Dr. Lisa Petty calls herself a “midlife alchemist,” who helps women navigate the big questions of midlife after arriving there with a sense of panic and uncertainty about her own identity and purpose. This led her to pursue a master’s degree and eventually a doctorate focused on the wellbeing of women at midlife. She says the concept of “having it all,” introduced into the culture in the early 1980s by Helen Gurley Brown, the former editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine, quickly turned toxic. It went from an aspiration to a command. Having it all now meant doing it all. Lisa emphasizes the importance of tuning into our bodies, following our intuition, and embracing our own unique journey of self-discovery.
Dr. Lisa Petty started her career as a holistic nutritionist and health researcher, and quickly became recognized as a speaker, journalist, award-winning author and media health expert. After several years coaching women who struggled to follow through on their health goals, Lisa earned a PhD for her research on how midlife women experience self-care in the face of the social pressures on them to be perfect in every facet of their lives. Her new book “Forget About Having It All: The Midlife Woman’s Guide to Creating the Life you Want” is a combination of research findings and Lisa’s own story of midlife self-discovery. Through a combination of research and channeled wisdom, Lisa now helps midlife women navigate midlife and create the life they really want.
Turning 40 and Abandoning the Toxic Concept of ‘Having It All’
In this episode of the Forty Drinks Podcast, host Stephanie speaks with Lisa, a midlife alchemist and holistic nutritionist. Lisa shares her journey from a soul-sucking career in finance to finding her true calling in holistic nutrition. As she navigated the challenges of raising a child with a heart defect, Lisa delved into the world of holistic health and became a teacher and coach. However, as her own children grew up and she faced an empty nest, Lisa felt a deep sense of panic and uncertainty about her identity and purpose. This led her to pursue a master’s degree focused on midlife women and their relationship with food and wellbeing. Eventually, Lisa obtained her doctorate and became an expert in self-care for women at midlife.
Throughout the episode, Lisa emphasizes the importance of tuning into our bodies, following our intuition, and embracing our own unique journey of self-discovery. She encourages women to recognize the distractions and societal expectations that often hinder their wellbeing and to embrace their own power as creators. The episode concludes with a reminder to listeners to follow the glimmers of joy and authenticity in their own lives.
Highlights from the episode:
- Lisa’s transition from a soul-sucking career in finance to holistic nutrition and a doctorate in the wellbeing of women at midlife.
- The challenges women face in taking care of their wellbeing and the societal expectations placed on them.
- The toxic concept of ‘having it all,’ first espoused in Helen Gurley Brown’s seminal 1982 book, “Having It All.”
- The importance of tuning into our bodies and following our intuition for self-discovery.
- How to recognize and embrace the glimmers of joy and authenticity in our lives as mini spiritual awakenings.
Overall, this conversation offers valuable insights and practical tips for women navigating the complexities of midlife and finding their true selves. If you enjoyed this episode, please rate, follow, and review the Forty Drinks Podcast.
The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications
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Stephanie: Hi Lisa. Thanks for joining me today.
Lisa: Oh, I am so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.
Stephanie: It is my pleasure. I could not resist you because when we first communicated, you called yourself a midlife Alchemist and you had me at Midlife Alchemist.
Lisa: Thank you for saying I'm irresistible. I love that compliment and I receive that fully.
Stephanie: Oh, excellent. Good. Well, I'm so excited to hear about how you went from a normal gal to being a midlife alchemist. How did you become the Wizened Crone, I think right? That journey.
Lisa: Love it, love it, love it. Oh, I mean, that's a whole conversation unto itself, but this idea of embracing Crone. But anyway, I digress.
Stephanie: I know, we have to reclaim Crone.
