44. How Freedom to Rest Became Chronic Profit with Alison Tedford

44. How Freedom to Rest Became Chronic Profit with Alison Tedford

We feel like there’s just so much put on productivity and that rest is the opposite of that. When in reality, it’s part of that, right? That is the time where you can innovate. That is a time where you get new ideas. That’s when you’re breaking away from your routine and stepping outside of yourself and letting new things come in.

If you had the freedom to rest, what would you do? What could you do? Could you take the freedom to rest and create Chronic Profit?

That’s just what today’s guest did. She launched a marketing business alongside her 9 to 5, and after 4 months, left for her own business that she worked from her couch. She created a life where she could give her body the rest she needed, and I think you’ll be in awe of where she is now. #nospoilers

This week’s episode interview is with author, marketer, and mom Alison Tedford. Alison is an Indigenous entrepreneur and author from Abbotsford, BC, Canada. Her experiences building a business while managing chronic pain led her to write her first book, Chronic Profit.

Alison and I endeavored to talk about rest from both a disability perspective as well as a mompreneur lens and the revolutionary idea that self-care as a business investment is your most valuable asset.

In specifics, we talk about:

  • how Alison started her own business,
  • how working for herself allows Alison to work when and how and where she works best,
  • the story of Alison’s publishing deal for Chronic Profit,
  • how asking for what she wants and needs leads Alison in launching her creative projects,
  • the ways we hope the pandemic changes the world,
  • how the freedom to rest leads to greater creativity,
  • the communication Alison shares with her would-be clients so they respect her mode of operation,
  • why you need to think of your own rest as an investment in your most valuable business asset, and
  • memes, of course.

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I was a fan before I was a guest. Now I’ve been a guest and I’m an even greater fan! Cristin Downs is an amazing interviewer and host. She is insightful, professional and just a pleasure to work with. What comes across in the stories is as much a product of Cristin’s fierce talent in conceptualizing the episodes and finding the stories as it is the a reflection of her interesting and engaging subjects. Fantastic, Notable Women. Listen and enjoy!

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Transcript
[00:00:00] Cristin: Hello, Notable Women. Thank you so much for joining me today. I know you will loved today’s guest. This is actually the first time that I’m speaking to her though  I have been reading all of her social media posts for a very, long time. So if it seems like I have an encyclopedic knowledge of Alison Tedford that is why.

She is an indigenous entrepreneur and author from Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. Her experiences building a business while managing chronic pain have led her to write her first book, Chronic Profit. Allison. Thank you so much for being here today.

Alison: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited.

Cristin: It’s so, wonderful. So we’re doing a series on rest right now. And so I had mentioned in Julie Neale’s group, who, I’m pretty sure that is how I know you is through Julie. That’s entirely possible.

Alison: We, Julie and I worked together and and I love her. I was a fan of her podcast before I worked with her and yeah, it’s just, [00:01:00] it’s exciting.

Cristin: Yes. I think she’s delightful. And often I feel like oftentimes on this podcast, I’m like, I think Julie introduced us, it just seems like that’s her superpower. So that I’m pretty sure is how I know you and how I’ve started to follow your work and read everything about what you’re doing.

And I had mentioned that I wanted to do a series on rest. And you mentioned that this was totally in your wheelhouse. So I thank you for coming in to talk about this particular topic. And I think it very much connects with your book that you wrote about chronic profit because obviously chronic illness and. working is particularly, I feel like in COVID-19 land, people are starting to get much more clarity around the complexities of, work while you’re dealing with an illness, any kind, let alone a chronic illness. And so do you mind sharing a little bit of your story with us.

Alison: For sure. I started my career working in government. [00:02:00] And but I had chronic health complaints and I wasn’t really sure what was going on that made it a bit harder to get accommodated in the workplace. And I just knew I needed to be living life differently. So I ended up sub-contracting as a social media manager and fell in love with it. And basically ran away and joined the circus.

So within four months I had a full-time business and I waved goodbye to my friends at the Canadian government and started working from my sofa and building a marketing practice. And it was really, cool experience. And after that, I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which explained all of the things that were wrong before.

And it’s not necessarily the most treatable, definitely not curable condition. There’s lifestyle changes that you can make that can make it more manageable. So [00:03:00] I have been navigating that journey for a few years now.

Cristin: Thank you so much for sharing that. And I can definitely see that.

Again I do not have chronic illness. I’ve interviewed many people on the podcast and had many people in my group who have talked about the complexities of chronic illness and work, which is in general absolutely not accommodating whatsoever. You have to actually cut yourself open and be like, I bleed for this job.

