Life throws us curveballs. We feel stress and grief and rage. How we handle it all determines the tone of our lives. Deborah Covell Fletcher shares with us her hard-won insight about how to access joy and experience happiness amidst grief, everyday struggles, and disappointments.
Join us for Permission to Heal Episode #77 - A Conversation with Deborah Covell Fletcher.
Deborah is a leadership program developer & facilitator and Mom who experienced challenges with a daughter's diagnosis with severe disabilities. I bring my experiences, lessons learned, and expertise to my writing and coaching practice.
Her brand new book - Finding Your HEY!: A Crash Course in Braving Grief and Embracing Joy.
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Hello, and welcome to permission to heal. I am Marci Brockman and I am thrilled that you are here. I am thrilled that you keep coming back week after week and hopeful that in your return each week in your listening to and enjoying each of the episodes that you are buoyed and. Inspired and given a little push to dig deep within yourself and find your true purpose and meaning and beauty and joy and love and connection and belonging and resilience.
[00:00:44] And, and that you realize how incredibly unique and beautiful you. Anyway, before I get too sappy I interviewed or had a conversation with Deborah Coel Fletcher today. She is from Toronto and she has just written a book called finding your hay a crash course in breathing grief and embracing joy that is available, where you buy books online.
[00:01:13] The link to that will be in the show notes. Deborah is an adult educator, a speaker, a mom of twin daughters who are in their early twenties. she works as a realtor, which helps her to support her obsession with snooping through other people's homes. I love that. As a busy mom, an advocate for her daughter who lives with multiple disabilities, Deb has found the time to jot down stories, lessons learned and inadvertent observations, most of which have found their way into her book, finding your hay.
[00:01:42] And she tells us the story of where the title of that comes from something that her dad said to. Very movie moment type of story. And in Deb's free time, she gardens dances like everyone's watching and chases the ice cream truck down the street. And the cover of her book is a cartoon picture of her hanging, swinging from a chandelier. She might do a little of that on the side.
[00:02:05] I hope you enjoy this conversation as we talk about the many differing ways or the many different ways that we can each experience grief in our lives or the. Disappointment of something expected that didn't happen the way we planned. And that happens to us all the time and what can we learn from that?
[00:02:24] And how can we learn to make our own lives better and easier and more enlightened. And, and also that of our children and our friends and family and, and so on. It's really an important conversation for all of us, I think. So, I hope you enjoy.
[00:00:00] Hi, Deborah. How are you today? I'm so excited that you're here. Thank you.
[00:00:05] I'm excited to be here. That's wonderful. It's a lovely summer day. Let's just jump in here. You've got this new book that you just published a few months ago called finding your hay a crash course, braving grief and embracing joy. I think that's something we could all use. Yeah. And I don't think you just mean grief as in death.
[00:00:25] I think you mean grief as in any perception or hope that has not lived up to our expectations if I'm correct. That is it exactly like, not just about loss, but about unmet expectations. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So how did you, I know you've got an interesting story that, that. Brought you to this concept and to this change in your career, or change in your focus, or at least an exploration in your multidimensionality as a human, right?
[00:01:03] Why don't you share with us and get us caught up? Yeah. So I have always been a storyteller and I think a lot of us are, you know, how something funny happens and you think, oh, I have to tell my partner, oh, I have to tell my girlfriend she'll really enjoy this story. Exactly. Right. So as we all are, I'm a collector of my own stories.
[00:01:29] And I actually learned, I was about, I'm gonna say late teens, early twenties, that if I had something happen, that was. You know, excruciatingly embarrassing or that was just downright terrible. If I turned it into a funny story and was able to laugh at it with friend family, then it just took its power away.
[00:01:58] Absolutely. I have many of those stories that I share with my high school. I'm a high school English teacher that I share with my students every year just, and they think they're hysterical, but in the moment I was like, oh my God, you know, and now so many years, hence, they're just anecdotes that everybody can share.
[00:02:13] That's right. Yeah. Yeah. So that's the beauty of it, right? So my girls are going to be 23 next month. And when they were born, they, so either identical twins and one was born with severe physical disabilities. She's Al she also has some developmental delays. So they were. Perfect. As far as I knew, but something happened during the birth.
[00:02:41] So my daughter has several palsy, which impacts her gross motor fine motor skills. Um, in that she has none. Um, so she's in a wheelchair. Oh, that's an impact. Yeah. So she, she uses a wheelchair. She has no fine motor skills. So she, um, requires pretty much total care. And what that means is, so she's unable to speak.
[00:03:09] She's unable to eat. So she eats through a, a tube in her stomach and she eats a liquid formula. So that means that we do everything for her. Yeah. She's also incontinent. I mean, she's severely disabled. She's also a very funny, happy young woman. Um, but as you can imagine, when we received the diagnosis, it was.
[00:03:34] It was pretty devastating. Yeah. Right. So it was, it was absolutely shocking. And, you know, that's what happens when something like that happens is you go into this kind of shock and I'm sure it lasted for, for about a year with me, you know, it was just, we were just sort of trying to get through, I mean, wasn't hood is difficult enough.
[00:03:55] It is. And it's the, that is crazy. Right, right. Yeah. And it's almost like, I didn't know any better, you know, I just, every time that I, I changed a diaper, I changed too. So it was like, you know, that was just my norm. Right. But there were additional challenges with her, for sure. And a lot of medical appointments and so on, and just dealing with just this sadness and, you know, a sense of, of loss.
