The world can be a pretty dark place sometimes, and it’s okay that that makes you uncomfortable. But, you can fight that darkness if you use love as your motivation. Letha Coughlin is a physical trainer and the owner of Wellness Warriors Bootcamp Gym. Together with Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen, Letha talks about why love matters, and how we can inspire and empower others by giving love. Help the world heal from its darkness with the one thing you can use to fight it off – love.
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Love As Your Motivation: Why Love Matters With Letha Coughlin
Is it a name I can guess?
Yes, do it.
How many guesses do I get?
Isn’t it Sandoval? Alvarez? Santiago? Giuseppe?
Who is that?
You are thinking too Mexican because I am half-Mexican and half-White.
White is broad.
I am named after an island, my last name.
Trinidad? Rico, Letha Rico? It is hard. I suggest you change it. Catalina? Letha Catalina?
It’s closer to the White part, but no.
Letha Greenland? It is an island.
Hawaii? New Yorkish. Say it with an accent.
Staten. Letha Staten?
They call it Staten, people who tried to sell you things. For my other name, Coughlin, they would say, “Letha Collin.” I said, “That’s not my last name.” Coughlin translates to Collin in foreign countries.
“Letha Coughlin?” “I’m sorry what? “Letha Coughlin, please.” “It is Cough-lin.”
That makes me want to cough.
Letha, you received a bottle of Kombucha on the way in.
Revive Kombucha, in particular.
Shout out to Revive. I’ve been supporting mad props, skills. Two things I want to bring up. Number one, the color palette of the Revive is in alignment with your extremely colorful personality and your wonderful color palettes. I would like you to read, if you would, the inscription on the bottle cap, the inside of the bottle. That’s becoming a thing with tea bags. I’m curious, what is the inside of your bottle cap say?
How did you feel when you twisted that off?
You get excited when you twist it off.
I didn’t twist it off. You were a gentleman and you took it off for me.
I did do that. Mom taught me well. Shout out to Susan Wrobel.
When I read it, it struck such joy in me. I genuinely got happy and it’s a simple reminder on the back of a cap to be grateful for every moment, opening up a Kombucha. Be grateful for it.
What did yours say, Jason? Did you save your cap?
You didn’t look at it.
It says, “We go together.”
Who’s we and where are we going? Yours is irrefutable and direct, “Be grateful.” We go together. Where are we going?
Maybe they mean you, Jason, go together with the Kombucha. You and Kombucha go together and that you’re a match.
I read into it much more cryptically.
We don’t know anybody from Revive Kombucha that we could ask this question.
I feel that this is almost like hitting on me, “We go together.” I almost feel the Kombucha is hitting on me in a creepy subversive way. I’m going to bring this up when I see them because that’s obvious. We hear about gratitude. Where did you eat before this show?
There’s a theme if you ate at Cafe Gratitude, you get a bottle cap that says, “Be grateful.” Sometimes if we’re being honest, life brings us.
Why do people say, “If we’re being honest?” I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Can we take a little detour? Why do people have to say it? In other words, does that mean that you’re not normally being honest?
It is overcompensation.
It is like, “When are you not being honest? What made you say that in particular?
I didn’t even realize I said it. It’s almost one of those subconscious colloquial phrases that we use in our language. Oftentimes, it’s embedded in our consciousness, we’re not even aware we’re using it. It is one of those things where I don’t perceive myself as a dishonest person like, “Spoiler alert, I’m going to be honest at this moment, so you’re ready.” It’s almost one of those things I’m not even aware I use it until you pointed it out, which I’m like, “That’s a useless phrase. If I’m being honest about it, let me tell you.”
There’s somebody that I know as an acquaintance who says that, who overuses that phrase in one conversation. I’m not kidding. The last time I saw this person, we talked for maybe ten minutes and I lost track of how many times. This person said, “If I’m being honest.” As if it was a qualifier for everything. I was fascinated by it.
Are we talking about him?Do not run away from pain because pain is not forever. Click To Tweet
If I’d be honest, I’d be more honest than I was three minutes ago.
Do you remember what you were going to say, honestly?
I did, but now I feel like you need to inject a minor detour. In terms of not being present to the language we’re using, it’s important the energetics of language and saying what we mean and being conscious of what we’re putting out there language-wise. There are terms that we use that are euphemisms not to say exactly what we want to say. Sometimes maybe we’re trying to spare a person the harshness of what we want to say. One time, I was laughing to myself. I was deliriously tired. When you’re exhausted, you’ve been working hard that you’re delirious and you could slap happy. Your mind goes crazy. I remembered this phrase that people use when people start off a sentence and they go, “With all due respect.” You know what’s on the other end of that is, “I’m getting to take the piss out of you a little bit or criticize like, ‘Letha, with all due respect, my dear, I must tell you.’” It’s this thing of like, “With all due respect,” that’s me also known as softening the blow of something critical I’m about to tell you to like, “With all due respect, I must inform you.”
You grew up when people would say, “No offense, but.”
It’s the same thing with, “With all due respect, my lady.”
It was always offensive.
People are trying to soften the blow like, “Let me take the edge off what I’m about to tell you.”
