Turning 40 and Finding Her Voice: How Chronic Stress Stripped Tina Bakehouse of the Very Thing She Defined Herself By
When Tina Bakehouse, a teacher and performing artist, unexpectedly loses her voice, she must embark on a challenging journey to regain it, learning the power of resilience and different forms of self-expression along the way. An extrovert and enthusiastic communicator, Tina lost the very thing that defined her. Spending six weeks completely silent was a challenging exercise but, in the end, therapeutic. She avoided surgery, healed her vocal cords and learned how important relaxation is for both body and mind, especially in the midst of chronic stress.
Protecting audiences from boring speakers and speeches, Tina Bakehouse started her own company, Tina B LLC, to provide speaking and storytelling consulting and coaching to help heart-centered leaders and organizations internationally and nationally communicate more effectively. With more than 20 years of teaching communication and theatre (10 years at Creighton University), Tina is passionate about educating others to enhance their speaker style. After earning two BAs from the University of Northern Iowa, one in communication studies and psychology, and the second in theatre and English teaching, she completed a master’s degree in communication studies through the University of Nebraska-Omaha and completed certificates in Advanced Professional Writing, Keirsey’s temperament theory, Holistic Coaching, and two levels of improvisation training.
Her past positions have included Malvern Bank’s Chief Creative Officer, assisting with community development and coordinating financial literacy and educational opportunities for Mills County and Golden Hills RC & D as Outreach & Communication Coordinator, promoting the arts and local foods in southwest Iowa.
Tina has performed and coordinated multiple storytelling shows in southwest Iowa, including two teen shows. She continues to use her creativity, leadership, and passion for the arts to help people communicate effectively and solve problems. Tina lives at Maple Edge Farm, a 150-year old family farm in southwest Iowa, with her husband Jon and son Anderson and her beloved goats.
Tina Bakehouse grew up passionate about performing arts, and after working hard to land a college internship at Walt Disney World she learned the Disney way of connecting, which she has brought to every stage of her career. As a teacher at an inner-city, midwestern high school, Tina worked hard to share her love for communication, oratory, story and language, hoping to inspire confidence and creativity in her students. Often, though, these students brought the stresses and challenges of their lives into the classroom. On one occasion, a male student of imposing stature threw a book at her and said he wished she was dead. The school administration sent the student back to her class. Tina developed severe anxiety, which led to her losing her voice.
Home remedies didn’t work and her voice didn’t return so she went to a doctor who told her she had severe vocal cord nodules. Surgery was an option but success wasn’t guaranteed. Six weeks of silence – no cheating! – was the alternative.
Stripped of the very thing she says defined her, she was forced to face mental and emotional gremlins and give her body and mind space to relax and unwind from the chronic stress of her teaching position. After weeks of silence, Tina was able to find her voice again, and was able to appreciate the importance of nonverbal communication, and cherish the moments of laughter.
In this episode, you will learn the following:
1. How Tina Used Performing Arts to Connect with People: Learn how Tina’s love for performing arts from a young age drove her to a career where she shares her love of communication, story and language.
2. How Tina Found Her Voice After Losing It: Discover how Tina found her way out of a scary situation where she lost her voice due to chronic anxiety.
3. How Tina Rebuilt Her Confidence Through Nonverbal Communication: Explore how Tina used nonverbal communication to rebuild her confidence and express her emotions when she couldn’t use her voice.
“No matter the challenge, I have always found the strength and resilience to take on the world and create something magical.” – Tina Bakehouse
The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications
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Stephanie: Hey Tina, how are you? Thanks so much for joining me today.
Tina B.: Hi Stephanie. So excited to be here with you as well.
Stephanie: You and I met through uh, somebody that I have decided to dub the "Dynamo from Down Under," and that is our mutual friend Elle, who after she and I talked here on the podcast, she said, "Oh, I have somebody you have to meet," and introduced us. And we actually don't know each other that well, although you've told me a story that has me so excited to have you here today. Why don't we start tell me a little bit about your background?
Tina B.: Yes, Stephanie. So I was that kid growing up on an Southwest Iowa farm that I used my front porch as a proscenium stage. I was really in love with all things Jim Henson, Walt Disney, and so really crafted. I would rope my brother and sister who were younger into doing shows and radio talk shows and performances for my parents' annual anniversary. We would do dinner theaters and things of that nature. And so I always had the arts, performing arts specifically, was in my heart and soul. From there I was that person that did all things community theater, speech competitions, anything that could get the word out and share from the heart. And attend theater, too.
Tina B.: I went off to college and it was during that time that I had to get an internship and I thought, what better place to go than Walt Disneyworld? And I was very resilient in getting and landing that internship because it took every bit of ounce of strength to a, I didn't have a car. And when I reached out to a friend whose uncle worked there, I got this number, I found a place to go, it was five hours away. And for the first time, my parents told me, no, they're not gonna pick me up from college, and I thought, that's not gonna stop me. And I convinced my grandparents, it was my grandmother's birthday, the interview was on her birthday. I said, "What better way to celebrate than pick up your granddaughter?" And she said, "Well, we'll get as far as Des Moines, if you can get yourself to Des Moines."
