Grief and Rebirth: Finding the Joy in Life | Nicole Christie | Health Issues

 

Nicole Christie is a writer, a Master Storyteller, and a dynamic entrepreneur who courageously rebooted her life after weathering two health crises in rapid succession, moving to a new city, recovering from narcissistic abuse, leaving her marriage, and stepping away from a significant career in communications at Microsoft to follow a more purposeful path. Tune in for this inspiring interview with Nicole about her survival story overcoming daunting health challenges, why she felt like an outsider on the inside in corporate America, her guidance about recognizing, surviving, and thriving after narcissistic abuse, her journey to self-care and self-discovery after courageously overcoming traumatic health, relationship and career challenges, and so much more, for a fascinating and enlightening interview with a remarkable woman whose passion is to bring tales of courage, impact and utter badassery to life!

 

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT THINGS LIKE:

  • The ways Nicole’s storytelling and entrepreneurial gifts were apparent during her developmental years.
  • How Nicole grappled with, survived, and ultimately overcame two major health challenges.
  • How health issues are the body’s way of telling us that we are misaligned from our path.
  • Why Nicole felt like an “outsider on the inside” in corporate America.
  • How Nicole recognized the signs of narcissistic abuse, and the strategies she employed to survive, and then thrive.

SOME QUESTIONS IRENE ASKS NICOLE:

  • What steps did you take to align yourself with a healthier path?
  • How can we tune into what our body is telling us and use it as a compass for change?
  • Where did you find the resilience to persevere through two significant health challenges, leave Microsoft, and find your way to the other side of divorce – all in three years?
  • What healing modalities did you implement to help you overcome your traumatic challenges?
  • How do you know for sure that you are now aligned with what is meant for you and your purpose?
  • What is the power of choosing oneself, also referred to as self-love?

Watch the episode here

 

Listen to the podcast here

 

Nicole Christie: Are Our Health Issues The Body’s Way Of Telling Us We’re Misaligned With Our Path?

 

 

 

 

 

Hi, everyone. I hope this finds each of you very well. I’m speaking to you from my studio in West Orange, New Jersey. I could not be more delighted to have the pleasure of interviewing Nicole Christie, a writer, a master storyteller, and a dynamic entrepreneur who courageously rebooted her life after weathering two health crises in rapid succession, moving to a new city, recovering from narcissistic abuse, leaving her marriage, and stepping away from a significant career in communications at Microsoft to follow a more purposeful path.

Nicole’s successful entrepreneurial journey has included founding a boutique firm specializing in marketing communications for Fortune 100 companies like Disney, Craft, Pfizer, Microsoft, and American Express, and then in 2021, she became the founder and CEO of TULLA Productions, a storytelling studio that connects leading brands and notable individuals with your audience through human-centered audio, visual, and print stories. In addition to being a two-time Microsoft alum, the gifted multifaceted Nicole has studied and performed improv and sketch comedy. She has a podcast called Here for Me, which discusses healing, discovery, and personal growth while exploring the power of choosing oneself. What a terrific role model Nicole is for the concept of grief and rebirth.

I’m looking forward to talking with Nicole, who will be speaking to us from San Diego about her storytelling and entrepreneurial gifts that began early in life, her survival story of overcoming daunting health challenges, why she felt like an outsider on the inside in corporate America, her guidance about recognizing, surviving, and thriving after narcissistic abuse, her journey to self-care and self-discovery after courageously overcoming traumatic health, relationship, and career challenges, and so much more for what is surely going to be a fascinating and enlightening interview with a remarkable woman whose passion is to bring tales of courage, impact, and utter badassery to life. Hi, Nicole, a warm welcome to the show.

Thank you so much, Irene. I am so honored to be here.

Thank you. I love having you here. I love your story. I think you’re amazing. I’ve had challenges too, but wow.

 

Grief and Rebirth: Finding the Joy in Life | Nicole Christie | Health Issues

 

We’ve had similar journeys. Likewise.

Looking Back

We have grit. Let’s start by having everybody get to know you from the beginning. Do you want to share how your storytelling and entrepreneurial gifts were apparent during your developmental years as a little kid?

Yes, when I was a wee little tyke. Storytelling for me started when I was four years old I’m an only child and I would narrate family road trips in the back seat of the car. My parents would listen for a while said, “Here’s the tape recorder and a microphone. Run your prairie home companion in the back seat of this car.” That’s where it started as a little mini-orator and then in second grade, I wrote my first short story called Nancy, the Nanny Goat.

When I look back on it, I was barely writing, but I did start printing on lined paper and wrote the story and would illustrate with terrible pictures. That was the first story, and then it kept rolling from there. I started writing what we call chapter books when we were children. I started writing chapter books in third grade and my teachers would read them out loud to the class at story time.

Everyone in the class had a role in the book. It was fun for the other kids to hear themselves, and then that rolled into being on the newspaper staff in high school. I started out majoring in journalism and communications, but I ended up switching to sociology because I loved it so much. I always knew I was going to be a writer so I figured, “I’ll sort it out. I’ll get a job somehow in that space.” That was how the storytelling piece of it started. My first job out of college was oddly in radio, but I was in marketing promotions and I was writing a lot of communications.

I found my way to Microsoft and in corporate communications, they’re doing a ton of writing and storytelling in the early aughts, then went on to a communications consulting firm in New York, and then have gone back to Microsoft and own two of my businesses. I’m on my second entrepreneurial venture right now doing storytelling and working as a writer, and then I have been a freelance journalist, a comedy writer, and a speech writer. That’s all part of my journey. People ask, “What do you write?” I’ll say, “Kind of everything.”

 

Grief and Rebirth: Finding the Joy in Life | Nicole Christie | Health Issues

 

I’ve had essays published in magazines. I’ve done feature stories in magazines and newspapers and had my stories in an anthology. It’s all over the place. That’s my journey as a writer and storyteller. The entrepreneurial journey started early as well. When I was eight years old, my dad was in sales and worked for food companies. They’d promoted with Cheap Trick and he had a bunch of Cheap Trick 45s in the garage.

For those people who do not know what a Cheap Trick 45 is, what is that?

Cheap Trick is a popular British rock band in the ‘70s and ‘80s, 45 singles vinyl that we had in the ‘70s and ‘80s a long time ago. This was 1982, I think, and Cheap Trick was pretty popular and had some great singles out. They’d done this promotion with my dad’s company. He had all these leftovers, there must’ve been 100 45s. He said, “I don’t know what to do with these.” I look back on this and I think, “This was probably so illegal.” He said, “Why don’t you give them to your friends?” I said, “People should pay me for these. This is a great band. All my friends are listening to this music on the radio right now.”

My dad had a bunch of merchandise left over from this promotion in our garage. We set up a little record stand in front of our house and I sold cheap trick 45s in the neighborhood. That was where I became entrepreneurial. Somewhere, there’s a picture of me with a peace sign or a rock sign. We can’t seem to locate that. I don’t know where it ended up, but that was where I was bit by the entrepreneurial bug.

