COFFEE WITH NICOA: Creating A LIFE BY DESIGN.

S1 Ep10: Maari Casey

April 26, 2023 NICOA DUNNE CORNELIUS Season 1 Episode 10
S1 Ep10: Maari Casey
COFFEE WITH NICOA: Creating A LIFE BY DESIGN.
More Info
COFFEE WITH NICOA: Creating A LIFE BY DESIGN.
S1 Ep10: Maari Casey
Apr 26, 2023 Season 1 Episode 10
NICOA DUNNE CORNELIUS

Let me know what you think of this episode by sending me a FAN MAIL message!

Nicoa is so excited to share this episode where she interviews the phenomenal Maari Casey,  Founder and CEO of Uncompany, wife, mother and sister to an amazing brother who happens to have Downs Syndrome. Maari shares her whirlwind of a life story throwing her and her husband, literally, for an absolute loop and how coming up for air she was led to design a solution for herself, and her family, that ended up helping 1000's of others find new ways to work on their own terms! Or, as she calls it, offering a third door of options to create a Life By Design

Maari is an ad-agency art director turned freelancer turned entrepreneur. In 2015, Maari launched Uncompany to create a “soft place to land” for freelancers looking to connect for community, education and opportunities - as well as trusted resource for clients looking to grow, and scale their teams into a truly HYBRID workforce with freelance talent.

Follow Maari on Twitter and Instagram https://instagram.com/weareuncompan
And reach out to connect via  LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/maaricasey


Buy your copy of YOUR LIFE BY DESIGN: A Coffee With Nicoa Self-Care Coaching Journal
on Amazon today! 

Support the Show.

Follow COFFEE WITH NICOA on Instagram @CoffeeWithNicoa for archived episodes & to see more of Nicoa's Life By Design! And now on TikTok @NicoaCoach


Want to have Coffee With Nicoa as a podcast guest? Or, do you know someone she'd love to have a caffeinated chat with? Or maybe a great ESPRESSO SHOT idea? Message her directly at Nicoa@CoffeeWithNicoa.com

Interested in coaching with Nicoa? Check out her coaching referral page here.
Interested in taking one of Nicoa's e-courses? Check them out here.

***BUY NICOA A COFFEE
**COFFEE WITH NICOA MERCHANDISE SHOP
*SHOP NICOA'S COFFEE WITH NICOA AMAZON SHOP

|| Coffee With Nicoa Copyright 2023 ||

COFFEE WITH NICOA: Creating A LIFE BY DESIGN. +
Help us continue making great content for listeners everywhere.
Starting at $3/month
Support
Show Notes Transcript

Let me know what you think of this episode by sending me a FAN MAIL message!

Nicoa is so excited to share this episode where she interviews the phenomenal Maari Casey,  Founder and CEO of Uncompany, wife, mother and sister to an amazing brother who happens to have Downs Syndrome. Maari shares her whirlwind of a life story throwing her and her husband, literally, for an absolute loop and how coming up for air she was led to design a solution for herself, and her family, that ended up helping 1000's of others find new ways to work on their own terms! Or, as she calls it, offering a third door of options to create a Life By Design

Maari is an ad-agency art director turned freelancer turned entrepreneur. In 2015, Maari launched Uncompany to create a “soft place to land” for freelancers looking to connect for community, education and opportunities - as well as trusted resource for clients looking to grow, and scale their teams into a truly HYBRID workforce with freelance talent.

Follow Maari on Twitter and Instagram https://instagram.com/weareuncompan
And reach out to connect via  LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/maaricasey


Buy your copy of YOUR LIFE BY DESIGN: A Coffee With Nicoa Self-Care Coaching Journal
on Amazon today! 

Support the Show.

Follow COFFEE WITH NICOA on Instagram @CoffeeWithNicoa for archived episodes & to see more of Nicoa's Life By Design! And now on TikTok @NicoaCoach


Want to have Coffee With Nicoa as a podcast guest? Or, do you know someone she'd love to have a caffeinated chat with? Or maybe a great ESPRESSO SHOT idea? Message her directly at Nicoa@CoffeeWithNicoa.com

Interested in coaching with Nicoa? Check out her coaching referral page here.
Interested in taking one of Nicoa's e-courses? Check them out here.

***BUY NICOA A COFFEE
**COFFEE WITH NICOA MERCHANDISE SHOP
*SHOP NICOA'S COFFEE WITH NICOA AMAZON SHOP

|| Coffee With Nicoa Copyright 2023 ||

Nicoa Coach:

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. Well, welcome Mari. I'm so excited to have you. We have a mutual friend, Jennifer Gardner, who is helping to win as she producing my podcast. So when she told me about you, I thought this has got to be an interview, we've got to connect on so many levels. So yeah, so let me start by giving a quick overview based on some of the information you shared and then we'll jump right in. Sounds good. All right. So everybody, welcome Maari Casey, she's actually the founder and CEO of a company called uncomfy. Honey, which I can't wait to share this with you guys. She is an ad agency art director turned Freelancer turned entrepreneur. And after she left her full time agency space, she set out into the freelance world, she discovered a big void between talent pool of freelancing consultants and the actual clients looking for these resources. So in 2015, this one you launch, you launched, be launched on company. And that's actually really nicely defined. I went and looked at your website, you were you said a phrase that made me think was pretty cool. Making freelance frictionless and connecting freelancers, not only to each other, but to the clients that need them. So I love this concept as a, I guess I'm kind of a freelancer, I'm an entrepreneur with a service to offer as a coach. So what else tell us a little bit about uncomfy? And then I want to jump into your beautiful life by design. So what in the world is uncomfortable?

