This week, the subject is Social Health: Effective Communication. Bernadette Jiwa, prolific author and skilled storyteller, discusses helping “people to be their most influential and inspiring selves”. According to Bernadette, “You can’t change a mind without winning a heart. Humans have known this instinctively for millennia. That’s why we’ve relied on stories to help us. Stories are our most powerful and persuasive technology. In a noisy world, our best hope of creating the change we want to see is to tell a better story.” How does listening with empathy and intention help us to tell better stories? How does telling better stories make us socially healthy human beings? Tune in to find out these answers and more.
Bernadette Jiwa is a writer, creator of The Story Skills workshop and founder of the Right Company business community. Her bestselling books are modern classics on mastering the art of storytelling for impact. She helps people to become their most influential and inspiring selves and use their stories for good.
In this episode, the subject is Social Health - Effective Communication. Bernadette has been helping thousands of people communicate by becoming skilled storytellers for over a decade. In our episode, we examine how telling our stories has created more honest connections with the people in our lives. Stories can take many forms, including spoken, written, and musical. You can experience all three in this episode!
Mindful Minute -
The YOGI MD Podcast Theme Music by Lisette Kelly (bass and guitar), Maya Bishop (vocals), & Nadine Kelly (percussion); Produced by Tim Buell.
Original Drum Solo by Nadine Kelly; Produced by Tim Buell
YOGI MD 0:04
Welcome to the YOGI MD Podcast. It's Nadine, yoga teacher, health coach and retired doctor, here to bring you and your body together. Not in sickness, but in health. Thanks for taking this time for yourself.
Bernadette Jiwa 0:26
Why are we telling this story? Are we telling it to serve ourselves? Are we telling it to connect with people that we want to serve?
YOGI MD 0:36
How does listening with empathy and intention help us to tell better stories? How does telling better stories make us socially healthy human beings? My guest today, Bernadette Jiwa, prolific author and skilled storyteller is here to answer these questions and more. According to Bernadette, "You can't change a mind without winning a heart. Humans have known this instinctively for millennia. That's why we've relied on stories to help us. Stories are our most powerful and persuasive technology. In a noisy world, our best hope of creating the change we want to see is to tell a better story." *DRUMS*
I took my first drum lesson in my early 40s, Eager to fulfill a dream of becoming a musician. I walked into the music store jammed with an array of shiny instruments, gear and colorful books, curated for devoted parents hoping for the next Mozart. I worried that I was in the throes of a midlife crisis. But I knew this. Working hard to achieve excellence was a skill set with which I was intimately familiar. It had always helped me to survive. So my drums became another hiding place with perfection as my shield to avoid creativity. Years later, in my first lesson with my new drum teacher, Tim, he was stunned by my laminated rudiments sheets, flimsy manifestations of my shield of perfection. He challenged me to add creativity to my repertoire, to dance without rules, in order to find my musical voice. Yet I struggled to break my hardwired need for achievement by following rules. A few months later, I met you Bernadette, in the Story Skills Workshop. And one evening, you casually asked me to compose a solo for commencement, having seen my drum kit in the background on our Zoom calls. After you asked me, my stomach flipped in a combination of anxiety and excitement, but I knew that this was my first chance to try something creative. But I didn't know where to start. My neatly composed stacks of books and laminated sheets mocked me. I mean, I was no songwriter. I was no expert. What were the right steps to write a good song? And did I have the audacity to dance with uncertainty? I surely didn't want to embarrass myself in front of hundreds of graduates. Would other seasoned musicians be there? Would they judge me? I took the plunge anyway, sat at my kit. The silence in the room was deafening. I started to focus on my breath and the present moment, soothing myself with the knowledge that nine need only be myself on my drum kit. I could hear Tim's reassuring voice asking me to let go of the notion of perfection and just play. I reminded myself of the advice I have always given in my yoga classes. Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. No strain, no gain. Do you. I began to see my kit with new eyes - shiny blue, gold, silver possibility. My drumsticks started to feel like light extensions of my body rather than unwieldy. And my precious little minute solo was born lovingly and patiently. On commencement day, on our Zoom call, I watched The Brady Bunch grid of faces expectantly, keeping an eye on the comments in the chat. And someone commented, "From one drummer to another, thanks for doing that." That particular comment made me feel seen and heard. Now I'm starting to see myself as a musician, dancing with curiosity, and uncertainty. And I want to take more chances. As a result, right now, I am proudly composing my own podcast theme music with the help of my daughter, Lizzi, and niece Maya. And I can't forget Tim. Bernadette, thank you. You've helped me as a committed lifelong learner, to become a better communicator, through written, spoken, and musical storytelling.
