Society’s standards and expectations are so entangled in our beliefs and upbringing that almost everyone is programmed in a single way. Therefore, making unconventional choices usually results in raised eyebrows and puzzling comments. But sometimes, going against the flow can reveal one’s happiness. Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen talk with health coach Meredith Keith-Chirch of For Health to share her unique life decisions and preferences. She explains how refusing to simply check the boxes dictated by society changed everything for her. Staying away from social media and even ditching her own car, she was able to tap into her intuition and know herself better. Meredith also discusses how this mindset impacts her community building and parenting, leading to pretty uncomfortable conversations. 

Listen to the podcast here:

How Not Fitting In Leads To More Joy With Meredith Keith-Chirch

Life Outside Of A System Of Oppression 

One of the most delightful aspects of the show is not only the incredible diversity of guests and their knowledge base, their background, their life experiences and their stories, beyond that, it’s also getting a little bit of a glimpse into their daily lives. Our wonderful guest is Meredith Keith-Chirch. Meredith, you have the most unique and interesting background of any guest we’ve yet had here on the podcast. Before I asked you, I was like, “Is that Pangea?” There’s something interesting going on behind you. 

Before we jump in and have you described what it is, you told me one thing and you said the motivation for what that is was to think differently about things and look at things differently. I feel like that’s going to be a wonderful touchstone for this entire episode with you, the incredible healing work you do in the world and the art that you create. You are a woman of many talents and many different disciplines that we’ll get into. Meredith, thank you for being here. Let’s kick it off. What is that behind you? Why did you create this? 

If the world is spinning, then it should not be seen from just a single perspective only. Click To Tweet

Thank you. I’m excited to be here with you. Behind me is a map of the world. It’s made out of wood that we pieced together. It came in pieces. That was a fun project to have to create and to get it to this point. The reason it’s oriented this way is that we’ve had a lot of conversations in our family about the world and how people perceive it to be and, in particular, how people often describe different places using different directions, “This is East and this is West.” We’ve had conversations around, “That’s interesting because it’s round.” Depending on where you are, that’s a matter of perspective. When we put this together, we thought, “How could we make this a way for people to think differently than what they’re used to seeing when they see a map of the world?” Most of the time, when we see it, it’s oriented in the same way with a certain focus in a certain direction. If the Earth is spinning then maybe it’s not always in the same place at the same time. That’s the background to this. 

I love that because it reminds me of lessons that I’m learning from a wonderful book called Think Again. The author is Adam Grant. He has encouraged me through his writing to challenge my worldview, perspectives, knowledge and not be afraid of being wrong. That fear of being wrong and that attachment to being right will often cause us to have blinders on and retain our biases and not grow. I grew up thinking that I had to get it right all the time. I was afraid to do anything unless I felt it was right, that includes speaking. I found that by that fear, I wasn’t allowing myself to stumble through things, make mistakes and learn along the way. That hindered my ability to grow.  

I started to allow myself to make mistakes more and be gentler with myself. I love that you’re using this visual as a reminder and as a teaching opportunity because that’s something more people could benefit from. A lot of us tend to think we’re open-minded. In the book, it’s pointed out that being open-minded might not mean that you’re open-minded if that makes sense. I don’t remember the exact way that he phrased it but I started to step back and examine myself and think, “There’s so much I don’t know.” I have to not only acknowledge that but practice it and be okay with feeling embarrassed or making those mistakes. A lot of people in our audience have expressed to us that they struggle with people-pleasing and perfectionism. I’m curious, how did you get to this point where you became passionate about worldviews, Meredith? 

I remember being in a place of not being comfortable with making mistakes and being tied to that perfectionism so I can relate to that idea. I was a people-pleaser early on in life. I feel like our culture, unfortunately, reinforces that with the whole rewards, punishments set up from everything we do from the conventional school system to work environments and relationships. That’s the expectation that we get told a lot. 

I remember questioning why I was doing some of these things. It was through that realization that I didn’t know that I was making some choices in life because and not from a place of because I wanted to do this thing. I was interested in spending my time with this person or with this activity. It was through that questioning of, “Do I have a real reason for this? If not then do I maybe want to make a different choice?” 

I got a little braver and then started to do what you’re talking about, which is to try things and to be okay with not knowing how it was going to happen, how it was going to work out, not knowing how people would react and what people would think, was I going to offend someone. All of that stuff. I feel like it was through small decisions that I thought maybe, “What’s the worst that could happen here? What if I try this new and different thing? Maybe I’ll notice so that I could dip my toe into the water of releasing that perfection.” I didn’t feel like maybe people were watching as much as. I didn’t feel like it was as much in the limelight. It was a personal choice. 

With each progressive thing that I did and I didn’t fall through a hole in the ground and the world didn’t come to an end, I realized, “This could be okay.” Even if it turned out that I had done something that I felt like maybe I didn’t want to stick with, a lifestyle change or something like this then I made a different choice. It was through that practice of doing that and it felt easier and easier having conversations with people when I’d been afraid of ruffling feathers.  

MGU 282 Meredith Keith-Chirch | Unconventional Choices

Unconventional Choices: Everybody has different attachments to different things. There were definitely things that were harder to get rid of than others.

 

It’s interesting because I love the name of your show. Over the years, I’ve often been told that maybe one of my special gifts is making people uncomfortable with the hope of opening their eyes or having people look at something differently. Not out of the sense of doing it to do it. There might be a reason and that might be helpful. Once I started to look at it from that standpoint, I thought, “Maybe if I speak my mind and make these different choices, maybe you could help someone through making them uncomfortable.” Pushing them out of that comfort zone. Over the years, it’s gotten easier and easier. It’s not always fun and exciting. Sometimes it’s a challenge and I feel like I’ve gotten enough out of realizing that it’s worth it all the time regardless of what happens. I’m going to learn something and someone else might be helped. It’s worth it to make those different choices, make the mistakes and not be afraid. It’s gotten easier and easier. 

Let’s talk about different choices since you have championed discomfort or being uncomfortable as we do. Meredith, in your introduction to us and sharing a lot about your life, you’ve made some interesting choices in terms of how you and your family are choosing to live your lives that are unconventional. In the sense that American society, Western culture in general has this tyranny of the majority approach that you must acquiesce to sameness because that’s how you’ll fit in and that’s how you’ll be accepted. That’s how you’ll get all of the benefits of this capitalist culture if you’re like all of us. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure, oppression and I’ll even use the word tyranny in many cases of wanting people to be the same whether that is the specter of whiteness whether that’s classism, ageism. 

Whitney and I have unpacked a lot of these over the course of our episodes. Meredith, you and your family have chosen to make some lifestyle choices, things like not having a car, homeschooling your children and not having them be in the mainstream education system. I’d love for you to go deeper into not just your thought process but the journey inside of you in discovering that you wanted to make these choices regardless of people judging you or how unconventional they might seem. I want you to speak to your internal process, your level of introspection and courage in living life this way and what that experience has been like for you and your family. 

When I was younger, I tried the way that we’re sold is supposed to work and was completely miserable. That was a factor. I tried to fit in. I tried to assimilate. I grew up primarily in the Midwest throughout different areas of the United States in a few different states. I was pretty much the only brown person I knew. No matter how hard I tried to fit in, I didn’t. It was right there for everyone to see. In addition, I feel like I wasn’t comfortable trying to go along with the crowd no matter what they were doing. Every time I tried to assert a different idea, it was a big roadblock to finding community or fitting in. I tried that for years. 