You’ve been bitten by a lot of bugs, Nicole. I also love that you were in comedy and all of that. You’re amazing.

I did improv in New York. I was fortunate enough to study with alumni of the Second City and the Groundlings and got onto a team as they call it, or an improv troupe as we called it back then, and performed both in Times Square, in the Village, and a couple of different theaters in New York from 2004 to 2009 with some of the most talented people. I loved that journey.

One thing about you is that you were not born shy, aside from everything else.

That is true. It’s funny because I’m a very introverted person, but I’m a gregarious and outgoing person. I explain introversion, and extroversion, where you get your energy. People are asked, “How are you not extroverted?” It’s because 70% of the time I’m alone so when I’m out, 30% of the time, I’m this gregarious, not remotely shy person. My parents had to steer me away from little kids that I would befriend in the store because I was annoying.

Would you call what you are as an ambivert?

Maybe an ambivert, but I think I get my energy from being alone and then I expend it with people. To me, that’s still more on the introverted side, but I do enjoy people, but I enjoy small groups, and one-on-one. I get overwhelmed by big crowds and things like that.

Do you like the more intimate?

Yes, more intimate and I need a lot of time alone to show up the way that I want to be in the world.

Health Challenges

I relate to that. Now you have an amazing survival story that I can’t wait for you to share with everyone because I’m in love with what you went through. You had these health challenges that began in June 2019. You had a bunch of them. You went through so much. How old were you when they started?

I got to do the math. I was 46.

By my judgment, you were young.

It was middle age for me but June of 2019, to give some context of what was happening. My husband and I had been long-distance. He was in Montreal and I was in Seattle for seven and a half years. He’s an orchestral musician. Those jobs are pretty lucrative and hard to come by. He’s American and wanted to get back to the States so we could be together. For many reasons, it didn’t make sense for me to move to Canada.

He had finally gotten a job in San Diego and we’re big beach people so we are excited to come to Southern California. I’d always growing up and spent a lot of time with my mom’s family in Southern California. I was excited to be here, but long-distance relationship, seven and a half years. I’m working at Microsoft, it’s intense.

I’m in a memoir writing program. My manuscript is due in a week. We’re moving in two weeks. I had a graduation reading coming up in ten days before we moved to San Diego. There was so much happening all at once. I somehow got a hand foot and mouth disease, which anyone with children knows this is, it runs rampant in daycares. We don’t know how I got it. I don’t have kids. I hadn’t been around kids, but I got this two weeks before I had to move.

What are the symptoms of that? What is that?

A hand foot and mouth, almost look like chicken pox, but it’s not itchy. It’s tender and painful bumps all over your body. It started with a fever, and these bumps were initially three little red dots on my palm. I thought, “What is that?” Then the next day they had spread. I went to my dermatologist. He didn’t even know what it was. He initially said, maybe “It’s hand, foot, and mouth. Why would you get that?”

What was terrifying was over the first week, it turned into a secondary condition called erythema multiform, which looked like target-shaped lesions all over my body and on the inside of my mouth. I had all these open sores on the inside of my mouth and I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink, I lost 8 pounds over a week.

I went to the ER twice, my very best friend took me to the ER twice and they gave me steroids and antivirals and I couldn’t take anything because I couldn’t even drink water. Finally, my parents who live in Eugene, Oregon, I was in Seattle at the time, came up because I couldn’t feed my cat, I couldn’t open cat food, I couldn’t walk. It felt like I was walking on shards of glass. It was terrifying.

It was the pain was off the charts. They ultimately on the third visit said, “We’re admitting you. You need IV meds, IV nutrients, and IV hydration. We don’t know what’s wrong. We don’t know what this is. It started as a very classic hand, foot, and mouth, but now it’s something else.” They got on a conference call with four dermatologists and determined it was a secondary condition.

They did know what it was, but I was one of 200 documented cases in the literature of this reaction to hand, foot, and mouth disease. There were no other risk factors for getting erythema multiform that I had. They took me to the hospital and said, “We got to get you to be able to take your meds by mouth, eat and drink, and then we can let you go.” At that point, I was eight days from moving to San Diego, and movers showing up at my house.

I said, “I have to move in eight days. When am I going to get out of here?” “Probably a night or two.” I was released a week later, the day before I had to move. It took that long to get me stabilized. In the process, I started to lose my skin, which is part of what happens with hand foot, and mouth disease. I lost multiple layers of skin.

All ten of my toenails turned black and popped off because losing your nails is part of hand foot and mouth disease as well, which is how they knew that is what at least the foundation of this is. I wasn’t able to move to San Diego because I couldn’t walk. I had all these open sores. I went to my parents’ house to recuperate.

My husband had to go. He had to start work. The summer season of the orchestra in San Diego was starting and he’s one of the lead musicians. He’s got to go. He went on his own. I went to my parent’s house to recuperate. I talked a little bit about signs that you get and things. When the wound care nurse on day six of my hospital stay came in to bandage me. It took that long to send wound care while all my sores were opening and my husband was buying band-aids at the 7-Eleven on the corner because they weren’t taking care of me.

She finally came to bandage me like a mummy. For 45 minutes and halfway through, she put all the bandages down, looked at me, and said, “Nicole, I don’t know what it is you need. I don’t know if you need a new job. I don’t know if you need to do yoga. I don’t know if you need to meditate, but your body now knows it can react to stress like this and it will do it again if you don’t change how you show up.” They had determined this was a stress-induced autoimmune reaction. There’s no other reason.

That’s surprising what you were going through.

It was so much at once and thought about that a lot over a couple of weeks that I was at my parents’ house and thought about the fact that our skin and nails are the ultimate boundaries for our body when the mind disintegrates. What did that mean about my boundaries? I had friends say, “What do you need? What needs are you not getting that?” I was like, “Needs? I don’t have any needs. I can meet all my needs on my own.”

That sent me on this journey, essentially of being introspective and figuring out how am I not showing up in the world in the right ways. This was nine months of healing, nine months of looking spotty and abnormal, and nine months of not being able to walk normally. That didn’t last that long, but I’m recovering.

Finally, we get to March of 2020. I look normal, I can walk normally again. I’m a former big Pilates person. It’s time to go back to Pilates and get out in the world and meet people. I’ve recovered. I’d taken medical leave from work for eight weeks. I can go back, but it’s March of 2020 and the lockdown was declared in California. We’re living in San Diego now. I ultimately moved here and I found this lesion in my lower left eyelid. I’m like, “What is that?”

It’s March 2020. I called my eye doctor and they said, “No, we’re not seeing anybody.” I wasn’t able to be evaluated until July and they removed it because it was growing so rapidly. It looked like a little skin tag and then pretty soon it was this giant skin tag. They removed that and called me five days later. They said that there’s an 80% chance it’s a benign papilloma and a 20% chance that it’s cancer.

