Mindy Aisling was in her 30s and living her best life on the Olympic Peninsula in the Pacific Northwest. But when she was 35, Mindy and her son and husband were on the way to the pumpkin patch when an intoxicated driver crossed the center line and hit them head on. She spent three months in a hospital bed and several years recovering from the accident. In this conversation, she talks about what she learned from that experience.

Guest Bio 

Mindy Aisling is an ICF-Certified Authenticity Empowerment Coach who teaches people how to develop a strong sense of self and use the power of their authenticity to create a fulfilling life.

Turning 40 and finding a new identity based on your new reality

In this episode of the Forty Drinks Podcast, Stephanie talks to Mindy Aisling, a woman who experienced a major life transition in her mid-thirties. Mindy’s life was going smoothly until a car accident at the age of 35 left her and her son with serious injuries. Mindy shares her journey of physical and emotional healing, as well as her struggle with PTSD and anxiety following the accident. She discusses the importance of self-compassion and the process of grieving and letting go of past versions of herself. Mindy also talks about reconnecting with her true self and the changes she made to live a more authentic life. She emphasizes the need for self-care and the power of trusting and taking leaps of faith. Mindy’s story serves as a reminder that even in the face of adversity, there can be growth and transformation.

Highlights from the episode include:

  • Mindy’s experience of the near-fatal car accident and the physical and emotional impact it had on her and her family
  • The unexpected challenges of recovery and the journey of healing from a traumatic event
  • The importance of self-care and building a strong foundation for emotional well-being
  • The process of grieving and letting go of past versions of oneself
  • The power of vulnerability and authenticity in building meaningful connections with others
  • The role of resilience in navigating life’s challenges and pursuing personal growth
  • The importance of self-awareness and staying connected to oneself

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Mary Oliver’s quote: “Someone once gave me a box of darkness, and it took me years to discover that that too was a gift.”

In summary, Mindy’s story is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative potential of embracing life’s challenges. Her journey of healing and self-discovery serves as an inspiration for anyone navigating a major life transition. Remember to rate, follow, and review the Forty Drinks Podcast if you enjoyed this episode.

What is it like recovering from a major illness?

Like most things in life, our paths back from an injury or illness are unique to ourselves. While the physical issues may feel like a burden during the experience, it’s possible to shift your thinking to find silver linings and even valuable lessons. Mindy was a dancer who tore her calf muscle and had to give up the thing she loved. She found a way forward by finding a new way to use her body knowledge, transposing it into a new career. In another example, Kari calls her brain tumor the best case of bad luck because the tumor was completely benign, albeit huge. She did a lot of reflection during her recovery and made some decisions about how she wanted to live her life differently.

Guest Resources

Find Mindy on Facebook

Find Mindy on Instagram

Mindy Aisling’s coaching website

Mindy on YouTube

Mindy on TikTok

Mindy on Pinterest

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


Mindy: Hi Mindy. Thanks for being here.

Thank you for having me. I'm so happy to be here.

Stephanie: It's a pleasure to meet you and I'm very excited to dig into your story because it's different from everything that I've encountered so far, which kind of makes sense because we really all are individual unique snowflakes and everybody's got their own version of this 40 story transition.

Mindy: Mm hmm.

Stephanie: But yours is not a version I've encountered yet. So,very excited to dive in. But before we get to that, why don't you start by setting us up with how did you get to the beginning of our story? How did you get to say mid thirties? Who were you?

Mindy: Yeah. So I would say that I had kind of a bumpy childhood, but then worked that out and did a lot of healing and personal development work. And in my early thirties, I was living my best life. I had a home on the peninsula and my own office out there and I rode my bike everywhere and I was newly married and it was all just going very smoothly. And I think a lot of people sort of think about their thirties in that way, like, Oh, I've made it. I'm an adult now I have a real job. And then at 35, that suddenly changed for me and things really shifted because, as we know, life has this element of chaos that brings us situations that we don't expect.

Stephanie: You said that and all of a sudden in my mind, I just saw Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, the whole chaos theory, and you're exactly right. Um, before we keep going though, tell me, you said a peninsula, which out in my world on the East Coast really means something like fancy and fabulous. What peninsula, where were you?

Mindy: Yeah, so I was on the Olympic Peninsula, which is the north west tip of the United States. Popular now for the Twilight Books, but you know, way up there in the northwest, beautiful rainforest out there, little tiny close knit community. And it was a real beautiful experience.

