51 Transcript: Choosing to Be Fierce, Tenacious and Unstoppable (with Carol Egan)
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J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 51.
C: Little did I know a level of fierceness, of unstoppable-ty, of tenacity, of resourcefulness developed in me that is really second to none. It laid the ground for me to go on and accomplish things that were not in… on my radar, they were not possible outcomes for me.
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 Dr. Jen Riday. So in our Vibrant Happy Women Facebook group, I asked a question this past week about the things people are struggling with, and it's so interesting to notice how many women are feeling overwhelmed; overwhelmed by their schedules, all the to news on their to-do list, all the things that their kids need, and grocery shopping and cleaning and work, and you know how it goes. If you haven't gotten your hands on my ‘Eliminate overwhelm’ guide, I want to give you a chance again today to get that. Just go to jenriday.com/overwhelm; it's free. And in this guide, you essentially answer 2 questions that will help you get out of overwhelm and move into a place of greater peace and control and that sense of calm that we crave; again, that's at jenriday.com/overwhelm.
On our last episode, I spoke with Shaunti Feldhahn all about the kindness challenge, and I'm loving that so far and I hope you are too. And today, I'll be talking with Carol Egan and she shares her story of being fierce and tenacious and unstoppable after she had to send her son to foster care and how she got him back through that fierceness and raised him as a single mom. And now she's a health coach and she also shares some excellent tips on how we can be healthier. You're going to love Carol’s story today.
I'm talking with Carol Egan and she's a holistic health coach from Avon, Connecticut. She specializes in digestive health and detoxification. She works with women who want to look and feel their very best after years of taking care of their families and all the to-dos that go with that, many women are troubled with excess weight, low energy, and foggy thinking; can you relate? (definitely, I can too). Carol helps people like us take control of their health so they can focus on what matters most to them. In her spare time, Carol loves to cook, to read, and to go to hot yoga and she's building a running practice. Welcome to the show, Carol.
C: Hi, Jen, thank you so much for inviting me.
J: I'm so glad you're here. And share your favorite quote with us to start.
C: My favorite quote is an old quote, Jen, it's a Copernicus quote and it goes like this, “To know that we know what we know and to know that we do not know what we do not know is true knowledge.” And what I loved about that, Jen, especially with the work I do is there were moments in my healing journey that I started discovering things that I never knew existed and they changed my life.
C: Which is why… so this quote really encapsulates just me and my work and how I feel about being of service and in helping others do the same for themselves.
C: So should I say it again?
J: Yes, one more time.
C: So the quote is, “To know that we know what we know..” so you know that you know how to be a mother.
C: “… and to know that we do not know what we do not know…” like there might… might be a Martian language that you don't even know that you don't know…
J: (Laughs). Yes
C: … but it might really exist.
C: That's true knowledge, to know that there's things that could make a difference for you in the quality of your life, but you might not even know it exists. And so if we are open, then all of a sudden these things start to flow to us.
J: Mm, that's great; just be open, hmm.
C: Yeah, yeah.
J: It’s a humility in a sense, really.
J: Yes. Well, let's go to your low point; a time where you struggle. Because on the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, everyone shares a struggle and how they overcame that, so what was your struggle?
C: Jen, I was a young single mother; so let's start with this. I was not that girl; I was like just not that girl. I'm a petite, less than full bodied woman. I'm just… you know, I've got a nice little thing going on, but it's little.
C: So I was not that girl, but I was 18 years old and I got pregnant. And I had to place my son in a foster home, Jen.
J: Mm, whoa.
C: And there's no way that I could really describe to anybody what something like that is. And I of course I placed him in foster care with the full intention of getting him back, and yes I did. But there was this moment, Jen, that I stood at the end of the hallway of the hospital… and you're a mother of 6 so just imagine any one of your children, you're standing at the end of the hall and a social care worker is got your child in her arms and gets into an elevator and the doors closed.
