Karin’s Story: Taking Charge of Your Story

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This is a podcast episode titled, Karin’s Story: Taking Charge of Your Story. The summary for this episode is: <p><strong>"The most important thing I did was I literally picked my pen up, and I started journaling because I was no longer afraid of what was coming out, and I was ready to process my life."</strong></p><p><br></p><p>In this next episode in our Stand Tall in Your Story speech series, you'll hear from Karin Cook. Karin is the VP of Treasury Management at Merchants Bank of Indiana. Today she shares how she took charge of her story through her Rise &amp; Thrive experience. Listen in to how a “no” from a boss started her journey of self-discovery.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>In this episode, you'll learn:</strong></p><ol><li>Why we stay stuck in survival mode, and how can we get out of it</li><li>Why taking time for ourselves to process and reflect on our life is important</li><li>How choosing to change can influence our children</li></ol><p><br></p><p><strong>Things to listen for:</strong></p><p>[04:45] Why we stay stuck in not thriving for so long?</p><p>[15:43] How time and space to process her life has impacted Karin</p><p>[19:24] How choosing to change influences our children</p><p>[29:22] Karin's story</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Resources:</strong></p><p>Watch <a href="https://storybook.link/standtallinyourstory/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">The Stand Tall In Your Story - International Women’s Day</a></p><p>Join the&nbsp;<a href="http://unbouncepages.com/1000-thriving-women-movement/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">1000 Thriving Women Movement</a></p><p>Learn more about&nbsp;<a href="https://wethrive.live/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Rebecca and her work</a></p><p>Get your copy of&nbsp;<a href="https://badasswomenscouncil.com/product/write-your-own-story-paperback/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Write Your Own Story</a></p><p>Listen to Rebecca's Audiobook&nbsp;<a href="https://www.audible.com/pd/Write-Your-OWN-Story-Audiobook/B0BPDXMSBG" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Write Your Own Story</a></p><p>Take the&nbsp;<a href="https://badasswomenscouncil.com/are-you-badass/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Badass Quiz</a></p><p><br></p><p><strong>Connect with Rebecca:</strong></p><p><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebeccafleetwoodhession/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebeccafleetwoodhession/</a></p><p><a href="https://www.instagram.com/rebeccafleetwoodhession/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.instagram.com/rebeccafleetwoodhession/</a></p><p><a href="https://www.facebook.com/fleetwoodhession/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.facebook.com/fleetwoodhession/</a></p><p><a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@rebeccafleetwoodhession" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.tiktok.com/@rebeccafleetwoodhession</a></p>
01:35 MIN
Why do we stay stuck in not thriving for so long?
03:45 MIN
How the time and space to process has impacted Karin
02:26 MIN
How choosing to change influences our children
02:56 MIN
Karin's Speech: Taking Charge of Your Story
07:27 MIN

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: (singing) This is Write Your Own Story: Three Keys to Rise& Thrive in Life and Business. I'm your host, Rebecca Fleetwood Hession. I have some gifts for you. That's why I'm not a singer, that little bit right there that you just heard. It's my birthday month and I have gifts that I brought for you for my birthday. I have the women of Rise& Thrive season four here to talk about their experiences in the transformation from striving to thriving. At the end of the interview portion of each episode, you'll hear the story that they told on stage on March 8th, celebrating International Women's Day at our fourth annual Stand Tall in Your Story event. In fact, you can go to the show notes and click a link to see them on stage via video, and those are great to share on social media. Email them to your friends, your colleagues. They will spark amazing conversations. Okay, today's guest, we have Karen Cook. I am excited for you to hear from Karen because her participation in this experience was just meant to be. We'll tell you more about that. Then go to the show notes and learn about how you can get these thrive tools and this thrive coaching from wherever you are in the United States of America. Not yet available outside of the US, but soon I'm sure, because I am launching an experience for everybody to get ahold of these thrive tools and experience the transformation. We start May 1st, so go grab you some inaudible. Okay, here's Karen. I particularly love our story because it completely just goes against everybody's belief that you just have this master strategy for recruiting the right clients. Everything about the Rise& Thrive experience has been just like the right women will find me when it's their time to find me, and that's what happened for you.