Lisa: We totally do. So, going back I had a first career in finance, which was soul sucking because I wasn't supposed to be there. I was doing it because I had graduated from university into a recession actually, and I had student debt and finance was hiring. So I got sucked into that world. And it was 10 years of my life that I was just trying to fit in. It was like trying to jam a puzzle piece into a puzzle in the wrong place. And so when my second child was born, I took an opportunity to stay home and sort of reevaluate, I guess. In that time with my son, I learned that he was born with a heart defect. He has a bicuspid aortic valve. And so what that means is that most of us have three flaps that close our heart when it beats, he only has two so there would be a little bit of backwash every time his heartbeat. And so being a staunch mama bear, I decided that I would learn everything that I could about heart health, everything that I could to support my wee little cub because with this condition, he could live his whole life and never, ever, ever have a problem. Or he could have got to being 20 years old and need a heart valve replacement like we didn't know. So I thought, okay, well this is gonna be an active little boy, he's gonna have lots of sports and exercise to keep his heart healthy, and I'm going to learn how to feed him properly. I took a deep dive into holistic nutrition and understanding how the body works and how to listen to what the body's telling us in terms of what we need to eat and when we need to eat it, and whether digestion is working and what have you. So that was my second first career, as a holistic nutritionist helping women primarily understand how their bodies work in addressing some of those physical quirks that we all have and whether they wanted to release weight or clear their skin or sleep better, improve their mood, whatever. So that got me, as I said, it was my, second, first career, which sort of got me to the next fork in the road.
Stephanie: So when you took the break from finance, when you had your little cub, was this something you did on the side for a while or did you just completely separate from finance after your baby?
So this was not a side hustle for some period of time.
Lisa: It was a clean break. In Canada we get a year of leave with a child and I took full advantage of that year and chose not to return to my previous employment at a bank when my time was up.
Stephanie: And did you go out on your own or did you join a practice?
Lisa: Since I left banking, I have always been a free spirit. I have always been working on my own. It helps to feed that independent streak that I have to follow my own sort of guide and my own little nudges. So yes, I've been on my own since that time.
Stephanie: Wonderful. Oh my goodness. How long were you practicing holistic nutrition?
Lisa: I became a teacher right away because it's my archetype to teach. So I started working with different companies and would do education for those companies. Vitamin companies, fish oil companies, anything to do with improving digestion and hormone balancing, that sort of thing. I went out and would act as an educator for those companies, and I had a few clients on the side. I would do speaking engagements, workshops, writing, and then as time sort of shifted, I got more involved in working with clients, I started to take on more clients asthat industry changed a little bit. The beginning of my career was much more teaching, and then the second part of it was more working with women individually.
Stephanie: Okay. And you did that the entire time your son was growing up all through school, and you said when he started looking at colleges, things started shifting for you.
Lisa: Yes. So that was the second fork in the road. And to be clear, I have two children, there's seven years between my children, so I had already experienced the first leaving, the first one off to school. So the concept of that, the experience of that was not new. What was new the second time was when my son started looking at those college brochures, I could see the writing on the wall, I could see into the future, and I knew that when he left I would have my empty nest. And that is when things started to kick up for me. I started to think, oh, what is this going to be like? Who am I going to be if I am not getting up at four in the morning to drive my son to rowing practice? Who am I going to be if I'm not on call 24 7? Who am I going to be if I'm cooking dinner for one?
Lisa: So all of these questions came up so that was my personal sort of percolating. I started to notice things starting to shift for me.
Stephanie: Roughly how old were you at this point when your son was leaving for college?
Lisa: Mid forties.
Stephanie: Okay. All right. All right. So mid forties and you're starting to get the, who am I's?
Lisa: The who am I's, because if I'm not this, because, like a lot of women, raising my children was a huge part of my identity and part of the reason that I worked at home was because it beautifully allowed me to send them off to school and be there when they got home from school and be there to cook dinner and be available for the carpooling and all of that. So it was a great way for me to meld all of my needs together. And so with being a mother being such an important part of my identity, watching or seeing that the door was about to close on that started the heart palpitations, started the, uh, uh, oh, who am I going to be next? So yeah, that was sort of mid forties. So that's what's happening on the personal side, I'm starting to panic little bit. And then on the professional side, I started to notice that the women that I was working with, the women who, you know, when you're in a helping profession, they tend to always be the same age as you, right? Like attracts like, and I started to notice that the women that I was working with weren't following through on whatever plan we had co-created for them to achieve whatever health goal they had. So if they wanted to get their hormones balanced, or they wanted to improve their sleep, or they wanted to improve their mood, whatever it was, they would go away with this plan of what they agreed to and we'd get back together a couple weeks later and I'd say, so how did you do with that? And they'd say, yeah, I didn't do any of it. I did nothing.
