Billy and Brian talk to the hosts of the Trash the Checklist podcast Dr. Yolanda Holloway and Tiffany Byrd. We discuss:
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Tiffany: The start of therapy was probably the epiphany for me. I would sit back and look like, okay, I've done several things that I thought were so important — not crossing off that next thing. But I don't feel more fulfilled, and my life feels completely out of balance. So, if accomplishing the things was what was supposed to be fulfilling, like that didn't happen, what went wrong here? So, that was like the place for me where I just needed to pause, I needed to determine what balance look like. Then therapy really made me realize that I had not been the author of my own story totally.
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. As always, I'm joined by my good friend, Brian on the Bass. Brian, how are you doing over there, man?
Brian: I am awe-inspiring today, Billy. That almost was tough to pronounce. I am awe-inspiring.
Billy: Oh, how are you inspiring awe this holiday season?
Brian: Just through being impressive, formidable, and magnificent. That's all.
Billy: I like how you worked all sorts of words into that one right there. So, I feel like I should have brought my thesaurus once again, as you just hit me with all those magnificent words. Thank you so much. Your energy continues to fill me up with goodness, week after week.
Brian: You know you can just use the internet. You don't have to use a dictionary anymore.
Billy: That is true.
Brian: Or the thesaurus for that matter.
Billy: They have made advancements. It's really fantastic.
Brian: It's the new way of doing things, right?
Billy: It is. Speaking of the new way of doing things, we have two guests on who I imagine have had to learn new ways of doing things. Because they are people after my own hearts. They are educators. Our guests today are the hosts of the Trash the Checklist Podcast. They are Dr. Yolanda Holloway and Tiffany Byrd.
Dr. Yolanda is a graduate of Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, and a 22-year educator with experiences spanning urban education, juvenile education, and rural education. She believes in equity as an advocate for social change through the power of public education. She is currently a secondary principal who is driven by the concept of servant leadership, believing that supporting teachers requires a level of understanding and joining them in the trenches. She has a published article in the May 2020 edition of the National Association of Secondary School Principals Magazine entitled Leading with Compassion, which articulates her own practices that align with the principles of servant leadership. Dr. Yolanda has been married for 16 years and has two daughters — a senior, and an eighth grader. All prayers accepted, she says.
Her co-host is Tiffany Byrd. Tiffany is a career educator with 22 years of experience, with a concentration in athletic administration. Tiffany is a Cleveland, Ohio native and a proud graduate of Morgan State University in Baltimore. Tiffany was a 2000 National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics' John McClendon Minority Postgraduate Scholarship winner. She earned a Master of Education: Athletic Program Leadership and Administration from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition, she has coached volleyball, basketball, track and field, and currently serves on several state athletic committees. Tiffany has been married for 20 years, and is a mother of two. Welcome to the show, Dr. Yolanda and Tiffany.
Dr. Yolanda: Hello.
Tiffany: Thank you so much.
Billy: Absolutely. We always like to have our guests share the 10 roles that they play in their lives. There's two of you here, so there's a little bit of overlap. But one of the two of you go ahead, and share what 10 roles you play in your lives.
Dr. Yolanda: Okay. Tiff, you want to go first?
Tiffany: Sure, I don't mind. If I had to talk about 10 roles that I play, the ones that come to mind first are the relationship roles. So, I'm a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend. Those come to mind. As you've stated, I'm a career educator. I'm an avid sports fan, a self-care enthusiast. I'm still working on being better at it, but I'm very enthusiastic about it. I consider myself to be a coach and a counselor always, and a lover of travel, and a foodie because I really like to eat, guys.
Dr. Yolanda: Like you said, we do overlap. So, relationships first. Mother, wife, a daughter, I am a sister, a friend, educator of course, travel-lover, a foodie. So, we definitely bond around food. I said a dry comedian and an adventurer.
Billy: Now, Brian, we have had some Hall of Fame guests on particularly seasons three and, of course, season four. But Brian, did you know that we literally have a Hall of Famer in our presence?
Brian: That's fantastic. It's really not in the show up. So, thank you.
Billy: Yeah. So, Tiffany, you are a member of the Morgan State Athletic Hall of Fame. Is that correct?
Tiffany: That is correct. You really did your research, because I did not put that in the bio at all. But yes, I am. I was inducted into the 2021 class. So yes, that is true.
Billy: That is awesome. Congratulations.
Tiffany: Thank you so much.
Billy: What was your sport?
Tiffany: Volleyball, yes.
Billy: Excellent. Where I'm from, actually, volleyball is like what football is in Texas. So, we had a really good volleyball program when I was in high school. So, we were a perennial state participants year after year. My sister was a three-year starter in volleyball, so I love Volleyball. Volleyball is a big passion of ours. In fact, where I went to high school, during phy ed, the boys always wanted to play volleyball. Because the girls were so good that we just wanted to compete. Our football team was not. So, we wanted to emulate the girls because they were so successful.
Tiffany: That's me. I can honestly say I've taught phys ed for a number of years. It will be one of the activities that the boys always caught on to very quickly and very much enjoyed it. Like, why don't we have a team or whatever? So, I'm not surprised to hear that.
Billy: That's fantastic. I'm guessing the two of you met in college.
Tiffany: That is correct.
Billy: And I'm guessing that the two of you went through the same education program, and that's how you bonded or that's how you clicked.
Tiffany: Oddly enough, no.
Dr. Yolanda: Not the same major. We actually ended up living in the same dorm suite. Got together, and started hanging out more over time. My main group of friends at the time were band people. So, a couple of friends and I took the chance to lose our housing in the honors dorm, and to do this lottery thing so we could move into the dorm room which I think — Tiffany I don't know if you'd already be living there — it was more like an apartment style. We wanted some more freedom. Because the dorm mistress for the honors dorm was trying to protect all of our chastity way too much. So, we were like, "We got to get out of here and get to a different dorm." We happened to end up in the same suite as Tiffany, and some of her volleyball team.
Billy: So, the American Pie. Just one time at Band Camp that you were living it.
Dr. Yolanda: It happened.
Brian: That is absolutely fantastic.
Dr. Yolanda: Band Camp is where it's at.
Billy: Oh, I love it. I love it. This is probably already one of my favorite interviews so far. Wonderful. So, Yolanda, what instrument did you play when you were in college?
Dr. Yolanda: Saxophonist. I'm a saxophone player.
Brian: Yolanda, we have so much in common. It's incredible. I'm also a foodie. I love traveling. I also started out on the saxophone. Most of my friends were— you and I are like almost the same person.
Dr. Yolanda: We're like twins.
Billy: The funny thing is that, Tiffany, you and I are similar. Because I played sports all throughout high school. Now, I'm not a Hall of Famer like you are, but I played baseball. I was pretty good at baseball. I sat on the bench mostly for basketball because I'm short. But I was known to have more fouls than points. So, I called myself a defensive specialist.
Dr. Yolanda: Defensive specialist?