Let’s go back to the cap. Can I take one more minor detour? I’m glad that you brought this up because a lot of times, when I see things like this, this is my reaction. I take it off the bottle and I’m like, “I don’t think that much about it.” The fact that you, Letha, reacted with much gratitude for seeing the phrase, “Be grateful,” was refreshing because I was like, “Maybe I should take in those words a little bit more. They’re there for a reason.” You know who else does it? Yogi Tea, they have the tea bags and they say something at the end.
Snapple. We drink that all the time.
How about fortune cookies? Fortune cookies make me upset. The second to last time that I had a fortune cookie, I was with my boyfriend. We each got the same exact fortune and it was lame. It was like, “Really?”
The odds are in your favor.
What if it was something obvious like you would go to bed with someone you love tonight. It’s like, “I’m sitting right across from him, genius.”
I think sometimes fortune cookies are well thought out and some are half-assing it. Someone’s like, “Let’s come up with five phrases and put them in all of the fortune cookies.” It ruins a bit of the magic, in my opinion.
Did you learn Chinese?
Did you buy a lotto ticket?
Is that what the numbers are for?
That’s what that’s for.
Have you ever done that?
I had no idea that it is for a lottery ticket.
What if the uptake on that is low that the actual people who have won the lotto is an insider secret that no one talks about because it’s 0.001% of people who play those numbers? If you do, it’s a hidden secret of the universe that it will, “What if that’s a thing? This is divergent as hell.”
Back to the cap, be grateful.
Letha, you had such a profound, joyful and jubilant reaction when you opened that bottle, when I opened it for you rather chivalrously. Sometimes, it is challenging in life to feel gratitude when we are being bombarded by chaos, uncertainty, disappointment, perhaps having expectations. In terms of holding the space of joyfulness and gratitude in those tough moments, what’s that like for you? You have many things that you’re doing in life with your wonderful training business, your coaching, and raising two beautiful girls. You have a lot of life that you live. You’re a person who’s full of life, but sometimes life is hard. In those moments, how do you maintain your joyfulness, perspective, and gratitude in the tough times?
It’s not always the same. There’s not always joy immediately, but most of the time I’ve reframed my mindset, “I’m going through something painful.” The first thing I do is do not run away from the pain. You go headfirst into the pain and you experience it for what it is because in the end, coming from a trainer, the pain only lasts a minute you’re doing a plank and it feels like forever or you scraped your knee, but it’s only going to hurt for fifteen minutes. Pain is not forever. There are some internal pains and traumas that can last, but even our body finds a way to suppress that. If I remind myself, “This isn’t forever and everything’s going to be okay,” I managed to get through it decently, but you always have to face it and that’s the key.
I want to talk to you, specifically as a fitness trainer. I love that you brought up that perspective that pain is not forever. I guess it’s more of a reality than a perspective. That’s something that I struggle a lot with when I’m working out is I haven’t learned how to sit in the pain of an exercise without getting out of it. For example, I do a lot of yoga. I also do Pilates and barre classes. I’ve been doing this for years, but it feels like I always hit a point of pain and then I find myself coming out of it before we’re instructed to come out of it. There’s part of me that’s annoyed by that tendency of mine. I’ve been wondering how can I mentally get myself to sit through the pain until I’m told not to by the fitness trainer that I’m working with?
Give yourself more credit because you probably started out only doing 20 seconds, then you started going into 30 seconds, 45 seconds and longer. There’s this natural progression of strength that comes along with it. Maybe where you were back then isn’t what you were later on. You’re probably doing amazing, you’re only being hard on yourself.
That’s another good conversation. I love that you said that too. You had asked us how the show was doing and I had to step back for a second because we don’t have that much to compare our show to because it’s new. To your point, I think a lot of us don’t give ourselves enough credit. Whether we’re working out, we’re producing something, we’re making something or we’re parenting, we have a tendency as human beings. I’m generally speaking, but it sounds like you have such a great perspective on giving yourself more credit and that’s a huge human being struggle. Especially from my perspective, we have social media that’s made it much easier to fall into the comparison trap or to come back to the specific case that we mentioned. For me, when I go into my yoga classes or whatever I’m in, I’m surrounded by a bunch of people in the room and nobody else is getting out of the posture as soon as I am. I’m looking at myself in comparison to them. Maybe instead of noticing my own personal progress, I’m fixated on my progress compared to their progress or my performance based on theirs. Do you have anything further to speak on when it comes to that comparison, whether it’s fitness or parenting or whatever else?
Let’s go back to fitness, but I have all kinds of things to say about parenting.
I’m glad to hear it.
For fitness, we have to take into consideration because we naturally compare ourselves like, “I want to be as good as that person,” if they have something that is a value to you. That’s okay in a sense. You want to work up to a certain goal and you value what that person’s doing. You have a teacher up there for a reason. I lost my train of thought. I had a brain fart. That’s literally what I had. I started thinking about my kids, I’m not kidding you, about one of their toys all over their room. I started thinking, “I have so much to do when I get home,” as I was speaking to you because we brought up parenting and it triggered my mind.
You had a pure real human moment.
What was it that reminded you of the toys?
I was thinking of a floor doing your workout. I was thinking, “I have to push things to the side to do my workouts when I’m around my children.” It was such a weird train of thought.
That’s what happens to us. This is one of the reasons we’re such big proponents for meditation. Speaking of training, we need to train ourselves to stay on track with things because it’s a human tendency to start thinking of all of these different things and then get off track. It’s a natural thing that we have to constantly work against or perhaps, we’ve been trained to have our minds multitasking all the time.