I went through the conventional school system and survived it. I went into what I was told we’re supposed to do. We’re supposed to go through school, we’re supposed to go to college and then we’re supposed to get the job. I worked in corporate United States offices for ten years. I tried all that. We had a big house when we got married and we had cars. At some point, I was looking at things from the perspective of, “I’ve checked all the boxes. I’ve done all the things that everybody says we’re supposed to do and it feels wrong. It feels horrible. What am I doing wrong?” 

At the time, I remember being introduced to a course called Voluntary Simplicity. It was through an Earth Institute of the state where we lived at the time. It was something that my husband and I found and thought, “A six-week course. Get a workbook. This sounds interesting. We’ll try it.” I would say that was a pivotal point. The stories that we learned through that class were a lot of personal stories from other people who had stepped out of this societal list of expectations and did these different things. It was through seeing, “Here are a bunch of people who haven’t done that. That means that I wouldn’t have to do that. We as a family wouldn’t have to do that.” It was through the unveiling of other people’s stories that I realized, “This is not true. These are all stories we’ve been told. We don’t have to do this.” 

Realizing that was huge and then taking one step at a time. After that class, we had a focus on minimization of stuff, activities, overwhelm and started to ask those questions about, “What is making us happy and what isn’t? What if life were about following our joy?” We would say things like that to people and people would big eyes, “That’s interesting.” We got some interesting feedback from that. We tried one thing at a time. We reduced a lot of what we owned, for example. We started to follow a lot of the minimalist bloggers and read a lot of those books, that thing. It became freeing. It didn’t feel like we were missing out or we were losing things. It felt like we were gaining something. 

I remember the moment at which I was ready to do it. It was one of those things where I was looking for my library card and I couldn’t find it. I was opening the drawers and the cabinets and I looked around and said, “What is all this crap? Why do we have it? Why should it take me this long to find my library card?” I remember that being a switch. We started donating many things because we have plenty of usable things, it’s that we didn’t need to use them. I remember that I’d accepted a bunch of furniture from when my grandmother had died and my parents said, “Don’t you want all this stuff? You need all this stuff.” I had this whole extra room of furniture that wasn’t my style. I wasn’t interested in it. It felt like an obligation, like, “This is what everybody said I need to do because it’s passed down through the family.” 

We started getting rid of things. I remember it took months. We were getting those bags to the house that said, “Fill this bag and put it on your porch. Call us and we’ll come to pick it up for this organization.” We participated in that every other month and it said, “If you have additional things beyond this bag, go ahead and put them out.” We filled our stoop, the sidewalk that went down our stoop and half of our driveway for maybe three months of every other week pickups. I’m not kidding. I remember thinking, “The neighbors must wonder what is going on here.” It felt good. Once we got started, I was like, “There’s this thing that I hate. What is this even? We have five of these.”  

It is all right to do what you think is enough. You don't need to take care of everyone else. Click To Tweet

That was the starting point for us and then it was, “What’s next?” When we went car-free, that took a while. Each step was progressively a little bit more out of our comfort zone with all these arguments from society. Someone said to us, “You can’t do that.” I said, “We can. We sold the car.” I remember that this one person said, “Maybe we should ask around and get you some help. How are you going to get groceries? Maybe we should start a phone tree and we can help figure out how to get you groceries.” I’m like, “We’re good. We figured it out. We have these bikes.” It was out of people’s awareness and they couldn’t comprehend how we could make some of these choices because it was different. That was car-free. 

We minimized and ended up moving into a 900-square foot loft apartment in a downtown urban area. We had a big suburb house. That was a huge change. We quit our jobs working for other people. Our kiddo has never been in the school system. I have older step kids, one who went through and one who left when they were a teenager after realizing, “I don’t have to do this. There’s another way.” It was one thing after another. 

I don’t have a phone. I have been without a phone for over five years. That was amazing. Each thing, I thought, “What’s the worst that can happen? We hate this thing. They’re going to be more big houses, more cars, more schools and more phones. They’re not going away anytime soon. If we absolutely hate this, we can do something else. More corporate jobs, I’m pretty sure those aren’t going away anytime soon.” It felt like we had this over here to the side, “We’ve got the safety net. If we want to go back to that, we can go back to that.” 

It turned out that every choice made us happier and happier. We were able to travel internationally and work remotely and do all kinds of things. It did become about following our path, following our soul’s purpose, following our joy. Without all that noise and extra obligations stuff, relationships, activities, we could hear that voice of intuition. It wasn’t buried anymore. It was out there for us to access and be who we were and not who everyone else wanted us to be. 

First of all, I’m incredibly inspired by all of these choices you’ve made. It brings something up, Meredith, at least in terms of the media and corporations, which is one of the unspoken drivers of the system of capitalism we’re in. The things you have, the money you acquire, cars, houses, technology and stuff are a reflection of your virtuousness as a person. As in he or she who ascends the mountain of capitalism and acquires the fanciest, newest and shiniest stuff has won in terms of society’s measurements of the quality of your life as a human being. You reflected that when someone replied to you, “You can’t do that. You can’t get rid of your cars.” A comment like that shows you how embedded it is into the framework of our consciousness.  

If you as a human being choose not to have a car, not to have closets full of clothes, tons of trinkets, the latest, greatest, most expensive technology. Also, tens of thousands of dollars of outlay in bills and expenses each month then you must be a loser and you’re not playing life right. The comments you received are fascinating. It shows you how deep this programming goes into us as human beings. In terms of your emotional relationship to letting go of stuff, did you have a point with either the cars, the phone or anything where you had a challenging emotional response? To all of it, were you like, “Good riddance. Bye.” Did it bring up anything traumatic or challenging in that shedding process? 

It varied depending on which thing we were talking about because there were some things I was more attached to or more used to than others. For example, I remember when we talked about moving into a smaller place in an urban area in a downtown neighborhood. I had all of these stories that were coming out that later I identified weren’t mine and that they were from external sources. I was parroting those things I’d heard like, “We can’t do that. Families have to live in a place where you can have a backyard.” 

Thankfully, my husband was able to lovingly have this conversation with me and present some other ideas such as, “This downtown neighborhood has 3 or 4 parks. One is on the river. There’s plenty of outside space.” I went, “You’re right.” There were all of these different things that came up, similar to the car. The thing is I didn’t even like driving. We still drive. If we want to rent a car or do something like that, we can. I didn’t like driving. It was stressful. I was not a relaxed driver. I’m paying attention to all these things and stressed out about, “Don’t talk to me. I’m looking for the exit.” All that.” Some people love to drive and that was not me. I wasn’t attached to driving. 

We got rid of one car first. That’s all I was willing to do at first. I said, “Let’s go down to one and see how that works.” We parked it in a downtown parking lot and paid monthly. It sat there because we were using the bus. We were using our new bikes. We were walking. We were learning how to do all these things. Somehow, I still needed that for a while. I wasn’t ready to jump from 2 to 0. It was the car-share company that came to our town at the time that finally gave me that last push. The car-share was a company where you could pay an annual fee and it was inexpensive and that you could rent by the hour. It moved into our town. There were several pods of cars and one of them was a couple of blocks away.  

