101.  Anissa Orsino Live Your Life Now

101. Anissa Orsino Live Your Life Now

Anissa Orsino Live Your Life Now

Show notes:

Website: https://mamagoesbeyond.com/


You Can Cancer Planner

Summary: Anissa had a perfect life as a professional singer and a stay-at-home mom to her 2-year-old with a new baby on the way she couldn’t complain when her entire life changed when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She learned to live her life for the moment and she now helps other people live a life they. love. She reminds us to start living our life now!

Ari: Welcome to whispers and breaks My name is Ari Schonbrun, I’m your host. My guest today is me silver see no. She’s always had a lust for life. But a bout with breast cancer at age 37. While she was pregnant with their second child back in 2014, made her even more passionate about living life to the fullest in the years since she completed treatment, and he said a new set ran her first and only marathon sailed the oceans on vessels ranging from catamarans to Disney cruises. For further lifelong dream of hiking the Inca Trail and Peru and seeing Machu Picchu. In addition, a nice scent our family got rid of nearly everything they owned back in 2019 to travel full time as a family. They World School their two young boys in Spain and the Dominican Republic before COVID-19 put their travel plans temporarily on hold. They are now living in a minimalist life in Las Vegas. And Isa believes that being diagnosed with breast cancer was a huge gift. It reminded her not to take her precious life for granted, taught her that she was never promised the 100 or so years on this planet that she’d always assumed she had and connected over the support system. She hadn’t realized surrounded her nieces on a mission to teach our fellow moms and sister survivors that happiness is a choice that life is for living. And that by implementing a few simple practices, we can all create lives that we love, no matter our circumstances. And these two talks about living with intention and crafting a simple, efficient and joyful life both on our blog Baba goes beyond enter podcast the optimized Rob, please help me welcome a Anissa Orsino. And Lisa, are you today? I am super how are you? 

Annissa: I am awesome. 

Ari: Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today. We’re super excited to have you here. Oh, that’s That’s wonderful. Now, as you know, the name of this podcast is whispers of bricks. whispers are those voices telling us what the right thing to do is and they represent the good in life. And the bricks represent the bad things that we go through in life. Now let’s be real. Everybody gets hit with a brick with gets hit with a brick during their lifetimes, whether it’s one, whether it’s many, whether they’re small, whether they’re big, but life is not a straight line. It’s got ups and downs, and we got to go through some tough times and nobody is immune. Now with you, it looks like things are kind of grown great for you when you were growing up. You have a master’s in opera singing, you spent you. You spent your 20s Traveling the world singing opera, you decided to settle down and become a stay at home mom. I mean, this is this is nirvana. I mean, you had it. And it really did. And then you got hit with a brick called breast cancer. And at the age of 37, you were 34 weeks pregnant with your second child that time. Tell us about that period of your life. How did you find out Yeah, cancer? How did you treat it? What did you do what was going on?

Annissa: So I mean, as you said, I had a pretty great life. I always say if you asked me before May 12 2014 with the worst day of my life was I would not have had an answer for you. I mean, I couldn’t even come up with anything that was you know, pretty bad. I had a great lunch. I had a two year old at home and was as you said 34 weeks pregnant. I was showering the one morning and noticed the lump and you know it’s one of those kinds of things you hear your breasts change when you’re pregnant. I honestly i So thought it was nothing that I almost didn’t mention it at my next appointment with my OBGYN and it was only he was walking out the door and I said hey, I just before you go I noticed this one but I’m sure it’s nothing but you know, would you just check it out for me? And thank goodness because I know if I had not been pregnant I would not have gone to the doctor for this because I just for me it was I It’s not, I’m not a person who gets cancer. I eat an organic diet, I make my own cleaning supplies. I don’t use plastic, you know, I don’t use a microwave like I, if I heard it give you cancer, I did not do it. So I just, you know, I’m living the right life, I’m getting an A plus in life, and I will live to be 100. Because you that’s how it works. This is honestly my philosophy. So he’s walking out the door. And I said, I’m sure this is nothing will you just take a look at it for me and he walked back in, check the lawn, he said, I’m not sure it’s nothing. And that day he sent me downstairs in the same building was a breast imaging center. They did an ultrasound, they did a biopsy that day. And this, I think was a like a Thursday, I waited over the weekend. And then on Monday, I got the call that I had to come in. And I knew when they were having they come in and weren’t telling me over the phone. It was not good news. Wow.

Ari: Wow. So So what happened? I mean, you’re, you’re 34 weeks pregnant, and this huge, you get hit with this huge brick. What was your mood? Like? What was you know, how were you? What were you feeling?

Annissa: I think it was just like Tara was the first word that popped into my head. But overwhelm was the second one I, my personality is such that I would not buy a vacuum cleaner without researching it for like a month and reading 1000 reviews. And then you get thrown into this world where it’s like, this is an emergency and everything has to happen right now. And you’re making these decisions about who’s going to be the doctor that does this. And who’s going to be the surgeon that does this. And do you want, you know, this treatment or this treatment, and they’re doing all these tests, because when you’re pregnant, of course, there are other things to consider you’re considering your unborn child as well. And so they were doing the sorts of tests where they would say, Well, if this comes out that we think the cancer we can’t do the tests we would normally do to see what stage your cancer is. But if we do this test, and we think that your cancer has spread, we’re just gonna go ahead and let you carry your child to term. Because basically, we can’t do anything for you. Or if this test comes up negative, then you’re having a C section on Monday, because then the baby will be 35 weeks, and we need to get him out and get you started on treatment as soon as possible. And so it was just things every day, it was these kinds of things like, you know, these major decisions that normally would take me months, you’re doing just instantaneously or in a matter of hours, we were living in a two bedroom apartment, I remember going to see the oncologist and I said am I going to be able to take care of my kids by myself? And he said no. So then we had to move into a bigger apartment. So that my parents, thankfully could come up and move in with us. But it was like we I was packing a box when Monday and trying to hurry up and pack it because I was about to have go and have tea section to you know, get my son born so that I could start chemo in eight days. Yeah, it was just way too fast.

Ari: Wow. What was your What was your husband thinking feeling? You know, how did this affect him?

Annissa: This, my husband’s superpower is that he is the guy who just, if everyone else is falling apart, he just picks up he looked around to see what needs to be done. And he just does it. And so he was great. You know, it was he had he was in tremendously challenging job at the time, he was the chief operating officer of his company. So he was still working full time, he was still traveling, but he was coming with me to appointments and trying to make things normal for our two year old and putting up with his in laws all the time. But he’s really I have seen him, you know, throughout our life, like together in lots of crises. And he’s just one of those guys that’s able to kind of compartmentalize it and grieve on his own time and be nervous in his own time. But he goes into like action mode. And so he was really kind of the ideal person to have with you when everything’s falling apart like that.

Ari: Wow. to ever reach a point that, like you hit rock bottom, where you said to yourself, you know what, they can’t do this anymore. You know, I just I just give up. You know, it’s you know, two kids, you know, my husband, he’ll be able to take care of them. And you know, I’m gone. I’m out. See you later. No. Oh, wow. Wow.

Annissa: I remember sitting on the couch one day and thinking, I bet this is what But it feels like right before you die because I was so sick. I mean, I remember just feeling miserable. But I used to wear I had a bracelet that I wore that I had engraved on the inside failure is not an option. And I had when I would sit at chemo, there’s a song that I loved called. This is why we fight by a band called The Decemberists. And I used to just put it on repeat while I was sitting in chemo. And I would look at photos to the boys. And it was just like, you know, at this point, if if I had died at that time, you know, I, for sure the littlest one would not have known me at all, but even the two year old would probably have forgotten me. And I just it was just unacceptable. So my inner narrative the whole time was, you know, this needs to be beaten. This is not something that you know, that I can let knock me down kind of thing. And I did some unfortunate googling one night and saw a statistic that my stage and grade and type of breast cancer, where I was the fire survival rate was 25%. So I knew that the odds were not super. But you know, my philosophy about it was just that failure was not an option. I needed to beat it. And so yeah, so that’s what,

Ari: wow, so you were a fighter, obviously, that’s for sure. That’s truly amazing. I’m sure your kids are thrilled to death that mommy was a fighter. I’m sure your husband was thrilled to death, the mommy was a Friday.

Annissa: But I wouldn’t say that I did have to really fight for my attitude. You know, you talk about hitting rock bottom, I do. Remember, I was sick in the summer. And I remember getting really angry about that, you know, other people were just out enjoying their summer, and they were out at the beach, and, you know, go into the pool and all that kind of stuff. And I was you know, sick in bed and that I really did have to cultivate this like, okay, what can I be grateful for today? That is good. Because I’m getting angry, and miserable and mad at the world, like I’m mad enough at the world that I will beat this thing. But I don’t want to be a miserable human being while I’m at it. And even when you’re in the midst of that horrible circumstance, there was so much awesome stuff in my life to be grateful for when I looked for it, but I really had to look for it.

Ari: Wow. But so I mean, even though you had to look for it. The issue is you found it, you found the strength you found, you know, that inner strength that was that said, No, you know, I am going to be this I am a nice person, I’m not going to be a miserable wretch, even though I feel like a miserable wretch. But I am not going to let this thing beat me. And I’m going to be there for them the same way that they’re there for me. I mean, that is that is absolutely amazing. It’s just, it’s incredible.

Annissa: Well, thanks. But I think I think we all have that capacity in us. I think, you know, when you get in these situations, other people look at you like, wow, I could never do that. I think people do this kind of thing every day and respond with grace. I think it’s more common that people respond that way than the other way. We all think we wouldn’t behave that way. But you know, I think a lot of people do. I’ve met a lot of sister survivors out in the world that really rose to the occasion, and lots of people who are dealing with worse things than I was dealing with it have come out, you know, sparkling it’s just a matter of making that that choice to not be crushed by something.

Ari: Right? Well, you know, again, one of the reasons I started whispers and bricks, was because there are people out there that are going through different things. And they don’t understand very often that there are other people out there going through the exact same things that they’re going through. And they need to know they need to hear from people like you that no, you can’t I can be this and if I can be this, you can be this, you know, we just, you know, you just need to gather the strength and if you don’t have the strength, guess what, pick up a phone that, you know, email me send me so you know, I will be there in your corner. And that’s what gives people the strength to keep going. And again, that’s why I started whispers and Brett’s because I wanted to help these people and have them know that you’re not alone. Yeah. Not Alone. Right. Let me ask you this. Now you’re cancer free? Yes.

Annissa: Well, we assume so one of the things that I never realized before I had cancer, I thought you know they give you the clean bill of health. The way they handle it is I go periodically, I get bloodwork done. If they see something that looks you know, unnerving. They would do scans but they call it in no evidence of disease. And so I figure, no news is good news at this point, I’m eight years out, and the type of cancer that I had often recurs in the first five years, but rarely recurs after that. So I am, I’m, I’m saying, I’m feeling pretty good about it.

Ari: That’s, that’s wonderful. That’s wonderful. Let me ask you this, who’s the one person that you would point to, to set that you would say had the most influence in your life? And why?