Bernadette Jiwa 5:47
Thank you, that's just beautiful. I couldn't be more thrilled. Everything that you've said, there, everything you've talked about in your story speaks to this fear that's ingrained in us. And how we have to get out of our own way in order to walk the path that's calling to us.
YOGI MD 6:21
I can't overstate enough, how I've been transformed, learning more about myself and becoming more comfortable with being myself. As a result of joining the Story Skills Workshop, I was able to communicate this thanks to you in such a profound way, and communicate it to Tim, in a profound way. And I wouldn't have been able to do that before.
Bernadette Jiwa 6:53
Yeah, and it's hats off to you for showing up to do the work and for being curious enough to and brave enough to take that first step. What did you say to Tim?
YOGI MD 7:08
Well, we were talking about these difficult times right now, and how challenging they are, and how easy it is to feel disconnected, and how easy it is to feel like we're not really making the difference that we want to make. And so I told him this story.
Bernadette Jiwa 7:30
Yeah. And it's in those small moments that we can make a difference by showing up as ourselves.
YOGI MD 7:41
Absolutely, it does take courage. This is how I feel and it would have been heartbreaking to feel any form of rejection.
Bernadette Jiwa 7:58
And yet, and yet, anything that's worth doing is an opportunity to be rejected, because we are not going to appeal to everyone. When I heard your story, I was thinking about my journey to writing and storytelling. I didn't start writing until I was in my 40s. And I think there's something about having time and space and entering different phases of your life, and seeing them as an opportunity to try things. And I think that's what's happening in this moment in the pandemic, for a lot of people. They're questioning the past, they've been walking to now and thinking about how they want to show up differently in the future. And maybe this good to come from this. I hope so.
YOGI MD 8:52
Well, for me, I'm discovering new ways to solidify meaningful connections. And that's really why I wanted to talk to you today to to address how powerful stories can be to improve our communication to strengthen our relationships, and maybe even bridge some understanding when it's difficult to have a conversation.
Bernadette Jiwa 9:16
Sure. I think we lost we've lost that gift in our individualistic culture. I don't know what it was like when you were growing Nadine, but I grew up in a house with no books. But that didn't mean that there weren't any stories. I grew up in Dublin, which I proudly say is the storytelling capital of the world. And even though we didn't have a bookcase crammed full of stories, there were stories around the kitchen table with the kettle always on the tea pot always on the table and neighbors come in and out of the house. We learned to listen to each other and to be present to each other's stories and to have empathy for people we didn't quite understand. And I think we're, we're really learning those skills right now, in these times of, I guess, heart and transition, and especially I think in the United States. I think the whole world is watching and witnessing how we might do things better.
YOGI MD 10:38
One of the ways I think we might do things better would be by paying attention. There were times in my life, when I'd be in a family gathering. And we'd be hearing stories. There were some that were very impactful, stories that I wouldn't forget, that I learned from. And then there were times where I felt a disconnect, where it was almost like, the person didn't really need to have me there, it was just reciting a series of events. And I really couldn't see what I was supposed to get out of the interaction, or if... I didn't feel a connection. Does that make sense?
Bernadette Jiwa 11:29
Yeah, because stories are about change. Great storytellers know that their stories have to have a shape and a point. And they might not know that consciously. But the best storytellers are teaching us something about ourselves and, and how we can live in the world. So every great story has some element of change. And it's not about, it, just relaying the series of events, as you said. Oh, I I met so and so down at the shop today and this is what they said. If there's no transformation in there, if there's no opportunity for us to learn something, if there's no challenge or complication in that story, then it doesn't change us. I just watched last night, rewatched for probably the 10th time one of my favorite movies, which is Pride and Prejudice. And what makes that such a great story is that we see the death of we witnessed the death of their love Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet because we see the challenges they have to overcome to be together. If, if it had just been a case of poor girl meets a rich man and they get together, we wouldn't have the same attachment to that story. But what we learn by hearing that story is the depth of true love, that true love conquers, can conquer anything. It can help us to overcome anything, whether that is pride or prejudice. And while that's a fictional story, it's it's based in what it was like to live in those times, what women were up against, in those times in finding partners who they wanted to be with. So I think what you're alluding to, is the power of great stories, to help us to shape the future that we want to see. *DRUMS*
YOGI MD 13:48
And another thing that I've really noticed, in addition to what you've said, is, in what I also heard in what you're saying is that emotions are necessary. There needs to be an emotional connection.
