As mother-daughter relationships go, Renee says hers with her mom was pretty good, but she never felt like she had permission to be herself. When she was a girl and her mom would make a dress, she’d make a smaller one in the same style and pattern for Renee. Her mom liked bright colors and patterns and Renee would have preferred more unobtrusive clothes. Renee wanted to fit in but her mom wanted her to stand out. Renee says she often thought the first line of a book on her life would be :  “When I turned 40, I lost my mother and began to find myself.”

Guest Bio 

After 40 years on a diet, yo-yoing up and down the scale, Renée Jones had learned every diet – and every cheat – before finally stopping the comfort and stress eating to shed “those last 30 pounds” yet AGAIN in 2012 but this time, she has maintained at her goal weight. Now as a professional speaker and coach, she helps others overcome their self-sabotage to shed their weight AND keep it off.

Renée has a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, a Clinical Residency, and training in contemporary methods of transformation. Her book is What’s Really Eating You: Overcome the Triggers of Comfort Eating

Turning 40 and Facing your Stuff so you Don’t have to Stuff Your Face 

In this episode of the Forty Drinks Podcast, Stephanie talks to Renee Jones, a coach and former hospital chaplain, about her midlife transformation. Renee shares her journey of self-discovery after the loss of her mother, which led her to break out of the mold she had formed in and embrace her true self. She shares her experience with emotional eating and how she broke the cycle. Renee emphasizes the importance of facing your fears and finding ways to get what you need in a healthy way. Throughout the conversation, she offers insights and advice on healing the heart and living a bigger life. Don’t miss this inspiring episode filled with wisdom and self-reflection.

Highlights from the episode:

  • Renee’s experience of losing her mother and the impact it had on her life.
  • How Renee found the freedom to be herself and explore new possibilities after her mother’s passing.
  • The role of coaching in Renee’s personal growth and transformation.
  • The connection between emotional eating and finding alternative ways to fulfill emotional needs.
  • Renee’s journey as a coach and speaker, helping others heal their hearts and live their best lives.

If you enjoyed this episode, please rate, follow, and review the Forty Drinks Podcast.

Guest Resources

Find Renee on Facebook

Find Renee on Instagram

Renee’s Bonus Offers for Listeners

What’s Really Eating You?: Overcome the Triggers of Comfort Eating, by Renee Jones

Do you have the Midlife Ick? 

Download Stephanie’s guide to the Ick to diagnose whether you or someone you love is suffering from this insidious midlife malaise. www.fortydrinks.com/ick  

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Sponsor

The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications

Transcript

Stephanie: Hi, Renee. It is so great to finally get you here on the podcast.

Renee: Thank you for having me. It has been a wait, hasn't it?

Stephanie: I have to thank you for being so kind and thoughtful. I have canceled on you a number, a numerous times, and I'm admitting that because you and I were connecting through the fall. I was dealing with like headaches and with some, some sort of weird stuff. And it turned out that since you and I have last spoken, surprise, I had spinal surgery,

Renee: That's no excuse. I mean, come on.

Stephanie: But you were so, so kind to me. I canceled a couple of times. I think once I canceled like at the moment and you just, you were so kind to me. So firstly, I want to thank you for that kindness and consideration because we all do, need to, be kind with one another, but you were exceptionally thoughtful with me.

So I,

Renee: I hope you're feeling better.

Stephanie: I am. It's it's so funny. I've never had surgery before. I'm somebody who's never broken bones. Never really had any, major traumas. I was in a few car accidents here and there, but nothing enormous. And so I, I had this surgery and what was so bizarre was, well, a couple of things were bizarre.

One, nobody knew that I needed spinal surgery because I didn't really have any of the symptoms that they would think you'd have for having a situa tion so advanced. I had two surgeons in a week tell me, the first one said, you're a ticking time bomb. And the second one said, no, no, no, you're not a ticking time bomb. You're walking around with a live grenade in your pocket. I was like, Oh, well, you know, tomato,

Renee: much better.

Stephanie: He goes, yeah, you never know when it's going to go off. He's like, you know, you're not on a countdown. So anyway, so I, I needed the surgery, but so since the surgery, I, I have always had kind of, I call it like Rice Krispies.