Annissa: So this is a really hard one, I knew you were gonna ask this question. And I, you know, I feel like at different points in my life, if you had asked me, you know, different times, I would have answered differently. You know, as a kid, it was for sure, my parents were, you know, huge mentors, when I was singing, it was whoever my singing teacher was, at the time, you know, was was, I was working so closely with that person, one on one for career guidance, and that sort of thing. That was huge. When I was sick, and a resource, I would love to point out to anyone who is dealing with any kind of cancer. And know that for some reason, the book just flew out of my head. I’m gonna have to tear for the show notes. But there’s a lady by the name of Dr. Kelly Turner, who wrote this wonderful book that was all about people who had been diagnosed with, with what was said to be incurable cancer. And they are what’s called Radical remission. Radical remission isn’t the name of the book, Dr. Kelly Turner, she collected stories of people that had been told basically sent home to die, that had been diagnosed with cancer, doctors said they could do nothing for them. And they recovered. And she looked for links among their stories, to see what sort of what people did to get better. And then wrote this book with sort of the steps. And one of the big things that I took away from that was how important attitude and how important community is in, in, in healing yourself. And so when I felt like I needed to dig in, that was what really got me started thinking, you know, this, practicing gratitude is really important, connecting with other people that can make you laugh, and that, you know, I can help and they can help me, this is really important. And so that was a really big one at that time. But we’re fortunate to live in the 21st century, and we have mentors, everywhere. I mean, I can go everywhere from like Marcus Aurelius to Eleanor Roosevelt, to you know, now I’m in this great coaching program with a gentleman by the name of Brian Johnson, who’s a great mentor, and it’s, yeah, it’s a great time to be alive.

Ari: That’s again, absolutely incredible. Let me ask you, before we go, do you have any words of wisdom for my audience, something my audience can take away from this conversation? Anything at all,

Annissa: I would say, you know, this is your life, this moment right now. Start living it on purpose. Don’t wait for the break to come and smack you in the face. I mean, you will feel this way after it happens. I mean, Ari is living proof. I am living proof that your your perspective changes once you’ve been through one of these life altering sort of events, but you don’t have to wait for that you can you can look around right now. Stop putting off living for another time, stop thinking there’s going to be some point in the future where, you know, life is magically simpler, and everything is magically better. And things get good. You know, I like to ask myself in the morning, what’s going great in my life right now, because there’s always something even when you weren’t that good, you when you’re bald, and you’ve got a baby next to you. And you know, you’re in the middle of chemotherapy, there’s still something to be grateful about. What do I need right now? Or what needs work right now? And what is my first step to go get it and get yourself out of you know, wallowing in it mode, my life is horrible, into, here’s what’s good, here’s what needs work. And here’s how I’m going to fix it. This is the next step. And I think it just takes you out of that. mopey sort of mode that we all can get into where things feel hopeless.

Ari: Great, great words of advice. Now if people want to get in touch with you, you know what would be the best way for them to do that you love like a website? Do you have an email? What’s your story? What’s the best way

Annissa: My website is mama goes beyond.com and my email is mama at moment goes beyond.com I’m on all the socials at MAMA goes beyond. So that’s really the best. The best way to find me I’m not on social media a ton because I’m consciously kind of pulling back from that a bit. But I do have profiles there. I do check in from time to time. And if it you might, it might take a few days, but you can find me there.

Ari: That’s great. And so, thanks so much for sharing your story with my audience. I want to wish you all the best luck going forward. Your, your, your sons, your husband, they have an incredible wife and mother that, you know, that just loves them. I mean, it just oozes from you and you have this this this happiness, a life happiness type of situation going through you that is contagious, infectious. I mean, you know, your smile, your laugh, it’s you are an amazing individual and you are giving a lot of hope to a lot of people, you know, certainly to my audience, certainly to me, you know, you are one of my heroes. You know, that you’ve, you know, done all the things that you’ve done and I wish you the best of luck going forward. Thanks so much for coming on the program and you been listening to his pieces of bricks. I’m your host Ari Schonbrun Remember, if you feel like you’re stuck in the mud, like you’re spinning your wheels, wasting time, your career, your business your life. You know you’re not enjoying all the success, satisfaction and significance that you desire. Then it’s time for you to book a call with me at www dot call with ari.com. Check out my whispers and bricks Coaching Academy and until next time, listen to the whispers avoid the bricks and never ever give up on your dreams. Bye for now.

95.   TJ Bell Go For What You Want

95. TJ Bell Go For What You Want


TJ Bell Go For What You Want


TJ Bell has faced a lot of bricks in his life growing up in a single-parent household. He suffered from alcoholism and drug abuse as a teenager and young adult. He was involved in street gangs and served time in jail, but he turned his life around for himself and his family. He is now sober and has his podcast to help others follow their dreams. He reminds us to go after our dreams and keep trying. His story reminds us that it is never too late to change your life.

Show notes:


Episode Transcription


Intro Plays

Ari: Welcome to this Whispers and Bricks My name is Avi Shonbrun. I’m your host. Today I have with me, TJ Bell. TJ. TJ is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who decided to finally turn his life around, not just for himself, but for his wife and four amazing children. He is now a top two or top rated podcast host in the entrepreneurship category, as well as a podcast coach, and is on a mission to help those that feel buried by self doubt and limiting beliefs have breakthroughs and win in life and in business. He shares his experience and lessons learned and building better habits, strengthening your mindset for success, as well as becoming the best version of yourself in all areas of life. It’s not claimed to have all the answers, but he’s determined to find them and share them with you. TJ bill is a man who was on a mission to prove that you can be successful in anything you want. Regardless of your upbringing, current situation, or lack of knowledge and or money. Please help me welcome TJ Bell. A TJ, how you doing?

TJ: I’m doing great, man. How are you?

Ari: I’m wonderful. Thank you. Thank you for agreeing to be on the show. Really appreciate it. Hey, thank you. So hey, my pleasure. All right. Let me let me just start off with with one easy question for you. What does TJ stand for?

TJ: Yeah, a lot of people ask that everyone thinks it’s like I’m a junior or something. No, it’s just not for Terrance Jordan. This is my name. I don’t know why. But you know, since I was born, that’s what everybody called me. I have no idea why, but it just stands for counts. Jordan.



Ari: Terence Jordan. Okay. Well by that. All right. Now, as you know, the name of this podcast is whispers and bricks, the whispers of those voices telling us what the right thing to do is, and they represent the good in life. The bricks represent the bad things we go through in life, God knows. We all get hit with bricks throughout our lives, some bigger, some smaller, some more, some less. But everybody has a story. Everybody goes through something. And that is why you’re here on this podcast. Because after I heard your story, you reach some really, really lows that most people would never get out of. You did. Now my audience needs to know that they will whispers out there that could save them as well. So I would like you to start by telling us your major brick stories, and how you survived. Now I know that you grew up in a single parent household, correct? Yes. All right. Where Where did you grow up?

TJ: I grew up in a small city called Prince Albert, Saskatchewan here in Canada. It’s one of those cities where it’s so small that I mean, it’s still considered a city. So it’s not, you know, like really small or anything, but it’s so small that where there’s no you know, for lack of a better term, there’s no good quote unquote, good area. You know what I mean? It’s kind of all rough. It’s, you know, it doesn’t matter where you live. I never really knew my dad growing up, you know, I mean, he left when I was a shoe, I don’t even know maybe one. He left in the middle of the night while we were sleeping, took all of my diapers, all my clothes, everything my mom woke up to nothing. And yeah, man. So it’s been a I mean, it’s been rough. But at the same time, there’s been a lot of blessings as well, man.

Ari: do you have siblings? 


TJ: I do. I have five brothers and six sisters. But I only grew up with two sisters and one brother.

Ari: Kid or elaborate?

TJ: While the two sisters and one brother are from my mom. So I grew up with them. The others are from my dad’s side. I never really knew them. You know, as much as I know, the ones I grew up with. But, you know, I still have to consider, I mean, add them in the story because they’re, you know, they’re my family too. Right.

Ari: So I hear you. I hear you. So you lived in a pretty tough neighborhood. Life was pretty tough. And you kind of dealt with it the way the only way that you knew how. And by the time you were 15 years old, you became an alcoholic. Tell us about that. What was going on?

TJ: Well, I mean, it all started actually when I was 12. I was actually visiting at a friend’s house and he lived in a household where his parents they worked a lot so they were they weren’t around much. His mom worked at a casino and his dad I believe worked in a mine or something. So They were always gone. So we were just hanging out one day. And then there was this girl that I was hung out to that, you know, had a big crush on back then. So that’s why I was always there. And she, she handed me a cup. And she’s like, Here drink this. And I was like, Well, what is it she’s like, is juice or pop or something like that. So I took a sip. And it just a taste it was, it turned out to be a wine cooler. But I just remember like, Damn, that’s, that’s really good. And like, the more I drank, the better I felt, you know what I mean? And I just started getting, you know, at the time, I didn’t know, but I was getting drunk, right. And I just remember, I just felt really good. I felt felt powerful. I felt like nobody could stop me from doing anything, you know, like the most confident man in the world. And I ended up passing out in his little sister’s bedroom. And, you know, she was waking me up splashing water on me, hey, my mom’s gonna be home, you gotta leave, you gotta leave. So then I went home, fell asleep. And my mom was waking up, she say, Hey, is dinner, you’re gonna come eat? And I was like, no, no, I’m feeling sick or whatever. But she knew what was up. She just didn’t say anything. Because, you know, she had a very unique way of dealing with stuff like that. And you know, later on how to talk with me about, you know, the dangers of alcohol, because I come from a long line of, you know, alcoholics and stuff like that. And yeah, fast. I never drank after that. But fast forward to 15 My mom started dating a guy that owned a bar, just down the street from us. So she was always there, you know, getting extremely intoxicated and stuff like that she will come home with like, parties and stuff like that. And, you know, me I was I was a bigger kid, right. And growing up with only a mother, she always taught me to protect, you know, my siblings, my household and the women of the family and stuff like that. So when she would bring these people over, I felt the need to, you know, protect our household and stuff, because I didn’t know who these people were. So eventually, it got to a point where either tell these people to leave, or you’re gonna have to just include me in it, because this is really annoying, you know what I mean? So eventually, I just started drinking with them. Oh, yeah. And yeah, and then it just became, like, you know, once in a while, you know, then it was every weekend. And then as I got older, it just became more and more, you know, I mean, it eventually it became every day for like, five days straight. And, and I take like, a two month break. Fast forward to 2020, though, it started becoming like an everyday thing, because, you know, couldn’t go anywhere, couldn’t do anything, pandemic and stuff. And it’s just that 2020 was when, you know, it was really, really bad. And it was like, really a problem. You know what I mean? It was always a problem, but it was never really an extreme problem until about 2020.

Ari: So let me ask you this. How did that we I assume you were in school at the time, you were still you know, a minor? Did that affect you in any way that affects your grades or school? Or, you know, did you go to school? Did you cut Did you know what was going on? Well, as

TJ: a teenager, I was going to school. You know, as much as I hated school, I knew, you know, it was important, especially as a teenager so I never let you know the alcohol you know, affect my my schooling and stuff. I just kind of affected it on my own. I guess you could say I just I never did good in school. I never enjoyed being there. The only I guess the only class I liked was English. But ya know, I was a high school dropout. ended up graduating high school, though, at the age of 22. All right. Yeah. It’s never too late.

Ari: No, it never is. Now, from our prior conversation, I also learned that by the time we were 18, we were involved with street gangs.