[00:04:21] And so, you know, I was dealing with grief for her now. at this point, you know, at age 23, I mean, she is just such a happy person. It's not like, I, I feel grief, um, sort of on an ongoing way, but there's also that grief. I felt I, for her sister, you know, who has had a challenging life because of, of her sister, unfortunately, um, and has again risen above it.
[00:04:54] But, but back then, I mean, I didn't know. It was just her reality. She wasn't born into an alternative that she could compare it to. Yes. You know, this was just who her family is and was so right. Becomes a part of the fabric of your life. Yeah. And you don't know how it's gonna turn out. You don't know how it's.
[00:05:11] So it's, I think that, you know, along a, along with those, as you pointed out those unmet expectations around grief, there's also that fear where you don't know how you're gonna get through it. You don't know what the end result will be. . And so that leaves you in this state of, of feeling not too much in control of, of the situation or your Mo your own emotions.
[00:05:35] Right? So, so as I developed, you know, call them tactics or strategies to deal with what was going on at the time. And as I came through it, I started to reflect on how I was getting through it and sort of think about, okay, how, how am I responding? How would I have responded two years ago versus how I'm responding now?
[00:06:01] And just sort of, you know, sort of taking note and, and then meta awareness of your own enlightenment or your own experience and how that's grown. Right? Yeah. And so, as you know, that takes, that takes effort. It takes intention. And the more aware I became of that. At the same time. I, it just, you know, the time of, of, of life, you know, things happen to, to all of us, you know, there's losses, there's, there's, uh, things that happen.
[00:06:31] And so for the book, I interviewed four close friends of mine who had been through their own grief stories or journeys for completely different reasons. And so what I did with my story, so my, my part of the book is really more of a memoir. Um, it's, it's about my reflections on grief. And then I interviewed these four friends and then was able to weave their stories together almost, and, and pull from each of their stories, themes, or similar ways that they may have tackled what they were going through, you know, life lessons and, and, uh, strategies that they had learned.
[00:07:16] So it. It all came together really nicely and above all my initial inspiration was my dad. And he had at age 46, he had had a heart attack and then a stroke Yik. Exactly. And was unable to work in his profession. Again, he, he just, I mean his life as he knew it was over. Right. And that's pretty young to have something like that happen.
[00:07:43] Absolutely. Right. And I was, um, so I would've been 21 going on 22. And for me that was, that was a big experience of grief for me, just watching what he went through. And it was, you know, a scary time. And then, and then watching him as he dealt with the fact that he knew he would never be the same. And he recovered, he regained his speech.
[00:08:09] He had lost his speech for two years. He was in speech therapy. So he had completely lost his speech. He lost a lot of his memory physically. He was okay. And I don't know if you know too much about, about strokes, but they can, they can impact the brain in all different kinds of ways. And sometimes it's physical, sometimes it's, it's more mental processing.
[00:08:29] Sometimes it's a combination of both, but for him, it was really around the mental processing. So, so watching him as he, first of all, recovered from the heart attack and the stroke and the physical implications, but then how he embraced the rest of his life. He lived to be 82 and just how he got up every day and, you know, sort of lived his life with positivity and that's almost half of his life was post-stroke.
[00:08:57] Yep. Yep. And so I didn't realize it at the time, but he really became sort of the poster child for me, you know, I, I was able to look at him. and see how he had dealt with it and see how much joy and happiness he still had in his life, despite, you know, the, the, uh, the trials that he had gone through. Sure.
[00:09:22] So, so it was sort of training you in your own resilience before your daughter was born and then provided an ongoing example of what could be exactly. Yeah. And when I realized that it was just really profound for me. And so the memory that came to me was so he had the heart attack and then a week later he had this stroke.
[00:09:52] So he was still in the hospital from his heart attack when he had his stroke. And the first time that I went to the hospital to visit him, it was, um, It was in the morning. I remember. And I don't know how he knew I was walking down the hall toward his room. Um, you know, maybe one of the nurses told him, I don't know.
[00:10:14] So I'm walking down the hall and it's the first time I've seen him. And he, as I was approaching, he suddenly left out of his hospital room into the middle of the hall and just went like this. Hey, like that. And wow. So I ran into his arms and I'm not exaggerating. It was like a movie moment. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that the hay was pretty much the only word I understood from our whole visit.
[00:10:50] Like he had lost his speech. Right. But, so when I look back on it, I mean in the moment, it, it comforted me, you know, he was obviously saying, you know, don't you worry? I mean, I was, you know, I was young and, and he was, you know, sort of saying, don't worry, I'm gonna be okay. It's all gonna be okay. But I also think that it was, it was for him too.
[00:11:15] I mean, this was kind of like how he had decided to live his life. Right. And so that's where the title of the book comes from. I was gonna ask you that, finding your hair. Yes. Oh, I can see it. I can visualize the whole thing. Yeah. So I've got my book. So it's finding your hair and, um, that's me swinging on a chandelier.
[00:11:36] Um, do you do that in your free time? I, I try. I try
[00:11:44] so that was, you know, so that's how it sort of all came together. And so I was writing the book. Um, right. When I got to the end of the book, he actually passed away. It was finally, his heart finally gave out, I mean, having a heart attack that young sure. You know, there's um, so I mean, he lived a, a wonderful long life, um, I guess, relatively speaking, but what was, what?
[00:12:11] And so we were all, we were devastated, you know? Yeah. So there's, there's, um, not to spoil the ending for anyone, but, um, but so there was that experience and again, that recognition that I can carry this grief mm-hmm because I now know how to do it, you know? And, um, and so it was, it was really, it was really interesting how it all, how it all came together.
