Fire Your Narrator with Guest Valerie Gordon

This week the Mental Health Mamas are joined by Valerie Gordon, author of the book, Fire Your Narrator!: A Storyteller’s Guide to Getting Out of Your Head and Into Your Life. Valerie is a ten-time Emmy-winning producer, an expert storyteller and delightfully relatable and connective! You won’t want to miss this episode and the chance to learn about Squash, Potato and Ditchy!

Notes and Mentions

Visit Valerie’s website: https://commander-in-she.com/


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This podcast is sponsored by: Better Help

Transcript

Serena: Hey Everyone, I’m Serena.

Tina: And I’m Tina and we are the Mental Health Mamas.

[MUSIC]

Serena: Welcome to No Need to Explain, we are so glad you’re here.

Tina: First, as always, a quick disclaimer.

Serena: We come to you NOT as mental health professionals or experts in the field, but rather as the parents of kids who struggle with their emotional health.

Tina: If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek professional support. You’ll find a variety of resources in our show notes and on our website, NoNeedToExplainPodcast.com.

Serena: Tina and I work hard to bring all of you listeners out there a weekly podcast that is strength-based, supportive and infused with hope. We generally feel good about what we put out to the world yet there are often internal messages or internal narration that throw in those feelings of doubt and insecurity. And, I know I can’t be alone in this.

Tina: You are totally not alone at all as we often say here. Not alone at all! I struggle a lot with the messages I tell myself and I would never say those to people that I love. So we are super excited to have a guest here with us today who wrote an entire book on this topic! And I just want to bring up the fact that we had a recording scheduled a few weeks ago and it didn’t happen so we are going to let her tell us a little bit about that and I think she will normalize this kind of feeling we are sharing of the not enough.

Serena: Yeah! So Valerie Gordon spent 20 years working as a television producer and she happens to be our very first guest to have an Emmy. In fact she has 10 Emmy awards along with a variety of other awards but that’s not actually why we’ve invited her here today! She is here to talk about her amazing new book, Fire Your Narrator!: A Storyteller’s Guide to Getting Out of Your Head and Into Your Life. Valerie, welcome to the podcast!

Valerie: Thank you so much for having me. I am excited to speak with you. Take 2 on this attempt!

Tina: So tell us a little bit about that and whether Squash one of your characters in your book is here with you today?

Valerie: Yes! Absolutely but first let me explain to all of your listeners that we had previously set a recording time but I completely goofed on and missed and didn’t show up for. And I was absolutely mortified to have wasted your time and in the immediate moment, if you could imagine if you make a mistake like that, you miss an appointment or you let someone down, what is the first thing you say to yourself? And I will go through my reactions in realizing that I had made that error and since you referenced Squash, let me introduce her to the audience. So my name is Valerie but I have an invisible woman living in my head and her name is Squash. Ok now everyone is wondering, “Now who is this guest you have brought on today and why does she have an invisible woman in her head?”

Squash is what I have named my inner narrator. And while most people think of this voice as an inner critic because it tends to tell us very critical or very judgy type of things, in my new book Fire Your Narrator I explore 10 narrative types that I think are most common, particularly to women who take on a lot of responsibilities. High achieving women, caregivers, those who tend to put themselves last while we put everyone else first.

We all have that internal dialogue that talks us through our day. And that inner dialogue really helps set our external results. So this inner narrator that you have that talks you through your day that helps you create your narrative point of view, the way you view the world and one of the tips that I give in the book is to separate that voice whether it is overly critical or overly defeatist or doubting or questioning, to separate it by naming it. And so I have named my inner narrator Squash. And on my website I have a visual depiction of her, she is sort of like this evil viking looking woman, very rough and that has helped me separate the thoughts I have in the moment when I make a mistake or when I am feeling stressed or when I miss a podcast recording. What I say to myself is sort of Squash berating me but I can separate that story from the rest of me, the rest of my life so that I don't use that inner narration to kind of ruin my day. So I want to get into a little bit more of the book but I do want to revisit what happened in the moment when I realized I missed our scheduled podcast recording. And sort of the thought process that goes through it but if you are someone who feels like you have that inner voice in your head, sort of berating you, criticizing you, as you said, saying things to yourself that no one, you would never say to someone else. Just know that you can turn the volume down on it. It is nothing more than a story you tell yourself.