Bernadette Jiwa 13:59
Sure. And one of the questions that I've been asking lately of people on the back of thinking about love is, what were the... Tell me about a moment when you met your partner, where you just had this spark of recognition that they might be the one for you? And I don't, and usually, well, maybe you're gonna tell me about the moment. But I want to I want to say before we go any further that usually what comes out is not about the color of somebody's eyes, or how tall they were, and how what they wore, it's usually something seemingly insignificant that they did that reflected who they were in that moment. So maybe you've got a story for me Nadine, about when you met your partner.
YOGI MD 14:57
We were in college and he was a year ahead of me and we were going, this was my first week on campus and I was very intimidated. I was very frightened, this whole new world. I'm coming from this small High School. And now I'm on this big college campus. And I'm terrified. And we're going on this tour. And he was one of the two people helping guide the tour. And I just remember he made a really sarcastic, biting comment. I don't recall what it was. And I thought, oh, yuck. But a few months later, I was reintroduced to him. And we just started talking, and we were in one of the same classes together, and we went on a trip to Starved Rock. He made me laugh the whole day. And it was with the same sarcastic commentary. But it was just different. I felt like I was part of the joke, if that makes sense. So I got to know that, that's just the way he, he joked around, that it might come off as funny sometimes. But we came back from that trip, and I got off the bus and my mom was there to greet me. And she said, she'll never forget how I was beaming and smiling and I was saying that I just had so much fun with this guy on this trip. And he just made me laugh.
Bernadette Jiwa 16:25
Well, how fabulous is that to meet somebody who can make you laugh throughout life? And isn't it interesting? I don't know what he looks like. But I have a real sense of who he is. I've got no clue what he looks like.
YOGI MD 16:40
Not like me at all. That I can say (laughing).
Bernadette Jiwa 16:44
And that's the interesting thing, isn't it? You didn't marry somebody who you were perhaps thinking you might end up with. You didn't end up in a relationship with somebody who was at the same skin color, from the same culture necessarily, and neither did I. And I feel like that's another bridge that story can build.
YOGI MD 17:10
I never thought about it that way. But what I noticed with him was that we shared similar values. One of the other things that he talked to me a lot about initially, was family. And I could tell that he was really connected to his family. And that was really important to him. And family is super important to me. So we immediately had this connection.
Bernadette Jiwa 17:35
Yeah, based on on him being vulnerable enough to share with you part of his story, that family was important to him.
YOGI MD 17:46
Bernadette Jiwa 17:52
You know, that beautiful quote from Abraham Verghese, the author of"Cutting for Stone", who's also a physician. He says geography is destiny. And I like to think that we can rewrite the geography of our destiny Through telling stories. I know it's helped. I know, it's helped me throughout my life to rewrite the geography of, of my destiny. I was brought up Irish Catholic in a place where, in the 80s, when I met my partner, 99% of people were white Catholic, that was the expectation that you, you would meet somebody of your own kind in inverted commas. And I felt very hard for an Indian man, and eventually convinced him to fall very hard for me. And we ended up at this, on the doorstep of the parish priest's house. So in the church where I had grown up in, where I was baptized, where I sang in the school choir, speaking to a priest to I knew from childhood and and asking him if he would perform our marriage ceremony in the church because my partner had said, it's really important to you to be married in the church. That's what we're going to do, which is a huge step for him. He was raised as a Muslim. And I remember that moment standing on the welcome mat, asking the priest if he could perform our wedding ceremony. And I remember him looking my partner up and down and turning to me and asking me if I had any idea what I was doing that might be, he told me my children would be kidnapped and abducted and taken to Pakistan. He asked me to reconsider my decision. And I knew in that moment, Nadine that there was no future for us and our children in the country where I had been born, because we would face that prejudice. And from that moment, we made plans to make a life in another country because we didn't want to wait for the next 20 years for progress to happen. We knew we had to rewrite the geography of our destiny, which is what we did, and have been doing for 30 something years. So it worked out pretty well.