[00:12:37] So how do you do it? You just said you can carry the grief cuz you know, how, so how do you, how show us how? Yeah. So there's a few things that, um, One story that I, that I like to share. And I shared this story long before it was ever a, a, a book was an idea in my mind, even. So when, when my girls were very young, if I happen to see a set of healthy twin girls, it was just absolutely devastating for me.
[00:13:11] I understand. And, um, I've, I've since recovered from that, but when they were young, I, I live in a pretty sort of, um, busy residential area where we have a main street and, you know, lots of shops. And that's where you go to take a walk mm-hmm, very family oriented. So I would be walking down the street, pushing my double stroller.
[00:13:34] And if I saw a double stroller coming my way, I would always have to look. Right. So if there were, you know, yeah, most of the time it was siblings, you know, a one year old and a three year. , but if it happened to be a set of twins, I would position this imaginary knife, you know, right in front of my heart, Deborah.
[00:13:57] And if it was a set of girls, I'd push that knife in. If it was a set of identical twin, perfect girls, I would just stick that knife right in. Right, right. And it was just excruciatingly painful. So, but you know, we do this to ourselves, right. You have a sore tooth, you poke it with your tongue. You know, this is what we do.
[00:14:21] Right. So one day you have to change, want to stab yourself with the knife. That's right. So they were both three and I had never consciously considered that though. So they're both three, I'm walking down the street and I see, uh, and I'm pushing them and I see a double stroller heading my way and this voice in my head, literally.
[00:14:48] Said just don't look right. And you know, it was my voice obviously. Um, I didn't have to sort of look around, you know, so I, uh, who was that? Uh, so the stroller passed me and I didn't look in the stroller. I had no idea it was twins. If it was siblings, if it was just two little kids pass could be passed and it didn't matter.
[00:15:13] Right. Yeah. And it didn't matter. And I remember walking past and smiling and then laughing out loud and realizing that I had this, this power to do just this and it's not, you know, it, it, it sort of, it sort of sounds like denial, but it's, it's not, it's more about, yeah. It's more about choice. Right. Right.
[00:15:37] And, and that's, so that was a huge revelation for me that I can choose. What to focus on. Yeah. I mean, denial, would've been not looking in your own stroller. Right. But you weren't doing that. You were just choosing what was important to acknowledge and what wasn't and what was in the other stroller has no effect on you.
[00:15:57] Right. It doesn't matter. And so I, you know, I, I kind of talked to my dad a little bit about that. Um, but I think that that's exactly how he, he led his life as well. Mm-hmm, just, you choose what you focus on. And so that was a really liberating, a liberating, um, realization for me. And I even passed it on to my daughter, Emma, because she would, she, I mean, she just, as you say, she didn't know any different when, I mean, she just, her sister was completely normal to her.
[00:16:33] This is what a sister is. Right. But when she, um, when they turned, I don't know, like maybe eight or nine, she, she. Realized at that time. Oh, my sister's different. Mm-hmm than other people's sisters. And so being very protective of her, if we were somewhere and she saw somebody else, man, woman or child staring at her sister, she would give them the dirtiest look forever.
[00:17:05] I'm not kidding. It was if looks could kill honestly. And so, you know, I mean, I thought it was kind of funny at first. And then I thought, you know, she's this isn't gonna serve her. Well, you know, this isn't, it's not a good feeling to feel that kind of venom for someone else. Right. And you know, most of the time her targets were pretty, pretty innocent.
[00:17:34] Right. And so, so I talked to her about this and I said, you know, you've got a choice cuz when you walk into a room. You look around and you're looking to see if someone is staring at your sister. And I said, you've got that choice. You've got a choice of whether to do that or not. And so, you know, she sort of, I think she sort of resisted at first, but then she just started letting it go as well and, and recognizing, so, you know, it's this, um, and I mean, I'm sure you, you teach these kinds of, of life skills to your students.
[00:18:11] It's, it's sort of this basic skill that, you know, when I was going to school, we were not taught any kind of, you know, emotional intelligence, how to manage or regulate your emotions or, or the fact that your thoughts control your emotions or can certainly inspire you or, or do the opposite, you know, cause you to, to think negatively.
[00:18:35] So, uh, and to feel negative about our, our way, our awareness. Yeah. Inspires our thoughts, which control how we perceive our emotions. Right. So if you don't allow yourself to be aware of what's in the other stroller, you've kind of short circuit, the whole thing. Yep. Yeah, exactly. So that's just that's I mean, that's one example.
[00:19:00] Um, and, and so it's not that I'm trying to avoid feeling sad or feeling grief. It's just that I'm gonna choose those moments and I'm gonna choose when I feel sad or feel a loss mm-hmm . And then when I'm going to look elsewhere and, and feel good and feel, you know, happy and whole, and we all have that ability, assuming that.
[00:19:34] You know, our chemical makeup is, um, and our, and our mental health is, is in good working order. We have that ability to feel happiness and joy in the moment. Right. And it's important to recognize that it's there for us anytime we choose to look for it. Right. You know, it's always there. Yeah. Yeah. So in, um, in writing my book, I mean, it it's, I it's, it's kind of the opposite of, of preachy or saying, you have to do this, it's more about storytelling and saying, Hey, this worked for me.
[00:20:13] You know, you might wanna try this. Um, and as I said, you know, looking at the, the friends in my life and, and, um, and their stories and what, you know, I, I learned a lot from them as well as, as my dad. So sort of bringing all of our. Our, uh, tactics together. And, and, um, and so it's just, it's, it's more of a, Hey try.
