105 Transcript: Using Vulnerability to Let Go of Perfectionism and Become More Confident (with Gina Brodtman)

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Jen Riday: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 105. My guest today is Gina Brodtmann who will be telling us how she let go of perfectionism and fear and chose to
embrace vulnerability which made her way more confident. You're going to love this episode. Stay tuned.

Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.

Jen Riday: Hey, welcome back to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast. I'm Jen Riday, mom of 6, “Oh no, crazy town,” and I feel that sometimes. But I am here to help each of you listening to shift from a place of burnout and overwhelm into being your most vibrant and happy self. That's what this podcast is all about. Welcome to the show. So today is your last chance to enter to win a $100 gift card from Amazon, and we're doing that to celebrate 100 episodes which we hit a few weeks back. To enter, simply go to jenriday.com/giveaway

. We'll announce our winners on Thursday. So I love our call-in line and I'm grateful for my trusty friend, Sarah Bates, who continues to call in, and she has good thoughts. Everyone, take a page from Sarah's book. Add our call-in number to your phone; I'll tell you one more time what that is. If you're driving, you can pull over right now and hit pause and add this. It is 608-352-6586. I want to hear from you. Anyway, I want to share with you Sarah's latest message. Sarah said the following.

Sarah Bates: Hi, Jen, it’s Sarah Bates. I was literally just feeling down in the dumps this morning about some text messages I received from a family member asking me, yet again, what could they buy for my children for an upcoming holiday. And I literally said aloud, “I am so tired of consumption! I'm so tired of this! I'm so tired of just having things coming to my home. I want to start creating and putting things out of my home, and not being a consumer, being a creator.” And wouldn't, you know, that as I was putting fresh sheets on my bed and listening to your podcast, the exact discussion you were having with your guests. So I just wanted to tell you, once again, love the show, love your guests, they always hit home for me, and sometimes I feel like they are actually inside my head. So thanks, Jen, keep up the great work; keep inspiring us.

Jen Riday: Sarah, that's an interesting comment you left. I actually get that exact comment a lot of times. People say all the time, “I was just thinking about something, and then I turned on the podcast, and the guest was talking about it.” I don't know what kind of woo-woo magic is going on in the universe, but I'm glad it's resonating for you guys. So that episode that Sarah's referring to is our last episode with Joanna Penn when she talked about being creative, “What are we putting out into the universe rather than consuming?” So inspiring, lots of you loved that and wrote in about that. So thank you for your comments, and you're going to love today's guests as well; Gina Brodtmann. She was at the Vibrant Happy Women retreat with me in February and I just loved her story, and I knew I had to have her share it. She is talking about how she is choosing to let go of perfectionism, which has held her back for years, and making the choice to be vulnerable and authentic. So let's go ahead and dive in and hear what Gina has to teach us.

My guest today is Gina Brodtmann and she lives in St. Paul Minnesota. She's married with 2 teenaged stepsons and an almost 2 year old little boy. She works as an accountant for a law firm, and while she has a knack for details, her current passion is child development. Gina's been on a lifelong journey of personal growth and self-development. She loves to learn and grow. And though she struggles with fear and perfectionism, she's been working on pushing through those fears and letting go of control, which she feels has led to so much more happiness and authentic connections. Gina, I love your bio and I can't wait to chat. Welcome to Vibrant Happy Women.

Gina Brodtmann: Thank you, thank you. I'm excited to be here.

Jen Riday: So, Gina, we're going to start off with a quote. But first, maybe we should talk about that you're a big Vibrant Happy Women fan. How many episodes have you listened to?

Gina Brodtmann: Oh, all of them; every single one.


Gina Brodtmann: A couple of them more than once.

Jen Riday: So I'll actually admit, I'm more intimidated to interview you than almost any guest because, you know, the show so well, so it's different for me.

Gina Brodtmann: Well, that's funny. Yeah, I love you, I love the show, I love everything about it. So, yeah, I… don't be intimidated.

Jen Riday: (Laughs)

Gina Brodtmann: I’m… I'm such a fan and I just love this process so much. In fact, I…. we went on a little family retreat last summer to like a group of cabins with my side of the family; so my parents and my sister and my brother and everybody's kids. And I actually did your questions with them and loved it.

Jen Riday: Oh!

Gina Brodtmann: It was so fun, I was just so inspired by the things that you ask all your guests, and it was just an amazing way to connect as a family and we all learned so much about each other. And…

Jen Riday: Ah, that's great! I'm going to have to try that.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah.

Jen Riday: I've never done it with my actual people in my life.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah.