Tiffany: We definitely have something in common. Because I was a basketball player as well. Because I had more rebounds than points, I thought I was in block shots. I thought I was a defensive specialist, too. So, look at that.
Billy: There you go. You're like the Dennis Rodman of your team right there.
Tiffany: Absolutely, yes.
Billy: The hustle.
Tiffany: With only one ejection, though. Only one ejection.
Billy: I feel like there's a story there. Why did you get ejected?
Tiffany: Oh, my goodness. I, honestly, was deserving of the ejection. But I made a play. I was actually on the ground. The young lady raised her foot. It's like she was going to stomp on me. So, all I remember — Billy, I'll be honest — when I got up, her ankle was in my hand. She was upside down. The official started running to me like I was playing baseball. You! That's all I really remember. My mother laughed. She told me she was embarrassed. I did not give her $5 worth of basketball that night.
Billy: Oh, my goodness,
Dr. Yolanda: This is a new story for even me. I love that. You didn't talk about basketball because I was a basketball player. But I have never heard that story from Tiff.
Tiffany: One ejection, yes. I did have one ejection.
Billy: That is wonderful. Ladies, what are the three rules that you are most looking forward to in the second half of life?
Tiffany: Well, for me, I know we probably share some of these. Really, I want to focus on those relationship roles. I think, at this point in my life, I know that those are some of the most valuable memories, particularly, that I'll leave behind for my loved ones. Also, being a little more nurturing of the friendships and those roles. I think we've discussed how some of those decades felt lost to the grind of it all. So, I want to be just more intentional in how I am showing up in those relationships, how I'm nurturing those relationships. So, that's key for me.
I definitely want to travel. Yolanda teases me all the time, because I have not made it to all of the 50 states. That's not why she teases me. But some of those days, she was like, "Do we have to stay at night? What is that doing in certain places?" I'm like, "I don't know. But I'm getting to all of them." Some international travel goals that I have, so I definitely want to travel more. I think that's one of the things that I've learned about myself. Those new experiences, they really fill my cup. So, I want to try to make more time for those things, definitely.
As I shared, the self-care part. Life can be very, very busy. Our lives and education, they don't feel like they stop. So, just finding ways to really put myself on the list and make sure that I'm doing things to show that I value myself as much as the other people in my life.
Billy: What are the two of you doing to manage your self-care during this hectic era of education now that we're in, this unprecedented time of education that we are in? I took a leave. I had to get out. I had to take a leave. The two of you are still grinding away. You're both in administrator roles, as well. So, you're making some really tough decisions. What are you doing in order to manage your self-care? I think that's really important for people to know.
Tiffany: Not as wise as you are. We didn't take a break. But as we're trying to push through — we actually talked about this on our most recent episode — I think one of the big challenges for me that the pandemic has really for education, and administrators as well, it's created a part-time job by trying to navigate these mitigation strategies and what happens here. I'm working in athletics. So, should we be playing? If we're not playing, how do we keep the kids connected? This is not good for their mental health. So, it's really, really been stressful. I'll share that I think I went into this a little wrong in 2021. I think that maybe I felt like we had weathered the storm. We were doing a lot of this work, or at least I was. She'll make a face, I'm sure. Because she's been back in the office far longer than I have. But we were making a lot of these decisions remotely. So, it was a slower pace in life.
Now it's like you're back to the full-time grind of the job, but this other piece is looming. It hasn't gone anywhere. That has really been a challenge. So, I'm grateful that I have her. I think I heard on one of the episodes, one of you said, "I can say that this podcasting has been therapeutic in and of itself." So, I'm happy to have that as an outlet as well. I am also a believer in therapy, so I will credit the therapist for helping me manage some of that as well.
But just really trying to put it all in perspective. When you think about how devastating this was when it first started, we may not be back to normal. We are making some progress. Then just trying to really be realistic in my expectations of what this journey back will be, and recognizing that it is a journey. We're not just wanting to snap our fingers and be right back.
Dr. Yolanda: My self-care — this is going to sound weird. But part of it is letting myself be emotional. I'm one of those people that other people will often say, "God, you never look upset. No matter what's going on, you always seem to have it together." That's because inside, there's a whole entire shit show brewing. But on the outside, I'm very, very— I just look like—
Dr. Yolanda: —she's another thing. Yeah, I'm composed. I've allowed myself to express disgust more. I've allowed myself to sigh. Sometimes, these seem really small things, but just to have a seat. As an administrator, my contract does not say that I get a duty-free lunch at all. So, I've been very intentional about at least taking out 15 or 20 minutes to say that I'm eating, and trying to take care of myself that way in the job. I don't take home work. If I have to do anything after I leave the office, I act like somebody just assaulted me. But I had to do that because this position and this job can go well into 11 midnight, if you allow it. People send emails when they wake up. There are people in our executive office that get up to jog at 4 AM. They send the email at 4am. If my notifications are on, I'm like, "Oh, shoot. Let me check." I'm coming out of my sleep. So, I don't have notifications on because I'm like, "What am I going to do at 4 AM about any issue?" Also, thanks to Tiffany. I finally got comfortable with the idea of going to therapy. I did get a therapist this year. Was it this year, Tiff?
Tiffany: This year, we're starting to put it together. I think so.
Dr. Yolanda: I know. Actually, I think it might have been last year. Because as I've said on the podcast, I was in triage. My mom had aggressive breast cancer diagnosed. Everything was going on with COVID. There were just so many things. Children were having their own mental health struggle, so I needed to get in and get seen. Another thing that I'm doing for self-care is taking time out at home. If I can't get out and have that spa experience, I can try to do something for myself in my own home. So, I do budget out to spend money on very high-quality lotions and body treatment products, and things like that. So, just carving out time for myself in the craziness has been a way that I've been able to deal with everything that's going on with work and regular life. Because we're in homes with other people who are also trying to navigate everything that's going on. Moms are sometimes the referees and the managers. So, I have to make sure that everyone's okay. But I got to put my oxygen mask on first.
Billy: I love that. We've talked about that before — the importance of taking care of yourself, and the idea that you cannot pour from an empty cup. So, I'm glad that you both are taking care of yourselves that way. I liked that you talked about that you have to turn it off sometimes. Because you're right. Even as a dean, when I worked in that position, and the two of you in administration, you know that a lot of the times you're the bad guy, right? The buck stops with you. People are going to be upset with you because you're making the final decision. I like that you're saying, "Listen, when I walk out the door, I'm done." That was something that I would do, too. I would tell my students, you're not going to go home and do homework. I know you're not going to do that. So, stay in the building till maybe 4:30, and then go home. Then just enjoy being a teenager, and just take a break. Because, especially during these times here, we need to do that. Dr. Yolanda, you also talked about looking forward to spending time with family members. What else are you looking forward to in the second half of life?