[00:20:40] This might work for you, you know, and, and really just understanding that we're all in this together, you know, there's this pretty much, no one that is exempt from feeling any kind of loss or grief, or even from those, as you mentioned, those just unmet expectations. Sure. You know, so you lose your job, you get a divorce, all of it, all counts.
[00:21:06] It's all, it's all grief. Yeah. That, uh, that you have to go through for however long, you know, that and, and avoiding it, isn't gonna make it any better, no know, avoiding, dealing with those things. You know, I have a, I have the saying you, the only way out is through tattooed on my arm so that I don't have to forget.
[00:21:26] Because, you know, you, you could avoid, you can mask, you can numb, you can do whatever to avoid feeling those feelings cuz they're unpleasant and who the hell wants to feel them, but it's necessary to address them. It's necessary to process through them to figure out what we can learn from them. I mean, I, I am a firm believer that every experience that we have good, bad or otherwise is a learning experience, you know, what can we get out of it and, and ignoring it, isn't gonna help.
[00:22:01] Right? Yeah. Yeah. It's so true. And you can develop this resilience, you know, you can, um, you know, I liken it to the fact that, um, Quinn is, um, she's visually impaired as well on top of everything else. Um so I was just like, oh, okay. and, um, she can see, but it's, it's this kind of impairment where it's like, she's seeing through Swiss cheese, I've been told.
[00:22:33] So it's kind of like in and out balls blurry, um, and glasses don't correct it. So to me, it's because of that, but she has an amazing sense of hearing, you know, it's like, it's, it's almost hyper developed. And can they say that about people who have some sense sensory impairment that the other senses kind of make up for?
[00:23:03] Right. They become more sensitive. Yeah. So it's kind of like that with grief, you know, you can kind of build up these other muscles to carry it. Mm-hmm , you know, so you can, you can build up. These, uh, strategies and tactics to use in order to be able to carry this grief because it doesn't go away. No, and it's not that, you know, I, I, I'm never gonna cry again or, or be sad for my daughter in, in, in difficult circumstances.
[00:23:37] I mean, she's, um, you know, she's happy, she's healthy. She has to undergo a lot of surgeries, medical procedures now all the time. So, you know, if she's experiencing something that's particularly physically painful or she has to have a, you know, surgery, I mean, you know, I'm still going to be upset. I'm still going to feel that same greet.
[00:24:03] It's just that it's, um, it's, it's nice to know that it's manageable. It's nice to know that it doesn't take your whole time. Yeah. Yeah. And that moment in time, is going to teach me something it's going to, uh, you know, it's going to lead to something else. And it's, you know, it's like looking back and thinking about happy memories with someone who's passed away.
[00:24:33] You know, you can either be happy about those moments. Um, you can be sad that they're gone or that they're over, but it's about appreciating that those moments happen as well. Exactly. You know, it's sort of like it's, it's not all or nothing. It's, it's, we're all a mix of all of these different emotions and experiences.
[00:24:57] Exactly. My, about almost well, nine years ago, this October will be nine years ago. My mom died of a very long opiate addiction is basically what killed her. And she was, uh, you know, UN oops. just ripped the headphone right outta my ear. She was a undiagnosed self-medicated bipolar for a very lump for most of her life.
[00:25:20] And one of the ways that she masked or deadened the pain was through a variety of opiate based medications that she just abused. Anyway. Um, after she died, I was extremely grief stricken and extremely angry. Um, I, I had cut off contact with her a full 18 months before she died because the addiction turned her into someone else.
[00:25:49] Right. My, my mother, the woman, I know as my mother no longer existed, what existed was the belligerent angry addict. Right. And, and I, I couldn't, I didn't know what to do with that during the 18 months that. Oh, that's so hard that happened afterwards. But then anyway, so then she, she died and, um, my nephew called and he's the one who found her and told me whatever.
[00:26:19] And I, I didn't sort of know how to feel, you know, like I was relieved that it was over sort of sad, obviously that it had to happen that way. And I, I kind of didn't know how to process the, the grief, the little girl in me that wanted it to be different. The, the daughter that just lost her mother, you know, like, how do I, how do I deal with that?
[00:26:45] And then nobody else would eulogize her. And, and I thought her husband, well, her second husband would, or her sister or her best friend, or like nobody wanted to say anything. So I'm like, I can't, no matter how angry I felt at her, I couldn't let her go. Without saying something right. But I also couldn't stand up in front of the room and say she was a belligerent belligerent drug addict, and she tortured us.
[00:27:12] And I, I couldn't say that. So I, I didn't know what to do. So I happened to coincidentally be the keeper of the family photographic archives. And so I sat down with a very large glass of bourbon and, and photo albums dating back to the thirties. And I looked at photographs of my grandparents when they were first married and my mom when she was born and, and her whole life.
[00:27:41] And, and I started to see her again as a cherished baby, as an innocent cherished, delightful, happy person who. Proceeded to make a bunch of choices in their lives. Like we all do some of them good, some of them bad, but I, I saw her whole life chronicled in photographs, eventually getting married and having me and the cousins and the weddings and, you know, my younger cousins and, and you know, all the stuff and, and the holidays.
[00:28:15] And it, it reminded me of the joy and the love and the generosity and all of the other things that the negative effects of her addiction kind of temporarily annihilated, you know? Right. And so I was able to give her a eulogy that was loving and respectful and not angry, you know? And, and so that was that moment in time, but then, oh my gosh, that's amazing.
