we have this

little brain that he's going like this with that we have like a graphic within these doing dumbbells, and we show it to students, parents, teachers, and like it's a great visual and like, that's what I tell parents all the time. How do you strengthen your child's executive functioning brain? And it's by asking them questions, because that's all I'm tired. I'm hungry. I don't now are not questions. Yeah, they're not so juicy. So I know that we kind of touched a little bit on this. But I would love to ask you, or dream, Leslie, for future of education? What do you want? What's your dream? My dream is that this whole thing about universal learning is not even universal learning that it's just something that we are putting into the schools for all students, because I really firmly believe that what we are doing are working to do for those that are either neurodiverse who have attention deficits or learning challenges, really benefits all students. The other thing I envision, and I'm seeing it our classrooms that are multimodal, because, you know, we didn't really talk about movement, and I attack till I talk to kids, to me, a movement is like a smoothie. It is just filled with all the good stuff. It helps distractibility movement helps to lay down learning movement helps us to stay focused and engaged. So I close my eyes and see like, even for older students, and is classrooms that are not like desk and teacher, but all different multimodal way. And kids really like almost engineering their own path of learning. Yes, and it is moving in that direction slowly. Yeah, it's moving. And you know, because of people like you and work like what I do, we're kind of this how we move the ticker forward a little bit at a time and having these conversations in this kind of a forum. So thank you so much. And how do people get to know more about you and work with you? Oh, okay, that's easy.

We try to make it super easy. So the name of my company is order out of chaos. Our website is order, Oh, chaos.com. And if you go there, from there, you can go everywhere, videos, podcasts, articles, books, products webinar, like whatever you need social if you like, your stuff, and social bytes. But everything, just go to that website, and it will take you to anything and everything you need. It is quite comprehensive. I've been there. Yes.

We've updated and obviously, it doesn't look like what it looked like 15 years ago, but we always say our website is the hardest working member of our teams. Yes, it sure is. That's how it's supposed to be right. The website is fantastic. And there is an incredible amount of resources. Yeah, so head over there I to have us in it for a while and the best possible way because one thing led to another thing. And so what you're doing is fantastic. And I just so appreciate your time and sharing your talents with me and the take notes audience today. I love what you are doing. I don't think there's many of you out there. So when I saw that, I was like, wow, that is just cool and unique and very needed. And so I think what you're doing is amazing. And I think that can support teachers in their away as it should be required. It is a necessity, not a luxury, and I fully receive that. So thank you so much, Leslie. You're so welcome. And thank you everyone for listening today. Yes, and if you love today's episode, make sure you write a great review and we'll see you next time on take notes. Incredible, right? Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible. And it's all here for you right now. Let's keep the conversation going at empowered educator faculty room on Facebook.

The whole brain approach to empower educators for ultimate teacher well-being with Dr. Jill Bolte.

What if learning about your brain led you to realize how much agency you have over your life?

What if we could supercharge everything we teach students through SEL methodologies in a way that incorporates the whole of their brains?

Taking a deep dive inside the brain can be an amazing catalyst for discovering how you can show up as your best self, and empowered educators as a whole. So, if you want to live a better life as a teacher- this episode is for you!

Welcome to episode 14 of the Take Notes with Jen Rafferty podcast! In this episode, I’m speaking with one of my heroes, Harvard-trained and published neuroscientist: Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor.

In 1996, she experienced a severe hemorrhage and the left hemisphere of her brain causing her to lose the ability to walk, talk, read, write or recall any of her life. She documented her experience in her memoir “Stroke of Insight” which spent 63 weeks on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.

Dr. Jill is a dynamic teacher and public speaker who loves educating all age groups and academic levels, as well as corporations and not-for-profit organizations about the beauty of our human brain and focuses on how we can purposely choose to live a more flexible, resilient, and satisfying life.

In our conversation, we take a deep dive into her new book “Whole Brain Living” and the idea that you can achieve a symbiotic relationship with all the “characters” in your brain to live a more full and satisfying life.

Today, we address how to leave overwhelm and teacher burnout behind on a cellular level that is both tangible and enlightening!

This information is truly life-changing and leads to true teacher well-being!

Stay empowered,


Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:

Click here to learn all the ways you can work with me:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Links
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
Facebook: Empowered Educator Faculty Room

About Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor:

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained and published neuroscientist. In 1996 she experienced a severe hemorrhage (AVM) in the left hemisphere of her brain causing her to lose the ability to walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life. Her memoir, My Stroke of Insight, documenting her experience with stroke and eight-year recovery, spent 63 weeks on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list and is still routinely the #1 book in the category Stroke in the Amazon marketplace.
Dr. Jill is a dynamic teacher and public speaker who loves educating all age groups, academic levels, as well as corporations and not-for-profit organizations about the beauty of our human brain. She focuses on how we can activate the power of our neuroplasticity to not only recover from neurological trauma, but how we can purposely choose to live a more flexible, resilient, and satisfying life.
In 2008 Dr. Jill gave the first TED talk that ever went viral on the Internet, which now has well over 27.5 million views. Also in 2008, Dr. Jill was chosen as one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” and was the premiere guest on Oprah Winfrey’s “Soul Series” webcast. Her new book, Whole Brain Living – the Anatomy of Choice and the Four Characters That Drive Our Life is a #1 release on Amazon in categories ranging from Neuroscience to Nervous System Diseases and Stroke.

You can find Books by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor here:

Books & Products - Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor (drjilltaylor.com)

Today is all about one of my favorite topics, brains. And really, it is my favorite because truly most of us underestimate this incredible tool that we have sitting between our ears. And when you learn more about your brain, you realize how much agency you actually have in your life. So if you want to live a better life, learn about your brain. And so today I am talking with my favorite neuroscientist, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, and she has really shaped the way that I think about the work that I do in this world. And the conversation that you're about to hear was truly a dream of mine. And if you don't have them already, grab a copy of both of her books, my Stroke of Insight, and whole brain living, which you can find in the show notes. So hold on to your hats, we are going deep inside the brain to learn about how you can show up as your best self. And after this episode, be sure you check out break time, because this monthly empowered educator subscription will give you access to an incredible video library of self regulation strategies, as well as a monthly group coaching calls with me and other amazing empowered educators. So head on over to empowered educator.com/resources

Remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world? Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids. We need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy and fulfillment. This is education 2.0 where you become the priority shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee and grab your notebook. It's time to take notes

Welcome to another incredible episode of take notes. I am Jen Rafferty, and today is a very special day I am able to meet one of my heroes today. I can't wait for you to meet her as well. This is Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor and she is a Harvard trained and published neuroscientist. In 1996. She experienced a severe hemorrhage and the left hemisphere of her brain causing her to lose the ability to walk, talk, read, write or recall any of her life. Her memoir my Stroke of Insight documenting her experience with stroke and eight year recovery spent 63 weeks on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list, and is still routinely the number one book in the category of stroke in the Amazon marketplace. Dr. Jill is a dynamic teacher and public speaker who loves educating all age groups academic levels, as well as corporations and not for profit organizations about the beauty of our human brain. She focuses on how we can activate the power of our neuroplasticity not to only recover from neurological trauma, but how we can purposely choose to live a more flexible, resilient and satisfying life. And in 2008, Dr. Jill get the first TED Talk that everyone viral on the internet, which now has well over 27 point 5 million views. And also in 2008 Dr. Joe was chosen as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world, and was the premiere guests and Oprah Winfrey's Soul series webcast. Her new book called Brain living the anatomy of choice and the four characters that drive our life is a number one release on Amazon and categories ranging from neuroscience to nervous system diseases and stroke. And on my personal bookshelf number one, thank you so much for being here. Dr. Jill, I'm so excited to get this started. I'm thrilled you and I we care about the same thing. And I think we approach it strategically very similarly and yet a little bit differently. So I'm excited about our chat. Thank you. I would love to start actually with the last chapter of your book, which says, perfect, beautiful and whole. I would love to know why it's so important that we start from a place of wholeness. Well, we've got all these cells in this beautiful brain, why not use all of them? That's kind of how I'm looking at it. We know a lot about the brain. We know a lot about these cells we know about how cells interact with one another. We know how to help them become healthy. We know how to skew away from a hole into the value structure of either hemisphere, the left hemisphere or the right hemisphere. They are very different places they do process the same information but in very different ways based on different values. And so the better we get to know the Oregon at

Self. And we get to know some certain things that we can understand about cellular circuitry, and what we can expect from the brain cells themselves, then why not live a whole life? Why not realize that we have the capacity to choose which part of our brain is going to be dominant and how we want to feel? And what we want to think and based on our value structure? Yeah, so learning about the brain in this way, isn't typical, right, we have to seek out this information. This isn't something we're learning about in the places where we learn about things, you know, my daughter is in third grade right now. And she came home and is talking to me about her nervous system, and she's using all the words, but there's not really any context for her. And so there's a push for social emotional learning right now in schools, where we're kind of touching on some of these things. But I don't think that we go far enough and really understanding what's happening in our brain. So I would love to talk a little bit about these four characters. So we kind of give our listeners a structure as to what it is we're going to be talking about for the rest of this because we're gonna be referring to these four characters quite a bit. So from my understanding, left thinking, identity and ego, that's character, one character to left emotional about past pain and the stories we tell our anxieties or grief, addictions, yes. Also, I've heard you mentioned abridging across time. Yeah, I mean, just consider we have a brain that we're not a living organism that is just right here right now. I'm alive. I'm seeing things I'm feeling things I'm eating things. I'm saying things I'm moving around like an amoeba. I'm have the capacity through this beautiful character to left emotional tissue to take this present moment experience. Step out of the present moment into the past, well, how does our brain do that? I mean, that alone is like an inconceivable idea. If you really stop and you think about at a biological level, how is it I am a bridge across time? What is it I can remember which shoes without looking which shoes I put on this morning? And why I picked those I have the capacity to project my mind into what am I doing later tonight for dinner, I have the capacity to being at some time other than right here right now. Workout. Now if that? And if we'd all look at ourselves and say, Wow, that alone is pretty miraculous. At a biological level. I don't know what is I think we're just not paying attention. But yeah, it is that little character too emotional, that brings information in about the present moment, and compares it to any experience we've had in the past, saying, Give me a reason to say No, give me a reason to push it away, because it's dangerous, based on my past experience. So this ends up being this little part of ourselves that first of all, it's emotional tissue. It never matures. It's not cognitive thinking tissue, so it never matures. So it's one of my little girls inside of me. And it's the part of me that saying, I don't feel safe, and I don't feel safe in the present. Because of my past experience. All my pain from the past is going to be in this little character too. And all of my trauma from the past then is in this character to if you look at the tissue deep inside of that character to there is called the insular cortex. And that's where craving happens. Any of my addictions, I have an addiction in this moment, because I have craving about something that I experienced in my past that I now bring into the present moment say now I want more of that all of those experiences of the past at an emotional level is in that left emotional tissue. Couple things. I have a question about that. So when you say addictions, we're talking also about emotional addictions, any kind of addiction, technology, sex, drugs, alcohol, anything that I can crave and I want more of I want it can be movement. You know, if you ask me what I'm a junkie of, I'm a junkie, a movement, if I don't get my movement in every day, I'm more irritable a lot that your character is freaking out, because you're freaking out. It's like, Hey, I didn't get to do anything. Today, I need my gonna move right? Then let's backtrack a little bit to character one. So we can kind of explore that a little bit, and then we'll move on to the right side of our brain. So left thinking is character one is identity and ego. But let's talk about what that actually means. Yeah, so as we're looking at this miraculous, amazing collection of cells, I don't exist. I am in this lifeforce. I am a right here right now. Collection of 50 trillion magnificent cells that all except for the red blood cells contain the same DNA that began from a single cell and that single cell then multiplied and divided. And those cells then differentiate

Did you know that I have skin cells, I buy cells, I have liver cells, I have movement cells, I have all these different cells that make me up as a single organism. Well, I have an organism, I'm a collection of cells. And then there's a tiny little group of cells in my left thinking tissue that says, well, now I'm going to take all of that. And I'm going to define the boundaries of where I begin and where I end, because what am I if I'm just a cellular experience of the present moment, I'm energy, and I'm cellular atoms and molecules, which are living cells, Joe swabbing their experiences. So there and as that little character two steps out of the present moment and says, I now have a player asked, and I'm going to compare everything to the past character one comes online, because we're feeling creatures who will shake. So we have the emotional tissue first, and then the thinking tissue is what makes us different from other mammals. So now in that thinking tissue, it says, Okay, I now am out of the present moment, I have a past, I have a future, let's give me an identity. And my identity says, Well, where do I begin? And where I do I end? And how is it I know that there's noses, my nose, but these glasses that stay on my nose all day long, but they're not me, then that left thinking character one defines what is me and what is not me, which means it gives me an identity. And part of that identity is language cells that say, part of language now is made to be my ability to say I am I am an individual, I am an identity, I am separate from you and every other atoms and molecules that are spiraling around. And the only reason I have that identity, and that ego is because I have cells in that character, one that are defining me as that it's one thing to say, Oh, it's my identity. It's my ego. But you have to look at what does that really leaning in? at a cellular level? Not just at a psychological, sociological, experiential level? But what does that mean at a cellular level? How do I have an ego? How do I have an identity? How do I have an addiction? How do I have trauma from the past? And that how I think is the missing piece and a lot of the conversation about all of this, we're missing it, like you said, we need to be paying attention. And I don't know that we're paying attention to the right things. I think that we learn and we grow, you know, I mean, it really took a neuroanatomist, someone who studies the anatomy of the brain who thinks cellularly, to lose that character won and lose that character to which happened when I experienced that hemorrhage. And then in the absence of meaning, the individual all that I usually think that I am has gone. What am I now what am I in the absence of that. And because we live in a society that is skewed to dominance of me, the individual and the world revolves around me, and mine and my world and my hierarchy and where I am, and I want more, because that's the value of that left hemisphere is the world revolves around me? Well, the world revolves around me only if I have a left hemisphere, if I don't have me, the individual, then what do I have? I have me human. And that's when this consciousness of the collective whole, we are once human family, we are brothers and sisters on this planet, and everything is a symbiotic relationship. So our relationship with the planet matters, because if we don't have a planet, humanity will die off. So we can't separate humanity from global because we're part of the global right. So that brings us to character three, and character four. Once we have our listeners kind of understand what those two characters are, I do want to ask a question about why we are so focused at our left side where our society is going, but let's talk about character three right now. So this is the emotional part that's fun and playful and present and experiential. Take us back to the difference between a mammal and reptile is the addition of this, these cells, it's just cells and those cells in humans and mammals is the emotional tissue. So we end up with the emotional character, two in the left hemisphere, and we end up with the emotional character three tissue in the right hemisphere, but it's still emotional, but emotional isn't necessarily my deep emotions of sadness, or fear or anger or anxiety, but it is alarm alarm, Alert, alert. So we've have the fight or flight in each of our hemispheres in

