She's Brave Podcast - Kristina Driscoll

Finding God in NYC with Natalie Elliott Handy

January 05, 2023 Kristina Driscoll / Natalie Elliott Handy Season 1 Episode 2
Finding God in NYC with Natalie Elliott Handy
She's Brave Podcast - Kristina Driscoll
More Info
She's Brave Podcast - Kristina Driscoll
Finding God in NYC with Natalie Elliott Handy
Jan 05, 2023 Season 1 Episode 2
Kristina Driscoll / Natalie Elliott Handy

What would you do if you were faced with becoming a full time caregiver? 2022 was a tough year for Natalie Elliott Handy. In March her husband was diagnosed with cancer. In April she was made CEO of Intercept Health. Thankfully, as of October 2022, her husband is now cancer free. In the midst of all this Natalie and her two sisters decided to start up a podcast called “Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver” (They are caregivers to their mother, who has Parkinson’s disease). Natalie and Kristina talk about the experience of caregiving- feeling isolated, guilty and overwhelmed.  Natalie is one of those people who opens her heart to the world, and when things get tough, she just opens it wider. This is a story of renewed faith, the power of prayer, and finding courage in the face of adversity.  It’s also about God’s perfect timing, and finding a renewed faith in God in New York City during her husband’s cancer treatments.

__________________________________
Learn More About Natalie 

Natalie Elliott Handy, MSW, a seasoned healthcare executive with a passion for serving others. Ms. Handy is the Chief Executive Officer at Intercept Health, a behavioral and mental health company based out of Richmond, Virginia. Throughout her 24+ years in the health and human services industry, she has worked with children and their families, partnering with local and state level government agencies and community organizations, to meet critical mental and behavioral health needs. She takes pride in being seen as a mental health concierge, helping families and agencies navigate the system to find the most appropriate service. When gaps in the continuum are identified, Natalie responds by creating new services and programs. She believes in the power of advocacy, using her voice and position to bring macro level change on the local, state, and federal levels, serving on committees, task forces, planning groups, and boards. 

In September 2022, Natalie, with her  sisters J.J. Elliott-Hill and Emilie Elliott founded Sisterhood of Care, an organization offering caregivers a safe place to relate, learn, be inspired, find hope, and obtain the critical resources needed to support their loved one while also maintaining their sense of self. Natalie and J.J. formally launched their website and blog, Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver, in October 2022, followed by their Confessions podcast in January 2023. 

Connect with Natalie
Website: www.confessionsofareluctantcaregiver.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/confessionsofareluctantcaregiver
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sisterhoodcare
Instagram: @confessionsreluctantcaregiver  http://www.instagram.com/confessionsreluctantcaregiver
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@confessionsreluctantcaregiver
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sisterhoodofcare
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/confessions-of-a-reluctant-caregiver

Loved this episode?
Leave us a review and rating here:
She's Brave Podcast on Apple Podcasts

Connect with Kristina:
She's Brave Podcast Website
Instagram
Facebook

Curious about podcasting?
Join Podcast Mastery Facebook Group



Show Notes Transcript

What would you do if you were faced with becoming a full time caregiver? 2022 was a tough year for Natalie Elliott Handy. In March her husband was diagnosed with cancer. In April she was made CEO of Intercept Health. Thankfully, as of October 2022, her husband is now cancer free. In the midst of all this Natalie and her two sisters decided to start up a podcast called “Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver” (They are caregivers to their mother, who has Parkinson’s disease). Natalie and Kristina talk about the experience of caregiving- feeling isolated, guilty and overwhelmed.  Natalie is one of those people who opens her heart to the world, and when things get tough, she just opens it wider. This is a story of renewed faith, the power of prayer, and finding courage in the face of adversity.  It’s also about God’s perfect timing, and finding a renewed faith in God in New York City during her husband’s cancer treatments.

