J: Hey there, Jen here and we're talking in this episode about struggles and how they are actually happening for us and not to us, stay tuned.
Hey there, my friends, welcome back to Vibrant Happy Women. I am Dr. Jen Riday and we have a juicy episode for you today all about how our struggles are happening for us rather than to us. Now, I know, I know, I know, struggles stink and we don't want to hear this message sometimes, we want to wallow in that negative place. But think just a minute now about how you've struggled and how those have changed your life. And more often than not, 95% of the time when I talk with women about this they say, “Wow, I wouldn't change any of it, even though it was hard,” and that is the truth of it. And when we step back and see the big picture of how these things are working for us, holy cow, you can't hold yourself back from thinking, “Whoa, there's a path, there's a purpose, this all has a point.”
So thank you for being here. And before we jump into this interview, I want to share our review of the week from Mayo15. She wrote, “I thought maybe because the podcaster has 6 kids and is Midwestern that this wasn't for me since I’m a childless, rushed East Coaster; wrong. Any woman can feel inspired by this, and when I need a pick-me-up, I turn to this podcast; really changes around my mood and makes me feel very grateful for my life.” Oh, that means the world. You know, we Midwesterners out here, sometimes we're in our own different planet, but I am happy to hear that a rushed East Coaster gets something from Vibrant Happy Women! So, thank you for leaving that review, it means a lot. And I would love to know what all of you think of the podcast. I want to hear, how has it helped your life? You can leave your review at jenriday.com/iTunes, I read every single one and I appreciate them so much.
Well, let me tell you a little bit about our episode today. My guest is Lisa Luckett and she is a widow, and she is a 9/11 widow and single mother and breast cancer survivor, and she knows a little bit about life's struggles. And she has been able to see the path and the growth and the silver lining from all of these things. She has such a unique perspective on our world and I love it. So in this episode Lisa shares her story of hearing that the North Tower had been hit by the plane and how everything before that point, all of the struggles leading up to that point had prepared her to be strong and on the offensive instead on the defensive. Instead of in victim mode when it happened, she was able to be strong for her kid, but all of the previous struggles of her life had prepared her; it's a beautiful story. So if you ever find yourself feeling stuck or like you're a victim of your circumstances or you're sick of struggling, this is hands-down the episode for you. So without making you wait any bit longer, let's go ahead and listen to this interview.
Welcome, everyone, I'm talking with Lisa Luckett today and she's a social visionary, an activist for kindness, and an advocate of gaining wisdom by experiencing life head-on. As a 9/11 widow, single mother and breast cancer survivor, she knows the value of life's struggles and sees the light or silver lining in every situation. Her first book, ‘The Light in 9/11: Shocked by Kindness, Healed by Love’, was released in honor of the 17th anniversary of 9/11. Lisa lives with her teenage son on the North Jersey coast in Monmouth County New, Jersey. Welcome to the show, Lisa.
L: Oh, thank you, Jen, so nice to be here and thank you for having me.
J: Yeah, I'm excited to dive in. You kind of gave me a teaser of your story before we hit record and I'm really excited. So tell us your favorite quote or motto that guides your life.
L: Well, I have several. The most prominent two would be one from Tom Hanks in ‘A League of Their Own’ when Geena Davis is trying to quit baseball and he… she says, “It's just too hard, it's just too hard,” and he says, “It's the hard that makes it great. And if everyone could do it, you know, it would be different.” So we say here, “It's the hard that makes it great and it's the struggle that gets us to where we're going,” basically.
J: Yeah, oh, that's a good one. You're the second person that's shared that as a favorite quote, at least…
J: … that I’m aware of, that's cool.
L: Well, you know, it's good just all-around. And then the other one would be, “Although we've lost so much, we still have so much left.”
J: Mm, true. And you gain something through each loss too.
L: Oh, absolutely. In fact, you know, as we get into this it's really what I've learned is it's the struggle and the life is our classroom and the struggles are our lessons. You know, we're not learning when things are good. When things are good, we just need to enjoy it and, you know, regroup to dive back in for when it's tough again. And with each new layer, we get wiser and smarter and stronger and, you know, “That what doesn't kill you…” (Laughs)
L: “… does make you better.”
J: Right, that's great. Well, tell us your story, you know, your first big low point.
L: Well, I've had a lifetime of low points, I will say. My first 40 years were extraordinarily difficult, but in a way that looked normal to the world. I have a very dysfunctional background and alcoholic, highly damaged, but highly functioning family and then I married the same thing. So there were many… you know, by the time my story begins with the book, I bring people in at the day before 9/11 September; 10th, 2001. Because by then, I would have just turned 41, my birthday's in early September, I had found out that I was pregnant with our 3rd child unexpectedly on my 40th birthday the year before. And my now 3rd baby boy was 4 months old and I found myself, you know, wearing size 18 Talbot’s pants, 30 pounds overweight, lactating and utterly miserable.
J: Yeah, that’s a lot, that alone is a lot.
J: Oh my…
L: But I didn’t know that.
J: And you’re 40. 40’s already old enough…
L: And I'm 41, right.
J: … psychological… yeah, 41.
L: And I have 2 others, so 7, 4, and 4 months, you have a foot in 3 completely different camps.
L: And you know what you're in for as a mother after 2 babies. You know that you're… in my case, I was pretty crazy by then and I felt very sidelined that I was the only one that could serve this child for the first 2 years because I chose to nurse my kids.
L: And especially my boys, my second 2 are boys, my oldest is a girl, and I had to go back to work… I didn't have to go back to work, I chose to go back to work with her at 3 months, and I always had horrible, horrible working mother's guilt.
L: So I chose to nurse my boys for the first year to a cup, right? Well, that was probably honestly one of my biggest mistakes.
L: Because the resentment I felt for never having be able to hand them off to have my husband be part of it created this separation in my mind. And I was caught up in that, you know, raised in the 60s, 70s, 80s, born in 1960, you know, we're expected to do it all as women and never ask for help.
