Just when we think that things are going where they are supposed to, a sudden wave of emotions hit us that put us off track. There are times when the things you least expect start coming at you, and you feel like you’re never going to be the same way again. Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen dive deep into the highs and lows of life that we never see coming and let us into those moments of uncertainty in their lives. From thinking we’d get better when we’re older and then finding out we’re not, to realizing how different the plans of the universe are for us. Jason and Whitney share their take on the changes in our frame of mind as we grow up, realizing that the dreams and goals we once had do not really live up to where we are now. Though a bit gloomy, this episode actually gives you inspiration about finding your truth and knowing yourself even better as you go through life’s journey. All it takes is surrendering to wherever life and the universe take you.
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Surrendering To The Things We Never Know That Are Coming For Us
Jason and I have this friend who was struggling for a week or two. It felt concentrated within a few days. It felt like there was a lot of struggle happening and then before and after those few days, it felt challenging. This friend went on a trip to another country and it seems like she has been transformed in a way. It seems obvious to me that it was going to happen. I figured that if you’re going to go where she went, which is a pretty spiritual place, then I’m surprised that she was surprised at the outcome. It got me thinking about how a lot of the times we can get in our heads, especially when we’re feeling a lot of suffering, a lot of pain. Our friends from the outside can see that it’s going to pass and they have faith in this. I feel calm about it, but when it’s us, it feels like it might never end.
Pain has a weird component sometimes of amnesia where when we are in pain or suffering, there’s an interesting mental component of it where it feels like that is all there is and it will never end. The amnesia part to me when we’re in that state feels almost we’ve forgotten that the last time we felt this level of suffering or our world being ripped apart or confusion or anxiety or stress that that passed and it did pass and it will pass. It’s odd when we’re in the depth of that pain, we as humans have this tendency to forget that it’s going to pass. It consumes our world.
It was interesting with this specific friend though. I was surprised that she was struggling much because she struck me as somebody that had many tools and experiences and age. She’s older than both of us that sometimes we assume that people who have their lives together aren’t going to go through those tough times. They’ll be able to snap out of it quickly, but it’s not the case. People struggle in every part of their lives at some point. We have these highs and lows throughout our whole lives, which can feel may be frustrating. This is when people think, “What’s the point? I don’t want to live a long life. I’m always going to feel suffering. Suffering is never going to end.” I could see how you could spiral out and can think, “Wow.” I’ve had those thoughts. There have been those moments of I have no desire to end my life to that extreme. There are times where it’s not extreme as far as wanting to do harm myself for not believing that life matters.
Do you want to escape the pain and escape the moment? It’s not that you want to end yourself or you don’t want to end your life. Is it escapism?
I’ve had those thoughts but it’s also a thought when I’ve come out of that period of, “It’s going to happen again.” That’s what I mean.
I survive this but I know there will be another moment.
That’s an interesting part about getting older because I had this idea growing up. I don’t know if this is something that is perpetuated in our society, Jason, I have never talked about this as far as I can recall. It would be interesting to hear your take on this, also anybody else’s take. I wonder if other people have had the idea that when you get older, things are going to fall into place and it’s this idea of getting somewhere. That is perpetuated in our society and some major ways. I’m also talking about this on a subtle level. The major ways I have been thinking about this so much, it’s blowing my mind because I don’t think I’ve ever thought this. It’s a perfect example of how we never know where our minds are going to take us.
This is such a new thought process for me that it’s also a great example of how our minds evolve in surprising ways. This is helping me understand our friend better because maybe when I feel like my mind is shifting in such a radical way and maybe looking at things sometimes more pessimistically, that’s where for me too, I tend to be optimistic. I would still describe myself as an optimist, but sometimes my thoughts feel pessimistic in a way that I haven’t experienced much. That was part of my surprise with our friend because our friend tends to be optimistic. When she gets pessimistic, I think, “Whoa.”
You sound the alarm.
Somebody that you’re used to being in a certain frame of mind goes see another side. It is such a great reminder of us as human beings, how most of us go through those periods. Sometimes we don’t verbalize it. Coming back around, one thing that’s been coming up for me, and maybe it was because I had a birthday. The older we get, the birthdays seem to be these bigger milestones. This wasn’t even a big milestone birthday, but maybe I was in that state of, “Another year older officially.” I was reflecting on how growing up is this idea of, “I’m going to get to college. I’m going to graduate and then I’m going to get this career. Maybe I’ll reach this goal and I’ll have these experiences.” It was this finite idea.
When I think back to my goals and dreams as a kid, one of them was living in Los Angeles, and I live there now. Check off the box. Also, these dreams of making a movie or that whole film career that I was pursuing for a long time. I never thought about what was going to happen after those things. I didn’t make a movie in the big sense that I thought of as a kid. I’ve been involved with a lot of movies and television shows and all sorts of projects over time and in a smaller capacity. Even so, it’s almost like if you combine all those experiences, they would amount to that big experience I had in my head. It’s interesting to think back on the way that I was framing my life as a kid. It was like, “I’m going to make it one day.”When we’re in the depth of pain, we, as humans, have this tendency to forget that it’s going to pass. It consumes our world. Click To Tweet
The other big thing that I know a lot of people tend to think about as kids, especially as a woman, I’m sure Jason can chime in with the male perspective or his male perspective to be more precise. As a kid, I assumed that I would get married and have children. I’m at a point where I have no idea if that’s going to happen. As a kid, it was a given for me. It was what was going to happen. I’m in this place where I have never been married and I don’t have any children and I’m okay with that. It’s weird to me sometimes to think that that has not happened yet, and I have no idea if it’s going to. The older I get, the more that I think, “It’s possible. I may not have kids biologically. Who knows how long I’ll even be able to?” I’m fine with that. Who knows that feeling could fluctuate?
