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Podcast Transcript

The Rebellious Act Of Liking Yourself

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:11  
Welcome to "Your Authentic Path to Powerful Leadership" with Marsha Clark. Join us on this journey where we are uncovering what it takes to be a powerful woman leader. And Marsha, welcome back as we are shifting gears a little bit this week, and I'm so excited to get to dig into this coming of self story and some lessons learned for our listeners.

Marsha Clark  0:34  
Well, I am too, Wendi. And I want to open up this conversation and introduce our guest for today. We really wanted to introduce our listeners to this author who first published her book which tells an all too familiar story of a woman in a high demanding, high profile job traveling around the world for business while also expecting her first child and trying to balance all of the expectations from work, her family, and even from the rebel within herself. So let me introduce Celina Mattocks, who's an author and executive, a speaker and a mom. So welcome, Celina.

Celina Mattocks  1:11  
Thank you so much, Marsha. Thank you, Wendi. I am thrilled to be here today with you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:15  
Awesome, awesome. Well, Celina, our longtime listeners are familiar with our format when we have a guest on. So my first question is, how are you and Marsha connected?

Celina Mattocks  1:26  
Thanks, Wendi. So Marsha and I met in the fall. And we're actually both alumni from American University in Washington, D.C. And when her book came out, I was out at dinner with a mutual connection who said I had to read her book because our books have a similar vein. Mine is fiction, but hers is non, but I immediately downloaded it and read it. And then in that book, she reviews Margaret Wheatley's Fearless Questions, the first of which was, does the world need us to be fearless? And I'm like, yes, yes, it does. And so in that same, in that same spirit, I direct messaged her on the hopes that she would respond to me on LinkedIn. And I got lucky and she did respond. And so we spent an hour together, virtually she's in Dallas, I'm in D.C.,  and I learned a ton from her and her subjects of defeating the imposter syndrome, which I call rebellion. And women supporting themselves and other women are main themes in my book. And so I just knew that Marsha and I were destined to stay connected some way somehow.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  2:41  
Yes, yes. That's awesome. So let's dive into that connection that made so much sense between the two of you. And part of why we wanted to highlight your book this week, we're looking forward to Mother's Day.

Marsha Clark  2:53  
And, Celina, your book is titled, I love the title because it makes you wonder, right? It's titled "54 Flights", and there is meaning behind this title. And so will you set up the premise of the book and tell us what the title means?

Celina Mattocks  3:06  
Thanks, Marsha. Yes, so "54 Flights" is about a woman named Alex who's a road warrior, basically, she's jet setting. And she travels every week to different cities, both internationally and domestically. She's fun, and she's ambitious. She's at mid career at this point and becomes pregnant, and faces several issues as her belly is getting bigger. She, you know, has workplace discrimination issues, and she faints on planes and while driving on major highways, and she also is challenged with her own inner demons, who won't let her be content. So I say "54 Flights" is inspired by my own experiences. But Alex takes on a whole different life of her own, which is why I would consider it a short fiction read and why it was so much fun to write.

Marsha Clark  4:04  
So these are not living characters. It's the inspiration for your characters are the living people, but the characters, you've given them a life of their own.

Celina Mattocks  4:13  
Yes, Alex has a life of her own and her husband is a major protagonist in the book as well. But Marsha, there's actually a non living character in this book. The Antagonist, Despi, is a ghost.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  4:28  
Yes, very nice. Okay.

Marsha Clark  4:30  
That's a mic drop, like Oh, tell me more.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  4:32  
Okay, so, so tell us about the ghost. There has to be connections between your work, Celina, and Marsha's.

Celina Mattocks  4:40  
The ghost's name is Despi and Despi is actually her inner critic. Alex basically has this manifestation of her own despised self or her we like to say negative self talk that tells her she's not good enough, she'll never be enough. And Despi actually shows up in the book physically in the middle of a baby store while she's shopping for her unborn child. And I think we can all understand that we each have our own sort of despi or messages that are negative in our lives. And sometimes we're not even aware of it's constant presence.

