MGU 109 | Setting Boundaries

 

There is often a paradox towards how we act around boundaries in this day and age. On the one hand, we’re told to set boundaries. On the other, we are challenged to break them. Walking between the fine line between the two, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen discuss boundaries and how we are supposed to act around them. They talk about our people-pleasing ability—the desire to be perfect and not step on anybody’s toes—as well as our tendency to overextend ourselves, saying ‘yes’ to the point of burnout. Going further, they then share their observations about challenging communication, feeling stressed and exhausted, and avoiding a mental breakdown. Join Jason and Whitney for more in this conversation as they also take us into the world of content creators and impart to us the value of boundaries, not only for ourselves but for others, making fewer assumptions along the way and learning to take care of each other.

Listen to the podcast here:


 

The Art Of Setting Boundaries And Making Less Assumptions

Sometimes when I’m uncomfortable, I laugh. I get a little smirk on my face or I’ll start laughing. That in itself is uncomfortable because if I’m around somebody and they see that expression on my face, maybe they don’t take it seriously. I got this from my mom because she does the same thing. On that note, it is interesting when you do things that your parents do and you wonder, “Is it nature versus nurture?” Do you do anything physical when you get uncomfortable, Jason?

I don’t know about uncomfortable. The thing that I adopted is maybe when I’m annoyed or exasperated with something, you know what I’m talking about. How would you characterize that body language? There’s a thing that I do that you always laugh about. You’re like, “That’s the thing you do.”

The facial expression? You purse your lips together.

I frown slightly?

Yes.

It’s almost an annoyance and disapproval combined. I know that that’s something that maybe I adopted from my mom perhaps in her body language, but in terms of being uncomfortable, one thing that I’ve noticed that I do sometimes, this is funny. I’ve never even put this together. When I’m uncomfortable speaking to someone or interacting with someone, I’ll slightly take on elements of their speech patterns or their accent to put myself more at ease. I feel so uncomfortable interacting with them that maybe I’ll adopt some of their linguistics or speech pattern or their way speaking to put us both on the same playing field or put myself at ease a little bit. I’ve noticed that.

That reminds me of one of our mutual friends. I won’t say her name because I don’t want to call her out that specifically, but you’ll probably know who I’m talking about. She’ll change her accent to a different accent when she’s talking to certain people. Do you know who I’m talking about?

I don’t know who you’re talking about.

I feel like you and I discussed this one time. I remember feeling so taken aback by it and it was subtle. I was like, “Is she doing what that she’s doing?” I feel we were on a call with somebody or we were in some scenario together. I remember being so confused because her voice completely changed. It happens too abruptly that I didn’t know If I was imagining it.

How extreme was it? Is it to the point like say if she was talking to a Latin person, she would all of a sudden change from whatever her standard American accent is into like, “When we meet at the restaurant, you’re going to make a right at Esperanza and then you’re going to go down and they have the best tortas in Los Angeles?” If you take it to that level where she completely starts to change the pronunciation of words.

A little bit. I don’t know if it’s extreme, but you do that, Jason. You’re not trying to do it around certain people with their pronunciations. It seems to me you are trying to be respectful by pronouncing things in the mother tongue, like when I say Pura Vita.

Nothing others do is because of you. What other people say are a projection of their own reality and their own dream. Click To Tweet

When I pronounce things in the mother tongue, which is a great expression, by the way, it phonetically sounds better to my ears. You gave that example of one of our favorite restaurants and pizzerias. There’s nothing wrong with this, but Pura Vita, it’s very frontal and nasal and American sounding. There’s a lilt to it and a lightness in a different way. You’re right on with that. I’m trying to be respectful, but I also, in a lot of instances, prefer the way things are pronounced as close to the mother tongue as possible. I prefer the way it feels in my body and the way it sounds.

I prefer it that way too, but I struggle in general to pronounce things correctly, even American words. I don’t have the talent or the desire, I suppose, to go that extra mile that you do, but I always appreciate it. It stands out when you do that, Jason, because you’ll switch from your American accent into whatever the accent is or the pronunciation is for a different language. It’s jarring at first, but then cool. I know that your girlfriend, Laura, likes to make fun of you for that. Do you get self-conscious when somebody makes fun of you for it?

No, because I have to make fun of myself for it. It’s something where I don’t feel my intention is to appropriate anything or make fun or try and hijack the mother tongue or the culturally appropriate way of pronouncing something. That’s another thing. What’s appropriate or inappropriate in this? There’s nothing wrong with pronouncing it. How far are you going to take it? As an example, being where I’m from Detroit, that’s a French word. I joke sometimes and people are like, “Where are you from originally?” I’m like, “Detroit.” They’re like, “Huh?” “Detroit.” Technically the way to pronounce that word in the original mother tongue is Detroit, but I’m not going to walk around being like, “I’m from Detroit.” I do pick and choose. I’m blatantly inconsistent with this. When Laura makes fun of me or you pointed out, or I make fun of myself, to me, I see it as a personal quirk almost. If people get annoyed by it, they get annoyed by it.

This has nothing to do with what I was going to bring up. Although I started this conversation because I found myself starting to feel uncomfortable and I could see my mouth start to make my uncomfortable face. I felt myself wanting to laugh before I started on this subject matter. I noticed that it was because it feels a little uncomfortable. This subject matter feels uncomfortable to me because emotions that we suppress to be culturally appropriate. Maybe that’s not the right term here. I feel like sometimes we don’t say what we feel because A) We don’t want to make people uncomfortable or B) It doesn’t feel appropriate to express these emotions, or maybe it feels unprofessional to talk about some of these things.

I’m fascinated when something is stigmatized like, “We don’t talk about those things. We don’t talk about those things in this family. We don’t talk about those things in this workplace. We don’t talk about these things as friends.” Even saying that out loud evokes a triggered emotion for me of, “What do you mean that you don’t talk about it?” It’s like that forbidden thing. I’m sure for you, Jason, as a rebel, that it triggers you too because maybe you immediately want to do what you’re told you shouldn’t do. In general, I tend to reject anything that’s done because of tradition or ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’ mentality. If the reader hasn’t known me talk about this before with my tendency being a questioner, that’s part of my personality trait. I will question anything before doing it.

If somebody says to me, “That’s the way things are done,” I’m super resistant to that. Mentally, it’s not an acceptable answer to me because that makes zero context for why I should do something. It’s not a good answer for me. If you say to me, “We don’t do that,” I’m immediately going to ask why. Maybe if they’re still no understanding of the reason why, I’m not going to do it because I don’t operate that way. I need to have a good reason for doing something or not doing something.

Can you give me some specific examples? The emotional charge I feel on this part of the conversation already from you makes me curious growing up specifically. I know that you weren’t raised necessarily in a strict religious context or anything like that, but I’m curious in your origin story of what things did your parents, relatives, your teachers or instructors say to you in that context you’re describing. As a child versus now as a grown adult woman, what were your reactions or responses as a child to those kinds of things? Specifically, what do you remember being said in this context?

My intention wasn’t to get into any of that, but to appease you, Jason, I’ll share it.

No, we’ve got to go there.

I don’t think we have to go there, but because my intention was not to talk about that. My intention was to bring up another subject matter.

I would like to know though. I’m curious.