It’s interesting when you get to a certain age and you start thinking, “A lot of the things I assumed were going to happen in my life have not happened yet.” These are big things like marriage and children are big things. Our society perpetuates these ideas that they’re given for most people. Even finding a romantic partner that you’re going to be with long-term marriage or not, I feel like it’s a given in society. As human beings, it’s this subtle thing that plays out that we’re all striving for in a way. Anybody who’s not married or not in a committed relationship or says they don’t want kids or says that they don’t want to be in a relationship, they seem to be the odd ones.
There’s a certain amount of social ostracization that happens with those people. It’s like, “What do you mean you’re not with someone? You don’t want to be. What do you mean?” I don’t know that people intend to ostracize those with beliefs that are not in alignment with what society says you ought to do or ought to want. This increases a lot of pressure in people’s minds. Especially the time-bound mine of I’m a certain age and I haven’t checked off the boxes that society has told me I ought to check off by this time. Some people start to get into a frenzy and feel a lot of pressure to find someone to have those kids.
That’s part of what’s going on with our friend though. I didn’t even mean to get to that point when I brought her up. My initial point was to talk about how she has had this emotional breakthrough and now, she’s transformed in some way.
Her state is having transformed. I don’t know about her.
That was what I was bringing her up, but it has somehow led me to this idea of how we have no idea what’s going on in our lives. It’s making me feel emotional.
Why? Is it the uncertainty of it? Is it the beauty that we don’t know?
It’s not a sad emotion. I don’t feel sad about it. It’s a strong emotion. It’s almost like a simultaneous feeling of being more at the truth of life and less tied into what I thought I wanted. We’ve been talking a lot personally, Jason and I, about this. We’ve talked about it a bit in a few of the episodes. It ties into that idea of surrender, of letting go of the ways that you think life should be and surrendering to what is. That’s why that’s making me feel emotional is I’m recognizing I feel like that’s what’s going on here. A lot of times, we feel disappointment as we’ve said, and at least two other episodes. I feel like this keeps coming up for us. It’s about the expectation. That’s where a lot of the pain is. Things aren’t going as planned.
I bet you that’s part of the pain that our friend is experiencing. That’s something I can relate to as well. It’s also funny that we started this podcast of me saying how I was surprised. A lot of the times, seeing people go through things that we can relate to is helpful for us because it helps us step outside of ourselves. If I can see her as being a strong person that’s going through a tough time and me feeling a bit perplexed like, “How is she going through such a hard time? It seems like she’s got everything not figured out but, she seems like such a grounded person that has gone through much.” It’s a reminder that it’s not about all of our experiences and our knowledge. We still struggle, no matter what. There’s nothing wrong with that.
It’s usually temporary. Temporary is relative to things. My bigger point is that a lot of things have been coming up for me in the life that has forced me to surrender and forced me to say, “I have no idea what’s going to happen.” Even though that has felt painful at times, it also feels like such a gift. It’s nice when you’re forced to do something. If something is hard, we tend to resist it. When we’re forced to do it, if we don’t have a “choice,” then we have to deal with it and the resistance melts away. That’s what’s an interesting thing is, resistance is generally something that our brains are creating for ourselves.
We’re choosing to resist something. When things seem like they’re falling apart, it’s such a great gift because if we don’t have control, then in a way we don’t have resistance to it. The only resistance that we’re experiencing as the emotional resistance of it, of letting go. Maybe that’s where the pain is as well, is that we feel pain. Maybe the pain is the resistance. Maybe that’s why I felt emotional about it because it does feel painful. I feel some level of emotional pain about this a lot and yet, I also feel grateful for it because it’s forcing me to go in a direction I didn’t think I even wanted to go in.
There’s reality and then there are our thoughts about reality. To paraphrase you saying we hearken back to subjects we’ve talked about on the podcast. There’s such an interesting human drive to have certainty and to have safety and have security and try our best to predict what’s going to happen next. If I look back on where I thought I was going to be now, it’s interesting that you bring that up. I think about, “Okay, whatever. By this age or this stage of life, I thought that I would be more famous, more successful in my relationship, have more money and live in a big house with my wife, my life partner.” I had this vision and one of the reasons why for me when you remember when the TV series got canceled is I had this idea.
Don’t assume the readers know about that.
I had a TV series on the Cooking Channel and Food Network Canada for one season. It was called How to Live to 100. The excitement was, first of all, I had had that on my manifestation board for five years that I wanted a TV series. It was this incredible moment of, “Think about the craziest thing you want.” I want to host a TV series, not just a TV series. I want it to be the first primetime vegan cooking show in history. The feeling was overwhelming excitement and, “This happened, this crazy thing I put on my manifestation board that I had been asking for and praying for half a decade came.” It was a mind-blowing moment for me. It was overwhelming to a degree.