J: Ugh, nausea. (Laughs)
C: I'm sometimes challenged by how I can even tell that story without tears.
C: But… but I can tell you, in those moments, Jen, little did I know a level of fierceness, of unstoppable-ty, of tenacity, of resourcefulness developed in me that is really second to none. It laid the ground for me to go on and accomplish things that were not in… on my radar; they were not possible outcomes for me. And I've gone on to create, you know, and achieve really some extraordinary things for me.
J: Wow. Your heart was breaking and your son is in this elevator with a stranger (ugh). And so what did you do going forward? You… you had this fierceness and unstoppable-ty, but I assume you didn't have a lot of resources at that time, so…
J: … what did that look like?
C: So, you know, Chris got carried away, but I saw him every single day, but 4 days a 4 month window of time.
J: Oh, good for you; wow.
C: So I had no car, I had no home, I had nowhere to go, a friend invited me to come and stay with her and her family. I mean…
J: Can I interrupt? Were you disowned or no?
C: There was a little bit of that, you know? I'm going to say, for a faithful and devoted and loyal mother, here was confusion.
C: There was some dissonant on her family's part and my mom didn't know what to do initially.
C: And so I did go with a family and my friend and her family and I had a whole team of friends that were…
C: … 18 and 19 years old.
C: It's just… I mean, you imagine this, it's just extraordinary. They would all come and pick me up and they would drive me to the foster care and then bring to…
J: Aww, that is so beautiful.
C: … and then bring me to work.
C: We were all waitresses at the same restaurant together. And so it was, I mean, just a bunch of young girls trying to figure out how to do this for their friend.
J: It is.
C: Extraordinary. But, Jen, here I am, I had quit high school.
C: And here I am years later, I was a hairdresser.
C: And a customer said to me, “How do you like your one college promo?” I said, “Oh, Nancy, I love it. I would love to go back to school full-time.”
“Well, why don't you?” I said, “Nancy, how could I do that?” and she said, “Carol, my daughter goes to Mount Holyoke College. They have a program for adult women.” Well, the short story is I got a full scholarship and I graduated cum laude with honors.”
C: And then I went on to Boston College and, you know, got my master's; magna laude with honors.
J: Wow, how old were you when you went back?
C: To school?
J: Oh, you're still so young. Wow, that's great.
C: Yeah, I didn't get to Mount Holyoke till ‘95 and graduated with my bachelor's in ‘99 with, you know, 1999 print style.
C: You know, “We're going to live… we're going to do it like it's 1999.” So… and then I went up and went directly up to Boston College for my masters and then I went to Cornell and studied nutrition.
J: Wow, so fun.
C: And… yeah.
J: So backing up just a tiny bit, you said you got your son back when he was 4 months old.
C: Yes, but I saw him every day but 4 days, and only because of likely snowstorms.
C: it was… you know, he was born on January 9th and so, you know, but everybody was heart and soul with me, including my friend's mother who…
J: Yeah, you had a total tribe; that's amazing.
C: Yeah, yeah it was awesome.
J: What did you have to do to get him back?
C: I had to have money and a home.
J: Oh, okay.
C: So I went back to work, Jen, you know what… I mean, doctors recommend not, they warn against it actually, “Don't go back to work until a certain amount of time has passed.” And, you know, within 2 weeks, I was back in the restaurant.
J: Ugh, wow.
C: Waiting tables to save money.
C: And I did.
J: Yeah, you said you developed that fierceness and unstoppable-ty, so there you go.
J: Good for you. That's a really amazing story. And so you were amazing and then you went back to college and you got your master's and you got in…
J: What was that called? What did you do at Cornell, the health degree or…?
C: I did… I studied healthcare, yes.
J: Wow. Okay, so take us all the way forward. You… well, no, tell us the aha or what you learned from that.