As a single mom of twins, owning all the businesses I have, my mind is scattered and sometimes I wish I could focus on one thing and get good at it. I’m good at multiple things. Once you focus on that one thing, you’re like, “I became a master at it,” but I can’t afford to do that, so I have to have my hand in every cookie jar and not getting fat. I want to bring in finances more and more, but it’s okay, progress is progress. That’s the number one rule I live by is grace, “Letha, you can’t do everything perfectly but maybe, later on you can drop something and become good at that one thing.” I want to get into belly dancing. I think that’s going to be so much fun. I have a dance fitness class. I want to be a performer.
It’s interesting because that’s not a common thing I hear people wanting to get into. Honestly, in the pantheon of things that people are into fitness-wise, belly dancing is not something you hear come up often. That’s why I was like, “Interesting, tell me more.” Secondarily, one of my good friends is one of the top belly dance performers and instructors in the country. I’d be happy to connect you. Her name is Lana Mini. She lives in Detroit. She’s one of my old friends from Detroit. She travels all over the world performing. When you said that, it was the uniqueness of someone claiming that and being like, “I need to introduce you to Lana because she would be a phenomenal mentor for you. Consider it done.”
I teach a dance fitness class called Hypnotic Dance Fitness. I can’t choose my love for electronic dance music and belly dancing, so I put both in the class. We’re raving it up and then we’re also belly dancing at the same time. It is such a hit. I max out my classroom. I can’t fit any more people in there. That is weird.
How did that come to you? That is such an incredible, unique mashup. Was that a bolt of inspiration?
It was a bolt of inspiration of two loves and I had to combine them because I couldn’t choose and I said, “Why do I have to choose? I’ll put them together.” Everyone responded well to it. I couldn’t believe it.
That is interesting because you were saying you felt scattered and you couldn’t perfect one thing and you wanted to be more successful. You bring this up and it reflects back what you said that your classes are maxed out. That is such a great success. Take it from a student, I’ve never been to a fitness teacher that I can recall. I’ve tap dance before but never fitness. It is amazing to me when classes get maxed out and then the ones that don’t. At my yoga studio, there are some teachers that are popular, there’s a waiting list for every class. It’s huge. I think it’s an amazing thing when that happens because a lot of the other classes don’t fill up. There’ll be 1/3 or 1/4 of the people in there. When you can fill up a class, that’s a big deal.For fitness, you have to consider that you naturally compare yourself to other people. Click To Tweet
I feel great. I feed off their energy. I was like, “I have to crush on all your ladies. Come on out. They’re amazing.”
You give a lot of love, energy and focus to your fitness business, to your twins and to life in general. You have an amazing dog who has an incredible story too. Perhaps, we can jump into that because I want to get in my question.
Jason likes to do these interview styles.
This is genuinely like we were hanging out asking her the same question.
I feel excluded. It is supposed to be a three-person conversation.
I’m going to tell you that story.
We can wrap you into this.
It is like when you’re having a conversation and you’re the third wheel and there are two people talking away.
I will ask everyone at the table this question. It’s about self-care. When we have taken on, for any of us, a lot of responsibility of the three of us have on this, Whitney, Letha and myself. We’ve taken on different responsibilities in life, but it is such a common thing to give and then feel depleted. That’s something I’m still working on is not letting my battery run down to zero and then being like, “It’s going to take a long time for that battery to recharge. This is an open question for Whitney and Letha. How do we more dexterously manage to give our gift, passions, and love to the people that matter in our lives, from students to coworkers, to children, to whoever we’re giving love to and still take good care of ourselves in the process? How do you all do that?
Have you heard of the love tank theory? You have this love tank, it can be full, halfway full or empty. People pour into your love tank or you could pour into your own love tank, but you’re limited in resources of this love juice. You pour out from your tank into other people as well. It’s like recycling love. What happens is if you’re pouring your love into everyone else, you eventually run out and your tank is empty and you have the sadness about you because we’re happy when we have love. We feel joy when we’re loved around love. In order to get that love poured back into your love tank, you’ll probably get it from a loved one, from your kids, maybe getting a gift. It depends on also your love language if you’ve heard of the love languages. It depends on how you receive your gifts, the way people love you, those types of gifts. That depends on how much love you are able to give out. You refill him. He refills you, but he gets it from his dogs. You get it from your boyfriend. I get it from going to get a massage if that ever happens in my life, but hopefully it does. That’s how you fill it up and give it out.
It sounds like the name of a TV show, doesn’t it?
It sounds like something, a cool band name because you think about a love tank. There’s something about that phrase. It’s juicy and I like it.
How would you answer that question that you asked?
For me, it’s overcoming this persistent idea that shouts out back to the Ayahuasca episode.
When that Ayahuasca episode, which is a two-part episode, comes out, you can find it at Wellevatr.com. You can search the podcast player you’re using for the Ayahuasca episodes.
It’s one of the realizations that is definitely related to self-love and self-care is that if I somehow am the best at something and outwork everyone, give the most love, or the most generous, then I’ll never be abandoned because I’ll be too valuable for people. It’s the realization of this subconscious, subtle manipulative behavior that was often in my life disguised as altruism. There was a component of the altruism of, “I’m trying to get something from you. I’m not conscious of it but if I’m making everyone laugh, if I’m giving a ton of love, if I’m the most generous energetically, I become valuable, irreplaceable, perception-wise in someone’s life that I’ll never be abandoned.” It’s reminding myself that I don’t have to get anything from anyone and I don’t have to play this subconscious subtle manipulation game of being the best at someone to try and prove my worthiness.