I also had an idea that this was going to be this pivotal moment in my life and career that was going to explode me into the mainstream. That I was going to be on the level of a Jamie Oliver or an Alton Brown or a Guy Fieri. My next step was taking over the Food Network and having all these book deals. We were in talks for having a whole line of products and cookware. I don’t even know if you knew that. There were these talks of we’re going to take the archetype and the system of how we build a celebrity chef and you’re going to be the next big thing. That was the direction it was heading.
Also, this was an interesting time because this is also when Jason and I got closer and eventually started dating. I remember you telling me about the TV show, it must’ve been September 2012.
We had already shot the pilot at that point.
It was still a secret.
I couldn’t talk about it.
You were able to tell me as a secret. I got to see Jason go through all of this, all the ups and downs. I even auditioned to be on the television show. I feel like I would have been good on that show.
You would have been a good Sunny.
I wish that had happened as a side note. It’s interesting. That’s another example of feeling like you’re meant for something but not getting it. I don’t have major regrets about it, but it does make me a little sad that I didn’t get that role. It would’ve been fun.
I forgot about that completely, by the way.
It was tough though because I always wondered if they didn’t cast me because A) I wasn’t a working actress but B) Because we were dating. There was prejudice around it. The whole role was about the chemistry between the two of us. I feel like I would have nailed it.
I wonder if the audition video was still out there somewhere.
I still have my audition. I haven’t watched it in a while, but it’s on one of my YouTube channels and it’s not public, no one goes looking for it unless we decide to make it public. It would be awkward to go back. This is such a side note, but we had this trend of me being awkward in any of his videos because I was still finding my place in your life. When I was dating you back then, I felt nervous around you and it’s funny. I don’t know if it was where I was in 2012 and 2013 or I hadn’t felt comfortable with you, but I felt nervous around you at times. Did you know that?
What do you mean not really? Did you know a little bit?
On camera and in certain public situations, but I didn’t know it was this generalized state for you. That’s fascinating to me.There's reality and then there are our thoughts about reality. Click To Tweet
I bring that up also to show how things evolved, 2012 versus 2019. You and I also had no idea what was in store for us. Did you think that we are going to stay friends at certain points?
To be honest, I didn’t think about that part too much.
The big point is we had no idea and I don’t even know if I did have thoughts of like, “We’re not going to talk.” We went through our breakups and all that stuff. It’s interesting. Our relationship evolved and unfolded in many ways I never could have predicted, even if I had tried to think about it. I was quite present to our dynamic the entire time.
What you’re saying about being able to predict things, we can’t. We try with everything. We try and figure out how somebody’s feeling or predict how someone’s going to feel. There are many examples, but the one that came up for me of we can’t accurately predict what’s going to happen is, I think about all the times when I chose to have an uncomfortable conversation with someone, a breakup conversation or you hurt me or resigning from a position or quitting a job. It’s uncomfortable moments and uncomfortable conversations we need to initiate. Part of the discomfort of the fear that I have felt in those moments was thinking or predicting or assuming that I knew how that other person was going to respond.
Often, if I think about it, there have been moments where the other person was upset or sad or heartbroken or whatever. There have also been as many moments where the person on the other end felt the same way or they were relieved or they were like, “I’ve been thinking the exact thing. Thank you for bringing that up.” This attempt to predict or assume what’s going to happen is a complete fallacy of existence. Yet, we are conditioned to want to try and do that. Back to the TV series. My idea and talking about assuming things, it was set up in this my mind. This was of my own volition, but I was also surrounded by the production company and Food Network and Cooking Channel and my agents.
This was 2012 to 2014. It was this collective pumping up of, “This is the first step and you’re going to get a product line. We’re going to bump you up to Food Network and you’re going to go to Pebble Beach Food and Wine,” all the things. This is how we create a celebrity chef. We’re going to put you in the machine and see what pops out. I drank the Kool-Aid too. Are you kidding me? As a chef to have a TV series? That’s insane. It’s still insane. I still think about, “I had a TV series.”
You have and it exists, it’s still airing. I would like to rewatch it after all these years too. You can get it on Amazon.
You can download it on iTunes too. We would appreciate your patronage and viewership. For me, it was this thing of it needs to be this thing. We want to build this juggernaut. We’re going to make you the first vegan celebrity chef, all that stuff. In your mind, you have this idea of how you think life is going to go. This was going to be how you would talk about, “I’ve made it my big break. I’ve made it, I did it. I climbed to the top of the mountain.” In my mind, that’s what I built it up to be. After the first season was in the early summer of 2014, this was spring, summer, right around there.
I thought it aired twice. You did the pilot and there was a gap. Is that right?
There is a pilot and there was a gap and then the first season came on. The first season came on in January of 2014. We shot the pilot in 2012. The pilot was on in January of 2013, then it was a whole year before season one went on air.
I was there for both of the parties. The premiere party at that, what was that cafe?
Mareka Café, that’s an organic bar. That was a cool place. The second part was Gardein Headquarters. It was an entire year between the pilot episode and the full first season being on.
I’m fairly certain that I was at your place when you got the call that the show was canceled.
No, you weren’t. I was alone.
I was there for some big moment. Was that the book? There was something that I remember distinctly. You came down the stairs from your office in Glendale and you were falling apart. You were devastated.
It might have been the one they pulled the first book deal. I know I was alone when the TV series got canceled.
Remind me of that.
Spoiler alert, the series got canceled after one season. The readers might not know.
