What's the F***ing Point episode 20: Liz Talago on Embracing Sexuality & Navigating Professional Identity

Liz Talago is a SPITFIRE, y'all. When she's not riding her Harley through the streets of Nashville or the mountains of Montana, she's pushing the "acceptable" boundaries of sexual expression as a model of boutique lingerie; she's advocating for women in the workplace; she's changing the way women think about money and their earning potential. And I AM HERE FOR IT.

AIn this conversation, Liz and I talk about:

  • how her family and others are dealing with the political divide

  • how the patriarchy positions a woman's body/sexuality as a liability

  • the double bind women face with our sexuality, and the modesty trap we can fall into

  • her own journey from Catholic school and shaming of sexuality to fully stepping into her sexual power (and what her new black widow tattoo has to do with this)

  • her collaborative photo exhibit, "Sweating Like a Whore in Church"

  • how we start moving the needle to actually create change in the #metoo era

  • navigating personal vs professional identity, and how those of us with privilege need to be the ones pushing the boundaries

To listen, stream from the player below, or find the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or search and subscribe on your podcast app of choice.

Thanks for listening, and if you dig, please share it with a friend and review the podcast on iTunes because it helps more people find it! xx

About Liz Talago

Liz is a writer, brand strategist, and freelance model living in Nashville, TN. She writes about money, sex, women, and work at liztalago.com where she shares actionable, unfiltered career advice for the #metoo era. As a co-founder of Lean-In and Ladies Get Paid in Nashville, Liz loves finding ways to empower and uplift her tribe in person and online. Follow her on Instagram @immaculate.confessions

Mentioned on This Episode:

  • And as always if I forgot anything and you can’t find the link you want, just comment here, shoot me an email, or DM!

What's the F***ing Point episode 19: Megan Bruneau on Worthiness and the Ethics of Mental Health Care

Megan Bruneau is one of those women with a résumé that should make you instantly dislike her because she’s so g*ddamn successful (and gorgeous).

And you want to be like JUST. STOP IT. But then you can’t, because she’s actually really fucking great. Yes, she writes for Forbes and is BFF with Deepak Chopra (or, ok, at least she interviewed him on her podcast and is a faculty member with The Chopra Center — so basically BFF 💁‍♀️). More importantly, though, she is wise, talented, humble, and the REAL DEAL.

Plenty of people with Megan’s level of success and demands on their time would have seen my crazy-ass DM and been like, “girlfriend does not have enough followers to even merit my reply.” I guess she sensed the genuineness and excitement of my message, and she was like “hell yeah, let’s do this!” — then cue a shared enthusiasm about early 2000’s Eminem, and voila, a friendship was born.

In this episode, Megan and I get into SO 👏MUCH 👏GOODNESS 👏around topics like:

  • how we conceptualize mental health vs. “mental illness”

  • the need for validation and non-judgment with medication, while ALSO holding medical providers accountable for more responsible prescribing and aiming to address root issues rather than just mask symptoms

  • the ethics of the wellness industry, therapy, coaching, and psychiatry

  • the insanity of dating in 2018, and how Megan sees it as an opportunity for spiritual practice

  • the risk of spiritual bypassing in today’s affirmation and manifestation obsessed wellness world — and how this is completely tone deaf re: privilege and systemic oppression across marginalized identities

  • the 3 things women tend to fall back on for worthiness/sense of self when they lack a greater sense of meaning, purpose, and identity

  • why millennials need to elevate conversation around finding meaning (especially for women) for non-mothers (whether by circumstance or by choice)

  • And holy shit, a lot more.

To listen to this episode, you can stream or download from the embedded player below, or find and subscribe in your fave podcast listening app. 

Thanks for listening, and if you dig, please share it with a friend and review the podcast on iTunes because it helps more people find it! xx

About Megan Bruneau, M.A., RCC

Quoted by multiple NYT bestselling author Melissa Hartwig as “The most authentic voice in the self-love world,” Megan Bruneau, M.A. RCC is known as the “Millennials’ therapist.” Her no-bullshit, relatable voice has garnered of 30m views, and landed her appearances on The T.D. Jakes Show and New York 1 Morning News. Transparent about her own mental health struggles, frequent heartaches, and uncertain entrepreneurial life in New York City, Megan’s vulnerable and humorous writing-style has inspired dozens of viral articles – making her a HuffPost– homepage regular, MindBodyGreen Expert, and Forbes favorite.

Megan hosts the the formerly iTunes New and Noteworthy podcast, The Failure Factor: Stories of Career Perseverance, interviewing notable guests such as Deepak Chopra, Joe Cross, Whitney Wolfe, Danielle LaPorte, Mark Sisson, Melissa Hartwig, Jessie Andrews, and more. A Chopra Center faculty member and speaker at press-worthy events such as STRONG New York and Entrepreneur Organization’s Nerve, Megan is a sought after summit speaker and podcast guest. She’s been featured on ForbesMindBodyGreenHuffington PostGaiaThought CatalogElephant JournalEntrepreneurQuartzThrillistVerily MagLola, The Aloha Way, and more; she has also been quoted as an expert on DailyMailThe New York PostBravo TVPsych CentralPsychology TodayBustleSparkPeople, The ListLifeHackerBrit + Co, and more. Megan is also part of the MindBodyGreen Collective of experts; a video course instructor for MindBodyGreenJiyo.com, and The AO Project; and a regularly interviewed expert on BALANCE Eating Disorder Treatment Center’s recovery YouTube channel.

Megan has a master of arts in counseling psychology (Simon Fraser University), and a bachelor of arts in family studies (University of British Columbia). With 12+ years experience providing crisis support, mental health counseling and coaching, she’s a Registered Clinical Counselor (RCC #6420) in the province of British Columbia, and sees clients globally as a coach. Using her unique combination of personal and professional experience and powerful written and spoken voice, Megan seeks to change the way people relate to their inner and outer worlds.

Mentioned on This Episode:

  • And as always if I forgot anything and you can’t find the link you want, just comment here, shoot me an email, or DM!

What's the F***ing Point episode 17: Liz Ward on Pivoting Toward Your Passion

Most of the people I know who love what they do didn't get there in a linear way.

And of course, many of us are still figuring it out and iterating, reformulating our professional lives as our skills and interests evolve. Liz Ward is a shining example of this, and she now dedicates her work to helping others do the same, with her coaching business, Slick Pivot.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Liz for this episode and learning all about her fascinating history doing marketing for Bacardi and working on the campaign for the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. By all external measures, she had it made. But a total lack of work/life balance or harmony left her searching for work that felt more meaningful and allowed her to actually have a life.

Now, living with her partner in the London countryside with her almost 2-year-old daughter and a baby on the way, Liz has found a sense of inner peace that only comes through hitting a bottom and fighting your way to the other side.

So many elements of Liz's story resonated with me, and I'm sure they will for many of you, too. (And we also got into some of the practices and tips she shares with her coaching clients, which are gold!) Enjoy the episode!

To listen to this episode, you can stream or download from the embedded player below, or find and subscribe in your fave podcast listening app. 

Thanks for listening, and if you dig, please share it with a friend and review the podcast on iTunes because it helps more people find it! xx

About Liz Ward

Liz is a London based AOC (Association of Coaching) accredited Personal & Business coach and NLP Practitioner with over 12 years experience developing, coaching and mentoring high performing individuals, from entrepreneurs in the start up world to teams in her corporate management roles.

With a background in brand, digital and business development, her career history includes the rebrand of the Millennium Dome to The O2, London 2012 Torch Relay and Opening Ceremony campaigns and global digital strategy for spirits giant, Bacardi-Martini.

Liz pivoted her career in 2013 and left the 9-5 corporate world for startup land. She led marketing and product strategy for disruptive tech startups, before launching her pivot coaching company Slick Pivot in 2016

Liz has with a mission to help people to pivot their careers and businesses for more happiness and growth. Because life is too short to spend time doing work that is not enjoyable. She works with people that are stuck in their current jobs and can’t see a way out, people suffering from burnout and balance and who are stuck with a business that is not working for them. Liz works with them on rebranding themselves, developing the right mindset for success, how to be more productive and get good at change. She supports their pivot journeys through one to one coaching, team workshops, and events.

Mentioned on This Episode:

  • And as always if I forgot anything and you can’t find the link you want, just comment here, shoot me an email, or DM!

introducing "Life Balance 2.0" weekly blog feature {work life balance}

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In today’s culture, we're constantly preached to about the virtues of moderation and balance.

And I’ll be the first to admit that I am totally guilty of this, because I know that I function a lot better when I’m more “balanced” in pretty much every sense of the word.

However.

We also live in an unprecedented era of instantaneous communication and “always on” connectedness. With the lines between “work” and “life” increasingly blurring, the term “work/life balance” seems like a leftover relic of the 90’s, especially for working parents and entrepreneurs. The intersection of work and personal growth is fascinating to me, because I view them as one and the same.

I’ve heard the term “work/life integration” used to describe this new era, and I like this because it describes the reality that life is not often siloed into these separate buckets, especially with certain kinds of work. Yet, of course we need to be able to implement some boundaries, or else what's stopping us from becoming tethered to our devices 24/7 and adapting to a state of Continuous Partial Attention, especially with the flesh-and-blood people who matter most in our lives?

I don’t believe that the idea of “work/life balance” is a myth as some argue, or an antiquated, obsolete idea. I just think we need to be more aware of how we’re each defining it.

Hence, I’m starting a new weekly feature on the blog that will be published every Thursday: Life Balance 2.0.

In this series, I’ll share stories and actionable tips and strategies for how to better define and practice your unique version of balance — whatever that means at this particular point in your life.

When I was visiting family in DC earlier this week, I watched my aunt and uncle get ready for the workday as they tried to get two small kids up and ready to go on time without forgetting any crucial items. It was like a mini circus, but nothing out of the norm for their average Monday.

The old idea of “balance” would be laughable in this situation. Some weeks require travel or crazy-long hours. Sometimes the kids have camp, other days are play dates or family outings. There is no “normal” or “ideal” balance that could work all the time. Real life does not look like Pinterest. 

I picture my aunt or uncle trying to walk down a four-inch-wide balance beam while holding a phone, their work bag, lunch, a kid, the kid’s backpack and lunch, an umbrella, and car keys. If they fall of onto the left side, balls get dropped at work. Off the right side, balls get dropped at home.

“Balance” seems pretty ridiculous and impossible when you think of it that way, right? A set-up for failure. We can’t define balance so narrowly or one-size-fits all. What works for one person or family may not be work works best for another.

Where does "work" end and "passion" begin?

My husband calls me a workaholic because I’m “always doing something" (guilty as charged on that part). It’s definitely true that I need to learn to chill a little more and step away from the screens — but what drives me is my passion for constant growth and voracious hunger for learning, so I can more fully experience the world and share those experiences and information with my people both online and in my offline life and work.

I’m always bouncing around from psychology to spirituality to marketing and entrepreneurship, trying to become a little more informed and more helpful to my tribe every single day. To someone else, my life might seem totally “off-balance.” But to me, most of it doesn’t feel like “work.” It’s part of my purpose for being here. 

And just like all of you, I’m also still learning everyday about what a more holistic “balance” means for me at this moment in my life. I want to keep experimenting with new ideas and systems to ensure that the various little gardens of my life (marriage, career, finances, friendships, etc.) are all getting enough water, and that I have enough in each water “bucket” of mind, body, and spirit to properly tend to those gardens. 

I hope this series will be useful to you, because I’m already excited knowing it’s definitely going to help me on my own quest for defining my own personal Life Balance 2.0.

Also, I would absolutely love to hear your ideas or stories that I can work into this series! Just comment here or on social media, or shoot me an email.

And make sure you get my Mind-Body-Spirit meditation and Meditation Apps Resource Guide, my free gifts to you, which will be a great asset as you embark on your own Life Balance 2.0 mission.

looking for direction? ask what your 10-year-old self would do

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Photo: My cousin Taylor and I being entrepreneurial with our blue lemonade and blue yogurt pies. Miss you always.

This is certainly not an original idea (are there any?), but it's one that has helped guide me many times, especially recently. Are you struggling to figure out what your passion or purpose is? Or, perhaps you have so many that it’s hard to land on any one thing long enough to gain momentum, and you don’t know how to narrow your focus?

Just ask what your 10-year-old self would enjoy doing.

In the past year or so, I was doing this before I even explicitly realized it. I sheepishly dipped my toes into the metaphysical realm, exploring crystals, energy, the Tarot, flower essences, etc. At first, I felt a little embarrassed about my interest in these areas since I tend to consider myself an educated skeptic, and also because the whole Bohemian hippie thing is really “in” right now and I didn’t want to think I’d just jump on the bandwagon of whatever is popular just to be "cool."

But the fact is, 10-year-old Valerie would have loved the shit out of all this stuff.*

And when I was 10 — sure, I had plenty of insecurities and flaws — but I was unapologetically ME. I was witty, creative, and I didn’t believe my potential was limited. I loved fairies and gemstones and anything sparkly. I loved reading and writing stories. I was a novice cellist, good at math, and obsessed with singing. I believed I was creative and had a lot to offer. I believed my body could do really cool things (like gymnastics!).

Sure, I wasn’t free of anxieties of fears. I’d worry that the boy I liked wouldn’t like me back, or that my friends liked each other more than me** — but my inner critic didn’t yet have the power to stop me from doing the things I loved.

Then, slowly, I started growing up, and little-by-little, losing that clarity of what made me come alive.

I only played the cello for a year (don’t even get me started on that; my school had limited electives and I regret not having chosen orchestra over choir), and I never followed my aspirations of acting because I didn’t start theatre by my freshman year and then told myself I was already “too late." My attempts to actually perform as a singer (outside of my bedroom or car) came in fits and starts “because no one wants just a vocalist” and I didn’t play an instrument, or genuinely care enough to learn one because my musical passion thus far has really just been singing.

In the past year, I have been more committed to my own personal growth journey than ever. I’m a voracious reader of self-development books, and spend most of my 2-hour-a-day commute listening to podcasts in that realm. One of the best pieces of wisdom that I’ve taken and applied to my own life is that, if you want clarity on how you should be living, look back and consider what you would have enjoyed doing at age 10, and there’s a good chance you’ll love doing something similar now.

Of course, it’s not advice to be followed 100% literally, as otherwise I’d be sitting around watching Ghost Writer, reading Baby-Sitter’s Club books, belting out Alanis on my karaoke machine, and eating Little Debbies all day long. On second thought, that sounds pretty great. But my husband would probably start to worry about getting the bills paid. So, it’s not about being literal, but rather, looking at the kinds of things you enjoyed back then and seeing how you could have more of them in your life now. Thus far, almost all the things I’ve loved doing more of are all things that my 10-year-old self also loved.

I’m singing in a band. I wear glittery eyeshadow and dye my hair bright colors. I wear Lisa Frank headphones (like right now). I write and tell stories and jokes. I eat ice cream almost every day. (ok that’s definitely not new) I get excited about learning about and trying new things, both practical and “magical” (anything with an air of whimsy!) I hang out with girlfriends and have a great time talking for hours on end. I go on adventures, like today when I hiked with my husband into what felt like a “hidden trail” in our neighborhood to a “secret pond” and got drenched in rain on the way home. I play games with my friends, like Dungeons & Dragons, am reminded of my favorite live-action role-play game from when I was 7 or 8 years old, and promptly find and buy it on eBay (then warn my friends they will be coming over soon to play a child’s game from 1993 with a unicorn on the box.)

I won’t delude you or myself that I do these things all the time. In fact, I’m usually pretty boring. But I have seen that the more that I intentionally challenge myself to integrate 10-year-old-Val activities into my life, the more alive and more “me” I feel. And it can apply far beyond hobbies or activities, all the way to what you want to do with your life professionally. At around 10, I was already filling out guided journals and reading Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul and other books that were the equivalent of self-development for kids. By 12, I had started my own girls-only online club, Shimmer Gurl. Not far jumps to my current job, working with groups of women on their healing journey, and writing online to share my passions and expand my reach.

If you want to feel more alive in your day-to-day, or more clear on your “big picture” direction, try writing a letter from your 10-year-old self to you today, about all the thing you loved doing. Look at old photos of yourself and talk to parents, siblings, or friends who have known you since childhood. You may very well find the clarity or direction you’re looking for, and you’re damn-sure* to have fun in the meantime.

*My 10-year-old self would not have approved of the use of the words "shit" or "damn," but some things change, right?!

**I acknowledge that a lot of 10-year-olds have much bigger problems than this... but at that point in my life, the impact of an amicable divorce was about the most serious thing I had going on.