Tina B.: And so I hitchhiked and found a ride to this hospital in Des Moines and they picked me up, took me to the interview, went through a series of interviews in Lincoln, Nebraska, then got a phone number and had to call multiple times, a hundred times actually. And then got that big manila envelope in the mail, and I was so excited to become an attractions host and then get promoted to do parades. It was through that experience of coordinating parades and remembering the magic that I've brought Disney into all things, like learning the Disney way of connecting. And from there I worked in HR. I did teaching. I've worked in non-profit and even, of all things, a bank, as a creative, and so the universe has a great sense of humor to to have a theater person work at a bank, but it was a great learning opportunity. So I would say long story long, I've been on this really amazing journey that's been all over the place, but it's been layers of a cake that I think has been beautiful and sweet.
Stephanie: That's wonderful. Now I'm so interested to hear a little bit about Disney because we all, those of us outsiders, and I'm not a Disney fanatic, but you hear about the culture and the training and the whole world that is Disney once you work there, and as a, cast member, as a parade coordinator, as an attractions host, are you going through those same kinds of trainings? Are you learning that same kind of Disney stuff? Disney magic.
Tina B.: Yeah, so the training is really rigorous. It's also extraordinarily interesting, fascinating, inspiring. And you go through the Disney Institute. So not only did I do what is called Traditions, so you learn the history of Walt and his story and get inspired to take on that persona of all things magic and creating the magical experience for guests and learning the terminology. It's not customers that come into the Magic Kingdom, they are guests and be our guest, if you will. And there's onstage, backstage. So you have your own vernacular that you really have to learn all those acronyms. And it sounds like a foreign language. So if I said, you know, we just had a 1 0 1 looking for a 1 0 2, these CPs are not doing what they need, I really need an A D O. What? It's like code, right?
Tina B.: And the other piece that I think was a phenomenal experience was once upon a time where we dressed up in suits, got to ride all the rides with the lights on, hear those Imagineer stories, because every attraction has a story attached to it. Plus the hidden Mickeys and finding all the hidden Mickeys throughout the park and hearing how they create ambiance through sensory details, through smells and sights and feels. They walked the park and had certain amount of pacing to have matched trash cans so they could keep it as clean as possible. And I still, to this day, when I see trash, I go to pick it up, because you were trained to support all. And the the biggest thing is though, in terms of business and communication is the Disney look and making people feel special. And that is something I've brought into all lines of work that I've done is that particular mantra.
Let's flash forward just a little bit, you went home, I believe, to become a teacher. You were teaching English and theater at the high school level.
Tina B.: Yeah, so it was interesting. I earned my degrees in communication, psychology, actually worked HR for a while, and it was during that time when I was doing trainings that I took a day off and just did a round trip to my alma mater college and it was a eight hour drive and applied and got a teaching license in speech, English, theater teaching. And during that time I was in an inner city, low socioeconomic school and what I found is that those students, what they needed more than anything was consistent love, discipline, and knowing that you cared. And I had so many students that would stay after school, before school just to spend time in my room, one even didn't wanna go home because she said, "I feel safe here." And it was in that time that I learned the power of helping students to recognize that they do have a voice, they do have a story to share and to bring that out. We would do this beautiful monologue project with my seniors in British literature where they got to create a character and perform it. And to see before me the, the confidence come out and the creativity come out. There was something really exciting and empowering in those years as a teacher that was just fulfilling. It tapped into that creativity and my love for the arts.
Stephanie: Wow. Wow. That sounds amazing. It sounds a little bit like all those movies we've seen, you know, Dangerous Minds and, or no, the Michelle Pfeiffer one.
Tina B.: Yes. I knew exactly what one you were talking about.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah, So this brings us to your mid thirties where we're kind of getting to the big reveal here, tell me a little bit about what happened in your mid to late thirties.
Tina B.: Yeah. So I would say as a teacher, and what's interesting, you know, I've always seen value in oratory, in story, and in sharing the language. Hearing it out loud has always been a value. Even in fifth grade when I was given that first role from my beloved teacher, Mrs. Hoogeveen, she saw in me the spirit and the energy and being able to speak with passion and power. And so being able to teach that was something special where I would teach how to craft a message, how to deliver it with confidence and clarity with sophomores in high school.
Tina B.: When I was teaching, at the time, I was teaching sophomore English and junior English, and I had one particular student that was extraordinarily difficult and granted his home life was not easy. A lot of my students had that situation where they had parents in prison or single parent home, or they were earning the income and they would come with that baggage to school. And one particular day I was teaching and it, and out of nowhere this student throws a book at me and yells, "I hate you, I want you dead."
In that moment, I'm very terrified. It still makes me shake a little bit because he was a tall young man and I'm fairly tall, but he was taller and his eyes, the eyes really can share the soul and it looked real. So I was nervous and I had no idea what to do. So I pause in that moment and I do a quick call of the office and I say, "You need to go to the office." And moments later he shows back up into my classroom and he's like, "Sorry, Miss Bakehouse." And that's how he responded and brought back in.