Remind me, where was I when you got that news then?
I remember I was up in my office on the second floor.
During the day?
It was the day.
Are you sure I wasn’t there?
No, you weren’t. Trust me, I know this.
Did you tell me in person? When did you tell me?
I told you over the phone. I needed time to process it. It wasn’t one of those things where it was like, “I’m going to call and tell people.” I needed to integrate that. It was heartbreaking for two reasons. It was heartbreaking because when you invest years into manifesting something and years into creating something and then it’s halted or interrupted or in my mind taken away from you after all of that manifesting and intention, hours on set and creating, writing the episodes and rehearsing and learning the lines. It was a lot to go and it was massive and then, “Yeah, we’re done. We’re not doing it anymore.” It was as if someone had stuck a knife into me. It was a visceral physical pain.
Who told you and what did they say?
It wasn’t the head of the Cooking Channel. It wasn’t the head of Scripps. The person who greenlit the show and gave my TV contract, he quit the Cooking Channel and was replaced by someone else.
Was his name Michael?
That was the CEO of the Cooking Channel, it was Michael. She was a new person-ish. She wasn’t the original person who signed my deal. He left and she came in. She was a director of programming. She said, “Our viewers want burgers, brats and beer.”
Maybe that’s the name of the next show.
Maybe it is Burgers, Brats and Beer. Maybe it is.
The catch is that it’s all vegan.
We don’t call it vegan.
What if you come up with an idea for another project? Burgers, brats and beer. Those were her exact words you remember?
She said, “From a programming perspective and to keep our advertisers and the way our business model works, we know we need to keep giving people what they want.” My response was, and Scripps are huge, “As I hear you, and as one of the people who are dictating public taste in media, you have the power to recondition people and give them things that are going to shift their appetites.” In my mind, you keep feeding the monster, “We want burgers, we want barbecue, we want a beer and we want broths, other things that start with B.” You shift the narrative because you have the power to do it. To me, I understand from a business model, but it’s also a bit of a cop-out because of the power you have to put new programming on and shift the conversation.You can only make it far through a podcast before the dog starts to tick her fuss. Click To Tweet
It was a rating thing. It was like, “The ratings weren’t high enough.” “I get that.” The part that annoyed me was we’re giving people what they want. I’m like, “Yes, but you’re also influencing people to desire certain things.” My point is it was not only the heartbreak of me investing years into this thing that I dreamed about for so long. It was the expectation I had built up that this was going to be the turning point in my career in my life.
Did you already have your book deal at that point?
The book deal came after. Wasn’t it right around the same time?
It was all parallel.
You were negotiating the book deal while you still had the show, then you got to let go?
Yes. I’m going to name names and I don’t care.
Do you want to name names?
Not human names, names of companies. I’m not going to name human names. I’m going to name the names of companies. I had an interest and an offer extended to me, “We want to do this.”
Can you give me the timeline?
I said spring to early summer. This was April through June of 2014.
You were in this place of you have the show and you feel like the top of the world.
The show was on the air. The book proposal was done. The book proposal was badass.
Whose idea was the book proposal?
Me. I wrote it.
You wanted to write that you already had the show. The show is done and you’re waiting to see if it gets renewed.
The interest was massive because I’ve got the series on the air. My agent at the time was pitching the book and everyone’s like, “He’s got a series.” People were salivating, the publishers were salivating because I had a series on the air.
The agent shopping the book around to all these different publishers and you have the show and everything feels great. You got this offer from one publisher, correct?
It was an interest heading toward an offer.
While you still had the show or had the show been canceled when you had that offer?
It was the initial conversation with the publisher that happened. The show got canceled and then the follow-up conversation with my manager at the time told the publisher his show got canceled. They pulled the offer.
I don’t remember it happening. Didn’t you turn down an offer?
I did. It wasn’t the very first. This was the largest cookbook publisher in the world. This was the one that you do a cookbook with them and it’s like, “Darn.”
Maybe this was my memory of you. I have this distinct memory of you coming down the stairs. It was during the day. I remember the sun, the way it was hitting the light and you were a wreck.
It probably was that deal. What it felt like was, “We want the hot new star on the Cooking Channel. You don’t have the series anymore, we don’t want to do a book with you.” That time was brutal.
I don’t know if it had started yet, but our relationship was dissolving too.
It was that whole period, the spring and early summer of 2014, that’s when I wanted to kill myself. I’ve told this story many times, the podcast readers, I was like, “I’m going to kill myself. I can’t deal with this.” It was the pain and confusion of our romantic relationship ending and going through a transition. It was the first book deal getting revoked. It was the series getting canceled. It was like, “I wanted to die. I didn’t want to be here anymore.”
How do you feel now, looking back? I can tell that you’re remembering the feelings, but what does it evoke in you?
I don’t feel sadness around it. I’m not doing sense memory where I’m back in that place.
You’re not trying to, but sometimes when we think about painful periods, they hurt still.
It reminds me of the original point of what we’re saying is we don’t know what wants to be. We don’t know what’s going to happen and the expectation I had built up around many things. This is where the train is heading. This is how it’s going. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know what life wants for us, but more than that, I’ve had many low points and I’ve had a lot of depression. Around this time, I went to a naturopathic doctor and a psychologist and I was diagnosed with clinical depression.
That was the same year 2014?