That comes back to where we were about the comparison trap. Part of what you’re saying, Jason, that it is a survival thing. We talked about this in an episode about the five addictions and we were talking a lot about survival in that episode. It’s interesting because for you, this idea of, “I need to be valuable,” I struggle with that a lot too. That’s been coming up a lot for me at the beginning of 2020 is this idea of, “How do I fit in?” Here’s specifically what I’ve been struggling with and this is interesting to go off of what Jason’s saying and maybe what you’re feeling. A lot of us feel similar things when the blessing of where we are as a society is being connected to each other through the internet. We can learn so much about human beings, but we can also simultaneously compare ourselves to them. We can find that confirmation bias that we’re better or worse than somebody. I have a tendency to mostly, unconsciously or unaware look for people that are better than me at something. I feel worse and then I was like, “I’m not good enough. Why should I even bother trying?” That’s part of my overall resistance.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on that and one thing that I’ve been struggling with emotionally is this idea of, “Do I have value? What is my value?” I think that we all have inherent value. I think that’s something that I know on some level, but there’s also this part of me that consciously might feel like I don’t have enough value. I’ll get the little things that I’ll interpret like that. For you, Letha, when you were talking about wanting to be more successful, in my head, I’m like, “Maybe she doesn’t have a lot of people coming to her class and that’s what she’s trying to say.” You told me you have a lot of people coming to class. I’m like, “I wonder what does she mean by that?” I think that on our own, sometimes we can be hard on ourselves because we interpret what’s going on in our lives is not good enough or not valuable enough.
To come back around to the survival element of it, there’s this natural human desire to want to be valuable. If you’re not valuable, then why should anybody continue to feed you or take care of you or give you shelter? There are limited resources. If you are not valuable, why do you deserve to have the resources? If we went back to a tribal mentality, you have to chip in, you have to do your side of the work. That’s a basic human concept that we all have to give value and it’s tricky because some people are very aware of how they give value. Some people are very self-centered and they somehow pretend that they’re giving value, but it’s more about themselves. We’re in this weird place socially where value is almost becoming this gray area.
What does it even mean to give value to people? How do people decide if they’re going to train with you versus another trainer? It becomes this competitive thing, “I have to show that I’m good enough for you to come to my class,” or “Jason has to show that you’re good enough to fill in the blank.” I have to say, “I’m good enough to fill in the blank. Is this show good enough to read, subscribe to, share with your friends?” It’s created for me and I think Jason’s expressed this as well this desire to constantly prove yourself or constantly show your value, “I’m worth it. I’m worthy of your attention. I’m worthy of your money.” It’s exhausting and it’s emotionally draining so I can relate a lot to what Jason’s saying, but I hear him saying it and I hear Letha talk about things. I’m like, “You are great and you are valuable.”
Isn’t that funny?
It’s the perception we have of ourselves that can be radically different from how other people perceive us. I find myself in this situation over different periods of my life where I’ve struggled a lot with mental illness, depression and suicidal ideation. We have talked about that on the show. When people that I love give a pep talk or you get a pep talk from someone whether it’s asked for or not. Often, I remember in periods of feeling low about myself that whether it was Whitney or my mom or my mentor, Michael, or the close people who know me, sharing their perspectives of, “How much do they love me? How much of the gift I am to the world?” or whatever beautiful, authentic ways that they framed it.
If I’m not feeling that way about myself, it doesn’t land. It’s almost as if there’s this energetic barrier that I’ve put up in my psyche or my being that can’t receive that as truth. It’s almost like there are moments where I will hear the words, but the words don’t penetrate with love the way that they could because I’m like, “There’s no way you could. How could you perceive me that way?” I’m mired in my position and my story about myself that it’s almost unbelievable that other people could perceive me otherwise. It’s almost as if my ego is anchored in, but my reality about myself is the ultimate reality and how could you perceive me? It is a masochistic part of the ego for myself that I’ve noticed.
Letha, that makes me wonder about your experience as a mother because I am fascinated by family lines. On this episode, we talked with Paige about family history and epigenetics. I’m interested in that. I’m interested in what we pass down from person to person and based on a lot of my personal experiences of wanting to heal my relationship with my mother and strengthens it and all of that. I reflected a lot about that. Whenever I think about my relationship with my mom, then I think about her relationship with her mom and all the things that got passed down to them. I wonder if I become a mother, what am I going to pass down to my children and what that relationship is going to be like? I’m unsure at this point in my life if I will have children, but I think about it a lot. Not only how do I feel towards them, but how do they feel towards me? That back and forth relationship must bring up many interesting emotions for you as a human being.
As far as genetics go, nothing rings truer than speaking the word of life, not even genetics. You speak the name into your child’s life from the minute they’re born. Let me give you some background. I had my children two months earlier. That’s normal for twins, but that was early.
You’re only pregnant for seven months.
They were 3 pounds and it was super tragic.
What’s the average weight?
Six to nine pounds.
Were they considered preemies?
