April Provencher checked off most of the “adult accomplishment” boxes by the time she was 22 – married, babies, career but she might have gone too far, too fast because she rebelled in her late 20s. She realized she didn’t know who she was as a person and she wasn’t happy in her skin. She went to a meeting of a personal development group to appease her best friend, but it ended up leading her down a path of growth and figuring out who she is. Today, she says “my soul’s on fire 95% of the time.”
April Provencher was a young mom who grew up quickly. In her late 20’s I realized that she had no idea who she was or what she was doing, which led to some very dark times. She pursued progression and growth through her 30’s and that’s when the magic started.
Turning 40 and Setting Your Soul on Fire🔥
April Provencher had her first son when she was 17. By the time she was 22, she was married with two kids and a career – all the seemingly adult things we’re supposed to strive for, but she was too young for it all. At some point, as her boys got older, she reversed course and lived out some of the typical early 20s behaviors in her late 20s.
She used to say she lived life backwards, but she’s come to realize that made her feel like a victim of circumstance, so now she says she lived life the way she was supposed to.
In her late 20s, April started to become very uncomfortable with herself. She identified as a mom, as a wife, as a restaurant manager, but not as herself. She says she grew up so fast that she never met herself. Her marriage fell apart and she spent several years living with her mom or her best friend. All she knew is that she wasn’t happy in her skin and she didn’t know who she was.
Her best friend asked her to go to a support group meeting for a personal development group. She went, albeit unwillingly. She had a bizarre yet transformative experience that first night and about a year later decided to take their weekend-long course, called Identity. She can’t recall what was taught in the class but she knows she absorbed at least some of it because she started seeing changes in her life and in her attitude that started small and then began to snowball.
After a while she realized she didn’t need to feel bad or lost anymore. She got little reminders that she could be ok, which were helpful because, she says, “when you’re stuck, you don’t feel like you can be ok.” She called them ‘small bursts of light’ that would encourage her to stay on the path. To be kinder to herself and others. To find things that made her happy. That was the snowball effect because now, April says “my soul’s on fire 95% of the time.”
It wasn’t an easy path, though. April was stuck in the “Ick” for what felt like a long time, and the path out of the “Ick” also felt like a long time. She learned to lean on people and let them support her. She learned how to lean on herself. She took advantage of resources that were available, from the Identity support group, to acupuncture to energy healing.
Today, she’s 40 and she wants to have some fun. She does good things for herself regularly. She has her own space and she’s focusing on her career. She’s turned into a beacon for others who find themselves stuck. She reminds people that they don’t have to stay stuck or sad and that there are people like her out there who can support them. She also knows – now that she’s unlocked the door – that growth is ongoing.
The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications
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Stephanie: Hi, April. Happy birthday.
April: Thank you.
Stephanie: You turned 40 this week.
April: Yep. I finally made it.
Stephanie: and you survived,
April: I did. I did survive some wild thirties and some wild twenties, but here we are.
Stephanie: and even a couple of wild teens, I think.
April: Yes, yes. There were a couple wild teens in there, too.
Stephanie: Let's not forget that. I am so thrilled to have you with me today because well, first of all, I love you. Second of all, when I first had the idea for the 40 Drinks Podcast, I threw a net out and said, "Hey, I wanna talk to people who are nearing or at 40 or older than 40," and you raised your hand and we had a great conversation. And that was about two years ago.
Stephanie: So you were 38 at the time, and we were sort of, as we do, rolling around in the ooey gooey stuff that you had been through and our relevant stories and shared experiences. So I'm thrilled to touch back with you now that you have achieved the milestone and hit the big four oh and really dig into your story a little bit.
April: I think that two years ago when you put out those feelers for people, it kind of got me starting to be excited about turning 40. I was like, "If Steph's that excited about it, then it must be something cool." And then I've been thinking about it since then, and then my 40th birthday was approaching and I was like, "It's time to do this. I'm finally joining the club."
Stephanie: That is awesome. Your story is so interesting to me because you did things in a bit of a different order than most people do. You hit some developmentals stages, these sort of adult developmental stages at different points than a lot of the other people that I've been talking to. When we first met and talked, you said you lived life backwards.