Jen Riday: So that would be good. Maybe I'll ask my own kids; that would be interesting.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah, yeah!

Jen Riday: Cool. Well, thanks for the idea.

Gina Brodtmann: Sure.

Jen Riday: Well, let's jump in and have your favorite quote and then we'll learn more about you, because I already know you, kind of, from the Vibrant Happy Women retreat and I think you're amazing. So what quote would you want to share today?

Gina Brodtmann: Sure so my quote is from Magda Gerber, who is a child development sort of pioneer who really came up with this…. a really wonderful philosophy of how to see children and really how to see people. And so this is a quote that I've sitting at my desk at work. It goes, “There is dignity and struggle; it gives the soul muscle.”

Jen Riday: Ooh!

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah!

Jen Riday: Yeah! So tell us more about… let's go right into your struggles so we can hear how you’ve developed muscle. Because a lot of times, women say, “Oh, I'm struggling. My life sucks,” but you're saying, “We struggle and that's a good thing because we're getting strong.” So I can't wait to hear what that looks like for you.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah. I think this just fits so well with the subject of perfectionism and fear and just life. And I know that, for me, it was such an ‘aha’ moment when I, for the first time, heard or kind of came across the idea of allowing the struggle, going through the struggle, rather than, as a perfectionist, trying to avoid the struggle. Which is what I'd been doing my whole life; doing everything I can to either prepare ahead of time to be perfect so that I wouldn't feel any pain or wouldn't have any fear or wouldn't come across anything challenging and/or just avoiding anything challenging in the first place so that I wouldn't feel those uncomfortable feelings.

Jen Riday: Ah!

Gina Brodtmann: And so this came across when I was learning about child development. I took a workshop last summer and… with infants and toddlers, which is what her work is really surrounding, they're saying, “That's how they're going to learn, how they're going to grow, is when we as their parents allow them to struggle through.” So if you swoop in and save your baby who's, you know, trying to stand up for the first time and you never allow that fall, they're not really going to learn it. You're actually preventing growth when you try to prevent struggle. And so I just kind of had this huge epiphany about myself with all of that, where I really saw in myself this pattern in my past of, you know, doing everything I could, kind of like I said, to avoid struggling. And I really saw that, “Okay, I have to go through the struggle; I have to. I can't go around the fear. I can't go around the… you know, the scary feelings that something new is going to bring up. I have to go through them. And when I go through them, it's always worth it.” You know, I think there's another quote that I'm pretty sure one of your guests said at some time or maybe you said it on some video call or something that, “Everything awesome is on the other side of fear.”

Jen Riday: Ooh! I like that.

Gina Brodtmann: And… yeah, I love that too. And I really… it's like I intellectually knew that before, but I wasn't living it and I wasn't really pushing myself to be brave and go through struggle. And so, to kind of go a little bit more into my story and my low point, which I know you ask a lot of guests about, about a year and a half ago, my stepson had struggled with drugs and we ended up having to put him into a drug treatment program. And that was at just about… I don't know, just a few months after my baby had been born. So we had this new baby, we're not sleeping, were so stressed about the drugs and our son going down a really scary path. And I think that I had to figure out a better way to deal with it because my husband and I were just really… we weren't handling it well. My tendency when I get scared is to go into this control place where I just want to start blaming and controlling and, you know, being really black and white. And then he goes into this… when he's afraid, he goes into kind of the opposite where he just kind of doesn't function, doesn't want to deal with it, wants to shut down and just hope it'll get taken care of. And then so as you can imagine, the more one of us would do our thing, the other one would go even further into their thing.

Jen Riday: Yeah.

Gina Brodtmann: And so we were just so far apart. We're having this… you know, everybody acknowledges that a new baby is stressful and a child going through drug treatment is stressful. And so having them both at the same time and then having us handle it so differently, we were just going further and further apart. And I just… I guess I just knew, I'm trying to control everything and it's making it worse. And I think it all kind of came along at the same time of this epiphany of saying, “We have to just go through this struggle. We can't… you know, I can't use my perfectionism to do this really clean, awesome job of just handling it.” And, you know, we're going to have to let it be messy. I'm going to have to be super imperfect. I'm going to have to ask for help, which perfectionist hate doing, and really be vulnerable, really, you know, check my side of myself that wants to blame or judgmental, and just find that compassion and go through and sit in this really uncomfortable, uncertain time where we didn't know how it was going to go, you know, it wasn't going well at first when we sent him in and we had to really just let that play out. And it was really hard; it was really hard.

Jen Riday: So you sent him to a drug treatment program when you said ‘sent him in’; is that what you mean?

