In today's episode, Billy and Brian reflect on the amazing insights shared by our Season 4 guests with their best good pal, the always entertaining Matt Hazard!
Matt Hazard also shares which episodes belong in his Mindful Midlife Crisis "starter kit":
--Episode 19--Compassionate Communication for Deeper, More Meaningful Relationships with Dr. Yvette Erasmus
--Episode 6, Part 1–Putting in WURK with Personal Trainers Maurice Buchanan and Daleco James of WURK Gym
--Episode 6, Part 2–Putting in WURK with Personal Trainers Maurice Buchanan and Daleco James of WURK Gym
--Episode 10--Top 20 Strategies for a Happier Life with Tom Cody
--Episode 22--Normalizing and Prioritizing Mental Health Conversations with Our Children with Tandra Rutledge from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
--Episode 33--How Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Make Us an All-Around Better Society with Global Inclusion and Diversity Business Leader Ericka Jones
--Episode 39--Billy Shares the Lessons He Learned during His Trip to Portugal, Spain, and Dakar
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Matt: But that being said, the part of her story that struck me the hardest was when she was talking about having to disassociate watching a four-year-old actively die in front of you, and having to disassociate the idea that that child looks like your niece or your nephew. I was immediately just bawling. Because in my head, I saw my four-year-old son. I can't fathom that. If you're in that scenario and you're in that ER, and you have to do the work to help this kid transition to either a better outcome or the reality that's coming, you got to do your job. What weight that must put on your soul.
Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. Join your hosts, Billy and Brian, a couple of average dudes who will serve as your armchair life coaches, as we share our life experiences — both the good and the bad — in an effort to help us all better understand how we can enjoy and make the most of the life we have left to live in a more meaningful way. Take a deep breath, embrace the present, and journey with us through The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Billy: Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm your host, Billy. And as always, I'm joined by my good friend, Brian on the Bass. Brian, how are you doing over there, man?
Brian: I'm jubilant today, Billy?
Billy: Jubilant? That's a big word right there. Why are you so jubilant? That has a lot of emotion involved in it.
Brian: It really does. And you know what? I'm healthy. I'm happy. I've got a great family. I've got great friends. I'm very lucky in a lot of ways, so there's just no reason not to be jubilant.
Billy: Yeah. We're both jubilant today because it's the end of season four. Everybody knows what that means. That means that we have the always entertaining—
Brian: Always entertaining.
Billy: —the Rubenesque, the devilishly handsome, Matt Hazard, who's still plugging away at trying to get better at guitar, maintaining a good workout regimen, dealing with a kindergartener and a preschooler, and holding on for dear life. Welcome to the show, Matt Hazard.
Matt: Oh, I like the claps. There's always like some solo claps there. I like that.
Billy: How are you doing, my friend?
Matt: I'm great. I'm great. Thank you. Thanks for having me. Another great season. Really proud of you guys. Again, before we get into anything else, I want to say the addition of the intro portion to the episodes this year, chef's kiss.
Billy: Thank you very much. We're doing what we can to spruce up the production value of the show. Because it's only a matter of time before a podcast production company like Wondery or iHeart picks us up, and we really, really take off and go places.
Brian: We were considering a morning show, actually. Billy and I, we're batting around a little format for this show for a morning show. You never know. It could happen one day.
Matt: I love it.
Billy: What's new with you, Matt Hazard, other than still plugging away a guitar and taking your kids to Monster Truck shows?
Matt: Yeah, what a disaster.
Brian: It was a disaster? Why? Tell me.
Matt: It was a disaster, yeah. So, my son is super into monster trucks. They're his favorite toys. I live in Bentonville, Arkansas so Walmart is king. Walmart's everywhere here. This is where it's based. Even the grocery stores are Walmart grocery stores. There's only one Target in town, and it actually sucks because they don't ever put any investment into it. Whatever. It doesn't matter.
When we go to Walmart for shopping, Otis goes, "Can we go to the Monster Truck store?" That's what my son says. Because that's what he associates with going to the store, is he can ask for monster trucks when we get there. So, super into it. We we're like, you know what's going to be an awesome present for him? We're going to go to a monster truck rally — Monster Jam. He was asking about it. Before we ever even bought tickets or anything, he was like, "I want to go to the Monster Jam." We're like, "Let's go. Let's do this."
We bought tickets. We drove to Kansas City, because that's like the closest big arena. It's three hours away. We get there. We go in and sit down. He's super excited. Harper's actually super excited, too. We bought some monster trucks for him in the causeway, that were way more expensive than the ones in the store. No reason at all. But he was excited about the experience. The very first engine starts up. He starts screaming uncontrollably. Keep in mind we have ear protection in his ears, and then also on top of his ears. He starts screaming uncontrollably. It's too loud. We knew that he has a little bit of a sensory issue with like — and so we were worried that that was going to be the case. That's why we had double ear protection just to be sure. But it was the rumbling in his chest, it was too much. He couldn't handle it.
I took them up into the course causeway, whatever they call that. I tried to get him to calm down. He wouldn't calm down. It was like an hour of him crying and trying to come back down. He would even hear stuff going on in the arena, and he'd start screaming. It was horrible. So, finally, we were just like, "Alright, let's go. We just got to go. Lost cause triggered, and we're leaving. We start driving out of town. He had gotten himself so worked up and so upset. He threw up all over himself in the car. So, we weren't even out of town. We had a three-hour drive in front of us. We're really like—
Brian: This is the perfect description of having children.
Matt: Yeah, exactly. If you're thinking about it, just know this is what you're in for. Then we get the seat. It's cleaned up as we go. We were actually considering stopping at a Target or a Walmart there and just f**king buy a new seat.
