S1 Ep 2: Caroline Keeler

March 01, 2023 NICOA DUNNE CORNELIUS Season 1 Episode 2
S1 Ep 2: Caroline Keeler
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Show Notes Transcript

Join Nicoa for a VERY candid conversation with Caroline Keeler, her pelvic health therapist and  close friend. Nicoa and Caroline talk "out loud" about what most women are too ashamed to share as well as Caroline's emotional winding Life By Design journey she didn't intend or expect! Caroline is a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist and the owner of Inside Out Physical Therapy located in Wilmington, NC specializing in women's health. 

You can also follow Caroline on Instagram at INSIDE.OUT.PT

Books referenced: Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic. By Elizabeth Gilbert
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

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YOUR ISLAND GATHERING AWAITS: Baldhead Island, North Carolina, USA, April 11-14th, 2024

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Nicoa interviewing Caroline Keeler! ENJOY

Grab your coffee and join me Nicoa For a caffeinated conversation about life
I'll be talking to people who have chosen to walk their own paths and just like me, are creating a life by design. I hope that will give you the inspiration you need to do exactly the same.
Hey, Caroline Keeler. Hey Nico with them, Cornelius.
I love doing these interviews, because right beforehand, I always spend time with my interview guests. And we have so much fun. I almost am like, stop talking. We're having too much fun. We have to push record now. So we don't miss any of that juicy fun dialogue. Always we have to be productive, right? We do. And I love talking with you about your beautiful daughter and her amazing life by design. So Caroline just suggested everybody that I go ahead and plan to interview her daughter Devon, because she has created something that's even better than she expected in her life and has some lessons learned for us. So make sure I don't forget to reach out to Devin. Okay, Caroline. Okay.
Now, this conversation, however, is all about you. And you and I have known each other now for probably what, four or five years? Five plus five plus? Yeah. And when I came back to Wilmington, after I got divorced, and I was raising two of the three kids here, you and I connected through I think I invested in a weekly massage. And I met you through our massage therapist, Sharon Sharon. Ah, she's beautiful. I miss her. I do too. I needed to talk to her more often. Yeah. Don't you hate it when your favorite massage therapist moves out of the state? That and your friend? Yes. And your friend? Yeah. Well, I run into people and they're like, we meet Sharon. I know. Well, and I miss you. We don't get together as much as we used to. But I'm glad that you agreed to share your amazing life story with us today. Why don't we kick off by you sharing why I got referred to you and why I was working with you because you have a very unique practice that I think you would probably articulate it more clearly than me. So tell people about Inside Out physical therapy. Okay, so I'm gonna take that as a verbal permission to share from a HIPAA standpoint.
And as you were just talking about, like knowing each other through massage, I'm like, okay, so she's not going to talk about coming to see me. And then here you are. So yeah, my business is a pelvic health physical therapy clinic and I work with people who are struggling with controlling their bowel or bladder their sexual health or
their reproductive health, or, you know, orthopedic, musculoskeletal health, like most people think of physical therapy about and what I think a lot of people don't realize is the, you know, your body managing the, the bladder and the bowel and sexual activity and all of that. And birth is a muscular event. You know, there's there's 17 muscles in your pelvic floor, and they're participating for all of this. So. So I think you came to see me because you were heading into perimenopause. That's right. I had actually already been a couple of years actually. So and part of my challenge after having birth three beautiful babies was that I had an urgency issue a cotton, an incontinence issue, incontinence and urgency. Yep. And yes, and I'll never forgotten that you educated me about the 17 muscles. And that because I had lived a life that was quite stressful, very intense. I'm an overachiever. And especially during that time, because I was going through my divorce, I had really kind of my whole body was kind of in a jacked up space. Yeah, I was really having a challenge those 17 muscles you shared with me if, if you know they can only tighten so much. And because I was already kind of tightened up, trying to get my life together. I was having a hard time. And I was having accidents and I and the reason I want to be as transparent as possible about the things that we all do in our lives and in our physical experiences is because there are so many people out there having these experiences and are ashamed to talk about it. So I wanted to just share it because it it's not something I've come 100% overcome but I use the practices that you taught me and that helps me really stay healthier and have a well being that I would did not have in the past and I'm really grateful for the help that you gave me during that time that I was seeing you that's a really good
really important point is the well being and the shame aspect of it. And the you know, the problem is we were all potty trained, most of us at our age, were potty trained on a shame based training platform. You know, you have to be a big girl, you have to stay dry, we were punished, we were spanked, we were shamed if we leaked all of these things. And so to turn into a grown woman who's been running your own business, and raising your own children, and you know, running your own life, and all of a sudden, you can't control this basic thing that you've been controlling since you were to, and all of the shame comes back that's so deep in our brains from what we experienced as children, that it really has a huge impact on our mental health. And that's been one of the biggest rewards for me. You know, yeah, it's a huge win. When someone comes back and says, Yeah, I went and jumped on the trampoline. And I didn't leak and I wasn't even thinking about it. Or, you know, a woman who every single time she got out of bed in the morning, and she was 45 years old. She peed her pants on the way to the bathroom. And I showed her how to get out of bed. She looked at me and started crying and said, Oh, my God, you just changed my life. Yeah. And you change my life. And, and I can even recall as recent as two, three years ago, where I had overdone it with lots of caffeine and water. Yes. And I had not listened to my body. And I think I had a career, this intense career where I ignored my body's needs. Yep. And so therefore, my body no longer trusted me. And took over. And just a few years back, I remember I had ignored myself. And I had to, on the way home multitasking was like, oh, I should stop at the grocery store. And I did and right when I went in, I thought, Oh, I have to go to the bathroom. And I thought, No, I'll go get what I need to get. And then I'll check out and we'll get home. And that was still going to be another 20 minutes or so. And I went and reached up on a top shelf at the grocery store. And I peed all over myself. And I remember thinking, Are you kidding me? And one of the things that you taught me in those moments was not to attack myself for my body's natural need. Right? So I've moved away from Oh my god. Nicoa I can't believe you did that. Oh, how horrifying How embarrassing. This is awful. This is ridiculous. How am I gonna get from here to the bathroom without someone seeing that I've wet my pants. And so I simply put the item down. I stood very still. And it was what it was. And I walked slowly. I was embarrassed. But I walked slowly to the bathroom. And and I remember when I went in that bathroom, I thought Oh good. An air dryer.
