29 Transcript: Finding Beauty Through the Ashes with American Wife (author Taya Kyle)

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J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 29.

T: I feel like I'm just… I'm blessed to have had good people around me and to been able to choose this option of light and acceptance and hope. I mean, I don't know, maybe acceptance is a stretch, I think it sometimes is hard to accept everything, but I think that, you know, I've got love and light around me and I can focus on that and I can look at sort of I call it beauty through ashes.

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

J: Hey there, welcome back to Vibrant Happy Women, I'm your host, Jen Riday. On our last episode last week, I spoke with Melissa Joulwan about how comparison is the thief of joy. When we compare ourselves to others, that can be bad, but also it can be demoralizing when we compare our current self to our former self or even our future self. It's a super important topic for so many of us to just be content with who we are right now. If you haven't listened to that, be sure to go back and do so. Today, I'll be talking with Taya Kyle, wife of the late US Navy SEAL sniper, Chris Kyle, who was murdered a couple of years ago. Taya is also the bestselling author of the book ‘American Wife’. Taya shares her story of trying to go forward without her husband raising their 2 children, and how she has learned to forgive and find beauty through the ashes. If you've ever had a hard time moving forward through a painful situation, this episode is for you because Taya is a strong and inspiring woman and she really touched my heart. So without further ado, we will go ahead and get started with this episode.

Hey there, welcome to Vibrant Happy Women, I'm Jenn Riday and I'll be talking with Taya Kyle today. She's the wife of the late US Navy SEAL sniper, Chris Kyle, and the author of the New York Times best-selling book, ‘American Wife’. In her book, she opens up about the trials and triumphs of life with and without Chris and ultimately finding her place in the midst of the journey. Since the time of the tragic death of her husband, Chris Kyle, himself the author of the New York Times best-selling book an Academy Award winning motion picture, ‘American Sniper’, Taya has served as executive director of the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation which serves First Responder and military marriages. Taya is a frequent speaker for various organizations and a proud mother and resides in Texas with her family. Welcome, Taya.

T: Hi, thanks for having me.

J: Yeah, I'm glad you could be here. So, Taya, we love to start out our show with a favorite quote from our guest, what would you like to share with us today?

T: Well, you know, we just talked briefly I know before the show about how I'm kind of a quote fanatic and I have a ton, but, you know, I am… I had a Bible verse that… Micah 6:8 is one I love it's, “Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Lord your God.” And I feel like that just can cover so many things as far as, you know, just acting justly isn't always being the nice person, you know, sometimes Christianity and justice and all of that it means you have to stand up and do the hard thing and have the brave conversations. But while we were talking about that, I just… I pulled up one other that I just love and I think it's appropriate for today's world, especially with school starting, and women, sometimes, we feel like we're just supposed to do it all.

J: Mm-hmm.

T: And the quote is from Mother Teresa and it's, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

J: Mm.

T: And I thought, “You know what? If… if you really just…” I love quotes like that that boiled it down like, “Yes, we all kind of want to make our mark on the world and be great at all of these things,” but really loving your family, for me, it's making your marriage work, that we could talk… I could talk for hours on that about how important that can be, how it can forge your soul, it can change your life, it can change somebody else's life, there's a ripple effect to it; all of that. But it's your spouse and your children, or if you're not married it’s, you know, even a parent or somebody that teaching people that they can count on you by loving them, giving them a safe place to land, investing in a other persons, all that stuff that can come from loving your family, I really do think that is what changes the world because it puts something different out from not only you, but them.

J: Yeah, so if you want to change the world, love your family; oh, that's great. So shifting into your low point, I suspect it has to do with family based on what I know about you, so go ahead and lead us up to the low point and tell us more about that.

T: Yeah, I think, you know, it's a… it's a painful one, if people know my story that, you know, Chris my husband is the American sniper and that's how he's well known, but to me, he was just, you know, he's Chris, he was my husband, he's the light of my life and my friend and… and my safe place and my rock and… and all those things that you would want a spouse to be, he's… he was all of that. And, you know, my lowest point was, you know, hearing that he'd been killed and… and I… you know, I pray that there's nothing lower than that that ever happens in my life because that… that was definitely a devastating moment. I think we had been through a lot and we were in a great place and we have 2 young children and it was just… you know, it was he and his friend who were murdered at the same time and it was one of those moments where I think because he had been in the military, because he had been in gun fights so many times, I had considered the possibility and I had watched a lot of our friends, you know, their families, their spouses be the surviving spouse of a death when somebody, you know, leaves this world all too young and… and I just… I think I just sort of had a sense that, “Oh, it's here,” you know? So…

J: Oh.

T: You know, like, “Oh, it's…” okay. Like, you know, almost as if it was… it wasn't supposed to happen, he was out of the military and all that, but I think… I am also aware we've lost a lot of friends in a lot of different ways and…

J: Mm-hmm.

