106. My Story – WHY I Do The Things I Do

Today, I’m sharing my story and the reasons why I do the things I do. Mostly to help you know you’re not alone… and maybe avoid the same mistakes I’ve made.

This episode gets a little feisty so if you have little ones around you might want to put some headphones in. 🙂

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Janeen: [00:00:00] well, Hey there, you guys welcome back to another episode of the podcast. I am Janeen Alley and I am super excited to be with you guys today talking about why I do the things that I do. I’m gonna be sharing my story with you guys today. And the truth is, is. I love stories. I love the connection that I feel when I listen to someone else’s story.

I love the little nuggets of information that I feel like I can’t get any other way except for hearing someone else’s story and seeing parts of my life in theirs. I think stories are really memorable. And I feel like they give us insights into our life that we can’t get any other way.

And I think that they’re really helpful in knowing that we are not alone. So even though I love, love, love stories, I feel a little scared sharing my story [00:01:00] with you today. It feels a little vulnerable for me to be using up an entire podcast episode, talking about my story.

So I do have a few little things that I learned at the end of the podcast, but this feels really scary to me. So let’s get to it.

I had a friend of mine ask me the other day. What was one thing that I did that was really pivotal as a parent and this got me thinking and the wheels turning for this specific episode of the podcast.

Because the answer that I gave him was learning how to solve for the burnout I felt. And the reason why this is the one thing that I did that was really pivotal in my parenting is because the work that I have done to solve for my burnout has changed me. And the way that I show up in my relationships, the things that matter most to me and with my kids and with my spouse, but also my ability to focus on things that matter [00:02:00] to me, not just in relationships, but with projects and other things that I have going on.

And this was really apparent to me, it was a little parent pay day for me, we get these every once in a while, but when my son Thomas was in high school, he was in a psychology class and he was learning about different parenting styles. And he gave me an example of a few and he said, mom, I really feel like you fit into these two.

Like before, when we lived in Germany, you used to live like this or used to be like this. and now you are more of a parent this way. And he was kind of talking about how before. I mean, like I said, it was just operating from this really stressful place. And so I set really strict rules and I was very discipline-oriented and there was a lot of, one way communication that was happening between me and my kids. There wasn’t this like authentic, genuine, loving connection that I felt with them because I was so busy trying to control everything because I felt [00:03:00] so out of control.

However, after I learned some of the skills on managing my stress and managing the burnout that I felt in my life, I feel like I’m more able to solve problems with my kids, I’m able to set clear rules and expectations for them, but there’s more open communication and there’s more natural consequences that come when things don’t go the way that we had talked about before. This was kind of an aha moment for me. And not only was I super grateful that I had made those changes, but I was also really grateful that my kids saw it, that I was not just changing on the inside, but I was changing my relationships with them because of the work that I had done.

And I’m telling you there really isn’t I can’t think of anything. More valuable or things that I treasure more than the relationships that I have. So that was kind of a parent pay day for me. But I know when I was in that space, I felt like my stress was just driving my [00:04:00] decisions and it was driving my life and I was not able to show up as myself.

It was really painful for me to live with me and I didn’t really know how to manage the burnout that I felt. And so I was really reactive in my life. I was also overwhelmed, I couldn’t focus, I had a really short fuse with my kids. I was not patient. I didn’t like myself in the way that I was behaving and the way that I was showing up.

And I felt like I was just surviving my life. And I definitely was far, far away from showing up as my best self, which is, I think the thing that we all hope for, right, the way that we show up is truly and authentically who we are. So before I get into my story, I want to tell you, full disclosure, this is an explicit episode today of the podcast.

So if you have little ones around, I want you to put in your headphones. I think this is my very first explicit episode. because I am sharing the raw and [00:05:00] authentic version of my story. And I know for some of you, you’re just like, I’ll, I’ll listen to this, maybe never. And for some of you, you just leaned in

So either way I wanted to be a hundred percent transparent in this episode, and I normally don’t talk this way. But I am sharing, like I said, the full story and I feel like the full story really illustrates how far our stress can take us away from ourselves, not showing up in our best way, and that has been hugely eyeopening for me.

One of the things I talk about with my yoga students sometimes is this idea of your purusha. It’s a Sanskrit word that means the essence of who we are as a person, it’s our soul or our true nature. And I think for myself, when I was in this space, I was subconsciously reactive and it was taking me away from myself and my focus, [00:06:00] I was just so easily distracted and I was losing sight of the things that really mattered most because I was so caught up in the whirlwind of my life.