No, I understand. This is the thing. When I learned what my tendency was as a questioner, I don’t know if it’s necessarily nature versus nurture. I don’t know if I developed my question or tendency because of how I was raised. I don’t know if that’s part of what you’re asking. I don’t necessarily have that many examples because it’s constant. This is the thing. It’s like asking, “What did you rebel against?” You’re constantly rebelling. That’s your tendency. It’s not like a couple of defining moments in your life necessarily unless it is for you, Jason. For me, I’m constantly questioning everything unless I don’t have a solid answer to give. The main thing I would say about my childhood versus where I am now is that I am developing the courage to question without feeling like I have to suppress myself or do something just because somebody told me to do it.

MGU 109 | Setting Boundaries

Setting Boundaries: Some people act out of appeasing others before themselves. Some want to make themselves happy before they make others happy.

 

That is healing in a lot of ways, because as kids, it’s very easy for adults or any type of parental figure, anyone who’s perceived as in charge as, “You should do this because I told you to,” or “You should do this.” Even at a workplace, I remember in certain jobs and part of the reason I don’t feel I thrive in environments like that is I need context for why I’m doing something. If someone says, “That’s the way things are done.” I know the feeling more than I know the specific examples, Jason. I feel in so many jobs I was in, I would hear that. In the context of what I want to talk about, it’s more like this subject matter is something people don’t typically talk about. It’s perceived as maybe unprofessional to discuss some of these things.

To dive right into it, I feel like this was something that Jason and I were discussing offline. I got thrown off by your question, to be honest, Jason. I need to pause to reframe it. It’s when you’re in an improv class and somebody doesn’t go with what you’re saying and suddenly, “I’m not going in the direction I intended to go.” Now I have to find my way back to it. I’m so completely thrown off right now. I need a moment. Even in that case, Jason, I felt you were pressuring me to talk about something that I didn’t intend on talking about. I went with it and then it threw me off my game in terms of what I’m trying to move us into.

Now, we’re both uncomfortable then. I feel a little bit uncomfortable with the idea of pressuring you. It was more curiosity, I suppose, that came across as pressure. I didn’t know that that would necessarily derail your train of thought to that degree, but I get it. It’s when you’re in the flow and whether it’s on stage or music or whatever, I feel like when you’re on a specific creative track and it’s flowing. You get a phone call or you get an email or some interruption, it’s difficult to jump on the exact same track you were on. I totally get where you’re coming from. It’s challenging. Sometimes when you’re in a space of flow like the podcast, we dive in without knowing what the specific direction is, it can be hard to get back to it like we’re experiencing this moment. I apologize. It wasn’t my intention to derail you.

No, that’s fine. I’m just reflecting on a lot of different things that come up in it. It’s when you’re not expecting to think about something and then it comes up and you’re like, “Now I have something else to consider in this moment.” I am able to get back into that mindset that I had for this episode, which was about setting boundaries with people. It’s simultaneously creating boundaries and breaking boundaries at the same time. That’s such an important life skill to have and a lot of people struggle with this because we do live in a time and/or society that encourages us to be perfect. Part of that desire to be perfect is also that desire to not step on anybody’s toes and to please people.

That’s a huge struggle that a lot of us have, which is people-pleasing. This idea of, “I want to do what’s right for me, but I also don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings along the way.” I want to make sure that people are happy. Part of that does come back to our tendency. The other tendencies, which is the obliger. I’m the questioner, Jason is the rebel, there’s the obliger. There’s one other that I can’t remember. I don’t know if you experienced this much, Jason, but a lot of the tendencies, aside from the rebel, is about making sure that other people are okay. Sometimes some people act out of appeasing other people before themselves. Some want to make themselves happy before they make others happy. It’s putting on the oxygen mask on yourself first. A rebel is an interesting case where I don’t know if it’s ever about making yourself or somebody else happy. I often get confused about the rebel because what are you being driven by if it’s not about yourself or others?

Do you want me to comment on that or was it a rhetorical question?

Definitely comment on it.

The work that we have been talking about in terms of the Enneagram that me diving into that wholeheartedly, the context of that episode has merged in my mind with this tendency of being a rebel and here’s what I mean. What I’ve read about the Enneagram Four is that there is a real somehow deep desire or drive to be unique and special. A lot of the depression or emotional pitfalls that an Enneagram can experience as an Enneagram Four is feeling we’re not unique, feeling we’re not special, even though inside, we know we’re different.

I’m different than you. I’m not like you. I have special gifts. I have a higher level of talent. I see the world differently. I say that as an overlap to rebelliousness because even at a young age, I remember specifically surveying as maybe 5, 6, 7 years old, looking at the adult relationships in my family as an example. My aunts, my uncles, my grandma, grandpa, my mom, and my dad. I was like, “No one’s happy.” I had an intuitive sense that was like, “They’re in this marriage, they’re in this relationship, but they’re not happy.” I didn’t think about it in this way like, “I’m going to rebel against a conventional container of marriage or monogamy,” or anything like that.

It was an example of me observing things that a lot of people were doing in society, looking at the result and saying, “I don’t want that. That’s fucked up.” People are doing that. They’re not happy. They’re not joyful. They’re not fulfilled. That extended to also some of my early musings about vegetarianism and veganism. Everyone’s eating meat, artificial foods, processed foods, sugar and fried foods. They’re all unhealthy. They’re all overweight. They’re all unhappy. Fuck that. For me, it’s almost like my desire for uniqueness, my desire to stand out, my desire to be an avatar of some kind is linked to rebelliousness in the sense that I look at what other people are doing. I see it doesn’t work well. I’m like, “I’m going to do the completely different thing.” Not the opposite necessarily, but I’m going to do something completely different than the way they’re doing it. That drives me and the Enneagram has played into that and that has helped me understand why I’ve been so rebellious my entire life.

Our Enneagram episode hasn’t come out yet. We encourage you, the reader, to subscribe so that you will be alerted when it comes out. It’s an interesting conversation that got us both thinking a lot about this. I’d be curious to see how the Enneagram might play into the four tendencies or is there overlap? Is a certain tendency, typically a certain type of Enneagram or is it like astrology where it depends on so many different factors? You’re not a certain sign. It depends on where their entire chart is and all these different factors that might make up who you are. It is interesting to think about what drives us and what we resist and what we are interested in.

It's easy to say yes without checking in on ourselves. Click To Tweet

That’s the fascinating thing about boundaries for me and communication in general. This is a big part of this topic. We can so easily miscommunicate with people in general, but when it comes to setting our boundaries, it is easy to either not feel comfortable communicating boundaries or not feel successful in communicating boundaries. I had this experience myself as I’ve been developing my new program Beyond Measure. I wasn’t intending on talking about this, but it’s something that hits close to home. I’ve been testing out my new program, Beyond Measure with a small group of people. I tend to reach out to a few new people and ask them for feedback on it. I’ve been doing a lot of live calls, and it’s been such a vulnerable process because Beyond Measure as a program is one of the closest to home projects I’ve ever worked on before.

I’ve been facing all sorts of resistance, fear and confusion. Different types of emotions have come up for me along the development process of this new program and venture that I’m on. There are times where it feels great and I’m feeling very rewarded and confident with it. Other times where I feel so fearful, vulnerable and sensitive. One of the things that I struggle a lot with is that vulnerability of asking somebody to give me feedback on something, and it’s a simultaneous thing of, “What are they going to say? Are they saying things that are truthful or are they saying it to be nice?” In the process of inviting people in on this program, I’ve been trying to figure out how to communicate effectively where I give them the space to say yes or no to things and to communicate that with confidence.