Dr. Yolanda: With my family members, just being able to give them that time. I, too, have been like on the hamster wheel — always trying to get that next degree, the next promotion, the next this, the next that. It really has taken a toll on my family. Not that they don't know that I love them. Not that I haven't been in body around them. But I haven't had a lot of emotional. I'll say, when we talked about pouring from an empty cup, that cup was oftentimes empty — the emotional part or the energy part.
So, this next part of life, I'm hoping — As Tiffany said, I have to be intentional — that I'm making them a priority, and not the next thing a priority, which I hope that that shows them that I've listened to them. I really, really respect the feedback that they've given to me, and not been butt hurt about them saying, "Mom, we need you hear more. Mom, why are you always on the meeting, mom?" That kind of thing.
Then the last role, adventurer. Now, adventure is not me swinging from trees or any of that kind of thing. Because I can barely swim, and I'm not really trying to get my hair wet. Adventure, for me, simply means trying something different that I probably wouldn't have allowed myself to try before. Now, some of that may be in the deep or something like that. But I want to be an adventurer. It goes along with travel.
When I listen to you, Billy, talk about your travels. I'm like, "That's what I want to do." Especially that people piece, connecting with different people. I'm one of those folks that if I go somewhere — it doesn't matter where it is — I'm always going to sit down and ask people their story. Who are you? What do you do? I like that piece of people. I'm also really into history and stuff. So, to go somewhere and see ruins, to go somewhere and see how other people live. That's really entertaining and educational for me. A trip, for me, has to embody a cultural piece for me to really, really enjoy it. And decent hotels. I heard Billy talked about staying somewhere that was $100 a night. I was like, "Oh my god. Where's the Lysol?" I can't even listen to him talk about staying someplace where he had to share a bathroom. I'm a little different in that regard. I'll go there. I would hang out with you, Billy. But when it's time to go to sleep, I'm going to be at the Hilton or something.
Billy: Deal. That's okay. Wherever you want to go, I'll meet you there. We'll go out. We'll have a nice dinner. I'll go sleep in my 50-square-meter room. You stay at the Four Seasons. That's fine by me. So, you both mentioned here the hamster wheel. I think that's perfect for what your podcast really focuses on. So, what we're going to do is we're going to take a quick break. Then when we come back, we're going to continue talking to Dr. Yolanda and Tiffany about what they mean when they say 'trash the checklist.' 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 here with the hosts of the Trash the Checklist Podcast — Dr. Yolanda Holloway, and Tiffany Byrd. Ladies, when I first heard about your podcast, I was all excited to debate you on trashing the checklist, because I love a good checklist. In fact, I just posted something on Instagram the other day about making a list of 22 things to do in 2022. I'm like, I can't wait to bring this up. But then I started listening to your podcast a little bit more and more and more. I was like, "Oh, yeah, they're actually totally right here," when you talked about trash the checklist. So, what do you mean by trash the checklist?
Dr. Yolanda: Getting rid of living by other people's expectations of what you should be doing when or by when. For a lot of us, there's been this timetable on what you have to do. Oh my god. You're not dating, or about to be married before you're 30. Oh my gosh. For women, especially, you haven't had a child. You're 32. What's that mean for your biological clock? Just when you do stuff and carrying those expectations.
For us, we've lived by that. We got out of college. We got jobs right away. We were in long-term relationships. We got married, and had children. All of that stuff. Those years of raising children, and doing the mom thing and the wife thing, just that decade and a half or so. You're just like, "What happened?" You hit 40. Then you're really like, "Who am I? What the hell was I doing? Why did I do that? What did I learn?" You start questioning those things that you once held so close to your heart. You see that there may have been some different ways you could have gone about experiencing life. So, trash the checklist, for me, is just getting rid of other people's checklist for you and developing your own intentional — what you want to do? Where do you want to go? How do you want to be?
Tiffany: I think, hopefully, our listeners have found we're not against lists at all, actually. That's a part of our personality. We can't really get rid of that part. But we do want people to really consider being the author of their own list. That's the problem. So, it's the push back against society's expectations and norms, and the way people are measuring themselves, and feeling like they failed if they haven't done XYZ. So, it's just really making that a personalized list. Because in many ways, we did not. So, we talk about that in various ways.
But we think there's a couple of ways that it shows up very often. Kids are coming out of high school. They feel like they have to do all of these things, and have all of these expectations. So, they don't maybe have stable jobs. But they're already thinking about like what kind of car they need. Maybe they should be getting a home. They might not even be enjoying the careers that they're in. You have people who have dated X amount of years, and so they're at a couple family dinners. It's like, "Well, when are you getting married?" They're not examining the quality of the relationship. It's just like, well, we've been together for X amount of time. This is the logical step that comes next. It's just asking people to just pause, and really know that you do have the right to be the determining factor of when you move and if you need to move at all. I don't know if we really knew that there was a choice there.
Then I think one of the biggest premises around the show is defining what happiness is for you. Because we were so focused on accomplishing so many things, we didn't really look to create it happy. It was just getting these things done. So, the checklists really blinded us in some ways from enjoying life and what that's actually supposed to be about. You get us here, at this point of 40. You're asking very valid questions. What do we want more of? We remember what happened in those first 40 plus years, but we didn't pursue it with that same intent on happiness. So, that's what we're looking to do, and encourage other people to do as well.
Dr. Yolanda: That was really one of the first questions after I got triaged in therapy. That was one of the first questions that the therapist asked me. She said, "What things make you happy?" I just literally froze. What the hell kind of question is this? Asking me about happiness, who considers that? Who puts that at the forefront? That's selfish if you're thinking about whether or not you're happy when you're doing these things.
It's been a struggle for me to actually define what things make me happy. Now, these 10 roles, as we've discussed in the show, actually gave me a little more. It put a magnifying glass on some things that I can now focus on. But when we started that podcast, we were just like, we have not done these things because — yes, we want it too. But we felt like we were just supposed to do them and never took time to examine the purpose or why we were doing them, in the order or at the time we were doing that.
Tiffany: My frozen therapy moment came really in the first question, too. It was like, "Who are you?" I'm like, "Uh-huh? What do you mean, who am I?" So, when I go to answer the question, she listened intently. Then she just smiled. Well, you didn't really answer the question. I'm like, "Well, I thought I did a great job." She said, "No, you've told me who you are in relationship to other people. Who are you?" It really paused me. I'm like, first of all, I think I'm supposed to be tearing up this early, but I might not really know who I am. I know who I am to other people. That's true. I'm sharing those conversations with your best friend on this journey. It was like, you know what? This ain't it. Maybe we're not alone in this. That's how we got to this point.
Billy: It reminds me of a quote from John Lennon, who said, "When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down happy. They told me I didn't understand the assignment. I told them they didn't understand life." So, it seems like your podcast is more geared towards that figure out what makes you happy, despite any exterior expectations or anything like that.
Billy: It reminds me of when we talked to Tom Cody, and he said, "I achieved, I accomplished, and I accumulated. But I never knew the other A, which was what you are." As you're talking, that really resonates with me, that you achieved all these accomplishments. You are doing an amazing job with them. But it sounds like you're now in midlife figuring out who you are. Part of that is because of this checklist — you're right — I think society puts on us.