They called me and they said it’s squamous cell carcinoma because it is technically in the conjunctiva, which is the skin of the eye, around our eyeball, the lining of the eye socket. It is technically classified as skin cancer, but because it is ocular cancer, given it is in the eye, they’re concerned because it’s more mucus and more porous than the skin on the outside.

I would say it’s concerning.

They said that generally, it’s very localized and it doesn’t spread, but if it does, it goes to the back of the eye first and then the brain, and then the head, and neck lymph nodes. CAT scans and MRIs and all of that had been part of my life for a while to make sure that didn’t happen. They said, “You have cancer and you need to see an ocular oncologist.”

There are 300 in the world and none in San Diego. There was a center of excellence at USC and I was treated there by an ocular oncologist. USC is the University of Southern California. I went up there to get treatment and meet with my oncologist. She said that there are two options for treating this. One is the gold standard called Mohs surgery.

Anyone who’s had skin cancers may have had Mohs surgery, but we removed half of your lower eyelid and your tear duct because it wasn’t just the MRI that showed, it wasn’t just in this little thing they had removed, it was all the way through my eyelid and in my tear duct alongside the side of my nose. She said, “We can get all of it. If we remove half your lower eyelid and your tear duct and rebuild everything, but you’re young. God willing, you have a life ahead of you. You may not look like yourself. Consider that. If I were you, I would go with option B, which is I go all the way to the lid and remove as much cancer as I can.”

“I can’t remove the tear duct without that major surgery, but then after you’ve healed from the surgery, we do monthly immunotherapy, interferon injections, which is a medication right into your eye, which I was fortunate that I wasn’t having chemo. I would call immunotherapy chemo light because the side effects aren’t as bad.” I said, “Okay.”

I’m walking by the infusion center. When I go to these appointments, people are sitting there for hours hooked up to chemo and they’re sick. I was feeling grateful, but having a shot in your eye for twenty minutes isn’t fun either. I chose option B and I had my surgery a week later, September 2020 in the middle of COVID.

No one is vaccinated, it’s a crazy time and then the month after that, when I was healed, I started these monthly injections and administered immunotherapy at home four times a day. Interferon eye drops, which had to be kept at 37 degrees and were $750 a vial. I was very fortunate. I was working at Microsoft and had good benefits, but I still had to fight for that to be covered because it wasn’t the standard surgery.

You were working through all these?

I worked through that because my husband was furloughed for sixteen months and had taken a 50% pay cut. I only took what I could take. I had eight weeks of short-term disability leave at 100%.

With all the things all over your skin, with your eyes, with everything, you’re going back and forth to work every day.

With the skin, I took two months off to heal and move, and that was good, and then I went back to work after eight weeks. With this, I took a week off after each surgery. I ultimately had three surgeries, but after each surgery, I took a week off and then I took a week off after the injections to get through any side effects and rest.

People were like, “Why are you not taking 3 to 6 months off? You can do that. We have that available.” I was like, “My husband is making half of what he used to make.” We’re fortunate that they were able to give a stipend to the musicians. I wasn’t in a position to not work. We’ll get into that, but I was also making dinner every night.

When did you sleep?

The weeks that I had off, I think. I get through six months of these monthly treatments. I’m doing eye drops four times a day for six months and I get to my last treatment in February of 2021. Two weeks before that, something had popped up where the surgery had been, like a nodule. I called my oncologist who said, “Don’t worry about it. You’re coming in in two weeks. I’ll see you then.”

I went to the appointment. I brought scones for the medical team from this cafe that we would go to before all my appointments, I would take my Zofran, which is an anti-nausea meds with food. I said, “You guys got to try these scones. Yehey, I’m graduating.” I had my follow-up MRI, it had my baseline when we started the treatment, and I had a follow-up.

I heard my oncologist on the phone, her office was on the other side of the exam room door. I hear her on the phone saying, “Yes, I see there is suspicious tissue. Yes, I understand it might be a recurrence.” I’m like, “Oh my God.” She comes in and she says, “I’m concerned about it. I need to operate in seven to ten days to save your eye and potentially your life because I am concerned this cancer doesn’t normally come back. It’s locally aggressive, but normally we get most of it out. I’m concerned and I’m worried it’s gone to the back of your eye and we’re having another conversation.”

I was scheduled to have surgery a week later. My husband brought COVID home during that time, despite my asking him to be extra careful. He went to the gym and brought COVID home. We both got COVID. Thankfully, we had very mild cases of COVID and the state of California saw that I was under active cancer treatment. They would call me every day to make sure I was fine. I ultimately had that second surgery a month after instead of 7 to 10 days.

She called me the next day and said, “Pathology came back and it’s back. You have to have this radical surgery.” Luckily, I was able to have it in San Diego. There is a world-renowned oculoplastic surgeon in San Diego. Love him. He completely did everything. Removed half my lower eyelid, removed my tear duct, put a tear duct stent in that I had in for about nine months, rebuilt my whole eye in the three-and-a-half-hour surgery, and did an impeccable job. He’s an artist.

To look at you today. You would never know that you’ve been through this.

It’s been a healing journey. That was three years ago, almost to the date. I had that second surgery on April 7th, 2021. We’re recording this April 2024. It’s been three years since that journey. It was quite an ordeal but he called me. In most surgeries, he knew that they’d gotten clean margins during the surgery but he said, “When we come to your follow-up in a month, I’ll have final pathology.”

Yes, in June of 2021, he said, “You are officially cancer-free,” and then I embarked on MRIs twice a year and came in to see him. Those are now thankfully tapering off but it was an incredible health journey that has the metaphysical meaning right in my eye, I think I’m still not seeing something clearly. We can get into what that was, but I had to get into reality.

This is your left eye that all this happened to.

Yes, my left eye, which is very symbolic of healing and protection. The Egyptians call it the eye of Horus and it’s usually depicted as the left eye. It’s also the eyes are the window to the soul. I was very tuned into, what does this mean? Why did it settle here? Being someone who historically has not been super vulnerable or been okay with unpleasant emotions. I was raised in a family where we weren’t encouraged to express that.

That’s why you went to comedy.

Yes, I know. I went into comedy because I’ve kept my family laughing my whole life. That’s my trauma bonding or my trauma-informed response to everything but I thought it was interesting that cancer settled in my tear duct, which is our body’s primary mode of expressing sadness, grief, and frustration. That’s where I’m at.

Marriage And Narcissistic Abuse

What were these health issues telling you about your path and that you’re misaligned to the path? How do you know when health issues happen that it is a compass or it’s a sign for change? How did you come to that conclusion and figure that out?

The biggest thing for me was there was no medical explanation for what was happening. I had no risk factors. The thing with my skin, I didn’t have kids. I hadn’t been around kids. I didn’t have any of the risk factors for erythema, multi-form, which is usually an allergy to medicine or viruses I didn’t have. That was odd. It was this medical anomaly.