Marsha Clark  5:20  
You know, Celina, I, there are a lot of connections between the work that you do and I, what I love is Alex's story is told through her own heroic journey. And I agree with you, we all have that inner critic that little, you know, I call it the devil sitting on one shoulder who's telling us we're never enough and that, you know, I could never say that, or they would never agree to this or that sort of thing. And so that inner critic, and I love that you've given her a name. And I think that was in one of those moments where we really did connect in the work that you're doing and the work that we're doing in support of women, because the story you describe is a familiar one.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  6:01  
Yeah. And so before we dive into this character of Despi and the role that the ghost plays in the story, why the title "54 Flights"? Why not 50 or 48 or 74, whatever It's a very specific number. So where does that come from?

Celina Mattocks  6:20  
Well, I thought about the title 50 Flights, but all of my friends laughed and said it would make readers think about 50 Shades of Grey, which we all loved and read. And it's not the same story. And my husband said, Well, if they think of 50 flights, then maybe it'll sell more. And so I said, Oh, that's a good point. But 54 flights is actually the number of business trips that Alex took while she was pregnant. And so I landed, get it, landed with the 54 flights.

Marsha Clark  6:52  
And I remember looking at that, and thinking, okay, 54 trips, and most pregnancies are 40 weeks. I mean, that's more than one flight a week. And that's a lot of times to to be flying during pregnancy because I usually don't let you fly towards the end. So I'm thinking you crammed it a lot of travel during that time.

Celina Mattocks  7:11  
Yes, it was domestically and internationally. Alex, you know, was in China, and then Europe and as well as up and down the East Coast of the United States. And I think that that was one of the major themes for Alex's identity. She liked being that version of herself. And she watched all of her friends becoming moms over the years. And she would say to herself, oh, that's not her. I'm an executive. Motherhood is prison. It's the worst thing that could happen to me. But in the end, her own Despi was actually hiding her desire to be a mom. It's kind of complicated.

Marsha Clark  7:56  
Well, but and, and such is our lives, right? I mean, I can see so as I said, much of this in the conversations I have with my coaching clients and they often have stories about who they think they should be, and remember should is could with shame on it. And this idea of I've got to be something that maybe is not as core to me and, and even others projecting onto us what they think we should be as well as us doing that to ourselves. And that's where this you know, fable or this curated self, you know, becomes and then looms in our lives.

Celina Mattocks  8:33  
Yeah, it does loom in our lives, and it takes greater weight on us than we even know sometimes I think a lot of people struggle with the identity. Some think they want fame, others think they want fortune, some people are career oriented, maybe others are family centric. And then when you realize your real self, that's daunting, when you may not be the person you always told yourself you were identity is a strange concept and transitioning from one role to something entirely different was for Alex. This book is very much a story about Alex going through her own identity transition from a business woman to a mother and figuring out how to like and actually be comfortable with all of those aspects of herself. And this was her reflection point to stop going and going and going, to pause and actually focus on being.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  9:35  
So I've got a quote here in my notes, and I'm gonna let you kind of reinforce this, Celina. The quote is, "In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act." by Caroline Caldwell. And so will you elaborate on why you like that quote, Celina, and obviously it's the inspiration for the title of today's episode.

Celina Mattocks  10:01  
It is such a powerful quote because I think that being kind to yourself and seeing yourself in a positive light is hard for a lot of people. And society doesn't reward that type of behavior. So when you can separate society from yourself and elevate yourself, I think that that's the key to living a successful and fulfilling life. And it is rebellious to like yourself, especially as a woman, as a woman, not I mean. This International Women's Day I had to travel, this is me, Celina, I had to travel to a senior leadership meeting and I hopped off the plane, I Ubered and picked up some roses. And I handed a single rose to each of the women in the boardroom, of which there was not many when I arrived, and it was a small gesture with a big rebellious message saying, You are important, and you deserve to be here. And one of the other things I've been doing a lot in my interactions with other consultants and other clients is, my mantra has been don't apologize, like stop apologizing. Period. You don't mean it, you don't need it. It's just a filler, and it brings you down.