April: Yes, I have since changed that frame of mind, but I did for a long time. I had my older son when I was just about 17. I grew up very quickly at that point. By 22, I was married with two children and a career, and I seemingly had everything that you were supposed to have at that point, but I was still too young for it. So for many years I viewed my life as I lived it backwards. I grew up very quickly. My boys are now grown, so now I did hit a point where I like reverted back to a younger age because I still needed to live those moments that I missed. Since then I kind of dabbled in the idea that growing up backwards, it made me feel like a victim of circumstance, just the wording of it. So, I don't think I grew up backwards anymore. I think I grew up how I was supposed to, but it took some years to change my view on how it all played out.
Stephanie: Yeah, isn't it so funny the way language holds such power and things that we sort of toss off and paint ourselves with, we end up putting ourselves in our own boxes and so we gotta find our way out. Okay, so we didn't do it backwards, we just did it the way you did it. You started with the kids and the marriage and the career and, and you went from teenager to adult. Do not pass, go do not collect $200
Stephanie: And you said when you were like 28 or 29, you sort of fell apart into a bit of a dark hole.
April: Yeah, absolutely. I was probably like the end of 27 into 28, into 29, I just started feeling very uncomfortable with everything about me. I identified as a mom, I identified as a restaurant manager, I identified as a wife. I never identified as me, and part of that I believe was because I grew up so fast becoming all of these other things that I never met me. And when that time period came about, I almost started like rebelling against myself and everything that I had built. Like I wanted to be 21 out at the bars drinking, but I wasn't. And I shouldn't have been, but I was.
April: Um, so it was just this very uncomfortable period. My marriage broke apart, my boys had to deal with that. We all had to look at life a little bit differently and I kind of realized I didn't really know how to cope. I didn't know how to handle any of it. So it was like a couple years of living with my mom and living with my best friend and really not knowing which way I was going or how to get there, but I knew that I wasn't happy in my skin. And I didn't know who I was.
Stephanie: God, those are two huge and powerful things. Not being happy in your skin and not knowing who you are. And it's interesting, I love your story because you skipped a decade and you hit that being uncomfortable and not knowing who you are. People that I have been talking to are hitting it 35, 38, 40, 42. And because you compacted by a decade, you just basically displaced them. You did it 'em in a different order, you sort of hit that place a decade earlier than a lot of people do. But it set you on a path to well, first of all, there was some messy, like five or six years there where you were trying to figure out what,
Stephanie: and then you went from messy to seeing some light at the end of the tunnel and you were starting to get direction. Tell me how you found that.
April: So, um, I was living with my best friend at the time. I had gone out to a bar. I had some drinks. I came home. She was really worried about me at that time, and she just looked at me and she said, "I don't even know you anymore." And I was like, "I really don't know what to say to you. I don't know me either. So we're in this together." So I was like, like well, I don't need to go to rehab. I was drinking a lot, but it wasn't a long-term problem. I wasn't doing drugs. I didn't think a therapist was for me. I didn't even know where to go, like what kind of help I needed. And my best friend looked at me and suggested that I go talk to her friend Robin. So I went to see Robin and we talked a little bit and she invited me to a support group meeting for a group that she had Identity, at the time. So I decided to go to this support group meeting. I had a couple beers before I went, I didn't know what to expect. I knew it was about chakras. I didn't know what chakras were, but I was like, all right, to make bestie happy, here's what I'm gonna do. So I went to this meeting and I was super uncomfortable, dressed in black, head to toe. Was just there to make somebody else happy.
Sitting two seats over from me was another girl who was around my age, um, we'll call her E, and she kept like looking at me, but I couldn't quite figure out what was going on. And I was just trying to pay attention to what was happening around me, even though I wasn't mentally there at all. And at one point in time she's like, "You just perplex me." And I was like, oh, that's great. Here I am, perplexing all these people that I don't know when we're talking about chakras. And I was just very, very lost. So after the session ended, she asked me if I would go in another room with her. She wanted to do some energy work on me. My best friend was there and she was like, "Yes, please go do this." So, I laid down, she did some energy work on me. I had no idea what was going on. My best friend was in the corner crying. E was like shaking. It all seemed very scary. But I went home that night and I slept for the first time in like two years. For two years I had been having dreams of a dark, scary man in the corner of my room, and I would just wake up screaming at him. And I didn't know why he was there or who he was, but it was a constant nightmare every night. Um, couple days passed, I didn't have any more nightmares, so I reached out to E and I said, "I don't know you, but what happened?" And she told me that she cleared some energy out of me, that there was a dark, scary man. She described him to a T and a scared little girl, which was me. So I was somebody that didn't really believe in this energy, spiritual aspect of life, but then I lived it and that was the first thing that was like, okay, I felt better. I was sleeping again, this dark, scary man wasn't there, this scared little girl still was, but she had some learning to do.