It’s been interesting because going back to an episode we did about ghosting. There have been a few people that have ghosted and it’s funny how even in a professional or personal setting, ghosting can affect you the same way that it would if you were being ghosted romantically. We talked about this in a different episode. We have a resource section for every single episode. You can go back and click on things that we referenced like previous episodes and future episodes. I was reflecting on that conversation that we had about ghosting because I’ve had a couple of instances with that where I would invite people to test out this new program that I’m doing.

They would say yes, then somebody completely ghosted. She said that she was going to be on this call that I did, and she never showed up and she never apologized. At least until this point, there has not been communication. I thought, “This is interesting. Why did she ghost? Why didn’t she communicate to me that she wasn’t going to be there? Why did she say yes when maybe she wanted to say no?” It also was a great reminder to try not to take things personally and try not to make assumptions, which as I was processing this in the Beyond Measure group that I had, one of the wonderful members there who will remain anonymous because it’s meant to be a safe space. He brought up this book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. In that book, one of the big lessons is not to take things personally.

It’s probably the most challenging one too, I would say. That is usually the most challenging one of the four agreements.

Is one of the other agreements not to make assumptions as well or is that tied into another agreement?

It’s been probably since 2007 when I read that book. To be perfectly honest and transparent, I don’t remember what they are. I read it once and then was like, “Onto the Eckhart Tolle book. Thanks.” 2007 was that period of time where I was like, “The Power of Now, The Four Agreements.”

It is assumption. The four agreements are, one, to be impeccable with your word. Two, don’t take anything personally. Three, don’t make assumptions. Four, always do your best, which is great advice. The book sounds simple, but it’s a beautiful read if you haven’t read it yet or you haven’t reread it like Jason, as a reminder of these things. This is a good lesson for me because I had a tendency to take things personally and think like, “Did this person ‘ghost me’ because of something I did or said?” Basically, is it because of me? In The Four Agreements, they say nothing others do is because of you. What other people say is a projection of their own reality and their own dream. Taking things personally adds to needless suffering.

The next step was like, “Why did this person not show up to the call?” I went through all these scenarios in my head. Even calling it ghosting is making an assumption there. If I can work on not making an assumption and asking questions, it’s more helpful. I reached out to that person. I haven’t heard back yet, but I said, “I didn’t hear from you. You said that you were going to be there. Is everything okay?” I’m asking that question instead of sitting in a place of making assumptions. Part of the reason I bring this up is because I wondered if this person decided to “ghost,” at least temporarily, simply because they didn’t know how to create their own boundaries.

They didn’t know how to communicate no is their answer. I wonder how many people do things because they feel pressure, they feel obligated, or they want to please somebody. They do something that they don’t want to do or they do something that they don’t feel comfortable doing. This ties back to the bigger point that I wanted to explore with you, Jason, and we have been exploring offline. Personally and professionally, we can often say yes to too many things and we can get so burnt out and overwhelmed that we end up not doing a good job professionally or not pleasing anybody. We end up letting down people because we’re overextended or we get to a place where we’re so burned out, we don’t even have the energy to communicate anymore. Maybe that lets people down.

It serves us more to create boundaries, but it’s not always easy to create boundaries because we have to learn how to communicate them. We have to figure out what they are. Much can be miscommunicated while creating boundaries because a lot of people take things personally or they make assumptions. Coming back to this idea of The Four Agreements, the first one is to be impeccable with your word and have integrity. It’s tough when you say you’re going to do something. If you don’t do it, you’re out of integrity. What if you didn’t do it because you weren’t honoring your boundary. You end in this rock and a hard place. We’re like, “I intended to be in integrity with my word. I am saying what I mean here. I’m trying to be impeccable, but I didn’t realize until after I said yes to something that I didn’t want to do it or I wasn’t able to do it.” That’s tricky.

MGU 109 | Setting Boundaries

Setting Boundaries: It serves us more to create boundaries, but it’s not always easy to create boundaries because we have to learn how to communicate them.

 

It’s tricky because what we’re getting down to now is self-awareness. We’re talking about getting so clear about our yeses and our noes and are not right nows. This is something that I still struggle with in moments, Whitney. When I get an email or direct message or receive a correspondence with someone, who’s like, “Can you help promote this thing on your Instagram or your social media?” There’s no real exchange involved. They’re not offering money or a promotional exchange. This is a pretty common thing in our line of work where people are asking for us to leverage our reputation, platforms, or connections to promote something for someone else. It’s a pretty common ask.

Sometimes I will say yes out of some innate desire to be of service. I realize this was a conversation you and I had offline that a lot of brands and people are struggling right now. They’re struggling financially. They’re struggling emotionally. I feel sometimes I’ve gone against my intuition of saying my gut is like, “Just relax. Take care of yourself. Don’t do this.” My brain sometimes will be like, “They’re struggling. You should help out and then you should start.” I need to get better at examining being clear about communicating what my boundaries are and coming from that place of intuition versus saying yes to things out of some sense of obligation or duty or service. This is tough though.

It’s tough because this is a very nuanced thing we’re talking about because there’s an overarching spiritual principle. One of many that guides my life right now, which is sometimes it is important to choose the good over the pleasurable. Sometimes the good might not feel good. It’s like, “I’ve got to get up and rescue this cat or rescue this dog. I agreed to feed the homeless.” A few examples of there’s something in my body that’s like I don’t feel doing it sometimes, even on the show. I don’t feel recording, but there’s a choice of the good over the pleasurable. Would a part of me rather be on the couch right now, watching basketball, eating marshmallow fluff, NadaMoo! ice cream? Fuck, yes but we’re here and we’re doing it. It’s a nuanced thing we’re talking about of boundaries, self-awareness, communicating our needs and desires clearly, our sense of service and duty. Are we a people pleaser? This is a thick sandwich to dissect right now that we’re talking about.

Going back to what I was talking about at the beginning, which is tradition or this is the way things are done. Part of that for me is that pressure to do something that you don’t want to do, but you do it because everybody else is doing it or you do it because you feel you owe somebody something. It’s like what you were saying, Jason, you do it because you want to be supportive. It’s easy to say yes without checking in on ourselves.

It’s reactionary almost. It’s unconscious many times.

We don’t want to let people down. Traditionally, whether it’s part of your culture or your family or the way that your work environment is structured, to your point, Jason, we do things even when we don’t want to do them. That is an important part of life, but yet that can also build resentment. That can lead to burnout when you overextend yourself and you’re saying yes to everything. It is very tricky to figure out your boundaries and tune into your intuition partially because of that mindset of you do it even if you don’t want to. That’s dangerous in a lot of ways. To your point, Jason, sometimes it is appropriate to do things that you don’t want to do. We’ve talked about this before.

Whether it’s our show or working out. I generally don’t want to do a fitness class and I do it anyways, and then I’m glad I did it, but every single time I go to work out, I am in that same mentality over and over again. I know that about myself. The same thing can be said with certain work things. I’ve found myself with social media saying yes to promoting a product or something if I’m not getting paid for it. It’s a very different thing energetically than when you’re get getting paid for something. It’s tricky as a content creator, whether it’s a podcast or an Instagram post or a YouTube video or TikTok or whatever else. There’s so much resistance that I face. To go off on that tangent for a little bit, I thought COVID would help me in this way. I remember at the beginning of the year 2020, before I even knew about COVID. I can’t remember exactly when I learned about COVID, I feel it was in February. I was aware of it before it became bad in the US and it started in December or maybe a little bit earlier.

