JR: You are listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 35.
JT: When something goes wrong in your life, just yell, “Plot twist!” and move on.
Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.
JR: Hey there, welcome to Vibrant Happy Women, I’m Dr. Jen Riday. On our last episode, I spoke with Lauren Greutman about how to stop overspending. She shared her story of being $40,000 in debt and then having to come clean to her husband. If you haven't heard that one already, be sure to do so and share it with those who might benefit. Today, I'll be talking with Judy Tsuei all about finding your path of healing and transformation. Now, the keywords are ‘your path’. Judy is amazing at a living the life she wants and you are going to find this episode really inspiring, so we will go ahead and jump in and get started.
Welcome to Vibrant Happy Women, I’m Jen Riday, your host. And today, I'll be talking with Judy Tsuei who moved from Hawaii to pursue van living with her little ohana (family) and she's the proud mama of an almost 2 year old named Wilder Love Fox. I love that name; so a unique.
JR: They're currently in Idaho on the way to Austin, Texas to possibly plant roots for a little while. And along the way, while traveling, she authored a highly reviewed book, ‘Meditations for Mamas: You Deserve to Feel Good’, and it's available on Amazon. Judy also offers nurturing coaching programs for new mamas in the form of mini retreats you can do from the comfort of home as well as 1-on-1 support in the fourth trimester, so you can thrive to find your identities again as a new mama; and we all know that can be really challenging when you're a new mom. So welcome to the show, Judy.
JT: Thank you so much for having me, I’m so excited to be here.
JR: Yeah, this is going to be fun. So you're… you're on the way to Austin, you're in your van, so where are you doing this… this interview from? That's so interesting.
JT: (Laughs). Well, right now, we're in Sandpoint, Idaho which surprisingly looks a lot like Hawaii. There's like clear waters, there's mountainous ranges. My husband had lived here for a few years and so as we were traveling around, we decided to stop here. And so, you know, we're just kind of meandering wherever we're feeling called to next, and it looks like Austin and maybe even North Carolina is next. We're both originally kind of from California. So… (Laughs)
JR: So I love the free-spirited type of living like that. I have never been able to do it, but I can't wait to hear about what you are doing and kind of live vicariously through you.
JR: So… well we love to start off our show with a quote, and what would you like to share with us for your favorite quote?
JT: Welcome thank you. I… one of them is super light-hearted and I remember seeing this in a client's office and it says, “When something was wrong in your life, just yell, ‘Plot twist!’ and move on.” Ad as writer, that just made a lot of sense to me, it's like, “Oh, yeah,” because the challenges and the unexpected things that happen in our lives are usually where we find the richest material for growing or for writing or for whatever it might be; so that's one of them. And then I feel like a lot of the times, especially in this motherhood journey, we're just so plagued by doubt, we're in this huge transition, we don't know what's going to come next. And so one of my favorite quotes is from the poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, and I just feel like he has such a beautiful way of addressing that. And he says, “I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers which could not be given to you now because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything, live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually come up without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
JR: Mm, live your way into the answer. You know, I love your approach to life because you… you're just accepting all those plot twists and living, you know? So many of us try to control every aspect of because we're afraid of what might be on the other side, but it seems like that's not an issue for you, would that be right?
JT: Well, I used to be the complete opposite ^. I used to be a very like controlling, needs to have everything in my life, you know, planned out. And, you know, this kind of goes to the low point that you had brought up. And I used to have an eating disorder; I suffered for over 15 years with bulimia and anorexia and the compulsive exercising and any variation of that.
JT: And you know, even more years tacked on to that with body issues and everything. So I was very much in a controlling place. And I literally fled all the way to the other side of the world, trying to run away from myself. You know, I started in California, I fled to South Carolina, I then fled to China, Shanghai in China, and I was an editor there. And by that point, my whole body was falling apart. You know, I stopped getting my period, my heart started to flutter, I just knew that everything… it had just reached like max capacity.
JT: And so, yeah, just being in that point, I… I knew that I had 2 options. So I could either go back to California from where I moved originally and really dive into some therapy and get all of my stuff taken care of or I could stay in Shanghai in what seemed like a plush job at the time, and most likely die. Like, I truly feel like I was at the lowest point of my life at that point.