Yeah. I don’t want to make this podcast about that because we could do a separate episode on that. That’s such a deep topic of my diagnosis and what I’ve been going through with depression.
I’m going to say for the record, for both of us as creators, but also our readers. Something that I’m feeling while doing this episode is that you and I have it in our heads that we have to separate topics from episode to episode. The whole point of this is a conversation. We can repeat ourselves. We can talk about things over and over again and you don’t have to save something that you want to say for another episode.
The more accurate thing is I don’t know what I want to go down that rabbit hole at this moment of like, “Let’s talk about Jason’s depression.” To be honest, I’m not feeling like extrapolating that conversation at this moment. I don’t feel like it.
That’s why I permit you in case you want to talk.
Thank you, I appreciate that.
Do you want to go back to that? Do you want to finish the story? You get denied from this big publisher and your show deal is canceled simultaneously.
One season on the air, they’re like, “We’re not doing a second season and we’re canceling the show.” The book deal gets pulled and then it was a scrambling of, “Who else do we pitch to? What other publishers do we pitch to?” I had a certain amount of money in mind that I wanted for the advance based on other people in our industry who had graciously told me how much they made. I’m like, “I’m the crap, I at least deserve that much money.” Plus, it was also this, “Universe, God, throw me a bone here. My book deal revoked and had the show canceled. I need a big payday. Give me something.” The book deal that came through after the first one got revoked, it was not as much money as I wanted and I knew they could offer me more money. It was one of those things where it’s like, “Come on.” Was it ego? Sure. Was it me wanting to have some silver lining and all of those experiences? Absolutely. I passed on that deal and I eventually chose to go with Hay House. That was a wonderful experience. Hay House was a great publisher, but it was such a tumultuous time. Through that process, my manager at the time who you met because we were walking through the neighborhood here. A couple of months ago, we were walking around Whitney’s neighborhood and I ran into my old manager who I hadn’t seen in five years, ran into him randomly. It was a trip.
He lives over here, is that right?
He lives in your neighborhood. After that whole thing went down with the series and the book deal, he’s like, “I’m not going to manage you anymore.” His thing was like, “I’m going to focus on my sports clients exclusively.” I’m like, “That’s fine.” It was the feeling of having your butt kicked brutally by life and you’re trying to get up and you get kicked in the face. It was this like, “What is the name of God is happening?” I’ve gone through rough times. We all have, but that was an interesting period where it felt like I could not get back on my feet. It was insane.There's nothing wrong with however your life is turning out. Click To Tweet
This is bringing up for me this odd fear because I’m sitting here going, the story is powerful. I feel like many people have these moments in their lives where everything falls apart at once. In my head, I’m thinking, “I don’t know if I’ve had that. Does that mean that it’s inevitable that there’s going to be a part of my life where everything falls apart in a way that it never has before?” I’m bringing that up because there’s no way to know the answer to it. It is interesting to observe the fear of is that going to happen? Is that imminent or has it not happened because I didn’t put everything on the line?
My point being is that I reflect on that story is it comes back to the first point that I made at the beginning of this, which is when you’re sharing all of this, even though I was intimately in your life at that time, I don’t even remember you being that upset. It’s fascinating to me because my perception of you was that you had a few times. I’m recalling that time coming down the stairs and I remember that time at yoga that you and I have shared a few times. There are a couple of times in my head, maybe more than a couple, where you were struggling. As you’re sharing the story, it sounds like that struggle was going on for quite a long time. I wasn’t fully aware of it. It’s amazing how a lot of people can go through rough times in their lives and other people have no idea.
There was a sense of shame around it. That’s why I didn’t let on what was happening.
The other thing when I was saying that I wonder if this will happen to me one day and it’s scary to think about it. Who wants to go through a time in their life where everything falls apart? I probably have gone through it in small ways. I’m not saying I haven’t struggled. It’s the way you’re describing it, these are a lot of big things falling apart. Part of me also thinks, maybe it was because you are doing big things that a lot of people don’t do. You are fortunate to have a TV show period. You were fortunate to get a book deal and have a manager and all of that stuff happening. That is fortune right there. Sometimes that’s the other side of it. Coming back to what I started talking about at the beginning is how I’ve had a lot of big dreams for myself and I’m satisfied with my life.
Even though, as I was saying earlier, it hasn’t gone exactly I thought it was going to, but I haven’t had my television show. Even to have it for a season is amazing. It’s incredible to have the book. I’ve written a couple of books and self-published them. I’m working on my third, who knows what’s going to happen with that one? It’s a lot of work and it’s commitment. I remember how much work you put into that book and now you’re considering doing another one. These are all incredible things. Part of my point is not to make it personal to Jason, but it’s all about how we frame things. It’s a lot of the things that are upsetting to us are things other people would say, “I know this hurts, but it’s amazing that you even got to experience that.” It’s similar to love in that sense. It’s amazing to have love. It’s amazing to have a connection with somebody. That’s something I’ve been thinking about much and going back to the way that I started this episode, which was, how as a kid I assumed that I was going to meet this man that I would marry and everything was perfect.
