J: I'm talking with Maggie Panning today and she's a member of the Vibrant Happy Women club who I love, love, love. And she's a stay-at-home mama and massage therapist who lives on a small acreage in central Minnesota with her husband and their lovely 5-year-old son. She's a thinker and a questioner, a conversationalist, a gardener and the cook, a lover of libraries and the time spent around kitchen tables. She's a woman trying to figure out how to live a big and meaningful life in a sweet and simple way; there's her book title right there, Maggie, or at least your tagline. Welcome to the show.
M: Thank you so much for having me, Jen.
J: I don't know if you want to write a book but I hope you will because isn't that what we all want, to live a big and meaningful life in a sweet and simple way? Oh, so good it's so good. Well, let's dive into your favorite quote.
M: So my favorite quote, I wish I could say that it was by somebody amazing but I'm pretty sure I got it off an iced tea lid. It is, “If you want to be free, learn to live simply,” and that to me, it doesn't mean that I don't want obligations, that I don't want to be encumbered by, you know, family and friends and things, it just means that I need to simplify to get rid of, you know, excess clutter in my house, obligations that I don't really want to go to, less media, you know, commercials. And I don't have Wi-Fi, things like that, just filter it all out so that I can get back to what is really important to me. The less that is around, I can move around, I can have time for the people that I love and for the things that I want to do.
J: Wow, and you don't have Wi-Fi?
M: I don't.
J: Oh, we're going to talk about that in a minute, but first, let's go all the way back. When did you first start thinking like this? Because I find it refreshing and it kind of hammers down on something I've been feeling as well, maybe not doing as successfully as you, were you born this way, essentially? I'm curious.
M: I think that my childhood, I was raised this way. My grandmother definitely thought this. I have a beautiful poem by her that I don't have on me right now but I could share with our group or something at some point that she wrote, but I got away from it. And, you know, after I graduated from high school and I started my own life, I totally got sucked up into just more faster, you know, do this, do that. And so I found myself, I bought a home really young, I got a brand new vehicle, I had brand new furniture in my house and then I found myself having to work between 50 and 60 hours a week to pay for those things and I wasn't connecting with friends very often, I was just working and watching television. And I kept saying to my mom, “I want a job like you, I want hours like you have.” She started out doing massage and bodywork she does Reiki and EFT and all kinds of different things, but she has her own business and her own hours. And so while she was living that existence, I was going from one job changing, while I drove, into my yoga clothes, I'd be the last one in the yoga class I'd sneak in, you know, lay down at the beginning and do my practice. At the end, I'd fall asleep during shavasana, I'd walk across the street, get a coffee, and go to my next job, and I thought, “This is not what I want.” And so I started looking at other options and I ended up applying and going to a massage school in rural California. I had never been there before, I just drove out.
J: Wait, how did you find it? I mean, how did you know, “Hey, rural California, this one,”?
M: The internet. (Laughs)
M: It was a residential massage school and I knew I wanted… I wanted something big, I didn't want to just go to the like the local community college massage program if I was going to do it, because I wanted so much more from it than just like a different job. And, you know, you went online and you looked and it was like Eden, you know, I mean, most of the food, a lot of it was raised there, it was pretty simple and very like wholesome and delicious. It was… there was like no light pollution.
M: You know, at night, you… there'd be a couple of lights on the buildings, otherwise, you'd sit in the hot tub at night and just look out at the mountains all around you.
M: We were 45 minutes from the nearest town and so, you know, the pictures on the internet and then their little brochure were just like, you know, too good to be true. And so I went and it was really like that, it really was idyllic and, you know, there wasn't… you didn't listen to the radio and watch TV, you just connected with the people, about 100 people on campus, and you got a ton of body work and so talked about like moving through stuff in your life if you had it. And that was really start of getting back to who I am, you know, at the core and to what is really important to me.
J: And what's the name of that massage school in case, you know, I decide to abandon my family and go there?
M: Well, the cool thing is is they have kind of changed. So the people that ran it when I went there they were sort of like, you know, retirement age. And so it's called the Heartwood Institute and it still exists but it has changed, and so it's more retreats and whatnot, so we do retreats.
M: I don't know what, you know… so yeah, it has morphed but it is still just this amazing place that continues to sort of its changing itself, but it's still totally awesome. And I too think often about, “How could I just sneak back out there for a while?” (Laughs)
J: Ah, man. Well, if you ever find something similar, let me know, we'll go together. (Laughs)
M: Sounds good.
J: Okay. Well, so tell us about Heartwood, you know, you arrived, did you have to sell all your stuff to, you know, have them money to pay for this 9 month thing or how did that work?
M: I got a loan like you do to go to school and my house, my then boyfriend, now husband, he and his brother rented the house until my parents got divorced, but that's a whole other story. And so I just packed up my Honda Civic and drove out, and I got there and I thought, “I want to leave. I don't know what I was thinking. I'm basically in a hippie commune, I'm scared, I'm lonely, like I just left everything I know,” and my mom said, “Maggie, you have to stay.” And at the end of 9 months, you know, I didn't want to leave, I was like, “No!”
M: But, yes, so the beginning was different, it was just a big adjustment because life is different there. There's no processed food, like I said, there's no media, you know, I wasn't like listening to the radio and knowing what was going on in the world. And so as much as that is wonderful, it takes a while, it's like… it's sort of like detoxing from so many things. You know, I think the last thing I ate before I went there was a corn dog and…
M: And then you go, and when I left, a lot of my friends and I, we had a hard time sort of adjusting back to regular life. You'd go into a gas station you’re like, “Oh my gosh, fluorescent lights,” and, you know, you'd eat a Dorito and you could taste the flavor crystals. We would talk about how it was like Eden or like being in the womb because everything felt, in a way, like how it should (Laughs)…
M: … you know, without all the other distractions in life. And you were getting a ton of body work, so physically, you felt great. You're eating wonderful food, tons of exercise you had to hike everywhere like, you know, hike up the hill from the lower dorms up to wherever your classes were. And you were with people all the time, like the connections were so deep. It's like, you know, lots of people have had experiences at camp, and at the end of a week, you know, you're like crying like you never want to leave your friends.
M: And college is somewhat like that but college is also like very… it's big and there's a lot going on, this was much simpler. It was like taking life like back to the bone, you know? And so you just connected with people in such a deep way, and connection is just the number one important thing to me in my life.
M: And so it's just really powerful. I mean, I don't think anything in my life has been as transformative as having those 9 months spent in a place like that.
J: Oh, it just… you know, it's amazing to think of being screen free and, you know, even media free, TV free, but then all the healthy food and the exercise and the type of people that go there. Those deep connections, it just makes sense because it's… it was creating the perfect environment for it to happen.
M: Mm-hmm, absolutely.