At the time, I always carried a car seat. I said, “I can put my arms to the car seat. We can walk two blocks. I can install the car seat. I can do this and we can get rid of the car now.” It was that feeling, “If we need one, we’ve got a car here that’s super easily accessible and affordable to use.” They covered the insurance. There were things that, at first, I was not open to doing and that these other messages that were coming in were powerful. It was hard to push through those. 

I did need a little time. I needed to sit with the different options. What’s the worst thing that could happen? I’ve heard one argument, “You don’t have a car. What do you do in an emergency?” In an actual emergency, you’re probably calling an emergency vehicle. It’s that whole idea. Talking myself through all of those things that were religious messages from other people that I needed to be able to cut through and figure out what was the fear. Was there something scary there? Was it a story I was told? It depends, for sure. 

Everybody has different attachments to different things. Similarly, with getting rid of all that stuff, there were things that were harder than others. I remember pulling a pair of tiny little ballet shoes out and they were our kiddo’s ballet shoes from the first class they took when they were 2 or 3 or something. I said to my husband, “Do you think we should keep the shoes? They used when they were little.” He said, “Maybe we should keep the kid because that’s the important thing. We got memories right there.” I said, “Fine.” Things like that come up, for sure. 

I love this process of letting go. Minimizing and getting down to the basics is a desire I see within myself and a lot of other people. Oftentimes, I noticed within myself and others that it’s tied to our emotions and all those fears. What comes up for me sometimes is like, “What if I need it later?” That’s one of my big struggles. I struggle with getting rid of something that I’m not regularly using. In my head, it’s that fear of having to go buy it again. That scarcity mentality usually isn’t based on experience or reality. It’s all those what-if scenarios that keep us feeling safe. 

I also noticed that I tend to get overwhelmed easily. When you were describing this, I was thinking about how long it took for me to finally empty and close down the storage unit that I had for a long time. It was easy to have my things in there but I wasn’t using them. It was in a completely different town. After I’d moved, I put things in this storage unit and kept paying for it every month. It wasn’t an extreme amount of money. I didn’t feel the urgency. When I looked back over how much I spent on it before I finally sat down, found the courage and the motivation, I thought, “Imagine if I had done this earlier.” 

Sometimes that hindsight of the 2020 experience that we have, I also had to let go of that and recognize, “It wasn’t a priority. I didn’t feel ready.” There’s this interesting balance between when we fully feel ready to do something. This is something I have an interesting relationship with because usually with other people, I can ask that question, “Why don’t you do it? What’s stopping you?” It feels easy. For me, there are a lot of things that seem easy to others that I haven’t done yet. That’s been a humbling thing to acknowledge. Noticing what I hold on to because they overwhelm me to make that process of starting that transition of letting go or completing something. I’m curious if you’ve done that yourself. I know Jason has because he’s thought about selling this car. I’ve thought, “What would he do?” I felt concerned as his friend, “What do you mean? How are you going to get places? You know where you live, there’s not great public transportation yet.” At least in the terms in which I think about it but the truth is he would figure it out.  

I’ve done it myself. I’ve been car-free for a few blocks of time in Los Angeles, which is a city where people think you have to have a car. Through my short experiences of not having a car, I recognized, “I figured it out,” like you’re describing. Jason, you’ve clearly continued to keep the car. Jason, you’ve also thought about getting a simpler phone and going entirely off social media. That’s been a process. This question is for both of you. The two-parter is what stops you from making a shift. Why does it take a while for you to make that decision, that leap? What’s it like on the other side after you do make that and you observe your former self that struggled so much to make that change? Jason, do you have any immediate thoughts that come up? 

I resist doing it because I have projections of fear that may or may not be real and that may or may not come to fruition. Where I live in Los Angeles, could I Lyft? Could I rent? Could I ask friends for rides? Could I take the bus? Yes. I could do all those things. Perhaps it’s the fear of even though I would save money and simplify my life, the fear that I would maybe make my life more difficult as a result. I’m saving all this money. I pocketed all this money by selling my car. There’s no gas. There’s no insurance. All of those sound wonderful, not have those payments each month. I worry and it’s a projection of fear into the future of, “You might make things harder for you.” That’s my internal dialogue.  

MGU 282 Meredith Keith-Chirch | Unconventional Choices

Unconventional Choices: If something were important, you would figure out a way to do it. If it wasn’t, it is a great opportunity to realize why it is not worth your time.

 

The second thing is I’m still unraveling the conditioning from my upbringing. I’m also a Midwesterner, by the way, Meredith. I grew up in Detroit. In Detroit, it’s much like what you drive is a reflection of you. It’s the same with LA but, in particular, Detroit, your car is an important thing. I remember when my grandparents, my uncles or people in my family would get a new car and they would bring it home. It was a thing. It was a celebration, like, “Uncle Bob got a new Cadillac.” 

We go back to this idea of capitalism and virtuousness. I’m still untethering myself from my upbringing, which is your value as a person is tied to the car you drive. I know it’s bullshit. I know it’s not real and yet it’s deep in there. That’s my reasoning. My soul wants a simpler life, nature, simplicity, fewer bills and less stuff. It struggles with ego and my sense of identity as a human being thinking that these things matter and reflect who I am and my value. Knowing that’s not real, I know it’s BS but it’s taken me a long time to unravel that part. 

There are a couple of things that come up for me from that. One thing that I want to say is I remember the motivation being somewhat helpful with making the decision and then finding out there was even more to it that was even better. Something that Jason said made me think of this. Specifically, we started with the car-free idea pretty much purely out of financial interest. We were, at the time, starting to look at reducing our expenses so that maybe we could work fewer hours because we were still a bit entrenched into that whole piece of society. We thought, “Here’s simply a way we can cut our bills.” The things that you mentioned, the insurance, the gas and all that. What it turned out was that it simplified our lives in other ways that I never would have guessed.  

For example, when people do talk about what you mentioned, Jason, would it complicate things? What about activities? What about meetings and things like that? What it did that I had never anticipated was it made us question all the things that we were doing and whether or not they were worth it. Without the car in the driveway to jump into, we needed to pause and think, “Is this worth getting a taxi, car-share or what have you? Is this worth the two-hour bus ride or the five-mile bike ride or that thing?” What happened was, we discovered we were doing a bunch of crap we didn’t want to do. It was a default setting because we could get in the car and go to that event, that meeting or whatever it is. 

We realized that if something was important, we could figure out a way to do it. If it wasn’t, it was a great opportunity for us to realize, “I don’t want to do that anyway.” It ended up simplifying things because it made us look at how we were spending our time, who we were spending our time with and what we wanted to do versus saying yes because we could. We were available that day. We had the ability to get there. The other thing that was interesting is that it helped us tie in with our community and support more. I feel like we’re isolated. 

When people came forward and said, “I’d love for you to do this thing. We can pick you up. Why don’t we have this meeting? We want Meredith to go. Let’s have it at a central location.” It was interesting because it bolstered relationships that we hadn’t even thought about having an impact on because other people were thinking about everybody in the group. Is there some way to offer assistance or things like that? That was an interesting result that we hadn’t anticipated. It turned out it ended up making things easier than more difficult. 