T: And I always have felt very strongly that we're not guaranteed another day.

J: Mm-hmm.

T: And so it was just… yeah, it was a mix of things I think where it's shock. I don't think I really… it didn't make sense to me for years, and even still I, every once in a while, get a glimpse of… it kind of runs through mind of, “It doesn't make sense,” or, “I don't understand.”

J: Mm-hmm.

T: Every once in a while, that still happens, but especially in the beginning it happened and on the other side, I was… I just got to work right away on doing everything I could to… to keep his memory alive, to work on what he was working on; and so it's just a… it was a mix.

J: So for those who haven't watched ‘American Sniper’ or… or know your story, take us all the way back to what that movie’s about, what happened after that leading up to the present day.

T: Yeah, I think… I think it's better if people read the book or see the movie and probably read the book. I'll give you the brief, the… kind of touch on some points. But the reason I say that is that it's just so complex and there are so many layers we wouldn't have enough time. But, yeah, I mean the basic story of it is that, you know, we fell in love and… and he's a phenomenal human being and, you know, I started out kind of an independent person, not wanting to need anyone, and then I sort of felt like God was showing me something in my life where I wasn't meant to be alone and I prayed about it. And within weeks, you know, there was Chris and he was the most… he was really the nicest man I had ever met, sort of idealistic kind, wonderful person. And… and he was in the military, he felt so strongly that he signed up to give his life if it was required of him and it wasn't just words that was really… it was just something different about him that he just felt it so strongly and was so humble, even though he achieved a lot by becoming a Navy SEAL and, yeah. So, you know, we spent the next 10 years of our life with him going back-to-back combat tours over to the Middle East and we had children and he was gone training and deployed and in a war zone. And we went through our different struggles with that, just like a lot of people do when we had some that were unique. And then, you know, he… he got out because, at some point, I just felt like we weren't getting the time together and… and I said that I would… you know, I thought I should just move out of State with my parents and he could come visit us up there and…. and, you know, we'd be married, but we just weren't getting a time and it was… there was just so much coming at us, and so he didn't feel like the marriage would last if we did that. He got out of the military and we moved to Texas and started to build a life here; that's where he was from. And he had a business he was working on, he helped Veterans in his spare time, he got through a lot of the difficulties that you have when you get out of a military life like that; something I didn't foresee. We just had a lot of unforeseen challenges; a lot of them. And, you know, he just rallied and muscled through and then, you know, he was helping a veteran who it turns out did not present himself the way that… that Chris was told. You know, he was told this guy had PTSD, psychiatrists on the prosecution and the defense in the murder trial testified that he did not have PTSD, he never had any trauma, he never saw any combat. He was in the Marine Corps, but he was on, you know, a base and… and so it was just somebody who chose to do some drugs and he was somebody who lied and got away with it and got… made a lot of excuses and got away with it and got out of trouble by claiming PTSD and he eventually, you know, killed Chris and his friend on a gun range when they were there…

J: Mm.

T: … just trying to help give him some quality time. And so, you know, that changed everything that was 3 years ago, and now the kids and I have, you know, we march on.

J: Mm-hmm. And so my first question after hearing that story is, how has it been to forgive that person? Has that been…

T: Well…

J: … awful? Has it been possible?

T: Yeah, it's… I think they're… you know, I rely heavily on… on God and I feel like everything that happens in my life good or bad keeps bringing me closer and closer and deeper into my faith. And that's something that Chris really helped me with too. I was raised in the church, but then I just… you know, it's not like I went to church a lot or knew intimately all the parts of the Bible, it was more just a feeling I had and… and Chris brought me deeper into that. And so with that, I do realize that forgiveness when they say it's… it's really about you and not the person you're forgiving and all of that stuff, there are a whole bunch of clichés, but the bottom line is that forgiveness is misunderstood I think by a lot of people. I have a wonderful pastor who talked to me about it and, in a nutshell, he was talking about forgiveness in the Bible and he was saying how the Israelites went up to the mountain and Moses told them it was their home and… and they looked in and 10 of them said it was not a good choice, 2 of them said it was good, even though they were told that God was giving it to them. So they decided not to go and they began walking, and they walked for 40 years. And at some point, they said, “My God, forgive me for… for what we have done,” and he said, “My child, I forgave you the moment you did it, but that doesn't mean that you get to go into the home.”

J: Right.

T: So, you know, the point being that, especially with this case and a murderer, forgiveness means, “I can forgive you as being a human being who’s flawed, made bad decisions, who chose evil over good. I can say that you're forgiven, but that doesn't mean that I… you don't have a consequence. That doesn't mean I hope you rot in jail that you never see the light of day and that you pay sort of severely for your crime. That's the human side of me.” I believe wholeheartedly that this is… you know, there's a punishment. And forgiveness doesn't mean, “I forgive you, now come back and do more to me,” or…

J: Rigt.