Lisa: And so we would reevaluate, was it too much? Is it not quite what you wanna be doing at this point? And they say, no, no, no, no, no. That's exactly what I want. I said, okay, shall we put it all back on the plan for next time? Yes, let's do that. They'd come back to me and again, had not followed through in a measurable way on anything that they had agreed to. So I started to have a, a professional identity crisis too, because I'm thinking, okay, I no longer am able to help women. I'm no longer able to motivate them. What skills gap do I have? What has changed in the world that my message isn't resonating anymore? So that's when I decided in my mid forties that I was going to go to university and get my master's degree focused specifically on midlife women. And because I was still sort of heavily invested in nutrition, sort of the experience of eating for women at midlife and what's going on in their lives.
Stephanie: Oh, dear God. Well, I have a question before we go down that avenue, your practice of working with clients on the holistic nutrition, was that a new experience for you that your clients weren't following through? Had you had several years or a track record of people following through and finding success and this was new?
Lisa: Yes, yes. It was very much new. I like to say that whenever you change a behavior, it's always a cha-cha, right? You always one step forward, two steps back. It's always that process as you take on the new behavior, and then you're tested out in the real world, and then you have to find new strategies like this. It's not a linear thing, it's back and forth, back and forth, but I was able to coach people through that, okay, what's getting in the way? What mindset, what belief, what, what obstacle are you facing? How can we address that? And we were able to move forward. But once women got to midlife, all bets were off. Like they couldn't explain what the problem was, they were just overwhelmed. There was just too much going on and they were just like, I haven't even thought about this for two weeks since I saw you. Right. I thinkthere was just too much and yes, it was a different experience for me.
Stephanie: Okay. So you went back to get a master's degree, and I'm so curious, was this a course of study that you made up yourself or does this exist in the world? How women take care of themselves and eat for midlife? Is this something you, you created?
Lisa: Yes. so through my school anyway, and to be clear, I'm in Canada and I don't know how the education systems vary throughout the world, but at the master's level, you pick your own topic of study. My degree is actually in applied health sciences.
But you get to pick what you study. And I wanted to really understand behavior change, theories, I wanted to be able to put them in practice and I wanted to understand all the various little things that were were happening for women. I did get my master's degree and I was able to publish my paper in a peer reviewed journal, but what happened was I realized through the process that this was a much bigger question
Lisa: because what I was learning about women's relationship with food extended beyond food into all aspects of wellbeing. So now I'm pushing 50, I decided to get my doctorate and so my doctorate explored what gets in the way of midlife women taking care of all aspects of their wellbeing. There's a lot of professionals in the world who talk about self-care, well, I have a doctorate in self-care at. Like, not many people can say that. And people don't like the word self-care, some don't. So to be clear, if you don't like it, please continue listening to us. Whenever you hear the word self-care, just switch it up to taking care of yourself. For some reason, that's less triggering for some people thinking about what do you do to take care of yourself.
Stephanie: You said earlier you wanted to answer the question what gets in the way of women taking care of their health? And isn't that a very easy answer? It's one word, right? It's everything. Speaking from personal experience.
Lisa: Yeah, it's pretty much everything. Yeah, so that would be a very short dissertation
Lisa: so, I had to go a little bit deeper than that. What was interesting to me,so it was beyond health, the question went beyond health and got into all aspects of wellbeing. So wellbeing is body, mind, spirit, emotions, financial health, professional health, environmental health, right? Looking at all facets of your wellbeing because all of them influence how good you feel about yourself, right? So people who just focus on one are missing a whole bunch of other aspects, which is part of the problem. But again, I digress. So, yes, everything gets in the way, but the challenge is that a lot of the things that get in the way for women taking care of their wellbeing come from outside of ourselves, and I don't mean other people necessarily, I mean the expectations on women to, as you said, do everything.
Lisa: So we packaged it up really nicely in the late eighties, anyone who came of age in the late eighties or early nineties, there was that lovely book called, You Can Have It All: Sex Love Money. I don't even remember the subtitle, but that mantra, you can have it all framed the experience for women who, who were teenagers and young adults through that period, and it wasn't held out as sort of a here's an ideal, it was held out as a rule.