And like, I said I was reacting. I was far from being intentional. And I think the way that we become intentional in our lives is we create that connection with ourselves. And in order for us to create that connection, we have to slow ourselves down. Some of the things that I talked about in the previous episode, All right.

So here’s the story.

Back in 2009, my husband Merrill deployed to Afghanistan for six months. And this was an interesting assignment because he was tasked to be the dentist at the detention facility that we have, or we had in Bagram Afghanistan. So that means that he was the dentist for all of the prisoners of war that we had. So all the POWs, the people that we had captured and were holding there, he was their dentist.

Before he actually took this assignment, [00:07:00] he had to go and do two months of combat skills training in the United States, which is kind of interesting in and of itself because my husband is a very peaceful, peace- loving kind of person. And he was doing weapons training. He was learning how to shoot guns.

He was doing hand to hand combat and was really, like I said, really unusual for him, for his personality and the things that he was actually thinking he was going to do as a dentist in the air force. So not only is he out there on a deployment in Afghanistan doing all these things, but he was living in a tent.

Everybody who worked in the detention facility or at the prison lived in kind of a tent city that surrounded the prison. And it wasn’t super far away from the edge of the base. That was just a really, really high chain link fence. So on the outside of the base, there were a lot of people didn’t like Americans there.

They didn’t like Americans in their country. They didn’t like what they were doing. They didn’t like they had this prison [00:08:00] that was there.

And so they were randomly like lobbing things over the fence, like grenades or missiles or, you know, homemade bombs, whatever they could do time. And it was. It’s kind of few and far between, but it did happen. And so it was a little bit stressful for me to have my husband in this space. So not only was I stressed because he was gone and there was a lot for me to do by myself, but also just thinking about where he was and potentially what could happen to him while he was there.

So in the meantime I was in Japan and we had four little kids at the time. Emma was four months old when he left and Thomas was seven and they were busy. Uh, Lucy and, and Thomas were in kindergarten and first grade and I was home with Isaac and Emma all day. And Isaac in particular was a busy little guy. He was into so many things as two year olds typically are, but I felt like he kind of bumped it up a notch as far as that goes. And he was constantly running [00:09:00] outta the house without his clothes on. I was potty training him at the time, which was a challenge. And I did my best to try and keep things together and so much so that I feel like if you asked even some of my closest friends who we lived there with, I was doing a fairly good job.

And that’s the way it seemed. I felt like I was doing a good job, keeping things together on the outside. And yet I was falling apart on the inside. Not just internally, like emotionally and mentally, but also behind closed doors. I was yelling. I was just, I felt like I was just this pressure pot, like any slight little thing, would just set me off and I’d have this reaction, like this explosion of a reaction that did not match the actual circumstance of what it was that we were doing or what had just happened. You know, my kids would spill something and it was just the end of the world for me. The thing that kept me going through all of this was that I felt like, well, my husband will come home someday. He’ll be [00:10:00] home after the end of this experience.

And even in thinking that I thought, I hope, I hope he comes home someday. And when he does come home, our lives will kind of go back to normal. Whatever normal is with four children. right. But one of the things that I didn’t really realize was I just kind of felt like, well, this is my life.

Like, this is my life with kids. It’s stressful. I’m anxious, I’m feeling depressed. I’m buffering. And I didn’t really realize that all of that was optional. And I’m not saying it’s not hard to change those things, cuz I mean on this side of things, it’s definitely hard and it’s worth doing, but I didn’t even see that as an option.

I didn’t even see that the way that I was living my life was optional. So that year, even though I did my best to keep things together that year, Thomas made me a Mother’s day card. He was in first grade and he made me this Mother’s day card that was [00:11:00] kind of a typical seven year old or eight year old mother’s day card that said something like my mom loves kale and my mom looks like this.

My mom’s favorite color is blue and green. And my mom makes me do a lot of chores. Actually. I still have this card someday. Maybe I’ll show it to you. but I, I got this card and I was looking through it and I’m like, oh, how sweet is that? And I kind of paused on the picture that he drew of me. And I looked at my face and of course, I mean, he is seven, but he drew my eyes all squinty.

Like he drew ’em as like little marks on the paper, not like a dot, you know, it’s like typical drawings for children. he drew ’em with these like little slash marks for my eyes. And I said, Thomas, why don’t my eyes look like this in the picture? And he said, well, That’s what you look like when you’re yelling so I was like, okay, well, you know, when my husband gets home, all of these problems that I [00:12:00] have right now are going to disappear and he, my husband did come home.

He came home in June. After mother’s day. And I was super surprised that even though my circumstances had changed, it did not change my stress levels. I was still this pressure pot, and it all kind of came to a head one night, this was the month of September of that year Thomas was in second grade now. And it was a school day, the next day.

