Identity, Self-Worth, Purpose and Navigating Midlife Transition, with Therapist Mazi Robinson

EPISODE 5

Mazi Robinson
Mazi Robinson

In this episode your host Doryn Wallach is joined by Atlanta-based therapist and speaker, and Founder/Director of Cultivate, Mazi Robinson. Cultivate is an organization which helps women cultivate joy, courage, and freedom in their lives. Her work focuses on helping women discover their true voice as they navigate self worth/self esteem challenges, relationship concerns, and life stage transitions. Join them as they talk about the midlife transition, identity, self-worth, purpose and other aspects that are important topics to women in all walks of life.



EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Doryn Wallach:

Welcome to another episode of It's Not A Crisis, a podcast for women in their 40s seeking to navigate midlife's challenges while making the most of it. I am your host, Doryn Wallach, and I want to thank you very, very much for listening, it really, truly means a lot to me that people are listening to this and being helped by my podcast. That's incredibly rewarding and feels like I'm giving back and doing something great. So, selfishly, thank you. Today we are getting real about this time in our lives and learning how to do the work now so that we don't live as bitter old women that have given every piece of ourselves with nothing left to give. Not sure if you guys feel that way, but there are many days where I just feel done with everything and just want to run away. So, I don't want to feel that way anymore, I want to be able to learn how to take care of myself, take care of my family and not be that person.


Before I get to today's guest I just want to please remind you to subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen, as well as rate, comment and please also pass it along to your friends. Because, the more women that know about the show, the more women we can all inspire and help, and that makes me very happy and I'm sure it would make you happy to help some friends. So, please do that, I would really appreciate it. And also, if you can follow me at It's Not A Crisis Podcast, on both Insta and Facebook. We also have a private group on Facebook. And, while my website still needs a ton of work, I actually just asked somebody to help me with that, you can sign up on my mailing list on the site right now, so itsnotacrisis.com. Please don't judge the position that it's in at the moment.

So, today's guest, Mazi Robinson, got in touch with me. And most of the time I seek out my guests, and they're women that I know and have worked with, or I may have read a book and I'm trying to get in touch with the author. Things that really have inspired me and things that I want to learn from. But, Mazi's email really captured me, and I wanted to reach out and speak with her first. And in the short time that we spoke, I was literally smiling ear to ear the entire time and then shaking my head going, "Yes, yes, yes." So, I really think you're going to find this episode inspiring and uplifting, and hopefully change the path you're currently on to live a more fulfilled life.

Mazi Robinson is a licensed professional counselor and speaker specializing in helping women discover their true voice as they navigate self-worth, self-esteem challenges, relationship concerns and life stage transitions. In addition to her work as a therapist, Mazi maintains an active speaking schedule, presenting workshops on topics such as anxiety, healing, healthy relationships, personal growth and purposeful living. She's also a Certified Daring Way Facilitator, presenting workshops and retreats based on the research and methodology of Dr. Brené Brown, to individuals and groups. Mazi is the Founder and Director of Cultivate, through its counseling center and bimonthly gatherings, Cultivate encourages women to cultivate joy, courage and freedom in their lives as they pursue emotional, mental and spiritual health.

Mazi, welcome to the show, I am so happy to have you here, and I think you're going to help so many women, so this is really exciting.


Mazi Robinson:

Oh wow, well thank you so much for having me. I am thrilled to be here, so thank you, thank you.


Doryn Wallach:

You're welcome. As you know, and my listeners know, I started this podcast because I felt like this has been the one time in my life where there are so many transitions and yet so little support for women our age, in our 40s. And somehow, we're all silent about the many things our bodies and minds are going through right now. So, I'd love to start by talking about why this midlife transition is so significant for women. And by the way, when I say midlife, I don't really feel like I fit in there, but I do.


Mazi Robinson:

Right.


Doryn Wallach:

Who are we talking about here? Not me, I'm not midlife. But I am.


