#308 – Triumph Over Trauma With Shana Francesca

It does take a little bit of extra mental space to take a pause and consider how you wanna feel as you move through life, how you want other people to feel as they interact with you. However, it doesn’t take any more action, being intentional about how we show up is about just taking that pause and saying, what do I want to come of this moment? What is it that I want from this moment? And not only just thinking about it, but then vocalizing it to the people around you and continually setting those expectations and sharing those intentions, which is a deeply vulnerable thing. So it does take practice, right? And to learn to listen to our own voices. But ultimately, what I find is that being intentional actually helps us to do less, right? And to stop saying yes to things we don’t actually want to do and start feeling empowered to say no to the things we don’t want to do so that we can show up better in the ways and things that we actually do want to do and be invested in.

And so it’s really talking about intention is about how we’re investing ourselves and our energy and our time. What do we want to be investing in and how? Um and it’s deeply important that we get curious, definitely Google something in the world today and every day that you think, you know, everything you need to know about just so that you can learn something new about it. And you’ll start to absolutely recognize the ways in which everything around you is beautiful and valuable. The Tom Screen podcast is owned and made possible by marketing service. If your business is struggling with Google or Facebook ads, maybe you’re frustrated, figuring it out or there’s a performance issue. Ethical marketing service has worked on hundreds of accounts and we can help in this area. We offer a 30 day money back guarantee if you would like to find out if we can help. It’s a free no salesy consultation call and the link is in the description, enjoy the episode. Thomas Green here with ethical marketing service on the episode. Today, we have Shana Francesca Shayna.

Welcome. Yeah. Thanks for having me, Thomas. It is very much my pleasure. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do? Yeah, absolutely. So, I’m a scholar of intentional and ethical leadership in living. Um A keynote speaker, I facilitate workshops and consult on what is it to be an intentional and ethical human and an intentional and ethical leader. Um And uh background wise, I grew up in an evangelical Christian cult and inside an abusive household. And uh I i it’s very clear to me now, looking back that curiosity is what saved my life and ultimately, what led me to my work and understanding how do we recognize what that we are human. How do we remember that we are nature and how do we live in reciprocity with the living world? A very interesting introduction. And um you touched upon a lot of things which I am interested in. So, uh you have an interested interest in ethics, which my company name is. Uh you know, I, I put that in there because I have an interest in it and then also um around your story.

So, um yeah, I’ve got loads of questions. But would you like to start with um a little bit about your story and uh just so, you know, anything you’re comfortable with that you’d, you’d be interested in sharing? Yeah, absolutely. Um So I, I was, like I said before, I was born into an abusive household and then raised in an evangelical Christian cult. And the thing about growing up in um extreme, I, I see those environments as simply extreme versions of the one that everybody lives in. Um Because I see so much that is unethical and exploitative about our world. Um But growing up in the environments that I did, there was absolutely no space for me to be who I was, I was punished for being myself. I was, um, constantly threatened with the concept and the idea of being sent to hell. Um, but also I lived in hell. Um, so I wasn’t really sure how much hell could be worse than the, than what I was living in at the time.

Um, and when you, when you have parents who are unhealthy, the thing is they don’t exactly surround themselves with healthy people. So your entire world is now encompassed with unhealthy abusive people typically, right? There might be a couple of people who shine through that and they did, right? It was mostly teachers throughout my life who seemed to see me and recognize my curiosity and not punish me for it but embrace who I was. Um But growing up in an environment where you’re punished for being yourself, for asking questions, for daring to be curious. Um it, it primes you to be exploited and harmed by abusive people throughout your life, right? And so it’s deeply important that you connect to healing and I’m so thankful that I did. It took me a really long time and I’ll probably be on that healing journey for the rest of my life. Um But to me, it’s no shock that I ended up recognizing that I grew up in an intentionally harmful environment and in deeply unethical environment.

And that my curiosity led me to a place to ask, well, what is it then to be ethical. What is it then to be human? Because I wasn’t raised to be human. I wasn’t raised to recognize I am nature. I wasn’t raised to recognize that I belong existing within the ecosystem which national geographic defines essentially as a bubble of life. I didn’t grow up in a bubble of life, right? I grew up in, in an environment where I was colonized where um I was used and um and raised to believe that that was what I existed for. Um But I don’t think any of us really II, I haven’t met a single person um who was ever truly raised to be human um especially in here in the United States. Um We were raised to survive within capitalism, right? And those are two very different things. Um Survival is very different than, than a existence and a thriving existence. Um And so, yeah, that background led me to where I am where um and somewhere in the middle, I went to school to be an interior designer.

Um Recognizing that people primarily didn’t feel like they had the permission to take up space authentically even within their own homes. Um And I wanted to be able to craft that environment to be the mirror that people chose to be able to show them who I saw them as and to not create their home, aligned with trends, but for it to be aligned with how they wanted to show up in the world, the story they wanted their life to tell, creating very intentional environments. And then it was a client of mine who said, and I’d already been doing like group coaching for, for leaders, for entrepreneurs or people from the age of like 25 to 55 almost 60 um around these concepts that I was applying in my interior design. But I I recognized were valuable outside of it. They were just valuable for human beings in general. And one of my clients was like, you need to do something more with that. Um Because I think they recognized that the medium that I was using interior design is the medium to have these conversations and that, that medium in and of itself was limiting.