It is a lifestyle. It’s a choice. There are going to be things that may sound cool that we want to do that seem like too much. After a while, I thought, “That’s helpful because that helps me pick.” There are so many cool things to do. We all have a lot of interest. On any given day, there might be this festival, that meeting and these events. We want to do everything and we can’t. This was almost an external source of help. It was like, “I couldn’t decide between these three things. This one is the easiest to get to. Great. I’m going to do that. Thanks, universe.” 

Something that came up for me as a part of that whole process of working through all that is surprising. People think it might make things harder. It depends on how you look at it. I got this whole new vision of like, “This could help me. Say no to some things.” It could help me focus on what I have time and energy to do rather than trying to pack it all in. The other thing I want to say related to what Jason was talking about was the culture and maybe the people around you and the family. 

Without the car in their driveway, people had to pause and think about what was worth doing. Click To Tweet

I remember that when we did go car-free, it was maybe the first time I was ever afraid to tell my dad something. My dad’s always been super open, caring and accepting. He worked in the automobile industry for decades. He loves cars. He has a classic car. He shows it every weekend. He has trophies. Cars are a big deal. I thought, “This may be the only decision I’ve ever made that I’m a little nervous about talking about.” There are pieces of these things in our lives that connect us to other people. We think, “If we don’t have that in common, how’s that going to work?” We need to look at what else is our relationship about. That’s a whole other interesting thing to consider. 

It’s interesting, Meredith because when we’re talking about the generalized fears I brought up, you talk about relating to people and how the choices we make in our life either help us relate or perhaps are polarizing. Not having a car, being a minimalist, not having your child in the mainstream education system. We talk about alternative styles of eating. If you’re vegan like Whitney and I are, paleo or 80/10/10, keto or fruitarian, all these conversations over the years flashed into my mind of having conversations around lifestyle, ethical choices and some people being like, “That’s cool. Tell me more.” Other people being like, “Did you join a cult? What is this? I don’t understand.”  

Perhaps that is one of the deeper subconscious fears of why people don’t make certain choices. Even if something in their soul is moving them toward making a new choice, it’s the fear of maybe a deeply embedded one from thousands of years ago. If we did something against the tribe or we did something to get ourselves ostracized then we would be out in the forest or the rainforest fending for ourselves. If we don’t fend well on our own, we’re going to die or get eaten. That’s probably stored in us deep down where, “If I make these choices and they’re against the grain too much, what if I get disowned? What if my friends don’t want to hang out with me anymore? What if my father disowns me because I got rid of my car?” That being said, I’m curious what did your dad say and how did he react when you told him. 

He wasn’t sure what to think. We didn’t have a super-strong reaction. It didn’t even compute at first. He needed some time to process that because, like many other people, it didn’t even occur to him that was a thing that somebody would do. Thankfully, he’s a person who doesn’t have strong reactions. He was quiet, which is a strong reaction for him because he likes to talk. I knew that was a reaction in and of itself. It took a lot of time to accept. He thought it was an idea we maybe had and then when we did it, it was another level of, “You did that. You don’t have a car.” He still has a hard time with things like offering us rides somewhere. 

He moved close to us. He hadn’t been closed to us for years. He lived on the other side of the US. He moved here and said, “You can use my car any time.” We went, “Thanks. We don’t want to use your car.” He still has a hard time understanding fully that this is a lifestyle choice. It’s not that, “We lost our car and we need a replacement.” This is the way we want to live. Now it’s grown into something that we feel is beneficial in many ways. We’re in such great shape. If I’m running late, it’s great for me as opposed to in a car because I’m either running instead of walking or I’m riding my bike fast as opposed to when I was running late in the car, which is dangerous. There’s that.  

There are the continued connections that we have with family and friends if we’re going somewhere with them because I can have a conversation with the person that I’m walking or riding with. Whereas in a car, I couldn’t. If we take the bus somewhere we’re getting to connect more. He still doesn’t get that because, for him, cars mean something else. They’re joyous. He loves to drive. It’s interesting because now I don’t even love to ride in cars because it doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel good in my body. 

I’ve read a little bit of science about this related to our inner ear and how our body expects us to only be moving if we’re moving. If we’re standing still, we’re sitting still and our brain realizes we’re moving, it’s a little like, “This isn’t natural. If I’m moving, I’m supposed to be the one moving.” I’ve read about that in the context of motion sickness and things of that nature. The longer I’ve gone not being in a car, the less natural it feels. I need the outside air. I need to feel the ground. I need to smell the smells. I need to see things. When I am in a vehicle it doesn’t feel great. 

There are times we’ll meet him somewhere. He doesn’t understand that because he thinks he should pick us up, “We’ll see you there. We’ll meet you there.” “Why would you want to do that? I got this great car.” There are the environmental aspects. There’s so much that came out of what we thought was a financial decision. For example, I’m in a musical theater show. I’m riding my bike to rehearsals and/or using the bus depending on the temperature. He said, “I’ll take you.” I said, “I’m good. This bus, it’s already going there full of people or not full of people. For you to make an extra trip to get in the car to take me there doesn’t make any sense to me anymore. I’m going to ride this bus that’s already passing the building.” It’s interesting. He is still getting used to it and he has accepted it and still loves us and hasn’t disowned us, which is great. I still have to have some of the same conversations that I’ve had multiple times before. We’ve now been car-free for over eight years. 

Forgive me while I collect my brain from the walls. I feel like your dad and I would get along because I’m like, “Why?” As you break it down, Meredith, it makes so much sense for many reasons. As an aside before we get into some other deep topics, what musical theater show are you doing? 

I am in A Chorus Line. 

Are you singing and dancing the whole thing? That’s exciting. As a former theater geek, props. You’re in what city? 

Tucson, Arizona. 

I was going to be like, “We’d love to come and see you.” 

It’s not that far. 

It’s been so long since we’ve seen any live music or any live performance. A) Your incredible personality and watching you perform. B) A live performance sounds like the greatest thing in the world. 

Jason, I had this moment as you were talking where I’m picking up that you might be feeling like, “I wish I could almost jump right into Meredith’s life where she is.” I see Jason light up. He’s thought about moving from LA. He’s thought about getting rid of his car. He wants to do more performance. It’s amazing. You have this ability, at least that I’m experiencing, Meredith, to inspire, get the wheels turning, see the promise and see what it’s like on the other side. Even bringing up the motion sickness helps me realize and remember how much I’ve struggled with that but coped with it so much.  

When I was a little girl, I had bad motion sickness. Up until listening to you, I completely forgot about going to the doctor multiple times and trying to understand my motion sickness. They would give me tools. It was because my parents did a lot of driving. We did a lot of road trips. I would feel sick in the car. To this day, I still do. I have this a-ha moment. It helps me to better understand why I don’t like taking Uber, Lyft and even carpooling with other people. I’m always motion sick unless I’m driving. I learned how to cope with it and to function so much that I almost forgot it was there entirely. 

That’s an important element of this, too. Part of what you’re describing is the process of going back to your core and bringing up elements of yourself that maybe you learned to cope with but you’re not okay. For those of us who are good at high functioning like me, I have almost this amnesia. It isn’t until somebody says, “What about this?” I’ll step back and go, “I have buried that so far down.” That’s an important element of this and it also ties into some of the things that Jason was saying. A lot of us put what we want and who we are aside to make it through or to fit in, to meet the norms, to please our parents. I know parenting is a passion for you. There are two sides, Meredith. Correct me if I’m wrong, your parents are white. When you refer to your dad, is that your biological father? What is his place in your life? 