Marsha Clark  11:35  
You know, Celina, I want to go back for just a moment to something you said about profiting off of our self doubt. When you look at the trillion, trillions of dollars of business that goes into women's cosmetics, women's plastic surgery, women's, you know, fitness, women's fashion, all with this attempt to have us look a certain way or have a certain skin or a hair color or dress a certain way. It's all about that and and that when we aren't spending and investing in those kinds of things, somehow we do get all those messages of not being enough. And this idea of profiting off of our self doubt, and I will share with you and with our listeners. I remember when I co wrote a book back in 2004 with my dear friend Dottie Gandy, I was adamant that our book was about leadership and not it was not going to go in the Self Help section of a bookstore. Because the books, they want to put every book about women in the Self Help section, which in and of itself is this indirect message of you need a lot of help, honey, right, you know, and all of that's part of it. And that's where that self doubt gets reinforced again and again and again. So I love small gestures with big messages. And I love the rebellion. So I like that, Celina. Thank you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  13:01  
Yeah. Celina, you mentioned a moment ago that it's difficult to transition from one role to something entirely different. In "54 Flights" you take your readers through that kind of life changing transition when the main character Alex confirms that she's pregnant. So will you walk us through some of her first thoughts and what was going on for her?

Celina Mattocks  13:24  
Yes, thanks, Wendi. I did want to go back to something Marsha just said because I will never be the same from that that subject of putting your book in the Business section versus the Self Help section. You have no idea how powerful that that is. So thank you for that. But in the book itself, I think it was chapter five, but Alex was on a business trip. And she broke out in a crazy rash at the client site and ran into the public bathroom because there was no private bathroom, and she starts itching herself, which actually makes me think of the episode with Marsha and LaRue a couple episodes ago with Marsha tells us that she knew something was wrong and actually went to the doctor even though she never went to the doctor normally. But Alex realized her period was late and, and texted her husband when she got home and said we got to get a pregnancy test. So she immediately booked a trip back home and flew home that night. But when she got there, her husband, Colin, was cool and calm and distant and collected and it really scared her actually. It's when her Desty showed up and kicked in and convinced her that her husband didn't want a child and didn't even want to be with her. She went down into spirals and it went from not wanting a child to not wanting to be married.

Marsha Clark  14:47  
And that negative self talk, it just gets bigger and bigger every time we replay it in our minds. And it got amplified even further when she finally took the home test and confirmed that she was indeed pregnant. So tell us about that.

Celina Mattocks  15:00  
It was. And she was surprised. She was actually excited about this. She had thought about it. She, she didn't know when she wanted to do it and when it was a positive, in the book, it says she joyfully hopped down the stairs to show Colin, and she was allowing herself to be happy. And she's about to bang on the door because Colin, Colin was downstairs and she stopped right before she knocked on the door. And she couldn't tell him.

Marsha Clark  15:34  
Yeah, what was so frightening about that?

Celina Mattocks  15:36  
I think for Alex, a few things combination. She was scared that he would be upset. She was scared that he thought he was too old. In the book he's 15 years older than her. And then the negative self talk just spiraled, thinking they should probably not have gotten married. And now she was finally where she thought she could be in her career to have a child. And now she's gonna lose him and potentially her career.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  16:13  
Yeah, that's quite a spiral.

Celina Mattocks  16:15  
I know. She went through the myriad of emotions in a split second. She was elated one nanosecond and terrified the next. And that's how it hits her. She really, Alex struggles with liking herself, and knowing that she is worthy of a successful career and being a mom at the same time.

Marsha Clark  16:35  
And I love that, Celina because it's a both-and world and not an either-or in the spiraling story a  nothing- nothing world, right. And yet, I want to, you know, dive in a little bit. You talked about part of this spiral involved Alex's fear that her husband felt that he was too old at 50 to be starting a family. And I know you've done some research around this. And I'd like for our listeners to hear about that because more people are waiting until they're older to have children, at least here in the U.S.

Celina Mattocks  17:05  
Yeah, there actually has been some major shifts in the US population related to when women are having families and the number of children they're having. So back in the 50s, a woman had her first child on average at the age of 22 and had on average three or more children. And remind you the population of the United States at this time was 151 million. Okay. So fast forward today to 2022, the population has more than doubled at 338 million. And a woman is now starting children on average at 27. So five years later and having one, maybe two children and the same number of children are being born in 1950 as today, 3.6 million. So that's quite a big statistic right there.