T: “I forgive you, that means it's okay.” It doesn't mean it's okay, it means, “I forgive you because you're flawed and I'm not going to carry around hate for you, I'm not going to carry around the burden of thinking of you.” You know, that's not something my children and I talk about with that situation in particular and that is that we forgive because it's not ours to carry and it's not… it would ruin our lives and it would take from us if we focused on the evil because evil’s everywhere.

J: Mm-hmm.

T: So, you know, you forgive the person and I hope that… I really do hope that he finds God. I believe that if he has God, he'll go to heaven like everybody else and… and I believe that God takes care of it. It's not mine… it's not mine to do.

J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. So thank you for that.

T: Yeah.

J: Tell me more about how life has been for you since your husband was murdered.

T: You know, it's just been a real different kind of journey. It's nothing I would have ever expected, it's been challenging in ways I wouldn't have expected. I've grown tremendously and I've, you know, hurt more people than I've ever hurt, but I… you know, I've also seen more beauty in this world than I ever would have seen without the pain to. You know, I've seen the best sides of people, I've seen people dig deep, you know, and… and do for others; that's a blessing that I get to see a lot. I have had the opportunity to go on the Patriot tour with some of Chris's friends and teammates and go out and speak to people in the country and see the patriotism which I think is inspiring to me. I've gotten to finish a lot of Chris's projects, you know, we worked on the movie a lot after he died, he had another book that he was working on we finished called, ‘American Gun’, finished that book and then, you know, I wrote my own book and we've been through legal issues, not only the murder trial, but I had some other legal issues that were, you know, very time-consuming and difficult and we had to move in the middle of it. And, you know, I've got 2 young children who are my first priority so it's… it's been a madhouse, but I've… I've also got some of the most amazing friends and I've got my sister's husband, my brother-in-law, who has been my saving grace and… and my partner through, you know, all of that, and my sister is a phenomenal human being and she lends him out, you know, to our family to take care of the business and the foundation. We started the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation which saves military and first responder marriages and, you know, we just… I couldn't do it without really good people around me and… and also the people that… that were patient and tolerant and knowing that I… a lot of times, I could get through the motions and I could accomplish the tasks, but mentally, I had no memory of anything that I was really doing. I would skip things, I was late a lot, I would, you know, cry a lot. Sometimes I was afraid to just stop and cry so I bury it and I had a high anxiety and I just, you know, I… I kind of couldn't handle it all at once and so I just got really busy doing a lot of things. And, you know, not maybe not doing them all very well either, but doing the best I could just to kind of avoid some of the pain and I'd take it in doses. So it's been a… it's really been an… I guess in some ways, it's been fascinating when I look back. Every once in a while, I… I look back and I get these realizations of almost looking as an outsider…

J: Mm-hmm.

T: … back on to the person 3 years ago that I was, the person 2 years ago. And most of the time, I don't think I'd be aware of that, but every once in a while, something will happen and it almost is like a kick to the stomach or makes me want to cry looking back, you know, how it really was.

J: Mm-hmm.

T: So many times along this this path in the last 3 years, aside from just, you know, the normal things like, you know, I missed him before he was killed like crazy and I missed him all the time, you know? But I have to accept what's here and I know there's a lot of good here too, and I feel like Chris truly is with us and I… you know, that's just… it's not even something I use that's like a blanket, a comfort, an idea, a theory, I literally feel it and I… I feel really blessed by that. Sometimes it's almost confusing because it just feels like he's deployed or, you know, it's a very strong presence a lot of time.

J: Mm.


T: So, you know, yeah, I guess that has just been kind of a… it's forced me to dig into a lot of different areas spiritual, psychological…

J: Mm-hmm.

T: … you know, friendships, family, motherhood, marriage, regrets, hope, the whole gamut; it feels like everything's been on high volume for a long time.

J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. So would you say that… I mean, the answer seems obvious, but I guess I'll ask it a different way; how would you say you've grown and that painful time, in that foggy time? Because it sounds like you really have, as you mentioned, your life.

T: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think a lot of it has been the experiences with other people. A lot of it has been a deeper understanding of what trauma does to people, a deeper understanding of what regret can do, a very deep understanding of seeing people who have chosen hate and bitterness as a reaction to their pain…

J: Mm-hmm.