And I took care of myself and I managed to use that air dryer before anybody walked in there. And
you know, when you're I'm now 54 years old. And I know that might be a horrifyingly embarrassing story for someone to share publicly. But you guys know me. It's all about truth and transparency. And, and I'm glad we started there. I didn't know I was gonna go tell that story. But thank you for helping me have more compassion for myself, and educating me about my body. I didn't even know. I didn't know what to do. And after my third baby, I remember talking to the this happens a lot. And you could probably comment further about our health care system. But I remember telling my, the calling back to the doctor's office say something's going on down there. What's going on? You know, and she said, Oh, it'll all go back to normal. Don't worry about it. Nope. Yeah. Yeah. So you know, the well being is just to finish that last thought, like the bigger reward for me, people come back and they're like jumping on the trampoline doing this. But what they say that really feeds me is I'm a different person. I feel so much better. This is what people are saying to me. I feel so much better in myself. People have gone off their antidepressants and anti anxiety medications are sleeping better and author sleeping meds when they're doing this work with their body. And I think I remember you telling me that story. But it's it's very possible. I remember someone else telling me that same story. That is a very common story. And yes, there's shame around it. But there's also nobody talks to each other about it. Nobody says, Oh my God, this just happened to me. And when they do, what happens is they hear everybody else say, oh my gosh, the same things happening to me. And that thing, that thing about the health care field, so many people, that same exact story. I went into my doctor and they said it's just because you're pregnant. It's just because you had a baby
maybe it's just because you're in menopause, and they give you nothing to do about it. And the problem with that is, is that no 50% of people that have babies don't have problems. One of my favorite stories is of a 70 year old who came to me with she was getting ready for her third surgery because of incontinence. And the doctor basically said, We can do it, but I don't think it's going to help. And I don't have any anything for you. After that she had never been sent to pelvic health PT, which should be the first standard approach. And I got her history, she'd had seven children.
And my first thought was, oh, well, of course, the seven children. And then when I said she's 70, and I said, Oh, well, when did the incontinence start? And she said, 20 years ago, boom, like that she had that answer so quickly. And I was like, Oh, I was working in a clinic where I didn't have a lot of time to talk to my clients at the time. And so I go home, and I'm writing the note that night, and I'm like, What was 20 years ago, that wasn't menopause for her that wasn't around childbirth. So the next session, I go back, and I said to her, and you're gonna appreciate this. I said, So what happened 20 years ago, and she looked at me, she said, Oh, I got divorced.
You know, it is all directly related to change in our energy. And yes, when an event like that, that causes you back to your point about, you can't you can't contract anymore when you're all contract. Exactly. And when you're when you're going through so many stressors, yeah, divorce the move the purchasing your house, though, your kids growing up and going through the things they're going through, having to get in touch with a whole new friend base. I remember you talking about like coming back and having to reconnect with old people that you'd known growing up. It's hard being our age and making new friends. Oh, it was hard. Yeah. Then that's a lot. It's so much. And it just sends us into this. You know, what the sympathetic activation which is the fight or flight but also the freeze? Yeah. And when we are just overwhelmed with how much we have to do, and who isn't? Right? Who isn't? If they're not working on that very actively, we all feel like we are never going to catch up, like we are never going to succeed. Like we're never gonna get there. I say all but not everybody, because of course, you're not there anymore.
You know, and, but that's, that's society's pressure on us to do that. And then when we feel like oh, my god, we're never going to be able to all we do is just freeze. So you have just shared a beautiful insight for so many people. I hope my story helps. I know that the work you're doing is yeoman's work. And I really appreciate everything that you've contributed to this community and to the world, you are creating a ripple effect. Let's back all the way up for our life by design discussion and say, How in the hell did you end up being a PTS a physical therapist for pelvic health?