TJ: Yeah, man. And that goes back to you know, single parent household man, I never had my dad around. So I always felt the need to fit in somewhere and also being half Native American and half white, or Caucasian, whatever you want to call it. I never fit in with the native, the native the native people, Native Americans, because, you know, they knew that I was half Native American, but they’re like, Oh, you’re white boy, get out of here. So then I go hang out with the quote unquote, white boys. And they say, Oh, well, you’re a native kid, get the hell out of here. You know, I mean, so I didn’t really fit in. Yeah, so by the time I was 18, I found a group of people who were just as pissed off as I was, and, you know, just wanted to, you know, for lack of a better term, get back at society or whatever, you know what I mean, and just kind of lash out and just do whatever. So I ended up joining a street gang. And very quickly realized that it wasn’t for me, because one of my best friends ended up getting stabbed to death. And, yeah, and I got to a point where, you know, people were threatening to come to my house and, you know, kill me and stuff like that. So I had my mom kicked me out, because my sister had just had a baby. So I was homeless for a while. And that’s when I met my, my wife, who I’m still with and she took me out of the city and brought me to her hometown to get away from all of that and yeah, ended up Getting out of it eventually.

Ari: Wow. I mean, that’s that’s a story that is rarely heard. You know, most of the time you hear about a story about a guy who winds up in the street gangs, and they just never get out. I mean, it’s just it’s a terrible situation, the fact that you were able to overcome is absolutely amazing. But I guess you had help with? Who is the person who was now your wife? That, do you think you could have done it without her? Do you think you would have managed to get out without her? Do you think that you know, she is the person that you know, if it wasn’t for, you’d still be there today? Or dead?

TJ: Dead? And yeah, if it wasn’t for her, I’d definitely be dead man. Because like I said, it’s a very small city. So there’s really no way you can hide, you know what I mean? Because everybody knows everybody, you know what I mean? And none of my family at the time, you know, understandably wanted me around their household because they knew, like, Well, hey, this kid has a target on his back. We have kids here. We can’t have that. You know what I mean? So, everywhere I went, nobody would let me you know, into their household and stuff like that. So yeah, if I never would have been able to go to her hometown. I don’t think I’d be around these days.

Ari: Wow, wow. But that didn’t happen right away. Because is, if memory serves me correct, things went from bad to worse. When you got addicted to hard drugs, and you ultimately wound up in jail. You want to tell us about that?

TJ: Yeah, that’s actually not funny. But it’s, it’s a weird story. So after I moved back to my hometown, well, Prince Albert from, you know, my old lady’s hometown and all the gang stuff cool down. This was years later, I left when I was 18. And this was when I was just graduating high school, actually, just after I graduated high school at 22. We had moved back to my hometown because you know where she’s from. It’s a very, very small community. There’s not much for jobs and stuff there. So we went back to my hometown Prince Albert, and yeah, I was, I was just hanging out, we got out, we had got our first apartment together. And my friend came over and he’s like, Hey, man, I found this big bag in the middle of the road. And I was like, okay, so he opened it up. And, you know, we had thought that it was, you know, cocaine. So then, you know, him hit him right away. He’s like, Oh, we could sell it, man. I was like, No, I was like, just get that get rid of it. Like we don’t, you know, we don’t need that. It’s like, let’s just test it out. So then, you know, we’re gonna go test it out. But after testing it, I was awake for three days. And didn’t even realize it went, like went so it went by so quick. It turns out, we were doing, you know, crystal meth and stuff like that. We just didn’t realize it because we were young and dumb. And he took it to his mother in law, and his mother in law just immediately smacked him took it from him and said, What the hell are you doing? I hope you guys didn’t do any of this. And, you know, she looked took a good look at us and realize we were messed up and, you know, got extremely mad at us. And, yeah, and, and so I was like, and I knew the dangers of because I had some family members that have been on air before. So I was like, I’m never touching that again, man. And so one night, I was, I was having a drink by myself, you know, just kind of trying to wind down and stuff. And I caught myself craving something like really, really strongly. And I just, I never knew what it was, until I went to go see my friend, because at this point, I haven’t hung out with him and like, a couple of weeks, and he was smoking that stuff. And then as soon as I smelt it, you know, when I was in his house, I immediately knew that that’s what I was craving. So then we just started, you know, smoking it and stuff. And yeah, it’s kind of a weird way to get hooked on hard drugs. But um, yeah, I was hooked on that for about a year and a half. And then my second child was about to be born. And the night that I got arrested well, because at this point, you know, because I got picked up for like drug charges and stuff like that during this year and a year and a half, and kept missing court, you know, failing on my probation, stuff like that. So I was on the most wanted list in my hometown, and ended up getting arrested. I had an opportunity to run, but I knew, you know, I was like, hey, if I’m gonna get off of this stuff, you know, I think this is my opportunity. So I took it. I just let them take me. And yeah, so the night that I got arrested was the night that my daughter was actually born. I just I didn’t realize it until like, a couple of weeks later. And yeah, they were trying to give me two years, you know, because it was drug charges. It was like a federal crime or whatever. But I ended up ended up only getting four months. So I did three and a half for good behavior. And yeah, and just coming out of jail like that after just like it wasn’t a very long time, you know, but it was enough time for me. And then seeing my daughter and just seeing the look in her face of her not knowing who the hell I am. And this is my child. You know what I mean? That right, there was what really, you know, kept me off of the drugs for good.



Ari: I find it amazing that, you know, were there any The issues between you and your wife during this period of time. I mean, you know, she’s pregnant having a baby and you’re in jail, you wind up in jail. I mean, you know, what was her feeling? What was? I mean? Was she just, like, very supportive of you? Or was she ticked at you? Or what was? What was the dynamics there?

TJ: Yeah. I mean, while I was in jail, she was obviously, you know, pissed off at me, but, you know, supportive because she knew that if I had, you know, a good support system coming out, like a place to stay, you know, a roof over my head, stuff like that, that I would do a lot better than I would if she just said, Nah, Screw him and left me, you know, like, homeless and stuff. But um, you know, during the time when I was on the drugs, I mean, she was very angry, like, but really just wanted me to be home. I don’t know, I still I still asked her that to this day. Like, why did any woman in a right mind would have left immediately. But yeah,


Unknown Speaker  

I mean, that’s, without saying that that’s exactly what I was alluding to, you know, why did she Why did she stay?

TJ: I have no idea. Man, I still ask her to this day. And she doesn’t know all she says is because I love you. And you know, and it’s, I don’t know, she was like, my ultimate blessing through all of this. She’s been with me, you know, before the drugs after the drugs, journey, alcohol, you know, losing all my friends to death, and you know, drugs and alcohol and stuff like that. And she’s just been with me the whole way through, man. So I’m Wow.


Ari: Wow. So. So what did you do when you got out of jail?

TJ: Well, she was back home in her hometown, you know, with her family, so they could help her out and stuff because obviously, I wasn’t there. And I actually forgot to mention this when I was 11 years old, I started writing hip hop music and stuff like that as a form of like therapy and stuff. started recording at like, 15. But my mom blacked out drunk one night smashed my entire studio when I was 15. So I never recorded until I got out of jail. I met up with an old friend of mine who makes music. And he said, Well, hey, why don’t we just bring my studio over to your house, and we can, you know, get back into music give you something positive to do, you know, since I was just fresh off the drugs, fresh out of jail, stuff like that. So So I started making music again. And I met up with my friend crossed the page, who invited invited me and my friend Aaron into his music group, which is called Pro revolution. And he got us doing shows, you got us radio interviews. Yeah, he had us on TV at one point. And yeah, man, and just those group of guys there. You know, I think there was five of us that started it. And now there’s like 14 of us. Yeah, so we just started making music and doing all of that. But now, you know, my mission in life has kind of changed. And I feel like music because I want to help people, right. And for me, the type of music I made, it was difficult to help people from just for me anyways. So I still kind of do that, but not as much these days. And now, you know, the podcasting is where, where I can help people, you know,

Ari: so what are you doing now? Is podcasting? Yeah, I’m

TJ: doing podcasting. I have my own podcast called underground reach. And what I do there is I interview you know, successful, very successful entrepreneurs in various different industries, you know, to, for one, help people find what it is they’re passionate about in life. Because my entire life I my entire life, I felt lost, I didn’t know what to do. And now I found my thing, which is podcasting. So that’s my mission is to help other people find their thing, or at least hear these entrepreneurs stories and realize, Damn, that guy came from a bad place to now he’s a multimillionaire. So if he could do I could do it, you know, what I mean? It’s kind of smash those limiting beliefs and, and that self doubt and stuff and just kind of help them, you know, be successful and stuff like that. And whatever it is they want to do.

Ari: Right? Well, it’s kind of like your story. Also. I mean, you were getting hit with brick after brick, whether it was the alcohol, whether it was the drugs, whether it was chair, whatever it was. And then finally, you know, you get out of jail, and you go, like, you start listening to whispers and you’re going like, I’m not going to do this anymore. I don’t need you know, are you getting hit with these bricks? You know, let me listen to the whispers let me do the right thing. And that’s where it appears as if you’ve straightened yourself out. You got off the drugs, you got off the alcohol, and now you’re doing something very, very meaningful, helping others to get through. Let me ask you something. Did you were you ever at a point so low in your life that you were going to cash in your chips and go like, you know what, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t you know, I’m done. Yeah, man. And if you were, how did you? You know, how did you conquer that? How did you get out of that?

TJ: Yeah, I love that question, man. It’s a dark question, but I feel like it’s a question that people need to hear the answer to these days, especially with these difficult times. For me, it was back in 2020, man, like I said, that’s when my drinking hit an all time low or an all time high, I guess. All I was doing is playing video games. and getting drunk. And it was to the point where I’d get on the video game and start drinking, right? And then my old lady would wake up the next day and I’d still be drinking, I, you know, somehow get another bottle and I’d be drinking right until that night, you know what I mean? So and then in late 2020s, mid to late 2020, my best friend who, you know, I make music with and stuff ended up passing away from drinking. And he was really the only dude like if I ever, you know, needed somebody to talk to or like, if I’m just having a hard time he would be the one that I will call, you know what I mean? And I’ll actually have them on my my sweater here, but But yeah, he ended up passing away from alcohol. And then, like, literally a month later, my older brother ended up dying of a fentanyl overdose. Yeah, man. So then my drinking really just took a turn for the worst after that, like further I just kept digging myself deeper and deeper into that pit. And it for me, it was really life or death, man, like it was either like you said cash into chips or figured out a way to turn this around man and and Christmas, Christmas of 2021. Or no Christmas of 2020 story. And I’ll never forget this man, I was awake, you know, from the night before still drinking, trying to help my kids open their Christmas gifts, man. And I don’t know, the next day like, the day after Christmas after I sobered up and stuff. I just I was thinking about that trying to help my kids open at Christmas gifts, and I’m completely wasted. And just them seeing me like that. You know what I mean? And then like that being a memory, like, I remember, like, every Christmas, my dad was drunken, you know what I mean? And I just, that’s really what like, key, you know, I need to I need to change this map, because I don’t want my kids to remember me being that, you know that dad that was always drunk, you know what I mean? And then when I would think about those times where I wanted to just end it all, I would think about what people would say at my funeral. You know what I mean? I just started thinking of that, like planning the whole thing out. And it got to a point where I imagined my old lady at my funeral saying he was a good guy he tried. But he didn’t really do anything with his life. You know what I mean? He was drunk all the time. So like, that’s where the, that’s really where the switch happened. You know what I mean? I was like, alright, Screw this, I gotta, you know, I got to do something different here. So may 3 of last year, you know, I put the bottle down for good. And I never looked back. And people always ask, like, was it hard? For me? No, it was actually really easy to become sober. Because I just wanted it that bad. You know what I mean? Because yeah, man.



Ari: Wow. So I guess, well, we’ll get to that in a minute. But who is the one person in your life that you would point to that, that you would say had the most influence in your life? And why?