You get older and you realize, relationships are hard and nothing’s perfect. Do you remember this, Jason? Our family lives were different to be fair. My parents are still together and I grew up in a small town, quiet. I like to compare it to the Gilmore Girls. I don’t if you’ve ever watched that show, but at least you have an idea. It was this quaint town where everybody knew each other. It was small. I grew up in that idealistic American type of environment with a good family unit. I didn’t want for nothing For me, it was simple for me to think, “I’m going to get married and I’m going to have all this stuff too like my parents. I’m going to have a nice house and the kids and it’s going to be this way.” Even as my ideas about being a woman evolved and I became independent and career-focused, I still for many years assumed it was only a matter of time until I meet someone and get married and have kids with them.
In the last few years or more than that, maybe last ten years, as I’ve gone through different relationships and all of that and gotten older, more and more, I started wondering, “Maybe I want to have kids, but I’ll probably still get married.” It was this thought of, “It’s not a given. I have no idea if I’m going to get married and I have no idea if I do get married that I’ll stay married and it’s going to be this perfect relationship.” It’s probably because I’m getting older, I’m having more experiences but I’m also watching other people my age in relationships and realizing how hard it was. This is probably why I was crying earlier. It’s almost my view on life has been shattered in both a beautiful in a heartbreaking way. I’m recognizing that a lot of these assumptions I made about what life was like are not necessarily true. It’s a bit painful to have those realizations. Is that part of what you were feeling too back then? In your head, it was only a matter of time until you became famous, in a matter of time until you were getting everything that you wanted?
It was a given. It was not even a question. This is going to catapult me into superstardom. People are going to know me all over the world. I’m going to have a big mansion in the Venice Canals. I’m going to cap my McLaren. I’m going to do all the things.Part of letting go is recognizing that it’s okay if you don't have it all figured out because nobody does. Click To Tweet
Which you still want. This is interesting, I think about this both. When it comes to careers and relationships, we tend to be our big focuses as human beings. Specifically, a lot of the things that we do revolve around the relationships, loving relationships we have and our careers. That’s centered around the things that we’re teaching and the things that we’re talking about. The episodes, those are the big chunks in people’s lives. The American dream is that you get married and you have a nice house and you have kids and you have a career that you like or you make a lot of money. Maybe liking a career thing is not always something that people go after, but they’re going after money and whatever version of success.
That’s what a lot of people are aspiring to. Something that comes up much for Jason and I and will continue to come up in the podcast is getting older and recognizing, “If I don’t have all of those things, does that make me a failure?” You and I realize, of course, it doesn’t make us a failure. It’s just that we’re not falling into the status quo. It gets to this place of, there’s nothing wrong with however your life is turning out. That’s life. This is also one of the reasons that you and I feel annoyed when people say things like, “Do this and you’ll get that.” This idea of hustle like, “You’ve got to hustle. You’ve got to grind if you want your dream career.” A more realistic and spiritual perspective is we have no clue if we’re going to be successful.
Jason and I love to manifest and visualize. We believe in that stuff, but coming back to what we’ve talked about, is that this attachment to it. That’s probably where I’m having some changes in my thought processes. It’s assuming I’m going to get all of those things and it’s a matter of time. If I keep focusing on it, it’s going to happen. That’s all the expectations. Like what you were saying, you were expecting that you’re going to have this career, of course, it was heartbreaking. What happened after that for you? Your expectations shattered. Did you still have an expectation it was going to happen again in a different form or do you still? Did that shatter you much that you have no idea and your whole life concept has shifted?
I realized something in the aftermath of that whole collapse. I realized while doing this healthy cooking show about longevity and vibrancy and joyfulness and comedy and all the things that the show was, I wasn’t taking the best care of myself. I wasn’t sleeping enough. I wasn’t eating the best. I wasn’t working out as much. I was sacrificing myself to a message of, “You should take care of yourself except I’m not going to.” The first thing that came through was I was neglecting my self-care to a degree that probably added to the propensity to feel depressed. It was a perfect storm. I had laid the groundwork by certain things that I was neglecting.
Can you tell us more? I’m also trying to remember what you were doing.
I was a busting butt. It was that whole thing. It was, shoot the series and write the episodes and write the proposal for the book. I’ve got sponsors on YouTube and I’m hustling on social media. It was the hard work and the grind, but it was a sacrifice of my self-care to a degree.
While all the good things were happening, you’re saying that you were neglecting yourself self-care. Is that your point?
Yes. It was falling into this idea of, “If I grind hard enough and work hard enough and do the things, then the payday will come and it will make it all worth it.” The fame and the payday will come and it will be all worth it. The fame and the payday didn’t come despite the hustle. Here’s the thing, and I 100% agree with you, Whitney. I have an issue with the pedantic messages that a lot of these coaches and mindset people and millionaire mentors, “Stay and grind, hustle and hard work.” If hard work was the key, my grandpa would have been a billionaire. My grandpa was the hardest working MOFO I ever met in my life. He would have been a billionaire. Stop with the pedantic messaging of, “You’ve got to work hard.” Effort and focus are required.
There’s another element of this too though. Some people might say, “Maybe your grandpa wasn’t putting the effort into the right things.” You and I both have experimented so much with “the right things.” The strategies and the books, all of that. I’ve been obsessed with that stuff for years. Those are the things I feel like I need to teach people. As we’ve evolved, we recognize you. The formula does not work for everybody. Some people say, “Maybe you’re not putting enough effort into it because if you were, then you would get these results.” I have not experienced that, so how can I even teach that? I’ve been reflecting on my coaching. For so long, I was trying to teach people the steps. I started to feel out of alignment with teaching that way.
