J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 140. We're talking more about self-love and how to let go of feelings of shame; stay tuned.
Welcome back to Vibrant Happy Women, I'm Jen Riday, your host, and I'm so glad you're tuning in today. Alright, I want to introduce my guest today. Ann Jambor is a friend of mine, I have known her from one of my programs and she is just such a fun, happy, calm person, and I love her; and she has an interesting story so I wanted share that with you today. She's a quote-unquote ‘real’ woman. Sometimes we have a lot of coaches and authors and amazing, you know, higher-level women, and some of you say, “Jen, give us more quote unquote ‘real’ women.” Well, I think every woman is real and we're all in various parts of our journey, but Ann has an amazing story of learning to let go of shame that happened when she experienced a teenage pregnancy as a minister's daughter and what she's done in her life since then to, you know, live a life that feels good for her. So without further ado, let's go ahead and dive into this interview.
Hey, everyone, I'm here with Ann Jambor and she's a friend of mine who I met through my Heal Your Heart program. And she's awesome, I totally have fallen in love with her and I know you will too as we talk with her today about shame and vulnerability. And so let's go ahead and have you tell us a little bit about yourself, Ann, and we better start with a quote first because that always sets the tone for everything we're going to do today, so go…
A: Yeah, thank you, Jen. My quote is really a motto that I had to write for… I was working with a nutritional therapist actually and she asked us to write sort of a life motto that would be able to inform and answer any questions that would come up about how we wanted to live, and so this is what I have, and I'm not a great writer, so it is, “To live a life of authenticity, I'll bring beauty and love to my home and environment with joy, cultivate growth, and provide nourishment, stability and nurturing by honoring myself, nature, and others.”
J: Ooh, that's really great; way to go.
A: Well, it's fun because if I ask myself a question, “Am I going to put a straw in my drink at this restaurant?” I can go back to this mission statement and say, “Well, I'm saying I'm going to bring beauty to my environment, so does adding another plastic straw to the trash bring beauty to my environment?” so it really does help me inform all sorts of aspects of how I live my life.
J: Awesome, awesome. Well, let's go ahead and dive into your story, Ann, and what you've experienced in life so far; there's so much life ahead but life so far.
A: Mm-hmm, absolutely. Well, I sort of started my grown-up adult journey by becoming a very young mom; I was 16 when I had my first son. And being 16 and pregnant, I was in the 10th grade, it was very scary to have to walk in and tell my parents that this huge, you know, life event had happened. They were very supportive but I did experience just a great deal of shame walking down the halls at school, I felt like there was a spotlight on me all the time. But of course, as you know, becoming a mother is one of the greatest blessings in life and I wouldn't change it for anything. It was very transformative, very scary, but something that I would never take back.
J: Oh man, I can't even imagine the shame of it. I remember when I was a sophomore I was playing basketball and all those kind of things, so take us back, tell us the activities you were involved in and then what your life looked like, the social life, the academic life, everything else, you know, being at school while pregnant how that felt for you so we can get into the emotion of that shame with you.
A: Sure. Well, when I was a teenager, I was a cellist; I played the cello. I was very, very good, I was the only cellist in our school who got a 1A at our State competition, which is the highest rank that you can get. I was one of the youngest people in the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Senior orchestra.
A: I was not first tier but I was third tier so we had, I don't know, 20 or so cello players, so being 3rd out of 20 was pretty good, and…
A: You know, I wasn't super competitive about my cello playing, but I was proud of it, it was something that I did. I was not a big athlete ever so the competition really came in with the cello.
A: I was a good student. I did get a little rebellious there at the beginning of high school but I would say, other than my freshman year of high school, I was really a good, you know, A, B type of student.
J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
A: I loved going to school and being a person, school was my social outlet…
A: … more than anything, especially in high school. So I always had a good time, I always had a lot of friends and just enjoyed myself.
J: And so you found yourself pregnant, oh my gosh, you know, how did you decide what to do in that situation?