L: So, you know, we had become… while we worked, both worked with my daughter, I stopped working with my second child and we flipped into this very traditional man goes to work, mom stays at home model. And as a result, I'd used my mind for 15 years. So the mind-numbing drudgery of motherhood was hitting me square between the eyes by the morning of September 10. And so we had very… as I mentioned, very dysfunctional families, they were just causing so much unnecessary grief and turmoil in my life for no reason. And again, you want to read the book… well, that actually, I don't even talk about my in-laws because it's still so bad that they would probably sue me if I told our story, so I left them out. But my family's enough to explain why I was in such a bad place by the morning of 9/11. So we ended up having… my husband called the morning of the 10th to say, “Hey, listen, you know, I have an opportunity to go sailing next weekend, you know, do you mind?” and I'm like, “Mind? I completely mind! Are you kidding? Like, I'm drowning here!” and, you know, got so brooded on that was angry all day. And when he got home that night, for some reason, I couldn't get… ever get my kids to bed before 9 o'clock.
L: So by 10 o'clock, you know, I'm combing my hair with each angry stroke basically saying, “I cannot believe you,” you know, we’d get into this huge fight, you know, “How can you be so inconsiderate?” and his response was (because I was being a huge biatch) that was, “You know, well, I thought asking you was being considerate.”
J: Oh, wow.
L: And he told me, because the company he worked for was at the top of the North Tower and they'd gone through all… he'd gone through all kinds of transitions in the business, they couldn't figure out how to compensate him, so we'd taken a big hit financially unexpectedly and he… they were just going crazy with trying to figure out how to run it and they… he said to me, “Well, I'm sorry you had a bad day, honey, you know, they fired 10 more people today, so TJ and I are the only ones who are left.
J: Oh my gosh.
L: So out of 20 people, he was 1 of 2.
J: Wow, that's crazy.
L: Yes, it is.
J: You had this huge fight and…
J: … you’re miserable already, ugh, I can just feel it.
L: Well… but it ended okay. So here's the message to listeners is, you know, it's really important to not go to bed angry. And, you know, as hard as it is to confront things and maybe… and as messy as that was, you know, we really did love each other and he listened to me calmly which always, he was able to calm me down. And I wasn't him, I mean, it was the series of events in the situation I was in and my emotional state of being and not understanding any of that, you know, didn't know where I was or who I was or any of it to know that this, you know, had an explanation. So he listened to me patiently so he let me vent, he heard me. And people need to be heard, we don't need to solve everybody's problems, they just need to be heard.
L: So when he told me about the guys being fired, it just… I let go and I said, “Wow, you know, we are both in these two miserable places together.” And we made… you know, made up and he was his total sweet amazing self and, you know, we slept in our spoons that night, he hooked his foot around my ankle like he always did and we went to sleep. And in the morning, he got up early to go catch a ferry which is at like 6:00 in the morning because he got an early sales meeting and he got in… or he left, you know, as he was leaving, I said, “You know, I love you, honey, you are my soulmate.”
L: And he's like, “You know I love you too,” and he walked out the door, and that's the last time I saw him or heard from him.
J: Did you say that every day?
L: Often, yes, yeah, we were…
J: Oh, good.
L: … we’re very much about… we really knew we were a team.
L: He was… we were really yin and yang. And I'm tough, I was tough then and I'm still tough now, but I've worked on myself a lot since. And I understand, I say to my kid, “You know, it's not that I'm not crazy, I just understand how I'm crazy and I just know where my triggers are.” So… but it's all been post 9/11 which is all part of the story. So that's the catalyst of, you know, by the time… the way I describe it is if you were pulling the bowstring back on a bow and arrow and the by the time the morning 9/11 hit, my bowstring was back as far as it could go. So when 9/11 happened, I let go and literally sailed all the way over to a completely different place.
J: Wow, wow. Well, tell us some, you know, what were you doing when you… did you hear from him that he was going to this…
L: No, so…
J: … to the towers or you just saw it on the news or what, you know?
L: So the story goes that I was taking my daughter to school because she'd been kind of feeling unwell the day before, so I took her late. She was in second grade and I had my boys with me and we were walking in the house, it was a little before 9:00, and my phone was ringing. And I picked up the phone and a friend of mine said to me, “Lisa, what tower is Teddy in?” and I said, “The one with the antenna on it. Why?” and she said, “Well, turn on the TV because a plane just hit it and took off the top 15 floors.”
L: So talk about incorrect information. But in the minutes that it took me… seconds that it took me to run from there to the TV, you know, I thought he was dead…
L: … already.
L: So I turn on a TV, it's still standing, I go, “Oh, it's still standing, there's hope.” But one of the things you have to understand about our situation is Ted was also in the bombing in 1993.
J: Oh, wow!
L: Okay. So people forget about that bombing and because we blew it off. And I had this very delayed, about months… you know, 6 months later, I had this very intense but delayed reaction to the terrorists and that the anger and rage I felt that they had tried to kill him. And we had been newlyweds at the time so, you know, that was just… I was incensed, but no one did anything then.
L: And everybody went back to normal. So when it happened the second time, I never got angry again because we knew that they went into two targets. Everybody didn't do that, like come on, guys, let's pay attention. So what's interesting about my story is… and this is the story, the bigger picture of it is that my life prepared me in this very bizarre way to handle 9/11 in a very different way than probably I would guess almost anyone else.
L: Because I had these crazy life experiences that were all very negative that ended up being exactly building the muscle I needed to be objective and offensive by 11 o'clock in the morning…
L: … on 9/11, seriously.
J: So you saw it was hit, did you try to call him, but you couldn't reach him?
L: Oh my god, we all tried to call.
J: Yeah, right.
L: I mean, the phone started ringing and, you know, it was absolute chaos here. The phones… cell phones went down within an hour, no one heard from him. I believed that they were actually in that southwest corner.
L: So if you look at the footage, the plane goes in and goes kind of up at a trajectory up, and I think it came up underneath them and took them out immediate… almost immediately. And I became friends… the story's long, it's why there's a book so I won't go into…
J: Yeah, right.
L: … too many details. But I did speak to and become friends with the Port Authority commander who ran the site cleanup, and he told me that it was probably 10000 within 60 seconds and they all asphyxiated even before fire. So it just sucked all the oxygen out.