Stephanie: Yeah, my uncle has a very good fri end out there. He's out there at least annually. And he tells me it's beautiful, beautiful world out there.

Mindy: Mm hmm.

Stephanie: Yeah. Okay. So successful, fabulous, you owned your own business, you're married. You're just flying. Then you were 35. Tell me what happened.

Mindy: So when I was 35, my son and my husband and I were on the way to the pumpkin patch when an intoxicated driver crossed the center line and hit us head on.

Stephanie: Oh God.

Mindy: And so my son and I, my son was nine at the time and my son and I were both airlifted all the way to Seattle to the trauma center. My husband was taken to the local hospital because he wasn't as injured. And I ended up being in a hospital bed for three months.

Stephanie: Oh my God. And what about your son?

Mindy: He was in a neck brace for a couple months and he's okay now. He's 20 now.

Stephanie: Okay, Okay. Good. Good.

Mindy: And I think what really surprised me about it is that when I had heard of other people going through physical accidents, I didn't really completely understand sort of the mental emotional journey and recovery from a physical accident and taking that journey was new to me and I think because of its newness, there was some resistance there and I was angry that I had to take it.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. Oh God. It's so interesting because, so you said that you had already been doing personal development, personal growth kind of work, what in your late twenties, early thirties?

Mindy: Yep.

Stephanie: Okay, so you're already familiar with working with your mind and reframing and resetting. You're already familiar with that kind of stuff. And then you ended up in the hospital. Are you comfortable telling me a little bit about your injuries and what kind of shape you were in?

Mindy: Yeah. I had some fractures in my spine and so I was in this big sort of clamshell unit that covered my whole body and went down my leg and, my leg was broken, my wrist was shattered. So I was kind of in like this full body cast that they had to open up every day because the seatbelt had perforated my intestines, so I have a cut from here to here, you know, huge scar. So they had to open me up and repair all my insides. So it was a pretty significant physical impact. And what you were just saying about the personal development, I think that piece was actually what was challenging for me. For the inner work is up until that point, I felt like a co creator with the universe. I felt like I was a great manifester, right? I had manifested everything I wanted in my life and then the fact that something happened to me that I didn't want totally blew my belief system out of the water, because if I was really a co creator, then why did this horrible thing happen to me? And that really threw me for a loop.

Stephanie: Oh. Okay. Okay. So you're bedridden in a hospital. And conscious for all three months or were you sort of out of it for any amount of time?

Mindy: Yeah, so I was out of it for several days and then going in and out of it andfully intubated. And, I was in the trauma center and then actually they let me take my hospital bed home, and this is a really beautiful part of the story, they had to release me to a nurse and I had an old high school girlfriend who had become a nurse who came and took on care of me so I could go home and stayed with us for a while, which was just such a beautiful thing and really speaks to the power of beautiful friendships.

Stephanie: Oh my God. That's amazing. Oh, that's wonderful. Well, if there can be a bright shaft of sun through the clouds there. I guess where I'm trying to understand is the first, it sounds like, couple of weeks you probably were just so busy being intubated, being under, but then you said you were there for a couple of months. So there's probably a lot of quiet time for you to start perseverating really on what happened and why. So when you say it blew your belief system out of the water, was that a conscious thing that you knew, or was that just looking back and putting it into context?

Mindy: That's a really great, great question. I think it really arrived a couple months later when I tried to go back to life and back to work. And I actually tried to go back to coaching work and I couldn't hold space for anybody. So when I would sit with a client, I would get emotional, and so I knew that I couldn't do that work until I did my own healing from this. And so I stepped back from that work and really just went on a healing journey so that I could clear out what had come up from that experience.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. And that meant getting just a regular old nine to five J-O-B, right?

Mindy: Yep. Yeah. And I think really for me, the fear that arose from that experience, it led to me just wanting a lot of control and, or the illusion of control and thinking that if I pursued a more normal quote unquote path in life, got the right job, made the right amount of money, had the right bank account, that I would feel safe again. And the opposite ended up happening. I ended up overworking myself, right? In the chase of this illusion of being able to construct a reality where I'd be safe all the time.

Stephanie: Right, which just isn't possible because anything can happen at any time ever as you experienced firsthand.

Mindy: Yeah.

Stephanie: Oh boy. Okay. So tell me about the months after the accident. You said you weren't familiar with PTSD, tell me about your experience with PTSD and how that manifested for you.