Tina B.: There was absolutely nothing done because they didn't know what to do with him. There was really no, uh, detention because he wouldn't show up, no expelling, whatever. So I had this kid in my classroom and I knew that that's how he felt about me, at least in that moment. And I could feel in my body this severe anxiety. And it was that day that started to mark like I wasn't sleeping well. I started to show up to school and I could feel it, the, the whatever, the acids going up into my throat affecting how I sounded. And one day I actually opened my mouth to speak in my speech class and nothing comes out.
Tina B.: And I stand there going, "What now? What am I gonna do?" This is irony at its worst, right? I'm teaching speech. How am I going to convey the message? How am I going to help students with their speaking if I can't say a word? So fortunately I had a student at the time, just one that always was good and a big helper, go down to the office and bring in the principal. And she's like, "What are we gonna do?" And I'm opening my mouth, it's like a mime. It's bizarre. It's like this crazy movie and not even a squeak can come out. And so she has to take over my class and she's like, "You need to go home, get rest." And I thought, well, maybe it's just a day or whatever. And I do all the things like hot tea and lemon and all that you do that opera singers and speakers do to take care of their beautiful thing, the instrument we call the vocal courts.
Tina B.: I wake up the next morning, I can't speak still, and I live with a roommate at the time and she is like, "Well, do I need to call in for you?" I was like, "Yeah, I can't do anything." And fortunately, I finally, with the help of my roommate that I realize I need to go to speech pathologist or therapist. I go to the speech therapist and she looked into my throat and was giving me relaxation techniques and things like that, and she's like, "You have vocal cord nodules, like a severe level." And if you've heard of Julie Andrews, which I adore from Sound of Music. She had that very same situation and had the surgery where they take out or they really scrape and it changed her voice and she couldn't sing those beautiful high notes anymore. And so I finally got referred to an opera singer specialist in the world of laryngology with your larynx in your vocal cord box and all of that good stuff, and he looks at me and he says, "You have two choices. You can either choose to have surgery and it may work, may not. Or you can have six weeks of silence."
Stephanie: Oh my God.
Tina B.: Yeah. When I define myself by my voice, that was the crazy thing Before we go any further, so when you opened your mouth and nothing came out,did it feel like laryngitis? Was air coming out? Did it hurt? Tell me what it felt like inside your neck.
Tina B.: Yeah. It was this weird, like I've had the squeaky where you could, you know, have that something comes out and it's laryngitis. It was worse than that because it was like a tightness that I could hardly take in air, and I think it was really anxiety driven. It felt tight, so tight, and it caused me more anxiety, which was weird because I'm like, "What just happened?" I took in air, I was trying to breathe, I was trying to calm myself that, well, maybe this was just one of those moments of, you know, it, it'll eventually come, And it just didn't, and the thing that I think stands out the most is the look of the students. Like they had no idea, like, this is weird. What do we do? What do we do?
Stephanie: So it was just one moment you could speak and the next moment you couldn't,
I did notice transitioning, I was getting a little hoarse.
Tina B.: But I could talk. Yeah. So I didn't go from this kind of voice loud, very, uh, strong and deliberative to nothing. It was slowly, but then to go to absolutely nothing was, I think, still a shock.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. Oh my goodness. I am just getting over a cold and I had some fabulous Kathleen Turner days, uh, that, that
Tina B.: love it.
Tina B.: You kinda capitalize on that, right? You know, you gotta, you gotta push through. I mean, there's something fun about a little of the voice
Stephanie: Oh yeah. My husband loved it. I mean, he was like, oh, yeah. So, I can certainly, empathize with, different changes in the voice and since in my late twenties, I've had trouble with my jaw and that I've always had really tight around my neck. So I'm trying to think about all the things that I can in my own body, sort of relate to what you're talking about. But, the universe is a funny little guy, isn't he?And our anxiety shows up for everybody in a different place and for the universe to take away your voice. Well, I suppose it was trying to get your attention.
Tina B.: I absolutely agree. I mean, I think it's easy for us to do Groundhog Day, right? Wake up in the morning, have the same repetitive, redundant experience of you get the coffee, you get the breakfast, you get in the car, you go off to work, and you get up the next morning and you do the same thing, same thing over and over again. And I could tell during that year of teaching,I was starting to lose myself a little bit, in terms of loss of creativity, loss of motivation, just loss. And so I was getting into, just being almost robotic and doing what I had to do instead of going beyond. Like I'm that type of person if you give me a task, I'm gonna spin it, create it, and do it in my own fun Tina B. way, and that flare for life and flare for fun, and flare for all things teaching was just completely gone and diminished.