Billy: Buy a new car.
Matt: Buy a new car seat, like a new car seat. Because the throw up was like in the bubbles.
Brian: Oh my God. It's just there's creases in cars that junt gets into. It's like this—
Matt: Thankfully, it was all on the seat and not on the actual seat of the car in the vehicle. So, it was all on the car seat.
Brian: See, Mason did that once. He did a full back seat puke. It was the yellow porridge puke. It goes in everything and stinks forever. When he did it, my car was like a week and a half old.
Matt: Oh, yeah. Outstanding. So, anyway, that was the Monster Jam situation. We get back, and he still loves monster trucks. I was like, "This is going to be the end of this." But we get back, and it's still the only toys he wants — the monster trucks. He even still talks about the Monster Jam. I'm like, "You remember that you f**king hated this, right?"
Brian: You know what, though? I've noticed Ben used to be like that. He could get triggered by something, and it would be this terrible association for him. Then one day, he just goes, "Oh, no, that's fine." It's okay. So, I think that's probably what's going to happen with Otis. He'll be like, "No, no, no, no, I'm here again. I know what to expect."
Matt: Yeah, maybe.
Brian: I mean, I wouldn't take him soon.
Matt: I'm not going to drive him three hours to do it anytime soon.
Brian: Actually, now that I think about it, Matt, it was actually not my car he threw up in. It was my boss's car that he was lending me because he had a big enough trailer hitch. So, it was this huge, brand new Toyota Sequoia.
Matt: Oh, my God.
Brian: And Mason's in the back seat and just yaks everywhere. I'm like, "Oh my gosh."
Brian: Yeah, it was neat.
Matt: So, that happened. The other thing that's recently come up for me is, I recently visited the doctor. I had not been to a doctor. I hadn't had a physical since Harper was born. I'm 42, so I should probably promote that more than anything else. See a doctor every year.
Billy: Especially as you get older, yes.
Matt: Especially in your 40s. But I'm not due for the — how many fingers is it? You guys know?
Billy: I've still got another year yet before —
Matt: If you asked for free, did they give it free?
Brian: If you're nice, you've learned a little bit.
Matt: But I didn't have to do that this time. But that's coming up for me, too, a couple of years. But I did find out. I was like, man, I've been having these crazy circulatory issues ever since I lost a lot of weight. So, I dropped 50 pounds. We talked about that in previous season recap.
Brian: What kind? I'm curious. Because I experienced some of the same thing actually. But I'm curious to hear what your experience is.
Matt: I would go out in the cold, any kind of cold. I'm from Minnesota. Obviously, we're all from Minnesota. We know what cold is, but 45 degrees is not cold. But if I was walking the dogs in the morning and I would go outside in 45 degrees, which is often happens in the winter here — I would get around the block and I'd come back home — and two or three of my fingers and only one of them would still be of a normal color, and the other three fingers, all white.
Brian: Raynaud's. I have the same thing.
Matt: Yeah, and by the way, the pronunciation online — the doctor actually said Raynaud's too. But online, it's supposed to be 'Ray-no.' It's a silent D.
Brian: Oh, okay. 'Ray-no.' Thank you. I appreciate that.
Matt: Apparently, it's just something that happens often akin to stress, big changes in your life, big body changes. The blood vessels that feed the furthest extremities are not used to the job of this new body or this new level of stress. They just don't circulate.
Brian: They don't work, yeah.
Matt: I actually had some tissue damage on my toes.
Brian: Oh my goodness. You had it really bad. See, I've had no damage. But that is severe.
Matt: Well, no. Severe is like gangrene. That happens apparently. But it's apparently not that uncommon to have tissue damage. That's because, as you guys know, I'm an outdoor runner. I really like running outdoors, and I hate treadmill. I avoided the plague if I can. So, I would run outside. In the winter here, it gets down to maybe 10, maybe 5 in the mornings on the coldest days. I've ran outside in that a couple of times. I would come back, and my toes would be blue. Or just in the winter — even with the heat on in the house, it's 70 degrees or whatever — I would walk around the house, but houses here don't have basements. They also don't dig down. Because the freeze level is not that far below ground. Even when the house is 70 degrees, my floors are cold as shit. I would walk around in my house, and my feet wouldn't really recover the way my fingers would.
So, I'd have prolonged where my toes are red or white, or sometimes they would get purple at the tips. I actually had a little bit of tissue damage. So, that's definitely a thing. It happens generally to older people and, like I said, people who have big changes in their life, especially with regard to stress or weight. Then it apparently just goes away, or it doesn't.
Brian: Yeah, nobody really knows.
Matt: Which is why they don't call it as a disease. They call it a phenomenon — Raynaud's phenomenon.
Billy: So, you're something like a phenomenon?
Matt: Something like a phenomenon. Yeah, that's been extreme. I've been dealing with it for months. Then, of course, I've mentioned it to the doctor. I'm like, "Hey, do I f**king diabetes or something?" He's like, "No, that's really common." I was like, "Oh, shit. I've been sweating it about nothing."
Brian: Hey, speaking of doing stuff for your health, I just did this a couple of weeks ago. I would recommend it to both of you. I joined this thing called Life Line Screenings. I pay a monthly fee. You can pay for it all up front, or you can do a monthly, and get all these screenings. They check your circulation. They check artery plaque. They check all these markers. I got 60 different tests done. They just give you an overall marker of your health and what you can expect in the next 10 years, and what you need to change in diet and all this kind of stuff. It's pretty cool.
