Disrupting Burnout

80. Purpose in the Mess with Carrie Zimmerman

March 08, 2023 Dr. Patrice Buckner Jackson Episode 80
Disrupting Burnout
80. Purpose in the Mess with Carrie Zimmerman
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Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to Disrupting Burnout - a podcast where we beat burnout so that you can love your career again! 

 As we continue our series on Women Who Define Disruption, this week’s guest is disrupting the traditional education system and helping students around the world avoid burnout. 

 Carrie Zimmerman is the founder of Uncommon Programs and Consulting and has over 18 years of experience in consulting and administration work in higher education and the nonprofit sector. 

 Her work addresses growing needs within universities to build communities of inclusivity and diversity, rebuild structures and systems that don't support equitable and just environments, and support each member of the community. 

 Ultimately, Carrie is on a mission to help empower administrators, governing boards, staff, faculty and students to thrive in their careers, embrace their own unique gifts, and be courageous in the face of injustice, bias, and hate. 

 It’s Time To Disrupt Burnout:

 08:20 - Meet Carrie Zimmerman

16:50 - Defining Disruption

23:00 - Question Every System

41:30 - Who’s Writing The Rules 

45:10 - Who Will You Be?

Purpose in the Mess Takeaways
●      “What I’m doing didn’t exist before I did it.” - Carrie Zimmerman

●      “Be who you are.” - Carrie Zimmerman

●      “Thank God I didn’t have a plan that I tried to stick to.” - Carrie Zimmerman

●      “Without burnout, I would not be here.” - Dr. PBJ

●      “Every disruption is messy.” - Carrie Zimmerman

●      “Life and growth are not linear.” - Carrie Zimmerman

●      “Running from disruption does not work.” - Carrie Zimmerman   

●      “The people writing the rules were not the people doing the work.” - Carrie Zimmerman 

●      “In the messiness, that's where the joy comes from.” - Carrie Zimmerman 

●      “The growth is in the journey.” - Carrie Zimmerman    


Connect With Carrie
Instagram: @carriezimm | https://www.instagram.com/carriezimm/

Website: www.uncommonprograms.com  

Connect with PBJ
●               To connect with Dr. PBJ, go topatricebucknerjackson.com

●               Follow Dr. PBJ on IG@drpatricebucknerjackson for#aspoonfulofpbj.

●               Need a dynamic transformational speaker?  Dr. PBJ is ready to serve.  Check outDr. PBJ Speaks | https://www.patricebucknerjackson.com/speaking

●               Support The Show |https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/lovepbj?locale.x=en_US