Gina Brodtmann: Mm-hmm.

Jen Riday: Okay.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah, yeah.

Jen Riday: So what does that even look like to go through it? I'm trying to get it into words or into something visceral. Do you just say, “I'm going to feel this uncertainty and be okay with it,”?

Gina Brodtmann: A little bit. Yeah, I think that, for me anyway, the need for certainty, it really leads me down the wrong path almost every time when I… because there's desperation to it. And so because I can be black and white, I want to go one way or the other. Like, I'm going to control everything, I'm going to tell anybody what they need to say and what they need to do and, “Here's the list of everything that has to happen.” Or I'll go down the other path, which is to say, “Screw it. Alright, fine, I'm not going to do anything then because nobody's helping, nobody's listening,” and I start getting really judgmental, really blaming. And so I have to somehow sit in between those 2 things; which is so hard. And I have to keep my heart open and say, “Okay, everybody is doing the best they can in a really scary situation. I have to keep doing my best and try not to focus on comparing it to what other people are doing.” And then, yeah, sit in the uncertainty and just say, “This isn't going to get resolved.” Like, I'm the kind of person that, if I have a fight with my husband, like I want to resolve it tonight; we'll stay up till 2:00 in the morning if we have to do it. And that's just not healthy. You need to give things space and time. And I… you know, we needed to let so much sink in and stew, both with us and with our son and the therapist we're working with, you know, to let everybody process everything that was happening.

And… yeah, so giving things time and… and trusting that, “I don't have an answer right now and it's just not ready to come yet, but it's okay,” and somehow still having a good day, being there for my little baby, you know, getting my work done, and I just was like forced. I had this moment, I can remember it so clearly of like, “I can either be miserable every second of every day or I'm going to have to find a way to be okay in this gray area that really makes me want to squirm.” But…

Jen Riday: Yeah.

Gina Brodtmann: I had to live it and then that's where all the answers came, of course.

Jen Riday: Ah!

Gina Brodtmann: None of the answers came from the black or the white; they all came from the gray area where it was a combination of myself and my husband and our family members and therapists and figuring out, you know, just the right mix of what we were going to do about each aspect of it.

Jen Riday: Ooh! Yeah, so you couldn't control it.

Gina Brodtmann: No.

Jen Riday: But the gray was everyone's input; everyone…

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah.

Jen Riday: … throwing in some ingredients, mixing it up, letting it simmer for a while.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah.

Jen Riday: Seeing what you could create together.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah.

Jen Riday: Ah! Well, I want to go back to 2 things you talked about. You mentioned that you had to do your best not to compare to what everyone else is doing. So first of all I want to say, I see myself in what you're saying so much. And so one thing I do right now is compare my teens to other teens. And my teens tend to be more headstrong and independent and they don't want those rules and they bristle against them. And when I get stuck in comparison, then I'll try to control and clamp down and they react, and it just doesn't work; I'm trying to be black and white. And so where do you think that need to compare came from, and how did that feel to let go of that?

Gina Brodtmann: That's such a good question. Where it came from, I think it just comes from…

Jen Riday: Life.

Gina Brodtmann: From life, from being a perfectionist. And I don't know where all that exactly comes from, I mean, I'm a firstborn, which I…

Jen Riday: Me too.

Gina Brodtmann: Are you?

Jen Riday: Yeah.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah, that doesn't surprise me. Yeah, I think that we just have this sense of responsibility and just seeing all there is to see and knowing what needs to be done. And… and when you see everything that needs to be seen, you can see what to compare everything to. And so, you know, we're partially in the future all the time, you know, looking ahead of, “What do we need to prepare for?” And so, yeah, I guess it just comes from… from that and from a feeling of not wanting to be vulnerable. I think when you, “I don't want to let anyone see the messy side or what I'm not doing well,” or, yeah, with your kids, you want everyone to just see the best of them. And yet the reality is, all of our kids go through struggles and have their flaws and their strengths. And so, yeah, I think then to say, “How did I learn to let go of comparison?” again, I really think that this parenting workshop that I took was so amazing because it was kind of along those same lines of saying, “We can't look at our children as these extensions of what we want them to be or what society is trying to make everybody be or whatever. We are all these unique beings that are just, you know, full of our own unique potential and possibility.” And you can't find this one cookie cutter answer of how you're supposed to be a good parent and how you're supposed to be a good wife or whatever. It's… you have to look at that child that you're dealing with, that individual child and say, “How can I be the best parent to you?” or, “How can I be the best wife to my particular husband who has his own fears and insecurities?”