T: … versus what… what I've… I feel like I'm just I'm blessed to have had good people around me and to been able to choose this option of light and acceptance and hope. I mean, I don't know, maybe acceptance is a stretch, I think sometimes it's hard to accept everything, but I think that, you know, I've got love and light around me and I can focus on that and I can look at sort of I called beauty through ashes and I can… you know, I'm never immune to seeing the good that can be done even through evil, and I find that inspiring. So I think maybe that's one of the bigger lessons, I've got a lot of smaller lessons, but I think the bigger lesson is that there's real grit and fortitude in this world, a lot of people have it, and when you see that put in the action and you see them roll up their sleeves when life gets really ugly, man, there's so much beauty to that and there's so much soul to it.

J: Mm-hmm.

T: And I've… I've got to see that through a lot of people who have I've been with in their time of suffering. Even in the last 3 years, you know, if it's veterans and if it's emotional issues, if it's amputations, if it's loss of marriage, if it's, you know, effects of war, there's… there are so many different things like that, as well as friends who have lost loved ones in that last 3 years and people who have, you know, children who are fighting illnesses there. There have been a lot of really deep things that I've gotten to see people just… I even have friends who have adopted children out of the foster care system and high-risk kids. I mean, these people are brave and they have courage and they take it head-on with grace and hope and light, and I feel like that's been the biggest thing is to see that everybody suffers.

J: Yeah.

T: Everybody does. And, you know, when people choose this, I mean, even like what you're saying the… the Vibrant Happy Women, I mean, when people choose to be that in spite of their suffering or can be it because of their suffering, they find such a more happiness once they get through it.

J: Mm-hmm.

T: I think that's… to me, that's probably the biggest learning experience I've had and the biggest blessing.

J: Yeah, and I kind of can relate to what you're saying a little with, once you've suffered through something, when you see someone else suffering, you just have so much more compassion, but also admiration for when they've done.

T: Mm-hmm.

J: You're just like, like you said, beauty through ashes seeing, “Wow, look what you've done,” and you just feel such a more of an admiration for all these people around you; so I heard that when you were telling a story.

T: Right. Yeah, and I want more people to have it too honestly, because I feel like there's a definitely a segment of our society that feels like being a victim is fine, you know, and being entitled to something because you suffered. And I… I just feel so strongly that that's not it and when you change it into, “I'm entitled because I suffered,” or, “I'm a victim, do for me,” or, “Take care of me because I suffered,” I feel like, man, that is so opposite of what we need to do. I mean, we need to help each other for sure, but we need to help give each… you know, each other the strength to fight themselves, because if they do that, it's like 10 times the beauty of just putting a Band-Aid on it and feeling sorry for somebody and telling them it's okay if they just, you know, these bad things because they've suffered. It’s like, “No, everybody suffers. Help them do better, help them be better, help them rise through it, and they'll be so… so much better off.

J: Ah, love that; beauty through the ashes, just like you said.

T: Yeah.

J: So, looking forward, what is exciting you about life or your future as you look forward?

T: Well, that's been a really hard one for me. I think for… for quite some time, I've… I've had this feeling of… you know, okay, let me back up, my aunt, who is a wonderful person, I think it was last… not this last summer, but the summer before, we were visiting and she said, “I know you may not believe this now, but,” she said, “I know that good things are going to happen in your life and I want you to put your feet on the floor every morning and thank God for what he's doing because it's going to be amazing. And I want you to be… have this excited anticipation about what the future holds.” And I just started crying, I feel like crying now remembering it, because I thought, “I don't… I don't feel that; I just don't.” And I love that idea and I think it's true on some level that I… that would be fine because I do think that life is good and… and I know from people who I've talked to that, man, when they truly through it, they have so much more happiness because they just don't let little things bother them or they have a different perspective on what… what happiness is. And I don't quite have that feeling yet, I think instead, I have more of a hopefulness that I continue to not having expectations and then I continue to just say, “Look, it's not my plans, it's God's. It's… I can plan all I want, I love to set goals, I love to set plans, I love that everything, but knowing that, at any given moment, that could all be thrown to the wayside because we don't get to plan our lives…”

J: Mm-hmm.

T: “… that a lot of things happen to us.” So my hopefulness and I… maybe I could get excited about it, but really I would say right now it's more hopefulness is that I continue to be more and more okay with that idea that, I don't know what's coming, but I know it's going to be good and it's what I make of it and that, you know, that any excitement I have these days is more like little steps of, “Oh my gosh, I think that I just managed this day pretty well, and, you know, I think I feel on top of things today,” and, “Oh, wow, it feels like things went smoothly with my kids and myself,” I'm like, “Oh, we might have more days like this. This going to be really good,” you know?

J: Ah.

T: Those are the things that I get excited about.

J: That's great. And kind of when you don't set expectations, everything that does happen that goes well is a gift.

T: Right.

J: That's nice; you can enjoy each moment.

T: I think so and I think it leaves me more open to… you know, I find… like one of the things I found is that, whereas before I used to set a list and I would… I mean, I would just power through until I could accomplish everything on that and I would feel like such a failure if I couldn't.