TJ: Man, that’s kind of a difficult one. Because, you know, use used to be my mother when I was young, because she was pretty much like my dad, you know what I mean? But, you know, her life is kind of different now. But um, I don’t know, I really don’t I don’t know how to answer them. And I look towards I just, like, tried to find mentors and stuff. Like my mentor who taught me how to podcast and stuff, I really look up to him because he comes from a similar background, you know, he’s done to drugs and alcohol. He’s he actually went to prison for like, seven years. And now he’s, you know, a very successful businessman. And so I just kind of looked at people like that, because in my immediate environment, there really is nobody, there is really is no positive influence that I’ve met personally, that has helped me on my journey other than, you know, the people that I’ve met online and stuff like that. So yeah, what about your wife? Well, yeah, definitely my wife. Yeah. Okay.

Ari: Let’s not forget her. Yeah. She’s the one who stopped by you.

TJ: Yeah, definitely, man. I can’t forget about her. Yeah, just her to like just her. I don’t know her perseverance. And you know, her work ethic and her level of patience, to me is truly inspiring. Just putting up with all my BS over all the years. We actually met when I was 15. were the same age. So we were both 15. And, you know, decided to get together when you’re 18. And, yeah, so definitely. Thank you for that. Thank you for reminding me for that.

Ari: All right, let me ask you before we go, do you have any words of wisdom words of advice for my audience, something they can take away with them?

TJ: Yeah, man. If there’s anything that you’re wanting to do in life, just do it. Just start I know, you’ve probably heard it a million times. And honestly, I was sick of hearing it until I did it. And my life changed almost instantly man. Or if you don’t know what you want to do with your life, just try everything. Whatever, even if People think it’s stupid. If people don’t believe in it, you know, just try try everything. That’s what I did to get, you know, to find my thing. I just tried everything relentlessly. And be patient. Trust the process, man. It sounds cliche, it sounds cliche, but trust me it, it really helps because I never believed that either. But I finally did it. And it completely changed my life, man.

Ari: So if people want to get a hold of you, they want to talk to you, they need help with whatever it is they’re doing now, or, you know, they just want a you know, they just want somebody a shoulder to lean on, whatever, what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?

TJ: The best way man would just go to my website underground. reached.com you can contact me there, check out my show. Follow me on social media, wherever everything is on my website. It’s very easy to find. So yeah, go check it out there underground. reach.com.

Ari: And you have a you have an email there. Yeah,

TJ: I have a contact page that goes straight to my email and everything else. Great.

Ari: Okay. TJ, thanks so much for sharing your story with my audience. I’m sure you’ve touched the hearts of many of my audience. Good luck going forward. Keep up the good work. Keep doing what you’re doing. You know. There are a lot of people out there that are very proud of you. All right, me being one of them. All right, so just keep it up. Keep up the good work. You been listening to his present works. I’m your host Ira Schoenberger. Remember if you feel like you’re stuck in the mud, like you’re spinning your wheels, wasting time, your career, your business your life. If you know you’re not enjoying all the success, satisfaction and significance that you desire, then it’s time for you to book a call with me at cole with ari.com. Check out my whispers in bricks Coaching Academy and until next time, listen to the whispers avoid the bricks and never ever give up on your dreams. Bye for now.

95.   TJ Bell Go For What You Want

94. Clarissa Burt You Are Only As Strong As You Are Fragile

 Clarissa Burt You Are Only As Strong As You Are Fragile


Clarisa Burt has had quite an impressive career in modeling, film, and television. She even won celebrity survivor in Italy. Life has not always been perfect for her. She faced bricks in her childhood and later on in her career. Early on in her life, she faced one of her most significant bricks as a child growing up in an abusive household with an alcoholic father. When she listened to the whispers and helped her mother, her sister and herself escape that house. She later would listen to the whispers of people telling her she should be a model to start her modeling career, which took off from there. She reminds us not to regret anything we go through in life because it helped to shape the person we are today. That we are only as strong as we are fragile. Life will knock you down, but always get back up and always strive for personal growth.

Show notes:


Clarissa Burt In The Limelight

Episode Transcription


Intro Plays



Welcome to whispers and bricks. My name is Ari Schonbrun I’m your host. Today I have as my guest Clarissa Burt’s Larissa at the age of 18 signed with a Willamina modeling agency in Manhattan. Soon after that she moved to Milan and he began appearing on hundreds of magazine covers such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and cosmopolitan, known as one of the top 30 runway girls in the world in the 80s CLARISSA Burt, the most important designer catwalks in Milan, Rome, Paris, New York and Japan. Soon after, she would be called by global cosmetic houses such as Revlon, Dr. Helena Rubinstein, and was chosen as the face for Orlan cosmetics for 10 years. Lewis has performed in over 20 movies and television producer credits in 1999. Starring hundreds of television shows Clarissa quickly became a household name and Italy. Clarissa Burt media group founded in Italy began with productions that included the nationally broadcast three hour live broadcast of the Miss Universe pageant, the World Sports Awards, and behind the scenes with the Miss, all garnering her various coveted Media Awards internationally, leading authority on beauty, image and self esteem. Good morning, Italy called upon Clarissa to host the popular beauty segment, Clarissa suggests Lewis has been the beauty editor for such international publications as the LA fashion magazine, fashion faces and runway. You can find her articles also in the Huffington Post supermodels Unlimited, Bella petite. And discover Phoenix. Janine, just a few. Please help me welcome Clarissa Burt.



Clarissa: you read more about me than I know about. Wow, you really did your homework there. Wow.

Ari: Wow, welcome to the show. Thank you so much coming on. How are you?


Clarissa: I’m doing really well today. Thank you. I’m doing really well. Beautiful day here in sunny Phoenix. So we love the weather here. And yeah, we get to run around in shorts and T shirts most of the time. And from here on out, things are gonna start to get very, very warm.

Ari: Okay. Well, as you know, the name of this podcast is whispers and bricks, the whispers are those voices telling us what the good thing and the right thing to do is and they represent the good life. The bricks represent the bad things that we go through in life. And reality is we all get hit with a brick at some point in time or another in our lives, some bigger bricks, some smaller bricks, some more, some less. But we know that life is not a straight line, there are ups and downs, there are bumps in the road. Now, you had several major bricks thrown at you during your life. The first one, let’s start with the first one growing up in a violent home. Yeah, tell us about that.

Clarissa: Could have been there was there was you know, I would say that that was probably for me, at least coming out of that kind of environment was was you know, rather difficult. There was drinking in the household, there was violence in a sense that, you know, there was never, you know, a calm day, you never knew exactly what was going to be happening depending on how much alcohol was consumed. And so I you know, I speak about my father, certainly not my mother. But it was it was, you know, difficult place to be at times, it was very, you know, difficult at 16. They, you know, I have, you know, some stomach issues, if you will, and so, they wanted to do upper and lower GI eyes on me to see if I had ulcers or not, I mean, that’s kind of a heavy deal for a 16 year old. You know, I didn’t we didn’t opt to do that. But you know, they gave me instead stomach relaxers, which I never took because I just I’m not I don’t like taking any like to get a Tylenol, let alone you know, something stronger. So, you know, truly so I just, you know, I was storm there. And I realized that, you know, I was pretty much going to be on my own as far as, you know, following the rules until I could until I could get out of that house. And and sort of you learn how to navigate if you will, you know the storm and stay out of its way and try to calm things down. And so, yeah, that was rather you know, I think, if you will, I think that there, I really truly came out of the house with PTSD. And I say that because I had every morning of my life I woke up with my heart in my chest. And that means I mean, just a very heavy anxiety and so The heavy anxiety kind of subsided around 40 years old or so when I knew that, you know, danger Will Robinson wasn’t really you know, there anymore. And that I could actually take a deep breath and ease into life. But it was rather it was really rather difficult because you never knew what you were going to get there was quite a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of archetype, if you will. And so, you know, sometimes it was all fun and games and parties and love. And then the next day, no tiny turned around, you know, it was the devil incarnate. So it was rather a difficult place to, to be. But you know, again, as we say already, and I’m sure it’s not the first time you’ve heard that, you know, we only are who we are today, you know, in lieu of what we learned along the way. And I like to say that I am the person that I am today I write the books that I write today, I treat people today, the way I treat them because of what I learned early on in life. Well, meaning to be the complete opposite.

Ari: Right, right. Now, I guess things came to a head when you turned 18, where you weren’t like, you know, we’ve had enough and you left that violent home together with your mom. two siblings, I think, is that correct?

Clarissa: Yeah. With one certainly the one sibling stay behind. Yes. Right.

Ari: And you and you got out. Tell us, you know, how did you do that? What was the story there? Yeah, I


Clarissa: just graduated high school. And I, you know, I walked into my mother, I was going to be leaving college and a couple of weeks. This is all back in New Jersey, by the way. And so I you know, I just said, Mom, look, you know, he’s come home drunk again. You know, he’s, he’s threatening, he’s violent. And, you know, he’s waiting for me to leave. So that, you know, there’s that we don’t, there’s no buffer between he and you. And so she said, Yes, I know. And I said, you know, I think we’ve had enough. So we waited for my father to fall asleep and got into a car and left that morning, early the next morning, which was a Sunday morning, I think it was the 14th of August of 1977. We were out of the driveway, we my mother put the car in neutral, and I pushed the car into out of the driveway, so that he wouldn’t hear us starting the car, and we left and never went back. It wasn’t easy for a couple of, you know, a couple of years. I mean, we just had to, we lived in different places. And in the beginning, we were at different hotels that we wouldn’t be found. And, you know, we were scared. We were on the run. But it all worked out in the end. And you know, Mom was working always had worked. So she bought herself up bought us a little place out down in Hillsborough in New Jersey. And from there, you know, that’s when I started to say I really, you know, I want to make sure everything’s okay here. So I’m gonna live here, but I started to go back and forth from New York City, which is where when the Willamina part came in,

Ari: right, so tell us that’s the next stage of your life. I guess life was getting a little bit better. You are 18 years old. And you got to Willamina in some way, shape or form. How did you do that?

Clarissa: Well, it’s funny because I started working as an as the administrative assistant to the executive vice president of Adolfo menswear down in the garment district on 23rd Street. And, you know, in those years, Nancy Reagan was being dressed by Adolfo a lot of those Chanel looking suits were Adolfo who was a very big designer back in the day. So Adolfo menswear, it was a big deal. Let me tell you, it was a really cool place to be and I loved it. Because, you know, here I am the executive vice president, but you cannot, you know, you could walk back into the, into the shop and see, you know, people actually cutting the garments, which was extraordinarily exciting for me back in the day. It’s a flight to cool process. It’s really fun to watch. So I started back and forth and people say, you know, you really should be a model. And I went, Oh, I could never, you know, I just didn’t have the confidence. I had no self esteem at all.



Ari: And so I could never stand understandably. Yeah, but


Clarissa: it was really kind of, you know, it was my dream already. I’m not gonna lie. It’s exactly what I wanted to do. You know, back in the day, and you’ll remember that you are on the internet was the Sears catalog. That’s what we got. We got it. We got it twice a year. And it was fall, winter and summer, you know, spring summer, and I couldn’t wait to get that catalog because I was able to open it up to the women’s section. And look at the models and how they were wearing makeup and how they were posing. And that was how that was kind of like my dream, if you will to be my other icons were like Rita, Rita Hayworth and have a gardener. These are the women I thought were absolutely the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen. So I love to watch their movies. And I love the Sears catalog. And you know, the dream was was this seed was there. Let’s put it that way. And so when people started to say, hey, you really should you really should become a model. I just Oh my gosh, I could just don’t think I could ever. Well, I could and I did and it went rather well. And so I modeled for, I guess the better part of six, seven years but I did a lot of work in that time. And it was really wonderful. It was just a great experience and it gave me the possibility to travel the world and you know, it gave me a possibility to learn a lot of things. The second stage there was then moving into you know, becoming an actress Did about 1820 movies, I had a blast doing that, but I really wanted to produce, I wanted to be on television, I wanted to do what we’re doing now. Which is, you know, in front of a microphone on on, I should have brought the pictures up here for you. But, you know, my first experience on stage was as Mary Poppins in the kindergarten play. When I heard the first applause, you know, they had me at hello. I mean, I was really hooked. And I loved it. I didn’t see a stage again until I was about 30. Outside of the outside of the catwalk. I didn’t really see a true stage until I bought it on Italian television when I was 30. And that’s where I



Ari: Yeah, so basically, so 18 year Willamina, you spent about six years there. And then you finally, literally leave home before you were going back and forth. But now you finally leave home at the age of 24. And you start your life is a model in Italy. Yes, I did. Wow. Yeah, it must have been so exciting.

Clarissa: It was it was scary. It was exciting. I started in Paris first. The story goes like this, I started in Paris first and I was homesick and I was jet lagged and I wasn’t ready for it. I had this great opportunity, airy, and I wasn’t ready for it. I’m going to be I’m gonna be straight up. I’m coming out of this house with my mom and my sister and I felt horrible leaving them you know, because I felt as though I as the older child. I was a protector in some way. And I just was so homesick it didn’t work. So I came back to New York. This is like 1981 Come back to New York. And what happens is I tempt secretary and they send me up to the 50th floor at Revlon which is right across the street from the gobbled today motel on Central Park South. Big hotel in the Central Park South and Fifth Avenue. Now what the hell, I can’t even remember what our nevermind. So it’s on the 50th floor and I’m at Revlon every day and I’m looking around on the walls they have all these supermodels and all of these makeup campaigns. And I wanted to jump off a bridge I just went Oh, you just messed it up. You were in Paris, you could have been these girls, you know you all you had to do was you know, put on your big girl britches and not be afraid and I really didn’t number on myself. So I go back. I’m still with Willie. So I go back to Willamina and an Italian agency is coming through. And I so I meet with a guy his name is Lorenzo pedrini And this is back in like 8283 1983 So two years go by and you know without my mind realized a dream. So Lorenza comes through and he takes a look at my book and my composite, he says, Do you want to come to Italy? Yeah. So the only money I had in the world was the money that was in the bank. And that was for one way round trip ticket. All I had round to show I’m living in the city now. It’s costly. I’m not making that much. But I put enough away for that one ticket. And I wound up in I got to Italy in October of 1983. And the rest is history. And I went back I was able to then say a couple of years. And about two years after that. I was one of those girls in the Revlon campaign hanging up in the Revlon offices.

Ari: Wow. Wow. Well, let me ask you this at any point in time in your, during your career, whether it was early on or later. There were ups and downs as as we both know. But did you ever reach a point so low where you said to yourself, you know what, I quit. I can’t do this anymore. It’s just I just don’t have the gun shadow. Whatever reason you weren’t, you weren’t able to do it. And then, at the end of the day, you were able to turn yourself around and get out of that. Tell me about that?


Clarissa: Oh, heck yeah. Well, first of all, there were you know, there were a couple of times, it was one time in my life that I just you know, you just kind of get you get tired of the fight. You get tired of you know, having to get up one more day, I’m tired of putting on the big girl britches, you get tired of things going sideways, you get tired of people in betrayal, you get tired of feeling sad you do you get I mean, sometimes life will you know, as it ebbs and flows, it will kick you in the behind. As we all know, we’ve all been there. But you know, I’m going to tell you this something you may not know is that I won survivor I did when the show survivor, and I was in Italy and it was called celebrity survivor and this goes back 10 years ago. And I we took they took us to Nicaragua was called again, you know, celebrity survivor. And I was already in my 50s at that point. And I you know, here I turned actually 53 on the island. So I’ll be 63 this month so the math works out. And so I I’m strongest I’m really strong, really strong. I’m not a wussy kind of woman at all but we only are as strong as we are fragile airy. And I think that that’s one of the if that’s the takeaway today that is That that is we are only as strong as we are fragile. And so no matter how strong you think you are, life’s gonna kick you in the teeth sometimes. So that’s why I wrote the book that I wrote, which is called the self esteem regime. And I talk about, you know, staying very strong in your stead, having the roots really strongly rooted, so that when the hurricane comes through, when the tornado goes by, when you get that really heavy storm, you might lose a leaf or two and possibly a branch, but your roots are never uprooted, you’re not carried away with the storm. And so that’s, I think, where a lot of the, the self, you know, the stuff, you tell yourself, the affirmations, the tools and resources that you use to be able to say, this isn’t going to last forever, this is just for the moment. This is this. And in all of this, I don’t know exactly what it is right now. But I know I’m supposed to be learning something. And this is a teaching moment. So hang in there, until you can get through this until that light of the you know, at the end of the tunnel, yeah, is is visible, keep moving toward it. And that’s when you’re going to understand why what’s happening to you now happened. And this is the these are the kinds of moments in life that you you draw from you, you look back on it, you can draw from as as experiences as again, teaching moments as those those life learning moments that you will be able to use for the rest of your life. You know, some things come into your life, people or things, people or experiences come into your life for a reason. They may come in a season, and some will come in a lifetime. You know. So, yeah, so a lot of the teachings a lot of the things I’ve been through, I don’t know that I changed them for the world. Because I’m able to write a book much like mine now that you know, that it’s giving me the opportunity to be able to help other people to be able to, you know, and I’m very proud to say my book is in action in Barnes and Noble, and that people are telling me that, you know, it’s actually changing their life, you know, there’s no greater moment. Good when somebody says to you caught you books really changing my life? Holy? schmoly. I mean, really, I hear? Yeah. And then, you know,

Ari: I remember the first time when I got off, when I got off the stage after speaking, where somebody came over to me says to me, you know, you changed my life. And that statement was so powerful. And I went, like, Do I really have the power to change somebody’s life, you know, and then I got really scared, because it’s like, that’s a huge responsibility. I don’t know, if I’m ready for that.

Clarissa: Well, that’s where the bricks come in. Because once the bricks are thrown at you, if you’re, if you’re, if you’re equipped enough to catch them, or maybe not let them fall and then go pick them up, you can start to stack those bricks with good cement one on top of the other to be able to build something extraordinary. You know, and I don’t mean to build a wall. That’s not what I mean. You’re able to build, you’re able to build a foundation upon which to, to, to grow a personal growth, for me is something that’s very important. I really want to be a better person, person tomorrow than I am today. You know, who I’m hanging out with some of the words I use the things I’ve learned, whatever that might be. I think that’s who we are both of us. You know. And I think when you say you got scared, it’s a responsibility, maybe there. Maybe there’s a little bit of impostor syndrome that goes and you go down, and there’s no posture here. I went through this stuff I whether I know what I’m talking about.

Ari: I hear, let me ask you this, who’s the one person that you would point to that you would say had the most influence in your life and why?

Clarissa: My grandmother, my grandmother was one of as you was the most loving, supportive, kind, gentle, never a curse word. In didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, always a lady. She was a class act. And she was a lady. She was the epitome of who I wanted to be. And there were times when my grandmother would eat she was she used to come home with all my magazine Tech was what we had back in the day work that go by the magazine. Yeah. And you had your tear sheets. There was no Internet, there were no cell phones, you couldn’t take a picture and send it home. So I would come home with my tear sheets from my grandmother and she started to create these scrapbooks for me, which I still have, by the way, I’ve got all of mice. Ah, it’s amazing what grandma did. And every time I would come home, I would surprise her. So again, I’d get on a plane come home from Paris, come home from Italy, wherever it was, get on a train in New York City, head down to Philly and then I’d take a second train out to where she lived in glenolden. And I’d ring the doorbell and she’d answer it. There I’d be she’d be thinking I was still in Paris, or in Milan and we both do a happy day we get to do a happy dance I do my If it was the cutest damn thing you’ve ever seen, I swear, I’m named after my grandmother. So I my mother. Yeah, I’m the fifth board. Actually, I’m the fifth in the firstborn girl generation. So mom is Clarissa grandmother, great grandmother and great, great grandmother. But yeah, it’s, it was always it was just the softest place to land. And she always had a teaching moment for me. In her end years, you know, I moved to Arizona when I left Europe, I came back here because I wanted to be she had moved. Actually, I actually flew out in the plane with her leaving Philly and coming to Phoenix where so that all the family could you know, be reunited hear uncles, aunts, cousins, everyone. And so she used to say to me, when are you going to come home and plop it? You’re like, what are you going to just stay here? For God’s sake? Why do you always have to be traveling on planes? Because that’s what I love to do. I love the communication. I love. I love being on the stages. I love being a rat. I just love traveling in general, when you got to come home and plop it well, of course that that meant she wanted to spend more time with me and I did as much as I possibly could. And I did a lot actually. But she would be the lady that I would absolutely say I try my very best to emulate but she’s a tough act to follow.

Ari: Let me ask you is where was she born? Was she born in America?

Clarissa: Actually, she asked she was she was born in Illinois, actually. Wow. Wow. Illinois 1915. And she, she then was somehow got to Philly, where she met my grandfather and my grandfather. My grandfather is one of 16 Irish Catholic children. My so yeah, my family tree all the way back is 1,000% Irish and little English. My great great grandmother was German. However, the first Clarissa was German.

Ari: Wow. Now I’m gonna ask you a question that I think a lot of people in my audience are thinking to themselves about. And that is, so you made it, you became a model, you became an actress, you followed your dreams, and you made it? What kind of advice would you give to my audience of all the little girls and mid age girls and all the girls that are thinking myself? Wow, that is something that I want to do? What advice can you give them?

Clarissa: Well, first of all, you know, modeling industry has changed a lot since I was in it. And it’s a lot, it’s a healthier place to be, you’re going to want to make sure that until you’re 18 there is some sort of guidance, parental guidance, no matter where you go, you know, whatever you do, no matter where you travel, you know, someone that is with you at all times. Be really wary of the kind of online kind of situations I’m not saying they’re all bad, but there are a lot of online modeling kind of situations that are not always up and up. And there are always predators out there. So be very, very mindful of that. If you are going with a bonafide agency you will go onto their website will Amina Ford elite, whatever it might be local to you make sure that you know when you they see girls, sometimes they’ll see you in person, usually the first the first introduction is by email. So they will want you to send them some pictures of you that you want to do headshots and other things, you know, body shots in a bathing suit, and very like makeups and that in and if they are interested in D then you will get a call back make sure that you tell them how much you weigh and how tall you are. But you know, the the the actual standards have changed as much a lot since then. I mean, there was there. There are websites for petite girls, there are websites now for curvier girls, I mean, it’s much more inclusive than it used to be, which I think is it was wonderful.

Ari: Wow. Thanks so much. Now if people want to get in touch with you, they heard you there. They’re getting really really excited about the possibilities and they said I need to talk to I need to talk to Clarissa what would be the best way for people to get in touch with

Clarissa: you must talk to me my website my email is Clarissa Clarissa burt.com where you can find me anywhere on social with the exception of Snapchat. Do not Snapchat I don’t even know what the heck it is really. You can find me? Clarissa Bert pretty much anywhere across social.