I remember specifically in January feeling, for lack of a better term, off. I felt like, “If only I had some time to myself, a time to pause. If only I had a cushion of money where it didn’t have to do any work and I could do whatever I wanted. If only I can basically give myself permission.” COVID happened. Part of me was like, “This is so great because basically the whole world has been given permission to take care of themselves and to stay home and maybe not to work as much.” For the first few months of COVID, it felt like you had this almost excuse. Most of us, not all of us, of course. There are the essential workers who aren’t in that position. There were some people who may be in that position and not happy with it. This certainly isn’t to make an assumption.

For those of us like Jason and I who already worked from home, got to make our own hours, and already our jobs were less traditional in that sense where I wouldn’t say that my line of work was that affected by COVID. It was in some subtle ways, but a lot of what I do is more in my control. On some levels, it felt amazing because it was like the whole world suddenly understands. The whole world is basically okay with you staying home and not doing anything. All these articles would come out. These social media posts about how we should all allow ourselves to rest and we all need to prioritize our health. I was like, “This is amazing. Finally, I can do that without feeling an outsider or like I’m being judged for it.” Before COVID hit, I felt, “It’s the beginning of a new year. You’ve got to hustle. You have a whole year to start new.” In January especially, there’s all this pressure to go and take advantage of it and start life off on the right foot.

That can feel intense. In January, I do experience some tension, depression, resistance, and resentment. You’re coming out of the holidays and suddenly you’re jumping from New Year’s Eve until January 1st. There’s all this cultural expectation that you’re going to start working out and taking great care of your body and all these resolutions. January can feel intense. Oftentimes I’m spending January recovering from the holidays, reflecting and trying to think about setting my year up for success. It was super interesting for me, and probably a lot of people that can relate to this, to go from that into February and March of, “This year is not going how we intended.” I felt COVID in a lot of ways could be used as an excuse like, “I can stay home and be introverted. I don’t have to socialize. I don’t have to go to events. I don’t have to fulfill these obligations anymore.”

Here’s my big point. Remembering how I felt in January 2020 before COVID, I was wishing for those circumstances. When COVID hit, I got in some ways what I asked for, even though it’s certainly not in the way that I asked for it. I never would have wished for a global pandemic. Not to take lightly all of the people that have suffered health-wise from this, but I’m in a position where I have permission to rest more. I’m in a position where people understand uncertainty more. All of these emotions I was struggling with, I suddenly no longer felt alone. Yet, it wasn’t enough.

One of the best things we can do is take care of ourselves and take care of each other. Click To Tweet

What do you mean?

For those of us in our position, Jason, where we got a stimulus check, it was “free money” in some ways. A lot of people going out on unemployment, it’s like you’re getting permission to do less. You’re getting permission to go to less events, which can burn you out. You have a reason to explain why your work is not done on time and you’re late with things. I remember one month, it was also during Black Lives Matter. When Black Lives Matter started in this phase of it, if you’d call it that, after George Floyd’s death. At the beginning of June 2020, here we are. We started to feel maybe COVID was under control, even though it turned out it wasn’t.

There was this sense of summer is about to start and maybe things are shifting again. The heaviness that came along with George Floyd’s death and Breonna Taylor and all of these people that are with the police brutality and the cultural shift and focus. Now our focus is placed on that movement. Every day, I was spending and thinking about Black Lives Matter and seeing what I could do as an ally. I was putting so much mental energy into that. It seemed nothing else mattered. I remember one of the companies I was working with at the time said like, “There’s a lot going on in this world. If you don’t get this done, it’s okay.” I was like, “This is so awesome. I’m getting permission to focus on something else other than work.”

The time passed and COVID is still here, Black Lives Matter is still going on, but everything feels like we’re in a little bit more of a flow and the intensity has become a little bit more chill. Everything’s not the same. Things aren’t better. They’re not fixed, but yet it almost feels like the world’s trying to go back to normal and I’m finding myself going, “I don’t feel it was enough time for me to recover from the burnout.” In fact, the burnout is still there. The burnout is there in another way now because I’m mentally drained from COVID. I’m mentally drained from being involved as much as I know how to and have given my energy to Black Lives Matter. It’s a long-winded way to say it’s still there.

Even after all of that time that I thought maybe it would ease. That’s a long share on that sense. Jason, I’m curious what your experience has been like. It’s weird because it hasn’t been exactly a pause. It’s not I’ve had a break. At times it has felt we were given a break during COVID and given an excuse and I threw Black Lives Matter in there. That’s certainly not a break by any means, but because so much attention was being placed on Black Lives Matter, it felt like it was okay to pause everything else. It was a break from some things like, “We need to pay attention to something else that’s important.” We can put a pause on this. My point is I thought maybe a pause was what I needed. I thought a pause would help me, but I don’t think that much has changed. I’m curious for you, Jason, because you’re on unemployment right now. Does unemployment ease the pressure of not having to constantly search for work? When you’re on unemployment, you’re expected to be looking for work the entire time, but in a way, do you feel like because so many people are on unemployment, you don’t feel as alone so it doesn’t feel there’s a stigma there around it?

I don’t know if that’s the case, as much as it is. There’s a dualistic thing happening for me where there is a sense of urgency simply because at the time of this recording, the $600 bonus money from The CARES Act went away. There’s not as much of a financial cushion at all. That’s $2,400 a month less than what I was receiving before. It’s not nearly as big of a financial cushion as it was before. Adding to that was, I suppose, this idea of I need to have some money and some financial resources set aside because who knows how this is going to play out. I think the uncertainty of this entire situation, the massive uncertainty, and again, we’ve characterized this as uncertainty has always been an intrinsic aspect of our reality here.

We’ve played a lot of illusion games of, “I have security in my job, I have security in my relationship and I have security with my health.” If this time has shown us anything, it’s that’s all an illusion. There is no real emotional security that we would love to pretend we have. It’s not there. You look at the divorce rate during COVID, if you look at the unemployment rate during COVID. “I have a secure job. I have a secure marriage.” It’s not to plant the seed of doubt in the reader’s mind, whoever’s reading this episode, but there’s no such thing as certainty. To roll back to your question, Whitney, my first time in my life being on unemployment with the $600 being rolled back, it’s not as much of a financial cushion.

I do feel a greater sense of urgency. I’ve been talking with people over the course of this. I had a huge commercial audition that didn’t come through. I had 2 or 3 high-level positions that I was thinking about working for some different organizations that didn’t come through. On the one hand, it’s not like I haven’t been active in looking for new gigs or new employment. The sense of urgency wasn’t there because of that extra $600, because of the stimulus check or because of the other things. Now I do feel a higher sense of urgency and it’s creating different avenues of making income. For example, out of the blue, I got hired to be a guitar teacher for twelve weeks. Someone hired me to be their guitar teacher. That came completely out of the blue. An acquaintance called me up. He was like, “I’ve been wanting to take guitar lessons, but rather than learning on YouTube, I’d rather throw some bones your way and have you create a curriculum.” He’s a beginner. He does not know anything. I’m like, “Yes. I can teach you in twelve weeks how to play songs on the guitar and have a basic understanding of this instrument.” In my summary, Whitney, what I’m realizing is I do feel a greater sense of urgency because I still do.