Serena: So I am curious, how common is this? I feel like it happens a lot for me and Tina and I talk about this all of the time. That personal narrator is kind of a jerk. Have you discovered that everybody has this or is this unique to certain people?

Valerie: I find that it is very common and in fact I am always surprised when I meet someone when I speak at a conference or offer a workshop and I meet that person who says, “I don’t have that, I don’t have that voice in my head.” And I think REALLY?! I mean I can’t imagine. What would I do with that much space, that much freedom and space in my head.

I think most people and in particular women tend to struggle with that inner narrative. That feeling of not being good enough. Or not working hard enough. Or people don’t appreciate me. Whatever your inner story is, I think most people are familiar with it and maybe we just haven’t given thought to that inner voice isn’t always telling you the truth.

And so in the book Fire Your Narrator I explore the 10 narrative types, because to me, the inner critic is just one of the narrative types. There are 9 others, it is the most common one. And in addition to exploring the different narrative types, what they sound like so that readers can map their own, I then give tips to help quiet that voice, rewrite the narrative, and change up the story. So, this is for anyone who feels like they are stuck on the same page, the same things keep happening over and over again. Things don’t get better and we blame our external environment when often it does start with our inner story. So if you are someone who thinks, “Yeah I do that” that is not at all uncommon, in fact in my world (I work mostly in the corporate sphere with high achieving professional women) I would say that doesn’t help them. That is not a safeguard against it. The more high achieving women I have met the MORE they seem to struggle with this. It almost seems to go hand in hand with success. And the other thing that can really set off that inner narrator is stress and conflict. And when you think the work that you do and the audience that you reach, we are all dealing with challenges. And many of those feel out of our control. And that is often when your inner narrator will get most at work in telling you stories about that. So how do we change the story, how do we take control, take command of that narrator so we can quiet down those unhelpful or outdated thoughts and create a more positive inner voice?

Tina: Yeah, so I am just going to circle back for a minute and say you said that you coach women, it seems to me, as a woman, we are expected to do so many things, right? And I am not a corporate woman in a high powered position at all and I just feel like the more we are expected to do, right, we are high achieving, we want to do all of these things, the more those voices, I can imagine, the more those voices are…challenge you in ways. So I’m curious if you could point to a place in your book, maybe just give us an example of…I can imagine the internal voices that are positive… we can just leave those alone, right? And those ones that are not so good. Like give us an example of one of those internal voices and something we can do to keep ourselves together.

Valerie: Sure and before I do that, before I give an example of some of the narrative types, let me call attention to the power of words. Obviously the stories we tell ourselves all start with words and what you just mentioned is something I want to follow up on because one of the things I hear often a lot from women who are caring for their families. When you say, what do you do, that awful question, what do you do and they say, “I’m just a mom.” And that word “just” diminishes the incredible role that we play. So while certainly a lot of my work through my company Commander-In-She is based in the corporate world. That’s not to say that other people can’t benefit from the value of finding the power in your own story and sometimes just eliminating a single word, in this case that word “just”, stop justifying yourself. I’m a mom. I’m caring for my family. That’s enough of a statement. When we say, “I’m just a mom”, now we’re making a judgment call about what we do ourselves and that comes, again, from an inner story that we’ve told ourselves that somehow we are not enough.

So that’s some of what I explore in the book. There’s a chapter on acknowledging, recognizing those red flag words and how that creates our inner narrative. But as an example of some of the inner narrators in the book…I mentioned that The Critic is the most common one but there are 9 others and I’ll give you an example of some of them. So the next one would be what I call the Runaway Narrator. And the Runaway Narrator will take a storyline, something that happens, a circumstance and run with it into the future. So let’s say you get up in the morning and have a very busy day and your child is throwing a tantrum and the water heater breaks and you spill your coffee all over your laptop first thing in the morning. And we’ve all had days like that. And the inner critic, of course, jumps right in…my inner critic, my Squash would say, look at you, you’re such an idiot. Or you can’t do anything right. That’s the critical voice.