__________________________________
Learn More About Natalie 

Natalie Elliott Handy, MSW, a seasoned healthcare executive with a passion for serving others. Ms. Handy is the Chief Executive Officer at Intercept Health, a behavioral and mental health company based out of Richmond, Virginia. Throughout her 24+ years in the health and human services industry, she has worked with children and their families, partnering with local and state level government agencies and community organizations, to meet critical mental and behavioral health needs. She takes pride in being seen as a mental health concierge, helping families and agencies navigate the system to find the most appropriate service. When gaps in the continuum are identified, Natalie responds by creating new services and programs. She believes in the power of advocacy, using her voice and position to bring macro level change on the local, state, and federal levels, serving on committees, task forces, planning groups, and boards. 

In September 2022, Natalie, with her  sisters J.J. Elliott-Hill and Emilie Elliott founded Sisterhood of Care, an organization offering caregivers a safe place to relate, learn, be inspired, find hope, and obtain the critical resources needed to support their loved one while also maintaining their sense of self. Natalie and J.J. formally launched their website and blog, Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver, in October 2022, followed by their Confessions podcast in January 2023. 

Connect with Natalie
Website: www.confessionsofareluctantcaregiver.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/confessionsofareluctantcaregiver
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sisterhoodcare
Instagram: @confessionsreluctantcaregiver  http://www.instagram.com/confessionsreluctantcaregiver
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@confessionsreluctantcaregiver
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sisterhoodofcare
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/confessions-of-a-reluctant-caregiver

Loved this episode?
Leave us a review and rating here:
She's Brave Podcast on Apple Podcasts

Connect with Kristina:
She's Brave Podcast Website
Instagram
Facebook

Curious about podcasting?
Join Podcast Mastery Facebook Group



It's Kristina Driscoll posted the She's Brave Podcast. I'm so glad you're here with me. When our son was five, my husband was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. For the next 12 years, I learned how to be brave, resilient, and live my best life.


On the podcast, we're going to meet so many amazing, brave, authentic and resilient women who share their own journeys of how they learned how to be brave, and are now living their best lives. Step into your best brave life with me. And let's go on this journey of how to be brave together.


Hi, Natalie. Hey, Christina. It's so good to see your smiling face and you always crack me up.


Well, it is wonderful to see you again. Very excited. Yes, yes, you have had an insane year, you've had quite a year. And yet it has a happy ending. Like in March, your husband was diagnosed with cancer. You became his full time caregiver, but you also work full time. Plus your mom has Parkinson's disease. Yes, your husband was given the all clear in October. And in the middle of all that, you decide what the heck, I'm gonna start up fast. So you started up a podcast with your two amazing sisters called The Reluctant caregiver and what not only did you start up a podcast, and you were being a caregiver and all this stuff. I love the fact that you guys are really taking it for a lot further than a podcast. Yes, you guys are really getting yourself out there. You've had the opportunity to speak with leaders in the Karen aging community. Yes. How did you make it through this last year? 


It's honestly, Christina, it's been such a wild ride. I mean, I never would have thought that this is what 2022 would have brought. And so everybody you know, has the pandemic and how it rocked the world. And it's funny how the pandemic affected some people and because it did not affect everyone equally. And so I was very blessed. Jason and I were very blessed day since my husband. We're very blessed to I had my job the whole time. We were not at risk. We did not get COVID until after we got back in October from a vacation that we went on. So we were able to skirt COVID during the entire time, including his cancer treatments. It would have knocked him out of the clinical trial. So yeah, so Jason got cancer. It's a it's, it's called squamous cell carcinoma. It's a type of HPV cancer. And and I will tell you, this is so important. So this is the education piece. Yeah, it is common in Caucasian males 45 to 55. It is an HPV in women, it shows up in our cervix, and it's our body typically fights off types of HPV virus is all the time. But in a handful of people, it does not. And in men, it shows up in the throat and mouth area. And so apparently, he what we learned from the doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering, that's where we went, we moved to New York to receive treatment there. They said that it probably was in his body five to 10 years, and that it had been it had tried, his body had been trying to fight it off. But some of the con daughter cells had gotten into his lymph nodes. And that's actually the way we found it. When we did a lot of biopsies. They never found the primary source in his mouth, but it had spread to his lymph nodes. And they actually think his body fought off the primary location. So it was so this is, you know, for people out there, if your lymph nodes are swollen longer than three weeks in your neck, that is a problem. You need to go further. That's the answer because it was misdiagnosed for a year, very treatable, fantastic prognosis. So I mean, it was crazy. So here's here's the crazy part. March 4 was his diagnosis. April 1, I was named CEO at the company I worked for my goodness, congratulate you. Thank you. I told him I thought it was inappropriate to do it on April Fool's Day that everybody thought it was a joke. But you know, and I'd said, Is this the right time? And he was like, Yeah, I totally, I think we got this. And so I will tell you, I'd never realized how much cancer was going to change my life personally, really never would have never thought and I thought, you know, I've worked in the mental health field for almost 25 years, I have taken care of people's children and I've helped families get connected to mental health services. This is what I do. This is my jam. And so I thought, Oh, I've got this no problem and