I want to buy a house. I’m damn near 100% clear that I want to leave Los Angeles. That requires money. It requires money to relocate. It requires money to have a new chapter of your life and leave the old chapter behind, but could I’ve predicted someone would hire me for twelve weeks to be their guitar teacher? Hell, no. On the one hand, I feel a sense of urgency, but I also want to be open to new avenues of income and creativity that I didn’t ask for. We go back to the manifestation conversation. It’s not I threw up on my vision board or was in my meditations or prayers going, “Please help me find a guitar client. Please help me find a new student.” I had no thoughts at all about that, but here it came through the pipeline.

That’s a huge blessing. I’m trying to stay open to things that I’m not even considering. I feel with what I’ve been focusing on project-wise, it’s been the same thing that I’ve been doing for the last 15 to 20 years. It’s been a gig as a chef or doing social media promo for different brands, or doing marketing consulting or copywriting or freelance writing. Maybe what I’ve been doing for the past many years of my career, maybe that is not applicable anymore. Maybe there are other things that are even greater or more suited for me that I’m not even aware of. That’s a long-winded way of saying I’m trying to stay open. I’m trying to be ardent and adamant about putting myself out there for work. I also am exhausted emotionally and I’m exhausted physically.

I feel like the subconscious stress and anxiety weighs on me. There are days I got plenty of sleep, I’ve been eating great. I woke up the day we’re recording this show, I was like, “Why am I so tired?” I have to be mindful of not beating myself up. That’s my old paradigm of like, “You shouldn’t be this tired. You’ve been taking care of yourself. You’re getting plenty of sleep. Something must be wrong with you. You’re fucking lazy.” That old negative critic is like, “You shouldn’t be tired right now.” Maybe it’s okay to be tired because of everything that’s been going on and how stressful and anxiety-ridden and some of us facing that uncertainty. We’re learning new spiritual or mental coping mechanisms to deal with that level of uncertainty.

I’ve mentioned this in a previous episode that even before I went to college and got my degree, I was very clear on what the next step was. Maybe you can relate to this too or the reader can relate like, “I’ve got my plan. I’m going to do this. Next, I’m going to go and get this job. I’m going to ask for a pay raise and I’m going to find my partner.” It’s almost like what Taylor Proctor was talking about in that episode about finding happiness we had with her. She talked a lot about this roadmap. I feel to some degree, it’s not all gone to plan, but I’ve had some roadmap for two decades.

MGU 109 | Setting Boundaries

Setting Boundaries: The police have been conditioned not to view citizens as human beings. They’re trained to almost view them as the enemy, as you would if you were a soldier in a war.

 

During this COVID period, people are like, “What are you going to do next?” I’m like, “I don’t fucking know what I’m going to do next. I’m trying to fucking survive. I’m trying to not break down mentally right now. I’m trying not to succumb to depression and suicidal ideation and lose my mind.” If I get through the day with some semblance of sanity and wholeness, to me, that’s a win. I was talking to my mom. I’m like, “If we mentally and physically, and in all ways, survive 2020 or however long this shit is going to go on, to me, that’s a win.” People, you should be thinking about thriving. That’s great, but literally most days, all I can think about is survival.

That’s important to bring up, Jason, because part of the reason you and I get so fired up about this is because when someone puts pressure on you during this time or when you feel there’s pressure on you, but people don’t know the reality of what you’re dealing with, that can be so aggravating. I know part of what got me wanting to talk about this was an experience I had where I felt like somebody was pressuring me to complete a project that I was doing for free. Without giving away the details of what that was, I agreed to do something, as we do many times. For the reader, Jason and I being on social media, unfortunately we’re in an industry where it’s very commonplace to ask people like us to do a lot of free work because other people don’t perceive it as work.

To be specific about it, we’re often given products in exchange for promotion. I had this moment where I got so irritated. Part of it was irritation with myself. Going back to the part of the point of this conversation, which is about setting boundaries, I agreed to this. It’s not like I was forced into it. Somebody said like, “Do you want to try this thing?” I said yes to it, but it’s tough being in this industry as a content creator because a lot of brands are people that have products or services that they want you to try, they don’t fully recognize how much work it takes and how much mental energy it takes. This is a huge part of this.

Let’s say somebody gives me food to try, which is commonplace. Pretty much every single day I get an email or a direct message. The same is true for Jason and most content creators. If you’re on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, Facebook, and all these different platforms. If you have an audience, if you’ve been creating good content, people will find you and they’ll reach out to you and say, “Do you want to try this?” There’s this unspoken rule in our industry that if you’re a content creator, you should be grateful if somebody wants to send you a $15 product in exchange for you posting. A huge issue that we have in this industry is that because so many of us have done it, myself included, for many years, it’s like, “That’s what people do. They’re going to give us free advertising.”

Here’s the thing. When I started to break down, and I’ve done this many times in my career. This is a new thing, but I started to break down. Hypothetically somebody sends you something and it costs $15 to buy it. They give it to you for free. Number one, I’m grateful. I love trying new things. It’s a huge part of my passion and what I’ve built part of my career on. It’s trying new foods or trying new body care products or new clothes, etc., all this stuff. We get most of that for free. That’s awesome. If you’re not a content creator, it probably sounds the best career ever. It’s awesome in a lot of ways. I’m not diminishing it at all. When you break it down, that $15 product costs the brand probably half that.

Let’s say it’s $5 to $7 to make it of their costs. Granted they ship it to you and there are a lot of other factors, but it’s not that expensive, to my point. The value of a content creator is basically in place of or in addition to marketing or it’s a part of marketing. Whereas the ideas, they give you this product and you recommend it to however many thousands of people that follow you online. If a small percentage of those people buy it and you get at least 1 or 2 people to buy your product, it’s been worth your time as a producer of that product. Let’s say in my case, if I promote it on my Instagram where there are over 17,000 people following me, chances are a few people will buy that product and that company has made some money.

It’s some good exchange but when you think about it, I’m basically being “compensated” by getting a free product that won’t pay my bills. If that product is only worth $15 that I could have spent my own money. If I break down not only all the work that I’m doing in that moment to promote the product, but my entire experience leading up to that, all the time it took to create the trust that I have with my audience. That’s so valuable. It’s a huge issue as content creators because so many brands don’t take into consideration all those things. It’s often been compared to if you wanted to hire a plumber like, “Plumber, I’ll cook you a free meal if you’ll do the plumbing on my house.” If that plumber isn’t a good friend of yours, they’re probably going to say no.

That plumber has to spend the time to come to your place, bring the equipment that they’ve paid for and do the plumbing and all of that work that it took them to learn how to do the plumbing. All of the money they spent to learn how to do that, all of the years that they’ve been building up their business, there’s so much that goes into it. Of course, the plumber is going to say no. They’re not going to want to do a trade with you. That’s their craft. It’s frustrating as content creators that we have put ourselves in this position of those exchanges for our craft that many of us put a lot of work into. There’s this underlying resentment that goes on there. Also simultaneously being like, “I’m the one that agreed to do this.” The question then becomes like, “Why do we keep agreeing to do these things?” As Jason said, we agree for many different reasons. We agree because we believe in something. For us as vegan content creators, we believe in the vegan movement is doing our service in some ways. We encourage people to go vegan or be more ecofriendly or take care of their wellbeing and their health.

It’s like giving back, but then if that’s your whole career, how do you make money from it? You have to spend all of this time making money. That’s a long-winded history about our standpoint here. To bring it back to my present experiences, I had this moment that I shared with Jason where I’m like, “Why have I said yes to all of this?” Why don’t these companies understand or show to me, communicate to me in some way that they understand my value and they’re grateful for it? Why are they pressuring me? Why are they asking me to rush? Why are they on my case all the time to do something for them for free? I should be able to do that on my time the way that I want to do it, when I want to and how I want to do it because I’m doing it for free. That’s a volunteer type of scenario. Coming back to one thing that you said, Jason, the mental health side of this also needs to be addressed because so many people are suffering with their mental health, but it has not been culturally acceptable or encouraged to talk about these things.