YOGI MD 20:41
Hmm. Oh, my goodness, thank you for sharing that.
Bernadette Jiwa 20:45
And my partner's never been to Pakistan. So what I'm talking about there is judgment from from somebody who really should have known better as we all should know better than to just judge by the color of somebody's skin, or their culture, or religion, or whatever, whatever it may be. If we don't know somebody's story, then we don't know that person. And we have to give them a chance to share their story with us.
YOGI MD 21:17
The first part of that, or one of the first parts of that has to be a willingness to meet each other, and sit and listen. But how don't we even start?
Bernadette Jiwa 21:30
Well, there's some skills that I think we have forgotten over time, and in the digital world, and one of them is presence. And the other one is genuine curiosity about the other person, that one of the things I love about Ireland is that people are still very, very curious about your story. You know, there's a greeting in Ireland that starts with what's the story. My brother, who we lost when he was 20 years ago, when he was in his early 30s, he would always come up to me and put his arm around me and never, he would never say hello. He'd say, "What's the story?" And I love that greeting, because it's an invitation to open up, isn't it?
YOGI MD 22:21
Mmhmm. As opposed to the very common? How are you said in passing?
Bernadette Jiwa 22:28
That just reminds me of, what you what you just said there reminds me of something that writer David Sedaris invites us to do. He says, if you want to be a good writer, and a good storyteller, you need to stop making small talk. Because if you just go into the grocery store and say, how's your day, and somebody gives you the stock answer back, you're never going to get to know anything about anybody. You're not going to be either interested in what they have to say or you're not going to be able to write anything interesting. So I guess being a great storyteller, and, and a better human being is about being the most interested person in the room. *DRUMS*
YOGI MD 23:22
Sometimes I see the challenge with that being context. And I've been noticing that a lot when I read. I notice that people think there's a time and a place for specific things. For instance, relaxing and being present can only be done in a yoga class or in meditation, because that's what I'm doing right now. Elsewhere where that skill might be applied, it's like well, but that's not what we're doing right now. And I will say that, to your point earlier, one of the gifts, if you could call it that of the pandemic, it is horrible. But yesterday, I sat down on the phone talk about another art that's lost, I actually sat down on the phone with another person, without doing anything else and listened and talked to her. I wasn't so willing to do that before all this happened. Just being on the phone and not feeling like I have to go do something else. Or I have to put her on speakerphone and multitask. No, it was I'm going to sit down and pay attention to this human being because this interaction is precious to me.
Bernadette Jiwa 24:34
You've really opened up something there Nadine, it's this idea of multitasking. So we go to the grocery store with their headphones in and we think this is an opportunity to listen to a podcast. We are on public transport, and we're all plugged into our devices. So nobody's making eye contact with anybody else. My husband once joked to me that I need to just stop talking to people on public transport because they would think I was crazy, because the only people who speak aloud on public transport, unfortunately are people who are, have a mental illness. And I thought that that is true. And that is sad. Who, who are the, who are the people who are crazy here? it's us who are staring into what my son said, my middle son says is, we all sit there stroking our glass rectangles and avoiding each other and and what you talked about there about sitting down and just having a conversation. We've lost that because we're mobile. I remember, in the old days, right, you and I are old enough to remember phones that you had to sit in one place, you had to sit on the stairs because the phone was connected to the wall to a cord, where you could only walk, you know, in a meter square. So you just sat on the stairs for an hour and you had a conversation with somebody and you listened. And you cared about what they were saying next. You weren't, honest, you didn't have them on speakerphone and you weren't cooking the dinner, I'm guilty of doing that. I'll phone one of my kids and I'll say I'm just cooking dinner, I thought you know, we'd have a chat while I'm cooking. And it's a different conversation because you're not wholly in it.
YOGI MD 26:38
That's an interesting point. And just while you were talking, I was thinking about that change, because I do remember, I had this very visceral reaction to the phone with the curly cord attached to the wall. But also, what went along with that is, we couldn't take it for granted. Because there was the one phone in the house. And if you had a big family, you had to compete for time on that phone. I think there could be a way. Because I hate to sound like we all do this, right? Every generation is like, oh, in the old days, it was this way. And these kids nowadays don't, XYZ, right? Can we advance with the the lesson, the core message from what you just said, is sitting, being present, paying attention to the other person, the technology back at that time made that necessary. We can still have this new technology. I was on my cell phone when I talked to her, today, my friend. But I made a conscious decision to use what I felt and learned as a kid, even though I wasn't totally conscious of it at the time.
Bernadette Jiwa 27:55
You're talking about being intentional. And anything we're talking about here in this conversation is not to to diss the advances that we we are all able to take advantage of. We can, you know when I think about what you said about the phone and competing for resources, also, it was really expensive to call people. And now my parents live in Dublin and I live in Australia. I can speak to them for two hours on Skype without it costing a lot of money, where in the in the old days, we wouldn't have had that connection, that opportunity to connect. So we are so lucky to have the resources at our disposal that we have these days. It's not about the technology. It's about how we choose to use the technology, and what the technology can do for us as a community, as a family, as a nation. *DRUMS*
YOGI MD 29:05
And you've said this to me before when we've talked, in that the technology is a beautiful thing. But we have to make sure that we're using the technology and the technology is not using us.
Bernadette Jiwa 29:18
It's true. And I think there's, in the pandemic, what we've seen is the opportunity to use technology as a way to find each other and to connect with each other. Do you think about how we're connecting now, over Zoom, how we in the Story Skills Workshop bring people from all corners of the world together to witness each other and to support each other in telling better stories and finding the stories that we are called to tell. How lucky are we to have this opportunity to be alive in this moment in time to be able to do this.
YOGI MD 30:05
Mmhmm. Yeah, to connect globally, I've made so many friends I would have never been able to make before this powerful technology. But it's, it is done with intention. Again, I'm very conscious of how I'm using it, why I'm using it, how it's advancing my life. And I make sure to take care of myself and not, find a way to keep it balanced, where I'm not in front of the laptop or the computer for hours and hours. And so that when I do connect with the people that I talk to on Zoom, or on whatever online platform, it's done in a meaningful way. I don't want it to become too fatiguing.
Bernadette Jiwa 30:55
And also, the other thing that I think you're alluding to there is not to make our connection, all about the technology, that how are we connecting in our community? What one of the wonderful things that's happened to us in the in the pandemic is our neighbor two doors down, who's an incredible baker and cook has been making this bread and bringing it you know, her husband will get this knock on the door at five o'clock just before dinner. And this is the best bread you've ever tasted in your life, baked in my neighbor's oven, comes through the door with a jar of marmalade and just this willingness to open ourselves up to each other, I think, has been truly lovely. So how do we, how can we use that going forward? How can we not forget that going forward?
YOGI MD 31:54
Well, I think one of the ways we can do it is remembering to tell each other stories like this, not forgetting. And I'm curious about, you know the story I told you in the beginning, I really thought about that story for a long time, it was something that there was germinated when you first asked me to do the solo, actually. And I didn't write it down with any agenda in mind. I just knew I needed to note this thing that was happening to me, I felt like I was changing. And it was important to really recall and put down in words. And then it started to develop, and I wanted to add more. And the story just became richer and richer. After writing this, I thought to myself, this is a skill. I know, this is something I have to practice. How do I, how do I make this more natural? How do I capture special moments like this in a story on a more regular basis?
Bernadette Jiwa 33:04
You know, what we do in the Story Skills Workshop meeting is talk to people about noticing your life and just being open to the stories that are coming up every day in your life. You recorded that story. And you remember and that stories become significant to you. Because you were paying attention to what was going on in your life. As you do in yoga, you pay attention to what's going on in your body. And you pay attention to your breathing. You're paying attention to your life now. And you're making, you're connecting the dots between what's going on right now and who you are and your own values. What I loved about your story was how it taught me something about you as a person and how you, how driven you were in your life and how you, what's helped you to get to be who you are today. And while you might say well, those things are, some of those things are not serving me right now, they are still a huge part of who you are and they have served you to now so we don't have to think about you know, throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We have to think about building on our story and layering and and thinking about what are those? What are those common values that made me who I am? What What is the thing that was driving me to be that person who was rigid and studying and laminating the sheets and what did I care about? And how does that serve me now? So all that goes to say is that you're connecting dots and that's what stories also help us to do. They help us to connect the dots between our past and our present and hopefully, to the future that we want to create and the future we want to build and see.
YOGI MD 35:15
Thank you. *DRUMS* Something else I've been curious about as of late is paying attention to... It's almost like someone in Story Skills said, ha, you can't unsee it anymore, right? The stories are all around you. And what I've been paying more attention to is advertising. What feels honest? And when it feels I'm being manipulated?