Karin Cook: That's exactly what happened, yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: If I remember, you saw a social media post or something. How did you find out about it?

Karin Cook: LinkedIn. I saw Rachel, her notification that she was going to be part of Rise& Thrive. It was the second time that I had seen somebody that I knew get highlighted. The first time, it just didn't hit the same way that it did the second time, which is to your point.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Imagine that.

Karin Cook: Right.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: It makes me laugh, but it also reminds us that it just takes a whole lot of faith and belief in what you're doing and to know that the people will find you when it's time for them. So the second time you saw it, it hit you different because?

Karin Cook: I just knew I needed something and it felt I was just in a different place of my journey and I just knew I needed something like that. When I saw and read about it on the website, it just was like, this is exactly what I need.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: When I knew we were meant to meet each other is I hate email. Email gives me PTSD from all the years that I was a slave to it. It's inefficient. Email is the bane of my existence and I happened to be on email when your message came through. You filled out the form and said I'm interested in this. I read it in that moment and responded back and said, " I know this might sound crazy, but can you talk right now?"

Karin Cook: Yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And we were on the phone together within three minutes of you filling out the form.

Karin Cook: Yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And it was very apparent in the way that you had responded that you had really reached a place where you knew you needed change.

Karin Cook: Yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: We'll get into that in a minute about those changes and the experience. But one of the things I also know now about your story is you had tolerated just not living a thriving life for a while.

Karin Cook: Mm- hmm.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I think it's important that we talk about this because that's been my experience. It's been the experience of most everybody I've worked with and my friends. Why do we stay stuck so long when we know we're not in a place of thriving? What was your experience with that?

Karin Cook: I think I knew I was not in a place of thriving, but I was so deep in the survival mode that even though that little voice was in my head, in my gut telling me this isn't how it's supposed to be, when you get stuck in that mode of just reacting for what you feel like is survival in those moments, then you just tolerate it because you think it's I could just have to do this and then that. I just have to do this. If I get through this and if we get through this, then that. When you're not listening and paying attention and being intentional, I think it's just a survival mode and you get stuck in it and you're just trying to get by.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yeah. And it is, we are working off of all of our old patterns in our brains and we just get up and keep doing the damn thing. Sometimes years go by and all of a sudden you're like, I've been getting up and doing the damn thing for years and it just doesn't feel good anymore, which is where you got to the saddest part of your story. I don't think it's sad. It doesn't evoke sadness. It evokes anger and frustration. Is that you knew that you needed something and you thought this was it. In your previous employer, which I'm happy to report that you no longer work for, names not needed to be put out, although I'm not convinced that at some point in my career I won't publish a Taylor Swift- like exposé of all the shitty leadership behavior that I have experienced in my work. And if that should happen, I won't be afraid to name names, but we're not there today. We're not there today. But you went to your leader. I use that term lightly. You went to the person above you on the org chart, let's say it like that, not really a leader. You said, " Hey, I want to do this because I know I need this for me." And quite frankly, this experience is a great marketing opportunity for organizations. It gets your name in front of thousands of people, but you went to him with vulnerability and said I want to do this and what was the response?

Karin Cook: He was not supportive. That conversation when I went to him was not the first time that we had talked about or that I had tried to be vulnerable in the sense that I'm burned out like I need something kind of thing. So that was not the first time we had that conversation, but it was almost in a making fun of me sense that I would even think that this was something... I, of course, led with the professional opportunities and the network and what it would mean, could mean for my role there and just met with complete disbelief that I would even be asking for something like this. So it didn't feel good, but I also knew going into that conversation that's the exact response that I was going to get.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: When people show you who they are, believe them.

Karin Cook: Yes, exactly.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yeah. Sometimes it takes that sort of painful catalyst to get us so frustrated, angry, upset,-

Karin Cook: So frustrated.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ... where we're just like, no.The biggest takeaway that I want people to hear from this experience that you had is we have to choose ourselves.