April: So that was like the first thing that really spun me around in a way that I didn't understand at the time, but now it just makes complete sense.
Stephanie: Wow. Yeah, that's wild. I'm gonna back up two steps and just sort of make a couple of quick connections because, I had a conversation in season two with a woman named Emily. She was talking about this woman that she used to work for this chiropractor who was so inspiring and she was an entrepreneur and blah, blah, blah. And I was like, "Oh, well I have someone like that, blah, blah, blah." It turns out that she, as a teenager, and then I think in her twenties, had worked for Jenny, robin's sister, and we like made that connection. We're like, oh my God. And I gotta get Robin on the podcast.
April: Yes you do. I'll help you. We'll get that going.
Stephanie: Okay. All right. So Robin is a chiropractor by trade and someone who is into the sort of woo woo spiritual world. And I remember when I was, I think 26, 27. I met Robin when I was 18, I was in college and I would come home on Saturdays on some interval for adjustments. And she was the one working Saturdays at the time, so we got to know each other well while I was in college. I remember in my mid to late twenties, she kept like dropping little nuggets in front of me, just little breadcrumbs and mostly, I can feel it in my body, I remember rolling my eyes at her. Like,"Yeah, lady, I like you, but you're nuts."
Stephanie: And then she um, introduced me to a dear, dear friend of hers, Bill Burns, who actually was one of my 40 drinks in the original 40 Drinks Project, as was Robin. Robin and Bill together created this personal development, personal growth course called Identity that Robin now spearheads, I think is the best way to say that, and shepherds. She draws people like you and like me into the fray and others who are feeling that sort of lost feeling that like things don't fit. Feeling like why does my life suck? You know, all of that stuff. I just wanted to sort of fill in a couple of blanks there about this Robin who keeps showing up in these interviews.
So you started by going to one of the support group meetings, but ultimately I think you took the Identity class, didn't you?
April: I did, um, I think about a year or so after that first experience, I decided to take Identity One. It was a weekend long course. It was two long days.
April: I showed up all dressed in black with my blanket, sat in the back of the room and was hungover. And then for the second day, I texted Robin and said, "I'm not going. I have too much to do. I can't do this." And she called me crying and said, "Please, just come." So again, I showed up, sat in the back of the class with my blanket, and I can honestly say that I don't remember learning anything. I don't remember the things that were said, that's why I've never taught the courses at this point because I don't remember it. I should take it again.
Stephanie: You said that last time.
April: I did, didn't I? Yeah, I said I should still take it again. But I just absorbed somehow and then started like showing in very small ways and then it just got really big.
Stephanie: Yeah. But it started with small things. Do you remember what you told me was sort of one of the first things you remembered seeing as a ripple effect of this class?
April: I acknowledged the fact that I was gonna be late for things with or without traffic, so I needed to be more patient on the road. That was like the first thing that I was like driving one day and I was like, I have no control over this traffic, so am I gonna sit here and be upset about it, or am I just going to accept it? And it started with patience while driving, and then it turned into patience with everything. And patience with myself will forever be like everything I need.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah, but that took a couple of years you told me. It was years between the class and physical manifestations of change.
April: Yeah, it definitely took a good two years before I started seeing changes. It was two, two and a half, three years before I gave myself a chance and I was like, wait, I don't have to feel this way anymore, just small little reminders that I could be okay cuz when you're stuck, you don't feel like you can be okay. But it was like just small bursts of light around me that were like, follow me, keep doing this, give your heart more. Be kinder to yourself, you'll be kinder to other people. Um, find the things that make you happy. And all those little small bursts of light eventually, like group together. And I don't know, my soul's on fire like 95% of the time.
Stephanie: Well, that's an amazing transformation from 28 and rebelling against your own darn self to being 40 and just being on fire.
Stephanie: Could you ever have pictured where you are now when you were back then?
