Stronger Today Podcast Episode 1: I quit my job to rediscover myself. I found, something.
Welcome to Episode 1 of the Stronger Today Podcast! Woohoo! In our very first episode we are peeling back the curtain of our lives so you can get to know us a little better before diving into talking about how to make a big professional and personal life transition, what it’s like going from working nonstop at a high-powered corporate job to only working on the power of self-improvement, what planning for the future looks like when you don’t know what makes you happy and what we’ve learned from Yale’s The Science of Well-Being class on Coursera, including why G.I. Joe lied to you.
You’ll learn a few simple tips you can put into practice today to start living a healthier, happier and stronger life, share in a few of our missteps and experiences along the way and are invited to join me in taking the class for free so we can exchange thoughts and ideas on what we’re all doing to create a life of happiness now that we understand how our brain works to process it.
Here’s a link and don’t forget to check out some crazy visual brain teasers down below so you can see for yourself that your mind doesn’t always tell you accurate or true information.
Welcome to the Stronger Today Podcast
Melissa [00:00:00] You look cute in your new glasses.
Pat [00:00:01] Thank you. (laughs)
Melissa [00:00:04] Welcome to the Stronger Today podcast. We hope you leave feeling stronger and better than you did before. I’m Melissa Farley at Unpatched Shanahan and welcome to our very first podcast episode.
Pat [00:00:16] Exciting and that’s why this podcast is the thing that makes launching Stronger Toda feel real. It’s like, oh wow, this is really happening.
Melissa [00:00:32] See, for me, it’s the the blog. But the podcast was your idea. Which is super crazy because you are like.
Pat [00:00:41] Terrified to do it. It’s terrifying. I think it will probably make me a better person.
Melissa [00:00:48] You think it will make you a better person?
Pat [00:00:49] I hope so.
Melissa [00:00:52] Like, why? Why would doing this podcast make you. I mean, that is the goal of our podcasts, obviously. But why do you personally think.
Pat [00:01:00] I think maybe it’s the whole idea of of opening up and trying to be super honest with yourself and just saying what’s on your mind and kind of exploring where it goes. And we’re trying to be unscripted and just have a conversation like we normally have.
Stumbles, bumbles and false starts… but we started.
Melissa [00:01:22] Right. I want you to know that this means a lot to me that you’re doing this with me. I don’t think I could and I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else.
Pat [00:01:31] Well, thank you. And Mel you’re a bright, shining light in my life, so I’ll I’ll do anything for you.
Melissa [00:01:37] Believe it or not, as cheesy as it sounds, he says that to me almost every day. Usually it’s like five thirty in the morning when I don’t want him to be talking to me at all. So for for those that don’t know, since since we are brand new to you. Pat and I are married and we both came from the world of journalism. But Pat was more of like the serious journalist. So he’s very used to telling other people’s stories, not so much him. And I was like that weirdo in the newsroom all the time that liked talking to people and being on camera. And I don’t know, doing, I don’t know, entertainment like things. So we we are a nice balance to each other.
Pat [00:02:25] Absolutely. This is this is our second maybe our third try at this. We had a couple false starts that were false starts.
Melissa [00:02:37] That’s a lie. You lie. We had we had a total breakdown meltdown, one per person.
Melissa [00:02:46] (laughs) He had a breakdown the first day and literally got up and was like I quit and walked out of the room. And then the next day he caught me off guard because he had decided, well, we both decided you were going to kind of do the format and lead how things were gonna go. And you totally caught me off guard. And I was like, I’m an idiot. No, but he does think that I know a thing. So then that was my breakdown.
Pat [00:03:10] And then we had a technical fail. We share the stumbles and the bumbles because, you know, it’s about the whole podcast is really about kind of being vote vulnerable and kind of seeing where you’re at and trying to be better.
We had we had a total breakdown, meltdown-one per person.
Stonger Today is…
Melissa [00:03:27] So, yeah, the whole point of starting stronger today is to be really honest about our quest to better ourselves. And have you join along that journey with us and sharing that experience together. You know, before we officially launched, I had a little breakdown because I was like, well, who am I to to write these things and to do these things? And then I thought, you know what?