One thing that Jason and I are both discovering through the process of creating this Wellevatr, which initially was all about helping wellness entrepreneurs. That was our whole aim with this brand. It’s evolved into something much more. I realized that something common for my students over the years that I’ve been coaching is that you can give somebody a formula, but I don’t think that’s put up people need, they think that they want that. I’m a great example of this. I’ve been given plenty of formulas of checklists of, “Do this, then you’ll get that.” It’s rare that A) I do all of those steps and B) I get the results that are promised.
I wonder if part of that reason is that you first have to set the foundation of working through a lot of these things that we talk about in these episodes. Letting go of those expectations. Many things need to happen before and during those strategies. You also simultaneously have to recognize that you may do those strategies and be committed to them and follow every step along the way. Maybe you’ve done all the self-work too. You still might not get the results that you wanted or maybe you’ll get something better. The whole point is that you have no idea how things are going to evolve.
There are no guarantees. That is the expectation of I put the time in, I buy the right course, I read the right book, I follow this person’s formula, I hustle, I grind. The whole rigmarole of self-development. There are no guarantees. You’re not guaranteed anything.
Do you think that’s part of the reason that you were feeling upset is that you felt like you earned it and it’s your time and you followed all the steps and you did everything and it still didn’t work?
It’s almost as if you were mourning again, the expectation but it was as if mentally, you felt like a failure because of the way that you’ve been programmed. Of course, you’re not a failure because those things didn’t work out. At the time, you were convinced that you were a failure and/or you were feeling frustrated because you didn’t know how else to get what you wanted.
It was probably both, but it was this idea that if I do all of these things and put the time in and put the hard work in and the focus in and put my heart into it and do my absolute best, success is not guaranteed. It’s owed to me. There was a sense of entitlement. That’s an even more insidious layer to this. Mentally, I put my time in years in this industry, got my agent, got my manager and got the TV deal. All the things are lined up. Life owes me this. I deserve this. It was almost this energy of like, “I’m getting what’s coming to me. I’m getting mine.”
If you had that mentality during it, how did you feel after? I brought up some emotions that you’ve expressed, the idea of being a failure and frustrated. If you felt like, “I’m owned this, I deserve this. Of course, I have this, it’s my time. It was only a matter of time until I got this.” Was that illusion shattered for you and all this happened?
100% it was.
Did you feel like a loss of self?
Here’s what I felt. The whole reason I wanted the fame and the money and the recognition in the first place was because I had been walking through life with this idea that the deepest trauma that I could experience was the fractured relationship with my father growing up. I didn’t get the love, approval, and attention from him that I desperately wanted because he wasn’t present, that if I were to have it with money and fame and celebrity and influence that would compensate for what I didn’t get as a child from him. The psychotherapy I had to go into was to excavate why this mental devastation was deep for me. It wasn’t about what it was on the surface. It was that the chasing of the money, the chasing of fame, a lot of what this culture dictates as we deify it. It’s good and it’s right to chase fame and chase money and want to be famous and won all those things.The old way has to die to give birth to the new. Click To Tweet
I was doing it as a substitute for what I wanted, which was to be loved and approved and accepted exactly for who I was from my dad. This was the idea that if I get enough from the public, that’ll be the bomb. That will fill the hole. That will fill the gap. If I may, I’m not going to say this for every celebrity out there because I can’t comment on their lives. Part of the conundrum and part of the reason that we see people addicted or celebrities committing suicide, because I want to make a parallel here very quickly. At that time in 2014 when I was going through my depression, Robin Williams killed himself after his show with Sarah Michelle Gellar that they had that got canceled after one season. Here’s one of my life heroes who also had his show canceled after one season, killed himself.
Are you sure it got canceled and then he killed himself?
I believe that’s correct.
They were still filming when he killed himself.
I don’t know for sure, but my point is that parallel was interesting because we have this idea that again, money, fame, celebrity influence is going to be the medicine to fill up the parts of ourselves that are empty or sad or deprived. It’s even more devastating to get those things and then realize that the hole isn’t filled up. In a way, it was a blessing and a gift for me to have it happen the way it happened. Had it happened the opposite and I got the money and the fame and the celebrity chef and all the crazy stuff that I wanted. To realize on the other side of the mansion and the Ferrari and the McLaren and the women, whatever all the crazy stuff I wanted, the emptiness and the void and the deep love was still not there. That is a level of pain and it’s rampant. That’s why some celebrities take their own lives, get addicted to drugs because they think all this stuff society told them would fill them up doesn’t and it’s devastating.
That’s true with relationships as well. This is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about because I’m fairly certain that I spent most of my life thinking, “I had to find the right man and the right relationship.” First, I started off wanting to be in a relationship when I was younger. I was like, “When am I going to get a boyfriend?” My first serious boyfriend, within about a month into it, I remember feeling this sadness I hadn’t quite felt before. This was my senior year of college. I’d had a few guys that felt serious, but they were different. This was the first time where I fell in love. It was when I fell in love with “real” for the first time and it was this experience of another person caring about me and being authentic with me. It felt like what I thought love was supposed to feel like. I also remember about a month in, something felt off to me, and this could be an even longer conversation, but we dated for two years.