Bernadette Jiwa 35:47
How do we avoid manipulating that goes back to our intention? Doesn't our Why are we telling this story? Are we telling it to serve ourselves or are we telling it to connect with people that we want to serve? That's the easiest yardstick, I think. Are we telling stories that will help people to make decisions that they are happy that they made, and that they won't later regret? Because for a lot of years, I helped people to tell their company's story or their marketing story. And we always start with, what's the change you, your customer wants to make? And what's the change? How are they changed in the presence of your product? Let's think about your drums, for example. How did you choose the drum kit, you probably went to a really reputable music store and they guided you through that process. They didn't... They sent you away delighted with something that would serve you. And you, I'm guessing you didn't come away from that transaction feeling manipulated in any way, shape, or form?
YOGI MD 37:08
Absolutely. It was like I was in a candy store. But the good news is in to go back to your point about learning about yourself and connecting those dots. So the gift that the past me, the very disciplined, get it done girl did before she went to pick her drum kit wants to do some research, and not just walk into the store blindly because then it's so overwhelming. But in order to pick what would best suit me, I really sat down and thought about what I needed, what sound I needed, what price range I was willing to. And so I was a little bit more focused. And I could have a smaller range of kits from which uh, to choose from.
Bernadette Jiwa 38:03
And what you're pointing there Nadine, is also something that's great about you, which, which is you're saying that your discipline perhaps doesn't serve you in some ways, but in other ways, it really serves you. And if you think about the lessons that you're passing on to your daughters at this point, there are times in your life, when you need that discipline. You even need it if you want to become a good drummer, because unless you practice, unless you make time to practice, unless you have that discipline, you're not going to get any better. So it's not a case of pure, you know, creativity is just showing, abandoning the rules, creativity is showing up.
YOGI MD 38:51
That's an excellent point. And you're talking about balance. So it's the balance. I was off kilter with my approach to my drums for a long time because I was just using it as another place for punishment and judgment. I'm not good enough. I was giving myself grades I sound terrible compared to x person. Why did I start so late and one of the bad things about the internet is you can find, easily someone playing some very complicated lick. And no you don't know the background to how long it took that person to play that thing you don't you don't know if they were practicing the same one minute for months before they filmed it. But you're comparing yourself to the endpoint, someone's end and thinking feeling so inadequate and so I kept I kept chasing that inadequacy with work hard, work hard, work hard, work hard and I wasn't having fun and I... The other thing about that is feeling the energy of it. I wasn't coming away from the kit feeling more energized. It felt, and yes, it's hard work, so you should feel like you've you've been working at the kit if you want to get better, but it left me feeling drained. Whereas nowadays, where I'm using, yes, the discipline to sit down and practice. I still do need to practice my rudiments but I also need to weave in play and creativity and room to put the sheets away. And just figure out what I'm trying to say with my unique voice as a drummer.
Bernadette Jiwa 40:31
Just brilliant. Because if there's no joy in the act of playing, then what's it for? What's the point?
YOGI MD 40:45
Exactly. And the energy around when I'm done with practice? Yes, I feel spent still in a very focused practice, but it's, it's that good fatigue like after you've done a great workout there. There's endorphin release too and there's a feeling of satisfaction and yeah, more satisfied.
Bernadette Jiwa 41:09
Yeah, that's wonderful. I'm so happy for you. *DRUMS*
Nadine, did you see those twins that? Did you see that video that's doing the rounds of the internet, twins listening to Phil Collins' drum solo for the first time?
YOGI MD 41:30
I haven't watched it yet. I have heard of it, though.
Bernadette Jiwa 41:33
Talk about joy, I it just makes you smile because here you have two young men open to discovering something they've never discovered before. And something from the past coming to surprise them and delight them. And I think that's partly what you're talking about, too, is making room for delight in your in your own life.
YOGI MD 42:06
As we're nearing the end of our delightful conversation, taking your word delight. Do you have any other questions that you're very curious about for me?
Bernadette Jiwa 42:21
I'm curious to know the story about how you shifted from being a physician to thinking about wellness in all its forms?
YOGI MD 42:39
That is a super question. It's a very complicated, very layered question. And actually, I talked to Seth Godin earlier this week. And I opened with a story actually to tell him about how I connected with him. And he had he might consider it and he was so humble about it, like, yeah, it was all you it wasn't me. But he, his work was there when I needed it. There wasn't just this one pre-determined way for me to interact in this world. And just because it didn't work the way I wanted it to didn't mean that there was not something more for me. One of the things that really bothered me when I was practicing medicine was the focus on the sickness model. Is it, just, you just go to the doctor and focus on I'm here because something's wrong, besides your normal annual or your screening, where those things might be addressed? And I just kind of felt like it was always kind of in the back of my mind, like do I want to keep focusing on sickness? That was the seed that helped me find my place as a yoga teacher. It was just the thing I needed after I made the transition and decided that medicine was no longer for me. How could I use what I learned with a unique population that I saw as underserved and focus more on wellness too is this something people don't think of necessarily. Wellness is not the absence of disease. You can still be a healthy person with arthritis. You can. I also really felt like we were doing ourselves an injustice, focusing just on physical health, and barely the mental, barely. So I thought, well, there's so much more out there, and I felt it because of what I experienced. I experienced this flat unidimensional existence and I knew, there had to be something more. I felt like there was so much more to me. And in this life, which, as a pathologist, looking at bad outcomes a lot, and doing some autopsies, dealing with cancer patients, I thought, you know, nothing is guaranteed. I know people like to say that, but really, nothing is guaranteed I saw it. And so I felt like, from that experience, to squander our lives every day waking up and going, what diet should I be on today? Why don't I weigh x pounds, why is a woman does my face not look like this? This is not the narrative I wanted to follow. And I certainly didn't want to leave a legacy behind of, for my kids, or in my work, I, I'm here to serve, I feel very passionate about that. So I really wanted to make a very lasting positive impact in people's lives to expand the notion of what being healthy is.
Bernadette Jiwa 46:07
YOGI MD 46:10
Thank you for asking. I think a lot about these things. So thank you. *MUSIC*
Bernadette Jiwa 46:19
When, Seth was right, you know, it's one thing for somebody to open a door for you. And it's quite another thing to have the courage to walk through that door. And if you think about all the years you invested, and all of the hard work, and the resources it took to qualify as a physician, to just take just take a step back and to say, you know, I'm not sure this is for me anymore. And to change course, takes huge amounts of courage. In a world that is constantly telling us who we should be, it's very hard to show up as yourself. And you're helping people to do that every day.
YOGI MD 47:16
Thank you. Because ultimately, I had to reject that story. That narrative, that story, I was telling myself and buying into as well, that this is the road I have to follow. And this is what's expected of me. It wasn't working.
Bernadette Jiwa 47:34
And just by doing that, you're an example to you girls, even if you say nothing more, the fact that you acted on that is showing them that they can choose the path that feels right for them. They can always change their mind.
YOGI MD 47:52
Yes. Bernadette, speaking of health, what is your personal definition of what it means to be healthy?
Bernadette Jiwa 48:02
It comes back to strength for me, it comes back to feeling strong enough to show up in the world in the way that I want to show up. So that's my definition of health. Am I feeling strong today?
YOGI MD 48:19
Bernadette Jiwa 48:21
It's one thing to have a drum kit in your room. It's another thing to use it to, in service of yourself and your gifts and what it is you want to bring to the world. So, thanks. Thanks for inviting me to speak to you. It's been lovely.
YOGI MD 48:41
Thank you. This was magical. I so appreciate you. Thank you for being here.
Bernadette Jiwa 48:46
YOGI MD 48:51
And now it's time for the Mindful Minute. Spend a week looking for stories in your everyday life. Write them down. Share them with the intention of forging a deeper connection with people you care about. See what happens. And finally, please enjoy this drum solo I lovingly composed for the Story Skills Workshop commencement. Thank you Bernadette for giving me the chance to share my musical voice. *DRUM SOLO*
If you like this episode, please share it with a friend. And are you interested in starting or maintaining a yoga practice at home? I teach yoga to Wise Women. I believe in empowering and educating Wise Women to thrive on their terms at every stage of life. Let’s hear what a Wise Woman has to say "You're touching lives. You are much appreciated for that. What you do is more than teach a yoga class." To learn more, connect with me at yogimd.net.
Podcast Theme Music is by Maya Bishop on vocals, Lizzi Kelly on guitar and bass, yours truly on percussion, and produced by Tim Buell.
Thanks for being here! See you next time.