I mean, the whole test, it was about $300, I think, if you bought it just one time. It was like a $25-ish a month thing if you wanted to do it month by month. But it all comes back. It gives you a really nice peace of mind or some direction in which to work on yourself. If they say "Oh, here, these markers are a little high. So, you might want to watch XYZ and take some more vitamin A," that kind of thing. It's pretty neat.
Billy: Well, since we're on the topic of health and Matt hazard is here to summarize season four — which to date has been our most successful season — Matt, let's just go right to your favorite episode of this season, which was our conversation with personal trainer and gym owner Aaron Boike. That was episode 50. What was it about that episode that you like so much?
Matt: Yeah, I love that episode. I share so many parallels with Aaron Boike. We're both distance runners. I use distance runner loosely when referring to myself. Hearing his stories about being an ultra-marathoner and stuff like that. There were moments where — Brian, I remember you saying, "I really liked that" — where he said, normal people can do extraordinary things. I love that moment. I love everything about what he was saying. With regard to how he gets into things like he was a pudgy kid, I was a pudgy kid. I also was a pudgy adult for much of my adult life.
But finding direction, finding health, wanting girls to like you, there are a lot of moments in that episode where I was like, "Oh, man." Interestingly, what I found to get girls to like me was different than what he found to get girls to like him. At that time, he was like, "I thought maybe if I looked good—" whereas I was like, "Hey, if I'm funny, and I can sing, girls are going to like me." So, that was the direction I went with, and then found health later. But hearing him talk about how to go about being a healthy person in terms of your exercising, your regimen, and everything like that, I just took a lot of good advice out of that episode. I felt like I could apply a lot of it to myself. I related to him a lot as a human being.
Also, tons of questions with regard to personal training, stuff that I don't know. Every podcast that I've listened to, including yours, whenever there's a trainer or an expert gym owner or anything like that, primarily, the thing that I take away from the episode is they say, "Hey, anything is better than nothing. It's good that you're working out if you're doing it by yourself. You should have a coach. You should get direction for the things that you don't know." I know that. But I also know that I have a premium on time in my life. I have about a half hour a day, and it's what I can fit into that.
Billy: Well, working with a coach is one thing that Greg Scheinman suggested as well, and why that's so important. I think that was a good conversation for us to put at the beginning of this season as well, since he focuses on fun, fashion, finance, fitness, family, and food, which are all things I feel like we're trying to reinvent our relationships with. So, I'm wondering what you took away from that conversation with Greg Scheinman.
Matt: The first big takeaway that I had was the difference between being a dad and a parent, the years where that type of mentality in the home would fly, long gone. 70 years gone. So, the idea that a dad needs to be a parent, especially in the development of young children and what you want your children to be, I think that was a big takeaway from me early in that episode.
Then talking a lot about the type of people that he coaches, all of us fall into that in some fashion. Maybe not all of us are super concerned with fashion. Especially during the pandemic, I wear sweatpants almost every fucking day. So, it's like that's not high on my priority list. But having fun — having fun with your kids, taking care of your family and your marriage, and maintaining that. I think it plays into one of the other episodes where you talk about dating your wife, or was that that same episode with him?
Billy: That was that same episode, yep.
Matt: I was like, oh, man. I love that. I wish that I could do that more with a four- and a six-year-old. We don't really allow ourselves that time as much as we should.
Brian: It's hard, man.
Matt: It's hard, and then it's been harder during the pandemic.
Matt: I think we're on the outside of that now. We've had a babysitter once or twice. Now we've tried to have a couple of couple's dates where we're like we have a babysitter come over. A couple of sets of kids in the neighborhood all play together, and the babysitter just f**king wrangles at, like referees in the corner. Then we go off for maybe a day date or a lunch or something like that. That's been a nice respite. But those maintenance things are important in family.
I really love the idea of fitness and food. Food is a big thing I wanted to talk about, actually, today with you guys. Because I feel like touching on nutrition is something that I'm terrible at. I heard a nutritionist on another podcast — sorry, I didn't mean to cheat on you guys — talking about how you should do as much of your shopping around the outside of the grocery store as possible.
Brian: That makes total sense.
Matt: Up and down the aisles is where most of the unhealthy foods sit. They said if you turn around the box and look at the label, that's great. But if you are really trying to eat healthy, that shouldn't have a nutritional label. A lot of produce doesn't have a nutritional label. Meat department doesn't have a nutritional label.
Brian: Eggs, yeah.
Matt: Those types of things. Those are the ideal, right? Then if you are reading a label, make sure that what's on that label is not terribly unhealthy. Now, I'm terrible at that. But that's, I think, a cool takeaway and I think, by the way, a great idea for an episode.
Billy: I've been trying to get dieticians on. Then things just keep getting pushed off, and people are busy. That sort of thing. So, we've already recorded everything that we're going to do for season five here. So, I'm hoping that by summer in season six, we're going to find a dietitian.
If you're a dietitian who listens to this show, if you're a nutritionist that listens to this show, reach out to us. We'd love to have you on because that is an area that we have not gone in depth about so far.
Matt: And I need your help. I also learned there's a lot of common misconceptions. I learned from that nutritionist that drinking coffee does count as hydration. That's a common misconception. It is part of your daily hydration. It's not ideal. Water is obviously the best option. But if you drink coffee in the morning, it's not necessarily such a bad thing, as long as you're not putting a bunch of sugar and creamer or whatever.