[00:28:45] But then you're left with the rest of your life. Like, how do I put all of that? In, in, in a way that makes sense and allows for my own growth. Like how do I get past this? Right. And all of the things that I was taught about myself, that weren't true, but were a backlash from her mental illness. Right. You know, it's like you have, you have to learn to parent yourself.
[00:29:18] Absolutely. Absolutely. And, and that's what I had to do and continue to do. I, I have been a journal writer since 1983. I was an only child living in my, oh my gosh, dysfunctional marriage. And my mom's dealing with my mom's addiction and my mom's mental illness and my dad leaving and, and I didn't know what to do, you know, like, uh, so I just started writing and between writing and art, I.
[00:29:46] Healed myself, you know, that's what worked for me. It allowed me to process all of my experiences and all of my emotions and get it out of my brain onto paper so that I wasn't carrying it around all the time and right between that and reading everything and talking to people like you who have experienced things and therapists, and I found my way out, you know?
[00:30:10] Yeah. Yeah. I've I, I wish I was a journaler. I, I was not one of my friends that, that I interviewed for the book. She, she journals and, and all of her pain went on to the pages, you know? And it's just, it helps you to process it. Yes. And it's just, it's something you can look back on and look and, and say, oh, look how far I've come.
[00:30:38] As well. Right. And I used my journals to write my memoir permission to land and right. Which was about my whole experience with my mom's bipolarity and addiction and how I figured all of the intergenerational toxicity out and yeah. Pretty much halted. Most of it. I'm sure I screwed my kids up in other ways that I don't know yet, but but at least, oh, we all do.
[00:31:01] We all do. But, but the, the things that my great-grandmother passed down to my grandmother who passed it down to my mom and she passed it down to me, I was able to get rid of most of those. Right. Think, I think my kids might tell you otherwise, but I think I was able to get rid of most of those and, and make myself happier and find awareness of meaning in my life and so on and resilience and my ability to like reinvent myself multiple times, which I think we all do to a degree.
[00:31:32] Um, some more than others. We, you know, some more than others. I, I, there are people that still don't develop that self-awareness and they don't, they just don't do it. They don't. And, um, you know, they, they could, they could use conversations with people like you and I that have, you know, been able to, I mean, not that, that sounded really arrogant and self.
[00:31:54] No, but that's the purpose of the podcast. You know, I wanna give people permission to give themselves the opportunity to heal and become self-aware and grow from whoever they were yesterday, you know? Yeah. And use, use the tools that we talk about or not, you know, and all the mistakes that we made. And, and I mean, it's just, it's, I mean, I have been bumbling my way through life, you know, like we all do.
[00:32:23] We're we're just not, you know, we're not born with a lot of these. No. Does not come with an instruction manual. right. Yeah. And always say that about my daughter, Clint. I wish she came with a manual. It's just, uh, you know, and you're left to figure it out, right? Yeah. Yeah. We teach each other, learn from our mistakes hopefully, and try to make a better choice the next time.
[00:32:46] Right. It's kind of it, you know, that is, that is it, that's it, you know, you screw up, you try to do it again. Another time you try to do it a better way and right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's craziness, you know, a parenthood, whether your kids are born able bodied or not. Yes, no, there's, it's a mind field, you know, you don't, you don't know what your choices are or, you know, no.
[00:33:16] You know, and it's, it's just watching them and seeing, I mean, you know, at, I remember at first I was, I would point out things like, oh, they got that from me or, oh, she, she, she, you know, she gets that trait from you, you know, with her dad and, and right. And then eventually it's like, no, that's, I mean, we account for some of who they are for sure.
[00:33:41] But no, the, the rest of it comes from them. It's just, it's just who they are. Right. Yeah. And it's just so interesting when, when they grow and, and, um, you know, they have other traits and abilities that I was, I was not born with, you know, so yeah. It's allowing them to live with those, to express those, to have the freedom, to then make their own choices and potentially their own mistakes and learning from them, you know?
[00:34:09] Yes. Being conscious as a parent of your own prejudices or your own views or your own values or how, you know, when they're really little, we have to make decisions for them. But as they grow older, hopefully what we've done as parents is prepare them for our own obsolescence in a way, you know, like they beginning to make their own choices and their own decisions and learn from them.
[00:34:38] And, and without limitations that we have. Imposed on them or yeah. Inadvertently imposed on them. Yeah. That's really, and it's hard, you know, it's hard to let them make their own mistakes. Um, you know, it's, it's, it's funny cuz Emma went away to, uh, she went away to university and um, and then she did, she did come back and she's doing her masters here in Toronto at the university of Toronto.
[00:35:07] So she's living at home right. Again, you know, just for temporarily and then, and then she'll be gone. But uh, you know, so she had lived, I mean like your daughter, she'd gone way to school for four years and like your son has as well. Yeah. And um, so she was 22 and um, after dinner, before she was going to bed, I said, did you brush your teeth?
[00:35:30] And she just, she looked at me like, mom, believe you the hell alone. Right. Are you kidding? I can't believe, but it was just so natural that I, you know, that. Well, like my daughter, she, she came home, she graduated from college. She came home for about six weeks before her. She takes possession of her new apartment in the, in mid-July.
[00:35:55] And so she came home and, and she did go away to college during COVID. So for a good three semesters, she was home going to school remotely because they weren't allowed to be on campus or it was just easier and to go avoid COVID completely. So, so it's not like she hasn't been home for four years because she has right.