Character two, but it's our alarm alarm Alert, alert as it relates to me the individual in my past and my future, the right hemisphere emotional character three is the experience of the present moment. So the two differences between the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere is that the right hemisphere, it's just right here right now, right here, right now I'm as big as the universe. I'm atoms and molecules, I'm energy, everything is one big fluid experience in relationship to everything else, including the planet in our environment. The left hemisphere then comes in and says, Okay, well, that's great, but that I'm not functional. They're just by there. So I need to be an individual. So the left hemisphere creates the individual, and it creates in that character to a past and a future. So the left hemisphere gives me me the individual across time, and the right hemisphere doesn't have me or the past, and future all enhances the present moment. So character three is the emotional tissue of the right hemisphere. And that is experiential. What does it feel like to be in this present moment? What does it feel like? Well, if I don't have really individual, so my past is gone, my job is gone. Because again, somewhere else, my relationships are gone, because they're not right here in my face, that all my stress from my past and future is gone. And I feel pretty good. So the right view right now experience is one of pretty much eat elation, oh, my gosh, I'm excited, I'm alive. And because I'm alive, then all possibility is right here right now. So because I'm not in the box of right and wrong and good and bad, defined by that left hemisphere of who am I? And what color are those leaves supposed to be when I color them? In the present moment, there's no right, wrong, good, bad, there's just the experience. And there's a level of freedom. And in that freedom, I get to be creative to just taking what is and creating something new, I get to come up with new ideas and become entrepreneurial, I get to come up with new ideas and be innovative, and I'm interested, and I'm interesting, and I'm collective whole. So I like to share it with other people. And I like to hang out with others. So all the possibilities of our creativity and our innovation is going to be right there in that character three of impetus, energy and motion, three from all the rights and wrongs and goods and Bad's defined by me the individual in that left hemisphere or which also feels the need to put all of us all of these characters inside of the societal norm. Right now, right hemisphere doesn't fit into the societal norm, it doesn't care about the societal norm.

Right. And that feels like such a happy place when you're describing that. That's the place where I would love to be I wouldn't necessarily know that I got it, it would get things that but I wouldn't know that I got things done because my character one wouldn't be online, you just get different things done. But it's about the process of the product. So we always hear this cliche Chanel, it's about the process. It's about the adventure. It's not about the destination. It's like, huh, yeah, but that's the difference. The right hemisphere is about the experience, I go to my art space, and I don't know what I'm gonna create, all I know is I'm gonna go down there, and I'm gonna discover a new delicious piece of glass and color, and I'm gonna create something new. And they're nine build this creation, based on what comes rather than, okay, here's the pattern, and here's what it's gonna look like. And I'm gonna cut every piece of glass to look just like that. And then this is the perfect panel, and then somebody's gonna be happy with that. And it's like, no, I'm not about that. Because the right hemisphere is about the experience, and what does it feel like when I'm in my art space? What does it feel like when I'm looking at these delicious, it can be the same blue but different textures of glass. And it's like, oh my gosh, I mean, just the experience of the glass, not the well this is ultimately what I'm going to create. Right? So then we go down next to the character for that is the ultimate collective consciousness and wholeness and divine as sometimes people call this Yeah, so think about what that means. So what that means is that I'm in the present moment. So character three is the experiential movement forward there's an impetus toward action, but the thinking tissue is simply blissfully grateful that I'm alive. Oh my god, I'm alive it's the oil on the wonder and so it's the on the wonder that oh my god I am eyes that can see. And I have muscles that allow me to move into the world. And I have capacity to experience through the sensory systems, the energy in the atoms and molecules that I'm designed to perceive

And then for us as because I'm filtering in raw data, and what kind of raw data in late not even capable of law, I'm not capable of echolocation like a bat? Wouldn't that be like, cool? But yeah, that'd be cool. I can't fly like a bird. Wouldn't that be cool? That'd be cool. But I don't have those capacities. So all of these different creatures are filtering different kinds of processing in order to be the creature that they are. And this human creature of what we are is this magnificent collection of all these cells that give us all of these abilities. And I can move I mean, imagine the Oh, when that infant, that new infant born into the world is just a ball of energy, right? It's just ball of energy, and it's flailing and it has no control of anything. But every movement matters, because it's information to the brain, and then one, when incident realizes that's mine, I can wiggle those things that be and it begins that process of differentiating information to get more and more specific. So I gain control of me, and oh, well, you and I are talking about Natto is a differentiation of those four different modules of cells inside of our brain, meaning that we all have, but each of those four groups of cells do very specific skill sets. And because of those skill sets, they represent a personality or a character inside of us that we all exhibit all four of these characters. And then when I learn, oh, that joyful present moment, excitement, Orion and fun and creativity, that's a group of cells in my brain, and I can become that character profile in an instant. And then in another instant, the telephone rings, and it's like, oh, now I gotta go to work. So now I leap into the group of cells in my character, one rational thinking left brain, and I do that part of me. And then I find out that a friend of mine is sick or wounded, or has passed, and I move into the character to emotional deep emotion of oh my gosh, someone I love, who I've known for 20 years, I have now heard, and so I move into that part of me. And then I move into this sense of, oh, my gosh, I am so grateful that I had this person in mind life and how lucky we are to be alive and to be able to connect and to be able to have this experience of being alive. So we're all already bouncing in and out of these four parts of ourselves. And what this material allows you to do is to choose, you have the power to choose. So if you say okay, well, we're on busy, busy, but I'd really like to go play, and what is that relationship like inside of your head? What is the relationship like between the part of you that goes to work and the part of you that wants to go and play in the present moment, and if that's not a healthy negotiation, between those two, then a character one's gonna see character three as a total waste of time, right? And it's gonna be resentful, and then little character two is going to come online and say, well, we reserve the right to have some fun, come on, and I'm not happy because I'm not having my movement. And it's like, come on bully character, one, we need to you need to be nicer to character, it's premium. So we're gonna have some fun. And basically, we all have all four and this ongoing relationship is constant. So why not have some say, in understanding who am I? Who are the Wii inside of me? And what power then do I have to choose? And for me to live the life that is most balanced and makes me happy? Exactly. So one of the most meaningful exercises for me was, like you suggested naming off where these characters. So when you become better at becoming aware of what's happening right now, that makes choice easier, because all of a sudden, you're aware of what's going on? Oh, this is my character, one whose name is Athena, by the way.

Oh, that's my character one. Okay, this is my character to kind of having a little bit of a tantrum right now. So having that removal of that this isn't you this is a part of you allows you to make those choices. So can you talk about that too, because that's something like what you said before about judgment and resentments. Often those conversations happen in our heads, but they're all a part of us via Yeah, and they're all important. So character, one is the rational part that goes to work for most of us. We know that part. That's okay, right. Character three is the law.

little playful card, we're okay with that character for is our holy, authentic divine self, our connection to something that's greater than we are dance, okay? The problem child, right, we all lose what we call character too. But here's why I character to exist and why it's so important to honor this little character. When character two is yelling and screaming, it means it's not safe. And if it's not safe, it is safe in the presence of that which is familiar, it feels scared, so it's going to fight, it's going to flee, or it's gonna play then in relationship to new things. Okay, so let's say I'm a child, and I'm exposed to a lot of different people of different colors. All right, I'm brought up in an environment where it's normal for me to see African Americans to see Asians to see Caucasians, I get to hear a lot of different European languages or different kinds of languages, I get exposed to all these different things, well, then my little character to is feel safe in the presence of all of that, because it's familiar, I grew up with that. But in America, we have all of this different kinds of situations going on all these different cultures, though rarely are we actually exposed to people who are different from us. And so because of that, then I see someone of a different race, or I hear a different language. And I'm automatically that's different in my natural kickback responses, I don't feel safe, because it doesn't feel familiar. So at that level, we are biologically programmed to be racist, if we're going to use that terminology. And racism is I don't feel safe or comfortable in the presence of that, which is different from me, then what do I do with that? Well, then I either hide away, and I pull myself away from and I make myself smaller, and I constrict. And I say, I don't like that it's not familiar, I don't want it in my presence in order to protect myself or I realize I'm okay, I'm safe. In the present moment, I'm fine with these people who are different from me. And then naturally, that character three and four, which are of the present moment. So I give, I bring myself into the present moment, and I see something new that is unfamiliar, then I move toward that with curiosity. The same is true for sports or for crafts, or for music, or for whatever am I is even willing to explore what is hip hop? Right? Okay, that's my character to say, No, I'm going to shut it down. I'm going to push it away. And we're going to call it bad, because the left hemisphere has this hierarchy. And it's going to push something away and say, No, then I either become superior to that, or I become inferior to that. But that's all a conversation of that character to. So in our society, we put all this emphasis on character to this is where we move into social emotional learning. And the difference between wholegrain living and social emotional learning is social emotional learning puts all the focus on the social emotional learning of character DOH. And while wholegrain living does is it says, when I am in that pain, yes, I can root noise into that circuitry and understand what's going on, which is important. But the thing about social emotional learning is you cannot learn about it when you're already emotionally triggered. Do you see what I'm saying? So you're gonna have to be completely advanced and social emotional before you move into the trigger. And then that's not the time to learn. What are your choices? Well, when I'm triggered, I can run my trigger, I can recognize that I think I thought I feel any emotion, I run a physiological response. I'm now triggered, I'm lost in whatever that is. That lasts for less than 90 seconds. Alright, I call that the 92nd rule from beginning to end. Now I can certainly rethink those thoughts and rerun that circuit over and over and over and again for 80 years and hold a grudge against somebody or have the power of whole brain Levinas I'm triggered emotionally right now. I am in my true. How do I save myself? I don't save myself by analyzing my painting. I'm in my pain. I save myself by recognizing character one is right here. And I can look at character one and character one guy can become character one, look around and say in this moment, am I safe? Are we safe? Do we need to fix something in order to change the environment? Are we safe? We're safe, okay. There's no bus coming at us. Character four can then come in as my most compassionate part of myself and say I'm hurting little character to you're in pain and I'm in pain and it's okay, we got you. You're normal.

flown in here? I got you. What do you need? Do you need me to hold you? Do you need me to hear you? Do you need me? What do you need, you're not alone, we your team is right here. And then little character toe is going. Okay. And in the meantime, we're running the 92nd loop so that the anxiety can allow itself to actually dissipate across time, because I'm no longer fueling character to his thoughts on any motions, I'm pulling the energy away from that group of cells. And as I do that, then I start to call, I start to relax. I'm grateful that character one is there, it's like big mommy character, one, you know, Athena gonna fix our things. And then I got my big character for this gonna come in and love me no matter what, and I am safe, and I am okay. And then eventually little character three is going to come in and say, you want to go do something fun. Let's go outside, let's go for a walk. Let's go look at the bugs. Let's go play in the mud puddle. Let's go get ice cream, whatever it is, right. And so the power of whole brain living is that we're not just focused on that bowl of energy of pain, but allowing the other parts to come in. And then once character two has called itself, then that's when we care about social emotional learning. Because then it's like, okay, what happened? How do I look at that? How do I differentiate what happened? What did I hear? What was said? How did I take that? How might I learn from that, so that the next time that kind of thing happens, it doesn't have the same power to do the same trigger. And that's healing. And that's why we absolutely have to have that character to, but we don't put in a weird and never needs to drive the bus, right. And that's where your agency comes in, and how you want to be in any given moment. One of the things that teachers and educators and administrators, school leaders, everyone is not feeling safe. Right now, these conversations are sometimes challenging, because character two is the only thing that's available, people are waking up in the morning feeling activated. And then you go into these classroom situations, we've got this activated teacher with an activated child, and then it escalates and someone's in the office, and then the parents are involved, and then everyone stays there. So that's why I focus on the adults, because we have to start with the people who are caretaking for these children. One way, I would love to know you start to have these conversations. So just at the beginning of this week, we ended a year long research program on training school population. So this is administration, anybody in the school system, not the kids, teachers, administrators, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, anybody who has an interaction with a child, that's one population, we give them three hours of whole brain living training, so that they understand what is whole brain living, we have another person training the parents in whole grain living. Each of these two populations gets our week for three weeks, about whole grain living as it relates to them, what's going on with their brain, parents have different concerns. And then they have their language, they have their concerns, schools have their concerns. And then the last two hours last two weeks, we put those two groups together, so that now all of a sudden you got a group of school, you got a group of parents, and the entire village within which the children are living, they get wholegrain loving and their understanding, whole brain loving. And so Neville there, it's becomes a part of your common language. Someone can call me up and say, Joe, what are you doing? I'd say, Helen, because no one's what I call my character one Helens busy for the next two hours. And they say, Okay, well can Pigpen my character three can pick then go for a walk with, you know, me, you're not and I say, Yeah, I can do that for right. And now we're speaking the same language is like, what are you doing? How are you? How are each of these four characters, and where it becomes a part of the culture. So you have to build this understanding and differentiation into a part of the culture, which I think the biggest difference between typical SEL programming and you said something that I do want to address and you said, there's a push toward SEL, and there's a legislative push away from Sal. Yes, there that is very real right now. And there is a population in the political world that is saying, Oh, my God, we're brainwashing our children. And it's like, that's a miss, unfortunately, for the SEL programming, but the way around that is to do whole brain because if we're doing whole brain, it's not about brainwashing. It's about looking at the anatomy of the brain, differentiating