Anyway, back to Greg Scheinman. Finance was the last thing. But I think that that is probably the thing that consumes most of our waking concern if we're any kind of planner. Billy, I know you're a planner. I want to retire early. We've probably talked about that ad nauseam on this show. Brian, I know you and I have talked about that. I want to retire early. I plan fastidiously about retiring early. I watch world events just, obviously, in the context of like human tragedy. That's awful. But I do watch it in the context of how's this going to affect whether or not I can retire early. That is the scope of everything that I think about.
All of that ties back to finance, what we're doing, and what we're planning, and how we're planning it. If those things aren't lined up in your life, that can be a huge cause of stress. I think it's a huge cause of middle-aged stress, especially for men who feel like, in a lot of cases, they still feel like the onus of earning is on them. Now, obviously, my situation is a little bit different there, as we've talked about in the past. But it's a misquoted saying, saying money is the root of all evil. The want of money or the love of money is the root of all evil. It's the actual quote. But it is definitely, I think, the biggest stressor in most people's lives.
Billy: It's the biggest stressor for me right now because I'm not working, and I'm also taking this year-long leave to do what I want. I don't know why I keep calling it a year-long leave since I fully resigned. I'm looking for jobs, but I'm not looking for jobs wholeheartedly because I'm still traveling around, that sort of thing. We're going to get into that in far more depth in next week's Season Five opening episode. But that is something that crosses my mind all the time. Because I think almost everybody would like to retire early, unless you have a real drive, you have a real passion for what it is that you're doing now, or you just can't see yourself ever not working.
I'll tell you what, I can see myself not working all the time. Because this is pretty awesome. I'm not going to lie. I know that I can't sustain it, though. I do feel fortunate that I have saved up enough money to be able to live the way that I'm living right now, and then, hopefully, go into something new since I'm not planning on ever going back into public education. That's all part of this reinvention for me. The theme for this podcast came from Wendy Battles and her podcast, the Reinvention Rebels. That was what we kicked off. What did you take away from that episode, Matt?
Matt: I thought that was a really fascinating episode. There's actually a lot of parallels with her and Dr. David DeMarkis, who also did a lot to reinvent himself and find a new path in his life with that smaller living in the higher consciousness. With regard to Wendy Battles, I love the stories that she told, especially about the 70-plus-year-old woman who discovered modeling and made that her new career and a new career path at 70.
How empowering women through her coaching and what she does to find themselves anew in mid to late life was, I think, a really important message. Not necessarily so much for me as I'm a person who likes safety and security. I am someone who did switch. I was a switcher; I was telling back to previous years' episode. I switched my careers in my 30s to do something new, because I hated what I did. Now I like what I do. I want that to be what it is, at least now, until I retire. But I guess it'd leave the door open always. If you start to hate what you do you, you can reinvent yourself. That's, I guess, the important message from that episode.
Speaking of what I do, she talked a lot about cybersecurity and what she did. Not a lot, but she touched on that with what her career was. I thought that was fascinating. Because she's not really a tech person necessarily. She talks about coaching people, and how they interact with technology. That is something I deal with on a daily basis. Not to get too into the nitty gritty of what I do, but I deal with dental work a lot. I do their technology. Those people clean and know and fix your teeth. None of them know about computers. They don't know any of those things about computer, most of them. They usually open every call with, "Oh my god. I'm so terrible at computers." I'm like, "Yeah, that's why you pay us." But also, cybersecurity is a big issue in small businesses because—
Brian: Yeah, it is rampant right now with viruses and stuff. Absolutely.
Matt: Right. Because they're always like, "Hey, you didn't pay your bill. This is an email." Like, "Hey, you didn't pay your bill. Click the attachment." They fall for that shit all the time. So, talking about the behaviors that lead to security breaches, I thought, "Oh, that's right up my alley." It's a footnote to what she wants to do with her life, but that really struck a chord with me.
Billy: Well, I think what's interesting with Wendy is that she has her base job but then, she also has a real passion and a real knack for empowering people. She does that not only in her job. The podcast is where her passion is. I've said this before, that I really hate the 'follow your passion' meme. I think that's a ridiculous meme. Because there's so much nuance that goes on with that, and so many things that people need to consider. But what Wendy does is, she takes a real talent of hers and does that for work, but then has found a passionate niche in her podcast and is able to elevate female voices, particularly older female voices, in the work that she does.
One thing that I find interesting is that, we have a lot of people reach out to us and say, "Hey, I want to be on the show." So many of them are women working with other women, particularly in middle age. There's a lot of females helping female coaches out there, which is why I think Greg Scheinman is such a novelty. Because he is stressing the work with the midlife male. But then, someone like Lori Saitz works with everybody, and she is such a connector. She has connected us to so many people, and has expanded our network. We really appreciate that. We have one of her referrals coming on in season five. He is absolutely amazing. What did you take away from the Fine is a 4-Letter Word episode?
Matt: I think that she said a lot of uncomfortable truths that a lot of people deal with on a daily basis. Sometimes the relationship has to end if it's not exceptional. Maybe it doesn't have to be exceptional, but it definitely has to be better than fine, right? It's okay to cut people out of your life that are draining, negative, even family. Those are hard truths to hear and to internalize. I think that was a big takeaway I had.
Now, for someone like me who puts a great deal of value on comfort and stability, and prioritizing what I think is okay to be fine and what needs to be special in my life, I don't know if I diverge from what she says, or if I just need clarification on what she means in certain instances.
She talks a lot about your career — wanting your career to be something that you love to do. Honestly, I don't give a shit about that. For me, the important things in my life are my relationships and my family. Then what I want to do with my life all ties around the places I want to see, the people I want to meet, the things I want to do. None of it really has to do with doing those things through work. The lens of what I do for work is the means to an end to what I want to do with life. I like my work. My work is fine. I don't think my work needs to be exceptional. I'm rewarded enough by it. I can walk out. I can go home at the end of the day, or stay home. We're all home now. I can stay home at the end of the day, and think that I helped.