And then I had a powerful voice and I should probably use it in more profound ways. And so, you know, that began the shift from focusing on interior design work to um really leaning into my scholarly work. Thank you for that. Um Lots to follow up on uh including uh the, the you, you’re going to hell if you don’t do X thing. Uh It reminds me of like do, as I say, all bad things will happen. It’s just another way of saying that right? The same thing. Yeah. So at church, it was do as you’re told, do as I say, and how I interpret the Bible and no discussion of the relevance and the massive reinterpretations. Interpretations of the Bible and who put it together in the first place and so on and so forth. It was just do, as I say, we’re going to hell and at home it was do as I say, or you will be harmed. Uh The other thing I just wanted to follow up on was the, um, was it a, uh, what people perceived to be a religion that was behaving as though it’s a cult or was it, um, what people might label as a cult?

So, how was the label of, um, what you were brought up in, um, religion behaving as an, as a, as a cult? Um, to me, uh, any organization that asks for your unquestioning, um, I don’t even want to call it faith, but to me there’s even a sinister aspect in the way that religion co opts faith because faith doesn’t require explanation. It doesn’t require proof. Would you refer to it as compliance? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Unquestioning compliance. That would be a, a great word. Thank you. Um, anybody that’s asking for that that isn’t willing to or any organization that’s asking for that is absolutely in their next breath going to be perpetrating harm because there’s no accountability in that. Right. And to me the basis at the basis of my work to understand what it is, the place that I’ve gotten to and I’m sure this will morph and change as I continue my work.

But the place I’m at now. And then I recognize is that the foundation of what it is to be intentional and ethical, intentionally good, right? And, and, and live in reciprocity with the world around us is curiosity, respect and accountability. And I truly fundamentally believe that there is no relationship without those things, but ultimately definitely without accountability, there is no relationship because if you’re not curious about the impact of your actions on the people around you, um then you fundamentally do not respect them. Um And do not actually care about them. So, accountability to me is that necessary ingredient, all of them are. But that, that, that last one, accountability is truly deeply powerful. When we talk about how we show up in the world, I would like to um follow up with you about accountability. Um Although I, I wasn’t sure when because I looked at your profile and everything, I wasn’t sure whether it was accountability in the context of, I don’t know, performance wise um or uh keeping people in check, which is kind of uh my interpret interpretation of your last answer question.

I wanted to ask in regards to the y your upbringing. And um you know, how you stumbled into, into ethics essentially is, is there a point in which you realize that you’re not being treated ethically or fairly? Um Because the reason why I asked that is the reason I have been interested in ethics in philosophy is because I was confused about, um, what the right thing to do was and wasn’t necessarily, I didn’t feel like I was seeing it in my everyday life. So I had this massive interest in knowing. I understand that it’s not quite as clear as that now. But, um, that was the reason why I’m interested in the topic because I wanted to know about what the right thing to do is, is there a point in which you realize that that’s what’s driving you to answer the first part of the question? Did I at any point realize that I was being treated unfairly and unethically. Yes. From the very beginning, I probably was three or four when I realized all right, trigger warning for anybody who’s listening.

Um, uh, we’re gonna dive into some really sensitive topics around abuse and sexual assault. So please be careful and fast forward if those are topics that are too sensitive for you to engage in at this moment. Um, the first time I was sexually assaulted, I was, I was raped, I was three years old. And so it crashes into you the realization, um, that men will use your body to emotionally regulate themselves and that, that is fundamentally harmful, right? I didn’t have that language back then, but I felt it and I knew it because the boy who raped me, his father was abusive and drunk, violent, uh, a AAA an alcoholic and, and a violent person who probably his father had experienced some very traumatic, terrible things as well. And so to recognize that you become your body, not because you’re not recognized as a person, especially inside of evangelical Christianity.

Women serve one purpose that is to be a wife and to be a mother, to be a breeder and your personhood does not, is not valuable. It doesn’t even exist, you exist as, um, as an object, as a compliment, as an arm candy as an extension of someone else. Um And so, yeah, fundamentally, I knew from the beginning that that was unfair. I felt it and I spoke it and I felt like I was screaming it inside of my head all the time. But I knew I wasn’t safe to say it out loud. And then at the age of 12, I was forced to take a chastity pledge, which was further traumatizing because the concept of virginity, which I do, I’m not invested in. Um I, I don’t believe it’s a real thing um was then violated, right? Because I’ve been raped. I wasn’t technically a virgin, but then I was supposed to declare in front of 2000 people that I was, and I was going to hold this thing as sacred when it hadn’t been held sacred, not by me but by someone else, right?

And so there was this fundamental contradiction um happening there. And also at the same time, my father was grooming me because the second time I was sexually assaulted. I was 15 and it was by my father. So when I say that the reality of our world being deeply unethical absolutely pierced my world from my earliest recognition. That is my reality. There was no, there was, there was no, uh, like gray area. I knew that I was not valued at the same level that men were, period. Right. And I knew that to be fundamentally unethical. I, again, I didn’t have that language but I can look back and I have my journals from then. Um not from when I was three, but I started journaling when I was like six or seven. Um and see how much I raged against the world around me but was not safe to do it in any other way than inside of a journal. Um And then what was the second part of your question?