J: And he was in a sales meeting in the building you said?
L: Yeah, yeah. So no one was heard from from that corner.
J: So he wasn't a firefighter?
L: No, no, no, no.
J: Okay, he worked in the North Tower, got it. (Laughs)
L: Worked on the 105th floor, yep.
J: Got it, okay, got it. Well, so by 11 o'clock you're like you're on the offensive instead of in you're just ready to take action, well…
L: Well, I'll tell you why. So basically, I look at the TV, I've got Timmy in my… on my shoulder who's 4 months and I've got Billy's hand who's 4 years and we're watching this thing together. And I see the billowing smoke and I see this… I mean, it's so thick and black, right?
L: It was unbelievable. So in the first bombing, we… you know, the guy said, “We wouldn't try to walk out,” it took him 4 and a half hours to walk out the first time.
L: So they said, you know, “Here we go, if it happens again we'll go to the roof or we'll have parachutes or we'll have gas masks.” And so that mental, you know, journey I took was like, “Did they really do that? Do they really have gas masks?” but I knew they would try to go to the roof. But the first… this is important to know because the first bombing, there was no smoke outside of the buildings, but when Teddy got home that night, the water ran black because he was covered in so much soot, so when I saw all that smoke, I knew he was gone, in my heart…
L: … because no one ever survived that. So I knew right away that it was… the game had changed, and you can't really get your head around that. Your mind, your heart, nature, the universe, source, God is with you.
L: And so I go through this shock, my son Billy remembers me stomping my feet and screaming, “Ted, Ted, Ted,” I don't remember that. I do remember, I don't know how many moments later, but as we're watching it, we all saw the second plane hit the second tower. And I knew we were in trouble then.
L: There was no doubt. So I'm in my whatever I'm in and I… next thing I know, I'm on the couch and I'm sitting with the boys and I have this unbelievable strength that says, “Get up, you have children, you have children to take care of.”
L: So what I know now is all guidance, I didn't know then, so then of course, people started pouring in. So by… yeah, by 11 o'clock in the morning after the buildings had fallen, you know, I had this very heightened awareness. I was in this full state of shock, but I was also being… I know being guided because I could feel at one moment in standing in my dining room, I could feel hands behind me like holding me in.
L: And I was watching them, my friends around me, who were out of their minds with panic, grief, terror, and I really wanted to help them. You know, I was in the event with everyone else, this was my country that had just been attacked…
L: … again and, you know, I had that weird experience. So I couldn't get my head around Teddy's death, and you don't give up, you’re of course like, “It's just a fire,” you know, at the beginning, it was just a fire and then no one ever expected those buildings to fall.
L: So, you know, in that window of time, that was in a 2-hour window of time. So anyway, you don't give up hope and you go through all the motions, but in my heart, I knew. And my mother-in-law… so Teddy walked down the first time so I was prepared, I've had that experience. The second thing is my mother-in-law kept telling me every time I would see her that he was going to die of a heart attack because he was a little overweight and he didn't get a chance to exercise and he didn’t eat well in the desk and he was in a very stressful job, and she liked to torture herself and me.
L: So I would run his death through my mind all the time. And so much over years, 10 years, you know, I would get to the point at night at 2:00 in the morning where I would be weeping at the loss. So I am here to tell everyone the human mind, the human imagination is so powerful. You can get yourself just as worked up at the idea of the event as the event itself. And in fact, you can make it worse because what you never anticipate is the incredible goodness that floods in with it…
L: … in the form of kindness and the kindness of strangers actually…
L: … kindness.
J: Wow, that's crazy.
L: Yeah, it's crazy.
J: So I love how you said everything in your life prepared you for this.
J: I felt the same way. I can see every trial has prepared me for the ones I'm facing now, and it's crazy, it's crazy. So tell us, you know, more about how you've seen that to be true in not only your life, but other people's lives.
L: Well, so I'm going to continue with the story because it's the best way I can answer that question, long answer.
L: So within a couple days of the event, first of all, I got all kinds of spiritual guidance.
L: I mean, I stood there in the… literally in the center of my dining room and a voice said to me, “Lisa, let them help you,” which was the last thing I wanted.
L: My ego screamed, “Oh no, no, no, no, nope, absolutely not,” but for whatever reason because you're so open… trauma opens us.
L: Trauma and pain. And pain is a fast track to personal growth because you're so open to alternatives to get it to stop.
L: Right? So my heart was so open, my mind which had always been, “I'm an alpha Virgo control freak,” so there it goes, my mind was, you know, for whatever reason, my heart won out and I let go of my coveted control and I walked through this metaphoric door and surrendered and was literally flooded with the feelings of gratitude and humility and grace and this incredible feeling of love that has literally been with me ever since.
L: And it's from that morning, from that moment that I let people help me, because it's really in giving in this way to allow the cycle of giving and receiving to happen. It's really a cycle of healing and we need it because it's soul food for those who are watching from the outside in because they are in it with us, you know, they're experiencing the grief, but they… they're watching and everyone is always projecting themselves into the situation, “What if it was me?”
L: So you have to allow them to give to you, you have to allow people to help you. And if it helps you to know that you're helping them by doing so, that's what helped me. And, you know, so literally, I was so well rewarded and have been since. I mean, we've never ever stopped being treated like just with kid gloves because people know our story. And my point in writing the book and in all situations, especially with women, people carry on with enormous strength and like incredible trauma and loss and, they do it so gracefully.
L: And if we gave everyone the same consideration I get because people know my story, what would the world look like then?
J: Oh yeah.
L: Right? Don't judge people. You don't know what somebody just went through 5 minutes ago or last year or what they're going through presently, right?
J: Yes, yes.
L: You never know. And so that, I got that awareness and it was such a gift, oh my gosh, I mean, changed my life, for sure.
J: So then all the things we were struggling with were just gone, you totally just flew to that new place like I said, like the arrow.