Tina B.: With the voice being gone, I think it was to really have me be fully present and to be in the moment, be with who I am and to quiet that crazy of the mind. I mean, we have that monkey brain, right? That tells us all the things, the story we tell ourselves, as Brene Brown puts it, can be crazy. You can go into depression of past stories that you just wanted to go differently or you go where I was going into what's next and, and this crazy anxiety driven story. Our brains are so creative with how they develop character and plot, it thickens and gets way outta control. So, yeah, I think it definitely was a gift, now that I can have time back from it to reflect upon it, because it was a very, very hard time. And I recognize very much about how much of an extrovert who's so enthusiastic about communication... I had a boyfriend once say, "Tina, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but it'd be really great if you'd listen better," which was painful, painful feedback, but absolutely spot on where I would sometimes have the propensity to interrupt people because I had this great idea. I was enthusiastic. The intention was a good centered intention, but I'm still jumping on somebody else. So I think this was that moment that there's no jumping on other people's thoughts or conversations.
Stephanie: Right, right. Well, the other thing that came to my mind while you were telling that story is that many, many years ago, my last full-time job before I started my marketing agency, I thought, oh, this is the perfect job for me. That's a great job description. I thought, I'm gonna be here for 20 years. This is gonna be awesome. And two years later wasin a awful cycle of losing confidence and making mistakes and getting in trouble until the point where they invited me to leave and I worked with a career coach right after that. And one of the things she told me, that I had no idea about, she said, "Your success at a job is really only 50% the job description, the other 50% is the environment or the situation in which you work." And I wonder for you if, it sounds like the job was amazing for you, right? A speech teacher, a theater teacher. It sounds like it's so in alignment, but maybe the environment , was one that, that over time was not Right. You put the frog in the water and you turn the heat on. The anxiety just builds and builds and builds over time, 'cause you're in a situation that you're not as comfortable with as you'd like to be.
Tina B.: Yeah. There were certainly challenges and I think that that was where it was surprising. My heart was broken every single day by the really painful stories of students and that I think is ultimately why I decided to up level and go into a space that was a high level college environment where the students wanted to learn, they came excited, ready, and they were here and I could push them up higher.
Stephanie: Right? Right. But before we get there, let's go back to your doctor. The doctor said to you, you can either have surgery and it might work, it might not. Or you can do six weeks of silence.
Tina B.: Yeah. And here's the other piece he brought in with the surgery is he's like, "And most likely if it does work, your voice will be a pitch lower." So I'm like, Ooh. The voice I know forever and ever would be different. And that was another realization. I'm like, "Hmm, that's weird." And you know, Julie Andrews kind of came to mind as well and her experience and how she's embraced it. She's a poet now and doing things beautifully, but still, that had to be a painful journey for her. So I chose the one that was least expensive, but most painful was the six weeks of silence, because I thought, well, I should at least try this first and see what happens. And he actually said to me, he goes, okay, but this also means no cheating. You cannot try to say any words any day because you were at the verge of it being completely permanently destroyed. And that means no laughing, like none. And I have big guffaw hardy laughs, like my whole body convulses when I laugh and it's loud and it's guttural and that depressed me. It's like you're taking away joy and expressing joy. So how am I supposed to mime laughter? Let me tell you, it's tough.
Stephanie: I'll bet. What was your symbol for laughter or what was your physical movement for laughter?
Tina B.: I just would mime. I would just open my mouth and just move my body and bounce. Like I would just go I mean, it was bizarre, but it's what I had to do and I had to train myself like I practiced it because, you don't even realize how it's sort of like your drive from home to work, home to work, you have that same route. Your body just kind of knows where to turn. Same with laughter. When something's funny and really funny, you just react and it's just natural. It's just an innate response to something that's humorous. And it was, it was very, very hard and it really put me into a bit of a depression because to me, that expression, it's a feedback thing. Every communication is a sender and receiver of messaging. So you say something funny, Stephanie, I take it in. I want to express back to you as we're co-creating communication together, maybe I get to say something to build on the humor and then I laugh. I laugh and then say something. I couldn't do any of that. I could only scribe and write so quickly. That was my primary means was non-verbal communication, which in this case, facial expressions, body language, like, tell me more with my gestures, were hand writing things and you can only write so fast. Like my wrist and my fingers, I literally still have a bump on my one middle finger because of writing so much in six weeks all the time.
Stephanie: Oh, that's a riot. Okay, so let's delve into silence. At this point in your life, you're living with a roommate.
Tina B.: Very supportive
Tina B.: awesome roommate.
And so you're a single woman living with a roommate? Okay.
Tina B.: Oh, at the beginning of it? Yes. And then I got, then I was with my significant other. Yes. He was helpful too, so I had the two, yes, for to support.
Stephanie: And were, were you able to work at all or did you have to take time off?
Tina B.: I had to take time off. So the big portion of that year of teaching, I was home. Homeward bound. So first of all, you're taking away the the very thing that defined me, my voice, but then my career and something that gave me purpose each day. Now I'm home, an extrovert, home by myself, and can't call people because I can't even say hello. If you were to have someone dial you and they don't say anything except breathe, that's creepy. And at the time, Cell phones, we really didn't have text messaging much at that point, so it was really a wild ride of inventing different channels of communication that were not foreign per se, but just not in practice as much.