Karin Cook: Yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: The very first stage of burnout, which I've been talking about incessantly now since the event, is that we feel to prove ourselves and we have to flip that script. Proving ourselves is rooted in our human need for connection. So it's not crazy. It's a basic need that we have, but it's when the need to connect overrides the need to be and the need to take care of ourselves first. So the need to be and the need to belong, our human needs, but when that need to connect and serve everybody else and just keep doing the thing and not paying attention to our own needs, and what you experienced in that moment was, no, I'm not going to do that anymore. It's for me and you decided to do it anyway.

Karin Cook: I did, yeah, and it felt really good.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I'm so proud of you for that.

Karin Cook: Yeah, thank you.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: When you said yes to you, when you made that decision, how did you feel in that moment?

Karin Cook: I felt instantly just lighter. Brave is probably a good word to use because I felt very brave because for so many years in those moments, I just made the other choice and I didn't choose me. It was always there was a sense of fear and that courageous what could, what if, that kind that thing. It just felt really good to have chosen me and for it to feel so good, to have walked into that because I literally made that decision like the day before Rise & Thrive, and then walked into that room and it's like, yeah, this was right. Yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: That gives me chills. The act of walking in that room was the act of choosing you.

Karin Cook: Yeah, it was.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: That makes me so happy. I felt lighter response is one I hear often from people who've gone through Rise& Thrive, but also just people that have chosen something for themselves. It's interesting because the burden that we carry that is a weight of not choosing ourselves, that's to me, where burnout starts. It's just heavy. It's just like I put the rocks in my backpack and I carried that shit again today, which ironically or not so ironically, because it's my experience and I created it, the first act that you all did as a group was to release some of those burdens.

Karin Cook: inaudible how hard I threw that rock off that bridge.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: So to give you some context, listeners, they receive a backpack the first day and it has literal rocks in it. We asked them to write on those rocks what are those burdens that they are continuing to carry and then we walked ourselves down to a place where there's water and heaved those suckers over the bridge and released them. You said you heftily released. That's exactly the metaphor that I was looking for, is I want you to feel lighter because you chose this experience. It doesn't have to be a seven- month experience called Rise& Thrive. You can feel lighter today by choosing yourself. If you want to do the exercise that we did, you can replicate it easily. Just pick up a handful of rocks, write your burdens on them, and you don't even have to be near water. Find a field somewhere. Do something, but just hurl those things and stop carrying them around.

Karin Cook: Well, and then as you go through the process and as you move forward from that day, you even said later in that room, we're not picking those rocks back up because you're going to think about yourself crawling down that hill into that dirty cold water. There were a couple of times, and there still are, frankly sometimes, where I have to like, I'm not picking that up. I'm not picking that up.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Metaphors are good. Symbolism is good to picture yourself in that moment. I've used things like that oftentimes in my life to remind myself, no, we're not going back there. The other part of your story that I think is really important for people to hear is because of this community of Rise& Thrive women that is now, I don't know, 26 or so women strong, when I heard your story, before I even knew if you were going to sign up, no invoices had been sent, no contracts had been signed and I said I want you to have a career that you deserve. The rally cry of the women of the community of Rise& Thrive, they just sent out a message and said, " Hey, let's help a girl out," and you had how many meetings set up in 24 hours?

Karin Cook: Four. They were legitimate, perfect. Yeah, they were four. We talked on a Wednesday afternoon, late in the afternoon and Friday morning was the first in- person meeting that I had with somebody from your network.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: So one of the things I talk about in the book is to have a community that is outside of your company. So yes, we want great relationships inside our company. My goodness, life is too short not to like the people that you work with, but we also need an outside community that supports us over the company sometimes, whether it's with ideas or fears or vulnerabilities, things that you don't feel safe talking about inside the company or when you need people to help you find other opportunities outside the company. So I was thrilled, not surprised, but thrilled that the ladies just stepped up and said, we got you girl. And PS to our listeners, you had another job within what period of time?