J: So tell us about your first day there, what it was like, you know?
M: It was very intense, it was like… well, first of all, I was horribly nauseous because the roads are like so windy. And so you get there and I'm like from, you know, the plains of Minnesota and so I was nauseous and whatnot. And then I had to find my dorm, I felt alone. And then by the end of the night, we were in this big group, there were probably, I want to say, you know, 20 to 30 students in a couple of different programs plus a lot of staff and whomever else in basically one big heart circle where we kind of told a little bit about where we came from and why we were there, and it got really intense. Day 1, one of the fellow students said that he was there really shortly after treatment from some pretty serious drug addictions and, you know, kind of asked our group as a whole if we could be like a, you know, a dry clean group while we were there, and we all said yes right away.
M: And, I mean, there were tears shed the first day and so it was like, “Alright, here we go, let's all get to know each other really well, really fast.”
M: And so, you know, by the end of the day, you kind of went back to your room and thought, “Wow, this is going to be big.”
J: (Laughs) Oh, man. Well, so massage school, 9 months, you know, wow, did you learn every kind of massage available?
M: (Laughs) No, it was…. we started out, we got like an introduction into shiatsu which is like acupressure, and we did Swedish massage and deep tissue and then we did lots of like anatomy and physiology and business and, you know, how to just sort of be in the world and breathing and all kinds of different things that go along with it. But, no, I certainly don't know everything about massage. (Laughs)
J: Ah, that’s so fun. Well, so I know you want to talk about body image today, so tell us your story of what you learned about the body there.
M: Yeah. So I mentioned that I am from… I'm from south central Minnesota, and I grew up on a dairy farm. My parents are… they're pretty progressive and a little bit, you know, unusual if you think about like a typical like dairy farming family, but my… the world surrounding me, my grandparents, everybody, you know, is much more conservative life. So now you stick me in Northern California this massage school where you can eat dinner and you can look out and see, you know, somebody jumping off the diving board, totally in the nude, and I was like, “Oh my gosh!” because it was clothing-optional by the pool, by the hot tub. And then in your classes, once you got to Swedish class, you weren't, you know, like hiding behind a drape, doing the whole like, “How do you sneak your bra off without anybody noticing?” kind of thing, people were just undressed. I met the president of the college or the school, you know, within the first few days I was there. And I, at this point, was still totally in my bathing suit, you know, laying by the… the pool and she walked over, and she's standing over us and she's, you know, probably in her late 60's, just drying herself off talking to us, and I'm thinking, “Oh my god, I don't know if I can do this.”
M: And I started to feel more naked, being like the one person still in my bathing suit.
J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
M: And so eventually, you know, I stripped myself of that and I felt really uncomfortable at first, and then over the course of my 9 months there, both, you know, receiving so much body work, working on so many different bodies and then just seeing everybody, really seeing everybody, first of all, you realize there's literally nobody who is perfect. And since, you know, then I've done massage on thousands and thousands of people, and no airbrushed. Even the people who you think are perfect, they're not. They've got something that bugs them or something that you think, “Okay, well, you know, a magazine would try to cover that up.” And it was so freeing and I have never felt better about myself than when everybody knew everything about me. You weren't trying to hide that little belly roll or, you know, a mole you didn't like or whatever, it's just everybody just was as they were.
M: And it felt so good to shed that feeling. You know, like when you're a teenage girl, you just everybody, most people, you know, you just feel like you just want to hide everything and hopefully the right amount of, you know, the perfect genes are the perfect whatever make you look like you're supposed to look.
M: And there, you realize there was no supposed to.
M: It's just you just were what you were.
J: Ah, that's so fascinating, it reminds me of all the conversations the self-help world has about vulnerability because… but I never applied it to clothing. (Laughs)
J: Because shame is when you're hiding something, so I can imagine why that would be so amazing and freeing because it's the ultimate form of vulnerability. You're saying, “Here I am, here are all of my, at least, you know, physical flaws that you can see. Do you still want to be around me?” And, yeah, people probably accepted you and you just let go of all of that worry about your body, does that sound accurate.
M: Yeah, absolutely. It's like when you… you know, you're making friends with somebody for the first time and there's this kind of big thing about yourself that they don't know yet, you know?
J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
M: Maybe it's some trouble, you know, trials in your early life or that, and then you tell them and maybe you're nervous too at first, you know, that they're going to judge you or something and then they still love you and you feel like it's all out on the table, it's the same thing, it is, and it's in the physical realm now. I mean, I'm back in Minnesota now and I'm, you know, dressed.
M: I live in a different world. But I do miss that feeling. It's not that I miss being, you know, like living somewhere where it's like you're sort of nudists, but I missed that feeling of not feeling like you have to cover up all the time.
M: And I mean that both, you know, physically and like metaphorically.
J: So when you were in class, you're with men and women, and when it was time for someone to be…
J: … massaged, you would just take your clothes off right in front of everyone, or is that accurate?
J: And no one even thought twice, that was the norm.
M: Yeah, I mean, like even the first day, you're a little shy.
J: Yeah, right.
M: That was totally the norm. I mean, by the end of class, you didn't think anything of it whatsoever.
J: Because you were learning physiology…
M: You would just walk around the room.
J: … yeah, you had to know those muscles and the…
J: And it makes sense, you want to see the muscles as you're learning, it makes sense.
M: Yeah, absolutely.
J: Oh, that’s so great. What else did you learn at massage school?
M: You know, I think the biggest thing there, it wasn't the textbook stuff, it was the bigger life stuff, you know, like the connection to people, how to really talk and really listen and to accept people, you know, warts and all, and the power of less. You know, like I mentioned the media thing now, I mean, there have been times at my life since when I've sort of been a political junkie, but at that point, Saddam Hussein was captured and I thought, “I forgot he existed,” you know?
M: Like you lived in this bubble, and so while, yes, it can be important to be like an engaged, you know, citizen, it also showed me that you could get away from all the other stuff, you know, the billboards and the… just that constant barrage sort of of media coming in left and right. And like the food was simpler, everything was just simpler. And so I think that that was the biggest stuff. And that was the stuff that we talked about, you know, me and my friends when we left, “How do we bring some of that into our day-to-day life in the modern world?” Because we can't… I mean, a few people are lucky enough to live that existence always, but most of us can't. You know, we go back out into the regular world and we have jobs and lives and families and you're on freeways and things like that. So how do you at least implement some of that stuff? So, I mean, that's way bigger to me than any of the textbook stuff that I learned there, although it has been, you know, important also in my career since.
J: Well, so it reminds me of the fact that I talked to Gina Brodtmann from episode 105 about this but, you know, it does sound so nice. And you want to join Gina and I for the Vibrant Happy Women commune? (Laughs)
J: Gina's from the Twin Cities in Minnesota and then you're south of there, is that right?