And he would just not stay in his bed, which was kind of typical for Thomas, even when he was a little baby. He would just be in there playing. He was like nine months old and he’d wanna stay up till like 10 o’clock at night. even though I put him in his bed at seven, he would just wanna stay up. And I was getting really frustrated.

It was like playing Wack-a-Mole with him, you know, I’d be like, go to bed and he’d pop back up again, go to bed, he’d pop back up again. I’m like what the heck is going on? And I was just getting more and more frustrated and more and more angry with him that he would not [00:13:00] stay in his bed, like I asked. And so sure enough, he popped up one more time and I lost my ever loving mind on my son.

And I have to explain a little bit about our house right here. So when you walk in the front door, you had two options. You could go up the stairs to where all the bedrooms were, or you could go straight down a hallway that led into the kitchen, or that led to the back of the house where the living room was.

And I had been sitting in the living room. So I had walked to the bottom of the stairs by the front door. And it was a really nice night. It was a beautiful September night in Northern Japan and we had our front door propped open. And so there was just a screen that was there between us and the outside world.

And we also lived in the town home. This was a town home and it was pretty small. It was about 1700 square feet or so in this home. And we shared walls with our neighbors so it’s tight, it’s [00:14:00] close. They could hear me. So I come to the, the bottom of the stairs and like I said, I’m losing it and I am yelling and screaming and acting like a crazy lady.

And. I am probably saying things to him. Like you need to get in your bed. I don’t wanna see you again until morning. I don’t know what it was exactly that I said to him, but not my best moment, like far, far, far from my best moment. And my sweet peace living husband comes over to me and he is trying to guide me away from Thomas.

And he’s probably trying to guide me away from the neighbors as well, or at least from the screen door. And he touched my elbow. To kind of, I think it was kind of to like get my attention and just like reason with me, you know, a little bit. And I ripped my elbow out of his hand and I said to my sweet, loving husband, I mean, I turned all of that rage and anger that I had on with Thomas on Merrill .

And I said, I don’t [00:15:00] give rats ass who hears me. I mean, I was crazy and I was angry and all of a sudden, I just became not only angry with my son and my husband, but with myself. And I was just so filled with shame and self-loathing and guilt, and I literally felt like I suck at this. Like I am terrible.

I had just had so much hatred for myself in that moment. And I felt so out of control. And I remember walking myself into the living room and just like sobbing on the couch and thinking to myself, I cannot live another day like this. I don’t like me. It’s like, no wonder my kids don’t like me. My, my husband is probably not gonna like me anytime soon.

I mean, it was just the moment. It was the moment in time, which was like a huge wake up call for me. I was, at this point I was [00:16:00] so low and I felt so out of control with my emotions and my actions. And it was so scary for me. It was so scary to think, like if Thomas had been closer to me, what would I have done?

Like what will I do next time when I get to that point where I just don’t have any control over myself, like what could have happened there that I would’ve regretted beyond what I already did regret. And I think all of us have these come to Jesus type moments in our lives where we have kind of this realization that what we are doing is not okay.

And where we are is not where we want to be and who we are being and the way that we’re behaving is not who we are innately. And for me, fortunately for me, I took this as an opportunity to grow. I didn’t know what I was gonna do, but I knew that I needed to get help for myself. And I think this is so important for us to.[00:17:00]

To think about this from time to time. What is the opportunity right now for you, or for me that is being placed before us at this moment, that is the invitation for us to level up. Like, what is that coming home moment where you realize this is not the direction that I want to go. This is not who I am. Where do you want to put your time and attention moving forward? Not on the things that don’t matter to us, but on the things that are really, truly gonna make a difference. We go through experiences where we have these heightened levels of stress it’s really, really difficult for us to figure out what we need to take away from our lives. What are those things that we need to remove? What are the things that are not working? What are the things that don’t matter? Because everything feels important and it feels like everything needs our attention and things start to pile up and we feel super overwhelmed and we start surviving in our [00:18:00] lives.

And what I learned from this experience is that stress and burnout is not circumstantial. It doesn’t have to do with a deployed spouse or debt or the choices that our kids are making, maybe the home that we live in or the neighborhood that we live in, or your mom or family drama or any of that stuff. Stress is optional.

It’s the way that we are innately operating because of what it is that we’re thinking.

So the first thing that I did was I reached out to a therapist. Her name was Sam, and she asked me, what are you doing for yourself? I mean, I had told her, okay, I’m doing this, I’m doing this, I’m doing this. I’m losing my mind. and she asked me, what are you doing for yourself? But I’m like, Wait, what did you hear?