Brian: I was just going to say I've known you for a long time, Matt Hazard. I know you like helping people. So that in itself, I think, is probably fulfilling in your job. Using your skills, that you mentioned earlier, people don't have. You're happy to apply your skills for them to assist them through their day. That's satisfaction right there, I guess.
Matt: Yeah, and it's a rewarding thing. As much as it's a small part of people's lives, dental health is important.
Brian: It's a harbinger to the rest of your body health. If you don't keep your mouth clean, you're going to have health problems.
Billy: Let me play devil's advocate, though, a little bit here just with you. Because you have talked about, you're not necessarily the breadwinner for your family.
Billy: So, is it okay for you to have a job that's fine, because even if you weren't working, your family would be still in pretty decent shape? Or do you think you might hit what we're going to talk about in season five with the menopausal zazz? Obviously, you're not going to go through menopause. But because you perceive your career as fine right now, do you think you're going to get the itch — when you get a little bit older — to find that passion project?
Matt: Probably, yes. I don't think of it necessarily in those terms. What my wife and I have talked about a lot of times in terms of our retirement and what we want to do, we've talked about like, "Wouldn't it be cool to—" I've been learning the guitar. She plays piano. She's ought to practice on that. She's like, "Wouldn't it be cool if we just brushed up, did a little guitar keyboard combo, and play coffee shops as old people? Wouldn't that be a fun thing, and make $100 for a two-hour gig at a coffee shop or something like that?" I'm like, "Yeah, that sounds awesome. I would love to do that." So, you could call it a passion project.
I mean, keeping in mind, if my wife didn't have a job, we would still be fine. We just wouldn't live in a big house. But my career is financially rewarding. It's just not nearly as financially rewarding as hers. I just think it's not as important to me as it is to some people, because the other aspects of my life are more important.
Now, my wife does occasionally — we don't need to go into specifics. She works for an alcohol manufacturer. She talks about sometimes how that's not a very rewarding career. You're not really helping people by selling alcohol. I beg to differ during parts of that. But there are people who take some solace in that. There are people who obviously self-medicate and use it too much. But there is, I think, value to what she does. Obviously, there's monetary value to what she does. I think that there's also social value to what she does, but she doesn't take a lot of value out of it.
Maybe that episode is more directed towards her. But for me, I'm comfortable with what I do. What I want to be exceptional are the things that I actually pour energy into, which is my relationships with my children, with my wife, my parents, still. Then trying to be involved in their lives in ways that are positive, like coaching and shit like that, taking them to Monster Truck rally.
Billy: Well, I think that's a good spot here for us to take a break. When we come back, we're going to continue talking to Matt Hazard about season four, because I know he wants to do a deep dive into the Trash the Checklist episode. Because that was one of our favorite episodes to record, and it was one of the favorite episodes from you, the listeners. So, we'll be right back. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
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And now, let's take a minute to be present with our breath. If you're listening somewhere safe and quiet, close your eyes and slowly inhale for 4, 3, 2, 1. Hold for 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Slowly exhale for 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Let's do that one more time. Inhale for 4, 3, 2, 1. Hold for 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Slowly exhale for 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Go ahead and open your eyes. You feel better? We certainly hope so. And now, back to the show.
Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are summarizing season four with the always entertaining, Matthew Earl Hazard. Those initials spell MEH, which is usually what these episodes are.
Brian: Except the editing.
Billy: I'll tell you what, our end of the season episodes are like the B-sides for our real diehard fans. Those are the ones who really enjoy these episodes right here, are the diehard fans. But we love having you on here, Matt Hazard. So, we're going to have you on at the end of every season.
Matt: I love being on here. Thank you for having me again, Billy.
Billy: Absolutely. So, you wanted to talk about the Trash the Checklist episode. It's a phenomenal podcast. Dr. Yolanda Holloway and Tiffany Byrd are just phenomenal people. You call them an electric factory. What do you mean by that?
Matt: Those two are an electric factory. They just pour out energy. I love that there's a slight friction. I love the interplay between the two of them. There's not just consensus and agreement, there's discussion. I love that about that episode in particular. There were just so many great moments in that, where I think Tiffany was talking about being a collegiate Hall of Famer, and what she did on the court and in other sports and everything.
So, I love the idea of promoting therapy. I love that from the moment you started your interview with them, you were like, "So, trash the checklist." That flies in the face of everything that I believe and everything that's I'm about. So, explain yourself and why I shouldn't stop? I love that. Because that's me, too. I am a checklist person.
Obviously, the answer is — that's the biggest message of that episode — creating your own checklist versus the expectations of the world being your checklist. I thought that was awesome. Also, my favorite moment of that episode was Brian coming in with a little mic drop, John Lennon quote. I love that. It's a great quote. John Lennon — he said some smart shit.
Brian: He did.
Billy: Well, I think when we talked to Joy Huber, too, about confronting mortality, that reinforces this reexamination of trashing the checklist. What was your takeaway from our conversation with Joy Huber?
Matt: What an incredibly positive human being. In fact, my experience with other people who have had similar diagnosis — young people with cancer — they're all so positive about life and gratitude, and the things, moving forward, that you're living on — you don't want to say living on borrowed time, but you're living with a new purpose in life. You can hear the joy as the joke was made in the episode. You can hear the joy in her voice. It reminded me a lot — we have a friend. Brian, you remember? We played a charity event for a woman named Anna Noland, who was in her 20s.