Lisa: You must go out and have it all. And so here we get to midlife and we've had the pressure of getting a degree, getting a good, well paying career too, not just a job, finding a partner, having the family, buying the house, two cars, vacation every year looking good in your size six jeans, all of those things wrapped up in having it all, it's all dumped on wo women. It's all wrapped up in these expectations that not only must you do all of this, but you must do it and never let them see you sweat. Always keep your cool, always look delicious, darling, all of this pressure on us, and yet it was held out as the ideal.
Stephanie: Yeah. I do remember cuz I came of age in the late eighties as well, And I think I said this to you the last time we spoke, I have a clear vision of being in high school and thinking of my future and just knowing that I was gonna have this fabulous career and a family and a house. I can visualize the white picket fence that was gonna go in front of it and I was gonna drive a Porsche.
Stephanie: Let me be clear thatas an adult now, I have, I was gonna say none of those things, none of them look like they did in that picture, and I don't even know where that picture came from. I mean, it wasn't so anything that was authentic to me. And I think you said this the last time we spoke, you can have it all wasn't potential. We grew up hearing you can do anything you want. You can be anything you want to be, but it wasn't like this huge opening of the world to this is your oyster and you may choose. It was, as you say now, a prescription for you must do it all.
Lisa: You must, you must, and it doesn't matter if you're exhausted, it doesn't matter if you don't want it. It doesn't matter if the pursuit of it makes you crazy or depressed or any of that, because if you don't do it, if you don't pursue it all, then you are letting down generations of women before you who didn't have the opportunity to have it all.:
Lisa: But in some ways I'm gonna be the poop in the turd bowl here or the whatever, in the punch bowl
Stephanie: No, I like yours.
Lisa: It's possible that women before us had more freedom than we did because we were so prescribed in what we were meant to be doing. Right? So, God forbid a woman should say, oh, I, I just want to focus on being a mother for 18 years. That is what I want to focus on because society then said, well, that's not modern. That's not acceptable. And then the woman who said, you know what, either I don't want to have children, or I'm not sure I want children, or I'm just gonna go full bore on my career and my husband or partner can raise the children because really not a priority for me. Well, isn't she a witch? Isn't she a cold-hearted snake? So, it's not that we were given opportunities to choose, as you said your word, we were given a prescription. Now go follow this. So the challenge is we get to midlife, we've done it, we've ticked off all the boxes, we've done all the things that we were told to do without questioning, because I promise you, very few women were asked, so what would you like? Right? We were told here, go have it all. So we get to midlife, well, society hasn't planned or programmed anything for us now, like we're done, we're wizened up old raisins and of no value anymore to society, we're not even visible. We can walk into a room and nobody even notices us. That's how little attention women get as they are no longer fertile, cuz that's the big deal, right? Young and fertile. So the further we move from the ideal of being young, beautiful, and fertile, the less important we are to society and for women who have followed the rules their whole lives and followed that prescription about, well go out there and do it,a lot of women start to feel lost. Because there's no rules, there's no instructions, there's no guidelines, and it's incredibly freeing and horribly terrifying when you find yourself in that position where there's no instructions and you are finally put at a place of trying to figure out who you are and what you want.
Stephanie: Oh, it's so interesting what you just said, I had a flash, as part of this transition that we go through, you said it's terrifying when there's no model and it strikes me that, in our twenties and in our thirties, there are plenty of, as you say, models to watch, whether it's media fed or societally fed, or even just people to our left and our right who are doing the same kinds of things. But at this time when people, and today we'll just talk about women, when we step into this place, we become individuals. We become our own person. And so now there really is no model because you can look around and the people to the left of you and to the right of you are all unique, they're all doing their own thing. It's just crystallizing for me as you're talking that there's no more crowd anymore, even if there are people around, even if you have a group or a crowd or, there's no more commonalities or not many.