Karin Cook: It was like five weeks when I got the offer.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Now it's just a part of our story together. But if you weren't living it and you back away from that and you think about, okay, you sent an email, we had a conversation, you had four meetings and others, other people introduce you to people as well, it wasn't just our community, but you had another job in five weeks. So we carry these burdens, we just keep going, we just say, I'll just do the next best thing. And for years, living a life of survival, striving, and within five weeks, you were in a completely different role, same industry, but that's just when you zoom out, look at it that way, it's like, holy crap.

Karin Cook: Yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I love it. I love it so much and I love the culture and the community that you are a part of now. It makes my heart happy. As you've gone through the experience of Rise& Thrive, there are several thrive tools, different experiences that you go through as a community. Within those tools, one of the things you said that has been most helpful is just the time and the space to process. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Karin Cook: The time and the space to process and the journaling and just getting it all out and all those years of survival mode, there isn't any time to process and think about or deal with whatever that is, and you just push it down, deal with it later, and then there is never any later. So the space of Rise& Thrive just gave me the opportunity to stop and just really listen to everything that was going on in my head, most of which was reminding me why I shouldn't choose myself. So changing that narrative and just really listening to, no, I know and I can follow these thoughts that are coming out and process them in a really good, healthy, healing way. Again, those are all things that I've used at one point in my life or another, but never as intentionally, as consistently. I mean just the simple, you get up in the morning and you're quiet and you think about and you listen to what it is that you need. It's just the space to do that.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: It's funny because when you're marketing something that is so profoundly different than things that you've gone through in the past, people will ask me for the timed outline of the sessions because we're so used to just we have to be just consuming all the time, and that's not what this is at all. But until you've experienced it, it's been really hard for me to articulate from a marketing perspective how profound space is on a consistent basis because people just can't wrap their heads and hearts around, I'm going to pay for space.

Karin Cook: Yeah. You're not getting it anywhere else. I think I share this in one of our sessions too. The timing of when Rise& Thrive starts is in September. So we were going into fall in Indiana, and I think I've shared. It's a joke along my circle of friends that I'm not a nature girl. I know I'm not a camper. I'm not any of those things. When you're just quiet and you're listening to how the trees... The weather was so perfect and it really was transformational for me. I wouldn't say that I am a nature girl now, but I have an appreciation for the calmness and the peace and how the earth's energy can help me.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yeah, I'm pretty sure you're not buying a tent and heading out for any kind of camping experience any time soon.

Karin Cook: I'll open the window and listen to the trees.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: But that, I loved when you said that because it is so true that nature provides all of what we need if we're paying attention, and even the change of the season. You were in that season of letting things die and fall away.

Karin Cook: Mm- hmm.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I was doing my daily stillness this morning and I went out on a walk with the dog, and now we're in spring in the Midwest, and the same thing holds true now in this season. I'm looking at how green the grass has become in the last few weeks and the buds on the trees and I'm just like, ooh, it feels like there's something new ready to bloom, which is true, but it also feels that way inside my life and inside my heart. I think that's just beautiful. This experience took a JW Marriott kind of girl and said, " Well, nature's okay too. Maybe I will inaudible."

Karin Cook: Exactly.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: One of the things you shared that I love too is you have a young daughter who's being influenced by your life every day and she came home one day. Tell us that story.

Karin Cook: Well, just her being quiet. They're consuming and just recognizing that I was doing the daily stillness and being quiet. She sees it and then I think she sees a difference in how it impacts my life, yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I just remember her saying, because you didn't have music or TV inaudible-

Karin Cook: inaudible you've done, right, sometimes?

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yeah. And the candle was burning and it was quiet, and she was like, " What are you doing?

Karin Cook: What are you doing? Yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: What are you doing?" and it's like, nothing.

Karin Cook: Nothing.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Well, why? How old is she? 15?

Karin Cook: 15, mm- hmm.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yeah.

Karin Cook: Yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I particularly love that this season, everybody had kids.

Karin Cook: I know.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: In fact, one of them had one just days after the event, and second one days after the event.

Karin Cook: Right.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: But why I love that so much is what I'm trying to steward is what we call the age of humanity. Those kinds of changes are not quick fix changes. Those take years and generational change. I get really excited when I think about your daughter is now experiencing you differently, which has way more profound impact on her choices than anything else could in her life, and that's good stuff.