They had possibly admit that there’s anything else in life you care about. Let alone be sick. Let alone not be able to do certain things. I remember when I first went back to work after having my tiny human and I had been very much taught that you do not eat in meetings that was very inappropriate at the executive level. And I have my tiny human and I was making milk. I was eating everything. I was Brad Pitt in Ocean’s 11. I’ll eat that like that under the sun. [00:04:00] And I just could not possibly care. I could not care how you felt about me eating in this meeting. I need to eat this to  not pass out and die.

And I just it, really helped clarify for me, something I had never really understood, which is if there are things that you have to do for your physical well-being and the workplace frowns upon it, whether it’s coming in to work at different times or leaving at certain times, not coming in, in certain conditions certain workplace accommodations.

I really, I’m an empathetic person. So I won’t say I ever said no, you don’t get whatever it is that you need. But I really started to understand how complicated it must be. And in my episode with Julie Morgenlender, we talked a lot about how, so much of what we’ve been taught is a sham, essentially, that you couldn’t work from home, that you couldn’t have these accommodations.

And so COVID-19 is really blowing all of that up. I think in so many ways. So for you about, as [00:05:00] you started to make that transition into working for yourself, how have you incorporated the rest that you need into your personal schedule and found that fit for yourself?

Alison: For me working for myself meant that I could work when I’m like most able to do things.

So I woke up at five o’clock this morning and I was in the zone. So I worked through some things and and then I stopped and had some breakfast. And so I’m able to slot work in where I have the energy to do it as long as they meet the deadlines. The other thing that I did was I significantly invested in Sleep related things like I have an adjustable bed that elevates my head and my feet, so that, and that really good mattress and a C-PAP machine.

And like all of the things so that my rest is optimized because without it, I am not very useful. So those are, [00:06:00] some of the pieces and really looking at my mental capacity and looking at what. Changes I need to make in my business in order to make sure that I’m not mentally exhausted by the end of the day, and finding strategies to stay really organized, to streamline things so that it’s not such a battle to stay awake and to do the things.

Cristin: That’s excellent. It’s so great to hear that you’re. That it’s a combination of things, right? It is investing in yourself and then also responding to your, own needs, your own physical needs. So working when you should be and not working when you shouldn’t be, I’ve often thought in the nine to five life, that the whole idea of you will sit in this office chair, whether you are being productive or not, whether it would be better suited for you to go take a walk in the park or something like that.

But no, you must sit in this chair and be productive.

Alison: Yeah. And even positioning like some, I my [00:07:00] joints do weird things and sometimes I’ll have to sit in awkward positions that might look uncomfortable and maybe not very workplace appropriate, but it’s how I need to feel comfortable.

And just being able to control my environment, like I’m somebody who gets really easily overstimulated. So working in an open concept office, It was really challenging. And I was working in a role that did a lot of statistical analysis and I was working directly beside a really emotionally charged customer service department.

So that was a lot of input to be taking in while also trying to do the things. So having an optimized environment is really important for me in order to be successful.

Cristin: Those are amazing points. I definitely first time. So I’m, a theater person by training and senior people. We do our actual work wherever we want to.

And then we do our shows, obviously in our [00:08:00] rehearsals, in our theater spaces, but actors don’t learn lines three feet away from a customer service rep and stage managers don’t work on complicated queuing sequences next to. I don’t know a finance person, if I’m going to go they’re not like if you talk to yourself one more time, I’m you in the eye.

So we don’t, we get to go in our own places and I can do things at night or in the morning. And so when I switched over to nine to five life, I just was astounded. No one is actually getting any work done here. Is it totally a myth that we’re all just sitting here pretending work when really these are absolutely the most terrible conditions to get anything done whatsoever.

And I just think about, I used to, when I used to share an office with people, I always thought they were so loud. And now that I’ve been home, my husband said. No, you are loud. You are actually the [00:09:00] loud one. You are so obnoxious when you were on the phone. And I said, Oh no, one’s ever told me that, but I bet you’re very right.

A revelation and this new COVID times. So now how had, you’ve had this experience for work working for the government, going into business yourself, and then how did all of this lead to a book?

Alison: So I always wanted to write a book and I just never really knew how to make it happen.

And I thought I was inspired one day and I decided that I was going to pitch the publisher of somebody that I really admire. And I posted on Facebook and I was like, Hey guys, can you please put some good GGR onto the world for me, because I’ve pitched this publisher and they’re probably going to ignore me, but I would, it would be so cool if this, a thing.

And then one of my friends commented and she was like, would you like me to talk about your books? [00:10:00] My editor at the publisher that I.

It published by. And I was like, yes, please. If it’s not okay, please change my life. Or you may be my fairy godmother if you so choose. And she did.

And she can, they were initially interested in the concept.

They invited me to send them an email about it. They asked for more clarification about the scope of the problem. They were like, we’re having trouble visualizing it. Could you maybe give us like a draft book jacket? So I sent them a Google doc of this draft book jacket, and they came back and they’re like, yeah, we shared it with the buyers.