And so I think once I realized, “What's the point of comparing to everybody else when everybody else doesn't have the exact same set of circumstances that we have? We're all in our own unique situation.”

Jen Riday: Yes!

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah.

Jen Riday: So how did you let go of the idea that people might be judging you? Even if you weren't comparing anymore, how did you let go of that fear? Because it's very real.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah. It's something I struggle with still; it's really hard. You know, doing what is best for… for me or my family despite what other people think, is kind of one of my big life journey lessons. And I don't know how exactly I do it except that I just… I imagine almost like tuning out the world and I just imagine this like little bubble around us and I say, “I can't control what happens outside of here, but in this little bubble here, I'm going to look you in the eyes and I just… all I know is that it’s what's right for us right now and nobody else understands it.” And it… and maybe that's part of it too is that, you know, nobody… nobody who hasn't been through it can really understand what it's like to have a child go through a drug treatment and all that leads up to it. And it's so easy to be judgmental, I'm sure, from the outside and say, “Well, you just needed to have better rules,” and, Why didn't you… why didn’t you have them under control?”

Jen Riday: Yeah.

Gina Brodtmann: And it's like you have no idea what led up to that and how much went into that and just some of the other factors. And so I think the more that I was able to… like I said before, I can tend to be that judgmental person because you think, if you judge that person, then I'm not going to be anything like that and that'll never happen to me. And so once I kind of softened my heart and realized, “I need to, you know, find compassion, realize we're all capable of falling big-time and we're all going to struggle and we're all going to mess up and disappoint each other, and figure out how to make it up to each other,” you know, that, I guess, helped me to think, “I can do that to other people; they're going to do it to me.”

And the truth is that I find so often, when you are vulnerable, people are pretty awesome. Vulnerability brings out in most other people just such compassion and kindness. And we all think that we want to show our perfect side to other people, but I guess I just had this realization that, showing that perfect, you know, perfectionist everything's together side to other people, that actually… people don't really like that; they don't connect to it, that… it makes them uncomfortable. But when you show your real vulnerable soft to them, they suddenly relaxed themselves and they're like, “Oh, I… you know, what? I have something like that too. I have a friend. I have…” we’ve heard that so many times. It's just amazing how many people have gone through something like this. “I have a friend,” or, “I have a child too who's gone through this. I… I know how you feel.” And the truth is, I… instead of being judged, I got so much love and support.

Jen Riday: Aww!

Gina Brodtmann: It was amazing.

Jen Riday: So how is he doing now?

Gina Brodtmann: Really well; really well. He's been out for close to a year and he's clean and he's finishing up his high school, his last year of high school right now, and has a job he just got promoted to be a supervisor at work, so he's doing really well.

Jen Riday: Aww! That's so great! And how's your little guy?

Gina Brodtmann: He's amazing! He is just an amazing little bundle of just intelligence and joy and sunshine. He's just like a ball of sunshine in our lives.

Jen Riday: Aww! That's great. So backing up even further, you know, it couldn't have been easy to jump into marriage and become a stepmom. Just tell us about what that was like for you.

Gina Brodtmann: That was really hard; it was really, really hard and different than I thought it was going to be. I was actually a child of divorced parents and so I had step parents. I had a stepmom who my dad ended up divorcing in my teens, and that was a challenging relationship. And I have a stepfather who is amazing and one of my biggest supporters in my life. And so I thought, “Okay, I'm going to be great at this. You know, I… I have this example of what I don't want to do and what I do want to do and I think I have the right philosophy of how to… you know, how to play a role in their life and be there for them, but really make sure my husband is still their main parent and he's the decision-maker,” and it just didn't go down that way at all. It was… it was really hard. I came into their life at such a tough age. They were in middle school, which is such an awkward hard time where, you know, it's just, that for them, being vulnerable and for being boys, you know, it was just really… just really a lot of tough stuff. And so we worked through it but we're still working through it. I mean, I think… I know I read somewhere that it takes like 7 years for a step-family to like get into their groove.

Jen Riday: Uh-huh.

Gina Brodtmann: And I was like, “Well, we're going to be… they're going to be almost out of the house by then. We're… we're not ever going to get into our groove while they're still home.” And it really is true. It's… it just takes so much time and so much, I think, grace for ourselves and each other. And, yeah, it's still a work in progress.

Jen Riday: Well, what helped you during the most stressful times to stay together and not just fall apart? Not… not the family but for you not to lose it; you know what I mean?

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah.

Jen Riday: Did you have routines or strategies or what helps you?