M: I am north of there now, I grew up south of there.
J: You’re north of there now, ah, gotcha.
M: I'm north of there now, yes. Yeah, and we have been lucky enough to meet.
J: Yeah, so you and Gina, both from Minnesota, me from Wisconsin, we've totally got to make this happen. (Laughs)
M: That's right. We won't have the California weather but we can make do.
J: (Laughs) Okay. Well, so you… you had this idyllic lifestyle, your little personal Eden, does sound fantastic, give us some direction on how you've tried to bring this into your life now with a spouse and a child and cold winters, you know, in real life.
M: Yeah, so I have… you know, I've definitely floundered, I’ve had times when I was better at this than others, but… so I mentioned we don't have Wi-Fi, we don't have cable television, we have Netflix on DVD. My son watches very little television and, you know, even that in that way. My husband and I watched some in the evenings. I garden, you know, I try to grow some of my own food and I tried to eat… you know, Michael Pollan said, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” And so we try to source, we… I'm a stay-at-home mom so we have a limited income, but I try to source, you know, the most food in sort of its most natural state. I do a lot of cooking because I'm a stay-at-home mom, I have time to do that. And then I try to connect, and that could mean, you know, taking the same walk multiple times a week or a month and watching the world change around me seasonally and seeing, “Okay, well this time of year, the blue flag iris has bloom, and this time of year, you know, that cattails look really shaggy as there's shedding their seeds.” And It might mean, when my son and I are driving in the car, that I turn off the radio and we just talk or we're in line at the, you know, the checkout, and instead of looking at the covers of all the magazines or something, I just stop and I just look him in the eye or maybe I take a few deep breaths or maybe I chat with the person in front of me to have that connection, because that's the stuff that I missed the most when I left there. And my friends and I talked a lot about like this, there felt like there was this frequency there that was just like a lower vibration. So when we were there, we found that we didn't drink, you know, much caffeine, we didn't eat that much sugar, you know, processed foods, you think of like all of the flavor enhancements, we didn't have that stuff, there wasn't the extra lights and, you know, flashing this and that. And so I try to do some of that in my own home, you know, dimmer lighting, more natural materials, you know, cottons and wools and lots of time spent outside. I'm an extrovert so I love small talk, also, you know, I could just chat with some, you know, elderly lady at the supermarket for, you know, 20 minutes or something. But having, you know, friendships where I can really talk it's very, very important to me also.
J: Mm-hmm. What do you like to do with your friends where you experience these deeper connections where you could really talk?
M: Well, I'm a mom now so it's a little different. I mother pretty intensely so my son is always with me, so it's a little bit different than it used to be. You know, my favorite is if I can be with them and our kids are just occupied sort of playing around us and we can share a cup of tea or coffee or something and… and just chat. And I know that, you know, in my future, I have some more time where we could like really do things just us, but for now, you know, that has to be good enough. As much as I don't use media, Gina actually introduced me to Marco Polo that has been a great way to really be able to express myself. You know, I could tell her, my other best friends, you know, I can go on and on and on for 20 minutes, 40 minutes if I want to and they just can listen to it in their own good time and, you know, vice versa. So that is one way that I have been using technology, but, you know, a good old fashioned phone call. I write letters. I have one friend in particular who we decided that we were going to be pen pals and so we just sit down and put pen to paper. I'm very blessed in that I have a lot of really wonderful friends but I'm still… I always leave the door open for new people to come in as well and I have gotten much, much, much braver and bolder about making connections with people in unexpected places that then become really important friends, because I just think, “I mean, really, could you possibly be connected to many cool women?” (Laughs)
J: Right, right. Easily said by an extrovert, yes, but I agree. So…
M: But I just mean, could there… there's never too… there's never too many, you know…
J: Yeah, yeah.
M: … there's always room for somebody else awesome.
J: What's the most unexpected place you formed a friendship in?
M: So my friend who I said I'm pen pals with, maybe 2, 3 summers ago, my son and I were on a… about a 10-hour day trip to get to my uncle's house and we stopped at this park. It was really hot, there's a lake there, and we were just on this playground. And there was another mama with her little one who looked about my son's age and so we did the whole like, “Oh, how old is he?” kind of thing. And it turns out, our sons have the same name, our names are fairly similar, our sons were born a day in a month apart, we had all these weird like the things that we were into and everything, like way too many things that were similar. And so when we left, I said, “I know this is really weird because I just met you at a random park in some town I don't even live in, but could we exchange information?” and we did. Like, and she wasn't even on Facebook so we couldn't even make that sort of casual connection.
M: And we did, and shortly thereafter, I asked if she wanted to become pen pals and we did. .And then not… you know, within the year, I was going to be kind of in her area and I said, “Would you care if we came and stayed with you?” And so I have stayed with her, she's come up and visited me, we've become really good friends all because of some just chance encounter at a park and because, you know, I kept telling myself, “I want to exchange information but that's too weird, that's too weird,” and I didn't talk myself out of it.
M: And I never would have made that friendship if I hadn't just like, you know, got the guts to ask the weird thing and, you know, risk her thinking I was like a creeper or something. (Laughs)
J: Yeah, yeah. And the courage to ask her to stay because, so often, we think we have to stay fiercely independent, especially as Midwesterners.
M: Oh yeah.
J: And was that scary or easy?
M: It was scary. I mean, I'm an extrovert but that is like one step farther than I am used to. I can make small talk all day, but to really try to make a deeper connection, it just felt out of the box, it feels like nobody does that.
M: And so I… you know, I had to dig a little deeper for that one.
J: So I'm trying to think, how could we all reframe that? I mean, our first thought is, “Oh, we shouldn't impose,” and there's that should or that should not.
J: But then maybe to say, “Hey, I'm working on giving her the gift of a deep friendship so I'm going to ask, (Laughs) even if she doesn’t know what's coming.”
M: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
J: I don’t know, how did you reframe that?
M: I don't even know if I thought about it that deeply, I just think I thought, “She's cool, I want to know her.” (Laughs)
J: Oh, yeah.
M: You know, like I thought this is the kind of person… when you think about like your tribe, right, everybody want… we… you know, we talk about that a lot like how do you fill your life up with people who really feel like your tribe? And I thought, “She's the kind of person I want in my tribe.”
M: “Wow, could I ask her?”
J: And so did staying at her house deepen the friendship like you thought it would?