Then I was a medical anomaly again. There was a 5% chance that I would have squamous cell carcinoma and a 20% chance of cancer, but 5% it was going to be that. Here I was one of 200 cases that had the skin thing, 5% chance it was going to be this cancer. I need to go to Vegas because apparently, I beat all the odds.

For me, they were like, “You’re not an 80-year-old man who grew up at the equator and farmed in the sun. You don’t have any of the risk factors for this type of cancer.” When there was no explanation, I started to look at what is the mind-body connection. I’m a very spiritual person and believe in energy. I know you do as well.

I feel like I’m being told something about how I am not showing up and the nurse had said to me, “You got to change how you show up in the world.” That was the first instinct of this needs to be a compass for change. What is the change that needs to happen? Some of that was recognizing I wasn’t articulating my needs. Some of it was I’m not setting strong boundaries.

Were you working with a therapist? How were you coming to this?

I didn’t start working with a therapist. I worked with a therapist when I first moved to San Diego and I was on medical leave. I was working with someone through the transition of moving is how I had phrased it and having gone through this skin thing and processing the trauma of that. When I was discharged, to jump back in the timeline, they told me there was a 15% chance I was going to die because I was starting to go septic. I was trying to process that, I was like, “Wow.”

You must have cried with your eyes with everything you’re going through.

Yes, I was like, okay, 50%.

Your husband is far away. You’re not getting any comfort. You’re an island on your own.

Yes, with the skin, definitely. My parents came up, and my husband dropped everything in the middle of his move from Montreal to San Diego. He dropped everything and his parents in Michigan came out to be with me. When the eye thing happened, there were some signs of this during the skin and the timing of it was terrible when we were going to be in San Diego together and we’d planned this romantic road trip.

We’d booked all these romantic hotels to go down the PCH and Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1 in California, which is beautiful. You can drive it along the West Coast. I’d seen some inklings of him that he wasn’t going to be there for me during that. He was very inconvenienced and very angry about what was happening to me. People would say, “He must be so terrified.” I was like, “Really? I don’t experience that.”

He’s pretty mad that I’ve created some upheaval and what was supposed to be a great time in our life, and then that leveled off when the skin thing healed. When he was furloughed from his job, it was a big ego hit for him. Also, identifying with a career like that. I was understanding of it, but for 16 months, not working. Being my primary caretaker, it was the same time as March 2020 to June 2021 that he was not working that I was on this cancer journey.

During that time, it became apparent to me that I was not with someone who was a difficult person. He’d always been temperamental and moody. I’d always blamed it on the circumstances of being a long distance and the complications that bring to our lives, but during the time that I was sick, particularly the cancer journey, the rage, bullying, the belittling, the insults, the lack of empathy was off the charts.

He started to get increasingly violent, and he’d always been somebody who pounds things and throws things, but it got worse and worse and worse. Anger management, anxiety, substance issues. It was all coming to this head while I was sick and needed someone. He was there for me in practical ways and it was nice that he wasn’t working because we could drive two hours from San Diego to LA and back. That’s one way. It’s two hours to get to my appointment. We would come back the same day.

He was able to do that. He wasn’t able to come in with me because of COVID. I went through all of my treatments and surgery by myself. There were a couple of surgeries that he was with me for. It came to a head in February of 2021, when I found out the cancer was back. We were supposed to be celebrating that. He flew into an absolute rage, which is not uncommon for narcissists.

This was my moment, my celebration. I’m graduating from treatment, I think, but I also knew that thing was in my eye and it might be back. I knew at that moment on February 21 that I couldn’t stay with him. He’s increasingly unsafe, definitely emotionally, potentially this could get physical. Some mild physical things happened, but I wasn’t injured in any way.

This was happening to me while I was in cancer treatment and I thought if you treat anyone this way, particularly the person you love more than anyone in the world while they’re going through cancer, I can’t grow old with you. I’m not going to be safe. That was the first moment and surely after that, a friend asked, “Do you think that he is a narcissist?” I replied. “I think he is a very flashy person if that makes sense.” Gave me a book to read and realized, “I think this is what I am dealing with.” I can’t say whether or not he is a narcissist but the behavior was consistent with narcissistic abuse.

Then two days before my second surgery, in April 2021, I had my first meeting with a woman who specializes in narcissistic abuse recovery focused in LA that I was able to see virtually during the pandemic. We worked together weekly for ten months to get me strong enough emotionally, especially once I knew I was through the cancer side of it. It’s like how do I build an emotional toolbox to get my needs met within the relationship, to protect myself from him by disengaging was the biggest piece of it, and take the heat down in the house and then get strong enough to be able to walk away from it safely.

I am such a fan that you said that because I also had an abusive first marriage with my first husband. I also went to therapy to work through my feelings and how I was going to disengage from him and all of that. I so encourage people when you’re going through these things, you have all these feelings, you’re inside yourself. It helps to get a qualified person to help you on this journey.

A lot of people feel like they’re not, I don’t know what your journey is, but if you’re not being beaten, you’re not being abused. For me, narcissistic abuse was temper tantrums. There was something that popped up on Instagram or YouTube recently about how can you be physically abused without being hit. I thought before I even watched it, I was like, “I’m guessing it’s because you start to get sick.” That was exactly what it was. Your body starts to break down. I encourage people.

Many people assume that if you are not being beaten, you are not being abused. Share on X

I had brain fog, questioned myself, was gaslit all the time, questioned my judgment, I was constantly dropping everything to help him, things like that where I was abandoning myself. When I looked at it, I had friends who said it’s a very one-sided relationship. I was like, “You’re right, it has been for a long time.” When I got sick, the moment when you think, “This will be reciprocal, you’re going to be here to have the opposite?”

Until you got sick, you ruined his good time.

Exactly and there are some things I’ve seen, there’s some narcissistic coaches and therapists on Instagram and it’ll pop up in my explore tab about how angry they are with sick people because their supply is not available to them. You’re having to channel it into yourself. Although I was still cooking and taking care of our sick cat or cat died two days before my second surgery. It was a crazy time in 2021. I’m not saying any of that to take credit. It was the reality of our dynamic.

I also tell people to be careful about, some of these narcissists. In my situation, I was terribly verbally abused. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s when you pay attention. Is it Oprah who says, “When someone shows you who you are, who they are, believe them?” I tell people all the time, to watch how they behave towards people. Watch how they talk through the family members. It’s coming back at you.

Entrepreneurial Journey

Now that we’ve talked about your health challenges, which are amazing, and what you went through with your marriage. I want to talk to you about your entrepreneurial journey because that’s fantastic also and very admirable. You have a way of approaching failure and setbacks, you use strategies to bounce back even stronger. Can you share that? I’m sure there are a lot of people tuning in to this who are like, “How do you handle that? Give us your strategy.” They probably have the same situations in their lives.