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Thank God, I didn't have a plan that I tried to stick to. Ooooooh! What is what is now and what is continuing to become is so much better than what I would have dreamed up. Hey, friend, welcome to the Disrupting Burnout podcast. I am your host, Dr. Patrice Buckner Jackson. But you can call me PBJ. Friend, you are in the right place here at disrupting burnout, we are giving you the tools to disrupt and beat burnout. So you can love your career and your work. Again, friend, we get it, you're in the right place at the right time we speak your language, we know what it feels like, we know that caring and serving in a compassionate way can cost you and your body in your mind and your spirit and your relationships. And this is your place to come to be refreshed. This is where you get refilled. This is the place to be revived. This is the place to fill your cup so that you can serve from your overflow friend. I'm so glad you're here and I'm ready to get started. How about you? Let's get into it. Hey, friends, it is PBJ again, and here we are y'all this series of women who define disruption, who this thing is good, good. And today is gonna get good or Oh, you heard what I said, is gonna get good or what I tell you, the woman that I am introducing you all to today, I credit her for where I am and the work that I'm doing. And let me tell you why. She was the first woman that I remember that I met who stepped out of the box and expanded my definition of who I could be as an educator. And I remember, she would come to my office, she came to my institution to serve my students. And she would come to my office and always start with a conversation. How are we doing what's happening in last year? What's going on, because she always wanted to make sure that her service was catered to what we needed at the time. But in those conversations, I always took the time to say tell me how you did this. There was always a spark, there was always something in my heart that was connected to this path that she's on. And she has always from that day, probably 10 years ago, to this day has freely shared and freely loved on me, and I'm so grateful. And I am too excited to introduce you all to my friend, Carrie Zimmerman. Carrie, welcome to Disrupting Burnout. I love you so much. And I'm so glad you're here. Dr. PBJ. I don't I don't know how you expect me to talk after that. After that intro. I remember the first time we were in the same space together. And it was on a campus and we were there to serve students and some hard things had been going on on campus. And I remember specifically what they were. But what I really remember was in the space that we shared, I thought this is a soul that I have known a long time. It just felt like I knew you and wanted to know you. And this it has been 10 or 11 years of this sometimes bumpy, sometimes ruptured life that we have walked together in far away from each other miles. We've never been in the same physical spaces except for stolen moments in between things or when we happened to be in a place where our paths crossed, serendipitously and to have been in your orbit this whole time has been such a life giving gift for me to see your courage and how you have questioned everything from truths truths. We've been told that we later learned realize, and you know how you have stared at systems, just right down the barrel of a system and thought this isn't, this isn't right. It's not what we have to be and do. And so I'm so grateful to be here and just any, any moment with you is a thing I look forward to. It's the thing I cherish when it's happening. And it's, and it's the thing I reflect on afterward. And to me, such the beauty of, of openness and, and vulnerability and for you inviting people into the journey with you. So I'm so grateful to be walking alongside you today. So grateful, oh, my goodness, friend. So you just, you triggered a memory from me, because you're right, you're right, we are not the let's go to a movie friend. Unless you're in town, and we're going to get we're going to get a meal. Like, we're just going to do that. In the moments. In those moments, I specifically remember right before I left my vice president, I know this moment, I specifically remember leaving a meeting. And it was all I could do to get to my car and my heart said call Carrie, call Carrie. And we hadn't spoken at that point in months. But in my heart, I needed you and you knew I needed you. I picked up that phone and called you. And I remember saying, Carrie, I can't do this. And you pour it into me, and you held space for me. And you sat there with me. And I hadn't thought about that moment in a long time. But, friend, I don't know what I would have done if I didn't have you in that moment, to give me permission to let me know, you have not lost it, you are not crazy. That what you're telling me make sense. I hear you. I hear you. You sometimes people can't, some people need to have been there to do it. You are the type of friend whether you specifically been there or not. You know how to hear a heart and to hold it. You know how to bring safety back in a moment where I feel completely uncovered unsafe and vulnerable. So I just am grateful for you. I am grateful. I'm grateful for you, and your love and your friendship and your work and just who it's who you are like you don't make this stuff up. When you show up at a university or with some students or leadership program or team or whatever you're doing. You You don't contrive anything, you don't have to rehearse, literally when we're with Carrie, we get your whole heart. Hmm. Get your whole heart. So let's just get into it. Because I know at this point, people are thinking who is this woman? Like? Who is Carrie Zimmerman. So you nobody can tell it like you tell it to other people who you are? You know, I love that the question is, who you are, and not what you do. You know, I think so often when we interact with people, especially in our culture that is so work focused. It's so title driven and career focused. And so you know, in networking events or other connectivity, people like oh, what do you do? And I think, oh, what we do, isn't always who we are. Sometimes it is sometimes what we do is who we are, but it's never all of who we are. And so I love the question of, of who are you and and after I you know, kind of give you the brief who I am, I'll tell you about a person who asked that question of me years ago, that was really transformative for me. So my name is Carrie Zimmerman, I live right outside Washington, DC. And people often ask now what is that you do? And I'll tell you, my family never understood, you know, the higher ed they can understand. But this work sort of felt outside the bounds because I felt like what I'm doing didn't exist before I did it. Because it was it was for me it was who I it was being who I am in the world and helping other people be who they are. And so that's I grew up in a small town in North Carolina with lovely supportive family who just said Be who you are. Not even though you can do anything you want to be it was a it felt like such an embrace of be who you are, but Within that it was a small town. I grew up Baptist. So I'm in this conservative Christian, even though we would have called ourselves moderate. And but I still knew there's