I was feeling so burnt out and tired, and I did not have the mental energy to do things for free. I needed to spend my precious mental energy and my physical energy on making money so I can pay my bills. Yet these companies sometimes put so much pressure on us as if they don’t even realize that we have to make money elsewhere. If they’re not the ones paying us, we have to make money somewhere. It’s so tough because then it’s this whole weird, complex dance that we’ve put ourselves into or the system we’ve put ourselves into. It doesn’t feel like people understand. Yet we need to have more awareness and compassion for everybody else’s experiences. Especially during COVID, especially during Black Lives Matter, recognizing that many of us are burnt out in general or extended so far beyond.

Some of us might be on unemployment because our jobs were canceled. Maybe as a result of that, as Jason was describing that, we feel awful about ourselves. Maybe we feel like a failure. Maybe we are depressed because people are sick around the world and being killed by police or judged for the color of their skin. There’s so much going on. It feels so heavy. Why doesn’t the whole world have more compassion for that? You wonder maybe they do, but everybody is trying to survive. Maybe they’re trying to do their jobs. It comes back to that capitalist mentality of hustling and like, “You might be suffering, but you’ve got to continue on and make money.”

We need to treat people better and ask more questions to make sure they're okay and that their boundaries are being set. Click To Tweet

It’s dehumanizing in a lot of ways. What you’re talking about is a call for deep compassion and empathy and acknowledging the humanity of one another. That’s certainly not a new remedy for a lot of the chaos and suffering and pain that humans cause one another on planet Earth and animals and the earth. The system that we’ve been in of every person for themselves and this toxic capitalist, radical individualist structure of get yours and fuck everyone else. I’m not saying everyone’s like that, but in subtle ways, if you’re in mainstream human society, that paradigm is hard to escape. It’s hard to escape of clawing and clamoring your way out of the crab bucket while everyone’s trying to pull you back down to escape.

I don’t know if this moment in human history is necessarily a deconstruction of the systems that we know are no longer in. In some ways, they have never been humanistic. They’ve been feeding the privileged few who’ve benefited from the construction of those systems. As we talked about with Latrice Richards on her episode, there’s some middle ground between total dismantling of the system and reformation. There’s slow progress and reformation happening in some areas. In some areas, they need to be dismantled completely and right now. I suppose this is my long-winded answer of agreeing with you, Whitney, that if through the chaos, the changes, the dismantling, the reformation, the upheaval, it feels to me like this is a moment of great change and reckoning for human society.

I don’t want to say the planet because even if we were to be wiped off the face of the Earth, I don’t believe that we will, at least not right now, but if humans were to disappear off the face of the Earth, the Earth would be fine. Everyone’s like, “It’s the end of the world.” The world is going to go on. The sun will keep shining for we estimate how many more billions of years. The Earth will regenerate itself, as we’ve seen during COVID. For us, if we don’t employ more compassion, empathy, humanity and understanding with each other, there’s a great chance that we could wipe each other out. We could wipe ourselves out. All of this that’s happening is to wake us the fuck up, ultimately, whatever that means.

Some people don’t want to wake up. Some people are perfectly happy with the system the way it is because it’s benefiting them. It was a wake up to what? Everything is great. Right now, Whitney, one of the best things we can do is to take care of ourselves and to take care of each other. I know that might sound a pedantic meme type of quote. I can’t help but think about how can I care for myself, care for my loved ones, and care for my community? What does that look right now? Caring for myself deeply, caring for my loved ones, caring for my community, what does that look like? I sit every single day with some form of that question.

For me, in addition to that, it’s like, “How can I communicate this to other people?” This is part of where I got stuck because one of the brands that I had accepted products from had been pressuring me to post about them. I felt so resentful. For everything that I’ve mentioned, I’m thinking we’re in the middle of a pandemic. We have so many important things going on in the world like Black Lives Matter. Many things are more important than me posting about this product just so you can sell more of it. Give me that time to do it when I feel ready. Why are you rushing me? These are the emotions and thoughts that are going through my head. I thought, “How do I communicate this?” I’m trying to be professional and yet I’m also communicating with another human being.

Going back to what I started talking about, it’s like, “Why isn’t it more acceptable for us to talk about these things in professional settings? Why do we put on this mask of professionalism? Why can’t we strip that away and say, “There’s a lot going on in the world. I’m going through a lot myself personally so I have not done that yet. Will you please stop pressuring me?”” That’s what I wanted to say. I spent days trying to formulate a response because I wanted to find that balance. I felt so stuck because all I wanted to do was humanize my situation. I wanted to be understood. I wanted this person to look at me as a human being and not as a machine. That’s part of the issue here.

It’s tough because it’s not to make this assumption that I’m not being looked at as a human being. If we have this barrier through our communication sometimes where it feels we won’t be understood. Part of it is that perpetuation of this capitalist mentality and the hustle culture that we’ve talked so much about. Maybe that person on the other end can’t even see me as a human being because they’re stuck in the hustle culture. It reminds me also of police brutality. Police have been conditioned to not view citizens as human beings. They’re trained to almost view them as the enemy, as you would if you were a soldier in a war. You’re trained to not view the enemy as human beings, to not think about their children that are home.

That’s so disturbing. To compare the workplace with police and the military may seem extreme, but how different is that if we are constantly putting on these masks and blinders to the people that we’re dealing with? The same thing goes the other way around. There’s a huge issue that’s continuously promoted on platforms like TikTok where my eyes have been opened to customer service. The amount of rudeness that goes on with a customer to an employee and how poorly many employees are treated by customers as if that employee is not a human being. On TikTok, there’s a stream of videos I see of customers feeling so entitled and they walk into these businesses, whether it’s a restaurant or a retail shop, and they complain and they pick apart somebody and they shout rude things.

Right now, there’s a lot going on with the politics of wearing a mask and people rebelling against their rights. You see these horrific videos, these moments that are caught on camera of people treating each other so poorly without realizing that that person they’re talking to is a human being. We see this online all the time through social media and the comments, the trolling that happens. Writing in horrible comments to people, forgetting that there’s somebody on the other end receiving that information. I take such a big issue with all of this. When somebody is compassionate towards me, communicating well, taking into account how I’m feeling, not making assumptions about me either and not putting pressure on me, especially during these types of times where there’s a very high chance that everybody in the world right now is struggling worse than usual. The conditions of our lives right now are drastically different and we’re all handling it in different ways.

A lot of us are struggling. Anxiety and depression is on the rise. If we’re going to make assumptions about anything, we should assume that the person that we’re talking to is stressed out, anxious and possibly depressed. We need to treat people better and also ask more questions to make sure that they’re okay, that their boundaries are being set. They’re okay with the conditions, that things haven’t changed for them. As we started talking about at the very beginning of this, you might say yes to something and realized that you said yes when you wanted to say no. You may say yes to something and the conditions may change over time. In my situation, this company I was dealing with, I had said yes to months before at the very beginning of COVID. Before I even realize how bad COVID was, I said yes to working with them. Months went by and there’s so much change. Now, they’re putting all this pressure.