Mindy: Yeah. So I'm still struggling with it a little bit, driving long distances. I'll have panic attacks. And I think anybody who suffers from anxiety knows that one of the biggest challenges is that you don't know when it will arise, that anxiety is this, it can be a gift, but it's hard to see it that way because it often comes at our most inopportune moments.

Stephanie: Right.

Mindy: So while I was healing, just building a relationship with anxiety. Right. I think that we have our emotions, but we don't talk enough about the relationship we have with our emotions, right? How do we engage with them? And so as this new emotion or thing, anxiety started to visit me, do I resist it? Do I accept it? Do I push away from it? What is my relationship with this thing so that I can still live my life? And that was the real learning curve for me and really having more compassion for myself.

For example, I remember when I went through a car wash a couple months after I got out of my hospital bed and stuff and had a full blown panic attack because something about being stuck in my car and having things hit my car totally unexpected. I had no idea that I would respond that way. But instead of beating myself up in that moment and going, why aren't you normal? Why aren't you normal? Pulling over, calling my husband, letting myself take the time to break down. And really, I think that has been the lesson for me is just being more okay with being weak and broken and realizing that that does not diminish us in any way.

Stephanie: Yeah. And beating yourself up for being weak and broken is certainly not getting the job done either. Right? You're just going to get more upset and hurt and broken. Yeah, that's beautiful that you were able to be that compassionate with yourself. Was that something you had to learn or was that something that came pretty easily to you? Where there times that you were beating yourself up?

Mindy: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I think all of us struggle with an inner critic of some kind. And I actually, this is what I love about your show and about your topic is I think as most of us go through our forties, our relationship with our inner critic changes. And it doesn't have quite as much control over us or the voice isn't quite as strong. So I think that even though my situation was unique, this process of building a new relationship with my inner critic, I think that's pretty common to people through this transition in life and just, you know, for me, just, it's about shortening that window. I used to beat myself up and then I'd catch myself weeks later and do the work different, and then it was days later, then it was hours later. Right. How do I shorten that gap so that, of course, self beat up is going to happen all the time, but can I catch it within five minutes? Oh, that's a good day.

Stephanie: Right, right. right. Yeah. Yeah. If you can notice that you're doing it and like you're saying to take that timetable from weeks later to minutes later, that is the work of it all. The other thing that's interesting to me, you said that we have a different relationship with our inner critic and our forties. And again, one of the things that people often say about their forties and certainly their fifties too, it continues and grows is that you stop caring what other people think. But what you're saying is you even stop caring what you think.

Mindy: Yes. Yes, I think that is so well said. And that is my exact experience that both of those things are true, that there's just more acceptance for sort of like this, blah, here I am being both within self and with other.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. Oh God. I'm going through something like that literally right now. I'm having a bleh phase of my life these last few weeks, maybe it's even more than that, and just trying desperately not to attach to it. trying to just be the leaf on the stream floating down the river and doing all the things I can to do the positive pieces and the gratitude and you know, but Sometimes life is just shit.

Mindy: Yep, it is.

Stephanie: You just have to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.

Mindy: Mm hmm.

Stephanie: It's a balance that I've been working on for these past few weeks. And again, after years and years of doing all the personal growth and the reading and the workshops and everything. Right. And thinking that I have things pretty well under control, even with managing a chronic illness. But for some reason, the last six weeks, it's gotten me down. And so trying not to attach and trying to do all the other things that bolster me and, yet putting one foot in front of the other.

Mindy: Yep. Yep. And doing it anyways and showing up anyways. And I think that also speaks to sort of the beauty of midlife is that you've had time to cultivate resilience, which is what you're talking about, right? Resilience is a feeling and an action and yeah, that it's key to pursuing goals because it's not always positive or pleasant. You go through those shit times in life.

Stephanie: Yeah. And I love what you just said that resilience is a feeling, but I also want to highlight this resilience as an action. I love that. I hadn't put that together, but you're right because resilience can be a feeling of like, Oh, I can keep going, but it's the action of keeping going that actually demonstrates the resilience.

Mindy: Yeah. And sometimes you have to do it without the feeling accompanying it, which is what you described, right? I don't feel like doing this today, but I'm going to show up and do it anyways because I know this is just a feeling and it's not really me.

Stephanie: Right. And it will pass at some point. This is just a phase.

Mindy: Mm hmm.