M: Oh absolutely, absolutely. I mean, seeing someone else mother their child in their own home and I met her husband and her dog and we walked her property and all of that kind of stuff. And seeing each other like in the flesh again after, you know, only having spent maybe 20 minutes that first day, it absolutely did. And then I think writing in letter form is also just… it's a connection in a different way versus email or text or anything else. You know, it's just… it's there on paper and you have to really sit down and take the time to do it. I think I'm a huge fan of ‘Anne of Green Gables’ and so I think about kindred spirits, and when I met, her I thought, “Kindred spirit.” You know, that… I mean that, to me, is like that's… I think about that word or that phrase a lot when I think about tribe, it's like I just… I want kindred spirits. I also love people who are different from me, I mean, I wouldn't want the world to be just people like that either, I mean, I think it's great to… I love my neighbors and I really just… I love connection with people. And so wherever you can find that common ground, even if you, you know… even if you disagree on 80% of things, I like to find, you know, that 20%, that small world connection or the thing that can bond you anyways, but then it's just that much more satisfying, you know, when you find somebody who you really feel like you connect in many, many ways, you know?
J: And I love that you were open to that serendipity or that, you know, chance occurrence which probably wasn't a chance occurrence at all.
J: I think, it reminds of episode 107 when I spoke with Courtney Donnelly all about finding her tribe.
J: And I don’t know, I think what's common between both of you is that you both kind of set an intention to connect, you set an intention to look for your tribe and then the magic happened, but you also had to put yourself out there and make the effort; I think it's really fascinating.
M: Yeah. And when I was at massage school, I mean, I had that, I had this really amazing close friends. And then I left and I still had them, but we lived all over the country. And I had other friends from other times in my life that I was close with, but then I started my job and I felt no connection, I felt like nobody knew me from anybody else. And I didn't necessarily feel similar to the people that I was working with at this time and I felt really lonely. And then I realized that I could either just continue to be like that or I had to step outside my box. Because when you're not in a setting where everybody else needs a new friend, you know, like a new school or something like that, it's much harder for adults in new towns and new places to make friends, because everybody else kind of has their life and you're the new one.
M: And I knew how good it felt to have those deep connections and like, “Okay, I just… I have to make this happen for myself.” And so it wasn't necessarily, you know, this was like long enough ago that I hadn't even really heard the term, you know, ‘find your tribe’ or anything like that, but it was this realization that I need that deep connection. As much as I love all the small connections that I have, I need that deeper connection with people who are closer to me. You know, it's great to have a best friend and, you know, at the time in Mexico or in California Oregon or something, but I needed somebody here in Minnesota, you know, with me.
J: Mm-hmm. So how did you find your tribe locally and what is your tribe exactly, if you were putting it into words? I think this will help us all think about it for ourselves.
M: Yeah. My tribe is still sort of piecemeal, you know, it's not necessarily like a group where, you know, all 6 of us get together all the time, I have a couple of different like sort of clusters. And these days, it's largely centered around our kids. You know, my friends that I have found and made again, just like you meet them at ECFE and you say, “You want to come over to my house for a play date?” you know?
M: So they're moms for the most part. And so in my like area, there's a group of (I don't know, I can't even think) maybe, you know, 4 or 5, 6 people that I’m, you know, pretty connected with on a regular basis, and then it's sort of, it’s like concentric rings, you know, outside of that, the people that, you know, you just see in this location or there or there. You know, I think friends come in all different… they're important in different ways, you know, they're there for you or different reasons. And then my friends that live far away, you know, I just connect with them in different ways, and there may be just as important to me but they provide a different, I don't know, a different type of support or something, you know, then the people that you get to just like go to the park with and talk about your day, you know, you're just like day-to-day stuff, “What are you going to make for supper?” I mean, for a mom, it seems so trivial, but that's like a big important thing when you have mouths to feed at home. (Laughs)
J: Yeah, right, yeah. So you have your local friends and that's super important, and are their virtual friends that add something to your life that you don't get from the local friends? You mentioned Marco Polo before.
M: Yep, absolutely, Marco Polo, I text and I call FaceTime. You know, I have a best friend that lives in North Carolina and I've seen her once, you know, in the past 10 years I think but we connect to regularly via, you know, one of those ways. And I have friends in other parts of Minnesota. I have family, you know, as much as Facebook drives me crazy in a million ways, it is one way that I connect with some of my family that lives farther. And, you know, one thing, like I said, I am not perfect at any of this, and one thing that I think has become a challenge with a child is, you know, you pick up the phone, and as soon as you pick up the phone, your kid needs you. They're like tugging at your leg, you are… you never pay any attention to them (Laughs), you know, they're hungry, whatever. And so phone calls, it's something that I have to sort of make myself do because it's so easy to get interrupted. And so I used to be a big, you know, like, “Oh, I'm on the phone for 2 hours,” and that doesn't get to happen as much as I would like it to anymore where you really get to just like, you know, you do all the like small talk, you know, this and that and then you get to really talk about, “What's going on in your marriage? What's going on in your head?” you know, “What are your struggles?” that kind of thing. So that doesn't happen as much as I would like it to with some of my best friends that live further away, but that does happen some… and I just had a best friend moved back to Minnesota, she was in…
M: … Colorado and she just moved back. She's been my friend since I was 3 and she just moved back so I get to like see her in the flesh now and watch her with her children and have her see me with mine. And, you know, you get to be witnessed like in person, which is just awesome, and to be able to give your friends a hug.
J: Well, you mentioned intensive parenting earlier and I want to talk about that, as well as more about what it means for you to live simply and a bit more about body image. So let's have a quick break for our sponsor and then we'll come back and talk about those things.
Alright, welcome back, Maggie, and you mentioned that you engage in somewhat intensive parenting. What does that mean? I just want to get a feel for your way of doing things because it sounds beautiful.
M: So I just have one child and we’re together pretty much all the time. I’m a stay-at-home mom and I opted out of preschool. The part of my whole simple living thing is, you know, luckily, I mean, preschool is great and I'm so glad that those options are there for a lot of families who, you know, they are both working or they feel like their child needs that extra. But for us, I felt like my son, he didn't need to be there, and if he could be able to sleep in and wear his jammies all day and spend a day tromping through the woods and just doing crafts and cooking and whatnot with me, you know, we just made that decision for our family. So intense in that we are together, you know, pretty much all the time. We co-sleep, I nursed him into toddlerhood, you know, we did baby led weaning so I needed to really, you know, sort of be there with him while he was eating. And so I don't necessarily… you know, I'm not like intense in that I try not to be like a helicopter parent, you know, I try to still like give him risks. I mean, he uses hammers and drills with my husband and I let him climb trees and use knives when we cook and things like that. But intense in that I have said no to a lot of, you know, overnights with friends because I was still nursing him or, you know, like I am home for bedtime every night. So there's a lot of things I'd like to be involved in and I'm like, “Oh, your meeting is at 7:30 at night? You know, I can't come because we do family book time,” and then I read my chapter book to him and then, you know, I lay with him until he falls asleep. And now I know, a lot of people, that is not their thing and they might think that I'm crazy for doing that, but that's just what works for our family. And that's the way I was raised and I love it, it doesn't feel like a hardship to me. It feels like my son and I are just, you know, really deeply connected which, you know, that word again. And everybody, I think, frames a simple life in a different way. You know, some people say a simple life is like growing all of your own food, and to other people they think, “That's not simple, that's complicated.” To me, simple is being… having an apartment and being able to get delicious takeout from an amazing restaurant down the street, you know, and eating it on my couch and having no dishes. And so to some people, it would not be a simple life to have to be so there for your child every, you know, moment basically, but for me, it is, it just feels easy and natural. You know, he runs all my errands with me, he just he's my little sidekick, and to me, it feels really beautiful.