Maari Casey:

Yeah, well, I always say like freelancing is not necessarily an employment status. I think it's a state of mind, because I think people I know, lots of people who have gone back into like, full time roles, but um, I still consider them freelance. Because I think once you're an independent mindset, then it sticks with you no matter what your employment status looks like. So I think you are I think that makes sense. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. So I'm company, I started in 2015. And just like you lovingly, you know, mentioned that, you know, it came out of what I saw as a need when I left full time agency to start freelancing. And it was just everything I needed it to be. And we'll talk about that too. But for me, like I started coming across so many amazingly talented people. And there seem to be this kind of like, quiet, massive community. So we all knew that there was other people out there, but nobody was really connected. And it was freelancing, and independent working at that, at that time was very decentralized, meaning it was kind of like, you know, here's a contract on this blog. And here's a rate sheet over here. And here's I find my clients over this way. And there was no real organization around it. And then I'd also worked on the client side, managing some brands, and I saw the pain and frustration that clients experience and they knew that the talent was out there, but it seemed very floaty, and how do I access it? And then how do I operationalize it into my business and, and so I was if there really needs to be what I kind of started calling on company as like a soft place to land, where independence and people who are either transitioning to freelance or career freelance could come together, connect and get community, so connections to each other, to operate to resources and things like that. So community education, how am I going to start my business, grow my business, scale my business and possibly retire from it someday? And then opportunities? How do I connect to clients that understand the value I bring, you know, pay me a respectable wage, and treat me like a valued member of their team, even if I'm flexible, you know, and so I wanted to create that space. And then for clients make it easier for them to understand how to work with independent workers, try to create systems and operations and processes that make it easy for them systematically to work with independent workers, because it's, a lot of times it's like wrangling, you know, wrangling cats, if you're a big entity and big enterprise company, and you have your own processes, and you have your own org chart, trying to work with like I think there's like 31 million US freelancers, right now, trying to work with all these people who have their own operating process is obviously sometimes a non starter for a lot of these companies. So I wanted to create a way that could kind of simplify that process. I think this is a fantastic business model. And I wish I had heard about it back in the day. I've been out on my own for 15 years and, and one of the things that really sticks out for me is this concept of community. And you know, so everybody that's listening, you're listening to this podcast because you want to live by design, and a lot of you are pondering whether or not you're going to jump from full time to freelance. Well, you need to go look at uncomfy right this minute, because I love that it gives you

Nicoa Coach:

You accompany in a way it gives you a community of resources. And I think I missed that the most from being in my big corporate environment until now as an independent.

Maari Casey:

Yeah, I mean, that's part of the, when I left full time to freelance, one of the big things is there's this real loss of identity that you kind of go through where it's like, I used to belong to blank company, or use associated with blank group of people. And now it's just me, you know, and I think as humans, like, we want to have something to belong to. And so I think, part of having on company you know, especially in our community fashion, which we kind of have a written in a discord channel to connect, it's, it gives you a place to associate with, and then to feel like you're a part of something that's more than just you on this floaty, independent Island.

Nicoa Coach:

No, I like that. So you use resources and tools like discords? And what else do you do to create that communal feeling like I'm on a team, even though I'm independent?

Maari Casey:

Yeah, our the way that we kind of work with our freelancers as everyone can sign up, and you go into what we call our free agent pool, which means everybody is in. And then you're gonna get added, if you choose to join our Discord server, which is that kind of asynchronous communication, it's similar to slack. And you kind of go in there and you, you introduce yourself to the group, we're just starting to kind of grow and build that online community, but it allows them everyone to kind of connect with resources, too. So it's like, I found this awesome thing about AI or mid journey, or this great contractor, this cool article. But then one thing we also want to do is we don't want to be the bottleneck for information, we want people to connect with each other. And so as a lot of our freelancers are in their third and fifth year, they're starting to grow and build, like, subcontracting team. So connecting to each other for job. Oh, yeah. Yeah. And so it's a valuable resource, I think, to know who else is out there. You know, when I started freelancing, and I met, like, I think I met a writer who had been doing it for 910 years. And I was like, oh, it's possible to build a real career around independent working or what they call like a portfolio career. And to me, that was like, super encouraging to know that it's, it is possible to do that. So I think it's a valuable, it's a valuable resource to connect, and there's lots of different communities, I think, we need that to feel like we're, you know, we have solid ground to kind of move forward through the hard times.

Nicoa Coach:

Yeah, and everybody has to have a role model, somebody that's doing it ahead of them to give them the confidence that they can make it happen. And it sounds like that would be a great way to also tap into how do I set up an LLC? Who, what, who's buying insurance for their business? And And has anybody ever worked with, you know, Pfizer, and how does their procurement process work? So that's really good, that is really good. And sometimes I have had to learn that those big behemoth of companies, sometimes I just say, just send me whatever forms you require. If you want me to work, I'll just do whatever you want me to do, because me trying to impose my own business model onto them? Yeah, no, that's not gonna work.

Maari Casey:

Right. Exactly. Yes. Yes. You got to work with them for sure. Well,

Nicoa Coach:

let's go to your story about full time to freelance because you had this really amazing story, which I I'm totally intrigued by, because I have a son just starting out in a similar career. So you were a creative director. And what was what we talked about a lot in these conversations is what was your thought process? When you said, I have to stop, I have to do something different? Talk a little bit about what that story was going on in your head. How long did it take you to get the hell out of there?