They’re really interested. Let’s send you a contract. And I was like, people traditionally do like these things called book proposals. And they swear about them and they’re long and they cry and sometimes they hire people to write them. They usually don’t get a book deal because you send an email and a Google doc and a couple of statistics, but that’s how it happened.

And yeah, it was very unlikely, but [00:11:00] it worked. And so I’m very delighted because there are really amazing publisher to work with.

Cristin: That’s awesome. That is a phenomenal story that I did not read on your social media because clearly I haven’t stalked to you to the level that I thought that I had done.

So that, that is so amazing. And I really think that’s something I, often tell people, which is, if you want something just saying it out loud, other people will often carry it forward into the world because. The thing that you need, like that contact would have not known that was something that you wanted to do.

Alison: So it’s amazing that, yeah, that’s something, that’s definitely been the case. When I, my sister and I decided that we wanted to launch this clothing line, I shared that. And all of a sudden, one of my friends reached out and was like, Hey, I’ve got a factory. I have a pattern designer. I have a trademark agent.

I have a fabric person. Like I’m going to connect you with all these people. Like everybody we needed was all lined up. So like definitely putting it out [00:12:00] there and asking for support is, has been really one of the best ways because people want to help.

Cristin: They absolutely do. And that makes me want to talk about the other thing that I stopped you about on social media, which is your absolutely wonderful taste in a tire that is both beautiful, lovely, and comfortable.

So I don’t know what other people call them. I call them onesies. But you have often suggested, is that what you call them? What do you call them?

Alison: They call them rompers or jumpsuits, but onesies also, I tend to call like my jammy type ones more like onesies, they’re like, they’re my favorite.

I probably have one for every day of the week. And they just bring me so much joy because I am like, I believe in being aggressively comfortable. Because life is too short to be wearing things that make you hate. No breathing.

Cristin: Yes, absolutely. And that’s what I love about everything that you talk about when you come, when you talk about [00:13:00] fashion, when you talk about clothing, is that it can look good and you can feel great.

And that’s something that I had to really transition out of, particularly being a New York city person, right? New York city, people feel the way they feel about clothes, which is, Oh, they’ve got opinions. And I had decided. I want to say it was like late 20, 19 into the beginning of 2020 that I had decided I was only going to wear shoes.

Now that made me feel grounded, but I was tired of being in shoes that. No squish my toes or felt like they were weapons. I just want it to feel like very grounded in everything that I did and in all the spaces that I move. And I’m glad I made that decision before heading into the pandemic where I think I wear seekers slippers, essentially having more, a real shoe.

And I consider this, those are real shoes, but I did, I do wear snow boots because it’s been snowing [00:14:00] quite a bit. That’s really easy.

Alison: My favorite thing about shoes is that my feet are child sized. Like I can literally wear a size four and children’s shoes. So I have shoes that light up because I believe that shoes should be fun.

And in terms of the comfort, like when you think about the ratty, like sweat pants or like the oversights. T-shirts that like have last Tuesday’s soup stains on them or whatever. Like you talk about why you hang on to them sick, but it’s so comfortable and it’s it can also look amazing and be comfortable.

Like they don’t have comfortable clothes. Don’t have to look terrible and that’s. That’s my fashion perspective.

Cristin: I love it. I think it’s, I think it’s so true. And I think that it’ll be interesting to see. I have no, no clairvoyance on the pandemic and what’s going to happen with it when it’s going to end or whatever, hopefully it does. But [00:15:00] I have a feeling that people are not going to be running back to put on painful clothes. They’re going to say, okay, I do want to go to a bookstore. I do want to go to a bar. I want to see live music, but I’m not going to put that painful, whatever it is on ever again, at least that’s my hope.

Alison: Yeah. Yeah. I hope we don’t go back to uncomfortable clothes.

I hope we don’t go back to a world where admitting you’re lonely is an awkward thing. And I hope. We don’t go back to going to work when sick. Because culturally, that was just something that you like soldiered on. And that was something that was like admired. And now it’s, you did what you were saying, like way to infect the world. It’s become like less cool to just go in there while you’re hacking your face out, stay home. So I hope we, we stick with that because it’s important.

Cristin: Yes, it absolutely is. And I think that [00:16:00] there’s, still much around our societies push for just constantly going and not taking any of these opportunities to stop and pause, which is what rest and the series is all about, which is that when you’re tired, you should sleep.

When you’re sick, you should stay home. When you need to take a break, you should take a break and not do this pushing forward, soldiering on. And it, comes in two waves, which is both the one that you mentioned, which is that please don’t come to work. If you’re sick, please take care of yourself and don’t spread it around the office.

When I made the decision to close my office, which was before New York city closed down, I had multiple emails from staff members that were sick. And so we were in your city. So we’re in the epicenter of the epicenter. And I, told people [00:17:00] okay, I have so many emails from people right now that are sick.