They were preemies and they had to stay in the hospital and it was because twin A, Amelie, was stressed and she was going to die so they had to do an emergency C-section.
Was she stressed out in your body? Do they know why?
I was stressed out and I was trying to clear out a garage at seven months pregnant with twins. It probably wasn’t a wise choice.
That one incident you think is what caused you stress? Do you think it was a buildup of stress? It’s fascinating.
It possibly could have been a buildup, but that was the cherry on top. My water broke and they injected me with hormones and the babies wouldn’t stay. They wanted to stay inside, but they wouldn’t relax. That was a signal, “Get me out of here.” They did the emergency C-section and then they were okay, but one of them had a hard time breathing, so they had to stay in the NICU. This is such a weird way to start out my life with my children. I didn’t get to hold them. I didn’t get to hold my babies at all. I didn’t even get to touch them and they rushed them off to take care of them. The best thing I could do at that time with my husband was to give my children a name that matters. Amelie, which comes from the French film, Amelie.
That’s one of my favorite movies.
We had to name her after that movie. Amelie Agape, God’s hardworking love, and Anika Markella, God’s gracious warrior. I’d stay there, I’d go up to them and talk to them through the little plastic tube thing and touch them with gloves. It was weird. They had IVs in the veins in their forehead, it was, “They look like little aliens. They didn’t have much body fat on them. They looked strange. They’re my babies.” I loved them. I was sitting there and I’d say their names to them over and over again. I would take out the book, Horton Hears a Who! I would read to them over and over again. A person’s a person no matter how small. I would say things like, “You are going to love this world unconditionally. You’re going to be a warrior for the people around you.” I would speak all these words into their life and what do you know? They’re living up to it. When you speak these words of encouragement and I say words of life. When I speak these words of life into their life, their bodies have no other option other than to react to that. I’m giving them positive energy. That positive energy is resonating well with their little cells in their body and they’re becoming exactly what they were intended to be. That’s my theory.
It is as if you realized the power and the vibration and energetics of the words that we use to throwback to the beginning of this episode, that you can speak things into existence. That through the power of your word and having your intention and your heart aligned with the words that you choose, you are co-creating reality. You knew that’s what you were doing.
As a mother, you want your children to be okay no matter what. Since I couldn’t touch them, flesh to flesh, all I had left was my words so that’s what I gave them.
How old are they?
My nine-year-old twin girls. They are precious. They are the kindest human beings I’ve ever met in my life. I’m about to cry because I’m obsessed with them. I have a crush on them too. If you ever speak to them, they bring so much joy to people. One’s a little shyer than the other, but they have no shame in how they love people. Sometimes I want to give them boundaries, but if they see a homeless man and he looks like he might be cracked out and he looks like he’s all kinds of things, my daughter will go up to him and give him or her a dollar. I’m like, “You worked hard to make that money.” I have to sit back and I’m like, “I’m proud of you for doing that.” She went and picked up dog poop for 30 minutes. That’s a tough job for a little child.
In my backyard. I pay my children to do chores that are not their own chores. That way, they understand the value of making money.
You mentioned the dog and I want to circle back to that. Speaking of miraculous recoveries, it seems like that is the topic that we are riffing on. You’re no stranger to that in this beautiful canine, this beautiful companion that you adopted. Could you please tell us about that recovery story?If you're pouring love into everyone else, you eventually feel like your tank is empty. Click To Tweet
I was sitting at a friend’s house and she gets this phone call, “We have this seven-week-old puppy that’s been slashed and it needs a foster home.” I was like, “I’m renting this house from my parents and my father is not okay with me having animals at all at the house. There’s no way this can happen.” I called my dad and I was like, “Dad, I need this in my life. I need a nurture something back to health. I feel like that’s a missing link for me.” He was like, “You’re borrowing her or you’re fostering it. You’re not going to keep it.” That was a miracle in itself that he said yes. I’m grateful for that moment. I get him and he was slashed all the way around the neck. There might be three inches left of no slash. Someone tried to cut off his head to kill him.
Was it with a knife or a rope?
It was a knife. It was a clean cut. The story was that this woman comes in with this poor baby puppy in a towel. She had all her kids. She had five kids with her. She goes, “I don’t know what to do with this dog.” There’s blood all over the towel. It’s bleeding out. They take it and they repair it and they sew the puppy up. The vet says, “I’m not going to make a police report.” He does a lot of free repairs for the animals. He goes, “I’m not in it to get in the middle of police reports and paperwork. I want you to bring me the animals, I’ll fix them and then you can take them.” That was a sticky situation because you don’t want that ever to happen again. At the same time, you don’t want to lose that great option for free care for these animals. I took the puppy and I couldn’t believe it was disgusting. It was stitches and he was pussing all the time. I was like, “I don’t even know what to do with you. You poor thing.” He could barely walk. I’d syringe him with water and he could eat, but you had to help him. He was not doing well.
A couple of weeks later, unbelievably, he healed up. I can’t believe it. If you would’ve seen that gash, you wouldn’t believe me. That’s all it took and it sealed up. He’s a young puppy, so that helps. He was on antibiotics and he had good quality food. The whole team works together to get this puppy to be okay. I was blessed to be able to be the actual caretaker. I take him to the gym with me and everybody fell in love with him because he was gentle. I realized he was only gentle and kind and slow because he was on drugs. He wasn’t on drugs anymore and this dog is so hyper, but it’s okay because I got some great energy to match up with him. We’re running around, wrestling. He’s incredible.