JT: And it wasn’t an easy decision. It wasn’t like I was like, “Yes, we're going to go back home and like get everything taken care of.” So… yeah, so I had to, you know, practice a lot. I became a yoga teacher along the way and you know, the whole idea of yoga is practice. Like just like therapy it's, you know, the real therapy happens when you move out of the office with your therapist and the real yoga happens beyond the 4 corners of your mat. And so by bringing all those practices into living, I think that's how we start to learn how to thrive.
JR: So you're in Shanghai, you hit this low and you knew you were very sick so you went back to California to heal. Can you tell us more about that journey of healing?
JT: Yeah, you know, I luckily found this intensive outpatient program in La and I had to move back in with my parents, which probably from like a big karmic cosmic kind of level was the exact right thing because that's where all of my issues started, was in my family origin. And so it really was an opportunity to dive really deep because then I suddenly had more support than I’d ever had. However, you know, basically the intensive outpatient program was like a part-time job. So ironically, life really likes to do this to me, it really likes to create these like funny types of jokes. So during the day, I was working at a weight loss company and then every evening, afternoon, I would go and deal with my eating disorder. So it was such this balance, this really odd dynamic that had been created, but it also created this pivotal moment where, you know, I just completely broke down one day. I was interviewing all of these… the company that I worked for had distributors and so because of the age that I was at the time, I was about 26, they wanted me to write to appeal to that demographic. So this one day, I had a… I was assigned all of these articles with people who were thriving in their lives based on the products that they were using and, you know, they were telling me that they had wealth like they’ve never had before, they found that the love that they never had before, they had the families they wanted, they had the bodies that they wanted. So I was doing these interviews back-to-back, and then I finally got to my eating disorder therapy program and I just broke down. And I just felt so far away from my dreams, I just didn't even ever believe that I could get to them. So I was doing this program, you know, I did it for about a year. I did individual counseling for probably 6 to 7 years after that. And along the way, I really tried to explore every single healing modality that there was. And that ranged from like hypnotherapy to yoga to even like Krav Maga which is this Israeli self-defense course where I was just beating all of my anger out as much as I could. And then at some point, I just realized that I had gotten to a place where I could survive. So I wasn't binging and purging everyday anymore you know, I was okay in my life, but I wasn't thriving. And to get to that point where I could thrive, I really had to focus on the things that brought me joy. And so that's where like everything that you are doing is so incredible because, you know, that's what you really expound upon. And we weren't really taught in our therapy to look at the joy, we were just taught to like figure out where this pain was coming from. And so in order for me to thrive, I was lucky enough to be around people who were really passionate about the things that they were doing. So they loved the surfing, they loved rock climbing, you know, whatever it was, and just seeing that passion, really evoked that feeling within me to find it within myself. So, you know, I became a yoga teacher, I became a Reiki practitioner, which is energy healing, and then just kept following that path, so that's kind of how it happens. (Laughs)
JR: So… so your healing had 2 parts, you had to learn to let go of the pain and then learn how to find the things that made you really, really happy.
JR: Would that be right?
JT: Yeah. And it's not easy when you’ve forgotten that for a long time. Like, I often say that, you know, I kind of lost a decade of my life to my eating disorder because I was so obsessed with how my body looked and counting calories and all that that I had no idea what brought me happiness. If you asked me what my favorite color was or anything like that, I couldn't tell you. So it was really kind of this just trying new things, just really finding a support network of friends who supporting me in that endeavor. And I was really open and honest with the people in my life too from my own family to, you know, everybody else who was close to me about my eating disorder. And, in fact, I wrote about it a lot and I had a blog about it at the time when I was living in Shanghai that really kind of documented this whole journey. And I had so many people reaching out to me, thanking me for being so honest and open about what I was going through because they were going through it too, they just didn't have any outlet for that. And so, I do that a lot with the mamas that I work with now, I really encourage this real, raw, honest sharing in order for us to really know that we don't have… we don't have to carry this guilt and shame around, we can really know that we are human and everyone else is human, and so how can we empower one another to thrive?
JR: So how do you recommend if someone has guilt and shame or some control issue or some unresolved pain, how do you encourage them to let that go?
