Life has inflection points, moments that send us in a different direction. This podcast is about the moments in our lives — whether exhilarating or devastating, colossal, or minuscule — that changed everything. Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and these defining moments transform us and those around us.
A Mother’s Journey of Self-Discovery and Letting Go. On a Motorcycle.
Today’s guest was a high school dropout at 16, a college graduate at 20, and a single mom at 30. She’s been a cook for a broke orchestra, an SEO expert, a yoga teacher, a welder, and so much more. C. Jane Taylor is also the author of the book “Spirit Traffic: A Mother’s Journey of Self-Discovery and Letting Go”.
Jane Taylor has had such a rich variety of experiences in the work she’s done. So, what do welding and cake-making have in common? Well, they’re both structural in nature. However, she isn’t too concerned about a common thread between her career choices—she’s just a natural learner who’s drawn to discovering new things.
She also has a passion for motorcycles, which started when she was a kid. Her mother owned a motorcycle shop, and the mechanics there became her babysitters. They were scary-looking, scar-faced rebels who looked after her. While she rode as a child, she hadn’t for a long time until she got her own bike at 50 years old. Spirit Traffic is about the epic cross-country motorcycle trip she took.
Getting down her driveway on that motorcycle is C. Jane Taylor’s defining moment. It felt like entering a new world—a world where she could go anywhere. It made her realize she could do anything, which would turn out to be the catalyst behind her writing her book.
At that moment, her perception of herself changed. She accomplished something she wasn’t sure she was capable of. There were so many times she sat at the top of the driveway, too afraid to head down the hill. But at that moment, she found it within herself to continue.
Giving up Everything to Live a Nonlinear Life: Neurodivergent Thinking in a Linear World
Do you think in a non-linear, non-sequential, atypical way? If your thought path to a solution is a windy one, you’ll relate to today’s guest, Perry Knoppert. Perry founded the Octopus Movement, a movement driving the acceptance and awareness of the incredible abilities of atypical thinkers.
Non-linear thinking can also be described as multipotentiality. Perry decided to name his movement “The Octopus Movement” primarily because it’s easier to say than multipotentiality. In addition, the octopus also represents a curious misfit who thinks outside the box.
Perry’s defining moment happened when he was homeless, unable to see his kids, and without his furniture, books, and other cherished items. Standing in the middle of his girlfriend's living room, he looked outside. He said to his girlfriend “it’s clear to me”, and although at the time he didn’t know exactly what he was referring to, this was the moment he accepted his own neurodiversity.
The expectations set on him by the outside world couldn’t fit him because he was lying to himself. He felt everything in his life was going wrong, even though his intentions were good. He realized he doesn’t fit into the linear world because he’s wired differently—and that’s okay.
It’s important for companies across industries to understand and appreciate non-linear thinking. Atypical thinkers have a tendency to thrive in dynamic circumstances and are able to adapt through the introduction of new ideas. If you want to hire neurodivergent people, consider your unwritten rules and how you can let them go. This could open the door of potential for creative thinkers everywhere.
Check your boundaries: Verbal Abuse and Divorce
In this episode, we’re joined by Candace, a Rochester, New York woman. She moved a lot in her youth but eventually settled in Vermont where she started her business as a hairstylist. She’s been running her business for 10 years now.
Candace’s defining moment was one of the rawest moments of her life—the moment she decided to leave her husband. When she got married, she was certain that “making it” was a matter of determination. Looking back, she realizes this perspective came from a place of judgment.
Before separating, she had been arguing with her husband for some time. This arguing had escalated into verbal abuse. She knew staying was no longer an option, especially if she wanted to have respect for herself and for her family. One thing that surprised her after she left her husband was how very few people reached out to her.
In the beginning, it was incredibly difficult. She was with her husband for 27 years. It took a huge adjustment and about six months for her to feel like she was on her feet again. Since their divorce, she has gone without contact with her husband. She’s allowing her children to navigate their relationship with their dad independently of her.
So, how do you know when it’s time to leave your marriage? Check your boundaries. If your boundaries are getting fuzzy, or they are being pushed, it might be an indication you need to move on. Check your head, check your finances, and wherever you are, make sure you feel safe and well.
This is Not Your Fault
In this episode, social media expert Nichole Howson opens up about her battle with bipolar disorder and how it led her to attempt suicide multiple times. She shares her story in the hopes of helping others who may be struggling with mental health issues. Nichole highlights the importance of seeking help and getting proper treatment, as well as the importance of having a support system.
You’re the one.
On this episode of Our Defining Moments, we’re joined by Alexsys Thompson. She is the author of “The Power of a Graceful Leader,” which was featured by Entrepreneur magazine as one of the best new leadership books in 2021. Alexsys is also an executive integration coach and a member of the Forbes Coaches Council—just to name a few of the other things she does.
Her work is guided by her mission to create a safe space for souls to show up. Over the past decade, she’s been focusing more on who she is and what that brings to the world, rather than being defined by her work. She’s committed to her continued evolution as a human being and learning how to approach the world with love and joy.
In 1998, Alexsys was working with Child Watch of North America. She joined this organization from a place of being a young mom looking to create safety in herself. It wasn’t long before she found herself working up the ranks which is where she was first introduced to trauma and PTSD, with the parents she worked alongside and to some degree within herself.
Alexsys’ defining moment came while she was working on a particular case where a mother’s three children were taken. The father was suspected to have taken them to another country. In her second meeting with the mother, she looked Alexsys in the eyes and said “I know you’re the one who’s going to help me get these girls back”. She looked at her and responded, “yeah, we are going to do that”.
This moment would test Alexsys’ determination and fortitude, and along the way she would lay the foundation for tools and strategies she still uses today. This defining moment taught her whom she needed to be: a voice for those who need a greater echo in the chamber. You don’t need a lot of people to instigate change. You just need the right energy exchange to initiate it.
Trauma to Transformation: Living with Chronic Pain as an Artist
Prolific collage artist Madcollage is our guest in today’s episode. Madcollage grew up in Madrid and has a lot of wonderful memories of the city, especially warm memories with her father. However, there were also times she remembers that were not idyllic, as there was quite a bit of conflict within the family.
From a young age, she didn’t feel like she fit in. She acknowledged early on she had a different way of expressing how she feels. She was always a maker, creating and dismantling whatever she could to find out how and why things worked. It’s perfectly fitting that she turned to create collages as a creative outlet.
Often, we don’t recognize our defining moments until they have passed. These memories that stick with you can end up being defining moments. Madcollage believes we can have many of these moments, but the one she has chosen to share today is a hopeful moment. Despite the pain, fear, and difficulty she faced daily, she decided to launch Madcollage as a business endeavor.
From this point on, it became something more than what existed for her own benefit. She took all her trauma and transformed it into something that could have a positive impact on others. Our brains have a negative bias, which gets activated when we are stressed. Madcollage actively and intentionally runs away from this negativity and focuses on her art.
The harder the chronic pain in her body resisted creating this business, the harder she fought against it. This resistance wasn’t—and isn’t—stronger than her love for art. It can be tough to see what’s right in front of you if you're dealing with pain. Accessing a creative outlet can help you see what’s beyond your chronic pain.