L: That would be nice. Well, I certainly understand now that it was guidance, I didn't then, I just… but because all the rules were broken and all bets were off and clearly no one knew what to do. Our government went to war, the religious organizations didn't know what to do, there was no guidance. And, you know, I just realized that I was on my own, but I was going to trust myself, and that is what took me through. So the intuitive knowing that we all have is always active and activated for us if we can listen to it.
L: You know, and in traumatic situations, it's really there because it's a complete leveler, right, every… it just clears the way.
L: So you're left with this open slate, and yeah.
J: You know, I want to… it's kind of off topic, a little tangent, but it keeps popping into my head. Have you read ‘The Poisonwood Bible’ by chance?
L: Many years ago and too long ago to actually remember how this would relate.
J: Yes, let me tell you (Laughs). So ‘The Poisonwood Bible’, for those who haven't read it, (I'll speak generally) is essentially chronicling all the trials people faced in Africa. Now, Africa is a continent, I get that, and it's different in all the different countries, but I'm just going to say it broadly because I don't remember which country it was, but my husband spent about 4 months in Africa and he said the people are just really quite happy and they would break out into singing. And kind of maybe rings true for me when you said, “Trauma and pain open us.” You know, there's constant insecurity and potential trauma happening in Africa politically, with the weather, with the geography, with so many things, and I think it's beautiful how, you know, the Africans I know are just such beautiful souls. So do you feel like it changed you in that same way, this trauma that you faced?
L: Oh my gosh, absolutely.
J: Did people notice that you were different?
L: I'm sure they did, but it came over time.
J: Right, right.
L: So in… within a couple weeks after 9/11, I could see that everything had changed, even though no one else was… you know, everybody was still reeling. But because I'd had this preparation, right, instead of teetering on the edge of the abyss in this defensive shock place, I was like 10 feet back with my feet firmly planted. I was a weeble wobble, right, I wobble, but I didn't fall down, I was there.
J: Yeah, yeah.
L: And so I was in it in an offensive position, that's a really big difference because of my life preparation. So within a co… so I was seeing things, I could see it, I could observe it, I was at this macro 10,000 foot level, I was watching and witnessing and just this unbelievable heightened like awareness, and it lasted for a while. So I realized that, you know, there was no way I would let Teddy and all the others die in vain…
L: … that I had to make something good come from this or the terrorists were going to win, and that was unacceptable to me.
L: But the only way we could do anything about it that I could see was to figure it out; emotionally figure it out.
L: So that took me to the couch, that took me to the therapist couch. I say to people… because everybody of course was highly shaming around therapy then and, you know, one of the silver linings, one of the lights of 9/11 is the fact that you have mental health and emotional health much more in the forefront now. It is not shameful to go to therapy. If it is, it's certainly much less than it was.
L: And anyone who's shaming therapy just needs therapy themselves. Sorry…
L:… but that's just my opinion.
J: (Laughs) I agree.
L: I’m opinionated on that one. So in doing so, I put my… I searched therapists and I found one for… an art therapist for my daughter and I found one for myself who was a world-class therapist behind our grocery store in our little town. Who knew? Like, there's great people everywhere.
L: But I started a 4 year full psychoanalytic analysis and I dug through all my history so that I could, A, not repeat my sad, sorry childhood with my children (which I was already doing), but I needed to figure it out. I needed to figure out a world that this could happen in, I needed to learn everything I could at an exponential rate. One of the parts of doing this is my therapist said to me one day, “You know, Lisa, we can't finish your therapy until your father's out of the room, and we can't finish your father out until you stop drinking.”
J: Ooh, wow, wow.
L: Right? So this kind of hurts to hear, but the truth of the matter is any chemical alters brain function, alters memory, alters the chance of the capability of digging back into very old memory. And for psychoanalytic analysis, clinical psychology or laying on a couch, looking at a wall, free associating for the most part, you need to go way deep early to… through your therapist, I'm sure you know this, but I'm not sure your audience does. But so that's kind of a difference between talk therapy where you're facing each other and you're kind of working on an issue, this is digging deep and literally finding the grounded, you know, going all the way back to finding the root issues of what the problems are, where the problems start. So, yeah, so about a year and 2 months after I quit drinking, what happened? Well, I have to back up. I would ask her, “How am I going to know? How am I going to know when I've achieved mental health? Does a bell go off? Do they notify you by mail? Like, what happens?”
L: And she would say to me, “You are going to get the most mind-blowing rush of creative energy like nothing you have ever known.”
L: I was like, “I need that, I want that more than anything.” And of course, in my mind, I was like, “I'm going to paint, I can't wait to paint, I've always wanted to be a beautiful fine artist and this is awesome.” So, you know, at this… in November of 2005, I popped this… I don't know what she said or what happened, but the problem… whatever happened, I popped through the ceiling to mental health, I sit bolt upright on the couch and I go, “Oh my god, I've got it, we just have to be nice.”
J: Ah, that’s great. (Laughs)
L: As simple as that is, it’s like was incredibly profound.
L: The second breath was, “Oh my gosh, who is taking care of women?”
L: This was 2000s, we were not on the radar like we are now at all, you know? And so I started thinking of all the women who were taking care of me. So what happened, I started knitting because I'm a crafter, I'm not a fine artist. I would do what is natural to my nature and I started knitting.
L: And knitting these big shawls which became a company, and I started knitting for all the friends who are taking care of me and they're big metaphoric hugs.
J: Aww, yeah, that's great.
L: It’s cute and it was a cute thing and I loved it and it turned into this whole brand of kindness. So… which is again, I'll explain further in detail. So the therapy is what set me free, but it was the most interesting thing in the world.
J: What kind of therapy was it again?
L: Clinical psychology, so psychoanalytic.
J: Like psychotherapy, psychoanalytic.
J: Okay, psychoanalytic.
L: You know, where you're taking in your thoughts, feelings, memories, thoughts about therapy, thoughts about sex dreams.
J: Yes, deep.
L: So, you know, you go in with all these random pile of stuff and you come out with this huge aha moment the way they…
J: That’s cool.
L: … you know, it was really… it's better than anything, honestly.
J: That’s really cool. So tell us about how you applied that, you know, being nice (Laughs), taking care of women.