And is this what you wanted to be when you wanted to grow up? Hey, come? That's that's a question. A lot of people were like, how did you get into this and, and I have to back up and talk about how I got into PT in general, because I was raised by two physicians and I love medicine growing up, but my mom would be digging out warts and bursting boils, and I just be right in there and being so fascinated by it. And but I also loved animals. So I thought I was going to be a vet. And I tried, I volunteered with one for a little while and decided Nope, I love medicine, and I love animals, but I want to play with animals. I don't want to shoot them, you know, give them shots and do surgery and stuff on him. Oh, yeah. So I was kind of at loose ends. I dropped out of college after a year. And I had always wanted to ride race horses. That was one of that was my first dream as a child. And my mom was like, hey, what about that school you heard about when you were 13? Now mind you, I'm 19 at this point, and everything, and there was no internet. And you know, we had to go by horse magazines to find the school. And so I went to school to ride racehorses, which you know, the top dream of my life, and I did that, and I was literally a day away from getting in the car and going out to my first job. And I got on a horse and broke my back, got thrown and broke my back. That's right. And so that's why now that's what turns me on to PT because my orthopod my orthopedic doctor had literally gone to medical school with my mom. He had fixed all my broken bones my whole entire life. And I'd go see him. He'd be like, how you doing? I'm like, I'm hurting. He goes, do your exercises. Take your meds by hmm. And it was my PT that listened to I mean, I was 19 I was sure my life was over, you know, all of my dreams were over and it was my pte that listened to me and gave me things to do and supported me emotionally and got to know me and I was like, that's what I want to do. So that's how I became a PT I
Okay, I became a pelvic health PT. Because I had a very medically managed birth, I did not decide until I was about eight months pregnant that I was going to keep my child. And so I wasn't very prepared. My preparation was having been raised by doctors and practiced in the field of medicine to trust the field of medicine and the doctors and not to educate myself. And back then, you know, we didn't have the internet. And such, right. We didn't know how to educate ourselves without taking just the advice of the people and our elders. Right? Well, and nothing came flying across our feed to make us go, Oh, what's this, unless you went looking for it in the library, you didn't see it. And so I went through a birth that was
I was just very uneducated, about my body, about birth, about my options. And I ended up having an a Pz Atomy, which then an epidural, and a forceps delivery, which
damaged my pelvic floor to a degree that I've had problems. And so there was a time in my life where I had regular incontinence, I had regular urgency and frequency, I'd go on trips with the family to New York, and literally have to get off the bus to go pee and have to find them later.
And a lot of my patients are like that. They're like, we're afraid to go do fun things, because we're gonna have to pee all the time. So I ended up I went off to St. Thomas for a class, I want you to tell me about that. Because
so all along the way, you're adapting to your life, right? And you're recognizing I'm finding myself in these environments. So that creates interest for me. So as you said, I had to educate myself. It's creating interest, and you're like, Oh, I think I'll go to school for that. So this is the ability to observe yourself and say, What do I want in this moment? Or what seems right in this moment? What was the thought process for you back then? How did you come to this ultimate decisions? Was it panic, or was it intentional, or Oh, and I just, I just really got into pelvic health about 10 years ago, but back in 1994, in the 20th century, I actually came here to Wrightsville Beach with my family. And
my daughter was 18 months old, she had just gotten over
Kawasaki syndrome, which is can be a life threatening syndrome.
Yeah, it was pretty traumatic. And
my sister was pregnant and everybody had to hear everything about her constipation and everything that was going on with her. And my mother was trying to be a second parent for my child because I was a single parent, and it was just awful. And I remember sitting on the plane with my daughter, you know, listening to Barney on the little tape player and throwing up because she ate her bottle too fast and, and thinking I need to go on a trip by myself somewhere far away with my Walkman. Again, I'm dating myself and people.
And I was looking through a magazine about courses literally within two weeks and on my birthday in St. Thomas was a course on prenatal and postpartum exercise. Perfect.
And I was working with stroke patients and head injury patients.
Wow, I convinced my boss to let me go and I went I was there for four days and the woman who taught the course actually had started the Women's Health section of the American Physical Therapy Association. And she was a total crunchy homebirth all three of her children in a tub that she made her husband was a was a gynecologist. an OBGYN and she was a total earth mama and she she actually walked us through like a
I forget what you call it, like a rebirthing. But basically, we were laying on the floor in the dark and she was like imagine being the ovum. Oh gosh, what and what did your father say when your mom told him you were pregnant? You know when you're in utero so it was very weird but very eye opening to me.
And then I moved to St. Thomas because i had i i had always plan on traveling and that trip was the first time I had done anything for myself since Devon was born.
And I came back thinking oh my god, I can go you know, I was kind of coming out of survival mode after two years. And I my brain would go I can go No you can't. I can go No you can't. And I got hit by a tow truck in a snowstorm three days after I got back. Oh my god. Yep. And I was standing I was standing in the police station with my you know, two year old child
and I thought oh my
gotta I gotta go, you gotta do you want to do, because you never know what's going to happen. So that's how I ended up in St. Thomas, where I got in touch with a home birth midwife, and I thought, oh, I want to be a midwife, which, you know, was just a little silly at the time being a single parent. And
but that was kind of the beginning of my introduction into, you know, birth based physical therapy. And about 10 years ago when I was moving down here. Yeah, one of the places I was interviewing, said, Oh, we see on your, on your resume that you've got this education, we're really interested in a woman's health person. And so I said, Yeah, absolutely. And I went and took another course. And that course, really showed me that pelvic health, Women's Health used to be called women's health. Now, it's called pelvic health. Because men have a lot of issues. Also, it's not just pregnant people and old ladies who cross their legs when they sneeze.