How much as educators — I actually just had this conversation with my dad the other day. How much do you think, as educators, do we perpetuate the checklist? You got to go to a four year school, so you can get a good job. Then you can get a good job. You can buy the house, and get the car and da, da, da, da, da. I think about that all the time. Someone that I admire is Mike Rowe. Because Mike Rowe talks about we need to have people doing more trades. We're not doing a good job of promoting that enough. As educators, how do you feel education, as a whole — not you as educators, but education as a whole — perpetuates that checklist?
Dr. Yolanda: That education, literally. When you go to work, we are the people that keep that whole paradigm upheld. When kids come to school, we think about as kindergarteners and early elementary like play time and being creative. Then third grade, we're like, okay, that's over. Now, you're going to have some informational texts to read. No naps, and no play time. This is about reading, and math, and writing. Here's the formula. We have all these strategies. You're going to use an ACE strategy. You're going to use this kind of strategy to write what we've told you to write. So, we do that as a part of our job. Sometimes that bothers me about the job.
Some of the things I've often been talking about, especially I'm in a middle school, why do we need such structured, rigid curriculum in middle school? Especially when kids' brains are just about to ooze out of their ears in middle school anyway. Where's the opportunity to explore? We have none of that. You lose that so early in education. It's a common core, whatever your state calls it. The basis of it was college and career readiness. That's it — college and career readiness. Not creative readiness, not any of that.
We're driving that on a regular basis. I think we have a generation of students now who are finally trying to push back a little bit. They're pushing back with their own data, which are YouTube videos of kids reviewing toys — and they're millionaires — makeup artists who have videos and lines of makeup just by putting out Instagram posts and things like this. So, the creative industry is really there. We should be feeding that. But we're still very much stuck in, "Oh my God. These kids can't write in cursive. How are they going to obtain debt if they can't sign their name on something in cursive?"
So, that's the hard part for me in what I do. But it's those conversations or relationships that you have with students on the side where you can say, "What else are you doing? Oh, you like to paint. We have an art club." Trying to supplement the creative side of education, so that kids don't hate it so much.
Tiffany: I definitely think education perpetuates it. I think those established relationships are important. I can remember one of my early assignments in a health class. We would do a college pendant. You had to pick what your dream school was. Because what I often found where I taught, people with Zschool. Because they thought it sound like a good school to go to. But they really didn't know very much about the school. So, the pendant would be on the front. You decorate it with the school's names and the colors. But on the back, you needed to have basic information. What did the school cost per year? What was the required SAT score and GPA to get in? Because you've identified this school because this is the one people are talking about, where it sounds like where's Ivy League. But you don't even know if you meet the requirements to get into the school. Learning about what it is that you're really saying, and making goals that are suited to where you are.
I can remember a student coming in and saying like, "Well, Ms. Byrd, I want to complete the assignment. But is it okay to do it on a community college?" I'm like, "It most certainly, absolutely, is okay to do it on a community college." Just giving people that space to not feel like they aren't accomplishing something because it's not a traditional four-year school. If somebody came and said that they wanted to go be an electrician or electrician apprentice, that would have been okay, too. So, just giving people that space and comfort in the educational setting and say, it's not one way to do this.
Billy: The reason why I brought Mike Rowe up here is because, I was just listening to him on the Jordan Harbinger Podcast. He was talking about when he would get recognized in the street. He would get recognized by people who were doing the jobs that he was doing. He would say, "Hey, thank you for bringing some dignity to my job," or he would get stopped by people who are making six-figure salaries in saying, "Hey, I love your show. I told my kid, hey, this is what's going to happen if you don't get a degree, or if you don't do well in school." It's just like, no, please stop. Please stop people telling that. Because, listen, the plumbers these days are making six-figure salaries because they can charge what they want, because they're in such short demand.
I think as people our age, people in midlife, we're so short-sighted on what the potential is for career opportunities for high school kids, for college kids. They're going to be doing jobs that don't exist. I think to your point too, Tiffany, when I taught in an alternative program for seven years, those students when you would ask them, "Hey, what are you thinking about doing as an adult?" — which in hindsight now, what a terrible question to ask a 15, 16-year-old, right? But when you would ask them questions, they really only had three or four answers, because that's all they knew. Doctor, lawyer, that kind of thing. That's all they knew. They didn't realize. I think this is common for a lot of teenagers. They don't realize, like when you go to LinkedIn and look at what people are doing for professions, the titles of their names are so long. It's so difficult for them to explain what it is what they do. That's why whenever people ask me, what do you do? I'm an English teacher. That was the end of the conversation, because everybody had one of me. Everybody knew what an English teacher did. So, I love that you're pushing back so adamantly on this idea of following a checklist, particularly when it comes to what society is pushing on us.
Dr. Yolanda: Absolutely. We had to. I guess, I would say, look at us in midlife. We're realizing that now as 40, 40-plus-year-olds. What talents do I have that I wasn't even allowed to pursue? I think our generation, we're Gen Xers. When we went to school, if you were a "smart kid," this was the track they put you on. If you showed any interest, if I talked to my guidance counselor in high school about possibly wanting to do hair, he would have been like, "Oh, that's not for students like you. You're going to college." I think about the $200, $300 I spend on hair in this house per month. That's something that never goes away.
I think it's really hard for us, though, too. Because I think we have that boomer essence upon us as Gen Xers to completely break away though. It's really scary for us, because the boomer essence is all about security. The boomer essence is all about having a plan. The boomer essence has always been about you obtain things. When you're raised like that, it's hard to reflect and say that how you were raised might not been in the best way to do it, right? Because you fear that somebody's going to come down and slap you or something like that for questioning them. Because that's also boomer essence and Gen X life. But just pushing against those norms.
Because what we see is that they haven't really made us all that happy. We're not walking around like jolly and skipping to work. We're not getting in our Priuses and our cars and stuff, and driving happily to a 50-hour work week. We are taking Lexapro. We're taking Zoloft. We're doing all these things to manage because a lot of us, I think, stuffed ourselves into that paradigm. We wanted to make sure we did what we were supposed to do.
Billy: Did either of you have an epiphany, where you realize that your life had become too much about crossing off life events from a list? What have you done then to counter that?
Tiffany: I think the start of therapy was probably the epiphany for me. I would sit back and look like, okay, I've done several things that I thought were so important. Not crossing off that next thing. But I don't feel more fulfilled. My life feels completely out of balance. So, if accomplishing the things was what was supposed to be fulfilling, like that didn't happen, so what went wrong here? That was the place for me where I just needed to pause. I needed to determine what balance look like. In therapy, it really made me realize that I had not been the author of my own story totally.