A: Yes, it was very scary. At the time, I had just started becoming sexually active. So even though I… I knew the whole concept, I knew that it was possible for me to get pregnant, it was such a shock; and I'm sure other girls have a similar story, but I just didn't think it would really happen.
A: So that was just a huge surprise; I had to tell my parents. And my dad, at the time, was in seminary to become an Episcopal priest.
J: Oh no! (Laughs)
A: So you… you can imagine the irony, the preacher's kid sort of syndrome. (Laughs)
J: I shouldn’t laugh but, you know?
A: No, it's… it's funny and I'm sure it was just mortifying for my parents; they were wonderful. The first thing my father said with so much grief and pain in his face, but his first reaction was, “I am not letting a grandchild of mine leave this earth.” So that, to me, I understood that to mean that he did not want me to think about in abortion.
A: Not that that couldn't have been a choice that I could have made, but it's just not a choice that I… I had already chosen not to go that route, that's why I was telling my parents.
J: Oh, right, right.
A: You know?
A: So I had a tremendous amount of support from my parents. It was not an easy road that we took, it was very difficult as a family to make this adjustment, but they were not the kind of people who were going to kick their daughter out for making a mistake, they were just really, really wonderful about everything.
J: Oh, thank goodness.
A: In the middle of all of that, we moved from Wisconsin (where my father was in seminary) to Texas. So the summer between my 10th grade and 11th grade year, we made this move from Wisconsin to Texas and then actually, on the first day of my 11th grade year was the day that I gave birth to my son.
J: Oh my goodness, did you go to school that day?
A: I did not. It was the…
J: Okay. (Laughs)
A: He was 2 or 3 days overdue so we were expecting something to happen. So I didn't go to school that day, but it was sort of ironic that I had given birth on the first day of school.
J: Did your parents move to help you have a more comfortable situation with your pregnancy or it just worked out that way? Because it sounds like you had the biggest part of your pregnancy when you were the biggest during summer vacation.
A: I did.
A: Actually, the last trimester was over the summer, but I did have that middle trimester during my 10th grade year.
J: Oh boy.
A: The last semester of school I was pregnant during my 10th grade year. But, no, my father finished his 3rd year of seminary and graduated that year that I was in 10th grade and he had to look for a job and he found a wonderful position in Fort Worth, Texas.
A: And I still don't know the story to this day, but I can only imagine that applying for positions as a priest and having the story that, “I have a 16 year old daughter who pregnant,” was not easy for him.
A: But he found a wonderful community. He's still working at that church 23 years later…
J: Oh, wow.
A: … and he loves it, yeah.
J: Oh good.
A: He's doing tremendous work, he's wonderful; he's a wonderful man.
J: Well, so in the beginning, you mentioned the feelings of shame you had being in high school and walking around pregnant, tell us some of the interactions you had with your peers during that second trimester.
A: Yes. Well, one of the first things that I dealt with being young and pregnant was the stigma that I was probably a lot more sexually active than I actually was.
A: I don't use any derogatory terms, but I was embarrassed by that. And I felt that sentiment coming from the school counselors, from teachers, from other students, and it was a difficult thing to have to navigate. So there was a lot of guilt, there was a lot of pressure. I felt like I needed to explain myself.
A: But at the same time, I just kind of put everything out there and walked through the hallways and just tried to keep my chin up as much as possible. But, yeah, it's difficult when your body starts changing especially because people notice that and it's a curiosity thing. I don't think anybody was ever trying to be purposefully mean, but I just obviously had a lot more of negative attention than I was used to or than I ever wanted.
A: Like I mentioned before, I felt like there was always a spotlight following me as I walked around. So there's that social shame, but then also body shame, you know? I didn't have the kind of body that would bounce back into a sweet-16 shape after I gave birth, and that was rough being so young and dealing with some of the issues of a changing, you know, matronly body; it was very hard.
J: Yeah. I'm trying to pull myself back to how I felt as a teen, but yes, I mean, bodies are everything, you're thinking about how you look all the time, and I'm starting to see my oldest daughter get into her appearance now (Laughs); it's so funny.