You are correct, my parents are white. I was adopted. I have only ever referred to my parents as my parents, the only parents that I have known. I don’t have a lot of information about folks who would be related to me biologically. I was also born in another country. I was born in what’s now called Guatemala. I’m of Mayan indigenous ancestry with some Iberian Peninsula thrown in because of colonialism. I know that much and that’s about all I know in terms of biological relatives. I’ve been in the US since I was an infant. I had been with my parents from that time on. That’s the relationship that I have with them. 

On some level, I imagine that it adds another layer to your relationship with your parents. You mentioned identifying with some of the people-pleasing behavior, at least in the past. I don’t know if you currently do. Do you, on any level, feel the desire to please your father? As you’re describing some of these things, does that get triggered sometimes in these moments of him not approving of you for not having a car or not understanding? That was part of what you’re describing as well. I get this sense that you have a good relationship with your father. There’s a lot of love there that I’m picking up on. Even when you have great relationships, you can still feel a draw to please them and a struggle to help them understand you. I’m curious about that relationship and also how that’s impacted you as a mother. 

There’s a lot there. I will say that my lifestyle choices were something that caused challenging relationships with my parents, particularly my mom. My dad and I have gotten to know each other all over again because he moved here due to my mother passing away in 2019. He decided he wanted a relationship. He had worked a lot when I was growing up. He was not around very much. We ended up living on opposite sides of the country. We didn’t have much of a relationship. That’s been interesting. However, when I was younger, he was the parent who was most laid back, low-key, accepting, things didn’t cause a strong response on him.  

My mom, however, had a hard time with a lot of the choices that I was making. The people-pleasing side of me had that moment of having to decide what was more important and having to decide was important enough to put myself first and to do the things that I felt were right for me. You’re mentioning that getting used to things or not realizing maybe that something was bothering you happens a lot. I hear that from a lot of the people I work with. I’ve experienced it so much. As part of that fitting in, we don’t even realize who are we and how do we feel. What is ours and what are other peoples? 

Growing up with that style of parenting that is common, which is the power dynamic of the adults knows everything, the kids know nothing. You follow authority blindly because that’s how you go through the school system generally. You do what the adults say for you to do. You then transition into the corporate world and you do what everybody says you should do, the older and more experienced people and all of that. It was like I was surrounded with it by the family, by the work environment that I was in at the time. At some point, when I decided to make these different choices, my family had some strong reactions. Interestingly, parenting brings up a lot of stuff for people in those relationships, the kids and the parents. 

What was happening because now I’ve seen this with other people is that my mom was questioning her choices. My choices were causing some, “Maybe I’m not comfortable in what I’m doing with her.” I have seen that since with other people that I’m not related to or that hear about our lifestyle. A lot of times when we get some negative comments, some pushback, some arguing, it’s that those people are looking in a mirror and realizing, “Oh.” Our choices are bringing up some threatening feelings about how well their values are being expressed in what they’re doing. I had that experience with my family, for sure. People who aren’t secure in the choices that they’re making or suddenly realize maybe they’ve been hiding some things or not even realizing that feelings were there can come up when they hear about other people doing other things. 

MGU 282 Meredith Keith-Chirch | Unconventional Choices

Unconventional Choices: In school, kids do what adults tell them. When you transition to the corporate world, you do what your superiors tell you.

 

At some point, towards the end of her life, my mom did say, “I admire that you don’t care what other people think. I appreciate that you can do that. I wish I could have done that more.” That was nice. I appreciated her being able to do that because I knew it was hard. She’d been through many years of saying, “Why are you eating that way?” We eat differently. “What do you mean that’s not real food?” Everything, questioning along the way. That felt good. Even though I felt like I was raised in a way that elders are this certain way, you’ve got to treat them this way, you have less authority than someone who’s been in the world longer than you and all that stuff, at the end of the day, she said, “That’s great. I’m glad.” That has definitely informed my parenting style. 

We’ve parented differently than we were parented. We began to think, “What if our kids didn’t have to grow up that way? What if we didn’t repeat those patterns? What if we use the things that we finally learned now as adults to support a relationship with younger people that isn’t about power and isn’t about conditional love?” That’s the big thing about approval is we fear losing that love and caring. Even from other people outside of our community, what if we’re ostracized? What if we’re not accepted? All of us as humans need to be accepted. We need to belong somewhere, to some group. That’s huge. 

I wanted to make sure that I was never making someone feel like my love was conditional. I needed to do whatever work I needed to do to realize when I was uncomfortable with someone else’s choice because that’s me. That’s not them. People are free to make whatever choices that they see fit for themselves. It has informed my parenting style to have gone through life in this way. I would say to myself, “I don’t ever want my kids to feel this way that I’m feeling.” I want them to be able to make those choices from the beginning. That’s another reason that we practice the self-directed education model. What if they didn’t have to wait until they were adults to figure out who they were, to unbury their actual intuition, to follow their soul’s purpose? What if they could follow it from the beginning of their lives? 

It’s interesting when you talked about our choices being a mirror for others, which goes into many aspects of life. With the wonderful health coaching that you do, Meredith, I’m curious, with your work with your clients, what psychological things come up? Choosing what to eat, having the individual experience of finding out what is appropriate for our bodies and our being is a specific thing to each person. With your health coaching business, I’m a little bit curious with all of this soul work you’re talking about and questioning everything. This framework you have for living your life, how does that leverage your health coaching business? How do you take that framework of questioning everything?  

Especially on social media, there’s so much combativeness around people wanting to say, “This one way of living, eating, breathing, behaving is the right way. Vegan is the right way. Vegetarian is the right way. Paleo is the right way. 80/10/10 is the way. Everything else is bullcrap.” Whitney and I have seen over the years it caused a lot of damaged relationships. A lot of fractured friendships. A lot of people being violent and aggressive toward one another because they have the Truth. How do you handle your health coaching? What things do you encounter with your clients not just in terms of their physical health but the mental-spiritual side of finding out what works for them? 

That’s such a big part of being able to tap into intuition. I find that the best place to start with clients is to talk about how they feel about things rather than focusing on what they think they should do, how they should look or what other people have told them has worked for them. We’re getting all of those messages and it’s hard to avoid that. However, I find that when we break things down into individual pieces with our daily life areas and focus on what feels good and what doesn’t. There are no wrong answers. That’s the biggest thing. 

Sometimes when I first meet someone or I’m talking to someone initially to work with them, they come in thinking, “I’m going to tell them to do this. This is bad.” Someone once told me, “You’ve probably never gone a day without eating a vegetable.” I’m like, “I have.” That thing, “There’s this model of this is what health looks like.” Clearing all that away from the beginning and helping people realize that there are no right answers. All of those truths that we’ve been sold are someone’s truth maybe. We need to find out what our truth is. 

When I’m working with individuals, we need to start with a clean slate. Tapping into what feels good for them right then. What is working? What isn’t? That’s the most important thing when I’m working with someone. Sometimes when they realize, “We don’t have to talk about eating vegetables. We don’t have to talk about going to the gym.” This checklist of things that people think is what health looks like, let’s clear all of that away. Let’s focus on the good stuff as well as the things that people want to change. I feel like people don’t give themselves enough credit sometimes for what’s working well. 