Gina Brodtmann: What helps me probably most, especially when you say not to lose it, is journaling.

Jen Riday: Ah!

Gina Brodtmann: Really, I mean, I have to have a place where I can just let out all the craziness in my head and all of the, you know, judgment and fear. And then once I let it out, then I can go, “Okay, now, what does my best self really want to say to this person?” or, “How do I really want to handle it?” But I have to let that out or it just builds up and kind of stews and gets all resentful and icky. So journaling is huge for me. I think talking, I think being vulnerable, you know, like I said, the not keeping it inside, not trying to handle it ourselves. You know, I think at first when things were going badly with our son, we were like, “We are going to handle it ourselves.” And… and it was only when we opened up and got help from our family and from others that we… we really started getting somewhere with it. And so going to people and saying, “We're struggling; this is how bad it is,” and, you know, “What advice do you have?” you know, kind of getting consensus from people of saying, “Alright, well, 8 out of 10 people are all saying that this is what their sense of it is or what they would do in this situation,” and… and just kind of trusting that wisdom and, you know, realizing that we could get really caught up in the details and really caught up in our fears. And so we would really have to reality check with people that we trusted. And, you know, I'm lucky that my parents are… are that for me. So they were a really big help… help in that time.

But I think also just, I'm a learner and a doer. And I think I have this part of me that's like, “Okay, here's the problem, what do I need to do? How many…?” I'll read a million books, I'll read articles, I'll figure out… you know, I'll go and figure out whatever it is that you have to learn to… to get through this. And I really go and check with experts and that comforts me actually. But it can then tend to lead to that part that wants to control and do too much and not let other people do the things they need to do. You know, that's a thing with… I think with the step-parenting is that, it's really hard to know what my boundary should be versus my husband when it comes to the teenagers, and, you know, what is my appropriate role versus his. And so I could go and do all this research, but if there was a part of it that he really needs to be the one to say this or convey this to kind of allow him to do it and not try to control it and say, “You got to say it this way,” and that was a challenge for me.

Jen Riday: Well, let's take a quick break for our sponsor and then I want to come back and talk about how… you mentioned all the great things, all the awesome things are on the other side of fear. How are you continuing to conquer fear today? So we'll come back to that right after this break.

Jen Riday: Okay, welcome back, Gina. And as promised, I wanted to ask you, how do you continue to try to get to those awesome things that are on the other side of fear even today? You know, your son is clean and things are looking brighter, but still, you know, life's a journey. So what other fears are you looking to overcome and how are you going about that?

Gina Brodtmann: I think right now, I wouldn't say I have like a specific fear that I'm trying to overcome, but I still just feel fear a lot, and in general about all kinds of stuff. And so I think one of my tactics that's where getting really well is just sort of redefining that feeling that I get in my stomach. So it's fear, you know, I feel butterflies, I feel nauseous, I feel, oh, a little sick and, oh… you know? And I used to call that a sign like, “That's a warning sign. It means run, don't do it. When you feel that sick feeling, it's a message that you're going down the wrong path.” And instead, I've decided to redefine that and say, “Oh, that's not a warning sign, that's just the feeling I'm always going to get when I do something new.”

Jen Riday: Ah!

Gina Brodtmann: “When I do something…

Jen Riday: I love that!

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah, because I realized, I can't avoid that feeling and I hate that feeling; I mean, nobody likes it. But it's just like, “Oh, that's nervous feeling that you just…” And so I think I get a lot out of, when there's something that I can't avoid or I can't make it go away, I just flip it and call it something good, and that actually works for me. And so even like to speaking to you today and doing this interview, so I've got that nervous butterfly feeling right before we start and just saying, “Oh, that's just my feeling because I'm doing something new.” And any time I do something new, it's going to give me that feeling. It's not a warning sign, it's actually the opposite; it's a sign that I'm about to probably do something awesome because everything on the other side of fear is awesome.

Jen Riday: Yeah!

Gina Brodtmann: And, so… yeah.

Jen Riday: Oh, that reminds me of… I heard that… I don't remember the name, but a singer decided to quit her career because she couldn't believe that after 3 years, she still got that sick feeling before every performance.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah.

Jen Riday: And then a coach was working with her and saying, “Guess what? I coach all kinds of musicians. Everyone gets that before a performance.” And instead of saying it's a warning like, you said, or something wrong, just saying it's your energy rising to meet the occasion, just redefining it, like you said. So I love it.

Gina Brodtmann: Exactly, exactly. That's a perfect story. Yeah.

Jen Riday: Well, so let's talk about a few of your favorite things. You mentioned you like to journal, what else do you do in the morning to make sure you're starting the day is your best self?