Mazi Robinson:

I think the midlife transition for women is incredibly significant. And you're right, it's a little bit of an awkward thing to say, "I'm in midlife transition." Because I think when we think of midlife, we still think of that old image of midlife, a woman who's more gray than she isn't gray, and maybe starting to slow down a little bit in life and those sorts of things. And that is not a woman in their 40s in 2020. So, to think of ourselves in midlife, it doesn't quite fit with this image of an aging woman. Because, I know for myself, I don't feel like I'm aging, but I have to say, I love being in my 40s because I am a grown-ass woman now.


Doryn Wallach:

It isn't great? My mom always told me I'd love my 40s, and I didn't get what she meant. And I'm turning 43 in a few weeks and I didn't... I turned 40 and I expected this big surprise that everything was going to change, which is so ridiculous. But, as with every year that goes on, I see this new sense of confidence and not caring as much about what people think anymore. And the more I get to that place in my life, the more I want to start working on myself, which is why you're here, because I think that what you said to me on the phone before we talked was just so amazing.


Mazi Robinson:

Yes. And so, that gets into why the midlife transition is so important and significant, and really a beautiful thing. The way that I conceptualize midlife transition, is it's really a death and a rebirth. These couple of decades here, starting in our 40s and moving through our 50s, and even into our early 60s, it is a time of life, it's a season of life where we have the opportunity to become more introspective. We have the opportunity to look back at the first half of our life and go, "Okay, what worked? What didn't work? What was a coping mechanism that helped me then, but maybe isn't serving me well now? What was a way that I interacted with people in my relationships that I thought was good then, but is no longer beneficial for me now?" So, it's an opportunity to look at what we need to let go of, really what we need to allow to die, so that we can be reborn. So that this true, authentic self can be born, can be reborn.

Because, I think what happens... if we want to go all the way back. What happens in adolescence, what happens in our 20s and even in our 30s, is that we are absorbing a lot of messages. Particularly for women, we're absorbing messages about how to be easy going, low maintenance, go with the flow. Those are the qualities that are often held up as likable. And in the first part of life, we are bombarded with messages that as women, we want to be likable. To be unlikeable is kind of death in of itself. That's the whole conundrum of middle school. And so, we began to engage all of these behaviors to make ourselves likable, we become people pleasers, we don't always have good boundaries, we say yes when we don't really want to say no. We begin to read the room, every room we walk into, "How do I need to calibrate myself so that I can be as funny as these people expect me to be? So I can be as serious as these people expect me to be? So I can be as strong as these people expect me to be? How I can be as quiet as these people expect me to be?"

And so, there's just a lot of role playing that we can find ourselves in in the first half of life. And sometimes, let's be honest, that serves us well. And then, more often than not, it eventually causes us pain. And so, then we get into our 40s and we have this realization that, "Oh wow, I'm a grown-ass woman. I don't have to ask for permission anymore. I'm a full fledged adult, nobody can pat me on the head anymore and call me sweetheart." And we realize, "Wow, I have the opportunity to figure out who I am. Which means, I am going to have to go through what can be a painful process of figuring out who I've been trying to be. And that painful process of why do I people please? Why do I try to over-accommodate? Why do I avoid conflict at all costs? Why do I stuff my feelings? And what exactly am I stuffing? And the way that I numb my feelings, is that now hurting me?" And so that then we can begin to unpack all of that, let go of that and step into and discover who we really are, and who we want to be in this second half of life.


Doryn Wallach:

And I don't think that that's actually possible to almost do before this part of our lives. I think that you really have to be gifted with the age of your 40s and beyond to really feel like you want to do that work. And I think that, probably for some people it happens automatically, and some people need a nudge to remind them that, "Now is your time to look forward and start living in a different way."