Melissa [00:03:51] I never made a promise or said that we were gonna be perfect or that we were experts or that we were gurus or anything of that sort. We only promised you and we’ll always promise you to be honest and to tell you exactly where we’re at and a hope that you will appreciate that we are trying to figure our own lives out.
Melissa [00:04:15] And we’ve done a lot of exploring of different things. And so we’re just going to share that journey with you and kind of hopefully go on this ride together and talk about what works, what doesn’t work, what’s been fun, what’s been not so fun, what’s been hard, you know, to process, but crucial. And so I think it’s that idea of just the community aspect of starting to talk about these things and being there for each other.
"I found that I really love the journey."
Pat [00:04:45] So do we have like an elevator pitch? Like, how do you how are you explaining Stronger Today to people?
Melissa [00:04:52] Why would you ask me that on air? You know, we don’t have an elevator pitch.
Melissa [00:05:01] That’s what we’re working on today actually. Stronger Today is about everything you’ve ever been through, everything you’ve learned, everything you experience, all of it can be used to become stronger. And that doesn’t mean that you’re perfect. That doesn’t mean you don’t have any bad days. But it means that you are taking away something that’s valuable to become a better person than you were before.
Melissa [00:05:34] And this all started because I left a corporate job after ten years and I took about nine months to get my life together and really focus on the task of my mental health, my spiritual health, my physical health. I tried a lot of things. I explored a lot of things. I found that I really love the journey. And I decided that after hearing from so many people, oh, my gosh, you’re so lucky or, oh, I could never leave my job like that or, you know. What do you do all day?
Melissa [00:06:13] Like, you know, after hearing all these things over and over and over again, I just thought, why not take people along on this journey with me and let’s do this together? I mean, everybody wants to be happier. Especially now, you know, everybody is seeking something to help them feel empowered and fulfilled. And like they know what their purpose is, you know, covered, really threw off a lot of people’s plans and a lot of people’s goals. And now is a really great time to go inward and to reflect and to harness that inner strength that we all have within ourselves. And so that’s what this podcast says for you.
Pat [00:06:53] You’ve been able to take six months.
Melissa [00:06:57] Nine, nine, nine months, seven, sorry, husband. That’s OK. Yeah. We were approaching the year mark in September.
Pat [00:07:08] What’s it like?
Melissa [00:07:12] You know, I’ve heard people say that they can’t imagine not working for that long, but I think it’s been freaking awesome.
Melissa [00:07:21] I mean. But I was totally burnt out when I left. And so the first three months, I really spent dealing with a lot of stuff and just getting sort of back to being, I think, a real function. A real functional human being again. And then the next three months, I feel like were that refinding period where I started really discovering what made me excited again, who I was, what I wanted to do with my life, what my spiritual beliefs were, you know, everything started to sort of come into focus.
Melissa [00:08:01] And then now these last three months is has been the time for action and and sort of redefining, rebuilding, recreating a life that I want. And so I think it’s an awesome gift that I have this time to do that.
Melissa [00:08:17] And I realize that a lot of people don’t get this luxury. But, you know, we put a lot of things into place so that I could do this. So I didn’t just decide this on a whim and put us kind of in financial rescue and do it that way. You know, we were really strategic about how we were able to make this happen.
Pat [00:08:38] Yeah, I think that’s important because it’s not like you just quit your job one day and walked away and said, now what? I mean, we thought this through, came up with a plan and did it in a way where you had saved money so that that wasn’t gonna be a worry. You know, and that wasn’t gonna be a stressor. Talk about kind of the steps you took in planning to do that. I mean, how did you plan to leave?
Melissa [00:09:09] Yeah, I talk about this a lot in the blog, actually. That’s on Strongertoday.co. But I definitely had some very deliberate things that I put into place before I left.