Ari: Wow. Wow. Clarissa, thanks so much for sharing your story with my audience. It was great. Good luck going forward. I know that you’ve done great things. I think you can continue to do great things. Remember the What is it 60s, the new 40 You know, I certainly feel that way. Hey, now. Hey, now. I also believe that so thank you so much. You’re listening to whispers and bricks and I’m Eurostyle Schomer. Remember, if you feel like you’re stuck in the mud, like you’re spinning your wheels, wasting time and your career business or life. If you know you’re just not enjoyable success, satisfaction and significance that you desire. And it’s time for you to book a call with me at www dot a call with rei.com Check out my whispers and bricks Coaching Academy and until next time, listen to the whispers avoid the breaks and never, ever give up on your dreams.

95.   TJ Bell Go For What You Want

93. Lauren Lefkowitz Overcoming Chronic Pain

Lauren Lefkowitz Overcoming Chronic Pain


Lauren had a very successful career in HR that she liked but she was hiding a secret. She was suffering from chronic pain that was undiagnosed. In order to hide it she worked harder. She basically just worked and slept. After finally getting some help with a diagnosis from the Mayo Clinic and suffering another medical brick of breaking both her shoulders. She started to hear the whispers that it was time for a change in her career. After going through extensive rehabilitation to be able to use her shoulder she returned to work and then covid hit. She knew it was time to make a change. She now is a career coach and she is living a life she loves. She reminds us that if you want to you can always make a change in your life.

Show notes:



Episode Transcription


Intro Plays


Ari: Welcome to whispers and bricks. My name is Ari Schonbrun. I’m your host I have with me as my guest today, Lauren Lefkowitz who is an executive leadership coach, partnering with clients to escape the trap of being fine. And break the work, sleep repeat cycle. Lauren partners with individuals and small to medium sized businesses to support clients who are ready to find joy, excitement, challenge, and balance their careers and have a personal life to love. Lauren was an 80 hour week executive is a recovering people pleaser, and has lived with chronic illness for 15 years. And once she actually broke both of our shoulder, shoulders, chasing a vacuum that’s going to be an exciting part of our discussion today. I’m sure she was living in the fine trap. For years, everything is fine, convincing yourself that working all the time and never feeling well. We’re just part of life. Despite these challenges, she decided to take control of her life. She learned to set boundaries, create opportunities for personal choice and re launch her own life to find her version of success and joy. Now she coaches people in teams who function the way she used to, and find their own versions of amazing. Lauren makes it comfortable to get uncomfortable, create powerful goals and create real sustainable career and life transformation. Please help me welcome Lauren. Lefkowitz. Lauren, how are you? I’m so well how are you? Living the dream living the dream always, always amazing. It absolutely is. Absolutely. It’s great seeing you. And thank you so much for coming on the show. I really, really appreciate it. Now, as you know, the name of the podcast is whispers and bricks, the whispers are those voices telling you what the right thing to do is and they represent the good in life. And the bricks represent the bad things that we go through in life. And we all know that, you know, life is not a straight road. It’s not a straight line, many ups and downs, many bumps in the road, we get hit with many bricks, I got hit with mine and 911. All of my guests have been hit with a brick at some point in time in their lives. And that’s why we do the show, to show people that no matter what you’re going through, there are 1000s of people that are going through the exact same thing and you are not alone. Now your life seemed really good. You climb the ladder of success became an HR executive. Things were going well until you got hit with the first brick. you wound up with chronic illnesses. Tell us about that.

Lauren: Yeah, thanks. Yeah, so I saw early careers, tried a couple of different things, found HR and really loved it and was enjoying my life enjoying my career. And when I was 29 years old, I had a grand mal seizure that came out of nowhere. And we never exactly discovered what caused it. And it caused this trigger effect of my body attacking itself and having an autoimmune response to itself. And my respiratory system, my endocrine system, my dermatologists, dermatological system, everything just went in reverse. And I every year or two would get a new illness, a new set of symptoms, a new set of medications. Eventually, I was led to the Mayo Clinic where I got a really comprehensive evaluation from a number of different specialties. And they theorized that I had had a virus that attacked my brain. And my brain’s response was to panic and try to protect my body and in effect it over protected my body and made me really sick. And so every time I would go to a new doctor, I’d get a new set of bloodwork and have new issues and I had muscular issues, I had fatigue issues. And eventually was on 23 pills a day, and an inhaler. And new symptoms and new things were coming up for about seven or eight years. I spent over two years in physical therapy, rebuilding my muscular system and, and retraining my brain to ask my muscular system to do stuff because it wasn’t connecting anymore. And all of that time can I ask you something,



Ari:okay. How do you like retrain your brain to connect with your body. Yeah. How does that happen?

Lauren: I didn’t do it. I mean, I guess I did my brain, my brain reconnected. But I went to someone who specializes

Ari: Okay, so you’ve got all this stuff going on? God. And this lasted for eight, nine years.

Lauren: Yeah, so the you know, from sort of start to a good maintenance level, and it still lives with me, it’s, you know, it’s more than 15 years later, and I still take 23 pills a day, I still have an inhaler. I still have a lot of specialists. But everything is maintained. So I feel like I’m living well, now. I’m good. Thank you.

Ari: Good. 20 sales and hail whoever. But you know what, God bless you look great.



Lauren: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it was about fighting for myself. When I went to doctors who said there was nothing wrong with me, it was about wanting to live well. And knowing that there had to be something better than what was happening to me at the time. But it’s there’s a lot of embarrassment associated with chronic illness because you don’t see it. So you assume that people are fine. And you associate tired with lazy and you associate and when I say you, I you know, it’s really more me, right? It’s in you internalize. I’m this like, really tough, really vibrant person, I don’t want anybody to know, I’m six. I don’t want them to think I can’t do the job. I don’t want them to think I can’t participate in things that I shouldn’t be a leader. And so as I was getting sicker and sicker, I was working harder and harder to compensate.

Ari: So I was gonna ask, but you just answered the question. Were you working throughout this whole period? And the answer obviously is yes, you are. Yeah. That’s a it’s just mind boggling. It’s absolutely amazing. Okay, so you still live with it? There are no outside symptoms that I can tell. So you know, thank God for that. But as time went on, right, I think you got hit with a second brick. Another major brick kid. Yeah. A slip and fall. Are please tell us about that. Because I know you told me a little bit about it my audience. I don’t mean to be mean or anything but they need a good laugh.

Lauren: Look, it’s the funniest and most terrible thing that has ever happened to me. And you can’t help but laugh about it because it is so ridiculous. And also I fortunately recovered. And thank God you know that there’s there was a lot of hard work in there and a lot of luck. But yeah, so I was in the process of organizing my apartment. I live in a condo and every once in a while you know you just want to go through everything purge everything clean the baseboards really just make the place shine. And in my pursuit of perfection. I had almost gotten there wherever there is right in our minds. And last, the last thing I was doing was running my Roomba vacuum you know the robot vacuums that self clean. And it was a snow day. So I was I was at home this was you know in the before times when we used to go to offices all the time. And I was home for the day working from my couch and I saw the Roomba going towards an unplugged glass lamp. And I thought oh my gosh, the Roomba is going to hit the glass is going to hit the cord. The lamps gonna shatter on the wood floor. I’ve got to get to it right split second decision, jumped off the couch ran across the wood floor in my socks slipped on my way over to the Roomba reached my arms out in front of me to try to catch the table that was way too far away to catch. And my arms went over my head I slammed down face first and I broke both of my shoulders. The Roomba turned the Roomba did its job. So if you have a robot vacuum, trust it, trust it to sense things and make its turn it did not go for the lamp. And it turned out in that fall that I broke both of my shoulders.

Ari: Oh my god. Yeah. And I’m assuming that put you out of work for a little while.

Lauren: That did that one took me out. 10 years of chronic illness and I just like powered through. But yes, when you break both of your shoulders, you can no longer type on a computer. So I was able to get myself into a seated position was able to sort of crawl over on my butt to my phone and phone, a friend who came over and we called an ambulance. And sure enough, I broken both of my shoulders, and I lived in rehab centers, and hospitals for about three months. And then I was at home for a month before I could really get out. I had to be able to open doors, right, which you use your shoulders for everything, even now we’re talking and our shoulders move as we’re expressing ourselves. And so I had to rebuild both shoulders at the same time, in order to get back to my regular life.

Ari: Wow, how did what like what do they do for that when you break the shoulder?



Lauren: Well, it depends on the break. For one shoulder, they just immobilized it and they had been a sling for the other shoulder, they had to rebuild it, put it back together, I’ve got a plate and it doesn’t screws in that arm forever. And so I was Double Sling, because they can’t cast your shoulders right easily. So I had two slings criss crossed across me. And when I was able to I had to start learning to eat with my non dominant hand, which was the first one I was allowed to use and brush my teeth and all of that. But if you imagine losing the ability to use your shoulders, you can’t go to the bathroom on your own. You can’t feed yourself, Take glasses off of your face, you can’t do anything. People would come and visit me and they bring me magazines, and they’d walk in and they go Oh

Ari:was it thinking oh my. Sorry. Wow. Yeah,

Lauren: it was quite a time.

Ari: Wow. That’s it’s just like alright, so you’re out for a while. I guess what was what was going through airports like you set off the machines every time.

Lauren: Fortunately, whatever kind of metal This is, does not set off a metal detector. I didn’t need a you know, a spare parts card or anything to carry with me.

Ari: Okay, great. Yeah. So. So after this, you went back to work again. But this time, but this time, I think things were a little different. As memory serves me correct, you no longer really enjoyed what you were doing as much as you liked the HR business. You started listening to some whispers? Tell us about that.

Lauren: Yeah, so I, you know, I think the first whisper was in the form of a metaphor and breaking my shoulders. Because my MO as a professional, as someone who was working with chronic illness as someone who was a people pleaser, and a workaholic. I was also a chronic hand raiser. And so if there was a project to be done, if there was a room full of people, and somebody said, who will own this, who will wake up in the morning thinking about this, I was always raising my hand. And so I was sort of the vice president of everything I was, I was the VP of HR, but I was sort of the vice president of any project that came up. And the immediate joke when I broke my shoulders was you literally cannot raise your hand Lauren. So it was this metaphorical life lesson, right of stop raising your hand you have your hands have been put down. And I promised myself that when I went back to work, it would be different. And I had been job searching a little bit before the fall, because I wasn’t enjoying HR the way that I used to. And so I was trying to figure out, is it HR? Is it the company? Is it you know, the whole profession, what what am I not satisfied with. And I had this accident and I went back to work with the promise to myself that I was going to get some balance, I wasn’t going to work these 80 to 100 hour work weeks anymore, I was going to stay in my own lane so that I could figure out if I really still liked HR, or if I was using these other projects as an excuse to stay busy and interested. And I just went back to my old ways, working all the time, raising my hand for everything, feeling extreme gratitude for my company being so kind to me while I was out for four months, which is a long time and also feeling guilt that I had missed that time and things were behind and and then the pandemic started. And everybody turned to me because I was the go to person and also human resources. And they said there’s a pandemic, what do we do? And I thought, well, it’s my first pandemic too. And so I had this whole new workload of what to do with an entire staff a building We were in the process of constructing our new office space, a million dollar project that I was in charge of, not surprisingly, and, and I had to figure it all out. And I thought, This is it, this is the sign this is I don’t want this to be the rest of my life that I’m just the pickup for everything that comes along. And so I had always done side gig work first as a resume writer than, you know, teaching people how to job search. And that eventually led to coaching as a side business. And I also coached employees internally, it was never part of my job description. But it was always the thing I looked most forward to, it was the thing I would squeeze in no matter how much I had on my plate. And I was speaking to a friend who had been coaching, and had put something up on Facebook about coaching, and we reached out to each other. And I was talking to her about coaching as an occupation on its own. And I said, you know, I don’t know that you can actually really make money with coaching, she said, I do. And that began my my path to figuring out how to be a coach myself, I hired her as my coach, right? To help me untangle from all of this overworking and from the connection, I had to chronic illness being a weakness, and therefore I had to compensate by working all the time, that was my platform was nobody will know I’m sick. So I’ll work twice as hard as everybody else. So they’ll think I have the most energy of anybody. And then I’ll go home and sleep until the next morning when I have to work again. And that’s where the work, sleep repeat comes in. And and so I started on my path to figuring out how to become a full time coach, I hired a business coach myself, and told that business coach that I wanted to be doing this full time within five years, and she said, How about six months? And there I went. And in six months I was out on my own and it is exactly what I want to do. It is exactly the career I was made for.