between the different groups of cells that have different skill sets that result in different profiles, and then encouragingpeople to learn how to recognize become aware, which character Am I in? Which character? Would I like to be in? How do I get there? And then how do I create this negotiation inside of my own head? And then if you have the same language, and you say to me, little Jill, are you okay? What's going on with you, and I can say, little pig pen just stubbed her toe, she's okay, which is very different than little Abby, which was my character, too, I got my feelings hurt, and when so and so said such and such, and it made me think such and such and I took it personally and not enough. So I can be in my pain of my present moment, or I can be in my pain from the past. And that teacher or parent is going to MainPage that character completely differently, depending on which part of me has been triggered. And one of my favorite examples of this is when little children, they fall down, and they scuffed themselves, and they're in the present moment, I just found out, I just stopped myself, but I'm really okay. But who's watching? Should I become my character to instantaneously and become that and then get that retention? Or is nobody really paying attention anyway, so I'm just gonna get up and go play, right? I mean, we are constantly making these decisions, why not make them conscious life, we have to make them consciously so we can change the world, you know, that's my dream. And all of this is teach people about their brain. So you can be your best sell that with twice, you're no longer victim to your circumstances, whatever they are. And I do think it's important, we talk about the political movement away from this, but You're 100%, right. And this has kind of been my angle in this also. And I'm excited to learn more about the work that you're doing in schools, because when we grounded in science, and biology, we're not talking about these woowoo feelings that we have that are kind of off here. And they're not really tangible and actual neurocircuitry that's happening in each of our brains. And the more we can understand ourselves, the more we can show up for other people, particularly the kids that we care for in schools, right up to this point, and time focusing on emotional reactivity has been extremely important, because we can identify that and we can identify what's going on with the circuitry, you know, something happens the amygdala is stimulated, how's it going to find slight fall over and go down? What is my natural response? But my power is not there. Once I'm in that circuitry. I've lost my power. And so where is the power in the brain? Well, that's why with SEL, it's like, okay, well, that's when we turn on other parts of our brain. But let's be very specific about when it is appropriate to do that, when it is appropriate to learn those tools. And which other exactly what is our game plan? What's the game plan of our whole brains team, and so whole brain living to me takes SEL to the next level. And the only reason we know this now is because of brain scientists, who studies the brain at the cellular level, who thinks in circuitry like this, this was my everything. And my focus was how does our brain create our perception of reality? I mean, that's a big question, right? How do these cells do what they're doing. And then to lose half the brain, the left hemisphere lose characters, one And Taro, all I then had was character three, when really didn't have any of that, because I didn't have any energy left. So I became character four. So I existed as character four, and then use that energy healing after time to bring character three back online. And then the right brain skill sets, rebuild the circuitry of character two and character one, and then carry on. And then they came back on full force and character one says, Well, I want to take over and be the boss again. And it's like, oh, wait, you weren't glad you're back. But oh, my gosh, we don't want you to be the boss. And that goes to your question then about why are we skewed to the left? Why do we have this left brain dominance? And I think part of it is because character one is so loud, it's the one that gets done. It's busy. It's reward punishment. It defines what's right, what's wrong, what's good, what's bad. It's all it's the boss, and it wants to be the boss. And in our society, we've shifted to the value structure of that level of hierarchical reward. And so whether we're looking at our school system, or our government, everything's a hierarchy. And we all have a position on that hierarchy. And we all generally we're happy where we are where we want to go

higher, and that left hemisphere just wants more and more and more and more and more reaches a level of achievement, but then it wants more and more and more, and then reaches a new level of achievement, but then it wants more and more and more. So it's this never ending cycle of positive feedback, I want it, I get it, I want more of it, I get more of it, I want more of it. There's no pause. But we're a biological creature. And biologically, you have to biology functions as a negative feedback system if you want it to thrive, which means I'm hungry, I want food, I eat food. And now I'm satiated. And I don't want food anymore. Right? In your hand, then of the poor show, I'm hungry. And then you have to have the pause. Okay, I'm satisfied now. So that push, push, push, push, positive feedback loop of I want more, I get more, I want more, I get more, which is what our society is skewed toward. That's our stress circuitry. So the stress circuitry of that value structure of that left hemisphere is giving you anxiety, we are at this pinnacle of really an anxiety epidemic in our society, which is just stress, stress, stress, alarm, alarm, alarm, alert, Alert, alert. And that's the situation you described as what we're waking up as. And that's what's going on in the schools. And it's like, how do I break that cycle, I have to have the whole brain, I have to recognize the value of the pause, which is why this is so essential, because when we have this value structure, this hierarchy of our left side, what we tend to find too, is people aren't actually happy, they're no, they actually want why they want the craving, though, I think something that they don't realize they have already have access to which side of their brain. And when it comes to these moments, it's like this wizard of oz moment, greatly not the end of the movie. You know, Darth is like everything I ever wanted was right here in my own backyard, you have access to everything you need inside of you already. But we get so lost in the story of what we think we're supposed to want or what we should be like, or we hook into that craving, run on want more, and you're biologically programmed, that's part of the circuitry, I want more whatever it is, I want more, I'm not satisfied. Until I get more, you know, I don't know what you're like, but boy, if I'm gonna buy ice cream, I gotta get the little bit in pain because I don't need to court it right? Yes, of course. Because it's just that I want more, I want more. And I'm saying no, I don't really want more what I really wanted, were those first three bytes. Because those first three bytes was where I had the experience of whatever it is, I'm consuming. After that, I just want more, I just want more, I just want more, right? So why don't we do and I want to talk a little bit about the actual process of the brain huddle of okay, I'm in this 92nd overload of emotional circuitry. And now what I think everybody needs to get to know their four characters, you have to know what your choices are, right? This book is called wholegrain, living the anatomy, the anatomy of choice and the four characters that drive our life. And when we know these four characters, then we know the anatomy underlying our choice. And once we know that, then we can begin to recognize when am I in now, right? Who's became dominant? is an appropriate who's going to answer the question, Is that appropriate? Well, how about the rest of the characters inside of my brain? So let's say I have an appointment with you at noon, while character three is going I didn't get any movement yesterday, I got to go get some movement. So I go out in my yard. And I get lost in time, right. And I'm now often in lala land for in the present moment, having a wonderful time. And then I get this inkling of a hanging my talk minutes and character ones coming in saying, Hey, you gotta get inside writing. And it's like, okay, thank you. And I can create this really healthy relationship. And if I know my character one well enough, what's she gonna do? She's gonna say, okay, Pigpen character three, you can go play but you're gonna set your clock so that you're inside 15 minutes before you need to be there. Right? So character one comes in and says, Okay, I'm going to be responsible. We're going to set that time and now it's like, go play pig pen. Go be Pan Pan. Because otherwise pig pens out. They're going well, what time is it? Is it time to go in? Well, what time is it? Is it time to go in and pick them don't have any fun because she just spent her whole time worried that she was going to miss her appointment? Well, why not have the hell and part of my brain saying we're gonna take care of that we're gonna set a little alarm, everything's gonna be good. So you create these relationships between these different characters, and they work together and they're constantly negotiating everything so that you can really be whatever you are. I tell people, I don't mind if you're miserable, as long as you enjoy. Remember to enjoy being miserable.

Oh my gosh, character two is capable of being miserable. It's so beautiful. There's nothing like being miserable. There's nothing like being angry, there's nothing like being sad. There's nothing like being lost in grief, thank goodness, we all have that capacity, I don't want to cut that out, never experienced that. That's the difference between me being alive and maybe in six feet under, I'm not saying feed under, I want to have my emotions, but run them for 90 seconds and then move on. And then decide, you have power, we have so much more power over what's going on inside of our brain than we were ever taught. Yes. And that's the skill set that I want everybody. And I know that you This is why you do your work, too. And I know that you've said, This is why you wrote the second book, you know, the first book was beautiful. And I think there was some of that reflective piece. But this is very explicit that this is about everybody. And isn't just your story. This is everybody's story. There's so much beauty in that. So I want to be really explicit about how we do that, that brain huddle that you're talking about to get the characters talking to each other. You have this beautiful acronym of vra i n, can you go through that so our listeners can understand exactly like, what do I do? First thing you gotta know is you got to know who's who inside of you. Right? You got to know that. So study your four characters. In this book, there's a chapter on each of the four characters, you get to know the skill sets, you get to know what it feels like inside of me, I encourage you to put yourself in those situations. So you know what it feels like inside you. Well, how does your character one hold your body? What kind of voice doesn't use you know, I know I'm Helen because I have a urine exam. As soon as I'm asked this man earrings are our pink pen does not wear rings, right? So I'm changed my shoes, I'm gonna change my clothes. Now. I mean, it's just a whole different character inside of me. So get to know your four characters. And then think about well, it's not just characters inside of me, it's my relationship with others. Who do I call when I'm Helen, or who calls Helen my character one, because they want to get something done. My friends can call me up on the phone. And Helen answers the phone because Helen answers the phone. And my friends will say Oh, Hi, Helen, can you call us back later this evening? And what they're really saying is, hey, Helen, would you have pigpen? Call us later? You

know, say, Ah, yeah, I'll do that. And I pull and I'll put it on my list. I'll make a No, right. Because that's why Ellen does, she makes a list. And she gets it done. And so then later in the afternoon, when I'm walking or I'm, you know, done work, and it's like, yeah, now I'll call my friends back. And then we'll chat. And we'll have a completely different conversation. So the brain huddle is once you know all these different characters, then I encourage people to literally practice doing a brain huddle 20 times a day, at least 20 times a day. And that means every time you think about it, you do it. And that's important, because you're gonna be your four different characters throughout the day. Let's say character one is busy and at work and so character one's gonna probably say, oh, put the clock on and say every hour on the hour paying me and I'll do a brain huddle. So character one, it's rational, it's organized, it's busy. It's on the last it's a brain huddle. And so character one comes in and says, Okay, we're gonna do a brain huddle. Character two, little Abby. Are you okay? Are you here? Hello. I am just gonna go. I'm just gonna feel right. Ah, yeah, I'm good. I'm okay. And the important thing about doing that when I'm not in my pain is little Abby little character to isn't only when I'm unhappy, little character to is always there. So I want to nurture this part of myself and let her know. Character one cares. Character three cares. Character four cares about Abby when Abby's not thrown a fit. So they went to Abby is thrown a fit because she's run up against some pain and resistance. She knows these other characters have a relationship with her no matter what. So Helen can call on Okay, we're gonna have a brain a little character three. How are you? I'm pigpen. Stone guide because I know you're going to be done in 20 minutes and I get to go clang and go do some fine, I'm happy. And then though character four is always good. I mean, character force us grateful for being alive character for are you here and allow yourself to feel that deep sense of gratitude that oh my gosh, I have eyes that can see I have legs that can move me around. And I'm alive at all. I have bladder capacity. Oh my gosh. Now, for about an hour. It's like, oh my god, I have bladder capacities. Character four is going Yeah, I'm good. And then character three, let's say I'm out playing. And we're I'm in the art space. And I'm in all everything I love. And it's like, yeah, now's a good time for brain huddle. So it's like the heart all huddle. And then it's like halen Are you good and Helen's gone Yom Good. Good. Pigpen you just go have fun and Love Song galloping. Are you good and now he's gone. Yeah. I'm not irritated. Right. I'm not just I'm

Not dysregulated not good for I call mine Queen toe Greenco do good. And I was gone. Yeah. Little little ID I just like had diseases so good. And so that's the huddle where you're getting these four together. So the brain stands for B. And any of them can call this B is breath. Why do we always focus on breath, whether we're doing meditation, whether we're doing prayer, whether we're doing mantra, whether we're doing yoga, we go down breath, because the breath is in the present moment. And the ultimate goal is to bring your mind to the present moment, because right here right now is pretty perfect moment, right? Whatever happens in the present moment, we bring all of ourselves into the present, we can handle it, we're amazingly powerful. So B stands for breath. Bring your mind to the present moment. We're okay, I can change. It's like a train running on our tracks. I can change the amplification and breathe deeply and exhale deep lights where I can change my frequency. I have manipulation of air breath in the present moment. So bring your mind start messing with your breath for a moment. And then you're right here right now be our is recognize which of the four characters called the huddle? Did Helen put it on the clock? Okay, thank you. Alan. was an anime I'm not happy. I need a huddle. You guys. I need a huddle wasn't Pigpen Oh, now let's have a huddle. Everybody liked him a huddle. Recognize who called the huddle. He appreciate the fact that no matter who called the huddle, well, there's four of us, right? So paying breath bring your mind to the present moment. Our recognize who called me appreciate there's four of us a I inquire, okay, well hold on a lot of it. Now, in the next moment, that collective whole, who do we want to be? Now this becomes really important because let's say I have an opportunity to turn it into my character to invite you back because you're in their bind net may pokin. On Me, your anxiety is driving me insane. You're being mean to me. And I can just like I get to choose, do I want to come back as a character to and bite you back? Well, two character twos will never find a resolution. So do I want to step into my character for just kinda like, support you and love you from afar? Not get triggered by you? Do I want to bring character one in in order to fix something? Do you need fixing? Do you need me to do something? Does Pigpen want to come and say, Oh, come on, Jen. Don't be like that. Let's go play. And then you get to choose, inquire. And then N stands for navigate, navigate moment by moment by moment. Because what might be appropriate in this moment, it's like, come on, Jen. Let's go play. And then the phone rings. And then it's like, oh, sorry, Helens got to come in, right? Because business. But it's this ongoing negotiation of consciousness between these four different parts of who we are. And the more often you do not all the more begins to run on automatic, it becomes a natural, what you start with purposely trying to do 20 times a day circuitry circuitry is neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain cells to rearrange who's communicating with home so that we have the power to choose new circuitry, but you can't choose when you don't already have. So that's why you have to work on it for at the beginning in order to establish new habitual patterning inside of the brain cells so that when I am really considering getting really angry in Hebrew, instead, I can say at all, okay, do I really want to fight with my brother right now? Or do I want to maybe go get something done upstairs in the office? Or put it on go play? Or do I just want to sit here and wrap him in love and say he's got 90 seconds to run through that nasty loop. And then if I'm lucky, they'll pick something different, because I'm not fueling his two with by two. That's the power of who we are. It's so powerful. And you know, when people start stepping into their power like that, that's how we make change, changes everything, everything. How do we do this more? That's what I want to know, as we're getting to the end of this podcast. I want to know what now what is the next step that people listening that teachers can do today to really start this new path? Well get to know your four characters take it seriously. Thank you, first of all, for this podcast, because you're bringing this material to a very specific group, which is the school system, the research program that we've been running, we've got over 1000 people who have participated in the program, and now we're doing the data crunch, and there's no question that this material is going to show positive long term impact. And then it's wholegrain living look for it. It's a wonderful book. It's on audiobook. I read it. I'm equally as enthusiastic there as I am here, but it's beautiful material. And I just think we have this magnificent, beautiful brain. Why wouldn't we want to be able to capitalize on making ourselves content

and unhappy and whole, especially this is a population of people is reaching out to other people, children. And the thing about children is when the school program is going on, and you can always write to me more about possibly becoming a part of this, I don't know what they're going to do, because I'm separate from the research, I advise, but I'm separate from that data. But they're going to be hearing more and more about whole brain living because it takes social emotional learning, it takes psychology, it takes neurology neuroscience to the next level of really integrating what do we know about the brain? How can we differentiate better using this beautiful Oregon and the thing about the four characters is you can say to a group of kids, okay, here's character, one character to character three, character four, here are the skill sets. Now, let's think Harry Potter was the character one, they'll tell you.