Teenage athletes who've never even had sex much less been pregnant, it's men, it's older people, it's women who had seven children and never had a problem. Right. You know, there's a, there's a lot of other things which made me get really motivated to help. Well, I want to tap into that motivation. Because if we back up to what you just described, that whole unfolding of events from the magazine article all the way to, oh, my gosh, this course is on my birthday, too. Wow. Life is short. People need to recognize that what you just described is called inspired action. Yep. And when you have that little inkling, when you have that thought, ask the question. Google it. Now you can Google it. What's one thing you could do to take action to move closer to? Well, that sounded exciting, and it should feel a little bit gluttonous. And I bet it did when you were like, Oh, could I actually go to St. Thomas on my birthday? All right, totally. rationalize it. Yep.
It reminds me of the time where justice had said my son, my oldest, he had said, I think I'd like to go to Japan. And we were like, wonderful. Now he was in high school at the time, he was about to turn 18. And we were all like, that sounds like a great idea. Well, a couple months went by and I reached out, I said, justice, why have you not? You know, what are you thinking? I haven't heard you talking about planning your trip to Japan? And he said, Well, I don't really have a reason to go to Japan. Right? And I sat him down. And I said, darlin, listen to me very carefully. The fact that you want to go to Japan is reason enough, and it always will be. And he ended up going. And I just think it's so wonderful that you gave yourself permission, even as a single mom, even with that, as you sit me in your notes before you know that the panic and the Gremlin telling you don't do it don't do Are you sure? You are like, You know what? I'm gonna go for it because life's too short. Well, it was it was really interesting when you're talking about justice, because I had to.
I had to go through the legal system to be able to take my daughter with me away from her father. And right. We had to talk with a social worker and the social worker was all about you're just, she was like, are you doing this for a job? Are you doing it for a relationship? Or what are you doing this for?
Right, exactly. And I tried to explain it to her and she wrote up this, this write up about me that she was like, she's just doing this on a whim. It's irresponsible. It's this I cried. I was devastated. And I was so angry because it was like, okay, it's okay to do this for a job. Or because I met someone I want to marry me thinking that this is where I want to live. For my life right now is no different than another person thinking this is the person I want to marry. Right? You know, and, and what would you say to someone? Why do you want to marry someone? You know, that's such a right, exactly. That's big. You know, it's falling in love with a person or a place is not something to be described with words.
Or practical, concrete. Shit. You just gotta go. I love I love on a whim on a whim needs to be our little mantra in life by design. Yeah. Because on a whim is an intuitive nudge that says, Your life is heading towards something even better, and it continues to expand and follow the little nudges, follow the whims. So let's take a quick break. And then we'll come back and I really want to talk about the next phases of your life by design, not by default, although some of what happened kind of forced your hand. It's almost like when I think back on your story,
And that you had to kind of go forward, back up and go forward again. And I'd really like you to tell us a little bit about your resilience during that time. Oh, sure. Like, can I say one thing before we sure. All right, just when you're talking about that idea, that intuition coming to you? I don't know if you've read Elizabeth Gilbert. She wrote Eat Pray Love. Yes, her I don't know if I'm allowed to mention her in here. So we'll put her book in the in the show notes. She wrote a book called Big Magic.
And in it, she says that when you have an idea, that is the universe giving you a gift. And if you don't take that idea and do something with it, the universe is gonna take it away and give it to someone else. And they're going to do something with it. So that you know that when you have a thought, like, it's not you
do it. So, okay. The guidance? Absolutely. Okay. We'll be right back. Okay.
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I definitely am going to remind people to look up Elizabeth Gilbert, when we were just talking about Big Magic and Eat, Pray, Love, you know, she's just phenomenal. And anything that I've read, that causes me to be reminded to trust my intuition and trust that guidance, I always recommend it to people. So I'm glad that you brought that up. Now, talk to me about what happened next. So you I think you shared you got a little backed up and had to come back to the states and you know, on a whim turned into a oh, what should I do? Is that Is that what happened?
Oh, no, like when we left talking to that social worker, we were only allowed to leave.
The basically the social worker said I couldn't leave.
And I got mad. And so I hired for $5,000. And this was 25 years ago.
A lawyer who I don't know, God, I think about that, like this is how important it was to me as a single parent that I've actually saved $5,000.
But I went to the biggest lawyer in our area, and the biggest divorce lawyer. And he said, Well, here's my retainer, and this is what I can do for you with this. And he said, Let's just scare him.
And he wrote a letter to to the father of my child. And you know, I don't even remember what he said, like I said it was more than 25 years ago. But we were able to come up with an agreement where I could go for sorry, yes, I came back in three years. So I ended up coming back and four because I had not prepped Devin. And at the end of three years, she cried every single night about going back to the States. And so I just called her dad, I'm like you do what you want, you can sue me if you want, and I'm not bringing her back till she's ready. So we worked on that for you know, the plan was always to come back. The Virgin Island is a wonderful place and some amazing people live there. It was a really good place for me to go
to heal. A lot of people go there to escape and to heal.
You know, getting pregnant, having a child being on my own was a really hard thing. And so being there was really important for me to kind of find myself again in the quiet and what was your biggest learning about yourself while you were there?
I've so many learnings that maybe the question could be two I think you most proud about about yourself from that experience.
Probably just getting up and going. Probably the standing up for my child
learning how to survive hurricanes. I started writing my book, them 20 years ago, I haven't written it. It's gonna get written this year, new year's resolution.