That it’s just, time to close down. We should just not even try to be open anymore. And that was at the time considered incredibly drastic to not to say you have a sniffle I’m concerned, I don’t know enough about this virus. You should stay home. But then also this idea of, taking care of yourself, which is outlandish now for so many people that you would for us when you need to, and that you would stop and that you don’t have to.

No, I it’s probably extreme to say, be a martyr for the cause, but having worked in nine to five corporate America, higher ed nonprofits and theater, that’s the, that’s really the belief system, which is that you get a star for, this kind of thing.

Alison: Yeah. And and the reality is, that we feel like [00:18:00] there’s just so much put on productivity and that rest is the opposite of that. When in reality, it’s part of that, right? That is the time where you can innovate. That is a time where you get new ideas. That’s when you’re breaking away from your routine and stepping outside of yourself and letting new things come in. So that rest is not it’s part of the program. It’s not stepping out of it. If you need to justify it from a productivity perspective, it is key to productivity to take rests, but I don’t think that it needs to be productive in order to be valuable. And I think it’s how we recognize ourselves as valuable even factories with machinery have to like, let them cool down a bit.

Like you can’t be running everything all the time and your body isn’t really any different you wouldn’t like to take it really expensive piece of integral [00:19:00] equipment, your business, tie it to the back of a bumper, go for a joy ride. That would be crazy. Why would you drag your investment around like that?

Like when your, the most important piece, like you, you can’t just be running it into the ground, but not resting either. Cause that’s, the same thing.

Cristin: Absolutely. And I agree with all those points that if, you need to think about it from a productivity standard, then you can do that and know that rest is integral to being productive.

And in fact, it will improve your productivity and that also you don’t need to be productive. You’re amazing and valuable just as you are as a person. And that person deserves care and attention. And that that things that matter to us then have value that they should be treated that way. I think those are all great points.

Now it does make me think, because we’re talking about your, we’re talking about your book and your business, and then of course you mentioned your clothing line. I know that you also have a [00:20:00] coffee company that you’re starting.

Alison: Yeah. So  that’s an exciting process that I’m working with a friend who has a coffee company and we’re launching a really fun line of coffee for International Women’s Day.

And coffee is part of my love language. And I, love a good latte and it just really made sense in terms of a collaboration. So we’re going to be doing that for March and it’s going to be really awesome.

Cristin: I’m stoked. That is amazing. So now we’ve got clothing company, coffee company. I’m going to need that link by the way.

So I just want to be clear about that international women’s day coffee MI perfection. It’s a match made in heaven and then of course your book. And it certainly makes me think that all of these things that you’re doing, they’re very, creative. And so do you feel like by being able to be in control of your own schedule and [00:21:00] to take care of yourself the way you need to has that really helped expand your creativity?

Alison: Definitely. Cause I’m not, I’m able to think about things from different perspectives. And the people that I interact with tend to be people who support that level of balance. I’m very transparent about my health concerns. So people who work with me are aware of. What’s going on and they we work together to make sure that things happen and that I’m able to take care of myself and they can take care of themselves.

So being in that kind of supportive professional relationship means that I have the freedom to, to rest and get creative and that it doesn’t have to be like an in the middle, like quick come up with this brilliant idea. It’s okay to say I need to percolate on this for a minute and take the time and space. Like I get the most brilliant ideas in the bathtub. I spend one to two hours a day in the [00:22:00] bathtub with my bath bombs because one of my besties has a bath bomb company. And yeah, that’s where I get some of my greatest ideas is being able to chill out and just let things simmer.

Cristin: I love that. And now. Is that something you’d like to do at a certain time of the day? Or is it based on how you feel in a certain moment or do you have a routine?

Alison: I tend to like it in the evening, but sometimes if I’m in discomfort, I will take a break or if I’m really overloaded and super stressed out. Then I will just be like, it needs to be in the day bubble bath. And, then obviously like my local post office seems to be aware. Cause that’s the only time the postman comes with a package. So he’s never seen me, like not in a towel, I’m always like scrambling out of the bathtub. But yeah usually it’s evening, but sometimes it’s afternoon if I’m just like at my max and it’s funny cause my my son’s grandmother, her, the running, [00:23:00] whenever she was upset about something. Or like you’re in trouble or whatever. She would be like, go take a bath. It was the solution for everything, like Windex on my Big Fat Greek Wedding. It’s like a bath we’ll fix that.

Cristin: I definitely feel similarly. That’s how my mom feels about baths, almost everything. And so I to really enjoy my bath time and it is I would say a sacred mom activity.

Alison: I have a client who was a midwife and she refers to it as mother nature’s epidural, which I find to be very accurate.

Cristin: Yes. I love that. That is such a good way to describe it. So now I do want to, I think I have three more questions off the top of my head from just what you just said, which is first of all, from a business perspective, how do you start the conversation with folks that, who are new to you about the fact that you [00:24:00] do work in this way and you do take care of yourself?