Gina Brodtmann: Getting up early, that is so huge for me, and it's really hard with a toddler. He wakes up anytime between 5:00 and 6:00 and so I really have to commit to setting my alarm for 4:30 or 5:00 if I want to have enough time.

Jen Riday: Yeah.

Gina Brodtmann: And… but it just absolutely makes a difference in my day because I get up, I wake up really slowly. And so to wake up and just start being a mom right away is just… it's really hard. And if I can just have even a half hour, but ideally, if I can have an hour, I'm just ready to go then. And so I have my coffee and I write in my journal, you know, I write what I'm grateful for, I think about what my priorities should be for the day, and it makes all the difference in the world ever since I've done it. And I thought of it at first, I'm sure like a lot of people would like, “What a loss! How am I going to..? I'm going to have to go to bed so early.” And now it's been… I've probably been doing it for 6 months and it just feels wonderful. I… yes, I do go to bed really early; sometimes that like 8 o'clock. But I just love that time so much and I wouldn't give it up for anything.

Jen Riday: That's really great. And so what does your husband think of your early bedtime, early wake-up time?

Gina Brodtmann: Well, you know, it kind of fits perfectly. We have our own unique little life with having a toddler and teenagers at the same time. And so I'm sure, you know, this that teenagers sometimes suddenly get the urge to start talking at like 11:00 PM.

Jen Riday: Yes!

Gina Brodtmann: And that's when they finally are like going to open up about that thing you've been trying to talk to him about or something.

Jen Riday: Yeah.

Gina Brodtmann: And so it works out well because my husband kind of gets to have the nights for the boys. And, you know, so he does go to bed later and then I wake up and try to let him sleep in the mornings.

Jen Riday: Perfect.

Gina Brodtmann: And so it really works well in our unique situation that he kind of gets to have that one-on-one time with the boys if they need him.

Jen Riday: And I love how you've decided not to compare or not to take everyone else's wisdom. You know, I've heard advice that, “You should always go to bed together.” Well that's just silly.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah.

Jen Riday: And creating your own bubble of happiness, it's beautiful.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah, absolutely. That's a really good example of that that I realizing that there is not one right answer to do anything pretty much, especially with relationships, it depends on the 2 or whatever number of people involved. And, yeah, this works really well for us and we definitely… we get our alone time. We both get to work from home for part of the week. And so we get our alone time during the day and…

Jen Riday: Oh, perfect.

Gina Brodtmann: … use that to connect. Yeah.

Jen Riday: Well, what's your favorite easy meal, Gina?

Gina Brodtmann: My favorite easy meal is… so we just got an air fryer and I loved it so much. And one of my all-time favorite indulgences in life are french fries; I can't resist them. And so this is a way to have healthier french fries where you can make them with little or no oil and then the air just heats it up and makes them super crispy, which I love. So my meal which the whole meal takes 20 minutes, if that, is a burger bowl. So I make my crunchy french fries or sweet potato fries in the air fryer and then we top it with ground beef and fried onions or fried mushrooms or then whatever you would want to put on a burger; pickles, you know, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, you know, mustard, all that good stuff. Sometimes we'll put like a fried egg on top of it; it's so good.

Jen Riday: Ah!

Gina Brodtmann: It's amazing.

Jen Riday: So you make the fries just from a potato and then put them in the air fryer?

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah, yeah.

Jen Riday: And how long do they have to be in there?

Gina Brodtmann: They take about 15 minutes or so, depends how thick you cut them. But, yeah, about 15, 20 minutes and then so while those are cooking in the air fryer, we, you know, cook up the ground beef and chop up some pickles and lettuce and tomato and it's just all ready to put together. And then we just do a bed of the fries and top everything else on top and eat it with a fork.

Jen Riday: Yum! Oh, that sounds great.

Gina Brodtmann: It’s really good.

Jen Riday: Yeah.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah.

Jen Riday: And the kids like it too?

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah.

Jen Riday: Well, everyone, you can find a link to Gina's air fryer on our show notes page at jenriday.com/105. And, Gina, what's your favorite way to relax or boost your mood, or both?

Gina Brodtmann: Relaxing, I'm a big time introvert and so, to me, relaxing is a long time. And I can be happy doing a lot of different things. I'm really lucky that my husband is so wonderful, and if I tell him I need a little time, he'll, you know, take our toddler and go do something and give me some time. And, I mean, if I'm writing in my journal or just reading or even just organizing by myself, I just really get recharged from that.