It's a little academic, right? She's always doing the research post character two, they'll tell you who's character three, they'll tell you those character four, they'll tell you, the younger kids Spongebob, who's character one, they'll tell you, they get this kids get this, the biggest difference between children that we've been noticing between kids getting this material, and adults is that kids are not as attached to holding on to their character to for as long they let it happen. It hit so hard, they run the cycle. And then it's like, okay, well, I might be mad at you for another round or another low. But I'm more apt to give that up because I'm gonna go do this and play some kickball now and be a be my character three. So the adults as we become older, we become more rigid in that pain. And we hold on to our pain tighter, and our trauma. And then as we get older, if we use psychoanalysis, and we focus on the trauma, then we're giving all the energy to the trauma. And the difference between whole brain living and these other programs is I value that trauma, and I want to explore that trauma. But no, while I'm in the trauma, I don't have to re traumatize myself to understand what it is I'm supposed to gain or learn because of that trauma. So I can heal that trauma character to is not going to heal their own trauma characters, one, three and four are the power that's going to help us separate ourselves from the pain so that we can actually analyze that pain using that character of one, we can love ourselves through that trauma and our character four, and character three can help us re align how we're viewing that trauma, with curiosity. And we're not dismissing our character, oh, neither, which is what I think sometimes some of these programs do, its will sprinkle some glitter and rainbows on it, right? We ignore and dismiss the feelings in an effort to just think positive. And that makes it louder. Exactly right. Because it is the character to that is our learning. I don't like it. I've seen it before, I'm going to push it away. Well, character, one can come in and say it's another time. That was three years ago, when that happened, we're safe. Now. That little dog that beat you three years ago, every time you see that same kind of dogs, it's a different dog. So let's have the pain we understand every time I see that dog, I get scared. So I don't like dogs. And then character one comes in and says, but that was one experience. And we're not three years ago in that. And so we can step beyond that. Realize that what we've done is we've said because I had a bad experience with one dog, I don't like any dogs. And it's like, oh, look at it, let's come to the present moment and see, look at all these nice little dogs. These are nice little dogs. And so I can grow. But the only way I can grow is to let the other parts of myself come in and nurture that out so that character two can learn otherwise, character twos just gonna keep screaming every time she sees a dog, right. And there's a beautiful example of that. I'm just so glad to hear this coming from you to this audience. It's so important. And I hope right now everyone at the end of this goes to the show notes, clicks on all of the things where all of the websites are going to be in the links to you, Dr. Jill books. And I'm certainly interested in learning more and more about how I can share this message to the people that I work with. So thank you so much for the work that you do and the time that you took to be with me today means the world to me happy. Thank you. And thank you, everybody. And if you enjoyed today's episode, which I'm sure you all did, make sure you subscribe and write a nice review and I'll see you next time on take notes. Incredible, right? Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible and it's all here for you

Right now let's keep the conversation going at empowered educator faculty room on Facebook

Can personal style combat teacher burnout? The surprising healing power of the teacher wardrobe with fashion therapist Marisol Colette!

What if a missing piece to truly empowered educators includes feeling and looking great in your teacher outfits?

What if the best way to fight the status quo of teaching today is to stop being in conflict with ourselves, and start loving our bodies as they are today?

Feeling and looking your best can be an excellent conduit to start seeing yourself in a new light and feeling more confident. So, why not start the healing journey against teacher burnout in your own closet?

Welcome to episode 13 of the Take Notes with Jen Rafferty podcast! In this episode, I’m chatting with fashion therapist, Marisol Colette!

Marisol combines fashion and style with healing and transformation. Using her experience in social work, trauma, healing, emotional intelligence, and fashion, she supports people's journeys in discovering their own personal style.

She believes that when you feel comfortable and powerful in what you're wearing, it leads to feeling confident and powerful in all of the spaces in your life.

Today is all about feeling great from the inside out, and discovering that it’s not vain or self indulgent to have a stylist to support you in feeling more like yourself.

Everybody around you wins when you take care of yourself first!

Stay empowered,


Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:

Click here to learn all the ways you can work with me:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Links
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
FaceBook: Empowered Educator Faculty Room

About Marisol Colette “The Fashion Therapist”

Marisol Colette is a Personal Stylist and Psychotherapist who has married her expertise in fashion and personal identity with her decade-plus long career working and teaching in the field of trauma healing. Marisol engages clients from the heart, helping clients define and refine their personal style to create life-changing results.

Marisol believes that feeling comfortable and powerful in what you wear leads to feeling comfortable and powerful in everything you do. In one-on-one and group programs, clients find their authentic personal style through writing, personal sessions, Closet Transformations and therapeutic shopping outings.

By looking and feeling good, clients gain the courage to shine their inner beauty on the outside, showing up in the world in new and notable ways. Marisol’s background as a therapist allows her to bring a level of consciousness that is not incorporated in traditional styling, ultimately helping align your style to your soul.

Can’t wait to connect with Marisol? Find her here:

Instagram: @solreflection

Website: Sol Reflection | Soul | Systems | Style

Linktree: solreflection | Facebook | Linktree
Find all her freebies and different ways to work with Marison here!

Do you struggle with finding clothes that feel good? Or do you hate picking out your clothes to wear for the day? Well, today we are meeting a fashion therapist who combines fashion and style with healing and transformation. And with her experience in social work, trauma, healing, emotional intelligence, and fashion. She supports people's journeys in discovering their own personal style, because she believes that when you feel comfortable and powerful in what you're wearing, it leads to feeling confident and powerful in all of the spaces in your life. So today, you get to start to see yourself in a new light, starting in your own closet, we have to get dressed every day, so we might as well enjoy it.

 And if you are ready to move from surviving to thriving, head on over to empowered educator.com/thrive and sign up for the five week online course that will change the game for how you show up both at work and at home, feel less stress and more ease, less pressure and more calm, less frustration and more joy, it is time to thrive. So go to empowered educator.com/thrive.

Remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world? Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids. We need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy and fulfillment. This is education 2.0 where you become the priority shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee and grab your notebook. It's time to take notes Hello and welcome back to take notes.

I am here with an incredible guests and I cannot wait to start this conversation so you can hear all about her and the work that she is doing. This is Marisol Colette the fashion therapist. Marisol is a personal stylist and psychotherapist who has married her expertise in both fashion and personal identity with her decade plus long career working and teaching in the field of trauma healing. She engages clients from the heart, helping clients define and refine their personal style to create life changing results. And Marisol believes that feeling comfortable and powerful in what you wear leads to feeling comfortable and powerful in everything you do. Her background as a therapist has allowed her to bring a level of consciousness that is not incorporated into traditional styling, and ultimately helping align your style to your soul. Marisol, thank you so much for being here. Yeah. Oh my gosh, it's such an honor to be here with you. It's so fun to get to spend this time with you because I love spending time with you. Yes, same. So Marisol and I met because I was actually a client of hers when I was kind of going through my transformation from educator to entrepreneur, and not just in my career, but there were a lot of personal things that were going on with me I was shifting my identities. And talking with you has been an unexpected change for me in how I show up, even just how I get dressed in the morning. So this is kind of a nod to that and my gratitude to you in my experience with what you do. Thank you. Well, thank you. So I would love to know more about your story of how you came through the land of therapy to fashion and how and why you ended up marrying those two. Yeah, thanks for asking. So I have always loved the idea of getting paid to support and help people that led me right into the world of social work as an undergrad in college. And then I went on to grad school at Columbia in New York City. It was an easy degree because it felt like I got to give love out into the world. And the benefit was that people felt the love and they had growth and transformation. It was a win win situation. At the same time. I grew up in a family of artists. I was really supported in the world of fashion. My parents are painters and graphic designers. We add singers and pianists and other musicians in my family actors. So I grew up in that whole world. So when I was doing social work, it felt like I was leaving a part of my

myself behind. And so what I started to do is I started to offer my friends what I call my closet transformation, for fun and for free, I'd say Let's have dinner together, you can make dinner and I'll go through your closet and help you essentially rework what you already have there. So look at it in a new light I have my tagline is see yourself in a new light to it's like taking what you have, and totally seeing it as a new version of you and reorganizing things and putting them together in new ways. People would say to me, similar to what you said, I'm getting so much more out of this than I ever thought something about me is transforming in a way that I hadn't imagined, based on just looking and playing dress up with you looking at our clothes and playing dress up. And I think that that's the key to what I eventually created my business out of which is that I'm keeping the therapist, right, I'm keeping the part of me that loves to support people in their healing and growth believes that transformation is possible for all of us. And also feeling like it's my natural inclination to do it kind of through the back door or the side door of fun. So being best girlfriends playing dress up, having a good time being in your body, if that's not something you've experienced before, basically loving and celebrating my clients and the way that they look and feel and what they were. And so when I built my business, honestly, it was to make my job more fun. And then in turn, continue to support people through their transformations. So in 2015, I left a federal government job where I was just doing a social work, and I created this business and slowly and slowly it's grown, I have a private practice where I still do trauma healing, I quit teaching in the field of trauma healing, so that I could make more space for the work that I do. And now I support people both in one on one settings. And I do this with people across the globe. I mean, you and I don't live in the same city. And you've traveled and we've talked and you've been in other places and your people that you spend your time with are in other places, too. I can do all of the work from afar. I travel for some of my clients, and then I do branding, photoshoot styling, which is where you and I originally met, that was the first thing that we did together. And it's so much fun. I mean, you and I had a great time, I was not expecting the great time that I was about to embark on.

Because to me when I hear you speaking about clothes and bodies, fun and loving and celebrating was not words that came to mind. But at the start of our journey together. And I still get choked up even just saying those words because it's so raw, and so real for so many people. So for someone who might not be experiencing the fun, and the joy and the love about their bodies, how do you go about even just starting to have that conversation with somebody? Yeah, through my training as a therapist, one of the models that I used was a positive reinforcement model. And what it isn't, is isn't a Pollyanna approach. It isn't a love and light, everything's fine approach, ignoring what doesn't feel good or what's wrong, but it's really focusing our attention on the felt sense of what is going well in our body. We have a natural tendency towards healing, growth and transformation. But often we have this negativity bias where we're focused on what's not going well. So it's like the attention to the negative or what's wrong the What's wrong attention is what my one of my mentors in organic intelligence, Steve Hoskinson would always say, the What's wrong attention. And you know, the world really supports that capitalism says, you need this, you need that you're not enough till you have this and that we do a lot of comparisons. There's a lot of comparisons with Hollywood and famous people, etc, some unattainable standards and the patriarchy, right. It all sets us up as in particular women, but men too, like nobody is actually thriving under the patriarchy, everybody feels at a disadvantage. And you know, I'm coming at it from a completely different approach of like, let's look at what's going well, let's easily connect in with those parts and celebrate the parts of you that are lovely, and good and wonderful, just as you are. Again, I said, I become your best girlfriend, like think about that. Think about your best friend, and think about how they treat you. And they think the world of you, they're your fan club, your biggest fan, and I become your biggest fan. I think that that is just kind of a framework for what I do is so valuable, because people are just not used to getting that kind of love. And it's not easy, but I'm also doing therapy on the side listening in ways that other people aren't listening. So it's not a what to wear, or what not to wear kind of program, because most importantly, those kinds of things don't stick if I were to just tell you what to wear, and it had no resonance or alignment with who you are. I mean, you trash it at the end of the day or you just wouldn't feel as good in it. And secondly, what to wear, what not to wear such as shame based kind of mentality. It's like there were probably things that you chose, like there were things that I helped to choose

For you, things that you brought to the table, and then things that we sort of met in the middle about things that were really meaningful to you, that I would support you in finding the best version of because I know that you know yourself better than anybody else. So instilling that trust in you and supporting you in what you've already got on the table is only going to make it better for you. And we do this benign neglect of all that negative self talk, like I'm not listening, I'm hearing you say it, and I'm going to turn us in a different direction. Yeah, and you need someone on the outside to help you through that. Because when you're in it, you don't see it the same way. Which is why I think having someone a coach or Silas a therapist, or whatever arena, you're going to, there's a team

you know, all of us kind of elevating each other up. We can't do this by ourselves. And I think something that was really interesting, at least my experience in working with you. And what I know about your work is creating a space where that self love becomes habitual, your outsides match your insides. Yeah, so what you're talking about is the retraining of the brain. So a lot of people don't take risks with what they wear, because it feels foreign. And things that feel foreign feel like they take a lot of effort and a lot of risk and vulnerability. So in this process, we practice doing a lot of things together, we try to enclose together on Zoom, you showed me what things actually look like, you took pictures of yourself. And we were able to kind of talk about, like what feels good and what doesn't feel good. So to the piece about the alignment is when your style is aligned to your soul, which again, is another tagline that I have that you mentioned, then the resonance is there. And it doesn't feel like you're an imposter. It doesn't feel like you're wearing something that not you so it just feels like it becomes part of you. And sometimes there's a practice with that. Because with you, for example, you were making big pivots in your life. So we were actually focused on representing the WHO that you were and who you were becoming. So there was definitely a stepping into that, that probably had a little bit of an edge. But we take baby steps. And we work together. And like you said, I mean, in the field of education, collaboration is key. Nobody is doing this alone, you are weaving of colleagues and companions in this world, supporting one another to lift each other up. And similarly, it's not vain. It's not self indulgent, it's not over the top or ridiculous to have a stylist, it's just my job to support you and feeling more like yourself. And that can be really hard to get to, when we're standing alone in a dressing room feeling like shit about how we look and feel. Yeah, and I'm so glad you use those words, because there is a lot of consideration of being vain or self indulgent or too much or too over the top. And so many people and women, especially like Xhosa, that part of them down. And then we ended up making decisions that are in July and that make us feel frumpy or dumpy and not excited about doing these things, because we think of them as extras in the sprinkles. And what I really like about what you're saying is that this is kind of fundamental to how you show up. Yes, we have to get dressed every day, right. So we might as well enjoy getting dressed. I also think about there's a little bit of a similarity with educators and social workers, right the going into these professions that are heart led, that are of service to others, it can feel like the most important thing about our work, which it is, is about that service to others. It's about how we support others. But I know that you're also teaching people how to support themselves, how to have strength in themselves, so that they actually have the energy and the capacity to do this work of service in a long range capacity. I also think about how it's a little flipped on its head, in my opinion, that we would think of ourselves last or think about not elevating ourselves to the highest version of ourselves, because it's this humbleness that gets really, really attached sense of humble. I mean, I know I'm not saying that exactly right. But I know that folks, it's that humility, where it's we can brag we can't be too much we're of service. So there's this meager or meekness.

to it, it happens. And it's important also to consider the context. We don't want to be super flashy when we're working with there's like lots of communities of people that we want to kind of resonate with. And we don't necessarily want to separate ourselves from too much. But the thing that you read in my bio that says we dress in a way that makes us feel comfortable and powerful, or I say comfortable and confident so that we can feel comfortable and powerful or comfortable and confident in everything we do. It's only going to enhance how we show up in the world. It's only going to make that feel like a better experience. 100% You're right that is exactly the fun.