Stephanie: Yeah. The other thing you said though is that you were not familiar with the fact that having some sort of major physical issue could surface old emotional wounds from childhood. Tell me a little bit about how that came about for you or how that displayed itself.

Mindy: Yeah. So, I think everybody had a bumpy childhood, some of us more than others, but nobody gets through this life unscathed or without trauma. Hence, the beautiful power of healing, right? And because I had done so much work and I was in such a good place in my early thirties, I sort of had this illusion like, Oh, the work's done good. I'm here. It's all good. And what the accident did was kind of crack me open and show me all the places that I could go deeper with the work, which is really a gift, but man, the resistance at the time was so tough to get through. I mean, I probably had a year of resistance of just not wanting to believe that I had to go deeper, that there was more there. And now that I have sat with it and done the work, I realized, Oh, the other side is more beautiful, right? Of course, that's how our lives work, but man, is that hard to see in the moment.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. Oh God, it's so icky. When you say you did the work, did you do it on your own? Did you do it via therapy? How did that work of going deeper on your formative years, how did that come about for you?

Mindy: So I've always been a seeker and I've always loved personal development. So all of the above, a life coach, a therapist, self help books, meditation, whatever I could find. I feel often that personal development work is like walking a very foggy path, you can see the next step in front of you, but that's all you can see and you don't really know what's going to be the thing that clicks. And so just really exposing myself to everything. And then I think for me, after doing the inner learning, there's usually some sort of outer action, a courageous conversation to have, a habit to change, something that needs to realign with the new truth that you found. And so I think I did sort of a couple years of what I would call cleanup and aligning life in new ways, and I think that's even what I'm doing now as I am in my mid forties and I feel like I have finally committed myself to a hundred percent authenticity and every day looking for how I can fully reveal myself in the moment.

Stephanie: Hmm.

Mindy: And that's hard, courageous, but also exciting work.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. So the accident happened when you were 35 and there were years worth of healing that you needed to do both physically and mentally, emotionally, and then by the time you turned 40, you were really just kind of healing, back on your feet really from that accident. So tell me what 40 meant for you at that point in time.

Mindy: Hmm. Beautiful question. I think for me, I knew that there were things that needed to change in my life to be in alignment, that cleanup work I'm talking about, , but I saw for the first time a vision of who I could be that was a stronger, more authentic version than I'd ever seen before. So on my 40th birthday, really putting that intention out there of connecting with that future self I saw, right? I wasn't quite sure how to get to her, become her, but I felt like, for lack of a better word, she appeared to guide me. I know that sounds sort of esoteric and out there, but that's the way it felt for me.

Stephanie: Yeah, you just kind of made contact with her, kind of waved and said, I'm coming.

Mindy: Yes, yes.

Stephanie: Okay. So that's pretty profound. What then did you do to try to get from 40th birthday to the vision of who she was?

Mindy: I started doing a lot of journaling and sort of sketching and art and trying to get a closer idea of who this future version of myself that I saw out there was. And then the key part for me, when things really started to click and shift, was when I started to ask, what thoughts does she think? What habits does she have? What belief systems drive her? Like, got really curious about those things because I realized Oh, that's the stuff I need to know. Right. At first I was looking at the external, like, well, what does she do for work? And what is, how many relationships does she have with her friends? And, and I wasn't getting anywhere and I wasn't getting anywhere. And then when I started to investigate, right, no, it doesn't because that stuff's going to appear right when the inner stuff is done. And so then I started to realize like, for me, one of the pieces that was key was. That version of myself spends a lot more time alone and honors that alone time. And I think, up until this point, having a life, I had my son really young, so I was a mom. I had multiple businesses that I opened through the years. I was an executive director, all these things, busy, busy, busy, busy. And finally having this aha moment where I realized if I want to tap into, whether you call it wisdom, authenticity, higher self, God, whatever your word for that thing is, I have to slow the F down in my life and I have to be alone more and cultivate this. And then it took a while to set my life up in a way where I could honor that.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah, that's another thing that happens in your forties and your fifties. You do, you slow down a lot more, you strip away a lot more. I was at a business event this spring, I had gone to one of these award luncheons with a client and a girl I've known for 20 years or so, a woman I've known saw me at the event and she said. What are you doing out in public? I was like, thank you for noticing, first of all, because, in my thirties, I was out at these events four nights a week and then drinks afterwards, right? There was a lot of that, but in the last few years, as I've been managing this illness and then also doing some of this work myself, it's like, yeah, things get a lot smaller. So there's another piece where you started to feel like you wanted to be who you were before the accident, where did this piece fit in?