There were some expectations put on me that I felt I needed to fulfill. So, that caused me to question just a lot of my own behavior. Then it made almost like, I guess, a reflection on the type of parent that I now needed to be, to make sure that I wasn't repeating that cycle. That's probably been the bigger challenge. We've had very similar jobs. We actually probably signed contracts to teach on the same day, going to our job. We always have gone through this together. But I don't know if we put it all together until we were willing to even open up to each other as close as we are. Like I was saying before, this ain't it. I'm not happy. It's not that I'm not happy in what I'm doing. I don't want to continue living on this path, this way.
Dr. Yolanda: Mine was, unfortunately, after I had sent a $6,000-certified cheque away to a program for Superintendents Academy. I had attended, I think, about three sessions. There was a gentleman that was also in the academy that works in a neighboring district. I didn't see him after the third session. So, I was talking to him. I said, "I haven't seen you. Where did you go." He was like, "You know what? That Academy and becoming a superintendent at this point in my life, when I look at my family and when I look at what I really want to do, I don't need to do that. I'm happy with what I'm doing. I feel good about going to work every day. Being a superintendent and being in charge of everybody, and everything is definitely not going to keep that kind of happiness that I have right now in my life." I was like, oh, shoot. I wish I could get my $6,000 back.
But it just really put some things in perspective to me. Then you start backwards, snowballing. Oh, my God. Look at all the things I've always done. What has it got me? Yes, a career is great. I'm never going to not education as a career. Yes, my bills are paid. Yes, I have a home, and my children are taken care of. We can go on vacations and things like that. But right now, what's most important to me is time and being in control of my time that's not work time.
Going into a superintendency, you've seen the stories. They're dropping like flies. I understand why. Even principals, the life expectancy in the role of principals keeps going down every year, too. Teachers — teachers used to do 30, and I'm out. Now we're like, "Oh, would you like to stay to get tenure?" You're like, "I don't need to do that either." So, that moment really made me reflect on all the things I was doing for the sake of doing them to obtain the next job, the next position. I realized I like having time to myself. I was home with a shoulder surgery this summer. I was home for four weeks. In that four weeks, I took in all of the HGTV that I had missed for so long. It was like, oh my god, guilty pleasure. I haven't even watched TV, really, in these years because I've been grinding.
So, that definitely was the epiphany for me. An expensive epiphany. But the value that it's going to bring to my life now in understanding that I'm choosing things that work for me, and for what I want to do time-wise. Because money is not going to make it. Money is not going to be necessarily the determining factor. It's going to be how it fits in to what I say was the next role, and that's having and cultivating better relationships. But I really would like my $6,000 paid back.
Billy: Do you think working in education or pursuing a career in education made you task-driven and made you grind it out? Or is being a grinder, being a taskmaster, just in your DNA and that's why you actually went into education?
Tiffany: I don't think education did this to me. I'm not sure I came here this way. But I do know that I felt like that there were some high expectations when people are filling your cup when you're small. You're smart, and you need to do these things. You're going to college. Then you get in. You get in talent programs and stuff like that. I think the early success to me built the expectations, and then I just kept the pace. So, I wouldn't blame education for that part of my personality.
Dr. Yolanda: I think the task master in me comes from being raised by grandparents. My grandmother and grandfather raised me. They were born in the '20s, so they are Great Depression folks. So, their teachings have a lot to do with making sure you're clothed, housed, and fed. In order to do that, you need to get a job, a good job that you work. If they have pensions, that's even better. You don't leave a job with a pension. Those are the messages. So, I always just thought that I had to do what I did in school, and to take those next steps so that I could have these things that my grandparents instilled in me.
I don't think hard work is a bad thing. But I don't think they had a luxury of saying, "Well, I want to be happy when I work." My grandfather sandblasted buildings of Philadelphia. My grandmother worked at a seafood industry as an oyster shucker and a clam shucker, and did domestic work for her whole life until she was 72 and had had three strokes. So, that idea of happiness was not in their equation. I think that's why I was so driven. It's a new world. There are so much more stimuli around us. The way that it's affecting us is very, very detrimental to our health. I've spoken about that before. We're medicated. We're fighting as hard as we can to not be obese, and just all those things. It starts with the heart piece. Not cardiovascular heart, but how I feel about myself every day, how I feel about what I do every day.
Billy: I think that's a good point. Particularly, educators will fill other people's cups. They'll give positive reinforcements to others. But people, in general, aren't kind to themselves. I feel like we're always keeping up with the Joneses. I think that that's another unfortunate byproduct of living by the checklist, right? I'm very much living by the checklist. I finished college in four years, and then got a job and teaching at 23. Why? I was not mature enough. I wasn't mature enough to be a teacher at 33. Barely, at 43. So, it's one of those things. I look back on people who went overseas and taught. They taught, but they went over there for the experience, that kind of thing. I'm starting to appreciate more and more people who choose a gap year or choose to do something completely outlandish before they turn 25 so that they can say that they had that, or they did something along those lines. I'm curious. How did this conversation between the two of you start to start this podcast?
Tiffany: That is a good question.
Dr. Yolanda: Yeah, it was brewing. I think it was brewing in me. I mean, you had time during COVID, during the shutdown, to think about a lot of stuff. Tiff actually introduced me to podcasts. There were some people she was listening to. She's like, you got to listen to this podcast. You got to listen to this podcast. As I listened to podcasts, I was just like, "Well, this is like radio for the little person." I don't have to be hired at a radio station. You can do your own thing independently. So, I got more and more interested. I think conversations that we were able to have over COVID, things we were struggling with, things that we were sharing with each other for the first time started to come to a head. I was like it. Because sometimes, Tiff is not ready to make jumps.
Tiffany: I was going to share that. I'll be honest. I don't think that this was my first idea. But I think through the years, I've said similar things when I was the first to become a mother. In those early years, I was like, this work and mom thing, this is really tough particularly. Maybe we should find a group or start a group for women of color or whatever. Then you get off into marriage. But with that little counseling they do, I don't know if that's sustainable. This isn't an easy thing. Maybe we should form a group. So, I think I've always had this concept of wanting to build more support during those phases. But I am risk averse. That's true. I had these conversations, but I might not be ready to move on it.
So, the more we had time to talk through the pandemic, I was like, I think we're having really good conversations. I think other people need to hear this. So, I was sharing different podcasts. So, she was like, "You know what? Maybe we should do a podcast." I'm like,"Sounds great," until it was like time to actually do it. I'm like, wait a minute. Wait a minute. So, we took a course. I took the free part. She jumped in and paid, and took the full course. I'm okay. I can't even share it even after we recorded the first couple episodes. I had a great time. But the night she said that she was going to release them, I'm having second thoughts about this. She's like. "What?" I'm like, "Yeah, really. I don't know if I'm ready to do this." So, I am risk averse. But I think this had been brewing because we always — I've always wanted to share or bring support. In doing or having these conversations, we're hoping to do something like younger people can listen to and not have to make the same mistakes. People who have been in our path can examine where they are, realize they can correct course. We're even looking for older listeners to either acknowledge that they haven't, and maybe if they have any regrets behind doing it.