Brian: Yeah, I remember her. She was at the brewery. It was a good show.
Matt: We went there and it was like — I don't remember what the cause was called. But it was people in their 20s and 30s who had cancer diagnoses, who were raising money for having adventures now that they're on maybe the other side of their cancer or that they're starting to experience life anew. Every moment of that episode, I was like, oh, man, this is exactly that kind of mentality.
Exploring mortality, I think, is scary for a lot of people. To hear somebody who has been close to the edge of that personally and thought that the end was there and then now they have this time, it's a great reminder to live and not just exist. I think that's an important message for all of us. I don't particularly fear mortality, or growing old, or dying. But I do fear not really living, and living for tomorrow rather than today. I do that a lot. We talked about thinking about retirement and retiring early. I'm 42. I've still got 13 to 15 years before that's the reality.
Billy: If you're lucky, too.
Matt: Yeah, exactly. Am I just biding my time until that? Do I just wait for my kids to grow up, or do I participate in that?
Billy: Well, I think the story that Marie Nutter shared, too, reinforces that. I know Marie reached out to me while I was traveling overseas and said, "As exciting as this is to see what you're doing, it brings back a little bit of trauma for me considering what happened with my brother." As much of a ray of sunshine, Marie felt like a wave of calm, which was so interesting to me given the trauma that she has experienced in her life with losing her brother, but then the trauma that she is surrounded by as a pediatric ER nurse.
Matt: Yeah. Horrifying, obviously. I mean, she lost her twin brother. I can't imagine that. I'm very close with my brother who's closest in age to me. But I don't imagine that even our connection is similar to that of a twin. So, losing that person in your life, at such a young age, I can't fathom it.
But that being said, the part of her story that struck me the hardest was when she was talking about having to disassociate watching a four-year-old actively die in front of you, and having to disassociate the idea that that child looks like your niece or your nephew. I was immediately just bawling. Because in my head, I saw my four-year-old son. I can't fathom that. If you're in that scenario and you're in that ER, and you have to do the work to help this kid transition to either a better outcome or the reality that's coming, you got to do your job. What weight that must put on your soul. She was so cool.
Billy: That's the thing that struck me about her the most. Because we recorded that one in the studio. When I said that I've never felt a calming presence like that before in my entire life, I haven't. It was unbelievable what her presence brought to that room.
Brian: It was. It was palpable.
Billy: I can only imagine what she brings to an ER room. Just her very presence must be soothing in a chaotic setting and a chaotic experience for those doctors and those nurses.
Matt: Yeah, and that's the job, right? That's the value that she brings in that situation, in the world. How many f**king heroes are like that in those situations? When the buck stops right with you, and you have to be the one that is calm and fixes the problem, and everything else gets shut out. I am not that person. I can't do that. I don't know if you guys can do that. But that those people exist, just blows my mind. I'm very thankful. That's what I took away from that episode.
Billy: I'm going to plug her mnyoga.org again, for people that are looking to do trauma-informed therapy in case you're a first responder, or you're just looking to learn more about trauma-informed therapy. In terms of trauma and how people respond to it, it was very intentional for me to throw Michael's story in the middle of all that, too. I also intentionally put it after Jodi Pfarr's episode, The Urgency of Awareness. So, I'm curious on your thoughts on Michael's episode. Because it was very intentional on my part to put it where I put it.
Matt: Yeah, I felt that. He was definitely the yin to Joy's yang, in terms of he's a fascinating individual. Just as a human being, I was like, man, if I was having a conversation with this human being, I would do that for as long as he would care to do that. I felt like I was sitting on the side of a conversation, which is a great thing about podcasts. You feel like you're sitting in the room, but you can't really participate. He was an interesting human being. A lot of talk about finding direction and sobriety, suicidal ideation, which I know has been a subject on several episodes of your show, which is just a difficult thing.
I think all of us have gone through that, to some small extent. I think I've told my story where I had a small episode where I thought about it. Obviously, both of you have had great sharing moments on the show with what you've experienced. Just another one of those, right? No two of those stories are the same. They share a lot of similarities in where you are now and what helped you get through it maybe, but what brought you there is so often a different thing.
Billy: I'm wondering, did you find yourself judging Michael, at all, at any point?
Matt: Yeah, well, I was just going to say that yes. I think probably in the way that all of us look at someone — even though I didn't see him necessarily. I was listening to him. When you see someone and you're like, I bet this about them, like the stereotype. I'm happily surprised that I was wrong about him in a lot of ways. Yeah, judgment exists immediately. If someone tells you their story, it's an innate thing to judge it on its face, right?
Billy: I intentionally put it after the Jodie Pfarr episode about awareness, because I wanted people to hear Jodi talk about the importance of getting the other perspectives of other people — before people heard those three stories with Joy, and Michael, and Marie — that there is a necessity to get the perspectives of other people's experiences. Because ultimately, a big piece of this show is developing empathy for others. Yes, we are trying to better ourselves. But developing empathy for others is a huge component in bettering ourselves.
For me, when I read Jodi's book, it was yet another opportunity for me to pause and reflect on, okay, what are my experiences as a straight white male, where all my triangles are right side up? All of my triangles are right side up. So, how do I interact? How do I listen? How do I receive the experiences of somebody who has triangles that are upside down?
Matt: I mean, right at the outside of it — good job to you, by the way, for clipping that particular portion of the conversation and putting it right at the front of the episode. Like, boom. Here's a person who's left-handed. How are they disadvantaged? When you ask someone who's right-handed, they might not have an answer for that. Well, they're not. There's just a different hand, right? But then, immediately, the left-handed person is like, "Oh, f**k, scissors, writing, desks—" 100 things that none of us right-handed people think about.