The fundamental principle of empowered educator is the most generous thing you can do for other people as take care of yourself, because feeling dumpy, you're showing up dumpy, you know, you're feeling crappy, you're showing up crappy. And it's so important that we consider what we're wearing, not just how other people see us, but by how we're feeling on the inside. And I think that's the thing that's so interesting about your work and how it's different from the mainstream fashion. It's not about outside looking in, it's inside looking out. Yeah, which means that when I meet a new client, it is a complete mystery to me, it's an opportunity to humble myself to the fact that I'm not going to know what's going to come out of our time together, you were in a cohort of a couple of other women who were working on branding photoshoots. And every single person's imagery looked so different. And they picked locations, photographers, color schemes, and clothing that were specifically aligned to the work that they do and to who they are as a person. So when I show up with somebody, it's not about like, alright, we're working towards that Chanel bag, we're gonna get those name brand clothes, we're going to do all this stuff, because you quote unquote, deserve it. It's like, No, I'm actually really interested in who you are. And then we're going to reverse engineer this. And so I help people with that question, like, who are you? Who are you becoming, that's where some of the therapy plays a part, right? To really get into that deeper exploration. And then we reverse engineer it to find clothes that align with that I'm always finding new brands and clothes and stuff to align with my clients, individual needs and preferences. You know, and especially as we do back to school shopping, right? A lot of what I'm hearing with the people who talk to me about their clothes moving forward is budget, and they're like, Oh, I still haven't gotten rid of this COVID weight, and I can't fit into my jeans that I used to fit into, and I don't feel good anymore. So I'm gonna buy these really super cheap, ugly things, because I'm not planning on wearing them for very long. And so you know, with those kinds of narratives, I would love for you to speak a little bit to how do we change our mindset about this in a way that's practical, where someone listening right now could be like, Okay, that's something I can do today. Yeah, I actually worked with a number of educators going back to school, like just in the past month or so because of the timing of that. And I'll talk a little bit more about that later. But budget is a great consideration, right? I can shop with folks in retail stores. So consignment, I can shop with people at Goodwill. There's a lot of brands out there that are actually high quality, but are working towards affordability and accessibility. I can work with people who are looking for ethical, sustainable clothing or issues around human rights. I mean, there's a lot of places that we can go based on people's values and needs. And what was my newsletter this past week, or the one that's coming out next week? I can't remember. It's like something about like, you can't wait for it. I wish I could remember off the top my head. I just read it the other day, it was like the concept of waiting. Oh, yeah, yeah, I had a client who said to me, it was the most brilliant thing. She said, We can't call today a problem. And I mean, I had this like pause and just take in what that meant. We can't call today a problem. And she was referencing a lot of physical changes that she's had in her life that led her to her work with me, because I was asking her I was like, so as we begin our work together, which is going to be over a long period of time, what do I need to know about your body and about the changes that you've made? And are you making more changes, and she's like, I am exactly where I am today. And I've come to believe and to understand that I can't call today a problem. So this is who I am today. It was this this like, matter of fact, incredible acceptance, lovely perspective on the world and on ourselves. And so we're buying clothes for her today body, and we're investing in those so that you're right, we're not waiting. I mean, everybody knows, like, we don't know what we're gonna get tomorrow, or if we're gonna get tomorrow. And that's so hard to live into. Because we're so consumed with the fact that I'm going to make a change, I'm going to make a change next week, next year, whatever we'll like, let's help that we have that. I am a big proponent of being in your body right now. I also understand that practically speaking, people are changing in two ways. One physically because people have done a lot of shape shifting during the COVID time, so they're physically changing, right? And also, we are not the same people that we went into 2020 Being I mean, in so many ways, there's been a lot of political movement. There's been a lot of racial, social justice movement, there's just been a lot of coming to terms with like, people are reprioritizing their lives making big changes, falling in love getting divorced, like making changes in their lives that they're like, holy crap, I was holding on to this and waiting for this and now COVID really ignited the fire underneath me to make these changes. So a lot of people are dressing in new ways because they're

letting go of their old selves, and they are still evolving. And it's okay to buy clothes for your today body and your today personality. I'm so glad you said that, because that was part of my transformation also was, I had gotten divorced when COVID hit. And I looked in my closet of just all this evidence of old me. And so I physically felt something stagnant about putting on those same clothes. And I felt this need to just redo my closet because I wasn't that person anymore. And you're right, there are so many changes and movements and moments where we have an opportunity to grow, and change our identities shape shift, or what have you. And the things that are in your closet can be a reflection of that, and where you're going. It's all right. I mean, you and I, it's not even been a full year since we work together. And the first experience that we had together was one version of you. And then you got a second opportunity that's catapulting you into yet another layer of your existence as an entrepreneur and in this field. And so when we talked the second time, I mean, we kind of went back to square one I'm like, All right, describe who you are today, describe where you're going. And we're elevating even more like I can see this subtle differences from you know, and that was the first time we worked together was a big change. But I can see the subtle differences that are happening now. And I imagine if we continue to work together over the years, as you continue to grow and have success, it's just gonna keep evolving, but we're not going to projectile you out into the ethers of like some version of yourself that is really yet to arrive. But we're also not going to stay in a stagnant place, we're going to move forward. Yeah. And like what you said there to about just this next level version of yourself, just on the outskirts of where you are now and then moving out and then moving out and moving out. In some of my work, I do a lot of visualization with teachers and school leaders, we talk about that version, whether it's a year from now, or five years from now, or 10 years from now. And connecting to that person allows you, I think, some sort of permission or safety for you to step into that now. And a part of that is how you're feeling and the things that you're wearing. It's such a leap of faith. And so when people buy things, you know, every time I shop with people, I let them pick out a couple of comfortable items like kind of something that they would be drawn to naturally, but has a little bit of a difference, right. So it's like things that are still somewhat within their comfort zone, then we stretch and away. They're like, Oh my gosh, I never would have picked this, but I love it. And then we usually end up with a couple of pieces that are really at the edge of their comfort zone. And they're like, I don't know. And my favorite thing is get these report backs of like that was the first thing I was drawn to, I wore it within a week of buying it, I feel really great, and how quickly we can grow. When we actually do that, like what you're talking about, we visualize out, if it's a week, if it's a month, if it's a year, if it's five or 10 years, we're visualizing out, and we're making the choice to step into some of those habits and behaviors now, which then leads us to support the change happening at a clip really, oh, it's so powerful. So with that I would love to know a little bit more about when someone calls you and says, hey, it's back to school, I want to kind of have a little bit of a facelift for my closet with processes a little human, you talked a little bit about picking some things that you like and picking some things that your client likes. So what is that process. So I work with folks individually in two different capacities. And occasionally I'll do these ala carte, but what I find is that to break them down ala carte sometimes works for people's budget, and also doesn't necessarily have the full effect. So the full effect would be that I would start with a hefty 90 minute discussion about who they are, who they're becoming what they like and don't like about their wardrobe, really that therapeutic elements so that we can connect with each other so I can fully understand the client who I'm working with. So it's like journal prompts and things like that, that they can also really reflect on what they want to get out of this. That's again, where I'm most in that therapeutic role. And then I want to go through their closets. So if it's on Zoom or in person, I want to be looking at the clothes in their closet because people have amazing things. And our intuition is better than we often give credit for. We think that we have nothing right like I hate everything, but my eye is to see where we can utilize some of the stuff that we have. So maybe it's just a couple of pieces to go with that thing. Or maybe it's actually taking two things from opposite ends of the closet and putting them together but in some way transforming your closet and then getting a sense of what we actually do need to get and then that's the shopping together process. So that's like a what I call like my quick one month transformation and then I have a three to six month program where you can work with me on a longer term basis. And that's where I really deep dive into becoming your best girlfriend we Marco Polo and Voxer and we're talking all the time so that we

are doing that retraining of the brain on a consistent basis like habits really get stuck into place with that ongoing communication? Absolutely. And that ultimately you want to enjoy getting dressed in the morning because you get up, get your coffee, you brush your teeth, and then you get dressed. And that first part of your day sucks. Like how are you showing up to the next thing that you're doing either in interaction with your partner or your kids or on the way to work and how you show up with the people there. That makes all the difference? I think it's as essential as eating breakfast. I agree with you. It's whatever it is that you do in the morning to get your day started is extremely essential to how your day goes. I mean, the first what is it? Robin Sharma says like the first 20 minutes stick takes the next 20 hours or something. I feel like I completely made that up. But he does he

does have a 2020 20 rule of like 20 minutes of journaling, 20 minutes of meditation and 20 minutes of exercise to like set yourself up for success. So Robin Sharma, if you take that and run with it, I'll take some of the what do you call it, the kickbacks or whatever. So agreed. And I think that people just bypass this part all the time, they pull the clothes off the back of the chair that they were the day before they just pull out the same thing they've always worn in their closet, they bypass that part because we've really been trained to think it's extremely vain. It's, again, self indulgent. It's like Who do I think I am, I don't want to be seen, I'm afraid to be seen. I don't want to be too much all of those things is like, Okay, well, what a missed opportunity. I mean, what we wear is so essential to who we are, in the same way that how we choose to eat or who we choose to love. Yeah, everything that we consume. But you know, this piece about clothing and fashion is like you said, so undervalued, which is why I'm so grateful that you have this conversation. Because having someone like you are in front of an audience of educators, I think it's unheard of. We don't we don't talk about that what we're wearing is so at the bottom of the conversations, because of all of these other things that we put on top, but in looking at it and what you just said, this could really change your trajectory for your day for how you're having interactions with people throughout the day. And ultimately how you feel about yourself. It is also a teaching moment. So when people see me dressed in alignment with who I am, they can see that right, like, whether I'm wearing something casual or something way out there for out there, right? People are like, wow, that looks so amazing on you. And there's something that they want about that they don't want my clothes, they don't want to be me, there's something that they want about that for themselves. And it's really compelling. And I think that when in the same way that I know that you're teaching your teachers and educators across the board that what they do is, you know, I mean, you're the example for the people you're teaching, right, so we aren't taking care of ourselves, and the students are not learning to take care of themselves. This same thing is like you can really inspire people to be their own individual self. And I know that so many educators are watching, especially at certain ages, like kids try to step in line with their peers, and really the homogeny being the end goal. And that them losing parts of themselves because they don't want to be outcast or different. And so this is really an opportunity to reclaim the parts of ourselves that are different than others, while also being so much more whole in the process. I'm so glad you said all of that, that resonates so much. Because at the end of the day, it's not about looking good. It's about looking aligned. And again, matching those insights and outside, which then make you emit a different emotional and energetic frequency that creates this magnetism that you're talking about that your clients see in you. That's huge. And if you model that for your kids, Whoa, that's a game changer. It's amazing. Yeah, all of it, everything you're teaching anything that I'm teaching, all of it anything in the realm of like self love, self compassion, self forgiveness, self care. I mean, it's all truly the best thing we can do for ourselves. But it really is the best thing we can do. For others, there's this line, when I take care of myself, everyone wins to think about that, like everyone wins, because we're so afraid to take care of ourselves, because we think it's gonna detract from the work that we do, or the way that how we can support or serve others. And it's like, when I take care of myself, everybody wins. Like, if you could believe that across the board. I just like I can't imagine not wanting to go at it from that way, as opposed to when I don't take care of myself. Potentially everybody loses like I lose, and I make myself less available to my students and clients. They lose out an opportunity to see me living my best life. Yeah. Oh, 100%. I think if anyone takes anything from this podcast today, it is that when I take care of myself, everybody wins. That is it. That's the fundamental principle. And I think you might have just described this but I'm wondering if

There is more there, I asked this question to everybody who comes on as far as your dream for the future of education knowing that, you know, this is an audience of educators, what is your dream, I have a lot of dreams for educators. As we know, there's just a lot of inequity across the board around pay around, hours worked around people showing up, like, there's a lot going on that we need to change as a system and that individuals need to participate in changing for themselves. But I'll just talk about style, right? So I shopped recently, with two teachers, one works in higher ed, doing fundraising and one works with She's gonna kill me if she hears this fourth graders, she's an art teacher. And both of these women were going through the clothes and I'm saying, like, look at this one on the hanger, they're like, I don't know, I've never seen anything like that I never would have picked something like that they put it on and it fits like a glove. It's cut from a color perspective, it's really aligned with their colors. And it feels so much like themselves, and then they're living into the truth of who they are. It's a huge transformation. And I from a style perspective, I want everybody to know that they can show up as their best self feeling good and looking good, and what they were, and that that will actually lead them to do their best work. And that that both can be true, they are not mutually exclusive. It is not a give or take that you can have it all like you can actually have it all and that you're a baby, whether you're a man or a woman are on the genders anywhere else on the gender spectrum, like you're a baby and you deserve to be so whole and your baby leanness, baby, late miss. And I see the beauty in everybody that I work with, it's so easy to see. And it's really hard sometimes for us to see it for ourselves. So I just shine that light. And I don't know, the idea that people could love themselves more, thus making this a more loving world. I mean, that's what chokes me up. And what a beautiful example for our next generation. It's just like you are the new sexy, like, wherever you are right now. Like that's, that's it and owning that is part of that beautiful self love. And yeah, that's how we elevate humanity we love. That's right. And I'll just say my I kind of mentioned this before, but like we got to dismantle some systems and structures, right? We got to dismantle the patriarchy, we got to dismantle the way that capitalism really runs and rules our lives, we've got to dismantle lots of oppression that is in this world, racially, socially. excetera. And the only way to do it is to fight against the norm and not in a way that's aggressive, hateful, or in necessarily in like high conflict with other people, but to stop being in conflict with ourselves. That's it. This is how we do it. And it's sometimes quiet, but powerful. Just show up look good. Yes. Ah, this has been spectacular. And I'm so grateful that you wanted to spend your time with me today. And with everyone listening. So for those people who are interested in your work, and wants to know more about you and how to work with you, where can they find you. So you can find me My website is soul reflection.com. And that's Sol that's the last part of my name, Sol Sol, reflection, singular, not plural.com. And then you can find me on Instagram at soul reflection, I do a lot of really fun stuff that's just entertaining and cute there. I also have a Facebook page that's sole reflection. So reflection on my website, and in my link tree in the bio of my Instagram are places where you can sign up for a free 20 minute consultation with me. Also, both those places have freebies, I have a free five day, hashtag stretcher style, simply challenge which is part of that retraining of the brain. It's where we make small changes every day for five days just to kind of notice how you feel without having to completely up in your wardrobe. But just adding one thing every day that makes you feel a little different. It's very subtle, but it's very powerful. I also have a free self guided closet inventory. So it's you taking everything out of your closet and doing your own inventory, which is somewhat similar to my closet transformation. You do it without my eye, but it definitely helps you see your closet in a new light as well. So lots of freebies, my newsletters a great place to get free information. And yeah, free consultation and we can see where we go from there. Yes, highly recommend and your Instagram is always so fun, and colorful and energetic and exciting. So definitely follow up Marisol there. Thank you again, this has been absolutely spectacular. I so appreciate the work that you do in this world. Thank you so much to big. Thank you for having me. Absolutely. So if you liked today's episode, go ahead and leave a five star review. And we will see you next time on take notes. Incredible, right? Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible. And it's all here for you right now.