L: Oh, well, that's what I mean, I started knitting for everyone and then I ultimately started to teach women to knit as a functional meditation that you could take with you. So I taught over 200 women to knit one by one sitting on my couch in my family room over a 3-year period of time, which actually ended up being kind of a study in women.
L: Most of them are… not all of them are my friends, but they're from our community, which is a middle upper class suburb of New York. So a lot of people were empty nesting who had lost a complete sense of who they were, “I'm somebody's mother, I'm somebody's husband, but who am I?” and they were really sad. And there was a lot of grief and there's a lot of grief in general because it's my opinion that 9/11, again, it's a filter I have, but I do… I'm pretty objective, we were already a fear-based species. Humans are naturally fearful, right? We have the fight-flight reflex, we… you know, we have this dichotomy in us at all times, and then 9/11 happened and it literally infused a fear, a terroristic level fear, at a cellular level. And within a couple years after, everybody was nice to each other, because if you remember it was the most amazing goodness and that… which I call the god-ness of 9/11, it's on the amazing kindness and love and generosity and all the social walls came down and it was amazing here and I hope other places. But certainly here within, you know, this region between Boston and Washington where it was in our face all the time.
L: And, you know, that lasted for a couple years and then it finally… it sealed over, only now we’re fur… much further out on the fear-terror spectrum in our… at a cellular level. So as a result, that's… I believe that that's a very strong underlying reason as to why we are where we are today.
L: So the internet took off at the same time, 24-hour news took off, 9/11 became the catalyst to feed the need.
J: Mm-hmm, mm, that makes sense.
L: Alright, so it became… went from national before that to global, so now we're global, right? But that… I believe that 9/11 was actually a catalyst it opened their world.
J: Mm, that makes sense.
L: So a new way to look at it, if the title of the book is ‘The Light in 9/11’, there's a lot of ways to look at this. And the truth about the fear and the healing right now, it's my opinion that we are not… and let's say healing for sure, but let's use the term unstuck.
L: I'd like to say that we're unstuck because I think people think they're okay. But if you remember in those years that followed, nobody laughed a lot, like we lost our joy, we lost our fun in some regard to fear and also a sense of dishonouring or, you know, disrespecting what had happened. And, you know, again, regional… you’re in Wisconsin, but here in the Northeast, that was really a very present thing.
L: And so I think today, you know, how do we get unstuck? Well, the way we get unstuck is we find a lesson in what happened. We shift out of being victims and we look at it in a new way; which we'll get to because I know you're going to ask about my favorite book, which I can…
L: … okay.
J: Wow, 9/11 opened us…
J: … shifts started happening, where do you see us heading going forward from here?
L: Yeah, I think we have a beautiful future.
L: I think right now, if people are doing a lot of social media viewing, which is not a healthy thing, I think we've all figured that out. It's okay in doses like anything, everything's okay in moderation. But… and if you're watching too much television, just remember the media is about ratings, the media is not a community service.
L: Always remember that. I was in media for 15 years in New York, it is only about money.
L: So they are there to scare you and that's what keeps ratings high because that's what we're feeding. Right now, we're in such a habit of fear that it feels comfortable to us.
L: And until we unwrite that comfort level and find a new way to think. So when my experience was basically having complete spiritual enlightenment, what happened on the hamlet’s couch is I got a full channel download.
L: I didn't know that then because I wasn't versed in spirituality and enlightenment. The name of my company from 2007 is Cozmeena Enlightened Living because it's a lifestyle platform, a 21st century version of a higher power.
L: So there's a lot here that, you know, again, if we can just shift not a great distance, but from, you know, a little 10 degrees to the right and say, “Wait a minute, we have so much here.” Life is a game that we need to play. We can take, you know, control of our thoughts, we can actually control our minds and choose to redirect that negative inner talk to positive inner thought. And you do it through meditation, you do it through self-care, you do it through expanding into these new modalities that are opening creative, feminine side of the brain, the left side where you have your creative intuitive sensory center, which is what I was tapping into with knitting. Because I would have these incredible mind… I mean, I processed and downloaded this brand of kindness, it took 2 years…
L: … to think it all through.
L: And I was feeling the greatest ride of my life. And was it manic? Yeah. Was it crazy? Yeah. Was it fun as hell? Oh my god, I wish everybody could have it.
L: That came out of therapy.
J: Yeah. Well, that's so cool, I want that therapist to move to my city. (Laughs)
L: Yeah. Well, it's all about how you… yes, you need a good therapist and you also need to be in it with both feet.
L: You need to be really honest, taking responsibility, giving as many details to all situations, not… don't edit, you know, you have to trust the therapist has your back, nobody's judging anybody. This judgment thing we have in our culture is just brutal, right along with the perfection model. So those 2 things.
J: Right, right.
L: … are like big pieces of the puzzle.
J: And so everyone can get the full story of this transformation in ‘The Light in 9/11’ from your book?
L: Yeah, yeah.
J: Oh, that's great.
L: So it's the first book. So you asked me about the future, I believe that our kids… well, first of all, I think everybody will probably agree that they're wired differently than we are. We have raised them differently than we were raised.
L: And, you know, so there's a second book and the third book after. This is basically an introduction, a micro study that's my story so that people meet me; and hopefully trust me, because the next 2 books are going to take you further out on the trust scale. It's, you know, like, “Is she really honest? What she's talking about real?”
L: And so I have a lot of theory that came up in these 18 years of study. But so the kids of today have been raised… like my husband would say… I was born in 1960 into the parenting model of children were to be seen and not heard.
L: The late baby boomers, you know, late 50s, mid 60s, even 70s. 30 years later in the early 1990s, my husband looked at me one day when our daughter was about a year and half old and he said, “Oh my god, we're just working at the castle for the princess.”
J: Oh boy, yeah.
L: That 30-year swing has completely changed everything. We just have to identify what and why and we can figure out our future.
L: And then we get to hand it off to the kids because guess what? They are different. They're collaborative, they do not see gender, race, any kind of bias. I mean, it's amazing to watch and witness. I have… my kids are now 25, 21, and 18.
L: So I'm in the throws with them, and anyone born after the late 90s was born into this new energy.