Tina: My outter Squash says that. Right Serena? I don’t know. My Squash gets out sometimes and says things right out loud. Only to people I trust, but it’s true. Anyway, sorry. That was just an aside.

Serena: Yep.

Valerie: No because it’s so much a part of your narrative, right? You almost don’t realize it. It just happens. You immediately criticize yourself but then this Runaway Narrator which is a different narrative type will run with the story. And what I mean by that is if you’re the person who then starts thinking, oh, the day is ruined, nothing ever goes right for me. Nothing is going to go well. My week is already downhill and everything is going to be ruined. So we’re already running with the storyline. Remember the story is just a series of circumstances, of challenging circumstances that happen to us. And now we’re taking it into a not yet written next chapter where the rest of the day or even the week is ruined. And I’ve seen this in other situations too where, you know, let’s say you have a friend who has cancelled a lunch date and the Runaway Narrator will combine with the Overthinking Narrator, a different narrative type, to say, gee, I wonder if she’s angry with me. I wonder if I should call her and find out what’s going on. Maybe it’s because of that thing I said last week, you know, when I mentioned that the sweater that she was wearing looked a little worn and needed to be replaced. Maybe she’s angry with me about that. And I wonder what I should do next. I feel really bad about it and I’m hoping that she’s going to forgive me in time for her birthday dinner next week. So we’ve basically started again with a situation and allowed both an Overthinking Narrator and a Runaway Narrator to run with that story into a direction where we don’t necessarily want to go.

So that’s an example of a narrative type that is different than an Inner Critic. It’s not scolding or berating you but it is creating an inner story that is going to have external consequences.

Serena: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, I can relate to all of that.

Tina: Yeah, it’s amazing, right?

Serena: Yeah, so I’m curious. We introduced you and talked about your…all of your awards and your recognitions and you’ve gone in a different direction now with your company and your book. So I’m curious if Squash has anything to do with why you shifted or were there other reasons involved?

Valerie: Oh, thank you for asking that question. I think the answer is kind of complicated but after spending 20 years in media and I had that job that everybody said was a great job and people would kill for it and I just kind of felt like it had run its course and it was starting to kill me. And I faced a really bad case of burnout and I remember thinking, just not being motivated to go to work, not feeling appreciated, not feeling like I was good enough no matter how hard I worked. That’s my inner narrator. It’s called a Striving/Striver-type narrator where no matter what I do, Squash tells me it’s not good enough. I need to do more, I need to work harder. And I reached a really debilitating point of burnout where I had to look at my life and say, what do you want? I mean, maybe this wasn’t how the story was supposed to go but you’re all about stories. You put stories on the air for 20 years. What happens next? It’s your story to write and that’s when I decided to leave my corporate career and help share what I know about the power of storytelling outside of the media space. And so I founded my company, Commander-In-She, and I now run workshops and speak at corporations helping high achieving women with the storytelling skills necessary to land the job, nail the presentation, grow their personal brand.

But I also speak about the power of the inner story because it seems to be this story that so many people are interested in. It’s just a really universal conflict that we all face. And so that’s why I wrote Fire Your Narrator because as I say, you can’t create a great external story in any realm if you are struggling with a faulty or outdated inner story. Everything starts there. And in the book as I explore the narrative types and the tips to quiet them down, I want to be clear that this is not false positivity. I know a number of people who, you know, they find a lot of value in mantras and positive self-talk which I agree is a wonderful thing to do. That never really worked for me. It just didn’t feel truthful or authentic. And so I’m more about neutralizing the statements and more about looking…using my journalism background to look at the objective facts. So that if you wake up one day and your inner Squash says, oh, your jeans don’t fit you fat pig or like those lovely things that we say to ourselves. I know some people would say, well look in the mirror and say something nice about yourself and I agree of the value of that but for me that feels like a false positivity. I’d rather look at, you know, what’s the emotion that’s driving the thought and what are the objective facts? So in that case it’s, you know, my jeans are feeling tight today. Of course, I would blame the washing machine, of course! But you know really…and what’s the emotion behind that? I’m feeling disappointed in myself because I’m unhappy with how I feel in my own body right now. I mean, looking at things from an objective way tends to change the story without pretending there’s any false positivity there. And so it’s just a different approach to changing the story, getting out of our head and back into our life without feeling like we have to rely on pretending everything is OK when we don’t feel that it is.