Marsha Clark  18:08  
It's a huge statistic. And I will tell you, I just learned recently that one of my high school friends is now going to be a great grandmother. Wow, great grandma. And I'm sitting here, you know, at seventy years old. And my oldest grandchild is 10 and my youngest is 4 because my son and daughter in law waited later to get married with this same, you know, statistical story you just told us. And yet here we are.

Celina Mattocks  18:32  
Yeah. My mother was finished with five children by age 30 and I didn't even start until 34. So and I'm done at two. This whole five, that's a lot.

Marsha Clark  18:46  
So I know there are hundreds of the different statistical models out there. And there's, you know, the census and the CDC data and private groups like Pew Research and so on and they slice and dice these numbers around child birth rates, geography, education levels, income levels, housing and so on. So it would be easy to fall into that rabbit hole here. And, and yet, you know, Wendi, I think we want to go in kind of a different place.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  19:14  
Yeah, exactly. So I did some digging and one of the articles I found came from a radio reporter Joe Hiti with WCCO News Talk back in May of 2022. And his report included data from the National Center for Health Statistics. And it showed that among women aged 20 to 24, fertility rates and by fertility rates, they mean live births. So fertility rates have declined almost 43% and for women between 25 and 29, it dropped 22%. Then when you jump to women between 35 and 39, there was an increase of (get ready for this number everybody) more than 67%. So that's really telling me that women are waiting until after they are fully educated and have started their careers and gotten established in their careers before they think about starting a family.

Marsha Clark  20:17  
So there you are, Celina, that I mean, you said 34, but you're close to that 35/39. You're a part of that statistic.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  20:24  
Yeah. And then okay, so everyone hang on to your hats. This gets even crazier. That same census bureau report showed that women between ages 40 and 44 saw an increase of fertility rates of more than 132%. So again, Marsha, this is where the whole education thing comes into play. In Hiti's article, he shared some insight from a University of Maryland sociologist named Philip Cohen, who stated that one reason behind this trend is that college educated women are choosing to invest in their education and careers to be better set up financially when they choose to have children. Cohen also added that there is a growing desire among working class women to wait until they are financially secure before becoming a mother.

Marsha Clark  21:15  
Well, and I think financial security, I mean, I even teach this in our programs, it gives us flexibility, it gives us options. And it doesn't mean I have to be rich, and it doesn't mean that I've got to have their college paid for before they're ever conceived, or any of that kind of thing. But what I consider to be financial security gives me options.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  21:35  
I'm going to interject something real quick. Alex was quote "kicking ass at work", right Celina, doing great, the clients loved her, not missing a beat throughout this entire pregnancy, right?

Celina Mattocks  21:48  
Oh, yes, she was amazing. She was where she needed to be when she needed to be the person she needed to be for all of the executives that needed her to be it. Everything was going well. And she thought really deeply about how to tell her boss when she was pregnant. And she, she knew that she had several more months, and she could travel. At the time, her doctor told her up until 32 months internationally and 36... Sorry, 32 weeks internationally and 36 weeks domestically, so she had plenty of time. And she tried to tell her boss, and the entire week he kind of pushed her off. When she finally got a chance to tell him, he basically was lukewarm and didn't mention another word to her about it or her intentions for staying on as long as possible.

Marsha Clark  22:51  
And I just want to set the stage a little bit for our listeners. Alex lived in that consulting role. And if any of us have ever worked or been those consultants, we know we're flying to the client site pretty much on a weekly basis, you know, whether it's leave Sunday night, come back Thursday night, or some version of that. And so, and I also just want to add, I can't tell you how many coaching calls I have with "I just found out I'm pregnant but I'm not going to tell the company because they'll limit me in various and sundry ways" which I think is another connection to the story that you've written, Celina. And I think Alex was at the client's worksite or work location when she broke this news to the boss. Is that, am I remembering right?

Celina Mattocks  23:35  
Yes, she was.

Marsha Clark  23:37  
I want to emphasize how Alex prefaced her announcement. Because I really think it's important for our listeners to hear the language she used. And and I will tell you, if I had been a coach, you know, I would have offered up these are some of the ways that you could do this to hopefully get some positive support in response. Celina, will you share that conversation, because I really think it's good for our listeners to hear.