What I just told you? Did you hear what I just said? I don’t have the time to take time for me. Like, I just didn’t even think that that was an option, like making my own needs and [00:19:00] wants a part of the mix in my family was something that was so foreign to me. And I felt really guilty at the time taking time away from my children.

So after this moment, we had a few more months in Japan and then we moved our family to Germany. And I’ve talked quite a bit about this experience on the podcast. So I won’t go into what happened from there today, but I feel like this was kind of the beginning of where I’m at right now. And this is the thing, like I was, I’m fortunate that I took that moment and I started seeking.

I started seeking for answers and ways to change, and I started figuring out tools that I could start implementing in my life. And this was a very, I feel like this was a very slow process for me because I was kind of doing it from scratch. I didn’t really have a, a mentor or somebody that I was really leaning on through a lot of that time, I was just kind of piecing it together on my own, but I wanna talk about a [00:20:00] few of the things that I learned kind of from that rock bottom beginning. So the very first thing that I wanna tell you is from this space, I learned how important it is to make your needs and want a part of your family culture and a part of the mix.

So there’s a saying, I’m sure you’ve heard it when mama ain’t happy. Ain’t nobody happy. I think that’s true, but for me it goes a little bit deeper than that. When I’m not, well it is stressful for everyone. When I am stressed out, it is a stressful experience for everyone.

I learned from that point, how important mental and emotional health is.. It really is everything. Like I said, it was kind of slow going, but I kept reminding myself well, you don’t wanna go back there so now what are you gonna do?

The next thing that I learned is you can be doing all the things you can even be checking the physical health boxes that you feel like you should be doing, you know, like fitness and cooking healthy food, [00:21:00] and all of those things, and still not be healthy.

And still be pushing and still living this burned out life because those types of self-care things are just one more thing on your to-do list. So the truth is, is even when Merrill was gone, even when he was in Afghanistan, I was doing those things. I even taught a nutrition class that year.

And I was going for bike rides with my friends all over Japan. It was really nice, but it was not taking care of my burnout because it wasn’t changing the way I was approaching my life. It wasn’t changing the way that I was thinking about things. And those two things can be very different.

You think you’re healthy because you’re checking the boxes and you’re not. And I want to make that distinction with you.

The next thing that I learned was the importance of investing in yourself. I didn’t find coaching for a long time, but I used therapists and I used [00:22:00] mentors like homeschool mentors and things like that. And there is so much value in walking with someone for a little while and learning from them.

It feels like for me, I just increased my learning curve 10 times, as far as how fast I was capturing things and understanding things and giving my. Self permission to like, let go and open up and take things on. And, and all of those things, because I was working with somebody who had been there and done that, and that was really helpful to me.

So, yes, I could have kept clipping along without any help, without investing in anyone. And just trying to figure things out by myself, piecing things together. However, your progress is so much slower when you’re walking alone and my life would have felt strained. I would’ve kept limping along if I hadn’t reached out for help at key moments. The one regret that I do have is I didn’t reach out more often to people. And I would’ve eliminated a lot of that, like piecing together and figuring things out and [00:23:00] working from scratch and all of that.

I think particularly as moms we diminish our own wants and needs, because we feel like, well, if I invest in that, then I’m taking away from my family. And I have found that the opposite is true. If you make an investment in a mom, you enrich everybody’s life. Another thing that I feel like we do is we is we put things off. We’re like, okay when my kids are a little bit older, when they’ve moved out of the house and they’re in college, then I’ll have the time and then I’ll have the resources to actually invest in myself.

Now is the time to invest in the skills to make the most important things a reality. Not for later, because honestly, if we have this nervous system right now that we’re reacting to all the things you’re gonna have that same experience later on, regardless of what’s going on.

I’m just telling you the times that I did invest were so worth. Okay. The fourth thing that I learned was how to really manage myself [00:24:00] around my time. One of the questions that I get asked often is how do you find this time for all the things that you’re doing? And I feel like, because I learned how to make certain things a priority, like my mental and emotional health and my kids, and later on homeschooling, spending time with Merril and my faith, I just kinda realized, okay, these things are the things that are most important to me then just about everything else in my life couldn’t happen. It was a no. This was something that I just innately knew if I’m not going back there what is it that I need to change in myself and in my life that can’t happen moving forward. Like, what are the things that I specifically have to put my foot down with me moving forward?

And sometimes I just had to be brutally honest with myself. About what hadn’t worked in the past.

And it was tricky because I am a people pleaser. So I love to say yes to other people and I love to help other people out, but I had to get really, really good at saying no [00:25:00] sometimes to other people, not no all the time, but no, sometimes and definitely no to myself. Because I’ve made the space, I’m able to live more fully into who I am and why I’m here.