I think, like you said, as a white male, middle-aged, successful person, there are so many blind spots. We've talked about this ad nauseam, that there's so much that we don't know, that we don't even know what we don't know. The blindness to those things is not an excuse for inaction or for not seeking to learn more about those things. That's a challenging episode. I thought that that was good. I love when an episode makes me think, "Am I doing enough," then answering that question almost immediately. Oh, definitely not.
Billy: Like I said, it's those episodes. Like what we did with Jodi that gives you a pause, when you pause and you take a breath. Then what did you think of that episode we did with Anna and Kolin, where we talked about our relationship with our breath?
Matt: Fascinating for me, because I don't know shit about breathing. In fact, in any instances where I do work out all the time — I'm on my bike. I'm running — I don't ever think about my breath. Coaches tell you find a cadence. I'm sure they know a ton about that, and I do not. I've never really thought about it. So, really fascinating to hear them talking about being able to hold your breath for a long time, how that's something that can be easily trained. I guess it's something I need to learn a lot more about. The episode was one of those things that gives you a glimpse into something that you should spend more time with.
Billy: Yeah, after I listened to them do their presentation in Dakar, it completely shifted the way that I think about breathing so much, that when I was in Mexico in February, and I was parasailing, I was actively saying to myself, "Belly breathing, belly breathing." I'm belly breathing because parasailing was wild for me. That was out of my comfort zone a little bit right there. But because I was able to belly breathe, it made it a little bit more enjoyable because I wasn't freaking out while I was up there. So, those lessons that they shared in that episode, and back when I listened to them do the presentation the first time, still resonate with me when I'm doing things.
Matt: That's fascinating to me, because that would also be very much out of my comfort zone. Because I hate heights. The belly breathing and when they were talking about just being conscious of your breath, in moments, even that is the beginnings of starting to do things that are positive to your breathing, where you just say, "Oh, I'm going to be conscious about breathing." They didn't really explain what belly breathing was. I need to sit through like, "Do you just breathe into your belly or no?
Brian: What I got is, as long as you're exhaling longer than you're inhaling, you should be okay. You're calming. You're on the way down. That was another gentleman that pointed that out but along the same line.
Matt: Billy, you went through that seminar. Tell me what is belly breathing.
Billy: My understanding of belly breathing is, when you're taking your breath, a lot of us will breathe into our shoulders or will breathe into our chest. That will hike up our shoulders. What that does is that it creates tension up that way. Because think about when you're anxious, you'll hike up your shoulders, right? So, it creates this automatic response of tension. Whereas belly breathing is just expanding your belly, and then deflating your belly, and expanding your belly and deflating your belly, but doing it in a relaxed way.
If you're just starting to do it, then there's the tension there. Because I think some of it, too, is just being comfortable with letting your belly flop out. Then it come back in, that sort of thing, and just allowing yourself to be comfortable in that breathing space. That was my understanding of it.
Anna and Kolin can do a better job of explaining it. They actually have a retreat coming up here before too long. I think it's in May. So, you can follow them on Instagram. Go back to those show notes, and take a look to see when their retreat is coming up.
We're going to take a quick break right now to take a breath. Then when we come back, Matt Hazard is going to tell all of you, who are just getting into this podcast, what episodes you should start with. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Thanks for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We will do our best to put out new content every Wednesday to help get you over the midweek hump. If you'd like to contact us, or if you have suggestions about what you'd like us to discuss, feel free to email us at email@example.com or follow us on Instagram @mindful_midlife_crisis. Check out the show notes for links to the articles and resources we referenced throughout the show. Oh, and don't forget to show yourself some love every now and then, too. And now, back to the show.
Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are doing our season four recap with the Rubenesque, the devilishly handsome, the always entertaining, Matt Hazard. So, Matt, now that we have like 50 something episodes, people tend to get overwhelmed when they see it. "Whoa, there's too many episodes. I don't know where to start." So, what would be your Mindful Midlife Crisis starter pack for someone who wants to get into this podcast?
Matt: Number one — and these are in no particular order, except for this one — you must start with Dr. Yvette Erasmus. I think that is the most important episode to listen to. First, you've had wonderful experts on the show. I'm sorry. She's the best expert you've had on the show.
Brian: She's a powerhouse. There's no doubt.
Billy: That is the episode that I share with everybody right off the bat. I'm like, if you want to start listening to this podcast, here's the first one and then you can go back and rummage through whatever other ones you want to listen to. Here are some other suggestions. I always suggest Sarah Rudell Beach because she talks about mindfulness. I always suggest Tom Cody.
But the first episode that everybody needs to listen to is Episode 19. Since we did two with Dr. Yvette Erasmus because she's amazing — Episode 19, Compassionate Communication for Deeper, More Meaningful Relationships with Dr. Yvette Erasmus. And then make sure you go to her website and follow her there, because she always shares excellent videos. Sign up for her newsletter. Do everything Dr. Yvette Erasmus shares with you because she's amazing. It's easily our best episode.
Matt: Yeah, and no disrespect to anyone else. But yes, the lessons that she imparts in that, and even in just talking about what she does, I still use some of that with regard to my kids, with regard to life lessons that I take away. Yeah, brilliant episode.