Lisa: Right, so there are, in the sense that, women we've all gone through this same process together. The beautiful parts I just saw, I had a vision of a prism. But the beautiful part of it is that when we acknowledge it, when we get to this place and go, <gasp>. Oh my gosh. Like I am standing on, I mean, when I went through this experience, it was like I saw this stone tower in a field of darkness, right? And I was standing on this stone tower and I didn't know where to put my foot down next, cuz there was no path that was lit, right. And I became aware that it was on me now. And it's an amazing gift, but when you don't have the skills, when you've never exercised those muscles, when you don't know what questions to ask, when you don't know that you're not alone, because although as you said, you look around and everybody's on a different path, at the same time, we're all going through it together. And, I thought what you were gonna say earlier is when you're younger, there's all these models around because people are doing the same sorts of things, and once we get older, there's no models because we're so quiet about this process.
Stephanie: That too.
Lisa: Yes, so this came up in my research too, women are, I coined this term story keepers. We talk the great talk about, oh, women are super shares and we're super supportive, but women also don't talk about the crappy stuff. We hold back on the really difficult stuff and I don't know why we all think we need to be Wonder Woman. We all think that we're the only person on the block dealing with this question. We're the only one who doesn't have it all figured out. We're the only one who doesn't know how to describe her identity. I promise you, every single woman on the planet asks the same questions as you do. So I think we need to open up these conversations more and ask our girlfriends how are you feeling about your child leaving home? This is the last one leaving. How are you feeling about your marriage ending? Because this often happens at the same time. We go through perimenopause and divorce, we go through kids leaving home and menopause, like it's just, all of these endings it all seems to happen around 48, 50, 55, right? These things end and it can be a terribly sad time. It's a time of transition for sure, where we have to realize that a certain part of our lives is finished, that we have to let go of different identities, and we are not encouraged to talk about that and to go through the process of mourning that. We don't have the skills or the tools, because nobody talks about it. And at the same time that we're going through these endings, we have to remember that we're also opening up to new beginnings and yes, you're exhausted, I know. Yes, I know you have insomnia. Yes, I know that your mood is a little bit low because of those crazy hormones. I know. It's like the craziest fork in a woman's life, fork in the road, when all of this change is piled on at the same time.
Lisa: Yeah, it's really, it's really challenging to work through it.
Stephanie: Yeah. It is.
Stephanie: We were talking a little while ago about being the younger woman and getting the prescription and something struck me and I'm not sure I've ever thought about it this way. I've said, many times that, in my twenties and thirties, I was a big drinker, very much a party girl. Lots of fun. Don't get me wrong, I had a career,I I supported myself, but, outside of that, it was sort of one and then the other, there weren't other bits and pieces. As you were talking, I was wondering if part of it was I loved the party and I loved all the excitement of that. But that doesn't explain all of it, I don't think, and I wonder if a piece of it was sort of, drinking and partying and focusing sort of over that way, while all those, um, shoulds kind of passed me by. I always, and I've said this before as well, I always assumed I would get married and have kids and part of the reason was I'm from, not one, but two really big sprawling families, and so it was just what you did.
Stephanie: And, I think I probably realized, in my late thirties that, I always assumed I would do it and that that's what you were supposed to do. But I, I also came to realize that if it had been that important to me, I would've done it by now. You know, one or two of the guys that I dated would not have been terrible, first marriages, you know what I mean? I mean, I dated some jerks, but, there were probably a couple in there that if I had, if I'd gotten myself knocked up and had a family for a couple of years that... but I never did. I I never was driven to do that. I know people who were, I know people who were just driven to have a baby, so I wonder if part of my not thinking was just, let me just keep the party going and then I'll be so busy over here that I won't have to reckon with, you know, all
Stephanie: stages. Yeah.
Lisa: love that because I think that we, we allow ourselves to be distracted so that we don't do this deep soul work because it is not for sissies.
Stephanie: Oh, no, it's not
Lisa: It is not for sissies to do that deep, who am I? How am I going to make my breath count today? What legacy? Because here's the other thing that comes up at midlife, you realize that you have less time ahead then is behind you and it kicks up and you start thinking, how do I want to be remembered? How do I want to make a difference in the world? And that's a big question. You have two choices, right? You can sit with it, be with it, and figure it out. Or you could go drink a bottle of wine. And if you have noticed, our culture right now is really encouraging women to drink alcohol. You see it on social media, you see it on television, the celebs and their real housewives of drunken stupor, right? They're always drinking too much. And our culture, we pretend that it's about hedonism, we pretend that it's about having a good time, but it's really a way to not deal. Right. And I speak as someone who drank through five years of my life because I didn't want to deal with the truth of my situation.