Tina: Yeah, I definitely can…well… First of all, it’s amazing to me that you meet anyone who does not relate to this because seriously, I feel like you’re in my brain right now, for sure. From the jeans in the dryer to whatever. But the other piece I really love about it is you just said, tune into your feeling. We are all about the feels here. No Need to Explain. And I think the idea that your feelings are always valid and if you tune into that feeling word then you’re just being real with yourself which is really good. So you talked a little bit about this but we want you to maybe share a little bit more. Aside from your internal storytelling, we know that you’re a big believer in the power of storytelling to pursue a variety of different goals. So can you share a little bit more about that with us?

Valerie: Absolutely. Stories are really universal and perhaps our best connection device. When you think about the history of stories. We’ve been telling them since the beginning of time. Hieroglyphics were an early form of storytelling. You know our ancient cavemen used to sit around the fire telling stories. Who is a kid who didn’t want one more story from Mom or Dad? And there’s actual reason, there’s scientific reason in the brain about why stories work. There’s this sort of stickiness about them, about the details and the emotion of the story that stays with us. So it’s why storytelling has become such a big business in the business world. And I’m not just talking about marketing and sales and personal branding but how we relate to and connect with other people. I could come on your podcast and share a lot of facts and figures but if I tell a story and I’m going to because I have to tell the story about missing our first recording and what happened next but if I tell a story, it’s almost like the listener experiences it as if they are in the scene, like a motor-visual experience. And that helps you relate better and understand better. Like you just said, oh I feel like you’re in my head. That’s because there is a relatability certainly to this challenge of our inner stories but when we get honest and we talk about those stories, that’s how you create those really great connections.

Serena: So let’s do it. Let’s hear the story.