Is he now your dog?
It’s called a foster fail.
Jason knows that well. What’s his name?
Kele, i’s Hawaiian for redeemed. You have to make the names worth something.
That reminds me of Jason. His foster fail was Figaro his cat.
I have a lot of foster failures.
He was out of the five you have of your foster fails because of all of them you were intentional about keeping, except for the times you wanted to return them.
I have that moment.
“Can I take you back to the storage? There is no storage to take you back to. You’ll stay.”
We talked about this in one episode. Maybe it was your backstory intro. We don’t need to tell the entire story, but the short one for anyone who hasn’t read that yet is that we found Figaro at this house or this apartment Jason was looking at. We found out that if we didn’t take the cat, he was going to be taken to the shelter or animal control was going to call. Jason instinctually thought this cat’s not going to live if I don’t take it. He took the cat home and on the way back, we were intentional about giving him a name. He meowed for the first time when we said his name out loud and that’s how he knew it was his name. It was his name and it gave some more power.
Another time I experienced that was when my parents’ dog had puppies, I took one of them, which is my dog, Eevie. His biological brother was sick. He wasn’t able to nurse for some reason or another. My parents were out of town. My sister was all by herself caring for these puppies. There were three of them and she was like, “Call me up.” She said, “I don’t think this puppy is going to make it. He’s not eating. The mother doesn’t want him.”
She had to start bottle feeding it and she was scared. She didn’t know what to do and my parents weren’t around. I said, “If you give him a name, it’s going to give him a much more likely chance of living.” I don’t even know what made me say that. Looking back on it, I was like, “How did I even know to say that to her?” Many years ago, I wasn’t as conscious as I am nowadays. I remember feeling compelled, “You have to give this dog a name.” We picked some random names that she didn’t like and I was like, “Keep that name until he recovers.” Since he had that name, it made her feel more attached to him and made her feel like he belonged and he had value. There was much power in that name.
Never name your food. People that collect farm animals because there’s that connection there.
Can you name your broccoli or no?
Is it okay to name broccoli or tofu or Beyond Burgers?
He’s Joe. He’s my pet broccoli.
If I was growing a basil plant and I gave the basil plant a name, I probably wouldn’t want to eat it.
This is fascinating to a degree. It is anthropomorphizing something, giving it a personality, a beingness and relating to that beingness through language. The power of this language. The thing that I’m curious about is all of these beautiful stories of healing and being faced with situations that can be painful. Whether it’s animal abuse or in the case of Figaro, who I adopted, he was literally thrown out of his house by his family and left on the streets. I struggle with it in particular with the climate change that we’re facing and the wildfires in Australia and a lot of natural disasters and the loss of life that’s happening. In addition to factory farming and all the other things, wars, I don’t need to go down the laundry list.
There are moments where I find it challenging to keep my faith in humanity. I’m wondering as both of you ladies are self-aware and working on yourselves and both have huge hearts. I don’t know if you feel this way, but maybe overwhelmed by the insurmountable amount of self-generated suffering on this planet and seeing what people do, whether it’s trying to kill a puppy. There are a million examples, but what do we do when we lose faith in humanity or maybe feel our hearts closing down like, “Why should I even do good in the world? What’s the point?” I feel that way sometimes it’s like, “What’s the point of even doing good? Look at all the suffering, look at all the pain.” I struggle with that sometimes.Compassion stems from grace. Click To Tweet
One of the tricks I love is I try not to remove humanity from the person. Reading people’s pain points is one of my specialties. I’m good at it. Depending on their pain point, I can tell what their trigger is. Depending on how much time you’re willing to give to that person, you can find out why they are the way they are. They’re hurting souls and they react to a certain trauma that happened back in the day, however old they were. It comes down to have to give grace no matter how much pain it triggers within yourself, you have to give grace to those people, which also comes in line with the love tank talk because you are limited on how much grace you can give people. If you’re working well with your love tank and you’re monitoring it well, you should have enough grace to give to the masses. Being coaches, we get a lot of pain from people and we absorb it. We have to find ways not to take it or maybe take it and find ways to get rid of it after. That’s what I do. I take their pain. You get that tingly feeling inside. When I was telling you my stories, you get that feeling like, “It hurts.” It hurts all the way inside your body, but then you release it and that was probably because I told you it was a happy ending. What if those people don’t give you a happy ending? How are you going to get rid of it?
You’re talking about deep empathy. When you hear a story or you are internalizing someone’s experience and you feel it in your own body, then the question is how does one release it?
In my personal opinion, the closure is that you have to understand that someone hurt them, hurting people, hurt people. You wouldn’t be upset with a five-year-old if they hurt you. That’s a five-year-old. They didn’t mean to, but they’re still in their five-year-old stage when that trauma happened.
There’s this movie on Netflix that I’ve been nervous to talk to Jason about because I feel emotional. Jason, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, it’s a mini-series called Don’t F**k with Cats.
I have no knowledge of this.
I want you to stay in no knowledge because it’s incredibly disturbing and it’s about a situation with a person that had harmed some cats and publicly documented it. It’s crazy. It’s also a phenomenal documentary. Have you heard of it?