J: Mm, that sounds so beautiful. And I think it probably helps that you're an extrovert because you get energy from being close with other people, I'm guessing. I say that because I tried co-sleeping and I did a lot of that earthy stuff, I breastfed, I did a home birth, but what happened was I feel like as partial introvert, that became too much closeness for me. So I hear your story…
J: … and it sounds beautiful, but in reality, for anyone else listening, I hear you if that doesn't feel good to you because maybe that's just not the way we fill our cups, but it sounds like that's how you fill yours, Maggie.
M: Yeah, absolutely.
J: Does that sound accurate?
M: Totally. And I have friends who they went back to work because they feel like they are much better parents when they are working and out in the world. And so, yeah, no judgment whatsoever and that if that doesn't work for you because I tell my son all the time, there are a million ways to be and every family gets to choose for themselves. And I know people who, you know… I mean, there's so many different ways that you parent your kid. And I think if I had other kids, even if I had 2 kids that were exactly the same, you know, life would change.
M: It's just I have this one particular human, small human in my life, and he has his personality and I have mine and this has worked for us thus far, you know? Who knows what life will look like in, you know, a year or 2 years?
M: But for now, we're just trying… you know, I think the main thing is is just getting back to what feeds you. You know, it's not that like what I say is a prescription for anybody else, it's not by a longshot, it's just trying to get in touch with, “What makes you feel good when you wake up in the morning? What makes you feel connected to the people around you? And if, you know, having them with you all the time makes you feel resentful, then by all means find a place for them where they're happy and safe and doing good things during the day and you do your thing, and then you come back together and then you can look them in the eye and say, “I am so happy to be here with you.”
J: Ah, that's beautiful. Do you ever get resentful?
M: Oh yeah, I'm totally human.
M: There are moments when… there are moments when I am like… my brother-in-law passed away in May and he lived on our property. And so, you know, after work, he would always have at least an hour of like really concentrated play, you know, with my son. And, you know, my husband is like, you know, he is obviously doing more and whatnot, but there was that extra person. We had a third person in like our own personal family tribe that was helping to raise Wesley, and I missed that time. You know, it's like he'd say, “I'm going to go out to Unkies,” you know? And there are other times when it's like you think, “Oh my god, I just did the dishes 5 times today, I don't want to do this anymore, I don't…”
M: You know, like, “Why did I clean all day? And now my house is a disaster because I have a, you know, almost 5 year-old running around.” So yeah, I'm totally human, but it's just that, I mean, I think we all have like who we are like when we're at our best and then what trips us up when we're at our worst.
M: And so you just have to find your way back to like where that becomes a good thing that feeds you again.
J: Yeah, yeah. So what would you say you're doing when you're at your best and what are you doing or not doing when you're at your worst? I'm just curious, I think it's different for all of us, but when we hear various stories about it, we understand there is a way to get to our best and to our worse, you know?
M: Yes, absolutely. For me, it's that connecting piece again. When you feel like… for me, like if I feel like I am just like driving through life, you know, without my headlights on, I'm just sort of blindly going here and there and making decis… not even really making decisions, maybe just doing sort of what needs to be done, that is when I start to feel resentful. Like, I'm just doing the dishes, I am just… I'm have… I’m cooking because I have to cook. I am, you know, reading the same book over and over again. Maybe I'm, you know, extra distracted, I'm on my phone more, that's when I start to just feel yucky, you know? Whereas if I stop and while I'm making dinner, you know, maybe I'm chopping up basil and so I stopped and I sniff that basil or I open a can of tomatoes and I pop one of those diced tomatoes in my mouth and I really taste it or I slice a lemon and I take it over to my son and I say, “Smell this, doesn't this smell good?” suddenly, making supper doesn't feel so bad, just because I've taken that moment to connect to it. And a lot of times, I mean, those are like the moments when you don't want to the most, you're like, “I don't want to smell that stupid lemon because I'm sick of doing this,” you know? But if I just like take a minute and remember to just be where I'm at, I think connection is just… it's like being mindful but with like another step. It's not just noticing, it's then connecting to that which you notice.
M: Like, imagine it's, you know, like you… either you pick your favorite flowers or you… you know, Christmas just passed, you cut your Christmas tree and you smell that smell, that is like… I mean, I think most people do that, they take that deep inhale where you're really connecting to that moment. And, you know, the power of scent is so… it's just so incredible.
M: But I think there's more things like that in life. Think about when you like really look your partner or your best friend or your child in the eye, you really taste something, you really feel the softness of some blanket or something, you know, you really think about the conversation that you just had with someone, that is what always brings me back. And, you know, sometimes, that, I might not be open to it, it might take me an hour or a day, you know? Maybe I have to have a conversation with a friend, and that's where having people in your life that really get you is important because they can say, “Maggie, you know, have you, you know, done this, that or the other thing today?”
M: Or maybe they just tell their story and you hear their story and it reminds you, “Oh yeah, that's right, there's a bigger picture,” it's more…
J: Oh, I love that. It's like mindfulness plus deeper connection. It reminds me of the word reverence, it's like having a reverence…
J: … for your life. And reverence comes from that word ‘revere’; to revere or to see something is awesome and, “Wow!” It’s just…
M: I think about reverence a lot.
J: I just wonder how do you shift into that mindset and stay there? I suppose it's just a practice, what do you think?
M: I think it's baby steps. I mean, for me, I think, you know, I mean, yes, I had this like big huge experience of going to this, you know, idyllic setting for school, but I think in your regular life, it’s small things. I mean, I read the book ‘In Praise of Slow’ and it’s by Carl… and I never how to say his last name, like Honoré or something, and I read that in like 2005. That was sort of like, “Oh, there is this thing like a slow living movement, like this little like, you know, you feel like this little light like clicks, another light.” And so I think it's just a series of that, whether you read a book or have a conversation or listen to a podcast. If this is something that resonates with you that either you are already on this path or you want to live a life that feels a little bit more connected or a lot more connected, slower, more meaningful, have more reverence, I think it's baby steps. It's, you know, like laying down in bed at night and my son and I, we do this, we lay in bed and we look at each other and we go, “Ah.” We take this big like dramatic sigh, and it sounds silly, but it feels so good. And it is saying like, “We had the day, we're letting go of it, and here we are, we're just taking a breath and we're letting it go to just find that peace, that calm,” and it feels so good it takes a second, you know?