J: As she starts puberty, it's like that appearance thing turns on with it, but yeah, the body shame and then to add the… the pregnancy piece. But you mentioned people treated you as if you were someone who slept around and I was…
J: … just asking myself in my mind, you know, “Why do you automatically go there?” Have you thought about why that is? And it happens all the time in all kinds of situations in society.
J: Why do we shame each other? Why? (Laughs)
A: Why do we shame each other? It's a great question. My theory is that it goes back to the idea that hurt people hurt people.
A: And, you know, we just have just ingrained responses. I don't feel like it's a conscious decision even to assume that about somebody. So even my son's father who ended up becoming my husband and he's a wonderful man, I think he even felt that way.
J: That people were shaming him or that…?
A: No, that people were shaming me.
A: And it's just something that we've had to work through as a couple over the years. So I don't know why, I don't know why do we do that to people.
J: No, no, but you're right, hurt people hurt people.
J: Well, take us forward, and continuing this theme of shame, I really want to go deeper on that. You tell us, you know, you moved to Texas and you eventually married your husband, when else have you…
J: … noticed shame happening in your life with various times and… yeah, I know you have 3 boys now total, correct?
A: I do, I have 3 boys. My oldest is 23, he's living in Colorado Springs and I've got an almost 14 year old and then almost 13 year old, so they're not babies anymore.
A: They're the interesting ages. I feel like I have continued to experience a lot of shame around… I didn't finish college.
A: I did finish high school on time, I was really proud of that; I finished high school. I did go to college a couple of times, but with working full-time and having such a young child and being so young, finishing college, it was just not something that I had in my ability to do at the time. It was…
J: Yeah, with a baby and everything.
A: I want to say I regret it but at the same time, I can't go back and change anything that I did. So I do have a little shame about my educational level. I feel like I should have had a lot more to offer and I sort of dropped the ball with finishing my education.
A: And there's a lot of shame around that because now, you know, I feel like a college degree is something that's taken for granted, and education and having that checklist is such an important aspect to anyone's résumé…
J: Yeah, right.
A: … just in general. I feel like I've done a very good job of self-education, of being interested in certain topics and really diving deep in some of those areas. But as far as having the piece of paper, that's been a rough one for me.
J: My best friend didn't finish her 4-year degree and she expresses similar feeling, she feels really ashamed about that; it's funny. And going back, you know, you have to dissect these things, where is that shame coming from? I guess it's a social expectation, right?
A: Right, all of those social expectations that, you know, they're great, there's a lot of value and a great education, but I don't feel like I'm any less intelligent because I don't have that piece of paper, I just don't have the piece of paper.
J: Yeah, yeah. Well, keep moving forward, so you have your boys and they're doing great, your family seems amazing. I know Ann kind of personally now, even though I haven't met her in person because we talk a lot virtually but, you know, how have you experienced other episodes of shame and then dealt with that?
A: Mm-hmm. Well, let me think here. I just recently went through an interesting situation socially, I probably don't want to get too deep into that, but it was rough time. I had a little bit of a sexual harassment issue at work.
A: And that was very difficult to navigate because I stuck up for myself. And after sticking up for myself and saying, “I'm not putting up with this,” there was a little bit of backlash and that was very difficult to deal with. So that was just another area that I've experienced some shame. And not just this one time, I know as women, we all deal with shame around certain sexual harassment issues. So it's always difficult to stand up for yourself. I feel like finally we sort of collectively have a voice through the Me Too movement and through all of the communication that we have on social media, I think it's fantastic and I feel a lot more empowered to really stick up for myself and not feel shame about wanting some boundaries.
J: Yeah, exactly.
J: So it turned out okay, you are… you know, you didn't get fired or anything.
A: Right, it turned out okay, everything's fine, I just… it was a rough patch there just trying to get through that gracefully.
J: So, you know, going back to that word ‘social expectations’, it's almost like I'm seeing the pattern here, but whenever you do anything out of the norm (that word ‘normal’) it's like people want to squash you back into place. And with my… you know, I've had these struggles with my oldest 2 teenagers and initially I felt a lot of shame until I analyzed it.