Let's keep the conversation going at empowered educator faculty room on Facebook

What does healthy conflict look like? How to hone your conflict management skills and have more productive conversations. A conversation with Rachel Teichberg.

What is your conflict style?

Does your conflict resolution strategy consist of throwing your hands up and becoming indifferent and resentful?

Or, do you become aggressive and defensive when you’re met with difficult conversations?

Conflict is not always comfortable. But, we can learn conflict resolution skills that make us feel more confident during these inevitable interactions.

Welcome to episode 12 of the Take Notes with Jen Rafferty podcast! In this episode, I’m speaking with Rachel Teichberg, (my favorite sister, and returning guest) about all things conflict management.

We discuss how conflict makes us feel, and how to manage conflict with more confidence, grace, and ease.

Rachel is head of Learning and Development at Veterinary Growth Partners. She's a content creator, consultant and speaker who creates and delivers interactive leadership training programs that support veterinary practices in establishing or sustaining highly productive teams.

Rachel’s work parallels the work we do at Empowered Educator because leadership skills are transferable and directly related- no matter the industry.

Today, it’s all about discovering how to engage in difficult conversations productively in an effort to have more open and honest relationships- whether they be personal or professional.

You may have not been taught these skills growing up, but if you want to handle things differently- I’m here to help you do the work!

Stay empowered,


Let’s keep the conversation going! Find me at:

Click here to learn all the ways you can work with me:
 Jen Rafferty | Instagram, YouTube, Facebook | Links
Instagram: @jenrafferty_
FaceBook: Empowered Educator Faculty Room

About Rachel Teichberg

Rachel is the head of learning and development at Veterinary Growth Partners. She works with teams to enhance their culture, boost team morale, and improve overall communication through conflict management and emotional intelligence training. Her goal is to design fun and engaging learning programs that make leaders feel less alone, give them the tools to excel in their roles, while creating beautiful moments of growth and awareness.

Rachel and I have been working behind the scenes together pretty much our entire lives, and sharing her with you brings me so much joy. Her insights offer tremendous value regardless of industry.

My sister is back for another sister episode, Rachel kicked off season two with me and episode one about burnout and emotional intelligence in the workplace and is one of the most listened to podcast episodes this season. So today we are continuing the conversation with conflict management. Because conflict is not always comfortable, but we can learn the skills that make us feel more confident during these inevitable interactions. So today, we are going to get down and dirty about how conflict makes us feel and how we can approach these difficult conversations with more confidence, more ease, and with an open mind. And the best part. After we recorded this podcast, the two of us decided that it really needed to be something more than just a podcast episode. So as a result, we created the confidence and conflict course, which is specifically for school leaders and administrators. In this four part series, you will create more positive relationships to increase morale and develop a culture of trust within your school district. By learning how to engage in these difficult conversations productively, you are definitely going to want to be a part of this incredible workshop which begins on January 4, but doors are now open for registration and empowered educator.com/workshops. I cannot wait to see you there. Remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching. Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world? Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two, and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids, we need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy, and fulfillment. This is education 2.0, where you become the priority, shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work, and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee, and grab your notebook. It's time to take notes. Hello, and welcome back to another fantastic episode of take notes. And today's episode is another sister episode with my favorite sister and only sister Rachel. Hi, Rachel. Hey, so excited to be here. I am so glad you're here. For those of you who haven't listened to episode one of season two, go ahead and make sure you check that one out. That was the beginning of our conversation. And we realized we had so much to talk about that Rachel is going to be a regular guest on take notes. So for those of you who haven't listened to it yet, Rachel is head of learning and development at vetinary Growth Partners. And she's a content creator, consultant and speaker and creates and delivers interactive leadership training programs that support veterinary practices in establishing or sustaining highly productive teams. So you might be thinking, well, veterinary practices, Jen, this is a podcast for educators? Well, I have to tell you that the work that Rachel does is incredibly parallel with the work that I do here at empowered educator because no matter what the industry is, whether it's veterinary industry or education, leadership is leadership is leadership is leadership. And a lot of the same skills are directly related. Wouldn't you agree? Rach? Oh, absolutely. I mean, it's every single time I present or we deliver content, somebody comes up to me. And they're like, Oh, my God, I just realized, like, my partner could use this at their office. And oh, my mom works in this other industry. Like, can you do this for them? So absolutely. I mean, this is universal as far as usage in the workplace. And also personally, of course, Oh, absolutely, personally, and what's been so wonderful is that the two of us have been doing this work in this way, for so long that we've been collaborating kind of behind the scenes with everything that we've been doing. So it's really cool that we finally have this forum to talk about this together in person on this platform. So one of the things I really wanted to dive into, which is, I think, unique to your skill set and your training is conflict management. So specially in a working environment that is service driven. A lot of times we try to avoid conflict. And what usually happens is that we create this toxic piece instead of having these really difficult conversations. So first, why don't you share a little bit of why did you even get into conflict management? Why was that something that was

interesting to you in the first place. Sure, conflict was interesting to me because it scared me a lot. And this is an exercise that we often do when we start presenting this material to a group is sort of a word association. Like when I say the word conflict was the first thing that comes to mind. And often it's fear, anger, aggression, yelling, all of those kind of destructive sort of negative responses that you would expect, most of the time when people think of a conflict. avoidance is a big one, like literally people be like I hear conflict, the word conflicts, I think, run avoid. So I was one of those people, I think, like many of us are, I don't think most of us grow up feeling conflict positive, or view it in any sort of such way. So to me, this was an opportunity, because conflict is inevitable conflict comes in all shapes and sizes, and I was afraid of the very itty bitty conflicts. And I was equally as afraid, and what I thought to be terrible at handling big conflicts, and there were a lot of reasons behind it. So conflict is a part of our everyday life. And so to me, learning more about it, understanding how I handle conflict and opportunities for my own personal growth was the first step in, I wanted to create a more positive relationship with conflict. Because I knew that I wasn't feeling confident in this area, I knew that it scared me to death. And I knew that it was unavoidable. And so the first step that I took in developing a more positive relationship with conflict was learning about how I handle conflict, learning about what my triggers were, what were the construct of in destructive responses to it. So initially, this interest really came from a personal exploration as far as that certification goes, and learning more than about how to help others and train others to be more comfortable in handling regular conflict at work. Yeah, so I want to just highlight one thing, because this is really important, we have to do the inner work first. Otherwise, it's shallow, and it's not going to be as effective unless you really put up the mirror to yourself, and start asking some really difficult question. And this is a theme of wherever you want to grow and develop and learn. We have to start with ourselves. So I'm so glad you know, throughout your journey that you've shared so far with us, especially in that first episode of how you even got started in emotional intelligence, it really did start with your curiosity, of self discovery. So I just not only want to applaud you, but just highlight this as a theme of everything that we're doing, the change always has to start with you. And so why are people afraid of conflict? Let's start there. Because you know, you and I grew up in the same household, you can probably share some of the things that are triggers for you. And the reasons why, you know, we were brought up where our parents didn't like conflict either. So although we lived in what might have been, on the surface, a conflict free households, there was a lot that wasn't said, and that created some level of discomfort that we were able to even feel as kids. Yeah, there's definitely a whole spectrum of how people grow up. Right, we definitely were on the far end of conflict avoidant, I work with somebody who grew up on the flip side. So a lot of the trainings that we do, I work alongside Sean McVeigh, who has been doing this work for a really long time in our industry as well. And it's just really interesting to hear his side too, because he grew up in the complete polar opposite. Conflict was loud conflict was angry conflict was physical, right conflict could be violent. And that was not my experience at all. And what I find most interesting, the more we dig into conflict is that yes, the way that we were raised definitely defines the beliefs that we have around conflict, and the comfort level we have along the skill set that we have or lack. And that is just sort of the tools that were given whether we like it or not as we move forward. And so for us, we never had anything. So naturally, my inclination as I became an adult was to avoid conflict, I naturally yielded a lot because I didn't want to engage. So to me, sometimes it was easier to just throw up my hands and say, You know what, fine, have it your way, and I'll become indifferent and resentful, and our relationship will become destroyed. And I don't necessarily think I always had that thought process in the moment. I obviously see it now in retrospect, the damage that was done by me not using my voice, but I wasn't given the tools. I didn't know how to defend myself how to create a situation where we could look at conflict as a US versus the problem versus US versus each other. And I just always saw conflict as interpersonal and not

Got about problem. So that was really the big paradigm shift that I had to make was, this isn't about you and me, this is really about a problem that's being put in between us. Yeah. And I think you saying that we weren't given the skills, right? We kind of go through our lives without explicitly being taught these skills. Yet. Everyone assumes that once we get to be an adult, or past, our preteen years, when our brains are moving into this adolescent stage, where we're figuring ourselves out in the world out, we're just supposed to know these things based on, I don't know, the air we breathe, I don't even know because we're walking around as examples of the adults who haven't actually learned these skills. We're just learning from each other, and just constantly throwing our old baggage at each other about how we deal with conflict. But when we don't do it, quote, unquote, the way that correctly or in a way that feels good for us, we throw judgment at it. And it's not your fault. It's how you were brought up. But if you want to handle it differently, it is your responsibility then to do that work, and figure out okay, well, how do I really want to handle conflict? So what's next, you know, I am a recovering conflict averse person,

which is always a journey, or perhaps you are on that other side of the spectrum? How do you even start to approach this? So veteran I Growth Partners, and because of the training that I've had, and that Shawn has gone through, we have access to assessments. And so like, of course, that's a great starting point. Because just like with an emotional intelligence assessment, just knowing like the you are here, sign is really great. You can do it without it, I think a big part of that is reflection, and figuring out what you typically lean towards in conflict. And whether these are big or small. You know, you mentioned earlier about creating toxicity. Toxicity isn't necessarily formed just by having like one big blowout, a lot of times the toxicity forms because of little micro events that add up over time. And maybe it doesn't feel like a big deal the first time you avoid a conflict with one person, but on the 20th 30th 40th time you've yielded. And that resentment is building and building, then we have that right? It can equally happen. I mean, we've all had, I'm sure over the course of our lives a situation where things just blew up. And that can happen too. But I would just say to try our best to reflect. So I'll kind of go through the high level of what some of those like hot buttons and triggers are. For instance, I think knowing what sets you off is really important. However, remembering that you are ultimately responsible for how you respond. So you can communicate to a hot button pusher as we call them about how their behavior is triggering for you, and how you'd ideally like to see that change through feedback conversations, which we can talk more about. But ultimately, you knowing that you have a trigger of being micromanage, let's say does not give you the freedom to say, you know, that's my trigger. So I'm always going to respond aggressively or I might yell or scream or I might hide away, you know, kind of that fight flight freeze response through conflict of am I going to fight you about this? Am I going to retreat about this? Am I going to become like paralyzed over this? Those are all the natural responses, but you are responsible. So I think that if we go through what some of those are, we have hot buttons around. Like I said, micromanaging, we have it around hostility that is by and far like the number one hot button that at least exists in the veterinary industry. My gut says it probably wouldn't be very different with teachers. I just think that again, when we think about characteristic traits, attributes of people who are drawn to teaching and people who are drawn to animals, I don't think that it's too far apart. So hostility, and that's just like people getting loud people shouting, throwing just being big, taking up a lot of space, a lot of emotional space, sucking up all that air in the room, you know, and that can be really frightening. So other hot buttons are abrasiveness being aloof. I don't know, that was a big trigger for me as I got older, which is funny because I used to be that way. And a lot of times, we judge and get frustrated by people who actually behave in a similar way to us because it's something maybe we don't like about ourselves. So it's funny, you know, and thinking about it that way, when I was dealing with somebody who was incredibly aloof, that actually made me become very hostile, which is very unusual for me. Like I said, hostility. Micromanaging overly analytical people can be a hot button, somebody who just cannot make decisions. They just have to think over and over and over and over again. self centered. Could be a hot button for some people being unappreciative. That's another one for me. And I know we always say like Millennials always need their like Pat's on the backs and our trophies of participation. But you know what, Rachel, that particular one that you just said under appreciated is something I hear a lot

A time when I ask teachers, school leaders, principals, one of the most common things that they say is that I just want to feel respected. I want to feel appreciated. And that is an underlying theme that creates those low level feelings. I think that is pretty universal, at least in this profession. Oh, 1,000%. I know. And I only say that, and I was joking, because I think a lot of people are so judgmental of the millennials, specifically for being vocal about needing it. And no, I agree, it is unfair of them to judge and also to group everyone in a generation like that. Because I know plenty of people who are not millennials who need appreciation and deserve appreciation and want appreciation. But I find that one interesting because it is a hot button, it is recognized through research that has been done. And it isn't just universal to one age group. And you need to feel appreciated and, and appreciated in a million ways. A lot of us think about appreciation as like a Thank, you know, it's could be so much more than that. And even just through appropriate pay sort of as a baseline. And then on top of all of the other things that we can be appreciative of, and just recognizing people's efforts and showing up for them. Even just being an active listener to somebody can show your appreciation, like I might not be able to help you, but I'm going to hear you and I will do what I can. To me that's like that means a lot to like, I appreciate how you feel. And I appreciate what you need, regardless of what the answer is there. So yeah, unappreciative is definitely a high one for me.