[00:36:15] But suddenly she was like, I'm gonna go out with my friends. Is it okay? And I'm like, you don't have to ask permission. You're 22 years old or she's 21. You're 21 years old. You're a college graduate. Just let me know approximately what time you'll be home. So I know when to worry otherwise. Right. You know, go do you, you know?
[00:36:32] Right. But, so, so funny. It's just funny. So, so just a very superficial way of looking at this last night, we were. Looking for couches and furniture and decorations for her, the living room and her new apartment. And so she thought she wanted a yellow couch. And so she found on the, in the internet, this lovely, very beautiful yellow linen couch.
[00:36:57] And I thought, no, it's gonna get destroyed. And before I left, what color is her cat? brown, dark brown. There's gonna be dark brown fur all over, you know, 21 year olds. They're gonna have parties. Things are gonna get spilled. I, I made the mistake like 10 years ago of buying a beige and like toe striped couch.
[00:37:20] Right. And, and I thought, ah, it'll be fine. It was destroyed. because the, just, just, just, no, you gotta get a darker couch. People are gonna sit on it. They're going to eat. Stuff's gonna get spilled. There's gonna be cat hair, whatever. So before she could even tell me her thoughts about this yellow couch and I'm like, hell no, that's yellow.
[00:37:39] Linen do not go there. And she got really mad. She's like, wait, I, let me speak. Let me talk about it. Let me say anything before you jump. Right. I'm like, all right, you're right, right. I was wrong. That was my perception. You wanna buy a yellow couch? It's your money. Go ahead. But I think it's a mistake. I'm like, I'm gonna go unload the dishwasher and unload my baggage there.
[00:38:01] And then I'll come back to the conversation later and we were fine. But yeah, but I, yeah, yeah. It was a simple, superficial way of saying no, but it's all those little things. Yes. Right. So funny. So funny, you know, but I also remember when I was about her age, I got a job like three or four hours, upstate New York.
[00:38:28] And I was gonna move off of long island away from my parents and my mom flipped out. And granted, she has her had her own mental health issues and her own anxiety that was never addressed. And the thought of me moving away and not coming back, you know, college was one thing, cuz I was always home for vacations and it's a four year.
[00:38:52] It's a finite period of time. But me moving away to a different part of the state where I would be many hours away from her, all she could tell me were all the catastrophic things that would happen. Not you'd be successful and you're resilient enough to figure it out. Right. And we're always here if you need help, but what are you gonna do if and what are you gonna do if that happens and what are you gonna do if this happens and how is that gonna work?
[00:39:15] And oh my God, you can't do this. You can't do that. And she scared the crap outta me and I let her manipulate me and I stayed home. You did? I did. Oh, I was the only child. I had no advocate. I had nobody. Right. Nobody was there tempering. And that's that negativity felt. Yeah. Right. And so I just stayed home and my, I know how my life would've changed or how things would've been different.
[00:39:41] Well, you know, that's yeah. Something else. But, but so now I see both my kids wanting to move outta state. They don't wanna come home. Right. And I, it makes me think about my experience that I had with my mother. And I didn't do anything, but support them, you know? Right. Yeah. I'll help you find a department.
[00:40:05] If you need, I'll help you furnish it. If you need, you know, if you need me to cosign something, I will just go try it. You know, you can always come home. Right. If this doesn't work, you can always change your mind. You can always say, nah, I don't like this roommate. I'm gonna live with someone else. Or I don't like this job.
[00:40:23] I'm gonna change and do something else. There's always options. But, and you're just providing that support in the background. Yeah, exactly. Staying home and moving back into your teenage bedroom, isn't going to help your growth. Go do something, go , you know? Yeah. Always welcome. But, but go, go, do you, you know?
[00:40:44] Yeah. And, and I, I, I guess that's part of my own enlightenment, my own consciousness as, as a parent, as a human being to do better than the previous generation did with me. Yeah. Because the dangers that is that you, we, you know, apparently that we repeat right. Behavior. So that awareness that, okay. I don't want to do that.
[00:41:08] Right. Yeah. That takes intention. . Yeah, cause I, there is a little corner of my heart. That's saying, fuck, no, don't move. Oh, sure. Stay home. I'm gonna miss you too much. You know, who am I? There was always that question. Like, who am I, if I'm not a full-time mom, it's been, you know, yeah. It's been 24 of your years on this planet.
[00:41:32] Probably more than your half of your adult life or at least half of your adult life. What, what do you do beyond that? Yeah. You know, and you work and I work and we wrote both wrote books and we're here on this podcast. So clearly motherhood, isn't the only thing that defines us. Right. But being aware of that, its awareness is everyth.
[00:41:54] Perception affects our emotions, affects our thoughts about everything and ultimately our choices and our behavior. I don't know where I'm going with this. I don't have a, no, it does. And you know, but yeah, but this is, you know, I mean, it all leads to living a happy, healthy life. Right. And that first step is that self-awareness yeah.
[00:42:13] You know, and understanding it's okay. If I'm sad that they move away. Right. But, and I will survive. I will, you know, it's, it's like any other change in your life. Right. We resist change, you know, we, we Don know, we don't know what it's gonna feel like. We don't know what it's gonna look like, but I have a car and regardless of the cost of gas, I can fill my tank and drive to Boston and see them both.
[00:42:39] Yes. Yeah. So, you know yes. And you've been through much worse than this hell. Yeah. Right. And it's that knowledge and that's, I mean, I, I find that comforting, you know, I, it doesn't mean that bad things aren't going to happen. It just means that, you know, because there is no happily Everafter, as, as we know you, don't sort of achieve some level of happiness and then that's sustained for the rest of your life.