Valerie: I’m only a little mortified if we want to talk about the main feeling. But I want to tell the story for two reasons. One, because I still feel I owe you an apology and two, because it allows me to go through my tips in my book about what I actually had to do in the moment when I realized I made a major goof. You can think about this in your life as to when you made a mistake as to what happened next. So the set up to the story is that you were kind enough to schedule a recording date, you invited me on the podcast and we had a recording date that I neglected to put on my calendar. I had agreed to it and neglected to put it on my calendar. And then you also need to know that on the date that this recording was supposed to take place, I was having one of those days where I was feeling awesome about myself. I was getting all this work done, and picking my daughter up at school, I baked a meatloaf and look at me. I got all of my stuff together. And then I had put my phone away for a little bit and when I picked it up again I had an email that said something like I think you forgot about our recording session. And interesting because the immediate reaction I had was what I would call the Adamant Narrator, again one of those 10 narrative types in the book, the Adamant Narrator, because my first thought was, “No I didn’t.” It was almost a defensive reaction like, “No I didn’t. It was not on my calendar. No I didn’t. And you are wrong and I am right.” Almost that immediate, and then immediately replacing that was the, “Oh no! Oh no what did you do?” And so I took a look…I didn’t see anything in my email and took a look at my calendar. And it was clearly there in black and white and I had agreed to this time and I just never put it on my calendar which was my fault. Ok so here is what happens next. And this all happens in like 30 seconds. Squash, my inner narrator jumps in there and says, “Oh my God. You are so stupid. How could you miss this opportunity? You’re so dumb. You totally blew it.” So there is that critical narrator, right? She is going to jump in and tell me that and then the Runaway narrator that I mentioned before, Squash jumped in to this mode, which took me into the next chapter which was, “They are never going to have you back on. And by the way, your professional reputation is ruined and no one is going to want to work with you.” I mean talk about taking a train to doomsday. So this all happens in about 20 or 30 seconds. And there are some other narrators in there too who jumped in about “shoulda, woulda, coulda…why are you not better organized? You need to have an assistant if you can’t be organized. This should have been on your calendar.” So this was all in the first 30 seconds and then what I had to say to myself was STOP. Stop. Literally I just said the word stop because one of my first tips is just take a pause. We’ve got a swirling story in our head whatever your circumstances that is caused by a situation. So the first thing was stop. The second thing was, OK what are the objective facts? Let me look for what is really happening here. Have I ruined my entire career? Probably not, probably not. The facts are: I forgot to put something on my calendar and I missed an appointment. So that is it. And now we’ve stopped and we have named the facts. Let’s seek the evidence. That is objectively what happened. Then I look to name the emotion. So again part of that process of pausing is just to say, “How am I feeling right now?” And my first thoughts were, “I am embarrassed. I am remorseful. I’m angry with myself. And I am worried.” Just sort of laying that out there in my mind in the case of that pause allows me then to ask the two most important questions and I say this in the book, two easy questions to ask yourself in any stressful situation before you run with a story. The first is “so what?” and I don’t mean so what, the adamant narration So What!, I mean so what is the actual consequence here? What is actually going to happen? You missed the recording and you might not get another opportunity. And then the second question even more important is, “Now what?” Now what do you want to do because really the rest of the story is yours to create. And I knew immediately what I needed to do was to reply to that email with an apology. And own up to my mistake. And explain that I had neglected to put it on my calendar. And I apologized for wasting your time and it certainly won’t happen again if you give me another opportunity to meet with you but I understand that I have wasted your time is really sort of owning that and also to express a little bit of my remorse and, I think I said that I was embarrassed or mortified, and to explain that I am a human being and I made a mistake. And of course you were both so gracious in agreeing to reschedule with me. And I thought in some ways this story was meant to happen because to me it is a perfect example. It not only allows me to go through the tips with your audience, but also to say, you can write a book about how to fire your inner narrator and why it is important to do so and yet in a moment of stress or conflict, my inner narrator, my Squash, jumped right in and did all of the things in the book that I wrote about. So I don’t know that we ever fully change that inner story. We can only become aware of it and know how to quiet it, turn the volume down, look at it objectively and proceed in the way that’s best going to suit us. So thank you for allowing me to revisit and tell that story but also the opportunity to come back on. In the grand scheme of things when I think about it, if this had happened to a friend I would have said, “You missed a meeting. OK. Forgive yourself.” So why do we have such a hard time talking to ourselves the way we would talk to a friend?
Serena: Right…

Tina: So that is very interesting because Serena and I clearly are friends who were on waiting for you that day. And it is interesting that we both questioned ourselves. For sure, right Serena? We did. We were like, well maybe we need to make a calendar thing. Maybe we need to… we were totally questioning ourselves. So I think it is funny from both perspectives.

Serena: It is!

Valerie: It sounds like you both have a little bit of an overthinking narrator.

Tina: Oh we do!!

Valerie: I would like to ask each of you, what is the inner thought you tend to tell yourself most often and have we given this voice a name because if you haven’t I think you should name it today.

Tina: hmmmmm

Serena: Oh boy! OK.

Tina: I think that I do identify very closely with the Runaway Narrator in my head. I often go to that place where…and I say it to my kids, “Dead in a ditch”, that is where I go. That is exactly where I go. It is the place if I can’t get a hold of someone, if I have missed something, if I am on my way somewhere and … it is dead in a ditch. I don’t know what I call that person. That is where I go for sure.

Serena: Yeah again, I identified with maybe all of your different narrators but and I thought immediately of you Tina. Definitely the over thinker, I certainly have a critical inner narrator and when I read your book I was totally inspired, and Tina doesn’t like this but I named my inner narrator Potato. Inspired by your Squash because then I can mash the potato.