When I work with somebody, we don’t need to delve into a problem and solving that. Let’s talk about what’s good. A lot of times, when they start talking about what is working, they realize what that feeling is. Why is it working? How do you feel when that’s happening? What’s joyous about this? What feels like it is natural and not forced? What feels like you want more of this? How do we apply that elsewhere? It has to do with mindset. It also has to do with support systems. One thing I like to try to talk about sooner rather than later with clients is where can you get support for this? The second we stop talking and they go into their world, it can be challenging to be surrounded by people who are telling them something else than what they’re trying to tap into for their intuition. 

If I’m their only support person, that’s okay. I can be that person for them. If there are others elsewhere that they can find or that they know, “I do have this one friend. They’re eating plant-based. I might want to re-talk to them and talk about what they’re doing or maybe set a time to go out to lunch so I can be around somebody that’s not going to ask me why I’m ordering that. I’m not going to get into this big debate.” Community is a huge piece of the work that I do with people. If you’re feeling alone, it’s difficult. Even if what’s going to make you feel good to have to constantly feel like you’re justifying that to everyone and explaining it to everyone is exhausting. I feel like that’s a huge piece. That has helped people a lot, that one other person that can tell you, “You’re doing just fine.” Remember, it’s about how you feel and not what this person is doing or that you’re offending this person. 

We talk a lot about boundaries and being able to say, “That’s not going to work for me. I’m not participating in that. No, thank you.” It does happen to the people-pleasing that we talked about as well. Finding those folks that are going to unconditionally support you on this journey even if they’re doing something different, that’s okay as long as they are supporting you. The idea that you do know what you need, you may need some of that pulling out. 

By unveiling other people's stories, one can realize why they did not have to live a certain way. Click To Tweet

It may take working together or mentioning this, “I hadn’t thought about that. Now that you mentioned it, there’s this thing I can do. I used to do this and it was great. Why did I stop doing that? I’ve always wanted to do this but I wasn’t sure that was okay.” Yes, it is okay. Let’s try it. That’s how I try to approach things at least initially. Since everyone’s different, we might go down a million different roads. I feel like if they have those things in place to start with, they can tap into what feels right for them and knowing that they’ve got that unique path that nobody’s going to have the answer to. They’ve got the answer. They need some support pulling that out. 

It sounds a lot like you’re giving them that unconditional love. It feels warm, supportive and it’s amazing to me how many people feel misunderstood, which has come up in this conversation. They feel like they don’t fit in, they’re trying to fit in but they don’t feel good when they fit in. The community element is interesting to me too because I’ve noticed over the years how many people yearn for the community but struggle to find a community that feels good to them. I’ve experimented a lot over time with online groups, in-person events and all of these things. I’m fascinated by the barriers that people have with starting, joining and continuing to be part of things. 

There are so many nuances in which people need to figure out what feels good to them and there’s a lot of fear and certainly, the experience that we’ve had globally with COVID has brought up fear of community in interesting ways. Myself included, I noticed a huge pattern in the past few years. Not during COVID but it revealed more to me how I was having trouble trusting people. That was a deeper thing within myself that didn’t feel superconscious. My awareness was that I trust people but when I would notice my behavior and my responses to people, I recognized how much I don’t trust them. With things like COVID, one thing that came up was, I don’t trust that other people are taking good care of themselves and I still struggle with that. 

We’re seeing this potential return to “normalcy,” whatever that means. I’ve noticed within myself and others have expressed this, too, it’s scary to go out and be around other people without masks again, for some of us. It’s that fear that what if the person that we’re around or the people that are around are not taking as good care of themselves as they pretend to? That ties back into a lot of the healthy elements that you probably see, Meredith. There are so many misconceptions around what health even means and COVID has revealed that, too. I remember, at the beginning of COVID, a lot of health-minded people, vegans or anyone eating a certain form of wellness diet, thought, “We’re fine. We’re eating well so we’re good. Our immune systems are awesome.” 

There was an ego sense of, “We’re invincible.” That wasn’t necessarily true and some people still believe it. There’s a lot of different perspectives on COVID but from what I was noticing and I saw people of all different ages, all different lifestyles being affected by this. That in itself brought up some trust issues of, “I found it more comfortable to retreat and become more introverted and a little bit more cautious,” but part of me is afraid of that behavior. If we retreat too much from the community then we miss out on all these benefits that you’re describing. It’s a challenging dance, to say the least. I’m curious how you approach things like this, the mental and emotional sides of even entering into a community and interacting in a way that supports you instead of bringing up more fear within you. 

The community definitely can be challenging to figure out. One thing that comes up for me is related to this is when you start from scratch, let’s say. Many people moved. We’re a transient society now. Sometimes if you haven’t been somewhere for a while, you may be in an area where you don’t know anyone and depending on your personality, are you extroverted? Are you introverted? Are you shy? Because you could be either one of those and still be shy or maybe socially anxious, it can cause a lot of issues.  

Some people would rather stay on their own but then how long can that last without taking a toll and frankly, taking a toll on your health because that’s another piece of things health and wellness, if you don’t have that community at all. It takes a certain amount of bravery and also listening to yourself and what’s right for you. What one person might find energizing or fun or interesting in terms of ways to meet people and ways to find community, another person might be completely overwhelmed and that’s causing stress, which is then helping health and wellness. 

I know a lot of people especially you over the past few years because of our not wanting to be in person with people, a lot of folks have talked about trying to find a community online and using video conferencing tools. There are two pieces to that because some people have also felt drained by that so it’s balancing what works. I’ve been location independent and we’ve moved around a lot. I was already using video conferencing tools and that stuff for about a couple of years now.  

When everything started to move to, “Let’s do video conference meetings.” “Let’s do a video conference, happy hours,” and all that stuff. I definitely needed to make some choices about which ones felt good and which ones I was going to say no to again once again because all of that coming in didn’t feel refreshing and replenishing. There were times where I would meet people or talk to people on the phone so I wasn’t looking at the screen because if I’d already been looking at a screen for something else that didn’t work. I also have been writing letters for many years. I don’t remember how or why I started that but I thought, “Let’s start this up again.” That’s something else that I continued and I know that I’ve heard other people starting that anew in 2020 as another way to connect with people. 

It’s listening to what feels good. Some people might want to go if we’re at a time where we’re doing things in-person like a networking group. Meetup was big. I have used that in years past when I’d moved to a new city and sometimes it’s okay and sometimes it’s overwhelming because I’m walking into this place. I’m going to try to meet new people and it’s a community group based around some commonality. It sounds like a good idea. I walk in and I don’t know anyone so I’m like, “Who do I go up to? Do I look for the sign? Do I have to wear a name tag?” There’s all of that.  

Some people are happy with that and they love it and that would be a great way for them to find community and some people want to run screaming. Thankfully, we do have a few different options and it’s that trial and error, which I find is true of anything related to health and wellness. Honestly, we think this sounds like a good idea and it may take us trying to realize, “I probably don’t want to do that again so let me find some other way.”  

If finding online communities works great, if it doesn’t feel wonderful, maybe pick 1 or 2 that you could meet people in that way and maybe they’d be willing to trade phone numbers and you have a good old-fashioned phone conversation. You’re still having a voice-to-voice conversation. Maybe they’re not in your area, you could still have a community with that person. You can still have an accountability buddy or somebody to bounce things off of or talk about, “I had this tough interaction with a family member,” and you know they’re going to understand you.  