Can you remind me? Uh I was, I was deep into listening to you then. So, um I’m sorry, it’s OK. It’s OK. Uh But I do have uh firstly, I wanna say, um I, I feel a lot of empathy for you and I’m very sorry that you had to go through that as such a well at any time, but especially at such a an important age in your development. Um I don’t know why this comes to me, but I, I kind of i it’s probably cos I’m a dad to daughters as well. Um I, I kind of want to ask about, there’s a two part question. Um Were you particularly upset or angry at someone in particular? And so I’m thinking like, where is the dad in this picture? And why aren’t you being protected? Um But then the, the second part uh is around if someone else is going through the same thing. So, um because what my, my interpretation is that you’ve done a lot of work in um recovering or perhaps helping yourself through this trauma and um what advice you would give them?

I would say, um you definitely need support, you need community around you. And for a long time, I didn’t have that. So it took me a really long time to let go of the rage because I was so alone in all of it. The community I was raised in was deeply unhealthy. And even though I made aware the pastoral staff at the church slash cult that I grew up in, they absolutely hit it even though they’re mandated, reporters did not report it. These are also other men, right? Um When I say that I am not invested in purity culture or the idea of virginity, there is a very specific reason and it is because I believe that it fundamentally leads to pedophilia, the glorification of innocence, which is what glorification of this untouched virgin flesh is what it’s seen as, right? No longer is that human, seen as a person, they’re seen as a representation of ideology, which is fundamentally dehumanizing and objectifying.

And so that is how my father was able to not be my father and be um a predator in my life is because he had invested in this ideology. Now, my father was a deeply not ok person before then and he definitely needed help all along the way and refused to get it. Um And he is absolutely responsible for the fact that as an adult man, he never took responsibility for his mental health. And he, because of that, he was drawn to very harmful ideology. And at the same time, I can still see and understand why and how he ended up there. Right. And this again comes back to why I do my work because no, I don’t think very, I think very few people wake up in the morning and think, you know what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna hurt the world. Right. There are some people who think that way, but I don’t think it’s the majority of people.

I think the majority of people wake up and think they’re good people and, or they wanna make good impressions on the world around them. They wanna do good things, they wanna be known, they wanna be seen, they wanna be heard, they wanna be understood, right? These are the things I think live with people on a day to day basis. I don’t think most people want to believe that they harm others, but when we come to the place and recognize that something that is beneficial to one group of people or one person can be absolutely harmful to another. And we have to live in that space all the time and, and be willing to understand the impact of our actions on the people, the living world that it, that it has an impact on and we have to listen to their voices and hear them out. Um You know, it, it becomes harder for us to just slide down these very slippery slopes. That wouldn’t be so slippery if accountability was there accountability becomes the bumps in the road that keep us from going down these very harmful paths.

And they’re necessary and it’s necessary to recognize that being human, being alive is uncomfortable and that we have to be willing to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. And that’s what being accountable and living in accountability is, is living with and normalizing a level of discomfort that comes from, from being willing to and actively seeking to understand our impact. And because I know my father wasn’t any of those things and neither was any of the leadership around him. It consistently sped up his harmful behavior. It, it it, it sped up his descent into horrific behavior. Um And so again, I know that that’s why it has led me to where I am is because I can see, I can see how easy it is for people who think themselves to be good people, to perpetrate uphold harm and systems of harm. Um, when there is not accountability baked into and invested in, in our lives, you think there is such a thing as a good person?

No, I don’t think there’s any such thing as good or bad people. I think it’s a binary that serves to uphold systems of oppression. I think it’s so easy for us to say that’s a good person. I’m sure they didn’t mean harm and someone else to diminish our pain, someone else to keep us from being able to hold others accountable to normalize harm. When we recognize that there’s no such thing as good and bad people, but simply people who perpetuate harm or take accountability for it um Consistently. Um I think it becomes a different conversation because then we’re living in the gray and we’re recognizing that we can’t just put ourselves in, into a category of I’m a good person because again, I don’t think most people would put themselves in a category of bad person. Right? Um And at any given moment, we’re oscillating between harm and not harm, right? Um Which is a, again, like if I, if we had had this conversation and I didn’t warn people that this is the conversation we’re going to have that could have harmed someone, right?

The conversation isn’t fundamentally bad, but the impact it would have on that person could be harmful, right? And so this conversation is valuable to people who are ready and able to hear it. But for those people that it’s too sensitive, a topic that would be harmful, but this conversation isn’t fundamentally good or bad. It’s a conversation. Right. It’s about recognizing and respecting people’s right to choose. It’s about consent ultimately. Right. And it’s about, um, making sure that we’re setting expectations and that we are, um, that we are communicating with the world around us in a way that honors and respects the way that they want to show up in the world and not just the way that we wanna show up in the world. Uh um You did answer one of my previous questions in that question. So I did notice. Thank you for that. Um 11 follow up if I may, if a, if a young person came to you uh in a similar position uh with a similar experience that you had and needed some advice or help to get out of it, what would you tell them?