Mazi Robinson:

Yes. I would completely agree, because if you think about it, in our 20s and 30s, we are going through rapid life transitions. And so it's really like, "I got to keep up." In our early 20s we graduate from college, we move, we maybe move a couple of times to different cities. Within the city, for a lot of people, they'll get married in their 20s or at some point in their 30s. For a lot of people they'll have children, maybe they'll move again, maybe they'll change job, maybe they'll even begin to shift into a different career. And so, it's a lot of change for about 20 years, and then you get into your 40s and things begin to slow down. It's not that life becomes slow, but the rapid-fire change begins to slow down, and so you do have the opportunity to look at yourself, to look in the mirror a little bit. But also, I think in our 40s and in our 50s, the changes that we experience are significant in a different way than marriage and family in our 20s and 30s.

Because, when we move into our 40s and 50s, for a lot of women... and unfortunately I don't have a stat on this, but for a lot of women, they get divorced in that timeframe, the midlife divorce, the empty nest divorce is very common for a lot of women. That is when they're going to enter into empty nest-hood, and so that is a huge life transition for women who have children because moving into empty nest-hood, even if it's something that you have been marking off the days on your calendar until your kids move out of the house, the reality is, that is forced retirement. And, whether you're ready to give up the role of full-time mom or not, you're done as full-time mom, so that's a huge transition that... maybe there is a lot of excitement and anticipation of, "What is my life going to look like now? What is my marriage going to look like now in empty nest-hood?" But, there's also the grief and loss of, "This role and full-time responsibility is no longer here."

And then also, as we move into our 40s and 50s, we become part of what known as the sandwich generation, as our parents age and pass, and that's a huge life transition, an experience of losing a parent and walking a parent through illness and as they age. And so, the life transitions that we experience and we potentially experience in our 40s and 50s are just different than the life transitions we experience, those rapid-fire changes from our earlier years. And they're the type of existential life transitions where you stop and you ask, "Whoa okay, who am I now?" And that doesn't quite happen in our 20s and 30s.


Doryn Wallach:

Right, that's so true. And I also feel like we... I think as women, we're obviously not all mothers of kids that are leaving the house, there are women who may have never had kids or there are women in their 40s who are just having kids. But, I think regardless of even that, I think that we're all dealing with similar things as far as our parents and taking care of our parents all of a sudden. And it's the same time trying to figure out who we are.

And I also want to mention, just to piggyback on what you just said, I feel like my daughter, who's almost 13, is starting to need me less. And, while I was a working mom, for many years I was not, I was a stay at home mom, and have found that when I was the busiest at work, she probably needed me more, and now that she's needing me less I'm thinking about slowing down [inaudible 00:13:52]. There's so many different changes going on at once that your head could explode. What are the top things that you've seen women struggling with at our age? And then I'd love to talk about how we transition in a positive way, and what that looks like?


Mazi Robinson:

I think that's a great question. So, what I have observed in working with my clients, in terms of the top things that we struggle with, I think it is relationships and who we are in those relationships, how we are interacting in those relationships. And then I would also say identity and self-worth. And then if I could add a third one, I would add purpose in there, which I think is very closely tied to identity and self-worth. And so, those are the three most common things that I see women in midlife struggle with, "Who am I in these relationships? I have these relationships." At this point, in our 40s and 50s, a lot of the relationships in our lives, we have been in that relationship for a long time. And so, maybe there're some cracks in the relationship, maybe there're some bruises in the relationship, a little bit of broken trust, maybe the relationship is just not as alive as it used to be. And so, "Wow, does that mean I stay in the relationship for the next 40 years of my life? That doesn't sound terribly exciting, but I don't want to leave the relationship." And so, a lot of questions about, "Who am I in connection with these people that are important to me?"

And then, the whole topic and concept of self-worth and identity, because for a lot of us just as humans we do this, we attach our self-worth to external things in our life. Maybe it's a career, maybe it's a salary, maybe it's where we live, maybe it's having children, or how many children we have or what our children are doing, maybe it's our relationship status. And by the time we get into our 40s and 50s, what we have realized is, "Oh, these external things that I've been trying to hang my identity and self-worth on, those aren't very stable. And they fall down, and when they fall down so does my self-worth and my identity." And so, it's this realization of, "Oh wow, perhaps I need to detach my self-worth from these external things." And so, then that begins the journey of really digesting this truth that, "My self-worth is unchanging, unshakeable. Whether I am married, whether I am divorced, whether I have a good relationship with my teenager, whether I have a bad relationship with my teenager, whether I've been at the same company since I was 23, or whether I've changed job 15 times in 20 years, none of that impacts my worth. My worth is unchanging, it is unshakeable."