I’m like, “Don’t you realize how much has changed since I said yes to them? You should assume that my answer is either no or yes with different conditions.” Why are you assuming that I’m the same person that I was before COVID, before the Black Lives Matter protest started? I couldn’t possibly assume that about anybody these days. To me, I want to proceed in the world with more compassion than ever, more love, sensitivity and gentleness. I want to encourage other people to do that too. I am so grateful that we have this platform with this show to talk about these things and to work through them because we certainly don’t have this all figured out. By discussing this out loud, I’m realizing how important that is for me to not make assumptions about anybody’s situation. If I do make an assumption, to err on the side of this person is probably dealing with a lot right now. They need me to be gentle and kind to them and check in with them as opposed to treating them like they’re a machine.

MGU 109 | Setting Boundaries

Setting Boundaries: Remember that we have value as human beings, that we have intrinsic gifts, talents, perspectives, and experiences that can be extremely valuable to a person who recognizes them.

 

Maybe the situation will help us dissolve that strange barrier that you’re talking about of, “This is how I communicate in my ‘professional setting,’ or this is how I communicate in my ‘personal setting.’” These divisions, these boxes maybe, that we have in our lives of conducting ourselves in different ways. It goes back to that, in a way, an offshoot of how we started this episode talking about how I’ll put on a different accent to make someone feel comfortable or make myself feel comfortable. In some ways, that business email is going to be different in terms of what I communicate to that person versus what I communicate personally. Maybe in honoring each other’s humanity, we start to dissolve those barriers and we start to dissolve those boxes. The other side of this coin in terms of honoring our needs, our humanity is also honoring our worth. One story that immediately comes to my mind when I think about communicating boundaries and worth and value in all of this is at the most extreme example, the Picasso napkin story. I’ve told you this story before, yes?

Maybe, but I don’t recognize the name.

There’s a story that years ago, Picasso was sitting in a cafe in Paris and a fan of his, a person recognizes Picasso as he’s about to leave and approaches him and asks about making a quick sketch on a paper napkin in this cafe. Picasso hems and haws and he acquiesces and he draws. Picasso is very famous. One of his things is he draws a dove. He draws a dove, hands it back to the fan who recognized him and then asks for a large sum of money. There’s no real verification. I’ve seen some versions of the story say it was $50,000 or $75,000. Keep in mind, it’s a dove on a napkin. He asked for this big sum of money and this person flings their head back in exasperation like, “Are you kidding me? How can you ask that much? It took you literally one minute to draw this.” Picasso looks at the person and he goes, “No, my dear. It took me 40 years to draw this.” The reason this comes up for me is it’s important for us, even in times of fear, desperation and panic, which these might be all emotions right now, that we remember that we have value as human beings. We remember that we have intrinsic gifts, talents, perspectives and experience that can be extremely valuable to a person who recognizes those things.

Picasso is an extreme example. He’s one of the most famous artists who’s ever walked the face of the Earth, but the point was that people can perceive things like us posting on social media, writing a blog post, doing a guest article. There are a million examples of the things that we get hit up as artists and entrepreneurs to do for other people. In many cases, their perception is it’s not work at all or it should only take you whatever to do this, forgetting that there are, in our cases 10, 15, 20 years, depending on the bucket, we’re talking about. Whether it’s filmmaking and video editing or social media or marketing consulting, you and I have a decade or more of experience depending on what a person is asking us to do.

It’s important we go back to the communication question of reinforcing that when we feel someone is pushing us to do something. It’s not saying like, “I’ve been in this for twenty years. Don’t you know who I am?” I’m not that crass, but keeping in mind again that our life experience, our talent, our heart, our passion, our energy, our creativity has fucking value. All the reason I’m relaying that Picasso story is in moments where I’ve had conversations about projects over COVID, there was one where a person had proposed. You and I haven’t even talked about this yet. I haven’t filled you in. There was a situation where I was having conversations and a person hinted at me working for an equity stake.

You did tell me about this. I was immediately thinking, “How could you ever say yes to that?”

My whole thing was like, “You’re not a publicly-traded company. What do you mean equity stake? You have no shares to give me. There’s no stock, there’s nothing like that. Is it a profit share? Is it whatever?” I believe this person was alluding to, “We’ll forgo a salary in the beginning and we can give you an ownership stake.” I’m like, “Ownership stake does not pay my rent and doesn’t put food on the table. It doesn’t pay my car note or my motorcycle note or help me save for retirement.” It’s one of those moments of my version of a Picasso napkin story of like, “I’ve been twenty years in marketing and you want to hire me to be a marketing director. You’re going to need to pay me.”

I say this simply because it all ties into how we communicate with other people, Whitney, how we set our boundaries, how we determine our intrinsic value. Practice not saying yes to things. Practice it that we are not going to feel regret or anger or resentment later. It doesn’t mean we’re going to nail it every single time. You brought up this example of saying yes to the thing pre-COVID and now they’re haranguing you a little bit about getting it done. We don’t know how we’re going to feel in the future, but it’s important for us to practice these elements so that we reduce that sense of shooting ourselves in the foot later on. We’re like, “Why did I say yes to this thing?” I’m trying to reduce that in my life because it’s a challenging feeling to make a decision and later on go like, “Why did I say yes to that? Dammit,” and also not beat ourselves up for over it. That’s another thing to practice.

The keyword is practice because this is not easy. It takes ongoing practice. Maybe it never will ever feel easy. It’s that life in itself is practice for something. The word ‘practice’ often makes me feel like if you practice it, then you’ll get good at it. There are some things in life that you’re constantly in a state of practice with and you never feel like you’ve perfected it. That’s an interesting myth that if you do something enough that one day you’ll finally get it right. No matter what you’re doing in life, there’s always something new to learn. There’s a new way to approach it. It’s an ongoing process of figuring all this stuff out.

That’s part of it too. It helps me in times like this to take the pressure off myself and realize I don’t need to get it right. A lot of this stuff doesn’t matter nearly as much as we think it does in the moment. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s okay to mess up or do things in a way that we perceive as wrong. We move on and we try to do our best the next time. Luckily, many human beings are forgiving of one another. Even when things get bad, if enough time goes by, we can find it in our hearts to give each other another chance. That’s the key too. If I’m going to make an assumption, it would be best for me to assume that I’ll have another chance to do something and do my best to handle it however I know how in that moment. Should we change the tone of this intense episode into something a little bit more light and pleasant before we fully wrap things up?

Let’s bring in the low-fat mayonnaise for the sandwich.

No matter what you're doing in life, there's always something new to learn. Click To Tweet

What does that mean?

I don’t know half the stuff that comes out of my mouth. This episode has been like a thick sandwich. Let’s lighten it with a little low-fat vegan mayo, a low vegannaise. It’s not vegannaise by the way, everyone. You’re pronouncing it incorrectly.

I wonder how many times I’ve pronounced it vegannaise. Let’s begin with giving shout outs to a brand that we each love. Jason, who would you like to shout out?

I want to give a big love to two brands that I would say it was a surprise that I received, but I simply forgot that I had agreed to receive this package. It was a surprise. I was like, “Right, I said yes to this.” There was a collaboration that our friends at Sunwink, who make the wonderful tonic herbal sparkling beverages. They did a collab with a company called AMASS, which also infuses botanical herbs into vodkas and drink mixers. They also started making hand sanitizer, which is some of the most wonderfully aromatic, herbaceous botanical hand sanitizer. It’s super clean ingredients. AMASS and Sunwink both sent me this pretty extensive care package. Sunwink has all these new flavors. I got their hibiscus, their detox ginger, their turmeric. They have brand new packaging. It’s effervescent and light. They sweeten everything with maple syrup. It’s not too sweet and gucky. AMASS sent me this wonderful botanical infused vodka and this wonderful hand sanitizer. I got this super beautiful package from both brands and I’ve been enjoying the Sunwink and enjoying the hand sanitizer. Because of a health issue I’ve been dealing with, I’m not drinking alcohol, I am going to gift the vodka.