C: I really learned, Jen, that everything and anything is possible. And ironically that you're asking this follow-up question, I had this moment, Jen, where, you know, I went on and I became a high school teacher, and after I left, I knew that that wasn't my final step. I mean this, the work I'm doing is my calling. This is not just a little fun little game I've created, this is my calling, this is something that I was spoken to clearly; I got the message that we can heal our bodies. But in the interim, before I got there, I had this moment where I remember saying, “Wow, life has never asked me to step up like that like those moments.” Like being confronted with, “This is my child; he's coming with me,” and doing whatever it took to make that happen that, you know, I don't want to keep repeating those words and dilute the potency of those words but, you know, very fierce and tenacious and unstoppable. There was nothing that could get in my way. And I was clear that nothing happened since then that asked me to be that big of a person…
C: … until entrepreneurship.
J: (Laughs). Yeah, let’s come back to that.
C: (Laughs). Yes.
J: I can talk about entrepreneurship all day. But so you raised Chris as a single mom, and I know many… well, many people, not just single moms, but many people in general take these hard situations and kind of develop a victim mentality, but you did the complete opposite. You seem like you were really empowered, and so what was that like being a single mom all those years?
C: Well, we had… honestly, we had a beautiful life. I mean, there was no parents… I mean, you know, my son and I will recount, you know, the losses that, you know, he didn't have a dad.
C: But he also had a home that we lit candles and had dinner together. We curled up and watched you together. There was no fighting in the house, there was no upset, there was really peace and calm; we had a beautiful life.
C: We went on vacation every year together, you know, we did everything together; we were pals.
C: So it was… you know, and that's not to suggest that there wasn't… I mean, it would be 4:45 and I was supposed to be at my waitressing job and I didn't have a babysitter. I mean, there was all of that.
C: But you make it work. I always figure it out how to make it work.
J: Mm, that's amazing. And now your son is in college?
C: No, my… now, my son is… he actually went into the army.
C: And so how he's out now.
J: Oh, he's finished.
C: Yes, he works for a government contract firm and is doing very well.
J: And have you gotten back into contact with your mom and, you know, your extended family?
C: Oh, my (unclear) [12:35].
C: My mother, you know, again, she was only conflicted; I don't even want to say confused. You know, her father was having issues with me being, you know, a single parent and… and my mom didn't know how to go up against her father.
C: But of course, you know, my mother was there every step of the way. I could never have done what I did without my mother.
C: She was a huge support and very nurturing and loving with my son. I mean, we're… we're his go-tos.
J: Aww, that's great.
C: So we're all very close, yes.
J: Oh, that's great. Well, so you faced that challenge and we're going to come back to entrepreneurship, but any advice to others who are struggling with something life-shattering like that?
C: Yes, to always come back to self. It's kind of almost contradictory because I'm a coach and I believe that we need coaches to introduce us to new ideas and new ways of thinking, new ways of doing things, but you want a coach that brings you into yourself; you want a coach that helps you trust yourself more. Because the truth of the matter is you have the fierceness within you. We each have the capability to accomplish everything we want. And the more we give our power away… so I guess if we reduced it down to a catchphrase, “Be 100% responsible for your life.”
C: Be the CEO and the director of the course of your life.
J: Mm-hmm, nice; love that. And so you’re a health coach.
J: How do you help… help women come into that fierceness and to come back to self and be that CEO?
C: You know, I'm going to say this, my clients play full out and my clients that need to take steps to get into it, but I have to say that I… how do I get them to do it? I don't get them, I inspire them by my story. I inspire them by my faith in them and then my belief in them. But how can they do that for themselves? Is that what you asked, Jen?
J: Yeah, yeah, what's your part in that process of helping them to wake back up to the fact that they are empowered and that they can do that?
C: I'm going to say there's 2 ways and it's kind of that double-edged sword.