Lisa: Yes. And I think we do it a lot, and I have nothing against alcohol
Stephanie: Yep. Me neither.
Lisa: when we use it responsibly. I only drink in the summer though, gin and tonic on the dock. Love it, love it, love it.
Lisa: It's the best part of summer. I shouldn't say that. It is the icing on summer. But you don't want to be relying on anything like that. So not alcohol, not drugs, not television, not sex, not drama. That's the other thing, right? We get invested in drama. get sucked into Netflix. We get sucked into other people's lives.
Lisa: Instead of living our own, these are all distractions to keep us from doing the deep soul work that we are being called to at midlife. I call them the soul stirrings. Jung talked about it as well, this idea that if you don't do the deep soul work, you lose your zest for life and you do find the distractions. You live for the distractions rather than going inward and living from the fullest expression of yourself.
Stephanie: I think, oh, I don't wanna minimize it by just saying it's hard to go inward and live the fullest expression of yourself. And I don't, I don't wanna just sort of toss off it's hard, but I think there's no roadmap. A lot of these conversations people talk about becoming aware and I always ask, how did you become aware? How did you know you were aware? Because you need to be aware of a problem before you can solve it, all of those things, but I think there's no great process. Not that it is a universal process, but even like a rough map on how do we do this work. Like, what does going inside mean? What does becoming aware mean? How do you do those things in a real practical way. Some people talk about, and I have had it myself, people talk about a spiritual awakening, but again, it's like, how do you do it? How, tell me three things I could try that might open the door a little bit or at least pull back the curtain. And, and I think there's not that in modern times, modern Western world, unless I have not come across it, but I feel like there's no prescription for that uncovering of self and purpose and fulfillment and those kinds of things.
Lisa: So I love everything that you've just said, it's practical spirituality, right? So in North America, unless you're very closely tied with your traditional cultures, and I'm talking about the indigenous cultures that really honor the passing on of wisdom, they have rituals in their lives on a daily basis that allow them to connect in. And our culture has, North American culture I'm talking about, what draws us in is consumerism and distraction. Go buy more stuff and look at this shiny object then do you need to buy it and replace the last shiny object you haven't taken out of the packaging yet. Our culture is so superficial and shallow and disconnected from the energy of all things. We are all energy, physics shows this, quantum physics shows this. Everything is energy and vibration. And if everything is energy and vibration, then everything is connected, right? So coming from that woohoo space that's backed by science and scientists will tell you this, I love the question you're asking about practical spirituality because we do need tools because we've lost the traditional ways. We've lost how to do this going back to one of the first things you said, we have spiritual awakenings all the time. Some people get a huge one life transformation and they're just like, whoa, I'm a different person today than I was yesterday. I'm so jealous of those people. Most of us get them in glimmers.
Lisa: And I'm stealing that word from a Facebook post I saw the other day and it was just beautiful because we talk all the time about triggers. Ooh, that pissed me off.
Lisa: Glimmers are those sweet little tickles and those moments of joy and those brief glimpses of perfection, those tiny little bits of love that you feel for no good reason, right? Those are spiritual awakenings too. And we get tiny little bits of them all the time and how you know you've had one is you actually become aware of a question. Wait a minute, what just happened here? Why am I now thinking about this thing? Right. And don't just put it away and pour yourself a glass of wine. Get your journal out. If you don't have time to sit with the question, write the question down and come back to the question. So that's one sort of in the moment thing that's really important that we can do. Just be aware of the question and when you have time, go back and be with the question.