I think I think the thing that comes to mind is that when I left, I really made a commitment to myself, I recognized how easy it was going to be to slide back into the cultural norms of the states, and how hard I was going to have to work to hold on to a lot of what I had learned there which was living slowly and peacefully and quietly and
in community and simply and in nature, that kind of thing. Well, how did you cope during all that time? And with that transition, did you have a support group of
People or friends family, how did you manage?
translate into that, you know, expected us culture, right? And
oh, okay. And you know, and it's so funny when people say, How did you manage my first reaction was? Well, that is true. We do we write, you have to just do it, because it doesn't go away, whatever's in front of us is there to be to be observed and experienced and what we make it mean, will either make us or break us.
I don't.
I don't really know the answer to that. I remember somebody telling me who had moved back to the States before me. She was like, it took us four years to get over moving back. And I was like, No way. And I'll tell you what, it took us four years. We were there for four years. And it took us me and my daughter four years to transition to a place where we weren't crying about having left.
But yeah, I just I guess I just kind of really curated the relationships that I had, I was I was blessed because my father had passed. And there was a little bit of a trust fund that allowed me to kind of choose what I wanted to do. Oh, I went into That's right. That was a cool choice. And you did that because you love horses, and you've been into PT so.
So at that point, in the year 2000, Medicare came down with a whole bunch of cuts. And so all of my friends were losing jobs. The place that I'd worked, laid off probably 60 to 70% of their people. And the people that stayed took a 30% pay cut in the three local schools in Michigan that were graduating physical therapists, so a total of 90 to 100 kids. Only three of them got physical therapy jobs in that year, so I couldn't get a PT job. And that's when I said, Huh, why don't I go back? You know, we have the internet then. And I was Googling massage and horses. And this horse massage course came up. So these moments hit leaders, and I'm always looking for, you know, words of wisdom and tips for our listeners. What was the conversation with yourself? I know you just do it, because you are, you know, you just keep going forward. But there have to be you know, we're all ebbing and flowing emotionally when we lose jobs, or were, you know, tell us what it was like to be you during those transitions.
Was it scary?
I don't think I felt very scared them because I true big financial backup.
It was scary to move back to the states and lose so much of what I had gained in St. Thomas.
And again, I think I just handled that by being really careful with, with how I interact, what you mean by that. And choosing,
just choosing,
you know, choosing the people that I interacted with choosing the activities I did, choosing the things that my daughter very intentional. I can't really say and that is a big piece of a life by design for sure.
I gotta be honest, it was probably more just Were you worried about? It was probably more out of fear. Fear of, yeah, just out of sliding back into old patterns and really wanting to make sure the people around you losing are safe and supportive and energy that felt good to you. Yeah.
Yeah, and I was only 30. You know, I was like, 3032. So didn't have anywhere near the wisdom I have now about being intentional and that, but you know, to be really honest, I have to say anything that's ever happened that I've been faced with what are we going to do now thing? My into it, I'm a pretty smart girl. But my intuition has always been what I go with, whether I'm treating clients, you know, they might come in to see me and I'm like, Okay, I've got this treatment plan. I always sit mask a little bit what am I supposed to be doing today? And and when I go with that, instead of what the paper says I'm supposed to be doing? The sessions are always so much better, and people get better and they appreciate it. But same thing in my life when I'm like, oh my god, I have to do something. What am I supposed to be doing? And I'm, you know, writing all the lists and the pros and the cons which I suck at because I never, you know, never really did it.
You know, but when I start just exploring everything, you know, it's this fun thing I talk about with Devin when we have to make a change and we start pushing to make it and searching and looking and trying to know capital k n o w
Sometimes you just have to stop. And wait. Absolutely interest. And, and that's a really funny.
I was working in Asheville and trying to think about, you know, I went to New Jersey to work in a pelvic health clinic. This is, you know, in the last 10 years, I went to Asheville to work in one. And I was really struggling with working for someone else and in a way that didn't align with my values. And I was really thinking about starting my own practice. And back here in Wilmington, I came back to visit Sharon, I came back, I came back I came back every weekend, actually. But I got together with Sharon, I think she had just had her first baby.
And we were at the beach, and we were enjoying the beach. And she laughed, and I was sitting on one of the benches just looking at the ocean. And I just heard this voice in my head that said trust
us trust. And that like that was more than five years ago. And that was that was a key moment. Another one was when I was in Michigan trying to decide if I wanted to move to North Carolina. This was 10 years ago.
I'm getting ready in the morning, you know, when I'm again going over all the logistics and the practicalities in the concrete. Where are you going to live? What kind of house where you're going to work that
said house, I'm blowing my hair, blowing my hairdryer in the bathroom one morning, and I hear this voice in my head that, you know, while I'm going over all those things, and it says just get there.
I was like, oh, okay, and here and that was
that was I stopped, kept all the mess and I made a habit practice that fosters. I mean, that's usually when you're in flow, which is great. People don't recognize that. You don't have to sit under a tree meditating, to hear guidance, and to hear your intuition. To those thoughts that pop into your mind. Whatever you're doing are that is your intuition. But do you have any practices that foster stillness or, or fostering, you know, growing your intuition.
I have used them, I struggle with them a little bit kind of like an Eat, Pray Love.