Melissa [00:09:23] So the first thing I did was. I picked a date and I put it in my planner because I am still a paper and pen planner girl. I also have a paper calendar. It just makes things feel more real to write it down. And that really is what it did for me, made it feel like, OK. This is actually an agenda item with a deadline. I was a journalist for 10 years. Deadlines mean something to me. And so suddenly it gave me this sort of foundation and a structure to start getting all the pieces in line. You know, before that date approached. So it made it feel real, essentially.
“I picked a date”
“I set a financial goal for myself”
Melissa [00:10:04] And then, you know, like you were saying once I decided what that leave date was going to be. I had gotten a raise from my last promotion at work and it was it was pretty significant, which I’m very thankful for. But we’d really didn’t, like, adjust our lifestyle or increase our spending. Instead, all of that increased salary actually went into a savings account.
Melissa [00:10:31] And so, again, I set a financial goal for myself to have in an account to basically live off of while we were doing this so that it wouldn’t be you know, I wouldn’t be freaking out about, oh, my God, when, when or how am I gonna make money? Because they really didn’t want to be worried about that during this time.
Melissa [00:10:49] And then the third thing I did was I just started telling people, you know, basically anybody that was willing to listen, you know, I’m leaving. I’m leaving.
Melissa [00:10:58] You know, and that kind of created a sense of accountability, because then when you start telling people, you know, you you to deliver. You had to walk the walk. So, yeah, I just started, you know. Using my words and letting them turn into actions and that that really became a powerful thing for me.
“Using my words and letting them turn into actions”
Let’s #ShineStrong Together
Pat [00:21:10] I know there’s a lot of people out there who are kind of searching the same thing. You’re taking this class through Yale right now about about happiness. And it turns out it’s it’s like the most popular class at Yale has ever. Had online.
Melissa [00:21:29] Yeah, over two million people, wow, have taken this class or are in the process of taking it. It’s on Coursera and it’s called The Science of Well-Being. It’s free to take. If you want to pay 50 bucks, you can get a certificate for it. But if not, you know, you can just take it for free. And it’s it’s ten weeks. And it’s it’s pretty extensive. I mean, it gets in to your brain and how your brain processes happiness, how it sort of sends you messages that aren’t necessarily true or accurate at predicting what’s going to make you happy.
Melissa [00:22:12] And so we make bad decisions about life choices all the time thinking that we’re gonna be happier or better for them and in reality we’re not. And so that’s kind of what’s cool about this class, is they get into the neuroscience a little bit. They do a lot of research and a lot of polls that have been done.
Melissa [00:22:35] And it’s just been really rewarding because every week there’s you have sort of missions, you know, think tasks that you apply into your real life. And so before you even start the class they have, you take a happiness quiz. And I ended up being right smack in the middle. And and then they’d have you take it again at the end of the course. And so you can kind of gauge for yourself if implementing these things into your life made a positive impact or not.
Pat [00:23:06] So what are the big lessons that you’ve gotten out of this so far as anything that you’ve you’ve you’ve gotten this, like, super surprising?
Over two million people, wow, have taken this class or are in the process of taking it. It’s on Coursera and it’s called The Science of Well-Being. It’s free to take.
Melissa [00:23:14] It’s funny because immediately my brain was like yes and no, because I think what’s I think what’s surprising is, is the brain part. You know, I think this idea that, you know, at least for me, I always operated under the assumption that my brain is always going to try to help me. And I thought that because, you know, survival. Right. Like, you have this instinct to survive. And so I thought, well, my brain’s not going to feed me anything. And, you know, and so you just sort of take your thoughts at face value. But really, that’s not true because what your brain does is it sort of picks reference points and and then it just determines your happiness based off of a comparison to that reference point. And that’s why social media is so damaging, because you’re getting inundated with reference points now.
Melissa [00:24:09] And they don’t have to be logical that you don’t have to know the person. Your brain doesn’t care about that. So it could be, you know, Beyonce or Britney Spears or it could be your neighbor Joe or your best friend Megan. It just looks at who they are and what they have and says, well, we don’t have that. So we must be worse off. And so. That’s a big indicator like of of your happiness essentially, is these. These comparison points. And so I thought that was really fascinating.