[00:43:10] It's a more of a rollercoaster, but in those down times, you know, I know that I can get through it. And, uh, and that's very comforting. Yeah. You've been through rollercoaster enough and you've proved your own resilience. Right. So I was able to get through that. I'll get through this too. That's right.
[00:43:37] Yeah. Wow. Yeah. So profound. . I, I wish, you know, one, one of the questions I always ask, I always end end the interviews with seven quick questions. And one of the questions is what one piece of advice would you like to give your younger self? And I, I, I frequently think that if I could impart some of this sense of resilience and trust in my own ability to that younger Marcy, how would that have changed the decisions that I had made?
[00:44:14] But I don't think that just the older me telling the younger me would have imparted the depth of what that means. You have to go through it. You have to experience the things you do that teach it to you. Nobody else could just say, Hey, you're more resilient than you think you are. You should trust what you think.
[00:44:37] Cuz. Without the experience of having lived through it, there isn't much to trust. What do you go on? There's no empirical evidence. Yeah. Yeah. And I think that, I think you're right, that the wisdom comes through living it and experiencing it. And, and you can't teach that. Who was it that, who was it that said that gave the advice where sunscreen that's that's pretty much, it, it was some, was it some, um, convocation, speech, something Kurt Ronk or somebody like that.
[00:45:12] Right. And, and, you know, that's pretty much the only advice that, that I think I would, that I would be able to understand, you know, telling my 21 year old self, you know what I mean? Like everything else that I could tell myself, just. It just, it wouldn't be enough. It wouldn't, it wouldn't be impactful. It wouldn't right.
[00:45:34] It wouldn't attach itself to any experience or any cuz there would, there wouldn't have been an experience to attach to. Right. But the sunscreen thing, we, I think we inherently get I would've avoided that sunburn I had when I was 22. Oh my God. Right. So that's yeah. Those kinds of things. But other than that, you just have to live it and go through it.
[00:45:56] Exactly, exactly. Yeah. You know, and, and, and impart some of your values and your wisdom to your kids, but, but in a way that doesn't attach connection or ownership to it, you know? Yeah. Like I can give you what I think and then I have to let it go. Yes. You know, like that was one thing that my, another thing that my mom never learned that she, if, whether or not I asked her for advice, she would give me her advice or what she thought, you know, I should do in a certain situation.
[00:46:27] And if I didn't do. Her thing. If I didn't heed her cautionary advice, she'd get angry at me. Right. She was very attached to that and right. It caused a lot of fights when I said, okay, that's what you think. This is what I think I'm gonna do this. Thank you. Right. But I'm gonna do this. She didn't know how to let go of that.
[00:46:49] Yes. Um, and I've really tried to work on that with my own, with my own kids and my own students, you know? Yeah. Like, this is what I think you should do. This is what I would do in your shoes, but it's your life only, you really know what it feels like to be in your skin. So this is what I would do. But you do you, what do you think?
[00:47:08] Yep. Yeah. Yeah. I think that's all you can do. And, and then let it go and then let it go. Exactly. Yeah. And I mean, something specific, like, you know, when I talked to Emma about saying just don't look, you know, and, and having that choice, I. She did resist it at first. And then, you know, I don't even remember how long it was, but she eventually, I think because she had to, she had to try it on her own too.
[00:47:38] She had to. Right. And there's probably a lot of psychological underpinnings with that because not only is she in, in those instances feeling is feeling like she's protecting her sister, she's also protecting herself. And then if yeah, she stops doing that, does it mean that she loves her sister less? Does it mean she's less protective?
[00:47:59] Will it appear to others that she cares less or that she isn't protective? Like there's a whole lot of, um, uh, perception of what, how others perceive us and how we'll perceive ourselves through the action or the inaction that, that has to be UNW woven or UN noded. Yeah. In order to make that behavior.
[00:48:22] Clear. Yes. And, and that's a really good point. And she was very, she grew into someone who was very self-conscious. And so, as you know, you can't just say, well, don't be so self-conscious because that, that's not how you learn to get over that. So she had to get over that herself and, and recognize, you know, what was important.
[00:48:48] And, and, um, and so, and, but she had to live that herself. I of couldn't. I couldn't tell her that part of it. Yeah, no, I mean, you could say it, but she has to experience it. Most people don't register anything beyond their own fingertips. Yes. And, and, and they're, everyone's consumed with their own thing. If everyone is the, the, the, the, the star of their own movie and everyone else beyond them as a supporting player in their movie, then they're, you're not gonna pay that much attention.
[00:49:21] No, not at all. I learned that lesson in my first day of my freshman year of high school, I had a zit on my nose, the tip of my nose. This thing was so red. I was like, Rudolph, it had its own gravity. It was so big. And no one noticed all of my friends, everyone else was so consumed with their own first day of high school that nobody even noticed or remembered that I had this planet on my nose and right.
[00:49:51] And, and I reflected back on that like a few weeks later and I was like, gee, it really doesn't matter. Does it? No one cares. Exactly. Yeah. It's so true. It's so true. Yeah. But nobody could have told you that in the moment, you know, back to that. No. Yeah, no, no, not at all. Not at all. Crazy.
[00:50:17] All right, so let's do the seven quick questions show. Okay. Okay. What six words would you use to describe yourself? Oh my gosh. What's six words. They're not gonna be tattooed on your forehead. Don't worry. Um, well, that's a relief. I do have two words tattooed here. Nice work. Yes. So when I was born, my, I was the first born and my dad was 25 years old.