And, when we begin to digest that truth, that really frees us from a lot of the things that throughout our life have tried to imprison us. It frees us from the fear of criticism, from the fear of rejection, from the fear of judgment, from the fear of messing up, from the fear of not being good enough. And when we begin to free ourselves from those fears, then we can step into this freedom of discovering, "Who I really am and what I want my purpose to be in this second half of life." And, just in general, we find more freedom in life as we begin to really honestly look in the mirror and go, "Okay, what have I been attaching my self-worth, my identity to?"

I think the other thing I would add in there for women who are thinking, "Okay, yeah, I'm wanting to make some changes. I'm feeling some angst, some tension in my life, but where do I start?" I would look at the pain points. Where in your life are you experiencing the most distress? Is it in your relationship? Is it in some friendship? Is it in your dating relationships? Is it in your marriage? Is it in your relationship with your aging parents? Is it in your career? Pay attention to the pain in your life. Because again, in your 20s and 30s, it's really easy to mask pain because in your 20s you can go out a lot. And, in your 30s, if you're raising kids you can just totally focus on those kids and ignore your pain.

But, in your 40s, as we've talked about, because time changes and our relationship with time can change, that pain becomes louder. And so, rather than trying to numb, or ignore or avoid the pain, I think this is the time in our life where we turn to it and we go, "Okay, I hate my job. Maybe I shouldn't hate my job as much as I hate my job. Let me pay attention to this pain, and let me listen to what this pain is trying to tell me." It's at that entry point that we begin to realize, "Okay, this is the transition I need to begin to step into. This is the baggage that I need to begin to unpack."


Doryn Wallach:

And how do you decipher between... the reason I named my podcast what it is, is I really dislike midlife crisis. I know for myself, and I talk to my girlfriends all the time, I feel like whenever in a moment where we're like, "You know what? I just want to start doing something for myself. Or I really want to start working. I want to stop working. I'm reevaluating my relationship or a friend. I'm at an age where I'm not going to keep friends that aren't good friends anymore." I find my girlfriends stopping themselves in these moments and being like, "Oh, I must just be going through a midlife crisis." And I think there's something... I'd love to hear your opinion on that because I... yes, there's the cliché midlife crisis that everybody talks about, but at the same time I think there's so much more to that, whether you're a man or a woman. And I think we need to be okay with saying we're going through this transition without calling it a crisis. I think the world needs to change the way we look at this.


Mazi Robinson:

Yeah, I agree. I think midlife crisis is a very negative term. I think it indicates that something is wrong, that something bad has happened. And I agree with you, I think it's misleading and it's not helpful for us. And I much prefer the phrase of midlife transition. Or, if you want to get really deep and therapy-ish, I like the term midlife rebirth.


Doryn Wallach:

Oh, I love that. I should have called my podcast that. Where were you when I was naming it?


Mazi Robinson:

Because, I do see it as an opportunity for rebirth. It's an opportunity to let go of the things that are no longer serving us well. The habits, the patterns that are no longer serving us well, so that we can step into this true self, so that we can step into a healthier self, a more whole self, because it's not a crisis. However, it can feel scary when you realize, "Oh my goodness, I'm a people pleaser, and I don't even know what I like. Because, for 40 years of my life, whenever someone asks me what do I want on my pizza, I always say, "Whatever you're getting is fine." And so I don't know what I want on my pizza."" And so, that is a very frightening realization, "Oh my goodness, I am 40 years old and I don't know what I like on my pizza." And that can feel like a crisis to us, but again, I think if we see it as an opportunity, an opportunity to learn what we like and what we dislike, an opportunity to learn how to be assertive, an opportunity to learn how to share what we're thinking an feeling, an opportunity to free ourselves from the lies that we have been believing throughout our life.