no women in that pulpit. Like, I felt that like, I felt this. Why? Why am I only hearing from men, and you know, it took going to college to look around and go, Why was everybody I grew up around white, you know, these, these moments of, you know, of all of that, and always loved education, you know, went to grad school and got an M div. So undergraduate degree was in creative writing and literature and grad school degree was an endeavor. And I had really no idea what I was going to do with that, except I just believed, even in my questioning of every religious truth I had grown up with, I believed in this spirit of connectedness that we have and responsibility to each other. And so that led me to an ecumenical divinity school that really embraced the broadness of humanity and justice. And that shifted everything for me. It shifted, where I thought I was going to end up, my first job during an out of grad school was running a de Resource Center for the homeless. And that informed my entire life experience about human dignity and what community looks like and the myths that we have created about what success looks like. And the stories we had been told about what a family is supposed to be, and that it's so much bigger and broader than that. And that work led me back to a university. And so I spent 10 years on a campus, primarily working with incoming students, I did the first year experience, freshmen programs, freshman camps orientation, if it was about first year students coming into a campus, that was my job, and I loved it. I mean, I absorbed it into my DNA. And I just thought, we are seeing lives transformed by these moments we have with new students. And so that went on for 10 or 11 years. And in toward the end of that, we were seeing a huge uptick in publicized public bias acts and hate crimes on campuses. They'd always been happening. But we were at the technological tipping point of everybody carrying around a video camera in their pockets, when suddenly, and social media and suddenly, people were forced to face the ugly truth of what had always been. And it's always been there. This wasn't a new surge. It was now there's proof. And women began to be a little more believed about sexual assault, people of color began to be a little more believed or questioned differently about hate crimes, acts of racism, our LGBTQ folks began to have proof about what they were facing. And so it shifted Campus Conversations. Not I don't think because universities suddenly said, we really should deal with this differently. Right? I don't think they looked around and said, Gosh, let's blow the doors open and talk openly about all of these difficult things. I didn't want to do it. No, no institution, whether it's the church, or a major business brand, or higher ed, or the government wants to air their dirty laundry, right? It's always forced, right? Whenever a system of power and influence is dealing with something they never do willingly. It's always about protecting the brand protecting the institution. But they were forced to change because we suddenly had video footage and stories and social media, and the whole world knew immediately. And I realized we had an opportunity with incoming students with upper class student leaders, with faculty, with staff, with administrators, with alumni to tell a different story, and set a different level of expectations. With new students, we can say this is who we're striving to be on our campus. We're inviting you to join us on this journey. And so really, in a moment of incredible burnout, and disruption, I just I walked away from well, I'm not sure if I walked away from something or walked towards something but either way I walked either either route and I wasn't sure what I was walking toward except I knew we hit been given this time, this brief time life? What am I going to do with it? And I knew I had the opportunity to be in spaces with. I didn't know how many, but it's turned into 10s of 1000s of students who will then share whatever this message is of connection and community and respect and, and dignity and justice and many, many things. But they, these are the people who will be influencers. Yeah. And so it started, one of the very first campuses I went to work with was one with you, it was so early in this journey that I didn't, people said, What was your business plan when you left the university and started this? And I thought, sure, well, I was a, I was an English major. I don't even know what a business plan is. What was your like? I don't know, I reached out to people and people reached out to me, and we just kind of figured it out. And I did not have a plan. And thank God, I didn't have a plan that I tried to stick to, oh, what is what is now and what is continuing to become is so much better than what I would have dreamed up so much better. If I had said, what I had dreamed up would have failed, like this, whatever your idea had wouldn't have been sustainable and wouldn't have worked. But I think in the moment of thinking, well, everything sort of exploded. I didn't I didn't feel constrained, I think in any kind of way. Right? I mean, I think, you know, I've been thinking about this word disruption, as you know, I've been following you and lit and we have talked in conversation. And, you know, the, let me come back to being an English major. I'm a word nerd. I like to know the meanings of words and where they come from. And, you know, rupt, that root word, it's, it's sudden, it's a burst, it's often violent. We don't talk about disruption or rupture, or abrupt, like any of those words that have that. Are you even the word rupt. It's this kind of powerful. It's, it's a break, it's an explosion. It's not a slow leak, you know, disruption. And we also rarely talk about disruption in a positive framework. Right? We will talk about, oh, my travel was disrupted. My career was disrupted. I was interrupted, like any of the a ruptured appendix, like, these are not words that people are like, Oh, that's lovely. A rupture. Right. It's pipes. It's orphans. It's the ecos. Like it's a it's never positive. Yeah. And yet, I think it is. Oh, okay. Hold on. Hold on, Grant. Because listen, I'm over here shaking. So you're exactly right. And how often do we work so hard to avoid the rupt? Right. So when you think about your burnout situation, when I think about my burnout incident, or whatever happens, some people go through a divorce, some people lose somebody that they love. None of us want to deal with that none of us desire, like, Oh, let me just solder intim, blowing my life up like that. Nobody wants to do that. And we work so hard to avoid the feeling and the impact and the consequences and the cost. But I'm here to tell you, without burnout, I would not be here. Me either. I would not be doing this. Burnout was the first time in my life, that I seriously considered that I could do something else. It was the catalyst for me to even open my mind that there was something for me to do outside of the career ladder and the path that I thought was set before me. It was a blessing. It was transformational. It did not feel good. It was hard. There were consequences. There are still some consequences that I am dealing with in my life because of that rupt because of that disruption, but I would not Not, I would not live my life again without going