It’s the letter-writing. Sure, it takes a while but it still counts. It’s still a community and somebody you can talk to and somebody who can relate to. I feel it is that again, that trial and error, knowing yourself knowing what feels good and not saying, “Everybody’s signing up for this online community so I better sign up because that’s what everybody’s doing,” and feeling depleted because of it. We all do that. Figuring out what works for you and there’s a way out there. You will find your people but it may take trying a few different types of things. 

A lot of what you’re describing can be uncomfortable. I was reflecting back on when you brought up Meetup.com. At the beginning stages, when I was starting to get into the vegan lifestyle, I didn’t know that many vegans and I’ve been an introverted person most of my life. It’s uncomfortable for me to go to events on my own because I typically like to be quiet and observe and I don’t like being put on the spot to socialize. That makes me radically uncomfortable. I remember when I started going to Meetups back in 2008 or 2009. I’m getting flashbacks of walking to the restaurants where we would meet up and dreading it and say, “Why am I doing this?” It’s almost when I’d done online dating and walking into a first date. It’s the same feeling. It felt uncomfortable but a lot of times the discomfort would end fairly quickly and sometimes they would continue. 

What I worked on would say to my younger self is what you’ve been saying so much, Meredith, about tuning into your intuition. It’s because you try something, doesn’t mean that you have to stick with it. There’s that fine line between sticking through to determine if it feels right to you versus knowing when it’s not right. The number of times that I’ve continued to do something that I didn’t want to do because I want to tough it out or I felt I had to do that to please other people and the same thing goes with friendships. I’ve had a lot of anxiety over the years about maintaining friendships even when they weren’t serving me or saying no to people. 

MGU 282 Meredith Keith-Chirch | Unconventional Choices

Unconventional Choices: When people are sold with someone else’s truth, they must start again with a clean slate and tap what really feels good to them.

 

One of my friends was articulating her courage in turning down invitations and saying, “No. I don’t want to do that.” Going back to what you’re saying about not caring, sometimes you even have to push yourself to care less about how people feel and understand that they play a role, have a responsibility and their reactions to you. Everything that you’re sharing is motivating and empowering me to set my own boundaries and tune in more and find that courage to try something but only to the point where it’s making me feel good. If it doesn’t truly make me feel good, it’s finding the courage to say, “No, thank you. This isn’t for me. I don’t want to do this anymore.” That’s part of the community element that’s tough and maybe also a huge example of people-pleasing. 

Maybe people are afraid to create community because they’re afraid to reject somebody, say no, set boundaries and they don’t know how to set boundaries so some people might not even start friendships or relationships of any kind simply because they’re anticipating those tough moments. Unfortunately, this might get uncomfortable. That’s one of the reasons we named our show. This is not necessarily about choosing to go outside of your comfort zone but understand that sometimes it’s going to feel uncomfortable and that’s the way it is. You can’t fully avoid those uncomfortable social moments.  

On that note, one thing that we’re both curious about, Meredith, is your relationship with the phone and social media because both of those play a big role in the community and socializing. I want to know more about that. First of all, where are you at exactly because you said that sometimes you’ll do audio-only. Does that mean that you use your computer fully to have audio conversations? Do you have any phone? Does anyone in your family have a phone? Do you have strict boundaries? Is it a choice and that’s how it’s turned out to be? Also, I’d love to know about social media after the phone element. 

In terms of what I have, essentially, a laptop computer and also a landline in the home. Those are my options in terms of communicating in a way that I would a phone. The last phone I had was a flip phone. I never had a computer-y phone ever because I was like, “Why? I don’t want a computer in my pocket. I have one. Why would I want a computer following me around in my purse or whatever?” I was late to the texting party as well. I was like, “Why? I want to be able to talk to someone.” I did eventually start texting years after other people did. In terms of length of time, it’ll be six years in 2021 that I haven’t had a phone. 

One of the things that threw me over on that choice was we had gone to Southeast Asia with one-way tickets. We weren’t sure how long we were going to be gone, where we all were going to go, what we were going to do but we canceled our cell phone plans because they weren’t going to work there. I was using the Voice over Internet Protocol business for any calls that we wanted to make or FaceTime, Skype and that kind of thing. I was using Google Hangouts, which is Google Meets now. We were using a few different tools to be able to communicate with folks here so I got used to using the computer. I plug the headphones in and have a conversation. It was so great because when I was done, I closed the computer and no one could get ahold of me. It was amazing. 

When we came back to the US, at first, I got another phone because I was in that mode of, “Here’s what we do. We’ve got to get the phone.” I got another flip phone. I probably had it for less than a year and at some point I thought, “What would happen if I got rid of this and didn’t have the distraction?” When I left the house, I was present with whatever I was doing. Whether I’m with my partner or my kids. I wanted to see what happened. It was an experiment. I thought, “I know I can get another $25 flip phone or whatever if I don’t love this.” 

Everyone wants approval from others, which they seek from communities where they are accepted. Click To Tweet

I got rid of it and I loved it. It was another thing where people went, “You can’t do that. You can’t possibly have a phone.” I thought, “Does anyone remember when we didn’t have phones?” Yes, it can be done. I know this can happen. It was one of those things where it’s like, “What if there’s an emergency?” There are still landlines. There are still a few payphones and there are people who still have phones. I might have to speak to someone and say, “Can I get some help?”  

We become so compartmentalized and we don’t even think about that. It’s like, “I could ask this person for help.” That was my mindset and my entry point into that world and it works great. I occasionally mentioned to someone, “This number here is a landline so don’t send a text message.” Every now and again, I’ll talk to someone and they’ll say, “Did you get my text message?” I’ll say, “No.” They’ll say, “I sent it to your landline. Sorry.” 

Honestly, nothing major has happened. I use a Google Voice number so I can use that on my computer. You can also have it forwarded to any number. It’s super simple so people can text message that. They can leave a voicemail or if I know someone’s going to call, I can open my computer, plug in my headphones and be ready for it. It’s so great to be able to be present and have that not ruled my life. Folks have said, “What happens if you go somewhere, you meet somebody and they’re not there?” What happened before we used cell phones? It’s all going to be okay. What happens if you’re somewhere and you’re bored? I sit there and think some thoughts. I look around me. I practice being right so it’s great. 

It’s amazing. I’m paying attention to what’s happening. I’m not getting the phone. There are so many benefits so that’s the detail behind that. As far as social media goes, I tried out a couple of social media things and they first came out. I tried Facebook and I was like, “This is cool. Look at all these people that I went to high school with who weren’t nice to me and I wasn’t friends with them and now they want to be friends with me. This is creepy.” I did it for a little bit. It was interesting and I noticed a couple of things. I noticed lots of time going by and I had done nothing but scrolled through stuff. I noticed how I felt after that. Not at first, I was like, “This is fun. This is new.” After a while, I thought. “What did I do for 1.5 hours or whatever that was?”  

I also noticed what example it was setting for the kids in our house. Our kids also don’t have their own devices. They haven’t ever. That’s a whole other subject where people are like, “What? How can you do that?” It’s easy. They’re going to have lots of opportunities to do that as an adult. Let’s let them be kids and do kid things instead of feeling obligated to be attached to this thing the way so many adults do. I thought, “If that’s the value that we want to pass along, how does it make sense for me to be staring at these things when it doesn’t make me feel good? I’m not sure what kind of example that’s setting.”  