Because I'll be like, Okay, go breathe for five minutes. And I'm thinking about a patient. And I'm thinking about that, Oh, I gotta do this. And I gotta make this post. And so I do work with that a little bit. I recently and I'm gonna go back to another book here, a friend of mine from St. Thomas recently asked me if I would do like a two person book club with her.
And because of where she's at, in her personal growth right now. And she picked out three books, and we were going over them. And one of them was, you know, two of them were like self help books, and, or like be better books, I guess.
And this third one was, Oh, yes, are very familiar. And it's,
yeah, Julia Cameron. And I heard my friend talking about this. And I was like, you very clearly want to do this book. And, and she hadn't really even read about what it was about. But she was really moved to be creative.
And so we're working on that right now. And one of the things there's, there's a couple of things they have you do, and one of them is that you're supposed to write three pages every single day, and I am a lifelong journaler. But making myself do it every day, is I resist the need to do anything. And I certainly resist doing anything all the time. And I constantly am telling my clients, I'm like, You know what, you're a big girl, you get to decide whether you're going to do it or not. And it's been a while and we talk to each other my friend every week, and we go over what we've been doing. And you know, we're like, we're going to do a chapter every week. Well, we've been doing it for three or four weeks, and we're just finishing the first chapter. But
maybe about not necessarily forcing it every day.
Oh, yeah. And I tell my patients all the time, you know, you get to decide whether you're going to do something, but I also tell my patients stop trying to figure this shit out for yourself. Trust that I know what I'm doing. You know, I have a fun story about when I'm telling you to faucet in my kitchen, that my plumber, I was like, hey, I need a faucet replaced. He's like Oh, and I'd been sitting there talking to him while he replaced my water heater and something else and he's like, You know what to do with this. Here's the tubing, go do this. You can do this and this before YouTube. So I was like, okay, it took me four frickin hours. I'm upside down in my cabinet. It was the best ab workout ever, four hours replace the faucet because the person will put it in and put it in the wrong way. And I thought to myself after the fact I'm like it would have taken him 20 minutes
and was wasn't worth my four hours of time to learn how to replace a faucet or should I have just called the plumber. And so it's that I'm I kind of told my friend that
The other day, because she's kind of similar to me, we're both. And we come from backgrounds where being hyper vigilant is valuable.
And so we don't do well when trusting other people. And, okay, I'll just do what I'm told. We resist that very hard. And so I said to her on the phone, I said, You know what? This woman wrote this book like 20 plus years ago, billionaires are using this book, this book works, why don't we just do what she says, and stop questioning and just do it, it's not going to know us. And that was a that is a really full revelation. Because on the flip side of what you just articulated, is, you also recognize the value of you. And the work that you're putting into this endeavor is for you, you deserve to receive exactly the benefit of this endeavor and this effort, and just like calling the plumber, I mean, my time and my energy is spent better doing something else I call the plumber, I outsource as much as I can. I'm like,
I want my life to be as easy as possible.
So you're doing the things that you love doing this conversation with you all day, every day. Then
reminding myself I'm Yeah, I can do it myself. And I you it sounds like he evolved in your life. You're also recognizing you know, it, just because I can doesn't mean I have to
write and it makes you you know, I've really learned to start to consciously ask the question, after my sister passed a couple of years ago, I have really gives you a different
outlook, different awareness different, you know, of how you're living. And I remember when she told me her cancer came back, I just wanted to ask her like how she wanted to live the rest of her life. And I wish that I had, I wish that I had I don't know if it would have made an impact. But she kept living her life in the way that she'd been living it. And part of that was because she was a dentist, and she loved dentistry. And she loved her business. And so she kept working until three weeks before she was sorry for your loss. I know that was a really tough period for you. But you just said something that piqued my interest. What is that new way of looking at life and living differently for you as a result of that experience with her?
Right, just just a much more mindful. And I know you were talking about working with Jackson and doing the mindfulness stuff. And I remember mentioning that to you way back when but I, you know, I think you have to be ready to have that Outlook, you have to be ready. Jen Johnson, just for everybody listening is my therapist. And when I was ready, based on a moment, I was having a somatic reaction. I literally Googled somatic therapists, and she popped up in the Wilmington area. So shout out to Jen Johnson. And then when you asked Who did you end up choosing to do the somatic work, which is about body and mindfulness. And, and I told you, you were like, you know, I referred her to you.
So when the state of
the universe universe knew exactly what Jim but yeah, so you're becoming much more mindful. And yet, let's take this transition in the conversation. And you share with us if you were gonna give us some words of wisdom or, or tips about mindfulness and living a life by design, not by default, when you don't really crave a vacation from every five minutes, but one that really allows you to thrive. What would those words of wisdom and tips be for our listeners today?
It really is just to you know, recognize your your regular you're trained, you're ingrained reactions, you know, that we're we react out of fear of financial loss of lack of threat.
You know, you lose a job and oh, my god who doesn't?