J: But it's true, they weren't acting quote-unquote ‘normal’. I just wish we could throw that word out and forget it exists and just celebrate the variety, the rainbow, the diversity of everything. And that's really how I dealt with the shame was deciding to celebrate who my kids are and be fine with quote-unquote ‘abnormal’ (Laughs), you know?
A: Absolutely, absolutely, it's fantastic. We have talked… you and I've talked about ‘The Four Tendencies’…
A: … Gretchen Rubin’s ‘Four Tendencies’…
A: … which is amazing, I recommend that, to go and read that book. But I fall squarely in the middle of the rebel circle.
J: Really? Okay.
A: Yes. And so I think I have a little bit of an easier time with… I do feel the same, but at the same time, I do… it sort of fuels me, it's a weird dichotomy.
A: But I just feel like I can hold my head up and say, “You know what? This is just how I am. I don't really need to please you. I'm doing my thing, this is my life, this is my thing, this is where I'm at.”
J: Right, right, I agree. I have rebel tendencies even though I'm a questioner and I've caught myself saying, “You know, I don't care what anyone thinks.” (Laughs)
A: Oh, good.
J: Partially to convince myself, you know, but also partially just to give myself permission to do what I want to do, and it sounds like you're the same.
A: Yes, absolutely, absolutely, I love it; I love being a rebel.
J: Well, so what's happening in your life, you know, now? You married your husband, you have your 3 boys, what's next for you?
A: What's next for me? That's a good question. I'm in the middle of a little bit of transition, so I'm not sure. I'm doing a lot of soul seeking and just trying to become mindful about where I want to go next and what I'd like to do. So we are very happily situated in Fort Worth, my husband is running a great business, and so I imagine we're going to continue to invest in his work with his business and stay in Fort Worth near my parents and just continue to… to build our lives there. The boys are going to be finishing their last, you know, few years of school before they graduate so we'll hopefully just stick it out here and let them finish high school and everything. So… but for me, I just don't know, I'm in transition, so I will keep you posted.
J: Cool, that's cool. Going back to shame, Brené Brown says that, “Shame cannot survive being spoken.” Do you feel like there’s some truth to that for you?
A: I do, I really, really do. When I'm having some of my best conversations with my husband about some of these various aspects of shame, just being able to say it and making it visible helps bring it out of the shadow. Because I feel like shame really can only grow and fester in these shadowy parts, and if we bring it into the light, it doesn't have the opportunity to just well up inside of you.
J: That makes sense. And so when you had the sexual harassment issue at work, you chose to speak your truth essentially.
A: I did.
J: Mm-hmm. What would have happened if you hadn't, inside of you?
A: Well, I think that what would have happened was what has happened a lot over the years and that's that I would have just let it sit there and let it fester and let it bother me, and the next time I saw that person, I would have felt icky and felt bad, instead of just standing up for what I need and what I want for myself, my boundaries, that was huge for me. But at the same time, it was so scary. I can't tell you how just terrified I was to… to set that boundary. That was… it was very scary to do that at work.
J: Yeah, oh my goodness, because you could lose your job or something, right?
A: Well, I think that technically…
J: Probably not. (Laughs)
A: Right, but that's the whole idea behind harassment is that you're scared to speak up about it because of whatever. I mean, of course it's not legal for someone to fire you over speaking up for that, but it's something that you worry about. And so that's the whole idea is that you don't feel safe.
J: Mm, mm-hmm. So, Ann, you're in the Heal Your Heart program and so in Heal Your Heart, we're working on self-love and just I think that kind of ties in nicely to shame. How has that been for you and what are you learning and experiencing as you work on self-love?
A: Yes. First of all I've really, really enjoyed our Heal Your Heart group, it's been phenomenal. You've really opened so many doors for us, just given us so many tools in a toolbox; it's been fantastic. I feel like, for me, that has been a really fantastic journey of self-reflection, of learning really what makes me happy, what helps me become happier during, you know, the little happiness hacks that we do or books that we've read, concepts that we discussed. Understanding these concepts of shame and vulnerability, it's been huge just to be able to bring all of that forward and just understand it better. So I feel like understanding myself has helped me love myself.