I would say therapy and I would say, be careful of the therapist that you work with because all therapists work with trauma but not all therapists are familiar with and, and recognize complex ptsd and how to address it. Talk therapy can be very harmful to people who have complex ptsd, which I do. Um because it can put you in a space of reliving that trauma, it doesn’t mean you can never talk about it because obviously I’m talking about it here. It just means that there are therapeutic modalities that are probably more important for you to be invested in um before you’re able to safely talk about the thing without re traumatizing yourself. Um And you know, uh E MD R that there’s a whole, there’s a whole slew of different practices that are beneficial that I would say take a look at those. Um but, but definitely therapy. Um, it doesn’t mean you have to be in therapy for the rest of your life.

And it also doesn’t mean you don’t have to be, it just depends on what’s meant for you. There’s also a lot of books that I’ve relied on and I have surrounded myself with people who I’m safe. My story is safe with, right? They’re not interested in, um, making me relive it. They’re not interested in, um, the entertainment of it. They’re not interested or the in or in any entertainment value. They’re not interested in sympathy, right? They’re not interested in being like poor you. Um, but instead recognize that it has made me who I am and they honor and value who I am. And so they honor and value my story and they hold space for it the way that they hold space for me. And it’s important to find the people that you and your story are safe with and people will not weaponize it against you or, or have it be the thing that comes ahead of you. Right. They’re not telling your story for you. They’re not telling the intimate parts of your life to other people. Um They’re, they’re, they’re honoring that.

It’s your story to tell. So there’s a, there’s a variety of things going on at the same time, I would say, find people that you are safe with and I know that’s harder to say than I know. I know. it’s hard to do, right. It’s easy for me to say that. And it took me a really long time. So I recognize how hard it is. Um But going to therapy can be a first step or finding um support groups or um you know, just find a Facebook group and what depending on what you have access to and resources for, right? Um But, but get yourself around people, go to the library, check out a few books. My grandmother’s hands is a good one. But there’s one other one that I highly recommend. Um There is a book called The Body Keeps The Score. Don’t read it. People will recommend it to you, but it is deeply re traumatizing. Um uh Gosh, I wish I could remember the name. It’s something close to that like um Also trauma and recovery is a good one. If I remember the book, I’ll have to let you know, but I cannot remember the name of it.

Um Oh, the body is not an apology. Um, is another really good book. Um, but there’s one specifically, uh, but just to just seek out books that are specifically written typically by, I would encourage you to, to read books written by women around this topic. Um, because they’re gonna be much kinder typically and they’re going to recognize the, the very inherent trauma in being a woman in this world way more than a man would. Um And I’m not saying no men do. I’m just saying that it is typically um almost impossible for a man to understand what it is to be a woman in this world unless they’re, you know, someone who’s invested in that work. So definitely seek out books and learning and um and be kind to yourself, it’s gonna take a while. Thank you for that. Um You raised something which I think is important to touch on and uh it was around having the right peer group and the people who are going to treat you in.

Uh I don’t know if the, you’d phrase it this way, but the way you need or want to be treated. And I would imagine if you’ve ever shared your story with people, there is definitely a wrong way to respond to it. And I would imagine you already know what those are. But have you got any advice or thoughts perhaps on if someone is in that position of someone who’s opening up to them about some kind of trauma. What is perhaps a right and a wrong way to go about talking to them about it. You have, when someone shares your story, their story with you, you have to be willing to sit with the uncomfortable feelings that are gonna happen for you as the person hearing it, you also have to be kind to yourself. And if you’re not prepared to take on the that story, it’s ok for you to say, I’m not sure that I’m ready to hear this story and I wish I was and I honor that this is your story, but I’m not sure that I can take this on because sometimes someone is trauma dumping, especially when they’re early on in their healing process and they need to be able to just spew it all out because they haven’t been able to share it with anyone.

But that doesn’t mean you’re in the space to be able to take that on. Um If you are be willing to sit with the discomfort of it and you cannot make it better. So don’t try but you can hold space for their pain, you can hold space for them to, for whatever comes up for them and don’t try to make it better, right? Like that’s not your responsibility and you can’t. Um And so to just be able to say thank you for sharing your story with me. I, I can’t imagine what that felt like for you. And I’m so glad that I can be here to support you in your life now, right? Like there are very kind and compassionate things that you can say um that are very human responses and go with those, go with those because the discomfort part of you is gonna wanna like, make it all better or like ignore how painful that the the depth of pain that person has gone through like and kind of glaze past it and move forward in the conversation.

But to just sit there and look that person in the face and hold their hand, like even without saying a word, just holding space for that, like in that way can be so profoundly powerful. Um So it’s not about doing right. It’s more about just being with the person. Great advice. Thank you. Um I know uh the phrase um good parent might be a, a little bit uh might be perhaps a, a fallacy in some sense. But if there was a quote unquote, good parent who had a perhaps either rational or irrational fear, fear, depending on how you look at it around. Um their Children being involved in some sort of religious community, should we say? Have you got any advice in, in that area at all? Yeah, I mean, when it comes to teenagers, the more you tell them no, the more they’re gonna wanna do something. What I think is important is to ask great questions, not self serving questions, but great questions when they might attend with a friend or something like that and they come back and tell you about it.