Alison: Usually people come to me actually through either, they’re either on my Facebook, in my world already, or they know somebody who is and usually I explain this is what I navigating with. As and I am very transparent about it because I’ve published a lot about it.

So if they Google me, they’re gonna find out. So I may as well tell them and just say this is what I deal with. This is what that can look like.

This is how I work in order to accommodate things. And this is, how I need to function and let’s find a way to make sure that I get to do the things I need to do, and then you get the things that you need and that together, we can make some marketing magic.

[00:25:00] Cristin: So then my next question, and it’s gonna be. Follow into the third one, which is that. So your book, his first book is coming out April, 2021, but you already have a second book also. Is that, how did that come about?

Alison: When I ha I handed my book in and then I was like, Super vulnerable. And I was like, a useless puddle for a month laying there. Like maybe they won’t like it. Maybe nothing I’ve written is ever been good.

It’s just like the most useless writer for a whole month. That was like, I wrote them. I was like, how does cause they optioned my next two projects in, the contract. So it was like, how do we go about talking about the next project?

Do you wait to see if the book does well, or do we talk about that now or how do you want to work it? And he said either, or we want to finish off this one before we get too serious [00:26:00] about anything. But if you have an idea and I was like as a matter of fact, like the summer, I ran this course to teach business owners how to talk about social justice.

And I was going to make it into an evergreen course and launch it. But if you want it as a book, I won’t, we can just do the book. And I sent them a testimonial from someone who took the course and my experience in that area and they were, they expressed an interest and then all the more, and then they were like one can get it. And then I had a contract.

Cristin: So that’s one, a phenomenal topic and I, again, I thought I was doing good in my stalking of you and I totally missed that course.

So I’m, sad as myself, but. I’ll I will go find it. And I’m excited that it’ll be a book that I can buy also. So that leads me into my third [00:27:00] question, which is that. So you have a business, a clothing company, coffee company, book one book two. How do you, find a balance to all of that?

Alison: There’s a lot of things that I don’t do. Like I do a lot of things, but like I don’t cook or clean. I have a housekeeper who’s amazing. And she, I give myself permission to do as much or as little housework as I please. And she comes and fixes the aftermath or whatever life choice. I don’t even basis. And then she’d be like fire things, sticky, like good question. She’s actually on my Facebook. So if I like I’m baking, she’s and so she helps me out that way. I order in like pre-made meals that so I don’t have to spend time standing cooking, which is tiring and unpleasant. So I just don’t. And I have a child who’s very independent. He knows how to work the microwave.

He’s good. [00:28:00] Yeah, and just really very being very focused on prioritizing things, time management and making sure things make sense and just ruthlessly editing in terms of like business. Like I shut down two business lines a few months into the pandemic and I’m still going to be shutting down another one or two coming up. So definitely just looking at what fits, what works with my bandwidth or what my projected bandwidth is going to be. And just doing like air traffic control around what can land when and what makes sense and what needs to be pushed and what, still fits and what doesn’t fit me more. And just having time away to look at that and just assess what’s really working what feels good and really listening to me your body in terms of,  I used to do a lot of work supporting film, and I found that really [00:29:00] heavy launch based marketing where I’m like in the launch moment to moment is really hard on my body.

And as much as I love that work and it was really important to me cause I worked on some really important projects. My body was just like, you cannot do this again. And and, everybody worked really hard to accommodate me. But it just the reality, like sometimes some things, some industries need different things that our bodies just are not onboard with.

And that just had to be how it went. Definitely was some interesting opportunities.

Cristin: I love that description about air traffic control and things landing at different times. I could see that with. All of these projects that you’ve got have going on. They’re probably in different phases at different times. And so just working through that.

Alison: Sure. And also I don’t do it all by myself either. Like I actually hired my mom to help [00:30:00] me because that is the first person I go to when I need something. So I could do that professionally also because she’s really good at admin. So she like lovingly transcribed every interview in my book.

And she supports me in so many different ways in my business. So that’s been really helpful. And I also work with a writer out of California who is really aligned with what I do so that I can get some extra support in lining things up for me to be able to do what I need to do.

Cristin: That is awesome. Now, if people are listening to this and they’re saying to themselves, Oh, my gosh. I love Alison. I want to know everything about her and follow her around. Where would we send them?

Alison: So my website is Alisontedford.com and you can find me at Alison Tedford on Facebook for my Facebook page, which is as a warning a lot of memes, a lot of [00:31:00] social justice content. And, but just a lot of memes.

Cristin: I love that you do a meme dump every Friday, right?