Jen Riday: Cool. And what about waking up on the wrong side of the bed and you have to boost your mood fast; any strategies?

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah! Yeah, I do those power poses from that Amy Cuddy TED talk.

Jen Riday: Oh yeah.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah, totally; Wonder Woman pose.

Jen Riday: Yeah, me too.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah, I do it. I do it and I'll do it for like 2 minutes and it seriously changes my mood; or I'll do it sometimes in the shower and, yeah, I just feel… it just… I lift… I raise my chin and just make myself smile and I just feel better.

Jen Riday: So did you hear the Jill Payne interview on Vibrant Happy Women?

Gina Brodtmann: I did.

Jen Riday: Ah!

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah.

Jen Riday: Yeah, when she talked about that. Yeah.

Gina Brodtmann: Yes.

Jen Riday: Those who don't know what we're talking about, it's episode 91; jenriday.com/91. I'll put a link to that in the show notes. But, yeah, I do it too; it's the fastest way. And exercise sometimes takes a few more minutes, but yeah, just pulling that shoulders back, chest out, chin up, it's pretty powerful, for sure.

Gina Brodtmann: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Jen Riday: I’m starting to teach my kids and it's getting hilarious; we're all walking around like we’re super heroes.


Jen Riday: Oh, funny. What's your favorite book, Gina?

Gina Brodtmann: My favorite book… oh, I love Brené Brown, and I would say my favorite book is ‘The Power Of Vulnerability’. And I'm pretty sure that that's just an audio book. I don't think that's an actual book of hers; it's a taping of a workshop she did, I think. And it's really amazing. But I'm currently reading her book ‘Rising Strong’ and it's pretty awesome; it's kind of blowing me away. I can't quite say that it's going to top ‘The Power Of Vulnerability’ yet because I haven't finished it, but it's really making me think about some things that I've never thought about before.

Jen Riday: Ooh! I love books like that.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah.

Jen Riday: And I happen to know, you heard about a workshop and so you jumped on a plane to go visit and see Brené Brown’s workshop in North Carolina. So you are a die-hard fan.

Gina Brodtmann: I am! Yeah, I really am. She is… if you're relating to some of the stuff I'm saying about perfectionism and stuff, I just think you would relate to her too because I relate to her so much. Just… I know she's also a firstborn. I know she struggles with perfectionism. I know that when she's afraid, she'll jump right into controlling and blaming. And so listening to her speak is just like… it's like she's this…. I don't know, the good angel on my shoulder who knows exactly how to say what I need to here like me specifically about how to get through the fog of whatever I'm going through. And, yeah, she's changed my life. Yeah.

Jen Riday: I love her too, yeah. Well, what does it mean to be a vibrant happy woman?

Gina Brodtmann: For me, being a vibrant happy woman, I think it really involves slowing way down. And I just have learned that in the last couple years especially that, when I try so hard to chase after, you know, people-pleasing or perfectionism, I just get so frazzled. And so when I just slow way down and just look at what's right in front of me, I'm able to really see clearly what… what the right thing is to do and… and to do it. And so I think it helps me to be a better mom, it helps me to be a better wife, and it helps me to live in the moment, which I know we all hear that all the time like, “Living in the moment and being in the present moment.” And that's how I get myself to do it is to just slow down and stop rushing and trying so hard all the time. And I think also, simplifying has really made a huge difference and making me have a vibrant happy life. I've really into minimalism. I love the minimalist podcasts and have really bought into that whole idea of how we're so distracted by all of the stuff and all the clutter in our lives all the time. And when I really, in the last year also, I've just… my husband and I have cleared out tons of clutter in our house and really simplified our stuff and it has made us so much happier. There's so much less to do and take care of all the time. I got rid of like 75% of my clothes.

Jen Riday: Wow!

Gina Brodtmann: So I just wear like the same few outfits every week.

Jen Riday: Yeah.

Gina Brodtmann: And it’s my favorite stuff and I love what I have but I don't have a lot. And it's just… everything is so much easier. So…

Jen Riday: Oh, I love that.

Gina Brodtmann: Those 2 things are slowing down, simplifying, and then, yeah, I think accepting that fear and struggle are just part of the journey and they're not something to be avoided, that I… you know, embracing them.

Jen Riday: Yeah.

Gina Brodtmann: I really find happiness when I do that.

Jen Riday: Yeah, embrace them and find out what's on the other side of that fear.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah, yeah.

Jen Riday: Well, let's have a challenge to our listeners and maybe tell us where you see yourself heading in the future, just so we can imagine you there, and then we'll say goodbye.