Karin Cook: That makes me emotional and I have to just let that go because for so many years, she saw me just getting up and doing the thing and the difference is so important.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: We can't go back and change the past.

Karin Cook: No, we can't.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I think with my kids that them seeing me choose to change is more influential than if they would've just experienced what they see today, because they now can feel the difference in our home and in our conversations.

Karin Cook: Yeah. And she sent me a text message after. It was early Thursday morning on March 9th and she said, "I'm so happy to see you choosing yourself and I'm insanely proud to call you my mom." So she sees it for sure.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh, my gosh, I didn't know know that.

Karin Cook: Yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Okay. 10:00 AM and I'm already crying. All right. Wow. And for a 15- year- old-

Karin Cook: I know.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ...to articulate that kind of thought and emotion.

Karin Cook: Yeah. At 15, she goes to a huge high school in Hamilton County and you don't want to stand out. You got to fit in. So she's constantly, I'm telling her, you're polishing yourself up like a marble. When you put them on the table, they're all just going to roll away. Think about the puzzle piece and how you show up with it. Those are heavy things for 15- year- olds to try and process with their friends in that age, but being able to introduce... So I'm always like, you're a puzzle piece today, not a marble.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I didn't realize that was just regular language in your house. I love that.

Karin Cook: Yeah, regular language now, yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: If you're new here, the metaphor is that marbles are perfect, round, shiny, beautiful, and oftentimes we're trying to perfect ourselves by shining ourselves up every day. But if you take a handful of marbles and put them on a table, they all roll away. They don't stick together. Puzzle pieces are each different with our jaggedy ass edges. The characteristics of the puzzle pieces are when you put them together, they're stronger, more beautiful, and every piece matters. That to me, when quite frankly God gave me that metaphor, I can remember the day I was sitting writing about the concepts of uniqueness and it literally just bubbled into my spirit. So weird. I'd never thought about it before and it literally was just like, boom, that's it. I wrote it down in the book and it's now the thing that I think that people remember most about.

Karin Cook: Yeah, that's easy. Yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yeah, because it is so simple to-

Karin Cook: So simple, but so powerful.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ... visualize,yeah. That's good. That's good stuff. Several of our sessions, we bring in other thrive guides that provide different perspectives and tools and things in preparing you ultimately for the event on International Women's Day, March 8th, but not as the end. That's the beginning. It's like the seven months of the experience is the learning and the preparation and then on March 8th, when you stand on that stage to Stand Tall in Your Story, in my mind, that's when we push go.

Karin Cook: Yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: That's when the group experience with me leading ends, but you all stay together as a group and you continue to use these tools and support each other. So it's a lifetime transformation, not an end to the experience. That experience on March 8th is nerve- racking. You got no notes. You got no podium. It's just you on a stage in front of hundreds of people. Some of the tools that you learn in that experience help you prepare for that.

Karin Cook: Just Eliza's like the tapping and the helping channel that energy. Like I said, it's nerve- racking, big heavy emotions that you're trying to channel and that still articulate your message in a good way for people to understand, but some of those tactics and just understanding the science and what's happening physically in your body when you're trying to manage those, what she taught and her being there obviously and helping walk us through that and focus on it on that day. But I was just so proud of myself that I was able to get through it and not cry, but to feel good the entire time I was up there. The stuff she does is amazing.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: She helps our ladies regulate their nervous system. What's fascinating again, just like the space and the stillness, is the things that she teaches on how to regulate your nervous system we're all free, simple, and available to us every single day. Tapping is one of them, to tap on certain points of your body and your face, head areas to release energy through meridian points. You can Google tapping and learn a ton about it. It's amazing, free, simple, easy to do and profound, and envisioning yourself on that stage before you do it. We do exercises like that and the daily stillness to regulate every day. Eliza is amazing. So Eliza Kingsford, I highly recommend that you follow her on Instagram or wherever you do your social media stuff. To hear you say, I'm proud and it felt good on the stage, because when we first start talking about preparing your story... Tell our listeners what that first day is like.