through it. It changed everything. Hmm. And I'm so glad for the change. And that's what I hear you saying? Yes. And I think, you know, as we think about all of these disruption, Messi is the word that comes to mind every disruption, eruption abrupt, like any, it is messy. It's, it's what whether that's it feels like the pieces of your life have imploded, or their bodily fluids involved or pipes have burst, or, or bank accounts or drain like, all the norms have gone? awry, it's messy. And that's your thing is the thing I think we not only try to avoid, nobody can avoid messy, right? Like we have it, it's in our lives, it's in our houses, to our relationships. So we can't avoid it. What I worry about is what we're doing is trying to hide it, and trying to pretend it's not there. So, so much energy goes into trying to act like we're not messy. You know, and I think my mother had a word that she, you'll appreciate this. My mother was from South Georgia. And, you know, there's some we got some words in the south, right? Like we, you know, we got some words, and she would refer to me as flam. Bangy. She's like, Oh, cares, just flamming. And like, I heard that my whole life and she had an aunt who was flying Bangy like, my grandmother referred to one of her sisters, as flying bang. And as we talked about it, it's not an insult. It's particularly in my way of thinking it's not an insult. flashbang is like, we're just gonna get it done methanol, like if you knock stuff around, but you're gonna get, you're gonna get it done. You know, you think about flam and bang, and it's loud. It's messy, you might knock stuff over. But it's, it's it's honest, is what it is. And so I think this avoidance of mess is problematic. It's, I think it steals from us. opportunities for growth. I think it steals joy. I think it steals time. I think it steals honesty. I mean, it's messy. What we're in is messy. And the sooner we can go, Yeah, this is a mess right here right now. Yeah, I think the more we can then figure it out. But also the more other people come alongside us and go, either Yeah, that's a mess. I got work like that. They can help. Yeah, whether it's hand you a broom, or just sit with you while you stare into the mess itself. So yeah, I agree with you that this this whole idea of disruption, it's just there. And you, you know, Patrice, you said something about the career ladder that had been set before you. And I don't know if you're even aware of that you use the language set before you meaning you didn't put it there yourself. Right. Somebody else put it there. And, you know, when I've been thinking about this idea of disruption, it's in two areas, its internal disruption, and its external disruption. You know, we have to do our own inside. What What? What have I been told that I no longer think is true? What have I believed and internalized that I wouldn't want to teach anybody else? What are the what are the messages in my head? That I've got to disassemble and unlearn and question and, and decide what to keep? And then there are the external systems, you know, and again, whether that's our faith communities, or economic systems, or how we've defined what a family is, and is supposed to be, whether it's thinking about the amount of space and volume you take up in the world, and what we're told is appropriate or not, you know, so in thinking about their systems, like I began asking myself, alright, there are rules to everything, but like, who wrote these rules? Who wrote the rules? Right? Who who said, this is the way it's supposed to be? Who said that? Because if we know who wrote the rules, we can figure out why they're in place. Yeah, we know why they're in place and who they are meant. Rules are always meant to protect somebody from something or someone. Often it's about keeping people out or keeping people in like that's why we've got these systems in place, and it's, it's almost always about self preservation of the people already in power. Yeah. And so, you know, if you if when we feel alone on the outside of this, or there's been something set before me that I feel like I need to accomplish, it is hard to look at that and say, I don't want to climb that ladder, I want to go around it and walk across this bridge. I mean, that's tough. Yes, that's tough to say, oh, what's expected of me what's defined as success is this, this, this this. And you know, you've worked with students your entire career, there is a myth that we keep perpetuating, in terms of the tempo of life, the next steps and what they look like. And anybody with any sense that's lived a hot minute, knows that life and growth is not linear. We're not on an exact stepping stone. It's there's falling down. And there are curves and twists. And, you know, so disruption, instead of being something we run from, what would it look like? And I don't know the answer this question, but I'll ask it. What would it look like instead of running from disruption, or avoiding disruption, or covering up the disruption that's there? What would what would our lives be like? What would our relationships be like, if we sought it out? If we peered around corners and said, I see you what you got for me, like, yeah, like what I do? And again, I don't I don't know the answer to that question. But I think it's worth asking, would it change our perspectives? Would it shift how we handled it wouldn't invite people to come along with us. But I will tell you and you know, running from it does not work. Right? Not there does not work? Yeah. Hey, Fred, I'm just popping in to let you know that I have just a handful of openings on my calendar over the next three months for one on one coaching clients. If you are an accomplished woman, who has found that you've lost your fire over time, if you have been successful doing all the things, but you just want to love your work. Again, if you're really good at what you do, but you know that there is more than you need to reach out. Go to connect with pbj.com, sign up for a connect call. We'll jump on real quick. I just need to make sure you're a good candidate for my coaching program. And if so we'll dig in together and I'll walk this journey with you. All right, y'all reach out connect with Pb de.com. I look forward to speaking with everyone. Dr. PBJ was a coach of mine in a coaching program. And we had we had her support through the entire program. But we had one week specifically designated to mindset, which was kind of surprising to me, like why do I need this in a business coaching program. But you learn and you realize, and Dr. PBJ taught us that. So much of it is in our mind. I remember thinking that I like physically had to work and work through challenges in order to make my dreams come reality. But what Dr. PJ taught us is that so much of the block isn't like a physical thing, right? It's a mental thing. And then once we're able to release ourselves from the mental blocks and overcome those and break down those walls. That's when we're able to prosper. And that's how we're able to succeed and live out our dreams. So if you ever get a chance to work with Dr. PBJ you must you need to you need her. She's phenomenal so you you just outlined some steps for us and I want to highlight those steps because what I heard and correct me if I'm wrong, but I heard the first step is to question Oh, question right you you said something that just like flashing red lights on my head you said what have I learned that I don't want to teach someone else? Yes, sometimes it can be difficult to face the lessons I call it the backpack your own Invisible Backpack. Right? All of us have one to look in your bag. Pack. And to really face what you've been taught and to have that filter of what's true or in alignment for me and what's not. Right. And we we find comfort, when there is a clear black and white yes or no right or wrong. Life is not that way. It's the messy, it is the messy, right. So when I need a filter or tool to think and to dig into my backpack, when I'm starting to question, and, and that is a necessary part of growth, right? It's unnecessary. And with my South Carolina, Southern, religious Christian background, I was taught not to question you don't question God, you don't question authority, you stay in your place. And y'all know my heart. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Jesus. And I have learned that I love him more by questioning what I was taught and learning and determining what is true for me. And what I need to let go of what I have to release, what I have to release, because it does not align, it does not align. So starting to say, What have I learned? What am I live in? What have I applied to my life, that I do not want to teach someone else? A student, a child, a niece or nephew, a god child? Somebody that's looking up to me, what do I not want to pass down? And if it's not good enough to pass down? Why is it good enough for you to hold on to it? Hmm. Yes. And you know, what? Jesus questioned every system, every structure, every law, every truth that had come before and filtered through it. So you know, this this, this idea that we should not question? If we're cloaking that, if if we're using that type of faith, that's weaponizing faith in a way that was never intended. Oh, my goodness. So, you know, I think I because I heard that too. And I was luckily, in a family that I asked every question possible. You know, we ask all the questions all the time. And, you know, then I began to see that in, in the systems that existed. Questioning was not always smiled upon. It's because again, power influence, they're never giving up willingly. They always have to be taken, right. Like they've, they've always got to be taken. And I think too often, we have just blindly assumed the premise of the structure. This is the way it is. Well, it wasn't always how it was it does. It isn't how it has to be. Yeah, of course, we can ask the question. But again, that that comes with its own messiness. When you rock the boat, when you challenge a status quo, when you even maybe pull back a curtain or look deeper than you're supposed to, or that that brings disruption of its own that brings discomfort. So let me ask you this friend, because I'm thinking about the students that you serve, you continue to serve students who are coming into college environment, joining a new community. And what I see is we now have a generation who is all about questioning. Do you see that? How is that Manifesting with our young adults right now? You know, that's, that's a great question. And I'm glad you asked it, because particularly in light of our last three years, in light of the multi pandemics that we have been juggling and layered on top of each other, you know, Global Health pandemic, racial reckoning in the United States and huge questions about our own systems and structures and safety of people. Economic systems, and who are they for and who are they against? Like all of that and the grief of all of those things layered up on the exhaustion, the grief, the anger? On top of all of that I have seen a marked shift in college students, not just them, but the staff that work with them. But for students, I've watched it because I have the benefit of being on multiple campuses a year. Yes. When you get to be in 30, plus university settings a year with a team of students. And these aren't just random students, these are the students that we would call our achievers the best and the brightest, their leaders they've applied, you know, to be in student government or orientation leaders or their RAs in their residence halls, or they're on their social justice, like these are the students we want out running the world, right? Yes, we want. They are using language of fear. They're afraid of everything. And that language comes up so often. Some of it's because of what they have been through when you think about, it's hard for me to even navigate the numbers. But incoming college freshmen were born in the year 2004. And so you think about like 2004. So every college student right now, if their traditional age, they are born in 2000 something? Yeah. And so they have always had school shootings. They are, you know, way past 911, there's always been terrorism on our soil. Yes, there are mass shootings day after day after day, their high school or college was hugely disrupted with the pandemic, they have dealt with questions of democracy and the very nature of the Republic being questioned and upheaval like all of that has been going on. So of course, they're trying to kind of figure out who they are. And so while so to me, it's it's two sided. They do seem to be the generation that believes in justice and equity. They, they don't just take systems as they're handed to them. They question it. Why is it this way? It doesn't have to be that way. There's is a generation that doesn't believe in just rewarding people for longevity? They want merit based, like I'm doing the work, why am I not being rewarded? They want living wages, they want health care, they've want almost said life balance. And I've really stopped using the word balance for anything about our lives. When you think about a scale and balance, it's impossible to keep something for more than a hot second, yeah, we need us alignment is the way we're living aligned with our values. We can we can find life alignment, balance is a myth balance is a it's a thing, you're having to fight too hard to keep every plate spinning or, you know, but alignment is like, okay, am I spending my time and energy on the things that matter to me. And so for students, I'm seeing huge mental health concerns. In every single space that I'm in, they are able to voice and talk about the toll that their environments are taking on them. And they talk openly about it, but they see and feel the weight of what's happening. And they are the first generation that's been unwilling to just suck it up and push forward. Yes, men, asking for different levels of empathy, different levels of ingrained care in systems, that it ought to be normalized, to address things that aren't in alignment with our community values. And so they're asking for that. But they're also dealing with it on a personal level. And I think too often the farther we get from that, the more we as adults tend to buy into the systems that are put before us. Yeah, hard to keep pushing against, you know, it just the push and push and that's exhausting. And so where do you you know, I think the other question is, where do we find spaces and intentionally put ourselves in spaces, and I think your community, Patrice is one of those. It's, it's intentionally saying, I owe myself this time. To think, to sit, to stir to weep to