Billy: It's funny that you bring up the younger listeners. Because someone just left a review on Apple podcast. I know it's a younger listener. It said, "Not really my cup of tea because I'm not going through a crisis enough." You should feel so fortunate. You should continue listening, so you don't have a crisis.
Billy: That's the purpose of this podcast right here. It's to prevent you from ever going through it or experiencing.
Tiffany: This is your yield sign, sir. Yes, like stop here. You don't have to.
Billy: Well, I think that's a good time to take a break. Because when we come back, we're going to talk to Tiffany and Yolanda about what it is they discuss on their podcast. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
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Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here talking to the hosts of the Trash the Checklist Podcast — Dr. Yolanda Holloway, and Tiffany Byrd. We've just had a funny conversation here about their husbands. If they were listening to their podcast, they're like, "Are you sure you enjoy hanging out and all that stuff?" But you actually have an episode where you discussed the checklist of gender roles. I thought it was interesting how the two of you seem to have different views or approaches to those, and how they're communicated in your house. So, can you talk about those gender roles?
Dr. Yolanda: That was our first hot topic that we were like, "Oh my god, our husband's are going to kill me. My husband is getting to get mad at me." But that one was something that we've been talking about. We've both been with our spouses since we were in college. So, there hasn't been a lot of space to figure stuff out, grown while on the job, like hands on, on-the-job training with our relationships. But I am — I don't want to use the word combative, because that makes me seem really bitchy. But I'm just one of those people that likes to ask why. If I was a little kid, I will always be like, well, why? Well, why do you get to be in charge? Why can't I be listened to? Why can't I make decisions?
Billy: You like the details.
Dr. Yolanda: Yes, my husband's very traditional. He is older than I am, and was raised by parents who are very traditional in how they handled their relationships. Things that he's kind of expected of me, I mean, he's lost hope that I'll ever be that person now. He loves me anyway. But I have to push. I just never have believed that society really should have been defining our roles when we're in the same home. Yes, I want to take care of you. But does that mean my job has to be the cooking? We want to take care of each other and our children. But you'll never hear me say, can you babysit our kids? These are your kids, too. This is not babysitting. So, I'm just a little more — I'll question. I'm not saying Tiffany is just going all in and not questioning. But I admit, I don't find joy in cooking. I find joy in eating, full stop. I'll do some house stuff, but I am a junkie Jill. I have my stuff piled up. My husband is a former Marine. His side of the room is immaculate. I always talk about our bedroom as in his side and my side, because it is that different. But I just believe that marriage, those roles in marriage, should be defined by the two people and shouldn't have been defined for us by folks that don't have to sleep with us, live with us, clean with us, be sick with us, pay bills with us.
Tiffany: Yolanda is a little bit of a great debater. She loves that back and forth dialogue. Don't get me wrong. I'm not much different. But I think in that episode, we had difference of opinions. Because I don't feel bothered by the fact that people want a very traditional person. I feel like people can have whatever roles they want. They just also need to be partnered with people who agree with that role. So, if you're a person that says this is woman's work, that's fine. Just make sure you match yourself with somebody who feels the same way. Don't try to put a square into a circle peg. Just get your person who also feels the same way. But if she will read a certain statement, like she would be triggered by somebody's saying certain things about a woman should do, I care less. Feel how you feel. I just probably am not that person for you, so don't pick me. But go get the person that you want to do those things.
Billy: Then how do those gender roles — Yolanda, you talked about this. But how do those gender roles reflect the checklist then? I think, Tiffany, you just said, "Hey, if that's you, do you. But don't force it on anybody." Are those gender roles part of the checklist that is forced upon us by society? How do you see that?
Dr. Yolanda: I definitely think they have been. I mentioned this in the episode. When my grandfather passed away, my grandma was home alone. I came home during college to visit her. She was sitting in the chair by herself. I'm like, "Oh my god. How's my grandma going to make it without my grandfather?" They've been married 48, 49 years when he passed. I said to her, I said, "Mama, are you okay" She said, "I'm fine." I said, "How are you doing without Papa? Do you miss him?" She said yes. She hung her head low. I was like, oh, God. I'm going to have to come out of my awkwardness and give a hug. She was like, "Yeah, I miss him." Then she came up with this new life and said, "But I don't miss all that cooking. I don't miss all the cleaning. I don't miss having to do stuff when he wanted to do." She went on this entire tirade about all those things that we'd seen and we'd all been brought up with as, women love doing this. That's why these women have been married for all these years, because they like being women. They're not wearing the pants. They like cooking, and they like cleaning. Here, my great mom was like, "Hell no, we did not. I did not." So, I just was like, if that woman who I watched all those years felt like that, maybe this list of roles hasn't been or shouldn't be for everybody. So, that's how I got them. We had a segment. We haven't done that this season. But we used to call it Trash It or Stash It.
For me, I wanted to, of course, trash most of the gender role things as prescribed. I wanted people to discover what worked for them in their relationships. Clearly, they're not working that well because we're 50% or more for divorce. So, something needs to change. I'm not digging my heels in. So, I trashed the gender roles piece. I did talk about wanting to be less argumentative. I've worked on that. I do a lot of deep breathing, so that I'm not arguing over things. Sometimes I acquiesce. On the inside, I have to go to my room and scream into a pillow or something like that. Because to give in just irks me. But I just feel like I needed to do, we needed to do what we needed to do. Not what everybody else said we needed to do.
Tiffany: I think it does factor into relationships, particularly early on. Everybody has had a different example, a role model. Some people haven't had that at all. You watch TV or whatever your influences are. You think this is what you're supposed to be as a mate. What I do strongly support, what Yolanda is saying, is about being open and transparent enough to carve out what you need your marriage to look like, and understanding and respecting that no two are alike.
I mean, they're like kids. It won't be the same. Even if you tried to follow step by step what other people do, it may not work for you. So, yes, I get it. There may be this societal expectation that men are better with money, and they should handle the bills. But if that's not your ministry, leave the check book alone. Let your wife pay the bills, and make sure everything is done on time. Really knowing the two people that are in that relationship, so you can build the healthiest and strongest partnership. Maximize the potential of the relationship. I think sometimes, that just doesn't happen. I think some of those roles perpetuate people to do things that they're not really suited to do.
Billy: You guys got me thinking here. I'm guessing if you married the guys that you went to college with, correct?
Billy: So, that means you've been married 15 plus years. I'm willing to bet that you had certain ambitions and goals and ways of life that were ingrained in you or things that you want to do, and the same for them. You have grown here together, and you're different people at this time. So, how does that look? What does that look like during this process, during this marriage of 15 plus years?