L: So that's book 3, we'll get into the enlightenment and why, which I'll tap into as an addition with my favorite book. But there's a lot of hope out there, no one should lose hope. In fact, we really need to discern… that's the word, discernment of information because there's way too much information…
L: … and way, way, way, way, way too much, way too much distraction. Pulling in, finding quiet, finding stillness every day, having the self-discipline to put the phone down, having the self-discipline to close your eyes for 10 minutes and just listen to nothing.
J: Yes, intuition, yeah.
L: It's critical to our well-being.
J: Right, right.
L: We're stimulated.
J: Right, for sure.
L: We’re very sensitive creatures. So, you know, it's not a hard thing to do, but it takes self-discipline to do it. And that's one of the things we've kind of let go of our culture, it's kind of again, I think back to the metaphors of 9/11 is, you know, I could really sense in that… in those early days that literally, somebody let go of the reins, like a stagecoach barreling down a mountainside out of control, literally let go of the reins and we're running crazy…
L: … with no kind of structure. And we're still doing that because nobody's pulled it in…
L: … we just haven't identified it, but it's coming. I'm only one voice that knows this same idea, you know, there's a lot of parallel development because there's a lot of input coming honestly from the universe.
L: It's coming.
J: Yeah. So reining in the internet and the information?
L: Reining in your finer your structure, gentle structure…
L: … not critical structure.
L: Fine structure of self-care really.
L: I always said when I was teaching women to knit the shawls, you know, that you need to make the first one for yourself because you have to take care of yourself before you take care of someone else.
L: You know, it's the metaphor of the oxygen on the airplane. It's true, you know, especially with women. Any caregiver (which is now a lot of men), all caregivers need to be cared for. And self-care is something, again, that was never acceptable in my generation.
J: Right, big shift.
L: I'm almost 59, big shift! The 40 year olds, people in their 30s and 40s, this isn't that uncommon for them, this is much more in their world. I mean, I went to the pediatrician with my 18 year old (which is just funny) the other day and there were 4 dads in the waiting room and 2 moms.
L: In my years, I never saw a dad in there…
J: Right, right.
L: … ever. So look how quickly that's changing.
L: So that's why people shouldn't give up. You know, we've all known Malcolm Gladwell in ‘The Tipping Point’ (another favorite book), it only takes 18% of the population before it chips into the masses.
J: Mm, right.
L: So, you know, we're past innovation and early adapters, we’re into early majority here, and that's when it's going to tip and become normal. Plus anyone who's older, we're all dying off, that old thinking, that old limited generational thinking that says, “You're wrong, you're wrong, you're wrong if you're serving yourself, if you ask for something, you're selfish.”
L: You know, that's what I heard.
L: And… right? And why is taking a breath and getting 10 minutes, how is that selfish if I'm…
L: … just going to be better by doing it.
L: So, you know?
J: Ah, super fascinating. Well, let's have a quick break for our sponsor and then we'll come back and talk about time and balance and favorite things; sounds good?
Alright, welcome back, Lisa. Let's talk about… you mentioned balance before our break with the sponsor, and how do you find balance in your life or how did you? I mean, you're empty nesting now a little bit at this point, but, you know, you had three high schoolers not too long ago, how did you find balance and take care of that self-care? What did that look like for you?
L: Well, you make sure you exercise. I know that's hard, that's a lot of time. Like because the endorphin load and the checking it off the list is a really important piece of self-satisfaction, which is part of balance. You have to… you're out of balance because you're talking to yourself all the time…
L: … and you're saying, you know, “I haven't done this, I need to do that, blah-blah-blah-blah.” You know, and so it's for me, it was about taking care of myself and making sure all those boxes were checked, and then I could be better for the people I was taking care of.
J: Yeah, exactly, yep.
L: I mean, that sounds kind of trite as an answer, but it's usually the simple things that are right.
L: We complicate things a lot, so…
J: Yeah, when you don't exercise, you have this kind of running commentary, “I should exercise, I feel guilty for not exercising,” yeah.
L: Well, and it's not about weight loss, you know, it's not always about weight and it's not about what you look like, it's… I had cancer 10 years ago and in my oncologist, the first thing she said to me was, “You know, your lymph system needs to be pumped every day, it's literally a filter. And you need 30 minutes of cardio 5 days a week,” when I started my treatment in February of ’09. When I finished in December, it was 60 minutes of cardio 6 days a week. But it's not high cardio, you know, it's a good yoga class, it's a 10,000 steps, it's whatever… you know, just move your body.
L: And let it move, just move your arms and legs. You don't have to sweat, you don't have to beat yourself up, you don't have to do 5000 reps. I mean, I think that's what happens is we… because our American culture is just so over-served in everything we do, we’re so extreme, that it's okay… you know, you're not going to be able to maintain that… that pace, you need to… the balance comes from forgiving yourself and you don't do it and gratify, you know, supporting yourself when you do. I mean, I walk out my front door and I have a little 2-mile loop and all I could do that and that's fine, and then I talked to somebody on the phone and it's over. So, you know, you can make it in your life, you can make it work.
J: Hmm, yeah, exactly, 10,000 steps isn't that hard. If you just walk, it's not.
J: And what does your morning routine look like?
L: So I get up, I wake up with… I try to wake up without an alarm, I'm at that place in my life, which is really nice. But I wake up with the sun and I grab a cup of coffee and I sit down and I turn on the TV and I read three things. I read the DailyOM, which is a fantastic blog by women named Madison Taylor, and she has these terrific courses that she… for very reasonable prices that are all within the enlightenment world. And her… she's just a beautiful and brilliant writer.
L: And then I read The Skim, which is, I don't know, it's the… by I think some 230-something women, it's a skim of the news. And then I watch a guy named Darren Hardy who does a personal performance like 2 to 5 minute video vignette. And I do it every day, and if I don't do it, I feel like I'm off balance. And then I meditate, then I do my prayerful meditation for my kids and myself, and I center and I align myself and I breathe, and then I'm ready.
J: Hmm, that's great and it's unique. The Darren Hardy thing, he does that every day?