Stephanie: What did you think your future was gonna look like when you were in the middle of it? When you were in the middle of the yuck?
April: I really had no idea. Some days I didn't wanna see the next day. Some days, I don't know. I had no idea. I knew that like I was working in restaurants at the time, that wasn't conducive to life anymore. The idea of getting a new job was uncomfortable and scary. There was a million pieces that needed to change, and it just became about making small steps to like make it happen, whether it be finding a new job or just waking up in the morning and thanking myself for waking up. Like big to small things, small to big things, just to make it one day and then every day it just got a little bit better.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. one of the things I'm so interested to dig in with you, is the fact that the messy part can last a long time, and the pathway out of the messy part can take a long time, so how do you sustain yourself through that?
April: You have to rely on the people around you who understand you and love you. I ended up using the Identity support system, um, my best friends. Really leaning on people to help you, but also learning how to lean on yourself. I spent a lot of time alone writing, on my walls. but you have to learn how to cope through it and a lot of us don't. So any resources that were around me that made sense. Like if it was energy work, it was energy work. I was doing acupuncture for a while. Just trusting the people who can help you and being really grateful for finding a community like Identity and just that comfort.
Stephanie: What do you mean you were writing on your walls?
April: Um, I was literally putting poster board on my walls and like, I would drink or just be really sad and I had all kinds of markers and paint and I was putting poster board up and writing on my walls and I wish I had kept.
April: I ended up getting rid of them all, but in hindsight, like I wish I had kept one. It was a really good visual of how messy it can be and everybody tells you to write and I can't sit down and write for the life of me, but I can write on my walls. So that's how I got a lot out was just with my walls lined with poster board and none of it made sense, but it didn't need to.
Stephanie: That's interesting to me. You got it out and none of it made sense. Without prying too deeply, can you just gimme an example of something that sort of fell outta you that didn't make sense, but that once you got it on the wall, you felt better about it?
April: It was a lot of just random words written in big black markers. It wasn't necessarily like topics. There was a lot of song lyrics. I would get. I would get hooked on a song that either like dabbled in my depression or dabbled in happy and I had boards upon boards of song lyrics, but it was really just because I couldn't sit down and write my feelings cuz there was no like cohesiveness to my thoughts or feelings. It was just getting the pieces out. So it wasn't necessarily anything profound, but it was what I needed.
Stephanie: That's so interesting. So for me, I would say this was probably in my mid to late thirties, I had a great, cool condo downtown and my bathroom had this like weird sort of wall on it that was probably an insert. I don't know what was behind it. But anyway, it was just this weird, flat surface. At the time I remember, are you familiar with Mike Dooley and the Tut Adventurers Club and the Thoughts Become Things? So he does the Notes From the Universe, and I've subscribed to that for a million years. probably on Robin's suggestion, to be honest, but they come with these little like pep talks. Every morning you get this little, and they're kind of wild, and sometimes they're out there and they're silly. And some of them really spoke to me and I would print them out on these little three by five pieces of paper and I would tape them up in the bathroom. And so the bathroom became this whole area of all these little statements and sayings and pep talks that spoke to me. Then I got a paint pen and I started like, um, for me it was exactly the opposite. I was going up, so, some of these things that I loved, I would actually inscribe them on the walls. I understand for you it was just an exercise of getting it out of you. For me, it, I think it was an exercise of lifting me up and getting my, point of view facing up instead of down or at my naval or at my shoes or something, it was definitely a lifting experience for me. It's interesting, that's kind of why I wanted to know a little bit more about yours cuz I did something very similar.
April: There's a lot of power in writing, but writing can also be very intimidating to some people. So even now, like if I need a reminder, if I know that like I'm feeling stuck about something, I use Post-It notes and just stick it on the wall next to your door and it's there reminding you to smile or reminding you to be grateful. It's no longer poster boards of crazy, now it's like post-it notes of sweet reminders to myself.
Stephanie: Which is another interesting tangible evidence of the transformation, right? It went from dark to very light.
Stephanie: That's awesome. I had asked when I was exploring for this podcast what did 40 represent to you? And because you had done so much of the work and so much of the growth in the decade before you turned 40, what does 40 represent to you?