C: I let them know that I'm no joke, I am a hardball coach, we could call it a tough love coach, because I will not placate and pander people's stories that hold them back. I believe in people's greatness. I believe that we are all capable of achieving far greater things then we can even see possible. There we go back to the quote, you know, there's things that you might not see in this moment because a moment is taking you over. But I assure you what I do is I help with my clients break the stories down to get in their way, first and foremost, in the area of health. Because I personally know that, if we are biochemically off, if our body is not healthy, then we could be going in 100 different directions, we need to route back down into our bodies, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
C: And we do that and we really, we just… we have a grand time.
J: So before we started this interview, you were talking about something you were going to share with our listeners today, do you want to tell us about that and kind of introduce it?
C: Oh, yes. So I do have a guide, a… something that I actually just put together for this group and it's called ‘Five to thrive’. Because from my sense, Jen, you know, as you said, your audience is at the age where they're ready to thrive again, you know, they've… they've been really good moms and they're being really good moms in there being of service to their families and their communities, and yet there's this thing; this missing thing.
C: And so I created this guide to help people get back to themselves, you know, particularly of course in this case, you know, the moms.
C: I am a mom. And so they're foundational; I include 5 foundational things. They're what we could call very easy or very simple, but not necessarily easy.
C: And what I include there is… do you want me to talk about the points, Jen?
J: Sure, that'd be great; we can get a taste for what it is, mm-hmm.
C: You know, I talked about why sleep gives you the advantage and I develop on that, you know? You know, biochemically, if we're exhausted, different hormones go off in the body and create different emotional responses out of us, you know?
J: Mm, no kidding (Laughs); no kidding.
C: Yeah, hunger, anger, upset, sadness.
C: The second thing that I talked about, Jen, is nutrition. And what I've learned is, after going off in accomplishing all of these wonderful things in life, I was still victim to moods, I was still victim to other people, their opinions, their ideas, because I… I was biochemically off; I wasn't healthy in my body. I got very sick; that's something that we didn't talk about. But that's what drives all of this. I got very sick and it affected me on a, you know, mind, body, spirit axis for sure.
J: Mm, so you're saying what we eat influences our mood and even our reaction to other people's ideas?
J: Wow, powerful.
C: Absolutely. Then the third point that I dive into in the guide is ‘become a zone master’. And it's simply, you know, a combination of meditation and mindfulness; it's a game changer! Like, each one of these, some people could look these over and think, “Oh, I know about… I know I should get good sleep. Yeah, I know I should eat healthy.”
C: Yeah. No, these are stand-alones. Each one is… I'm in an immersion mindfulness class simply because I'm teaching it.
C: And it's revolutionary meditation and mindfulness.
C: So I dive into that in the guide. And the 4th point is I talked about oxygen, and I talked about oxygen from the… both exercise and nutrition. One, you know, both bring in… oxygen is the most primary nutrient that we need.
C: And people don't think of it that way. But think about it, we could live for how long without food…
C: … and even water. We could live for weeks and weeks without water. I mean, we're going to be not in great shape, but we could live right.
J: (Laughs). Right.
C: But without oxygen, without breath, it's all over. So really maximizing healthy ways of getting oxygen in the body.
C: Again, it's transformative.
C: On a cognitive level, on a physical level, on an emotional level. I mean, we could talk about that and… you know, and I will go over that… I do go over that in the guide.
C: And then the last one is, you know, hydration; proper hydration. You know, we are water beings. Our bodies are 70% water, you know, our lungs are 90% water.
J: I love that one because I… hydration, I’ve found that when I hydrate, I have so much better focus in productivity. I… I'm just finally now figuring this out, I wish I had known it 20 years ago. (Laughs)
C: Well, and, you know, we've got a few things on the horizon, Jen. And I can tell you, we'll talk about all the best ways to hide but, you know, I do dive right into that in this guide.
J: So how can I… Well, I'll tell our listeners, I'm going to have a link to Carol's guide on our show notes page at jenriday.com/51.
J: Moving forward, let's jump back a little bit into that… you said entrepreneurship has been a massive struggle for you, and I know lots of our listeners are, you know, have home-based sales businesses or some have online businesses; so share what you were thinking when you said that.