Mindy: Yeah, thank you so much for asking about that because I think this is a real important part: I think we often have a version of ourselves that we were, that we want to be again. Right? Oh, I was my best self in those years. I was super confident back in this time. And my personal experience was that it almost felt like I had to, that that part of me had to die and I had to go through the grieving process. And I had to get angry about it and I had to be in denial about it, like all the stages of grief to let go of this person that I wasn't anymore. Because as long as that person was in the way, I was never going to become that sort of future version of myself and I saw that. And so then it just became the process of allowing myself to grieve for that and say goodbye to who that person was. And man, the resistance involved in that journey, and I think this is universally true for people hitting sort of midlife and mid age in these 40 years, I think that's part of it is recognizing that there are some dreams that are dead to us now that we can't do anymore. And if there was something that we didn't achieve, that's no longer achievable for us, we have to grieve and say goodbye to those things so that we can open the new windows to the next chapter.

Stephanie: Yeah, I went through that very similar experience. I got ill in 2017 and came down with what I thought was just a bad cold

Mindy: Mm

Stephanie: six weeks later, I still couldn't get up off the couch. And then three months later, I still couldn't get up off the couch. And it became clear that it was more than just a cold or even 2016 was an exceptionally stressful year for me: we got married, my dad was sick, we lost my dad, there's all kinds of stuff. So after I realized it wasn't a cold, I thought, well, maybe it's just sort of a stress breakdown, but even, you know, 6 months later, I was like, okay, no, it's not that. So I was debilitated truly

Mindy: Mm.

Stephanie: for years. I didn't get a diagnosis of Lyme disease until 2019, like late 2019. So it was like two years I was sick before we even really knew what it was. And so it's funny because my life shrunk to, at the time my office for my marketing agency was in the loft of my home, so I would crawl up the stairs, work for a couple hours, crawl back down the stairs, my husband would deliver dinner to my lap on the couch, and then I would crawl to bed. I mean, this went on for years. And so you just, and I had been through my twenties and my thirties, the most social, outgoing, extroverted,

Mindy: Mm hmm. Mm.

Stephanie: Julie McCoy cruise director, all of the things. And so I did, I had to really let all of that go and, and realize that at least for now, I can't that.

Mindy: hmm.

Stephanie: and what was kind of funny was that when the pandemic hit in March of 2020, it was like, Oh, hey, look, everybody's here on the couch and they hate it. I've been doing it for years. It's great guys. Come on in, the water's fine. My husband and I were so used to I had, you know, my diet had changed completely, so we couldn't even eat out. So it was like we were eating at home, cooking our own food, watching Netflix, chilling on the couch with the cat, you know, it was like, Oh, the pandemic. Oh, now everybody else has to live like I do for a little bit.

Mindy: Yeah.

Stephanie: But there was, there was a lot of sadness and there's still a lot of sadness it's tough to be so isolated and so disconnected from everything. But I really have to manage my energy

Mindy: hmm.

Stephanie: for the things that I need, you know, functioning is number one, but, you know, keeping my business going, my business employs my team as well as me, so it would be unfair to them to go doing everything I want to do and let the business suffer so I guess what I'm coming around to is I really can relate to what you're saying about thinking about previous versions of yourself and really wanting to be them, but ultimately having to let them go. And you waved to your future self, I sort of see the past selves kind of on rafts you know, going out to sea and just waving to them and say, thanks, it was fun. You know, I don't, I don't know. I haven't seen my future self yet, so I don't know exactly who she is when she becomes healthy again, but, um, I'm looking forward to meeting her.

Mindy: Yeah. Yeah.


Mindy: I think both of our journeys share a lot of these elements. And I think a lot of people in their forties and fifties have health issues come up or they can't do what they want to do, and so this I think is very common path. I know for my husband, it showed up, he always played sports. Now he's in his fifties, he can't play sports. He doesn't know how to make friends outside of not being on a baseball team. Right? Yeah. It's like. All the identity pieces. And so I think it's like that for a lot of people andthat's the midlife crisis, right? Finding a new identity based on your new reality.