And, one of the things that I have observed, and this is what I like to call Mazi Theory, there's not concrete research to back up this theory, this is just my observation in my client work and just observing people around me. But, I think how we as women, how we navigate midlife transition, I think it really influences how we end up living in the final years of our lives. So, what I mean by that is, if you look at older women, and by older I mean women in their late 70s, 80s. If you look at women in that age demographic, what I have observed... and this is a huge generalization that I'm sure somebody we'll be like, "Well that's not fair to categorize." But, this is my observation, is that you often find women in one of two categories. You find some women who are very much at peace, they know what bring themselves joy, they know how to take care of themselves, they engage in activities that bring joy and comfort, they have a lot of contentment. They are enjoying life.

And then, I think you can have women on the other end of the spectrum that are the stereotypical cranky, bitter, old woman. Who gets annoyed by everything, has a lot of judgment and is very critical. And I think that how we move through midlife transition determines which of those women we end up becoming. And if we go through this period in midlife transition of death and rebirth, letting go of the old weights that are no longer serving us, and doing the hard work of rebirth and figuring out who we are, figuring out how to engage in relationships in a healthy way, then we can become that older woman who is peaceful, and content and filled with joy. But, when we resist the transition of death and rebirth and we continue to people please, we continue to over-accommodate, we continue to stuff our feelings, we continue to ignore unhealthy patterns in relationships, then we are going to end up 84 years old and really bitter and really resentful. And, we're going to have this undercurrent of belief of, "Well, I've stuffed my feelings for years, you need to suck it up too." Or, "I did this, and so you need to do it to." And it creates that judgment, and that bitterness and that resentment.

And so, it is very important how we move through this season of life, because it will bear fruit in our final years, and we want to bear good fruit in those final years.


Doryn Wallach:

Absolutely. So, personally I've found until recently, and I'm completely open about this because everybody's in therapy, I have been on and off in therapy most of my 20s and 30s, and I don't think I was with the right therapist. And, somebody said to me... it was somebody who referred me this therapist, she said, "You need somebody who's going to call you out on your shit, but do it in a constructive way."


Mazi Robinson:

Yes.


Doryn Wallach:

And I realized that for every therapist that I've ever been with, I haven't been able to be 100% upfront with my fears, or anxieties or who I am, out of fear of being called out. And so, when I heard those words I was like, "Okay, you're at an age, just do it." Because, at that stage of life you really want to be called out so that you can work on it. So, I think for me, that first step was really important. And I also think once I was able to allow somebody to see that side of me, then I was able to dig into my childhood, my upbringing, my 20s, my 30s, talk about why I became the way I did.

This is a life long work in progress, I think when I was younger I expected you'd go to therapy, the problem's resolved, you move on. That's not the way it works. Every decade you should look back and go, "Ugh god, what did I do that decade? Okay, I'm going to learn from that and move on to this next decade." My mother always tells me that, and she's right.

What would be your first piece of advice for a woman in a position right now who's like, "Okay, it's time. I really do want the future to be much more brighter, and I want to be happy. Where do I even begin?" Because I think it's very overwhelming with social media today and everything else. It's overwhelming to find a therapist that you gel with. Who has time to interview therapists? So, I'd love to hear your point of view on that.


Mazi Robinson:

Yes. I do think entering therapy and midlife is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself. And, having a therapist who one, understands midlife and understands midlife transition for a woman I think is very important. But, having a therapist who is going to lovingly hold up that mirror and say, "Well, really? Let's look at this, let's take a good long, hard look in the mirror." And then, walk with you as a companion as you gain that insight and put that insight into practice. Because, with midlife, there is a lot of grief and loss because the changes that we experience, they have loss as an undercurrent in general.