Or, you know, you find out your partner's cheating on you and
instead of, you know, or you're making Thanksgiving dinner and realize, you know, your thermometer, right and wasn't working, who knows? And just instead of reacting, stopping and thinking, you know, okay, my, my kitchen sink has to be replaced. Do I want to call the plumber? Or do I want to learn how to replace a kitchen sink, and stop and think, Well, you know what, I love to learn stuff. Okay? And my brain would be like, I'm sure love that I do. Just love that stuff. And I'd be like, Hey, that's a fun thing to do. And then I might think, Well, would you rather be learning a new PT skill because you like that too?
or would you rather spend that four hours you know, making money so you can go learn how to blow glass, you know, you know, whatever. So it's really just, I am much better at taking the time to stop and think and process my choices so that they are
so that they're based on how I want exactly. I mean, you just actually articulated the acronym I've used with my clients, which is to stop, take a breath. So moving from reaction to response, right response, ability, ability to respond, stop, observe, who am I in this moment? Like, you know, what am I working right now? Is this about my life at home? Is this about motherhood? Understand what matters most to you? In that moment? Do I want to invest in this or invest in that? What are my needs right now? What are my values, and then live the legacy you want to leave behind? Or listen, learn last laugh, whatever the L is to be, stop, observe, understanding live, soulful living, is mindful living.
Exactly what you articulated.
Absolutely. And adding into that, like, let me little sidebar here, so much of how I approach things. Like, you and I have been friends for a long time I listen to your coffee with Nicoa podcast religiously.
And even Devin and I say like, oh, we gotta go listen.
Or your videos.
You know, so a lot of the things that I practice I've learned from you over the last five years, five years ago, when when you know, when you were really getting into this coaching business and putting things out there? I'd be like, yep, that's in line with what I agree with, and how I want to do so thank you put that sidebar out there. But, but the, you know, a bigger question that, you know, I'm sure I learned partly from you is, when shit happens
when your sister dies, and your aunt dies, and your father person dies, and, you know, I tend to really focus, it's how I was raised my Outlook wise, on everything that's going bad, and how awful my life is. I mean, it's a fricking competition, whose life is worse, who's more stress, you bring up in my family? Something that's going bad, and all you hear back is how something is going worse than somebody else's. It's a freaking competition. And I think a lot of women especially are living that way, like, Oh, my God, yes. I'm stressed. Oh, and my strategy, people bond over it, because that's the way they think it's their only way to connect. And it is a way to connect, but it's not a yes. Yes.
Exactly. So I really have learned both in talking to Mike, you know, I've learned so much for myself just in working with patients.
Talking to my patients and myself like, Okay, this is happening. I can't change somebody's dying.
But what
if the sounds really me, it's not the right way to say what's an inference mean? Mean for You? Yeah, how am I going to come out of this? What am I going to learn? How can this make my life better? You know, and I have grown so much from from the last five years of being in business from the hurricane and 18, from everything that happened in 2021. From, you know, it's it, how can you grow, we're supposed to be here to grow, as human nature is to expand and what you just talked about was shifting in assumption that you were, it looks like you were raised under, which is the world is happening to me, what was me to the world is happening for me, and what am I going to do with that?
Totally. And that was like, right, mic drop, boom, boom. And I will tell you, right, you have some of these moments. And I had a moment Whew. Probably two months ago, maybe two, three months ago. 2022 was really hard for me. And it was a lot of oh my gosh, this is just such a mess. It was really the lowest point emotionally that I've probably ever been in.
I probably would have been on meds if I had health insurance at the time and
came out of it. And about two or three months ago, all of a sudden I heard myself and I was like you are given everybody else the power over you. And this is why you feel like crap because you are not like it was total victim consciousness. And I had never heard that phrase before.
And I was I was like, You are letting yourself be a victim. And we do that because Exactly.
Somebody wants to be nurtured and cared for and reassured. And we all feel it. And there's nothing wrong with going there. I always say, it's how long do you stay there? And is it serving you?
People all the time, when you say, See, my friend Nicoa says, it's not what you can't go there, it's how long and naturally you're gonna continue and everybody listening, you're always going to have the opposites of the motion. That's why we're here is to experience all the swings and the ups and the downs. But as you grow older, like you said, Caroline, as you evolve, you're gonna hit them with a whole new set of skills, tools, and wisdom, each time you experience some sort of low. And that gives you that quicker response for recovery, that resilience that we talked about.
Any other sharing about your own lessons learned before I give you an opportunity to tell us what you're working on right now?
I think
One more.
I think, you know, we talk about resilience and recovering from all the awful stuff that happens. And
I think it's really important to recognize that we don't celebrate and enjoy.
And that we, we focus so much, we put so much of our energy on things that are going bad and need to be fixed and recovered from and what are we going to grow from? Instead of like, oh, my gosh, this is wonderful. Let's just, there's nothing to fix about what's going well, right. And so we feel like we feel like we can't do anything about them. So we don't we just go on to the next thing. And what if we just lived in those moments of enjoyment and achievement and just celebration. And that was that was something that I who I'm not going to cry right now. In August, when my sister's one year anniversary happened, her kids told me that they were having her favorite dinner and sharing about all her favorite wine. And I'd been really struggling with how was I marking this time, because of course, the four months leading up to it had been hell again. And, and all of a sudden, I was like, I just want to enjoy things that she can't even enjoy anymore.