laughed, like, I, I own this, I deserve this. And so I think, you know, asking ourselves in the midst of our questioning big things. One of the questions is where where Not not where am I carving out a little space because carving out feels like leftover to That's right, come on, it feels like left over not priority. And if we're doing this, I love your heart work term. You know, if we're doing this work have on ourselves and on our loved ones and our communities and our structures, then we can't just carve out a little niche of time for reflection. And but it goes against everything we're taught, right? Yeah, yeah, we we give awards for business, you know, like we, we give awards for achievement that meets metrics that other people have set. And so it can't just be a carving out. It can't be a I'm supposed to kind of thing. You know, we should never apologize for it. Yeah. And I think as women we are taught to pologize make excuses for, say we're sorry for our space, or our noise or our ideas or our body hair or whatever thing that somebody else has decided, is not okay, yes. And you know, so how do we again, unlearn that? How do we ask who's writing the rules? Who we who are they helping, like who I was thinking about a new story came up about astronauts, and you know, we're going back to the moon and all that, and I just flashed back on, I think it was 2019. I don't pre pandemic. But you know, during the pandemic, we lost all sense of time. Definitely pre pandemic. And I remembered this new story about the first all woman spacewalk was happening, it was a big deal. And these two women were gonna go out and do this repair. And, you know, we've had women in space, since I don't know the mid 70s women in the astronaut program, but it's like this is to women out in space. And NASA had promoted it, and scientists were on there talking about it, and it was a big deal. And they had it scheduled. And like the day before they went, Oh, we're gonna need to reschedule that, because we only packed one spacesuit that would fit a woman's body. Come obviously, come on. And that's like one little example of the people writing the rules. We're not the people doing the work. That's right. And I think how often that happens. And of course, a roomful of men weren't going to question that they had suits that fit. It had never been a problem. No one had. Can you imagine if in prior spaceflights with all these astronauts, they had suddenly gone? Oh, gosh, we've got six astronauts up here. And five of them are suits that are made to fit a woman's body, gosh, how we screwed that up. That would never it would never happen, it would never happen. And so that system had to be shifted and changed. And, and you know, it's it's daily. I think it's daily messy. work, but wow, is there joy in it? Yes. I mean, I don't think I don't think joy is separate. Joy, to me is such a specific emotion. It's not happiness. It's not love. It's not excitement. Joy is this inner connection. joy to me always comes with an understanding of something, you are joyful about something. It's because a realization of a goodness has happened. And so that to me is where joy comes from. And so it is often holding hands with grief and fear, I think really is the moment where that fear is understood or it's let go off or simply that you realize another person is walking with you through it like that. To me we're real joy comes from it is unbridled exuberance about something that could have been awful and somehow there's a light a spark a hope. Yeah, in that and so I think in the messiness like that's where the joy comes from. If it were easy way we wouldn't be having this conversation. If it were easy, but yeah, that there's there's such power I think in it, and to me that comes from opening yourself up to being with people who are also doing it. That's why I appreciate your willingness to just pull people in and say, Let's do this. I know when you started this journey, you also did not know what the even beginning, but definitely not the middle and end we're gonna look like still don't. That's what I'm saying me either. Me either I don't know. And people asked that all the time and I just want to go Who cares? Like I don't? I don't know. Right? Like I don't know, because I'm not trying, I'm not trying to conjure something artificial that you like the growth is in the journey, it's in the being, we get this morn this one day after day after you know, we only get now so what are you know, worried about what retirement is going to look like? Then a miss. And miss today I can MIT you know if I'm so worried about what, you know what might happen in a decade or I don't know, I don't know. And it stops us, it stops us from taking any step and we won't move out of the comfortable place. Or it's not even comfortable anymore. It's just we're aware of right, we won't move out of that place because we don't have a 10 year plan. So we never experience what life really has to offer. Because of our fear of the unknown. I was listening to a podcast. It's called the basement with Tim Ross. And this morning, it was a different topic. But there was a piece of the conversation where Tim brought out. He said we are infatuated within days, right? Even kindergarteners get a graduation, they put on the caps and gowns like congratulations, you check you did it you did kindergarten. And he said what if we let go of endings and the pressure of racing to the end, or crossing a finish line. And we just live day by day. Whether I accomplish it today or whether I accomplish it 10 years from now, if I get to it, I'm learning along the way and I'm good. And that is a difficult concept for me to even say out loud, can I just be honest, it is difficult because as a trained achiever I'm comfortable with knowing a goal going after that goal and then checking it off when I did it. And I'm not saying we set aside visioning and goal setting but it consumed you choose you in the beginning of this and Carrie you know that I called you and asked you all those same questions and your life friends sit down and man and let me talk to you. Let me tell you, how does works. None of us know what we're doing. Right? And we don't know what we're doing. And we look at other people who seem successful and and maybe they are but that comparison makes me feel like dang Kerry's got it all together. Let me find out what she's doing and I'm just gonna do what Kerry did. That's not freedom. No, and nobody who knows me has ever said I have it all together. No, nobody. I want to I want to point to this plant right here. It's the only one I've been able to keep alive. I kill every plant in my life. In this beautiful that's just one symptom of nope, nobody's got it together. I don't even know what got it together means friend. I know joyful people. I know fulfilled people. I know empathetic people I know lifelong learners. I know strivers but I know about it got it together right? And at what point did we decide that was the end game? Again, somebody else decided that the end you know social media doesn't help this portrayal of here's my vacation house holiday table layout dog doing a tray and I'm like you you want to show me your life open up the trunk of your car. Come on. Tell me your kitchen pantry. You know let let me see let me see the the clothes chair in your bedroom where you don't hang