C: Well, simply put, Jen, I've developed a level of mastery in healing, but not business building. And I created a consciousness around wanting to be of service in the world in the ways that I know matter; and that's healing, health, and vibrant energy. Without energy, we’re… we're gonezers.
J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
C: And (Laughs)… you know, I left my job thinking I was all queued up, ready to go and, mm-mm, no.
J: Ah, so to learn the marketing aspects.
C: Yeah, yes.
C: And, you know, the cool thing is, those moments of watching the elevator door closed with Christopher getting on with the social care worker, like I was prepared to play entrepreneurship the hard way.
C: I was okay. I mean, I just kept saying to myself, “So if this is your calling, Carol, and it's challenging, do you quit just because it's challenging?”
J: Mm-hmm, right.
C: Of course not.
J: So you feel like this is your calling, can you share a story of maybe favorite story of how you've helped someone come back to that place of healing and being her best self; coming back to self?
C: I've got several stories. I… I'm going to give you 2 little ones.
C: I got an email from one of my clients and she said, “Carol, you're not going to believe this, but my doctor said my autoimmune disease is in remission.”
“What? Like, that's… that's just…” And so somebody who's listening could say, “Who cares? I'm not giving up the food I like, I'm just going to keep taking the pills.” But see, the thing is, the pill is going to help you think you're feeling better, but your body is still degrading; it's still degenerating. Whatever has caused you to have autoimmune disease has to be addressed on a holistic level. And so what I can say to you about that report is, I saw this woman, she looked like she was glowing.
C: Like, her whole energy is different. I don't know if I could say she's a completely different person because I wouldn't want to insult all of life that taught her, but I'm going to say she's in a moment of blossoming from it. This other woman is on insulin, but the doctor said, “No, I don't want you to do that.” Well, it's only a Whole Foods diet and I said, Jen, “Honor his guidance.” And she called Nicole and I… she said, “No, I want to do it.” And I said, “Okay, well, if you choose to do it, then you have to promise me you're going to stay in close contact with your doctor and do.” She said, “I'll tell you what, I'll measure my blood levels every day.”
“Awesome!” Well, she couldn't believe what was happening before her eyes. Then she went to the doctor and in 3 weeks’ time, she reduced her insulin by 80%.
J: Wow, 3 weeks. Okay, so we all kind of know… well, not all, many of us know the idea of eating clean, we know what we need to do, and many of us have the motivation to do it for a while, but how do you motivate your clients to keep with it; to keep going in the face of a world that doesn't beat that way?
C: Well, I'm going to say it happens a few ways. People who come to me are ready; they are ready. I mean, when I met this woman with the diabetes, she was in tears. Another woman was suffering with depression and she reduced her mood altering medication.
C: So people are ready, they’re just tired of this low level living.
C: So it… I'm not going to say that I have to do anything except do what I do best, and that is believe in them, believe in what I know is possible beyond what they cannot see in this moment…
C: … and play hardball with them.
C: You know, but let me clarify that for a minute. I have a client that went away this past weekend, she said, “Carol, I want to drink wine,” I said, “Well, then you have to drink wine.”
C: And she said, “I thought I’m not supposed to eat wine… or drink wine… drink wine,” and I said, “Look, if you're going with your friends, it's going to be more toxic on you to not enjoy your time with them, so I want you to do whatever you need to do and we will evaluate your body's responses to it after; and you get to choose.”
C: So, you know, I create openings for people to have choice and also it's possible. Because see, it is toxic to wrestle. My ultimate goal is this, Jen, to bring people to a lived experience in their body where they literally feel healthy or what healthy feels like. And so now, all of a sudden, that experience is like a winding in the fishing pole, you know, and they did it; I didn't do a thing, I guided them to it.
C: I supported them through it, you know, I create, what I'm going to say, a pretty unparalleled level of support. You know, I have unlimited email, I've unlimited texting Monday through Fridays, I have SOSing, you know, if you're… if you're in trouble and you need me on a weekend, you know, with a parameter of respect around it, I'm there, I'm the BFF, you know…
C: … to make sure they're getting the results they came for.