April: I wanna have some fun. I'm five years sober. I haven't had a drink in five years at this point. Um, I wanna run with that. I've really been enjoying yoga these days, getting massages, hanging out with my friends. My boys are now 16 and 23, the 23 year old lives in Texas. I have a house that I can play in and paint if I want to. I just wanna like live every day and find some joy in all of it. Focus on my career some more cuz that's also been a huge transition from restaurants to corporate. And, I just wanna deliver joy to people and I wanna keep reminding people that they don't have to stay stuck and they don't have to stay sad. And that there are people out there who can support them and help them.
Stephanie: Yeah, except that, and I used the word except. Except that those people who can help them a lot of times look kooky, crazy, out there, woo-woo. Right? Like I looked at Robin, like you looked at E like, what the hell is going on here? What is any of this supposed to mean? Sohow did you go from, "You guys are nuts," to " Uh oh, I'm a nut, too."
April: Acceptance. I don't know, I just learned to embrace my weird, I think we are a little nuts, believe in things that a lot of people don't believe in, we believe in it in different ways.
April: I do feel things and energy and people quite a bit, whether you're sitting next to me or you're on the other side of the country. It's something that's bold in my life and I think it's a superpower. But I just embraced it, I had to. I think if I had held it in and tried to avoid it, my dark spiral would've continued.
Stephanie: Yeah, for sure.
April: Like I needed the light.
Stephanie: Something you said a moment ago embraced the weird,
I'm curious to know a little bit about how you grew up and what your teens and twenties were like. I know we've talked about the structure of them, but how was weird interpreted or accepted or viewed in the world you were living in at that point in time? Was there room for you to be weird?
April: There was. I grew up here in Manchester. My family was really cool, family vacations, sports, went to Smyth Road. There wasn't anything holding me back from being weird, but I think because I became a mom so young, I didn't have time to develop my weird, if you will. And then once I worked through the grownup stuff, I just decided that, I don't know. It's okay. I hope that I make people comfortable when they're around me to show they're weird and like to know that they're okay. I'm not like bat shit crazy, but
Stephanie: I mean, you do hold down a normal job
April: I do, yes, I do. I do do that, and I have normal conversations with people, but I also feel and see a bigger picture.
Stephanie: But it's that allowing yourself to be weird, accepting that weirdness in whatever form it shows up. My husband who I talk a lot about and it's funny, he doesn't really listen to the podcast. I'm always threatening him. I'm like, you know I talk about you all the time. So I can say stuff and he'll never know, even though it's public. He is huge into heavy metal and yet sometimes he will throw around sort of like judging terms like, "Oh, that guy's such a nerd. That guy's such a dork." And I was like, "Dude, you are the biggest metal nerd there is." And it's interesting, I, I feel like he wants to be super straight and narrow. So he is like, "Oh, my thing is interesting, your thing is nerdy." But once you accept the weird, your own weird, you kind of see everybody else's weird as their version of superpower.
April: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Stephanie: And being a nerd about something just means that you have depth of knowledge, depth of experience, depth of passion, and that actually makes you super interesting.
Stephanie: Because let me tell you, I am not a metal person. Never was. I mean, I kind of am now because my husband will bring it to life for me, he will make it interesting for me. And I think once you've really done that work to be comfortable in your own skin and know who you are and really feel confident about your own um, interests and passions,
Stephanie: It makes you a really interesting person.
April: I did something a couple months ago and I can't remember what it was that I did, but I texted Robin about it and she responded with, "you are so much fun". And my response was, it's because I'm basically a grownup child and I think I don't wanna call myself a child, but why can't we be childlike? Why can't we go do fun things? Some days I'll like take off and bring flowers to people, just for the fun of it. Why can't we keep it light? Why does it always have to be heavy? And some days I do feel like a child, like running around doing random things. I just took a private yoga class cuz I wanted to like get upside down and I can't, so it's like gymnastics all over again. But if you live a little bit lighter, feel your heart with like the light stuff, then it's gonna get a little easier.
Stephanie: Yeah. It's interesting, again, with the language, right? You don't wanna call yourself a child, but childlike comes with the term wonder, right? Childlike wonder. When I see you, I think that's a lot of what you bring to the world these days is you are childlike in your happiness, in your wonder, in your playfulness.
April: Yes, and I think, I mean, I hope sometimes I feel silly sometimes, like I'm posting on social media and I'm like, I'm such a geek. But then somebody will reach out and be like, thank you for saying that cuz I feel like a geek about this, but you make me feel less geeky about it. And then that's all that really matters.