Tiffany: It's definitely been a process. I often apologize. Because this is year 20. My husband is a very patient man, I will say that. Because I'm sure there are definitely some times that he's like, oh, this girl is way too much. I think one of the biggest things that has happened in most recent years, and that's where I've been apologetic, is really — maybe therapy has played a part in it — just being really open in saying it. I honestly didn't realize that when you are young, you feel like love is all you need, and that's enough. It will carry you through life. But you are becoming different people. So, you're really promising to love a person that you don't even know. Because they won't be that same person. They're not supposed to be that same person. Trying to love somebody through all of those stages is not always easy.
The thing that I do apologize for, there was probably somebody saying, you are way too young to be engaged. You're not 25 and getting married before you're 25. I wouldn't have heard that. Because one of the things that I shared in full transparency on the podcast, I confused some things. I was responsible, but I wasn't yet mature. I thought that those things were one and the same. What I'm saying is, I didn't understand that I really hadn't had enough life experiences to couple my life with somebody. Because everything I've done, we've grown and raised each other to some degree. We were of adult status, but we had never really lived independently in apartments or done things without each other. Everything was connected.
When you do that, and then one person starts to move left and it feels like maybe uncomfortable, what are you doing? We've always done such and such to say, that doesn't really work for me, or that doesn't make me happy anymore. Those are hard conversations for somebody who's truly known you almost your entire adult life. So, there, definitely, have been growing pains. I'm sure that there may be more to come. But I'm certainly not the same person. I'm happy that he has, at this time, given me space to try to figure those things out. But it was a difficult conversation to have to be able to really be honest. You do know me better than anybody, but I'm not that person. For me, it was hard to break away, because I'm used to being a people pleaser, trying to do what is expected of me.
So, even having the courage to say like, "This doesn't really make me happy the way I thought it was," or "I would like to do more of x," or "I know we've always done travel together. But I think I want to take just a girlfriend." Just like whatever those things are that may be different, or new experiences like that, that was a period of growth. But you are certainly — particularly, if you marry younger — signing up to love a person that you may not really know or recognize as much as you once did. Because people do have the right to change.
Dr. Yolanda: They do. For us, it is a struggle. My husband has had to work with me through many phases. As I said, he's older than I am anyway. He was an adult adult. We're getting married. I think he thought that, "Okay. Well, she's accepted this. So, she's going to jump right in, and things are just going to run smoothly. She's about her business." You know that Marine. She's XYZ. I'm a checklist person, so that worked well for somebody who'd been a Marine. My husband also coaches. But I think I set him up. I've apologized for this. It took me eight and a half years to get my PhD. During those eight and a half years, I literally went to work. I stayed at work, late at work on my dissertation. I came home to pick up my kids from daycare. I got home. I did dinner. I waited for him to come home so that somebody could be with the kids, so I can get back on to my dissertation at 7 PM and work through 11 PM. That was our life.
Because he liked routine, things seemed really good for him. I know what to expect every day. But when I came out of that and hit 40, holy shit. I'm a completely new person. I have free time. I'm talking to people. I'm listening to podcasts. I'm reading books about how to live better and figuring out who you are. So, that was really scary to him. Because he's like, I like who you are. I love who you are. There's nothing wrong. It's not that there's anything wrong with me. We have this conversation. It's just things are different. I'm different. I want to experience things. I want to experience things differently. I want you to be a part of that. So, our conversation now in our marriage is just, well, just tell me what you want me to do. I don't want to tell you what I want you to do because I'm not a puppet master. I'm going to say what I like and I'd like to experience. I'm okay if you say that's not what I want to do, honey. I'm going here with Tiffany. Go do what y'all going to do. To be okay with it, understand that we do have a bond and a partnership and a love that can sustain these kinds of changes. It's just hard. It is a struggle. When you see somebody or you're with somebody that you love, and you're like, "I'm no longer that person," the first thing you think is like, "Oh, my God, are we headed towards a divorce? Are we going to split up? What's going to happen next." That can be scary.
Tiffany: We didn't even really add kids into the equation, now that kids are getting older. That alone makes you reflect about what your next phase is. Because you're not needed in the same way. You're not as on. I know your kids will always need you. But that day to day interaction or requirements from running people to practice and all of those things, you do find yourself with more time. It was really a time to start considering myself. Okay. Well, what are the things that I do like to do?
Billy: Well, I'm glad that you brought up your children. Because in a recent episode, you brought in your children to discuss what they've learned about getting caught up in task-driven living. Can you share a few things that they mentioned? But then, as you reflect on what they said during that episode, what still resonates with you?
Tiffany: That was Yolanda's brainchild, so I don't know if she should go first.
Dr. Yolanda: That was a hard one. Because my older daughter, she's like me but she's not like me. She's much more sensitive. I'm happy about that, because she was given space to be sensitive. But that conversation and what she learned by just watching us, one of the things she said was, she realizes that she wants to be more emotionally available for her family when she decides to have a family. Of course, what I hear is, "Mom, you weren't emotionally available." I had to accept that feedback. I've said it. It's true. I've always been able to drop off your Capri Suns at your elementary school parties. I've always been at games, and I've always been able to take you to sleepovers. But when things were happening in her life, that were very difficult, I was very much like, "I've had such a rough day. Can you give me 10 minutes to get myself together? Then we can talk." 10 minutes to teenagers is like four hours when they really, really want to talk to you.
So, I had to accept that feedback. I was glad that she was mature enough to present it in that way. Again, that's why I'm trying to be very intentional about any new job that I might undertake. That's why I make sure that we've created a rule. When the kids come in to say, can we talk, I'd drop everything for the most part. But if you're a mom, kids bust up in the bathroom when you're on the toilet. You're like, "Can we talk here?" But just to be available in that way. Sometimes talking to them takes four minutes. They feel like you've had a two-hour conversation. They go out skipping out of your room, and they're fine. So, that's what she's learned. She's learned that. Being a taskmaster, so task-driven, it pulls you away from being that nurturing person that others in your family might need.
Tiffany: I think what resonates for me, my son was our guest that day. He's a college freshman. I still smile when I think about the fact that he said, for me, he's learned to be himself, authentically and unapologetically. That makes me smile, because I know that that's not something that I got that early on. So, I'm very, very happy about that. He did acknowledged he has witnessed the shift. When we finished, he was like, "Thanks, Mom. I'm happy with the progress you're making." Because his elementary school and probably middle school years were not like that. The expectation was, get these things done. Be a high achiever. Be like me. What are you doing with these grades? Then it just came a time in point where I'm like, the pressure that you're putting here, it doesn't necessarily yield these results. So, why do it to him? Because you're now evaluating and saying like that didn't really work so well for me.
So, I say all the time that he has probably been one of the greatest teachers for me. Because he made me and forced me to realize I am a different person. So, you cannot handle me the way you would want everybody to do something for you. My response may not be your response. So, that's been the greatest lesson. I really look at my kids as individuals, and try to give them the support that they need individually. Because they're not the same. My two are definitely not the same.