J: Why do you think being in a group is important for that kind of work?
A: For me, being in the group really fuels me, it gives me a lot of encouragement to know that I'm not the only one. I'm not crazy for feeling the feelings that I, you know, feel. I'm not abnormal in some of these feelings of shame and vulnerability that I have. I'm not the only person who feels jealousy or fear. We've got a whole spectrum of women in our group and some people have been through tremendous trauma. Hearing their stories is so encouraging, it gives you so much hope for the future. And I feel like every time we come together as a group to just talk, we just all leave that hour being so much stronger because we are able to come together and just share. And I love when someone has an insight. You know, someone might be really, really struggling with something that's going on in their life that week or that month and then I share something I'm struggling with, and that other person who's having such a difficult time, they have a light bulb moment and they're able to contribute something back to me or vice-versa, and it's just such a wonderful give-and-take; I just love it. I wish we could all have these groups in person.
J: Mm-hmm. Oh, wouldn’t that be great? I know.
A: Yeah, just be able to meet one or twice a week with such a great tribe of women, it's wonderful.
J: Awesome. And I think there's something fun about collecting a group of women… collecting, but bringing together a group of women who all are interested in bettering themselves, interested in personal growth and… and self-help. And I don't know, I'm with you, I feel like you guys would all be my best friends if you lived close. (Laughs)
A: I feel the same way. It is just such a phenomenal group and I just love; it I love it. I think you're doing an amazing thing with Heal Your Heart and all the work you're doing, just bringing those women together in groups like that, it's genius because we need so much community in our life.
J: Yeah, people are lonely, I think.
J: People don't interact anymore. I'm sure the pendulum’s going to swing back, and maybe it will happen virtually just like this, I don't know, yeah.
A: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like the virtual thing is a great substitute, but I do feel like, gosh, we just need to somehow come together and be able to support one another in these little communities or tribes.
A: I like to call it my tribe because I really do feel like we all have each other's backs and that we're all just getting through this together.
J: Yeah, it's true, cool, thanks, Ann. Well, let's take a quick break for our sponsor and then we'll come back and talk about some of your favorite things.
J: Okay, Ann, welcome back. Ann, what is… what would you say is your favorite happiness tool, the thing that if you do it, it works the best for keeping your mood up and your happiness high?
A: Ah, gosh, I love music.
A: My husband and I are both musicians and so, for me, putting on a great song in the car or in the living room and just dancing all that stress out is just the best thing I can do; I love it.
J: And what does your morning routine look like?
A: Okay. So as I mentioned, I am a little bit of a rebel (or a lot).
A: So the routine is not my favorite thing. But I do have to tell you that, over the past several months, my husband and I have gotten into the routine of snuggling first thing in the morning.
A: And so sometimes… sometimes that's 2 minutes and sometimes it's an hour, depending on when we wake up what we have to do that day. But I feel so much support and love and it gives me time to just lie there awake and meditate and think about what I need for the day. And it's just an amazing way to start the day in such a feeling of being supported and being loved. The other thing that I do every day is I wake up and I drink a huge glass of water with lemon or apple cider vinegar or something, just to get my digestive system going and it just makes me feel great.
J: Mm-hmm, hydration, I love it.
J: You know, hydration is such a huge part of energy, it's for sure; smart.
A: It is.
J: What is your favorite easy meal?
A: That's a smoothie. Hands-down, almost every day, I have a smoothie with some vegan protein powder and it's just such an easy way for me to start the day.
J: Mm-hmm, and your favorite kitchen gadget.
A: That's my Vitamix because I've got to make my smoothie.
J: Yeah, that makes sense. What about an interesting, I don't know, a life hack; something you do that makes your life easier in some way?
A: Okay. If it's possible, I do have a little bit of a plug, completely unaffiliated, but there's a lady who has a website called flylady.com.