M: And that… that's what it has been for me, it's just little things, and I am still on this path. There are still times when I think, “Wait a second, I feel like this is not what I have been intending for myself,” you know?
M: But life is not perfect, I mean, that's the other thing is sometimes, I have to take a step back and say, “Okay, I'm trying to do things like too perfectly to make them simple and that…”
M: “… and that isn’t working either,” you know? It's like, yeah, and life just changes. There's, you know, you I think about the seasons and, you know, living with that rhythm. And what works especially when you're raising children, I think you see how, “Wait a second, what worked last month or yesterday and now it's not working, something has shifted. They have learned something new, they've grown, they're in this new stage that's trying in a whole new way.” They really remind you that like you don't get to stay stagnant, you can't just think, “Oh, I've got it all figured out now.”
J: Right, that’s so true.
M: I'll just do this and life will be great.” (Laughs)
J: Yes, for sure. And I think one of the big blocks for many people to live in this mindfully connected reverent way is too much future thinking. So I'm just curious for you, Maggie, what are your hopes and dreams for the future and how do you not go too far where you're always chasing rather than being?
M: Well, this is probably my biggest challenge.
M: I am a questioner and I am a daydreamer and thinker and… and so I can tend to get stuck in overthinking things for sure. You know, I have a son who's going to be starting kindergarten in the fall and so that has been a big thing, you know, thinking about what I want for him and thinking about how will his life, his schooling, his friends, where he lives, everything, take him down the path where he can have a life where he is connected, where he feels reverence for life, where he feels the rhythm of it, you know? And I think, for myself, I am at a point because I'm on this cusp of like not being a stay-at-home mom anymore, I'm thinking, “What will I do?” You know, you said in my bio, I want to live a big and meaningful life but I want it to be in a sweet quiet simple way. Like, I don't want to do big things and have to work 60 hours a week again, but I don't want to just cook and just garden either, I want to do more. And so right now, I'm at this of trying to say, “Okay, I'm living my own life just day-to-day,” but I'm also… I am at a point where I need to kind of try to plan for the future. And I try so hard to like find that balance between sort of the fun brainstorming and coming up with ideas but not getting stuck where you're always trying to come up with the perfect solution and you never make a decision.
J: Oh, yeah.
M: No. (Laughs)
J: For sure. Well, and maybe it could work like finding your tribe where you set that intention, send it out that, “I'm looking for a job or an opportunity that gives me this and this and this,” and maybe it will come, I don't know. Have you seen that happening as you prepare for kindergarten?
M: I mean, it hasn't happened yet but that doesn't mean that it's not going to. And… and sometimes things don't happen at exactly the time you're expecting them either, you know, so, you know, I just tried to stay open. And one of the things like for my son's school that I have thought about a lot is that I'm fine… I mean, I have a number of things that I have sort of like there are options for him. And I am basically fine with any of those options, I mean, I have things that I would like more, but I want it to be a decision. That's a thing about life, I don't want it to just happen because of that easy thing, whatever we decide. Like, if he's going to go to his home school, I want it to be that we have decided that that's where he's going to go because we feel like that is the best decision for him. And everything has its pluses and minuses, you know, strengths and weaknesses, so once we make that decision to say, “Okay, well, this is where he's going to go, and these are the weaknesses that we see in this program like as far as him, so how do we bolster the other side of things?” Just like in a job, you know, I mean, very few people have a perfect marriage, a perfect job, I mean, does anybody? And so you think, “Okay, so my job gives me this but it's lacking these other things, so how do I find these other things somewhere else?” you know, it's the same thing for all of that. But like I said, I can get stuck in overthinking all of this too. So at some point I just need to… like you just take the step and you say, “Okay, this is the decision that I've made and now I need to just work with it in all its imperfections and not keep on that hamster wheel of research and meditation or whatever.”
J: Right, right. And making that decision just, it's like stepping into it, making that conscious choice and saying, “This is it,” you know, rather than letting it happen. Well, we've talked about so many things from and simple living, but let's shift and talk about body image and health. How do you think simple living can influence our health and our thinking about our bodies?
M: So I think health and body image, they can either, you know, help or hinder sort of one another because sometimes, body image makes you do things that aren't actually healthy for yourself, you know, whether you're… you know, you're starving yourself or you're binging or you're… you know, you're only eating one particular type of food. And I have, through some stressful situations in my life, I've developed some food sensitivities which have made it, you know, less fun. But, for me, I think that simple living helps, because the whole point of it is like that, to me at least, is to getting back to who you are like authentically. And so if you are who you are authentically, it gives you a little bit more room for not apologizing for how you are to other people. So I mentioned I'm a massage therapist and I taught yoga for a while too, and people are always coming to me and saying, “I'm so sorry I didn't shave my legs today. I'm so sorry, you know, I just… I gained 15 pounds over the holidays. I'm so sorry I have this thing wrong with me where I can't gain weight and I'm so skinny and I'm… I'm embarrassed to have you see me,” or, “I'm sorry, you know, I have… I'm in chemo right now and I… I don't… you know, I lost my hair, it's a wig, do you mind if I take it off?” I mean, people, women especially, but men also, everybody has apologized that they don't want to come to yoga class because they don't want to wear yoga pants, you know, all that kind of stuff. And I think, I mean, I am buy no means above having moments where I look at myself in the mirror and think, “Ooh, you know, I want to change something,” but for the most part, I have come to a place where, even on days where I look at myself and I think, “I am not looking that great,” I can still look at myself in the mirror and say, “There you are.”
M: You know? I literally say that to myself sometimes. It's not like, “I love you,” it's just, “There you are,”; that and, “I see you,” you know? And I think that when I have… especially like the media thing, you know, if like you're getting a thousand magazines and you’re… everything is just like ads and beautiful people everywhere, it's really, really easy to feel like you're supposed to look like that. And I think when I'm just like who I am, then I'm… you know, it's also like you don't get as caught up in like the trends of that your support to wear this kind of pants or that and maybe that kind of pants, maybe they don't look good on your body type, you know?
J: Right, right.
M: Maybe you need to wear something else. Maybe capris are a bad look (you know, back when capris were in)…
M: … for your particular legs and you look better than something else. And I feel like… so I have this rash, I don't know, it might be acne rosacea (I'm not sure) that has developed on my face from my foods, all my health stuff that I have going on. And this has been a new challenge for me like because it's really obvious, it’s really red. And I have makeup that I have been wearing and that's the first time I've worn like foundation in my life, even when I had acne and things like that. And the primary reason I started wearing is that I have complete strangers all the time saying, “Oh, what happened to your face? Have you tried coconut oil? Have you tried this that and the other thing?”