Maari Casey:

Yeah, probably not. I probably shouldn't move a little quicker. No, it was so I, I guess the back the quick back, quick, long backstory of me is I definitely grew up very, very, like straight A's, you know, all state high achiever. And I love it, you know, I love working. And I love. I love setting like real goals for myself, you know, and so for me, I also kind of grew up with a dad, you know, I'm 43, I grew up on that, like that teetering edge of like, that's why they call it work, you just plug in at 20 and then get your gold watch. And then the new mindset, which is like, I can work wherever, whenever and, you know, so I'm kind of teetering on both sides. And so for me coming out of like, a father who was a great company, man, like, I was always very driven and very work focused, and I became a lot of where I found my value. And so getting in I came from a really small town. So I was like, the only way I'm gonna get out of here. So I'm gonna work really hard, you know, and so, and I played a lot of sports was also kind of foster that thinking. So when I got into advertising, you know, advertising is a great career for people who want to work really hard, you know, they love and I loved it too, you know, and it was it was wonderful and it was perfect for what I wanted it to be. I was 2028 27 I was working for an agency. That was I was doing great work. I was working on a bunch of big accounts, I was doing a lot of traveling for shoots. I was involved in a lot of pitches, and so I was working, you know, like most of them are, you know, 80 hours a week on like pitches and you know, and weekends and traveling and you know, high semi higher stress situations, dealing with, you know, clients and that kind of stuff, especially as like a 2728 year old Oh, and I got into a time where I was coming back from a shoot. And I was actually in LaGuardia coming back with my clients, my mom calls me on the phone. And she's like, the doctor thinks I have early onset dementia or frontal lobe dementia. And I was, I was 20. I was 27 at that point, and, and that was she was 56 at that point. And so my mom was like, obviously, still is, you know, she's not here anymore, like a huge part of my life. And so that was my first just like, Wait, things aren't coming together the way that they should, in my mind, because I've done everything perfectly to this point, and I'm working really hard. Everything should be okay. And then that kind of started the dominoes falling in this like six to nine month period that I always refer to as like my epic unraveling. You know, and I think a lot of times, I think, like, we expect that we have complete control over our lives. And once we expect that, then we're taught differently. And so that really started that process. And so my mom was diagnosed, I'm, of course, working through this very stressful season of business. I get engaged, which was actually wonderful. And I'm still married to my husband. But of course, life changed, right? That's a big Whoa, like, what are we doing and now we're planning a wedding. And so that happened. And then my then fiance now husband a month or two for our wedding, we were walking across a parking lot back from a basketball game that I've been in, and we get hit by a car, or actually a van get hit by a van as pedestrians. And it was one of those moments, I would tell them when they're like,

Nicoa Coach:

What I remembering the story. Now, I was like, oh, right, when we talked the other day, I forgot this intensity. Yeah,

Maari Casey:

we were like joking, I was around this time of the year, it was around like March, April. We always call it our anniversary, like it's our anniversary. Oh, wow. But if you notice those things, too, if you're a control freak, but you're in a controlling type person like I am, that you think if something happens like that, I'll be able to jump out of the way or I'll be able to push my husband out of the way and I couldn't have if that was my time to go, hands down, nothing I could have done to stop that.

Nicoa Coach:

So and the universe is gonna shut you down and cause you to be out of control when your focus is trying to be in control. So this was an intense one that was that.

Maari Casey:

And then we got married, and then my husband's grandmother passed away. And then like six months later, my dad almost passed away. And I spent a month this was around August, a month, I flew back home, I spent a month in the house with my dad who was going through this treatment. And then you know, taking care of my mother who was really already starting to lose it, I hadn't realized that taking care of her in, in the hotel room. And then I also have a handicapped brother who's down syndrome, taking care of him while I'm trying to manage still working, you know, and I, it's like everything in my life, told me to like stop and just freakin take a break. But I was like, no, like, I'm so I'm so stubborn. And I was able to lean into, I'm gonna work harder, and I'm gonna I'm gonna do it all. And then I started having a lot of health effects, you know, you know, panic attacks and breakouts, and just like, you just all the things, you know, and I got to the point where I was having such adverse reactions that I was like, you know, I need to stop like this, I need to reprioritize at work is not the center of the universe, you know, and it needs to be my life. And I need to stop building my life around work and start building work around my life. And so that's when I made that transition to freelance, it was about it was it took me about a year to finally be like, listen and pay attention. But I did and it forever changed everything I do and how I view life and work and all that stuff.

Nicoa Coach:

Wow, the epic unraveling powerful, powerful little chain of events there. And so I can imagine avoiding the emotion of all of those things as well. And work would give you that channel. I mean, it's very common, not the intensity of your story. But it's a very common story for women in particular, who are those over functioning over achieving, that they just keep working? And they're like, Oh, I'm fine. Oh, yeah, I guess that was upsetting. Next. I got it. Yeah, I call them winners. They're just as annoying as losers, but they have everything in control. They did.

Maari Casey:

I do. It's very, it's very common, I think with women, because we are moving so quickly through things, you know, and a lot of times we default to be the caregiver and families. And that can mean I don't have time to fall apart because I'm the one who has to keep it together. And I definitely have played and still play that role, largely and my family and my friend group too. And it's got to pay attention to how that affects you for sure.

Nicoa Coach:

And how did you did you have any help with that transition? Did you reach out to therapy or counselors or coaches or did you just figure it out?

Maari Casey:

Yeah, I mean, I did. I went I had some I did therapy for a little bit, which was actually really great to help me like learn how to reframe what I'm thinking versus what's the actual reality. You know, it was it was really, really helpful. And then health wise, I ended up finding like a naturopath, which was like, changed again changed my whole perspective on it. on medicine and unhealthy and on food and, and that's revolutionized how I how I operate in that in that sphere. So it was it was really a lot of things. I was like, Okay, this traditional way I've been doing and operating in many facets of my life is no longer working. And so I've kind of changed a lot of those things.