J: Oh yeah.
A: F-L-Y lady. And because I'm a rebel, and because I'm pretty much probably attention… I have a little bit of attention deficit disorder…
A: … she has these great routines and lists and she has a great little app, and every day, it'll shoot you a little message saying, “Hey, do this today for 2 minutes,” and it's just a great thing that I get, you know, go through a little checklist, I get my housework done, and I don't have to think about it. So I love FlyLady, she's great.
J: I used to do the FlyLady stuff about a decade ago, and she's still around then? (Laughs)
A: Yes, she is, and she's still… it's pretty much the same deal, so…
J: Do you still have the index cards and flip through index cards, or did she update it?
A: You know, she's got some list that you can print out and she's got an app now.
J: Oh yeah.
A: So she has updated, but I do have all that old stuff somewhere; I probably need to declutter that actually.
J: There you go.
A: I'm sure it's sitting around somewhere.
J: Okay. And what's your favorite book?
A: My favorite book right now is called ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’ by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist. I keep going back to that book, it's a very small book, but I recommend that to all of our listeners here; it's just fantastic. He will remind you to stop segmenting your day and to bring in mindfulness into every aspect of your day, whether it's snuggling with your kids or doing the dishes.
J: So what do you mean by segmenting your day? He kind of is a proponent of bigger blocks of time for things or…?
A: No, he has this great story. A father who is frustrated because he doesn't have time for himself, and the father has to do X, Y, and Z for the kids and he has to do the dishes and he has to go to work, and he segments his time in his mind…
A: … in all these different ways. But if you take that away and you stop worrying about what's… you know, if you're doing the dishes and you're worrying about the next 8 things that you need to do that evening, you're not going to be present while you're doing the dishes or while you're talking to your children helping them with homework. He said, “All the time it becomes your time if you're mindful and present.”
J: Mm, that's so cool.
A: Yeah, it's a fantastic book, ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’.
J: I'll write that quote down, “All the time becomes…” well that's probably not the… if it's his quote, but it's good.
A: I'm sure I'm paraphrasing.
J: No, no, that's so good, ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’, I'll have to check it out.
J: I think I read it a long time ago. So, Ann, we will have links to this book and the FlyLady website on our show notes page (just telling our listeners that), let's ask this favorite question of mine. What does it mean to be a vibrant happy woman?
A: For me, that means that I live by that mission statement that I read to you earlier, that I really do bring beauty and love and joy into my home, that I'm able to, no matter what's going on, whatever the noise is living with 3 men, whatever's going on, that I'm able to keep myself sort of above all of that and just stay peaceful and stay joyful and help everybody in the home be present with one another.
J: Mm, yeah, I like that. And let's have a challenge from you to our listeners.
A: So I don't have any big profound challenge. My challenge to everybody is to go back to the water, and first thing in the morning have a big glass of water, like as much as you can drink, 16 or 32 ounces, and put some lemon, put some apple cider vinegar in there or something. But just drink all that water before you do anything, before you have coffee, and just watch how your day changes.
A: It's just phenomenal. There's a book called, something about how all of our health issues just go back to being dehydrated, and it's amazing. So for me, this week, everybody needs to drink a ton of water.
J: Very good, it's true. I also heard that just oxygenating, water and oxygen, we wouldn't even need that much food if we would do those adequately. (Laughs)
J: Well, Ann, I love you, you're amazing, and thank you so much for being on the show.
A: Aww, thanks, Jen, ditto; I love you and I think you are amazing.
J: (Laughs) Thank you! I'll take it. Have a good day, Ann.
A: You too.
J: There you have it, the beautiful and amazing Ann Jambor talking all about how she has, you know, let go of shame and learn to value and love herself. I will be back next week talking with Danielle Mendoza discussing this topic of self-love even further. And she talks about her fear of abandonment, how she grew up with, you know, not a lot of connection. She grew up in an unstable environment that gave her lots of abandonment issues and how she had to heal that in order to experience a healthier relationship with her spouse. It's a beautiful story and I can't wait for you to hear that as well.