JT: You know, this is going to just be really tough because it was really tough for me when I was first told about this, but you really have to feel it to heal it. And so, you know, I think that a lot of times, let's say you go to a yoga class, you know, and that the yoga teacher is telling you to really focus on feeling good, you know, really focus on letting go of the stress and there's this whole culture that we've created of needing to be happy all the time. But the only way to get to that genuinely happy place is if you allow all the shadow-side things to exist with it. So I always remember that one of the things that kept giving me hope was that because I had experienced such up depth of pain, I knew that I also had the capacity to really feel that joy, to feel like more joy than I could imagine because, you know, I was a really sensitive person and I believe in balanced; I believe in all of that. And, you know, since having my daughter and all of that, it's totally true. You could never… if you had told me that my life would look like the way it does now versus when I was at the lowest point of my life, I would have never believed you and walked away from you. (Laughs) So, yeah.
JR: Wow, I love it. So if someone's, you know at that place, what advice would you give to them so that they can kind of begin their journey to happiness too?
JT: You know, I think that it's so much about finding your own path. So we are often shown that, you know, enlightenment, let's see or whatever it is looks this way, meditation looks this way yoga practice looks this way. And each person is unique and when I was an editor at this live conscious music and events website, I remember interviewing someone who said that, “For every single person in this planet, they had their own unique path towards enlightenment.” So you have your own unique path to joy, someone else has theirs, and it's really about allowing yourself to explore that. So, you know, there for you it looks like therapy or a spiritual practice or, you know, just getting out into nature, whatever it is, to find what brings you that light again. And as you start to practice that and to really experience those feelings to counterbalance everything else, all the pain and all the hurt, you know, you start to create that muscle memory, you start to create that mind memory and then we can start moving from there. So I really invite like open exploration just trying everything; you never know what's going to work. And something that might work at one point in your life might not work at another. So just going back to that question, I guess, that I thought of in the beginning.
JR: Yeah, this goes right with that quote you shared, “When something was wrong in your life, just yell, ‘Plot twist!’” But I think even to add to that, so often we live with these ‘shoulds’.
JR: “You should… when you have children, you should settle down,” and that's what I love what you're doing because you were finding your own path, you're exploring van living, moving down to Austin maybe next.
JT: (Laughs). Yeah.
JR: Wherever you feel called, I think that's a beautiful and brilliant. And you've obviously been able to let go of the ‘shoulds’…
JR: .. and follow your path. And look at the happiness you found by doing so; so I think your advice is amazing.
JT: Thank you. I mean, it's about like taking risks, you know and like seeing what happens. And what I think is interesting too is that, when I… when we were living in Ireland, my husband and I went to go see a couples counselor because, as most new parents know, your relationship tends to suffer. And, for us, we had this romantic whirlwind story and then, you know, we really had to face the reality of everything. And so our couples therapist actually told us, “I don't know if I can work with you guys, I’m not really sure like if I can help you,” and so my husband actually looked at him and said, “Are you dumping us?”
JT: And so we had to find our own way to figure out how we were going to make our relationship work. And so it's not always pretty and I know that on the outside, we're often comparing our outside… our insides based on someone else's outsides, especially with the prevalence of social media. And, you know, it takes work, just for everything that like has meaning and the value in life, like it does take devotion and the dedication. So, yeah.
JR: Yeah, yeah. Well, so what's exciting you about life today? How are you living vibrantly? I mean, it's obvious already, but if you wanted to put into words.
JT: Yeah, I mean, it's definitely my daughter (Laughs). She… we named her Wilder Love Fox, and at first, Wilder came from our love of nature, and then the Wilder Love part, the love came about during labor. We did a natural childbirth at home and my husband said something about love and I said, “Yeah, that would make a good name,” he was like, “Sure, it would.” And after I gave birth, I asked him like, “Did you still want to have that as her middle name?” and he’s like, “I didn't say that,” and I’m like, “What! Yeah, you did.”