Listen, hear them out, hear what they’re connecting to in that environment because it’s clearly something they’re feeling like they’re missing in their life um in some way, shape or form and that will be a clue into how to connect with them and maybe prevent them from being further sucked in. Um But asking great questions rather than making bold statements or accusations is really necessary, which is why part of my work is investing in curiosity, right? Because it is an important way of connecting to other people. Um And I can’t tell you exactly what those questions are going to be. Um But you need to ask them with kindness and with care and you also need to be willing to ask the really difficult questions um in connection with your relationship with your child in what ways do they wish that you were showing up for them that you’re not? And that doesn’t mean you’re capable of showing up in that way, but it does mean you can direct them towards communities of people who are healthier or mentor or something that or someone um that, that helps to fill that gap, that isn’t exploitative, right?

An aunt, an uncle, uh somebody that’s safe and trusted, right? Um You know, to provide community for them because ultimately what they’re seeking is community and ultimately our light. Our world is not in general, set up in a communal way. It’s set up in this nuclear family. Very strange. It didn’t, it wasn’t always like that. People raised Children in community with one another. They had a community of support. It wasn’t two parents expected to take on the, the, the burden of raising even one other human being is a lot. Right. Because there’s only so many ways that you and your significant other, you know, you and the other parent. Uh and, and for those people, it’s a single parent. I, I can’t imagine what that’s like. Um you know, to try to be everything to a another human being, try to figuring out who they are in the world, right? Like that takes a lot of input from a lot of people. Um And so ultimately, I think it’s important that we um find safe community, whether that be like team sports or, you know, the local community center or the library or whatever it is that your child gravitates toward, towards helping them to find the community where they feel seen, heard and understood.

And you might not understand that uh you know, the community that they choose, but as long as it’s a safe and healthy environment, um I think that helps to keep people out of uh harmful religious environments. Um because ultimately, uh there’s a lot of people that I know that are still inside of that environment simply because they, they want the community and they don’t know how to find it elsewhere. So that’s where we as a global people have to start building community. We have to stop investing in hyper individualization in the concepts of nuclear families, in, in, in investing in the idea that we have to do or be at all. Otherwise we’re not worthy. You are worthy simply because you exist, period. You don’t have to prove your value to anyone. The concept of proving your value only serves people looking to exploit you, right? Um And, and to, and to pay you as little as possible to benefit from your labor.

So it’s deeply important that, that, that we as adults in this world, right? Um Because I’m deep, I don’t have any Children. I don’t wanna have Children. I don’t want to get married. Um probably in part because of religious trauma, but mostly because I really love my work. And I know that as a woman in this world, I would be expected to forfeit my work in order to serve a husband and a child or Children. Um But it’s so I say to all parents and but I’m very deeply invested in my nieces lives, right? I’m I’m this other person that they can come to and spend time with and be with and ask the weird questions that they don’t know if they can ask their parents, right? It’s deeply important that we as adults. Um recognize that, recognize all that we’ve spoken about here and, and be invested in um being community for people raising Children all around us and for the Children, right? And, and be a part of their lives um and invested in their, in their curiosity.

Thank you for the advice. Um And I think that the the point around not telling but asking questions is uh a very good reminder. So thank you. Um One more point if I may because you mentioned your expertise and I do want to get into, into that. Um It’s just a, a round the concept of family, staying in touch with the family when um abuse has taken place and your thoughts on that because my, um should we say attempted philosophical take is that if someone’s willing to do that to you, it doesn’t necessarily matter what, uh where they are in your family lying, you have the, the right to essentially cut them off from your life. But I just wanna know what your thoughts are and um what perhaps you would encourage others to do. Uh First I agree with you wholeheartedly. Um I think it was Maya Angelou that said when someone tells you who you are, who they are, you should believe them and when they show you who they are, you should absolutely believe them.

Just because someone is your blood relation or has done things to help you survive in this world doesn’t mean you owe them anything. There are many parents unfortunately who have invested in this concept that because you paid, you know, provided a house and food and clothing and shelter for a child, whether yours or you know, some relation or foster or adopted, um that they owe you some kind of loyalty and they do not, you providing food, shelter, education, medicine, all of the basic necessities is what’s minimally required when, when you choose to take on and bring life into this world. They don’t owe you anything for that. Um, a long time for a long time, I was manipulated into thinking that meant I owed my parents loyalty even though they were causing me great harm. And I went no contact with my father permanently.

Um, for, you know, uh probably the last decade before that it was low contact. He wasn’t really allowed to contact me, but he kept violating that. And so I went full no contact. He didn’t, he didn’t really understand. Um And I didn’t really understand that I had the right to cut him out uh without any explanation because he knew I don’t, I don’t have to explain to him why he’s harmful to me. Um I went low contact and at times no contact with my mom. Now my mom has over the years gone to therapy and gotten help and dramatically shifted who she is is there’s still conflict in our relationship. Yes. Um, she’s my mom. Um, and she did some really terrible things, but she has ultimately taken responsibility for those things. And although she hasn’t truly investigated the root of those things like where they came from, she does understand that they were harmful and has taken um accountability in a variety of ways.