Second — from here on out, no particular order, and probably numerical order in terms of season — Maurice and Daleco. WORK Gym, season one, episode six, part one and two, right? What I take away from Maurice and Daleco's episode is motivation and drive. Those are two things that I got. It's infectious. That's probably the episode I've revisited the most or the two-part episode I've revisited the most. Because if you hit the doldrums, and you're trying to remember like why I'm running three days a week, and biking three days a week, and doing yoga? Why am I doing pushups every night? Because I see Maurice on my Instagram story doing pushups and pull ups every night. I'm like, "Damn it. If that guy — I'm so far behind." I think that that two-part episode is just really motivating for me.
Brian: Maurice is so dedicated for me. I'm like, "Damn, he's so dedicated." It's inspiring. It's awesome.
Billy: And you can hear the passion in his voice when he talks about fitness and when he talks about business even, too. He is so passionate about that. That episode is infectious. What they shared, that message, is absolutely infectious. Because you talk to somebody who has a real crackle in their voice, just like Tom Cody. I know you love the Tom Cody episode as well.
Brian: I love Tom Cody.
Matt: Yeah, you talked about wrapping something in a package that is really palatable for me. You put that kind of sage expert with a positive outlook on life, who has that same lived experience as you and maybe was in a negative headspace, maybe had a difficult portion of their life, and had all of the trimmings of success and everything that they you think you want in life, and then goes, "Oh, shit. These are not the right priorities." Then finding later in his life what true happiness is about gives a lot of hope to someone like me who sees that, and goes, "Oh, man. There is a path toward that." I don't have to be angry.
Oh, God. When he was talking about road rage, and that person is not going to get my day, that moment for me was like, Oh, God. How many times have I said that exact thing since then? So many times. "Nope, I'm not going to let you have my day. My day is mine. I'm going to be happy." That's a decision that I can make emotionally. He talks a lot about top 20 and the bottom 80, and being in that top 20 mindset in that headspace.
Also, that it's okay to fall below at that 80 from time to time. You're never going to be perfect. You're never going to be above it all the time. But spending as much time up there is possible. I thought, yeah, what a great episode. Someone I related to a good deal, as well, especially also with his love of the Indigo Girls.
Billy: Well, I think Tom Cody is the living breathing example of 'you're never too old to learn something new.' He talks about in episode — I think it's 35, 36. As a top 20 team, they had to reexamine their messaging so that it was more inclusive. I know you really enjoyed the episode with Ericka Jones around how having a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive society makes us better people.
Matt: Yeah, again, we talked a little bit about one of the episodes this year being very challenging. Same thing with the Ericka Jones' episode. That's probably the first one that I found to be very personally challenging around common conception and misconception, and what we're doing. That's the biggest thing that I took away from that episode. It's like, what are you doing to help? I was like, "Oh, awareness?" She's like, "Awareness isn't good enough. What are you doing?"
Billy: Exactly. Like what she said, that I distinctly remember sweating. Because I'm like, "Oh, I thought being woke was enough. Is that enough? Is that good? I'm good, right? I'm good?"
Matt: Oh, man. No, that is definitely a challenge that you can't just internalize it and say, "Okay. I'm a better person because I'm aware of it." No.
Brian: That would be trivialization, for sure.
Matt: Right. That, I think, is an important episode, mostly if you are a white middle-aged man. But everyone could take a good deal of value out of it.
Brian: You know what? Honestly, out of that whole episode, the theme I got was empathy. The world could use more empathy. You're never going to go wrong if you have more empathy for someone who's not in the same position as you. That, for me, is I think something everybody needs more of. You can't go wrong with having more empathy for someone else in their position in life or their experience and their value. All that stuff comes along with having empathy for somebody. So, that's what really struck in me. I was like, "Wow, yeah, I'm definitely not doing enough." Now I understand more that I'm not doing enough.
Billy: Hey everyone, Billy here. Unfortunately, we had a technical issue with our Riverside.fm software at the end of this episode, which has happened to us multiple times. In fact, this is the second time we tried recording this episode with Matt Hazard. So, unfortunately, Season Four is coming to a rather anticlimactic finish.
In case you're wondering what other episodes Matt Hazard recommends to new listeners, he wants you to check out Episode 22 on how to prioritize and normalize conversations around mental health with your children, featuring Tandra Rutledge from the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. Obviously, as a parent, he is passionate about having those kinds of conversations with his own children.
For you travel buffs out there, he recommends Episode 39 where I talked about my travels to Portugal, Spain, and Dakar. I do wish you could hear us laughing and saying "I love you" at the end of this episode. Because we hope those genuine emotions of love and support, from dude to dude to dude, make you smile a little bit. I do refer to Brian as my emotional support. We got a good chuckle out of that, because I caught myself. I was like, "Don't say it."
But anyway, thank you once again for supporting our show by listening to this episode. Season Five comes out next week, and we have another all-star guest lineup for you. We're very excited to share those episodes with you over the course of the next 12 weeks. You can go on our social media to check out who those guests are.
If you don't follow us yet, look us up on Instagram @mindful_midlife_crisis or you can find us on Facebook at The Mindful Midlife Crisis Podcast page. We're on Twitter @mindfulmidlife. And yes, we even have a TikTok page, which is, again, mindful_midlife_crisis. We also have a fancy new webpage at www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com, so feel free to check that out. We'll add blog posts up there at some point. I'm working on getting some meditations on that page as well, for you to access during the day in case you just need a mindful moment.
If you want to leave us a review, we would love that. There's a link in the show notes that you can click. If you want to make a donation you can visit the web page and scroll down to where it says 'make a donation.' There's also a link in the show notes for that. Feel free to share your favorite episodes on social media and with your family and friends. Be sure to tag us when you do, so we can say thank you for your support.
So, for Matt Hazard, for Brian, this is Billy. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy, and loved. Take care friends.
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