I got off of social media and I’ve only tried a couple of things like Twitter and Facebook at the time and didn’t use it for a long time. Occasionally people would say, “We have this group on Facebook.” I’d say, “Do you have an email list? Can you let me know when people are meeting? Is there a way around it?” Once again, it became another way to make mindful choices. They’re like, “We only have Facebook.” I’m like, “That group’s not for me then. I find something else because there are all these other different things to do.” Someone would say, “We want you to be a part of it. I’ll email you. We don’t say a whole lot out there. I’ll email you the places where we’re meeting or whatever it is.” I’m like, “Give me a call and that kind of thing.” I did develop relationships outside of that because I would say, “Can we do something different?” It was that chance to pause and for people to think about it.  

Over time and you may have experienced this, too, people were less enamored with social media. I have known other people who have taken a break, stepped, reduced things notifications or checked occasionally but it’s been so freeing to me. I created another Facebook account in 2020 so I was off for a long time. I created an account because I had some people request some information and a lot of people share business information as well. They’re more likely to tag someone or they’d say, “Do you have a social media account?” They’re more likely to do that than maybe go to the website or send me an email through the contact.  

I said, “I’m going to do this and I’m going to practice remembering that I have choices as far as when to be looking at it and how often to see it.” Thankfully, since I don’t have a phone it’s not going to invade my life because I have to open the computer and go to the website and mindfully choose to engage with that. I can also choose not to look at the newsfeed and that was huge. Go send someone the message that I want to send or check on the person that I want to check on instead of letting it all come in and overtake me. That’s been my experience with social media thus far and definitely, people have said, “How can you do that? Everybody’s on social media.” If you want to talk to me, there’s a multitude of other ways, email, phone and text messages. You can make a different choice. 

MGU 282 Meredith Keith-Chirch | Unconventional Choices

Unconventional Choices: It can be challenging to be surrounded by people telling you something else than what you’re trying to tap into for your intuition.

 

It sounds a lot how they responded to you not having a car. You’re like, “I’m used to this.” The overall element of you that you’ve expressed so much in the show is the lack of fear of what other people think or maybe it’s not fully a lack. I imagine there’s on some level, as most human beings care but the ability and the courage to say, “That’s not for me and that’s okay if it’s for most other people,” gives other people a sense of permission in a way. It excites me and it excites Jason. I know that he’s reflected on this. I’m curious what’s coming up for you, Jason, as you’ve heard all these huge benefits from somebody who has been car-free for long, phone-free in most ways and limited social media. Seeing her express all this, Jason, what does this bring up for you? 

I feel like you’re my spirit animal, Meredith. That’s what I want to say. Honestly, it brings up that there’s been a conflict of what my spirit or my soul is nudging me toward. The tangential or existential fears of what if but one of the biggest nuggets of wisdom you dropped among many, Meredith was so what? We could give it up. You can buy a new house, get a new car and you could get a new phone. To your point, the wave of technology and stuff is probably not going away anytime soon so it’s like, “There’s a big part of me that wants to take all my animals, my girlfriend and move to a tiny cabin in the woods.” We’re talking about relocating to the woods and minimizing a lot in our lives.  

To your point, what it brings up for me and what I’m leaving with after this wonderful episode with you is many things but the number one thing that’s coming to my heart is, we as humans get so entangled in what we think we ought to be doing to how we ought to be living and behaving. Separating our internal compass, our intuition, what our soul’s purpose is from all of the noise is one of the most important and necessary things that we can do as human beings on this life journey. It’s one of the most critical things. It’s discerning between other people’s voices, the programming that’s been implanted in us and what our soul is asking us to do. I’ve been resisting a lot of things that my soul has been asking because there’s the thing of, “What’s on the other side of it?” I don’t know.  

The only way is by trying and seeing what there is on the other side. Seeing the joy and the radiance that you bring, Meredith, during this time together, it’s like, “She’s on the other side of it.” I’m not comparing my life to yours but it’s like you don’t seem to be wanting or lacking for anything, which is deeply inspiring to me. On that note, as we wrap this delightful episode with you, is there anything that you are challenged with or struggling to let go of? You’ve let go of so much you’ve made many incredible changes you’ve had the courage to live and be directed by your soul and your intuition. Is there anything that you’re wrestling with? 

Things come and go on a daily basis still because I am still human. I would say one thing. There’s still that aspect of wanting to support and take care of everybody as well as myself. That’s not possible in every moment and every day so I do have that ongoing struggle. There are many things that I enjoy doing so it feels like I could be this musical theater performer, health coach, this mom and all of these other things and there’s only so much time and energy in the day. 

I appreciate constant reminders that what I can do is enough and I’m not going to be able to help all of the people all of the time. I’m not going to be able to take care of everybody all at once. I’m going to need to make choices and that’s going to need to be okay. It’s not beating myself up about it and not saying, “I wanted to do all of these things this day, this week,” or whatever it is. Stepping back and remembering that whatever it is that I’m doing is enough for that moment. That is one thing I would say that is a constant struggle and challenge for me that I am continuing to work on a regular basis.  

It’s relatable on so many levels. Spirit animal. I’m going to be like, “What does my spirit animal think? What does the Oracle say?” It’s been delightful for many reasons, Meredith. Your energy, your wisdom, the lightness and joy you bring to these somewhat challenging conversations. This has been such a lovely episode. I know our readers are going to resonate much with it. Speaking of our readers, people getting this through telegram, viewers or however you are receiving this message. 

People who are receiving handwritten letters from Meredith. 

However you’re digesting this wonderfulness, it’s MForHealth.com. She’s got a wonderful website if you want to dig into more of her health coaching services. Meredith, are you going to be live-streaming a course line at all? Is this only if you’re in Arizona that you can see it? 

They’re only going to be showing it live. I don’t know that for sure. I’m certain, however, that they’re not going to be offering a live stream version so people would have to be in Tucson, Arizona to see it. 

When is the performance exactly? 

We open July 23rd, 2021 and it runs those two weekends so Friday, Saturday, Sunday. 

It’s a bit of a tease for our readers because that will have happened in the past. Behind the scenes, we do episodes in advance. I wanted to mention that so it’s not as much of a tease. Hopefully, there’ll be more. Jason, you still have a car and Tucson is seven hours away from Los Angeles. You don’t need a time machine, Jason. You can hop on a car.  

MGU 282 Meredith Keith-Chirch | Unconventional Choices

Unconventional Choices: One person might find fun and interesting things in a community, while another might become completely overwhelmed.

 

Meredith, it’s been an absolute delight. Thank you for being here sharing your joy, wisdom, and heart. We’ve loved having you here. 

Thank you for having me. It’s been great to have this conversation with you. I appreciate you both. 

Thanks for reading!

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About Meredith Keith-Chirch

Meredith Keith-Chirch is the founder of M for Health. She helps women improve their health and energy with simple yet powerful lifestyle changes. In addition to this, she enjoys multiple other roles, including that of dancer, vocalist, musician, and self-directed education advocate. She’s part of a low-tech, car-free, school-free, conscious living minimalist family who tends to follow what will make them happy in life, whether it be with big decisions or day-to-day ones. You can follow her on Facebook for regular tips on optimizing your lifestyle easily – without overwhelm – while following your intuition rather than someone else’s rules.

 

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