Celina Mattocks  24:00  
Sure. Okay. It's on page 80. So I'll read from here. "I knew it was time to tell my boss I was pregnant. If I didn't, he would notice soon on his own. I couldn't hide it much longer. I had tried garnering enough courage to tell him multiple times over the week but he sent me away each time saying he was busy and I was too meek to press him on it. It was a fresh Monday morning. My flight had been on time and I was feeling confident. After our first meeting of the morning, the Warsaw crew logged off and everyone got up to leave the room. Lee, we need to talk, I said after closing the door so he couldn't escape again. I sat down and he leaned back in his chair. Let me guess. You're pregnant, he laughed. He laughed so hard I thought others would hear him walking by. As the color drained from my face to resemble the ghost, red crawled up his face from his neck, like a newfound allergy. Oh no, he said. You are. He doesn't really care about you. This firm will spit you out." Oh, are we remembering that inner critic that Alex had, that we just talked about? Those were Despi's words.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  25:25  
Yeah, exactly.

Marsha Clark  25:28  
You know, I want to spend some time exploring this inner critic because it just, there it is. There it is, again, oh, there it is. Again, I want us to get through, though, the rest of that scene, if you will, of Alex's conversation with the boss, because we get, you know, you kind of want to know, well, then what happened. So if you'll share that, Celina.

Celina Mattocks  25:48  
Sure, I'll continue. "I tapped my fingers on the table and gathered the strength to resume the conversation. I told him I was 23 weeks pregnant, and still very dedicated to the firm. I told him that Colin and I were thrilled to be carrying our first child, and that I was still wholly invested in this work, his success, and my career."

Marsha Clark  26:13  
And so I look at all of that those were, in my mind all the right things to say. And so as I said a moment ago, if I'd scripted that it couldn't have come out better. And the conversation is really what I would describe as a lesson in clarity, and specificity. So so let me tease that out just a little bit. So here's the facts. I'm 23 weeks pregnant. So I'm giving you data, right? Everybody needs data. Second, I'm still very much committed to the firm. And they need to hear that, and I think of this as a both and statement for you. I am both pregnant and dedicated and committed. Three, my partner and I are thrilled to be pregnant, this isn't an accident, it isn't, you know, what the hell just happened kind of moment, it's a happy thing for me and my family. And then four is reinforcing that message of I'm wholly invested, which I think are really great words, by the way, in, that you're invested in the project,  his success, my career. It's not like I've suddenly become a helpless, you know, woman that, you know, has to sit and, you know, take care of myself because I'm so fragile, because that's a part of what we think and hear. And that's what my inner critic has said and I've heard many times from clients. And then finally you give him information. Again, going back to data, here's how long I can continue to support this project. So you know, when you were writing for this character, you had thought out all of these points ahead of time, did you do that intentionally? Tell us a little bit about what was behind your writing of this, this part of the story.

Celina Mattocks  27:56  
That's such a great question. I think it is a lesson learned over years in business. I think that Alex needed to needed to put those thoughts together before she approached him very intentionally. And it was smart of her to do that. And obviously, the response from Lee was horrible and later on proved, you know, a huge challenge for her, but she did the right thing. And thank you for breaking down those components of a supportive business environment.

Marsha Clark  28:39  
Well, I just say bravo, because, you know, I think about consultants are, are there to try and see a systemic view and, and help clients in that way. And so that your Alex character, really, I think, represented that well, So bravo to you on that.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  28:55  
So now, I want to know. After Alex told the boss and he basically ignored the topic for a week, what happened?

Celina Mattocks  29:03  
Well, Wendi, that is the kick in the teeth moment in the book for Alex when she was pulled into that same conference room the next week, and Lee told her that they were finding her replacement, effective immediately. So Alex would conduct a three week knowledge transfer after her replacement had been found, which would be up to four months later, normally, but now was one week later.

Marsha Clark  29:29  
Well, and I just want to, again, state this is why women don't tell their companies they're pregnant until they absolutely have to, because this stuff happens.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  29:37  
That's right. And so what was Alex, I mean, in the book, what was Alex thinking when all this is happening?