I know we broke up at one point and got back together a month or two months later. That feeling never quite went away. I thought, “That wasn’t the right relationship.” I’ve gone and had several other relationships and a lot of them, I’ve had that feeling at some point. At this moment, I kept thinking, “If it doesn’t feel great all the time, then it must not be the right relationship.” Similar to what you’re saying about careers, it’s not that you get what you want and whatever you think success is that you’re suddenly going to feel complete and whole, and this is it. It’s almost this idea, at least in my head, that a lot of the pain in life would go away when you got what she wanted. Especially with relationships, because careers, all of us recognize they’re giving us money and they may be giving us personal satisfaction, but relationships seem to be the golden whatever.
All the brass ring, the golden nugget.
Everyone’s chasing after. In my head, I’m generalizing here. Maybe other people don’t have this experience. Have you had that experience, Jason, of feeling like, “I’m going to meet the right woman and get married and I’m going to feel happier complete?”
Yeah, I have to a degree, not obsessively so but I have.
This is new territory for me on a thought process. It occurred to me fairly. Where I started to think that I have been looking for “the one.” I need to meet the right person and have the right relationship and things will feel right and you’ll know all of these different concepts. I have friends who say these things to me. It’s not I’m reading some old relationship advice. A lot of my friends have said these things to me. There are moments where I think, “I haven’t met the right person yet.” There’s another side of me that thinks, “What does that even mean?” I have these thoughts of, “Maybe I didn’t put in the work in the right way in those relationships.” It’s incredibly confusing. My point is that since I’ve never been married, I don’t know what marriage feels like, but I wonder if I’m putting all of these fantastical ideas into what marriage is going to be like, “What’s it going to be like to meet that person and then have them propose or whoever decides to propose and then we get married?” It’s not suddenly my life is happy all of a sudden. There’s a check on the list that I’ve created for myself. It’s similar to what you’re describing here with your career. You can check off that box and still feel empty. Probably why I was crying earlier because it was this realization that life is different than I’ve thought it was for most of my life.
Your illusions are being shattered. When our illusions are being shattered in life, there is a natural mourning process because our frame on reality is no longer valid. We’re lost in the wilderness for a little bit, potentially because we don’t have a new frame of reality yet we’re constructing. We realize that the old way has to die to give birth to the new, but we’re in this interesting purgatory if you will or limbo of, “I let go of this old belief system, this viewpoint of life that is no longer working, that isn’t even true. What is true? What is valid? What is real to me?” That can be an exhilarating and also terrifying place to be because the ground beneath your feet feels like it dropped out. To a degree, not your life is over but like, “This way I was seeing life, it’s not for me anymore.”
Are you experiencing that with your life too or are you referencing back to when you felt this?
Back then. I feel like in small increments as I learn and I grow and I experience life, there are small deaths taking place all the time of like, “This thing, I believed. This thing I thought was true. This thing, I assumed. This thing I expected. I get to let that go. That’s not true anymore.” It’s a little death all the time. That’s good because life doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If there’s space in life, it’s going to be filled by something. Energy wants to move. Energy wants to flow through us. We release this thing that we believe is no longer true anymore, no longer serves us. Space will be filled by something. As we’re in this wilderness part where we’re exploring what is true, what’s truer or than that for us. It’s an interesting place to be in life because we’re an infinite possibility then. We talk about the beginner’s mind or we’ve heard Steve Jobs references Deepak Chopra, Luciano Pavarotti, these magnanimous figures, the Buddha. Many versions of this remain childlike be in the child’s mind. There’s, to a degree, wisdom in that and my version of that is I don’t know what I’m doing.
Nobody does. There’s a cultural illusion that anybody knows what they’re doing.
We’re faking it. The reality is we’re all taking one step and one foot in front of the other as we go through life. This idea that I know what’s happening and I know what’s going on, the more I live with is like, “I don’t know what is happening.” Stage one, I’m born. The middle stage, “What is all of this? I don’t know what I’m doing.” The final stage, I die. Maybe I repeat it, I don’t know. Honestly, some people are like, “Yes, you do. You know.” I’m like, “Genuinely, you’re not understanding what I’m saying from a high spiritual perspective, I don’t know.” I’m here to learn and be shown and flow. This is sweet. I want to end up by saying like, “I’m okay with saying, I don’t know.” I acknowledged that in each moment, life is evolving and changing. What I know may not be true and probably won’t be true in the future.
Part of the letting go is recognizing that’s okay. It’s okay if you don’t have it all figured out because nobody does. Some people are connected to their ego. The ego wants you to think you have it all figured out. You start to act as if, and it becomes less painful the more you let go. That’s why surrendering is such a big thing for me. This episode went in a direction I had never predicted. How about you?Life doesn't exist in a vacuum. If there's space, it's going to be filled by something. Click To Tweet
No clue where I was going to go. I’m glad it went to where we want though.
We had a conversation before like, “Let’s talk about resistance.” I thought, “Let’s start talking about our friend and then who knows?” I felt like it’s such an amazing example of going into this flow state and being authentic and transparent with the things that we’re experiencing and encouraging each of you to do the same thing. As usual, we will invite you to connect with us. You can go to our website, Wellevatr.com. You can find us on social media. We would love to hear from you in whichever context you feel most comfortable, whether it’s a public message on social media or a private email to us or especially a review. We’d love your perspectives on the podcast as a whole and that helps other people discover us as well. We aim to connect with you and bring you into this conversation and hear from you. We look forward to that. Until the next time, we’re wishing you all the best with your journey and how life is unfolding.
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