Nicoa Coach:

Well, how long did it take you because people are so afraid. They're like, sometimes they they give up before they've even started. And they know they need to stop. They either continue to avoid and numb out or keep overworking or they see what's possible, but then they're afraid to take those first steps. Yeah, what if I can't do it? You know, it's

Maari Casey:

Oh, yes, yes, the fear wall? Well, and I think, you know, when I was in that place, after I left thread freelancing, I became what my husband lovingly called me, the freelance Godfather, people would come to me when they were in that moment of panic, and even just to see the look on their faces, which I've been there, it's just that terror, like, there's no other option, there is no other option. And in 2008, it really felt like that, I think it's changed dramatically with the hybrid workspace and in the future of work, which is awesome. But I was like, there is another option, you can build a career working 20 hours of work week working 15 hours a week here, 20 hours a week here. And just the idea of how we work being like I have to do it full time consistently until I retire is complete BS, you know, it's like, you have kids, you work part time if you want to, and then you ramp back up after they go to school, if that's what you want to do, there's, there's a level of flexibility that was never discussed back then. And so being able to help people see that is possible was really, really super awesome. And part of the reason why I also wanted to do on companies, I was like, people need to know that there's a third door, there's another way that they can work. So my transit, my transitioning out of like work into kind of freelance, it took some time. And what I tell people when they're approaching that, like, I need to jump in, I'm like, you don't need to, you don't need to jump into a complete cliff, you can build a ladder, you know, you can start to slowly build some clients in your off time so that you have a transitional step. You don't need to just cut everything out. And just in payment, you can start to build those steps. You can transition to ask your full time employer, can I work? Can I work part time? Or can I transition to freelance. And then it's also what I always tell people to do is I'm like put a pin in the map and say, in six months, I want to be here in one year, I want to be here and slowly orient your life that direction i One of the things I weave, we do a lot. We promote it once a year. So I'm company is it's called your ideal day exercise. And it's like, down and right up. When you wake up, where are you? What are you doing, I

Nicoa Coach:

do that with my clients.

Maari Casey:

Because it helps you identify your like, what my ideal day is I wake up and I look at and see water. But right now I'm in downtown Manhattan. Like, it's like you can't change everything overnight. But it helps you to slowly orient your life because our life is not just our work. And it's not just our outside, it's all of those pieces. And so when they're not aligned with what our ideal is, then we're going to have that like friction and frustration and you have a bad day at work. And then but you also hate where you live and you have a bad day at life. You know, it's like you got to write the whole picture, so to speak.

Nicoa Coach:

Yeah, I think, you know, we say we can't design it, if we don't define it. And we have to start dreaming about the lifestyle. People tend to feel like, you know what, I quit my job with no plan. So when I did that, I wish I'd done it the way I've just described it. I wish I'd been smart enough. But I was I was a knee jerk reactor and I quit. And you know, and although I knew it was the right thing to do, seven weeks later, I had a massive panic attacks. But, but I did learn that, you know, you had to realize when you go to create something, don't start with what do I know how to do and what can I do? First go back to what is the lifestyle I'm trying to create? And what would innate, what would be the easiest way for me to enable that this still fulfills me. Right? It might not be the job you're doing right now. And I remember meeting with an executive coach, and he said, as I transitioned, and he said, you know, just because you can do it doesn't mean you should write Stop telling me what you know how to do. Right. He goes, tell me what the CEO in those companies needs you to do. Yeah. And I was like, oh, because I was looking at it from the perspective of I'm leaving this corporate world. And then I'm gonna go help them do what they should have been doing in the price. And so I was completely judgmental. Oh, yeah. I don't know. It's a beautiful opportunity now for people to see that there is a transitionary way to do it. You don't have to go cold turkey.

Maari Casey:

Yeah, for sure. And it is it's, it's, I see a lot of trends when people come out from full time to freelance and a lot of it is is they come out with anger, you know, and they're just same thing, and I get it, you know, you're like, I'm gonna, I'm gonna do it better. You know, and, yeah, you know, I think part of after you're out for a while you start to understand I feel very empathetic towards the clients we work with because I've been there and I'm like, I when I work with freelancers, like they won't respond to my emails. I'm like, Let me paint the picture for you. They're working 60 hours a week, Bob in you know, this department just quit. gave his notice. And there's he's leaving now. So now they're taking on Bob's work. And they're also having to do this. And you know, budgets got cut. So they're your email they're not doing because they don't like you. It's because they're overstressed. You remember that? They're always like, oh, yeah, so it's right. There tends to be this amnesia that happens on both sides. When you transition out to when you get back to full time. It's like you forget to it's like to be a freelancer, you know, and manage clients and stuff like that, so long as I get to understand that everybody wants things to work better. Like I think part of being a freelancer is helping some as I always say, it's like you're the clients lifeboat. So make it easy for them. Like don't give them a you know, don't give them a brick to tread water. Give them a rain so they can float.

Nicoa Coach:

Exactly. Yeah. The other day, I had someone canceled like 30 minutes before an appointment. And 15 years ago, when I first started out, there was a confusion of me needed to make sure I was making money because I was the primary breadwinner stay at home husband. And when someone would cancel, I'd be like, I should charge them. Oh my gosh, I'm so annoyed. So this past Monday, someone canceled and I was like, no problem. Yeah. Because my job is to make it easier for them and they will reschedule it. Yeah, it's all fine. It's a free hour.

Maari Casey:

Win. It's a win win.

Nicoa Coach:

It's a win win. Well, this is a good time to take a quick break a little coffee break. Or maybe go play with your sweet puppy dog Chase. Or I mean crash, crash. Crash, and then we'll come right back. Alright, sounds

Unknown:

good. We hope you're enjoying listening to this episode of Coffee with Nicola. Make sure to subscribe so that you never miss an episode and follow Coffee with Nicoa on Instagram to find inspiring content that will help you begin creating your life by design.

Nicoa Coach:

So hopefully crashed and crashing anything

Maari Casey:

other barking at my husband who's mowing the lawn?