J: Right, right. Oh, that's great; I love that. Well, let's talk about a few of your favorite things, and the first one is kind of great; what is an easy meal that you like to eat regularly?
C: I'm going to give something that I love.
C: I love a poblano pepper; I like spicy peppers. If you don't like spicy peppers, get a red pepper and split it in half lengthwise, hollow it out, and smash an avocado and load it up. And then in a small bowl… see I… because I've been eating so much of this, I love radicchio, it's a bitter not green, but like a green. I chopped up the radicchio or something like a rugala. I chopped it up finely like a chopped salad. I chop up olives, I chop up a little onion, a little hotter pepper, a little roasted red pepper, you know, depending on what the base is, and I make this little chopped salad mix (sprouts; always sprouts) and I just put it on top. It's a great portable thing because you don't have to do anything. I mean, honestly, Jen, you talk about fast food, I do that at the grocery store.
C: I mean, I literally… you know, Whole Foods now has an organic section.
C: So… on their salad bar. So I'll put a lot of those little salad ingredients and chop them up. I have… always carry paring knife in my car.
C: And I chop them up finely and I split the pepper right there at the table at Whole Foods, I wash it in the bathroom, and then I mash the avocado into… smash it into the shell of the… and its super easy and super delicious.
J: Mm, yum, that's easy enough.
J: And your favorite kitchen gadget.
C: My blender… or, no, my juicer.
C: I don't even know how I could have said blender before me juicer.
J: (Laughs). And your favorite book.
C: Mm, old one is ‘The Alchemist’, new one is ‘Big Magic’; ‘Alchemist’, Paulo Coelho, ‘Big Magic’ Elizabeth Gilbert.
J: Ah, I love that one. You are not the first guest to mention that book.
J: And the best advice you've ever received.
C: “Don't be afraid to take a risk.”
J: Yeah. Okay, so I want to remind our listeners that they can find links to all of this plus that free guide you mentioned at jenriday.com/51. And now, our final question. If you had to create a 3 to 5 part formula of actions that maximize your happiness, what would that include?
C: It's pretty straightforward for me, Jen. Number 1 is create calm in the body. Cal… so it's calm plus clear plus energized equals happiness. And let me say, we create calm in our body, just quiet the frenetic hustle and bustle and calm ourselves with our breath to create clarity, to create mental clarity so our choices and our decisions are smart and aligned with what we really want. And energy; certainly, we need energy. If we're tired and exhausted and not healthy in body, then we're not going to achieve happiness that lasts and happy… happiness that fulfills us.
J: Hmm, wow. So I want to ask, “How do you get over being tired and exhausted?” but I know that would be a whole another topic, so I bet we can figure that out from that guide you mentioned.
C: Yes, yes.
J: Awesome, awesome.
J: Well, one last thing, a parting challenge for listeners and then we'll say goodbye.
C: A parting challenge. I would say, for today, add in one thing a day. If you could have one green juice one green smoothie or one meal sized green salad, that would be a great step to start working on your energy at… from a cellular level.
J: Well, Carol this is been amazing, and I'll have links for everything at jenriday.com/ 51. And I'm so glad you could be on the show. I'm impressed, I mean, you took lemons and you definitely made lemonade; well done.
C: Thank you.
C: Thanks for having me.
J: Yes, thanks for being here. Take care.
Well, thank you so much for joining us. I love what Carol said, how she decided to be fierce and tenacious and determined, and it served her throughout her whole life. I'm curious if there is an event that happened in your past where everything turned around, where you decided, “You know what? I'm not going to be a victim. I'm going to grab my life by the horns and make it the life I want,” that's exactly what Carol has done and I love her story, so I hope you're doing the same thing. And I'll be back on Thursday with a happy bit, so until then, make it a great week. Take care.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.