Karin Cook: You just have no idea what you're going to talk about and everybody says, and I think we all felt like, I don't have a story. Nobody wants to. It's very intimidating and overwhelming because you just don't know, but you promised and it's true.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: That's my favorite part standing backstage is recalling the comments from that day. Oh, I don't have a story. I don't know. Nobody's going to want to hear my story. We literally spend hours just helping you process through all of that discomfort and getting all of that out. Then when I watch each of you walk out onto that stage with a beautiful story that you've practiced and it's just my favorite part of the whole-

Karin Cook: Yeah, it's awesome.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ... deal.And to talk about you versus talk about banking or business... You're no stranger to speaking.

Karin Cook: Sure.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: You're in sales and you're in the community constantly serving, but the idea of telling your own story gets people a little wrapped around the axle.

Karin Cook: Yeah, for sure.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I could remember, who was it said, " Just let me talk about Jesus." Stephanie.

Karin Cook: Stephanie, yeah.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: She's like, " I'll talk about anything just don't make me talk about me." Yeah, it's good stuff. It's really good stuff. Now that you've told your story, which will now play at the end of our interview, the listeners will get to hear the audio of your story, what are you carrying with you today? Of course, we've heard the stories, the way you're sharing it with your daughter and how that's impacting you. Is there anything else that you're thinking about, okay, what's next? Now that I know I've got this courage within me, anything on your mind about next?

Karin Cook: It's just a process of I can look out and plan intentionally, but really just, well, dream. That's the word that you use in Rise& Thrive, not being stuck, but it's just I chose myself. I'm proud and like, okay, what is next? I don't know that I have the answer for that, but it feels good to be in a place that I am confident to do it and I know that whatever it is that I dream, I can do whatever. So I don't know what's next yet, but I love that.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: That is a mic drop moment. We're just going to put a bow on this interview because that is a beautiful message and I know that there are people out there thinking, Ooh, what's that like? So if anybody is now hearing this and thinking maybe I want to do Rise& Thrive, people in the Indianapolis market, what would you say to them?

Karin Cook: You want it? You should do it. If you think you need to do it, you need to do it. Choose yourself.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Love it. Love it. So now, here is Karen's story.