Valerie: I love that! And I love that you named it Potato because I get an immediate visual and it is almost silly right? So the next time that narrator jumps in and tells you something unhelpful, just think of a potato and you can picture yourself mashing it or whatever you need to do so I think Potato is a terrific name for your inner narrator. Tina, we need to name this narrator of yours, the one that goes to the ditch.

Tina: Oh goodness!

Valerie: Ditchy! You need to ditch that narrator.

Serena: Ditchy!

Tina: Ditchy! That’s good. I could add some words to that that rhyme but I won’t. Because we are PG here. Good, yes. That is it!

Valerie: Now you can ask Ditchy. Now what is the benefit of this thought? Obviously this is coming from a sense of anxiety because of how much you care for people. The first place you will go to is worry. But what is the benefit of that thought? How is it serving you? And so we can start reframing it and rather than saying, “Oh that won’t happen again” and that positive self talk, think about what is the benefit of this thought and where is it coming from and how might I quiet it down. I don’t think that Ditchy and Squash and Potato will ever fully go away they are a part of us but when we separate if from who we know who we are and the actions we take the more we will be able to craft a future story that allows us to enjoy our external results a little bit more and not get so stuck in our head and we didn’t even get in to my favorite narrator which is the Ruminating narrator which is the one who can’t let go of mistakes made in the past.

Serena: Oh I have that one too!

Valerie: I tell a story in the book about revisiting a really embarrassing moment from a corporate meeting where I was presenting and I accidentally, as I was talking, a little bit of spittle came out of my mouth and landed on this tray of pastries and it was one of those awful moments of do I address it, do I not say anything, did anybody see it and how I will wake up some days at 3:00 in the morning thinking about this. It was like 8 years ago! I mean what is the benefit of revisiting or ruminating on past mistakes. But that is another very strong narrator that I know many of us suffer from and you sort of have to stop that narrator. At what point can we put this story to bed? And sometimes with all of the narrators, and that’s why again, Serena I like that you said Potato, you have to have a sense of humor about it. My favorite writer Nora Effron once said that when you slip on a banana peel people laugh at you. When you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it is your laugh. So owning that inner voice, owning that part of ourself that criticizes us, tells us awful things that we would never say to someone else, have a sense of humor about it. We are really hard on ourselves. Maybe we need to lighten up and laugh a little bit. And tell Ditchy and Potato to get in the car and go for a ride and leave us alone for a couple of hours so we can get on with our lives.

Serena: Love it! So one of the questions we like to ask our guest who have a lot of stories to tell and you have certainly been on quite a journey. And you have learned a lot along the way which is one of the things we love so tell us something that you wish you had known earlier in your journey.

Valerie: I wish I had known that you can be more than one thing in your life. I think that I was always obsessed with this identity that I was going to to this and that was going to make me happy. And I was going to get this promotion and that would make me happy. And then I was going to become a mom and that would make me happy. There have been bursts of happiness all along and as both of you know, there have been challenges all along. And I recently just turned 50, like really recently, and I am really excited about this decade because I feel like I have finally come (I would not have known this in my twenties certainly, or thirties or even in my forties) that was when I started feeling this dissatisfaction of like what comes next. Now I am really optimistic about you can be more than one thing and you can do more than one thing and your identity can continue to flex and grow and you can explore. So people sort of make fun of this decade and I am really looking forward to it. And that would be my lasting advice to your listeners too is the stories that you tell yourself about who you are and what you can become are nothing more than stories. If you want to do something new all you have to do is turn that page and start plotting out what happens next. And take some action. Don’t let any old stories about who you are or what you can accomplish hold you back.

Tina: And I will toot our own horn by saying Serena, we have become those people in the last year. Right?

Serena: I know!

Tina: Who have put ourselves out there in ways we never expected to. I am a couple of years ahead of you in the 50s and I think that is a super important lesson. The reinvention doesn’t end. You can do whatever you want to do. I love the tips too so tell people where they can connect with you and where they can find your book. I am sure that everyone is going to buy it! Awesome! So tell us about that.