I am looking at my professional journey. I try to see anything that might be perceived as a liability or a differentiator. How do I take that and find a niche for myself? It took me a while to do that.

For instance, what’s a differentiator?

Anything that makes you stand out from others and you feel like you need to disown that part of you to fit in. For me in corporate America, I never felt like I fit in. I always wanted to work for myself. I got out of college in ‘94 and my first job in ‘95. I was like, “This is not for me.” These are nice people. I’m good at the job, but why can’t I work from home? Why am I driving and I’m living in Seattle? Why am I driving across the 520 bridge to sit on a computer?

You didn’t like working in a box.

I didn’t. People think, “No one does that and if you were to do that, you would be seen as lazy.” In the ‘90s. Now everybody’s working this way, but saying I’m Nostradamus or something, but I knew that I was cut out to work differently, and then would find, “How can I do that?” I know that I want to be a remote worker. That probably requires that I be self-employed. That’s appealing. I have this entrepreneurial spirit.

I was creative, I was a writer and I didn’t for a long time understand how would that come to life in a company, in a corporation and then finding my way onto branding teams and communications and marketing and how can I bring that creative side of myself to a corporate world which most people don’t think of as creative.

They don’t appreciate it either.

They don’t. People think corporate, I mean it is primarily but it’s not a creative enclave. Even within that, I was still this weirdo who had this weird skillset and wanted to be remote, no one else did. Everybody else was like, “We work from 9 to 5, and I didn’t want to do that.” trying to find managers who would support that, who were on the same page with me. I was able to find that at Microsoft.

That’s pretty amazing all by itself.

My manager from 2000 to 2004 said, “I don’t care when you work.” She lived two hours away. She was coming in at 10:00 and worked for however long she needed to. I would work 10:00 to 7:00 and all my colleagues said, “I wish I could do that.” I don’t work with customers or I’m not on a team where I need to be working with other people. I’m an independent worker. Finding those niches, getting to know yourself. I knew I was independent. I was creative. I wanted to write. I wanted to eventually work remotely and I wanted to eventually work for myself and owning that and declaring it.

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I was telling a story the other day about that manager who’s now one of my best friends. Back in my first iteration of Microsoft in the early aughts, I said, “I want to leave Microsoft, start my own communications firm, and take all of this work as a consultant.” She said in my career planning, “Let’s introduce you to everybody that we possibly can across the company, because not only can you have an impact doing what you do.”

Now she didn’t even care. She was like, “It doesn’t matter if it’s others in our team.” She’s terrific and then when I left, I reached out to all those people and I said, “I have my own business. I’m doing this. Remember we worked together if I can help you in any way.” I worked for Microsoft consistently as a consultant for twelve and I’m still doing it. It’s been fourteen years of self-employment and I’ve always had them as a client in some capacity.

Somatic Experiencing

That’s fantastic. I want to ask because I’m sure people are wondering this. You went through health challenges. You left Microsoft to establish your second business. You initiated a new life on your own after your divorce, all in three years during the COVID-19 pandemic. Where did you find within yourself the resilience to go through all of this?

You have not yet discovered your journey, which we’re going to talk about, to self-care and self-discovery. Where did that come from? I’m sure there are plenty of times you are on the floor, hysterical, upset, scared, all of that. How did you keep on going and have faith that there was a light at the end of this tunnel?

What you said was key to it. I allowed myself to feel everything I felt at every step of the way. I don’t feel like the particular with the health journeys, that that was strength or resilience. To me, that was survival but I felt it and I was in it. I admitted that everything was not okay. I’m angry, I’m upset, I’m in this marriage that’s abusive, “Oh my God, what am I going to do?” I never denied what was happening. I wasn’t like, “It’s all fine, I’ll get through it. No big deal.” I didn’t block it, I didn’t bury it. From that, I built resilience going through it, admitting things are icky and awful and not okay and admitting and being like, “This is a terrible time of my life. Everything is wrong. The job is wrong. My health is wrong. The marriage is wrong,” and marinating in that and being honest with yourself.

 

You were counseling at that time too.

Yes. I started therapy at the end of my cancer journey. That was part of what we were working on. She was working with me on something called Somatic Experiencing. We had worked with schema therapy and a couple of other modalities.

I know what it is, but please tell them what Somatic Experiencing is.

For me, she had me remember certain things. You dig in and you get memories from your childhood of something painful, and then you understand what your body feels like. For me, memories are triggered by things happening in my current life and I would feel my lips buzzing, and tension in my neck and shoulders.

My limbs would go numb and she said, “All of these feelings, you’ve been feeling that your whole life. When things have been happening.” For me, it’s when needs aren’t being met and I’m being disrespected or used. Those were my burn, or subjugating my own needs. Your body has been talking to your whole life, rashes, GI issues, migraines. Now that you understand what that feels like in your body when you feel that, that’s the first cue.

I’ll give an example. two days ago, before all the things happened with my health before the skin thing happened, I’d been telling people that I felt like I was moving through peanut butter because I was about to move again from San Diego to LA in two months.

I was like moving through peanut butter and I didn’t know because I wasn’t in touch with my body in that way. Two days ago, I said, “Uh-Oh, peanut butter feelings happen again. What needs to stop right now?” That’s not happening anymore. That’s not we’re clearing the plate. What do we need to focus on? We need to focus on these three priorities. That’s it.

Nothing new is happening, no changes, other things. The biggest thing for me is a couple of things that need to happen with my podcast and a keynote I’m giving. After that, you’re moving to LA and nothing else matters. You keep the same on with everything else. Somatic experiencing was key, getting into my body and understanding what that feels like, and then recognizing that when I feel it again.

I think it’s wonderful because a lot of people here haven’t experienced therapy and now they’re getting an understanding. It’s not just talking. It’s not just getting continually complaining and telling you things. It’s very constructive.

It’s very constructive. One of the things I say is you’re not doing the work until you don’t feel safe. A lot of people I think will go to therapy and walk out with a-ha moments. That feels good. That’s self-awareness, but then they don’t change anything. They will say, “I know this about myself. I’m codependent.” It is interesting to dig into your background and understand that but if you make the same choices over and over, that’s not the work. Therapy is important.

That’s the best first step, but you’ve talked about on your podcast, other things about journaling or meditation. I had a transformational Reiki session last October, my first one that was so traumatizing and also one of the most beautiful things I ever did. You have to walk that path but be willing to admit you’re in pain, things are not okay. You might have to blow up some things in your life. I blew up everything. You don’t have to do that, but be willing to make changes. That’s where the alignment and resilience come from.

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Healing Modalities

When you need to do that and make those changes, therapy also helps you to empower yourself to make the changes and even strategize as to how you’re going to do that. I’m speaking from personal experience. I saved my life in so many ways. Now you go through all this stuff and you’re using these healing modalities besides therapy, you’re using Pilates and strength training and all that. Is there anything else you started to use? I want to move into your goal as a storyteller and what you do. Your story is incredible what you’ve been through, Nicole, and how you’ve triumphed.