And I F have the gift of being here. And if I'm not enjoying the things that I can enjoy, then why am I here? And so that was super, super helpful to like, focus. And I'll tell you, I didn't last very long at it, you know, but I do it more. And I've, I've really, really grown a lot. That was that was probably if I'm gonna be honest. And I'm just realizing that that was probably the beginning of my ruin. Where as we talk about where the mind goes, energy flows. So why would we not shift to luxuriating and celebrating and savoring and thriving, even when things might be off kilter? Or there's something that didn't go the way we wished? I often invite people to, you know, what is it that you want to celebrate about yourself today, at the end of every call, and and when I when I hang up with them, sometimes it's hard for them to come to that space, because they've spent so much time in that victim consciousness. So I invite you to keep doing that. Keep celebrating your sister only wants you to be happy. And your only goal being on this planet is to enjoy the experience. So what good, bad and indifferent. Right.
Right. Tell us what you're working on. Now, Caroline, this conversation has been phenomenal. I love you. We could talk all day long. So promise me that we'll come back again, let's come full circle, like in six months or 12 months, and let's do it again. And let's see how you're doing. And but tell us what you're working on. Anything you want to share with the audience. Anything your marketing, I know you recently had a
this is not your mother's menopause weekend or something like that. Tell us about that. Right. Right, right. Yep. So I've really focused primarily around birth prenatal postpartum things in my, in my business. And as I've been talking to other people recently, who are around my age who have also focused on these things. We've also been like, you know, well, what about us? You know, someone told me, the midwife that I that I learned from and St. Thomas told me, we all choose the career that heals or to to shame,
That was landed right on my chest.
I knew that was gonna. So, you know, we both were kinda like, why don't we start, you know, focusing on menopause now that we're, you know, these younger women are getting much more support for pregnancy and postpartum than we ever did. Why don't we come?
back to ourselves now and let's start supporting air quoting here ourselves and as a collective, in going through this phase of life and educating people and supporting people, so got together about 10 women, who all are different practitioners, but but work around women's health.
And we put on an afternoon of education and connection. And, uh, you know, it was more,
excuse me, it was free. And so we had to
ask ourselves, what are we offering, and it was really an offering of awareness.
Being able to hear, Oh, these crazy things that are happening me are actually menopause, they're not just something wrong with me. And awareness of what we can do about it, that when your doctor says it's just because you're in menopause, just wait a few years, it'll go away. There are other options. And so it was a great day, it was a it was literally the best day of my life in the last three years.
And then a lot of that was because it felt so good to be supporting these 10 women in their businesses, and in the gifts that they were bringing to the community and supporting the women in the community who came. And so we are going to put on another one, it's going to be much more. There's just going to be more, there's going to be fewer people, but we are going to speak longer and be more educational and give people tools.
And I was talking to a
Leadership Council.
Who came to the event? It's like, you do. Yeah. corporate leadership coach. Yeah. Can be therapeutic for sure. And count like, like, but it's coaching. Yeah. Yeah. She was in she was like, you need to do something with this. She's like, this is big, there is such a market. And I will tell you, Nicoa, I have never done anything big. I do big things in my own little life. My mother told me once, when I was going to Ohio State 60,000 People school, she said, what her father said to her when she went to U of M as an 18 year old. And he said, and she said, You have to choose whether you want to be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in an ocean.
There were those two choices. Nobody ever said, what if you want to be a small fish in a small pond, or a fish in a big ocean. And I never before have even wanted just like I never wanted to run my own private health physical therapy clinic. I never wanted to be the big fish in the big ocean. Because being big and being loud was not safe when I was little. And it's literally the first time that I'm like, You know what, I do want to write the book. I do want to be a New York Times bestseller, I and I said to this woman, she was talking to us. And I said, Well, what do you see this doing? And she said, Oh, abs kind of go national speak it into truth. And I was like, I can see myself doing things in big cities. And and so that that's my big thing right now. A big question my big ocean with me, I always think of you as a big fish. And I would love for you to share right now how people can reach out to you is tell us your website, and anything else you want to share. And then we'll wrap it up for our coffee chat for the day.
Excellent. Yeah, we stop in coffee by noon, right?
As a pelvic health therapist. So my business name is inside out physical therapy, and my website is inside out I have just recently pushed myself out of my comfort zone and I actually have a website five years into my business, I developed a website, and I have an Instagram
account that I am educating myself on how to do posts and things like that. So you know, I'm really good at learning. I'm not necessarily i You have taught me how to change my words. It is my new challenge to do what I have learned and put it out there. So I'm going to be working on a lot of posts I have phenomenal ideas for I just haven't executed beautifully. I love watching your stories and they're they're fun and they're different. I like the formatting that you're using. Just to give you a shout out and is your Instagram account you inside out PT as well.
It's in inside period outside out period PT everybody go and make sure that you're following Caroline on Instagram. And please check out her website inside out. Caroline, thank you so much. You are one of my dearest friends. And I appreciate you not only supporting me and my vulnerability of my life by design
But I am honored to be supporting you in yours. And this was just one of my favorite interviews. Thank you for joining me.
Thank you. I'm so glad. Thanks for having me. And I will definitely tell you, you know, the things that you come up with, stay with me and help me move forward through everything. And I greatly appreciate that.
I always talk about like, there's two people I started talking to five years ago, and you're one of them, and I really appreciate that. So thank you, dear you soon. It's my honor. I'll talk to you later. Bye. Bye bye.
Thanks for joining us for a caffeinated conversation. Subscribe to Coffee with Nicoa for more stories from people living a life by design. You can also find inspiration on Instagram. Just follow Coffee with Nicoa and check out our website Coffee with and that's Nicoa N I C O A. We look forward to talking with you soon. And enjoy your coffee between now and then!


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