My personal number one, I'd actually might be pretty close with hostility, hostility really does trigger me, but unreliability is a big one for people. Yes. Oh, that's a big one for me, too. Yes. Yeah. You say you're gonna do something, do it? Do it. Me. I mean, like, so I'm seriously dragger. You know, say what you mean. And mean, what you say. And I think part of this to Rachel is, in doing my reflective journey, I have to take a step back and realize that not everyone is me, right? So this is a value of mine. But it might not be of value to everybody else. And I live in a world with lots of people, which is amazing that none of them are me. That's the beauty of how this works. But I think that that value is because I think we talked about this also in episode one, where when there's some sort of conflict, sometimes it also is a conflict because of a value differentiation. Big time. Oh, yeah. And not to say, there's so many other reasons why you could become in conflict with somebody. These are just through the research that was done. And this is actually all through the MTI the mediation training institute at Eckerd. College. And that's where I did the training. And that's the information that we always present to our members. This is essentially through their research, sort of the most common hot buttons that set people off. But like, Absolutely, you might be triggered by something else. But I do want to just add in that last one, which is untrustworthiness. That's another big one. similar, but different than unreliability, obviously, somebody breaking your trust, I always say like, you know, relationships are built on trust, but it's a glass house like one crack, and it all falls down. And it is so hard to build trust back. That is something that takes true effort. And you cannot just say I'm sorry, and expect things to go back to normal. Like, that's a deep one. That's a deep cut. So ultimately, with these hot buttons, it's the ability to say, what's triggering me? How does this fit in? You know, if you have a boss, for instance, that every time they leave, you feel like triggered, you feel like there's a conflict of some way. Like you just feel like there's always sort of this having a different attitude, perception thought about a situation that took place some sort of perception of threat, I want that to be the moment where you maybe can reflect and be like, Why is my heart beating so fast? After I have a meeting with this person? Always? Is there a conflict? Is there something else going on? Is there something that I'm not saying? Do I feel triggered in any of the ways that I just listed? And how can we address that because you can address a hot button for sure. Like I said, you can say, Listen, Jen, I get really overwhelmed. When you check in on me multiple times a day on the project that I'm working on, I understand that you want to know how things are going and you want to have a say. But I'd really appreciate if we can find a better way so that way I can do my most productive work. And we can plan to meet about this at a certain time so I can feel more prepared. I'd also maybe have a conversation that person about is there a lack of trust here, right? Do you feel like I'm the right person to do this job? Is there something that I can be showing you or proving to you to have a little bit more space? That's a conflict conversation.

Like and I think some people forget calling it out and having a conversation

about how someone's making you feel like there's a conflict. And me just saying something that seems so simple as that, like, I didn't raise my voice, I didn't call anyone a name. I didn't point a finger at anybody I just said, this is what's happening. This is how it's making me feel. And I'd like a better way. It's just that simple. So simple when you put it that way, right. And I really appreciated what you said too, about having that moment of reflection, understanding that, okay, my body is talking to me right now, my heart's beating, I'm sweaty, or it's beating quickly, hopefully, it's always beating, but it's beating quickly.

Or my chest is tight, right. So the work that I do with the folks who are here with me and empowered educator no to, that's the first step to everything, because you can't get to that next step of having that conversation with someone if you're still activated. So once you're able to calm your nervous system down to a place where you can really objectively get curious. And I think what was so interesting about that example that you just gave, was that after explaining the situation, from your perspective, when you started asking questions, and that curiosity creates almost a common ground for the two of you, is that accurate? Well, yeah, because it goes back to the theory of us against the problem. I could have a problem with you and say, Jen, I am sick and tired of you coming into my office all day long and making me feel like you don't trust me. And I just can't take it anymore. I could have said that.

But how do we think you're going to respond to that? And your defenses are gonna go straight up? Yeah, my chest is getting tight right now, even in that example? Yeah. So like, my tone was that not that it was bad, it was elevated, you could see that I was feeling big feelings. I'm walking into a conversation with you elevate it, and escalate it and heightened and hot and like ready for a fight. And you can tell. And depending upon how you respond to the conflict, you could be like, whoa, whoa, okay. Or you could be like, What are you talking about? So there's just, the best that we can do is center ourselves, figure out what's going on, really do the work and understand again, what is the behavior, we have a really good way of like labeling and doing verbal pointing of the fingers, like you did this to me and playing victimhood. And my reaction is a product of your behavior. And that is true, but we have to describe it in a way that doesn't put the other person on defense right away. And so curiosity is a great way to get to that we have a problem, which is that I feel that you don't trust me, I feel like maybe there's an issue about my skill set, whatever the case may be, I want to figure out why that exists. And that curiosity 100% always is the foundation. Now when we're having those conversations, the big thing to me is describing the behavior, we say this all the time, we cannot say you don't trust me, right, the starting that sentence with you is a verbal finger pointing right? It is assuming something it is creating this just a blanket statement of how this other person feels, which you don't know for sure. Instead of approaching things that way, we always try to recommend that we change those use statements. So if you're naturally inclined to be like, You don't trust me, you're mean to me? How do we change that? So the first thing is to say, start the sentence with I, I feel like when blank and describe the behavior. So if you feel like that person is mean to you, why, what are the behaviors, I feel like your means me could be, I feel like when you raise your voice, you have a problem with me personally. And that's a lot different than you're so mean to me. When you invite everyone else out after work, and you don't extend an invite to me, I feel disrespected. And that feels a lot different than you have favorites. So a word choice ultimately becomes a big piece of that. But that's why our words are so important. Because we naturally as the person you'd be receiving this feedback, and on the receiving end of this sort of criticism, if somebody were to say you're mean, you probably don't identify as a mean person. So ultimately, you're immediately going to be like, No, not, because you don't identify that way. You don't see yourself in that way. And you probably don't show up every day planning to be mean to anybody. That's not the goal. So naturally, we want to defend ourselves and say, No, that's not true. That's not me. I don't identify that way. So we have to be really careful to avoid labels like that. Because even if in your mind, what you're saying is true. That other person might have sort of an identity brake on to say, but I'm don't have favorites. And I'm not mean and I don't micromanage, but they're not hearing what the real problem is. Right? So in having this conversation, really highlighting the observable objective behaviors is kind of the key

key there. And you know, as you're saying some of these things, one theme, actually, that's come up a lot this week is passive aggressive. And so every time you're saying the word mean, I'm actually thinking like, you know, passive aggressive is something that that keeps coming up to, but again, having a conversation with someone and saying, you know, you're really passive aggressive, that's not going to go well. And I don't know if that's something that if you're dealing with someone who your feeling is, they're being passive aggressive to you, that's certainly not how you're going to even want to approach the conversation anyway. So you just don't have a conversation at all? Definitely. Well, and that kind of brings us into your constructive and destructive responses to conflict. So obviously, in these past examples of me going up to you and having a conversation, that's obviously a very constructive response, it's kind of falls into reaching out like it's an action. So we have passive responses, and we have passive and active responses. And so obviously, the active ones are some sort of over action. Passive is something that happens more internally. And we have active and passive responses in both constructive, so sort of your positive ways of handling conflicts and your destructive your negative ways. So just because for instance, maybe you self criticize, which again, major one in our industry, that's the number one destructive response to conflict in the veterinary industry. My gut says it's probably the same. I'm curious. I just like feel like we up everyone needs to take an assessment, every teacher needs to take an assessment. Well, I'm gonna go do some research. Yes.

But again, it's not just saying that, because I do feel like a lot of those the same traits, qualities, attributes, characteristics that draw people towards teaching, it's very, very similar, but different in Batman, you know, we're called towards animals. Obviously, teachers are often drawn towards children in the future, and all that sort of stuff. But self criticizing is a destructive, passive response. And if you've ever participated in that nasty voice in your head, telling you how awful you are, and how you handled that terribly, and you couldn't believe that you said that, and this person is going to hate you, and how can I show up to work the next day and replaying it over and over and over and over in your mind until you kind of forget what really happened. And sometimes it really does distort reality, you talk about it nonstop, to your family and your friends to a point that it could actually destroy your relationships with those people because it becomes so all consuming that self criticizing. And you might be like, yeah, well of course, it's normal to think about something that happened. That would be called reflection. Self criticizing is like reflection on steroids that is out of control. That you are like literally sleeping and dreaming about this conflict and you cannot let it go. That woulda, shoulda coulda kind of feeling I lived in here. It's gotten a lot better. But I can't even tell you the amount of sleep I lost over the things I said or didn't say the things that I did or didn't do the wishes I would have made. I mean, how many of our listeners probably have like, stood in the shower and been like, I should have said that?

Well, yeah, it's like it's like that Seinfeld episode, right? Yeah, totally dating myself right now. But like, Absolutely. Like, the shrimp store just called and said they ran out a year or whatever it was. Right. But like, that's what it was. You said linkbase Later. Great. But that's totally a thing. It was the jerk store. Not the shrimp store. The shrimp was like another episode with the shrimp. I'm mixing up my Seinfeld episode. That's right. I digress. But yeah, you're right. And this is a scenario that we talk about a lot. Because there are times when you're up at three o'clock in the morning, and you can't shake the thought. Yeah, I mean, have you ever woken up in the night thinking about something embarrassing? You did in third grade?

War? Yes, totally. Yeah, of course, like, and you're just like, and you see memes on the internet about it all the time. Like, Oh, can we just get some sleep like brain? Are you ready to like, go to the Wayback Machine and remember that one time and did great. Yeah, it's a big problem. This definitely requires a lot of work. But really, it's just to say that some of the most destructive things you can do isn't necessarily screaming and yelling and carrying on. And a lot of times we give all of that stuff a lot more weight. But some of the other passive destructive responses are avoiding, which was again, a big thing you and I sort of that was our go to move, yielding. So basically, just essentially saying, Whatever you say, I'm not even going to try to give you my opinion, my thoughts, they don't matter. So again, it's also a very, like kind of, it's a defeatist kind of way of going about it. And ultimately, the conflict will resurface because you're not satisfied and that just won't work for long term. And then of course, hiding emotions is the other passive so essentially saying no, I'm good, everything's fine but like deep down inside, you want to scream and cry and punch somebody in the face and but you're saying all the right things. And then of course, what that really does is deteriorates trust because you

You've told this person that you're in conflict with that things are fine, and they're not. And ultimately, what typically happens is that the conflict continues to build on your side where you feel a certain kind of way. And so, you know, imagine having all these feelings sort of pent up in this big pile inside of you, you know, you tell the person all is fine. They're just going about their day, they're doing their thing. Maybe this is the micromanager. Right, and you're like, oh, no, things are good. I love my job, everything's great. Like, thanks. You're such an attentive boss, you know, it's talking about passive aggressive, right? So great. So you never tell them how you feel. And then the next time they come into the office, they anger you again, you feel so conflicted, it happens again, and again and again and again. And then typically, what that will likely lead to is some outburst at some point, you know, the feeling, emotion and energy about how you feel will come out completely backwards in the wrong place at the wrong time. So yeah, you may lash out at your boss at one point, and you may freak out and be like enough, right? And for you, this was building but for them, this is a shock. It could happen to your family, to your kids, to your friends to a driver on the road, it comes out in road rage, it comes out in all sorts of places, a lot of times we self soothe by eating, drinking, gambling, partying, I mean, you name it. And so this stuff doesn't just disappear. And so that's why especially these destructive passive ones that just essentially eat you up inside, those can be dangerous, for lack of a better word, it is dangerous. And as you're talking, I want to actually put a pin in this for next time.

Because I think what you're talking about right now is what has been happening to teachers in this profession for years, where we have and we you know, royal we write we have been saying it's fine, it's fine or complaining about this complaining about this, but it's okay, I love my job. I do it for the kids for decades, decades and decades and decades. And it has been building and building and building. And this passive deconstructive way of dealing with this macro conflict has led to the great resignation of teachers in this profession. And here we are, we've had it, it's done, it's over. And it is imperative that the folks who are here still, and the folks who are coming into this profession start to handle conflict differently. Otherwise, we're either going to be modeling this unhealthy behavior, or we're not going to make it and the most heartbreaking thing of all of this is, you know, obviously, the thing that you know, drives me is that this is affecting our future generations, we're out of time. We are out of time, this needs to be addressed now. So this conflict that we're talking about is I think threefold. And I this is kind of where I want to put a pin in this. And maybe we can expand on this next time which we chat. It's an interpersonal conflict that we need to deal with and manage. It's this interpersonal conflict that we need to deal with. And this is there's this organizational conflict that we need to maneuver and navigate through. And I think those three tiers is something that at least for starters, you and I can explore perhaps in our next episode, because I think this is really the foundation of what a lot of our problems stemmed from, absolutely leave a lot unsaid. We make a lot of assumptions that people know how we feel. And it's just not true. I actually heard this quote from Sean who I work with, and I just love and I think about it a lot, especially when I start to self criticize or spiral. No one thinks about you as much as you think about you. And so if you're thinking that this person must know how I feel, I was so clearly upset, you're wrong, you are 1,000% Wrong. And maybe there are some people in your life that can read you like a book and who are also willing and able enough to lean into a potentially difficult conversation with you to recognize what's going on and just say like, Hey, are you alright? It's written all over you something's wrong. And that's great. And I hope that there are people in everyone's life that can be that real with you. But don't expect that from your boss necessarily. Don't expect that from your coworker necessarily. Don't think that because this is weighing on you so much, that it's also weighing on that other person so much. And that's why ultimately, one of the biggest things that we have to do as a starting point is leaning in to all of it, leaning into how do I feel inside, leaning into what's really the root of the problem here, leaning into the discomfort of actually having a conversation and knowing I'm not necessarily good at this yet. I am wildly uncomfortable. I think I'm going to throw up all over this person. You know, like I've been there like I literally gone into a meeting like with like active sweat dripping down my face, feeling like I was going to be like stiff

physically ill and having to just do it anyway. And the reality is, is you're not going to die.