Celina Mattocks  29:44  
There was a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions for sure for Alex both for the client and for the project. And for herself. She was thinking through the logistics of changing leads at this point, which is her you know, personal advisor and the impact it would have, and how she had thought through very logically and responsibly, which is why she had given her manager the heads up so we could do a complete and thorough transition based on what was best for the project. And then for her personally, it hit her that in her line of business as a consultant, the timing couldn't have been worse to try and find a new project and get assigned to, and she had to find one or she wouldn't be, quote, "billable", they say and chargeable, and her rate would go down, which would mean she could get fired and she would definitely lose the promotion potential that she was ready for. I mean, she was working hard. And so it was just bad, bad all around.

Marsha Clark  30:45  
Well, and I just have this image of Despi screaming at this point with the I told you, you shouldn't have gotten pregnant, I told you, you weren't meant to be I mean, all those things. But I do think there's a point that we want to make here, Celina, because I know you've done some data around pregnancy discrimination. And I think that would be relevant to share here because we don't just have to accept this kind of behavior. But what have you discovered as a part of your research in the book?

Celina Mattocks  31:14  
Yeah, sadly, I discovered that gender discrimination is still very real today. The EEOC enforces Title Seven, which is the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And that includes oversight of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the FMLA of 1993, which is Family and Medical Leave Act. Now, the EEOC actually had to update in 2015, their guidance for persistent pregnancy discrimination, and since then, has recovered more than $14 million in associated cases.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  31:58  
So Celina, I know in the book, Alex didn't pursue any legal action. So but what happened?

Celina Mattocks  32:05  
You're right, she didn't, because after a few frantic phone calls, she checked in with her career counselor, who told her to reach out to her Managing Director, and immediately got back to her, thankfully, and reassured her that she would give her help on a project.

Marsha Clark  32:25  
So she basically ran interference so that discrimination would not occur by being able to have her come work on a project, be billable, not get penalized for being pregnant. Am I interpreting that right?

Celina Mattocks  32:41  
Yes, you are. Because it was a very powerful moment for Alex and a huge lesson learned too that she didn't need to fear because she while she learned she needed to be careful of what she disclosed at work and when, and to who she also knew that she should rely on on and ask for help and be able to be vulnerable from people that she can trust and her true allies like her career counselor, like her managing director.

Marsha Clark  33:18  
And I just want to say the example in the story, because her career counselor was a another woman, and who had three kids and in the story, and, you know, for me, knowing who our allies are, this is a perfect example of women supporting women. And your second point about not being afraid to ask for help. So asking for what we want and what we need in order to be successful. So I really loved those aspects of the book as well Celina.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  33:49  
So I just want to share with our listeners that there are several resources out there. We're gonna have all of them in the transcript of this podcast, but a couple of websites to mention are the That's the American Association of University Women. And all you need to do is use their search function and type in pregnancy discrimination and it will take you to some great information and also effective on June 27, this year 2023, there is a new law that will go into effect called the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,  PWFA, and it will cover all employers. It will require covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a workers known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. So just wanted to put that out there as well. All of our listeners have resources.

Marsha Clark  34:49  
Well, and I also just want to say make no assumptions. And I know we can have the best of intentions of trying to protect or care for, or dare I say support women by saying, Oh, you don't have to travel or oh, we're not going to put you on that hard project or no, you don't have to work those long hours. But what I would offer to every single person listening to this and everyone that I know, ask, don't assume, and let the woman make that choice and decision for herself rather than you assuming any sort of protective supportive, well intended role. So Celina, getting back when you introduced the characters of your story earlier, you shared Alex and Despi, which is the nickname I think for your despised, so the short, short version of despised self or inner critic. And, you know, as we mentioned, when we started the exploration, and, you know, even the eventual mastery of that inner critic was one of the things that I really connected with in your work, because I do spend a lot of time working through some of those same types of limiting beliefs. So for anyone who has not yet read your book, and I hope everybody goes out buys a copy now. If you haven't, I hope they that after this podcast, that you know, we can share stories about that and, and I do want you to tell the what I think is a very significant and moving story about when Despi, that inner critic shows up at the baby store.