Tina B.: So people came to visit me because they knew they had someone to listen to. And so I got so many stories and it really taught me in that time, I connected, I think, at a deeper level with other people because they knew I wasn't going to interrupt them. They knew I was gonna respect their spaciousness of being able to chat and share and allow them the feelings and feel with them and ask those follow up questions because it became more about them and the other than about myself. And that was where the silence became a beautiful significant experience where, when you sit with yourself, and I even did this during the pandemic as well, but when you sit with yourself, wow, you really get a lot revealed. What intrinsically motivates you to do or not do something? And being the center of attention, I'm usually that clown in the group that people laugh at my jokes or when tell stories and things, but all of a sudden that's taken away. And then now I'm with the essence of my being. And what does that really entail? What does that look like, sound like, feel like? And you start to question yourself a little bit. Like, am I enough? Right? Am I a valuable person? Because I valued my voice a lot, and I had defined myself by my voice. And to have that long period of time where it was completely quiet, it was cleansing, you know, the chatter was really loud for a while, and then there was this peace and the tension in my body softened and my shoulders became, my whole body just softened. And it was a very, very, by the end of it, therapeutic experience.
It's kind of like, before a surgery, I mean, I have had a surgery where you have to basically cleanse out. You cannot eat. So you get really grumpy and hangry and you hate it and life is awful. And then you get into this euphoria stage of, wow, everything is magical, I'm floating. That was this, right? I was pissy and annoyed and it was frustrating. How am I gonna cope? And I was like, resistant. And then I surrendered to the experience and it became this powerful connection with myself and other people.
Stephanie: Was the surrender a conscious choice or was it just sort of part of the process of that's what happened after you went through grumpy and yucky?
Tina B.: I think it had to happen. I had a choice, right, of being grumpy and resistant and angry, and the anger was not serving me, and it was exhausting me. And I'm like, well, what's the point of this? This isn't any fun. And I really had to reflect on those times by myself of why am I so angry? Let that go and be, that's where the real healing happens, is in the stillness. And we get so busy with the crazy in our minds, the distraction of the doing. And we're meant to be human beings, not human doers. And so I felt that that's where it forced me to be in my being.
Stephanie: I am just sitting here thinking, even when I'm by myself, I talk to myself out loud
Tina B.: Me too
Tina B.: And sometimes I answer myself and question myself. All
Stephanie: Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. Full conversations. Yes.
Tina B.: Yes.
I'm thinking when somebody else is in the room, it's almost like a visual reminder of like, oh, I can't talk. But when you're by yourself, how did you even remind yourself? I mean, for me, I would think like, oh, I gotta wear something around my neck, or put something somewhere, like to have that visual or physical reminder of not to talk to myself even.
Tina B.: Right. I had a notebook and a pin on me all the time.
Tina B.: That was my kind of reminder. It was sort of like pagers in the late nineties or whatever that people had clipped onto their belts all the time. That was my accessory that I had with me at all times, and it was sort of like right there, physically could feel it, that was my reminder that this is your communication apparatus, this is your means of connecting with other people. At the time, my husband, his buddy was in a band and we were following the band, let me tell you, going to a bar, and wanting to sing the songs and having to mouth them, which is really interesting, it's a totally different experience. Where when you have people ask you questions and you're writing on napkins or you've run out of paper. I learned I needed my husband to carry a second notebook because it amazed me how quickly I went through paper and all of that, but it really helped me appreciate every single experience because then it also was like choosing what's essential. I realized how much we fill the air with words and just chatter and talk and things are not as purposeful. So it did force me also to say, well, what is purposeful in this moment?
Stephanie: Mm. So at the end of six weeks, what happened? What were your first words?
Tina B.: I cried,
Stephanie: You cried?
Tina B.: I really cried, so I cried and then I went to the doctor and I was scared to speak. because what if it didn't work? Right? So there was that. So I cried. Yay, celebrate six weeks over. But then the fear of reality settled for a moment of, okay, I'm going to the doctor, what is he gonna say? And when he opened my mouth and looked into my throat and I still have the pictures of the before and after, which is kind of crazy, I still have those. I'm like, that's a moment in time I gotta hang onto. He said, "Well, good job." And I thought, what? He goes, "You did it. I can tell." He could tell that the strain, because the other piece is relaxation was huge. I'm a high energy person. And the other part of the work that I had to do with speech pathology work, so I had a speech therapist on top of this gentleman.I had to relax, I had to calm down. I had to lessen the anxiety. And I had to be in a trust mode of self and of the situation and finding that inner peace and calm and that made a huge difference. I think about people who are speakers or singers or what have you, the ones that make it a go of it do have meditation and form of calm to take care of themselves. That was a big part of the process too, is learning those coping strategies.
Stephanie: Yeah, I've had doctors tell me the same thing. I've had, I forget which tests, but measurements of stress where it was like, you're so far into the red zone, there's almost no other zone left and you're gonna break down if you don't. And there have been different breakdowns, physically, for me as well. So yeah, that learning to relax and learning to unwind and de-stress that daily stress that we sort of go about and don't think it's a big deal. But then if you never clear it, the next day, it just adds on top and on top and on top and next thing you know, you're buried under it.