Alison: The Friday meme dumps. Now I’m on Instagram. I’m also at Alison Tedford. And on Twitter, I’m at Alliespins because I used to teach pole dance once upon a time. So I did actually literally spin a lot and that I didn’t have any intention on becoming publicly anything when I developed that Twitter account. And then it just like massively grew. And now I have no idea what to do with that.

Cristin: So it just is wonderful. I am a big fan of the Friday meme jump. And I’ll make sure I link to all those wonderful places in the show notes. And as each of your amazing things happen, I will update your show notes so that people who are listening can find the clothing company, the coffee company, the books, all there as well, of course, links to your current social.

So I really thank you for taking the time to talk [00:32:00] to me today. This has been so fun to finally talk to you in person and instead of just internet stalking you, I

appreciate it.

Alison: You’re wonderful. This is amazing. Yeah.

Cristin: Thank you.

 

41. From Idea to Published with Julie Morgenlender

41. From Idea to Published with Julie Morgenlender

And we talk about the reality of life with chronic illness, and that’s so different for everybody. The stories all have different tones and different focuses which is what I think makes [the book] so easily applicable to such a wide audience because there isn’t just one chronic illness experience.

Today’s episode brings back one of my all-time favorite people – Julie Morgenlender from episode 2 of The Notable Woman Podcast. In that episode, we talked about living with a chronic illness, and now it’s fitting that we talk about Julie’s new book, The Things We Don’t Say: An Anthology of Chronic Illness Truths.

About Julie

Julie Morgenlender is a friend, daughter, aunt, crocheter (very very good I might add – note from Cristin), reader, creator of this anthology, and so much more despite being unable to work full time. She enjoys walking in the sunshine, petting dogs, and spending time with awesome people. She volunteers for her chronic pain support group and is on the board of directors of the Bisexual Resource Center.

About the book

Spanning different ages, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and diagnoses, forty-two authors from around the world open up in fifty true stories about their chronic illnesses and their search for answers, poor treatment by doctors, strained relationships with loved ones, self-doubt, and more. They share the warmth of support from family and friends, the triumph of learning coping mechanisms, and finding ways to live their dreams. These stories are honest, raw, and real, and if you have chronic illness, you will find comfort and companionship in these pages. For everyone else, if you have ever wanted to know more about your loved one’s experience with chronic illness but didn’t want to ask the wrong questions, this book will have some answers and lead you to a new-found understanding.

 

In this episode, we talk about:

  • when Julie first had the idea for the anthology,
  • how she selected the writers,
  • what the process of creating the book was like,
  • how it was different due to Julie and her authors’ chronic illnesses, and
  • how COVID-19 is shining a light on issues that people with chronic illness and disability have been dealing with for decades

Ways to connect with the anthology and Julie include:

The book’s website
The book on Amazon
The book on Bookshop
The book on Goodreads

I think this episode is particularly inspiring if you have an idea that you’ve been trying to get into the world. Julie’s been working on this anthology for as long as I’ve known her, and now it’s here!

Click here to listen on a dozen different platforms!

Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

I was a fan before I was a guest. Now I’ve been a guest and I’m an even greater fan! Cristin Downs is an amazing interviewer and host. She is insightful, professional and just a pleasure to work with. What comes across in the stories is as much a product of Cristin’s fierce talent in conceptualizing the episodes and finding the stories as it is the a reflection of her interesting and engaging subjects. Fantastic, Notable Women. Listen and enjoy!

If you love the show, please consider rating and reviewing the podcast! This helps more people find the show and listen to these amazing conversations. Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to rate (with five stars, I hope!), and select “Write a Review.” I’d love to hear what you enjoyed about the episode.

Subscribing to the show keeps you up to date when I release a new episode. Or click here to get an email. Whatever works best for you.

Important links from the episode and from The Notable Woman:

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Caste Book Club Questions

Caste Book Club Questions

Our second book club selection was Caste, and our Society of Notable Women members are still digging into this very complex book.

Like I did with Untamed, our first book club selection, I thought I would bring our Caste book club questions here so other people can enjoy them as well. I found it very challenging to craft questions for this book. The material is wonderful, rich, deep, and complicated, and as a white woman, I wanted to bring an anti-racist perspective to everything as we discussed the book.

You can read the announcement for this book, why I picked it, and more about the book itself and the author right here.

Without further ado, here you go:

Caste Book Club Questions

1. Wilkerson writes about the difference between casteism and racism. A caste is a system of hierarchy in which people enjoy varying degrees of superiority or forced subjugation based on what caste someone belongs to. How have you seen or experienced the American caste system?

2. Unlike castes, class can change with marriage, money, employment, etc. How have you witnessed class changes in your own life?

3. Race is a new concept. Irish, Italians, Poles, Czechs, and more became white for the first time in America. Either knowing this or learning this, how does this affect conversations about race you have witnessed or been part of?

4. Did you study Jim Crow laws or redlining in any American history class? If yes, how old were you and what class was it? If not, how does this information inform your perspective on current events around housing, evictions, mass incarceration, and police shootings?