L: Oh my gosh, I would recommend it very highly. I love my little routine, I’ve tried to get my kids to do it too. What's really interesting about The Skim, and this is a commentary on the news media, I happen to… I have watched the Today Show on channel… it's NBC, and they will be giving the top news stories and I'll be reading them simultaneously in The Skim.
L: Identical coverage.
J: Oh, interesting.
L: Every day from years, it's been going on for years.
L: And it's kind of sad to me that there's this opportunity to really communicate and we're communicating all the same stuff.
J: Right, exactly.
L: That's the news media, because the news media is falling off, right? Because now, we're going to be served in different new ways, good and bad, right? You can sort through your social media for your input based on your interests which keeps you in a lane that isn't allowing for other openness sometimes. I mean, so it all has to figure itself out, and it will, it will.
J: Mm-hmm, exactly. And tell us about a time when you followed intuition; which the way I hear it, you're doing it all the time, but if you want to share a specific one.
L: Yeah. Well, I think my favorite story is the, “Let them help you.” That was all intuition, that was the guidance coming loud and clear, and to just trust myself. Because, I mean, I was going against both families and everybody is… when I went to therapy, when I took my kids and made their lives as normal as possible, I refused to let my children be victimized by this.
L: Because part of my preparation for 9/11 was my family’s… my father had lost his dad and mother young and he never recovered, he never got over it.
L: He was angry and bitter and became very alcoholic and wasted his life. He was a brilliant, really cool guy who just couldn't get past the emotional damage. And then my in-laws lost their dad when the kids were in their teens and they never got over it. They nursed that thing and honestly milked it for attention because they were so damaged from a lack of attention.
L: So I saw those two examples, so I got to do the opposite, I just took my kids in the opposite direction.
L: Again, life prepares you. You're being shown all the time the steps in which to direct your personal story.
J: Exactly, yeah. You reframed it, you gave them a personal… a more positive lens; fantastic.
L: And, you know, we have so much love. Again, although… and that's from a story that I told my kids a few weeks after he died, when Teddy died, was I read this grief pamphlet and I've been having this unbelievable positive experience. I could not… from that morning when… back to intuition, when, you know, I allowed people to help me and I was overwhelmed by this incredible sense of love, I could not stop seeing the positive in everything. Here, my husband was dead, the world was coming unglued, and all I could see was the beauty in the love.
L: Literally, I could see people's glow of unconditional love coming at me and to each other, like their auras. And, you know, I didn't know it then, but, you know, the sensor, I didn't see that, but I felt it and I could only feel that. So that's what's in the yin and yang of every situation. We hold on so tight to our fear and anger because that's what you've been taught.
L: We haven't been taught it's okay to let go. And that's the bottom line, you gotta let go.
J: Right, right.
L: It’s scary out there, we're so comfortable in our unhappiness, we're so comfortable in our story and in our anger and in our rumination, in our victimhood. And I get it, I've lived all the time… I could not say one thing, I have literally lived this personally, so I get it and I'm greatly compassionate and empathetic to everyone out there. It's hard, man, but it's totally worth, you know, continuing to try.
J: So it's one thing to let go of resentment and frustration with other people, I mean, I think we all understand it's important to forgive, but speak to the fact that you had severe postpartum depression and then things slowly shifted. How do you let go of the idea that, “Oh, I have depression,” you know what I mean? Because I think…
L: Oh, okay.
L: Well, depression is something to be managed. I actually suffer regular depression.
L: I wouldn't say it's clinical. I mean, I did take some Zoloft while I was going through the deep analysis because, you know, the highs and lows are rough. But I didn't like it in the sense that I could never seem to get my edge, and I like my edge, you know, I’m not… we all have… you know, one of the comments that comes up often is, you know, we talk about self-love, and my definition of self-love is loving your bad side more than your good side.
J: Oh, that's good.
L: Because it's our quirks and idiosyncrasies that make us different and unique, it's how we sort and filter the world for our own perspective.
L: If we take that out, we're all vanilla, who cares?
J: Right, right.
L: We're not going to get anywhere, we've got to have some edges. And as long as you take ownership for and responsibility for your actions and behaviors, if you step over a line and you hurt someone, you can always make it right.
L: The flipside of that is taking ownership, apologizing, really owning something, you know, when something's happened wrong no matter size, you know, bigger or small, we have to leave room for the other person to understand that we can't control how they're going to receive it.
L: I've learned that pretty recently.
L: You know, that's a big piece is we can only control ourselves.
L: And so… and do our best and live our best life and our best day as forgiveness of our faults because we are faulted, we are perfectly imperfect beings. There is no perfection, we are imperfect and it's awesome.
J: Yes, exactly.
L: It makes us great, yeah.
J: Yeah, that's great. Well, tell us, what is your favorite book?
L: So my favorite book in this conversation is a book that really changed my complete way of thinking called ‘Radical Forgiveness’ by a man named Colin Tipping. And radical forgiveness is when I was wrestling with my own sense of victimization and I didn't realize that's what I was doing. But my dear friend who I study with, you know, mentioned like, “Lise, I think you're kind of being a victim here,” and of course I was like, “No, I’m not,” so she said, “You need to read this.” Well, what radical forgiveness does (and it's fantastic) is says change one… this is my… I'm paraphrasing, change one small word and everything changes.
L: Life is not happening to you, life is happening for you.
L: When you are in a situation, ask yourself, “Why am I being shown this? What am I supposed to learn here?”
L: And it works. It does… it's not an immediate fix, I mean, I just went through a really hard time with my youngest child, it took… it was a 3-month dark night of the soul, but the whole time knowing the training that I had and, “Why is this happening for me,” we all come out better for having lived it. So that's a litmus test. When you go into your life and you look at the different stories that you tell yourself or that you've had, if you back up and you say, “Am I better for having lived that?” there is your answer.
L: And if you're not, then you should probably take a little look at the inner victim, you should really take a look at how you're seeing things.
J: (Laughs) Yes.
L: Because, you know, you can't blame everybody else.
L: Because the other piece of radical forgiveness says that we incarnate before we incarnate, we make a plan.