Stephanie: Oh, I love the way you put that. I love the way you put that. I just want to say this because I said it before we turned the recording on this whole concept of midlife and midlife crisis is just anathema to current generations, certainly to, I'm Gen X so you know, we don't care about anything, so, you know, we couldn't be bothered to participate in midlife crises, but the millennials as well, do not relate to the term midlife at all, forget midlife crisis, it's too negative of a connotation. And so what I think that does is it makes it more of a surprise because not this cultural attachment to midlife crisis. And if you know, there's a midlife crisis coming, even if you think, well, I'm not going to have one, when something starts happening to you, you go, Oh, maybe I am, but with this transition that many to most of us go through somewhere between 35 and 45, it comes as such a surprise because culturally, we're not expecting it. We have not been made aware that this is a gate we must pass through to get to the next stage.

Mindy: Mm hmm.

Stephanie: So I think that also becomes challenging because it's a surprise for so many people.

Mindy: Yeah. Beautifully said. And it really shows sort of the power behind the work that you're doing is reviving this conversation, right? And giving it some new terms and some new life so that we can talk about it. We can expect it. We know what's coming down the road. And again, we can avoid, hopefully, years of self beat up because we know, Oh, this is what I'm going through now. This is how I manage it. Right. From the people who've come before us.

Stephanie: Right. Maybe we could avoid decades of drinking our face off to avoid making some of the adult decisions. I had this conversation with somebody, I forget who it was recently, it was like, I think maybe that's why I drank for 2 decades was so that I didn't have to make those decisions and those life events just kind of floated by me while I was over here at the party. And so it truly is my reason for being, if we can together make it easier for other people to go through this transition and they can maybe go through with a little bit more grace and, I don't know, ease than I did, then I will have earned my keep, I guess.

Mindy: Yeah. I love what you said as part of that about the living with intention piece, because I think that is a key of this midlife shift. That your younger life, you're just along for the party, most of us are. And then in your midlife, you start to see the end and you realize I need to start living with intention because I only have so much time to be here. And it becomes more precious, like you said, to strip away the BS and really live for the things that are important to you.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. If I'm going to do it, I better do it and I better set my mind to it. Yeah. So as you're in your early forties, I believe you were working this J-O-B and you were pushing really hard and you said you ultimately ended up havinga bit of burnout.

Mindy: Yeah. This was another thing that was really interesting to me and here it is in a nutshell: when I was completely burnt out, I could not reach for any of my emotional intelligence skills and it was so frustrating for me because I would have a conversation and I would watch myself getting defensive, know that it wasn't how I wanted to be or who I wanted to show up as, but not being able to show up any other way because I was so thin that there was none of myself to bring to that experience. And so I just became very much this sort of reptile brain version of myself, very defensive, short with people, easily annoyed, and then beating myself up for being that person because I had done all this previous personal development work. Right? And the lesson that came out of that for me is like, Oh, I get it. You have to have self care and you have to have a certain amount of investment in your root system or your foundation, or it doesn't matter how much you know, you can't access those higher, whether you call them emotionally intelligence or spiritual skills.

Stephanie: I don't know if you are a purveyor of meme culture, I am, but basically this last segment, I just want to say, I'm in this picture and I don't like it. So you just described me and, um, I'm not happy about it. Uh, but you're right because for weeks now, I've been feeling, um. I can't tap in, I can't tap into the source. I can't tap into my genius. I can't tap into any of those things. I was reading a book recently, it's part of a sci fi series that my brother turned on to that's awesome, and I'm reading it and I'm so amazed by all the world building and I'm thinking, cause I'm a writer by birth, but I'm thinking, how did he even do this? How did he put all this together? And I thought, oh, no, he just reached up and grabbed a hose and just started pouring into himself. And this just came, maybe fully formed because this is so brilliant and it's making me feel really, um, jealous isn't the right word, sad, lonely that I, can't, I don't feel like I can access mine right now. And it's just you said. I think it's, I'm, I'm, I'm so thin, I'm so my, you know, my health has gone sideways recently. My, you know, things have been busy and stressful at work and you know, it's just. It's a lot and I just, I can't reach up. I can't grab any of the brilliance. I, I'm just, yeah. So

Mindy: And I would say what I see collectively as a culture is that many of us are there because we've been sold this sort of capitalistidea of hustling and doing and constantly going and the competition for who's the busiest. And as a result, our society is sick because none of us are touched in, right? We're not plugged in to whatever source that we plug into.