Karin Cook: Before it happened, my pen was full of ink. I'm not talking about a pen in the traditional sense. Google's definition of a pen is a writing instrument, well, it's an instrument used to write or draw with ink. I'm speaking about it in more of a metaphorical sense, the gift that each one of us has given to write the chapters of our story. Like I said, my pen was pretty full of ink and I was in a particularly damn good chapter of my story when it happened. I had a job I felt fulfilled at. My marriage was good. I felt loved, safe, and secure. Then when I was eight months pregnant, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I froze. I was scared and in shock. What was going to happen to my baby girl? Would I be there to be her mom? In that moment, I had to hand my pen over to the doctors and nurses to heal me. Anybody who's been through cancer treatment or any kind of medical treatment knows that it can be draining both physically and emotionally. Things happen to your body that you are not in control of. All you can do is just get through it. Well, spoiler alert, I got through it. I beat the cancer and my beautiful daughter is 15 years old and thriving today. But one thing that I didn't do after that treatment was take that pen back from those doctors and nurses and refill the ink. I had a lot going on. I was trying to adjust to motherhood and create this beautiful life that I had dreamed about for my family. I was going through a job transition because the year was 2008 and I was working in the mortgage industry, so anybody that is... Right, yeah, you knew it was falling apart at the seams. So I had to get a new job and my husband also lost his job. We had bills to pay, things to do. I had to forge ahead. I was in survival mode and quite frankly, even if I wanted to refill my pen, I didn't know where it was. I emerged with this insane need to control everything and everybody around me, and I wasn't even in control of my own narrative because I didn't have my pen. I would wake up every day and immediately look outside for how I was supposed to feel. How is my husband today? Is he having a good day? Is he having a bad day? What does my child need? Well, my husband and I had more bad days than good, and there were moments during that time where I felt like I was standing in front of him, waving my pen, pleading for him to take it, to write a chapter that would make us both happy again. He never took that pen. Instead, he decided to leave and we got divorced. Things at work were not much better. I was working in a toxic environment led by a manager who was controlling and controlled us all with fear. There were times I would try to offer a suggestion and I would be met with this crazy ass response that I was crazy and no, Karen, that would never work. What are you thinking? Or worse, he would ignore me. Recently in a meeting, we were at a table and he went around to each one of my peers asking if anybody had anything to contribute for the greater good. When he got to me, he paused, made direct eye contact just to be sure that I knew he saw me, and then he went right on to the next person. He ignored me. I felt unseen and not worthy of contributing. I was so frustrated, I wanted to scream. I was trying to put everything back in the box, control everything. One day I was scrolling LinkedIn and I came across a post about Rise& Thrive. I hopped over to Rebecca's website, read about the program, and filled out the why would you want to participate in Rise& Thrive. But the last question was, why do you want to participate in Rise& Thrive? I told Rebecca a story about how my first boss told me that I was one of the most courageous young people he had ever had the opportunity to work with. I could feel that courage somewhere deep inside me, but I just didn't know my way back to it. 10 minutes later, Rebecca and I had a conversation on the phone and it was the most loving, caring conversation I had had with somebody after I had showed my humanness to them. It felt like Rebecca was reaching through the phone with my pen in the palm of her hand trying to give it to me. Right. I knew Rise& Thrive was what I needed, but to get there, I had to go through that nasty, crazy ass boss of mine and ask for permission. Let's just say that conversation did not go well and at the end of it, he told me he would not support my participation in Rise& Thrive in any way. I was devastated and angry. I was so angry because in that moment I realized I had spent the last decade of my life serving in an organization that did not care about me, that did not see me. So what did I do? I joined Rise& Thrive anyway. I took a bold, courageous step forward for myself, and then I paused, much like I did when I was diagnosed 15 years ago, but this time was so different. I didn't freeze, I paused. I paused and I listened or felt how my body felt. I quickly realized that my nervous system had been in fight or flight for the last 15 years. I listened to the way that I was talking to myself in my head and I changed that narrative and I relearned that I am capable. But the most important thing that I did was I literally picked my pen up and I started journaling, because after all this time, I was not afraid of what was coming out because I'm capable and I was ready to process my life. But after all this time of trying to avoid it and going over it, around it, anywhere, I learned that the only way forward is to actually go through it. Go through every single chapter of your life, the happy ones, the sad ones, the ones of grief and so much heartache that it makes you physically ill and the only thing that you can do that day is get out of bed and go to the bathroom. I have a new job now. I work for an amazing organization and a lovely human being and a team of humans that care about me. They ask for my opinion and my feedback. And when I give it to them, they listen to me. Picking my pen back up feels powerful and the power gives me the ability to make the decisions about what I want for my life. Take a minute and think about who's holding your pen because like mine, yours has power and you shouldn't give it away. You should keep it because at the end of the day, we're all in charge of our own story. ( singing)

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Thanks for listening to this episode. I would love it if you would leave a rating and a review on Apple Podcasts and then go to wethrive. live. First thing you'll see is a place to drop your email and join the movement. I'll send you tools that you can use to thrive in life and business. Hey, you all. Fun fact, did you like the music for the podcast? That is actually my son, Cameron Hession. I would love it if you would go to Spotify and iTunes and follow him and download some of his other music. My personal favorite's TV Land.


"The most important thing I did was I literally picked my pen up, and I started journaling because I was no longer afraid of what was coming out, and I was ready to process my life."

In this next episode in our Stand Tall in Your Story speech series, you'll hear from Karin Cook. Karin is the VP of Treasury Management at Merchants Bank of Indiana. Today she shares how she took charge of her story through her Rise & Thrive experience. Listen in to how a “no” from a boss started her journey of self-discovery.

In this episode, you'll learn:

  1. Why we stay stuck in survival mode, and how can we get out of it
  2. Why taking time for ourselves to process and reflect on our life is important
  3. How choosing to change can influence our children

Connect with Rebecca: