Adrienne MacIain 0:00
Hey, everyone! Welcome to the That's Aloud podcast. This is your hostess Adrienne MacIain, and today we are here with Anne Livingston. Welcome, Anne. Please introduce yourself.
Anne Livingston 0:12
Yes, my name is Anne Livingston. And it's funny, because I've evolved so much over the last few years that it's like, I have to remember, like, who am I introducing myself as today, you know, like, which version of myself am I today? And I'm really an author. I really, for the last six and a half years I was a coach, I was a mentor, I was on my own spiritual journey. I actually started coaching six and a half years ago in the health and wellness arena, and then that evolved into spiritual mindset coaching as I was entering into my own spiritual awakening, and really helping my clients with their mindset and the stories that were holding them back, you know, their limiting beliefs. And then from there, I am a natural writer, I've loved writing my entire life. And I was sharing my story authentically on social media and through blogs, and I had people saying to me, I can't wait until you write your book. And I was like, that's so interesting, because I didn't know I was writing a book, but...
Adrienne MacIain 1:03
Anne Livingston 1:04
Yeah, right? But people were really, I was receiving a lot of messages over the years saying that they really connected with my story, they connected with things that I had gone through, and how I was really choosing to rise above contrasts. And I realized there was only so much I could do with mentoring people or telling people certain things online, I was saying the same thing over and over and over again. And I was like, Okay, I do need to write a book, which is the first book of my three book series, so that when someone asks, How did you do this, how did you go from point A to point B, I can say, here's my story. It's all in there. So I'm really an author, speaker, storyteller, mentor, nomad. I was an intuitive Nomad for the last three years, which is a huge part of my story, and here I am.
Adrienne MacIain 1:52
Okay. So I'll just throw this next question out there and see what it sparks in you. What's the story you're not telling?
Anne Livingston 2:03
Hmm. Because I tell so much of my story, I would say the story that I oftentimes put to the wayside is my story as a teacher. Sometimes when I introduce myself, I do say, you know, I started off as an early childhood educator, and I was a teacher for seven years. And that is a piece of my identity, but you know, when you look at the fact that I'm 38 right now, and so you look at 38 years, like which piece of your story do you pull out and tell people which becomes so much of your identity? Right? I would say that the piece of my story that I really kind of laid down to rest would be I was an elementary school teacher for seven years. When I lived in Gainesville, Florida, I was in a band, I played electric violin in a band for seven years. That was kind of my old identity that I don't feel... it informs who I am, of course, but it's not really what I put forward to everyone else.
Adrienne MacIain 3:02
Let me let me ask it a different way. What do you think is a story that isn't told enough? In our world today?
Anne Livingston 3:10
Oh, well, I know how to answer that one.
Adrienne MacIain 3:13
You might like that one better.
Anne Livingston 3:16
You like, like, take different questions out of a hat. Which one?
Adrienne MacIain 3:20
Which is gonna break her open? Let's see. What do I got here?
Anne Livingston 3:23
The story that's not told enough is actually the reason I wrote my book. Is because when I hit my first rock bottom in 2016, which was my my partner at the time was overseas for an internship. I was severely codependent. I was really struggling with him being gone and I ended up very cliche you know, Eat Pray Love style on my bathroom floor sobbing, praying to a god I didn't have a relationship with. I think many of us have that level of a story, right? I was like, hey, am I Elizabeth Gilbert? And so that catapulted me into my spiritual awakening, it catapulted me into my dark night of the soul. And I went on this journey of learning how to love myself. And I was sharing very publicly online because that's what I was doing, sharing publicly online, talking about the fact that I didn't realize I was codependent, I didn't realize that I was putting all of my happiness into my partner, I didn't realize that I didn't know how to love myself, I didn't realize that I was an alcoholic. I didn't I didn't realize all these things about myself. And I had people coming back at me. They were uncomfortable with how vulnerable I was being. Right? And so I was fine with the fact that I was being vulnerable because I was like, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who's ever experienced this, let me show you what's happening. And they were like, Are you okay talking about that?It's like all of a sudden there's this pity, right, as people kind of want to shut me up a little bit. And then I started also getting backlash from certain family members saying, I think you're crying a lot. I think you're crying a little too much. I think maybe you should go to the doctor. I think maybe you should get checked out for depression. I think maybe there's something wrong with your thyroid. And I was like, I'm pretty sure that I'm unpacking 34 years of limiting beliefs, and I'm just crying because I actually have never learned how to feel my feelings, and now it's all coming out. And I realized people don't actually know what the healing process looks like. And there's so much shame around what we experience behind closed doors and within our four walls, and I was like, I, at that point, I couldn't find another book, another podcast, another teacher, who was actually saying what I was experiencing. And again, I was like, I know I'm not the only person who's ever experienced this. And I don't want anyone else to ever feel like they're alone in that process. And so I was like, All right, I'm gonna write it, then I'm going to be as open as possible. And so I had to heal a lot of my shame, obviously, in order to put it out publicly. But that was a huge piece, is that people aren't talking about what healing actually looks like.
Adrienne MacIain 6:03
Yeah. So, beautiful. So we have in your Hero's Journey story, we have a separation, right? So you've been separated from your tribe here. They're saying, I don't get what's going on with you. You're crying a lot. It's freaking me out. You're being way too vulnerable. You've got the separation. So the next stage is initiation. So what did you do to get initiated into this higher wisdom?
Anne Livingston 6:29
Hired a coach. I hired a mentor. I was very self-aware at that point, I mean, I'm still self-aware, but I was very self-aware at that point. I was like, Okay, I understand what I'm doing, and why I'm doing it. I just can't figure out how to stop doing what I'm doing. And so I was working with the coach at the time. And that's when I really started to unpack a lot of that stuff. When I was in the depths of that darkness, I started to take action on, I was already working out, I was already nourishing my body, but I wasn't meditating much. I wasn't really spending a lot of time with myself. And so I started implementing meditation. And I really struggled with that, because it was very uncomfortable for me to sit alone with myself. And I was talking to a friend at the time, and she said, or I said to her, I don't want to meditate. And she asked why. And I said, Because I keep crying. She said, Well, you have to, like, you won't always cry. At some point, the tears will stop, but you have to keep showing up and doing that. So I did. And then the last piece that I did, which really transformed things for me, was I started looking at what are things that I enjoy doing in my life that don't require money or other people. Where do I become really aligned with my passion? And what can I do that makes me feel really alive and feel that level of joy again that isn't dependent on my partner to be right there. And so I started going out for walks and sitting under trees and cooking and knitting and writing. And I was like, Wow, I actually have all of these interests. But I had forgotten that I had those interests, because I was so focused on all the things outside of me.
Adrienne MacIain 8:13
So the tide starts to turn. Things are going better. Right? Was there a kind of moment where you realized kind of looking back like, Wait, things are better now?
Anne Livingston 8:37
So I've had, obviously, moments. We have milestones, right? We have different milestones. But I would say the first major milestone that I had, was, there was a morning, I was getting ready, I had gotten dressed, I was finishing like the last little pieces of getting ready, and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and for the first time, I didn't pick myself apart. I experienced genuine love in my body and I started crying, because I was like, I have never felt that way about myself. And so it was that like, Oh my god. At that point I didn't have the awareness of what I was doing that was working, I just knew that whatever I was doing was working.
Adrienne MacIain 9:22
Right, yeah. So what were the specific routines or things that you kind of put in place at that time that have continued on?
Anne Livingston 9:33
So, I stick with the body mind and soul routine and I work on that with my clients too. So it's, you know, working out every single day. If it's a rest day, maybe it's stretching or yoga or going for a walk, something, still some form of movement. And then nourishing my body. I am very intentional about what I put in my body food-wise and drinking lots of water. I stopped drinking. And then the mind piece is meditation, filling my mind with positive thoughts. Not bypassing, you know, not like affirming things that I don't believe to be true, because I think that there's definitely a way to do that that is not helpful. But I listen to certain podcasts, I read certain books, I don't watch a lot of, like, I watch barely any television. And that's by choice, you know, because I know what I feel like when I numb out in those ways. And then the soul piece is doing something, at least one thing every single day, where I feel deeply connected to myself. And some of these things overlap, right. So like, the body and the soul might overlap. When you move your body you're going to feel more connected to yourself. Like, if you're going out for a run, you're gonna feel pretty aligned and pretty euphoric. When you're meditating, right, of course you're going to feel deeply connected to your higher power. So they do overlap. But that's the core, that's like the foundation of what has continued in my life.
Adrienne MacIain 10:52
Beautiful. Who do you think needs to hear this?