To me?

Unfortunately not, Whitney.

I should be your number one. I’m a little envious hearing you talk about these brands, but the good news is I’m not a huge vodka lover. I have more vodka than I know what to do with, thanks to a collaboration I did with Absolut vodka. I have a huge bottle of it at home that will probably take me a long time to get through. That’s one downside to not socialize as much these days. I can’t bring it to a party and pour it for other people. It’s hard to gift things like that that have already been opened because we have many health concerns. I’m not jealous of the vodka. I’m more jealous of the Sunwink. Envious, I should say.

You and I have a lunch scheduled for Tuesday, so maybe I’ll bring one and you can enjoy it then.

That’s great because I enjoyed the drinks that you gave me, The Bitter Housewife. We talked about them in another episode, but I still have two cans left. I enjoyed them even more than I thought. It’s been a nice gift and they’re drinks that you want to enjoy slowly. It’s not like you’re going to guzzle them and it’s going to be over with. I feel a little bit overwhelmed with the number of brands that I could mention. I am very grateful for Wellnut Farms. They make the walnut butters. Have they sent you any products, Jason?

No.

This is where you get jealous of me. They sent me two containers of their wonderful walnut butter. They are so enjoyable. I’ve down to maybe a serving or two of each flavor. They gave me the original and the maple. The maple is outstanding. I’m down to maybe a tablespoon of each left, but I haven’t touched them in a few days because I don’t want it to end. I don’t know how many people can relate to this, but when you savor every last drop of something. That’s where I’m at with Wellnut. I usually eat it by the spoonful. It doesn’t make it into a dish. Some of the things I like to do with walnut butter is make little dark chocolate cups with them like a peanut butter cup. In this case, it would be a walnut butter cup. I did a TikTok and I think I turned it into a Pinterest video and maybe even a blog post. I use a different brand to make these nut butter cups and I made them with macadamia nuts and pecan nuts.

Now I could add the walnut butters to the mix, but frankly, as fun as it is to make recipes out of products like this, they’re also delightful by the spoonful. The Wellnut butter hit the spot when I want something sweet. They do have some added sugar, but it’s not that much. It turns it into a nice little treat every now and then versus a nut butter that’s unsweetened that you would have more in a savory context or maybe like a sugar-free dish. Jason, I know you love Wellnut as well. You can attest to how lovely their products are.

That’s an eye-rolling in the back of the head orgasm face moment. I remember trying it. Wasn’t it at Fancy Food Show in January of 2020?

MGU 109 | Setting Boundaries

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

Yes. You had tried them once before because I got their products originally through the New Hope who does the natural products expo. They sent out a box and the Wellnut butter was in one of them in 2019. It was one of the best products I tried in a long time. We did also try them at the Fancy Food Show. Can you imagine if we hadn’t gone to that event? You were on the fence about going.

I was. I was sick for weeks after that event, and spoiler alert, there’s no way I can confirm it, maybe through an antibody test, but I’m not going to go fork over $180 to get an antibody test right now. I think I had COVID after that event. I was so sick for 3.5 weeks after that event. Of course, when COVID became a thing, that was more in the public consciousness. I remember looking at the list of symptoms and going, “Damn,” back in January, early February. After Fancy Food Show, I was knocked out the last two weeks of January and the first week of February. I was crispy.

It would be interesting to see, but a lot of these tests aren’t even accurate. Who knows? We should all assume that we’ve never had it and to be safe because I saw a TikTok video that made such a great point. This is certainly not to be judgmental or rude, but they’re making fun of people’s reactions. One of the cliché reactions is, “I think I had it.” I remember that going through my mind too, Jason, myself included, but now I’m assuming that I didn’t have it. They were also this great point that because you have the antibodies doesn’t mean that you’re fully immune to it, at least as far as I understand without being a scientist. A lot of people think that because they got tested, that means that they’re okay in between getting tested.

You could get a test, leave the testing facility and get exposed to somebody with COVID and then have it right after your test. Unfortunately, the best thing for us to do is to try to minimize our interactions with people even if we feel we’ve already had it or we’ve been tested for it. In my opinion, it’s better to be cautious and not make assumptions as we’ve talked about. Lastly, let’s do a quick round of frequently asked queries before we wrap up this episode. I would love to know off the top of your head, Jason, what comes to mind when you hear this query, which is creepy rabbit movie. For me, I think of that movie, Watership Down. Do you remember that movie and that book? It’s based on the book.

I know of it but have never seen the movie.

If you watched it when you were a kid, it’s one of those movies that scarred me for life. There’s a scene in which the rabbits are in their hole under the ground. The whole movie is about being a rabbit. You’re in the POV of a rabbit and they either poison the rabbits or they did something because they thought the rabbits were pests. There’s this horrifically violent, scary representation of what these rabbits went through to show you the trauma that these rabbits went through. It’s an animated movie. I will never get the imagery of that scene out of my mind. When I see the words creepy rabbit movie, that’s what I think of. What about you?

I think of Donnie Darko immediately because that is a pretty fricking creepazoid rabbit. It’s a fantastic movie, by the way.

For a funny one, somebody typed in pictures of the real-life tooth fairy. I’m curious, Jason, what do you think the real-life tooth fairy looks like?

My mother.

I get it because she literally was.

That’s my mother. I think of my mother, Susan, the real-life tooth fairy. To me, the real-life tooth fairy, it seems like she would be a very proper middle-aged British woman with a nice bonnet on top of her head and a very fancy bejeweled wand. Maybe an older version of Glinda the good witch.

That’s pretty much what I would think as well. Who’s to assume that the tooth fairy is a woman either? It could be a man. Fairy is like a type.

It’s a general neutral term inherently.

Growing up, at least for our generations, you would assume associate fairy with female and then fairy is also used to describe a homosexual man in some ways. A fairy could be a male or female fairy or non-binary. I’d be curious to see, hear what other people think of when they think of the tooth fairy, which would be a great prompt for you to reach out to us on social media, which is @Wellevatr. You can send us a direct message on Facebook or Instagram. Speaking of Facebook, I don’t know if I have alerts turned on to be alerted if people reach out on our Facebook page, which we don’t use very often. We do see messages on Instagram and you can email us as well at [email protected].

You can comment on each episode. If you could click on the Podcast section, you can go and chime in on anything that we spoke on. We love hearing from you. We want you to be part of the conversation. We’re curious about your reaction to anything we’ve discussed in this episode or any of our episodes. We’d love your feedback and suggestions and things that you would like to hear us talk about. We savor all of that communication. Please never hesitate to do that. We thank you so much for reading. We have many episodes ahead, so be sure to subscribe if you haven’t yet because you’ll be alerted when the new episodes come out, such as the one that we talked about regarding the Enneagrams. Jason mentioned Latrice, who’s a guest on our show. There is so much on its way to you and we cannot wait to hear what you think of it. Until then, we’re wishing you all the very best with getting uncomfortable, of setting your boundaries, with tuning into your intuition and having better communication with people. We will be back with another episode!

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