J: Ah.

T: And, you know, now, I look at it and I say, “You know, I'm going to work on things,” but if I'm hitting my head against it like it's a brick wall, I stop now and I think, “In… this very well could be God saying, ‘Not right now; not yet,’” And then I'll go to something else that's important and I'm just like, “Okay, this is quick and this is falling into place; this must be the thing to do right now.”

J: Ah.

T: And I… I go on that. And it's freed me up a lot to say, “I've got a lot of different areas and I'm going to work on them, but if it's hitting my head against a wall, then I've got other things I can work on it. I don't need to…” and that's not… hopefully you and your listeners would know that it's not… that's not something like, “Oh, it's important,” and I just don't push through. If there's something that needs to be done, you know, if it's an emotional issue with my kids or something, yes, of course I'll push through, but I mean, more project-based or work-based things like that, I'll wait and I found that usually something will happen within the following 2, 3, 4 months where a piece falls into place that just wasn't there and it opens the door and we're off and running.

J: Nice.

T: You know, and so… yeah, so it just feels like sometimes, timing matters. Sometimes…

J: Yeah.

T: … you know, you don't have to just, you know, run uphill against the wind on… on everything.

J: (Laughs) I love your metaphors, you're so good at describing things; uphill against the wind.

T: I’m visual.

J: Right.

T: Yeah.

J: Yeah, I love it. I can see writing more books because you have that that way of thinking. (Laughs)

T: Well, thank you. I'm working on a couple so hopefully, you know…

J: Oh, are you? What are they going to be about?

T: Well, a couple of them… one of them, I've always had this sort of… I don't know if I would say it's a dream, but this nagging feeling that I just really want to accomplish this at some point and I wrote my first one this summer, but I wanted to a series of children's books that can be sold as a set and they're faith-based, but not in a way of, “This is the Bible, this is what you do,” it's more bigger things, bigger theories, bigger ideas of like coping with life and from a religious, you know, standpoint knowing that it turns out okay and God's kind of with you and those kind of things with challenges that we have sort of the everyday life thing. So I… like I said, I wrote the first one and I'm working on some more and I've been kind of talking to the publisher about getting it going and that one's just… yeah, that's just a passion project, it's not really children's books the market and stuff, isn't… you know, it's first of all, it's hard to get one done because everybody… well, not everybody, but a lot of people want to write one or think they can.

J: Yeah.

T: And… and, you know, I'm not… I don't know if I can, we'll just see if they if they like it. And then the other one is, you know, a book about inspiring, you know, people on those topics that we're just sort of talking about right now that fortitude, the grit, that spirit that we…

J: Yeah.

T: … you know, that we… we have and we're capable of. And then the other thing is, I just want to write a fiction, you know, a novel a series of something like that. Like, I’d started on one before Chris was killed and I was about 150 pages in and it was a kind of a chick with mystery, fun, laughing…

J: Mm-hmm.

T: … type thing and, you know, that’s just been totally, you know, taken to the side. But one day I want to finish it and I just want to know if it's… if I was capable of it, if it was turned out the way I have it in my head which is, “Wow, this is fun and it's funny and it'll be entertaining for somebody; an escape.”

J: Mm-hmm.

T: You know, but I don't know if I can. I'd like to try my hand at it and see if it actually…

J: Yeah.

T: … you know, pans out.

J: And you have to find out; you can't just leave that wondering, right? (Laughs)

T: Right, right, especially when I've already written a good chunk of it and I had the outline and… and that was one of those things actually before Chris was killed I was working on it quite a bit and I felt like everything that could wrong was going wrong whether it was that…

J: Ah.

T: … 2 my kids are both in school and my son got pneumonia, I think, twice that year and, you know, that… yeah, that's a big deal. And then, you know, Chris would have… we had the book and it was like, “Okay, well, can we go on this tour together and can you go here and there?”

“Yeah, no problem.” And then some… you know, I think one of the times, I got sick. And I was like, I remember vividly telling him… you know, I was in the shower and I kind of started to cry a little bit and I got out and I said, “I just… I'm sad because I feel like both kids are in school.” You know, I had a kid in first grade in kindergarten and I was like, “This should be my time where I would actually have the hours to do it and I loved it, but everything that goes right I just feel like I'm not supposed to do it right now and I'm going to go back and set it aside because I feel like God is telling me…” not just… not just life, like there's a difference sometimes like, “Oh, yeah, bad stuff happens,” or I feel like sometimes there's this thing where you feel like it's bigger and it's spiritual and… and you're not supposed to do it. And… and at that time, Chris had been saying, “Go to… when I get home from work, you go to Starbucks, I'll feed the kids, you know, write for a couple hours, come home and then we'll hang out,” and I tried that, it didn't work very well for me. And so, anyway, very long story kind of shorter is, I felt like God was saying, “Now's not the time,” and it wasn't too much longer after that that, you know, that Chris was killed and I think, “I'm so glad that I did not spend that time trying to write this fun novel, but we didn't, you know…”

J: Yeah.

T: “… have to do.” And I feel like… yeah, and I feel like now with my life experience and all the twisted, horrible, weird things I've seen from people, you know, like I have much more depth I could put into a book hopefully that was still a little bit…

J: (Laughs)

T: … you know, funny, but… but mostly it was the… it was the time. And… and I think that those are the things that I'm trying to focus on now when I was trying to explain to you earlier. It's not just like, “Oh, I got a flat tire, it must not be…” which is fine too, those things where you're like, “Okay, I feel like (unclear) [28:29]… I don't know how to tell you any other way, just not now.” And then you don't and you look back and you go, “Thank God I didn't do it,” you know?

J: Right, right. Yeah, that makes sense.

T: Yeah.

J: Well, I can't wait to hear about these books, especially that one you said about teaching people what we've been talking about. I think there's a huge need to teach people that they don't have to thank they’re a victim.

T: Mm-hmm.

J: And society would just move forward so much if we could get rid of that one thing. (Laughs)

T: Yeah, definitely. And that’s… you know, you're exactly right. I feel like there's a difference between treating something like different, you know, you're entitled to this this and this because you had a rough start versus saying, “You had a rough start, and I'm not saying you should do it all on your own, I'm saying let us reach out our hand. Like what… you know, but we're going to be a thing of, you know, a hand up, not a hand out. Like, yeah, but just roll up your sleeves, not for our benefit, but for your benefit. Roll up your sleeves, we'll help you, and you're going to come out so much stronger.” Yeah, I can see, I feel like just the stuff that you work on in life that is right your ally is trying to inspire people to be their best version of themselves and…

J: Right.

T: … not get so caught up in what negative happens, but like, “Alright, what do we do with the negative?”

J: Exactly, yep, good, we get each other. (Laughs)

T: Yes, exactly.

J: Okay, so, Taya, shifting into a discussion of your favorite things, what's your favorite personal habit that contributes to your success?

T: I think, lately, it's been that I've been paying more attention to sleep. Honestly, as simple as that sounds, I have spent a lot of time thinking that sleep wasn't important because I can drink more coffee and I can power through and, you know, I… it's my choice if I sleep, I just won't sleep, it's like accomplished so much more. And I've recently been thinking that is really backward because, I think, you sometimes can run so fast and do so much that you don't realize that, underneath this body and this mind that are moving 100 miles an hour, there's a soul that's hurting and it's tired. And I'm finding that, if I can just do some small things to kind of nurture the soul a little bit so that I can still go fast and I can still push through and I can still do a lot, but I do it with a lighter heart, you know, and a happier sense of life. And so that… that's really been kind of a big deal to me because I think, probably the majority of my life, I just felt like it was a waste of my time to pay attention to that…

J: Mm-hmm.

T: .. soul part, to be quiet, to hear it, to…

J: Mm-hmm.

T: You know, I've mentally overpowered a lot of things that were going on in my soul, unless it was love and laughter; I was pretty good about letting that part come through.

J: Mm-hmm.

T: But, you know, anything that been pain or hard or whatever, I think I had a tendency to just mow over it instead of acknowledge it and let it be there and… and, yeah, I'm trying these days. Sometimes, I don't do it a great job of it, but sometimes, I'll feel like, “Oh gosh, I'm about to cry.” And then instead of just stuffing it and distracting myself and moving on to something else, I'll say, “Okay, it's… it's okay, you know, just cry for a minute, get it out.” And I'm finding that there is power in that.

J: Mm-hmm.

T: Whereas before, I think I just thought it was weakness and it annoyed me that I felt like crying.

J: Mm-hmm. So sleep and then also getting in touch with your soul and your emotions.

T: Right, yeah, and just letting… you know, doing some little things that are… I think, just mindfulness is kind of a term that a lot of people throw around today, but I'm starting to understand what that term means a little bit more and to have… you know, I light a candle, put on some spa music, do something that just says like, “It's okay, it's alright,” you know?

J: Yeah.

T: That kind of thing is… that turned out to be pretty healthy to me.

J: Ah, good; I'm glad. Yeah, I think every woman has to find that at some point, and it tends to happen in the 30s or 40s. (Laughs)

T: Yeah, you know, maybe it's just we get tired of it and we go, “Wait a minute, what have we been doing for so long?” you know?

J: Yeah, burnout.

T: Yeah, it doesn't get any better when you ignore yourself, you know, it doesn't…

J: Yeah.

T: … it’s not able to go away, you're still there with needs.

J: Yeah, that's right. So share a favorite easy meal that you love to eat.

T: Yeah, I actually love to cook and I have done less of it in the last few years than I did in the years prior. But my favorite, favorite thing that is easy is grilled cheese. I don't know, I just…

J: Yeah, yum; comfort food.

T: It is my… it is my go-to comfort food that I love with some soup or whatever, but… but I do love to cook. I think there are a lot of things that are really simple that you can do. I love Crock-Pots in the winter, but just… I don't know, I love the smell of things simmering and waiting that, you know, you know something's cooking, all that stuff.

J: Mm-hmm.

T: But I don't have a particular go-to fast easy one.

J: Ah, grilled cheese is easy.

T: Yeah.

J: So, so good.

T: Yeah.

J: That's great. A favorite kitchen gadget, if you have one.

T: I do; I have a few. There's a tea cup thing that they call it a flask and it's from T2, the number 2, but it's got a little metal thing where you can put the tea in there and it keeps the liquids hot for 12 hours.

J: Ooh.

T: And because I’m a sipper, I just let it… it's huge… you know, it's not huge, but it's big; it's got like maybe 12 ounces or something. And so even in the summer, I like to drink something warm.

J: Mm-hmm.

T: And so I like that that I don't have to chug a whole glass, I can just kind of sip on something warm all day and drink the cold water too. But, yeah, that's… that's one of them, or I have an espresso coffee thing that can do the full cup or the espresso with a latte warmer.

J: Mm-hmm.

T: Those are probably my favorites.

J: Okay. Well, we will put links to those on our show notes page at jenriday.com/29

T: Cool.

J: … for those who want to know more about them. And a favorite book that you have enjoyed or are enjoying.

T: I was thinking about that when I… you know, looking at some of the things that you wanted me to think about for the podcast and I don't have… in fact, I'm lacking and a really good series that I can just kind of play around with. A lot of stuff I read still is a little bit heavier, a little bit serious. I love audio books while I work out and the last really good one that I read was called ‘The Ranger's Apprentice’ and it's sort of a teen tween series. My son was reading it and we had a contest who could read the… the second book the fastest. And…

J: Oh, yeah.

T: … it was so good. And then because it was a kids’ series, I just kind of didn't pick up the rest, but I think there's 13 books in the series or something.

J: Really? Ah.

T: Lately, since I… yeah, since I'm not finding any adult fiction that's really fun right now, I was thinking I should just go back and read those because they were entertaining and good and all that.

J: Yeah.

T: But if you have lists on your website, I need to just go check out your website and see what some of your…

J: Yeah, most of the books are self-helpy, but there's some fun ones in there sprinkled in as well. So…

T: Yeah, that's good because I do…. I have a lot of those. So I… like the one I've been reading right now is ‘For the Love’ by… what is her name, Jen… I think it's Hatter, I can't… I can't remember what her last name is. But it's… I mean, it's really cute and it's kind of funny and it is a little bit self-help, a little bit religion, a little bit humor, and it's a little bit about motherhood. And it's kind of making fun of some of the stuff that we… we do that we probably don't… you know, we don't need to be so perfect in every area kind of thing…

J: Yeah.

T: … but humor… and so, yeah, that's… that's one I am enjoying right now.

J: Is that Jen Hatmaker?

T: Hatmaker, thank you; yes, that's it.

J: Okay, yeah, I followed her blog before. Well, what is the best advice you've ever received?

T: Oh, I don't know if I have the best because I feel like I've got some pretty sharp people around me that tell me a lot of good things, but I guess it would go back to the same thing my brother-in-law, the one I told you about (my sister's husband), who has been so helpful. He's the one that he'll advise me sometimes like, “Stop, go sleep,” or he calls them ‘circuit breakers’, like when you're just you're on something and you’re on fire and you're going, going, going, he’s like, “You need a circuit breaker. Like you're on this circuit, you need to break it.”

J: Mm-hmm.

T: “For 15 minutes, do something light with your kids or whatever and then you'll come back fresh.” And I think that advice probably has been the best for me.

J: Yeah, break the circuit.

T: Yep.

J: And now, we would love to hear your happiness formula; 3 to 5 things that make you happiest. You mentioned the sleep and the self-care, is there anything else that you'd add to that?

T: Yeah, I could… I… the thing that by far makes me the happiest is when I have undivided attention time with my kids 1-on-1.

J: Mm-hmm.

T: It is by far the thing that that does more for me than anything else, and I think sometimes we can get so distracted, it's easy to say you… you spent time with them, I mean, my kids and I spend a lot of time together, but it's both of them at once or, you know, who knows, they're getting interrupted or I'm getting interrupted or whatever it is. But that time that I get just 1-on-1, I feel like it doesn't take much, it can be 10 or 15 minutes, and the boosts it gives the relationship is, to me, pretty incredible. I guess it was the intimacy level of the relationship, I think it increased so much with even just 10 to 15 minutes of 100% undivided attention time.

J: Mm-hmm, oh, that's great. And do you get a lot of that into your schedule?

T: I'm starting to really make it more of a priority because I think, for so long, I've been trying to fit so much in that, like I said, we have the time together, but I don't know that it was… maybe we'd be cuddling on the couch I'm watching a show or we're playing a game or maybe we're, you know, doing something the 3 of us, like we do a lot of that stuff, we travel together, you know, we're we spend a lot of time together. But this undivided attention time, I'm trying to do now where it's definitely… we have done it before bed that it's 10 to 15 minutes where, you know, the lights are down, I'm rubbing her back and we’re just talking about the day or whatever. And I would love to have it every single night, but I don't think… sometimes, that's just not… you know, sometimes life can get in the way or we get a late start or whatever it is. But the majority of the nights and I can do that, I feel like it ends the day on a great note…

J: Yeah.

T: … and we wake up feeling really cuddly and lovey and, you know, we just connect the dots. And usually, at night right before you go to sleep, people have some really deep thoughts, you know?

J: It’s true. (Laughs)

T: It's that time where, you know, it's… it's like you're right before you go to sleep, man, whatever it was, it was the most important thing kind of comes to the surface from the day. And so that I find to be a good relationship time with them.

J: Good for you, that's great parenting there.

T: I’m trying.

J: You're doing great.

T: Thanks.

J: So, Taya, before we say goodbye, I would love for you to give our listeners a parting challenge.

T: Okay, so I'm going to do it, and let me just preface it with this is that, sometimes I feel like I talk about my faith and I talk about God a lot and I… it's a huge part of what's kept me going and it's like such a blessing to me. And I did not grow up… you know, I'm not a Bible thumper, I don't talk about it all the time, cuss like a sailor sometimes, I’m, you know, an idiot a lot of times.

J: (Laughs)

T: You know, like I'm just… you know, I can be so stupid sometimes, but I guess when people really want to get to the heart of things, that's what comes to mind. And so I've found that it has helped me so much so that's… that's the challenge I would give to people is just to try talking to God the way you would talk to a friend.

J: Mm-hmm.

T: And pray that way, if it's, “God, I'm hurting and I don't know what to say, can you take this pain from me?” or if it's, “God, thank you for the rain puddle that I jumped in today,” or my kids and I, I mean, we'll even pray sometimes like just silly stuff that makes us laugh, but I would challenge your listeners to talk to God like they were talking to a friend through the day and then have the patience and the courage to just sit and be quiet and see if they can hear anything or feel any nudging…

J: Mm.

T: … right then or later. And the more I find I fine-tune that and I have the courage to be quiet and try to listen to what's coming back, it's been pretty incredible and I've seen things I don't think I would have seen without trying to be quiet and listen to whatever might come back.

J: Hmm, that's great. So take the time, try to talk to God like a friend, and then listen to what comes.

T: Comes back, yeah.

J: Yeah. Thank you so much for being on the show, Taya, this has been remarkable and I definitely think I'm going to have to have you on again when you get… have some more books out.

T: Thank you, I would love to. I can't wait to check out your other suggestions from other people, what their favorite kitchen gadgets are, what their best advice, like I want to hear more of that from other people too. So…

J: Yeah. And if our listeners want to find you, where can they go online to learn more about you?

T: Yeah, I think there's… so there's tayakyle.com and then there's all the social media stuff that I'm trying to get a lot better about, and we have a team of people that are trying to help us with the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation and Facebook, but I think there's a whole Taya Kyle portion to the social media team that we're trying to build up. So either one of those would be either the… yeah, the foundation pages or the official Chris Kyle Facebook page, I write a lot of stuff there, but we're trying to do better on the Taya Kyle stuff too.

J: Okay, perfect. Well, thanks so much for being on the show.

T: Okay, thanks, Jen.

J: Thank you so much for joining Taya and myself and I hope you found today's inspiring as I did. There's a fun opportunity coming up, a free online training called ‘How to be happier in any relationship, even when the other person won't change’. If you've ever struggled in a relationship with a spouse or a child, a parent or a friend, then this is for you because I'm going to teach you the one thing you can do to be happier in any relationship, even when the other person isn't changing a thing. You can find information for this on our show notes page at jenriday.com/29. Join me next week for Vibrant Happy Women when I talk with Amiyrah Martin about shifting from being in thousands and thousands of dollars of debt to being able to pay cash for her new home; what a change. Amiyrah has a lot of energy and you're going to love all the wisdom she shares with us. So I will see you next week, make it a great day. Take care.

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