I haven’t seen it. I’ve seen it advertised, so I’m going to have to watch that.
Our mutual friend, Allison, who runs The Food Heals Podcast, told me about it. I said, “Allison, I’m interested in this, but I don’t know if I can watch it because of the content.” She said, “It’s incredibly hard to watch but only at certain points.” It’s a great story. I won’t give any spoilers to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, including Jason, but there are parts of this that incredibly talk about this idea of there are moments where you think, “I can’t believe things like this go on in the world.” If this is something that has happened once, it’s happened a lot of times and it’s probably happening. There are many disturbing things that we don’t even know about that are happening to human beings and animals. The interesting thing about this documentary is it’s mostly about how they investigate. It’s an investigation story. It’s about finding out something bad that happened and then a bunch of people trying to figure out who this person is, where they are, and how they can stop it. In a way, it makes you feel good about humanity from that end. There are two sides to it. You can see the person that’s committing these horrific acts that I don’t know if someone like Jason could make it through a documentary like this. It’s beyond all comprehension for animal lovers.
On the other side, there’s part of you that’s like, “I want to know the reality of these things. Maybe I can get involved with helping and ultimately, it is also a story about why does somebody gets to that point where they’re willing to commit these horrific crimes? What makes a person that way?” There’s also the popular docu-series on Netflix called Making a Murderer and I think the whole point of that series is, “Who did it? Why did they do it? How did they get to this point? Are they the ones to blame?” These shows are interesting because they get into psychology, but at the same time, we don’t get a lot of answers because we are complicated as human beings. There are many factors. Sometimes we literally can’t relate to somebody. We have no ability to understand why they would make that decision because we don’t think that we would ever make that decision. It is tough in those times to have compassion. It’s important to your point, Letha, of we need to try to have compassion for people even if we can’t understand them because that’s part of our humanity.
If you need closure, which is how we get over things, you have to tell yourself, “Fill in the gaps with grace.” That’s a little cheat. Cover them with grace sauce.
What does that mean, “Cover them with grace?” How do you do that?
Compassion stems from grace. It’s more of a feeling that returns to you. “I’m content with being okay with this situation because it’s out of your control ultimately.” We can’t control people. We can’t stop something before it’s happening if we don’t know what’s happening. The only thing we can do is counteract it with the investigators. That was the counteraction move and I think you’re doing everything you can to counteract people’s cruel actions. You’re a coach of wellbeing and so are you. You have a show that’s teaching people about amazing things and you do outreaches, where you are going to go help homeless people. We’ve got to remind ourselves that we are what’s making this world a better place. Not so much why the world is not a good place, but it’s a matter of reminding yourself of that. That’s the tricky part too.
Maybe it’s an action that is motivated by a genuine desire to give life and give love is the antidote to despair. This was such a wonderful reminder to me of being such an empathetic person as I am, I get mired in despair quickly because I feel so much to the point of taking an action that is motivated by love and the desire to give support and give compassion. Whether it’s feeding someone, uplifting them, holding space, rescuing an animal or all the things that we all do. Perhaps, even the readers, some things that you do that you might even take for granted for yourself that you’re contributing to the world. It’s feeding a collective shift into a consciousness of love and away from lack and away from pain.
It’s almost like there’s this billboard that’s been going around LA, it’s been up and it’s been going for about years in Los Angeles that says, “None of us are well until all of us are well.” It was this idea of, “We have these individual personalities and egos, but we’re also part of a collective body of consciousness.” That is probably where empathy comes from. If I had to think about it, whether that’s God’s consciousness and oversoul, a unified field theory. There are many names for it, but whatever it is to you and your belief system. My resonances that are remembering that all of our actions are compounding and feeding something and even these small actions. That might seem insignificant to us whether it’s adopting and rehabbing a puppy or bringing two beautiful children, raising them as strong, beautiful and loving women. It’s the daily stuff we take for granted.
We’ve been going to the workout classes, as you were saying at the beginning is that a lot of times, we forget the compounding effect of consistent actions, which is funny because Jason and I teach this in one of our programs called The Consistency Code. We talk about and we did in the coaching session we were doing about how we need to focus less on perfection and more on consistency. Sometimes, you go to a workout class and you’re only able to do ten lifts of a certain weight or maybe you’re lifting a weight that doesn’t feel strong enough for you. If you were to continue to lift that weight over and over again, eventually you could go to the next size and your muscles are growing. I think we often are looking for instant results or instant proof of progress.
Sometimes it takes a while and sometimes we’re not noticing the changes that are happening. A lot of times, we don’t notice that changes are happening because we’re not keeping track of where we started. One of my biggest tips is to remind myself and other people that we benefit by journaling, daily gratitude, and looking back, reflecting on who we are and how far we’ve come. The same thing goes with this idea around compassion. We can focus on all the horrible things going on, but we can also focus on the amazing things. We can focus on things that didn’t go well or don’t have a good ending or we can focus on the happy ending. That’s part of the reason people love TV shows and movies or songs or anything that points to a happy ending.