It’s been a wild ride for almost five years running now. When I left therapy after ten months with my narcissistic abuse recovery therapist, I had a conversation with her. I said, “I feel like this emotional toolbox that we built is well stocked, and I’m using it, but I feel like it’s time for me to put a pause on therapy or maybe leave at least this type of therapy for good.” She said, “I think you’re in a good place. I needed to go let that integrate.” I had left Microsoft by that point and started my business that same month. I left therapy and I started the business.

I knew that I needed to leave the marriage, but I didn’t know when I was going to be ready. I need to walk away and let all this sink in. I call it like integrating into my cells, into my DNA, and becoming part of who I am. That was January 2022 and in March, it was finally from a COVID perspective, safe enough to go back to Omicron and Delta and all that was behind us. I was well enough from my eye and I was able to put contact lenses in again, so I could exercise and I went to my Pilates studio.

You didn’t sleep for about five years either, that on top of everything else?

Yeah. I can’t workout with the glasses. I wasn’t feeling well. I can put my contacts back in. I can do Pilates again because that’s hard without it. I went to my instructor and I said, “I need you to get me into the best shape I’ve ever been in my life because I need my actual physical backbone to be as strong as my metaphysical backbone is.”

We worked together to get my body strong. I remember the day that I looked in the mirror, I’d been doing Pilates for seventeen years, but this time I had not been doing it for a couple of years pretty much between being sick and COVID. I looked in the mirror and I saw my back straight for the first time in my life. I was like, “There it is.”

It was like you have the actual backbone, not just the metaphysical one. My therapist, who specializes in narcissistic abuse had also asked me at one point, “What do you give your husband? What do you get from him?” I remember there wasn’t a lot that I felt like I got from him, but one thing was he’s strong. He’s a cross-fitter and I said, “He puts my bags into the overhead compartment and he carries things for me.” He can go to Costco and he’ll carry all this stuff in two arms. I took a trip and I put my bag, I lifted a fully loaded bag over my head. I was like, “We’re getting somewhere. Checked that box.” That doesn’t mean we’re going tomorrow, but I’m making progress.

Pilates was a big piece of it. I also use a tool called JournalSpeak. I used it a lot during those years when I was angry about what was happening with my body and what was happening in my marriage. Also, I had a coworker whom I realized I didn’t know until I went to narcissistic abuse recovery, who was also narcissistic and making life difficult for everyone on our team. JournalSpeak is Nicole Sachs. I don’t know if you follow her work, but she’s a therapist with a great podcast called Care for Chronic Pain.

JournalSpeak is you sit down for twenty minutes, whether you’re handwriting or doing it on your laptop, and you barf out every horrible emotion, meaning unpleasant. I hate this. She says when she did it for the first time, she wrote, “I hate being a mother,” because at that moment she hated having three children and whatever that was doing to her life. You allow yourself. I wrote horrible things, but it frees your mind of all of that so that you can get rid of the fog, get rid of the clouds and the cobwebs, and have some clarity to problem-solve in your life.

Twenty minutes of journal speak. I was doing it every day for months. Particularly after I had gone back to Pilates and I was healing every day, twenty minutes, and then you do a ten-minute self-compassion meditation to give yourself grace for feeling that. You either close the document without saving it or you tear up the paper and throw it away. You don’t have any record of that. You release it and get it out of yourself. It’s so game-changing. That was another tool that I used that was incredible. I can’t recommend it enough.

What was your husband doing through all these changes you were going through? Was he a little perplexed or was he so oblivious that it was still all about him?

I have a neglectful or did have a neglectful narcissist. He wasn’t aware. He knew that I was doing therapy, but he didn’t know that I was doing therapy for narcissistic abuse. He never asked me about it. Didn’t care. He would say to me, “You never ask what I’m going through right now, like what’s not working. You’ve never asked me how I’m doing.”

I felt bad about that. I was like, “That’s right. You’re not performing and that’s hard. I’m sure it’s a huge confidence hit for you.” At the same time, it’s like, “Are you kidding me? I can barely keep my head above water and I’m trying to rebuild my mental health. You talked about verbal abuse. It was off the charts with the insults.” He did say to me when I left ultimately in September of 2022, there was lots of manipulation to try to get me to stay.

This was not the first time we had some meetings or conversations over the years where I would say this is unacceptable. We’d get our way back, this was like the fifth time I said, “I’m done. You will not manipulate me anymore. I have a backbone of titanium that I’ve never had.” He said to me, “I’ve seen it.” He saw, especially I would say in 2022, those first nine months before we split, he saw something transforming and changing within me but then he would get more abusive.

Becoming A Storyteller

He was trying to get you back into the spot. How did you know, with everything you were going through, that you were being guided onto another path because you’re now on a different path? I want you to tell us how you knew about that and then also tell us about your new goal as a storyteller, working with organizations and notable people. I could see how gifted you would be doing that.

Thank you. I am a fairly spiritual person. I was raised in a conservative Christian family and I don’t identify with that, but I know I’m talking to the hand here, I’m connected to spirit and energy. I have been for a long time and that increased during this experience. I felt like this was happening. I don’t want to say it’s happening for a reason and I don’t like that, but I’m supposed to learn something from this.

This is a message and I do remember my mom saying to me after the cancer journey was underway, she said, “I feel like you’re being prepared for something big.” I said, “You’re right about that.” I think it’s time for me to walk the path that I know I am meant to as a writer and a storyteller. I had known since I was a child what I was supposed to do, but I didn’t always know how to express it. I kept doing all these different things like corporate and comedy and essay writing and I kept throwing different things at it.

I felt like I think you’re supposed to come into alignment. I got a message you and I talked earlier about I got a message. Something said to me, “You had two chances. You don’t get a third. If you don’t choose yourself and walk this path that you keep trying to walk and then jump off of and take the path of least resistance, the carrot gets dangled in front of you with all kinds of money and stock options. If you don’t do that the next time you’re getting plucked off the planet.”

You’re out. How did this come to you? Was it a thought or something that came as a conviction or how did you start to realize it?

I’m curious how you get it because when I tell people I hear a voice but I’m not hearing a voice. It’s not like you’re hearing voices in your head. I get this very strong thought in my head. It’s not scary. I’m sure you feel this awareness and maybe it’s your inner voice telling you something but maybe it’s a conviction like you said and it is just, “This is it.”

You have to walk this path and that means you have to blow up your ten-year relationship and everything you fought for because this man is never going to allow you to walk that path. He will always stand in front of your success. “You will not do it.” “Oh my God.” Everything, ten years, long distance, cancer, all this stuff we had been through. It’s like, “I have to cut the cord on this.”

You have to leave Microsoft. You have to start doing storytelling in a more heart-centered way that you know you’re meant to do. It was this real knowing. That knowing it has always been there. When you almost die twice, I heard the words 15% chance of death when I was discharged from the hospital with the skin thing, and then I had to operate in 7 to 10 days to save your eye and potentially your life. You don’t screw around anymore.