Tina B.: And you get so thick in the overwhelm that it's really, you train yourself into that pattern of overwhelm and it's like, it's not, how do I rest and relax, but why am I not? That's really at the core is why am I doing this to myself? The thinking takes over, it becomes a spiral of crazy.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So you get your voice back and then what?
Tina B.: Yes. I get my voice back and I make the decision, after earning my master's and a couple certificates, I'm like, I'm gonna venture elsewhere. I landed a position as a college professor at a university and started a communications center. Tell people craft messages with confidence, with clarity, and it was a beautiful transition. I was excited to get to work with college students, teaching public speaking, organizational communication, managerial communication, all things business, and showing up and civically engage with your words. We did a wide range of great projects and the students were invigorating and it livened me up again. To have that fueled creativity to guide students into that magnetic, authentic speaker that they are, and to see them start to finish was very, very empowering for me as their teacher, but also to see them empower themselves. So that was a really great decade of my professional career in terms of getting to teach and manifest some really creative projects.
Stephanie: That's great. So then while you were a professor, you were doing some side gigs, you said some coaching and some training of folks. Yes and I found love with that. You know, I started that years ago of doing workshops and communication consulting and coaching. And the thing that was funny, the irony, I think, when I left teaching at the university, was they really wanted to push most of my courses online. And I laugh about that now because of how we had to, the word was pivot, pivot, pivot in 2020 to now because of the pandemic. So, and they were also not ready for new courses. I wanted to do business improvisation or business storytelling and that was okay. And so from there, a nonprofit organization created a job for me to be their outreach and communication coordinator promoting storytelling in the arts in eight counties of Iowa, and doing so with some marketing and things like that. Well, nonprofit really burnt me out. I was there for about a year and a few months and decided, "Okay, I'm gonna jump out of the plane and work for myself.' And it was in that month span of time, I decided to make a little business card that calls myself a Chief Creative Officer, show up at my local bank and say, "Hey, if you need consulting, coaching, any form of workshops, let me know how I can support you. Like, how can I help you?" And the owner of the bank looks at me without missing a beat, "I'd like to hire you." thought, What? I'm a theater communication person in a bank. What? So they created a job for me to be their chief creative officer, which was the bank storyteller, their marketing person, their outreach person, and doing financial literacy. So if you can believe it, I know nothing about financial literacy. So I did a lot of researching and I used my theater degree teaching kiddos need versus want using puppetry. I used storytelling and role play with the older kiddos and had a lot of fun with with that. And it was during the pandemic that I really sat with myself again in silence and stillness that I realized I'm in act three of my life. And my calling is really to do my own business.
Stephanie: That's interesting. During the pandemic, did you truly go back to silence again?
Tina B.: I did find time for silence. I live on a farm here with goats, chickens, ducks, cows, omi, and we have a river with a sandbar. And I'm very fortunate, lots of wide open space to walk and muse. And so I did a lot of walking, sitting, throwing rocks in the river and reflecting. And it really hit me one day, you know, about 85% of my bank job was gone because of the pandemic. I couldn't do outreach, I couldn't really get out in the community. Things were shifted to online and they didn't want me to take on new projects because there were so many unknowns and they were just trying to help these businesses that were failing with loans and things like that, which I totally understood. So it really hit me in September of 2020 to have a conversation with that very same amazing owner of the bank and say, "This is where I'm landing. I am called to be Tina B and protect audiences from boring speakers and speeches and do all things communications, storytelling, whether workshops and coaching and consulting for nonprofits and for-profits." And he's like, "Tina, of course, You need to do the big, like, go creative and do that." So he's been such a support. So it was during that time that I really found a design team to get me a logo, create a content for website, and launched then in January of 2021. Tina B LLC. Yeah, you know me. I can't help it, it kind of rolls off the tongue.
Stephanie: It does
I struggled with a company name, right? So many people are like, well, do you wanna leave a legacy and not have your name in it? And I was struggling with that. There's so many communication consulting firms and companies that I was like, people call me Tina B, like, why not?
Tina B.: yeah.
Stephanie: That's amazing. It's interesting. So you launched your own business on January 2 of 2021 and you were 45 and your loss of voice while you were a high school teacher was in your mid thirties, so there are really interesting bookends to that transition decade that I'm always talking about. You can't be any more clear about your bookends here, like your start and your finish.
Tina B.: Well, and to that point, when I started my business, I lost my voice again, not physically, but mentally, mentally. And this is what's interesting, right? It's the fear that I felt with being and representing myself. Like I was terrified going to that first handful of networking events and having this actual card that said my name with my logo and said, Tina B, and this is who I am. It was so much easier to be a professor at a university and having that card or with a bank or with a nonprofit, now of a sudden I was struggling, and I even had a gentleman say in a networking when I was in this transitional period of leaving the bank and going into my business, he goes, "Tou really don't know who you are." He was very, very curt about it, and it made me just tighten up again. And so I hired a business coaching program and they gave me a 30 day Facebook live challenge that I absolutely hated. For 26 days, I was terrified, I hated every minute of it. But then I have this journal and actually has a butterfly. I had a metamorphosis on day 26 where I found my being again, and I said, I am this quirky creative who does have a voice and go help people. You have found your voice and your style and you have a story to share, do that for other people. So it was a very ironic, like I went back to that moment in time when I lost my voice, but I lost it again in just a different way when I started my own company.
Stephanie: That's interesting. That really feels like that's your indicator of being on the right path versus being on the wrong path or to really get your attention, like your voice. You value your voice so highly that when something happens to your voice, you know it's time to pay attention. Something's not right.
Yeah, it's not right. I'm not in flow and that's why I get so jazzed about supporting heart-centered leaders or advocates for change to just be able to share their message to the world, whether on a stage that's big, or within their teams. If they have a beautiful new abstract concept that they wanna share in a concrete, powerful way. I love supporting those folks with their vision.
Stephanie: That's wonderful. Tell me a little bit about who you work with, how you work with them, where people can find you.
Tina B.: Absolutely. You know, people always ask, "Who are your ideal clients?" Well, I work with a wide range of people and what they have in common is that they're heart-centered, that they are really in belief of advocating for positive change, whether it's agriculture, in fact, I coached a lot of farmers to tell stories at a national agricultural conference, they're doing a storytelling event. So I can work in that realm or I've worked with people in the financial planning realm because I have that bank industry of how do you make this interesting through story and help your clients or get prospecting clients. I've also worked with people in the mental health and health industry with how do we do the hard things and communicate those crucial conversations. Manufacturing, preachers, teachers, educators, and beyond. So I've had a wide range of clients, but what they have in common is that they are heart-centered and that they really do have an openness to learning, growing, and stretching. And so I have an individual consulting coaching program, I like to blend the two because they're our best communication practice as you learn tips and tools, but also help you on that journey to identify who you are. So that's a three or six month course or an ongoing. And also do groups as well as consulting with organizations and workshops, either here on the farm with goats. I'm excited in 2023. You can learn a lot from a goat. How you show up with animals is very authentic and true and things get revealed. Then also do webinars and workshops as well. And so you can reach me at tinabakehouse.com. That's tina bakehouse.com. I have a newsletter I post a couple times a month giving insights of how to land and anchor in your magnetic confidence because everybody has the ability to connect and be magnetic.
Stephanie: That's beautiful. And you are, as I understand it, writing a book as well about being a magnetic speaker,
Tina B.: I am, I'm so excited. Thank you for bringing that up, Stephanie. it's in progress. It's going to be coming out here in 2023. The working title is Discover the Magnetic Speaker Within, and it's got strategies and story to help you find that inner magnetic speaker. There's a section about the magnetic mind and looking into personality and authentic versus conditioned self and mindset, and some insights of how to be in that magnetic mind. And then there's magnetic message. How do you make those stylistic choices to strategize and to connect with your audience in a meaningful way? And then finally, the magnetic mechanics and working with vocal delivery, physical delivery. But here's the hook that I've found that is very interesting is there's a piece of compassion that comes into it. So there's some really interesting patterns of things I've talked to with speakers that they've had to work through to show up and have the presence that they desire. So I give exercises, insights, but stories to illustrate as well.
Stephanie: That's wonderful. I was browsing around through your online presence before we got on today, and there's something on your Facebook page that we need to talk about before we finish today. And that is, and you mentioned it a moment ago, you are a goat whisperer,
Tina B.: Yeah, it's actually on the back of my business card. People are always like, "What is that all about?" Well, it's funny, so my husband a few years ago texted me, "I might have bought seven goats." I had no idea he was thinking about goats. He's a farmer full-time. Right? And his mantra is soil health. Soil health. It all depends on the soil. And what he has learned is it's about diversity with animals. And I thought, what is up with these goats? Well flash forward to the pandemic and I'm home bound. Because I needed my in-laws to help teach my son, they have health conditions, so I was probably shelter in place for more than a year. So just going to the grocery store, doing what's essential, and that was crazy. So I spent a lot of time with the goats and loved every minute of it, named all 25 of them. We're getting more babies in May, so to be continued on that front. But they each have a little personality. Goats are curious beings, they are stubborn at times, but they also are always learning and wanting a relationship and they can tune into your energy. So I was throwing myself at them and they did not like that. So there was one night that was especially beautiful with my son. It was a full moon one of those massive, like a big flashlight in the sky that was glowing and it was warm and it was beautiful. And we had to shut the chickens in at night in the coops and they were all nestled in the pasture and they stand up and they walk towards us and they just rub up against me as in we welcome you. And that's when I knew they came to me. And so it was that pausing, being fully present and not loud with the voice or the body language and showing up in a natural, beautiful way. And so that's why I say Ghost goat whisper because I can tune in to where they're at with their energy. And when I see people interact, it's amazing how goats bring out the best in people. And I had done a spiritual experience with a horse, and horses have the same exact, I mean, animals are powerful. They tune right in a way to fear or control or perfectionism, whatever, and they break those barriers down.