Ari: Great. Let me ask you something, during the time that you had the chronic illness and you broke the shoulders and everything else, do you ever reach a point where you were like so low that you went like, you know what, this is too hard, I can’t do it given up on my dreams, I don’t care. And you know, I’m gonna roll up into a ball and die. And if you if you did get to that point, obviously you made a great comeback. Alright, so the question is, how did you manage the comeback?

Lauren: Yeah. Oh, such a great question. So I remember this, this moment in time, I was in my mid 30s. And I was seeing a therapist, because there’s a lot of grief associated with chronic illness, it’s all of the things you thought you’d be doing. And all of the person you thought you’d become gets stunted. Because you’re working so hard to just be on normal, right and to be at level. And I remember saying to that therapist, it’s not that I want to die. But I would love to get a diagnosis where that like is, is terminal or is fixable. Because this in between, is horrible. There’s so much not knowing, you know, if I found a doctor who said, put a teaspoon of peanut butter on your nose every morning for the rest of your life, and you’ll be healthy, I would have done that. If I had found a doctor who had said this is terminal, you have six months get your affairs in order, I would have had something to do. Being in that in between and not having an official diagnosis or an official way to make it better. We’re an official knowing that it’s going in one direction or another is like this abyss of uncertainty and hopelessness. And so that was my lowest point. And what I learned from that was I could stop there. I could let all of this get worse, I could become homebound. I could get a handicap parking permit. I could go on some sort of disability. And I could just give up. And that’s not my way. And what I realized was I needed an answer. Whether the answer was we’ll never know. But here’s how you live well with it. Whether the answer was this this terminal or whether the answer is here’s how you get better. I needed something and so I doubled down on finding new doctors. And I doubled down on dismissing the doctors who said oh, you know lots of women in their 30s are tired. That’s just what happens as you get older, exercise more and right i I know I, you know, it’s you scoff at it. But there are a lot of doctors out there who have opinions about, you know, there was a point in time where I gained 20 pounds in six weeks. Totally not normal. They found what was causing it and they treated it. But it was so fast that my skin hurt. And I went to one doctor, and he said, Well, you’re gaining weight, because you’re not exercising. And I said, I just did a 39 mile charity walk. I couldn’t complete the whole walk. But I did about 25 miles of it. So it’s not like I’m not trying, right? And so what what that incentivize me to do when I realized that I was in this hopelessness, was to find doctors who would help me. And what I finally came across was a doctor a rheumatologist who’s wonderful, who said to me, you have to stop going to individual doctors, let’s get you into a clinic. And he wrote me a really compelling letter for the Mayo Clinic to take me in as a patient who gets passed around to all the departments. And that’s what, that’s what ultimately helped me.

Ari: That was in the Mayo Clinic. Wow.

Lauren: I mean, I’ve again, obviously, who hasn’t heard of the Mayo Clinic? I never knew anybody that actually was there. Yeah. But it’s, I guess it’s a tremendous testimonial to, to the Mayo Clinic, I guess. Wow. That’s, that’s just amazing. And they were able to help you they found whatever it was, and they, and they worked with it. And today, you’re living a more comfortable life, I assume?

Lauren: Yeah, I’m living really well, I’m living the best I’ve lived in my adult life. Wow. And I’m having a lot of fun.



Ari: That, hey, you know what, it’s the most important part. Let me ask you this, who’s the one person that you would point to? That you would say had the most influence in your life? And why?

Lauren: Who, you know, you told me in advance this question was coming, and I just keep thinking about it. And who can choose one, right? But for the purposes of this conversation, I will choose my grandmother, my maternal grandmother, okay. Why she was just a really tough lady. And funny, she kept her sense of humor. And she had lost her eyesight throughout my mom’s childhood. And wow, they thought that it had happened through a fall, that she had felt fallen and hit her head. But it turned out to be multiple sclerosis, which they didn’t know until she was in late adulthood. Because they didn’t have the tests back in the mid 1900s. To figure out what it was. And so here’s a woman who lost her eyesight, who lived independently. My grandfather passed when I was about three. And she had helped my mom and her sister, you know, came frequently to help. But she continued going grocery shopping, living on her own cooking your own food, she sewed. And, and she just stayed involved in life, she took a walk every single day. And despite this illness, that caused her to lose her vision. She just kept doing it. And for me, as I navigated through my chronic illness, I thought of that all the time. You just keep doing it. You just keep going. Because the alternative is you give up and you live a terrible life. Yeah. So you take what you have, you take what you can do, you use the energy you can use. And you make the very best of it. And then you keep doing that. And as it gets better. And as it gets worse you adapt. But there’s always an opportunity to be resilient and to be tough. And to choose to go ahead anyway, even though you’re sick even though you’re tired, and, and to figure out how to work around all of the stuff that gets in your way.

Ari: Wow, that’s that’s incredible. She’s still with us.



Lauren: She’s not,

Ari: she’s not okay. Where was she? Like, where was she born? Was she born in America?

Lauren: Well, she was born in Austria, and came over here when she was two. So she essentially grew up here. My grandfather came over from Poland when he was 18.

Ari: And when was that was that before the war?

Lauren: That was right before the war. So the Cossacks were in Poland and his whole his whole family was lost in the Holocaust. So he was the only one who made it over right

Ari: and your grandmother was was basically move was here already so she Yeah, I hear okay. Wow. That’s That’s fascinating. Now do you have any words of wisdom before we go any words of wisdom for my audience something you could leave them where some of the some takeaway that they can take with Um,

Lauren: I think my, one of my mantras is, you always have a choice. Things happen to us all the time. Terrible things happen to us terrible things happen to our friends and family. You always have a choice in now what? Right? And so you can decide in your life and your career. If you don’t like what’s happening. Now what? There’s always a place to start from and look in another direction.

Ari: Wow, that’s great. You know what that just follows along the format of this podcast whispers in bricks, you have a choice. You can listen to the whispers or you can wait for the break. And obviously, you chose to listen to those whispers because the bricks weren’t a whole lot of fun, was it? That’s true. Okay, Lauren, before we go, if people want to get in touch with you, where can they find you? What’s the best way to do that? You have a website, email, but social media. Come on, give it all to us.



Lauren:  You got it. So I am super active on LinkedIn. Under my name, Lauren Lefkowitz, I have a website with a tool that can help you discover if you’re fine. And if you’re stuck in the trap of being fine. And that website is fine. Is a trap.com. And my website

Ari: whoa, wait, wait, wait. Oops, sorry. Yeah, give me that again. What was the website?

Lauren: Fine. Is a trap.com. 

So it’s F I N E. I S A T R A P. Dot crumbed. Yeah. Wonderful. Okay, that’s one that’s a website. Good.

Lauren: And my main website is Lauren Lefkowitz, coach.com,

Lauren Lefkowitz, coach that calm. So those are the best ways or I guess I assume that if you go on social media, they can find you. They can click, and then they’ll get to you. Correct. Absolutely. 


Ari: That’s wonderful. Lauren, thanks so much for sharing your story with my audience. It was it’s truly inspiring. Good luck going forward. You’re doing great. I’m so happy that our paths crossed that you agreed to come on my show. I think my audience has gained a lot from your story. So thanks again. I look forward to seeing you in the future. You’ve been listening to whispers and bricks and I’m your host Gary Sharma. And remember, if you feel like you’re stuck in the mud like you’re spinning your wheels, wasting time in your career, your business your life. If you know you’re not enjoying all the success, satisfaction significance that you desire, then it’s time for you to book a call with me at www dot call with ari.com Check out my whispers and bricks Coaching Academy. And until next time, listen to the whispers avoid the breaks and never ever give up on your dreams. Bye for now.

95.   TJ Bell Go For What You Want

92. Lindsey Jewell Part 3 The Road To Recovery

Lindsey Jewell Part 3 The Road To Recovery


Lindsey Jewell shares the last part of her story with us her recovery. She has faced so many bricks and finally is in recovery from her addiction. She now shares her story to help others deal with some of the bricks she has faced. Her story reminds that you can overcome any brick no matter how large or how many are thrown at us.

Show notes:




Episode Transcription


Intro Plays




Ari: Welcome to whispers of bricks. My name is Ari Schonbrun. I’m your host today. My guest is Lindsey jewel. This is actually part three of Lindsey story, Lindsay, how you doing today? Yeah, okay.

Lindsey: I am okay.

Ari: Good. I know, it was a little rough last time that we spoke. And it was it kind of worked out well, because we’re out of time anyway. So gave you a chance to breathe gave me a chance to breathe. And now we’re back here. Okay. And I think this is part three, the last part. And so let’s pick it up where we left off. They just convicted, they gave a life sentence to the person who molested you when you were a child. And you’re totally traumatized again, which led you back to that? Addiction?



Lindsey: Yeah. So yes, I wasn’t hard being right by Mexico anyways to find drugs. So got back in school. I mean, I was doing pills. I was doing cocaine. I didn’t care at this point. I was in a bad marriage. I, I didn’t even want to live anymore. I ended up in this unit. But still ended up failing your analysis for Coke. I mean, I didn’t even care at this point, honestly. But so I got discharged from the military, for the substance abuse. But I didn’t get a dishonorable I got a general under honorable conditions. I wrote our post commander, like a 10 page thesis explaining, look what happened. I’ll let you know why I did the actions I did. Let me tell you what I deal with. Does it make your right, you know, but I do get benefits from the VA, for severe, you know, PTSD and drug addiction in remission, as part of my payments, you know, which is which is nice. So yeah, so I get out of the military. And at this point, I feel like an absolute failure. My second marriage was nothing at this point, you felt like roommates, we split up, we split up and oh, my god, he just got like a severance pay for like $40,000 back dated from the VA, and gave me 100 bucks out of it. And I had a child with him, he took off, you know, to New York, I went back home. And at this time I had been in the military injured my back so I was able to get continue the pain pills, you know, which was, you know, becoming a very new and nicer addiction, not nicer addiction, which I don’t know what the word is where I could cover it up better. Maybe that’s the word. Because somehow in your head, if it’s written by a doctor, it makes it a little bit better. And you’re not such a loser addict because the doctors read for it. And so get out of the military and splitter with my husband and at age 33. Let’s see, I’m sorry, this is when the whole supposed pain pill epidemic happened, which there has always been an epidemic with opiates. I don’t know why they just made that a big thing. But so the pills kind of got shut off or they stopped. A lot of doctors stopped right numb and a lot of people got cut off and stuff. So then comes heroin. A lot of people know that tale from the pain pills, the expense of the pain pills and the amount of pain pills or whatever and the sickness that opiates cause when you withdrawal off of them is horrible. Absolutely horrible. And so then find heroin. At this point. Honestly, I I didn’t have much life in me. It was like I felt like I really felt like you know, because I was raised with with God. I was raised with a God who loved unconditionally, but had all these conditions and I felt like I must have screwed up some of these conditions because he must have hated me. You know because Um, why why did he do this to me? Why did why did these events happen to me, you know, and you know, I never thought I’d stick a needle in my arm. It’s another never than I thought I’d never do. And I did. And at this point, I really wanted it to take my life away. Because I was so ashamed with myself and ashamed with things. And I did go to treatment, again for the opiates, because that’s one I couldn’t fight off on my own. I, I would try to get cleaned by myself at my house, and I just didn’t have the willpower to say no, it’s very, it’s very different addiction than Coke, still physical, but a different physical dependence. And so now I got a treatment. And you know, people told me I was going to do so good, and so well, and the moment I walked out that door, it’s like, I sabotage myself because I guess I didn’t believe in myself. You know, at that point in my life, I don’t even know it feel uncomfortable to laugh, sober, it felt uncomfortable, to not have substance. Like I didn’t even know what normal felt like anymore. And started making friends and treatment centers, you know, thinking and like I said, it’s a good old trauma bond. I mean, these people had nothing in common except addiction and traumatic past. And so then I get into the criminal justice system. With addiction, it only ends it doesn’t matter how many times you write the story, it ends the same way in jails institutions or death. It really does. Doesn’t matter what class of people you come from doesn’t matter what you look like it’ll it’ll take you down and so I get my first criminal charge in my 30s Get a felony charge go to jail.