Um And so she is a part of my life. I have gone low or low contact with several of my siblings for a variety of reasons. When you grow up in a traumatic environment together, there’s going to be a lot of trauma and a lot of conflict there. And ultimately, when you’re in your own healing journey, you may not be able to take on other people’s reactions and their ways of being as a result of their own trauma and its way to re traumatizing or additionally traumatizing to be interacting with people who are also traumatized. Um And so it is absolutely necessary for you to trust your intuition. And if every time you are even thinking about being near a specific person, if it causes your whole body to tighten and you not to be able to breathe in your heart, to race or any of these very telltale signs that you don’t feel safe with someone, then please trust it. You do not owe anyone an explanation specifically that person because if that person continually tells you, you owe them an explanation as to why you’re not gonna show up or be there.

They’re doing so in an effort to manipulate you. They know exactly why you’re uncomfortable with them. Don’t let them make you think otherwise they know they absolutely know otherwise they’re a sociopath and that’s a whole another conversation. But human beings know when we harm someone else and we’re hoping they’ll let us off the hook. So anyone who is deeply invested in pretending like they don’t understand your pain that they’ve caused is not someone you’re safe with. You don’t owe them an explanation or even a response you just get to not show up and your silence will be a clear message to them. Um And, and if they get help that’s on them, it’s not on you. Um So yeah, II, I absolutely agree that you should listen to your intuition when you are not safe around someone just don’t be around them. Thank you for that. It’s a great answer. And um you touched on what you’re doing now, um by just uh my perception is that as a result of what you’ve been through, you’ve thought a great deal about uh the right and wrong if you would even frame it that way.

Um And you’ve got expertise in, in a particular area. Um When do you, I don’t know if you’d refer to it as going into business. But um when does that happen? And um how do you realize that you can help people as a result of uh the adversity that you’ve been through? Oh, gosh, I, I realized really young that I was the person that people came to when their life was on fire when, when they had some, they had done something or interacted with someone in a way that they were deeply embarrassed by or didn’t understand why they engaged in it. Um, you know, I’m the friend that people call or the person that people call when they, when, like, you know, they, they did something at work. Like I have, I had someone I know that um she would, she would reach out and, you know, for my counsel. Um The one time she was at a work event and she got blackout drunk and she didn’t know exactly what happened and she didn’t know how to take accountability for what she didn’t even know if she did. She did remember a few things and they were deeply embarrassing.

Um And so I, you know, I, I recognized early on in my early twenties that I was the person that people felt safe with the things that they wouldn’t tell their regular friends because they didn’t want their friends view of them to shift. I was a safe harbor for people. Can I ask why that is? Oh, because people could sense my trauma. I, I think as human beings we can tell when someone else has gone through something, um, random strangers in grocery stores since I was a kid would tell me their stories. Um Iii, I don’t know. I mean, I honestly, it would be a great question to pull all the random people who have told me their life stories and be like, why, why did you? But I think it’s because I’m not afraid to see people and I think people can see that. I see them and I, because I, I look at them and I’m not staring at them, I’m not judging them. I’m just taking in who they are. And I think they can see that and they can feel that and adults like 2030 years older than me when I was a kid would just randomly tell me their life stories.

Now I look back and I think that’s deeply inappropriate. Um But, but I was always that person. And so I recognized that some aspect of my life was always going to be because I, I cared that I had things to say that changed people’s lives and I could see it change people’s lives and see it empower them to show up in really honest and vulnerable ways and it changed their lives and shifted things and relationships for them. Um And I, and I loved being able to help people. Um So I knew there was always this aspect, um that was there. But I started my interior, I started my business as an interior design practice part time. I had a full time job in 2016 and I saw the way that my work transformed people’s relationships because it wasn’t, I didn’t approach the project like, OK, you know, there’s one person in the household who’s deeply invested in this and we’re gonna go with what they want for this space. I would sit down and have a conversation with everyone who lived in that home, whether it be parents and kids or both a, you know, a couple, whatever it is, whoever it is and, and, and say, how do you want to be able to show up in this space?

What, what, what would you love to see here? And I would figure out a way to honor everybody’s desire for that space as best as I could and create this really balanced, beautiful environment. And I saw the way that my interaction within these dynamics started to shift the way that people even spoke to each other. Um And the way that allowed everybody to feel safe, seen and heard and understood. And so I understand fundamentally, that’s what people want to know is that they’re safe because they’re seen, heard, understood and valued. And if I could create space that did that for everybody who lived there, that was really fantastic. And then in 2019, I took my business full time. Um But I very quickly realized that there was, like I said earlier, there was so much more that I wanted to be able to do and I didn’t feel like I had permission to do it. Um I thought I had to do it through interior design. I thought I was gonna change the world through interior design. And then I realized, but I’m not really invested in consumer culture. I’m not really invested in encouraging people to replace all of their furniture.