5. James Baldwin said: “No one was white before he/she came to America.” Discuss what this quote means to your understanding of our current caste system.

6. One of the pillars of the American caste system is heritability, and the American system determined that the caste of a person went through the mother’s lineage. This allowed slave owners to continue to rape their female slaves and allow their children to remain slaves. Know this, how is your opinion of the American mass incarceration system affected (with 7 to 1 Black men incarcerated compared to white men).

7. Was the information about the “Purity vs Pollution” pillar new to you? How does it change your perception of American community pools and private swim clubs?

8. Is the concept of “give the wall” (lower caste stepping out of the way for upper caste) new to you? How have you experienced this in your life?

9. Erich Fromm wrote about how group narcissism – membership in a larger group determines self-worth, hatred of others, and belief in one’s own self-importance – leads to fascism. How has that played out in America in the last few decades?

10. Did you know that Nazis developed their laws regarding Jewish people, gypsies, and other undesirables by observing and implementing American caste laws? When did you learn this?

11. Germans are ashamed of their Nazi history in a way Americans are not ashamed of slavery. Why do you think Germany was able to humanize their victims and develop laws to enforce “never again” while America still has statues of Lee and confederate flags?

12. How has the pandemic shifted how you feel about the American caste system? What was unseen for you that is now seen?

 

And that is that! Those are the book club questions we worked through while reading Caste.

Next Steps

We would always love to have you in The Society of Notable Women. Request to join today!

And we welcome you to join us for our next book club selection, Raising Antiracist Kids: The Power of Intentional Conversations About Race and Parenting by Nicole Lee.

If you want to read the book club questions provided by the publisher, you can read those here.

October Book Club Selection: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

October Book Club Selection: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

I’m excited to announce our October pick for The Notable Woman Book Club – Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson.

I had the pleasure of meeting Isabel Wilkerson during her book tour for The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. At the time, I was working at Riverside Church, a social justice church housed in a gothic, beautiful building in Morningside Heights in New York City. I have absolutely no idea how I heard that Wilkerson was speaking at the Church that day, and I had not yet read her book. But what I did hear about her and the event intrigued me so even though I was exhausted after a long day in the theatre, I went to the talk. Wilkerson did not disappoint. She was a delight, a wealth of knowledge, and opened my eyes to a part of US history that I did not know anything about. I’m forever changed from her talk that day, which is why her new book has me so excited.

What’s Caste about?

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people–including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others–she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

Oh my gosh, right? You know this is going to be good.

And who is Isabel Wilkerson?

Isabel Wilkerson, the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, is the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Warmth of Other Suns. Her debut work won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and was named to Time‘s 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the 2010s and The New York Times‘s list of the Best Nonfiction of All Time. She has taught at Princeton, Emory, and Boston Universities and has lectured at more than two hundred other colleges and universities across the United States and in Europe and Asia.

What are people saying about this book?

“Magnificent . . . a trailblazing work on the birth of inequality . . . Caste offers a forward-facing vision. Bursting with insight and love, this book may well help save us.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“Extraordinary . . . one of the most powerful nonfiction books I’d ever encountered . . . an instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far. . . .Caste deepens our tragic sense of American history. It reads like watching the slow passing of a long and demented cortege. . . . It’s a book that seeks to shatter a paralysis of will. It’s a book that changes the weather inside a reader.”–Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“[Caste] should be at the top of every American’s reading list.”Chicago Tribune

“Wilkerson’s book is a powerful, illuminating and heartfelt account of how hierarchy reproduces itself, as well as a call to action for the difficult work of undoing it.”The Washington Post

We’ll be discussing this book in The Society of Notable Women. You can request to join here.

I recommend you buy the book from Bookshop and support a local indie bookstore. Or you can get this book from your local library! Lastly, you could get it on Amazon.

Looking forward to chatting books with you!

40. COVID-19 ‘s Effect on An Increase on Domestic & Intimate Partner Violence

40. COVID-19 ‘s Effect on An Increase on Domestic & Intimate Partner Violence

What I would hate to learn is that someone felt that they could never reach out for help because they would be taking away from people who truly needed help in the situation, and victims always truly need help. So, we’re here to support them.

Have you heard the news that COVID-19 is causing an increase in domestic violence and intimate partner violence instances? Maybe you have from journalism like this NY Times piece or this article from the Washington Post.

In China’s Hubei province, domestic violence calls nearly doubled. In Spain, their state run domestic violence website saw a 270% increase in traffic. Here in the United States, South Carolina saw a 35% increase in March from February, Houston a 20% increase, and North Carolina 18%. And most states didn’t start social distancing or lockdowns until mid March.