Stephanie: Right. So this class that you took many years ago that had sort of put you on your path, you were, and I'm putting words in your mouth, but just from watching you from across town here, you were so, I think, inspired and, um, grateful for that, that you became involved with the organization itself, right.
April: I did. I started helping volunteering with like the Identity Kids courses and the Identity Teen courses. And then in 2018 I was nominated as the Identity Adult Participant of the Year. And that was pretty wild. I won an award for like growth for a whole year and I didn't feel like I made it through a single day that year, but I did it and they all added up. And then from there, Robin and I just built a closer relationship and we talked about me joining the board of directors for the nonprofit um, Personal Responsibility Organization. And I've been doing that for a couple years now. That Identity class spun my life and now I can't help but want to support it and try to get it to our communities and talk about it. Like I said, I can't teach it, but like I kind of live it. I kind of live like what it taught me and what it is supposed to and now I get to help other people. I think over the years of doing all of this, there's probably like 30 or 40 people that reached out and were stuck and I was able to like shake them up a little bit and love them enough to be like, okay, I'm gonna be all right. And then baby steps and they're on their way to smiling more.
Stephanie: Wow. So you took your own path and now are lighting the way for others? Yeah. So your thirties were a lot of growth and a lot of work on yourself. What do you hope for in your forties?
April: I've spent the last year acknowledging that the growth doesn't stop, so I'm gonna continue dabbling in self and see what else I can do. My older son living across the country, that's been a struggle for me lately cuz I don't get to see him all the time and he's independent and so I needed to do some growing and being like a stronger mom from 2000 miles away. But there's just like certain things that I wanna continue focusing on, but more I know that I'm okay. I know that I'm going to be okay, and I know that I have the capabilities of supporting other people in being okay.
Somebody recently asked me how I can talk to many people and not take on their energy. And I don't know when it happened, but at some point in time I just formed a barrier that it's your stuff, we can talk about it and I'm gonna organize it for you and give it back to you in a manner that's soft and calm, and you'll hear it, but I'm not gonna take it as my own.
Stephanie: You talked before aboutbeing able to feel energy now and feel energy from the people that you're interacting with, whether it's in person or like you said, on video and across the country. Is that something you ever experienced in your twenties or your early thirties? Is that something you knew of?
April: No, I remember like my best friend talking about it and I always thought she was one of those weirdos and then she was like, talk to this other weirdo, Robin. And I was like, you're all a bunch of weirdos. And then I joined the club.
Stephanie: But it's interesting, right? Because I feel like you had to take all the layers off that were sort of blocking the energy and by doing the growth and by doing the work that you've done on yourself, you become more aware not only of your own self, but also of of other people as well.
April: Yeah, it's a lot of observing and I feel like I've spent the past 10 years or so, like learning people in a different way that I didn't really think I ever cared to learn. But seeing people struggle or seeing the joy and really like embracing it and taking notes. There was just a bunch of layoffs at my job and it was a lesson in corporate trauma almost, and it was really hard to face, but it was also like, if it happens again, I have my tools and my notebook ready to be like, okay, it's gonna be okay. We're gonna be okay. But it's just constantly learning and gathering information, studying people, and how can I help them? How can they help me? Like if I see you struggling about something, I'm seeing it for a reason, because there's a lesson in it for me also. So let's talk.
Stephanie: Mm-hmm. Yep.
Um, it's funny sometimes I have these conversations and mostly I'm doing this podcast because I want to help other people through the mess. I want to be one of those little lights that maybe you hear a story that you can relate to, or I'm talking to someone that is relevant to your life or your situation. So I feel like I'm doing it for other people but there are some interviews, I sit down and, and it's like, oh God, that was for me. Actually there was somebody I talked to recently, and it's funny cuz we talked about forgetting what they taught in Identity. And I feel the same way cuz I did take the class and I could probably tell you a couple of little things, but not much about it. You just, you absorb it. So I was talking to somebody having one of these interviews and all of a sudden I got this like, aha moment, like, oh my God, that's, and it just came up with you too. So I'll tell you in a moment, but later I was trying to get back to it and think about it, I'm like, I have no idea what the conversation was about, but it's about writing. And I am somebody who has been a writer since I was a little kid, and yet the concept of journaling or write, and I can write, I write professionally, right? So I can write articles, and press releases and web copy and emails, like I can write all of that, no problem. I write for my clients. But like just writing for myself? Because your bestie will tell me to write, Robin will tell me to write, and always I smile and nod and go, ah-huh
April: You roll your eyes when you turn away from either of them.