I don’t, and, and, and I knew I wasn’t because I don’t charge. I even still I do some interior design work. I don’t charge and um uh any fee on top of furniture that I purchase on behalf of my clients, uh they get it for exactly what I purchased for. They just pay for my time. Right? And so in setting up my pay structure, that way, I was not invested in what they purchased, I was only invested in creating incredible spaces for them, right? Because I wasn’t making any money off of what they purchased only in the discussion around what to purchase. Um And so I knew I was never gonna make crazy money from being an interior designer because I just didn’t care about that. And ultimately, the shift came in recognizing that I’ve been doing research on what it is to be an intentional and ethical human. And then when started my own company specifically on what is it to be an intentional and ethical leader? Because I didn’t want to be the kind of person that I had ever worked for who were deeply exploitative and very harmful to me and didn’t let me show up as myself and absolutely recognized that I was someone who was traumatized and used that to their advantage.

Um, and so, you know, I eventually I just got to the place where I was like this, all this research and all this knowledge is taking up so much space inside of my head and inside of my person, inside of my being that I, I, I’m gonna burst if I don’t share it in more, in more significant ways. And I started getting asked for years, I’ve been asked to like, come and speak at, you know, be a guest lecturer or come in and, and speak at, you know, uh events so on and so forth. Um But I hadn’t ever like written a speech, but I felt completely comfortable in front of audiences because I’d spent time on, on stages from the time that I was a kid dancing and performing and um teaching drama and performing, uh you know, acting um so on and so forth and, and singing uh used to lead worship at the church. I uh grew up the church last cold that I grew up in. So, like, I, I knew how to perform, I knew how to be on a stage. Um And so it just became this natural progression of using my voice as the medium use, being on a stage, being, you know, creating my workshops um and being able to facilitate these incredible conversations um became what I do now.

Well, I love the um the concept of life by design. Um Is there anything uh it’s a, it’s an incredibly big question uh that I’m asking and asking for some sort of summary. But have you got any um should we say bullet points that you can share in terms of um the difference between living your life by design versus I think what people mostly do, which is falling into one thing and then falling into the next thing. Have you got any thoughts there? Yeah, it, it does take a little bit of extra mental space to take a pause and consider how you wanna feel as you move through life, how you want other people to feel as they interact with you. However, it doesn’t take any more action, being intentional about how we show up is about just taking that pause and saying, what do I want to come of this moment? What is it that I want from this moment? And not only just thinking about it, but then vocalizing it to the people around you and continually setting those expectations and sharing those intentions, which is a deeply vulnerable thing.

So it does take practice, right? And to learn to listen to our own voices. But ultimately, what I find is that being intentional actually helps us to do less, right? And to stop saying yes to things we don’t actually wanna do and start feeling empowered to say no to the things we don’t want to do so that we can show up better in the ways and things that we actually do want to do and be invested in. And so it’s really talking about intention is about how we’re investing ourselves and our energy and our time, what do we want to be investing in and how um and it’s deeply important that we get curious. Um and, and so I would just come back to the foundation of curiosity, respect and accountability and anything and everything we want to be good at, we have to practice. So this is not a, all of a sudden, you set an intention and it transforms your life. No, that’s not how it works. Unfortunately, I wish, I wish there was a magic bullet.

There isn’t, you know, um It’s more about taking that five minutes in the morning to meditate and ask yourself, how do you wanna show up that day? Um It’s, it’s more about, you know, taking that deep breath in and out and reminding yourself of your intention for the day, you know, as you move throughout the day. Um And then, you know, having conversations with people before you enter moments together, right? Like before you go on vacation or before you go to an event before you go to a dinner at your family’s house before you know, just setting these intentions, having these conversations so that we’re truly in relationship with people because I think oftentimes we’re so busy, we’re just moving through the world and we’re assuming that the people around us are aligned with what we want. And oftentimes they’re not right because we haven’t asked, we don’t even know and that’s where the conflict comes in. Um, doesn’t mean that there’s no conflict in discussion around intentions. Um, but once we have those conversations, there’s a lot less tension in our lives and I’ve recognized how beautiful my relationships have become, the more intentional I have become with both myself and with the people I’m in a relationship with.

So, you know, I, I think that answers your question. I hope it does. I think it’s a great point. Um You, uh you’ve alluded to um unethical leadership and I think, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think a lot of people do know what that looks like. Um But if you were to say, um a particular, particularly ethical leader, what that looks like. Uh What’s an example you might give a leader who is not invested in their own, them specifically being the leader. There’s no, I in true leadership, there’s no lonely leader at the top. There’s a deep investment in community and mutual participation in leading, right? It’s not just one person, it is all people’s voices, being seen, heard and understood and valued and then deciding how to move forward together, right? Um And that doesn’t mean that there, there isn’t, you know, people who step up and, and use their voice a little bit more.

But in leading group coaching for years, I recognized that there’s a lot of people who have really brilliant ideas and would contribute to, you know, a group being able to move forward in really beautiful and healthy ways, whether it be in an organization or it be, you know, any kind of group of people. Um, but, but their voices are kind of drowned out by everyone else’s when we create true democracy in community, when everyone’s voices are heard and valued, um it becomes a different thing. Now there is a caveat there. I don’t think it’s important. I think it’s deeply important to shut down and absolutely not invest in people who have hateful, harmful, ideological and um just, just deeply harmful opinions. If someone’s hateful racist, you know, sexist, those opinions do not get to be voiced, they do not get to be shared and empowered.