Celina Mattocks  36:25  
Yes, it was groundbreaking for her a whole new world for Alex when she just walked into a baby store for the first time buying for herself, not for her friends. And she was hearing that familiar voice from inside. And it said, "You're a confused and lost person. Alex, you used to make fun of people who got excited about stores like this. You live your life seeking contentment you will never find. Today you are thrilled you're having a baby but just wait. When that baby comes you'll be miserable." And it's funny in the book Despi takes on the italicized words. And then when she was in the baby sock and onesie aisle choosing between blue and pink because she didn't want to know before, she wanted to have a surprise reveal. Alex then heard that raspy voice, say, Alex. That's my attempt. And so when Alex heard her name, instantly the people in the store have vanished and then the silhouetted figure floated in front of her about 10 feet away from her and the figure was dark, stringy hair and yellow eyes had a treacherous smile, a pale white face and no body whatsoever. And that voice whispered Alexandria, and she realized that that voice had been the same exact voice that had been living inside of her head for as long as she could remember. And it always made her feel unworthy, unwanted, not good enough. And that voice and now that ghost in front of her had been keeping her scared and small and silent in so many ways.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  38:19  
Oh, wow. I just, wow.

Marsha Clark  38:22  
Yeah, me too. And I think it touches in our case, Wendi, you and me in such a way because we know this story hurt. We've heard this story so much. We've lived this story so much.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  38:35  
So how did Alex finally reclaim her power?

Celina Mattocks  38:39  
Well, she had studied some theories that she started sorting through mentally to figure out to be able to articulate what was happening with her like, was she going crazy? No, she needed to, to find something to help her. And then in the book, she found it. It had been this woman named Karen Horney on the social unconscious. It's a theory of the ideal self and the despised self. And the ideal self is that person that you always wanted to become and that grandiose image of yourself. And then there's a despised self, which is the person who will never let you become that ideal self. And so Horney researched the social unconscious, which is in fact a cluster of memories, feelings, images and inner conflicts, that gives us all our own self image and that is what influences our behavior. And so when Alex saw the ghost in front of her, realized it was actually a despised self, she was able to name it, and so she named it Despi and tamed it right there on the spot because she didn't even realize that, that was a, it was an internal dialogue that she could tame. And so it was enlightening for her in the story, the ghost basically vanished. And it was like a liberating moment.

Marsha Clark  40:15  
I just think about, you know, the remarkable experience of having that kind of name it, claim it, tame it, that, that trilogy and to break free from those, you know, continuous patterns of limiting beliefs. And, you know, I know you've continued to work on maintaining that freedom, not only for yourself, but for your clients as have I. And, you know, I also just want to say I remember Karen Horney's work from our master's program that you and I share, Celina. And just an aside, she and Carl Jung were doing a lot on the social unconscious, and that sort of thing. And Carl Jung got all the credit. And Karen Horney was doing some great work around that that did not get the same kind of support and notoriety. But I digress in that. But will you share some of what you've learned, and how you're incorporating that into your own practice?

Celina Mattocks  41:08  
So after 15 years in the corporate world, and nonprofits, and our master's degree, Marsha, I've learned a thing or two about enabling change on both a personal and enterprise scale. And so it has brought me to a place where I can confidently use my framework called lead, live, learn, and you can find out more about it on my website. It's But the gist of the lead live learn personal development framework is simply that you can lead, which is choosing the inputs that are in your life. This could be your friends, your family, even your work, what you choose to read and where you live, for example. So you know, once you decide to lead the inputs that you allow into your life, the second part is to live and this is fully live or, or experience. And that is all of the highs and the lows associated with it, the expansion of possibility, as well as the synthesis of all of those inputs, and what those mean to you. And then finally, the third element of the framework is to learn to actually learn which as adult learning theory specifies, and as we all know, to learn is to do. You need to act or behave out in the world in order to really learn. So this framework is intended to empower each of us in our professional lives in our personal lives, to do the real work internally, which is the rebellious act of liking ourselves, knowing we're not victims, we are destined to all be great. And sometimes people need a little education. I love how this past month your podcast series has been on education in order to expand the mind. And therefore, as we discussed earlier, expanding the mind provides us options. And so once Alex could articulate the negative voice inside of her, then she could actually do something about it. It wasn't until she could articulate it, and then that's when you get freedom.