Valerie: Sure. You can go to FireYourNarrator.com and the book is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can look it up. Fire Your Narrator and it is also available for kindle. But you can go to Fireyournarrator.com and that will link to my website which is commanderinshe.com and you can learn more there and you can follow me on social media I am on Facebook at commanderinshe as well as instagram and twitter and I spend a lot of time on Linkedin as well: Valerie J Gordon. Please do check out the book. What I like to tell people is it is sort of a snarky self-help book. It is written with a lot of stories, personal stories and a lot of humor. It is a quick read and one that will make you smile at some of the things we tell ourselves and hopefully give you tips to get out of your head and into your life. And I want to thank you both not only for agreeing to the second recording after I goofed and missed the first but also for setting up the podcast when you talk about recreating yourself and doing things you have always wanted to do. Think about the impact you have in the creation of what you have done because it is not just about what you have done, it is about the stories you have created and the connection points so that our lives, just my coming on here today, we will be influencing each other as a result of our stories merging. If that makes sense. And that is only because you have created this opportunity for people to get together and share those stories. And everything that happens thereafter is a result of our stories connecting. I just think that that is really cool.

Serena: Thank you. You have shared lots of different tips for our audience and I think we will ask you for one more quick take away. What is your best advice for anyone out there who finds themselves struggling with their inner narrator?

Valerie: So I will take you on a very quick shopping trip to my favorite store, Target.

Serena: Ok.

Valerie: To tell a final story. Or pick any big box store where you go in for like 3 items and you end up spending $200 and walk out with a full cart and you have no idea how this happened. So I was in Target for three items and wound up filling my cart with all of the stuff I thought I needed and the cart was very rickety. And I live in Connecticut where it was snowy and I was trying to get this cart with all of this stuff I now owned to my car. And it is full and it is heavy and I am wondering why did I do all of this, why did I buy all of this stuff? Because now I own that stuff. And it made me think about the stories that we hold on to. Memories, things that have happened in the past that create our identity. It is like, if you think about going through all of your life experiences and you put them all in your shopping cart. And those are yours now to sort of push around and it’s heavy and it’s weighing you down and you are looking at all of this stuff like, “Do I really need this stuff?” And I say, take the time to unpack the cart. The metaphorical cart that is. So really look at what you are holding on to and does it serve you now? Does it have value for you? And unpack the cart and only put back into it what you most need. By the way the next time you go into Target or any other big box store, don’t take a cart because you will buy less. Just pick up the three things you need and get yourself to the check out as soon as possible.

Tina: So we don’t say, “I am going to Target. See you in $150 bucks!” That is what I usually say. Yeah! Exactly! I would also recommend moving. We have moved now 10 times. Move and then everything you go to buy you think, “Do I really need that thing because I am going to have to move it someday?”

Valerie: Exactly. And I like when the cashier says, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” I say, “No! I found a lot of stuff I was NOT looking for!”

Tina: Thanks a lot! Valerie, we so appreciate that this worked out, that you joined us today and I love that you have shared your inner narrator. And so many of us connect and identify with that so I personally found your book so incredibly helpful and I would encourage anyone listening, GO buy the book. Unless you are related to me and then you might get it for a holiday gift!

Valerie: Thank you so much for having me. I really hope we have the opportunity to meet in person someday. At the very least we can set up a separate playdate for a Squash and Potato and Ditchy and they can go hang out together.

Tina: Amazing. We will do that! So podcast friends, we are, as always, grateful for all of you listening and supporting us. You can help us out by visiting Apple podcasts, leaving us a review, subscribing and share with others. And I would just highlight what Valerie said today and that is that stories connect us. So we would love to hear from you. Go on to our website NoNeedtoExplainPodcast.com. You will find an email and we would love to hear some of your stories because we want to feel more connected to you.

Serena: And this is your gentle reminder to take good care of yourself while you are also taking care of your people.

Tina: Thanks again for listening!

Serena: Bye!

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