Stephanie: Right. Right. And to your point though, and like you, I've done all the work. I have all the tools. I know all the tricks. I do actually practice self care. I have to because of my health, It's like, I do all these things and still, so your point is well taken. So,

Mindy: Yeah. Yeah. One time I had a spiritual teacher that said to me, and I always loved this and I keep it close is maybe consciousness just loves the play of remembering and forgetting and remembering and forgetting. Right. And so instead of me hating these times when I can't connect, it's like, Oh yes, I'm in the forgetting stage and then I'm going to remember again and then I'm going to forget again. And, just being okay with the dance of remembering and forgetting as well in life.

Stephanie: I love that. And I do think the tools that I do have are what we talked about earlier, right? I'm not getting attached to how I feel in this period that I'm in because I know it will pass. And I'm actually doing a pretty good job of not beating myself up so much. So, again, just trying to be nice, but I love that part of remembering and forgetting. Cause I feel like there are like, I almost feel like I could be like flopping around going like, wait, where are those tools that I put aside for when I needed them? Cause I need them now I find them cause I've forgotten where I put them. So, uh, yeah, I love that. That's a good description.

Mindy: And I love that this is what I really saw when I listened to your episodes is that when we connect with other people on the journey, they help remind us. And that's so beautiful. I love the way you're like, I'm just going to 40 drinks with 40 people and see what's going to happen. And in the process they reminded you of who you really are and you remind them and it's such a beautiful exchange.

Stephanie: Yes. and thank you. These episodes, these conversations, these interviews that I'm doing, I feel like, yes, I set out to do them for other people so that other people could have stories that they might relate to, but every so often, and it's more often than every so often, but many of them, I turn off the recording, I hang up and I go. Oh, that one was for me and this for me. So, the funny thing is, Mindy, that you somehow connected with me, you came up sort of through some cracks and came in through side door. And I wasn't even sure we were the right match. And then of course I should have just known that if somebody snuck in from the side door, that it was for me. So thank you being here, for helping me make my way through this strange period that I'm in. So you were at that place of burnout, you were really feeling disconnected from yourself. You had tried to create a real safe life by working for someone else and doing all the right things and checking all the boxes. But you said you ultimately ended up feeling really disconnected from yourself. How did you reconnect? What changes did you make? What did you do to get back on solid footing, if you're there now?

Mindy: Yeah. I mean, I think I'm still in the process of it, but much more solid footing now. I think the first step was what you said, awareness, even recognizing I don't wake up happy in the morning. I don't like who I am and sort of the toxic positivity culture that tells us, oh, just keep going, put a smile on your face, can actually get in the way of accurate self assessment. And so for me, it was accurate self assessment awareness, first, I don't like this. That sounds so simple, but so true.

Stephanie: Right.

Mindy: And then it was about making the changes, talking to my husband, doing the brainstorming, and then ultimately taking the leap, quitting my job, starting my business again. And what's funny about the leap is it has gone so much better than I thought, and this is true for every time I've taken a leap. I thought, okay, I'm going to be this much in debt in a year, it's okay, I'm willing to take that amount of debt. And then here I am a year, a little over a year later, and everything is way different than I thought, way better. It's the trusting and the leaping that is the required action, not having all the answers.

Stephanie: Right.

Mindy: And that's the part where I'm still growing is constantly reminding myself of that, that even though I have evidence, I still don't believe it. Right. I still want to know all hundred steps in the path. But the way that I'm shifting and who this next version of myself is and who I'm becoming in my forties is someone who embraces a lot more flow and is okay with a lot less control.

Stephanie: Yeah. I love that because the trusting and the leaping, oftentimes I feel like the universe sends back positive reinforcement for good behavior, which is what you're getting with your business right now.

Mindy: Yes.

Stephanie: It's like yes, that is the right answer. So here you go, here's some little gold pieces for you to have, some shiny things.

Mindy: Mm hmm.

Stephanie: Thank you. Oh, that's wonderful. So are you starting to feel reconnected to yourself now?

Mindy: I feel reconnected and here's what I'm doing differently this time: any moment that I noticed that I feel disconnected, I bring awareness to that because I think what allowed bad chapters of my life before or part of it is feeling disconnected and then thinking, Oh, I just need to rush through this. And then I'm disconnected for a week. And then I'm disconnected for a month. Pretty soon I'm disconnected for a year and I have no idea who I am. Right? It's like, we've talked about shortening that gap and that is sort of my new definition of self care is doing whatever I have to do to get back to connected. And so if that means canceling appointments, that's what it means. If it means staying in bed all day, that's what it means. If it means going for a walk, whatever it means, even if it does not make sense to my logical mind, that's what I need to do because being connected is first and everything falls down from that tier.