And so, it is helpful to have someone walk alongside you that can be that companion, that can point things out and go, "Okay, yep, yep, that happened. Now, what do you think you are feeling right here? When you said that, when you came back in that manner when y'all were having that discussion, what got triggered for you right there?" And, just having someone help you gain that self awareness so that you are aware of, "Oh, yes that made me angry. Oh, in that moment I was anxious." And, so that we can start responding rather than reacting, and that's a whole big part of living as our true self as well.

But I think, having a good therapist is a wonderful gift to yourself. I think beginning to read books on midlife transition is another wonderful gift of just learning about what are all the things we're feeling and we're going through, both in our bodies and in our minds in midlife transition. Reading memoirs of other people who have gone through midlife transition. And really just having that posture of opening yourself up, of, "Okay, the first part of adulthood was laying the foundations for my life, and this season in adulthood is going to be about learning. And an open hand posture of learning an receiving so that I can build the next level." But yes, I'm a big fan of therapy for midlife.


Doryn Wallach:

It's exciting, in a way.


Mazi Robinson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Doryn Wallach:

I think I went from, "Oh god, I'm turning 40." To, "Oh, this is great." And I think that... listen, there are moments where I'm like, "Oh my god, my kids are going to go to college, what am I going to do?" And I have my own thing going on, the kids aren't my only thing in my life. They're obviously the biggest part of my life in everyway, my whole family, my husband too. But, I think that if we can really take a step back and say, "Okay, we deserve this part of our lives to be more positive and to be fulfilled." I think the biggest challenge is what does that mean? And how long is it going to take us to get to figure out what that means?


Mazi Robinson:

Yeah. And one other thing that I would add, in addition to therapy, in addition to learning and listening, I think giving yourself permission to try things. We aren't always that great at trying new things in our 20s and 30s because we're often very focused on getting to those mile markers of first job, first house, getting married, kids, moving, we want to get to those mile markers. And we want to do it well, perfectionism can really creep in in that season of life. And so, in this season of life, giving yourself permission to try things. And you don't have to be good at it, perfectionism isn't the goal, turning it into a business isn't a goal, but take a class, take an art class, take a photography class. To let yourself just try new things, and almost like you're lifting the lids on boxes like, "What are all the boxes within myself that I've just never lifted the lid to see what's in there."

Because, giving yourself permission to try something is a wonderful step in courage and vulnerability. And that's a lot of what we want to cultivate in midlife, is we want to have the courage to be vulnerable. And vulnerability in the sense of, "I'm going to say no." That can feel like a very vulnerable thing, to say, "No" to a loved one. "I'm going to share with a loved one how I feel." That's a very vulnerable thing [crosstalk 00:32:08]


Doryn Wallach:

Boundaries I think is [crosstalk 00:32:10].


Mazi Robinson:

Boundaries, yes.


Doryn Wallach:

A very hard thing to start doing, and a very empowering thing when you do it.


Mazi Robinson:

Yes, absolutely. Because, it feels very scary, "How's this person going to react? Are they going to get mad? Are they going to reject me? Are they going to stomp off?" But yes, giving ourselves the permission to try boundaries. So, that try element and trying new things I think is also an important part of self-care and moving through this transition.


Doryn Wallach:

This is so true. And I brought this up on my first podcast when I was [inaudible 00:32:49] what the podcast was going to be about. But, my therapist is also an art therapist, and by background I'm very creative. But, I had a very critical art school experience, and it always made me feel like I was terrible at fine art, and I had to decipher the difference between art and design, and I could design but I couldn't do art. She really encouraged me to start watercolor classes and I looked at her like, "No way. First of all, I'm not good at it. Second of all, it's messy and unpredictable. I just don't like it." I can remember as a kid not liking the water getting into my little pots and mixing up the colors, I was such a perfectionist even then.