I have been reading the above articles so I went to my friend and guest from The Notable Woman Podcast, episode 20, Kelley Rainey, to find out what was going on and how we can help. Kelley is the Director of Domestic Violence Programs for Family and Children’s Services, and she readily agreed to be on the show and provide resources for all of us, whether we be experiencing this or be fearful that someone we know and love is.

In this third episode focused on COVID-19 episode, we talk about:

  • what domestic and intimate partner violence instances look like pre-COVID-19,
  • what’s driving what’s happening now,
  • what resources are available for people who need help,
  • what not to do that might bring harm to those that we love, and
  • what help we can give to our friends and family we’re worried about

Resources Kelley provided include:

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233
  • RAINN – 1-800-656-4673
  • Family & Children Services 24 hour line (Kelley’s organization) – 443-865-8031 (This is call or text)

Although Kelley’s organization serves Baltimore, Maryland and its surrounding counties, her counselors are trained specifically in COVID-19, and they can help create a safety plan that will work for you no matter where you live. You don’t need to provide your location or any identifying information.

You’re going to find this episode a short, information filled podcast with resources that can help you now or in the future.

The other episodes in this COVID-19 series are COVID-19’s Exponential Growth with Amy Simpkins and COVID-19 and Public Health Communication with Karen Hilyard.

Click here to listen on a dozen different platforms!

Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

I was a fan before I was a guest. Now I’ve been a guest and I’m an even greater fan! Cristin Downs is an amazing interviewer and host. She is insightful, professional and just a pleasure to work with. What comes across in the stories is as much a product of Cristin’s fierce talent in conceptualizing the episodes and finding the stories as it is the a reflection of her interesting and engaging subjects. Fantastic, Notable Women. Listen and enjoy!

If you love the show, please consider rating and reviewing the podcast! This helps more people find the show and listen to these amazing conversations. Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to rate (with five stars, I hope!), and select “Write a Review.” I’d love to hear what you enjoyed about the episode.

Subscribing to the show keeps you up to date when I release a new episode. Or click here to get an email. Whatever works best for you.

Important links from the episode and from The Notable Woman:

Other ways to enjoy this podcast or rock out with me:
Download on iTunes | Listen on Overcast | Join The Society of Notable Women Online Community
39. COVID-19 and Public Health Communication

39. COVID-19 and Public Health Communication

In this episode of The Notable Woman Podcast, I interview Dr. Karen Hilyard, a public health communication expert, on COVID-19.

This is our second episode focused on COVID-19. I wanted to start with Amy Simpkins and exponential growth because I felt like that was the first thing people were having a hard time wrapping their heads around, and now that you know how contagious this disease is and why that matters so much, Karen’s the next person we should all be listening to.

Karen’s an expert in public health communication and just so happens to be my friend. She was happy to get on and explain to me what we should be hearing from our local, state, and federal leaders, and what we should actually be doing.

 

IN THIS EPISODE, I EXPLORE:
  • What it’s like in Georgia, both personally for Karen and her larger area, which is rural and suburban (quite different than me in NYC, but also similar in how our healthcare systems will respond)
  • Briefly discuss exponential growth (check out Amy’s episode for more information on that)
  • What people are still doing that they shouldn’t be – like block parties and play dates
  • Plain language guidance about what we should be doing instead
  • History on the US pandemic response plan from George W. Bush’s administration
  • Amazing tips for organizations not sure how to communicate about COVID-19
  • What we can be advocating for in our own communities, like funds for people who are food insecure and halting evictions
  • Why we should be concerned about civil liberties and the best way to make sure we maintain our rights
  • Who is doing a good job communicating right now
  • The testing debacle

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did creating it. You can listen now, right here from this webpage by clicking the play button below.

Prefer Apple Podcasts? Android user? Go to Overcast here or Google Podcasts here. Pocket Casts? Radio Public? Something else? And of course, if you loved the episode, a review is always appreciated! 

EPISODE RESOURCES INCLUDE (affiliate links included):

Today’s Guest

Karen Hilyard

“Without testing in place, we weren’t able to do that. And we were not able to sound the alarm, and it was a critical missed step in which we will never know how many people have actually had the virus. And we certainly missed some opportunity to take action when we could have perhaps slowed the spread.”

Hi, I’m Cristin, and you’ve found The Notable Woman.

If not us, then who? If not now, then when? Here at The Notable Woman, we’re energizing 51% of the population to forge the new norm. Podcast, summits, online community, and more, all designed to connect you to your power within so we can transform the world. Join my free Facebook group, and let’s get started today.

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About Karen Hilyard

Karen Hilyard, Ph.D. is a behavioral scientist and communication strategist who trains and advises state, federal, and global clients on both routine and crisis communication.  Beginning in 2006, she was part of a CDC-funded team that spent three years training public health communicators how to implement the federal pandemic preparedness and response plan.  She has written extensively about social distancing and other government directives during a pandemic.   

Connect with Karen:

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