Stephanie: Yes.

Mindy: And that is something that I know logically and I'm learning as a body knowledge, right? I think that we can understand things as an intellectual concept. And then the work is how do I actually make this my MO? How do I live from this truth? And so I would say I understand that as an intellectual concept and I am working to do it in my life every day and stay connected.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yes. And that will be my homework assignment after this conversation. Cause that is definitely one of the things that I'm feeling lately. And that again, as an extrovert really struggle with, cause it's not even disconnected from myself, which I do feel, but also disconnected from all the people in my world, so it's yeah, it's a strange place to be. So you said the last year or so you've really been feeling like you're coming back into yourself, like you really are solidly on your two feet. It's been almost a decade since your accident. What does it look like in the rearview?

Mindy: I absolutely love Mary Oliver. And I don't know if you know her quote. It goes something like someone once gave me a box of darkness and it took me years to discover that that too was a gift and I just love that. And I think that's really how I feel is that it was traumatic to go through and really, really hard. And there was some really dark spaces in there. And also how lucky am I that it carved me into more of who I am. And I don't know if there's anything else that could have done that and seeing the beauty in that, I think is sort of the review mirror. Of course, I still get frustrated by it sometimes, or I still have health issues from it. Right. But overall feeling, I don't want to use the word gratitude, which seems like such a funny word to use in this, but I am a better coach, mom, wife, friend, because I have access to levels of vulnerability and things that I didn't have before. And I'm very grateful.

Stephanie: I just want to give that a little bit of space to settle.

Mindy: Yeah. Yes.

Stephanie: because that's beautiful and, I think, the ideal of how you could consider such a traumatic experience. I know there are things I would not have done in my life had I not gotten sick. Slowing down one of them, I would not have slown down. I was burning the candle on both ends and then set a fire in the middle. Let's go. And yeah, my body said no.

Mindy: Yeah. That there was something different, something more, something that looks like nothing you've ever seen before.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. And the thing about being so busy all the time is that it's also noisy and that you slow down, you're able to get quiet and when you get quiet, that's when you hear things that surprise you or concern you or piss you off or whatever, but at least you're hearing them.

Mindy: Yeah. And I would say we can show up more for others. I don't know if you feel like your illness has actually had a positive contribution to the emotional intimacy of your marriage or friendships, but that's my experience with hardship is that it actually brings me closer to people who I love.

Stephanie: Yeah. That has not been my experience to date. And part of it is, one of my main issues is energy and fatigue. And so I don't actually have the energy in the chronic illness world, we call it the spoons. I don't have enough spoons to do the work of maintaining many relationships. And so that is part of what leaves me feeling isolated, which really gets me down, because I was somebody who was always surrounded by, many levels and circles of friends and, friends of friends and, becoming friends. My relationship with my husband is amazing and, I would not have survived these past six or seven years without him. So, thank you, Patrick. And he knows that because I say it quite often to him, but yeah, there's a piece of that, that you're saying that I'm a little bit envious of,

Mindy: Hmm.

Stephanie: that, you know, maybe someday it'll come. It's fine. I'm not there yet. Right. I'm still in the middle of what I'm going through. And I know that I'll be healthy again someday, and I just have to, you know, find that girl and wave at her and figure out what she thinks and how she feels and what her beliefs are. But, yeah, I'm, working towards that.

Mindy: Yeah. And what I really hear you saying is that you're being given this opportunity to find new ways to meet your needs, right? I think that's what sort of illnesses and accidents and things put us in a position where we have to tap into the creativity, right? You know, and figure out, okay, I love being around people. I can't be around people. Everybody dealt with that one during COVID. How the heck do I make this work?

Stephanie: Right.

Mindy: Yes. Yeah. I feel that.

Stephanie: Yeah, it is, it's crafting a whole new picture of what it looks like and how to work it. So, ah, it's an ongoing process. I'm still working on it. As are we all.

Mindy: Beautiful. Beautiful.

Stephanie: Mindy, I just want to say thank you so much for joining me today, for coming in a window and poking me and showing up with me. It's been wonderful to get to know you and thank you so much for being so generous with your story.

Mindy: Thank you for having me. This has been a wonderful, wonderful hour to share with you.

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