So yeah, that was cute did not happen. It was not to be a caregiver was so different. And so. So I'm new CEO, we're going we decided we're going to get a second opinion in New York, which we were very blessed and lucky to be able to switch insurances that allowed us to do that. That was a blessing in itself that our whole story is a blessing. Christina, we are, we are not lucky. God had his hand and everything that we did were very faithful individuals. And I'm telling you right now blessed every which way, if you pray, and you believe, and you have faith, that is what got me through every bit of this. And so wow, I always tell people, I'm like Jason's cancer really did cure me. And it's, it's the craziest thing, because it did. It helped me to see reprioritized pieces of my life that I had let go to the wayside. And so and really think about what I wanted, personally, versus what everybody else wanted from me, but it's true. So tell us more. What what did what did that look? Well, you know, I'll tell you this. Jason and I, after the diagnosis, we really started praying every night together. That's not something that we had done. That's beautiful. Can I just tell you, like, I'm newly married, I think you realize that I got married, summer remarried, and I'm a widow. My, my husband is such a man of faith. And sometimes, like, I just love how he grounds me. So like, if I'm like having a bad day, he'll grab my hands. And then he'll say, Okay, let's, let's say a prayer right now, like it could in the middle of the day, kind of thing. But there's something there's a lot of power in praying together like two or more people or even even like larger groups, like my father had prostate cancer 30 years ago, and he had the entire congregation. I was raised Lutheran. So you know, we are really expert at experts at going. I'm kind of I'm joking, but But you know, he literally said he's almost 90 now. And he said that he just felt that the power of a whole congregation a praying for him. It's just there's so much power in that well, and I would have so I was raised Baptist. So I always joke that I'm recovering Southern Baptist, questionable Pentecostal, because I don't like to handle snakes. And so I'm like, I'm from Tennessee, and no, the Pentecostals really don't handle snakes except in the mountains. And so there's there's all that, but anyway, I grew up in the church, but I had drifted from God. And a real good friend of mine said to me, he goes, she said, You know, it's funny, God gets our attention when he misses us. And I said, I did not have to give Jason cancer, though. And so, but you know what, God got my attention. And I made my relationship, right. And I have this hand thing. Number one most important is God. Number two is me, because I'm no good to anyone if I can't take care of myself. Number three is Jason, my husband. Number four is my family. Number five is my friends. Number six has to be work, I allowed work to cross over to become the most important thing in my life. And so I sacrificed a lot, I sacrificed my husband. And so what this did was write the ship and get me refocus back on my relationship with God and myself and really allowing for I'm a self, I mean, I'm a recovering perfectionist, I put so much pressure on myself, and I excel at work. I think that's why I'm addicted to my job. I mean, honestly, when I don't excel somewhere, I walk into my office and start working because I feel I do my best. And so whenever I would not feel as great, like I'm not a great cook. And so God thought it would be funny to make my husband have a type of mouth cancer. Like, for real, like he had to we had the hardest time finding food for him. But it was, how do I reprioritize is really what it comes down to. And then how do I give myself the grace and forgiveness that I tell everyone else? Like give people grace, give them forgive often, I forgive myself and that's where Confessions of a reluctant caregiver came from confessions ever like because here's the thing, nobody has become a caregiver on their bucket list. It is the worst job. It is it is hard, and you have all these feelings. And it's not that I didn't want to care for Jason it was that I'm gonna fail. I'm not good enough. I don't cook I'm not this. I'm not that I do. My thing is I work I'm good at work. And so all my insecurities and then to sit there and watch your husband go through this terrible illness and know that his head is getting radiated And will he be the same and so fearful. And I mean, I'm a touch tech Bay. I don't know if you can tell. And I liked it. I liked some control. And you know what, God looked at me and said, Oh, that's sweet. It's not your plan. It's my plan. And when you can do over and you recognize