And you have to just lean into that discomfort. And for anyone who's feeling inspired, I would say at this point to be like, Okay, I'm going to do a little bit more, maybe I'm going to do some research, you can hop on to the mediation training institutes website, if you want to, like do more learning. In the meantime, a couple of great books that I love, which are I love, thanks for the feedback by Douglas stone and Sheila Hien. Yes, I always mix up their last names. But that's a fantastic book. Fantastic. Yes. And I what I love about that is because it's about receiving feedback. So whether you're the one giving it or receiving it, it's great information. Because if you're in a position of leadership, where you give a lot of feedback, it's just such great perspective about what it's like to receive it. Well, teachers give feedback all the time. That's true. Yeah. So that book is great, difficult conversations. It's also great. Actually think Douglas and Sheila are authors on that one, that might also be crucial conversations, I always get the two confused. But there's just so much out there, I understand like, this is just scratching the surface about what you can do in these kinds of conversations. But I would just say that if you're like still feeling ready, like, Okay, I'm motivated. Now, I can't ignore this conflict anymore, I'm gonna talk to this person, my biggest piece of advice is just to be authentic and transparent about how having this conversation makes you feel, because I think that that is just a really great connector, because chances are, whoever you're talking to, is equally nervous and uncomfortable, and worried about how this is going to go. So even just saying something like, I'm really grateful that you came here to talk to me, and it's important that we have this conversation, I am so nervous, because I've been wanting to have this conversation for so long, it makes me uncomfortable to talk about this. So I hope that you can be patient with me, like, it may take me a little bit to kind of find my words or think about how I feel or whatever. I also think that stating some sort of positive statement of how this is going to go is also really helpful. And I think it sets the tone for the conversation, something like I'm really optimistic for how this conversation will end. Or I'm really hopeful that we'll find some kind of resolution after this talk. And just saying it's sort of an open statement, that's like, I'm not necessarily coming here to win. I'm just hoping that there's some sort of positive ending to this. And I think that that also creates a lot of comfort in the person that you're going to reach out to, to say, Oh, they're not going to like bite my head off. And oh, they don't hate me, or oh, this relationship isn't over. Because that could be their beliefs around conflict is that conflict ends relationships. And so I think that being transparent, and saying some sort of statement around your hopefulness for the conversation is a great way to start. And you can continue to circle back to that if you need to. Because these things are hard, you know, and even with all the right tools, they're still hard, they are still hard. But you know, we can do hard things. And we have all of these tools that are available for us to strengthen our skill set. And when we know better, we do better. That's kind of how this all goes. Yes, exactly. So this is going to be another one of those places where we'll stop for now. But there's so much more to talk about, because I really want to dive into what we kind of pinned before but also having that communication piece, right, because now that we have this avenue to start having these conversations, tying it into emotional intelligence, of relationship management, and social awareness, this all really connects together. And you know, we could just talk for days. So we're just going to parse it out into a couple of podcast segments here. So Rachel, this is always so much fun. And I was just so excited that we get to do this together. Thank you so much for doing it. Thank you. This is great. I could talk about this all day. So I love doing it. Yes. Well, thank you again. And thank you for those of you who are listening. If you enjoyed today's episode as much as I did, go ahead and write a fantastic review. And I can't wait to see you next time on take notes. Incredible, right? Together, we can revolutionize the face of education. It's all possible. And it's all here for you right now. Let's keep the conversation going and empowered educator faculty room on Facebook.

What makes a good teacher? Reconnecting with your purpose and intention through the story telling of Dr. Julie Schmidt-Hasson.

Why did you decide to become a teacher?

Usually, the answer is to create impact and change in their students' lives, and ideally the world at large.

But, these days, after living through a pandemic, the stress of test score expectations, and the role of politics in education- it can be difficult to focus on that original intent.

Welcome to episode 11 of the Take Notes with Jen Rafferty podcast! In this episode, I’m chatting with Dr. Julie Schmidt Hasson.

She is a professor in leadership and school administration at Appalachian State University, former teacher and a principal. Currently, she teaches graduate courses in school leadership and conducts qualitative research in schools.

Julie is also the creator of Chalk & Chances project where she compiles inspirational teacher stories that seeks to answer the question “Who did you become because of a teacher?” Her research on long term teacher impact and classroom culture is the foundation of her books, professional development programs and her TEDx talk.

We discuss helping kids feel safe, seen and stretched, and remembering that although we're planting seeds that we'll never actually see the fruit of- teacher impact is enormous and gratifying.

Break out the tissues, because today is all about reconnecting with your intention and subsequently your attention into why you became a teacher in the first place.

We’re here to leave a beautiful legacy of elevating humanity in a way that creates a better world!

Stay empowered,


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About Dr. Julie Schmidt Hasson:
Dr. Julie Schmidt Hasson is a professor in Leadership and School Administration at Appalachian State University. A former teacher and principal, she now teaches graduate courses in school leadership and conducts qualitative research in schools. Julie’s research on long term teacher impact and classroom culture is the foundation of her books, professional development programs, and TEDx Talk. Her latest book, Safe, Seen, and Stretched in the Classroom: The Remarkable Ways Teachers Shape Students’ Lives, was published in November 2021. Julie is a third-generation educator and the proud mother of a teacher.

Connect with Julie here:

Instagram: @julieshasson

Website: chalkandchances.com

Who was your favorite teacher? The thing is teachers are one of the most influential people in a child's life. And most people can remember a teacher who made them feel great about themselves, made them feel smart and capable, or whose impact truly changed their life. While these are the stories that Dr. Julie Hasson collects, and in this episode I had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Hasson about the themes she's discovered through these stories, which also happens to be the theme of her website, chalk and chances as well as her books unmapped potential safe seen and stretched in the classroom and her very latest publication. Pause, ponder and persist in the classroom. Get out the tissues, because this conversation got me feeling all the fields. And after the episode, be sure you check out break time. This is the monthly empowered educator subscription that gives you access to an incredible video library of self regulation strategies, as well as monthly group coaching calls with me and other amazing empowered educators. Head on over to empowered educator.com/resources

Remember all the passion and vision you had when you first went into teaching? Feeling like building young minds and creating community through your work would make a lasting impact on this world? Well, those days may feel like they're behind you now because you're exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the love of teaching never really went away. But it absolutely needs transformation. Welcome to The Take notes Podcast. I'm Jen Rafferty, former music teacher, mom of two and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, and I'm here to light the way for you. In order to create a generational change for our kids. We need to shift the paradigm away from the perpetual stress and overwhelm and into a life of joy and fulfillment. This is education 2.0, where you become the priority, shift how you live your life, and how you show up both at work, and at home. So take a sip of steamy morning coffee and grab your notebook. It's time to take notes.

Hello and welcome back to take notes. I cannot wait to start this conversation with this very special person today. This is Dr. Julie Schmidt Hasson and she is a professor in leadership and school administration at Appalachian State University. She's a former teacher and a principal. And now she teaches graduate courses in school leadership and conducts qualitative research in schools. Julie's research on long term teacher impact and classroom culture is the foundation of her books, professional development programs and her TEDx talk. And her latest book Safe seen and stretched in the classroom through remarkable ways teachers shaped students lives was published in November 2021. Julie is a third generation educator and the proud mother of a teacher. Welcome, Julie.

Hey, Jen, I'm so excited to be here with you today.

Thank you so much for your time and your talents. And I just can't wait to get into it with you, especially as someone who is also super nerdy about qualitative research.

Yeah, cool.

I can't wait to dive in. So before we start to get to really the juicy stuff I want to know about your story and your journey of what really led you to talk and chances are,

it always goes back to Mrs. Russell, my first grade teacher, so I was a struggling reader turned out to be a dyslexic kid, super anxious, did not want to go to first grade, I really wanted to just stay in kindergarten forever and ever. But lucky for me, I ended up in Nancy Russell's first grade classroom. And she was, gosh, like an angel still is so patient and persistent. And she used this creative, multi sensory approach. And I learned to love reading that more confident loved everything about school. So in 2012, I should say I became a teacher, first second grade, just like Mrs. Russell. In 2012. I became a principal, Mrs. Russell was on my faculty, oh, the privilege of my professional life. So I got to spend a few years watching Mrs. Russell teach again and just amazed master. And it really reminded me of what she did for me and I would go in her classroom and sit on the carpet next to her students. And I just wanted to say you're so lucky, because someday you'll know how lucky you are. So in 2015, I left my principal job to start in Ed Leadership program at my undergrad alma mater, Florida Southern College. And that same year, Mrs. Russell retired from teaching so we went out together and my mentor said, your job is not just to teach grad courses is also to do research. So you need to focus what do you really want to know? And all I could think is, I really want to know, what is it that teachers like Mrs. Russell do that make this lasting impact on our lives, because I thought if we know it, we can replicate it, if we can start to use teachers like Miss Russell as models that we set out to ask teachers about their impact, which was a terrible research design, because we don't know. Unless the student comes back to us write this a letter, we have no idea the impact we make, or the things our students carry, I had to talk to former students not hard to find the right there everywhere, too. I worked with this mentor. And we created this kind of strange design, I got a sign from Office Depot that said, let's chat about a teacher, you remember, really shortened like consent form without any jargon in it, and started to go to flea markets, farmers markets, craft fairs, public parks, stick this yard sign in the ground, and people would line up to tell me about their teachers to at first who's going to be an article, you know, like we have to do academia. And a friend who was a teacher said you need to share these on a blog. Because teachers need some affirmation. They need to know what it is they're doing and how much it matters. So that became the chalk and chances blog, because I thought, What did Miss Russell use to impact my life, it was the 70s, then so it was a lot of chalk, a lot of chances. And so that became a blog. And then it just grew from there to so much more than a blog. And I tell people that $25 yard sign is the best $25 I ever spent, because it's changed my life, how I look at the world, how connected I feel to other educators. So that's my story, Jen.

And I'm sitting here, tearing up listening to you talk because teachers go into this, because of that impact. We want to change the world, we want to lighten up the road of possibility for the kids that come into our classrooms. And recently, the climate has led us so far away from that. And so just hearing this story of how you got started reminds me it makes it so vivid that yes, of course we make a difference. Of course there's impact. And I am so interested to know what is it what is the ABS or what came of the research? What was it that Ms. Russell had that we could replicate? Is it something we can replicate

really is and it's so different in different contexts, depending on our own teaching styles, personalities, preferences, the age of the students, we teach the content we teach, it looks different, but the essence is the same. So we qualitative researchers like to take all of our data, lay it out, start to look for codes and common themes. And over and over again, and all of these very detailed stories of small moments in a classroom, people talks about the way they felt. And it came into three different categories. They talked about feeling safe. And for some kids, especially kids who had experienced trauma or who were struggling with identity, that feeling safe was really important. And former students talked about feeling seen. So a teacher recognize their strengths related to them in a way that made them feel accepted and celebrated. And then there were people who talked about feeling stretched. So a teacher saw potential in them and push them toward that potential. And I think if we go into our classrooms with the intention of helping kids feel safe, seen and stretched, that will influence our actions and interactions. And we will be much more likely to make that kind of impact

that makes complete sense. And what's so beautiful about this, it's like something that inherently we know, and seeing it in the research is so affirming, and then can lead us in new directions of the how how do we do that.

And this is so similar to your work, it has to be attention and intention that we have to let you said that we're about that. You have to be fully present where you are in front of your kid paying attention to them, because that's when you recognize needs or bids for connection or moments of opportunity for impact. And then you have to have an intention to respond to that in some way and make that impact, which sounds so simple, but it's not easy, because there's so much noise and there's so many demands on us that we can get lost in all of that and forget to notice the people in front of us.

Sure, well, because when we are feeling that overwhelm and frustration, we actually can't see the people that are in front of us. It's just part of the side effects of having that stress. And that overload of cortisol is we can actually see what's in front of you. So, you know, when you go in and you talk with teachers, and you do workshops, and you go ahead and talk one on one, and teachers are sharing their stories of some of the obstacles that are preventing them from doing just that. It's intention and attention. What kind of things do you have to share about navigating that?

For me, the first few years of my research were that what does this look like? Like taking that abstract notion of teacher impact and making it more concrete thing, here's what it looks like in the classroom. There were so many detailed stories, it's surprising how clear people's memories are of small moments in the classroom. So safe scene and stretch was really me this is what it looks like that there was something else in the data. And I'll share, like one story with you that really made me have to think on this long and hard. It was a man named Marcus who had met working at a food bank, you know, we were putting the peanut butter in boxes. And we start to talk like you do with people when you're doing kind of a mindless task. And he talks about his work out of that marketing director and I talked about my research and he said, I need to tell you about my high school homework teacher, Mrs. Pope. The beautiful thing about my work is when people hear about it, they always have a story, gladly accepted his story. And he said he loved homework because they cooked on Fridays. And this particular Friday, they were making chocolate chip cookies, when they called Mrs. Pope said you can eat one, he knew she had seen him put three more in his pocket when she asked him to stay after class. And we think like as a teacher, all the emotion in that you've given a clear direction and a kid knowingly doesn't follow that direction and you feel frustrated or disrespected. And you make up all these narratives in your head about the kids intentions or character in all of your own stuff. So I thought, okay, you're gonna write him a referral Ludum from cooking lecture. She didn't. She asked a question. She said, Marcus, are you hungry? And he was, there was no food at home dad had left a couple of months ago, mom wasn't doing well. Then she noticed he had stains on his shirt. He realized he had no electricity at home. So she started letting him come in and wash his clothes now make room during school, she and her church ladies would bring like bags of soup for him and change the trajectory of his life. He said those women were the only reason I ate most nights in high school, my clothes were washed more times than I can count in that room. And I thought there's something there about impact coming, not in a welcomed beautiful moment. But in the middle of a challenge or problem. And I thought about okay, if we break it down, what did Mrs. Pope to like, first she paused, got a hold of her own frustration, unwanted emotion, either stop the reaction with couple of deep breaths. Sure, like you teach Ted. Then she pondered, she questioned her own narrative. And then she asked him questions, and then persisted with him. So the next book coming out in spring, is pause, ponder and persist, which is really that this is how you do it. It's a three step process. And again, simple, but not easy.

It's not easy, because we get so easily activated, especially now, when everything is stressful. We just live through a pandemic. So our nervous systems are just jacked up when we get up in the morning. So it is so easy to just snap because we don't have the capacity to take those moments. Which is why I think what's so interesting about the work that you do married with the work that I do is that how do we get to that moment of realization and training and self reflection and skill building of knowing when to take that pause. And I need to take that pause. And I loved that example that you use to moving from judgments, which you described as creating our own narratives and putting our own stuff on it. And then moving into curiosity, because those two things can actually exist in the same space. And curiosity is really where the juicy stuff is.

Yeah. And that's where the opportunity to make an impact is, right? Because we don't really know what's going on with a kid, we connect the dots. And oftentimes, it's wrong, the way we connect to them. So unless we start asking questions, there's no way to know what a student really need. But also, they're not going to share what they really need unless we build trust,

right. And the way to do that, of course, is like what you said before is that they need to feel safe and seen first.

Yes, create that culture, and then practice those three things.

So I would love to hear some more stories. I mean, because what you share with the world is so rich in story and narrative and we can really learn From all of these things people share, what is a story that you can share about creating safety in the classroom.

There are so many stories, my husband always tells me whatever stories come in last is my favorite. Never pick a favorite, but they're actually the first story I ever collected was from a young man named Justin. And he was my first because he's the one that designed the sign at the print shop that I ended up using for all of the research. And he talks about being a sixth grader, in an intensive reading class, having been diagnosed as having a reading disability, and a younger grade being with this same group of boys all the way through sort of an attack them before they attack you mentality where they armored up, they wouldn't read out loud, if you've never raised their hand and answer a question. And you and I know that learning requires risk. It's risky to answer a question offer an opinion shares something, they did not take risks, they were risk averse, therefore, they