"Knowing is half the battle... is a lie."
Pat [00:24:43] And not even like real comparison. No, it’s it’s kind of the fantasy that everybody puts out on social media.
Melissa [00:24:48] Yeah. Your brain doesn’t distinguish at all between between that. And so that’s why, you know, there’s a lot of predictions that this next you know, this generation that’s growing up, that’s always been immersed in social media, that they’re gonna be even more skewed than, you know, my generation. And so that’s that’s definitely something to be cognizant of. I mean, the Yale professor literally says, like, talk do it. Just don’t. Don’t be on social media. But she knows, like, that’s not going to happen, you know. So she kind of encourages unplugging, you know, as consistently as you can and being mindful about your interactions, about what you allow on your profiles. So, you know, there’s there’s that conversation. And then the other thing that I thought was fascinating was the G.I. Joe fallacy. You know, what’s the it’s this idea that. That here is, you know, GI Joe’s thing was knowing is half the battle. Yeah. And and it’s a lie. So they’ve they’ve proven that, you know, you just because your brain knows something doesn’t mean that it fixes something. So and she shows all these examples of and we can put some up on her on our site so you can see what I’m talking about, because she uses a lot of visual exercises where, like, she’ll show you two tables and they look like they’re different sizes, but really they’re the same size. And she’ll tell you that. But your brain still sees that as like two different sizes. And so it was that point of like when I, you know, your brain’s still saying, you know, this way. And so, you know, and that was something that that that, like, hit home for me, because I remember talking to you when I was starting therapy for a lot of things.
Melissa [00:26:38] And it’s like, I don’t know why I’m still struggling with those. I know what the root cause is. I should be moving on. And it’s like, well, no, it doesn’t actually matter that I know what the root causes.
Pat [00:26:51] It’s a help, but it’s not the the solution.
Melissa [00:26:55] Yeah, I think it’s one of those things that, like, knowing is helpful because it it it aids you in making better decisions of how to. Right. Move forward and deal with something, but it doesn’t solve the problem. So, so that was really interesting. And then, you know, in the flip answer, you know, it it’s not surprising because really where it comes down to and I’m I’m halfway through I’m literally halfway in the middle of this course is this idea that really if you and this is not radical at all or sexy. So just hang on to your your pants here.
Melissa [00:27:38] If you exercise 30 minutes, at least three days a week and sleep at least seven point five hours a night, you will be happier than most people.
Pat [00:27:50] Wow. Most people aren’t getting sleep.
Melissa [00:27:53] Most people aren’t getting sleep. And it’s very serious. I mean, people take sleep for granted. It can be very damaging long term. If you have chronic loss of sleep and they count chronic loss of sleep as regularly getting five hours or less of sleep a night. So that makes that makes a big difference. And and meditation is a huge component as well. But we’re gonna be. We’re actually going to be doing a future podcast about meditation, where I’d like to talk about that in a little bit more detail.
Melissa [00:28:30] What this course has done is sort of reawaken that awareness in me to really start again taking control and ownership of my thoughts, you know, and that aligns with mindfulness. You know, that’s a super buzz word right now and it’s trendy. But when you actually put it into practice, it can be such a powerful thing, you know? And so that’s that. I think the biggest thing that I’ve been taking away from this is. Is holding every thought captive and thinking, does this serve me? Does this make sense for me or does it not? And if not, OK. You go in the trash pile. I’m going to replace it with these thoughts.
Melissa [00:29:15] It makes a big difference when all of a sudden you’re you realize that, oh, my brain is is it’s receiving all these impulses that it’s trying to make sense of the world around me. But not every one of those impulses or conclusions is right.
Pat [00:29:33] Right. You know, I mean, I may hear someone say something really bad about me or mean. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s true. It just means it’s an impulse. And I can either choose to accept it or I can choose to toss it off to the side. But you get to choose.
Melissa [00:29:49] You get to choose. And that’s one of the things that. And it wasn’t from this class. It was from something else. But I heard the statement, “Your your subconscious is easily impressionable and loves repetition.”