So, I took a six week class. Before I took the class I watched hours of YouTube videos on watercolor before I even attempted to buy a brush, because I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing. I'm not saying this is for everybody, but for me, this has been such a test for me because I can't... it's very hard for me to both look at something and paint it, or just come up with something in my own head. But, it's taught so much about myself and getting over this perfectionism and just doing something that would be relaxing if I could let go of those things. And so, it's been a really interesting experiment. Even in this pandemic, I haven't picked up a paint brush, it all almost makes me more anxious because I'm like, "What do I do? How do I do it? Am I doing it right?" But, I could see how when you start to get into it and you gain that confidence, how it could be something really relaxing. So, trying something new is important. No matter what it is, if it's art, if it's jumping out of a plane, whatever it is it's going to teach you about yourself.


Mazi Robinson:

Yes, absolutely. And, it's going to teach you, "I can." And that two word phrase is so powerful. "I can. I can do this. I can try new things. I can survive making a mistake. I can survive failing at something. I can." And, that is such an empowering thought that is so important for us to really internalize. But yeah, I love that, I love that you started taking watercolor classes. Something like that. Or starting yoga, maybe you've always wanted to do yoga and starting yoga. Or maybe you've always thought, "Wouldn't it be fun to run a marathon?" So, start running. Or maybe you always wanted to try a Zumba class but you were afraid, you felt insecure, just try one Zumba class. Just try.


Doryn Wallach:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). And even in... this sounds so ridiculous, but I think even in your clothes. Women come into their own style in their 40s. By the way, I can't tell you how much of my life I've preached how awful Birkenstock's are, and I'd never wear them, and they're disgusting and you'll never... never say never, because now I have three pairs. And I claim to my husband, I'm like, "I actually think there's kind of a hippie in me that I didn't realize." It's not even just the shoes, it's the mentality, and the living and everything. There's a lot of different ways to try new things once you have confidence and you don't care what people think of you.

And the other thing she told me, by the way, was, "Don't put your art on Instagram. If it's good or it's bad, just don't. This is for you, this is for nobody but you. You don't need to have validation, you don't need to feel..." and I haven't done that. I don't even show my kids because they can be a little critical. So, if you're going to try something new I would say you don't need to tell anyone, just go do it and keep it to yourself and see how you feel about it. Because, I think once you're influenced by your peers, it changes the dynamic of what you're doing.


Mazi Robinson:

Yes, I think there's so much truth to that. You almost want to look at it as, "I'm going to protect this. I'm going to protect this watercolor class, this Zumba class, my new yoga practice. I'm going to protect it from the world because the world wants to grade it, the world wants to valuate it, the world wants to judge it, the world wants to tell me how it could be better. And I want to protect it from all of that because I just want to find joy in it. And the world wants to try to tell me that joy is found in [inaudible 00:37:12], and that's one of those lies that we can buy into big time." And so, I love that. Just go and take the class, you don't have to tell anybody you're doing it. And then, maybe someday, if you want to take that step of courage and put it on Instagram as a way of practicing vulnerability do that. But at that point, you're doing it as a step in vulnerability, not a step looking for approval. So, I love the idea of doing some of this stuff for you, giving yourself permission to discover the joy in doing it for you. Not for approval, not for validation, not to be better than somebody else, but for you and for your soul.


Doryn Wallach:

Going back to relationships, what piece of advice... and I know, Mazi, this is what you meant, relationships don't... and you had said this, relationships don't just mean the relationship with your spouse or partner, it's friendships, it's your parents, it's your siblings, it's everybody. And I know that I have made changes, there are friendships that I have closed, and there are friends that I'm there for more than others. And, there's work that I've done in my marriage, there's work I've done within my relationships with my parents and my siblings. So, how does one even begin to start to change those after... especially relationships that we've been in for most of our lives, how do you change that all of a sudden when you're expected to be one way and you're really feeling another?