We need that. Sometimes we need the escape because life does not always feel that way. The puppy that you were able to rescue, who knows how many dogs didn’t have that fortunate life? It’s easy and tempting sometimes to dwell in the sadness or dwell in these horrific stories. It’s also important not to turn our eyes away from them too. We’re in America and then on the other side of the world, Australia’s burning and we can feel helpless. We could also give up and say, “I can’t do anything.” Back to your point, Letha, we can make little actions. We can contribute in some way. If it doesn’t feel big enough, we have to remind ourselves that if everybody is taking small actions, it does become big enough because of the movement that happens. That’s why the community is powerful in coming together and getting support from one another in creating momentum as a group is key. That’s why we have these conversations to be able to sit down and talk to or listen to people talk and get different perspectives on life and be reminded of these things.
One thing, Letha, that I love about you is you are clearly an embodied woman who is leading with love and giving care and support to this world. Your inner child is very much alive. The moment that we connected, I was like, “Her inner child is alive.” The kinship, the bright and beautiful clothes you wear.
Jason wanted to talk about your clothes before you got here. I was like, “What are we going to talk about?”
Every time I see Letha, I was like, “I love her fashion because there’s brightness and a vibrance and your natural inner child.” Whether consciously or unconsciously, you’ve kept her alive. I commented on one of your Instagram stories. You started the day with a Mickey Mouse shirt and then you were in a Wolverine and I was like, “She went from Mickey Mouse to Wolverine in the same day.” I’m fascinated by people who choose to keep that childlike spirit alive. Is that something that you are conscious of to maintain and let live?
It was definitely dormant for a long time. I decided this is for another episode because this is a long story, but I had a personal trauma when I was six years old and I call this My Cave of Sorrows, a chapter in my book that I’m writing. All the in-between, I felt dark. I wore baggy clothes. I try to hide everything about me. I talked to God for a long time, “God, I need to heal over this trauma. Enlighten me.” Once I was healed from this particular trauma, I felt I vibrated so high and it was like, “I have to wear happy clothes. I have to eat happy food.” Everything was happy and there was genuine joy. I matched up to how I felt. That was wearing cartoons and whatever the heck I wanted to wear.
It’s amazing. I have so much admiration.
Jason, you dress like that too. You were wearing a Friends shirt. You’re wearing a jacket full of buttons. You wear all sorts of crazy outfits.
That’s the resonance that I’m saying. When we met and every time I see you, I’m like, “We come from the same cloth in the sense that in a world that can feel heavy with responsibility at times, to let our inner child, that curious, playful, experimental, joyful part of our psyche live and breathe is vital to living a life that is contented.” I wanted to acknowledge you and also point out how vibrant you are in that sense.
Thank you. I appreciate that.
When you walk in the room, it’s like, “Leave the CEO.” You’ve got a theme song.
Can you wrap up this episode by continuing that song a little bit longer? You could talk about the show notes. Can you rap the show notes?
If you want the show notes, it’s better than doing yoga with goats. I’ve always wanted to do goat yoga. That’s on the bucket list for 2020, goat yoga. For all of the resources here, go to your computer if it’s near, Wellevatr.com. It’s the bomb. He’s still quit his day job, says his mom. I tried rapping once on stage and it was good. I rapped about chakras one time. “I am too spiritual for my chakras. I am too spiritual for my chakras, especially the orange one now. I am too spiritual for my chakras. What you want, girl, chamomile tea. I know you do, baby. Come on, get with me.” That’s what every woman wants, chamomile tea by the fireplace, getting her feet rubbed by coconut oil.
In closing, I would like to say that part of living a joyful life is being willing to make an ass of yourself and not caring what other people think. Sometimes I will say things that things fly out of my mouth and I’ll see people’s reactions and I’m like, “I said the thing. I know. I’m nuts and I own it.” Being unfiltered and saying what’s on your mind, in your heart and not caring what people think is a key to living a joyful life.
If you want, check out her amazing fitness studio.
I have a bootcamp on site and I have a Patreon too.
What do you do in your Patreon?
I put all kinds of plant-based recipes, workouts, videos, and motivational quotes. It is so much fun.
It’s all good things in life.
You can always email us at [email protected] or find us on Instagram or Facebook direct message. We’re here for you. We’re grateful that you read our blog. We’d love to hear from you. By the way, you can let us know how you thought about this episode in the comments section or you can leave a review on iTunes. You can give us a shout out on social media or send us a message. Whatever form works for you, we would love to hear from you and we’ll be here for another episode coming soon.
Thanks, Letha Weapon.
Has anyone ever called you that?
Many times, especially the trainer.
That’s good. That should be your social media handle.
- Letha Coughlin
- Revive Kombucha
- Creating a Healthy Lifestyle with Paige Snyder – Previous episode
- Jason’s Story: Pursuing Music, Acting and Culinary – Previous episode
- Horton Hears a Who!
- Don’t F**k with Cats Documentary
- The Food Heals Podcast
- [email protected]
- Instagram – Wellevatr
- Facebook – Wellevatr
- iTunes – This Might Get Uncomfortable Podcast
About Letha Coughlin
Coach Letha Coughlin is a physical trainer and owner of Wellness Warriors Bootcamp Gym. She’s also a Chef exclusively to a major medical group in Southern California. It’s a free community program where she teaches people how to cook plant-based foods and explains the benefits and healing that come from culinary masterpieces.
She’s been invited to travel across seas to places like Nicaragua and speak with schools on Nutrition and Spirituality. A great inspiration of hers comes from motherhood; raising two active, cheerful and amazing twin girls.
They inspire her daily to give grace and they keep her grounded and focused.
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