Melissa [00:30:03] And once I heard that, all of a sudden, because I was never a big affirmation person, I thought we were kind of like, where were we? I just I didn’t really get into it. But once I started learning more about the brain. And then then I heard that that it, you know, likes repetition and it’s easily impressionable. Suddenly it was kind of like, well, why wouldn’t they feed it really good stuff. You know, why wouldn’t I start putting that into practice?
Melissa [00:30:33] Kind of saying these awesome things about myself, because I have, you know, that’s something that we’ll talk about a lot. I have super low self-esteem. I’ve always had low self-esteem. No know. I just do. And so I need to be my own cheerleader. Like, I have to go in my head and tell myself lovely, wonderful things about me or else I can go to a really dark place. A lot of times, you know, and and it works because I started to notice and it took a long time. Honestly, it took it probably took about three months of doing affirmations for me to start seeing, like, noticing a difference. But it was like, you know, someday somebody would say something kind of crappy on social media or something bad would happen. And my instant response would be like one of my little affirmations that I would say instead of being like, oh, yeah, that’s right. I am bad at this. It would be like, “I am healthy, fit and active. My body is beautiful.” It’s like, really, OK, this is good, you know. Yeah.
Melissa [00:31:33] But anyway, thank you all for joining us for our very first episode.
Pat [00:31:40] What are some of the other things we’re gonna talk about, like where is this all gonna go?
Melissa [00:31:44] Where is this going to go? Well, we definitely have a list of things that we plan on talking about. But if you have ideas or things that you want us to chat about, please shoot us an email. Let us know on on Instagram. Just reach out to us. We’re more than happy to. But, you know, we’re we’re looking at things like living and working together, what it’s really like because we work together at the office and now we work together at home. And a lot of people have questions about how that impacts a married couples life. So that’s one of things we’re talking about. We’re going to be very open about why we’ve decided to not have children. We’ll talk about what it’s like having that that age gap that Pat mentioned. He’s about nine years older than me. And, you know, if that makes a difference and certain things are not on the blog because we have we do have a blog on our site.
Pat [00:32:41] And what’s that link?
Melissa [00:32:43] StrongerToday.co or you can do Strongertodaypodcasts.com. Either way, and we’ll get you to the to the right place. But, you know, on the blog I am going to talk very in-depth and very openly about this period of transition in my life. And then they’ll be sort of breakout blogs from that about what Pat’s talking about my my venture and commitment to meditation and my journaling process and how I started getting into tarot cards and the moon and different things. So there’s going to be a lot of that on the Web site. And then we’ll be talking about all of those themes throughout all of our topics here on the show. So like one of one of the shows that we’re gonna do that is really important to me.
Melissa [00:33:36] And even like Awesome with Alison is another really popular podcast that’s talked about this a lot, is what it’s like living with a partner that has chronic depression, especially when you’re someone super cheery and positive like Pat. You know, and we’ll talk a little bit about those coping mechanisms and the things that I’ve done throughout my life to help me handle it and things you’ve taught me to help me handle it. And so, yeah, we’ll be kind of hopefully giving you a bunch of tools was a good word, a bunch of little tools to put in your tool belt. Your happiness tool belt. Yeah.
Melissa [00:34:15] But anyway, thank you so much again for for listening to our very first show. We promise we’ll get better and better.
Melissa [00:34:25] If you did like what you hear, we hope that you’ll subscribe. And better yet, if you loved it, leave us a five star review. If you didn’t like it so much, then just keep your opinions to yourself, please, and make sure you do check out our blog. We’ve got a nifty page of resources with all the stuff that we talked about today on Strongertoday.co. You can also follow me on Instagram at @Mellissaisstrongertoday.
Melissa [00:34:50] And just one last plug to power up for your daily strength dose.
Melissa [00:34:55] That course was the science of well-being. By Yale on Coursera, we’ll have a link again on their Web on our Web site. And it’s gonna be in the show notes.