stuff up and you just dump it on big chair until its legs start to quake and you're like I got to I got to do it. Like show me if we have more, more of that I think is just fine. Yes, it's the messiness. It's an I have these dear friends who in college I loved the phrase that I attached to them, which was messy hospitality. These These were grown adults who had kids that were high school and college age, but they always open their doors and had folks into college students into their house. And they it was like Sunday night pancakes, were doing it. And, you know, sometimes there may have been a load of laundry on the couch, and they're like, scoot that out of the way, or fold it up while you're sitting there. Right. And we I've never felt so welcomed. And it was nothing was ever perfect. And I have loved these people and through my whole adulthood, but I've learned a lot, a lot of things from them. That one, like that was a switch that flipped for me with him or I was like, this is about how people feel. You've created a space. And and nobody cares about any of the other periphery. You know, it's I felt welcomed, I was known. My stories were listened to. I was asked important questions. I got hugged when I left I you know, that's what I remember. And so I thought, oh, like in our life, if we can embrace both hospitality and messiness, and everybody's gone. Nobody's you know, expecting perfection. But wow, do we fight against that? Yeah. You know, when I think about the students that I get to work with, they are trying so hard to give the right answers and say the right thing. And I'm like, we don't know what right. You know, we don't know what that is. I think we can ask for excellence. I think we can ask people to work hard, I think we can ask for strong, striving and bettering but you know, perfection and having it right. It only wounds us. It's not good. That's so right. It only wounds us. And it captures us. It's not freedom. You're not free to serve. You're not free for purpose to flow. You're always withholding because you think it's not ready. I'm not going to do it. Because it's not ready. I'm not going to step into it because it's not ready. It is never ready. Do the same. Do the thing. Oh, my friend, I will we will talk about this all day. I know. But in the spirit of just kind of bringing putting a bow on this. You promised us a story. And I don't know if this is putting a bow or opening it up. But there was a person who asked you who are you tell us that? So I was in college, which is appropriate considering the age of people I normally work with. And one of our you know, as part of our service learning component, everybody was kind of doing a project. And I looked around and somebody said, Well, you can do this tutoring at the youth prison. Well, I didn't know I was an English major. I know I teach you how to read. But I went on Tuesday mornings, you know, I went to the youth prison and the juvenile detention center and I sat with a 16 year old every Tuesday morning for a semester. And I don't know if I helped her be able to read any better or not, I don't know. And she's not even the story. But it explains why I was out at 745 in the morning on a Tuesday driving through Nashville. So there is the interstate exit towards the university. And if you had left to go to Vanderbilt, if you had right, you go downtown, and this is one of those interstate, you kind of come up a little hill to a bridge. And when you get caught at that red light, it says read a long time. And it's one of those intersections where there is always a person standing, holding a cardboard sign asking for money or help or food or whatever. I told you small town, North Carolina where I grew up, you know, I know we had people in poverty, but I didn't like in my hometown see people on the streets? Yes. And so in this sweet church that I grew up in when people realize, Oh, I'm going off to the big city to go to college. There were two women in particular that I'm sure had been my vacation bible school teachers said things like not caring when you go off to the big city. Don't get in the car with strangers. Yes, ma'am. When you go off the big city, lock your doors. Yes, ma'am. Don't give your social security number out to people. Yes. And don't don't give money to homeless people they're using to buy drugs. And I'm sure they whispered. Oh, yeah, that well, yeah, that's I can see this happening. Yes. No, I and they probably said the drugs they'll buy drugs. And so as I pull up on this Tuesday morning, I am the first car to light like it turned yellow I stopped. Well, there's not much room between your car and And the guardrail. And so staying in there, sure enough on the guardrail, it was a cardboard sign. And it was like, right at my face, you know, like in the driver's window. And I glanced at it, and it very specifically said homeless, hungry, will you help? And I'm sitting there and it's, you know, November and I'm like, Oh, the EU was underlined. Will you help? And I thought, Oh, they're asking me if I'll help. And I glanced I mean, it's right at my window. And I was, for whatever reason, surprised that it was a woman. You know, in my mind, I had this image of, you know, homeless people, or, you know, in camouflage and long beards and with a backpack, but this was like a 45 year old woman. But I hear the women in my childhood saying, Don't give money, they'll buy the drugs, said she was hungry. And what I held and catty corner was the McDonald's. So when the light turned green, I whip in the McDonald's and I bought like two cups of coffee, and I don't know 18 Egg McMuffins all of them. I don't know what I was doing. parked the car, I walk across the street, and I say to her, her name was Lydia, I found out, you know, and I'm sure I blubbered and stumbled in didn't quite know even how to approach her. But she invited me to sit down and she took an Egg McMuffin and a cup of coffee and she handed me her sign and she ate and we talked. And she said to me, she told me a little bit of her story, and it very briefly is this. She had a daughter who was nine years old, and they were living in their car and had been for five or six months. Her previous life had been she was married, had a house, had a job, had a husband had health insurance, and then life conspired. She got sick, she lost her job, lost their health insurance, her husband walked out, couldn't pay the mortgage. She and her daughter ended up on the streets. She's telling me all of this in between, you know, bites of Egg McMuffin, and I'm just wrapped listening. And she said, and I've learned something, she said, I come here every morning, because none of the social service agencies open till about nine o'clock. And she sets a lot, you know, I get my daughter to school for early breakfast, and then I try to get any help I can money or tips otherwise, before I go to all the agencies and try to get some help. And she said, Do you want to know what I've learned? In the few months I've been out here and she this is what she taught me. She said, Carrie, there are three types of people in the world and you can see them in the cars that go by. She said the first type of people it's a very small percentage of people. And she said the and she said Thank goodness. It's small. She said these these people have no heart. She said they're mean they're