J: Oh boy.
M: And it's like this brings me back to my massage stuff that I'm not sure why everyone thinks that everyone is supposed to look a certain way and that we all need to help each other like achieve this like sense of perfection. Massage school, I talked a lot about, “When your clients come in, don't comment on their beautiful sweater or their new haircut, because right away they're going to think that you are paying attention to how they look.” When you're thinking, “Wow, your trapezius is really tight,” you know, but they're not going to realize that you don't care, they're going to think, “They're noticing how I look, and so as soon as I undress, they're going to be looking at what's ‘wrong’ (quotes), you know, with me.”
M: And I think we do the same thing with friends. You know, we get together with a group of girlfriends, and right away, the first few minutes, we go around the circle saying, “Those are awesome shoes! Look at your hair color! Who did that? I love it! Have you been working out? You look amazing! Look at your butt in those jeans!” you know, we've all been there and done that. And it feels good to have somebody compliment you when you have been working hard on something or you have a new haircut, but right away, it can make you think, “I'm going out to see my girlfriend, I don't have a new sweater, I should have a new sweater. I should have lost 10 pounds. Why did I eat that cookie?” you know? And instead of thinking, “My friends loved me, they don't care.” I mean, have you ever said, “Oh god, my friend, you know, I wish she would have gone to the gym before she came over,”? You know, nobody cares but we think that we do. And so I think sometimes, all the positive talk, in a way, is as detrimental as the negative. Because if you say, “You look really amazing, you've lost 10 pounds,” or, “You look like you’ve lost 10 pounds,” then the next time you see them and you don't say anything, the person feels that…
M: … you know, that pressure. So sorry I get so rambling, but I think… I just think it comes down to, the more that you shut away the things that don't matter in your life, the more you get in touch with just who you are, you know, if you're thinking like emotionally and spiritually, the more you're okay with yourself. I mean, I think of this, I don't know, some documentary or something that I saw on TV and I believe it was like this young woman had been photographed for National Geographic, her and her boyfriend. They lived on this boat in like the swamps of the southern US.
M: And here they were interviewing her as an older woman, she had gray hair, these gray braids. And she said, “I look back…” and as a young woman, she was this live, blonde, long straight hair, you know, this beautiful woman. And she said, “I look back and I was so critical of myself.”
M: “You know, I did not think I looked good.” And she said, “Now,” she said, “I am way more comfortable in my skin now than I ever was then,” I think it's that wisdom thing, you know? So if you can sort of try to bypass having to just wait until you're in your 60s or 70s, you know, to feel comfortable in your own skin and try to get in touch with who you really are, not just emotionally and mentally, but physically also at a younger age, then it's just like you get to live in that space longer. And like I said, I'm still on this journey, but I feel like I do better with this than a lot of people. Like, I think like this redness on my face, I feel like I don't love it, I mean, I wish my skin was back to normal, you know, both for my health and just aesthetically, you know?
M: But I don't think it bothers me as much as it would have had this happened to me when I was, you know, at a different point in my life.
J: Right, right.
M: Because I think I'm able to just be like, “I am still me,” you know, and that's huge.
J: Right. So you mentioned in massage school that you saw every body type and nobody is… no body is perfect, and then you're able to look in the mirror and say, “Ah, there you are.” Any advice for someone who looks in the mirror and is experiencing self-loathing and remorse at what they see? How do we shift that?
M: I mean, it's a hard one. I think, you know, you could start by just saying, “There you are,” more often, and I think also, I mean, it sounds weird but I think trying to cover-up less. Like, and I don't mean like you need to start being naked all the time, but stop being afraid of, for instance, like your husband seeing you, you know? I mean, that's not necessarily always an easy one for myself either, but we forget that the people around us, they just love us. I mean, unless you have a husband who's, you know, really awful or something and says negative things, but for the most part, you know, we have people in our lives that they love us. And I think, you know, a lot of people have issues in like the intimacy in their relationships and I think, you know, when you're changing, to not always have to change in the bathroom, to just let somebody see you, to look at yourself in the mirror, and then to do things physically that make you feel good. So like, I don't know, I mean, pushing yourself physically can be totally awesome, you know, like training for a marathon or something. But maybe certain things feel too hard and other things feel, you know, really good in your body. For some people, you know, maybe swimming feels really good or biking or walking. So doing something where you feel like you can really love your body in that moment because it's doing something for you that makes you feel good, it makes you feel good physically, it makes you feel good mentally, you know, I think that that is important. But the main thing I think is just trying to shed away those expectations. Like, you know, if you… again, with like clothing. If a certain style you find yourself wearing it all the time because you feel like that's in or that's what's everybody at work wears, like can you shift it to wear something that you feel good in, you know? Although we all have those days where you put on the same outfit you wore yesterday, and suddenly today, you feel terrible in it, you know? (Laughs)
M: And that's the days when you need to look at yourself and just say like, “I see you. You are the same person you were yesterday, this is just all in your head that you think you look so negative,” and… and then trying, trying, I say, to stop when you get together with the people, you know, that you hang out with, with other women, trying to shift the conversation away from the physical. So when you see them, even if your urge is a positive one, like I said with saying, “Wow, that's a great purse, where did you get that?” instead of saying that, you know, you go up and you give them a hug and say, “I'm so happy to see you. How have you been?” or something like that, so that you don't think the next time you get together with them that you have to have a new purse because you want something about you to be noticeable…
M: … to be noticeably awesome.
M: Because you are noticeably awesome just in who you are, just for showing up, just for being the good friend, you know, that's there.
J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, so, so true. Well, this is amazing, and I'm also thinking, not only just looking at yourself in the mirror and saying, “There you are,” but I just feel this energy of you being in this kind of state of ease and flow. And, you know, a lot of people worry about their body image because of being overweight, that seems to be a common theme for many women.
M: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
J: But just to first maybe love that body and also fill your cup in all the other ways that don't involve food, and I think it would take care of itself simply by actually meeting the needs that are really there, to slow down and have this reverence for life and enjoy the time washing the dishes the way you described it.
M: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
J: Any thoughts on that?
M: Yeah, and I think connecting to food, for a lot of people, food is an issue. There's… you feel there's, you know, a scarcity, there's not enough, there's too much there, it's not the right kind, it might make me sick, you know, there's so many hang-ups that we can have around food. And so I think that that mindfulness, you know, it's the opposite of eating a bag of chips while driving down the freeway, you know, it is, like I said, it's slicing that lemon and smelling it, it's sitting down at the table and saying a blessing with your family, which we do, lighting a candle.