I’m halfway through my life, by the time all of this ended, I was 49. It’s like, “You have to walk this path.” Also, see being older, and being middle-aged as an asset and a differentiator and not a liability because I had walked away from comedy when I was 34 because I said, “I’m not a 22-year-old who wrote for the Harvard Lampoon. No one will want to hire me. No one wants to hire me as a writer or a performer or whatever it is I wanted to do.” I look back and I’m like, “I’m 34. What are you doing?” I’m not going to do that again.

 

Grief and Rebirth: Finding the Joy in Life | Nicole Christie | Health Issues

 

Unbelievable, amazing. Tell everybody how you work with organizations and people to tell their stories and connect with people in such a meaningful way and how you know for sure this is what is meant for you and your purpose now. How does it resonate with you in the way the other things did not? Where are you in your body with all of this?

Yes, we can get into that. I work with corporations and individuals to tell their stories either if they’re going on a podcast like I’m doing right now or if they’re giving a keynote speech, which I also do as well on my own. I have some familiarity. I was a speech writer at Microsoft for executives and my career was in corporate communications, if they’re writing something like a byline, I’ve ghostwritten things before, or I’ll edit and help someone shape their story.

I say it’s like if you’re going on stage, on the page, on-screen going on TV for an interview, or you’re doing a corporate video where you have to have a script. I help them come up with messages that are consistent, resonant, and universal. We try to pull as much as we can, obviously, with corporate storytelling, you have to walk the corporate story line but oftentimes when an executive is giving a keynote, there’s an opportunity to tell a personal story.

My whole thing is how do you create an emotional connection? That’s what I’ve done for 25 years of my career. We started doing this when I first started at Microsoft in 2000. I’m not going to say we invented this, but no one was doing that. I remember us sitting in a meeting, my managers and I going, “How can we figure out a way to make this creative and tell the story of the people who use these products and the impact, not the features of them? That’s cool, but how does this help people accomplish what it is they want to do? How do we make it human and emotional?”

That’s when that seed was planted 24 or 25 years ago. That’s how I work with people. Where’s the emotional piece of this? Whether you’re a brand or you’re an individual who’s getting up to tell your story, you’ve got to resonate with people on an emotional level in a way they can relate to. That piece of it. How do I know that I’m in alignment? This is probably the third time that I’ve started over.

This was my second marriage. I had a first one that was beautiful to my college boyfriend, who was my best friend for many years. We lost touch with each other because we remarried other people but in my early thirties, we divorced and been together for fifteen years. At that point, I went to New York and I started walking the path I’m on now and then jumped off of it. I got scared. I thought I was old. This is the third time. This is the first time that I have felt so aligned that I won’t let anything knock me off the path.

This is the first time that even when I’m frustrated, I think, “What are you going to do? Go get a job at Microsoft again?” “No.” I cannot be knocked off of this path. Whereas when I wasn’t quite aligned in the path, dangling that carrot with money and stock awards in front of me, I was like, “That looks better. I’ll go that way.” Now I’m like, “No, I can’t do that.” That’s not what I’m going to do or a relationship would come along and it wasn’t quite aligned with my path in life. I’d be like, “Follow this shiny penny and someone who needs help instead of helping yourself.” That is not appealing to me anymore at all.

 

I even think about someone coming along with toxic energy or a relationship that doesn’t serve me. I go, “No.” It’s such a visceral we talk about somatic. I feel it rise right here. It’s like it’s in my throat. No, you don’t get to do that. That for me is how I know I’m on the path and there is nothing, no person, no job, no client, no experience, nothing that I will allow to knock me off of this path I’m on.

That’s beautiful. We have so much in common because I had to do the same thing by working on empowering myself and overruling some of the toxic messages I got growing up in everything. You reconfigure your innards and all of a sudden it affects everything on the outside. Also, you relate to people and all of that and you become in the same way. You become very passionate and determined about your path. It feels right.

You know it because nothing is tempting. The path of least resistance is not tempting and it has always been tempting. I’m curious too, Irene, did you find that as you aligned with that path like relationships, friendships went away or that people realized?

Some people could not resonate with where I was because why wasn’t I fitting back into their box? They couldn’t hear it. Some people, I started to identify that certain people were toxic, which I never realized before. I started to say, “Wait a minute.” Instead of getting all crazy, I said with love, I see where they are, but I’m detaching from that. That is no longer my cup of tea.

I love that and you said something so important. That was one of the biggest signs to me that I was on a spiritual waking when I stopped judging where other people were and I said, “Oh.” Exactly what you said. You’re on a different path or a different place in the path. “It’s okay. I’m not mad at you, but we can’t.”

I’m not walking with you on that path anymore because it’s stopping me from going in what I need to do and you’re not supporting me in what I’m doing. I don’t need that but I also don’t need you to pull me backwards either.

It’s a vibration thing. That’s very new, you’ve known this term probably far longer than I have, but that was a new term to me in the last year about vibration and frequency that when you raise your vibration, there comes a point where I can’t pull myself down to this anymore. If someone else isn’t going to meet you there, it doesn’t work. It’s I think the old language would be, “You outgrew a person.”

Also some of the programming from our childhood, you should do this, go see these people, go be with this person, and obligation. All the, “should, should, should.” All of a sudden you’re changing and you’re saying, “Why should I? I don’t want to. That’s not for my highest good. That’s not something that’s resonating with me.”

Thank you for that and did feel guilty too if someone else was struggling on that path probably in the past you would be like, “I need to walk beside them because they’re struggling and I can help or be of comfort.”

Yes, absolutely. One of the things that I think about a lot with people is I can care about you. I can be there with you in a certain way, but I cannot keep you from suffering. This is your job to help yourself. I cannot hold you on that path. I can light the path that you can take to help yourself.

You can illuminate, which is what you’re doing in your work with your books and your podcasts. You’re being a beacon. You’re a lighthouse. It’s like, “Here you go, here’s the light, but I’m not going to do that work for you.” When I left my now ex-husband, we were finally divorced last October 2023 that went through, he admitted what he had been doing in writing to me.

It was a terribly emotional week, which probably is not surprising, but he said, “I need help and I think that we can get to a good place. I need help. Not you, not us. I need to go get help and I want you to help me sort that out.” I said, “No, I won’t go on that journey with you. You were awful to me during the worst time of my life. I hope you do go on that journey. You need to heal for yourself. You need to heal for your next relationship, but I’m not going on that journey with you. You’re going to walk it alone.”

I will applaud that you achieve what you have to do, but you go into that.

Podcast

From a distance, we are no longer in contact. Unless he has a question about taxes, which, now and then there’s a transactional thing, like a text that happens. Yes, we can applaud people and cheer them on and say, I can’t get entangled in your stuff. I’m applauding you for having that realization and doing that work. You’re very inspiring.