Stephanie: I love the word glimmer. I love the word, I love the concept as you've explained it. I have had them. I have had them. I remember, I was probably in my late thirties, I had this beautifully funky, cool condo in the downtown area of my city, 150 year old building all brick, that in itself was awesome. But I remember walking towards downtown, I was walking across a parking lot and it was just a day. It was a sunny, probably spring day and all of a sudden everything went technicolor and I could smell something in the air. It just smelled like spring and everything got brighter. And I I literally felt this like welling of joy. I just remember sort of acknowledging it that like, whoa, that was cool. And for no reason, it was just the same kind of day as yesterday and the same kind of day as tomorrow, but when you described glimmer, I thought, oh, that was one.
Lisa: Yes, yes. And what we want to do when we notice a glimmer and you acknowledged it, which was great, we wanna acknowledge them because the more we acknowledge them, the more we get them.
Lisa: And the more we get, we notice that they're leading us somewhere. They're like breadcrumbs. It's like, Hey Lisa, did you realize every time you do this you get a little bit of a buzz? Maybe you should do more of that. Right. And so we need to tune into the good feelings in our bodies. We need to not always be looking for trouble. And when we get the glimmers and when we get the good feelings, sit with it because those are important pieces of information.
Stephanie: It's tough though. The next thing that you brought to mind was you said something about tuning into your body and I'm thinking of a certain couple in my head and thinking of the last time my husband and I spent time with them, and we got in the car and we were pulling outta the driveway and I was so full and charged and I just felt great spending time with them. That's within the last couple of years that, that's happened. But thinking back to my late thirties when I was in that place of sort of what I call the Ick, the mess, I wasn't able to tune into how people made me feel. Being with people made me feel and I gotta tell you of the coping mechanisms that you listed earlier, I actually do more of them today. I do more TV today than I used to, certainly more screen time cuz that stuff didn't exist 15 years ago. But I also feel like I'm more awake now than I was then. So how do you, if you're not used to tuning into how people or situations make you feel, how do you tune into that?
Lisa: Very good question. So I am a classic overthinker. I have a doctorate because I like to think. Research and mentally going through a problem is my go-to. With a research doctorate, I learned that I had to stop thinking if I wanted to solve my problems because when you're trapped in your brain, you are cutting yourself off from about 90% of your wisdom. Most of the communication from your gut and your heart to your brain actually goes from the gut and heart, that bidirectional highway, actually most of the information starts in your gut. That's what a gut instinct is. 90% of the communication between your heart and your brain starts in your heart. That's because your heart knows. Your heart has memory cells, your heart learns. Your brain is supposed to be the last checklist when you're making a decision. I love telling this story. Once upon a time, I was in a bar. This was when I was drinking,
Stephanie: These are my favorite stories. Once upon in bar.
Lisa: There was a man sitting at the bar. And I looked at that man and I thought, wow, look at the thundercloud over his head. And so, you know what I did?
Stephanie: You went and talked to him? Oh yeah.
Lisa: Yeah. Yeah. So, we have always had intuitive hits. We've known when the choices that we were making were wrong and we made them anyway, and look how they turned out. We know what it feels like - intuition - what we need to do is start listening to it.
Lisa: Right. And even if your intuition is at odds with what your head is telling you is the right thing to do, and this happens to women all the time. Oh, I need to pay the bills so I have to stay in this soul sucking job that I hate. Even when your intuition is like, but that guy over there, he's hiring, right? Like, Or whatever. Maybe it's time that you start your own business, whatever. We get these hits all the time, so we need to just tune into our bodies. When you get that tight feeling in your stomach, stop. One good tip actually, to move from your brain to your gut and your knowing in your gut, is to just tap your gut a couple of inches below your belly button and visualize your core, which is about two inches in, and just tap because where your attention goes intention flows, right? So you're tapping on your gut and then you just say, what are you trying to tell me? Just do it for two minutes. If nothing comes, that's fine, but the seed has been planted, you've acknowledged that there's a tightness there. There's something that your body is trying to tell you about being safe or unsafe or that a boundary's about to be crossed. Another good example, this is more like a glimmer, is that feeling of expansion and butterflies that you get in your chest when something is good.
Lisa: Tune into that. So what does it mean to tune into your body? It means to just stop. Just stop and sit. Great. If you can take your shoes off and put your feet on the ground, because then you can connect with it's the Schumann resonance, the resonance of the earth. It's the vibration that is the most healing for us as humans. Cost you nothing. Go outside, take your shoes off and just sit and be there with the question, why is my stomach tight? Why is my throat constricted? Why is my mouth dry? Why am I having heart palpitations. So noticing is step one. Noticing is step one. And again, back to the journal, log it, write it down. Oh, today John Smith walked into the room and I could hardly breathe. What does that mean?