We do not debate, I do not debate or engage in debate because the minute we engage in debate with people whose ideology or ways of showing up in the world are hateful and dehumanizing and objectifying, we give it validity. So it is also really important that we not give space or voice to, to people who are hateful and harmful. Um But we do need to give, you know, also recognize that the democratization of the sharing of information is a really beautiful and ethical way to move forward in leadership. Thank you for that. Um Can you tell me, um is there any, shall we say type of person that you’ve, you’ve noticed that comes to you and needs help? Is there anyone in particular that regularly comes to you with a particular problem? No. What, what I love is that all people come to me? Like when I in my group coaching, I have worked with people from all over the world. Every age race, gender, like, you know, well, not Children, but as far as adults are concerned, are concerned.

Um And I love that about it and I love facilitating those conversations between a broad variety of people and the thing that I really loved um is that when I first, uh and for the 1st 2.5 years now, my group coaching has shifted and usually it’s organizations that are hiring me to do group coaching. Um But when I was had kind of open casting, like open call for, you know, anybody who wanted to be part of group coaching, it was almost split down the middle. Um 50% people who identified as men and 50% people who identified as women and every kind of ethnic or racial background. Um And so it facilitated really important conversation. Um And people who had some like kind of harmful ways of showing up were able to hear from other people and say, hey, because we all do we all have harmful ways of showing up. Like that’s the thing, that’s the thing at the bottom of it all. We can’t grow up in this society and think that we come out clean, we can’t. Right? And so when having those conversations, the way that it shifted, so many people’s understanding of the world around them um was such an incredible thing and really renewed my faith in humanity.

So again, I hope that answers your question. Have you got any um favorite examples? You don’t have to give details necessarily, but um how you’ve helped someone. Yeah, there’s, there’s so many times when men have conversations with me, particularly white men. Um And although I am critical of the patriarchy and critical of misogyny and men who are misogynist, I also recognize that most men don’t know how to show up in the world because they were never taught, they were taught to align themselves with masculinity, which is a concept that is ever changing and fundamentally dehumanizing. And so when men come to me, you know, they’ll, they’ll hear me be critical of patriarchy of misogyny. And at first they think I’m talking to and about them. And I’m like, you think that because you identify with some of the things I’m saying, I think you’ve participated in them, but that doesn’t mean I think you are any less valuable and it doesn’t mean I think you’re stuck being who you are.

I think there are beautiful ways you can show up in the world and actually reconnect to humanity and know that you are safe to be seen, heard and understood. Um And the the shift that I see when men recognize I actually deeply love men, but also don’t feel safe around them, right? That, that, that those two things can be true at the same time. Um That, that a man has to prove that I’m safe with him before I can, I can actually be in any kind of relationship with um the shift when, when, when men see that is so valuable and the number of times that like, I can see them holding back tears and I wish they didn’t. Um But I can see that and I’m like, OK, you feel it now, right? And like, let’s now figure out how you can show up better in the world. Um And it dramatically shifts the relationships in life. They go from someone who has people around them, but they are so lonely to someone who can actually figure out how to navigate the very weirdness that it is to be a human being in the world and figure out how to actually be in relationship with the people around them.

And it’s such an important and beautiful shift. Like to see men be able to show up as human beings so that then they can also allow other people and empower other people to be full human beings around them as well, right? Because the patriarchy turns men into weapons against all people who are not men, right? And that is, but like that is fundamentally harmful. And so to not for men to be divesting from that to no longer be the weapon, it’s such a beautiful thing. And, um, and I’m, you know, every time it happens, I’m my faith in humanity is deeply restored. Well, thank you for sharing that. Um, If someone wants to hire you or get in touch, where do they go? My website is the best place. There is a tab on me as a speaker. There’s also lots of free information. There, there’s a few videos, there’s a free PDF on some tips on how to, you know, initiate designing your own life. Um And some practices.

There’s also workshops available on my website, I believe in the democratization of information. And so through my website, I created a condensed version of both of my workshops. It’s 45 minutes that has a Q and A. It comes with a 3233 page workbook. It includes a reading list, but also practices so that you can be invested in and actually um initiating these ideas into your life and incorporating them into your life um in ways that feel aligned um with your own thoughts, wants and desires for your own life. Um And they are 40 $40.45 dollars respectively. Um So again, I try to make them as accessible as possible. Um For, you know, the everyday person who wants to invest in these concepts. That’s all on my website as well as my contact information and my website is www dot consonant dot world. I’m sure it’ll be tagged in the show notes. Um But consin is spelled concinnate. Thank you for that. Have you got any closing thoughts for us today?

Be curious, this investing curiosity, definitely Google something in the world today and every day that you think, you know, everything you need to know about just so that you can learn something new about it. And you’ll start to absolutely recognize the ways in which everything around you is beautiful and valuable. It’s a positive one to end on. Um I appreciate you being um sharing your story today uh because I think it does help other people who have been in the same position. So thank you and also thanks for being a great podcast guest. Yeah. Thank you. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.