[00:50:54] He brought my mom a bouquet of flowers, you know, the next day cuz the, the dads weren't around back then. Sure. And on the bouquet, flowers was a little, you know, one of those, just those little tiny cards, Uhhuh and it said, nice work, love Dawn. Nice. And my mom kept it. She kept it for. Ever is that your dad's handwriting?
[00:51:16] That's my dad's handwriting. That's awesome. So, you know, it's kind of, it, it's sort of something that I, that I aspire to. nice work, her effort, the result of her effort here it is. Right. So exactly. Um, and my dad was a very funny person. Um, and you would appreciate this cuz you are funny. So I would, I would, I would describe myself as funny.
[00:51:49] Yeah. And as open. Yes. Right. And, um, resilient. And just, just to, yeah. Now resilient. Now wouldn't have said that when I was 17, but just resilient and uh, just a big bunch of nice work. Awesome. Love it. There you go. What's your favorite way to spend a day?
[00:52:18] it's my favorite way to spend a day is, uh, it's more on the relaxing side than the active side. Yeah. You know, so it's not, it's not gonna be something really adventurous. It's just gonna be a lot of like stopping and smelling the roses kind of stuff. Excellent. It is for me too, I ask this question and people are like, oh, I would love to go hiking or mountain climbing.
[00:52:43] And I'm like, Ugh, God really, good. You go do that. And leave me back here with a book and, and a place to put my feet up. And I'm good. Um, okay. What's your favorite childhood memory?
[00:52:58] Um, my it it's. I actually put this in the book it's, uh, one night. Um, so my sister and I, our best, our best friend lived two doors away. And our moms were good friends. And one night they went, went somewhere for the, for the night to play bridge and they left us with our fathers. And back then, that was when fathers were babysitting.
[00:53:25] Right. They weren't parenting mm-hmm they had never been left alone with their children. Ever. The moms made the dinner for us that we ate. Right. Like they couldn't do anything. Um, and then they were, so they would've been maybe 35 years old at the time the dads, we were about, you know, 10, 9, 10, and they, um, proceeded to just party.
[00:53:50] Like it was 1999. They just, you know, they had wine with dinner and then they were drinking scotch and they were just having a fantastic time. And it happened to be this hot summer night. And so at midnight, We were running through the sprinkler in the backyard, in our bathing suits. And that was something that my mother would never have allowed.
[00:54:15] We would've been in bed long before then, but the dads were just letting us run crazy. We could do whatever we wanted. And then we came into the house and they were, they were playing their music and it was Simon and Garfunkel's greatest hit album. And my dad was standing on the, on the hearth of the fireplace, singing bridge over troubled water at the top of his lungs.
[00:54:41] And he has a, he had a really good voice. Awesome. And he was like performing it. And we were just like, oh my God. It's just, it was just the most magical night. That's awesome. It's crazy. Yeah. Did your mom ever find out about what happened? What was her reaction? Well, they came, they came home and we were, we were.
[00:55:02] In, we spent the, it was the whole night in the friend's house. And I think my sister and I probably slept there too and walked in, they walked in and, um, it was just like a bomb had gone off. We had had spaghetti for dinner and it was literally spaghetti was hanging off the dining room table and they, they had not done any clean up the house was, it was just an absolute disaster.
[00:55:33] Wow. Yeah. Wow. Right. I can't, I can't, I just can't even, that's funny. Yeah. That's funny. My mom's.
[00:55:47] Wow. Okay. Yeah. So what's your favorite meal? spaghetti spaghetti. it was, it was actually. We all got to pick our, um, our favorite meal for our birthdays and mine was my mom's spaghetti sauce. My sister picked Kentucky fried chicken and my brother picked lobster. So, oh, I was, I was the cheapest date, I think, I think so.
[00:56:17] Probably. Do you still have the recipe of that for that spaghetti sauce? Yes. Oh, good. excellent. Um, I think we'll skip for the one advice since we already talked about that. Um, what is the one thing you would most like to change about the world? Oh, um,
[00:56:41] I, you know, I was gonna say women's rights. I would, I would say, I would say human rights. Um, you, you, you shared that your daughter's bisexual, so Emma is, is, is queer and. And, you know, she grew up in Toronto and, and it's very accepting here, you know? Yeah. Um, we're a very multicultural, you know, pretty urban city.
[00:57:06] So she, um, which is good. She probably won't stray too far from, from an urban center. Right. Mm-hmm um, and so just human rights, acceptance. Yeah. Yeah. I agree. Um, TV shows, what do you watch? What do you binge? What lights you up? Oh, I just finished killing Eve and it just, it, it like the whole series ended.
[00:57:39] I'm always so sad when a series ends like your friends move away. It is, it's so sad, you know? So I just, I mean, I love a show like that. That's. Funny and I mean, Fleabag was just the best Fleabag has to be my favorite show of all time. Really? Yeah. I've not watched either of these so I will check them out.
[00:58:01] Okay. Do it very cool. Very cool. Well, thank you so much, Deb. This was really fun. I thank you, Marc. It was really good. I think the listeners will get a whole lot out of, uh, or shared experience. Excellent. Um, so your book and, and your, um, socials and your website will all be attached and linked into the show notes.
[00:58:27] So if you're not driving your car while you're listening to this, you can scroll down and click away. I'll be there. if you're driving, you have to wake sure. You pull over first. thank you so much. Thank you.