Gina Brodtmann: Well, the challenge I'm getting is something that I just heard yesterday; I say ‘heard’ because I do almost everything on audio books. In ‘Rising Strong’ with Brené Brown, she was talking about, “So my challenge to everybody is, think about someone who is really a stressful person in your life, someone you really struggle with, you're having such a hard time figuring out what to do or dealing with this problem that they're, you know, bringing. And what if you were told with absolute certainty and you knew for sure that they are actually doing the best they can? Then how would that change the way you see them?” And, to me, that just really, really opened my mind in a new way of saying, “Okay, if somebody who I'm struggling with is really doing the best they can, they're just not… they don't have the tools to do any better right now. What would I do?” Well, I would drop my anger that's just a waste of time. That's not going to motivate somebody to be better when they… they can't do any better right now. And I would either help them or I would set a boundary and say, “Okay, this… you know, something's not going to work here.” And so I just found a lot of freedom in that and I… I would love to… I had my husband do that exercise yesterday too and it was just really interesting. So…

Jen Riday: So how do you do the exercise? You just decide to imagine that they're doing the best they can…

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah.

Jen Riday: … and then decide whether to help or set a boundary?

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah, right. And so… so you just imagine this person and, you know, I think it's natural to… at first, people are going to say, “Well, they're not doing the best they can. I know they're not.” And to say, “Okay, but let that go. What if like God came down and told you, ‘I promise they're doing the best they can; I guarantee it,’ and you really believed it? It's about how does that change you? How does it change how you feel inside and how you would move forward?”

Jen Riday: Yeah, yeah.

Gina Brodtmann: Because I think we all spend so much time hoping someone is just about to change or, “How can I motivate them?” or, “How do I need to push them?” and instead to say, “What if you just accepted they're doing the best they can?” And maybe the best they can isn't good enough for you. Maybe you're going to have to say then, “This isn't going to work,” or something. But you might instead say, “Okay, I'm going to stop putting them in a situation where they keep failing. I'm going to help them. I'm going to accept that I need to take more responsibility or I'm going to let go of some expectations,” or something. And I… I just think, yeah, there's a lot of freedom in that.

Jen Riday: Yeah, I immediately thought of a couple of people.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah.

Jen Riday: And I try, but… but immediately when I went there and I thought, “Okay, they're doing the best they can,” my stomach sank and I felt sad for them but also a lot of compassion.

Gina Brodtmann: Yeah. Yes.

Jen Riday: So, well, that's a good exercise. I'm going to have to do some more after we get off the interview.


Jen Riday: Well, Gina, my goodness this has been amazing! I know everyone's going to be wanting more of you and… I don't know, so that's why I want to ask you, do you have any big plans for the future? “Can you write a book for us?” is really what I want.


Gina Brodtmann: I don't know, maybe if you help me.

Jen Riday: Well, mine isn’t even done so…

Gina Brodtmann: I don't know. I don't have any plans right now. I don't know what… I don't know what my future holds. I know I'm happier than I've ever been and I'm just starting to really play with this in the last year of feeling that fear and doing it anyway and going forward and just not having it have to have a bigger plan that I know right now; I'm just going step by step. So I don't know. Yeah, maybe I would write a book, maybe I would teach a class or something. I am so passionate about this child development and passionate about minimalism and passionate about so much of what you do with Vibrant Happy Women. I feel like it's all connected and I think about that a lot, of like, “How could I write or do something to show how all of this is connected and sending the same message of, you know, ‘Keep it simple and see the best’?” And, you know, it's all the little steps that add up to a happy life and all of that stuff. So I don't know.

Jen Riday: Well, you have big things. You've touched my heart today, for sure. So thank you for being you, for being so authentic and vulnerable and having no agenda, just being Gina; it was beautiful. Thank you for being on the show.

Gina Brodtmann: Thank you, Jen.

Jen Riday: Ah, that episode is full of so many nuggets of wisdom from Gina, and you can find several of those quotes, which were so good, along with Gina's recipe, her favorite books and everything else we talked about on our show notes page at jenriday.com/105. Also, don't forget to enter to win one of those $100 Amazon gift cards, celebrating 100 episodes of Vibrant Happy Women. You can enter to win at jenriday.com/giveaway. Join me next time for a happy bit featuring The Mom’s Ultimate Spring Break Checklist, the perfect guide to help you have a more enjoyable Spring. Even if your Spring Break is over, you're going to love this checklist because it will give you some great ideas to keep your kids entertained this Spring. Also, we’ll be announcing the winners for that giveaway so don't miss it. I will see you next time, until then, take care.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.