eyes. It's his plan with a capital H. The relief that comes over you is alarming. It's alarming. And so I listen to Christian music. I love it. Yeah. Well, I love to stalk people on Facebook and I, you, you have a quote on Facebook, that's just all about what we've just been talking about. You said, this quote says, and it's God, it's God making this quote, you have this awesome sense of humor to God, God has said, I had to make you uncomfortable. Otherwise, you never, never would have moved to cry. I'm like, about to cry, too. I was. So I was so alone in New York. I was so and I had we moved away from our family for him to receive the best treatment. And I was trying to do it all. And I just, I couldn't and I had so many people like, you know, the thing is, is God is is the one who does the healing. But he's talks about the hands and feet of God, and the hands and feet were all that my friends and family who would send us messages and send us cards and get and not gifts, like these big it's just little things that meant like so much. And then all the people in New York like I'm going to tell you people was Jason always said people would think that New Yorkers are not friendly. I'm going to tell you, maybe they didn't have a choice because of my personality. Everyone I met was my bestie. Every person at Trader Joe's like Trader Joe's you need to sponsor this podcast because Trader Joe's in Morton Williams, I went to those Trader Joe's I went to those grocery stores every day because


I was the same way. I was the same way when when I was caregiving for my husband when he developed early onset Alzheimer's. 


Yeah, that's a coping mechanism for sure. Like going to a place like Trader Joe's where, you know, you're not identified by being a caregiver like that could just be you can forget about it. You can just have a wonderful chat with someone really positive. And it's like, it just helps so much. But yeah, I went to New York for the first time a few years back and I I have to say they were all super awesome. People super friendly. Super, super helpful. It was I loved Yeah, well, and I'll tell you, in my hardest days, the staff at we stayed at the aka residences, because I needed somewhere where I could work. And then Jason could sleep. And we chose not to stay with the American Cancer Society, because it was a hotel room and I thought, well, we'll kill each other. So if cancer doesn't kill him, I'll kill him. And so which is true, which seems that these are these are reluctant caregiver kind of confessions. And so I'm gonna kill him. I don't care if he's got cancer or not. And so we had heart space. And so that way, I had some space. But I'll tell you the Manuela was the manager there. And there was one morning that I felt like I was completely failing, and Jason could need and he there was nothing we had, it was seven in the morning. And we had argued, because guess what I argued with my husband who had cancer I did, we got into arguments, and I had been, and it's not to be disrespectful, but he was so difficult. And it's because and why wouldn't it be difficult, he has cancer, getting his head frickin radiated? Why, of course, he's pissed. But the person and it wasn't that he was mean to me. But the reality is, is that he was unhappy. And when you're unhappy, and you have trust and relationship with someone, that's the person you kind of express it to. And so I was like, I'm just gonna go grocery store and buy everything I can. And he was like, Fine, I go downstairs, there's tears in my eyes, and Manuela at seven in the morning says to me, how are you doing? Because she knew and I said, I've got to go the grocery store. Jason can't eat. And she said, You know what, why don't I come with you? Ah, that's everything in a moment like that. Because I've been on the caregiver journey. And I was, I get it 100% She went with me to the grocery store, and we bought food together. And he was able to eat one thing out of the things I bought, and you know what that made it okay. And so it was great. And so, so I had so many people. And so we came back. And this is the part that's the most interesting. This is the where it really saved me. I came back and Jason was thinking we were leaving cancer in New York. And we thought we were leaving her there because I refer to her as her and because she's the mistress. And so she had come back with us. And actually, when I came back, he didn't feel different because the reality was is he's had the from the last day of treatment. It's active for 30 days, and he just kept getting sicker from the chemo. And so we came back and I couldn't find myself. I had been running on high octane the whole time. I came back and I felt lost. I didn't know what to do at work. I didn't know my name, and I never knew that you have caregiver grief. Yes, I had no clue. Yes. Yeah. You didn't know and nobody told me like, hey, when you