I've always had crunchiness inside my neck, kind of like I moved my head and it's like, And all of that was gone from the moment I woke up and yet, the healing of the, the incision and the, you know, the, the, where they sort of did the work. It's, it's been a really bizarre experience for me

Now that we've gotten that behind us and we're thrilled to be here together, tell me a little bit about where our story begins?

Renee: It begins about the time I turned 40, really, because in my 40th year, I lost my mother and it was two months and two days from the day she went to the hospital until she was gone. She'd been, you know, very strong all of her life, never in the hospital except having babies.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Renee: And we didn't know, but it turned out that she had a brain tumor and it turned out that brain surgery was the easy part.

Stephanie: Oh, God.

Renee: And the effects of chemo and all of that unfortunately shortened her life.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Renee: We sat around for a couple of days afterwards, like how did we get here? You know, so it was, it was not sudden, but it was, with my experience in hospitals and my brother had is a pastor. So he had been in hospitals.

We kind of knew that this was potentially where it was going. And in the last week I knew for certain that she was never going to leave there. So, yeah, it was, it was hard because, you know, she had, was just about a month short of her 66th birthday. So she was, and her mother and father both lived well into their nineties.

So we expected her to still be around, you know?

Stephanie: yeah. Yeah. It's yeah. I lost my dad about eight years ago and, and he died three days after his 66th birthday. So and his mother died at 92 a couple of years earlier. So, yeah, I get it. that, how could that possibly be?

Renee: Yeah.

Stephanie: Cause we talk about the 40th birthday and how this is a period of transition and, and my goodness, that's, that's a real easy sort of pin to put in the ground to there's a befores and afters. But before we go on, tell me a little bit about your mom. Tell me a little bit about your relationship with her.

Renee: it was a good home, you know, intact family of origin with lots of in laws and, and family. My grandmother had nine brothers and sisters.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Renee: So I still have cousins scattered everywhere, and we still stay in contact. But as mother daughter relationships go I mean, we were, we were okay. We were fine, but I did not feel that I had permission to just be myself.

Stephanie: Mm.

Renee: You know, when we were growing up, she would, she would make herself a dress and then make me a small one.

Stephanie: Okay.

Renee: So it was just like it in the same color and pattern.

Stephanie: Mini me.

Renee: everything. Mini me.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Renee: And I remember her telling me when I was getting married and I was trying to pick out my cutlery, knife, forks, that sort of thing. My mother and I chose the same pattern. And I thought, huh, cause we're about as opposite as you can get. She was, she was, you know very engaging with lots of people. She liked to wear really bright colors and patterns and all that. And I'm like, I just want to be over here. I like tailored, traditional clothes. I mean, you can see I've got on a dark blouse and a gray sweater. This helped me a lot as a chaplain because I could blend in wherever, and not be obtrusive. And my mother never would have managed that. She taught English in high school and she would become Madame Defarge when she was teaching A Tale of Two Cities.

You know, that was just her personality, much more expressive. So it was, it was a little hard for me to kind of go in the wake of that. And because I, there were so many things I would have chosen differently.

Stephanie: Like what?

Renee: Well, clothes for a start. She wanted me to dress a little more flamboyantly. I was like, no, no, no, no. And I am the only person that was born with red hair.

Stephanie: Okay.

Renee: Everyone else is brown or black hair. And I have red hair and green eyes, which is basically the most elusive combination.

Stephanie: Yeah, it's rare.

Renee: Like 1 percent of the population has red hair and green eyes. More have blue.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Renee: My entire family has blue eyes. I was already standing out.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Renee: Yeah. And all my little friends were blondes and brunettes and that sort of thing. And I just wanted to fit in. I didn't want to stand out and she wanted me to stand out. it was a kind of a pull and tug sort of thing. And I mean, we got along very well, most of the time. And I know she loved me,

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Renee: but we just disagreed on a lot of things.

Stephanie: Were you able to draw that boundary with her ever of you know you're you and I respect that but I'm me and you have to respect that?