Another, one of the things that I have thought a lot about is why it’s important for me to slow things down. It’s not just with that connection that I create with other people, when I’m not stressed out like I talked about earlier with my kids. But it’s also this idea of living a really luxurious life.

Like when you’re able to really turn your stress off and you’re just able to take a deep breath and that’s how you live your life it feels amazing. There used to be a show on, in the 1980s, that’s called Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and I can even still hear this guy’s voice cuz he had this really unique accent and, you know, in this show they would take you into like famous people’s homes and what they did every day. I don’t, I don’t really know cuz I don’t remember [00:26:00] watching it too often. I just remember the host’s voice. that beautiful accent that he had, I think sometimes we’d think, man, if I lived that life, it would feel so luxurious. But it doesn’t. I mean, if you’re living that lifestyle and you’re still stressed out, it doesn’t matter how much stuff you have. It has nothing to do with income.

It has nothing to do with how much outside hired help you have. Like none of that has everything to do with the way that we’re thinking about our lives. It has everything to do with our mindset, because the truth is as moms, we can have an endless to-do list. The only way that we can take a break and live this luxurious life is to give ourselves permission to take that time.

We can never fully eliminate stress. We can never fully eliminate burnout. Those things continue to show up from time to time. But if we are doing regular maintenance on ourselves we’re not in that pressure pot type of space.

I’ve also discovered that learning how to truly let go and a hundred percent relax is a skill [00:27:00] and it can be learned. And it’s more than just putting tactical systems in place to help you be more efficient. I talked about getting more done to get more done last week in the podcast. That’s not what I’m talking about.

I think sometimes we try to create more time and space by adding in these overcomplicated systems.

But really to, to really create a life that we love, we have to focus in on intentionally creating less. Less mind chatter and stress, less things on our schedule, less stuff in our house. It’s mostly about truly learning that skill to take it all the way down to level zero.

So, if you wanna learn how to do this, I am having a wellness retreat at my house. That’s happening this September. And I would love to show you how to incorporate these systems into your life so that you are taking your nervous system down to that level zero periodically on the regular. [00:28:00] So this is not happening at some remote spa on purpose because when we take ourselves to these places, they feel so far removed from our lives. And we feel like when we get back to our homes, it’s back to life as usual. And that is not what I want for you. I want you to be able to see how this is done in real time, in a real house with real kids living here you’re gonna be able to see how it’s done. So we’re gonna cook together so that you can support yourself physically that way you’re gonna be able to cook delicious yummy healthy meals.

We’re gonna be doing lots of yoga. We’re going to be doing lots of coaching and it’s just gonna be an amazing experience. I wanted to just share some of the feedback I got from one of the students who came last year, who had a great time, and this was what she said about it. She said, I came to the Ascend Wellness Retreat because I wanted a reset for me to regroup, rework the way I think, and rejuvenate.

I got what I signed up for. I have trouble feeling rushed in my mom life. Like I’m spinning my kids’ [00:29:00] activities, my personal endeavors, and my relationships into a fast pace schedule. I was oftentimes feeling burned out and that’s why I committed to attend. We did morning and evening yoga, we had nourishing food, space to reflect, and time to be coached that were just amazing.

I came home and started making my sacred morning time a priority and reality. I also learned so much from the other women who attended -our lives and thoughts are so relatable and I learned so much from listening to them get coached. I loved the food, the massage, the yoga, the coaching, and the connection time with incredible women.

I am so glad I took the time to go. Attending the Retreat helped me restore my spirit and I returned home feeling so peaceful for myself and my family. All right. So if you want that kind of experience, I want you to reach out to me. So head over to janeenalley.com, click on the program’s button, and you will have access to a link over there where you can book a call with me to get all of your [00:30:00] questions answered and to find out if this is gonna be a good fit for you. So head over there to janeenalley.com, click on the programs page, and then follow the instructions to book a call over there, to see if this is gonna be a good fit.

Now I have to tell you there are limited seats cuz I can only fit so many people on my couch in my house. So I want you to be one of those people, if you are interested. So don’t wait. Do it right now. Book a call with me to see if it’s a good fit. All right, you guys, I hope that this was helpful to you. I hope it was something that you learned something from in listening to my story and I will catch you guys next week. Take care. Bye.Today, I’m sharing my story and the reasons why I do the things I do. Mostly to help you know you’re not alone… and maybe avoid the same mistakes I’ve made. This episode gets a little feisty so if you have little ones around you might want to put some headphones in. 🙂