M: Now granted, you don't… you know, not everybody has time to do that all the time, but you probably have time to do something like that some of the time. Or even if you eat at work and maybe you pack a lunch or if you get food, you know, you sit down, you open it up, you look at what is there, you know, you say a little mental like thanks. I think just trying to take a moment to make a better choice at the grocery store or to just connect with what you're going to put in your mouth, I think it makes you feel better. And maybe it's not the best choice, I mean, maybe you're sitting down, you know, to eat ice cream while you're watching a movie, but you say, “I am choosing to eat this ice cream right now,” you know, and you're going to enjoy it then and not… and not feel the guilt.
M: And then later, you're going to say, “I'm going to make myself a beautiful vegetable soup or something,” you know, and then you enjoy that. It's just… it's more about the connection. I think the more often that you connect with what you're eating, whether it's, you know, growing it in the garden and chopping it up and making it or it's buying it from someone or sharing it with loved ones, but the more often that you connect with it, the more often you're going to make choices that feel good for you. And everybody is different in what… you know, for what that means. Food is such a personal choice but I think most of us feel better when we are eating something that we have really decided to eat. And if that is drive through food in that moment, but you've really made that decision, “This is what I'm going to eat right now,” then just eat it and don't have the guilt while you're eating it. Just say, “You know what? These aren't the best French fries I’ve ever ate,” or maybe, “These seem amazing and I am just going to eat them and this is still going to give me fuel, you know, and then I'm going to go about my day.” Now, I mean, I… again, everybody is different. I listen to this podcast once it had nothing to do with food, but the guy mentioned that he was a diner, not an eater.
M: And so, to me, I take that to mean that like… so I am a diner. There is nothing I like better than to sit at my kitchen table, to light the candle, to say a blessing, to eat, and then for everybody to sit around the table a long time afterwards. I like to talk about the food, I like to say, “Ooh, this is so wonderful! What's in it?” you know, all that kind of stuff; I love everything that has to do with kitchen tables. Other people eat just for fuel. My neighbors said he just eats because he needs to put good things in his body, that's it. So he tries to make the healthiest choice, he eats it, he's done. People might sit down… my husband, he sits down and he eats as fast as he can and he's gone. He's an eater, he's just trying to put some food in his body and that's it.
J: Yeah, yeah.
M: You know, so if you are an eater, not a diner, it's a little bit more of a stretch to be really mindful about all your meals because you're just less apt to take that time.
M: But, you know, it's another like kind of fun thing to think about. Like, if you are a diner, how else can you make that experience more pleasant? And if you are just an eater, how can you still make sure that you are, you know, at least offering yourself some time to make a good decision or to enjoy it and not just ingest it?
J: Mm, enjoy, not ingest; I love that.
J: You know, I feel like a common idea for everything you've talked about in this episode is that, again, coming back to that connection, that… that reverence. So many of us want to change our bodies or change our food or change our life essentially, but maybe the connecting factor is to just slow down, like you said, and revere your body and revere the food you're going to eat and revere the simple things you have and then it shifts it.
J: It's not chasing for stuff and things and more scheduled appointments and all that stuff that we're all doing, maybe we're just lacking that reverence.
M: Yeah. Lives change, but I think then you can see the changes that either you need to make or you want to make more clearly because you see what like your guiding principles are, you see what's really important to you. Again, like I said, I mean, I'm an expert on absolutely nothing other than just being me, and I mean, maybe not even on that.
M: But it's just trying to figure out, at a deeper level, what makes the world work around you, you know? And if you pair a bunch of stuff away, then you can make those better decisions.
J: Mm-hmm, that's so true. Well, Maggie, we've had such a great conversation and I'd like to end it with my favorite question, what does it mean for you to be a vibrant and happy woman?
M: So, for me, it is that word ‘connection’. I want to feel connected, you know, to my child, I want to feel connected to my husband, to my neighborhood and my neighbors, you know, to the land that I live on. If I go somewhere, I might want to feel connected to the person that checked me in at the hotel or to the people I'm sitting next to, you know, at a concert. I just… I really feel like the world works so much better when I feel connected. I think of my dad a lot, my parents are divorced and my dad lives alone, he's sort of a happy hermit, and he doesn't need connection the way I do, but he said to me one time, this was when it was a point in time when he had taken the winter off and he was doing all the things that he loved, he was happy doing it. But he said he went out and, you know, he got groceries and he thought about like the checkout person. And we've all had bad days where it's like, you know, maybe you're that checkout person and you think like, “Something really bad happened in my life,” or, “I'm crabby,” whatever, and so you're just kind of you're like, “Finding everything you need today? Yep, okay.” And my dad thought, “This is the only person I have talked to in the last like 5 days,” you know?
M: And so to make a little connection, it might be a small one, you know, we both live in the Midwest, you know, weather is a big topic. And so maybe that person would just look at my dad in the eye and say, “Wow, it's a really hot day we're having, huh? Have you spent, you know, all your time hidden inside?”
M: Or some little thing, you know? And I think… because that connection, he doesn't need much but just like a smile in a friendly face would be enough for him. Now, I would like that plus a whole bunch of other things, but I just want to feel connected to the food that I eat, you know, maybe if I'm feeling creative, to the art that I'm making. You know, I like more real materials, you know, the less plastic in my life, the better. If I can get something that feels… like, you know, if I have a mug that my friend made, you know, who's a potter, something like that, all that kind of stuff, that is what just really feeds me and gets me through the rough patches. Because if this interview makes it sound like my life is all free and easy, it is not. I have a very, very stressful life where I've had a ton of stuff happen in my life and my marriage and with my husband that has been really traumatic and big, big, big, big stuff. And the way that I get through it all and managed to not like fall apart myself is by continuing to reconnect to myself, to reconnect to the people around me and the places around me and to take those deep breaths and to, you know, pick fresh strawberries and go and sit by our flowers, you know, with my son and close our eyes and we say, “Let's savor these strawberries.” So maybe that morning was awful and I feel just like sick to my stomach with stress, but then the sweetness of that strawberry in that moment and my small son sitting next to me enjoying it and having that moment of reverence, I think, “Okay, I can get through this,” and I can go on and it gives me the strength, you know, to be who I need to be, to just continue to move through the day. And for everybody, it's different, but that is what I need in my life.
J: Hmm, I think we all need the same. Well, I really appreciate you sharing your story, Maggie, your beautiful soul, I hope everyone listening can feel that because I sure can and I appreciate you being on the show.
M: Well, thank you so much, Jen, and thank you for the Vibrant Happy Women Club where I have met more awesome women, you know, to add to my tribe. So I thank you for all of your work.
J: Aww, thank you. Take care.
M: Have a wonderful day.