Renee: I, I did try that a few times. It I could tell it hurt her. Her view was imitating your mother as the highest form of praise.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Renee: But sure, there were a few times like I decided I had an opportunity and I decided to take it when I had finished my first year of teaching and I got an opportunity to go work in Wales in the UK.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Renee: And she was like, well, what about your career? I said, who knows where this will take me?

Stephanie: Right.

Renee: And it was the, probably the single most impactful experience I have ever had.

Stephanie: Mm

Renee: It changed my life in so many wonderful ways.

Stephanie: hmm. Mm hmm.

Renee: When I finished, it was a two year commitment, and it came back to the States and I was going to grad school and I met a guy I got another opportunity to return. Because I had told him do not fall in love with me because I have to go back to Wales first.

Stephanie: Okay.

Renee: I told him. He was fair warned, right?

Stephanie: Yeah.

Renee: So I got another opportunity to return. And I accepted the job at like eight o'clock in the morning by phone.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Renee: By noon, we were engaged. And the funny part of that story was, he was trying to ask me the day before. But we got caught out in the rain. And I didn't want, you know, for us to get soaked or for him to catch a cold or whatever. He missed his opportunity. So he had to wait until the next day. But at least I can say, you knew I was going to Wales. For two years. And my mother was like, well, I guess you're not going now. I was like no. He

Stephanie: bringing my husband with me. Yeah.

Renee: No, I went single. We didn't get married until I got back.

Stephanie: Okay. It was just a, it was just a commitment, a promise.

Renee: Yes, yes. And he came to visit me a few times. And it was, and she loved him in the end. It was great. She was like, I wouldn't leave my husband to be, to go work for two years in a foreign country.

Stephanie: So anytime you tried to assert your individuality or your independence, you felt like you were hurting your mother, like, like she was hurt by that.

Renee: Yeah. Because she just wanted, and having a degree in counseling, I now understand this, her insecurity was more than I recognized. And that would have been affirmation for who she was.

Stephanie: Right.

Renee: And I would point out, look, I am as loyal as you are. I love family and I am nostalgic and I want our life to be like this forever. I tried to point out ways that I was so much more like her.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Renee: And that, that was helpful. But she would also say, do not counsel me. Yes, mother. Sorry,

Stephanie: Don't use any of that black magic on me.

Renee: Yeah, yeah. And, you know, having, having experienced it many, many times, I was with her the moment she passed away.

Stephanie: How was that?

Renee: It's the one final gift I could give her. Mean, she was with me the day I was born.

Stephanie: Sure.

Renee: So I, I knew my brother, although he's done a lot of death as well. It's just different for boys, I think.

Stephanie: It is.

Renee: We knew that it was coming. We just didn't know when, and we did the sensible thing, like we'll do it in shifts. And I took the overnight shift because I knew that it wouldn't be that long. And I didn't want my father to have to sit with that. And I didn't want to make my brother do that and I was holding her hand and telling her all the good things and, you know, she passed very peacefully.

Stephanie: Nice.

Renee: Yeah,

You know, turning 40 is an interesting thing to begin with, right? You don't have to meet people's expectations in the same way as you did before. So it was sort of a double thing. It was like, okay, I don't. I can just be myself.

Stephanie: Mm

Renee: Sometimes that works out really well. And sometimes my friends are like, okay, do not wear that again. Because I just don't have an eye for fashion. And worse, I don't care. It's not something that, that makes me go, Ooh, I want to wear this.

Stephanie: hmm.

Renee: And the things I do feel that way about people are like, seriously, paisleys are so gone. I am a child of the 80s and I love all of that preppy thing.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah, I am as well, and I do as well. You said you weren't like your mother. Were you like someone else instead?

Renee: Well, I have my father's body,

Stephanie: Okay.

Renee: Right? And I even have his wrinkles now, which is really annoying, but I, I think I got my mother's heart and her mother's heart. So I think that's where I'm more like her in terms of caring for people. Having the desire to do that well, rather than just do it. Cause you know, some people are not very good at that.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Renee: My father's not good at that. My brother and I talk about, yes, I got our father's backside. You got our mother's backside, but you got my father's ankles and I got her ankles. Now, if I had to make a choice between the two, I'd take what I got.