Nicoa Coach:

Well, let's turn this story even more personal for you. And you made reference to being that overachiever, caregiver daughter, taking care of your dad taking care of your mom, and you know, tough times. But you also have this beautiful brother who happens to be down syndrome. And when you share that piece of your story with me when we first met, it really hit a soft spot in my heart. I was raised with a mother who was the executive director of the New Hanover County Special Olympics. So I used to be a hugger and dress up like a clown. And now we go help with her. Fingers. Yeah. Yeah. At the very end of there. I was so cheering on and you know, Down syndrome is an interesting, dynamic. Would you mind sharing a little bit about your brother and Down syndrome? And then how that influenced your life by design?

Maari Casey:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, Matthew, Matthew is old, older than me. Like, yes, he's older, he always tells me that he's my big brother. But you know, growing up with a with a special needs adults now, the child, it was never any different for me, because I'm like, he's just my brother. He's not special. He's just annoying and stinky, and, you know, steals my stuff and eat my cookies. But, you know, we've always been pretty tightly connected, because my mother, Matthew was the first the first child mainstreamed in the state of West Virginia to graduate high school. So he was luck. He was in lockstep with me all the way through school. I played all the sports, he managed all the sports teams. And so for me, I think, you know, Matthews offered a lot of interesting perspectives. I think one of them is one of the things I really value about how my mother raised that is that she didn't give him like the whole, like your special, let me protect you over here in the corner and not let the world bump up against you. She wanted to try to get his driver's license, she knew he wasn't going to get it, but she let him do it. She let them fail, you know, and I think that's the thing with where we're getting with all kinds of just different types of handicaps. And, and I call them specialty is that it's, it is a part of who he is. It's not his definition. And I, I march is down to the awareness month, March 31, or 21st. Is March is down sort of Awareness Day. It's World Down Syndrome Day. And so I was just talking about that online. It's like he's not special because he has special needs. He's special, because he's a human, just like all of us are humans and special. And he's a work in progress, just like I am. But for Matthew, I'm, you know, I'm his only sibling. And I always knew that he would come and live with me full time. The expectation, of course, is that my mom would be around for a long time. And unfortunately, she was not and my father just passed, passed away January 1 of this year, so it's always good morning. I'm sorry. Yeah, thank you. And it's it's the result of the long the long journey with my mom's illness. But Matthew moved in with us in 2020. Because I was like, He's we're going to be as caregivers. We should get him set up. And so a lot of what we've been working on with Matthew is like, what life does he want to create? You know, because I think especially for Special Needs for older adults, that option was never really given to them either. There's a lot of amazing things happening within the Downtowner community, which is I know as far as opportunities to work, opportunities to go to school to date, to get married to do all the things, which is 100%. Like, inclusion means everything, it means successes, it means failure, it means happiness, it means sadness. And so as we brought Matthew into our family, because now he's with us full time, that's also super important for me, for him to understand is like, when he came when he came, when he moved at this, he's like, Well, I'm retired, I'm not going to work. And I was like, you are an adult person, and you are 46, you are absolutely going to work, you're not going to send the data than eat cookies and watch the Disney Disney network. So instead of working, he works five days a week, he manages the High School women's basketball team, you know, and because it's like, life is all of those things, you know, and I think for me, the big thing I want to see him work towards, he's also an entrepreneur, he wants to start a T Shirt Company and all this different stuff.

Nicoa Coach:

And I saw the video, that was cool. Yeah.

Maari Casey:

I'll talk to you about all day. For him, it's like, just like, I want to design my life around what I love. That includes work that includes my family that includes travel and hobbies. He does too, you know, and I think there's an opportunity with our with that, that group in particular that I think is very underserved as far as like life planning, and expectations. And we're actually working with the concierge. I call her concierge but she's she's helping adults with disabilities transition into adulthood. So plan, where do you want to be in six years? 10 years? Do you live independently? Do you like to cook like, how can we get you there? So building those bridges, which I think is just a phenomenal business. It's called Able transitions. And she's, she's wonderful. And she's been building out Matthews life plan. So it's been kind of fun to work with him on that. Oh, that's

Nicoa Coach:

fabulous. You know, thank you for sharing. And, you know, Down Syndrome comes with a lot of challenges. But the wholeness of the individual is there and capable and competent. And people need to recognize that I love this. It made me think of just the phrase life by Design for All right, how can we be inclusive for designing lives that are fulfilling for them within whatever restraints that that may have to be but beautiful now, so he moved in with you guys. So tell me about your life by design with him included? Because you also have two other children? Is that right?

Maari Casey:

Oh, yes, we're a family of five plus dog. Yeah, I mean, that's it's it's been a little reshuffling. You know, it's it's interesting. When you have kids, it's one thing, it's when you have a an adult, an additional adult. Yeah, other things. So it's a lot of it's a lot of just more communication amongst my family. It's like how do we how are we operating? are we feeling okay? Because it's, you know, my kids are like, I just wanna spend time with you, or just with data. And then with Matt, you know, it's like, I have a husband. So when we want to be alone time and you know, Matthew wants to sit down and talk to us about wrestling. I'll say, Hey, Matt, like, this is a, this is our alone time. And so it's a lot of like, those kinds of conversations, and he gets it, you know, but it's a lot of relearning how to exist together now with Matt in the picture. So it's, it's, again, it's just a work in progress. But um, but it's a fun, it's a fun, interesting mix, I think my kids will grow up with a really unique perspective. So

Nicoa Coach:

Oh, for sure. Well, talk to me a little bit about what you're most proud of, in all of these years of reflection when you think back on what you've gone through and what you've accomplished. And not just the outcomes, but what are you most proud of about your way of being during your 43 years, you're 31 years, however old, you're

Maari Casey:

31 I mean, I wouldn't even I would say like not necessarily proud as much as it's really grateful because I think while I kind of moved some stones to kind of go, some are knocked over some doors to kind of get some places a lot of it was just I was graced with had the opportunity to like, spend time with my kids, you know, work, but also spend time with my kids and like, pick them up and go to the playground, the middle of the day, or travel or, you know, exercise in the middle of the day, you know, and so I'm really, really grateful with the fact that I was able to build, you know, that life with the assistance of others with the like, help of my husband, that allowed me to like see my kids grow up and be actively involved in their, like young littleness. And then to be able to, like, go help spend a week with a friend when her parents are not well, or, you know, go back home to West Virginia, take care of my my father's state stuff. And, you know, I think that's part of what I wrote this blog a couple years ago called The fractional me. And it's like, the truth is like most companies, it's getting better now. But a lot of companies are just set up for you like, you're a great successful worker, as long as you're 100% you never get sick. You never have kids, you never want to transition careers, you never want to travel, you know, you never have a bad time. And that's just not anyone you know, and I think for me building the Flex is flexible career. It's like I can all those fractions of me, the mom, the caregiver, the wife, the like traveler, the all the things are all accepted. It all works, which is great. And that's why this move to build those kinds of careers is becoming more prevalent because people are realizing like I need to be able to do all these things flex up, flex down and make it all work. That's I think that's a big thing. So I'm really grateful about the opportunity to be able to like work this way.

Nicoa Coach:

Yeah, I think there's a point in time when people come to this realization that I can do something different. And they have to ultimately give themselves permission to do something different. And that's sometimes a real struggle, especially with overachievers and caregivers. Yeah. So I'm really impressed. It looks like you really have handled this life by design with grace, and you continue to do so I mean, big shocker. Not only did your brother have to move in, but that was the pandemic year. So, wow, everybody's in the same house.

Maari Casey:

It was a whole big chaos chaos. For sure. Yeah. But

Nicoa Coach:

it was, well, well, how are you continuing to evolve in this life for yourself? Like, let's go back to you personally, I'm just, you know, I'm all about the the self awareness and, and how people are really trying to understand why they behave the way they behave. Yeah. How are you taking care of you right now?

Maari Casey:

At this moment, not? Well, I think that's part of also like self awareness is when I, I kind of get out of kilter, I'm getting back into kilter if that's the phrase. But I think just being aware of how you operate and where your weaknesses are, for me, it's it's work, it's overwork. And so being aware of like, when I need to keep it in check, and exercising, I enjoy running, I enjoy podcasts, I enjoy walking, I enjoy, you know, travel. And so trying to give myself space to be able to do that, because that's usually usually on the last one that I care about, because there's so many other things going on. But I'm trying to get back into back into that for sure. Because it is it's also a very important piece. Because if you don't take care of yourself, then everything else will stop eventually, because you'll have to stop.

Nicoa Coach:

How do you know when you're not doing it in balanced the way you'd like to be doing it? I mean, what are some of the triggers for you? Or where do you begin to go? Okay, wait, this is a sign or a voice reminding me.

Maari Casey:

For me, it's a couple of different things, it's a lot of just physical reaction. So I have autoimmune related conditions. And so a lot of times if I'm out of balance, and those will flare up, and it's like, hey, for psi, not sleeping, well. You know, I, I I'm just not at a pace, I feel like I can really breathe and there's space, you know, I think when you're feeling imbalanced, it feels like the big enough space in it. But when you don't, it feels like you're just you know, back to back to back to back up until you go to bed and you wake up and it's back to back to back. So I think those are those are definitely a few things are getting snippy the kids or like impatient or whatever, not eating well, drinking too much staying up too late, you know, that kind of stuff, right?

Nicoa Coach:

All the typical things that trigger us, right? Well, yes. Well, what are some of the things that you really have found to be kind of a secret sauce for getting you back to balance? Have you ever tapped into meditation or any rituals or practices in your day to day that, that you could share?

Maari Casey:

Yeah, I mean, meditation and prayer is really important for me. And it's like, sitting in the morning, and just, you know, giving myself some time, I think the pandemic actually was really good for me in a sense that I got to be exercising on a regular basis. And it's mostly because it did like get away from people, like, I got to go outside. But I, I live like not right on the Greenway trails. And so I would get up and I would start listening to podcasts. I call it my commuting time. And I wasn't ever really commuting. And I would do a you know, a two mile jog or something like that. And I did that pretty much on a daily basis. And that was just hugely essential that I would do that. And then I would take a shower, and then I would like kind of meditate, pray and rest. And then I would start my day. So I was trying not to schedule anything before like 10 or 10, you know, 930 or 10 at the earliest to give myself time in the morning. And that was really, really, really huge for me to feel like I was imbalanced and had control over over the the day as opposed to the day like picking me up out of bed and dragging me through it.

Nicoa Coach:

Yeah. And that becomes that sacred time. And I just posted this week, I was like, yeah, in the mornings, part of my ritual is I get up and I get coffee, and I get back in bed. I love it. I love it. Yeah. And then I sit and talk with my husband. So you know, and I know that a lot of people listening are not quite in that freelance world yet or you know, they are still working the nine to five. Is there any and you can do this from your entire life experience. Any advice any life by design tips that you haven't already tapped into or lessons learned?

Maari Casey:

Yeah, well, I would definitely do the ideal day exercise. Keep yourself really accountable because one of our tendencies I talked to a lot of students about this, our tendency with life is we kind of jump in, you know, our parents, like drop us off at college like they've been driving the car for 18 years and then they drop off the car give you the keys and they're like later and all you've ever been taught to do is sit in the backseat. So it's like you know readjusting be like I'm in control over you know how I can design this and that means dialing it up dialing it back. The big thing that I think people fall into is, is they let fear You're be a way to not move forward. And so what I suggest to do is write out the absolute worst. It's just a risk assessment, like write out the absolute worst case scenario, like, Okay, I'm going to transition out of this job. I'm gonna try to get clients nobody's gonna want to work with me ever. Everyone's gonna hate me like whatever just go down the rabbit hole of like absolute worst case scenario. I live in a van down by the river and I'm eatin dandelions, or whatever. My dog guys, my husband leaves me whatever it is, go through the whole process and then start to assess like, the realistic like, is this real realistically gonna happen? What are the chances? Yes, no, maybe? And then say, okay, if this does if that happens, like, what's my course of action? I could see if that going to work at Starbucks, or I can go back to work, I'd always have been like, no, like, well, what if I leave, I can't come back. I'm like, You're right. No one's gonna come and hire you back to work an 80 hour week job, like, course, like that we're gonna have you know, but you started to see how unrealistic our fears can be. But it's really helpful to write it out into verbal and even if you want to talk to somebody about it. I'm reading this when I first started, I was like, Okay, if this happens, and then this happens, and nobody wants to work with me ever in history of time, they think I'm a terrible designer, whatever. And I make no money in six months, because I built myself like a little six month runway, then am I comfortable trying to go and work retail or Starbucks or something. I'm like, I was so ready to leave. I was like, I am like, I'm willing to make that like that change. If it comes to that course it doesn't. It didn't, of course, but you need to, you need to really understand your fear and kind of dissect it. So then you can push past it. Because a lot of times people use their fear as a way to be like, Well, I'm just not going to do if it's too dangerous, you know?

Nicoa Coach:

Yeah, it's too uncomfortable. fear, uncertainty. And doubt. I call it the foot factor. Oh, yeah. But scenario planning is beautiful. And then over time, when you become, I always say, just look at the facts. Look at the facts, ma'am. Just the facts. Ma'am. I just want to see the truth around you. And it might not be facts for you yet. But you can look at other people where it's the fact for them. Yeah. And you can say, Oh, well, they're doing it. And then over time, I think that fear that little story of plan B, it moves further and further away from it. Now I'm doing a visual for those who are listening, I'm taking my hand and moving it behind me. I remember once when I first started dating John, he came to the house and I had recently renovated our basement, which has a kitchen in it. And my parents a long time ago used to rent it out. And I said to John, well, I've redone it for the kids and and I'm doing this and then and then you know if we ever need to put it on Airbnb, it's got its own entrance. And then we could do this and we can make money for it. And he goes, Why are we talking about Airbnb for your basement? And I was like, Well, you know, that's Plan B, right? Like, this was me being terrified that if I couldn't make enough money, I could always rent out the basement. And I said, Why don't you just focus on Plan A right? It was the first time it was like even an option for me. Because although I had left and I was on my own, and I'd never missed a mortgage payment. I want to just remind people that sometimes these fears still come back. Oh, yeah, for sure. So give yourself some you know, grace and compassion along the way. And remember, the more you focus on Plan A, yep, the less likely you'll ever need Plan B. And it goes further and further away from your purview.

Maari Casey:

Well, and I think that there's there's a truth to the idea that I think it's a Marcus Aurelius quote, or someone's gonna call me on it. But it's like, if you want to take the island, burn the, you know, burn the boat, burn the ships. And you know, I tell people, like realistically, like, if you're going to start, you need to know, think of yourself as a business you are, and give yourself six months, 12 months be like, I'm not going to assess going back or doing something or panicking until I get to here. Give yourself a runway to every business that starts has a runway of like, I'm not gonna be profitable for six months, or whatever it is. Give yourself that leeway to learn because you're right, it's hard to unless you've already kind of build a book of business, it's hard to flip the switch and turn it on day one. So the tendency for a lot of people is to be like, I didn't make any money. It's, you know, I've been doing this for one month, like, I'm going back, you know, and it's time. It's not enough time. Like it's not Yeah, so I think I think that's part of it. And I think you're right, I think I think having what I always say when you're starting build yourself a team and you need like a cheerleader, there's going to be like you can call when you're panicking, like I'm the worst person ever. Like, No, you're not, you're awesome. Because of these reasons. You need a cheerleader, you need the devil's advocate that can help you really break down and assess the other side of things. And then you need your like, obviously your your technical backup, who's like, you know, who is somebody who can help you with taxes and all that stuff. And then somebody who's who's like the, I'd say, like the Yoda, who can say, I've been doing this for 15 years and here's what I've experienced and they can kind of mentor you so you need to build your team around you so that you have that as a resource. When you're going through this like panics because there's ups and downs even now it's been I don't know how many years but now I've done I've gone down into the valley of darkness so long so many times. I'm like I'm just in the belly of darkness right now. It's gonna happen I'll come back the other side, but I don't panic about anymore because I've done it. You know, I've done the roller coaster multiple times now so, but it's really important to have that support. So Some around you too.

Nicoa Coach:

Oh, that's an excellent summary of the type of help that you need. Absolutely and, and anything that you're doing in your business that you hate, figure out how to outsource that. Like, the first thing I did was, oh my gosh, I hate the accounting. I don't want to do the invoicing. So I just found somebody, yeah, money that was doing work like me who had someone so I got the referral. And she's been doing it for 15 years. And I'm grateful for her every day. I'm just like, thank you. I have no idea what the taxes are. I don't know how to do that. But I don't have to do it all. Yeah. And it sounds like you've learned that as well that you've got to have that team around you to support you. So that's great advice. Well, this has been awfully fun and so interesting. Is there any other or anything you're working on right now or anything you are supporting that you want to share with our audience that we can encourage them to learn more about or go follow up on?