Stephanie: Right. Was that or bad? Yeah.
Lisa: Yeah. So, just noticing and then practicing. Awareness, job one, noticing practicing.
Stephanie: I have talked a couple of times before about the intuition piece, and I think one of the things that I do that I didn't develop consciously, but its easier to tune in on little things or inconsequential things in order to sort of build trust, build relationship, build a sense for the voice. I had said this before, one of the things that I do is each morning, I just wait to hear the outfit that I'm gonna wear today, and it usually comes to me fully formed. It just sort of like drops in. I've always loved style and fashion and things like that. Even over the last couple of years as I've been ill, and not been able to be as fashionable as I would love to be, but for me, it's something I'm drawn to anyway. And, if I just wait a minute at some point in the morning routine, it will just show up to me fully formed. So it's an easy way to build that relationship. The next one I'm working on now, and this is very relevant for you, is a conversation about food. Because at some point along the way, probably as a very small child, learned the whole clean plate thing.
Stephanie: And so the conditioning towards clean plate versus the listening towards I'm done or I'm full. So I've been having that conversation, that's actually a current one that that I'm working on is to build that relationship because
Lisa: Intuitive eating.
Stephanie: Yeah, and just listening when my intuition says, you're done, that's enough. I will very often look at what's left and go, well, it's just a couple more bites. and I'll take the couple more bites because it's just a couple more bites and I am pathologically disinclined to waste food.
Lisa: Well, I'm glad that you brought that up because thattakes us back to the beginning and when we were talking about what gets in the way of women taking care of themselves, and you said everything. What it really is, is all those social expectations and mindset beliefs that are so deeply ingrained in us, they've been there since before you were seven when you're brain was a sponge and you had no critical thinking skills. Anything anybody said to you became truth and it got stuck in your brain. And so if you want to change anything, you do have to go back to a long time, decades.
Lisa: Where did that belief come from? And you need to shift that belief. You need to shift the identity of the person who holds that belief and create a new identity with a new belief, right? That's what gets in the way for women taking care of their wellbeing, is all these expectations and beliefs that aren't even ours that came from somewhere else. And in order to extricate ourselves from them, we have to understand what they are.
Lisa: And as you're doing now, you are trying to create a new way of being based on a new understanding, and that's what alchemy is, right? Alchemy is taking what is mundane and ordinary and giving it some attention, polishing it, loving it, and watching it turn into something magical.
Lisa: And at midlife, that's what we all are, we are all magical beings that have an ability to just do some amazing things, if we would not allow the distractions to happen and give ourselves some attention.
Stephanie: Yeah, and I'm just gonna take your analogy and go one step further. When we talk about turning something mundane, I think for a lot of people, life can be mundane by the time you're in your thirties, forties.
Lisa: because you've, gone through all the firsts. You had your first kiss, your first sex, your first baby, your first marriage, your first house, like what is left. Look at life and you go, well, I could check out now cuz I can't see anything exciting for the next 30 years. So we need to create our own excitement. Women are powerful creators. We can't think that just because we are no longer fertile, we are no longer creators. So we need to use that creative energy to bring something powerful to the world. And that doesn't mean you have to invent something. I'm not putting a lot of pressure on you to be an innovator or something like that. It could be something simple like being a really good grandmother, it could be planting a beautiful garden and painting a picture, right? We need to express and create because that's why we're here.
Stephanie: yeah. And you do that by finding yourself, your authentic self, And uncovering
Lisa: Follow the glimmers.
Stephanie: Follow the glimmers. Oh. Oh, well, I know what I'm doing this afternoon. I'm gonna go skipping and following glimmers.
Lisa: Yum. I love it. love it.
Stephanie: Lisa, thank you so much for joining me today. This was wonderful. I love everything about our conversation. I love the idea of alchemy and a midlife alchemist and being magical creators. I love it.
Lisa: Oh, good. Good.