Ari: And that was that was for what for possession of

Lindsey: I do have no I did get a possession charge this one was it was a second degree burglary is what it was. What I had to take a plea to and it wasn’t wasn’t even like that. But that’s the charge I had to take. Okay, I got involved with people who are more in the criminal world and I what it all relates to you as you’re waiting for drugs and decided to go mopey around mope around the my apartment complex because some of these places people less stuff that was from evictions and stuff but you know, just went too far and some of this stuff was people’s property you know, but like I said, it all stems around drugs and so yeah, I get my first felony charge and then I get a second charge I think maybe six months later with the possession charge at this point my parents like wanted nothing to do with me I was a complete mess. The only I felt like there were no real friends in the world like I bought friends just in the drug world like it’s just I had never known the street life I couldn’t believe that at one time I was a college you know college graduate and and thought I was better and all these people now I’m like a person on like a bad don’t know like a like a typical like junkie is what I labeled myself as like just this loser addict who had no purpose in their life anymore. And then we’ll come to this next nice traumatic event, which is absolutely horrible, but so getting involved with people in the street life, you come across gang members, you come across all sorts of characters and so one of the guys that I used to buy drugs from was a gang member not that I cared but so I was not just raped by one man I was sexually assaulted. He made all the other gang members come and assault me as well. This was 2020 2014 when this happened, so I was an adult. And you know, it sucks because I justified the relapse when I went to meet up with this guy because I saw my I was watching my uncle died of alcoholism like literally he died he was highlighter yellow. And in my brain that was enough to make me go out and use and you know that assault was like reliving things as a child but as a full grown adult. And so, when that happened, it was absolutely oh my god, you want to talk about dissociative. The next day, my friend was driving me to the hospital. This is where I really I, I had some damage done to me. i We were driving to we were driving to the hospital, and I decided to jump out of a moving vehicle. Well, you can annex the things that transpired before not just the assault, my parents had shut off my phone, they thought that I was just very calm. They didn’t know I went out and relapsed. They shut off my phone, I didn’t have anybody. I was sitting in a hospital parking lot. had nobody had nobody, and was trying to get in this hospital because these people had done. Like I said, it wasn’t one person, it was multiple people. And, you know, I called the VA crisis line and said, I’m not trying to kill myself, but I was sexually assaulted. And I don’t know what to do. And they had a lady from one of these domestic violence, crisis centers come out and complete stranger and walk with me into the hospital. And to find out that we needed to go to another hospital that there was only one hospital that actually did the forensics test. And they were kind of busy at the moment, because there’s only two forensic nurses that work there. And I was like, So what do you tell me, I just got assaulted, went to the wrong hospital, embarrass myself, and now need to wait for, like, so many hours to get the courage to go back to another hospital. Right. And 

I will tell you that day I was I was completely, I walked into my therapists office without an appointment. I didn’t know where to go. I don’t know. I was, that was bad. It was really a hard time. My therapist ended up calling my parents and saying, look something you know, your daughter was assaulted, she’s not in good shape. My parents felt awful for turning off the phones, they turn the phone back on. So I get with my best friend who was taking me to the hospital. And as we were driving, she was also an she was in a not so healthy marriage also right. She started turning the car back towards her home because her husband was mad that she didn’t say goodbye to him. And that’s all it took for me. That’s all it took. She’s still my best friend to this day. And she’s out of that marriage. And but that’s all it took for me. In that moment. I said your best friend was not just assaulted by one but multiple people in your I didn’t call her nice name is turning this car around. Because your husband is mad that you didn’t say goodbye, I said f you and everybody else in this place. And I looked behind me to make sure for some reason that there wasn’t a car right behind. Because I knew I was jumping out of the car. And I at least felt kind enough in my heart to not let her watch me get mangled by a car like that. It’s a horrible I’m just telling you is going through my mind. So I opened the door and the car door and just bolted out and bolted out. And it’s really weird. I didn’t remember losing consciousness. All of a sudden, there’s an ambulance and police officers come in. I didn’t even know what what what had happened. I knew I jumped out of a car, right? But I didn’t know I just thought like, Okay, I just jumped out of a car. And the paramedics were putting me in, like the neck brace and stuff. Like why are they being so nice to me? And I said, I’m so sorry, I just had a really bad day. I’m trying to get to the hospital. And they’re like, it’s okay. It’s okay. It’d be really nice to me. And so, get to the hospital and all sudden I’m in this big like, like operating kind of type room, right? I’m like, why am I in here? Like what happened? Like I didn’t, I didn’t feel pain. I didn’t probably shock. Probably what it was, um, I kept saying I need to call my parents I need to call my parents. And this doctor said, Okay, call your parents and I said, Mom, I’m in the hospital. She didn’t she was freaking out. I guess she called every hospital because my friend told her I jumped out of a car but didn’t know what hospital I went to. And I guess I was under Jane Doe. So my mother thought I was dead. She didn’t know if I was dead or alive. So anyways, the doctor gets on the phone and says, Hi ma’am. This is a neurologist and I’m like, neurologist, why am I with a neurologist, you know, and he says your daughter jumped from a moving car, she has busted the back of her skull, there is bleeding in the brain, and we are doing more tests to see if we need to do surgery, or whatever. And I was just stunned. Like, I guess that’s what your body does when it goes to like, tremendous amount of trauma. Like I didn’t feel anything. And then he the doctor, and he was such a nice neurologist or good, nice guy. He goes, give her a shot. I need to give her a shot of fentanyl or something like that. It’s one of those pain medicines. I said, No, you can’t do that. I’m a heroin addict and just did nothing. He goes, I didn’t ask you, if you were an opiate addict. He says I’m giving you a shot of I don’t know, fentanyl, or whatever. And Mr. Robot who knows, yeah, something like that. And I told him, he said, what he knew something that I said I was very badly sexually assaulted. I was trying to get to the hospital. I can’t tell you I jumped out of the car. And so like in this moment, I’m also an officer, a police officer comes in, he’s like, do you want to make a statement for this sexual assault, and I couldn’t even think straight. I was like, no, he’s a gang member, I don’t want to get killed. You know, I’ll tell you the next day. I felt the head injury, I couldn’t even brush my hair.

Um, so I’m assuming that shock that probably went through my body. So it just doesn’t feel it. But oh, my God for a week I was in the hospital. They took the fingernail clippings did all this DNA and stuff like that, which eventually, a few years later, finally matched up with the guy. Because when I found out this guy not had been sexually assaulting women using their drug addiction as a control mechanism for him to do these things, right? They never stepped forward. Because in their minds, they think nobody’s going to believe me, I’m just nothing. I felt like I should say something. And this is kind of part of why I tell my story here now, because I feel like if my story can get somebody out of those bad situations, or help or something like that is my obligation. Like, so yeah. When I found out this man had been raping women for a long time, and it was a known fact, right? You know, I wasn’t gonna let him hurt one more woman. So I did tell the police what happened. I told him I never want to testify. That’s not That’s not what happened. And so, time goes on. It sucks that in that next year, I was still in the midst of my drug addiction, and was robbed by two guys that were supposed friends of mine and jumped from another moving vehicle to save my life because they put a gun to the back of my head. I mean, at this point, trauma becomes so normal to my life. Right? And that I feel like it didn’t even faze me, like I laughed it off. Like it’s sad. You know, but kind of almost done with this story. But

Ari: I was gonna say, let’s, let’s, obviously, you know, it’s just been crazy. You know, you’ve you’ve been in and out of jail, your husband’s had been in and out of jail. You’ve got, you’ve now got three kids. But the good thing is, and people need to know this, that you’ve been sober for a year now. And you’re sharing your story with the world? Let’s see you wrote a book. I did tell us what, what kind of a book what was that? Is that the story of your life?



Lindsey: Yes, that is the story more in depth of my life from I called it the cycle of sevens because it seemed like every seven years, I had some very, very traumatic event and experiences and it goes through kind of my belief systems at the time, why I believe these things and and how I’ve healed, you know, and all the places and information all the support systems that have helped my healing tremendously.

Ari: So you’re doing therapy groups? I do. Yeah. And I understand you’re loving yourself more and more, which is so important to the healing process. Yes, yeah, you vowed never to repeat any of these cycles again, God willing.

Lindsey: Yes. That is one thing I would say as advice for anybody is to look at your patterns, look at your patterns. And if they’re unhealthy, learn why you’re doing, you know, kind of free yourself from those. Wow.



Ari: Lindsay, it’s, it’s quite a story. And again, I have to thank you so much for, you know, stepping up and, you know, as Pat as painful as it was to tell your story, to let people know that, you know, it’s not, you know, even even in the best of families, things like this happen. So don’t think if you’re, if you’re, you know, if you come from a good family that you’re immune, and don’t think that everybody who’s poor winds up like this, because that’s not true, either. So you just have to understand that, you know, you have to understand the signs. And, you know, get help quickly. And let me ask you this, do you have like a website, or anything, if people want to get in touch with you, they want, you know, they just need somebody to talk to or somebody that that might give them some advice or whatever. If you’re up if you’re open to that, if you’re not a true, I totally understand. Okay,



Lindsey: I have I have Instagram, I have Instagram and Facebook. I don’t know if I sent those two, but so they can find it under your name, Lindsey, Joel,

Lindsey as your 09 28. And then I have an email too, which is Lindsey Jules 09 twenty@gmail.com. But angels with two L’s, right it is with two L’s Yes, yes. And my Yes. Yeah. And just if somebody sends me a message or something, just let me know how you heard because sometimes people just strange people.

Ari: Right. So if you’re going to get in touch with Lindsay just mentioned that you heard her on, on the whispers and bricks podcast, and she will be able to respond to you. Lindsay, thanks so much for sharing your story with my audience. Good luck going forward. The best all the best and only the best. You been listening to whispers and bricks and I’m your host Gary Shermer. Remember, if you feel like you’re stuck in the mud, like you’re spinning your wheels, wasting time, your career, your business your life. If you know you’re not enjoying all the success, satisfaction and significance that you desire, then it’s time for you to book a call with me at www dot call with ari.com. Check out my whispers of bricks Coaching Academy until next time, listen to the whispers avoid the bricks and never ever give up on your dreams for now.