come down off of having four to five appointments per day. And that includes the weekends because he'd have infusions. Nobody told me that I was going to crash and the mental health field and I was like, I don't know what's wrong with me. And so I was questioning like, I mean, I must quit my job, because I thought maybe I should be doing something else. I decided I was like, you know, writing had been so therapeutic to me. So I would encourage anyone like, during our time, I kept everyone apprised of what was going on with Jason, by using the caringbridge is this free online website. It's amazing. I tell everybody to use it. It's not Facebook, which is great. Because I did not tell I did not make Jason's cancer Facebook notified. I, it was so much I understand that 100% I could not share that it was too vulnerable. For me, it put me out there. And I've got 1000 plus people on Facebook, connected on LinkedIn. I didn't want to tell anybody I needed to keep it really close to me. And he's not on Facebook. So I just it wasn't I couldn't be that vulnerable, because they all the questions actually made me more anxious. And so in using the caringbridge, I realized I would give updates for oh my gosh, this is depressing. And so I started writing how I felt. And in those 50 entries is really where I found myself, and pictures and humor. And and I would cry as I would I would spend two hours writing these entries. And it was journaling. And it's so yeah, Butik I can't tell you enough. Yeah. And so a friend of mine said, I think you should write a book, which is something I'm working on, which is Confessions of a reluctant caregiver. But I talked to my sisters the whole time. So you met JJ? Yeah. And so I said to her, I had seen this thing, this advertisement on Facebook, learn how to podcast and I was like, Well, that sounds fun. Let's do that. And I don't know why. I mean, in my free time, I have no free time, Christina like no free time, like I work 12 hours a day. You're right. And so I started taking in sha we should do it. And I said, Do you want to do you want to do it with me? And she was like, yes, let's do it. And I'm like, because of course my mom has Parkinson's. And the whole time while we are in New York and dealing with Jason's cancer, we're dealing with my mom who is getting kicked out of her third assisted living facility, oh, my God even make that up. You can't even make this stuff. And so my sisters took the lead with working with my mom. And I helped wherever I could. So in August, we moved our mom out of her assisted living facility and moved her in with my younger sister. And that has been Oh, girl. That's a whole nother podcast. And so, but we decided as sisters that we were going to do Confessions of a reluctant caregiver, because they said they felt just like me, they had the same thoughts and feelings that I did. And it's isolating and you feel alone, and you'd have it's so isolating. And I think some of it is that, like, I look back on my journey, which was a 12 year journey. And you know, some of it was almost self imposed isolation, like, oh, well, nobody's gonna understand me anyway. So I'm not even going to try. And so when I heard about your podcast, I just lit up because I was like, This is so so so needed. There are millions and millions of in fact, I want you to talk about some of the statistics of caregiving, but um, yeah, caregivers feel very, like I felt very lonely a lot of times, very isolated, and have been able to listen to a podcast like yours, it would have allowed me to be like, wow, there's people out there that are going through the same thing at the same time as me, and they understand me and I don't feel alone. And I can reach out to other people who are listening to the podcast or a Facebook group, and it's just such a huge blessing. What you're doing, it's relatable. It's like, oh, so I'm not a terrible person for thinking that. Like, I'm not a terrible person. And the reality is, you're not, you're allowed to have your feelings, but you need a way to express them. I believe you have to get the bad out. You have to say it out loud like I am. I am pissed about my husband's cancer. At least I said it and then Okay, now let's move on. And guess what I totally agree with that. I feel like when we can name we can or we can just talk about it or say negative feelings or a deep dark secret. It just brings it out from under a rock into the light and it takes away its power. Absolutely. I totally agree with that. It helps it it's like okay, I said it. And now I'm done with it. I can move it off to the side. Yeah, you know, I talked to my younger sister because she had more time because JJ was working. So I would talk to Emily all the time. She'd be like in my ear bud. And I'd be walking around the city because a lot of times that I would I would take 20 minute walks by myself to I didn't have to think about Ken


Certain those 20 minutes, I could just always joke that I would pretend like I was like carry from Sex in the City. And I was walking around glad to hear this. Because I mean, you and I have had one other conversation and we connected instantly. Because all these things that you say were all the things that I did as well. And sometimes I tell people, but I'm like, I don't under I don't know if they really get it. But you're talking about how you're walking around New York. And you can be a different person, you can forget about it for a while. And that was just one of my biggest biggest coping mechanisms was spending time with my girlfriends and talking about our kids. And like zero, we're not talking about being a caregiver. We're not talking about that right now. We're taking a break from that we didn't we're not doing it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No. And you know, the reality is, I don't want to be a caregiver. I just want to say it, I'm not ashamed. I don't want to be a caregiver. I didn't want to be a caregiver. And and so I just want to be a wife, and I want to be a daughter. I want to be a sister. I don't want to be a caregiver. I didn't sign up for it. And so for me, it wasn't an option not to write. And so yeah, they were dealing with our husbands being ill. And that's an option for us. Yeah, well, and you know, the sad part is, is that there are some people who do leave their spouses when that happens. And yeah, and you know, what I, you know, before this, I would be like, I can't believe you would do that. Now, I'm like, Girl, a judge a new guy, I judging you. Because, you know, if you can't be what that person needs to the best of your ability, then you're probably doing them a favor, because you have to be empathetic, you set you ultimately, on some level, set yourself aside, but you have to protect yourself so that you don't lose yourself. And so if you most caregivers do not take care of themselves, they do fully put everything aside, you have to have self care, and you have to have empathy, as well for the individual. But caregiving is not a solo act. I heard this from this guy the other day, and he said caregiving is not a solo act. And I'm like, Oh, my God, you're right. Yeah, it's not, you need a coordinated response team. And how do you support that? And so I'll tell you, I mean, we started the podcast, and then as why wouldn't I start a podcast in my free time? And, and then, so that's gonna launch January 24. And then we are also we have a website, which of course by the same name Confessions of a reluctant caregiver, but we're also looking to work with businesses. So here's the here's the numbers that are important. And what we found in digging at a minimum 53 million Americans are unpaid caregivers. Wow. Of those 60% are employed. Wow. And they are the hardest group of people to get in front of because they don't identify as caregivers. And so when you try to give them support, they don't see it. Because if you use the word caregiver because I would have scrolled right past it. I didn't think of my mom, as, you know, being her caregiver, but I'm a long distance caregiver for my mom, I am a caregiver for my husband, because he's my spouse, but there are people you know, caregivers are also either children or adult children with disabilities. Yeah. And then you have family members. And then and if you don't, you can forget your veterans, like individuals, your caregiver for your veterans and things like that. There's a lot of group that different groups that have caregivers, and you just don't expect it. And I think most people think of caregiving as as working with the aging population, they're older individuals total Miss mark. And that's what we're trying to do is say, in addition to art, your parent, and you've got sandwich generation, and so how does it affect kids, kids who are so if you think about kids who are teenagers, especially, and you bring in your parent, or it's your spouse, your kids see that and they inadvertently become caregivers themselves. 




Yeah, my son, my son, on the positive side of it, like it made him so compassionate. I love that. Yeah, really compassionate with other kids in his own age, like even within teens, like he can really empathize with other teens and what they're going through and just generally more compassionate than the average teen, for sure. And it did make him grow up faster. That was a little bit sad, but I don't think we could get through this life. We just we talked about it earlier, that God makes us feel uncomfortable, otherwise, we're never going to move. And so I just always believed that my Alzheimer's journey with my husband, who was much older than me was my path. It was my spiritual bat path and I embraced it and I trusted God. It was not easy. No, I'm making it sound like it's ridiculously easy. It was not it was it didn't start out that way. Let me tell you, I was terrified and scared. But really believe that everything happens God gives us these things to help


was grow. And and my son believes that too. And so we got through it together. 


I love that. I've said to God, I was like, you know, regardless of what happens, I'm going to, you know, you ask us to be a witness, you don't ask me to do anything but be a witness of your goodness. And so I'm going to be a witness. Now, I won't be afraid of judgment of other people. I'm just going to tell everybody my story. Why and to be honest with you, this is part of my witness. And so the confessions is a witness. And we don't shy away, like, that's what we do on my podcast. It's about being brave. The bravery is about being unapologetically yourself. And that's what you're doing today. You're sharing your journey, your story, you are unapologetic about it. And it's gonna help so many people out there because we all have different coping mechanisms. And I love you being so brutally honest about how prayer was the answer for you. It was the answer for me too. I have never even said this publicly. I don't even know if I've told anyone this. But I'm going to tell you right now, there, there was a Christian hotline that I would call probably at least once a month, maybe once every two weeks. I would call them up one time. It was six in the morning. And it was right after my husband fell, hit his head, they whisked him off in the ambulance, I took my son back and I had to sleep. He had to sleep with me. Obviously, after that trauma, he fell asleep. I crept downstairs, got on the couch and called the Christian Hotline at about two two in the morning, actually, I remember it was it was in the middle of the night. And there there was somebody that answered the phone, and I was it's a 24 hour thing. And I I needed that and and then and then you know, they this person prayed with me. And I was appalled. I was like trying to apologize, say I'm so sorry for calling you in the middle of the night.


But it was you know, that was one of the things that got me through was that prayer by like praying with other people in various ways, shapes and forms throughout the whole journey. I love that I listened to we have WWE JD okay. And this is JD to the third, which is what would Jesus do? What would Joel do Joel Osteen. I love me some Joel Osteen podcast, because some of them really speak to me. And it really talked about my perfectionist needs. That's what really helped me to talk about remove that mask of perfectionism to try to please other people and look towards God. And when that that really helped me to see Yeah, holy moly, I really am. I'm living for so many other people I'm living to constantly please, everyone. And so what can I do? That's the whole point of my podcast is I had to learn how to be unapologetically myself, show up in whatever way that was, and not worry about what other people thought and do what was best for me and my son and my husband, throughout our journey. And that was not easy. But I have to say, like, when you really show up unapologetically, as yourself, you are so free. I am better at 46 than I've ever been happy. I mean, and I would have never thought I would have never thought I'd be in this place. And we're at the end of 2022. And here I am on a money, too. And isn't it so ironic? Like, I think people sometimes look at me, and they think, wow, she's had kind of a tough life. But I don't feel like I have I mean I have but it's been a joyous life. And same thing at 54. I'm just like, my life is amazing. I'm blessed and that you know what, it's not the things. It's I really quickly realized. It's the relationships, it's the people. It is the people in your life that God sends to you. There were Christina, there were so many people who got sent into our lives that made such an impact. Terry, who I so I met this lady, her name is Terry. She's from Texas. We have never met. We met on a Facebook group because I was trying to find smoothie recipes for Jason. And so he tried to figure out something and I said, my husband has cancer. I'm trying to find things that might work. And she is a woman of God, her husband's a pastor. And she said, Oh my gosh, Natalie, and so we struck up a friendship online. He constantly checked in on me. She was constantly she sent us she sent us cards. She said she kept saying, you know, let me let me buy you guys dinner tonight. Let me do this. And it wasn't about that. And I'm like, I love you Terry. And and she is such an amazing person. And then the other one that was like really a standout. We met the late this lady on the plane, and Jason had just had the biopsy. The day before they had cut the whole back part of his tongue out and his removed his tonsils. And he of course was like I'm flying home. I gotta be in Virginia. We he was miserable. It was so awful. It was hot because it was for some reason was high and our plane got delayed. This lady who was sitting next to her


To us, her name's Laura. She could tell he was upset. And she just started talking to him. And he shared with her that he had cancer and what was going through? And she said, can I pray for you? Do you know they prayed and her other colleagues with her prayed for him in the airport at LaGuardia over him. And she remained connected to us and still to this day is, that's so beautiful, you know, you, you actually said anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you hands and feet, you got the hands and feet. And so I'm just like, I'm so blessed. I look for the silver lining, and things and I'm a very helpful person. And so, you know, I'm like, Well, this bad thing happened. But you know what a good thing happened. So, because otherwise, if you can't find the silver like, not even the silver lining this the glimmers in the day, like I made it today. I was good enough today. And you know, I didn't have to be perfect. I just had to I made it through today. And that's pretty darn good. That's pretty darn good. Some days are better than others. But some days I'm like, well, Jason's still alive. And so am I. We nailed it.