Stephanie: I just did my first baby goat yoga class in the fall and was, oh my God. My husband came with me, we spent the whole time laughing and giggling and it was spectacular. There was not a whole lot of yoga that happened that day, there was much more playing with the goats, but , I think that was kind
Tina B.: of the intention.
Tina B.: Hey, goats are amazing. They love, love like that.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. That was great. One last question for you. Do you have any advice for someone who is in the kind of position you were in, in your mid thirties where you were in a job that was giving you anxiety, Someone coming behind you who's sort of aiming towards that 40 transition, what might you recommend based on your experiences?
Tina B.: Yeah, So, we're reading this interesting book about golf. My son's big into golf. He's a 12 year old, old soul, and it's about utopia and this old rancher's teaching a pro golfer to really find himself. And his advice is about leaning into see, feel, and trust. And so I feel like that that works well with this idea of first see. See what's around you, observe, tune in, like tune outward and tune inward. And then feel. Feel the feelings like how, with what you're seeing with the job that you're going to, with the people you're interacting with, how is that making you feel? Are you feeling the good feels? Are you getting inspired? Are you getting challenged? Any of those things? And then trust. Trust in yourself. Oh my goodness, I can't stress that enough. I found myself struggling, because my husband looked at me, he said, "Tina, you've wanted to do this for more than a decade, to work for yourself. You've outgrown every company because you keep trying to up-level them. You are a creator, just do it." He pushed me out of the plane with love. I just encourage everybody to take that moment, see, feel, and trust, because if you can trust yourself, we are all meant to be creators, whatever that may be. Whether it is in my field, in communication, or if you're a mechanic, you're still a creator, or in healthcare, whatever that walk is, you can do it. And it's taking it in and tuning inward with how it makes you feel, but then having that deep desire and inner trust. Because just like a rose, there's thorns on the outside. You're gonna have pricklies, you're gonna have people that say terrible things or judge you. And believe me, I live in a rural area and being a unicorn out here, I am embracing my inner unicorn. I'm unique, I'm different, whatever. But the same goes to that blossom that happens. It's powerful. And you are meant to blossom just like our magnolia tree that does every spring. I look forward to it every time, and it knows who it is. It knows that it closes its bud in the fall, and then blossoms big and bright in the spring, just like you can with your energy and spirit.
Stephanie: I love that you ended with a magnolia tree because a couple of years ago we did a little project in the backyard. We built a patio behind my house and there's a place for a tree. And I kept saying, I want a magnolia tree. I want a magnolia tree. And, I'd walk around the neighborhood and there's, there's a couple in the neighborhood. I remember telling my mother, I think I'm gonna put a magnolia tree there. About a year and a half ago now, summer of 2021, this bizarre and random thing happened where I was driving by a building in my neighborhood. There's a huge sign up front. I think it had been up for a month or two months at the time, but it was like, for sale contact. And the contact person was someone I know in the community. And it was this big beautiful Victorian building that was used for commercial space. And I thought, oh God, that's way too big for my business. Like, but oh. But because I knew him, I called him and I said, "Hey Mike, could you show me this building?" I said, "It's probably, it's not an option. It's it's way too big." And he showed me the building. I said to my mother, who lives next door, I said, "Do you wanna come see the building?" So she came with me, beautiful Victorian building. And although it had been used as office space, people had put in dropped ceilings and ugly 40 year old carpeting and fluorescent lighting, but all of the bones were still here, all of the bones. And my mother and I both love historic homes. And so we both went, uh, what's happening here? And it, the universe just kind of like put everything in line and like, it just, it just happened. I said to my mother, "Do you wanna buy this building with me?" And so we bought the building together and, wouldn't you know it, there's a magnolia tree in the yard that I can see from my desk from where I sit at my office. And my mother said to me, "Well, you said you wanted a magnolia tree."
Tina B.: And I have one right outside my window at my office, so that's magical. So I feel connected with you in that very spiritual way. And ours actually re blossoms a few times a year. So it sort of sends that beautiful pop of energy.
Stephanie: Oh, you're so lucky. Last year was my first year getting to watch it every day. I am the pinkest girl you have ever met in your life. So it just is like, it is perfect. So, yes, I'll calibrate with you and we can be magical with our magnolias.
Tina B.: Love that so much. I love it.
Stephanie: Tina, thank you so much for joining me and sharing your story. I just think this has been such a beautiful conversation.
Tina B.: Oh my goodness. Stephanie, I feel so blessed. Thanks to Elle that she connected us. And the moment I met you, I was just hooked because you are a fabulous energy and you've inspired me when I turn 50 that I, I wanna do 50 conversations and, or 50 somethings, like little nuggets of 50 fun things. And so I appreciate the inspiration and the beautiful energy you're putting out into the universe. And to have you in my network, I feel so blessed and full of gratitude.
Stephanie: Oh, me too. Thank you.
Tina B.: Thank you.