Anne Livingston 10:58
Everyone. But I think specifically moms. I mean, I have worked with a lot of moms. I don't, like, market myself as a mom mentor or anything. But I do, I have worked with a lot of moms, because what I find is that mothers put all of their love into their children. And it makes a lot of sense, right? So I'm not knocking moms, but it's like you give all of your power, you put all of your time, you put all of your focus into this other human being. And so many mothers out there have said to me, I don't even know what I like anymore, I have forgotten. I have forgotten what my interests are. And so when I help them with that routine, when they start implementing that, it transforms everything. They feel way more connected to themselves, they feel more joyful, they show up as a better mother, they show up as a better spouse or partner. And they start to realize that they can't actually show up for other people in the most authentic and loving and compassionate way unless they have had some time to themselves first.
Adrienne MacIain 12:06
What do you think is the first step?
Anne Livingston 12:11
Deciding. To really decide that you're going to make time for it, because you have to decide, ultimately, to not make excuses, to not put it off, to not you know, whatever it may be. So I think just deciding, and maybe even before deciding having the awareness and being honest with yourself about what you're not doing.
Adrienne MacIain 12:34
Yeah. Can you say more about that?
Anne Livingston 12:38
Yeah. Yeah, so I think like you can't make any changes in your life until you're aware of it. Right? If you don't even know that it's happening, if you don't even know that you're putting yourself on the back burner, or if you don't even know that you're constantly lashing out at your partner because you feel like they are somehow responsible for your happiness. If you don't understand or have the awareness that you're doing these things, period, or why you're doing these things, then you won't make the change and if you even attempt to make the change, then it's not going to stick. It's kind of like trying to lose weight because you think that you will somehow be happier once you lose 10 pounds. But if you don't know why you're not happy in the first place, it doesn't matter if you lose 10 pounds, you're still not going to be happy. Same thing with the money, right? It's anything external. It's all codependent relationships. You can be codependent with money, you can be codependent with alcohol, you can be codependent with relationships, you can be codependent with social media. It's anything outside of you that you try to use to fill that void.
Adrienne MacIain 13:42
Yeah. So it sounds like self-acceptance or self-awareness is awareness is actually the first step.
Anne Livingston 13:48
Adrienne MacIain 13:49
So how do you cultivate that self-curiosity?
Anne Livingston 13:54
I started asking myself like, Why are things happening the way they're happening? I just started to really slow down. So, for instance, in my relationship at that time, I realized that I was constantly starting arguments. And I didn't really know why. And I realized that jealousy was coming up, and lack of trust was coming up. And I realized that all of these patterns that were coming up I had experienced in the relationship before that, and the relationship before that, and the relationship before that. And I had to start looking at the fact that, you know, did my partners have their own things to work on? Absolutely. There are two people in a relationship and we all have our own journey. But I had to take personal responsibility for the fact that I was the common denominator. And so if I'm the common denominator, then something is going on within me. And then I had to be honest with myself too, and say If I don't know how to do this, then I need to hire someone who can help me. I need to get a mentor, I need to get a coach, I need to get support, because clearly there are experts out there who have done this and know how to help me, so why am I trying to do this on my own?
Adrienne MacIain 15:02
Absolutely. And when I was an executive assistant, my boss used to always say "It may not be your fault, but it is your responsibility." And that really stuck with me. And I'm writing my second book right now, so I was just working on this earlier today, talking about that common denominator and recognizing who was in all those relationships? This guy. So it may not be your fault that these things are happening, but it's still your responsibility to become aware of that pattern and do everything that you can to change you.
Anne Livingston 15:39
Adrienne MacIain 15:40
You can't change anybody else, much as you might want to, much as you might try.
Anne Livingston 15:45
And honestly, like, going along that, I started realizing that everything I was trying to fix in my partner I was actually avoiding in myself. And so when I started looking at Why am I trying to fix these behaviors in him? Why am I trying to control how much he drinks? Maybe I need to take a look at how much I am drinking. And I really had to point the finger back at myself, because I was like, I need to look at that first.
Adrienne MacIain 16:13
Yeah. It's really interesting, I've been talking a lot about boundaries lately, and the difference between a boundary and an ultimatum or a threat. And one thing I've noticed is that what happens a lot of the time is we think, Oh, my partner's being so mean, or unfair, or whatever it is. But it's really just because they're not giving you what you were hoping for. Right? And so maybe they don't have that to give you. And that may not be their fault, either.
Anne Livingston 16:46
And it may not be their responsibility.
Adrienne MacIain 16:48
Right. To provide that need for you.
Anne Livingston 16:52
Right, right, exactly.
Adrienne MacIain 16:54