That went pretty good. Yeah. I love a quote that you love. Also, it's It's James chapter one, verses two and three. Consider it pure joy. whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Sorry, that's yeah, I'm gonna tell you, I never feel closer to God than when I'm in New York City, because that's where I found him. And I always I just, it's the answers are for me are in the Bible. The answers are there and the people that he sends, and I'm just different, Christina, I'm not the same person. And I'm so much better for it. I'm so much better for it. Yeah, I can totally see it, your light shines so incredibly bright. I have never broken up. I have never cried like this before. But I just, I can relate to your journey. And I think I have so much compassion for what you've been through. And we have a connection through our shared journeys. And I'm so deeply grateful for you and your sisters and what you're doing, because it's what is needed. Right now. It's, it's what is needed? Well, I feel like now more than ever, in a time where especially after he coming out of the pandemic, and people were so isolated. And so people I mean, we were blessed that Jason got cancer this year instead of two years ago, because I would have never been able to be with him for his treatments. I mean, I've looked at you know, timing is everything and his time it is perfect. Yeah, it is, it is. i This has been such a great conversation. And you can be really, really funny. So I feel like I'm just I've got to lighten my mood is fine. And you know, I normally ask us about their bravery. But I feel like you've already covered it. And you've really covered it really well and really in detail and how you've gotten through this so bravely to really help my listeners understand and maybe use some of these tools to help them on their journeys. But I love what you what you said this quote everyone is brave in their own way. I for 1am not afraid of raw cookie dough, and I just laugh and laugh and laugh about that. One of the in one of the ways you show up and being brave, and I love raw cookie dough too. I was like, Oh, I can resonate with that. I don't even care Jason tells me I'm gonna die and I'm like taking my chances.


Yeah, totally, totally. Okay, now we're gonna play a really, really fun game. So I just, I'm gonna say a word and then you're gonna give me a word, phrase or sentence or we can talk about it more. Your first word is caregiver. I mean, for me, it's my faith. It's God. Okay. Wow, that is so raw and honest. Love it. Okay. Your second word is healing. What is healing to me is my faith is my faith without question. Yep, yep. Okay, bravery. It shows up in many ways. It shows up in many ways, because I said, because some days I can't be brave. And maybe that's the bravest thing I did all day. Yes. I love that. Yeah. I love that. I love that. And that is so true. Because I think we can get into that space of beating ourselves up about being brave, and we can't be brave 100% of the time. There's no way no way. Okay, community. My people community is is the hands and feet is I grew up in the church and the church is the foundation of the community. The community, to me is I have a servant heart. So does my sisters. We were raised with a servant heart. My parents, grandparents are small business owners. My sister's a business owner. I mean, we're now I'm now a business owner.


But I believe in helping others and I believe in impacting my community. And so


When you look at our mission, my personal mission is changing the world. One person, one family one community at a time. And I fully that's that's community to me. I'm a part of Yeah, beautifully said. Okay, I have to throw this last one in there. Cookie dough.


Yes, cookie dough. Yes. Oh my gosh, Natalie, I can hang out with you all day, every day. Ah, and I'm so excited to continue this journey with you. I'm going to be on your podcast soon. And I cannot wait to see what happens in the future and how many lives you're going to impact. Thank you so much for taking the time today. Not only just to spend time with me, but to really open your heart to the world. Thank you. I appreciate it. And I, I am thrilled, I know you're going to be wildly successful too. Because what you do matters and your voice matters. And storytelling is the way that we relate. And the way that we heal and through our stories is is really the connection piece. And so I love it. Thank you for having me. Thank you, Natalie.


Hey, everyone. Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy life to listen to today's episode. I love learning about what makes you brave.


I'm here with you. I see you. I hear you and I want to hear from you. I want to know how you're showing up as being brave and authentic. Connect with me on Instagram at she's brave podcast or come join our community in the she's brave podcast Facebook group. I'm sending you so much love. Until next time. Keep being brave.