Dr. Yolanda: My two are not, either. I have two girls. Taylor, the older one, is very outgoing, always into something, high-achieving, all that stuff. So much so that, even though I wasn't saying get this grade or whatever, she put that pressure on herself. Because she's like, "Mom, you have a PhD. You're a principal. What will it look like if I go to community college?" I said it'll look like you're going to get an associates. I mean, that's not a big deal. I was happy to hear her say she has it known, struggle or need. For me, that was really important because of how I grew up.
Again, I was very clear that I wanted my children to grow up in a home with their mother and father. Because I wasn't raised by my mother and father. I had simple stuff. I wanted to have more than one bathroom in the house. They can take a pic from our restroom. Even though their bathroom looks terrible, and I would not use it, I prefer to go to the Exxon or another gas station than go into their bathroom. Things are available to them, so that they can focus on becoming who they want to become, and not on basic needs. So, that was something that she said. It made me feel good about how my work has paid off, and being able to give them things that I've wanted to give them.
But talking to the teens, again, we've raised them differently than we were raised. To have a voice, that's very big for us — for our children to have a voice. Them being able to share with us the positives and some of the challenges of people like us being their mothers was something that we really applauded for them. Because I don't think my parents or grandparents would have ever set themselves up to say, "Now, what do y'all think about the way we're parenting?"
Tiffany: But I think, admittedly, to your earlier point, one of the places where we still were not able to make progress, I don't think either of our children had an interest or a desire to go to a community college. It wasn't because we were disapproving. I think the landscape of school and what they thought in thinking to their peers. I have been really opening this process, a greater shift. Because I would think it's four years or bust. You'd probably need an advanced degree. I'm like, "You need a plan. What is it that you want to do? Let me know that you have a plan, and I will support the plan." So, those aren't choices that they wanted to make. But it wouldn't feel like my mother thought I was a disappointment or something like that. Maybe they don't want to say that to their friends or whatever those other pressures are. I think schooling has a lot to do with that. But I'm all the way from looking at all of the careers, the two-year degrees can get you. We can run the gamut. I'm okay with whatever, as long as it's something that you are committed to pursuing. But I feel like society still creeps in even though we're having this awareness. They're not there just yet.
Dr. Yolanda: Yeah, we want them to be happy.
Tiffany: That's it.
Billy: I feel like this is a really important conversation for parents to have with their children. So, what advice do you give parents out there who maybe are thinking, maybe I should have this conversation with my children to avoid becoming defensive?
Dr. Yolanda: That's a hard one. Because would you hear something that you don't want to hear? You automatically try to defend, well, this is why I did that. This is why I worked all those hours. You see that school that you go to, or things like that. But I just think that you have to prepare yourself. Sometimes journal, list some things that you know you did or feel like you did well, and some things that you could improve on as a parent, and to say to your child. If you have to frame the conversation to a few things, like, I want to talk about how I can be there more for you. If you don't want to just open it up. Just take a take a small bite, something that you're willing to engage in, and have the conversation from there. Once you have that one, the hope is that the other conversations become easier for you and your child. Your child might look at you like, "Oh, we can talk now? Okay." So my suggestion is the chunking. Take something small and important, and that you identify for yourself, and then work from there with your child or children.
Tiffany: I think my advice would really just be to lead in love. I think, of course, it's clear that parents love their children. But I think it also is very important. This is one of the things that I shared on the show. We had a little journal that my kids could write things that might have been hard to say. Then I will write a response back. I think it's important. We took this through coaching, but I think it's something that you can do in any aspect of life. It's easy for you to know that you love your children, but some people show their love through provision. So, I think we, sometimes as parents, have to ask ourselves, "What does it feel like to be loved by me?" It's important to know.
You can go to work every day, work hard, give your kids all of these things. But if that's not the way that they feel love. Even through a love language, it's important to know your child as an individual. Encourage them more than you criticize. Know what their dreams are, so you can be that supporter. I'm new with trying to be the mom of an adult. But that's what's most important for me — really learning my kids for the people that they are, not the future that I painted for them, not all the things that I've made a checklist for what they need to be and do. I'm going to let them be the author of that list and be there to support them, guide them. That's my role — not to tell them who to be.
Billy: I liked that you just brought up the journal piece, and that you could respond to the journal. Because I was thinking about the number of conversations I've had with teenagers who just mumble their way through or give me one-word responses anytime I tried to engage them in a conversation. I can imagine that there are parents out there who feel that frustration when they're trying to get their child to open up after a while, and they're just getting the mumbles or the one-word whatever kind of answers, those sorts of things. I think journaling is definitely a good place to start. So, we'll get you out on this. How can a checklist be a good thing? How can it be a bad thing? What's the fine line?
Dr. Yolanda: I think the checklist is a good thing when you start talking about or when you put things on the checklist that are very important to you or things that you want to do. We talked about traveling. Now, I think it is great to have a checklist about places you want to go. You can check off those kinds of things. I think that checklists become burdensome when you put things on the checklist because you think that other people want you to do those things or to be those things.
Billy: Or it's expected of you.
Dr. Yolanda: Yeah, absolutely. You have to have ownership of your checklists. We're not against goal setting. We're never telling anybody, don't. If you want a degree, go get a degree. But if you are having panic attacks while getting your degree, it's okay to take a pause. You're not a failure if you have to pause or reset. So, I think the ownership of the checklist is what makes it a good checklist or a bad checklist.
Tiffany: I think Brian on the Bass, he said it. Like when you are doing things out of the expectations of others, when you build lists and leave no grace for yourself, I think those are very dangerous. To me, that's the fine line. I can remember going through the catalog, the Academic Catalog in college. I was nearly in tears because I wasn't going to finish school in four years. I needed a ridiculous amount of credits. I probably wasn't supposed to finish in four years. I was a two sport athlete in college. But that felt like failure, because somewhere I thought this was a four-year process. It's making list that you don't give yourself any grace. That's really, to me, a setup for failure in life. You know how many times. You all know. But how many times you have to pivot and shift in life? Things don't always work out, but you can continue to move forward.
Somewhere, you have to build those skills, experience setbacks and failures to be prepared to even propel yourself forward later in life. Some heavy things in life as adults, you have to pick yourself up from it and restart. Some people have to restart more than one time. But when you're measuring yourself by other people's expectations, you sometimes don't even feel like you have the capacity to do that. That's the part that I find over the line and would be dangerous.
Dr. Yolanda: Absolutely. I agree.
Billy: Well, I got to tell you, I wish we would've had a video recording of this episode. Because the number of times Brian and I leaned back because you just hit us with so much logic, or the number of times we gave the really big head nods as you were talking. Everything you said here today was just gold. If you enjoy this episode, you will love their podcast. Check out the Trash the Checklist Podcast with Dr. Yolanda Holloway and Tiffany Byrd. Ladies, thank you so much for joining us here today.
Dr. Yolanda: Thank you. Thank you for having us.
Tiffany: Thank you.
Dr. Yolanda: We really enjoyed it.
Tiffany: This is great.
Billy: So, for the Trash the Checklist Podcast, Brian on the Bass, 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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