Maari Casey:

Yeah, I mean, we are. So with uncomf. Honey, you know, the way that we operate right now with our clients is we're working to build them custom talent pools, so they have access to it. So the way that we operate with our talent, is they when they can transition out of being a free agent to a working member, you know, we onboard them, and we get them set up with clients that can build their own talent pools, because in my mind, like the future of work, every every company is going to have a hybrid team, you know, it's it's going to be this flexible worker. And so we're excited. That's kind of what we're building right now within the company is like, what's that next transition piece look like? But I mean, I think just the people are people are interested in learning more about us, you know, signing up connecting to different groups. Because it's just an exciting time. And I think the big thing is just everything's on the table for you, you know, and I think it's, it sounds really easy to say, but it's, I think people forget that they have control over it. It's not like they have to walk the same path as everybody else. And I tell this to a lot of people, you know, there's a lot of people out of work right now. And I've talked to several of them. And I'll just because the job that you did is not a job description that you're finding, right your own job description, I was like was influencer marketing a thing? You know, 15 years ago? No, was creative technologist a thing? Couple years ago, no, I was like, take your role and what you want to create your experience with like, I was talking to a guy who's a strategist and and he's, you know, he wants to go back into growth and stuff like that. He's really, really enjoyed teaching. You know, he's been teaching at a college and I was like, maybe you go and you become a growth teacher, internal growth teacher. So you're helping companies grow talent internally, and you're helping them start as a junior blank, and grow to a senior blank, and you're helping them work through that process of growing by mentoring them internally. I was like, I we just made up a new job. That's a new title. But um, yeah, I think people should think about the things that they bring to the table from a skill and experience standpoint, that's beyond just what's like living on their resume currently. And I think that's where we're seeing all these new roles be created. So it's an exciting time to be able to design what you want to do. And it's totally possible.

Nicoa Coach:

Oh, my gosh, it's that makes me so excited to hear you say that. Because I've always said, Give me your resume. I'll write it in the most powerful way ever. And I'll help you. But you and I tapped onto something right before we started this conversation. And you could take your current job. And well, I'll tell you the example we did one time at chat GPT. Right. So chat GPT can help you create anything you freaking want, you could plug in all of your background and history and say, come up with three alternative job titles and experiences based on my history and background. And tell me for companies that align with these types of jobs. And it will somewhat help you know, create it, we took our daughter's resume, we put it in to chat GPT and she's applying for internships for the summer. She's an engineer, she needs an internship, I'm putting out an ad. But she, she puts her we put the resume in and he said please create a cover letter. I only had to edit like three things with her. And I was like, Look, try this. So let's do it. But it was perfect. Yeah, I think about all of the ways that freelancers and people creating their new companies and designs. You can write blogs, you can and this isn't cheating.

Maari Casey:

I efficiency and that's, that's a big thing, too. I'm like, I want to make as much money as possible, and work as little as possible. So I can you know, and I was talking to my husband right now he's doing his freelancing. He's doing some freelance with us. And I was like, the thing is, depending on generationally, where we're coming from, like, work doesn't have to be painful, and it doesn't have to be hard. You know, and sometimes it's gonna be a sucky day for sure. But it shouldn't be painful and hard. You know, it can be easier. And I think with AI and all the things that are emerging machine learning and stuff like that, it's like, people are really afraid of what it could do. And while there are things we need to pay attention to, there's so many amazing automation and opportunities to say like I'm gonna take care of those things like accounting and stuff that I don't want to do and it's not worth my time. And so that I can spend more time focusing on relationship building or creating product or whatever I do feel like is my, you know, is my core competency? And so I think I encourage people to look at all those tools and resources as a way of like, How can I free up the value of my time and, and let this other stuff take care of the things that are not worth my time?

Nicoa Coach:

Absolutely. What do I want to be doing every day? That's the design story. And so I think we just came up with the new freelance job to which I read about is called prompt engineering. Yeah. So if you're a prompt engineer, yeah, there you go. You can train people on how to use chat GPT, which there's already people out there doing it. So 100% If I need to add it to the resume,

Maari Casey:

it is, it will be a big job for sure. For sure, well, I

Nicoa Coach:

love I love your energy. I love your confidence. And I also love Your Grace, you really have this nice demeanor about you. And it sounds like you have found yourself in a space now where you can make your life even better, because of the actions you've taken over the years. And I just really enjoyed our conversation.

Maari Casey:

Yeah, same. Yeah, it was great to chat with you. I've really enjoyed it. And I I think what you're doing is really wonderful. So keep keep on keeping on.

Nicoa Coach:

Well, thank you and I there's a handful of of freelancers that accompany who have very interesting Wi Fi design story. So I may be reaching back out to you later to get them on the podcast.

Maari Casey:

Yes. There's a lot of good resources there for sure. All

Nicoa Coach:

right, Maureen, I'm gonna ask you one last question. And I asked it to all my clients for a hang up with them. When I have my coaching sessions. I just want to ask, what's the one thing you want to celebrate the most about you, before we hang up? Celebrate the

Maari Casey:

most about me? Hmm. I think there's general excitement, I really am an excited person to see like, what the opportunity is, you know, I think it's very, it's a very entrepreneurial slant to be like, today, I had this great idea, we're gonna create chopsticks with tiny hands or now we're gonna do this, like, awesome felt that, you know, doubles as a parachute or whatever. And I just, I love I think freelancing and starting out where I was, and kind of transiting what I did is like, opened my eyes to the idea that it can really, really be anything just because I'm not the expert in like product development, or this doesn't mean I can't be like, we have access to so many learning tools now. And so I think it's every day and genuinely for the most part, wake up really excited to see what opportunities are in front of me.

Nicoa Coach:

Well, that's when you know, you're living a life you love and you don't necessarily need a vacation from for sure.

Maari Casey:

Yeah, vacation whenever I want. So it's great. Exactly.

Nicoa Coach:

I can take a mini vacation every day. Yeah, by the way, where do we get these chopsticks with little hands and belts with pears,

Maari Casey:

chopsticks, little hands here. We're gonna work on that. That might be something come on soon. So we'll let you know.

Nicoa Coach:

This is so much fun. All right, my dear. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you and I look forward to meeting you real time in person in the future for

Maari Casey:

sure. Thank you.

Unknown:

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 nicoa.com and that's Nicoa N I CoA. We look forward to talking with you soon. And enjoy your coffee between now and then