Lifelong. I want to applaud you on your podcast called Here for Me, which is exactly what we’re talking about. You discuss healing, discovery, personal growth, and the power of choosing oneself, which does not mean that you’re selfish or a narcissist, because the way I look at it and of course, people who know who follow this show know that when I was pulled out of the car, I was told to be loving and kind to everyone.

I took that to mean that I’m as precious as anyone else on this planet. Choosing yourself, I always like it too, and that’s why I want to ask you how you feel about this because you do this on the podcast. How can you be all that you need to be in the world if you don’t take good care of yourself? I have grandchildren. How can I be a role model for them about taking care of themselves if I don’t take care of myself?

There are a couple of metaphors or analogies that people may have heard of, “Putting your mask on first on the plane. You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Something that I posted on Instagram about this last week, but I said, ”Once you pour into your cup, you don’t look for an empty one anymore.” I think I was walking around with everything I had to give outside of me while I was running on fumes and going, “Okay, I’ve got all this, but you’re an empty cup. You’re probably a toxic person with a lot of wounds. Let me pour into that while I’m increasingly running on fumes.” Now it’s like, “Pour that into yourself. Your cup is full. You don’t look for the empty ones anymore.” You start to create healthier relationships and dynamics. You can’t even help anyone else if you need to, or as you said, be a role model if you’re not taking care of yourself.

Once you pour into your own cup, you don’t look for an empty one anymore. Share on X

You interview a lot of different people who have come into their own. Very inspiring. Speaking of self-love, why do you say that the best self-care is the kind that comes from inside? Self-awareness, self-compassion, self-respect, and self-integrity. You are singing my tune. Go tell everybody about that.

It’s funny because that order, which I don’t even think that I did that intentionally, but that’s almost the order it happens. First, you become aware of yourself, and then you give yourself compassion for flaws or whatever. You have respect for all of that. I accept myself as a whole person with strengths and weaknesses and everything, and then integrity, which is when you start to make choices in alignment with what about yourself.

I think that we can talk all week. I’m sure you do, I love facials and massages and pedicures and that’s all great, but it’s a bandaid if what’s on the inside isn’t aligned, and isn’t working. If you haven’t dug in and done that work and evaluated why it is you show up in the world in ways that don’t serve you, how can you change that? Change that? Nothing else matters. You’re putting the icing on a rotten moldy cake if you don’t do the work on the inside.

 

I could not agree with you more. Why do you strongly believe that we need to be kind and compassionate with each other, which is also singing my tune but I know that this is a belief system that you have.

We’re so aligned on that because everybody’s walking a hard path. There’s a famous quote that I think is often attributed to E.E. Cummings about how everyone is fighting a hard battle. You don’t see it always, but knowing that is why you show up with kindness and compassion for people because no matter how sunny and optimistic, they might seem something is going on.

I’m going to say this because I see this in you, but I think the sunnier and more optimistic someone shows up the more they’ve been through. People tend to see that and think you haven’t had any problems. I have found that most of the people I have met in my life are the people who have processed things and come to a place of kindness and compassion because they’ve accepted their difficulties and worked through them.

Thank you. You’re bringing a memory back of someone who said to me once, this was after the accident after I’d been doing all this healing and I was changing. She said to me, “Your sunny disposition gets on my nerves.” You can go heal yourself and maybe you’ll be able to become aligned with me and become happy. I’m sorry that I am making you unhappy.

As you said that, I was reminded of another quote, “Just because I carry it well doesn’t mean it’s not heavy.” That’s what you were doing in that moment and you’re like, “Sorry that this is threatening to someone else,” but that’s okay. You can go on your own journey again, love and light to you.

Tip For Finding Joy

If she had been a little more introspective, she might’ve said, “If I getting that annoyed about Irene, what is that telling me about myself?” What is the famous Nicole Christie tip for finding joy in life?

For me, it starts with self-awareness and understanding who you are because once I dug in and was honest with myself about who I was, then I was able to surface and unearth what brings me joy, and what I need in the world. I think making sure that you make time for things that bring you joy, whatever that is, is super key.

I now schedule Pilates into my calendar and I have the privilege of doing this because I’m self-employed, but I work other things around joy instead of squeezing joy into work and obligations. Now I am not doing a very good job of that at the moment, but I’m also aware of it. A lot is happening in life at the moment and I’m not doing a good enough job of creating joy but I know this. The other day I sat down and said, “When is this going to get okay? Next week.” Starting April 15th, I rejiggered everything to build that in.

Work other things around joy instead of squeezing joy into and around work. Share on X

Sometimes you have seasons where that’s not possible, having grace and self-compassion, and then where can I pick that back up? I can’t wait for Monday because I get to go have more joy again. I think being self-aware and having grace and then making that time and space and being and having compassion when you’re not able to do it as much as you can knowing you get back to it.

Let yourself off the hook. You’re only human.

Seasons of life happen. You have small children. You’ll think that this is not going to be a whole lot of joy. Squeeze it in where you can, but also know you get back to it.

Closing Words

That’s beautiful, Nicole. I want to close our interview with this meaningful quote that I found on your website that I think is worth sharing with our audience. I love your quote. It says, “I’ve walked through fire the last four years but I wouldn’t change anything. Sometimes everything has to burn to the ground to be rebuilt so that you can be rebooted and reborn. I’ve had several opportunities to start over in my life, but this time is different. I’m aligned with what’s meant for me and my purpose and for that, I am grateful. I have truly learned how to be here for myself, honor myself, and respect myself. I love walking this path and I cannot wait to experience what’s ahead.”

That’s fantastic. Nicole, I am so grateful that walking your path has led you to share your personal stories of courage, impact, and utter badassery on the show. I thank you from my heart for this fascinating and enlightening interview with your many inspiring insights. Here is a loving reminder, everyone that you can see all the show episodes on IreneWeinberg.com. Make sure to follow us and like us on social @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram, Facebook, and wherever you get your podcasts, including YouTube. As I like to say, to be continued. Thank you again, Nicole.

Thank you.

Much my pleasure. We have so much in common. It’s been wonderful.

We do. I love this connection. I’m so honored.

It’s so wonderful and many blessings and bye for now and again to be continued. Thank you so much.

Thank you.

 

Guest’s Links:

Host’s Links:

About Nicole Christie

Grief and Rebirth: Finding the Joy in Life | Nicole Christie | Health IssuesNicole is a writer, podcaster, and entrepreneur. She’s the founder and CEO of Tulla Productions—a storytelling studio that connects leading brands and notable people with their audience through human-centered audio, visual, and print stories—and the creator and host of Here For Me, a podcast about the power of choosing yourself. She has been a storyteller since she could string words together and it’s her passion to bring tales of courage, impact, and utter badassery to life!

 

“Just wanted to say again how delightful it was to speak to you and how proud I am of your work and success”

Martha Hunt Handler

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