L: And this is common throughout a lot of the enlightenment spirituality that's being written now, and there's a whole… again, this is why there's a third book on this because this is a… literally an infinite topic, but that do you kind of pre… you disco… you know, you figure out what your life journey will be, what your soul is there to learn and you choose the soul family people that are going to join you and they're going to give you that experience. And when I learned this, I believe that one of my lessons here was to learn self-love and self-reliance. So I was born into a family that didn't see me or hear me.
J: Mm, yes. Oh, I bet that's going to resonate for everyone listening (Laughs); oh my gosh.
L: Right. So all I could say when I read this book was, “Thank you! You gave me a perfect experience for me to get here and get to where I am. I couldn't have done it without you, thank you.”
J: Exactly, oh, love this. Well, what is your favorite easy meal, Lisa?
L: Ah, easy meal, I just love all meals.
J: (Laughs) The ones that someone else makes, yeah.
L: Yeah, those are my… the takeout would be my favorite easy meal.
L: Yeah, I'll make your phone call. I would say, you know, most often, I make… and this is… I'm not this healthy, but I make a really great salad with arugula and some pignoli nuts and shaved parmesan with a little vinaigrette. Like, open the bag, dump it in, 2 seconds later, it's delicious.
J: Mm-hmm, yum.
J: And what does it mean for you to be a vibrant happy woman?
L: I was thinking about this. I think it's an ongoing practice of being my best self and with the ability to forgive myself when I've had a bad day and just know that the next day's a new start. And just to stay light, to stay light in the moment, to be a free spirit.
L: And I've been in a really heavy place and I've really worked on letting go of a lot of attachment to and like final attachment. I mean, this is 18 years later, I've been working on this a long time, but I've had a lot to work on. So, you know, not everybody has… I mean, everybody has a lot, but they don't necessarily… we're all different in our dimensions; and our personalities. You know, some of us hold onto things more than others.
L: So… and I would say I hold on, I hold on. So in finding… my search is for freedom. Joy, happiness, and freedom.
L: So that is where I am and I am there today, and it's been… you know, it constantly cycles. I think that's what we all… happiness is not something over there somewhere. You know, and a friend of mine said, you know, “What's the difference between happiness and joy?” Well, happiness is kind of a birthday party, and joy is being able to recognize a beautiful sunset when your heart is breaking.
L: So, you know, we just have to really not expect that incredible elated feeling all the time, we have to ride the wave and be grateful for what we do have. Because at all times, we still have so much.
J: Right, gratitude, yeah, such an important one.
L: A little gratitude, yeah.
J: Yeah. Well, let's have a challenge from you to our listeners and we'll say goodbye.
L: Well, I was thinking a lot about… before I talked to you about our inner child. And I know we haven't really talked about this here, but going forward in the future, there's several different modalities. One's called NLP, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, there's EFT tapping, I know you just did a show on that. These are all ways in which we can touch base with our inner child because we bring that broken little girl with us into every situation we're in.
L: When we’re 2, 5, 7, 9, 13, 15, she's with us all the time.
L: She needs to be cared for, she needs a hug, she needs to be told she's beautiful, she's okay, that she has everything she needs, that she is loved. And I know that can sound corny if this is the first time someone's hearing it, but when I… and it did to me when I first heard it. And I can honestly say that when you take care of yourself this way, it softens those edges. You can actually rewrite your story so that you can have that love.
J: Mm-hmm, self-love.
L: Because love is from the inside out, right?
J: Right, right, beautiful. So use the tools is what you're challenging us to do, get in touch with her.
L: Yeah, use your tools, yes, read up, like break out, do something practical. One would just be pick up a book that calls you in this topic of enlightenment and read it.
L: Read ‘Radical Forgiveness’, read ‘The Untethered Soul’, listen to ‘The Law of Attraction’ by Esther Hix. There's literally a plethora of them, and they're all saying more or less the same thing, but they all resonate with each of us differently.
L: And you literally will be intuitively drawn. If you go to a bookstore and you stand in the enlightenment spirituality section, pick up a couple books and see what you're attracted to and go; there's no wrong information.
J: Yeah, cool. And use discernment, too, when you read it.
L: And use discernment.
L: Well, and there's a lot… that voice in your head, the shaming voice that comes from wherever in your past, it's all the training. We've been trained hard and heavy on how to think.
L: And we really are so capable of thinking extraordinary things when we walk away from those limiting beliefs.
J: Mm-hmm, so true.
L: But that's a choice. You have to give yourself permission to not listen to your mother and your grandmother and your boss…
L: … and the people who have been bossing you. Because who better than you? Who can possibly know what you need but you?
J: Exactly, truth. Well, this has been amazing. We'll have links to all of those books, I can't wait to read, some of them I haven't read before so this will be awesome…
J: …. on our show notes page at jenriday.com/169; there you go. Thank you for being on the show, Lisa, I love what you're doing.
L: Thank you so much, Dr. Jen, you are great. I love your group, I love your whole vibe and all my new friends out in Vibrant Happy Women world.
J: Alright, cool. Well, thank you for being a part of it.
L: My pleasure, thank you very much. Take care.
J: Cool interview, right? I love how Lisa’s struggles helped her to pull back and have a completely different perspective of her life. And I love how she committed to doing that therapy work to heal her emotions; 4 years of it. I love hearing this story and seeing how she is trying to add light to the world instead of being stuck in a victim story of, “My husband died in the 9/11 Towers.” So beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, I love it. How can we apply this? Well, we need to see the silver lining in our struggles and believe, just assume, that everything really is happening for you rather than to you. When you approach life from that perspective, it just takes the pressure off, and in the end, we are going to struggle and we do learn from those struggles, they make us better if we let them. So it's letting go and seeing the good, assuming good things are happening. Well, I'm going to be talking more about this episode and how I'm applying it in my life right now over on Instagram. You can follow me there Jen.Riday. I've been doing some live videos about the episodes and you can see those on Instagram stories for the most part. Go over and follow me there at Jen.Riday; super easy, Jen.Riday on Instagram. Well, I will be back later this week with a Happy Bit, and until then, have a great day, make it vibrant and happy. Take care.