Stephanie: Uhhuh. Yeah, I'll do that. But for some reason I have this block about writing for my personal self. So I had an aha moment about that in one of my last interviews. So I look forward to actually editing that one, cuz that means I'll get to listen to it again and I'm sure I'll find it. So some of these conversations, once you open the door to personal growth and to learning and to finding out who you are and who you were meant to be, once the door's open, it never closes. Even if you're not actively pursuing courses and gurus and books and whatever, workshops and retreats, even if you're not actively doing those things, you are still getting information along the way and it's always just little sort of tweaks to your direction. Fine tuning along the way. So, here I am a decade ahead of you and it's still ongoing.
April: It's never gonna stop, it's in our power to strive to be better versions of ourselves, and it doesn't have to be big and drastic. It can just be waking up smiling. So the smallest things mean the most, and when you talk to people about growth and self-reliance and getting unstuck and all these terms that are used day in and day out, it's gets really scary when you're really stuck and you're like, you want me to grow? But when you can learn how to like, relate and speak the language, that is less intimidating. And really most days I just wanna grab somebody by the face and say, believe in yourself and I want them to hear me. And they do. And that's all it takes.
Stephanie: Yeah. But you're right, it's a whole new language, and it's a whole new way of thinking. You talked about self-reliance and the thing that popped into my head too, another one of the sort of tenets is accountability, being accountable for your own self and your own actions. And like you were saying, just even in traffic, being a crazy person in traffic and screaming at cars and stuff, the only thing that's gonna do is get you showing up wherever you're going wound up, freaked out, you know, all of that stuff, but being accountable for your own actions and the way you're perceiving things is a huge shift.
April: Mm-hmm. It was a lot in the beginning of the shift after the driving patience thing, there was a couple years of deep focus on responding versus reacting and what that meant. And how I didn't need to react to everything everybody said. And I started taking my power back in small ways by responding when I was ready. Whoever told me that I had to respond to that text message right away? Nobody ever did. We just do. So then it became a lesson and until I could form words that were kind, I was not gonna say anything. I still do that. If I get fiery, I'm just gonna shh because I still do get fiery. It's just how I handle it now that's less reactive.
Stephanie: For me too, it has not been a linear path. It has not been, oh, I took this class and now I feel 25% better, so I'm gonna take another class and I'll feel 50% better. There are lots of times where you take a class or read a book or go to a workshop and you leave and you're like, meh, all right, whatever. I remember driving out of the parking lot over at Robin's office many, many years ago, and just sitting, waiting to pull out onto the street and all of a sudden this piece of knowledge or understanding or something just descended into my brain that explained like, oh shit, bad relationships with men, bad romantic relationships, it's this! And the knowledge that came to me was I can't quit. I can't quit things. I can't feel like I'm a quitter. So if there's a relationship that's going bad, I'm just gonna try harder because I feel like leaving it is quitting. I was nowhere near a session with Bill Burns. I was nowhere near a class or a workshop or a book or anything. But it's like you said earlier, a lot of these things, they don't even stick with you, but you've absorbed or you've internalized the bits and pieces you might need, and they're gonna percolate or marinate and then one day they're just gonna like bubble up into your brain and you're gonna be like, you know, lightning bolt moment.
April: Yes, exactly that.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. It's wild, but it can be frustrating
Stephanie: because you're like, well, I took this class, so why, why don't I feel better?
April: I mean, when I took the class, I was like stayed in that dark place for a while, so it was very bold, pops of light. But even after I took the class, I was still drinking for another four years after that. It wasn't until I had built enough trust in myself that I cleaned up that part of my life. And then that's when I was like, whoa, I can think clearly now. And was able to wrap it all together a little bit more. But I don't know, it was just the progression and then like random things will happen and I'll be like, yep, okay. Understood. This is why all these things happened.
Stephanie: Right, right. Situations will present themselves to you and now you're rolling your eyes at the universe cuz you're like, I get it. Thank you. Yes, I understand. This one's for me. I get it.