Mazi Robinson:

Yes, when you're expected to be one way and you're realizing, "Oh, this box is feeling a little cramped for me. This role is feeling a little cramped for me." Well, I would start off by saying our relationships in this season of life our incredibly important, particularly with our friendships, I'll start there. Our friendships are so, so important. And I think with friendships, it's healthy to recognize we are going to experience some shifts in friendships, and that's more [inaudible 00:39:16] than good or bad. And, just recognizing that some people are going to move in and out of our circle. And, they're going to be some people in our lives that we've known for 20, 30 years and we love them to death, but they're not necessarily the person that we're going to call when we're really wrestling with something. And so, just recognizing who are friends are to us, "These friends, these are my inner circle. They know my history, they know my story, they know my struggles, they know my dreams." And to remember that, our inner circle is very, very small, like two, three maybe four people are in that inner circle.

And then, we have that second circle of friends which shows our good friends, and more people are going to be in that circle. These are our friends that we socialize with, that we see frequently, that we have shared common interests, that we share some things with but maybe not the super vulnerable things.

And then, we have that third outer circle of acquaintances. And these are people we see occasionally, maybe we've known forever but we don't see them that often. And just to recognize that those circles are not built with brick walls, people are going to flow in and out of that circle, and that is okay. And, we may recognize that for years we've been trying to put Sally in our circle, but maybe Sally just doesn't belong in the inner circle because Sally never follows through on anything, and we need a friend who's consistent and good on follow through. And so, maybe Sally moves into that good friend circle. And so, recognizing what are we looking for in our friendships and are our expectations of these friends realistic, given how this friend has historically interacted with us? And then, however we answer that, just recalibrating how we view that friend, that friendship.

Then I think with our family relationship, that is just a whole giant bag. [crosstalk 00:41:23].


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah, oh yes it is.


Mazi Robinson:

Because, man alive, there's a lot of history there. There's a lot of water under the bridge there. And, for better for worse, there are a lot of wounds there. And there are a lot of good memories too. And so, in this season of life, really working through some of the wounds that resurfaced, understanding that wound. I think this is always a big part of being an adult child, but it is the journey of seeing our parents as human, and taking them off of that pedestal that we maybe had them on as children, and recognizing they are human.


Doryn Wallach:

Yes.


Mazi Robinson:

This means they're flawed, which means they made mistakes. And so, how, as an adult child, who is in relationship with the parent, how do I see them as this flawed being and how do I accept them as they are, and we move forward in the relationship and we don't keep replaying the past, and getting stuck in the past? Kind of the idea of radical acceptance of our parents. And that doesn't mean that we accept harmful behavior, it doesn't mean that we accept abusive behavior, it doesn't mean that we are [inaudible 00:42:43]. It's actually the opposite, how do we have healthy boundaries with family members so that we can engage in a way that is kind and generous of spirit, but we are holding onto our true self, we are not feeling forced into being that role of people pleaser or being that role of the perfect child? But, we recognize who these loved ones are in our life, we practice that radical acceptance, and we move forward accordingly.

The family of origin work in midlife is really, really significant because... and it can feel very scary for some people. Talk about crisis, that's where a lot of people can feel the crisis. Because, they recognize, "Oh, some stuff happened in the past and I don't want to go there. I don't want to take my parents off the pedestal. I don't want to unpack this suitcase. I don't want to clean out the scar tissue." But, we have to begin to do that to find the freedom, to find the healing so that we can move into a healthier relationship with our family members.


Doryn Wallach:

Oh my god, this is so right on, it's so right on. And, I think that everybody has to do this work. I truly believe it because until you can forgive and understand... I think before forgiveness, you have to really go to the root. I read this book, and it spoke so much to me about my parents and their generation, and their parents generation. So it was, how their parents parented them and then how they parented us. And the book... my mother's going to kill me because she's going to be like, "You weren't neglected." But it wasn't about being neglect... it was about being a neglected child, but I didn't read it for that reason per se, I read it for the understanding more of how I was parented and how my parents were parented. And, it allowed me to realize, "Yes, parents are human as I am human." And I make a lot of mistakes as a parent all the time, we all do, and in every role of relationship. But, it allowed me to understand where they came from, and I think I got that. Just looking at generations and what parenting was supposed to be like. And once you understand where they came from and how they parented you, you're able to understand even more about how you'