Stephanie: Fair enough. That's funny.

Renee: I think, you know, there are things you get from your parents intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and you make the best of the choices.

Stephanie: Yeah. My mother I, I look in the, in the face, I look very much like my mother. But she said I got my dad's legs. So when I was a kid, she always used to dress me in short skirts and stuff like that. Cause you know,

Renee: Nice legs.

Stephanie: Right, She wanted to live vicariously through my legs because she's what is she? Five, three. And my dad was, you know, six, two. So so yeah, yeah, yeah. She thought he was dreamy, you know, as tall skinny skin, Sandy hair guy. So yeah. So she, she used to say when I was a teenager, she, she'd live vicariously through my legs. So that was, yeah.

Renee: I'm only five foot three. I understand that. And my husband has strict instructions. If I ever break my legs, they're supposed to add at least an inch.

Stephanie: Excellent! Good plan. Very good plan. After your mom passes, you said to me that you began to explore. Tell me what that means.

Renee: Well you know, when mom passes away, the family system kind of falls apart because she's usually the hub of the wheel, isn't she? So, I thought my brother was very happy to get out of the family Christmas thing. He could do it with his family, and I could with my husband's. And it, it was like, okay, what else do we want to do differently? What else do we want to do? I started writing a novel, and I got an agent. About the time Fifty Shades of Grey came out when everything had to be mommy porn to be picked up. And I said, when Fifty Shades of Grey fades to black, my character might have an opportunity.

Stephanie: Okay.

Renee: And by the time that happened, I'd moved on to something else. But I did write a book. It's a non fiction, what's Really Eating You. To go with my coaching. I just started looking at different ways of doing life than what I had always done and I had the freedom to do that and I discovered, Oh, you mean I don't have to be overweight for the rest of my life?

Huh? That's a new concept for my family. So actually, when I was turning 50, I had been on the diet yo yo for like 40 years. Clearly I was not very good at it.

Stephanie: Right. Right. Or you were very good at it.

Renee: I was very good at the yo yo. Yes, I

Stephanie: Right.

Right.

Renee: But I eventually decided to address that

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Renee: And I'm the kind of person who really needs some external accountability to do something for myself. So I hired a coach to help me and it worked beautifully and I lost the weight. And I lost a lot of other emotional baggage along the way, which was more important.

Stephanie: Can you give me an example?

Renee: Sure. I would never have been on a stage. I was too scared

Stephanie: Okay.

Renee: of public speaking or anything like that.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Renee: I never would have kept the weight off because I was an emotional eater. So when I had some emotional stuff going on, I went to food to soothe myself. And I got disconnected from that enough so that now 11 years since I lost my weight, I haven't gained it back. In fact, I'm slightly lighter today than I was then. I worked out my relationship with my father

Stephanie: Okay.

Renee: kind of lost his compass after my mother died.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Renee: Right? So that's okay. I would have taken a lot of things personally rather than, Oh, we just disagree on this. I would think it's my fault. I've done something wrong. I'm awful. All of that kind of down the, the spiral.

Stephanie: Yep. Yep.

Renee: And I no longer do that, which is freeing for me and very helpful for others.

Stephanie: Yeah. How did you stop those things? How did you identify them? How did you work through them? How did you stop?

Renee: I kept my coach for a long time,

Stephanie: Okay.

Renee: Right? I mean, I, I found it helpful to think about it this way. When I faced my stuff, I no longer needed to stuff my face.

Stephanie: What a fabulous line.

Renee: Thank you.

Stephanie: Wow.

Renee: But we would just, we just worked through, I mean, we'd meet like once a month and she said, what's going on? And I would tell her, and then we would take it apart and I would tell her what I was struggling with and she would unpick it. Unwind it for me. Help me unwind it. And then she'd say, now, why was that a problem? I have no idea. Why was that a problem all that time?

Yeah. And I credit that with actually getting a TEDx talk because I had the courage to do it.

Stephanie: Back to your stage fright.

Renee: back to my stage.

Stephanie: to conquer that at some

Renee: Yeah. Well, we're always a little nervous,

Stephanie: Sure.

Renee: But it's like, once you get into it. It's much easier, but I wouldn't have done that at all.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Renee: I think it, it comes to be about accepting yourself for who you are and what you have to offer and okay, if you need more than that, work on that. You can continue to grow into your best self. We don't have to stay as we are and that's refreshing.

Stephanie: Yeah. You said a moment ago that when your mom passed, you started to feel a freedom to do things differently. Why is it you think you didn't feel that freedom until after she was gone?

Renee: I think it's history and the voice in the back of your head. There was a time when I was in college that I was meant to go do a summer job. I think it was in North Carolina. I was trying for Alaska, but it turned out to be North Carolina.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Renee: And she said, no, you can't go.

Stephanie: Why?

Renee: I wouldn't make enough money for college. But this is such a great opportunity. And she said, yes, it is. You can't afford to do it.

Stephanie: Ouch.

Renee: There were various times when I was trying something like, I started writing stories when I was in high school. And she's like, that's great, authors don't make money. You're going to have to get a real job. So I became an English teacher. Of course. What most frustrated writers do. And I tacked onto that journalism I wrote for magazines for years.

Stephanie: Mm.

Renee: Freelance.

Stephanie: Sure.

Renee: So, I think it was when I had a, a grand idea, there was this voice of reason and duty.

Stephanie: Reasons being kind. Sounds like it was a very squashing voice, dream squashing voice.

Renee: Well, there's that. I think her motive was pure and I can, I can give her that. But yeah, I mean, it was a, a dream squash in many ways.

Stephanie: Yeah, this is something I've run across before. The concept of the first adulthood and the second adulthood. And in our first adulthood we do, We, we follow the path of the shoulds and, and, and we've got all these people who are older and wiser than us offering us advice and, and giving us our shoulds by and large, I, I feel like those people, they only want the best for us and that they want us to be, you know, happy and successful, but mostly I think they want us to be safe.

Renee: Yes.

Intermission

Stephanie: In one of my very early conversations, we talked about, actually a friend of my husband's was on the podcast, and we talked about how it was a real demarcation between his parents, like what the world was like when his parents were in their twenties and what the world was like when he was in there in his twenties.

And he's a few years younger than me. I would put him squarely in elder millennial kind of age range. But it was like, you know, they, they wanted all these things for him, but they didn't understand how the world was changing. And so the shoulds were very old school. They were very, you know, putting him in a place that, that almost didn't even exist anymore.

It sounds like a lot of your mom's, guidance and, and recommendations were really from a, from a fear based place. Do you think that's true?

Renee: Yes. I mean, they told me if you get a degree to teach, you can work for the rest of your life.

Stephanie: Right.

Renee: Well, I got it. I have a lifetime certification to teach.

Stephanie: Sure.

Renee: I just teach in a different way now.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Renee: Their, their motive was you're gonna need a job.

Stephanie: Right.

Renee: And teaching or nursing there are a couple of those that are just reliable jobs to have.

Stephanie: Yeah. Last season I talked to a woman named Tara, who was very much like me, in that she came from a family of engineer types, of science math types and, and her parents directed her to go get an engineering degree, because then she would always have a, she would always have a job. It would always be a well paying job. She'd make money. She'd be successful. And she, you know, like me was much more creative. I could never have gotten myself through the math requirements to become an engineer, but she did, and, you know, I think it was right around 40, like completely broken down and a mess because she was just living the wrong life.

Renee: Yeah. You know, I think I look back on teaching. I was good at that. I'm a natural teacher. High school English and journalism may not be the best use, although that's a thoroughly respectable job and it gives you, as they said, you'll have time off in the summer with your children. So it's practical.

Stephanie: Mm-Hmm,

Renee: And I think about what I tried to do with those students, what I did most in Wales, what I have done as a chaplain, what I'm doing now as a coach, it's all the same thing. It's like, okay, what's going on for you? How can we heal what's not healthy so that you can be your best? And if that's weight loss, great. If it's self sabotage. Great. What do you need that isn't working for you?

Stephanie: You even brought that framework that to, to teaching high school kids.

Renee: I always liked having good conversations with the students. You know, when they were struggling emotionally, they wouldn't do well in my class. If you've got them, if they're on some kind of balance, they do better in their scores.

Stephanie: How long did you teach for?

Renee: I taught basically for three years. I taught one year before I went to Wales. Two years in a private school when I was going through grad school and Sunday school forever.

Stephanie: Fair enough. Okay. So teaching was not a long career for you. You didn't, you didn't last in that very long.

Renee: The Welsh thing changed everything for me.

Stephanie: And what was the Welsh program?

Renee: It was a a two year appointment based very much like the Peace Corps, but just in a more spiritual setting. And I coordinated activities for a Christian center the first time. And the second one, I went to open a counseling center in a church there. So I was there to set things up, get it going and hand it off.

Stephanie: Okay. Okay. What kind of church?

Renee: Those were both Baptist churches. The first one was a Welsh speaking Baptist church and an English speaking Baptist church joined together and the old Welsh chapel became the community center.

Stephanie: Okay.

Renee: And the other one was an up and coming Baptist church in a much smaller village, but they had a fair number of people. They recognize the need for counseling, whether it be, you know, Christian based or not. And it didn't matter to me.

Stephanie: So when you came back from Wales Did you go back to school? Did you go to shift a career? Tell me about that.

Renee: Both. Yeah. Between the two, I came to get a degree in a master's degree in counseling. That's what they told me they needed. I was like, I can do that. And this sounds great. And after the second one, I came back to get married because he'd been waiting for two years.

Stephanie: You're right. Right. Yeah.

Renee: So then it was, okay, what do we do now in this general vein?

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Renee: And chaplaincy presented itself. Only problem was I burned out on death very quickly during that residency. In fact, my buddies called me the chaplain of death because every time I was on call, people died all over the hospital. My last shift, I was there overnight, and seven people died.

Stephanie: Wow.

Renee: Really? And I was talking to someone, they said, it's because you're actually good at it. This is not something I want to be good at. And I actually came out of it for a while because it was so stressful for me. In addition to dealing with those things, it was a residency. They were working on our emotional stuff.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Renee: They just weren't very kind about it.

Stephanie: Interesting. How so?

Renee: It felt like a beating. And that program, I was told had got better. And initially what it had been was really bad. So I'm, I just can't imagine what that would be.

Stephanie: Yeah. Holy cow.

Renee: So my husband was like, Hmm, we're going to try to have children. I do not want you carrying a baby with this much stress.

Stephanie: Right.

Renee: So I came out of it and then went back into it later. I worked for a service the second time. So we had a hospice, we had hospitals, we had a behavioral health hospital, which was really fun. And I said, please tell me they don't die very often. He said, they don't die very often. I said, okay.

Stephanie: Right. So I want to shift back into your forties and your exploration. Tell me how you see or characterize your transition, after your mom passed, through your forties.

Renee: I think I came into myself. I was still kind of flapping a bit, partly because ultimately we were not able to have children together. Which was a heartbreak. And I was still trying to figure out the whole chaplain thing. I eventually got it after I sat with my mother dying. I thought, well, if I can do that,

Stephanie: Right.

Renee: I can sit with somebody else.

And I got much better at it after that and balancing those. But it was look after yourself. You have to heal those pieces if you're going to help others heal, I know a lot of people really want to help others and we all go into things because that's what we want to work on. I wanted to be consistently working on it rather than just getting comfortable with where I'd been and what I'd done.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Renee: So I kept working on it. I'm still working on things.

Stephanie: When you say that, I love for people listening to the podcast, it, a lot of this sounds to someone who's not familiar with some of the concepts, it sounds a little esoteric. So when you say you were working on it, can you give me a clear picture of what that means and how, what tools did you use and how did you do the work?

Renee: I think some of it you can do on your own and some of it you need some objectivity around. Initially I spent a couple of years just working with a therapist, just trying to dig out some of the infection that had settled in.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Renee: So it was talk therapy. Even though I was trained in this, I thought this doesn't really work that well for me

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Renee: because we talked a lot and I learned some things about self esteem, boundaries, being kind, but it didn't complete the circle for me. So when I found a good coach to help me with the weight loss stuff, I recognized in her, I was like, You are more than the average coach. You've done this. You've worked on this. I need you to show me how to do that. So we would meet and in between I would read books. I would study different things. I spent so much time on my walk in the morning, listening to books and podcasts that called me to something better.

Because in the end, what I wanted was a bigger life than I had created for myself. I'd become very insular you know, the pandemic, oh my word, I loved that because I'm basically an introvert and I could easily be a hermit,

Stephanie: Yeah.

Renee: but you've got to know when to go out play well with others,

Stephanie: Mm hmm. Mm hmm.

Renee: So I, I work on that. I continue to work on that cause I really like solitude.

Stephanie: Sure.

Renee: There's no risk in it.

Stephanie: That's true. That's true.

Renee: But there's also value in it. So it is finding the balance of when to recharge and when to share that energy. So even now every other year since 1986, apart from 2020, which really annoys me, I go back to Wales.

Stephanie: Oh, nice.

Renee: I have friends there who still want to see me. And it's lovely. And it's also reconnecting. It's that framily connection. And that keeps me going out and doing good things. Cause when I'm there, it's like, what can we do while we're here? Is there any way I can be helpful either to the church or to a school or a ladies group? Whatever it happens to be.

Stephanie: Yeah. When you said you realized you wanted a bigger life than you had previously created, what were the things that you wanted? What did a bigger life mean?

Renee: I'm not sure I know for certain right. But during those years that I was essentially unemployed, I did a lot of volunteer things, but I also learned how to do things like make yogurt, make cheese do woodwork. I learned how to mediate. That was one of my volunteer things. I learned how to do a book interview.

There was a local cable station and authors would come through and we would interview them. I got to meet all kinds of really fun, wonderful people, even names you might know. Got really good at talking to people and getting information from them to share with others. I, I wanted to utilize that more than for a TV show.

I wanted to hone my counseling and coaching skills because I wasn't using that. I mean, I was a chaplain, but that's kind of like rapid therapy.

Stephanie: Sure.

Renee: And half the time people don't want to see you.

Stephanie: Right.

Renee: And in a lot of hospitals, the trifecta is someone who is actually awake, coherent, and in their room. And that doesn't always happen.

Stephanie: Right.

Renee: I thought there's got to be something more that I can do with this, which became coaching and became speaking. So, it always feels braggy when I say this, but I have had clients on six continents and several islands.

Stephanie: Hmm.

Renee: Right? the scientists and the penguins on Antarctica don't seem to be very interested.

Stephanie: You won't get that seventh continent,

Renee: do my best. I do my best.

Stephanie: That's some pretty targeted marketing you're gonna need there.

Renee: That opens lots of opportunities. Speaking opens opportunities. The TEDx. Oh my word. They're still watching that, right? And very much to fulfill what I believe is my purpose in life. And that is to help someone heal their heart. And the most amazing moment when you see it happen. You know, their face shifts or they come back and they're different. It's just to be that vessel.

Stephanie: And, okay, that makes sense for sure. How do you help someone heal their heart? What does that look like?

Renee: It depends on the person, doesn't it? if they have struggled with their weight, there's always a reason for it, right? Um, most things that we look at as comfort food, there's a reason for it. There's some connection that we make between that food and this feeling we're having. For me, that was peanut butter. And peanut butter is a perfectly lovely food if you don't eat it in the quantities that I was eating it. It's really helpful if you can think, okay, this is the food. Why am I so connected to it? And you do that by thinking about when did I, do I first remember having it when it did it for me? And what was around me at the time? For me, the peanut butter was a direct connection to my Nan.

My grandmother and I were tight around chocolate and peanut butter, hopefully together. But when my mother died, I all but crawled into my peanut butter jar. Because I needed that connection. When my grandmother died, I didn't want to do that because I'd already gained a good 20, 30 pounds before that. And I realized it was a direct connection to her. Because she's the person who always gave me love and encouragement. And I was looking for that, and once I realized she's not actually in the jar, it's just this memory I have of something we shared.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Renee: I had to find a way to get that love and encouragement in a different way.

Stephanie: And where did you find it instead?

Renee: Well, Mr. Jones is a good font of that. I just have to ask him occasionally, right? There are friends who are very good at encouraging me, and I phone them up and say, Okay, I need to be petted. Pat me on the head, pet me. It's, it's being able to ask for those things that you actually need. And that's okay because we're human. Sometimes we need stuff and people can't read your mind. I just am amazed by that.

Stephanie: Right.

Renee: Finding how to get what you need in a whole different way. So you don't have to go the food. And when you do, it soothes so much more than the food could because the food is just a substitute.

It's not the thing.

Stephanie: Do you mostly do coaching around weight or is that, is that your, your main area of, of focus?

Renee: I will say that's the niche. God has a sense of humor. When I first opened my practice, my first five clients were men with marriage issues. People come for one thing, but that's not, counselors call it the presenting problem, and then we go look for what's really going on. I had one lady who was, who had loved flying. She loved every aspect of the experience of flying, but she had a bad experience. And she was now afraid to her bones, hysterically afraid when she had to get on a plane. I mean, medication afraid of getting on a plane. And she didn't even want to talk about it, So I was like, okay, do you want to talk about this flying thing? And eventually she let me and it took about 30 minutes to release it. And she's been flying ever since.

Stephanie: what was,

Renee: It was the bad experience, right?

But to kind of pull that apart. Take it out of her present fear and look at it. Again, face your stuff. And it's just a, an exercise I do that brings it out that they're not afraid anymore. Yeah. They can remember being afraid, but they don't have to let that fear control them anymore.

Stephanie: Yeah. We've all got something that's, I, like to think of it as a pebble in our shoe, right? It's like something we got to deal with or walk around or something that changes our gait.

Renee: Or some spinal issue that's Yeah. taking you down to be pointed or anything,

but. You feel it all the same. Don't you

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. For about seven years, I've had I've been debilitated with some chronic health issues Lyme disease and a thyroid issue and chronic fatigue. And yeah, yeah. So it's, so I'm, what I'm most interested to figure out. And, and I haven't even started looking yet. Cause again, it's just a month out from the surgery, but how much of this are we going to be able to separate. My brother asked me uh, right before the surgery, he said, do you think this is the smoking gun? I said, I don't know if it might be. Because we, I've never been able to figure out what's underneath it all.

Right. And what's, you know, what's, what's the lever you could push or pull that would, would really start making big impacts. And so the, the question for me in the next couple of months is going to be, you know, the, the lack of energy, the chronic fatigue, was it, is, is it these chronic systemic issues, or was it having to do with a disc pressing on my spinal column for the last decade or more?

So I'm entering into a phase of, kind of, sleuthing how to separate apart the the physical and the symptom and these chronic systemic issues that I've been dealing with. So I have yet another mystery to solve. Both of the surgeons told me that, you know, any small trauma um, you know, a little car accident or, know, falling down and I could be paralyzed for the rest of my life. That was no bueno because there's too many stairs in my life. You know, it's just it's I don't have time for that So it's like let's so yeah, we've so we've now taken this spinal thing off my plate and it'll take several months for sure to figure out how things settle out from there.

It's it's been an interesting journey. It's funny too. Cause, um, that's why I'm wearing my little scarfy scarf here. Cause I've worn scarves since I was a teenager, but, it's necklaces these days, but I have a little scar here.

So I thought, let me me just be polite. And not that, I mean, it's fine. It's good looking, but let me just be polite and keep my scar covered until it's really a little bit less obvious.

Anyway, yeah, so, uh, so I am, uh, into my next, uh, shift as well, and I have no idea where it's going to take me, but I don't think we usually do.

Renee: No. And if we did, we'd probably mess it up, because we'd think, oh, but we could just do this. And the truth is, the adventure is worth more than that. It's scarier, but it's worth more than that.

Stephanie: Yeah, that's a great way to look at it. Well, Renee, I just want to thank you so much for joining me today and sharing your story and, uh, and and really being wonderfully generous with, with, your story.

Renee: thank you. It was worth the wait.

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