Stephanie: Yeah. But that's interesting because once you can start being aware of them, that actually is one of the huge keys. I remember when I first started dating Patrick, I knew that he was something special, he presents that way. And I also was very aware that I had had a terrible track record with romantic relationships and choosing very bad men and all of this stuff. Not very bad men, none of them were very bad, they just were not great matches for me, and I stayed too long cause I couldn't quit. But, I remember saying, okay, new relationship, like this guy, he's special, so whatever I used to do in the past, I'm going to do the opposite. So if I want to call him, I'm not gonna call him. If I wanna text him, I'm not gonna text him. So interestingly, just being aware of being in a situation that has caused problems previously will allow you to practice, to try on different approaches.
I remember it was shortly after I took the Identity course, I was still not in a great place. I remember deleting certain phone numbers from my cell phone. So I had to type in the numbers, I still remember people's phone numbers, but I had to make the conscious decision to type the phone number in if I wanted to to talk to them.
Stephanie: Oh, so you basically, you're adding a little friction there.
April: Right. Slowing myself down, I had to dial nine numbers to even hit send or however many numbers it is to even hit send, but I had to think about it that many times and make the decision that many times, and I think that was another one of those very small things that I pulled from that class that I didn't know I was doing, but it was really just slowing my step and being like, do I really need to do this? I'm really angry right now and I'm gonna think about being angry all these times and then hit send and I never hit send. I never got to that point. It slowed me down enough that I would just wait.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. It slowed you down enough to realize what you were doing, acknowledge it, and probably just think, let me not do that cuz I've always done that and it's always gotten me result X and that's not what I want.
April: So I had to make it a little difficult for myself by deleting those numbers. I knew I could still call them, but I had to make the decision every single time.
Stephanie: That's actually an awesome example. I love that. Just adding friction into your own areas where you might have just knee jerked.
April: Mm-hmm. Yep. Make it a little difficult and then it'll get a little easier.
Stephanie: Yeah. Very, very cool. April, tell me what kind of advice you might give somebody who was feeling like you were feeling when you were in that dark hole in your late twenties? How would you guide someone to find their way out of it, or at least to take a step?
April: First, I don't really like advice, but I think I would just tell them to slow down by one step and then seek help. And if it doesn't feel like help is around, look deeper, cuz it might not be rehab, it might not be a therapist, it might not be medication. It might come in the strangest freaking ways. But there is a community around in a million different ways that would love to support people in feeling better. I've made some really bizarre friendships just because I saw someone that needed something and I'm the one who's gonna walk up to you and be like, Hey, I'm April, can I be your friend? And then building a relationship off of that because they need to know that somebody cares.
And I'm not a doctor and I'm not a therapist and I'm not any of these things, but I'm just a human with a big heart who used to have a hurting heart, and I just hope.
Stephanie: Yeah. Something came to me while you were talking and I just want to expound upon your example of looking for the help. It might not be in your immediate circle because your immediate circle or your immediate environment is the one you've created for this you, for the sad you, for the depressed you, for the you that doesn't fit. So it might be the friend from high school that reaches out bizarrely on Facebook Messenger and you have a random coffee with them. It might be your chiropractor, might be the girl at work who makes cookies and is gonna get in your face and say, hi, I'm April. It might not be your immediate environment, you might have to look just a little further and be open to something that doesn't look like you expected.
April: Mm-hmm. We have superpowers at work. I mean, yes, we'll call them superpowers. One of mine is 'earn trust', and I developed that at work, but also outside of work. Just being able to walk up to somebody and say, "Hey, I'm April. Do you wanna go grab coffee?" It's uncomfortable for me, but just being open enough, kind and caring enough earns the trust, and then you never know who that person is and what they've been through and what they might need, but you have to help them trust someone. And if it's not you, maybe it's somebody else, but they have to trust someone.
Stephanie: Yeah. And maybe you've just given them the inkling that there are people out there that can be trusted.
April: Yes. Yeah.
Stephanie: April. That's so awesome. I love that. I just wanna thank you so much for coming and spending some time with me now that I actually have a podcast and doing itin celebration of your actual 40th birthday. I am just so happy to have you here today.
April: I'm so excited, and thank you for giving me a a 40th birthday goal.
Stephanie: It's my pleasure.