hateful. They're nasty. She said, I've been cursed that I've been spit on. I've had drinks thrown at me. I've been propositioned sexually. I've been told to go back where I came from. I've been sneered at she said, It's not many people, but it happens. And I thought, who I'm glad I'm not in group number one. She's and then there's group number two, and it's also a very small percentage. And she said, these are the people who share their hearts with somebody else. She said these are the people who are helpful. They offer a smile or a bottle of water or some spare change or snack they have in their car, or a tip about a hot meal served at the Presbyterian church down the street or you know that they've seen job openings at the Winn Dixie grocery store down something helpful. And I ignorantly arrogantly thought to myself. Oh, yeah, I'm in group number two, because I brought you Egg McMuffins. I'm in group number two. I'm in this small percentage. Then she said then there's group number three, which is virtually everybody else. It's virtually everybody. She said and group number three, I call the radio station changers. And then she took a bite of her Egg McMuffin and I struggled to think about what she meant and then at clued in with me. If you're in your car, and someone is at your driver's window, fine, what's the opposite direction your way do so if in that uncomfortable moment you can look away from the person with the sign you suddenly have an urgent need to change the station or get something out of your purse or your backpack or knock the french fries I'm console between the gear shift anything to not look at the person who's asking you a question or disclosing their fear or pain or because if you look at it, you you have to do something consciously choosing to either ignore or act you have to do something and in that moment, I realized oh, I'm not in group number two I this one time stuck my big toe out of group number helper group number two, the helper group to get some muffins but I lived in group number three. I lived in the look away change the radio station. Now we'd say check your iPhone. Because to be honest My day was easier, my heart was lighter. But I didn't have to acknowledge the pain that somebody else was in. Right? It just was. And so as I sat with that I honestly don't remember part of the rest of the conversation or how I said goodbye to her. But I remember this. As she kept talking, she said to me, Carrie, who are you going to be? And I, you're making a connection. Now our two will get? She said, Who are you going to be? And I had been answering that question, since high school, whatever. With the What am I going to do? Where are you going to go to school? What's your job going to be? And she asked me, and she interrupted me. I said, Well, you know, I'm an English major, and I'm not going to law school. I'm gonna go, and she just stopped. And she said, I didn't ask you what you're gonna do ask you, you're going to be? And I don't remember the rest of the question. Except I thought, I'm not sure I know the answer to that yet. I'm eight, I don't know. And that conversation with her with Lydia shifted the trajectory of my life. And I didn't know it at that moment, because it didn't do it. Immediately. I went through college, I went to grad school, but it had planted a seed that months, years, a decade later, I could see where that question had caused me to question many, many other things about what mattered. And Patrice the very first program that you and I worked on, we titled it, who will you be? And we still ask that question, because it's not about what you do. It's about who you are. And this is the work that you do. And then I mean, it's really about forging some space to let people be who they are and find who they are, and grow into who they are. And I do not know what happened to Lydia. I looked for her after that. Anytime I was I would think, what Where is she? What happened to her? Because the truth of the matter is, in that moment that she's telling me all this, she's eating her Egg McMuffin, I'm sitting beside her, she'd handed me her cardboard sign. And I'm listening to her story and hundreds of cars had gone by, she and I were dressed the same we had on blue jeans and hooded sweatshirts. And in that moment, every car that came by saw no difference in us. And in that moment, she had way more education than I did. I had half a semester of college, she had a master's degree. But somehow, and she had way more wisdom than I mean. But I thought the world looked at us in ways and they did not see who we actually were, that did not see the breadth and depth of her wisdom and her heart and her compassion. And they also then made assumptions about they saw two women asking for money sitting on the guardrail. But her question is, you know who you're going to be? Not what, but who. And it's helped me to think as I have worked through all of this, the way that we ask questions matters, and the way that we hold space for people matters. And listening to people's stories matters. Like that's the hard work of giving people space for that. And so, you know, when you asked me to start with, you know, who are you, I thought, oh, that's an easy place to start. It's not an easy answer. But the recognition that that's an important question is easy. Friend, as I hear you, and I never heard that story. I didn't know if you knew that story or not. I had never heard that. And I'm sitting here holding back tears. Because I've seen the outcome. I've seen the fruit of that. I've seen the impact of the Who will you be program, but also just this entire conversation, focusing on how you have always poured out purpose from Flim Flam banger, right, like from fooling with your family, to meeting Lydia to tutoring the 16 year old and juvenile justice system, to working with the homeless Association and agency to what you've done. At HCA. Like on a campus to now you're doing this on multiple campuses every year. You've always poured out purpose. And I know you but now I feel like I know why. And I'm so grateful. I'm so grateful. Not just for you sharing today, but I am grateful to have You, you this human in my life. I don't take that for granted. That feeling is so reciprocated, I love being in your orbit. Just in in that space of feeling drawn to you. And I'm so grateful to have these moments to walk with you through this life that we have some beautiful, beautiful thing. Yes, a beautiful, messy thing. And we're here for it last we are we are here for it. Listen, we've got to let you all go. I know that your heart has been refreshed. I know that your passion has been set on fire. And I hope that you will journey back in your own story and find your linear story. Find the places where purpose has been poured out throughout your life. And now how does it align? Now how are you pouring purpose? How are you living your full, authentic, messy, unbridled self? What truths? Do you need to release because they're not actually true? And what real truths do you need to grab a hold of because they are in alignment with who you are and who you were created to be from the beginning? Friend, as always, you know that you are powerful. You are significant and you are loved. Share this with somebody who needs to hear love, always PBTS Thanks, everybody. Thank you for thanks for being with us.