Marsha Clark  43:20  
Yeah, that's that name it, claim it.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  43:22  
Yeah, exactly. So was that the last time that Alex ever heard Despi that day in the baby store?

Celina Mattocks  43:32  
Alex faces Despi throughout the book and destiny did not disappear that day. It actually wasn't until the day that she delivered her baby girl. It was named, she named Oakley in the hospital, that Alex decided that Despi no longer had a place in her life. As the author it actually still makes me cry when I look back on that chapter, but the truth is that motherhood really is a beautiful thing. And, and I, Celina, have decided to do it. And if you want to do it, you should. You'll never be the same. And in the book, she was on the hospital bed and she was falling asleep when her husband thought I want some of those pain medicine pills because she's she's smiling as she's passing out. And the book reads that it wasn't her smiling because of the pain meds. She was smiling because it was the last time that she ever saw Despi again.

Marsha Clark  44:42  

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  44:43  
Thank goodness. Wow, Marsha. I feel like I've been on a roller coaster. So Celina, thank you so much for sharing the lessons in this story that are learned along the way. I know there's so much more to the book itself, which is surprisingly only 144 pages long, so I highly recommend it to our listeners.

Marsha Clark  45:03  
Yeah, and Celina, I want to add my thanks for all of that because again, the fact that you get goosebumps or the fact that you're brought to tears tells you that it's touching some part of you that's real, it's compelling. And I do think it's something that many, many of our leaders will appreciate. So thank you for being with us here today. And, you know, letting us go on that journey or that 54 flights of traveling to become who you are, you know, it's like I left home but when I came back home after 54 flights, that was a different me. And I think that's wonderful.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  45:38  
So we always like to end our episodes with a couple of key takeaways. So Celina, please go first. And then I'll let Marsha give a couple of key takeaways.

Celina Mattocks  45:47  
Yeah, I think I'll just end with a question posed to our listeners. And it's "Do you like yourself as a woman, or as a mom, or as a woman childless by choice, or as other, you know?" Repeat to yourself, I like myself. I am more than good enough. I deserve to be happy. And then go ahead, be really rebellious, be happy. That's my takeaway.

Marsha Clark  46:22  
I have to tell you now as part of, on International Women's Day, I was doing a keynote for a group and there was a panel that came up right before me and there was a woman on that panel. And she just told this whole roomful of women that she said, "I love myself. I just love myself." and I'm kind of taking on her accent. But I mean, it's true. And we do not hear that. We don't say to ourselves, we'll tell you I love you, Wendi, or I love you, Celina. But I love myself. And I'm more than good enough, I just, those are mantras that I think are important. And so when I think about all the pieces, and parts of all of this is that we need to understand how important our identity is. So whether you call it the self schema, or identity or brand, I mean, there's lots of names for that. But I think us getting clear and focused on what we want that to be is important. And then I loved the naming of our inner critic, because I can now talk to it if it has a name, right. And I can say no more. I can say that's what you say, I don't have to take that in. You know, I'm not owning that. I'm not taking that in. So those are the messages that I take away from, in addition to many other messages, because I think we relate to it. But that's what I would hope that our listeners and listeners if you have other things as you listen to this, please let us know what stood out for you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  47:47  
Absolutely. Well, Celina Mattocks, thank you for joining us today. And thank you, listeners, for joining us on our journey of authentic, powerful leadership. Please continue to download, subscribe and share this podcast from wherever you like to listen. Visit Marsha's website at to be up to date with her. Subscribe to her email list. Check out her book "Embracing Your Power". Book number two is on its way soon. And so Marsha, close us out.

Marsha Clark  48:19  
Well, again, Celina, thank you so much. I loved our connection initially, and it just got strengthened and deepened today. So thank you. And I do want to encourage our listeners to let us know what they're thinking about the topic of today and really the topic of all of our podcasts. When that voice, that inner critic voice is loud, we may need to support one another to quiet, to help quiet that voice, to give another perspective, to neutralize the power that that voice can have over us. And so I just want to say to our listeners, thank you for being a part of our journey. Celina's book was "54 Flights" and I encourage you to go take a look at that and read it. And I could also say this is our 85th podcast. So we have 85 podcasts and she has 54 flights. So here we are. So listeners as always, thank you and "Here's to women supporting women!"

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