JT: And so she absolutely invites us to truly love more wildly. We've had to grow beyond what we felt we were capable of within ourselves, within a relationship and just building a family in order to do that. And so, you know, I think that when I work with the mamas that I talk to now, it's easy to have unconditional love for your child. It's… when I say easy, I don't mean like you know, you're always going to be happy with them, there's going to be really challenging moments, but you have that ability to grow your heart bigger than you thought possible. And so I really invite people to take that love that you know is possible because you can have that for your child, and really shine it a bit on yourself like as a mama to do that. And so what makes me super vibrant and happy today is really being able to empower other women to do that. I’m especially passionate about helping women with like body image stuff and really being able to see their bodies in a different light and just to live your ideal life because, you know, signing your identity aside from just being a mama is super important; as much as you love your child. So just really helping women to tap into their own light so that, as they shine, they also illuminate that path for others in their tribe.
JR: I so agree. I think so many women believe that once they become a mom, they have to give everything to their children and that's, again, a ‘should’…
JR: … that we get from society, but the happiest women I've met find that what brings them passion, what… what excites them, what they feel called to do and doing it side by side as a mother
JR: And, you know, obviously you're really happy, but I tell people that I work with, “The greatest gift you can give your family is your own happiness.”
JR: And some people are shocked to think that through, but it's really true. So, yeah, I love that; Wilder Love Fox, that’s perfect.
JT: (Laughs) Thank you. And I love that you keep going back to the ‘shoulds’ because a long time ago, someone told me like, “Stop ‘shoulding’ all over yourself!” I was like, “That's such a good way to put it.”
JR: I love that, ooh boy, “Stop ‘shoulding’ all over yourself.” (Laughs). Oh, I love it. So what is something you are currently struggling with, if anything?
JT: You know, I… my husband and I have this really great balance because I am, you know, very, very sensitive by nature. And so sometimes, I really get in my thoughts and I can really worry about this or that or the other thing. And so he often represents like the more logical rational side of things. And we balance each other out because I get to show the whole spectrum of emotions and then he gets to like help pull me out when I’m getting too deep into myself. And I feel like that's a really valuable thing for my daughter to see too is that you can have that whole broad spectrum of emotions, you don't have to just be happy all the time or, you no, you don't have to be worried all the time. And so I think right now, one of my biggest struggles is simply learning how to not take things personally in building a business. My business coach said that, “It's like giving birth, you know, you know what that's like.” So I… I think that building a business is definitely the most valuable personal development course you could ever take. So there's a lot of areas that I get to explore right now, you know, not taking things personally, learning how to set healthy boundaries, you know, really getting out of my head when I’m too in it. So those are some things that I work with. (Laughs)
JR: So learning not to take things personally; oh, we all can work and that, huh?
JT: (Laughs) Yeah.
JR: Well… well, Judy, let's talk about some of your favorite things. What is a habit that contributes to your success?
JT: I think, like I just mentioned, its balance. It's really, you know, remembering why I’m working so hard is to be able to spend at this time with my family and that… I tend to be, by nature, one of those people who likes to work a lot, I really like to be creative, I really like to build things. And putting in those breaks and really turning off the phone, you know, not being distracted is so valuable and replenishing yourself so you can have fresh perspective and come back… back at it renewed. So I think balance is a really favorite personal habit that I’m working on right now. (Laughs)
JR: Okay. And a favorite easy meal that you enjoy.
JT: Well, I’m really lucky because my husband that loves to cook. So I… because we switched roles so now, I’m the one who's predominantly working full-time and he's the one who staying with our daughter full-time. He… his favorite easy meal is roasting a chicken and making like a quick side of veggies. (Laughs)
JR: Perfect. And your favorite kitchen gadget or his.
JT: Well, mine is, every morning, I have this little personal… the brand is Bodum, it's like a personal French press and it's one of those stainless steel cups. And so every morning, like I make that and that's my ritual that I love because I love coffee. (Laughs)
JR: So I’m not a coffee drinker, explain that a little more than, what's happening when you do what you're doing.
JT: So like, you know, they traditional French press is like one of these glass crafts that with the thing that you press down once you put the grinds in. And this is like one of those stainless steel mugs that you would find like at the coffee shop, it's (unclear) [19:43] cup basically but it's got the little French press built-in, so you just pour the grinder… the grinds in a cup and then pour the hot water in and press the lid down…
JT: … so I get to like trap my coffee. (Laughs)
JR: That's clever.
JR: Oh, okay; never heard of such a thing.
JR: And a favorite book.
JT: Well, I love to listen to audio books because I’m a busy mama so that allows me to have my hands-free while my brain is also getting nourished. But, you know, out of all the connection of things that I am reading right now, I'd say that ‘Creating Money’ by Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer is a great book, especially for women. I feel like it's written in such a pleasing way, there’s affirmations scattered throughout it, there are some exercises at the end of every chapter. And what I like to do is, every morning, I, you know, just hold the book in my hands, ask what message I need today and I flip to a random page and it always ends up being the thing that I need in that moment. So I feel like a lot of us really struggle or… in an area that would be really beneficial to practice is working on our mindset. So just ‘Creating Money: Attracting Abundance’ is a really great book.
JR: Oh, ‘Creating Money, Attracting Abundance’, okay. Thank you.
JR: And the best advice you've ever received.
JT: Well, a business coach recently said to me that the only thing that will ever hold you back with success in life is your own fear; that's it, just your own fear. And it really helped me feel like all of those other obstacles were superfluous because it brought me back to my power and knowing that, you know, I have the power within me to drive and propel my life forward to find my greatest joys and then also, again, in balance, I have the ability to kind of hold myself back. So just knowing that and just being aware of it has really helped me kind of check in all the time because this is actually true, it’s just me and my fears, how can I move past this? So I think that that's a great foundational component to move forward.
JR: Great, great. And so I wanted to tell our listeners they can find links to everything you've been talking about, including the book and the French press cup…
JR: … on our show notes page at jenriday.com/35. And now, Judy, share with us your happiness formula.
JT: I am happiest when I am being creative, kind, and the generous, moving my body in nature and loving my family.
JR: Okay, I love that. and let's have a final challenge…
JR: … from you to our listeners, where we can find you and then we will say goodbye.
JT: Yeah. So you can find me at meditationsformamas.com; and ‘mamas’ is spelled m a m a s. And the challenge that I would give your listeners is to really observe the self-talk that you might have without judgment. Just notice the things that you are saying to yourself and the perceptions that you’re carrying in the world because whatever is your inner voice, if you're a mama, tends to become the inner voice for your child. And all of their core beliefs are being set up between the ages of 0 to 6, there's some really awesome science that shows everything from in utero beyond. And so it's a really good opportunity to start asking yourself like, “What core beliefs would I like my child to have for life?” And I just recently read this thing by Deepak Chopra where he says that there are 6 trillion reactions that we have occurring in our bodies and in our psyches at any given point in time and that there's this infinite organizing force, so all of those 6 trillion things are working to get you to thrive. And so if you change just one thought pattern, one recurring thought that you might have, everything else organizes around it. And so it can be a really powerful way to move forward in your life just thinking that, “If I just change one thought, what a profound impact that can have.”
JR: Okay, so observe your thoughts without judgment. And, Judy, thank you, thank you so much for being on the show, and I wish you well on your journey to Austin and beyond.
JT: Thank you, have a lovely time and enjoy finding happiness, everyone. (Laughs)
JR: Thank you so much for joining Judy and me today. I loved Judy story about how we have to feel it to heal it. And I want to share a product that I have available with you today, it's called ‘The emotional detox guided meditation’ bundle. This bundle, ‘The emotional detox guided meditation’, will walk you through the process of letting go of the past emotional hurt and baggage. Everyone who's done the meditations reports feeling so much lighter, so much more joyous because they’ve let go of these problems and hurts and pains that they’ve hung onto for so long. If you would like to get your own copy, you can go to jenriday.com/detox. Again, that's called ‘The emotional detox guided meditation’, and you can get your copy at jenriday.com/detox. Be sure to join me next time when I talk with Andrea Wenburg and she shares her story of a very traumatic birth experience and how it really hurt her marriage with her spouse. She began a journey that went very long what she learned something in that low point, and that is that she is already loved; knowing that made all the difference in her marriage and in her unhappiness. I know you're going to love that episode because we all need to learn to love ourselves. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, and again, don't forget to get your copy of ‘The emotional detox guided meditation bundle’ at jenriday.com/detox. Make it a great week, ladies. Take care.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the vibrant happy women podcast at www.jenriday.com.